ginger, cayenne, and cupcakes, all gluten-free

The title is a bit misleading; I did not make ginger cayenne cupcakes, as tasty as those might be (note to self…)! No, instead, I used ginger and cayenne in two recent recipes (I’m beginning to love the tantalizing combination!) and one of my wonderful roommates made the (gluten-free/dairy-free) cupcakes – her little Valentine’s Day present. Yes, we’re a sappy bunch at the Harvard St. house…sometimes. 🙂

Instead of keeping you in suspense, I’ll just cut to the chase.

1. Potato Pancakes with PearsA friend of mine from Baltimore sent me a recipe he’d created for potato pancakes with pears. The photo below doesn’t do it justice, but I highly recommend the recipe. Three suggestions: don’t use red skin potatoes (try russet, like the recipe says!); if you’re making it gluten-free and the egg creates too much liquid, add ~3 tbsp+ brown rice flour; and try doing the pears first and keeping them warm in the oven while you do the potato pancakes.

Potato Pancakes:

2 pounds peeled russet potatoes
1 md. onion
Squeeze the water out of the potatoes with either a salad spinner or cheese cloth. Save the water that you produce–the potato starch will settle out.
Shredded potatoes, onions
Potato starch
1/8-1/4 tsp salt
1/8-1/4 tsp pepper
1 egg or 4-6 tbs. oat flour
Make into patties and fry on medium heat.
Saute on md. heat
2 tbs butter
1/8 tsp red pepper
1.5 tsp garlic, minced
1 tbs. ginger, minced
1/4-1/2 tsp cloves
2 pinches dark. brown sugar
After 2-3 minutes,
Add 2 pears, cut into 16th or something like a 16th.
Saute for 4 minutes
Add 1/2 – 1 cup water and cover until the pears are starting to be tender.
Remove the lid and let the liquid reduce until the pears are tender and the sauce is syrupy.
Serve the pears over the potato pancakes and drizzle with maple syrup.

2. Alexis’ Valentine’s Day Special
Adapted from a Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World recipe – Your Basic Chocolate Cupcake with Peanut Butter Frosting. Absolutely amazing.

3. Apricot Ginger Pistachio Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Betty Crocker’s Living Gluten Freely recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 cup steamed Japanese yams & ginger (see note below)
1/4 cup Earth Balance soy free shortening, softened (not melted)
teaspoon vanilla
teaspoon lemon juice from concentrate (or 2 tsp lemon zest)
1 egg
1 box (19 oz) Betty Crocker® Gluten Free chocolate chip cookie mix
cup each, dried apricots and candied ginger, chopped (1/2 cup total)
cup pistachios, chopped
dash cayenne pepper
Poppy seeds, if desired

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In large bowl, stir yams & ginger, shortening, vanilla, lemon juice and egg until blended. Stir in cookie mix, apricots, ginger, pistachios and cayenne pepper until soft dough forms. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on cookie sheets and flatten with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle lightly with poppy seeds.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until almost no indentation remains when lightly touched in center
and edges are golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.

Note: The Betty Crocker recipe calls for pumpkin purée; I had some lovely Japanese yams (similar to white yams) in my fridge that were begging to be used for this recipe; they’re subtly sweet and super starchy, so they add some lovely bulk to these cookies without overpowering the other tastes. I diced 2 yams, sliced up about 1 Tbsp ginger, boiled them together until soft, and then threw the whole thing in a food processor until smooth (had to add a bit of water). If you’re pressed for time, substitute (canned) puréed butternut squash.

There you have it, folks! Some of the delicious food I’ve been eating lately. Enjoy!

About LynnaeEtta

I'm an Usborne Books & More Independent Consultant who loves reading, exploring nature and the city with my kids, cooking, photography, and spending time with family and friends.


  1. Oh, that's so funny! Justin and I just had the potato pancakes with pears yesterday, and we LOVED it. It was such a delightful surprise to have the combination of spicy gingery pears over potatoes with sweet maple syrup on top. I was considering posting the recipe on my food blog, but you beat me to it!

  2. LynnaeEtta

    Weren't they fantastic?! I think I added some chopped up walnuts to the leftovers, which was also delicious.

    You could certainly still post the recipe on your blog – it's worth sharing! 🙂

  3. Hi Lynnae~
    So I just made this recipe tonight, and although its not cookies, its a great spicy winter Jamaican soup- pepperpot. Try it if you are in the mood for a taste of the caribbean when its 30 degrees outside.

    Cube sirloin (or shrimp) as much as you want in your soup and fry.saute asing EVVO. Put aside once the steak browns.
    In a soup pot, put a little EVOO in the bottom and combine, diced white onion, garlic, and fresh thyme. Once the onion is tender add scotch bonnet pepper sauce (you can substitute jabeneros, but the scotch bonnet sauce allows you to make it as spicy as you want!). Next whisk one teaspoon or cornstarch and about 4 cups of water- put in soup pot. Cut up one large sweet potato and your favorite mushrooms to the pot. Bring to a boil for one minute and then let simmer until the veggies get tender. Once tender, add some spinach or collard greens. Drop the meat back in a cook for about 10 more minutes. Remove from the heat and mix in a can of coconut milk. Yummy!!! For another green I added okra and some salt and pepper. I served it with tortas and goat cheese, but I know you cant do tortas.

  4. LynnaeEtta

    Sheryl, that sounds fantastic! I've never made Jamaican food before, but it's definitely on my list. 🙂

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