Thanksgiving and Pie

We were invited for a thanksgiving shabbat this week by American born friends in our neighbourhood. I asked what I could bring and was offered sides or dessert. I chose dessert!

Pie!! I mean who doesn’t love pie?

While apple pie is traditional, our hostess is allergic to apples, so I made two pies. One apple pie and one pear pie. Win win right?

Apple (or pear) pie
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
1 hr 30 mins
 

A traditional and simple apple pie recipe.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8
Author: Gina
Ingredients
  • 1 packet frozen pastry dough
Filling
  • 8 apples (or pears), granny smith apples preferable
  • splash lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 egg for brushing the pastry
Instructions
  1. Peel and slice the apples (or pears) into small chunks.

  2. Place apples, lemon juice, sugars, cinnamon, salt and flour in a bowl and toss with your hands until all the fruit is covered.

  3. Cover bowl of fruit with plastic wrap and set aside for an hour or more.

  4. Take your frozen pastry dough out and let it defrost until it is manageable but still cool, I left mine in the fridge for 1 hour and it was ready when the fruit was ready.

  5. When you are ready to assemble the pie, turn your oven on to 180C.

  6. Once fruit is ready, take your dough and roll out a piece big enough to cover the bottom and sides of your pie dish.

  7. Place the pastry inside the dish and push the sides up a bit so they stick to the dish.

  8. Take your fruit and layer it into the pie dish, making sure the entire bottom is covered. Keep layering the fruit until in reaches the top of the dough up the sides of the dish.

  9. There will be some liquid left in the bowl, pour no more than 3/4 of a cup of this liquid over the top of the fruit before covering the pie with more dough.

  10. Roll out more dough and either place a full round piece on top of the pie or cut into strips and create a lattice top. You can also roll out the dough and cut shapes with cookie cutters, then create a patter with the shapes.

  11. If you place a full piece on top, cut a few slits into the dough to allow steam to escape.

  12. Brush the pastry dough with a bit of beaten egg.

  13. Once the pie is ready, place in the oven at 180C for about 30 minutes.

  14. Keep an eye on the pie and if you see the edges starting to burn you can cover them with a bit of foil molded to fit the pie dish.

  15. The pie is ready when the pastry is brown and the fruit is bubbling around the edges of the pastry.

  16. Allow to cool down before slicing. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Recipe Notes

Recipe adapted from Inspired Taste

 

Cheesecake and Berry Weekend

I’ve been craving cheesecake for over a week and even though I bought all the ingredients last week I only managed to make it this week.

It was so easy and delicious.

Easy Cheesecake with Berry Reduction
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 


Course: Dessert
Ingredients
Crust
  • 1 packet plain biscuits, Petit Bur or Tennis Biscuits
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup melted margerine
  • 1 pinch salt
Filling
  • 2 packages cream cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 splash vanilla essence
Toppinb
  • 1 package mixed berries or berries of choice
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon thickening agent (corn starch)
  • 1/4 cup water
Instructions
Crust
  1. Using a food processor (or a plastic bag and a rolling pin), break up the biscuits until they are a medium to fine powder, bigger bits are ok too.

  2. Add the sugar, salt and margarine and mix well.

  3. Prepare a round springform or pie dish and press the crumb mixture into the base, pressing it slightly up the sides.

  4. Set aside.

Filling
  1. With a hand mixer, mix the cream cheese, eggs, sugar and vanilla until smooth.

  2. Gently pour the mixture over the crumb base.

  3. Bake in a 180C oven for 30 minutes.

  4. Remove from oven and allow to cool before adding the berry topping.

Topping
  1. While the cake is baking, add the berries, water, sugar and thickener to a pot on your stove.

  2. Mix well and bring to a rapid boil.

  3. Drop the temperature to a simmer and allow the berries to reduce by 1/3.

  4. Allow the berries to cool before pouring over the top of the cooled cheese cake.

Recipe Notes

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour Easy Cheesecake

A taste of autumn.

After experiencing an unseasonably warm autumn in Israel, we had highs of 29C, its finally started getting cold and rainy.

What better way to spend a cold morning than baking?

I decided that cinnamon-y stewed apples were the way to go, and it just so happened we had some vanilla ice cream in the freezer and I also had the last of my Moir’s custard powder from SA that was begging to be used. 

Apple crumble was a go!

Hot Apple Crumble
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 


Course: Dessert
Author: Gina
Ingredients
  • 4 apples, peeled, cored and diced into 2cm chunks (I used Granny Smiths, you can use any type though)
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter or marge
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

  2. Place the diced apple, first lot of sugar and cinnamon, and the water into a pot.

  3. Bring to the boil while stirring and then drop to a low simmer.

  4. Keep stirring until the apples have softened.

  5. Place apples and any syrup into a pie dish.

  6. To make the crumble, using your hands, mix the flour, remaining sugar, butter, and cinnamon until the mixture looks like bread crumbs.

