Saturday, May 25, 2013

Malaysian Banana Fritters for Wesak Day, May 24th

In Malaysia, bananas used to be eaten only raw. After the Portuguese introduced them in 1511, they became a morning and afternoon snack. The Portuguese took flour to Malaysia, and were the first to cook the fruit. The name of this dessert is pisang goreng, or fried banana, and the outside batter is similar to the Japanese tempura.

Wesak Day
This national holiday in Malaysia took place on May 24th this year, and celebrates Buddha's birthday, enlightenment and passing away. Before carrying candles and flowers in a procession to remind themselves about how ephimeral life can be, attendees bathe the Buddha, an act that symbolizes purifying the soul from greed. 

4 bananas
1/2 cup flour
1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mash bananas. Mix all, until a thick batter is formed. Scoop and drop batter into oil, a few at a time. They taste like fried banana bread balls. 

4-6 ripe bananas
1/2 cup of flour
1 tablespoon of rice flour
1/4 cup corn flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch of salt
5 oz. ice water
oil for frying

Peel the bananas and slice in two pieces. Mix the flours, baking powder, salt, and water. Coat the banana slices in the batter and fry for 3-4 minutes in warm oil in a deep fat frying pan. Remove from pan and place on paper towels.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Madeleines from Commercy, Lorraine

There are different stories about the origins of madeleines. The nuns at St. Mary Magdalene's convent in the town of Commercy, Lorraine, in France first baked these shell-shaped cakes in the 17th century. King Louis XV tried it at Chateau Commercy and it became one of his favorite desserts. Another source believes that these cookies were first made in the 1500's at Eure sur Loire, one of the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela, which explains why these treats are in the shape of the St. Jacques' shell, the symbol of Santiago de Compostela.

3 eggs
130 grams sugar (or 110 grams plus 2 vanilla sachets)
20 grams (1 1/2 tablespoons) of honey
150 grams flour (1 1/4 cup)
125 grams butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon of lemon/lime zest or orange zest
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Once you place the pans in the oven, lower immediately to 400 degrees F. Four minutes later, lower it again to 350 degrees F and cook them for three more minutes. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Canneles Bordelais from Bordeaux (Similar to Yorkshire Pudding, only sweet!)

When the Vesuvius erupted in Pompei as early as 79 B.C., large jugs of wine from Bordeaux were lying in some cellars, as Romans produced it in this part of France since 60 B.C. Later, the English enjoyed drinking it, as well as the Dutch who improved roads so they could receive it quickly.
If you visit the wine country around Bordeaux, the rows of vines will relax you like an optical illusion full of dark green stripes stretching over inviting, rolling hills. Even if you visit a wine cellar, you might not be fully satisfied until you are able to enter the fields and feel the special terroir under your feet, and see the curly leaves and heavy dark blue beads.
Not only can you taste the world-renowned wines in Bordeaux, but you will also be visiting a UNESCO World Heritage site, second only to Paris as far as the number of buildings is concerned. port, where metals, copper, sugar, rum, and wine has been traded, has existed since 300 B.C., and was once the most important one in France. It was part of England for four centuries, after Eleanor of Aquitaine married Henry Plantagenet.


If you ever hoped for a sweet version of Yorkshire pudding, this is it. The crunchy, sometimes rubbery delectable exterior contrasts with the soft interior.

They were created in the city of Bordeaux, by nuns who made an earlier version, cannelats, for poor children. It used to be shaped in the form of a stick. Others believe that pastry makers that were members of the association of canauliers were responsible for the more recent version of this treat. In the 1700's Bordeaux, in addition to the bakers' guild, there was another similar guild called canauliers.

The authentic version of this treat, which uses eggs yolks, rum, and vanilla, is sold in the city of Bordeaux, and is spelled with one n: canele, to differentiate it from similar pastries sold in other places, or made with different flavorings. The latter are referred to as "canneles bordelais."

Recipe from
2 cups milk
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs and 2 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/4 cup rum

Melt the butter, then add the milk and sugar. Mix the rest of the ingredients into the previous batter and place in the refrigerator in a closed container with a spout for 24 hours. Next, place a silicone cannele mold on top of a grill or cookie sheet. Pour the batter into it, almost all the way to the top.

