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!

Cinnamon Pull Aparts

Cinnamon Pull Aparts

Raizel’s obsession with cinnamon was not assuaged by the cinnamon muffins.  Although my cinnamon muffins were good, apparently, they still did not compare to Cinnamon Pull Aparts.

So, last week, Raizel, her friend Cassy, and Cassy’s mother, Consolita and I had a bonding experience. We baked Cinnamon Pull Aparts together.

As I shared, originally, my niece,  “Yo-Yo,” gave me a great recipe for Cinnamon Pull Apart Buns. However, when the time came to make the recipe, it was too blury to read.

So, Consolita and I did a quick Google search and found this recipe, originally from the Fleishman’s Yeast Company. I altered it slightly, as I made the dough in a food processor, minimized the amount of margarine used, and rolled it out and baked them as a pinwheel slices, rather than as balls of dough.

Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour (I use spelt). Add up to 1/4 more to prevent it from being too sticky.

1/4 cup sugar

2.5 teaspoons RapidRise Yeast

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup milk (I used rice milk)

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup oil (original recipe called for margarine)

1 egg

Filling

1 cup sugar (I used Demerara, raw sugar)

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 cup margarine, melted (I used Smart Balance)

Glaze:

1 cup icing sugar

3 tablespoons milk (I used rice milk)

Instructions:

Place flour, sugar, yeast and salt in food processor and pulse to blend. The original recipe called for warming the milk, but, I did not do that. Instead, I added hot water to the milk, together with the oil and the egg, and blended it until it formed a smooth dough.

Kneed dough on a lightly floured surface until well blended and slightly elastic. Cover and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

Blend together the sugar, cinnamon and melted margarine.

Roll the dough into a rectangle, on a lightly floured surface or between 2 layers of parchment paper.

Spread the sugar, cinnamon and margarine over the dough.

Starting on the long side, roll up dough as tightly as possible, jelly-roll style.

With a serrated knife, slice into ½ inch slices and place pieces closely together cut side down on greased or parchment lined pan.

Bake in a preheated 375*F oven, until done and rolls are golden brown.

For glaze: Mix the icing sugar and milk in a bowl, adding the milk 1 teaspoon at a time. Stir until desired consistency.

Drizzle glaze over rolls while still warm.

These are the original instructions:

Combine 2 cups flour, sugar, dry yeast and salt in a large mixer bowl and stir until blended. Combine milk, water and butter in a microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave on HIGH in 15 second increments until very warm but not hot to the touch (120° to 130°F.  Butter won’t melt completely). Add to flour mixture with egg.

Beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add 1 cup flour; beat 2 minutes at high speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in just enough remaining flour so that the dough will form into a ball.

Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic and dough springs back when lightly pressed with 2 fingers, about 6 to 8 minutes. Cover with a towel; let rest for 10 minutes.

For filling, combine sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl.

Cut dough into 36 pieces.   Dip each piece into the melted butter and then roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture.  Place in fluted tube pan that has been generously sprayed with cooking spray.  Combine any remaining butter and sugar and drizzle over rolls. Cover with towel; let rise in warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Bake in preheated 375ºF oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until rolls are golden brown. Cool 5 minutes in pan, then invert on serving plate.

Making it it the food processor was much faster and easier!

Here are the pictures:

Mixing dough in the food processor. Much easier and faster!

 

 

dough fully blended.

dough fully blended.

 

 

Rolling out the dough between 2 layers of parchment.

Rolling out the dough between 2 layers of parchment.

Spreading out the filling over the dough.

Spreading out the filling over the dough.

Ready to bake.

Ready to bake.

Ready to be iced!

Ready to be iced!

I forgot to take a picture right away. Here are the leftovers.

Final outcome: Raizel and everyone else loved the rolls. The smell of cinnamon was heavenly too!

Overall, this was a successful culinary adventure, and fun too. It turns out that Consolita is a great cook, and she agreed to do this more often. I now have a cooking buddy!

Enjoy!

Reference:

http://www.breadworld.com/recipes/Beginners-Cinnamon-PullApart-Bread

Braised Beets


According to Rashi, “all beginnings are difficult.” 

Adjusting to new circumstances and challenges require perseverance and a sincere resolve to be successful.  

In my case, I am still adjusting to my new kitchen.

I used to be able to cook many things quickly as I enjoyed the benefit of 2 ovens. Now, I have only 1 oven, and it recently needed to be repaired too.

So, rather than roasting my vegetables in the oven, I have been experimenting with cooking vegetables on top of stove. I have yet to fully master this technique, but I am happy to say that I am making progress!

Initially, I tried roasting vegetables on top of the stove. The technique behind stove top roasted vegetables is to first brown the vegetables, and then essentially steam them until they are done.  Overall, I was not pleased with the outcome using that method.

Now, I have discovered braising vegetables on top of the stove. This method seems to not only be a time saver, but, the outcome wins the husband and children seal of approval.

In order to cook vegetables on top of the stove, they need to be cut into smaller and more uniform-sized pieces. Since I make a lot of vegetables, I thought I would try slicing them with my food processor and then cooking them. Success!

I went from 2.5 hours to roast beets in the oven to 40 minutes, from start to finish!

I may yet experiment with using a pressure cooker, which could be an even greater time saver. Stay tuned.

I also think the spices could be varied and yield different results that are equally tasty.

Ingredients

Beets, washed and scrubbed

Salt, pepper to taste

Fresh garlic, crushed

1 lemon, zested and juiced

Optional: fresh chopped herbs

Instructions 

 Wash and scrub beets. Slice with food processor. Place beets in a spray oiled pan. Add salt and pepper to taste with a small amount of water. Cook until done. Add crushed garlic and adjust the seasoning. Pour lemon juice and lemon zest over beets while still warm. 

