Tahina Maple Oatmeal Chip Cookies

April 23, 2014

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These cookies are gluten free (provided, of course, that you use rolled oats that are certified gluten free). You can leave out the rolled oats (old fashioned oats) if you prefer or replace them with chopped walnuts.

The inspiration for these cookies was stuff I had left in my pantry before Passover that needed using up. I had finally used up all my flour and then realized that I had meant to use up my tahina in a cookie recipe. All I had left was a small amount of old fashioned oats.

My tahina cookies would have to be flourless, I realized. The classic flourless peanut butter cookie recipe was the perfect template for my flourless tahina cookies. Instead of sugar, I decided to use up some maple syrup. I added in the oats and the remains of  an open bag of mocha chips.

I spooned the cookies on a lined baking sheet, baked them at 350 degrees and hoped for the best.  I pulled them out from the oven, let them cool and then tasted one. They came out! They were good! That was a relief.

The cookies taste like a cross between peanut butter cookies and halvah. I you like halvah, you will love these cookies.

 

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Raisin Bran Muffin Top Cookies

April 23, 2014

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I needed to use up some silan (date syrup), dates, raisins, bran and whole wheat flour before Passover. The obvious choice was bran muffins.

My original idea was to replace the brown sugar in my favorite bran muffin with the silan. Googling for a rule of thumb on converting from brown sugar to silan, I came across a recipe on imamother.com for chocolate chip bran cookies. I came up with my own recipe for raisin bran muffin top cookies by combining the muffin recipe with the cookie recipe and then kind of winging it based on whatever I needed to use up in my pantry.

I was a little worried how my experiment would come out, but the cookies tasted deliciously like raisin bran cereal and had the texture and appearance of bran muffin tops.

A bonus: these cookies are high in fiber and have no refined sugar. In addition to having been a great way to use up pantry items before Pesach, these are also a great way to cleanse the body after Pesach.

 

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Lemon Parfaits

April 18, 2014

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My family loves meringue cookies, but making meringues leaves me with lots of leftover egg yolks.  What to do with the leftover yolks? Lemon curd!

It so happens that lemon curd is delicious spread on meringue cookies, but it is also very useful in other refreshing lemon desserts. One of my favorite lemon desserts is lemon angel pie, and the lemon mousse from that recipe is also very nice layered as a parfait.

Here is how I made my lemon parfaits for Passover. I bought small dessert cups known as “tasting cups” and filled them with layers of the lemon mousse, plain whipped topping, small dabs of lemon curd and Passover lady fingers.

You don’t have to use lady fingers for this recipe; cubed sponge cake will work just as well. In fact, if you have leftover bits of stale sponge cake, making parfaits is a great way to use them up. If you don’t want to make lemon curd, you can make raspberry mousse by mixing raspberry jam (to taste) with whipped topping. Or you can make chocolate mousse by whipping cocoa powder and sugar into whipped topping. You could layer leftover bits of brownies with cocoa mousse, whipped topping and chocolate syrup.

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Chocolate Quinoa Cupcakes

April 11, 2014

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Chocolate cupcakes made with quinoa? Yes. They are really good: moist, fluffy and intensely chocolate.

This is an adaption of a recipe from a 2009 cookbook called Quinoa 365, by Patrica Green and Carolyn Hemming. It also appears on the authors’ website, Patricia & Carolyn. This recipe has been making the rounds on the internet, appearing on quite a number of food blogs, all with rave reviews.

Cake on the Brain had the idea of making the batter into cupcakes to make the cake more sturdy and less squidgy. I thought this was an excellent idea and copied it. I don’t have the jumbo muffin pan that Cake on the Brain apparently possesses, so instead of getting 12 large cupcakes, I got 15 normal cupcakes.

I made very few changes to the original recipe. To make the recipe pareve, I replaced the butter with oil and the milk with coffee.

The recipe calls for either 2 cups of cooked quinoa or 2/3 cup dry quinoa cooked with 1 1/3 cups water. If you are making quinoa pilaf or salad, just make extra quinoa. I made a whole 12 ounce bag of quinoa (2 cups dried), which, when cooked, was enough for a quinoa salad plus this recipe.

Bonus: Patricia & Carolyn also have a recipe for Quinoa Lasagna that looks fantastic and would be great for Pesach.

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Coconut Macaroon Tuiles

April 10, 2014

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Imagine a cookie with the flavor of a coconut macaroon, with a undertone of salted caramel. Sort of like the flavor of Girl Scout Samoa/Caramel deLite cookies. Now imagine that this cookie has the crisp texture of a potato chip. That is what these tuiles taste like.

The original recipe comes from a Seattle-based pastry chef, Laurie Pfalzer. When she baked for the bistro at the Salish Lodge and Spa, she used the tuiles as a garnish for creme brulee and layered them with strawberries and whipped mascarpone.

I haven’t decided what to do with these cookies yet. Layer them with lemon curd/whipped cream/strawberries? Drizzle them with chocolate or sandwich them with chocolate (like Brussels cookies or lace cookies)?

The batter is extremely easy to mix up. The tricky part is shaping. The sticky batter must be patted out into thin rounds. This is fiddly work.

