Tag Archives: dessert

Thankful for Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving is over but that certainly does not mean that Pumpkin Pie season is over.

This year, we celebrated Thanksgiving with friends and instead of turkey, made Fondue Chinoise, a holiday tradition in my husband’s family. This is a meat fondue where you cook individual slices of meat in hot broth and then dip into one of many yummy sauces. Typically Fondue Chinoise is served with veal and pork and the sauces usually involve cream. We changed things up a little by adding chicken, fish and shrimp and making a couple of sauces that I could eat. We had a mediterranean sauce, a South Indian sauce that was essentially coconut chutney, and a homemade mayonnaise with freshly ground black mustard among others. After a three hour feast and plenty of wine, there was still the apple crumble my friend made to look forward to. Did I mention I love thanksgiving!

So the next day, we had planned on eating lightly. However, I had a hankering for pumpkin pie. After some research and finding this pumpkin pie recipe, we gave it a try. It was soft, spicy and just made my day. The fact that the pie didn’t have a crust bothered me slightly but it also meant that it was much less work. It was already quite dark by the time the pie was baked and we just had pie for dinner! And unfortunately it was too dark to get any decent pictures. One of these days, I’ll get around to experimenting with a gluten and dairy free crust that I can eat. In the meantime, I wanted to share this recipe, bad pictures and all, as soon as possible especially with those of you who, like me, have a lot of food allergies. Life is so much better when you can eat pumpkin pie!

dairy free gluten free no crust pumpkin pie

Pumpkin pie that I can eat!

 

no crust easy fodmap pumpkin pie recipe

Yay for pumpkin pie season

Crustless, dairy free, gluten free pumpkin pie

Adapted from gluten free easily’s recipe

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 can (16 oz) unsweetened pumpkin puree or 1 cup of homemade puree
  • 1/4 cup gluten free flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar*
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup almond milk

Recipe

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9 inch pie dish with oil (or butter if you can eat it). Mix together all the ingredients and pour into the pie dish. Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Bake for another 25-30 minutes or till a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

*I used regular table sugar or sucrose since I can handle it in small quantities. Please note that I don’t like my desserts too sweet and vastly reduced the amount of sugar used. I’ll be reducing the sugar to 1/4 cup the next time I bake this pie. For those on a FODMAP diet, you can try substituting with dextrose or glucose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Almond Breadcrumb Hearts with Cardamom and Vanilla Infused Honey

mothers day almond breadcrumb fritters in vanilla cardamom honey syrup

Almond breadcrumb fritters in honey infused with vanilla and cardamom

I’ve been thinking about what to make for my Mother’s Day post for the last two weeks! It has to be yummy and special and of course something that my mom would like. It was going to be something with okra and had the recipe all made up. But then I was researching an easy dessert for my cooking club’s Spanish night and came across this recipe for breadcrumb fritters in honey syrup reflecting monastery cooking. There were no pictures but I was instantly transported. I could see monks in long robes gathering up the rosemary for the honey syrup. And saving leftover bread to use in the fritters, ensuring no food went to waste. What was harder to imagine was monks having a decidedly delicious and un-austere meal, much less dessert. Go monks! I love a recipe with a story, don’t you?!

I made the Spanish breadcrumb fritters with rosemary infused honey syrup on Monday. It came out well. But on Tuesday morning, I had a light bulb moment. This recipe could be ‘Indianized’. I changed all my plans and got to work creating my take on an Indian version of the Spanish dessert. Here is what I ended up with.

It was divine. I think my mom will approve 🙂

Happy Mother’s Day!

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mother's day dessert almond bread fritters with vanilla cardamom honey syrup

A sweet treat for Mother’s Day

Vanilla and cardamom infused honey

Making vanilla and cardamom infused honey

almond breadcrumb fritters

Batter for the fritters

almond breadcrumb fritters

Pancake fritters

Ingredients

For the hearts/fritters

  • 3 eggs
  • 3-4 slices of white bread (I used a gluten, dairy and soy free bread from Udi’s)
  • 3-4 tablespoons finely ground almond meal (I use Bob’s Red Mill almond meal)
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil for shallow frying

For the syrup

  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 2 inch stalk of vanilla bean (you can substitute 1/2 teaspoon ground vanilla bean or 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla essence)
  • 7-8 cardamom pods, slightly crushed to open up the pods
  • 2 tablespoons water
Garnish
  • Cinnamon (I used freshly ground ceylon cinnamon)
  • Mint leaves

Recipe

Beat the eggs in a bowl. Make bread crumbs from 3 slices of bread. I simply tore off small pieces (very therapeutic if you’ve had a long day). You can also use a sharp chef’s knife and dice the bread. Add it to the eggs along with 3 tablespoons of almond meal. You should have a fairly thick batter. If it runs too easily, add more almond meal and or bread.

