dairyfree

Sweet Soaked Summer Fruit

fullsizeoutput_92ad.jpeg

A few years ago I learned how to make khoshaf, a Muslim (primarily Egyptian) version of compote -- what my grandma called "kumput," (which she made by cooking dried prunes and apricots with sugar, lemon and cinnamon). Kumput was delicious, but sometimes a bit mushy.

Khoshaf isn't cooked -- you pour simmering, seasoned, sweet syrup over the dried fruit and let it macerate for a while. The fruit becomes tender but never gets soggy.

The khoshaf was such a success that I never went back to "kumput."

So, I figured that the soaking/macerating method would work on fresh fruit too.

I was right.

This simple dish -- cut up fruit steeped in a seasoned, sweetened syrup -- is the perfect ending to a meal on a hot summer day, especially when you want a dairy-free dessert. Of course you could always top the fruit with ice cream or whipped cream. But sorbet would be fine too.

I like it plain, as-is, with a small amount of boiled-down, thickened syrup.

 

SOAKED SUMMER FRUIT

  • 2 pounds stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots), approximately
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 vanilla bean, broken
  • 2 orange slices, about 1/4-inch thick
  • 4-5 slices crystallized ginger

Cut the fruit in half and remove the pits. Cut the fruit into bite-size chunks and place in a dish deep enough to hold the pieces plus liquid. In a saucepan, combine the water, honey, vanilla bean, orange slices and crystallized ginger and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Pour the contents of the saucepan through a strainer over the fruit. Let soak for at least 2 hours. Serve as-is or strain the fluids, boil the fluids for 6-8 minutes or until thickened, and pour over the fruit (or let cool first).

Makes 8 servings

 

 

President's Cookies

Before there was such a thing as President's Day or President's Week, there was Washington's birthday, which was a school holiday on his real birthday, February 22nd. If you lived in the North, like in New York and Connecticut, you also got a day off on Lincoln's birthday, which is February 12th (the poor kids in the South weren't so lucky, although maybe they got Jefferson Davis' birthday off).

On Washington's birthday, everybody celebrated with cherry pie or cherry something else because supposedly Washington chopped down a cherry tree and didn't lie about it when someone asked if he did it.

Lincoln's birthday didn't have any particular food because he supposedly was a fussy eater and didn't like much of anything in particular.

At some point Mondays became an official holiday for most holidays and Washington and Lincoln's birthdays were merged into one big celebration and an entire week vacation from school.

I suppose that's progress.

Along the way, I discovered that Lincoln actually did have some favorite foods. Like sorghum, which is a sweet syrup similar to molasses. And he liked ginger cookies.

And so, in honor of Lincoln's birthday (which was on February 12th but will be celebrated on the 19th), whenever you celebrate and for how long, here's some sorghum-based ginger cookies to celebrate with. And by the way, if you don't have sorghum, you can use molasses instead.

 

Sorghum Ginger Cookies

  • 3/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 laarge egg
  • 1/4 cup sorghum syrup
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Combine the shortening, coconut oil and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well combined (about 2 minutes). Add the egg and sorghum syrup and beat until well blended. Add the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg and beat until the dough is well blended, smooth and uniform in color. Take off small pieces of dough and shape into small balls about one-inch in diameter. Roll the balls in the remaining sugar to coat the surface. Place the balls on the prepared cookie sheet, leaving an inch space between each ball. Bake cookies for about 12 minutes or until the cookies have spread and are flat and crispy, with lines on the surface.

Makes about 6 dozen

 

Sweet Potatoes with Date Honey

One of my favorite food memories is my mother’s Thanksgiving sweet potatoes. She’d mix a stick of butter with plenty of brown sugar, get it hot and gooey and add a large can, juice and all, of cut up “yams.” It all got glossy and richly amber and was one of the ultra sweet treats we waited all year for.

Those days are gone forever. No one in my family wants the sugar overload.

Or the stick of butter.

We want the dish dairy-free.

No problem.

Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet. You don’t need much sweetener to make them taste good. I’ve experimented with lots of different options and this year I’m adding date honey. It isn’t actually honey — just has honey’s consistency. Sometimes it’s sold as date molasses or silan. 

