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  • Mai


Ah, pumpkin pie. A delicious combination of seasonal fruits yep pumpkins are fruits and creamy sweet and rich persimmons with some fall spices, and milk or cream and today’s family controversial ingredient. Yielding to a custardy, creamy filling with so many notes of fall. And once baked in a buttery pie crust and topped with fresh whipped cream (a must) its then that its officially thanksgiving. But lets go back to the first time i tried pumpkin pie. This bright orange dessert that's cold and has one note didn't appeal to my college self. You see, I grew up in Palestine and there we didn't celebrate thanksgiving, I had pumpkin pie at the age of 19 for the first time.

In fact, one year my pastor Assis Naim at the Anglican Church in Jerusalem once introduced thanksgiving to the church and we all had falafel sandwiches after the service :)

At first, I wondered why are we serving sweet potatoes mash for thanksgiving dinner and then a similar thing for dessert. It seemed so redundant to me, but the whipped cream made perfect sense and i loved that, I knew then that my palette will change to enjoy this dessert. Pass forward many years later of cooking with my mom in law who taught me so many delicious thanksgiving recipes and experimenting with my own flavors and recipes my favorite pumpkin was born. The creamy filling laced with orange zest and warm fall spices like ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and I sometimes add allspice. This year i experimented with adding tahini (sesame paste). The bright orange sweet dessert needed a nutty boost I thought to myself. It will add dimension and another layer of flavor. Well, some of us at home loved it but my kids said: “mom; tahini belongs to shawarma”. But still not positive who ate almost the entire pie!!! While this remains a mystery i will be adding tahini to my pumpkin pie from now on. And the haters can have an apple pie with fresh whipped cream this thanksgiving.



Ingredients


  • 1 (15-ounce) can pure pumpkin purée not pumpkin pie filling

  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

  • 2 large eggs

  • 2 tsps. cinnamon powder

  • 1/2 tsp cardamom

  • Few grates Of fresh nutmeg

  • 1/4 tsp of cardamom

  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger

  • 1/4 cup tahini paste

  • 2 real ripe persimmons (so soft that they fall apart)

  • Zest of one orange

  • Pinch of salt

  • 1 unbaked 9-inch deep dish pie shell store bought or your favorite recipe

  • * 2 pre baked 9-inch shallow pie shells


Directions




Preheat the oven to 425°F.

  • In a large bowl Place the pumpkin purée, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices, persimmons pulp, orange zest and whisk until combined.

  • If making 1 (9-inch) deep dish pie: Pour the filling into an unbaked 9-inch deep dish pie shell. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350°F and bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. **

  • If making 2 (9-inch) shallow pies: Divide the filling between 2 pre baked 9-inch pie shells.

  • Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350°F and bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. ** Let pies cool completely before serving

  • Serve pies with a dollop of cinnamon whipped cream



RECIPE NOTES



*Pre bake your shells: To blind bake the pie shells, bake at 425°F until the edges just start to brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool before adding the filling.

** if your pie crust starts to brown quickly make sure you cover it loosely with foil


This is your pie and it’s your thanksgiving. Tweak the spices to your liking. If you are not sure about tahini start with 1-2 tbls and go from there. If you don’t like it at all then omit it and the pie will still be so delicious and won’t affect the ratio of the other ingredients.


Tahini:

Tahini, or sesame seed paste, is a staple of Arab, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean cooking. It’s perhaps most known for its essential role in hummus and mutabal. But the use is far beyond.


The two commonly found types of persimmons: are the hachiya and fuyu persimmons, which originated in Asia and are now grown in the U.S. and elsewhere. Fuyu persimmons are sweet, and can be eaten while still a little firm. Making them perfect for salads and eaten raw.


The hachiya persimmon will be sweet only when it’s very ripe or even overripe that it falls apart. Making them a perfect addition to baked goods. If you’ve ever had an unripe persimmon, the experience is memorable. It will numb your tongue lol so wait for it to completely ripen.


