BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked


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Winter Wonders

First impressions are of critical importance, or so it’s said when it comes to business and relationships. Subconsciously, we tend to place great significance on the beginnings of new experiences, taking every noteworthy detail as a sign. That’s why I knew that our trip to Germany, however brief, would be a good one even before we had exited the plane.

Gawking out the window as the ground grew rapidly closer, rushing upwards to meet the extended and waiting landing gear, I marveled at just how close the wilderness lay to the man-made monstrosity of the airport. Only a fence separated the two, the distance spanning less than a few steps otherwise. Thick layers of evergreen trees obscured much of the landscape beyond the tarmac, but there, right at the miniscule clearing between greenery and barbed wire fence, was the sight of something incredible. A family of deer and fawns, with one single white deer in the center of the pack.

I would have done a double take if we hadn’t hit the ground with a jolt that very second, rushing past the group at warp speed. I had heard of white squirrels, rare as they are, but never white deer. For such a common creature, this one looked incredibly majestic; magical, even. That was the convincing factor that a vacation was the right choice, that I was in the right place. Only more wonders could await. Serendipitously stumbling upon dainty little fawn cookie cutters at one of the Christmas markets that same day, I took that as my second sign. These cookies were meant to be.

And honestly, it just wouldn’t be the holidays without gingerbread! This particular formula is one that I’ve been making for years, a tried-and-true recipe that I originally made with gingerbread houses in mind. Thus, it makes for ultra-snappy, crisp, and sturdy cookies that retain their shape when baked, travel well, and make a solid foundation for edible buildings. A delicate and fragile shape like the fawns are impossible with almost any sort of standard dough, but this simple method hasn’t failed me yet. As an added bonus, there’s not even any chilling time to take into account. Though I wouldn’t recommend getting started on your holiday baking quite so late in the game, this does provide an excellent last-minute option.

Gingerbread Cut-Out Cookies

Chai Gingerbread Cookies:

3 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 Teaspoons Ground Ginger
1 1/2 Teaspoons Ground Cardamom
1 Teaspoons Ground Allspice
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
Pinch Ground Black Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 Cup Non-Dairy Margarine
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 Cup Molasses
1 Tablespoon Plain Non-Dairy Milk

Blondie Gingerbread Cookies:

3 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 1/2 – 3 Teaspoons Ground Ginger
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Allspice
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
Pinch Nutmeg
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 Cup Non-Dairy Margarine
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 Cup Light Corn Syrup*
1 Tablespoon Plain Non-Dairy Milk

Royal Icing:

2 Cups Confectioner’s Sugar
3 Tablespoons Cornstarch
1 Tablespoon Light Agave Nectar or Light Corn Syrup*
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla (or Peppermint, or Almond, or Lemon…) Extract
Water, as Needed and Used Sparingly

*Be sure to hunt down corn syrup that has no high-fructose corn syrup added. You can substitute light agave if you’d prefer, but the dough will brown more as a result.

Preheat your oven to 300.

The procedure is the same for either flavor of cookie, and if you want to make both, simply repeat the steps for the separate doughs. In either a large metal bowl or a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, spices, baking soda, and salt. While you can certainly bring this dough together by hand, it will require some vigorous stirring, so I would advice bringing out the heavy artillery if you have it!

Meanwhile, combine the margarine, sugar, and molasses or corn syrup in a small saucepan and heat gently. Cook the mixture and stir gently, just until the margarine has melted and the sugar is completely dissolved. Pour the hot liquid into the bowl of dry ingredients, immediately followed by the non-dairy milk, and mix well. It will be very thick and somewhat difficult to mix, but give it all you’ve got and don’t waste time- It will become harder as it cools.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, press it into a ball, and roll it out to about an 1/8th of an inch in thickness. Cut it into your desired shapes with cookie cutters and transfer the cookies over to a silpat. Bake until the edges of your cookies are just barely browned; 13-20 minutes, depending on the size of your shapes. Let the cookies sit for a minute on the baking sheet before moving them over to a wire rack to cool.

For the royal icing, simply combine the confectioner’s sugar, cornstarch, agave, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add in water, one teaspoon at a time, stirring thoroughly after each addition, until it reaches a pipe-able consistency. Be sure to take this process slowly, as just one drop too much liquid can make the icing runny. Allow a full 24 hours for the icing to completely harden.

Yield varies based on the cookie cutter

Printable Recipe


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Vegan Holiday Kitchen

Cooking for a crowd can be daunting even for the seasoned pro, especially when there are specific holiday traditions to uphold. Bound by expectations of great feasts, in addition to the dietary restrictions of every last guest, how is one supposed to plan a festive vegan meal when times of celebration come about? Before demurring and declaring it a potluck affair, do yourself a favor and pick up Nava Atlas‘ new cookbook, Vegan Holiday Kitchen. Encompassing occasions from numerous religions and all throughout the year, it’s sure to guide you out of many sticky situations in any season. Trouble coming up with a hearty main dish for unenthusiastic omnivores, who still think that vegans subsist on lawn clippings and twigs? Or maybe you’re already preaching to the choir, but have trouble with menu planning? Whatever the case, Nava’s got you covered. Attractively photographed by the talented Susan Voisin, the pages sparkle with delicious inspiration and appetite-awakening ideas.

