Posts Tagged ‘dairy-free’

Maple Banana Almond Macaroons

September 7, 2016

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The Banana Cookie recipe from Donna Hay’s new cookbook, Life in Balance: A Fresher Approach to Eating, sounds like its shouldn’t work; and the sight of the batter will not inspire more confidence. Have faith, though, and you will be rewarded with moist macaroons that taste intensely of banana and faintly of caramel and maple.

The ingredients are extremely simple: ground almonds, mashed banana, a small amount of maple syrup and a bit of cinnamon. When I mixed together all the ingredients, I had a thick batter rather than a stiff dough (kind of like the texture of matzoh ball batter before you refrigerate it). I was perplexed as to how to follow the instructions to “Roll 16 to 18 spoonfuls of the banana mixture into balls, Press them into the sugar-cinnamon mixture to coat all over, spacing the cookies an inch apart. . .” I ended up dropping spoonfuls of batter on a parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkling over the Turbinado sugar.

The resulting cookies were at their most delicious straight from the oven: crispy and chewy on the outside from the caramelized coat of raw sugar, and moist and soft on the inside like a macaroon. When the cookies completely cooled, the sugar on the outside melted a bit and the texture of the crust softened. I stored the cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator and that seemed to restore a bit of crispness to the sugar coating.

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Homemade Crescent Rolls (dairy free)

January 6, 2015

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I recently served these crescent rolls at a special birthday party. Each person had on their salad plate a crescent roll and a salad inside an edible salad bowl.

Crescent rolls are, all at once, elegant and cozily homey. They look difficult to make, but are actually pretty easy to do. If you want to make them ahead of time, they freeze beautifully.

Crescent rolls are usually made with butter, but I keep my rolls dairy-free by using oil. You can use a neutral tasting oil (like safflower oil) or an extra-virgin olive oil.

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Nutty Omega-3 Chocolate Mousse

February 2, 2014

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I spent a lot of time mulling over how to title this post.The recipe is for a decadent chocolate mousse that is dairy-free, egg-free and possibly refined sugar-free. My brother invented the basic recipe, and he calls it Omega-3 Chocolate Mousse. I am going with his name for this recipe, but this also a recipe for chocolate peanut butter mousse, chocolate fruit dip, chocolate spread, and even chocolate frosting. This recipe is just that versatile.

The mousse is soft when first made and can be used as a dip for fruit. When thoroughly chilled, it is thick enough to be used as a frosting or chocolate spread.

The original, basic recipe is simply this: walnuts, plant-based milk, dates and cocoa powder processed together to form a smooth, creamy mousse. The walnuts provide the Omega-3 oil referenced in the title, but you can easily use other nuts or even seeds. This recipe is particularly delicious made with peanut butter, but hazelnut butter, almond butter, cashew butter and sunflower seed butter are also great choices.

It can be made with whole nuts and dates, pureed in a high powered blender. If you use a nut butter and silan (date syrup), it can be very easily stirred together, without any high powered equipment. You could also make your own nut butter ahead of time, so that it is ready for mixing up into mousse (take a look at Mollie Katzen’s instructions for making walnut butter using a food processor).

The flavor of the basic mousse is reminiscent of brownies studded with chopped walnuts. The walnut flavor recedes more into the background if you add the optional melted chocolate. If you use peanut butter, of course, the mousse tastes like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and adding the optional melted chocolate does not mute the strong peanut flavor in the least.

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Multi-Grain Spinach Balls

January 20, 2014

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Everyone loves spinach balls. I thought this classic appetizer could use a little makeover to be a little more healthful, though. The usual spinach ball recipe calls for spinach to be bound together with butter, cheese, eggs and either stuffing mix or seasoned bread crumbs.

Here are my substitutions:
1/4 cup olive oil instead of lots of butter;
quinoa and brown rice instead of stuffing mix/seasoned bread crumbs;
ground flax instead of eggs; and
ground seeds or nuts and nutritional yeast instead of cheese.

Ground flax seeds combine with the excess moisture in drained spinach to make an egg substitute. As you mix the flax seeds and spinach, you can see the moisture around the spinach turn slightly viscous, as if the spinach were bound together with egg whites. When the spinach/flax mixture is combined with cooked whole grains, the mixture becomes firm enough to shape into balls. Lots of well cooked onion and garlic, plus generous seasoning give the spinach balls the flavor boost that they need in the absence of lots of butter and cheese.

With all the changes, the spinach balls are also gluten-free and dairy-free.

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Levana’s Almond Clusters

December 2, 2013

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Sometimes simple things can be a bit tricky.

My parents raved about my sister’s macheteniste’s nut cookies. “The best cookies I ever ate,” my dad insisted. “And Levana says the recipe is very simple: just sugar, nuts and egg whites stirred together.”

Naturally, I had to pin down the exact recipe. Turns out, Levana’s almond clusters are close cousins to Carine Goren’s almond thins, but with a few crucial twists: (1) the nuts are slivered instead of sliced; (2) the nuts are piled high into little haystacks instead of being spread into a super thin layer; and (3) the sugar is brown instead of white.

