Monday, September 26, 2011

Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki Sauce

 1 cup Sherry or Mirin
1 1/2 Cups Honey
2 Cups Shoyu Soy Sauce
3 Tbsp. Each, Ginger and Garlic, chopped
1/2 Cup Pineapple, crushed

Bring to a boil, add, stirring, 3 Tbsp. Cornstarch dissolved in hot water.  Stir until thickened slightly.  

This recipe can be halved or kept in refrigerator for a quick meal almost indefinitely

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Heirloom Tomato Chutney

Heirloom Tomato Chutney

Makes 12 half-pint jars with some extra for sampling

Mix together in a heavy-bottomed pot:
18 cups Heirloom tomatoes, cut in small pieces (cherry tomatoes can be halved or left whole)
6 cups granulated sugar
1 tbsp. salt
3 cups sliced crystallized ginger
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. Garam Masala
4 3-inch pieces cinnamon stick
2 lemons, thinly sliced

Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Cook down on medium-low heat until mixture is thick.  Stir frequently, especially towards the end, to prevent sticking and burning.

Ladle into hot, sterilized canning jars.  Seal.  Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Remove from canner and cool in a place free from drafts for 24 hours.  Label and store.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Coconut Flour Chronicles: Episode One, Coconut Flour Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

Coconut flour is something of a magical ingredient for me right now.  I am trying to find zuzus to bake and snack on that are mostly guilt-free....meaning carbohydrate free. Coconut flour is high in fiber, low in digestible carbs and a source of protein.  It also is somewhat naturally sweet, so added sweetening tends to be low to make a nice treat.

Many of the recipes I have been trying use a lot of eggs; that adds substantial protein to the product.  These cupcakes, because of the low carb and high protein factor are satisfying for quite a while.  They do have a good fat content, but I find that one cupcake is enough.

The finished product is not-too-sweet, light and souffle-like and very moist.  They have been a hit where ever they have gone.

Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes with Vegan Chocolate Frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a muffin tin pan or line with paper baking cups.

½ cup coconut flour, sifted
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
6 large eggs (using fresh local free-range gives the cupcakes a lovely golden color)
½ cup canola or other lightly flavored oil
½ cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

In a bowl, combine coconut flour, salt and baking soda; whisk until mixed.
In another bowl, blend together eggs,  oil, agave and vanilla.
Mix wet ingredients into dry and blend with a mixer or hand blender until smooth.  The mixture will be loose at first and hard to mix with a whisk, but if you walk away for a couple of minutes, the coconut flour absorbs the moisture and it will whisk up like crepe batter.
Pour batter into prepared muffin pans.
Bake at 350° for 18-20 minutes
Cool completely.
Top with chocolate frosting
Makes 12 cupcakes

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

I used a combo frosting because I had some Vegan Cream Cheese I wanted to use up.  It has more sugar than I would like, and I will try the Vegan Chocolate frosting which follows it next time.

Melt 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips with 1 Tbsp. oil.  Beat in a food processor, 1/2 cup vegan cream cheese and 1/2 cup vegan butter.  Add 1 tsp. vanilla, a pinch of salt, and the melted chocolate; blend until smooth.  Add 1 1/2 to 2 cups powdered sugar, processing until smooth.

Vegan Chocolate Frosting
1 cup dark chocolate chips
½ cup canola oil
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
pinch sea salt
In a small saucepan over very low heat, melt chocolate and oil
Stir in agave, vanilla and salt
Place frosting in freezer for 15 minutes to chill and thicken
Remove from freezer and whip frosting with a hand blender until it is thick and fluffy
Frost the cupcakes with a couple of tablespoons of either frosting.  The grandson immediately figured out which cupcake had the most frosting.  Quality control...the next generation.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cheesy Kale Chips

These became my favorite snack when I recently bought a package from a friend.  I hoarded them in a little bag for a week before I finally finished them.  They were an antidote to between meal hunger pangs, and I wanted more.  I have lots of kale in my garden, and I can beg some from my son's in a pinch, so I decided to see if I could make them.

