Hanukkah in June

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June lies precisely at the midpoint of the year between Hanukkahs (Hanukkim?)  This fact, paired with the realization that the first publication rights to a few of my recipes has expired, got me thinking about oil. Coconut oil, to be specific.

Coconut oil figured into all of my baking experimentation for my “Cupcakes for Hanukkah” article on My Jewish Learning last December. (Including the recipe that served as a base for deep-fried cupcakes. Yum!)

More about coconut oil and a recipe after the jump. Continue reading

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Thanksgiving recipes for the last minute: Tofu turkey and pumpkin cookies

stuffed tofu - whole

Days or weeks can go into planning a Thanksgiving menu. Yet something always comes up at the last minute. Need to satisfy a visiting vegetarian? Forgot a dessert?  Here are two ideas to help.

1. For the vegetarian or other adventurous eaters at your table, try. Un-Turkey and Stuffing. This is my own adaptation of a recipe I found years ago and have been making ever since. Note that “NYF” is nutritional yeast flakes, available at health food stores.

2. Need another dessert? Try these Pumpkin Cookies. These have always been a hit, and the main ingredients are easy to substitute with whatever you have. Try replacing some or all of the raisins with currents or dried cranberries. These work great with butternut or acorn squash instead of the pumpkin.

Happy cooking, and happy Thanksgiving!

Disastrously Delicious: Food Writers Get Together and Shake Things Up

The following is cross-posted from The Jew & the Carrot

Ratatouille

A group of Jewish food lovers, a spread of delectable dishes, and milkshakes made of laughter. If it were possible for one afternoon to be too good, this is where it would start.

A group of Jew & the Carrot writers, editors, and friends faced the risk—overflowing goodness and all—this past Sunday. Of course, it all started with the food. I arrived at host Avigail’s Clinton Hill, Brooklyn apartment to find hand-layered ratatouille swirling from the center of a clay baking dish, crusty homemade beer bread, a cake topped with the purple velvet of baked plums, aromatic rosemary bread, peach-basil salad, and made-from-scratch yogurt. That alone nearly tipped the scales to the side of the too good. Did I mention that we washed this down with homemade sparkling ginger-grapefruit juice? Spiked with gin? Continue reading

15 minutes on… incidental wonders

11:54 p.m.
Wild strawberries

Wild strawberries: one of the small, sweet pleasures of my home town. These berries shine from patches of grass and forest without any cultivation or any say-so by any human.

Black caps

Black raspberries, aka black caps (they are a deep purple when ripe. The pictured berries aren’t quite there). Yet another serendipitous find. When I was a kid, they were curly wigs on my imagined finger people, or crowns or coins or cakes.  Unfortunately, they love to grow near poison ivy. Almost every summer, those insidious oils found me and laid me out with oatmeal compresses on the backs of my legs or calamine lotion covering one swollen eye. Even the plumpest of these berries won’t fit on my finger anymore, but I still savor them whenever I’m willing to hunt — and court itchy disaster.

Mulberry close-up

Mulberries. I still feel a smile every time I walk by a mulberry tree. Whether it’s in someone’s back yard, or along the exhaust-laden sidewalks of 16th Street, I’ll halt my purposeful D.C. walk to pick them. The older trees give you the sweetest berries, my dad used to tell me. I know people who have special shirts just for picking mulberries because of the stains, my mother said.

Perennial wild berries: You could walk by and not even notice them. Or you could notice them.

12:09 a.m.

Black beans in WHAT?

How interesting that the one post I managed to put up during Passover dealt with a grain that’s biblically forbidden during the eight-day holiday. I thought I’d continue (or create?) a trend of banned substances with a bean dish. This is not just any bean dish. In yet another radical move, I’ve made this a bean dessert. And it has cornstarch!

Really, though, this is a fun dish that sneaks in extra protein and fiber a la Jessica Seinfeld, everyone’s favorite (or suspect) sneaky Jewish mom. The idea came to me after a friend offered me delicious, fudgy brownies made with (you guessed it) black beans. The flavor and texture of the beans completely disappeared  in that recipe, but in this one,  you can still sense the pasty beaniness. It’s the same sensation you get from red bean ice cream. So if you like that, you’ll probably be quite pleased with this. Continue reading

Sweet on you [updated]

“I’d love to try those truffles, but they’d go right to my thighs.”

“I adore chocolate, but it makes me break out.”

“Don’t let my ass see that dessert tray!”

Many people feel that sugar doesn’t complement their bodies. They may even feel — or joke — that their wayward parts (the thunder thighs and pizza faces) plot to lure in sugary sweets to perpetuate their own existence. Yet we’re drawn to sweet things. That makes sense, because they taste damn good! And our bodies do need sugars — just not necessarily the processed kind. Continue reading