Cilantro Jalapeño Hummus

Zesty, healthy Cilantro Jalapeño Hummus

Zesty, healthy Cilantro Jalapeño Hummus

We all know I love to cook. It gives me great pleasure to work with my hands, I like knowing what I’m putting in my body, it’s a rewarding experience…Blah, blah, blah. As much as that may be the case most of the time, sometimes I’m just worn out, and don’t feel I have the energy to even lift myself from the train seat to depart at the end of my nightly commute, let alone prepare a gastronomic feast for myself once I finally shuffle through my front door.

It’s moments like these–when you’re so tired that normal, minuscule tasks, like brushing your teeth, or leaving the couch on which you’ve begun to fall asleep for the bed in which you should rather be seem momentous–that I fall to my basest of states. I will eat either nothing, or at the opposite end of the acceptable-diet-spectrum, anything. That one might find me sprawled across the floor on my back, with crumbs littering my front and woven into my nest of dreaded hair, in an unconscious, and moreover unconscionable, state is not unlikely. However, as an adult I recognize my being a grotesque stain on the already messy weave of life is unacceptable, and I must behave more conventionally. This is why I need to stock my pantry with healthy easy, prepared foods I can shovel into my face with absolutely no effort when I come home late, exhausted from the NYC hustle.

One of these foods that I like to make ahead is hummus. I’m pretty particular about my hummus, so I decided long ago to just make it myself instead of consuming the store-bought mush. I recreated the Cilantro Jalapeño hummus from Trader Joe’s, one of the few store-bought versions I love. I omit the tahini because I find it has a distasteful bitterness. The jalapeño adds the kick that I desire in just about every savory dish I eat. I was raised on spicy Southern California Mexican food, after all; I can’t help it! Also, the lime and cilantro add a delightful layer of freshness to the mix. I can’t get enough of the stuff! Just throw all the ingredients in a food processor on a lazy Sunday, so you can munch in peace and healthfulness throughout the jam-packed week.

Cilantro Jalapeño Hummus

Ingredients:

  • 2 (16 oz) cans garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 3 small limes
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 cups roughly chopped cilantro
  • 3 small (or 2 large) jalapeños, chopped and seeds removed
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Directions:

-Place everything in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy, about a minute or two.
-Chill overnight so the flavors can meld together before serving.
-Enjoy with chips, crackers, veggies, or a spoon.

Easy as that!

Duck Season, Wabbit Season, Duck Season. PUMPKIN SEASON!

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I’ve been putting forth extraordinary effort to refrain from cooking pumpkin everything. Not because I think it’s ever too early in the year to cook pumpkin anything. Pumpkin is always appropriate. It amplifies the joy and flavor of everything from cakes, soups and roasts to coffee, tea, and beer. I get that pumpkin season signals the demise of summer. But that’s inevitable, and why, for some reason, people tend to get incredibly irritated about the festive, tasty hype I don’t understand. I hear people grumble and moan about the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks as I casually wait in line for my own creamy, pumpkin-y coffee concoction. I witness looks of exasperation on mothers’ faces at the grocery store when their kids beg for the biggest, brightest carving pumpkins.

Unlike these autumnal Scrooges, I gravitate towards the pull of the season, fall under its magic spell (pun intended). A sense of contentment envelops me when I snuggle up on the couch with a good book and hot spiced tea in my favorite mug between my fingers, sheltered from the stormy weather outside. When I infuse the chill in my home with the warm, sweet scent of pumpkin pie, and suddenly everything seems a little more charming and delightful. When I go for a stroll outside, dressed in my coziest sweater, to be mesmerized by the lovely fiery foliage and crisp, energizing air. Pumpkins are the embodiment of everything that I love about autumn, and that giddy, festive sentiment of the season washes over me each time I cook with it.

My friends invited me to Shabbat dinner at their house last week, so of course I thought it only appropriate to contribute something festive for the coming of the cold weather. My contribution had to be dairy-free for the kosher spread, so I opened the season this year with a vegan spiced pumpkin cake with a rich chocolate ganache. It was an easy, beautiful recipe and quite a hit among the party guests. What a wonderful way to ease the world into the pumpkin craze and satisfy my lust for the sweet and spicy holiday season!

