Emboldened by the successful poached pear pie, I decided to do something about the four overripe bananas in our fruit basket. This came out delightful–moist, fragrant, wholesome, and not too sweet.
4 ripe bananas 1/2 cup coconut sugar, brown sugar, or maple syrup 3/4 cup vegetable oil (I used safflower oil) 2 cups whole wheat flour 1 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp cinnamon tiny bit of salt optional: almond slivers, unsweetened coconut flakes
Heat oven to 375 Fahrenheit. Mash bananas in a bowl and add sugar and vegetable oil. When sort of mixed, add flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and mix until combined (not too much). If you like, add almond slivers and coconut flakes. Transfer to pan (I like my Bundt cake silicone pan) and bake for about 35 minutes, or until a knife or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out dry. Wait until the cake cools to invert and slice.
We’ve been invited to a post-Thanksgiving party called You’re Welcome! And we’re not coming empty-handed. This beautiful (and entirely vegan) pie will be our contribution to the festivities.
6 ripe pears
1 cup unsweetened cranberry juice
1 herbal tea bag (we used rose hip and lavender)
2 cinnamon sticks
4 cardamom pods
1 splash whiskey
1 homemade or bought pie crust
1/2 cup maple syrup
4 tbsp agar flakes
1 tsp powdered cinnamon
1 tsp powdered nutmeg
Halve the pears and core them. Place the pear halves in a bit pot. Add cranberry juice, herbal tea bag, cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamom, and whiskey. Then, add hot water to cover the pears. Simmer for about 15-20 mins.
Remove pear halves from syrup. Wait until they cool down a bit, then slice thinly and arrange in pie crust.
Strain syrup from all whole spices, add powdered spices, agar, and maple syrup. Cook until reduced to a syrupy consistency (a bit liquid is okay; the agar will help it gel). Drizzle onto pie to cover pears. Bake for 30 mins at 350 degrees. Let cool completely.
Tonight I’m serving dinner for 20; my seminar students are coming over for our last class. Lots of beautiful salads, grains, legumes, roasted vegetables and other exciting things in the making; the first thing to be prepared and in the fridge is dessert.
My friend Andrea forwarded me a recipe for pots-de-creme, and I’ve modified it a bit and made enormous quantities. The following will leave you with a blenderful of creme, which you can serve in nice glass cups, pour into little filo dough ramekins (that’s what we did here), or freeze for ice cream.
2 packages tofu: I used one silken and one firm. Soft would do just as fine. 2 1/4 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk 1 package (approx 2 cups) dark chocolate chips 2 tbsp baking cocoa optional: 2 tbsp brown sugar or maple syrup
Heat almond milk in saucepan until very hot but not yet boiling. At the same time, place tofu, chips, cocoa powder and sugar in blender. Add hot milk and blend until very very smooth. Refrigerate for several hours before serving.
This is one of those times in which I wish the internet could convey a sense of smell. I made this compote this morning, and hope to serve it over oatmeal to a brunch guest. I also hope there will be leftovers!
For Chinese medicine buffs: people with “cold” constitutions, who would sometimes find it difficult to eat fruit in the morning, cooking the fruit really helps.
Spiced Fruit Compote
1 fuji apple 2 bosc pears 1 cup cherries 1/2 cup fresh cranberries 1/2 cup raisins 2 cups apple juice 1/3 cup port wine (optional) zest from 1/2 lemon 2 cinnamon sticks 5 cloves
Core fruit and cut to large cubes. Place in large pot with apple juice, wine, and spices. Cook for about fifteen minutes. Eat over oatmeal or on its own.
This Passover, I’m a guest, not a hostess. My cooking contributions include a slightly modified version of the greens quiche I made last spring (this time, with green garlic in lieu of leeks!), as well as a simple and special dessert: date/pecan/raisin balls.
It is a very simple and easy recipe, and there are countless versions, of course; you could add a bit of wine (port or sherry would work really well), and any sort of nut or dried fruit. I like the spices in this combination, and it looks quite pretty in its little “home” — a pod-shaped Tunisian serving dish.
25 medjool dates (the meaty, squeezable kind) a big handful of dark raisins a big handful of raw pecans 1 tsp cinnamon 1/2 tsp ground clove 1/2 tsp vanilla 1/2 cup grated coconut
Pit dates and place in food processor bowl. Process until smooth (it will become sort of a soft ball after processed). In the meantime, chop pecans to little pieces. Place date ball on a cutting board, and work pecans and raisins into it. Add spices and keep working the “dough”. Make little balls from the mixture. Roll little balls in coconut. Place in refrigerator for a few hours before serving.
Happy Spring, and Happy Freedom Holiday. May it bring freedom to many people of the world who are in bondage as we, fortunate enough, get to enjoy a meal with our relatives and friends.
It appears that a few weeks ago Chad actually managed to take a picture of the flan he made before it was consumed (an incredible feat requiring considerable dexterity and restraint). The recipe is elsewhere on the blog; the picture itself is here.
Seasoned readers of this blog have probably gathered that I don’t eat a lot of dessert.
I try to stick to fresh fruit for my sweets, and it works out fine for me, especially as I really love fresh fruit. This week’s fare has included juicy nectarines and cactus fruit (peel carefully! the thorns, which protect the cactus for predators, do exactly what they are supposed to – and it stings!). But there’s one big exception to this rule – and that’s when Chad makes Flan!
Flan, a lovely and creamy milk, egg and caramel custard, is a dessert we both grew up with as kids in Ecuador. There are commercial versions, which are not bad at all, and then there’s the home-made variety, which is fabulous.
The trick with flan is to mix the milk and eggs really well and leave some bubbles in the mixture, though not for too long, because too much foam ruins the creamy texture. It can also be seasoned with various treats – I’ll place some good recommendations below. The picture above is taken of an anime site, battleangel.info (of all places!), because ours was eaten too fast to be photographed. But it was equally delicious!
Deep baking dish (shallow dishes make for shallow flans).
For custard: 2 eggs + 2 yolks 2 cups of milk (for this dish, cow milk works better than goat milk) 1 tsp vanilla optional: 1-2 tsps sugar (if the topping is sweet, you can do without) optional seasonings: lemon peel; cardamon; cinnamon; nutmeg; or, for coffee flan, a teaspoon of good espresso powder
For caramel topping: 1 cup sugar 1/8 cup water
Heat up oven to about 180 degrees celsius. Heat up milk with spices and let cool. Meanwhile, caramelize the sugar: heat it with water, constantly mixing it, until it reaches syrup consistency. It doesn’t have to become solid, but it’s preferrable if it’s solid enough to be sticky. Whisk milk with eggs until there’s little bubbles everywhere, but don’t make too much fluff. Coat baking dish with caramel, then pour milk and egg mixture on top. Bake for about 30 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick or a knife goes in the flan and comes out clean and dry. Wait till it cools, then slowly and carefully use a knife to separate sides of flan from the dish. When you’ve done this to the best of your ability (patient people do better at this stage), invert the flan onto a plate. Whoa! There’s caramel on top! Have fun.