Showing posts with label Fruit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fruit. Show all posts

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Baked Apricots with Honey and Orange Blossom Water, and a Language Lesson.

Aywa, aywa, fil mishmish, I would hear the adults say, with a grin and a shrug, when discussing a time frame for when the city would fix the road, when the plumber would fix the toilet, when peace would come to Jerusalem.  

Yes, yes, in the apricot?  I could translate the phrase literally.  I knew what the word mishmish meant: apricots.  It was an Arabic word that my English tongue found playful and satisfying to say. What do apricots have to do with the road?  With the toilet?  With the peace process?  I never knew, and I never asked, because really, how many times a week, a day, an hour, can you ask your mother, but what do you mean? before you both grow weary of the question.

Growing up in my half-Arab half-American home meant living on the shore of understanding, but never venturing into deep waters.  My Arabic was spotty.  I could understand words, phrases, simple sentences.  My exposure to the language began in earnest when I was nine, when we moved to the West Bank.  Even though Arabic was my mother's mother tongue, she did not pass it on to me, and our years in and out of America, in France, where I became fluent in French, and then in Cario, where I become fluent in a British accent (from British schools!), meant that I was nine before I had a serious encounter with my mother's mother tongue.  

I learned Arabic by listening to my mother speak on the phone, or to the taxi driver, to my aunt and cousins.  I learned it by sitting through family dinners that I could not fully understand, by listening to song lyrics that I couldn't follow, by listening to living room small talk, over pistachios and mint tea.  

My mother usually spoke to my sister and to me in English, or in partial English, enough so that we understood.  We were used to sentences that began in one language and ended in another, and when my grandmother lived with us, we became used to the musical layering of English into Arabic, switching halfway, switching with each breath.  

But there were some things that eluded translation:  insults, proverbs, food.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Baked Apples with Spiced Date-Nut Filling {Fruit-Sweetened, GF, DF}

Fall brings apples:  hot mulled apple cider, apple dumplings from market stands in the mountains of Western Pennsylvania, cinnamon-scented applesauce.
But my heart is set on plump apples, stuffed with sticky-sweet caramel-like dates, crispy walnuts, cinnamon and spicy black cardamom, then baked until tender, and topped with cream.
This extremely simple recipe can be pulled together in five minutes, but it will perfume your house with the smell of fall for hours to come. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

"Banana Swirl" - A Two-Ingredient Cultured Ice Cream

I have to credit my daughter for this one. 

She enjoys the PBS Kids show Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, and last week, a recipe for blended frozen banana puree was featured on the website.  She was so excited about it that she had to write it down.  (Maybe we have a little foodie-in-training?)

But on our first attempt at Banana Swirl, we didn't follow the recipe exactly, so a new recipe was born. First, I left the bananas in the freezer overnight instead of twenty minutes.  That meant that the bananas were so frozen that we could not blend them by themselves, as the original recipe called for. Usually, I would add milk or yogurt or cream in a situation like this, but this time, I reached for my jar of cultured cream.  I added a few large spoonfuls, until I could process the bananas.  To our delight, the result was:  ice cream!  Creamy, rich, gently sweet, without any added sweeteners - and full of the goodness of cultured cream - a perfectly nourishing treat!

Can you tell that I'm a little bit excited? 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Honeyed Date-Nut Muffins with Orange Cinnamon Honey Butter

I love to use dates in baking.  Dates have a sticky caramel-like sweetness that adds moist flavor to baked goods, and are a natural wholesome sweetener in their own right.  Dates with walnuts, dates with honey, dates with oranges, dates with spices . . . these are all traditional Palestinian flavors that have roots in the ancient land.

On a whim, I decided to try to create a muffin (mini-cake?)  that features some of these flavors.  The recipe that I hit upon is fairly sweet to my taste, to render it more of a dessert than a breakfast item, but I think it would be especially lovely on an Easter morning with a cup of hot tea.  The crumb is tender, moist,  and cake-like, and the flavor is mild with a hint of spice.  When made with sprouted flour, this muffin is also very satisfying and filling.

While perfectly delicious  by itself or just spread with some grassfed butter, if you want to take it up a notch for a holiday, try it with a flavored butter, like the Cinnamon Orange Honey Butter described in the recipe below. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

How to Make Pomegranate Molasses

Want to know a little secret?

Pomegranate molasses.  It's amazing. 

My mother introduced me to this ingredient, by hand-carrying a bottle from home.  I have kept a bottle in my cupboard ever since.  It's a thick, viscous syrup made out of boiled-down pomegranate juice.  The flavor is complex, puckering tart - almost lemony, fruity, and slightly sweet. 

What do I do with this? 

Use it on meats, my mother said.  Rub it into a beef roast, or a pork roast.   Spread it over a roast chicken.  It is magic, I tell you. 

It really is.