  7. Pour the flour mixture over the apples in an even layer.

  8. Bake the pie for about 30 min.

  9. Serve hot with ice cream and custard.

Got yogurt?

We did.

1.5L of Greek style yogurt.

Before it went bad I decided to look up a few recipes to use it up.

Two that stuck out were Snickerdoodle Cake and Frozen Yogurt Bark.

Both turned out delicious!

Snickerdoodle Cake
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 


Course: Dessert
Author: Gina
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 6 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup Greek style labour
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180C and prepare 2 loaf pans.

  2. In a small bowl mix most of the cinnamon and 6 tablespoons of sugar together and set aside.

  3. In another bowl mix together flour, baking powder, salt and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and set aside.

  4. In your electric mixer (or a large bowl), cream the butter, sugar and oil on medium speed for about 1 minute.

  5. Add the eggs and mix.

  6. Add the vanilla and yogurt and mix until just combined.

  7. Add in the flour mixture and stir by hand until just combined.

  8. Scoop a 6th of the batter into each loaf tin, sprinkle a thick layer of cinnamon sugar over the batter, repeat 2 more times, ending with a cinnamon sugar layer.

  9. Bake for about 40-45 minutes.

  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool before removing from the tins.

  11. Serve warm with a little butter spread on.

Recipe Notes

Adapted from Betty Crocker

 

Frozen Yogurt Bark
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
4 hrs
Total Time
4 hrs 10 mins
 

Got some Greek style yogurt left over? This is a really quick and easy way to use it up.

Course: Dessert, Snack
Author: Gina
Ingredients
  • 2 cups Greek Style Yogurt
  • 2 tbsp honey You can add more or less depending on your taste
  • 1/2 cup fillings/toppings of your choice raisins, craisins, nuts, marshmallows, frozen berries, fresh fruit
  • 1/2 cup strawberry jam heated until runny
Instructions
  1. Mix the yogurt and the honey until well combined.

  2. Add in any fillings you want.

  3. Line a baking sheet with wax paper or tin foil.

  4. Pour the yogurt onto the baking sheet. Thickness depends on you.

  5. Add desired toppings.

  6. Drizzle the strawberry jam over the top.

  7. Freeze for no less than 4 hours.

  8. Remove from freezer and break into pieces.

  9. Store in a sealed container in the freezer.

A taste of childhood

The other day, while hunting for a tin of coconut milk, I came across condensed milk. It can be tricky to find here so I grabbed one and then stuck it in the grocery cupboard and promptly forgot all about it.

Then last weekend while looking for something yummy to snack on, I pulled out the tin. I also spied a bag of desiccated coconut and an idea struck.

Coconut ice!

I remember the white and pink sugar overload from my childhood quite fondly and decided to whip up a batch and introduce it to my children. Faith was dutifully impressed, Aaron took one sniff and said no way!

Its really, really easy to make and took no time at all. The hardest part was the mixing, its really good for toning your arms!

Traditional Coconut Ice
Prep Time
15 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 

Super sweet, super sticky, coconut treats.

Course: Dessert, Snack
Author: Gina
Ingredients
  • 1 tin condensed milk
  • 500 g icing sugar
  • 400 g desiccated coconut
  • 3 drops red food colouring you can use any colour you like and even add flavouring if you want
Instructions
  1. Pour the condensed milk into a large bowl.

  2. Add the icing sugar and the coconut and mix together. Make sure you scrape the bottom of the bowl to get all the condensed milk.

  3. Keep mixing. The mixture will be very stiff. Keep going.

  4. Line a square or rectangular, deep sided dish with baking paper.

  5. Scoop out half the mixture and using your hands or the back of a spoon, press the mixture into the dish. It doesnt have to be perfect but the more uniform the thickness is, the better it will look when you cut it into squares.

  6. Add your colouring (and/or flavouring) to the remaining mixture and mix well until the entire mixture is coloured to your liking.

  7. Scoop out the coloured mixture and using your hands or the back of a spoon, spread it over the first layer in the dish and press it down.

  8. Once everything is smoothed out to your satisfaction, place the dish, covered, in the fridge for a few hours.

  9. Once cold and set, remove the coconut ice from the dish, peel off the baking paper and slice into small squares with a sharp knife.

  10. Store in an airtight container or ziplock bag for up to 3 weeks in the fridge.

Recipe Notes

You can add a bit of cocoa powder to the 2nd half of the mixture instead of food colouring to make a vanilla chocolate ice.

 

Yes, another recipe.

