Gluten-Free Chocolate Coconut Cookies for Ice Cream Sandwiches

September 2014

A Kogel Family Value: Ice cream knows no season.

If your family raised you to limit your frozen treats to the summer months, firstly, my sympathies.  Secondly, you better make these cookies soon! Then go ahead, and find that moment in the afternoon, when the sun is still beaming, the clouds are cotton candy, the breeze is warm, and eat an ice cream sandwich like a child who ignores ice cream rules. Hell, have that ice cream sammie for breakfast if you feel so inclined! I won’t tell your parents.

Coconut Cookies for Ice Cream Sandwiches

I made these cookies with a certain Hawaii transplant in mind, so coconut was heavy on my brain when scheming this recipe. Said surfer-turned-farmer boy inspired my first use of coconut flour, and it worked perfectly. The cookies were soft and chewy with a faint hint of coconut. As we move into crisper, fall temperatures, these cookies would also pair well with hot chocolate, but again, ice cream is eternal love in my book.

Gluten-Free, Chocolate, Coconut Cookies (for Ice Cream Sandwiches)


1/2 pound organic semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 Tablespoons organic, unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon organic coconut oil

3/4 cup organic coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 organic, cage-free eggs
3/4 cup organic raw cane sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Pink himalayan sea salt for sprinkling

For Assembly

Organic vanilla bean ice cream
Unsweetened, shredded coconut


Melt the chocolate,butter and coconut oil together over a double boiler. Stir it occasionally until the mixture is completely smooth, then remove it from the heat and set it aside while you prepare the rest of the batter.

In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or using an electric mixer, beat the eggs. Slowly add in the sugar, and beat until the mixture is light in color and the eggs have tripled in volume.

Stir in the vanilla extract, followed by the melted chocolate mixture.

Fold in the flour mixture until well combined.

The dough will be very soft, almost batter-like in texture. Refrigerate the dough for about 30 minutes or until it’s firm enough to scoop.

Preheat the oven to 325° F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and portion the cookies into heaping tablespoons.

Sprinkle each cookie with salt, and bake them for 10-12 minutes, or until their tops are puffed.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then move to a rack to cool completely.


Scoop your favorite, all-natural, ice cream onto the flat side of one cookie. Top with a second cookie. Sprinkle the exposed ice cream with shredded coconut, and enjoy!


Here’s to Ice Cream All Year Long!

Instagram Lately: Suspended Like Scales

September 2014

Perfectly cocooned and protected from the morning chill, I awoke to that ol’ familiar feeling fall brings me: an intense desire to nestle. Fall is upon us, but summer hasn’t left us quite yet. We are teetering on the cusp of golden flowers and red leaves. Much like the seasons, I have been teetering on many a cusp: calm/chaos, excitement/nervousness, stress/satisfaction. Amidst this haze, I had an assignment to notice everything. The simple act of curling in the corner of my couch and putting pen to paper helped me slow down, encouraged me to take calming nightly walks and take a few deep breaths. I had to remind myself to be calm because of the chaos, excited by the nervousness and satisfied with the stress.

Yellow Summer

While attempting to appreciate these teetering moments, I read a passage by an author who penned these sentiments more eloquently than I:

When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.

When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

…Verily, you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.

Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.

From The Prophet by Khalil Gibran

Fall Colors

So here’s to summer, and here’s to fall.
Here’s to chaos, and here’s to calm!


Happy Noticing!

P.S: You can follow all of my Instagram adventures here.


The Makings of a Banh Mi

September 2014

Let’s talk Wikipedia food history for a moment:

Bánh Mì, a combination of the Vietnamese words for bread/cake and wheat respectively, is a term used to describe bread. Most commonly the phrase refers to the baguette style bread introduced by the Frenchies during their “vacances” there, ie: colonialism. The term, my fellow word nerds, is often metonymically used to describe the sandwiches commonly found in Vietnamese bakeries (or if you live in Pittsburgh, commonly found outside one of the finer drinking establishments).

The Makings of a Banh Mi

Typical Bánh MÌ fillings include steamed, pan-roasted or oven-roasted seasoned pork belly, Vietnamese sausage, spreadable pork liver pâté, chicken, head cheese, fried eggs, and tofu. In short, good things! Given my new obsession with the many Carrot Daikon Slaw possibilities and my indifference for historical accuracy, I took the liberty of combining some key Bánh MÌ elements with some new twists to make one very memorable sandwich.

