Spiced Pear and Almond Sesame Parfait

Last week was the final week of the fruit share for the season from my CSA. Bless them… for a good portion of the fruit share I received apples and pears. So much so – that I just could not eat them fast enough. I decided that the best use for the pears was a spiced pear parfait.

 I spiced up the pears with a bit of cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom- scented them with vanilla and added some golden raisins to it. The combination of golden raisins and cardamom are classic combinations along the Silk Road- adding just a bit of bite to the sweet moist plump raisins.

Then I made some tofu cream- for all those out there that are vegan or avoiding dairy all together. I spiced up Silken Tofu with vanilla and blanched almonds. To top off this creamy Sunday, I made a sweet and salty almond crunch. 

A beautiful presentation in a glass with layers of golden pears and lightly colored cream laced with cinnamon. Whip some up in the fall when pears are at their peak. Thanks to Amy from the FragrantVanilla Cake for sharing this recipe and inspiring me to recreate desserts into healthier wholesome delights.

Serves 4


Pear Filling

4 Forelle Pears, peeled, cored and cubed

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup golden raisins

2-teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2-teaspoon cardamom

1/4-teaspoon nutmeg

2-teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch sea salt


1 package silken tofu

1/4-cup maple syrup 

1/4 cup blanched almonds

1/4-cup raw white sesame seeds

1-tablespoon vanilla extract

1-teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/8 tsp sea salt

Nut topping (optional)

½ cup sliced almonds

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

2-tablespoon maple sugar

1/8-teaspoon sea salt

                      1      Place pears in a skillet over medium heat and combine with sugar, raisins, lemon juice, cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg. Stir occasionally so that the pears don’t stick to the skillet. Cook for 5 minutes or until pears have softened. Remove from heat and add vanilla extract, and salt. Let mixture cool completely then place in the refrigerator until cold.

                       2      To make cream: In a food processor, combine tofu, maple syrup, almonds, sesame seeds, vanilla extract, almond extract, cinnamon, lemon juice and salt and process until very smooth. Place in the fridge to chill until very cold before assembling parfaits.

                         3      To make nut topping:  preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with foil, and spray with non-stick spray. Toss almonds, sesame seeds, maple syrup and salt until well combined. Spread out on prepared sheet, and bake for 7 minutes until seeds are fragrant and toasted. Remove pan from oven and let cool completely.

                       4       To assemble:  line up 4 (8 ounce glasses). Place a third of the cream in the bottom of each, dividing evenly between the three.  Top with half the pear mixture, dividing evenly between the three, then half the remaining cream, then the rest of the pears, then the last of the cream.  Top with the almond sesame mixture. Serve immediately.

Gluten Free Autumn Honey Cake

This past week was the beginning of the Jewish New Year, known as Rosh Hashana. The holiday signifies the creation of the human world some 5772 years ago.
A traditional way to bring on the New Year is to celebrate with sweet edible things on the table, to symbolically express their wishes for a Sweet New Year. It’s still not too late to make a honey cake for the New Year, since we are supposed to be eating sweet foods until Yom Kippur- this coming Friday. This recipe for Honey cake has been passed down through the generations with tones of cinnamon, allspice and clove, which are very grounding and homey during the New Year, when family gets together for the festival.
This honey cake is moist, soft and plush with a little crisp edge topped with almond slivers for an extra crunch. Another bonus with this cake is that it can be made up to a week in advance as it preserves really well. In fact, honey is a preserving agent and allows the spices to fully develop, so actually tastes better with time.

I find it so interesting that so many Jewish communities around the world have created their own signature sweet dishes for the Sweet New year. Among Askenazi Jews there is the custom to make a sweet noodle kugel and a sweet stuffed cabbage- just to name a few. So what are your traditional dishes that you make on Rosh Hashana?

Serves 2 (9-inch) loaf pans

3 ½ cups All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1-teaspoon baking powder
1-teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground cloves
4 eggs
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1-cup vegetable oil
1-cup honey
1-cup strong brewed coffee
1 cup orange juice
¼ cup lemon juice
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon
1-cup raisins
½ cup almonds, slivered
¼ cup almonds, slivered for topping


               1    Preheat oven to 350°F
               2    In a medium size bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, allspice and clove.
               3    In a separate large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the eggs, gradually adding the sugar. Beat until thick and light in color, about 5 minutes. Beat in the oil, honey, coffee, orange juice,     lemon juice, vanilla extract and lemon zest. The batter will be light and fluffy. Stir flour mixture slowly into batter. Fold in raisins and then mix in ½ cup almonds.
              4    Oil the two loaf pans and line bottom with waxed paper. Oil again and fill each pan with batter up to one inch from the top. Bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes and remove from pan.

Healthy Afternoon Snack

A little over three years ago, I was 30 pounds heavier. I was working as a Junior High School teacher, not too happy in a homogenized and bureaucratic system… it went completely against my creative free spirited side. In any event, although I was very grateful to teach Science to 34 students with 5 teaching periods a day, nonetheless it came with stress. The stress of dealing with hundreds of kids simultaneously with their needs and learning behaviours. On top of that, there were my Supervisors… that were virtually useless, but they needed to make sure I was teaching in a prescriptive manner. No imagination, whatsoever.

To make a long story short, this all made my digestive system a little too overactive, and over the years I gained weight. Interestingly enough… many teachers that were in the “system” for years gained a lot of weight. I suppose the noshing, nervousness, time constraints of the day and rushed food intake all did not help.

I lost the weight when I left my job and pursued “green movements” which has culminated now into this recipe type blog. Taking the time to prepare my food and sit down properly and do what I love to do all helped me to get trim.

Of course, I still love to nosh, but I nosh on much more healthful things. So today’s posting is an afternoon snack that is both healthful, tasty and satisfying.

When it’s about 3pm and you are feeling that you need a “pick me up” here is a great snack.
Rice crackers…. virtually no calories with RAW Almond butter (available at Trader Joes for $4.99, as opposed to WF at $6.99) with a light coating of a fruit preserve. In this way you are getting the crunch that many of us need to feel satisfied with some sweetness. Then to top it off… I have a Chai Latte that I brew from “Celestial Seasonings” called BENGAL SPICE with frothed milk. This is by far a much better version available at Starbucks that is made with syrup, and is the closest thing to a chai latte that I have tasted.