Pineapple-Oat Cookies

pineapple oatmeal cookies

These cookies turned out quite fantastic: chewy and full of fruit. The basic recipe is at Natural Sweet Recipes, but I modified it because I didn’t have all the ingredients at hand. Turned out great,

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Orange-Clove Cookies

Delicious and easy to make!

But first, a kitchen gear recommendation: If, like me, you bake very infrequently, you might appreciate having a small hand mixer that doesn’t take up a lot of room. I’m really enjoying this one.

1/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
4 tsp orange zest
7 cloves
1/3 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt

Heat oven to 375 and prepare a baking sheet with a silpat mat on it (or waxed paper with a bit of grease on it.) Cream the coconut oil and maple syrup. Then, add zest, cloves, nuts, flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix well. Dough should have soft play-doh consistency. Make little balls, place on baking sheet, and flatten a bit at the center with your thumb. Bake for about 12 minutes or until the edges are golden.

What You Do When the Flour’s Gone

Last night I called my pals Rosie and Noam, and invited them over to watch Green for Danger, a British thriller. As they were heading to my house, I realized I had nothing to give them, except for some dill tofu uncheese. A short glance at the kitchen reminded me that I had four ripe bananas which were still sweet and nice, but would go bad in a day or two; something had to be done. I ran to the grocery store.

“Where’s the flour?” I asked myself. The flour was gone. My grocer had to get ready for Passover a bit early, this time; many of the customers are folks from my neighborhood, the Yemenite Quarter, who live close by and keep Kosher quite meticulously. But I wouldn’t let that thwart my efforts! I grabbed a bag of potato flour, a bag of matzo flour, and headed upstairs.

There, I took a look at Phyllis Glazer‘s wonderful classic “A Vegetarian Feast”, and changed her banana bread recipe a bit to resemble the following:

Passover-Safe Banana Cakes

1/2 cup canola oil
2 small eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar or honey
4 ripe, sweet bananas
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 bag baking soda
1 cup matzo flour
1 cup potato flour
1/2 cup hot water
dried cranberries (mine are sweetened with apple juice)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Heat up the oven to about 160 degrees celsius (yes, it’s pretty low). Use a large mixing bowl and mix the canola oil, the eggs and the sugar/honey. Make sure the eggs are well beaten and the whole thing is pretty smooth before mashing up the bananas and adding them in. I mashed them in my food processor, but if they’re ripe enough, should be no problem to do so with a fork. Mix up the bananas and the oil/egg/sugar mix. Add vanilla extract and mix.

Add the salt and baking soda and mix.

Then, gradually start adding the flour. After every 1/3 cup of flour or so, add some of the water to assist the mixing. Mix really well, so all the flour blends into the mix. Then, add the dried cranberries and the cinnamon and give it a little mix again.

Pour mixture into an English cake mold, or (as I like to do) into muffin cups. Lately I’ve become addicted to baking in silicone pans, which are very easy to use and require no oiling. If using a silicone pan, be sure to place it on a solid tray before pouring the mixture, so you can put it in the oven, and retrieve it, with no difficulty. Place in oven and bake for about 40 minutes, or until a fork comes out dry when you check if it’s ready.

The result? fluffy and fruity little cakes. Being on a no-wheat regime, I had to count on others to report back from the field. The cakes were a big success. Are we onto a breakthrough in Passover baking?

Flan picture

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.

A Dessert from the Past: Flan!

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, (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.