Monthly Archives: July 2013

Faux Silk

20130730-200854.jpg“Is there anything, apart from a really good chocolate cream pie and receiving a large unexpected cheque in the post, to beat finding yourself at large in a foreign city on a fair spring evening, loafing along unfamiliar streets in the long shadows of a lazy sunset, pausing to gaze in shop windows or at some church or lovely square or tranquil stretch of quayside, hesitating at street corners to decide whether that cheerful and homy restaurant you will remember fondly for years is likely to lie down this street or that one? I just love it. I could spend my life arriving each evening in a new city.”

― Bill Bryson, Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe

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Okay, so this quote isn’t about the pie so much as the travel (and this isn’t a travel/food blog), but what struck me was the comparison – that of the three best things in the world the writer could think of, he chose a simple chocolate pie.  I’d honestly never had one before a few weeks ago when a friend similarly smitten with the silky smooth chocolate mousse filling challenged me to make one. Purists may demand a traditional pie crust, but I prefer the contrasting texture of a graham cracker base. Enjoy!!!

Not as nutty as you might think

When I want a creamy but dairy-free pasta sauce, I usually cheat and stir in vegan cream cheese or sour cream depending on the flavor I’m going for.  I’ve avoided nut-based sauces out of fear you might be able to taste the nuttiness, so I was pleasantly surprised when I tasted this before putting it on the pasta.  You couldn’t taste the nuts at all.

Blackened Shrimp and Andouille Pasta with Faux Alfredo

Oh, the possibilities…

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I am so excited about these!  As soon as I tasted the dough, I knew I was on the right track.  By the time they came out of the oven, I had already started dreaming of all the things I could do with them – dunk them in milk, peanut butter or jam sandwiches, s’mores, pie crust, cheesecake crust, graham cracker toffee, cobbler topping, ice cream sandwiches, graham cracker Christmas houses, broken up and pressed into a frosted cake…  Ok, technically these aren’t grahams, since they contain no graham flour, but I promise your taste buds won’t notice!

Graham Crackers

Fine dining on a furlough budget

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Isn’t it riduculous to think of how much high end restaurants ask us to pay for dishes that took so little money, effort, and time to make?  You could easily find this salad on one of those menus.

Since it has been insanely hot and humid in DC this last few weeks, the thought of eating anything heavy for dinner is about as appealing as slaving over a hot stove for any length of time.  Ready in minutes, this dish combines the five flavors (salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami) in a light, but filling salad.  You could use spinach, but I like the bite of the peppery arugula.  Don’t have scallops?  It works really well with shrimp, too!

Pan-seared Scallops and Crispy Proscuitto on Arugula with Sun-Dried Tomato and Caramelized Shallot Vinaigrette

Worth the dirty dishes

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After chocolate (and all its variations), this is one of my favorite cakes.  Like most spice cakes, it’s fairly dense, but it has a moist, tender crumb with just the right mix of warm spices.  It is topped with a rich, but light and creamy frosting.  It’s really designed to be a single layer, and you want to go that route, you’ll need to bake it a few minutes longer.  If you really want to dress it up, toast some hazelnuts, walnuts, or almonds, crush them, and press into the sides of the frosted cake.

Vegan Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pie for breakfast

It’s blueberry picking season here, and I’m baking them into everything while I can.  I wanted to try something a little different for dessert.  (And I was far short of the 5 cups I would have needed for a straight up blueberry pie.)  A close friend of mine loves peach pie, but I have never made one and was scared the fruit would be too mushy and the filling too sweet.  Combining barely ripe, firm peaches and my remaining wild blueberries proved to be a winning combo.

This pie turned out better than I ever could have imagined, and I woke up craving the tart-sweet combo of the fruit and not-too-sweet pie crust.  If it lasts that long once you cut into it, you will too!

Blueberry Peach Pie

Flaky Cornmeal Pastry Dough

Some gluten free pie crusts are softer and more difficult to handle and can become a soggy mess with fruit fillings.  Adding a small amount of cornmeal gives the crust a nice crunch and lightness without making it totally brittle.

Flaky Cornmeal Pastry Dough

A toma-what?

A decade ago I didn’t have a clue what a tomatillo was, but it didn’t matter.  That bright, tangy, spicy sauce adorning my first chicken enchilada had me hooked at first bite.  Then I saw them, hidden within their papery husks, at the local farmers market and I just had to try my hand at recreating it.

Roasted Salsa Verde

Try it on these dairy free Chicken Enchiladas!

Love it or hate it

Cilantro seems to be one of those flavors that people either love or hate.  I really like the brightness it brings to foods.  I use this sauce to season the shredded chicken in my enchiladas, but it would be really good on grilled or roasted chicken, pork, or steak.

Cilantro-Garlic Paste

Ready to convert?

It’s not that I ever hated kale.  Until I lived in Italy, i’m pretty sure that I’d never seen it much less tasted it.  This dish sold me for two reasons, the layered flavors and how quickly it came together.  Oh, and did I mention its healthy, satisfying more than 35% of the RDA of Vitamin A, almost 20% of Vitamin C, and almost 30% of Iron all while offering 17g of protein, 11g of fiber, and only 6g of fat .  More importantly, the leftovers – if there are any – taste even better.

Pasta with Sausage, Kale, and Cannelini Beans

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