Recipes, both original and favorite ones from other authors. Vegetarian with vegan-friendly (most of the time!) options.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Two Desserts

Wow, the Oregonian has had some real winners in the food section recently! Here are two yummy desserts I've made from recipes found there.

Versatile and Delicious Flourless Chocolate Cake
(yeah, that's the name the Oregonian gave it)

Makes one 10-inch cake (8 to 12 servings)
7 ounces semisweet or
bittersweet chocolate, broken into chunks
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
4 eggs, separated
1 cup granulated sugar (divided)
1/2 cup
unsweetened cocoa (such as Hershey's)
1/8 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to
350 degrees. Grease the sides and bottom of a 10-inch springform pan. Use the
pan to trace a circle of parchment or wax paper, cut it out and line the bottom
of the pan; grease the paper.

Put the chocolate and butter together in the top of a double boiler and
melt over simmering water. (You can make a double boiler by setting a
stainless-steel bowl over a saucepan; the two should fit snugly and the bottom
of the bowl should not touch the water in the saucepan.) Stir to blend and let
cool slightly.

Put the egg yolks into a medium bowl, add about half the sugar and,
with an electric mixer, beat until the mixture is light and thick and it forms a
ribbon when you lift the beater, 3 to 4 minutes.

Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture, then sprinkle the
cocoa powder and salt over the mixture and fold gently until well-blended.

In a separate -- and grease-free -- bowl, beat the egg whites until
they form soft peaks; gradually add the remaining sugar, beating until firm,
glossy peaks form.

Add about a quarter of the beaten egg whites to the chocolate-yolk
mixture and gently fold until blended; carefully fold in the remaining whites,
trying to preserve as much volume as possible.
Gently slide the batter into
the prepared cake pan. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out
almost clean (you will still see a few moist crumbs), approximately 40 minutes.
Let the cake cool, in the pan, on a rack for about 10 minutes. Then, run a thin
knife around the inside of the pan to release the cake, and unlatch and remove
the side of the pan. Let the cake cool completely before cutting; it will be
fragile while still warm. As the cake cools, it will collapse like a fallen
souffle -- that's fine.

Serve wedges of the cake plain, or garnish with the topping of your
choice. I like whipped cream, creme frache or even very good sour cream, such as
Nancy's brand. You could also try custard sauce (creme anglaise), either plain
vanilla or flavored with fresh mint; a small scoop of vanilla ice cream, coffee
ice cream, fiore di latte gelato or passion fruit sorbet. I'm not a huge
fruit-and-chocolate person, but if you are, raspberries or raspberry sauce would
be just fine, too. We enjoyed this with freshly whipped cream, with a bit of sugar added.

Here's the second. I have not eaten rhubarb in my adult life before tonight. I think I had rhubarb pie one time as a kid and decided from that that I didn't like rhubarb. I can't believe I let one incident keep me from such a delicious thing! This was almost like having fresh peach pie, but much earlier than you'll see good peaches.

I made two changes to this recipe: first, I didn't add the butter you're supposed to dot on the top of the filling before you put the top crust on, and it was plenty rich. And the second thing is that I didn't do the lattice-top, just a utilitarian plain pie crust. And it worked fine. And is delicious!

Rhubarb Custard Pie

Makes one 9-inch pie
Midwesterners love their rhubarb pie straight up (strawberries are better left for shortcake), and if you try this recipe, we think you'll agree. The secret is eggs, which make a delicate custard that's the perfect counterpoint to the sweet-tart rhubarb. For an 8-inch pie plate, use less rhubarb, about 4 to 5 cups.
1 to 11/2 cups granulated sugar (depending on tartness desired)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Dash of ground cinnamon
Dash of ground nutmeg
Pinch salt (optional)
3 eggs, slightly beaten
6 to 8 cups chopped rhubarb, about 2 to 3 pounds untrimmed (6 cups for 9-inch pie plate, 8 cups for 91/2-inch deep-dish pie plate)
Pastry for 1 double-crust pie (see accompanying recipe)
1 to 2 tablespoons butter, cut in small pieces

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt, if desired. Add beaten eggs and rhubarb, tossing to coat. Pour into pastry-lined pie plate. Dot with butter and top with lattice crust. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until filling bubbles and crust is golden brown.

Flaky All-Butter Pastry

Makes two 9-inch crusts, enough for 1 double-crust pie
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes (2 sticks)
6 tablespoons ice water

Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process to blend. Add the butter and process until well-blended, about 10 seconds. With the machine running, add the ice water and process until the mixture just begins to form a ball, about 10 seconds.

Transfer the dough to a clean work surface and, with the palm of your hand, smear it 2 or 3 times across the work surface until it is smooth and the flour and butter are well-blended. (Do not overhandle it or it will become tough.) Cut the dough in half and form into 2 round disks about 5 inches across. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours before rolling out for use. Use half to line the pie plate, the other for the lattice.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Restaurant Review

Hello from Corvallis! Weŕe here for the Life is Good Unschooling Conference, which is great so far! But I wanted to write right away about the terrific breakfast we had before leaving Portland this morning. We went to Helserś which is on NE Alberta. I read a great review on their breakfasts in the Oregonian awhile back, and wanted to go there for awhile. But we don´t often make it out for breakfast. This morning was a perfect opportunity! As soon as we looked at the menu and I saw the Pear Havarti Pie, with creme fraiche and a crumpet and fresh fruit, Paul and Zac and I decided that we all *must* have that. It did not disappoint! So very tasty. It reminded Paul of the apple pankuchen that I make (hereś another version of it, with huckleberries instead of apples) but with cheese, and creme fraiche, and very flavorful and complex.