Bake in a 475 degree oven for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 60 minutes. Remove from the oven. 
Cool for ten minutes, and pull them out of the pan.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Cigarette Russe (Pirouline-like Biscuits) for Earth Day or Mother's Day in Brussels

The Cigar Russe shape renders it useful for turning it into trees for an Earth Day dessert
I saw the images of the Waterloo battle around me-the soldiers. The sounds of bugles resonated in the circular area, as Napoleon was vanquished. I was in a building that held a circular mural. Nearby, the statue of a lion arose magnificently from a grass-covered pyramid, marking the location where the battle took place a couple of hundred years earlier. I never imagined the location of this battle was just outside of Brussels.
After visiting this historic site, you can travel back to the capital city of Belgium, to visit numerous chocolate shops, all over town.or go searching for murals of the famous cartoon Tintin.  The museum of musical instruments is also a unique place to visit, where you can not only see any type of instrument you can imagine, but certainly hear the sounds that can come from each one, through headphones.
The original cookie received this name because it is folded diagonally into a cylinder, just like the Russian cigars were. The Belgian company that still sells these cookies started making them in 1891. They are very similar to the Piroulines, that are long and slender and filled with hazelnut chocolate cream, or nutella.

2 egg whites
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup butter, whipped
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat egg whites and sugar. Add the rest of the ingredients and refrigerate batter for one hour. Place a silpat on a cookie sheet, or cover two sheets with parchment paper.  Pour a small batter circle on the cookie sheet and spread it out to a 3-inch by 4-inch rectangle with a spatula. If you want to make a rose, make a butterfly shape with the spatula.

Place in preheated 400-degree oven for 5 to 7 minutes.

 When it is golden on the edges, take it out of the oven and begin to unstick from the pan with a spatula. Roll quickly around a wooden spoon or other wooden stick as thick as a pencil.  You can cook two at a time on the pan once you have practiced, but at first it's advisable to do only one at a time. If the cookie gets to hard to roll because it cooled, you can place it in the oven again for 30 seconds to make it soft again. 
Fill the piroulines with nutella, with a toothpick. If you add whipped cream to the nutella, you could also pipe it with a decorator's tip and pastry bag.
Cookies shaped like rosebuds for Mother's Day

You can play with different angles of rolling to make rosebud spirals, and stand up the cookies in nutella to stick them to the plate. I added green apple slices to make treetops or mushroom heads.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Avocado Ice Cream from Brazil

Avocado Ice Cream

After receiving about fifty ripe avocados, I spent all weekend making guacamole and freezing it--each avocado went mashed, together with a tablespoon of lime juice, into a small sandwich bag. The avocado ice cream was a breeze to make in comparison. It packed the contents of about twelve small avocados all at once into one container!

California Avocado Pie next to some avocados
History of the Avocado
This new world fruit was compared to pears and figs when the Spaniards and Portuguese, mesmerized, first tasted it. It is native to many countries, such as Mexico, Central American and South American countries, and it's name comes from the indigenous language, nahuatl. The oldest traces of the avocado plant have been found in Puebla, Mexico, but there are also historical accounts of them in other Latin American countries as early as 900 A.D.

The avocado is a power fruit/vegetable. It is packed with vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Potassium, and B vitamins.

The Avocado in Brazil
In 1809, the avocado plant was introduced to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the location of the 2016 Olympics (only 1232 more days left, as you can see on the official website: Nowadays, this country is one of the largest producers of this delectable fruit.
In Brazil, the avocado is often whipped with a small amount of sugar and some milk into a delicious smoothie. It is also beaten with sugar to make "sweet avocado". Some recipes even add eggs or cheese, and condensed milk to turn it into ice cream. Other countries that make these sweet beverages in similar ways are the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Morocco.


2 cups of mashed avocados
1 can of condensed milk
2 tablespoons of lime juice
2 tablespoons of sugar

Beat ingredients together and place in a container in the freezer, until it hardens. Scoop it out! The condensed milk makes it easy to freeze.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Italian Mimosa Cake for International Women´s Day

Men give women mimosa flowers or mimosa cakes in Italy, especially in Emilia-Romagna, on March 8th, for Women's Day. 