Heat the coconut oil in a skillet or frying pan over medium heat. Once the oil starts shimmering, pour half the batter and spread to make a 1/4 thick ‘pancake’. Once the pancake is golden brown on the bottom, flip and cook till the top is also golden brown. Put aside on paper towels so that the excess oil gets absorbed and the fritters crisps up. Repeat with the rest of the batter. Cut into hearts using cookie cutters or simply into squares or diamonds.

Next, prepare the honey. The easiest way to infuse honey is to open up a jar of honey, insert the vanilla bean and cardamom pods, close the lid and let sit for 2 weeks. If you can’t wait 2 weeks, the next best thing to do is to heat the honey, spices and water over low heat  in a thick bottomed pot for about 10-15 minutes so the flavors come together. Don’t allow the honey to bubble up. It is important to not heat the honey on high heat as it will change the flavor or worse, caramelize the honey. For even better control over the heat, use a double boiler or make your own: place the honey in a small pot and place that pot in a bigger pot with an inch of water.

Place the pancake fritters in the honey syrup making sure they all get coated. Arrange them on a plate or a bowl and pour any remaining syrup over them. Dust with freshly ground cinnamon and garnish with mint. Give mom a hug.

almond breadcrumb hearts for moms

Almond breadcrumb hearts dipped in vanilla, cardamom infused honey

almond breadcrumb fritters with ceylon cinnamon and mint garnish

With a dusting of freshly ground ceylon cinnamon and mint from the garden

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Sweet Potato with Toasted Coconuts and Warm Jaggery Syrup

Sweet Potato with Toasted Coconut and Warm Jaggery Syrup

It’s been a week of sweets around here! The Indian festival of Diwali is on the 26th of October this year. As part of our celebrations, I’ve posted an Indian or Indian inspired dessert every day this week. All of them have incorporated seasonal, local ingredients.

Looking back to the previous posts this week, I’ve realized that I came up with a way to make all of them healthier, typically with adding less sugar or using a ‘natural’ substitute. The beets, parsnip, applesauce all substituted for sugar and added great texture and crunch. I didn’t really set out to make this a healthy Diwali, but if I have to eat sweets five days in a row, they had better not be bad for me!

Here’s this week’s lineup:

Monday – Golden Beets with Roasted Cashews (Halwa)

Tuesday – Kesari Baath: Easy Cream of Wheat Dessert with Parsnips and Dates

Wednesday – Cashewnut Squares with Spiced Applesauce (cashew burfi)

Thursday – Pear Lassi with Ginger and Honey

Today’s recipe is Indian inspired rather than Indian. The recipe just came together on its own after I baked the sweet potato and was wondering what to make with it. You get yams in India but they are sweeter than the yams or sweet potatoes you get here. Jaggery is unrefined cane sugar. It is sometimes also made from palm sap. The flavor of jaggery is quite different from that of refined table sugar.

Microwave baked sweet potato

Diced sweet potato

Jaggery

Jaggery syrup - reduced with green cardamom

Serves 3-4

Recipe

  • 1 big sweet potato
  • 1 teaspoon ghee (or unsalted butter)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut chips (frozen or dried, thaw first if using frozen)
  • 4 tablespoons jaggery (brown sugar or demerara can be used too)
  • 3 cardamom pods, slightly crushed

Pierce the sweet potato 3-4 times with a fork or knife. Cook on high for 8 minutes or till soft. Turn over half way through.

Peel and dice into 1 inch cubes.

Heat the ghee in a saucepan on medium heat. Toast the coconut chips for 4-5 minutes while stirring frequently. They should be lightly browned and crisp.

Heat the jaggery with 1/4 cup of water in a small pot over medium heat. Add cardamom pods. Bring to a boil and then simmer on low for 10 -15 minutes or till the sauce has reduced and is the consistency of maple syrup. If you need to, add more water.

Mix the sweet potato and coconut chips and drizzle the jaggery sauce over them.

This has been a very special week as I don’t often get to indulge in Indian sweets. Thanks for following along and Happy Diwali!

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Pear Lassi with Ginger and Honey

Lassi with pears and ginger

It’s turning out to be one of those weeks when everything happens all at once. Deadlines, errands, events, looking for a new apartment. Not to mention all the work it took to find affordable flights to India for trip in December  and the ensuing visa application. And oh yeah, dark gloomy weather when you’re trying to take pictures.