The Makings of a Bánh MÌ à la With The Grains

Soy & Gyoza Roasted Salmon
Homemade Mayo
Havarti Dill Cheese
All Natural Hot Sauce
Jalapeño Peppers
Cucumber Slices
Carrot & Daikon Slaw
Fresh Cilantro

Stack ‘em up every which way and however you please, but if I may, a few recommendations:

Mix the hot sauce and the mayo into one zinger of a creamy sauce (then commence using it on everything from oven baked fries to burgers). Then slather the combo on the baguette, followed by mashed avocado. The mashed avocado will be easier to bite, since this sandwich will not lack for height or messy bites.

Be careful with those jalapeño seeds! They’ll knock the wind out of you, make your heart jump a bit and fill your eyes with tears- like all the stages of a tumultuous love affair in one bite!

Now that you’re full on sandwich, imagine all the other Bánh MÌ inspired wonders you can make, like this hot dog par example.


Go Forth & Bánh MÌ!

Simple Soy & Gyoza Roasted Salmon

September 2014

You can relate to this scenario:

You unwrap a rectangular present, and “SURPRISE,” it’s a book! It’s not a book you’ve been dying to have, nor is the cover particularly compelling, but it’s a book that vaguely pertains to your interests and will add enough value to your life should you one day skim it. In short, it’s worth having in your repertoire. You toss aside the lingering wrapping paper and flip through the pages to feign how grateful and interested you are, and then…actual surprise…a gift card slips from chapter 12! It’s a gift card to the new restaurant you’ve been dying to try, and now that rather formulaic book makes waaaay more sense.

Roasted Salmon

Let’s just say this roasted fish is the book, and the gift card will follow in a subsequent post, so stay tuned! I won’t keep you waiting too long. I promise.

Soy & Gyoza Roasted Salmon


2 (~5-oz) pieces of salmon fillet with skin
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for drizzling
Soy Sauce
Gyoza Dipping Sauce (or a similar ginger sauce)


Place the salmon in a bowl or pan. Rub salmon all over with 1 teaspoon oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover in soy sauce and Gyoza sauce. Set aside for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, preheat oven to 425°F.

Line a cast-iron skillet with parchment paper that is double the diameter of the skillet, letting the excess hang over one side only. Transfer the salmon to a parchment-lined skillet, skin side down.

Pour the remaining marinade over the salmon, and fold the excess parchment over the salmon and twist it with the other edge, so the parchment forms a tent around the salmon.

Roast until fish is just cooked through, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate to serve. Discard skin when eating.


Bon Appétit!

Homemade Mayonnaise

September 2014

You might be a control freak if _________.

… delegating makes you cringe.
… you shy away from alcohol to keep your wits about you.
… you over plan simple activities.

….you make your own mayonnaise!

While some elements of being a control freak can spell D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R for relationships, professional paths and personal well-being, other aspects of an obsessive desire to control everything can mean controlling your cake and eating it too, ie: making your own mayonnaise.

Mayo Ingredients

Mayo should be simple.

Eggs. Vinegar. Oil. Some salt. Maybe some dijon. Simple.

However, trying to find a simple, earnest mayo on a grocery store shelf is nearly impossible or outrageously expensive. Between the cheap, unhealthy oils [what one may refer to as "shit ass oils"] and preservatives, even the organic versions can send a control freak into a fit of whisking.

Homemade Mayo

Here is where I would love to tell you the aforementioned fit of whisking is totally worth it.

On some level, whisking eggs and olive oil ever so steadily, ever so hand-cramping steadily, is worth the resulting homemade mayo. Offer any ol’ guest a dollop of your homemade condiment, and the kitchen cred and awe will ensue. Additionally, all that whisking begs for and justifies some hand-job jokes, if you’re into low-hanging fruit, which I apparently am, so whisk, whisk, whisk away one time, and then hear this:

Using a food processor makes mayo-making TOTALLY worth it (feel free to continue to make hand-job jokes regardless though)!

Homemade [Food Processor] Mayonnaise
Yield: Makes about 3/4 cup


1 large organic, cage-free egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt plus more to taste

3/4 cup olive oil, divided


Combine egg yolk, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a food processor. Pulse until blended and bright yellow.

With the food processor running, add oil to yolk mixture, a teaspoon at a time, until mayonnaise is thick, about 8 minutes (mayonnaise will be lighter in color).

Cover and store in the refrigerator.


Happy “Whisking!”

Carrot & Daikon Slaw for Banh Mi and More!

September 2014

I routinely crave the Tofu Bánh Mì from the little cafe around the corner. Something about the slaw had me mystified, incorrectly thinking the carrot and daikon topping was the result of some complex, fermenting process. Turns out, it’s a really quick pickle, and it makes a great condiment for more than just Bánh Mì. The Urban Farmer even likes to eat it by the spoonful, so it’s worth adding a jar of this to your refrigerator routinely (and then maybe hiding it just a bit to prevent said spoonfuls).

