This is one of my favorite times of year in New York. For me, everything right now has to be creamy, warm and filled with ginger. That doesn’t mean I don’t still drink green smoothies and kale salads, but when it comes to dessert, it has to be fruit-filled and warm.
I became obsessed with all the mini pears I saw around the greenmarkets. Anyone who reads this knows I have an affinity for anything miniature or especially tiny in size. This may be because I relate to them, being barely 5’1 myself. The little guys have to be recognized sometimes, so I thought I’d treat these little pears just as if they were big ones, and poach them. It resulted in a creamy, sweet and Autumn dessert with just enough of a napoleon complex to be big & bold in flavor.
The first time I tried macarons was at the Macaron Café in Midtown, Manhattan. I had seen many photos of them prior to that and always wondered if they were as tasty as they were pretty. And were they ever. Those macarons melted in my mouth and made my eyes close with pleasure. Even today, whenever I am in the area, I indulge and buy a box of six.
Since preparing healthier alternatives to old favourites is what I love, I decided it was time to conquer the macarons. And what better time to do it than the winter holidays? They are sweet, colourful, and overall cheerful – a wonderful treat and a nice gift. For the flavours, I went with seasonal fruits like persimmon and pomegranate and two powders I had on hand – matcha and blueberry. Each created a beautiful colour, no artificial dye required.
We decorated our tree yesterday. It’s a beauty and fills the home with the smell of pine. Paloma was thrilled when she came home from day care and found the tree all lit up in our living room. She couldn’t stop singing this song, which is a traditional Russian jingle about the New Year’s tree.
The macarons were a success, everyone in the family enjoyed them with a hot cup of tea or two. The persimmon kind were voted the popular favourite.
This recipe is from the San Francisco restaurant Gather, created by their chef, Sean Baker. His recipe was featured in Food and Wine Magazine last month as one of the best restaurant dishes of 2010. It was the only vegan recipe so, of course, I had to try it. YUM! I added walnuts when he called for pecans cause I didn’t have any on hand as well as no miso and still it was rich, flavorful and delish.
It’s challenging to find fresh organic fruit in the dead of winter. This, of course depends on where you are located in the world. As for me, all the organic berries I find in the markets of New York, are not only extremely expensive but they all seem to be coming from far away places. And so, I decided to go with a couple of bags of frozen organic berries. Those berries were my inspiration for this gluten free berry crisp dessert. It just goes to show you, you never know from where or from what something delicious will be born!
Napa and savoy cabbage are a softer and sweeter variety than your regular green cabbage, so choose either for this recipe. This is a wonderful accompaniment to serve with one of your favorite winter soups. Adds a refreshing crispiness to your meal.
This maybe a simple salad, but believe me it pacts a flavorful punch. The sweet carrots mixed with Moroccan spices and fresh herbs are a heavenly combination and a refreshing colorful addition to any of your winter meals. Warning, you may wanna eat the whole bowl all by yourself…
This is a decadently delicious wheat free cake. The chestnut flour adds a divine depth and a touch of nuttiness and has quickly become on of my favorite gluten free flours to bake with. Serve this cake alone, with cashew cream or some homemade Ice Cream and you and your guest will never think this is vegan. Oh and your chocolate fix will be…ummmm…fixed.
This recipe was inspired by pastry chef extraordinaire, Will Goldfarb. I read this in Bon Appetit magazine a few years ago and then altered and adapted it to become gluten and dairy free. Sometimes adaptions work and sometimes they are a bust. This time, I am extremely happy to report, it is f***ing brilliant. Yes, I am tooting my own horn. And so will you after you make this incredible dessert. It’s that good.
The newest addition to my pantry is my trio of NUDE BEE HONEY’s. This line came out in Toronto by two local boys. I love it. What is sexier then two men starting a honey line?
This brand in particular has some fine packaging, with a slick black label. It is a long tall jar, which is thin and elegant. I would take this honey out for a taste any day of the week. I would even love to just spread it, pour it and blend it into anything I create. It would make for a sweet addition that is smooth balanced and rich. That’s my kind of honey!
I should also mention that is honey, is untouched, raw in it’s own virgin state. What can be better than that. It hasn’t lost anything; it’s got everything it needs to give me what I need. Nutrients, enzymes, minerals and an unparalleled flavour.
It is also organic, coming from the purest of sources, no chemicals or strong or smelly aftertastes. It was created to be enjoyed… from bottom to top.
Now don’t get too picky, there are three fine honey’s to choose from:
Star Thistle – Works well with all natural of teas and can dress or top any dessert. This superstar possesses after notes of vanilla and lemon.
Honey Dew – This is a darker richer honey, which means it contains more vitamins and minerals. It is rich and fragrant so get your hands on some and add it to some fruit for a warming compote or natural jam.
Wild – The most versatile of the bunch, blending different local nectar’s. This honey goes both ways, and lends itself well to both raw and cooked recipes.
Much to my surprise, some of my family members have recently become vegan. This holiday season, lots of traditions had to be adapted for the new dietary habits that aren’t just mine anymore. I took on the challenge of re-creating our Christmas morning treat of freshly baked cinnamon rolls. I always figure, if i’m going to adapt a recipe for whatever reason, I might as well make it gluten-free, too. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I baked something with normal flour–it has been years.
I did a little research to see what recipes already existed for such a thing like vegan and gluten-free cinnamon rolls, when I found a blog called Cooking with Dia. She makes amazing comfort food, and cooks mostly (if not all) gluten-free and vegan. I took a look at her recipe, and the wonderful photos, and I barely adapted a thing. The recipe was amazing as is, and my family loved it, too.
One of my favourite warming drinks this time of year is a Masala Chai Tea Latte. Not just any chai latte but my own home brew. Since I am not a fan of tea bags – as staples and strings make things so complicated and messy, and I can’t tolerate black tea (the caffeine gets to me) –this leaves me to create my own original herbal blend.
I’d like to consider myself an alchemist at times like these, playing in my kitchen coming up with different concoctions that I can infuse in some hot water and know it will always taste great! This holds truth especially when it comes to my favourite Chai blend! For starters, I use Nourish Tea’s Rooibos instead of black ceylon tea which is commonly used in most chai tea’s. Red tea (rooibos) is from Africa – it is super high in antioxidants and caffeine free! I then put in delicious warming spices that make up the taste that is uniquely chai (cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger, anise peppercorns, fennel…).
Making this brew is actually really simple, especially if you have all of these spices on hand – which I typically do. Not only do I love making my own Indian spiced recipes with a selection of these spices– but they are also useful for everyday nourishment and balance. They are warming, sweet, and aid with digestion. To make the tea complete I finish it off by pouring in a non-dairy based milk, either rice or almond milk with a touch of sweetness from either honey, coconut nectar or maple syrup.