I found a fairly simple recipe; I even had all the ingredients on hand.  I do have a dehydrator, but I thought maybe I could make them in the oven instead, as the dehydrator takes up a lot of room.  I didn't want a spicy mixture on the leaves, but cayenne or other spicy spices can be added at will.

The Cheesy Kale Chips

4 cups Purple, Lacinato, or Red Russian kale, torn into bite-size pieces (stems removed) washed and spun dry.
1 cup cashews (soaked 1 hour)
1 red bell pepper
2 Tbsp lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 clove garlic
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp Sea Salt salt

Blend all ingredients, except for the kale, in a food processor or high speed blender until smooth. In a separate bowl toss the kale in the "cheese" sauce and mix well to incorporate and coat all the leaves. Spread the kale evenly on a teflex sheet and dehydrate on 115 degrees for 16-20 hours, or until dry and crunchy. If using the oven method, preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. and bake on parchment lined baking sheets for 1 to 1/2 hours or until dry and crunchy. Fluff them up about half way through to make sure they get evenly dehydrated.

Easy easy easy.  Snack, crunch and enjoy.  These are really expensive in the shops and markets.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fusion Chimichanga Samosas with Coriander Chutney

Fusion  Samosa Chimichangas

Samosas are a traditional Indian pastry snack made with potatoes and fresh vegetables cooked with spices, wrapped in a flour dough and fried or baked.  I have made my own dough and used phyllo dough also.  Now I am jumping continents and wrapping them in an whole wheat flour tortilla.  Leftovers are good as taco filling the next day; just toast a tortilla over the gas flame, fill, fold and eat.

Samosas are traditionally served with some kind of spicy sauce: fresh chutney, preserved chutney, flavorful raita, or other pungent dip.  I like mine with a fresh coriander chutney; few ingredients and it's very easy to make.

This recipe is adapted from one by Emeril Lagasse; it also looks similar to the recipe in Veganomicon, my new favorite cookbook.  When I first made these with whole wheat flour tortillas, I softened them, filled them, and put them in the oven.  They came out a little tough that way, although they were ultimately delicious.  

Substitute any vegetables you have on hand or in the garden.  I used fresh green beans sliced into 1/2" lengths, and I may use zucchini next time since they are abundant now.

2 Tbsp. oil or ghee
1 tsp. mustard seeds, yellow or brown
1/2 cup chopped yellow onions
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 hot green chile peppers, minced
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
2 large baking potatoes, like russets, about 1 1/2 pounds, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice, and boiled until just tender
1 small carrot, quartered and sliced 1/4"
1/2 cup par-cooked and drained green peas
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 teaspoons fresh lemon or lime juice

Heat oil or ghee; add mustard seeds and cook till they pop. Saute onions until translucent, add garlic and ginger; saute a few minutes.  Add spices and cook, stirring 3 minutes.  Add vegetables and 1/2 cup water.  Cover, and simmer until potatoes are tender.  Remove from heat, check for seasoning, and cool.

Soften tortillas and roll up with 4 tbsp. filling, lengthtwise, burrito style. Place in lightly greased baking dish, brush the tops of the chimichangas with oil, and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Serve with fresh Coriander chutney


1 bunch fresh mint
1 bunch fresh coriander
5 cloves garlic
1" piece of ginger
2 green chillies
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsps lime juice

Cut off roots from the coriander and any thick stalks from the mint and discard. You should now have enough coriander and mint to loosely fill 1 1/2 to 2 cups with each of them.
Peel garlic and ginger and remove stalks from green chillies. Wash all these ingredients thoroughly.
Grind all the ingredients (including the salt which you can add more of later to suit your taste) into a smooth paste in a food processor.
Chill and serve.