Here are a few pictures:

Sliced with the food processor.

Sliced with the food processor.

 

Final outcome. The beets are seasoned to taste and most of the liquid is absorbed.

 

I am happy because I have maximum taste with minimal time. 

Everyone else is happy because they taste as good as roasted. 

Plus, this is even small kitchen approved. A win-win overall!

We are all happy!

Enjoy!

Gazpacho Soup

Today, I had a wonderful group with my patients.

Sometimes, when I run a group, I ask patients to introduce themselves with the following questions: “what do you love to do?” Or, “what do you do that makes you lose track of time?”

Surprisingly, such a simple question generates a lot of discussion. It engenders positive feelings of well-being and it is an opportunity for patients to share with each other their passions in life.

One patient, Henri, (I wrote about him in The Birthday Party https://coffeeklatchinsight.wordpress.com/2016/04/18/the-birthday-party/) shared in an earlier group that he loves to garden and he even grows his own vegetables.

Today, he surprised us. He brought in his first crop of tomatoes. With such luscious tomatoes, I decided to make gazpacho soup.

I have not made gazpacho soup in years. I forgot how great it is.

This recipe comes from my Aunt Perel (A”H). Aunt Perel was a fabulous cook! I think of her often, especially when I cook.

Cooking was Aunt Perel’s passion in life. She could quote the source and the originator of a particular recipe the way other people discuss academic research.

This soup is particularly great when using fresh, ripe tomatoes. It feels like eating salad in a bowl.

Ingredients

1.5 lbs ripe tomatoes

3/4 cup onions

1 cucumber, peeled

1 small green pepper

1-2 garlic cloves

1.5 teaspoons salt, to taste

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup olive oil (can add up to 1/3 cup, but my family does not like things with too much oil)

1/2 cup wine vinegar

1/2 cup water

Optional: 3/4 cup dried breadcrumbs, or serve with croutons

Instructions

Place ingredients in food processor and pulse until desired consistency. Adjust seasoning. Serve chilled.

tomatoes shared during our group

voila! final product

I must say, this soup surpassed my wildest expectations!

My husband loved it! He said, “this is fantastic! I don’t even like gazpacho….. Can I have some more?”

A true vote of confidence!

Many blessings to Aunt Perel (A”H) for sharing her wonderful recipes and culinary expertise.

 

Sheva Brachot Cranberry Ice

I feel like I can’t let the week pass without posting at least 1 recipe.  

So, I thought I would post what I served for dessert first. Sometimes, last is best.

For the Sheva Brachot I served cranberry ice, with sugar cookies and fresh green and red grapes for dessert.

The sugar cookies recipe was already posted much earlier. I will try to include a link later.

This recipe is very fast and easy and also very economical.

Ingredients 

1 16 oz. can cranberry sauce 

1 cup ginger ale, or lemon lime soda

Optional: garnish with mint leaves 

Instructions 

Blend cranberry sauce in food processor until puréed. 

Fold in ginger ale or lemon lime soda.

Freeze in ice cube trays. 

After it is frozen, remove from freezer and defrost slightly. 

Blend again in food processor and refreeze. 

Defrost for 1/2 hour before serving. If not using cookies, garnish with fresh mint leaves.

Since we had 28 guests, I used 3 cans of cranberry sauce and 3 cups of soda.

I think this recipe is very flexible and easily adapts to other canned fruits and liquids. In the future, I may try it with canned pineapple and coconut milk. Raizel suggested canned cherries. 

Raizel has become my culinary consultant and she has many good ideas. I guess this blog has been helpful for her too in many ways!

Here are the pictures. I didn’t use ice cube trays, and after I puréed the cranberry sauce, I used a tin pan:

  
Here I folded in the ginger ale.

   

After I puréed everything for the second time, this is how it looked:

  

The Cranberry Ginger Ice was a big hit! This is all that is left:
  

Raizel said, “the texture is perfect and this is yummy!”

Enjoy!

Challah Recipe

Water Challah

This is our favorite challah recipe. I make it every week. It works in the bread machine or in the food processor.

Depending on the time of year, I often make the dough in the bread machine. I put the ingredients in the bread machine before I go to work Friday morning. Then, I set the timer so that the dough will be done when I get home from work.

The first thing I do when I walk in the door is braid the dough. I let the loaves rise and bake them just before Shabbat. It is so great to have fresh baked challah for Shabbat!

Ingredients:

4 cups flour

1.75 cups warm water

2 teaspoons yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

3 Tablespoons oil

1.5 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 egg, to brush loaves

Directions:

For the food processor: Mix yeast, 1 t sugar into water and let it bubble and rise. Mix flour, sugar, oil and salt. Add yeast and water and then mix until it forms a smooth dough.

Let rise in an oiled bowl and shape into loaves. I tend to make up to 8 small loaves, unless we are having guests.  Brush the loaves with an egg and let rise again.

For bread machine:

Place in bread machine according to the instructions.

Bake in a 425*F oven until done. The trick to knowing if the bread is done is to tap the bottom of the loaves and listen if it sounds hollow.

Hints:

On days when I am rushed, I will sometimes put the bread in a cold oven and let it rise as the oven comes to the correct temperature.  It works!

I line the baking pans with parchment paper, to make the clean up easier.

In the past, I have sometimes sprinkled cinnamon on the pan. It gives a hint of sweetness to the challah, and makes the whole house smell heavenly!

The smell of challah is the scent of Shabbat!

Here are the pictures:

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This is the dough, ready to rise.

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Voila! The final product.

Enjoy!

Water Challah