Coconut Flour Shortbread Cookies

For Purim, I made these Coconut Flour Shortbread Cookies with the leftover coconut flour from Passover.

These cookies are endlessly adaptable.

If you like citrus, they can be jazzed up with lemon, lime or orange zest.

If you want to make a fancy presentation, you could dip them in chocolate and add toasted coconut, nuts or sprinkles.

They can be made with almost “flour” — wheat, quinoa, banana, almond, or gluten free flour blend of your choice or starch such as tapioca or potato.

They are perfect for Passover or for anyone on a gluten free or nut free diet.

Coconut Flour Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup coconut flour

1 cup “flour” — wheat/quinoa/banana/almond/tapioca starch/potato starch, or gluten free blend of your choice

1 1/2 cups sugar.

Optional: If you it less sweet, you can use only 1 cup of sugar.

1 cup oil

4 eggs

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional: 1 teaspoon almond extract

Optional: 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Optional: lemon, lime or orange zest

Instructions:

Food processor: mix oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract.  Add the dry ingredients and process until it forms into a dough.

I usually try to mix the wet ingredients first and then add the dry ingredients to prevent over mixing.

Let the dough rest for a few minutes. Coconut flour is very absorbent.

Shape dough into balls with slightly wet hands to prevent sticking and create a smooth shape.

Place onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. I find that my cookies are less likely to burn with a double insulated cookie sheet.

Flatten dough with a fork using a crisscross pattern. To prevent dough from sticking to the fork, dip the fork into water. It really helps!

Bake in preheated 400*F oven for 8-12 minutes, and the bottoms are slightly browned.

Cool slightly while still on the cookie sheet and then let cool completely on wire racks.

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Just before baking in the over. I used a silpat and double insulated baking sheets.

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Final outcome.

Coconut flour is different than wheat flour. But, I am happy to say that most people really liked them. The proof is that I brought them to our Purim seuda (festive meal) and they were all eaten. I consider that to be a ringing endorsement.

Enjoy!

Homemade DIY Bean Butter

Homemade DIY Bean Butter

The rise in nut and seed allergies in children has necessitated some old-fashioned culinary ingenuity on my part.

Up until recently, Yaffa’s favorite lunch was humus with almost anything or a peanut butter sandwich.

However, due to today’s severe nut and seed allergies, humus and/or peanut butter are no longer an option.

I needed to learn how to adjust and adapt: What could I make that is healthy, all natural, nut-free, seed-free, vegan and also suitable for a pack-n-go lunch??

My friend Malka suggested trying soy butter instead of peanut butter. That suggestion was quickly vetoed. No one liked the taste or the consistency of commercial soy butter.

In addition, I prefer to limit our soy consumption.  Soy is ubiquitous in so many products today. I worry that eating too much of anything, even if it is supposedly healthy, is ultimately unhealthy.

Malka’s suggestion, however, got my creative juices flowing. I thought: “If it is possible to make soy butter, why wouldn’t it also be possible to make something similar with different beans instead?”

Eureka! It worked!

The formula of 1 ½ cups roasted beans: 2 tablespoons of oil: 1 cup of water works with all sorts of beans. I have made this with black-eyed peas, kidney beans and white beans. Our current favorite is chickpeas.

The trick is to make the beans more “nut-like” by roasting them and then adding oil.

To save time, I make a large amount at one time and then freeze it in smaller amounts. This way I only need to defrost as needed. One batch can last for quite a while.

I also stagger each step in the process. One night, I make the beans in the crockpot. The next day, I roast the beans in the oven. Up to a few days later, when I have the time, I mix everything all together. By chunking each task, it feels less time consuming.

Homemade Bean Butter

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups cooked and then roasted beans

2 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons sugar (to taste)

1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste

Optional: Cocoa powder, cinnamon and vanilla

Directions:

Cook beans and then roast in 425*F oven. I add a bit of oil, so that they will get slightly crispy.

Soak roasted beans with water and oil until soft and most of the liquid is absorbed.

Pulse in food processor or an immersion blender until smooth, adding more liquid if necessary.

Add sugar, salt, cocoa powder, cinnamon and vanilla to taste. Process until smooth.

Here are the step by step pictures:

 

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Chickpeas after they were roasted

My new way of keeping track of what I cook. Make a picture!

 

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Soaking the beans until the water is absorbed.

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Pureeing with an immersion blender.

Pureeing until smooth

Final product. Adjust the amount of liquid until desired consistency.