Variations: All coriander or a Mint Mango with a little yogurt

Friday, August 5, 2011

Vegan Cheezy Summer Vegetable Gratin

I made this impromptu casserole tonight with an assortment of fresh veggies from the farm and from the market.
The Cashew cheese gives it a nice richness without dairy, and the Panko crust has a wonderful crunch.  Of course, any combination of vegetables you have or like can be used here.  You need to make sure that once they get into the pan, they will cook to doneness in the same amount of time.

Preheat oven to 350:
For the Casserole:
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 medium sliced Zucchini
10 Cherry Tomatoes, halves
10 Brussel Sprouts, halved and steamed until crisp tender
5 small potatoes, halved and steamed until tender
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1/2 cup homemade Cashew Cheese

For the Topping:
2 cloves Garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup fresh Basil, chopped
1 1/2 cups Panko bread crumbs
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

Oil a 7 1/2" x 11" glass  baking pan with the 2 Tbsp. oil.  Spread the sliced zucchini and tomatoes across the bottom.  Layer on the brussel sprouts and potatoes.
Season with salt and pepper. Spread the Cashew cheese by the spoonful over the top and spread thinly.

Mix topping ingredients together.  You can do this in a processor or by hand.  Spread evenly over the top of the casserole.

Bake for 25 minutes or until crust is golden and zucchini cooked through.

Cashew Cheese--a Satisfying Non-Dairy Alternative

I just started making this stuff a week ago, and now I am totally hooked.  I am avoiding dairy for health reasons, so I did some research and started using this homemade Cashew cheese sauce.  We eat a lot of tostadas in the summer because we have lots of veggies from the garden, and I can mix and match.  I used the cheese sauce and served grated cheddar on my husband's meal, and this stuff is sooo good I did not feel in the least bit jealous or deprived.

This sauce is very easy to execute; it only takes a few seconds after the cashews are toasted.  The last time I bought already roasted cashews (non-salted) from Harvest Market, and it was even easier and quicker.  It's hard for me to heat the oven for such a small thing; I think it's wasteful.

This cheese sauce is adaptable for many uses--a little more lemon and a sprinkle of cayenne and it's Hollandaise Sauce for a Benedict or Rancheros.  Add some diced, roasted and peeled green chilies, and it's a Chile non Queso dip or sauce for Nachos.  A little tomato paste or sun-dried tomato and a bit of spice will make it a sauce for Welsh Rarebit, a nice easy dinner served on whole wheat toast. You can also thicken it with potato or cornstarch for Macaroni and Cheese or a garden vegetable gratin.


·         ¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes
·         1 teaspoon onion powder
·         1 cup water
·         1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
·         1 cup raw cashews (or toasted cashews from health food store)
·         1 teaspoon salt
·         1/2 cup canola oil
·         1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
·         1/3 cup lemon juice

If toasting your raw cashews, reheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread raw cashews on baking sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes. Keep an eye and nose on them, as they can burn quickly. Remove and cool completely.

In afood processor add nutritional yeast, onion powder, water , garlic powder and salt. Blend until the cashews are liquefied. Keep the food processor running and slowing add the oils through the feeding tube. When oils have been added and mixture begins to thicken, add the lemon juice until well blended.

Store Cashew Cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I have stored it for as long as a week.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

On Beyond Chutney.....Foogaths: A South Indian Accompaniment

Now that gardens are overflowing with fresh vegetables, it's time to check out new ways of preparing them.  A Foogath is a savory accompaniment usually made with vegetables or green fruit and coconut.  It is different from a sambal in that it is cooked.  These recipes are adapted from an old cookbook of my dad's, "Indian Cookery" by E. P. Veerasawmy, originally published in 1936, London. The cooking process for foogaths is basically the same as for stir-fry.  First you prepare vegetables by washing, slicing, and sometimes parboiling. Adding seasonings to hot oil comes next: spices, ginger, chilies, seeds--whatever needs to
cook a few minutes first.  Then the onion are cooked to a soft transparent state, and the vegetables are added and cooked to doneness.  Lastly, the coconut, and fresh leaves of coriander are added before serving.