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Vegan Pumpkin Spice Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons ground flax seed
  • 9 tablespoons water
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin purée

For the ganache:

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
  • 1 tablespoon melted vegan butter substitute (I used Earth Balance)
  • 3 tablespoons almond milk

Directions:

– Preheat oven to 350º. Prepare a bundt pan with cooking spray and dust with flour.
-In a small bowl, combine ground flax and water. Set aside for a few minutes until the mixture has become somewhat viscous.
– In a large bowl, combine sugar and oil until blended. Add the flax mixture, beating well.
– In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt and cloves.
-Add dry ingredients to sugar mixture alternately with pumpkin, beating well after each addition.
– Transfer cake batter to prepared bundt pan.
– Bake 60-65 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.
– Cool 20 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack. Remove pan and cool completely.
– While cake is cooling, add chocolate chips and almond milk to a medium bowl. Using a double boiler, heat chocolate until melted. Whisk in melted vegan butter until smooth.
– When cake is cooled, drizzle warm ganache over the top so it drips down the sides of the cake.

Enjoy!

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Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah

IMG_20140924_165223Although I’m Jewish by blood, I was never brought up in a religious environment of any sort. My dad would read from the Torah and light the menorah displayed on the mantle above the Christmas stockings during Hanukkah, and my brother, sister and I would drink cocoa from our personalized Santa Claus mugs while my mom made latkes, kugel, and crepe suzettes for Christmas brunch. It was always a mixed bag of traditions without much meaning beyond family time and general festivity. Now, into adulthood, I still don’t feel any deep spiritual connection to religious holidays. Instead, I’ve grown to appreciate them as a time to gather around loved ones, rest from the year’s work, and, as always, make and eat really good food.

A couple weeks ago I was hanging out with my friend Hilda when her roommate Dina got home from work. Turns out, Dina is quite the foodie herself, so naturally our conversation unfurled quickly into one of food, favorite chefs and cookbooks, and drinks. We discussed my entrepreneurial endeavors as a baker, and how I like to work with vegan recipes even though I’m no longer vegan myself. At this point she confessed her worry about her obligation to make a dairy-free honey cake for her family’s celebration, when she had no experience in honey cake baking. Dina invited me to bake with her, hoping that my history with vegan baking would prove beneficial in this process. Despite the fact that I’d never made– or even tasted–a honey cake before, I happily agreed. So, with only a week before the holiday, I took on this task as the Rosh Hashanah Honey Cake Challenge of Twenty-Fourteen. I was determined to come up with a delicious, moist, and most importantly, unique, honey cake recipe for Dina to share with her friends and family that would blow them out of the water.

After doing some research, I got to work. I decided I wanted to make a spiced cake to add some oomph to the traditional, sometimes overplayed, treat. And I knew I wanted to top it with some sort of glaze, because duh. I experimented substituting eggs with ground chia seeds, and this awesome ginger syrup I found in place of some of the honey. I added some cardamom and cloves, a healthy dash of cinnamon, and strong chai tea instead of the coffee called for in many recipes. With all that and a bottle of honey whiskey, how could this cake go wrong? I played a little guess and check with a couple batches through the week, until I finally #nailedit.

In fact, I nailed it so hard that not only did my employer, after tasting one of the sample cupcakes I brought to share, request I bake this cake for her own family’s Rosh Hashanah celebration; her father-in-law also requested that I bake the cake for his birthday! Go ahead and tell me you have a problem with this cake because it’s vegan. Seriously, I dare you.

admin-ajaxIngredients:

Spiced Honey Cake
  • Cooking Spray
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flower
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons finely ground chia seeds
  • 9 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup strong chai tea (I used 4 teabags)
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup honey whiskey (I used Wild Turkey)
BATTERGinger Icing:
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (I used vanilla bean paste for the sake of aesthetics)
  • 1/4 cup ginger syrup

20140920_124750Instructions:

-Place an oven shelf in an upper position in the oven, and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 10-inch Bundt pan with cooking spray and dust with flour. Boil water, and let the tea steep until very strong. In a small bowl, mix the ground chia and 9 tablespoons of water until pasty, and set aside.
-In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom until thoroughly combined.
-In a separate large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, honey, white and brown sugar, chia mixture, vanilla extract, tea, orange extract, 1/2 cup of water, and whiskey. With an electric mixer, beat the flour mixture into the honey mixture just until the batter is thoroughly incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
-Bake on upper shelf in the preheated oven until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out with moist crumbs, about 1 hour. Cool for 20 minutes in the pan before turning the cake out onto a serving platter.
-While the cake is baking, whisk together the glaze ingredients in a small bowl until smooth and creamy. Drizzle the glaze generously over the cake.
-Enjoy!

CAKE