These few changes make the difference between a recipe my dad really liked (the almond thins) and one he was crazy about (Levana’s almond clusters). The brown sugar gives huge uptick in flavor, making the sweetness of the nut cookies more interesting, less flat. I think that adding vanilla and almond extract ramps up the flavor even more, but that is an optional addition.

The difficulty was that Levana is the sort of cook who makes everything by instinct instead of a precise recipe. The recipe I started with was “mix together 3 egg whites, a scant cup brown sugar and enough nuts so that the nuts are just coated.” About a pound of nuts? “Yes, about . . . at least!”

I had to experiment a bit to figure out the right ratio of nuts to sugar syrup. The first few batches of cookies had sugar syrup seeping out of them. The sugar syrup  that seeped out on the baking sheet puffed up as the nut clusters baked, making strange looking, crunchy protrusions from the cookies.

Also, the baking time was originally “until brown.” That took figuring out, too. Some batches of cookies came out a bit chewy instead of crunchy. It took me a while to figure out that the solution was drying out the nut clusters in a turned off oven.

With these issues ironed out, these addictive cookies are indeed extremely simple to make.

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Einat Admony’s Homemade Kit Kat Bars (and my dairy-free take on them)

September 25, 2013

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The recipe that really jumped out at me from Einat Admony’s Balaboosta was her Kit-Kat Bars. It is kind of a variation on the classic peanut butter bars, which have a peanut butter and cornflake crumb base and a chocolate layer on top. This “Kit Kat” recipe swaps out peanut butter for Nutella in the base and puts a rich ganache on top.

Admony is the chef behind Taim falafel bar and Balaboosta restaurant in New York City (and she is opening another restaurant, too) . She says that the recipe for  this dessert came from Israeli restaurant Keren (Haim Cohen’s restaurant which was big in the 90’s), where she had her first professional job as a line cook.

I loved the idea of a crunchy Nutella bar, but I wanted to make these pareve. I tried two different approaches: (1) I swapped out the Nutella for chocolate peanut butter and (2) I combined regular peanut butter and hazelnut truffle chocolate. Both work. although the version with the hazelnut chocolate is a little truer to the original flavor combination.

Bonus: If you would like to see Einat Admony making these bars, take a look at this video at Daily Candy.

Another Bonus: Recent interview with Einat Admony where she talks about Sukkot and gives her mom’s recipe for chicken with pomegranate syrup and walnuts.

Yet Another Bonus: Chef Michel Richard included a recipe for Le Kit Cat in his book Happy in the Kitchen. The recipe is similar to Einat’s recipe, but calls for peanut butter and milk chocolate instead of Nutella in the base and the topping is chocolate mousse instead of ganache. If you want to see yet another variation on this, plus some attractive plating, take a look at this recipe from New Jersey chef Jonathan Adams.

Okay, one more: Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch Bars, using homemade pailleté feuilletine instead of cornflakes.

These Kit Kat bars look elegant and have a sophisticated taste–you would never guess that they are basically easy cereal bars.

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Cowboy Cookies (A More Healthful Version)

January 10, 2013

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You need a treat every now and then. We are trying to eat a more healthful diet, but find it hard to forgo all sweets. After trying various packaged products, I found that the best approach is to make my own lower sugar, lower saturated fat, higher fiber snacks. These cookies have a bit less sugar than the usual, plus they use oil instead of butter. Using dark chocolate instead of chips means more more anti-oxidants from cocoa.

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Asian Roasted Broccoli

January 7, 2013

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I was having a little trouble getting my family to eat roasted broccoli, and then I tried a recipe over at Overtime Cook. Miriam’s recipe calls for tossing frozen broccoli florets with a lemon Dijon dressing and then throwing then in  hot oven. It was a big hit.

Initially, I was a little dubious about the recipe. The only frozen vegetables that I really like are corn, peas and spinach. I thought the broccoli was going to have an unpleasant waterlogged texture. Fortunately, roasting the frozen broccoli seems to drive off excess water. While the resulting texture is not crisp it isn’t flabby either, and the flavor is excellent.

Another reason the recipe works is the use of a vinaigrette.  Usually, when I roast vegetables, I use oil plus spices. I don’t add anything acid like lemon juice or Dijon mustard. It turns out that these ingredients add tremendous flavor. Obvious in retrospect, I know, but I didn’t think of it before.

After making the Dijon broccoli for a few weeks in a row, I decided to branch out a little and I came up with an Asian style twist on the recipe. Instead of a lemon Dijon dressing, I made a dressing with olive oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger and chili flakes. Also a big hit. This week I added in some sliced shallots and some smoked almonds (made from scratch with salt and smoked paprika).

You can, of course, make this with fresh broccoli.

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Wordless Wednesday: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Chocolate Mousse Cake for Tamar’s Graduation

June 20, 2012

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Wordless Wednesday: Caramel Topped Challah Cake

June 6, 2012

Imagine French toast (or challah kugel or bread pudding), but as a cake, with caramel sauce . . . .

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