Almost any vegetable can be turned into a tasty foogath, and they are well-suited for using up leftovers.  In India, freshly scraped coconut is used, but few in this country have the time or resources to do this, so dried coconut can be used instead, finely shredded or flaked.  Just make sure it's unsweetened coconut.  Serve the foogaths hot with rice or chapatis, as a side dish or a dip.

One of the many popular Foogaths is made with fresh green beans.  They are abundant in the garden this time of year and readily available in markets almost year round.  This recipe includes the addition of fresh curry leaves, common in South Indian cooking, but not often available in this country outside Indian and Asian Markets. has a few listings for the fresh leaves at this time. Dried is available and can be substituted, or you can grow your own plants in a warm place.  The Murraya koenigii plant is an attactive bushy shrub; it grows from fresh seeds which are available seasonally on the Internet from Amazon, eBay and Tropical Seed companies.  The sauteed leaves add a pungent tone to the dish.

Green Bean Foogath with Quinoa Pilaf

For the Foogath:


1 lb. french beans  cut into approximately 3/4" lengths or sliced into thin rings if dish is for a dip
2 tbsps oil
3/4 tsp brown mustard seeds
2 green chillies chopped fine
6-8 curry leaves washed and dried on paper towels
1 large onion chopped fine
8 Tbsps fresh grated coconut or substitute finely shredded dried coconut
Salt to taste
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsps finely chopped coriander leaves


Heat the oil in a shallow pan and add mustard seeds. When they stop spluttering add the curry leaves and green chillies and sauté a little.
Now add the onion and fry until it softens.
Add the green beans, salt to taste and cook till they are done to your liking.  I like mine to be crisp, but tender and still very green.
Add the grated coconut, squeeze the lemon over all,  and mix well. Cook for another minute and then turn off the flame.

I had this for lunch with the leftover quinoa pilaf from the previous night's dinner.  Fabulous, vegan, and nutritious.

Drumstick or Zucchini Foogath (Mooroongkai) 

This popular foogath is raditionally made with "drumsticks" in South India, the immature green pods of a tree,
Moringa oleifera. Other more familiar vegetables, zucchini beans, squash, eggplants or potatoes, can be substitued with excellent results.  I used zucchini because, you know, they are as abundant here this time of year as drumsticks in Sri Lanka.

Preparation and Ingredients:

Wash the 1 lb.zucchini well and cut into convenient sizes, about 1/4" slices. Then they are boiled in water with a little salt until done, just crisp tender, and drained.

Fry lightly in 2 Tbsp. ghee or olive oil for 3 or 4 minutes the following:

1 onion  and 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon of less of cayenne

Now stir in 2 Tbsp. of coconut, finely shredded, and the prepared zucchini.  Salt to taste, and stir lightly as the zucchini should not be broken. In the case of eggplant, do not boil, but saute in a little extra oil first.

Plantain Foogath

Banana or Plantain Foogath (Kayla ka Foogath)

The plantain foogath was served with Chicken and Zucchini Satay, Simple Peanut Sauce, and Grilled corn.    It was sweet, but not too sweet.  A squeeze of lime and a sprinkling of cayenne made it all rather glorious.  The ripe plantains were a lovely coral color when I started and then turned a deeper coral yellow with the addition of the turmeric.  I like to incorporate as much turmeric as I can into my cooking since I learned that is a valuable medicinal spice for reducing inflammation.

Preparation and Ingredients:

6 raw or green bananas (plantain), cut in 1-inch lengths and soaked in cold salt water for an hour or more and drained.