A while back I bought sour cream and since it was on special I bought 5 pots. Then I only used one. 

Since the sour cream was about to reach its expiry date (can sour cream really expire? Does it just get more sour?) I asked around for recipes to use up the last 4 pots.

I used one pot to make a creamy nutmeg pasta sauce the other night and then last night I used another pot to make these quick and really delicious scones.

Scones my wife made

 

Sour Cream Scones
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
20 mins
 
Course: Breakfast, Side Dish, Snack
Servings: 6
Author: Gina
Ingredients
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 envelope baking powder (about 3 teaspoons)
  • 200 ml sour cream
  • 6 tablespoons water approx/as needed
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 200C.

  2. Mix together all the dry ingredients.

  3. Add the sour cream and start mixing it in.

  4. The mixture will start to look like bread crumbs.

  5. Add water, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough starts to come together.

  6. Use your hands to kneed the dough into a ball. The dough will be quite sticky.

  7. Coating your hands in flour, take small handfuls of the dough and form balls.

  8. Place on a baking tray and flatten slightly.

  9. Bake at 200C for about 15 minutes.

  10. Allow to cool slightly before breaking them open and slathering butter, jam and cream over them.

Recipe Notes

Adapted from AllRecipes here.

Homemade

Recently I have been trying to make more things from scratch. Not only is it healthier but most of the time its far more cost effective than buying ready made.

I posted about my pasta sauce the other day. The total cost of that was under ₪10 (about R35). It was also sugar and preservative free and was totally delicious. 

I also want to start making my own burger patties and pizza bases.

One of the things I’ve been making myself each week is our Shabbat challah. I started off making it because I got myself a stand mixer with a dough hook and it is just so easy but now I make it because its cheaper, healthier, tastes amazing and its really special to have homemade challah on a Friday night too.

I have reduced the original recipe to make 2 small medium sized challot but the original recipe makes enough for 4 challot or 2 challot and a dozen cinnamon rolls. Here is my amended recipe.

Challah
Prep Time
1 hr 30 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
2 hrs
 
Course: Side Dish
Author: Gina
Ingredients
  • 3/4 cups warm water
  • 2 teaspoons instant/dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups flour (approx)
  • 1 egg for brushing
  • sesame seeds/kosher salt/herbs for topping
Instructions
  1. Place water, sugar and yeast in a mixing bowl.

  2. Leave for about 5 minutes or until it starts foaming.

  3. Add eggs, oil, salt.

  4. Add 3 cups of flour and start mixing.

  5. Slowly add the 4th cup of flour until the dough becomes smooth and not sticky.

  6. You may need more or less flour, go by feel.

  7. Either kneed by hand or with a dough hook on your mixer until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.

  8. When the dough is ready, lightly oil your bowl and place the dough inside.

  9. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let the dough rise for about an hour or until double in size.

  10. Kneed down and divide the dough into 2 equal parts.

  11. Form 2 challot, either by plaiting or forming rounds.

  12. Turn the oven to 180C and let the challot sit, covered until the oven is ready.

  13. Brush challot with beaten egg and top with desired topping.

  14. Bake for 30 minutes.

  15. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Recipe Notes

This recipe is adapted from Sy's Challah on AllRecipes.

Have your (cheese)cake and eat it too!

Once again, Shavuot has come and gone.

Last year I blogged about the awesome cheese blintzes I made (which I made again this year).

This time I decided to try my hand at making a cheesecake. I also wanted to make it sugar free so that Paul could enjoy it too. 

I found a few recipes online and using them as a base, I adjusted to the ingredients I had available.

Sugar Free Cheesecake
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
50 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 

A fluffy, sugar free, baked cheesecake.

Course: Dessert
Author: Gina
Ingredients
Base
  • 1 packet sugar free chocolate tea biscuits
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 3 tbsp cup for cup sugar replacement
  • 1 tbs vanilla
Filling
  • 750 g ricotta cheese
  • 200 ml sour cream
  • 1 1/4 cups cup for cup sugar replacement
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Instructions
Base
  1. Crush the biscuits until they resemble fine crumbs.

  2. Melt the butter and mix into the biscuit crumbs along with the sugar replacement and vanilla.

  3. Press the mixture into a prepared round 9 inch springform cake pan (or into the bottom of a glass or pyrex dish.

  4. Bake at 160C for about 5 minutes.

  5. Allow to cool while assembling the filling.

Filling
  1. Beat the ricotta, sour cream and sugar replacement until smooth.

  2. Add the eggs one at a time and beat to incorporate.

  3. Add the lemon juice and vanilla and mix well.

  4. Once your base is cool, slowly pour the filling on top and smooth out the top.

  5. Bake in a 160C oven for 50 minutes. The top will begin to turn brown and crack around 45 minutes. This is normal.

  6. Run a knife around the edge of the cake and then allow the cake to cool to room temperature before transferring to the fridge for at least 2 hours.