Or I could just blame it on the pears that were of the perfect ripeness. Just asking to be eaten.

So it came to be that I took the very popular Mango Lassi and made it with baked pears. Was it as good as the One Lassi? I’ll let you decide.

Even with this simple recipe, I had to make a couple of tweaks from what I’d planned. I blended 2 pears with 1 cup of yogurt first and it turned out to be too much yogurt. I added another pear and some honey to make the lassi a bit sweet. Feel free to add sugar or more honey to your taste. I always use freshly ground cardamom when making mango lassi. But the cardamom just didn’t pair well with the pear lassi. I ended up using ground cassia cinnamon instead.

Pears

Baked pear

Makes 2 tall glasses

Recipe

  • 3 pears (I had 2 Bosc and 1 Starkrimson but choose the sweetest ones available)
  • 1/2 inch piece ginger, peeled
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ground cinnamon

With a fork or knife, pierce the pears a few times each. Microwave on 80% power for 10 minutes or till pears have softened. Flip them half way through.

Peel, remove seeds and then blend with yogurt, ginger and honey.

Pour into glasses and dust with the ground cinnamon.

Sip and enjoy your dessert in a glass! And enjoy the rest of your week. I can’t wait for the weekend and to dream about all the places I”ll be visiting and all the food I’ll be eating in India!

Cheers!

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Filed under Cocktails, Dessert, Holiday, India, Recipe

Cashewnut Squares with Spiced Applesauce

Cashewnut burfi or squares

Its Day 3 of the Diwali Dessert week! Today’s recipe is inspired by one of my grandmother’s signature desserts – cashewnut ‘burfi’ or squares. But because of all the ghee and nuts that she used, she’d only make it for special occasions such as my birthday! After the ground cashews and melted sugar are cooked together, the dough is flattened out onto a plate and left to cool before cutting into diamonds. But I could never wait till the squares were formed and I’d get a small cup of the smooth and gooey dough. And then I’d eat it one spoon at a time slowly savoring its rich feel on my tongue. Eating the squares was just as tasty but a different experience entirely.

When I finished making this today, the light was already fading fast. The squares hadn’t fully formed yet but I had to shoot the pictures. I regretted not having cooked the cashew dough a while longer. But then I remembered that I preferred it this way.

Traditionally, the ingredients for this dessert, also called kaju katli, are cashews, sugar, ghee and either milk or water. Instead of milk and most of the sugar, I added spiced applesauce. This was one of the suggestions made when I asked for what local / seasonal ingredients you’d like to see featured. I’ll confess that I wasn’t sure at all if the slight acidity of applesauce and the nuttiness of cashews would go together. But I loved it. It was surprisingly good. I was relieved as I didn’t have a back-up.

Organic applesauce

Roughly ground cashew meal

Cashewnut burfi before laying out to cool

Recipe

Lightly toast the cashew meal for 2-3 minutes on medium low. Simmer the applesauce with the cinnamon, clove and sugar in a thick bottomed pot. Do this for about 8 minutes on medium heat or till the sauce has gone slightly past bubbling to leaving the sides of the pot.

Add the cashew meal and ghee and reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir constantly for 5 minutes while incorporating into a dough. If you can take a small amount of the dough and make into a ball, it is ready to cool.

Smoothen out in a quarter inch layer on a plate. Leave to cool for 2-3 hours in the fridge before cutting into squares or diamonds. Or if you’re like me, just scoop some out into a bowl and dig in right away.

Thanks Grandma.

Cashewnut squares or kaju katli

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Kesari Baath – Easy Cream of Wheat Dessert with Parsnip and Dates

Kesari Baath - cream of wheat with almonds, dates and parsnip

It’s Day 2 of our Diwali Dessert week. Didn’t catch the golden beets with roasted cashews yesterday? Tut-tut, but I’m sure this will corrected very soon! Today, we’ll be making Kesari Baath (saffron semolina pudding) but again with a twist. It’s also called Sooji Halwa in North India.

Indian sweets use a lot of sugar. I can’t eat much sugar so doing a week of desserts is a challenge! I mentioned yesterday that low glycemic sugar alternatives like coconut crystals are a great sugar substitute. Today’s dessert uses parsnips as a natural sweetener. Cool, huh?!

Another trick while making desserts less sweet is to heighten the experience by adding different layers of texture. The dates in the recipe do this but also add some sweetness as well. The nuts add great crunch. When I make this again, I think I’ll chop the parsnips instead of grating to add another layer of texture.

