Saturday, October 9, 2010

vegan epiphany

i've been on a phyllo dough kick recently (what's not to love about flaky, buttery, delicious pastry?), but have yet to use phyllo for a dessert. maybe it's because of all the donut runs...
anyway, this recipe may not be as easy as easy as going on a donut run, but it's definitely as satisfying. and it's vegan, contains chocolate sauce, and undoubtedly an epiphany.


16 sheets phyllo dough
1/3 cup earth balance, melted
plain bread crumbs for sprinkling

1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup soy milk (or coconut milk)

1 cup soy creamer (or coconut milk)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
slivered almonds for sprinkling

preheat oven to 375 F

for the crust, carefully lay 1 sheet of phyllo dough with the longer side in front of you. cover the surface with the melted earth balance and sprinkle lightly with bread crumbs to prevent the layers from sticking together. layer another sheet of phyllo dough upon the first, spread earth balance on the surface, and sprinkle with bread crumbs. repeat the process until you have 4 sheets layered upon one another. fold the stack lengthwise (you want the longer side to remain the same length, while the shorter side has been divided in 2). make two cuts along the shorter side, so that you end up with 3 equally sized squares. each square should be 8 layers thick, and large enough to fold into a cupcake tin cavity (about 4 or 5 inches squared). repeat the layering process until you have filled a cupcake tin with mini pastry shells. bake for apx 20 minutes or until the edges of the the cups have lightly browned. allow to cool.

meanwhile, prepare the ganache by melting the chocolate chips and soy milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. stir often to prevent burning and remove from heat once the mixture is smooth.

once the shells have cooled, you can fill them with the ganache. start with about a tablespoon for each shell, then disperse extra chocolate where it looks skimpy. my original intention was to purchase soy whipped cream to top the ganache with, but apparently it's not in stock yet ye local grocer, so i decided to attempt to make my own. i failed. i added soy creamer, vanilla extract, and arrowroot powder (a natural thickener) to a food processor, but it just wouldn't thicken. so instead, i popped the mixture into the freezer and made a granita. if your grocery store carries soy whipped cream, you could always opt for that, but if not, a granita is a pretty simple and fun replacement. after sticking the mixture in the freezer, just check on it every 45 minutes or so (for a couple of hours) and give it a good scrape to prevent too large of ice crystals from forming. once it's ready, you can top the ganache with a spoonful of the granita, sprinkle it with almonds, and have an epiphany of your own. enjoy : )

Thursday, October 7, 2010


this recipe for spanakopita from ina garten is truly amazing, but not one i whip out on a regular basis. it's not very difficult, but i won't sugar coat the fact that it takes forever. despite the time commitment, in the end, it's always worth it...


2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium-large yellow onion, diced
3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
20 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess water
4 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons plain bread crumbs (plus extra for sprinkling between layers of phyllo dough)
3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 tsps salt
1 tsp freshly grated black pepper
10-12 oz feta, chopped into small chunks
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
48 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted

preheat oven to 375 F.

heat the olive oil in a skillet set over medium-high. add the onion, and cook for 5 minutes then add the scallions, and continue to cook for another 2 minutes until the scallions are wilted but still green. 

meanwhile, squeeze as much of the water from the spinach as possible and place it in a large bowl. when the onion and scallions are done, add them to the spinach, along with the eggs, parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, nutmeg, salt, and pepper and mix well. fold in the feta and pine nuts.

to begin arranging, place 1 sheet of phyllo dough on a clean, dry work surface with the long end in front of you. brush the sheet lightly with butter and sprinkle it with bread crumbs (to prevent the next layer from sticking). slide another sheet of phyllo dough on top of the first, brush it with butter, and sprinkle lightly with bread crumbs. repeat the process until your pile has 4 sheets of dough (it isn't necessary to sprinkle the topmost layer with bread crumbs). cut the sheets of phyllo in half lengthwise. place 1/4 cup spinach filling on the shorter end and roll the phyllo up diagonally as if folding a flag. then fold the triangle of phyllo over straight and then diagonally again. continue folding first diagonally and then straight until you reach the end of the sheet. the filling should be totally enclosed. continue assembling phyllo layers and folding the filling until all of the filling is used. place on a greased sheet pan, seam sides down. brush the tops with melted butter, sprinkle with salt, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the phyllo is browned and crisp. try to avoid burning yourself when they are fresh out of the oven and piping hot. drooling is acceptable. 

oh so flaky...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

creamy spinach and artichoke soup with feta and dill

i love fall, and soup, and eating soup in the fall. this soup, inspired by one of the soups of the day at the vintage, is one of the best i've ever had. it's creamy, yet tangy and tart, and chock full of veggies.


