Everyone loves smoothies! They’re super quick to make when you keep basics on hand, and they’re wonderfully portable for when you’re in a rush to get out the door (we’re always in rush on school mornings). Lately we’ve been making a big batch for breakfast and refrigerating the leftovers for an after school snack. I’ve also started adding smoothies to the lunch box this year (cleaned up, recycled small Odwalla containers work perfectly). As school lunch periods get shorter and shorter (don’t get me started!), this seems to be something my kids can successfully eat (along with a few other tidbits) in the teensy amount of time allotted for lunch.
If you start searching around for smoothies on the internet you’ll find tons of info– recipes, special containers, little tips and tricks. So…. to the collective oeuvre of smoothies out there I add our list of favorites with an international twist.
Mango lassis are by far the most requested smoothies in my house. We all love the creamy, sweet mango flavor, but that pinch of cardamom is what makes it special. For kids who insist they don’t like spices — this is a good place to start. Here’s our previous post with the recipe.
When my kids see a certain glint in my eye they know they’re in for a food adventure. This look means that there’s a high likelihood that we’ll be jumping in to car to trek off to some obscure corner of the Bay Area to find some (hopefully) tasty bite. Thank goodness they’re both good sports about it and humor this eccentricity. Our latest quest was happily close to home, in San Francisco’s Japantown as we went in search of the famous coffee crunch cake. I’m not sure if coffee crunch cake is “a thing” elsewhere, but it has a history here in San Francisco. Most old-school SFers will remember Blum’s coffee crunch cake with a special fondness: pillowy whipped cream sandwiched between light layers of chiffon cake, the whole thing encrusted in crunched up pieces of coffee-flavored honeycomb toffee. This was the signature item at Blum’s (sadly gone) which was in the also now defunct ritzy department store I. Magnin’s. If I could travel back in time, some shoe shopping at Magnin’s followed by a stop at Blum’s for cake would most definitely be on my to do list.
The happy news to report is that while Blum’s is no longer, coffee crunch crunch cake lives on in San Francisco! Continue reading
This super traditional Spanish cake first caught my eye because of its short list of ingredients and the fact that it uses no flour, just finely ground almonds, as the base. Another example of how a couple of simple ingredients can transform themselves into something special. This cake is moist, deliciously not-too-sweet, delicate and crumbly which makes it great with a cup of coffee in the afternoon. Simran and I and our friend Rachel happy nibbled away on this during a recent afternoon of recipe testing… and the fact that I wasn’t nice enough to save any for my family to try will give you an idea of how much I liked it.
In addition to being a lovely accompaniment to afternoon coffee this is a cake also has a long history. It dates back to the 16th century where it has been enjoyed by Santiago locals and pilgrims making their way to the Cathedral of Santiago Compostel (the burial place of St. James, the patron saint of Spain.). This recipe also happens to be gluten-free which comes in handy as well. Continue reading
Pineapple tarts are little pockets of crumbly, buttery, pineapple-jammy goodness…… the quintessential Lunar New Year’s sweet treat in Malaysia and Taiwan. Making these cookies is a tasty little way to bring a little lunar new year celebration into your kitchen and makes for a fun collaborative cooking project to do with kids or friends. It’s true that they’re a bit time consuming to put together since you have to make pineapple jam in addition to the cookie dough, but all in all none of the steps are particularly difficult. Just make the jam and dough ahead of time and then gather your helpers for a cookie assembly party. Luca, who is 6 was able to assemble the cookies with only very little help from me — thanks to our trusty tortilla press. My little guy loved brushing the cookies with eggwash before they went into the oven.
Having delved into the world of pineapple tarts over the past weeks, I have learned that there are a variety of styles (Malaysian, Taiwanese, different shapes and decorations, filled, open face)….. which means with the basic dough and jam, you can experiment with making the shape and size that appeal to you. The kids and I started off making ovals (more of the traditional pineapple shape), but somehow decided we liked the look of round balls with pineapple-ish slashes on top, glazed with an eggwash enhanced with sweetened condensed milk to make the cookies super golden and shiny.
After making a small test batch of these, I brought some over to Simran and her family for a taste. I didn’t get nervous until I thought about the fact that Simran and her parents lived in Singapore for many years, are total foodies and would most definitely be familiar with this signature holiday treat…and I should probably also mention that they’re not afraid to call out sub-standard food when it crosses their path! So it was a bit like going in the lions den with this one. Luckily, they gave their thumbs up which means that you can feel free to make this recipe with a bit of street cred and that you really should bake some the next time you need to cheer up a homesick friend from Malaysia.
Here’s a zingy, zesty, candy-like, and totally unique gingerbread with an interesting history. It dates back to the mid 1800’s and a country baker named Sarah Nelson who sold her famous gingerbread out of a quaint stone cottage to Victorian tourists visiting England’s Lake District . If you’re lucky enough to be roaming the English countryside in those parts, you’ll find the Grasmere Gingerbread Shop still going strong after more than 150 years and offering up freshly made confections made from Sarah’s original recipes.
One of my faves, Jamie Oliver, loves Grasmere gingerbread and since he was not able to get ahold of the top secret recipe (it’s locked in the National Westminster Bank in Ambleside), he created his own version which he says is almost as good and “some of the best gingerbread you’ll ever eat”…. if that’s not enough of a recommendation to try this recipe yourself, I don’t know what is! Continue reading
I got interested in the idea of breakfast cookies one day when I came across a recipe while wasting time on my iPad. Cookies for breakfast? Yes please and a double yes please from my kids. I suppose it’s part of the psychology of eating that you can call anything cookie-shaped a cookie and you’ve automatically got most people’s interest. (Perhaps that phenomenon explains the growing number of circle shaped things with a hole in the middle masquerading as donuts.). I would classify the various breakfast cookies we’ve been experimenting with as not too sweet, “almost” cookies. They work from a healthy food perspective but somehow do not possess the soul of a cookie, landing somewhere between a true cookie; a soft, a crumbly granola bar; and a flat, squat muffin… but still close enough to be worth making.
While we wait to discover a true breakfast cookie, we’ll happily keep using these recipes because they turn out tasty “almost” cookies which the kids happily gobble up and they’re full of fruit, nuts and whole grains to start your day off right.
* Ellie Krieger’s breakfast cookies (pictured above) use bran flakes which we sometimes buy and carrot puree (more veggies is always good)
* King Arthur Flour’s recipe brings in a little peanut butter and some chocolate chips
* Bon Appétit’s “Almond, Cranberry and Quinoa Cookies” recipe makes use of leftover, cooked quinoa
You might also like these breakfast-y posts: Cozy Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls; Breakfast for Dessert Sundaes; Ria’s Breakfast Invention; Simran’s Mango Coconut Pancakes