In 2 Tbsp. ghee or vegetable oil, fry lightly for 3 or 4 minutes:
1 onion and 2 cloves of garlic, sliced finely.
2 or 3 fresh or pickled chillies, cut lengthwise, in halves
1/2 teaspoonful of fresh or pickled green ginger, finely minced

Then add:
1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
1/2 tespoon of ground cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon or less of cayenne

Cook on a slow fire for 3 or 4 minutes longer.  Now add the bananas or plantains.  Mix, cover the pan, and on a very gentle heat cook until the bananas are soft but not pulped.  Now stir into it half of a fresh coconut, scraped, or 3 Tablespoons of finely shredded, dried coconut.  Salt to taste.

Toss lightly and simmer for a few minutes longer with the pan uncovered.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Vegan Chocolate Tofu Mousse Mo' Better

I went Vegan for some many months several years ago.  It wasn't too hard, except when travelling and having to stop in convenience stores for a snack.  The whole Vegan scene has gotten lots, lots better over the years.
This recipe for Vegan Chocolate Mousse really hits the mark in many ways for everyone, vegan or not.  It's delicious and amazingly simple.  It's also virtually guilt-free, especially if you believe a little chocolate indulgence is good for you.

I've made hundreds of chocolate mousses and this one ranks right up there with the best of them.  It's definitely numero uno in ease of execution and healthiness, and it tastes great too.

Silken tofu, often called soft or Japanese-style tofu has a softer consistency than regular tofu and is used in salad dressings,  sauces and desserts where a thick, creamy texture is called for.  Silken tofu often comes in an aseptic container which has a shelf life of up to a year, unopened.  Once opened, it can be refrigerated,  covered and submerged in water for up to a week.

Chocolate Tofu Mousse Recipe
Serves 6.

This is super easy.  The original recipe called for maple syrup; I substituted agave.  I also added flavoring--orange in this case, but amaretto or kahlua would work too.
I served it with whipped cream and fresh raspberries.  Whipped topping would be a choice for non-dairy and is optional.

I was worried about this setting up, but I was able to enjoy a rapturous spoonful very quickly.  It would work very nicely as a Chocolate Silk Pie in a vegan graham cracker crust


1 package of silken tofu (~12 oz)
10 oz chocolate chips, about one small package. Many dark chocolate chips are vegan; check the ingredients though if this is a concern.
3 tablespoons agave syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract (vanilla brings out the flavor of chocolate)
2-3 Tbsp. Grand Marnier, Triple Sec, Amaretto or Kahlua (optional)


Blend tofu (preferably at room temperature) in food processor, blender, or with hand mixer until just smooth.
In a double boiler, melt chocolate chips with a tablespoon or two of water over low heat. Stir constantly.
Add agave syrup and flavorings to melted chocolate and combine.
Put chocolate & syrup blend into processor and mix with tofu until creamy.  That was easy!!!
Pour into 6 serving dishes  or layer with whipped topping and berries in clear glass parfait or wine glasses. Chill until set.

Serving options:
Fold in a half-cup of non-dairy whipped topping or whipped cream) at the end
Garnish with cut fruits
Use as a dip for fruit and graham crackers
Use as icing for cake or cookies


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"Roots of the Blues" Lemon Chess Pie

I am calling this "Roots of the Blues" Lemon Chess Pie because the chess pie, originally brought over from England to Virginia, according to James Beard, took firm root in the deep south.  The filling is traditionally sugar, eggs, flour, and vanilla in a single pie crust.  The addition of a small bit of cornmeal gives texture and asserts its southern roots.  The traditional version is very sugary, but this one departs on a tart and lemony notes.

The filling is similar to Lemon Meringue Pie except that this one is baked in the oven after mixing and there is no meringue to make and no leftover egg whites to deal with.  I especially like this way of cooking because the pie emerges from the oven bright yellow with lovely browned spots.  It is definitely worth making this early in the day, as it was much better after chilling.

This isn't the simplest of crusts, but I liked it a lot.  It held up well overnight, and while it had a few more ingredients than I usually use, it was pretty simple to whip up in the food processor.  The original recipe calls for buttermilk powder which I did not have.  I may get some, though, as buttermilk has a habit of rapidly disappearing from the fridge around here.  You can, of course, use unbleached white flour for the crust.  I have been using the White Whole Wheat flour for a while now as a substitute.  It is less refined and gives us less, ugh, heartburn. The texture is slightly more crumbly, but it's a good trade off for me.

