Arts & Culture In Focus

Holiday eats for all

Find more from Maya Watson on Instagram: @celiacsunnysideup

(Photo: Maya Watson)
(Photo: Maya Watson)

Gluten Free (GF) Gingerbread Muffins
Full disclosure – I attempted to bake my grandmother’s Welsh Cakes for this section but could not manage to make them gluten-free. They began to melt, resembling the sad remains of many childhood snowmen. Luckily, these gingerbread muffins were easily and deliciously adapted to be gluten-free without any issues! They taste like a classic Christmas gingerbread house has been inflated into a light (and healthy) cake. I recommend these scrumptious muffins with a dab of butter or molasses!
Holiday Fact: Although gingerbread has been around since 2400 BC and in the 10th century Chinese recipes were also developed, gingerbread only became associated with Christmas in 16th century Germany.
Recipe adapted from Ambitious Kitchen.
1 1/2 cups GF flour (I used Cuisine Soleil)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and cooled to warm
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (any milk will work)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a muffin tin with muffin liners; spray the inside of the liners with non-stick cooking spray to ensure the muffins do not stick.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, add coconut oil, maple syrup, molasses, egg, yogurt and almond milk. Whisk together until smooth and well combined. Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Pour batter into liners, filling about 1/2 of the way full. The mixture will look too liquid but do not add additional flour. Bake muffins for 18-22 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Enjoy!

(Photo: Maya Watson)
(Photo: Maya Watson)

Latkes with Pomegranate Yogurt
These latkes are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside while the pomegranate yogurt cuts through the grease with an unexpected tartness. I ate about seven, piping hot from the oven.
Holiday Fact: When the ancient Jewish people were being oppressed and Judaism was being outlawed by Antiochus IV, he was opposed by Mattathias the Hasmonean and his son Judah Maccabee. In 165 BC, the Jewish revolt succeeded to rededicate their temple. However, although they needed oil to light the menorah for eight days, they only had enough oil for one day. Miraculously, the menorah stayed lit for eight days. Latkes honour this miracle of religious freedom with oil they are fried in.
Recipe Adapted from Once Upon a Chef.
4 russet potatoes
1 medium yellow onion, peeled
2 large eggs
2 scant teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons GF flour
Enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom of your baking sheet by about 5 mm.
Equipment: 2 heavy non-stick rimmed baking sheets
Preheat oven to 425 F. Peel the potatoes, then coarsely grate them with the onion. Place potato mixture in a sieve and press down firmly with paper towel to remove excess moisture. Drain the water from the bowl but keep the starchy substance at the bottom. Stir potatoes in this starchy substance. Mix in eggs, salt, baking powder and flour.
Fill two heavy non-stick rimmed baking sheets with oil. Place pans in oven for 10 minutes to heat the oil. Carefully remove pans from oven. Drop batter by the 1/4-cupful onto baking sheets, spacing about 1 inch apart. Using the bottom of the measuring cup or a spoon, press down on pancakes to flatten. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until bottoms are crisp and golden. Carefully remove pans from oven and flip latkes. Place pans back in oven and cook until latkes are crisp and golden brown all over, about 10 minutes more. Remove pans from oven and transfer latkes to large platter lined with paper towels. Eat while hot and enjoy!

(Photo: Maya Watson)
(Photo: Maya Watson)

Kelewele (Ghanaian Spicy Fried Plantain)
I found this recipe on Foods from Africaa blog written by Emem, a Nigerian-born British home cook and a food blogger. Although I have had plantain many times at home, it wasn’t until I started researching for this spread that I found this spicy plantain dish that can be served as a side for Kwanzaa. This is also a great recipe for a warm, delicious and not unhealthy snack for those cold Halifax nights.
Holiday Fact: Kwanzaa was established in 1966 in the midst of the Black Freedom Movement. According to the official website of Kwanzaa, it should “be engaged as an ancient and living cultural tradition which reflects the best of African thought and practice in its reaffirmation of the dignity of the human person in community and culture, the well-being of family and community, the integrity of the environment and our kinship with it, and the rich resource and meaning of a people’s culture.”
Recipe from Foods from Africa.
1 plantain
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon chilli powder
½ teaspoon garlic ground
½ teaspoon ginger ground
1 salt to taste
2 tsp olive oil extra virgin
Peel and chop plantain. Rub spice mixture into plantain. Fry plantain in EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) for about 3 minutes per side or until golden brown.

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