Date Pyramid Cookies: Delicious Pastry

These filled cookies called Klaicha have a center of chopped dates and a hint of butter and are fairly low in sugar and surprisingly tasty. After just 24 hours since they came out of the oven and cooled off, I think I am addicted. They are shaped a bit like tiny pyramids, you use a dinner fork to press on them on opposite sides to flatten them while creating ridges reminiscent of peanut butter cookies. The dough is made from buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, almond flour and tapioca flour with brown sugar and butter. Spiced a bit with cinnamon, cardamon and anise seeds which give it a subtle middle eastern flavor profile when combined with the date filling. They are Iranian in origin, and I have no idea how to pronounce the traditional name, so I am just calling them date pyramid cookies, no offence Iran! I like that there isn’t a ton of date in each cookie; my sister Margie used to make these tasty date bars but honestly, I always thought they had just way too much date; was an overwhelming flavor in my humble opinion. Date pyramid cookies; just the right amount and a pleasing hint of spice. Date cookie perfection.

I enjoy their slightly crunchy exterior and soft date center. I like that they are fairly low in sugar (the date filling sweetens them up a lot) and that Klaicha are made with whole grain flours for most part. Forming them is a bit of a task. Half way through I returned them to the fridge to harden the dough and stop it from being a sticky mess on my hands. That said, it didn’t take long to do all 25 of them. Definitely a keeper recipe for the flavor, the texture and the relatively low sugar.

KLAICHA DATE PYRAMID COOKIES

Ingredients

1 cup brown rice flour

1 cup almond flour (not meal)

½ cup buckwheat flour

½ cup tapioca flour

¼ rounded tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp ground cardamon

½-1 tsp. anise seeds

1 ½ tsp. xanthan gum

Pinch sea salt

9 Tbsp. room temp (firm) butter cut into 12-15 small pieces

½ cup brown sugar

5-7 Tbsp filtered water

Filling: 1 cup plus 1 Tbsp. chopped dates, 1 ½ Tbsp butter

Directions: Put flours, spices, salt and gum in stand mixer bowl. Cut in butter with either the stand mixer paddle or a handheld butter cutter until butter is in tiny pebbles. Add sugar, blend. Add water as mixer turns slowly; a steady stream.  Use all of it or less; you want it to come together into a slightly crumbly dough. Chill 30-60 minutes. Mix dates and water in sauce pan; cook covered on low for 5-7 minutes until softened and butter blends in; stir frequently. Let cool.

Form cookies: a chunk the size of a large walnut formed into a ball, squash it down with your thumb or index finger; place 1 tsp date mix in that depression and push dough up to form it back into a ball. If you use too much date filling it will be very difficult to get the dough to wrap completely around the filling. Once done with that step, use a dinner fork to press on opposite sides of the ball to leave ridges on those two sides. Place on lightly sprayed baking sheet. I kinda gently scrunch them down so they have a flat bottom. Bake at 325 degrees for 30-32 minutes until light brown. The bottom of the cookies should be browned but not dark. Let them cool on the sheet. They get a bit crunchy by the time the cookies are fully cooled. I store mine in the cookie jar and a few in the freezer for when these run out…gf cookies rarely keep well so I always freeze some. Great with a cup of tea or coffee. I dare you to eat just one.

Chicken Angelique

My family had this special dish that my mom found in a magazine. She always called it Chicken Angelique and I have never seen it in a cookbook. It was small bite sized cubes of chicken breast fried until browned and done inside. You make a lovely French sauce of celery, green onions, garlic, bacon, broth and milk. Serve it on top of fluffy white rice and have a side dish of steamed fresh asparagus and it was a meal for royalty. My mom made it only for company like my grandparents or aunts and uncles. She served it on her and my father’s twenty fifth wedding anniversary when I was a kid. When Mom turned 100 my sister Karen and I made it for her birthday supper and it was a good as I ever remembered it. A small labor of love for our lovely mother and she was thrilled to enjoy it on that momentous occasion. 

Notes: The raw chicken cuts into cubes better if it is partially frozen. I had frozen it for 5 days and I cut it up before it thawed fully.  Do use the entire scallion minus the roots of course! It adds a nice hint of scallion to the sauce. My sister put enough of the green leaves that her sauce was pale green; quite lovely actually. That one slice of bacon is very important; adds a special bit of flavor. Do not use anything less than 2 percent milk in the sauce. I prefer whole milk which is what my mom used. We had a milk cow, and she used a mechanical separator machine that gave a stream of milk and a lesser stream of thick cream. Use tender celery and real butter for the best flavor. I used rice flour, but you can use all-purpose flour if you don’t need to be gluten free.  Enjoy!

This is the only picture I took of it, the one of it in the pan was slightly out of focus; I was just too busy cooking and wasn’t thinking much about sharing pictures.
I did take a picture of the rice! Lovely fluffy basmati rice.

