Showing posts with label Sweets. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sweets. Show all posts

Friday, April 25, 2014

Sesame-Honey Fudge with Pistachio, or Halaweh


Halaweh, (also called halawa, halwa, halva)  is a dense, sweet, nutty-tasting confection, made with many variations throughout the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and  eastern Europe. It is a fudge made with tahini, or sesame paste, mixed with sugar that has been boiled to the hard-rock stage, and then formed into a block. You can find a number of flavors of halaweh in Middle Eastern grocers, including plain, chocolate or pistachio.

I am so excited to share with you a five-minute, five-ingredient, raw and wholesome version of this treat!  This recipe is sugar-free, and  allergy sensitive, without gluten, dairy, eggs, (and can be prepared without nuts). 

To read more and find the recipe, click over to my post on the blog MidEATS


Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Jewel of Middle Eastern Pastries: Honey-Walnut Baklava

Crispy, crackling layers of paper-thin dough, soaked in butter,  stuffed with a rich nutty filling, and then drizzled with a honey-sweet syrup, baklawa is the crown jewel of Middle Eastern pastries. 

This composed pastry dish actually harkens back to the Ottomon empire, so you will find variations on baklava throughout the Mediterannean, from eastern Europe to the far reaches of the Middle East.  The word baklava, then, is of Ottomon origin, but Arabs have adopted and adapted it to their tongue, so I grew up calling this pastry ba'lawa.

Ba'lava is a layered pastry made from phyllo dough.  Phyllo dough is an unleavened paper-thin dough, made with flour, water, a little oil and vinegar.  You can purchase this in the freezer section of your local grocery story, but I am sure that with a little elbow grease, you can make it yourself.  The ba'lawa is built with layers of buttered phyllo dough, and then a couple of thick layers of crushed nuts.  The pastry remains unsweetened until after baking, when a sweet syrup is poured over top, and allowed to soak for several hours or overnight, to set.

Friday, December 20, 2013

My Palestinian Grandmother's Orange Chiffon Cake

Pictured with my grandmother's hand-crocheted lace.

Teta, can you make a cake for me

Yes, habibti, yes, my dear.  Let's make cake.  And into our kitchen we would go, where my grandmother would pull out eggs, oranges, flour, sugar, yogurt.  With a little twinkle in her eye, she would tell me that brandy would make the cake delicious. 

My mother learned how to make American-style cakes, chocolate cakes and yellow layer cakes, cakes that looked like bunnies and cakes that were frosted and sprinkled with coconut.  My mother read English cookbooks, studied them, jotting down her notes in the margins in Arabic. 

But my dear grandmother, my teta, who as far as I know never read a cookbook in her life, only knew how to make one cake:  orange cake.  Why can't you make another flavor, I would ask her.  This is the cake I know how to make, she would tell me.  She would pull out a bowl, a spoon, and a mug.  A mug!  No measuring spoons?  No measuring cup?!  She used a clear glass mug to measure out her flour, her oil, her sugar.  And so she beat the egg whites, and stirred the yolks into the sugar and the yogurt.   I watched in awe, wondering how she knew what to add, and how much to add, and would this cake really turn out?  I kept watching, and waiting, and was gifted with witnessing the miracle:  the cake baked, the heady fragrance of orange slowly blossomed in the kitchen until the cake swelled and browned, slightly crispy at the edges. 

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. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

When the Rain Falls, and a Recipe for Sugared Spelt Cut-Out Cookies

I sent my baby to kindergarten today. 

We woke up to rain falling, softly.  A dark, grey morning, the sun seemed unwilling to get up.  But we all brushed, dressed, pulled on new socks, shoes. 

We kissed.  We said the important things, the I-love-yous, and God-loves-you and always-remember-that.  And then I watched her proudly lead the line of kindergartners upstairs, her backpack slung high.  She was ready to go.

And still, the rain fell, softly, down my cheeks.

There are moments in life where deep joy and deep grief are twisted together, forming a braid that is as strong as it is beautiful.  Allowing both to pierce your hearts is what keeps your heart soft enough to open, soft enough to love, soft enough to break.

I know this because I know a little something about saying goodbye.  I have said goodbye enough times, to enough people, to enough worlds, to know.  I know that life is full of these moments, when a door shuts, when an airplane takes off, when a mother kisses you goodbye. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Pistachio Ice Cream with Pomegranate Syrup

Move over, neon green ice cream. 

How about a honey-sweet ice cream, mixed with fresh, chopped pistachios?  And for a more sophisticated twist, why not top it with some sweet-tart pomegranate syrup?

This is a flexible recipe.  If you don't have pistachios, add in another kind of nut, or leave it out all together for some lovely honey ice cream.  Guests to impress?  Layer pistachio ice cream with the syrup and then scoop it out to reveal pretty ribbons of pomegranate running through the pistachio ice cream.  Don't feel like fussing?  Just pour the pomegranate syrup on top, for a sundae effect.  Or skip it altogether, and serve your pistachio ice cream plain, maybe with just another sprinkle of pistachios.  You won't regret it. 

There are no rules here, friends. Just lots of ice cream!

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. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Nourishing Makeover: Salted Oatmeal Chocolate Coconut Cookies

A few weeks ago, I posted a recipe for my mother's favorite cookie:  Salted Oatmeal Chocolate Coconut Cookie

I promised a more nourishing makeover, and here it is.  I grew up with lots of  "healthy cookies" because my mother used to replace oil for butter and add whole wheat whenever she could.  But this makeover is of the Weston A. Price variety: keep the butter, treat the grains, and use nutrient-rich natural sweeteners.

The result:

Yum. Yum.

They baked up perfectly. They are sweet, chewy and also slightly crunchy. The chocolate was gooey, the pecans were even more buttery due to soak-and-dehydrate method, and I once again enjoyed the salt-sweet play of these cookies.  Because of the sprouted flour, these cookies are hearty and filling, and even one cookie is very satisfying.  My toddler who is known to whine, Hungry!  Hungry! all afternoon ate one of these and was satisfied until dinner.  My husband said that they tasted a little like granola.  

The process may seem a little labor intensive, particularly preparing the pecans and the oats, but I found that while there were several steps, each step only took a minute or two and was very easy. I made a double batch of the oats and lots of pecans and crammed them all in my oven to let them dehydrate, so I can actually make another batch of these cookies sometime in the future with very little effort. Plus, I am happy to take a little extra time if it means that I can give my family delicious cookies that will nourish their little bodies while making them smile.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Salted Oatmeal Chocolate Coconut Cookies


This is not a traditional Palestinian cookie, in case you were wondering.  But this is my mother's kind of cookie.  My mother loves cookies with "things" in them.  Nuts, chocolate chips, oatmeal - they all make her cookies happy.  The first time my mother ate these she told me that when she is old and dying, and she is ready to eat her last cookie, I must make her these.  A little morbid, but I'll take it. 

When I was was eight months pregnant, my dear friend invited me over to have a marathon cooking day in her kitchen, so that I could stock my freezer and she could give some meals away.  I think we made eight lasagnas, four batches of enchilada mixes and four batches of these cookies in a mere three hours.  It was a year before I wanted lasagna again.  But these cookies, well, that was another story.  We started out with a basic oatmeal cookie and couldn't stop adding ingredients to them.  This is what we made and they were a howling success. 

Dare I admit that I even won our local community dessert contest with these cookies?  They are that yummy.