How to fast ripen hard Hachiyas:

You often fid the Hachiyas firm at the market. You can hurry the softening process by keeping them in a paper bag at room temperature for a few days.


Taste:

Persimmons taste like no other fruit. They have a silky, almost a slippery texture and taste kind of like the fabulous fruity love child of a mango and a roasted sweet pepper, with some cinnamon in the background. They are rich and tangy and sweet, all at the same time.



Who ate the rest of the Tahini, PPP!!! will remain a mystery

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  • Mai

Updated: Nov 20, 2020


Regular size muffins




Anything pumpkin and corn or cranberry is totally appropriate for thanksgiving right!! so i combined the seasons star ingredients into these delicious pumpkin, cranberry cornbread bites that are a perfect compliment to your thanksgiving table. I serve them instead of rolls or bread. This simple recipe has a lot of bonuses, no one needs any complicated recipes during this time of the year: you can make them ahead, they freeze so well, just thaw and reheat in the oven before serving. They also cook so fast about 10 -15 minutes, and my fav bonus is that you can eat them the next day for breakfast with a little whipped cinnamon butter or give them to your guests as goodie bags just keep in mind that they might never leave.

Tips for a moist cornbread, because if you tried a dry cornbread before you know exactly what i mean:

  1. This cornbread recipe uses the muffin mixing method: whisk together dry ingredients in one bowl, and the wet in the other, then fold the wet into dry just until its all combined. Don't overmix so you have a fluffy batter

  2. Use fine cornmeal. Cornmeal varies in grind size from coarse to fine. At the market you will often find White or yellow cornmeal either one works in this recipes. I used the yellow cornmeal here.

  3. Use kefir for moisture and flavor. Kefir is a fermented yogurt drink so that tiny acidity adds flavor and moisture to the corn bread.

** Cornbread is best eaten fresh the day off. Wrap tightly if you are storing for later or freexe and defrost when in needed.


You can bake these bites in mini muffins tins they will take about 10 minutes in the oven or regular muffin size they will take about 15 minutes. Also but feel free to use a 9 inch round cake pan, or a cast iron skillet. Just watch your coking time as it will vary based on baking tool you use.


Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 10-15 minutes in muffin tins

Serves: 12-14 regular size muffins or 24 mini muffin bites



Ingredients



Dry ingredients

  • 1 cup flour

  • 1 cup fine cornmeal (Yellow)

  • 1 Tbsp baking powder

  • Pinch of salt

  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

  • few grates of freshly ground nutmeg

  • Zest of an orange

  • 1/2 cup packed date sugar or regular sugar

Wet ingredients



  • 2 eggs

  • 1 cup pumpkin purée not pumpkin pie filling

  • 1/3 cup neutral oil or coconut oil melted

  • 2 Tbsp date syrup, you can also use agave or honey

  • 1/3 cup plain Kefir


Directions



  • Set the oven to 350F

  • Whisk the dry ingredients together in a small bowl

  • Whisk the wet ingredients together in another bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix until just combined. Don't overmix so batter stays fluffy.

  • Turn into a prepared muffin tins or greased cast iron. Bake for 10-15 minutes (depending on the size of your muffin pans) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

  • Let them cool slightly to handle. They are delicious served warm with a dollop of cinnamon butter.

  • store covered in an airtight container or a ziplock


mini bites


Recipe bonuses:


- You could actually bake it while the turkey rests, and bring it to the table hot out of the oven.


- Cook in any pan you have no special tools needed


- Store these bites in the freezer and thaw before serving. And reheat as needed





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Updated: Dec 11, 2020


Its so important to eat well and take care of our bodies and souls during this time of the year. Especially with the pandemic, cold season, working from home, kids zoom classes, etc not stressful at all 🤪!! we got to treat our bodies right. This time Of year there are also all sorts of root vegetables that are in season, they are super delicious, and nutritious such as beets that are in season during summer till late fall, but you can also find them year around.