Adapted from a King Arthur Flour recipe

1 1/2 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup cold butter
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 teaspoon white or cider vinegar
3 to 5 tablespoons ice water

6 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice; the juice from about 3 lemons
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel from an organic lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
5 large eggs
1) To make the crust: Whisk together all of the dry ingredients, reserving a few tablespoons of the flour.

2) Work in the shortening until it's well combined with the dry ingredients.

3) Place the reserved flour on your work surface, and coat the butter with the flour. Use a rolling pin or the heel of your hand to flatten the butter to about 1/4" thick.

4) Break the flour-coated butter into 1" pieces, and mix it into the dough, just until it's evenly distributed; some of it will break into smaller pieces.

5) Sprinkle the vinegar and 3 tablespoons of the water over the dough while tossing with a fork. Just as soon as the dough becomes cohesive (i.e., you can squeeze it into a ball easily), stop mixing; there should still be visible pieces of fat in the dough. Add up to 2 additional tablespoons water, if necessary, to make the dough come together.

6) Flatten the dough into a disk and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer; this resting period allows the flour to absorb the water and the gluten to relax, making the dough easier to roll out.

7) Flour your work surface and roll the dough into a 12" x 9" (approximately) rectangle. If it isn't holding together well, sprinkle it lightly with a couple of teaspoons of water. Fold the dough into thirds (like a letter), then fold it into thirds the opposite way, to form a rough square. Wrap it well and refrigerate again.

8) When you're "ready to roll," remove the dough from the fridge. Dough made with a combination of butter and shortening should rest for about 5 minutes at room temperature before rolling; dough made with all butter will need a 15-minute rest.

9) Roll the dough to a 12" to 13" circle, and settle it gently into a 9" pie pan; the pan shouldn't be over 1 1/2" deep. Flute or crimp the edge of the crust as desired. Place the crust in the refrigerator (no need to cover it) while you make the filling.

10) To make the filling: Melt the butter, and stir in the lemon juice, salt, sugar, cornmeal, cornstarch, and eggs.

11) Whisk until well combined.

12) Pour the filling into the chilled pie shell.

13) Bake the pie on the bottom shelf of a preheated 375°F oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the center is set. The top should be golden brown.

14) Remove the pie from the oven and allow it to cool before cutting and serving.

Yield: one 9" pie, 8 to 10 servings.

Recipe summary
Hands-on time:
25 mins. to 35 mins.
Baking time:
45 mins. to 50 mins.
Total time:
1 hrs 10 mins. to 2 hrs 10 mins.
9" pie, 8 to 12 servings
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Tips from our bakers
What's with all of the different ingredients? Shouldn't pie crust be just fat, flour, salt, and water? Not necessarily. Our latest favorite pie crust recipe uses a combination of butter (for flavor) and vegetable shortening (for flakiness); an unbleached flour of about 10.5% protein (such as our Perfect Pastry Blend); buttermilk powder (for tenderness) and baking powder (for extra flakiness); salt; and vinegar (again, for tenderness) and water. Please feel free to substitute your own favorite single pie crust recipe.
Note the unusual method for putting the crust together; it's designed to promote flakiness. Again, use your own favorite method if you're so inclined.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011


It smelled so good when it came out of the oven,  we had to eat it before any picture taking could happen.

