Kwanzaa Culinarians 2014: Cacao Benne Cookies

Cacao Benne Cookies

Make a pot of tea or coffee, light a candle, grab a comfortable seat, and plate a few cacao benne (pronounced benny) cookies. How was your year? Since the time I’ve learned 14 isn’t my favorite number, I’ve cautiously waited for the year of 2014. It’s a painfully honest number. And, when the clock turned 2014 in the midnight hour on January first, I said a silent prayer. God help us. And, as I’ve imaged, this year is a roller coaster of emotions. Russia. Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ebola in West Africa. Mike Brown and other victims of the police. Family members passing. By the time summer arrived, my stomach was jumping to the tune of “War” sung by The Temptations. Since the beginning of human relationships, I’m sure there’s a country or region involved in war somewhere around the globe. Perhaps, due to my sensitivity to 14, this year’s wars and conflicts deeply troubled me. It’s 2014 communicating, “War… What is it good for?… absolutely nothing…”

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Parade Magazine: Dirty Chai Pumpkin Muffins with Chocolate Ganache

Dirty Chai Pumpkin Muffins with Chocolate Ganache
I wanted a special pumpkin muffin—like a unique Halloween costume—to stand out among the store-bought versions. Inspired by the flavors of warm spice tea and bitter coffee you find in a “dirty chai” drink, this is a muffin to nibble on while sipping coffee (or black tea) in a thermos as kids trick and treat in the neighborhood. As an added treat, the muffins are sweetly topped with a generous drizzle of bittersweet chocolate ganache. Here’s a warning: Be careful of kids performing magic tricks, causing these muffins to disappear into the ghostly night. Read more

How Sweet it Is

Coffee Almond Ice Cream and Brownie Cake with Chocolate Ganache

t’s our birthday and a major anniversary year for us. He’s seen the worst of me, and said I am beautiful. He’s my King and I’m his Queen. That’s love. I wanted to treat him to a nice birthday. To say thank you for the support over the years. I wish we could fly away for two weeks to a private island. For now, my love is expressed via low-budget creativity. It’s the type of gift for that one particular person as it warms the heart to communicate, “I listen, watch and think about you all the time.”

With extra money saved, two orchestra tickets to Motown the Musical were bought. Reservations to The Elm in Williamsburg were made. And, an ice cream cake made with a twist of his favorite (insert big brand name ice cream here) Vanilla Swiss Almond flavor.

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Can Spring Come to My Street?

Rhubarb Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake

Can sunny days sweep the clouds away on the way to where the air is sweet? I’m thinking about sunny days to the tune of Sesame Street’s theme song. The few warm days we’re granted this Spring are greeted with relief only to be disappointed with cooler days to follow. As May is coming to an end without a sign of consistent warm weather, at least rhubarb arrived on time for an upside-down cornmeal cake.  Read more

Butternut Squash Pie with Nairn’s Oatcake Cracker Crust

Butternut Squash Pie with Nairn's Oatcake Cracker Crust
There are plenty of reasons to be thankful. For starters, I live in a non-flood zone in Brooklyn, and our lights only flickered three times during Hurricane Sandy. I woke up the next day with fresh running water and electricity. Other blocks, people lost their cars to fallen trees. In neighborhoods at least 20 minutes away, floods and 100 mph winds destroyed houses and businesses. Although, the hurricane was two weeks ago, the stories continue to increase about the elderly living in high-rise apartment buildings on floors 13, 15 or 18 without running water, heat or electricity. I overhead a conversation about a family’s agony of a finding new home—when everyone in the same, next or other community are looking for a new home to live, too. And, those same families who lost their homes are looking for new schools for their kids. Let’s not forget the holidays are upon us. So, here I am in one of the world’s richest cities, and families are still walking around with just the shirt on their back. Brooklyn is indeed a city of the have and the have nots…. Read more