I find that a little bit of sugar makes the spread more palatable. Malka suggests making a more savory version using salt, herbs and spices.

For people who need to avoid nuts and seeds, this is a healthy, yummy alternative.

Try it, you’ll like it!

Enjoy!

Apple or Fruit Crisp

This apple crisp was made in honor of the patients in one of my groups, in particular Walter.

For weeks we processed in the group their disappointment over not having a holiday party funded by the hospital for them.

Something that seems so trivial, kicked up all their stuff about not feeling worthy, validated and cared about.

We spent weeks talking about “what makes you feel cared about?” Who do you give gifts to, and who gives gifts to you?”

Finally, after much effort and discussion, the patients agreed to hold a pot-luck party.

I tried to help behind the scenes by calling all the patients and reminding them about the party and keeping track of who was bringing what.

I must say that the patients completely redeemed themselves. I am so proud of them!

Everyone brought something and a few people who haven’t been to the group in such a long time actually heard from word of mouth from others in the group and showed up too.

I often find my patients very inspiring. I marvel at their strength of character despite their adversities and their comfort expressing simple acts of faith, gratitude and prayer.

Before eating, all the patients took off their hats while another patient, Davis, led the group with a prayer. The blessing that Davis shared was so beautiful, I wish I could have recorded it! In all my years, I have never witnessed such respect and cohesiveness.

During the party, patients enjoyed a casual conversation, which focused around:

  1. What are you grateful for?
  2. What are your best wishes for the group?
  3. What are your goals for the New Year?

 

Patients enjoyed the party and they were very grateful that everyone was so generous with each other and for the opportunity to give and receive from each other. It was truly a heartwarming!

APPLE or FRUIT CRISP

Ingredients

Filling

5-6 cups fruit, cubed (I used 3 cups apples and 2 cups cranberries)

1/2 cup sugar

Optional: 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional: 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Optional: 1- 11/2 tablespoons cornstarch or 2 teaspoons of tapioca

Optional: 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Optional: 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg or allspice

Topping

1 1/2 cups oatmeal

Optional: substitute 1/2 cup flour instead of oatmeal

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup oil

Optional: 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Optional: 1/8 teaspoon salt

Optional: 2 tablespoons sliced or slivered almonds

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350*.

Combine fruit and filling ingredients in a greased or parchment paper lined baking dish

Combine the ingredients for the topping and mix until blended.

Sprinkle over fruit

Bake until fruit is soft and topping is slightly browned.

If topping becomes over cooked, cover loosely with aluminum foil.

Cool before serving.

Placed fruit in pan.

Ingredients for the filling.

Mix until well blended.

Ready to go in the oven.

Voila! Fresh out of the oven!

 

Here is a picture from the party:

I am happy to say that the fruit crisp was almost completely eaten! Even Walter said that he liked it.

Enjoy!

 

 

Cranberry Challah Kugelettes & True Giving

What would Walter Think? Cranberry Challah Kugelettes

 

I like to think that Walter would be flattered if he knew how much he inspired me by his off the cuff comment.

Interestingly, the other group members were also very amused by his comment. It seems as though it sparked a lot of discussion!

The group this past week was continuing to feel disappointed that there was no funding for a holiday party this year.

In order to address their disappointment, I initially suggested that we have a potluck party.  I received a lukewarm response.

So, then, we had a discussion on giving and receiving gifts. I asked them: “who do you give to?” And, “who gives to you?”

As the group members discussed the questions, they began to realize that true happiness comes from giving and sharing rather than getting or taking.

When we give to give, we feel love for others and loved by them. When we give to get, it is a recipe for resentment and disappointment.

Still, one group member asked: “But, what if you don’t have very much?”

I suggested that even if a group practices “musical giving” it creates more good will than if everyone just keeps for themselves whatever they have.

“Musical giving” is my term to describe when everyone keeps passing around even the same gift from one person to another. It is almost like the game “the wonder ball,” hence the name.

It might not make sense, but, the act of giving, even if it is not consumed and then subsequently passed onto someone else, creates a relationship and promotes spiritual growth and connection.

I am happy to say that by the end of the group, everyone agreed to have a potluck holiday party.

Hopefully, everyone will remember to bring what they committed to bring in.

 

 

Cranberry Challah Kugelettes

In the meantime, I am continuing to explore creative ways to use up leftover bread. This recipe is another adaption of my challah kugel.

At my mother’s suggestion, I decided to make them as cupcakes, so that they would be easier to handle and cook faster.