They are naturally sweet and earthy. Roasting the beets intensifies their flavor and sweetness, plus their beautiful color, its like natures candy. They are also loaded with essential vitamins and minerals. Growing up this salad was made with diced up beets and then tossed in the tahini dressing. It was often served for lunch with pita bread. I am pairing the sweet beets with a tahini and kefir base that’s flavored with sumac, thyme and lemon. The earthy flavor of tahini pairs so well with the sweet beets. And Kefir adds loads of protein, vitamins and probiotics to help our gut, and is essential to our immune system. This vitamin powerhouse salad makes for a perfect meal on its own with some greens or serve it as a side dish next to pan seared fish. I hope you make this salad and stay UP BEET ❤️I cooked this live on @lifewaykefir you can check it out on their IGTV


Roasted Beets on a bed of kefir lemon, sumac and tahini

Perfect as a salad, a side dish or as an appetizer

Serves 3-4

Roasting time: 45 min

Prep time: 15 min

Ingredients

  • 6-8 small beets or 3-4 medium to large yellow or red, or a combo *

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • salt and pepper

Roasting beets:

*Beets: The entire beet, from the roots, stems, and leaves are edible. The root bulb is most often consumed, you will find beets often sold loose at the market, that's simply because the leafy greens will wilt a lot faster than the bulb. The dark leafy greens are high in calcium, vitamins, and iron. Just sauté them in a bit of olive oil, garlic and a squeeze of lemon. They are perfect with eggs, in omelets or anywhere you would use spinach. Consume the leafy greens within few days of purchasing. While the bulbs wrapped in a dry towel and away from moisture will last few weeks to even few months in the fridge.

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.

  • Prep your beets:

  • Cut off the green tops, Scrub the beets well. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil

  • wrap them loosely in aluminum foil.

  • Place the beets on a baking sheet. Roast for 45 to 60 minutes depending on the size of the beets. Check after the first 20 minutes. If a skewer slides easily to the center of the beet it’s done. Otherwise continue cooking

  • After the beets cool enough to handle. Place them in a paper towel and rub off the skin it should come off easily. I also sometimes use a vegetable peeler or a pairing knife if you have stubborn skin.


Storage: Roasted beets can be refrigerated whole or sliced in airtight container for up to 1 week.

Ingredients Tahini Dressing:

You can adjust any of the ingredients to your taste.

  • 2-3 Tablespoons tahini

  • 3 Tablespoons water {more of less depending on the consistency you like}

  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced or grated

  • 1/2 cup strained kefir **

  • Juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon

  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided

  • 1/2 teaspoon sumac plus more to garnish

  • (Optional) 2 Tablespoons fresh herbs parsley and mint or thyme are perfect here

  • salt and pepper

  • a drizzle of honey (optional)

*To Strain your Kefir you will need:



A bowl

A strainer and a paper towel or cheesecloth

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided your the kefir right inside. Make sure your strainer doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl. The whey will drip in the bowl. Ideally you want to do this overnight for a thick and spreadable kefir. But 45 minutes while your beets roast is also ok. Discard the whey and store any leftover strained kefir in the fridge.


Directions:

While the beets are cooling make the Lemon kefir Tahini Sauce.:

  1. Add all of the ingredients and 1 tbls olive oil to a bowl and whisk to combine..

  2. Season to taste with salt and pepper

  3. Slice the beets thinly with a sharp knife.

  4. Plate the tahini kefir dressing at bottom of a serving Plate

  5. Top with the sliced roasted beets

  6. Drizzle with olive oil and honey and a sprinkling of thyme

  7. Season with salt and pepper

You can also choose to dice up the beets and toss them in the tahini dressing just like my grandmother would .


Either way it will be delicious and you will mop up the entire plate


Salad stays well in the fridge 3-5 days in an airtight container

Sahtain,

mai

@almondandfig

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