Date honey has an intense flavor. Use just a small amount when you want to sweeten food. I pour a bit over plain yogurt for breakfast. I’ve added it to cake. Swirled some into the basting fluids for roasted chicken.  

It’s perfect for sweet potatoes.

Coconut oil adds a bit more of a sweet taste and you don’t need much to enrich this dish — 2 to 3 tablespoons instead of much more butter.

Besides the fact that it isn’t overly sweet, the other virtue of this sweet potato casserole recipe is that it contains only four ingredients (plus salt). And you can make it 2-3 days ahead (keep it in the fridge).

Yes, you can add marshmallows on top for the last several minutes of baking.

Sweet Potatoes with Date Honey

  • 6 medium sweet potatoes
  • 2-3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup date honey
  • 1/2 cup orange or tangerine juice
  • salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Scrub the potatoes and prick each with the tines of a fork. Roast the potatoes for about one hour or until tender. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh into a bowl. Add the coconut oil, date honey, juice and salt to taste. Mix to blend the ingredients thoroughly. 

Makes 8 servings

Dairy-free Irish Soda Bread

I love Irish food. Loved it even before we actually tasted it for real in Ireland on our trip there several years ago.   I love the salmon. The boxty potato cakes. Guinness-laced beef stew. Scones.   And especially the soda bread.  The problem with soda bread though is that it’s usually made with buttermilk. So if you’re kosher and don’t eat dairy products at a meat meal, or if you have food sensitivities or allergies to dairy, you can’t have any.  Unless of course you have a very good dairy-free recipe.   Which I do!  Here it is:          Dairy-free Irish Soda Bread         3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour    1 tablespoon brown sugar    3/4 teaspoon salt    1 teaspoon baking soda    1-1/2 cups water    1 tablespoon cider vinegar    1/2 cup raisins    1 teaspoon caraway seeds (optional)         Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Mix the flour, brown sugar, salt and baking soda in a bowl. Add the water and cider vinegar and mix the ingredients into a soft dough. Work in the raisins with your hands. If you use the caraway seeds, work them in at the same time as the raisins. Lightly flour a pastry board or a clean work surface. Knead the dough on the floured surface 18 to 20 times. Use more flour on the board if the dough seems sticky. Shape the dough into a ball, and then flatten it slightly. Cut a small “X” on the top with the tip of a sharp knife. Place the dough on the baking sheet and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.      (for dairy bread: use 1-1/2 cups buttermilk instead of the water plus cider vinegar)      

I love Irish food. Loved it even before we actually tasted it for real in Ireland on our trip there several years ago.

I love the salmon. The boxty potato cakes. Guinness-laced beef stew. Scones.

And especially the soda bread.

The problem with soda bread though is that it’s usually made with buttermilk. So if you’re kosher and don’t eat dairy products at a meat meal, or if you have food sensitivities or allergies to dairy, you can’t have any.

Unless of course you have a very good dairy-free recipe. 

Which I do!

Here it is:

 

 

Dairy-free Irish Soda Bread

 

 

3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon brown sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1-1/2 cups water

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1/2 cup raisins

1 teaspoon caraway seeds (optional)

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Mix the flour, brown sugar, salt and baking soda in a bowl. Add the water and cider vinegar and mix the ingredients into a soft dough. Work in the raisins with your hands. If you use the caraway seeds, work them in at the same time as the raisins. Lightly flour a pastry board or a clean work surface. Knead the dough on the floured surface 18 to 20 times. Use more flour on the board if the dough seems sticky. Shape the dough into a ball, and then flatten it slightly. Cut a small “X” on the top with the tip of a sharp knife. Place the dough on the baking sheet and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.