Ingredients:

16 oz. challah

Variations:  I have not tried it yet, but, try substituting crushed matzah or rice instead of bread.

1 ½ cups water

1 ½ cups milk (I used rice milk)

Optional: use orange juice for either or all of the liquid instead

1-1 ½ cups cranberries

6 eggs

1 cup sugar: I used brown sugar only this time

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

½ teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons oil

Optional: orange zest

Optional: icing sugar sprinkled on top after it’s baked.

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375* F.

Crumble or break up challah (or matzah or rice) into small pieces into bowl.

Combine water (or juice) and milk and pour over challah. Mix until challah is soft, but not too mushy. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Pour into cupcake pans lined with cupcake holders. Bake for approximately 1 hour or until done.

The texture is particularly creamy when it is baked in a deeper pan containing about 1 inch of water.

When I do not used a hot water bath, I bake it in a 350* F oven instead. It depends on how time challenged I am at that moment.

Serve warm or at room temperature and dust, if desired with icing (confectioners’) sugar. I did not, but I think it might be prettier with it.

This time, I put everything in the bowl and mixed the ingredients together.

Mix well.

Bake in muffin tins so they are easier to eat. No utensils required.

Fresh out of the oven.

The girls LOVED them!

Final product.

I am happy to say that it was a big hit!  Enjoy!

Now, I have to see if it meets Walter’s approval.

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Cranberry Torte

As I shared on my last post, I had lots of cranberry relish leftover from Thanksgiving. 

Rather than let it go to waste, I thought I would use it to make this fruit torte. 

This cake recipe is very flexible and it has endless variations. Feel free to adapt the recipe for whatever fruit you have available — fresh or canned. It can even be adapted for various flours with success. 

Ingredients:

4 eggs

2 cups sugar (white or brown or a combination)

1 cup oil

1 tsp. vanilla

Optional: you can use other flavorings such almond, lemon, etc. depending on the fruit

2 cups flour

Optional: you can substitute almond, cornmeal, whole wheat, spelt, rice flour or gluten-free flour blends in any combination. It may change the texture, which could make it more interesting. I usually make it with spelt.

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt (a “pinch”) 

Optional Variations:
Chocolate cake: substitute 1/2 cup cocoa for 1/2 cup flour

2 cups cranberry relish 

Optional Variations: Add 2-4 cups fresh or canned fruit on top and sprinkle with sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon. It amount depends on the size of the pan. 

Instructions:

By hand: cream together oil and sugar and vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in sifted together dry ingredients until blended.

With a food processor: Mix eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla in food process for 1 minute. Add flour, salt and baking powder and pulse until just blended.

Pour batter into greased or parchment lined pan. Place cranberry relish on top.

If using fresh or canned fruit, sprinkle with sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon, if desired, over fruit.

Bake in a preheated 350°F oven until done and when inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Here are the pictures:

Cake batter on the bottom.

Ready to be baked.

Fresh out of the oven!

The final product. Voila!

Raizel and her friend Kayla said, “this is awesome!” I cut them both a piece before freezing it.

Enjoy!

References:

This recipe is adapted from my ubiquitous 1-2-3-4 cake and the apple cake recipe from Classic Kosher Cooking. 

As I have shared, all my cake recipes are basically an adaptation of the 1-2-3-4 cake. I then adjust the liquid or the sugar if using fruit, or adding pie filling. Sort of like mix and match. In Classic Kosher Cooking the apple cake recipe called for 2.5 cups cake flour and 1/4 orange juice. I eliminated the liquid and decreased the flour, since I generally use spelt or regular all purpose flour.

I have since, however, seen this recipe published on various sites all over the internet using different proportions. 

Most recently, my friend Malka introduced me to the recipe which is published annually in The New York Times as a Plum Torte. 

Here is the link:

http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/3783-original-plum-torte

So, this recipe is practically no fail and VERY versatile!

The Only Cake Recipe You Will Ever Need: The 1-2-3-4 Anything Cake & Optional Glaze

The Only Cake Recipe You Will Ever Need: The 1-2-3-4 Anything Cake

The road to parenthood was not simple one for us. So, when we granted the blessing of children, I was eager to celebrate their birthdays with a homemade cake, decorated with roses.

Just before their first birthday, with great excitement, I enrolled in a local cake decorating class.

The class was definitely a learning experience. But, not in the way one might expect.

I learned that cake decorating is really sugar art. The cake functions similar to the canvas of a painting.

The greatest lesson I learned, however, was that I do not like decorating cakes. I found it very time consuming and very labor intensive.