International Women's Day was first celebrated in the United States in 1909. In Italy, it was first conmemorated in 1946. The mimosa flower blooms in March and was thus added as a colorful, vital, and  feminine symbol for the occasion in this country. 

Mimosa Cake
This delicate cake is made to resemble the flower. Its main elements consist of: a) a light sponge cake, so it can be imbued with a rum syrup. b) enough sponge cake leftover so it can be cut into enough cubes to properly cover the cake. c) a very yellow sponge cake so that it resembles the color of the flower d) a dome-shaped cake should result in the end, whether you place the cake in a bowl so that it takes its shape, or you heap enough cream on top, or even taper the cake tower enough with the knife to give it a dome shape. e) pastry cream mixed with whipped cream results in a delicious filling that is also used to cover the cake.


Sponge Cake
75 grams of white sugar
75 grams of flour
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites

Beat egg yolks and sugar until they are thick and lighter in color. 
Beat egg whites until stiff; then fold them into the batter. Finally, fold in the flour.
 Pour the batter into four greased and floured 4 inch springform pans. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes.

Syrup Recipe
1/2 cup of water
1 1/2 ounces of sugar
4 tablespoons of rum
Heat water and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Turn off the heat and add rum.

When the cakes are ready, poke holes in three layers and pour the syrup over them.

Next, take the extra layer, remove the crusts and cut it into small cubes.

Pastry Cream
1 egg yolk
30 grams of sugar
30 grams of flour
Zest of half a lemon
pinch of salt
Place milk, salt, sugar, flour, and lemon zest in saucepan. Heat until boiling, then pour a small amount on the egg yolk and mix. Pour the egg yolk mix into the saucepan. Stir until thick and remove from heat.

Whipped Cream
62 grams of whipping cream
25 grams of confectioner's sugar
Whip until the cream is stiff.

Assembling the cake
Fold the whipping cream into the pastry cream. Place this cream on one of the layers of sponge cake, then another layer of cake on top. Add more cream, then the third piece of cake. Cover the entire dome with cream.
Place the cubes on top of the cream-covered cake, so that it will resemble the mimosa flower.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Hamantaschen Cookies for Purim, February 24th, from Israel

You trudge upwards on a hot, diagonal mountain path near the Dead Sea. You volunteered to do this instead of taking the cable car. As you sweat under the sun, you see the plateau you are walking towards: the Masad. What was once Herod the Great's Palace is now in ruins, a fossil-like spiral snail structure in the middle of the desert.
Nearby, you can also visit Ein Gedi, a genuine oasis that has been inhabited for 5,000 years.Two waterfalls are attractions, as well as spotting animals such as wild goats.
In contrast, float in a natural spa nearby which is also one of the lowest points on Earth, the Dead Sea. At 483 meters below sea level, it is much lower than Badwater in Death Valley California, or the Caspian Sea in Kazakhstan.

Hamantaschen (Oznei Haman in Hebrew) are cookies that are eaten during the Jewish feast of Purim (once the fasting is over). Purim conmemorates an event written in the book of Esther; Queen Esther's cousin told her that a man named Haman had convinced the King to kill all the Jewish people in the kingdom, and she fortunately was able to convince him to reverse the edict. Thus, the cookies represent this man, Haman's pockets (taschen) full of bribe money. 

They are usually filled with a homemade jam that includes walnuts, but can be filled with any jam. I tried an apricot filling, as well as nontraditional fillings such as my guava and loquat jams.

Recipe from
1 1/4 cups of butter
1/2 cup of sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon of orange juice
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3 cups of flour

Filling (My recipe is different from that cited above)
A more traditional apricot jam or firm one of your choice (I used loquat and guava)
1/2 teaspoon of rum
1/2 cup of walnuts

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg, orange juice, and salt, and beat well. Mix in flour until it turns into a dough ball. Refrigerate half an hour.

Roll out a quarter of the dough at a time. Cut out 3 inch circles. You can even use the top of a 3 inch mug to cut them out if you don't have the right size cookie cutter. (That's what I did). Wet the perimeter of the circle with water. Place a teaspoonful of the jam in the center, then pinch three points of the circle with your thumb and forefinger to form a triangle. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 375 degrees F.

Recipe from