1/2 lb. (8 oz.) Whole wheat elbow macaroni, cooked al dente
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 lb. Mushrooms, sliced
1/2 onion, diced
2 Tbsp. Red Bell pepper, diced
1/4 lb. Emmenthaler or Gruyere cheese, coarsely grated
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. Flour
2 cups Milk, heated
Salt and Pepper
Grated Nutmeg
3 Tbsp. Kirschwasser
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese

Saute the mushrooms, onion, and pepper in the olive oil until onion is soft and translucent.  Put into a buttered 8" x 12" rectangular glass baking dish along with the cooked pasta.
Make the creamy sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan and stirring in the flour.  Cook together for a few moments until the flour gets hot.  Pour in the hot milk and season with salt, pepper and a generous grating of nutmeg.  Cook until thickened.  Add the Kirschwasser and cook a minute.
Mix the sauce into the pasta, fold and stir to combine completely.  Stir in the grated Emmenthaler or Gruyere cheese.  Top with the bread crumbs and Asiago cheese; dot with butter.  Bake at 350 degrees F. for about 30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and the filling is bubbling hot.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Rhubarb Baklava Pie

The picture is titled, "Sorry, we couldn't wait."

This pie came about after catering a luncheon comprised of Greek Spanakopita and Salad.  Leftover phyllo dough is always a joy; it lends itself to a million ideas.  One can wrap just about any thing in it, savory or sweet, and have a lovely pastry without the hassle of mixing and rolling out a batch of dough.

Another thing I love about working with phyllo is it's forgiveness.  It is recommended that the phyllo is kept under a damp towel while being worked so that it doesn't dry out.  Many times, however, I have encountered less than cooperative phyllo straight from the package.

And then, still having leftover phyllo 2 days later,  I made a Peach-Plum-Almond Baklava pie.  It's still too hot to eat, but it looks wunderbar.


Filling and crust:
1/2 lb (more or less) Phyllo dough
1/2 lb melted butter
4 cups rhubarb, sliced
1/2 cup sugar

Nut filling:
3/4 cup walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp. Rosewater

:Butter a 10" pie plate, lay 2 leaves of phyllo over with ends overlapping the rim.  The ends will be rolled up at the end of the layering.  Brush the phyllo with butter, including the ends.  Lay another 2 sheets down and butter again.  Repeat 2 more times.

Chop nuts together with the sugar and cinnamon in a food processor until the nuts are the size of BBs.

Toss the rhubarb and sugar together and fill the pie plate.  Top with 2 sheets of phyllo, butter, sprinkle with half the sugar nut mixture and repeat again with 2 sheets of phyllo and the rest of the nut mixture.  Now layer on more phyllo, buttering each time.  Do this for 1 or 2 more layers,  depending on how much leftover dough you have.  Like I said, it's forgiving.  Roll up the ends and brush, brush, brush with more melted butter.  I usually roll them up so that they are covering the top of the pie and not on the rim.

Bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes or until the crust is brown and crisp and the rhubarb is done.  Remove from the oven.  Mix the water, sugar, and honey together in a small pan, bring to a boil, and cook until sugar and honey are dissolved.  Remove from the heat; add the rosewater.

Prick the top of the pie a few times with a fork and pour the syrup all over.  Let cool and serve warm or room temperature with unsweetened whipped cream.

   Search for phyllo

Monday, May 30, 2011

Lemon Love Notes

This recipe can be doubled in a 9" x 13" pan.  I sometime use the lesser amount of sugar, but the bars set up better with the full one cup.  Yummy any way you slice them.

1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter, softened
1 Cup Unbleached Flour
1/4-Cup confectioner's Sugar
1 Tsp. Vanilla
1 pinch salt

¾-1 Cup Sugar
2 Tbsp. Unbleached Flour
1/2 Tsp. Baking Powder
2 Eggs, beaten
3 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
1 Tsp. Lemon Peel, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
For Crust:  Cream butter and confectioner's sugar together until light.  Mix in flour and vanilla.  Pat mixture into 8" square pan with your fingertips.  Bake unfilled crust for 15-20 minutes and cool on rack.
For Filling:  Combine sugar, flour, and baking powder.  Add liquid ingredients and mix well.  Pour into pre-baked pie shell and bake for 20-25 minutes.
Cool on rack and cut into squares.  Sift more confectioners' sugar over top.
Cut in squares and store between sheets of waxed paper in a tin box.