  7. Once the cake is chilled you can remove it from the pan.

Its not just banana bread

So I mentioned that I bought a stand mixer the other day. Well, it arrived and so far I have made 2 batches of challah using the dough hook (NEVER kneading dough again!) as well as a batch of cinnamon muffins and on Friday I made an apple and banana bread/muffin recipe.

I have absolutely no idea what prompted me to add apples into the mix but I’m glad I did. They were amazing!

Apple Banana Bread
Yummy fresh apple and banana bread.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 3 large grated or finely chopped apples (I used 2 green and 1 red and left the skin on)
  2. 3 large ripe or overripe bananas, mashed
  3. 2 cups sugar (I used sugar replacement)
  4. 3 cups flour
  5. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  6. 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  7. 2 large eggs
  8. 2/3 cup of oil
  9. 2 teaspoons vanilla (I didn't have so didn't add and it was absolutely fine)
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 180C and grease 2 loaf pans or like I did, 1 loaf pan and 2-3 muffin trays (12-18 muffins).
  2. Add all the ingredients into a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer.
  3. Mix well, ensuring all the flour is incorporated.
  4. Separate batter into the desired pans and place in the oven.
  5. For loafs, bake for about 1 hour.
  6. For muffins bake for between 30 minutes and 45 minutes.
Notes
  1. The original recipe called for half a cup chopped nuts and half a cup raisins. I had neither on hand so didn't add them and the recipe came out fine. You could also add craisins or even chocolate chips to this recipe and it would be delicious.
Adapted from Food.com
Adapted from Food.com
A Bit of This A Bit of That https://gnatj.com/

Things I have recently learned…

Boys are gross

OK, so not something I didn’t already know but still. 

I could not look at Aaron’s room for a single minute more on Friday. So I asked demanded that he clean everything. I made him pick up and throw away every last piece of paper, string, broken toy, piece of crap off his floor. He had to clean out his toy box, bedside table and computer desk. He had to dust everything, wipe down all the surfaces and then sweep the floor. I then came in and used my awesome steam mop thingy to clean the floors. The best part was when I told him I want the floor clean enough to eat off. His eyes almost bugged out until I told him that it was a saying and we were not really going to eat off the floor.

So now his room is pretty clean, except for the cardboard boxes he is turning into a plane. Lets see how long it lasts this time.

Winter – Pic taken by Paul

The vacuum cleaner wasn’t broken

About 2 years ago we bought a really cheap vacuum cleaner from the local grocery store. It was cheap but it worked really well. For the last little while I’ve noticed that it wasnt working as well as it used to. We cleaned it out. Paul pulled out a fair bit of fluff and hairballs and it worked a bit better but no where near as well as when it was new. I thought that was that. Its a cheap machine, obviously has a short lifespan. I asked Paul to give it a clean so I could use it on the above mentioned boy’s room. Paul landed up taking the thing apart and actually washing one of the big sponge filters, which was disgustingly dirty. 

Let me just say, the machine now works like I just took it out the box. It even picked up glitter off the tiles and carpet. 

Moral of the story? Clean and service your appliances before throwing them out. 

Jerusalem – pic taken by Paul

You can make cake using plain Greek yogurt and no sugar

I felt like making a cake for tea yesterday and I didnt have any diabetic cup for cup sugar replacement available. What I did have was stevia liquid. I searched online and found a simple trick for using liquid stevia as a replacement in a regular recipe.  Basically 1 teaspoon stevia for each cup of sugar as well as 1/3 cup liquid for each cup of sugar. In my case I used plain yogurt.

The cake came out delicious!

Greek Yogurt Lemon Cake
A dense and yummy lemon cake with no sugar.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
55 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
55 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 3/4 cups flour
  2. 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  3. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  4. 1 teaspoon salt
  5. 1 tablespoon butter (you can use the equivalent in oil)
  6. 3 eggs
  7. 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  8. 2 teaspoons stevia liquid
  9. 1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  10. 1/2 cup lemon juice (you can also add a bit of lemon rind if you used a fresh lemon but its not necessary)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C
  2. In 1 bowl mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a 2nd bowl mix the butter/oil, eggs, vanilla, stevia, yogurt and lemon juice.
  4. Slowly add the dry bowl into the liquids bowl, mixing well as you add them together.
  5. Mix well until there are no lumps.
  6. Pour the batter into a prepared tin and bake for about 45 minutes.
Notes
  1. We ate this cake straight from the oven. It was totally delicious.
A Bit of This A Bit of That https://gnatj.com/