Saturday, March 20, 2010

Shaker Lemon Pie

Meyer lemons are going crazy right now - they are everywhere!  Instead of the basic zest & juice for freezer, lemon bars & lemonade, I wanted to try something different.  I read some recipes for Shaker Lemon Pie - standard recipe for a double crust pie is - macerate 2 thinly sliced lemons (no seeds) in 2 cups of sugar for several hours or overnight, put the drained lemons into the pie crust and beat 2 eggs into the sugary syrup - pour on top and bake.

Since the East Bay Vegan Bake Sale was coming up - I wanted to  do something with these gorgeous lemons and put together three versions of the pie.

  • 2-3 Meyer lemons, depending on size - slice thinly, removing seeds as you go, place into a bowl and cover with
  • 2 cups of granulated sugar
Stir the lemon slices & sugar - keep stirring it every hour or so to ensure the sugar is totally dissolved.  It's ok to leave it overnight - I left it on the counter with a lid on the container. 

  • Strain lemons from sugary syrup and lay out in the pie crust

  • Add 1/3 c of arrowroot and 2 Tb agar flakes to the sugar - beat very well and pour over the lemons in the pie shell.

  • BAKE in preheated oven at 400 for 15 minutes, then reduce to 350 for 35-45 minutes. 
Depending on the agar & arrowroot, you may have a more firm or more loose pie filling - I had one pie come out with a very firm almost jelly like consistency and another that was a loose marmelade consistency.  Both were very good - but one was easier to slice & eat!

  • Deliver to your bake sale!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Powdered Milk Substitutes

Anyone out there have experience with a vegan powdered almond or coconut milk?  I have done a few searches but most of the products seem to contain sodium caseinate (I'm allergic to dairy protein anyway so... no temptation to lapse veganism). 

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Savoy Cabbage Rolls Stuffed with Chanterelles, Spring Alliums & Arborio Rice

Mariquita's Mystery Box included a gorgeous head of Savoy cabbage - and after contemplating several ideas, including kim chi - I remembered my grandmother's cabbage rolls, read a few recipes and decided to approximate my grandmother's version using her recipe of Pottsville Relish which I have made up every year since college (so I always have some on hand til early summer, at least!).

Her cabbage rolls were stuffed with rice, onions and some ground beef, swimming in a sweet & sour tomatoey sauce.  It was always the sauce and the cabbage part that I liked best - the tomato not too thick, not too sweet and still savory.  Most of the recipes I read either called for using cooked rice or  uncooked rice (and rolling looser rolls).

Since I'm a big fan of risotto, I liked the idea of letting the water from the tomato sauce finish the rice, so this recipe calls for partially cooking the rice. If you happen to have cooked rice on hand - by all means, use it (waste not, want not!).  I'm a big fan of reserving extra rice from Thai or Indian take out for use in dinners the following day.  :)

This recipe has two parts, the filling and the sauce.  I have included alternate instructions for ingredients that you may not have on hand. 

STEP 1: Cabbage

In a large pot,place sufficient water and a steamer basket, bring to boil and put your washed head of cabbage inside.  If the lid won't fit, improvise with a stainless steel mixing bowl.  Let the whole head of cabbage steam on a med-hi simmer while you prepare the filling.  I turned my cabbage over once, let the water nearly boil down and left it on the stove with the lid on until the very end.

STEP 2Filling

Pull out your two largest cast iron skillets - I used #8 and #10.  In the smaller pan, drizzle enough olive oil to cover the bottom and heat on medium-high. Add

  • 1 cup arborio rice
Stir gently and coat the rice with the olive oil until it starts to become transluscent, then add:
  • 1 cup mushroom stock
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tb dried thyme
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
Turn heat to a simmer - this smaller pan will be your filling pan and you will add a few more batches of ingredients to it.  You want the broth to absorb into the rice but you don't want it to stick.   If you have an open bottle of cooking wine, add 1/4 - 1/3 c to the rice while it simmers.

In your other, larger skillet, heat the pan with a drizzle of olive oil, add:
  • 1 qt cleaned & coarsely chopped chanterelle mushrooms (about 1.5# - substitute for portobellas or shitake) 
For chanterelles, you want to put a lid on the pan and heat these until they throw off some liquid - drain that into the rice and return the pan to heat.  The mushrooms will put out a bit more liquid - then you can just add them to the rice & broth.  For other mushrooms, heat until softened and add to the rice & broth.