 

(for dairy bread: use 1-1/2 cups buttermilk instead of the water plus cider vinegar)

 

 

Dairy-free Pumpkin Pie

Every family has its own particular cast of characters. You know, the people comedians joke about when they say “wow, can you imagine what it’s like at their Thanksgiving dinner?”  
 Well, we have ours too, although not along the lines the jokes are about. Our family loves getting together, we enjoy each other’s company, mostly think along the same lines socially and politically, think its okay for a few of us to go into a different room to watch football and generally consider it a very good, festive day. 
 Our cast of characters has to do with the food. There are kosher, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarians and nut-free among us. 
 That could make planning dinner a challenge for some, but I love figuring out solutions to all of these culinary matters. 
 Here’s my answer to the dairy-free thing: Coconut Milk Pumpkin Pie. The crust is not gluten free, but if you need one, try  this .  

  Dairy-free Pumpkin Pie  
     
  1-3/4 cups mashed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix) (one 15 ounce can)  
  1/2 cup sugar  
  1/4 cup dark brown sugar  
  2 large eggs  
  1-1/2 cups coconut milk  
  3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon  
  1/4 teaspoon ground ginger  
  1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg  
  1/4 teaspoon salt  
  1 9-inch unbaked dairy-free pie crust  
     
  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Beat the pumpkin, sugar and brown sugar with a whisk or electric beater set at medium for a minute or until well blended. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the coconut milk until well blended. Add the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt and beat ingredients for a minute or until well blended. Pour into the pie crust. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 45 minutes or until set. Remove from the oven and let cool.   
     
  Makes one pie serving 8 people  

    
  Dairy-free Pie Crust  

  2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour  
  1 teaspoon salt  
  1 teaspoon grated lemon peel  
  8 tablespoons cold Earth Balance Buttery Spread  
  4 tablespoons cold shortening  
  4-5 tablespoons water or juice, approximately                
    
     
 Combine the flour, salt and lemon peel, if used, in a large bowl. Cut the Spread and shortening into chunks and add to the flour mixture. Work the fat into the flour mixture using your fingers or a pastry blender until the ingredients resemble crumbs. (If using a food processor, give the ingredients several quick, short pulses, until the mixture resembles coarse meal.) Add the liquid, using only enough to gather pastry into a ball of dough. Cut the dough in half and flatten each half to make a disk shape. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it stand at least 30 minutes. Makes enough for a one crust pie or two bottom crust only pies 
     

  

Every family has its own particular cast of characters. You know, the people comedians joke about when they say “wow, can you imagine what it’s like at their Thanksgiving dinner?” 

Well, we have ours too, although not along the lines the jokes are about. Our family loves getting together, we enjoy each other’s company, mostly think along the same lines socially and politically, think its okay for a few of us to go into a different room to watch football and generally consider it a very good, festive day.

Our cast of characters has to do with the food. There are kosher, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarians and nut-free among us.

That could make planning dinner a challenge for some, but I love figuring out solutions to all of these culinary matters.

Here’s my answer to the dairy-free thing: Coconut Milk Pumpkin Pie. The crust is not gluten free, but if you need one, try this

Dairy-free Pumpkin Pie

 

1-3/4 cups mashed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix) (one 15 ounce can)

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

2 large eggs

1-1/2 cups coconut milk

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 9-inch unbaked dairy-free pie crust

 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Beat the pumpkin, sugar and brown sugar with a whisk or electric beater set at medium for a minute or until well blended. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the coconut milk until well blended. Add the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt and beat ingredients for a minute or until well blended. Pour into the pie crust. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 45 minutes or until set. Remove from the oven and let cool.

 

Makes one pie serving 8 people

Dairy-free Pie Crust

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

8 tablespoons cold Earth Balance Buttery Spread

4 tablespoons cold shortening

4-5 tablespoons water or juice, approximately          

 

Combine the flour, salt and lemon peel, if used, in a large bowl. Cut the Spread and shortening into chunks and add to the flour mixture. Work the fat into the flour mixture using your fingers or a pastry blender until the ingredients resemble crumbs. (If using a food processor, give the ingredients several quick, short pulses, until the mixture resembles coarse meal.) Add the liquid, using only enough to gather pastry into a ball of dough. Cut the dough in half and flatten each half to make a disk shape. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it stand at least 30 minutes. Makes enough for a one crust pie or two bottom crust only pies