So, my days of cake decorating came quickly to an end. I have not touched an icing tip since.

This was the cake recipe that I used for my class. It is the perfect cake for the time challenged cook. It is fast and easy, only uses one bowl, and it is easily adaptable.

I have included all the multiple variations, so you see how this is really the only cake recipe that you will ever need.

The marble cake I just posted is also one of the many variations.

Ingredients:

2 cups sugar (white or brown or a combination)

1 cup oil

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla, almond, lemon, etc.

1 cup liquid (water, juice, milk, coffee, etc.)

3 cups flour — I used spelt, but you can use a gluten-free flour blend, almond flour, corn meal or any other flour too. The texture, however, may be slightly altered.

3 tsp. baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt (a “pinch”)

Optional Variations:

Chocolate Chip Cake: stir in 1 cup chocolate chips when mixed

As You Like It Cake: stir in 1 cup chopped nuts, dried fruit, etc.

Chocolate Cake: 1/2 cup cocoa for 1/2 cup flour for a chocolate cake

Spice Cake: add 2 to 3 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, 1/4 teaspoons nutmeg, dash white pepper to dry ingredients

Lemon Spice Cake: add 2 to 3 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, dash white pepper to dry ingredients and, add 1 lemon zested to the wet ingredients. Do not add lemon juice for the liquid because then the baking powder will work differently. You could try adding baking soda instead, but I have never personally tried that.

Almond Spice Cake: add 2 to 3 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, dash white pepper and 1/4 cup ground almonds when adding flour.

Lemon Poppy Cake: Add 1 lemon zested to the wet ingredients and ¼ cup of poppy seeds to the dry ingredients.

Marble Cake: Pour ¾ of batter into the pan. Then, with the remaining batter, add 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder. Pour over vanilla batter in stripes. Gently swirl with a knife. Do not over mix!

Instructions:

By hand: beat eggs, and sugar. Add oil and vanilla. Alternate adding the liquid and the dry ingredients until blended.

With a food processor: Mix eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla in food process for 1 minute. Slowly add liquid until well blended. Add flour, salt and baking powder and pulse until just blended.

Stir in nuts, chocolate chips or dried fruit if using.

Pour batter into a greased, sprayed or parchment lined pan.

This can be made in a greased and lightly floured Bundt pan, or two 9″ layers, one 9″x 13″ rectangular cake or 24 cupcakes.

Bake in a preheated 350°F oven until done and when inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Although I didn’t intent to add a glaze, Raizel made a special request. How could I say no?

Optional Glaze

Ingredients:

1 cup icing sugar

4 teaspoons of milk or liquid (I use rice milk, but lemon juice also works)

Instructions:

Pour icing sugar in a bowl. Add the liquid 1 teaspoon at a time and stir until desired consistency.

Drizzle over cake, while slightly warm.

This cake also freezes well, with or without a glaze.

Here are the pictures:

 

Yaffa decided to help take pictures and took this one all by herself.

This is my picture, attempting to avoid shadows.

 

Fresh out of the oven, ready to frost😉

 

Raizel REALLY wanted it frosted.

Raizel approved!

 

Raizel, as you can see loved it. I gave her a piece fresh out of the oven.

After not baking a cake for quite a while, Raizel has come to the realization that homemade, from scratch cakes are REALLY yummy!

Raizel said, “I really missed homemade cakes.”

I am also very grateful for my trusty oven thermometer. It is making such a big difference!

Hurrah!

Enjoy!

Zucchini Tofu Napoleon — Joint Post

Zucchini Tofu Napoleon

The blogging world has opened up so many new culinary opportunities.

The beauty of blogging is that I get to virtually visit the kitchens of people all over the world and then adapt the recipes to suite my family’s taste. Hence, I recently posted a recipe which I called Lentils Napoleon. Here is the link: https://cookingforthetimechallenged.wordpress.com/2016/08/09/lentils-napoleon/

I adapted the recipe based on The Eggplant Napoleon recipe posted by Dolly, who is behind the apron of koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com.

Here is the link to her wonderful blog: https://koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com/

Here is the link for her post on Eggplant Napoleon:

https://koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com/2016/07/31/eggplant-napoleon/

However, I must apologize for an inadvertent culinary faux pas: Lentils Napoleon is really a misnomer.

Through this joint post, I have learned that my lentil dish should have been named Lentils with Cumin and Sumac.

And, how did I learn this?

Because Dolly, who is a dedicated teacher, kindly reminded me that “Napoleon” really refers to anything baked in thin layers interspersed with something creamy.