Hibi had the Yukon Gold Potatoes, which she says had a whole bunch of onions. :-) It smelled good and she was very happy about it, but I can´t get any more info out of her than that! When she asked for a vegan version of the dish, which the menu lists as having eggs with it, not only were they willing to omit the eggs but also offered veggie sausages to replace them.

We will definitely be back!

When we got into Corvallis, we went to the local co-op, which we were pleased to find a tasty lunch menu at, as well as being able to fill up our mini-fridge at the hotel with stuff for lunch and munchies. And we´re also very happy with the locally-owned hotel we were lucky enough to find a room at (after they were sold out--today when we got in we asked if they´d had any cancellations and happily for us, they had!). Itś Salbasgeon, which I´ve been thinking is an awfully weird name...I found out today that itś name is after three Oregon fish: SALmon, BASs, and and sturGEON. Cute, eh? I do wish they´d chosen a different name. But cool hotel. :-)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Pasta with Asparagus, Leeks, and Ricotta

Well, here's another spring-time pasta with no picture! Sorry about that. I *thought* about taking a picture this time....

Hibi doesn't like asparagus so I didn't bother to make a vegan version of this one.

Anyway, during the last week in Lent I was craving a pasta dish with ricotta. Then this week, I bought some asparagus at the farmer's market. So I put this dish together like this.

Prepare two bunches of asparagus by snapping off tough ends (save for making vegetable broth!) and then break or cut asparagus into bite-sized pieces. Trim the dark green leaves from one big leek or two small ones, trim the root, and then slice in half lengthwise. Chop into 1/4 inch pieces and then rinse like crazy to get all the grit and dirt out.

Start a big pot of water for pasta boiling. Cook one pound of penne (or whatever pasta you want).

In a saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and one tablespoon butter. Add asparagus and leek and saute until nice and tender, but not mushy. Add salt and pepper to taste, and a pinch of nutmeg. When the veggies are tender, turn the heat off and add one cup of ricotta and two tablespoons of butter, cut up. Stir until the butter is melted. Toss with pasta and pass the parmesan!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Holy Thursday Artichoke Pasta

In the Orthodox church, we fast from all meat, dairy, and eggs during Lent and Holy Week. On weekdays, there's even a restriction on using oil and wine. While I no longer follow the oil restriction strictly, I do wait until weekends in Lent to cook anything overtly oily. During Holy Week, we pretty much go down to two meals a day, since we have Presanctified Liturgy on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and the Divine Liturgy to commemorate the first Holy Supper that Jesus instituted with his disciples. Before liturgies we don't eat anything. So lunch and dinner is all we eat during Holy Week, except for Friday. So, it seems like quite a feast when, on Thursday, because of the commemoration, we are allowed wine and oil. I made this special and tasty, but pretty easy dinner tonight.

Artichoke Pasta

Hopefully you can find the little baby artichokes, because they are the easiest to use in this pasta. The baby ones don't have a choke, so you don't have to scrape one out. Artichokes are kind of needy in the way of preparation, but they're worth it!

Buy about 6-8 baby artichokes to feed a family of four. Trim as usual---taking off all the outer leaves, until you get to light green leaves. Trim off the pointy ends, and trim the stem. Cut into quarters and if there is a choke, scrape it out. Plunge each piece into cold water with lemon juice as you work.

Saute four sliced cloves of garlic in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Add the artichokes and a big sprig of rosemary, cut into pieces small enough to fit into your pan. Stir and cook for a few minutes, then add about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of white wine. Cover and cook on low heat for half and hour to 45 minutes, until very tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cook a pound of pasta--angel hair is my favorite--and toss with olive oil. Combine with artichokes and serve.

Delicious. This is one dish that there's never leftovers of. We were all fighting for the last bit!

Pascha Bread and Pascha Cheese

I've been getting lots of hits on my regular blog for google searches for these, so I thought I'd re-post the recipes for those preparing for this Sunday's big feast! I make a Pascha bread (Easter bread) every year, along with the cheese spread. We always eat every crumb.

Paska Bread (from the Lenten cookbook Food for Paradise, adapted for home use)
2 packages dry yeast (or 4 teaspoons)
¼ cup lukewarm water
1 cup melted butter
¾ cup milk
5 cups unbleached white flour
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
diluted egg

Dissolve yeast in water and set aside. Combine in a large bowl butter and milk. Sift together white flour, sugar, and salt. Add the yeast mixture to the cooled wet ingredients. Beat eggs and add alternately with the dry ingredients. Knead until smooth, adding flour as needed. Let rise until doubled in bulk; it rises quite quickly and high. Punch down, knead and put into prepared greased pans (use a big round pan, or a couple of smaller pans). Allow to rise until doubled in bulk. Decorate the tops with crosses made from rolled dough. Brush the tops with diluted egg. Bake in preheated 350 oven for about an hour. Remove from the pan while hot, running a knife around the edges if necessary. Gently tip loaves out onto towels and cool on racks. This traditionally is not frosted or baked with fruit.Delicious slathered with the Pascha cheese.

Cream Cheese Paskha (also adapted from Food for Paradise)
1 pound softened cream cheese
2/3 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 sticks softened butter
2/3 cup confectioner's sugar
golden raisins (optional)
slivered almonds (optional)

Cream the butter and add the cheese, continuing to cream them both. Add sugar and vanilla. Next stir in the sour cream and raisins and almonds in desired quantities (I never use the raisins or almonds). Spoon into bowls and decorate the top. This will keep for about a week in the fridge....I think. Our supply usually peters out about 5 days after Pascha. It is delicious as a spread on Pascha bread or bagels.

Kali Anastasi! (A Good Resurrection!)