The original recipe called for baking the tuiles at 350 for 8-10 minutes, but my tuiles did not bake evenly that way. I had better luck baking them at 250 for a half hour.

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Prune Danish Braid (use up your leftover lekvar)

March 26, 2014

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I had leftover lekvar and I mulled over all these creative options for using it up in a dessert. When I presented these options to my husband, along with the option of a simple prune danish, my husband voted for the danish.

The filling for this danish can be straight-up lekvar spooned out from the jar, but I decided to make it a little more interesting. Walnuts, mini mocha chips and an orange-vanilla glaze add extra texture and flavor.

As far as the dough is concerned, I use a few tricks to make and bake the dough extra quickly: (1) putting the dough in a warm oven to push it to rise faster; (2) folding the dough at intervals to strengthen it instead of kneading; and (3) putting the shaped dough in the oven after a very short (15 minute) rising period. With these tricks, the recipe will take about 1 3/4 hours from assembling your ingredients to pulling the danish out of the oven. If you take things a little slower or allow for a slightly longer rising time, it will take closer to 2 hours from assembling your ingredients to pulling the finished danish from the oven.

If you double the dough, you can make two small challahs plus the danish.

 

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Paula Wolfert’s Pan Roasted Cauliflower

March 19, 2014

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I love Paula Wolfert and I love cauliflower. Here is a recipe from Paula for cauliflower. What could be better?

As a cookbook writer, Paula has been a visionary, an innovator who was exploring and writing about authentic Mediterranean cuisine long before it was trendy. Her classic book on Moroccan food was published in 1973, and she has promoted the food of the region ever since with a series of acclaimed books such as The Cooking of Southwest France, The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean, Mediterranean Grains and Greens, The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen, Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking and, most recently, The Cooking of Morocco (2012 James Beard Award winner for best international cookbook).

Recently, Wolfert was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Well, actually, to be precise, she was diagnosed by two different neurologists with either early-stage Alzheimer’s disease or “mild cognitive impairment, a form of dementia that can progress to Alzheimer’s.” In addition to changing her diet by adding in more super foods, she has become an Alzheimer’s activist. This April, she is behind a fundraiser dinner for the cause. The Mediterranean Feast menu will include her pan roasted cauliflower.

As she explained in a PBS segment with Judy Woodruff, Wolfert learned this cauliflower recipe from a well-known chef and cookbook author, Arto der Haroutunian (born in Syria to Armenian parents and then transplanted to England). She likes it because “it is so simple to make.”

This is the basic idea: cook cauliflower in oil in a pot until it gets soft and caramelized. Then add garlic, tomatoes, raisins and pine nuts. After that, put in in the oven in an oven-proof casserole. Finally, sprinkle with lemon juice and parsley. It is a nice change of pace from the usual oven-roasted cauliflower and the texture is superior, I think.

Bonus: Here is my version of Wolfert’s recipe for Morshan, chickpeas and greens.

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Molten Chocolate Chip Hamantaschen

March 16, 2014

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Ok, I guess this is a bit late in the day to post. But, better late than never!

Chocolate chip cookie dough filled with ganache, served warm so that the chocolate filling is all melted and runny. The hamantaschen will spread if they are not contained, so it is best to enclose the shaped cookies with foil to keep them from spreading.

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Hamantaschen Vols-au-vent with Wild Mushroom Ragout

March 13, 2014

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I suppose this is more properly described as creamed mushrooms over puff pastry, but the word ragout is not completely inappropriate.  Even though ragout is usually thought of as a meat stew, the term has also been applied to mushroom stews. Is it because mushrooms have a certain meatiness? I don’t know. In any event, ragout comes from the French word ragoûter, which means “to stimulate the appetite,” and this dish makes for a lovely appetizer.

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Fruit Tart Hamantaschen

March 10, 2014

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For this, take hamantaschen puff pastry shells, fill them with a spoonful of jam and then top with fresh fruit. Alternatively, you could fill them with vanilla pastry cream (or, more prosaically, vanilla pudding) and then top with fruit. Or you could put in a bit of jam, then vanilla pudding and then the fruit. Or you could fill them with lemon curd and then top with fruit. Or you could pipe in chocolate mousse . . . Well, you get the idea.

As in the above picture, you can dust the top of the tarts with powdered sugar. To make the fruit shiny, brush it with jam (raspberry for berries and apricot for other fruits). An easy trick for glazing the fruit is to put it in a bowl and toss it in a bit of corn syrup. This gives it a clear glaze and also makes the fruit a bit sticky, which helps bind the fruit pieces together.

Update: If you want to fill these with pareve (dairy-free) vanilla pudding, combine a box of Osem pudding mix with 3/4 cup of coconut milk.  Fill each hamantaschen with a small spoonful of pudding mix and top with half a strawberry.

Other Hamantaschen:

Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Hamantaschen
Midnight Mint Hamantaschen
Basic Hamantaschen Recipe, plus tips
Darth Vader Hamantaschen
Angelina Ballerina Hamantaschen
Hamantaschen Apple Galette
Lemon Curd Hamantaschen
Hamantaschen Puff Pastry Shells
Hamantaschen French Toast Casserole


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