The traditional Kesari Bath uses cashew nuts but since I used them yesterday, I went with almonds. I’m sure pecans or hazelnuts would work well too.

Almonds and dates

Parsnip as a sweetener

Grated parsnip

Recipe

  • 1/2 cup of almonds, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 dates, pitted and chopped (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons ghee (or unsalted butter)
  • 1 cup cream of wheat or semolina
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron
  • 1 cup grated parsnip (optional, helps sweeten and thus reduce amount of sugar needed)

Heat the ghee on medium heat in skillet till it melts. Roast the nuts and dates for 3 minutes while stirring frequently. Remove the nuts and dates and leave out to cook. Roast the cream of wheat in the same skillet for 3 minutes or till it turns slightly brown.

Heat the water and milk in a pot over medium heat. Add the grated parsnips, sugar and saffron. When the milk just starts to simmer, slowly add the roasted cream of wheat while stirring. Once all the cream of wheat has been added, remove the pot from heat and stir till cooked.

You can either mix in all the nuts and dates or use them as garnish.

Enjoy this easy, yummy dessert!

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Golden Beets with Roasted Cashews

Diwali, the Indian festival of lights is on October 26th this year. This is one of the most popular festivals in India! Most people celebrate with fireworks, new clothes and families and friends exchange sweets. I’ll confess that I don’t often eat sweets. For one, they go directly to my waistline and for another, they usually have some ingredient that I can’t eat. Plus when I crave food, its usually something savory. I really dislike how sickly sweet most Indian sweets are. BUT, when you make it yourself, you’re in control. And with healthy ingredients like beets, I don’t feel guilty at all.

I love the natural sweetness of the beets and didn’t feel the need to add much sugar at all. There are layers of texture in this simple dessert. The cooked grated beets still retain some of their crunch. The roasted cashews are crisp. The raisins plump up when cooked with the beets and milk and are almost juicy when you bite into them.

Golden Bulk beets for beet halwa

Cashews roasted in ghee

Beets are in peak season right now and there are so many ways of preparing them apart from slicing them up for a salad. I love beets but hate the mess of cleaning up after them! Golden beets though come with all the crunch of beets, a mild sweet flavor and none of the mess. So here goes, the first recipe for this week of daily Diwali dessert inspiration!

This recipe is a take on carrot halwa.

Serves 4-6

Recipe

  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons ghee (or unsalted butter)
  • 1/2 cup whole cashews
  • 1 big or 2 small golden beets, grated (about 2 cups)
  • 1.5 cups milk, divided (A non dairy milk will work too)
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron
  • 1.5 tablespoons sugar (for a low glycemic alternative, use coconut crystals!)
  • 1/4 cup raisins

Heat 2 teaspoons ghee  over medium heat till it melts and starts to froth. Roast the cashews for 3-5 minutes or till slightly brown. Remove from heat and allow to cool and crisp up.

Microwave 1/2 cup milk for 30 seconds. Gently crush saffron in your palms and add it to the milk. Stir and let sit for a few minutes.

Heat 2 tablespoons ghee in a pot over medium heat till it starts to froth. Saute the grated beets for 3 minutes. Add the milk with saffron, the rest of the milk, raisins and sugar. Stir. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. The beets should be cooked but still have some bite to them. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, garnish with the roasted nuts before serving.

For a nice presentation, you can dust with powdered sugar.

Golden Beet 'Halwa' for Diwali

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What I Learned About Baking Swiss Christmas Cookies

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I can throw a curry together anytime. But baking intimidates me and I had a cookie party to go to. And I can’ take curry to a cookie party now, can I?

And so while thinking about what I could take, I remembered the Swiss Christmas cookies my husband made two years ago right after the snowpocalypse we had in Seattle. He’s from Switzerland and since we weren’t going there for the holidays, he decided we’d bring Switzerland to Seattle instead. And then proceeded to make two kinds of cookies. He then followed that up with making Fondue Chinoise, the Swiss version of Chinese hot pot. And this is a guy that cooks twice a year. I was impressed!

This year though it was up to me to make the cookies and I went with Brunsli, cookies made with almond flour and cocoa.

I used this recipe and tweaked it based on what I had available at home. I also left out the Kirsch since, from prior experience, what is available as cherry liquor here tastes more like cough syrup and is better avoided. I left out the flour as I only had whole wheat flour and wanted to make the cookies gluten free.