Cool on rack and cut into squares.  Sift more confectioners' sugar over top.

Cut in squares and store between sheets of waxed paper in a tin box.

This recipe makes 16 bars.

Love lemons?  Check out the cookbooks.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Edible Flower Butter and Pesto

It looks like spring may finally be arriving, and gardening is becoming a fun and exciting exercise again. When planning a vegetable garden, it's nice to save room for some edible flowers. What the bees love for their nectar, we love for their bright colors and decorative potential at the dinner table, so there is a double bonus to including them in plans for the garden.

A friend recently asked me for the flower butter recipe which has inspired me to think about which ones to include in my garden this year. In addition to the butter and pesto, the petals can be tossed in salads and used to garnish desserts and plates.

Flower Petal Butter and Pesto

Very seasonal dishes, but fun to do if you have lots of edible flower blossoms. Check a list and make sure that what is bloomin’ is safe for human! These look and taste great on pasta, fish, or ???

Flower Petal Butter

Soften and whip up in food processor until creamy:
1 lb. unsalted Butter

1 cup fresh Basil, chopped (optional)
1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice

Fold in gently:
2-3 cups fresh Flower Petals, washed, picked over, and coarsely chopped

Roll into cylinder. Wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate or freeze to use as wanted.

Toss with fresh pasta or melt over steamed veggies.

You can add the flowers at the end of processing and pulse once or twice, but I find the flowers can be chopped too much very quickly. It remains a matter of personal preference, however.

Flower Petal Pesto

Process to a paste in the blender:

4 cups fresh Basil Leaves
1/4 cup fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp. Salt
4 Tbsp. Pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup Olive Oil

Lightly chop and combine in bowl with basil mixture:
6 cups fresh organically grown Flower Petals, rinsed, checked for critters

Fold in:
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese or sprinkle lightly over the top,
letting each long strand to remain distinct from the others around it.
Toss with your favorite pasta shape and sprinkle with flowers and more Parmesan cheese..

A Partial list of Edible Flowers

Rose, Nasturtium, Borage, Flowers of edible herbs—sage, thyme, rosemary, etc., Pansies, Violets, Geraniums, Chrysanthemums, Calendula

There are many lists of edible flowers on the Internet.  Here are links to a few: What's Cooking America, Edible Flowers has lots of full-color photos , North Carolina State University Horticultural Dept. has information on edible flowers and culturing them in the garden,, the large cooking site, has a glossary of edible flowers which has some exotics thrown in among the more common, in case you are lucky enough to have ginger or hibiscus flowers.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Experiments in Tapioca: Coconut Pudding with Home-Canned Cardamom Plums

I love tapioca pudding, especially when it is made with pearl tapioca.  It can be made with all the milks--soy, rice, cow, and coconut, as here.  It can also be made with fruit juices for a totally different treat. The texture is like nothing else, creamy and chewy all at once. Pearl tapioca is worth searching out at Asian groceries where it's usually quite inexpensive.

6 tablespoons Whole pearl tapioca
1/2 cup Water
1/3 cup Sugar 
1 egg (optional)
pinch Salt
2 cups coconut milk
1 tsp. Vanilla

In a pot large enough to hold all the ingredients,combine whole pearl tapioca with the water. Soak 20 minutes. Cook over low heat until tapioca balls become transparent. (Note: If using instant tapioca, follow package instructions using coconut milk instead of milk. Add the sugar, salt, coconut milk, and egg. Return to a boil; stir carefully to prevent sticking. As soon as it boils, it is ready to serve. Makes 6 servings.

Serve warm or cold with fresh or canned fruit.

Substitute Organic milk, Rice milk, Soy milk, or Almond milk for the coconut milk

Butterscotch Tapioca Pudding: Rich and delicious, substitute brown or raw sugar for the white sugar.  Top with chopped toasted pecans, if desired.