My lentil dish was certainly not that. I simply liked the spices she used and thought I would use lentils instead.

BUT, my malapropism has led to this current hands-on learning experience.  Dolly is a genuine educator: she suggested that we do a joint post on a “real” Lentils Napoleon.

Our goal is to post as simultaneously as possible both of our recipes, using the culinary concept of layering vegetables interspersed with something creamy, the real culinary definition of Napoleon-style dishes.

Here is the link to Dolly’s post on Beets and Beans Napoleon. I am sorry but I don’t know how to make a short link:

Beets and Beans Napoleon – koolkosherkitchen

https://koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com/2016/08/19/beets-and-beans-napoleon/

For me, this has been a real opportunity to see how unique we all are.  We infuse our own special spark into everything we do.

Our own special spark

Raizel’s painting from camp.

Based on a more careful reading of Dolly’s post, and some online research, I discovered that Wolfgang Puck, the original creator of Beets Napoleon, used goat cheese between layers of beets.

For this post, I decided to use thinly sliced zucchini between a tofu-lentil creamy layer.  I thought that tofu, with a dash of vinegar, would recreate a more goat cheese-like texture. In addition, I had run out of lentils, and I didn’t feel like shopping for more.

Raizel was my hands-on helper in this activity. She came home from camp this week, and was very excited when I suggested we make this dish for our joint post.

Raizel helped with the actual cooking, and she also took some of the photos. Raizel has a unique gift for coming up with recipes that are often quite good. But, photography is one of her passions; and of course, she loved using my phone as a camera!

Lentil-Tofu Napoleon

Ingredients:

For Tofu-Lentil Layer:

1 lbs. firm tofu

Spice mix:

1 tablespoon garlic salt

1-2 teaspoons garlic power

1 teaspoon pepper, and cumin

½ teaspoon coriander, and sumac

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Optional: 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Optional: fresh cilantro

Optional: Leftover Napoleon Lentils

Vinegar to taste, in order to get a slightly tangy taste for the tofu. I used red wine vinegar, but I think that apple cider vinegar would be good too.

Vegetable Layer:

3 Zucchini, sliced thinly

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Salt and pepper to taste.

Directions:

Lentil Tofu Creamy layer: Slice the tofu about 5 mm thick and sprinkle spices on top. Spray oil grill, and cook the tofu until done.

I took the leftover lentils from when I first posted the recipe and pureed it together with the tofu and added the vinegar.

The vinegar gives it a nice tang and a creamy texture.

Then I adjusted the seasoning.

Raizel said, “It looks terrible but it tastes great.”

Vegetable layer: Slice the zucchini is thin slices. I have a wonderful compact grater/slicer that I used. It is very sharp and is able to slice 2 different thickness. It also has 3 blades for various grating. Raizel actually sliced the zucchini and she did it very well!

Sauté zucchini in pan, sprayed with olive oil. Add crushed garlic and salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350*F.

Layer zucchini in a small, lightly oiled dish. Next add layer of tofu-lentils, and continuing layering until near the top. Top layer should be of zucchini.

Bake covered for 20 minutes or until cooked.

I made this in individual servings. I think that it could be made in a larger pan, and then sliced when cooked. However, it might be difficult to  maintain the desired layered look. Wolfgang Puck, I believe, used a cookie cutter to get a uniform and attractive serving portion.

Serve with chopped fresh cilantro if desired.

Here are the pictures. Since I made it with Raizel and she likes photography, we took quite a few.

 

Tofu marinating with the spices.

Raizel slicing the zucchini. Go Raizel!

Sauteing the zucchini.

Raizel placing the tofu on the grill.

Raizel cooked the tofu by herself!

Pureeing the tofu

Ready to cook!

Voila! The final product!

 

The verdict:  The recipe objectively came out great. However, subjectively, is was not well received.

After it was so beautifully prepared, my husband reminded me that he does not like anything creamy. Raizel, who was very excited and very enthusiastic during the whole process, also didn’t eat it. Despite her protestations, Raizel does not like anything creamy either.

In the end, I was the only one who ate it. I thought it tasted great.

I also ate the leftover tofu “cream” during the week, as a spread on rice cakes.

Overall, I would say that this recipe is delicious, but for someone else’s family.

What did I learn?

I have my own song in the kitchen. 

Everyone has their own song.

For my family, simple is best.

Finally, I had lots of fun discussing and planning this with Dolly. We had a bonding experience!Thank you Dolly!