Pickling Ingredients

Once you make your own jar, there’s no stopping a Garden Hot Dog Party from ensuing, so hurry before the weather becomes too cold for grilling!

Mixed Ingredients

Carrot Daikon Slaw


2 cups shredded organic daikon radish
2 cups shredded organic carrots (I used organic rainbow carrots, hence some yellow hues)
a big pinch of salt
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1 cup white vinegar
2 cups water


Combine all ingredients in a large glass canister or jar, cover, and then refrigerate until ready to use (leave it to sit for at least half an hour).

Voila! Super simple!


Happy Slawing!

p.s: I’ve been adding to my jar as the carrots and daikon disappeared. I even added some thinly cut cucumber from the garden, which is quite a delicious addition! Don’t be bound by tradition. Have fun, and your taste buds will thank you.

Coffee Collaboration: Frozen Vanilla Latte Dessert

August 2014

Inertia, in the Physics sense of the word, is the tendency of objects to keep moving in a straight line at constant velocity. Inertia, in the colloquial sense of the word, is the forward motion that causes my mind to diminish the magnitude of projects on my horizon. They’re mere dots on my trajectory, but those dots represent accumulated ideas transforming into real life in a really momentous way!

Melted Chocolate

Semi-disclosure: I’m working on a really exciting collaboration involving coffee. It’s a BIG deal, but in the juggling, can’t-tell-which-day-it-is, forward motion of my life, I’ve been subconsciously underplaying the excitement. With all that’s in the works, I should be routinely breaking into dancing spells of anticipation.

Chocolate Cake Fail

In the meantime, while reality sinks in, and excitement grows, I offer a mini coffee collaboration experiment- a frozen vanilla latte dessert.

Chocolate Cake Base

One of my good friends happens to be one of the best baristas in this Steel City. She has been appeasing the Floral King and my coffee routines for a steady year now. While I typically stay very far from unnaturally sweet syrups in my espresso drinks, I am a regular consumer of her vanilla bean latte. Made with an actual vanilla bean, verifiable by the occasional fleck of vanilla in your beverage, this real-deal syrup makes a refreshingly addictive, iced, summer caffeine fix.

Heavy Cream Latte

During one coffee chat, we began to brainstorm the dessert form of her Iced Vanilla Bean Latte, and a collaboration transpired. Using heavy cream instead of milk, Kira made the equivalent of an iced latte, and then she passed the baton to me. I baked a mess of chocolate cake, crumbled it into a rectangular baking dish, whipped the iced “latte” into stiff peaks, spread it over the chocolate base, garnished it with more cake and spices, froze it, and voila…

Coffee Dessert

While I keep you waiting and wondering what project I have up my sleeve, I leave you with this little dose of inspiration/encouragement for whatever craziness/excitement hovers on your horizon:

“Great people do things before they’re ready. They do things before they know they can do it. Doing what you’re afraid of, getting out of your comfort zone, taking risks like that- that is what life is. You might be really good. You might find out something about yourself that’s really special and if you’re not good, who cares? You tried something. Now you know something about yourself.”
-Amy Poehler

On that note, let’s try some dessert!

Coffee Dessert Slice

Note: My baking is generally one big experiment, so the recipe I used to form the cake base provided more than enough cake. I used the leftovers to make another frozen dessert variation, which I will share in a later post. Either use the extra chocolate cake for more experimenting, for taster bites or simply cut the recipe in half.

Frozen Vanilla Latte Dessert

Chocolate Cake Base


1-1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 cup pure cocoa powder
3/4 cup organic, unsalted butter

1 cup organic cane sugar
1 cup local honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4 organic, cage-free eggs


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13×9″ pan with olive oil or organic coconut oil, and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter with cocoa; stirring frequently until smooth.

Add sugar and honey, and mix thoroughly.

Beat in eggs until smooth.

Stir in the flour and baking powder mixture until just blended.

Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes, until barely set.

Cool completely on a wire rack.


Vanilla Latte Layer


2 1/2 cups organic, heavy cream
4-5 shots of high quality espresso
pure vanilla bean syrup, to taste

*If you don’t have a collaborative relationship with your favorite barista, use pure vanilla extract and high quality espresso prepared using your favorite method.


In the chilled bowl of a standing mixer, beat the cream mixture on medium speed until stiff peaks start to form.


Crumble the chocolate cake to form a thin base in a 9×13 baking dish. Set aside extra cake.

Spread the whipped cream over the cake base.

Sprinkle the surface with extra cake crumbs, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom. Place in the freezer. Serve frozen, but allow to thaw ever so slightly before taking the first bite.


Stay tuned!