Ingredients (made ~35 2″ cookies)

5 oz sugar
pinch salt
9 oz Almond meal/flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon
2 cloves freshly ground
3.5 oz plus 2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder (mine had bits of dark chocolate in it)
2 egg whites
1-2 tablespoons slivered almonds (optional)

Recipe

Mix the sugar, salt, almond flour, spices and cocoa powder in a big bowl.

Add egg whites and mix to form a dough.

Divide the dough into 3-4 portions. Roll out a portion of the dough using a rolling pin into a sheet that is roughly a third of an inch thick. Sprinkle the slivered almonds on top and ‘fix’ them in place by going over gently with the rolling pin.

Line a tray (or two) with baking paper. Cut the dough into squares or use a cookie cutter. Place the cookies on the tray. Once all the cookies are made, leave the tray out, uncovered, overnight. *I didn’t have enough time and only left them out for an hour*. This probably affected the consistency a bit.

Heat oven to 480 degrees F and bake the cookies for 6 minutes.

Take out the trays and place the cookies on a plate in a single layer. If you’re not serving them right away, store the cookies in an airtight box.

Lessons

As much as I liked the taste of my cookies, I knew they were not perfect. So what lessons did I learn with my cookie experiment?

Follow the directions! They didn’t feel quite done after 6 minutes and I put them back in the over for another few minutes. They ended up a bit harder than I would have liked. As much as tweaking recipes is fun and often required, you should know when to tweak and when to leave alone. If its the first time with a recipe, follow it first. You can tweak it the next time.

Trying something completely new in the kitchen is exciting! Gladly, this was an easy recipe to start with and I knew there wouldn’t be any Swiss people at the party who’d know how the cookie was supposed to taste like.

And lastly, although I ‘share’ my recipes on the blog, sharing in person is sweeter. Way sweeter!

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Ode to a Coconut

The poor coconut has been much maligned as being unhealthy and laden with cholesterol. That view may be changing now as I found out on a recent tour of a grocery co-op lead by a nutritionist. Though high in cholesterol, coconuts contain medium chain triglycerides, or MCT’s. MCTs are easily digested and are converted into energy right away as opposed to other fats that are stored. Some research suggests that consuming more coconuts can help you lose weight!

I’ve always loved coconut is all its forms! Tender sweet coconut water is the best thing on a hot summer day. The next best thing is scooping out the still tender white flesh that later thickens into meat. Grated fresh coconut adds instant deliciousness and texture to ‘curried’ vegetables – see my earlier post. And of course Thai curries and soups made with coconut milk (made by squeezing grated coconut meat) are so flavorful.

Writing about coconuts reminds me of my grandmother’s lovely garden where she has five or six coconut trees. One of my ambitions as a child was to climb one of these trees and harvest my own coconut. I’d seen men shinny up coconut palms using a technique where they alternated hands and feet. This was one ambition that was soon dropped as I could never replicate the frog-like technique. Fast forwarding to the present, I’m just happy that we can buy coconuts and coconut milk in the market!

I’ve noticed recently that many of my friends also love coconut and so I do end up using it quite regularly. For a recent dinner party, I’d offered to bring a dessert. I didn’t have any fresh coconut left but did have some Baker’s sweetened coconut flakes. Coconut “burfi” (a general word for many sweets in India that can be cut into squares) came to mind and I made it, though in a non-traditional way. It was moist and crunchy at the same time and everyone liked it. Best of all, it is super easy to make though after my introduction on how healthy coconuts are, I should probably stick to fresh instead of processed coconut flakes! Here’s the recipe. It serves 8.

You’ll need:

  • Baker’s coconut (sweetened) – 7 oz pack
  • whole milk (I substituted soy milk creamer) – 1.5 to 2 cups
  • sugar (or an alternate sweetener. I used jaggery, a raw form of cane sugar) – 1 tbsp
  • green cardamom – 10, seeded and roughly ground using a mortar and pestle
  • saffron (optional) – 7-8 threads, crumbled

Simmer the milk on medium-low till it comes to a rolling boil. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Simmer for 30 minutes or till the mixture has thickened and there is almost no liquid left. Stir occasionally to avoid burning. Let it cool a bit and spread the coconut mixture in a thick layer in a buttered pan. Refrigerate (or even freeze) for a few hours to get it to set. Don’t worry too much if it won’t harden. It will still taste fine.

Enjoy this yummy dessert and the lovely floral saffron with the woody notes of cardamom perfectly matched with sweet and crunchy coconut!

And a quick tip if you’re shopping for this amazing nut. Choose one where you can hear the liquid sloshing around inside when you shake it.

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