Next, add a bit more olive oil to the emptied skillet and reheat it, add:
  • 4-6 spring garlic (white & green part), cleaned & chopped (or 3-4 cloves garlic, minced)
  • 1 healthy spring red onion (whole thing!), cleaned & chopped (or 3/4 to 1 c. finely chopped red onion)
Sautee the onion & spring garlic til soft, add:
  • 2-3 coarsely shredded or julienned/chopped spring carrots (about 1/2 - 3/4 c carrot)
Once carrots start to soften, add all vegetables to the rice & chanterelles in the other pan and mix together.   Reduce the temperature.  You want the broth to absorb into the rice, but you don't want it to stick.  Test the rice - it should be undercooked by at least 50% when you shut off the flame to let it cool.

NOTE: Taste your filling!  Does it taste good?  Do you just want to sit down with a bowl of it or reserve i as a side dish?  Check your spices, adjust if necessary.

STEP 3: Sauce

After you have emptied the larger skillet of garlic, onion & carrot - return the pan to the flame and deglaze with:
  • 1 c red wine (whatever you have open!) or mushroom stock
  • 1 Tb crushed dried rosemary
  • (optional) 1 Tb crushed dried oregano, marjoram or tarragon
  • 1 Tsp cayenne pepper flakes
Reduce the heat and let simmer to reduce for about 10 minutes, then add:
  • 1 pint San Marzano Tomato Sauce or other unseasoned tomato sauce (open a quart jar of store bought sauce don't use the whole thing all at once!)
  • 1 pint Pottsville Relish  (alt - 16 oz can chopped tomatoes & peppers plus 1/4 c vinegar & 1/4 sucanat)
  • 1/2 c light vinegar (champagne, white wine or apple cider)
  • 1/2 c sucanat (or 50/50 granulated & brown sugar)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • herbs to taste - finely chopped fresh parsley or oregano
  • (optional) 2 Tb smoked red jalapenos packed in olive oil or chili oil to taste, or toast & grind a piece of chipotle pepper to add some smoky heat
Cook down the sauce, taste it, adjust seasonings & spices as necessary.  We're going for sweet & sour but still savory - not too sweet! not too sour!  Turn heat down to med-low and simmer.

At this point, your cabbage should be cooling off and your filling should be cooling off, too.  I let my sauce simmer for about 30-45 minutes, your time may vary based on the amount of water in your tomato sauce (my tomato sauce was very watery!).

STEP 4: Assemble

Prep cabbage by pulling the leaves off.  Using scissors, cut off the thickest part of the spine with a V-cut.  Make a nice big stack of leaves on your cutting board or plate.

Your filling should be cool enough to handle - take some and form a small ball - maybe 1/4 cup.  Place it in a cabbage leaf - fold up the cut ends across each other, then the sides, then firmly roll and place into the pan with the loose side on the bottom.

Repeat until you fill your pan.

Cover the rolls with the sauce from your skillet.  If it seems a bit thick - add a bit more sauce from your reserve or from the extra half pint - smooth with the back of a spoon.

Cover the casserole with foil or a lid and bake at 375 for about an hour -- you want it to be nice and bubbly, with sauce thickening up on top, water from the sauce working down into the rolls to finish cooking the rice inside the rolls.

Leftovers Rule!

YIELD:  10 x 16 baking dish of 16-20 rolls, depending on your cabbage and how you roll'em!  You could also put some rolls and sauce into glass or metal baking dishes to freeze and heat up later (yum!) - if you have that kind of space in your freezer!

Postscript: many of the ingredients came from my own yard (herbs mostly) or from Mariquita (carrots, spring garlic, red onion, savoy cabbage, San Marzanos for tomato sauce, red jalapenos that I smoked and preserved, sweet peppers & tomatoes in the Pottsville Relish, even the cayenne peppers that I dehydrated and made into flakes!). 

    Friday, March 05, 2010

    Jenn & the Giant Chanterelles

    The fallen oak branches protected these beauties on the periphery of the woods. I often find nice little flushes by this tree - very large mushrooms that are firm and integral. The one in my right is a mere 18 oz to the 22 oz in my left. I am standing up straight - it's the location that is crooked!