3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3-4 yellow onions, roughly chopped
4-5 large carrots, roughly diced
4 large stalks of celery, roughly diced
4 (14 oz) cans of artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
1 cup dry white wine
8 cups of veggie broth
1 lb frozen spinach
10-12 ozs crumbled feta (i used a greek variety)
juice of 4 lemons
1 tablespoon dry dillweed
2 cups unsweetened soy milk
1 cup of feta brine
salt and pepper to taste

melt the butter in the olive oil at medium-high heat, then add onions, carrots, and celery. saute for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the veggies have lost their bite and are somewhat softened. add the white wine and artichokes, stir to coat, then add the veggie broth and bring to a boil while covered. uncover, add the spinach, feta, lemon juice, and dill, and blend the soup using an immersion blender (or any available blender). once you have achieved a smooth and creamy consistency, add the soy milk, salt and pepper, and gradually add the brine to taste. i used about a cup of brine to achieve a nice tang in the soup, but you can use as little or as much as you'd like. serve with pieces of sourdough or sourdough croutons, and if you're feeling crazy, topped with a piece of sourdough broiled with feta and sprinkled with dill.

Monday, October 4, 2010


blumble, a cousin of plumble, is a crumble made with blackberries picked by me and tim in the neighborhood. blackberries grow like crazy in oregon, and you're likely to find a bush or two, or in some cases an entire wall full of ripening fruit. you can eat them right off the bush, throw them into exciting sweet or savory treats, or make blackberry wine...
i've decided to continue a tradition i hadn't known i'd started and make crumbles with any fruit that i've picked (at least the first time around... the bushes are still yielding tons of fruit). and so blumble was born, but unlike plumble, blumble has a more mild tartness, a much thicker crumb crust, and it's vegan (for poppy and corrie).

base layer:

5 1/2 cups blackberries
juice of half a lime
1/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp lavender buds (dried or fresh)
1 tablespoon cornstarch, dissolved in a little bit of cold water

crumbly part:

1 cup almond meal
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups old fashioned oats
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup of very cold earth balance (or butter if you don't want to make it vegan), cut into small pieces

preheat oven to 350 F.

for the berry base: 
in a medium saucepan over medium to medium-high heat, combine the blackberries, sugar, honey, and lime juice. stir occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. add the lavender buds and the dissolved cornstarch and stir for about 5 minutes, until the mixture resembles a thick soup (if the mixture appears too watery, continue to cook and stir, and if that doesn't work, add more dissolved cornstarch). pour the mixture in an even layer onto the bottom of a baking dish. i recommend a 9x13 sized dish, but using a smaller dish will allow for a thicker crumble, and a larger dish will result in a thinner one. 

for the crust: 
in a large bowl, combine (using either a pastry cutter or your hands) almond meal, flour, sugars, oats, maple syrup, salt, cinnamon, and earth balance until the mixture resembles coarse crumbles. cover and place in a freezer for 5-10 minutes. when cooled, sprinkle the crumbles over the blackberry base and bake for 35-40 minutes. serve warm and enjoy! 

it's drippy stuff : )

Sunday, October 3, 2010

roasted acorn squash quiche with spinach and peas

photo by mike. thanks mike : )

my nephew is most likely lactose intolerant which means that my sister has to avoid dairy while nursing. while this isn't exactly life altering, it has been pretty difficult and as a result, i've been experimenting with dairy-free recipes. when i saw a similar recipe for a pumpkin quiche, i thought it would just be cruel to make something so exciting and not be able to share the product, and so dairy-free quiche filled our hearts and bellies.

ingredients (for 2 quiche):

1 medium to large acorn squash, seeded and sliced, but not peeled (the peel will come off easily after roasting)
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
5-7 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
9 eggs
1 8 oz package tofutti
1 cup unsweetened soy milk
1 tablespoon stone-ground mustard
2 tablespoons fresh chives, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1-2 cups frozen spinach, thawed to a point where it is easily handleable
apx 1 cup frozen peas, same as spinach
1/3-1/2 cup earth balance, melted
12-16 sheets filo dough
bread crumbs for dusting (less that 1/4 cup)
salt and pepper to taste

preheat oven to 375 F.

dress the squash, onion, and garlic with the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. roast for apx 40 minutes, until squash is tender and slightly brown.

while the veggies are roasting, you can prepare the egg mixture and filo crust. for a more textured filling, you can simply mix the eggs, tofutti, soy milk, chives, cilantro, thyme, mustard, salt and pepper together. for a smoother filling, you can first mix the tofutti and soy milk together to eliminate all of the tofutti chunks, then add the rest of the ingredients.
for the crust, begin by brushing a pie or tart tin with melted butter and layering sheet of filo dough upon the base. brush the layer with butter, sprinkle with bread crumbs (to prevent the next layer from sticking if it is accidentally mis-laid), and repeat with 5-7 additional layers, bunching the dough along the edges to prevent the eggy filling from spilling outwards. make sure to brush the final layer with butter, but at this point, the bread crumbs are no longer necessary.

when the roasted veggies have cooled enough to handle, you can easily peel the squash and arrange chunks within the prepared crusts, along with onions and garlic. upon the roasted veggies, you can sprinkle a layer of peas and another of spinach. to finish the quiche, you can ladle the egg mixture evenly between the two crusts and smooth over the tops. bake for 35-40 minutes or until the filling has set, and broil the tops if necessary.

this quiche is much lighter than a typical quiche because of the lack of cream and cheese, but it is still complemented nicely by a fresh salad.

enjoy : )