Mom’s Chicken Angelique,  serves 4-5

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts

½ tsp. salt and 3 Tbsp. rice flour (pepper is optional)

1 Tbsp and 1 tsp. butter

1-2 Tbsp. mild olive oil or canola oil

Sauce:

1 slice cold bacon; mince it up

1 smaller rib celery chopped finely

4 green onions chopped finely

1 small clove garlic minced

1 Tbsp. mild olive oil

2 chicken bouillon cubes dissolved in 1 cup boiling hot water

1 small bay leaf

1/8 tsp. thyme, skimp it a bit

2 Tbsp rice flour or slightly less all purpose flour

1 cup plus 3 Tbsp. whole milk

1 medium egg yolk (I used the smallest egg out of a dozen large ones) Stirred up a bit

8 oz fresh small mushrooms; slice them medium thin after cutting of the bottom of the stem

1 tbsp butter and 1 tsp. oil

Make the sauce first. Using a large sauce pan; heat it; add oil, bacon, celery, green onions; cook 2-3 minutes; add the garlic and cook another minute. Light brown; not dark brown. Add the hot bullion, the bay leaf and the thyme. Simmer it covered for 15 minutes. (while the sauce simmers, slice the raw mushrooms and cook them in a tablespoon of butter and a dash of cooking oil. Turn off when they look done. Back to the sauce: you can then blend it in a blender until smooth but we never bother with that step. Mix a tablespoon of flour with half a cup of the milk and add to the sauce; heat on medium stirring constantly until it starts to thicken. Put the rest of the flour in with another half cup of milk; add to sauce and cook a few moments. Add a half cup of the sauce into the cup with the stirred-up egg yolk to warm it up and then dump it all back into the sauce pan. Stir well as you add the rest of the milk. It should be like slightly thick gravy. Add the sautéed mushrooms to it. Turn to the lowest setting to keep it warm while you make the chicken.

The chicken should be skinless; cut it up into 1-inch cubes. Roll in flour that you salted a bit. Heat a large saucepan, add the oil and butter. I did my chicken in 3 batches. There should be a bit of space between the cubes. Turn them 1-2 times to brown the sides. I used a dinner fork to do that. I put the done ones into a bowl, and you will probably need to add another tablespoon of oil for each batch.  When they are all browned you are ready to bring It together with the sauce. You should have made some white rice to serve with them. And a vegetable like asparagus, peas or whatever you enjoy. Pour the hot cooked cubes into the sauce and serve it on a bed of hot rice. Some people sprinkle some paprika or fresh parsley on top, but I don’t really bother with that. Enjoy!

Great Lower Sugar Yogurt Choices

Yogurt, that’s what I like for lunch most weekdays, with a small sandwich and a tangerine. I watch these infomercials about how bad yogurt is for you due to excessive sugar. So, I try to stick to lower sugar varieties. I also buy plain organic Greek or whole yogurt to which I add homemade jam/marmalade for a change of pace and as an excellent way to use my jams. Aldi’s whole milk Greek yogurt is particularly delightful. But I have to confess a weakness for Friendly Farms Zero fat strawberry Greek yogurt in the 5.3-ounce cup. I originally though it would be weird with zero fat and avoided it for like a year but when I finally snagged some, I discovered that it tastes rich and smooth. The FF strawberry flavor isn’t overwhelming, but it isn’t weak either.  It’s super creamy and almost fluffy on my tongue. I never get tired of it. I will say the seasonal Cranberry flavor low-fat Greek yogurt is also excellent. I often get a blueberry or raspberry too. Yummers!

This is only out around Thanksgiving to New Years; delish for sure.

Another choice is Oikos blended Greek yogurt cups; 100 calories and the fruit puree is the third ingredient. 10 grams sugar. I generally buy it on sale; might get down to a buck. The strawberry is tasty.

Looking at the FF ingredients, the first one is nonfat yogurt, then cane sugar, then cream and then fruit. I happen to also enjoy Chobani less sugar Greek yogurt. Reading that label, I was shocked to find the third ingredient is water, then fruit puree. It has 10 less calories than Friendly Farm’s Greek yogurt. Both have five active yogurt cultures. The fat content is very close; 3% or 2.5%.  FF has 13 grams of sugar while the lower sugar Chobani has 9 grams. I guess I should mention that all these yogurts are gluten free. Some yogurts come with add ins in a little plastic container fastened to the top; often they are full of gluten; read those labels very closely.

The best yogurt cup out there, in my humble opinion…

I get the FF yogurt at Aldi’s. It usually is 59 cents. If the Chobani is on sale I might get it for a buck or $1.10. Double the cost. But only when it is on sale. FF is always a bargain.  Both taste great. But that price point is hard to ignore. Occasionally I surrender to buying a couple strawberry mango Dannon or a mango Chobani, but the rest of those sugar filled yogurts, at their inflated prices, do not entice me. Next time you are in Aldi’s pick up a few of the Greek yogurt cups; all the flavors are tasty; love the key lime as well as the toasted coconut one. I am not a big fan of their regular yogurt, but the Greek is head and shoulders cheaper and just as tasty as my beloved Chobani mango yogurt.  If you have jam; get a big container of plain yogurt and jam it up; very tasty, healthy and satisfying to eat homemade jam in yogurt. I feel virtuous as I am not adding any sugar; just my jam I made last year. Sure, yogurt may not be as healthy as we once thought but if you make good choices and go with lower sugar it is healthish and delish! Enjoy!