Gravitating first towards the more wintry fare, I can see how the Hearty Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie (page 98) could become the talk of a Christmas party. A mercifully healthy respite from the heavy, rich foods synonymous with the season, the incredibly savory flavor carries this dish far. Opting to make individual servings since I wasn’t actually hosting a great number of guests, and wanting to easily freeze and defrost portions at will, the conversion was painless. Lots of mashed potatoes were leftover after topping my personal pies, although I’m not saying that’s a bad thing at all. Next time around, I might skip the breadcrumbs at the bottom which didn’t really add much to the dish. (Edit: Nava has explained to me that the breadcrumbs are meant to make slicing and serving a whole shepherd’s pie neater and easier, which is actually pretty clever. So, definitely keep them for a complete, family-style dish, but feel free to omit them for single servings like I made.) Otherwise, it was all you could ask for from a main dish meant to impress- Highly satisfying, well-balanced with both protein and greens, and deeply flavored with umami mushrooms, soy sauce, and aromatic herbs.

Seeking a more complete sample of the recipes on offer, and wanting a simple side to whip together without much fuss, the Pasta and Red Quinoa Salad (page 236) caught my eye early on. Red quinoa eluded me at the grocery store, but the regular old white variety was a fine stand-in. Bright, fresh flavors highlighted by the creamy yet tangy dressing make this disarmingly easy salad irresistible. A delightful combination of textures, between the tender quinoa, al dente pasta (I went with adorable mini bow ties), and crisp veggies, it would be an excellent option for a spring or summer gathering. Of course, you needn’t wait that long- I enjoyed it just fine even in the freezing days of December.

All the previous success was nothing, however, compared to what I believe is the crowning jewel of this collection: The Matzoh Ball Soup (page 115). A simple but surprisingly difficult staple that both bubbies and their babies adore, it’s one dish that I’ve been missing since becoming vegan. Passover would come and go, and I could only look longingly at those pillowy spheres floating in golden broth being devoured. Previous attempts had been spectacular failures, ranging from cannon ball dumplings to magically dissolving and disappearing matzo balls, so I was pretty much convinced that I would never eat anything nearly as good as the original.

Well, I think you know where this is all going by now. I want to state, for the record, that these are the best damn matzoh balls ever. No, perhaps they’re not “fluffy” in the truest sense of the word, but they’re so ethereally light, the simple soup, so perfectly rich and comforting, that the first spoonful brought me right back to my childhood. This is what I had been missing, and will never again go without. For this recipe alone, the cookbook is worth its sticker price, and then some. (The key to absolute soup perfection, by the way, is a truly delicious no-chicken broth, so don’t skimp!)

I’m typically not one to host lavish dinner parties, but the Holiday Vegan Kitchen may slowly convince me to change my tune.


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Dreaming of a Sweet Christmas

No amount of planning ever seems to leave me properly prepared for the holidays, despite mustering all the enthusiasm possible and diligently keeping an eye on the calendar. Days mysteriously grow shorter, schedules fuller, and to further complicate matters, those originally simple plans of mine curiously evolve to become more and more complicated. Getting a head start usually means laying out a detailed list of presents to make, recipes to try, and fun activities to participate in… Which is lost or completely disregarded by the time December actually rolls around. After spending one too many of the last mailing days before Christmas stuck in line at the post office, fighting off the other hordes of procrastinators frantic to make the final cut off, it became clear that my approach wasn’t working.

This year, the plan is to plan less. Stick to simple but nice holiday cards, rather than elaborate gifts with complicated shipping requirements and deadlines. Make whatever recipes strike my fancy, whenever that might happen. Enjoy the holidays whenever they allow, without forcing artificial merriment at every turn. “Low-key” is the mantra of the season- No pressure, no anxiety, no self-flagellation when things don’t work out perfectly. Sounds like a much more enjoyable way to pass the next few weeks, don’t you think?

And just like that, I find myself almost on top of the key points that constantly evaded my grasp the previous year. Greeting cards are done and printing, and the first set of festive sweets has already sprung forth from the oven, seemingly without effort. It may be a push to fit that pending manuscript into the festivities, but at least it doesn’t seem like such a great burden to squeeze into the jam-packed holiday game plan.

It needn’t be a grand holiday, or one to remember above others, even. It just needs to be less than torturous, and adding in a bit of sweetness and good company would be a nice touch, too.

Pistachio Praline Linzer Cookies

Pistachio Praline Paste:

1 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/4 Cup Water
2 Cups Shelled, Skinned and Toasted Pistachios
3/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Place the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over moderate heat. Stir to combine, and bring to a boil. Allow the sugar to cook until it caramelizes to a deep amber color; about 10 – 15 minutes. Quickly add in the pistachios, stir to coat with the hot sugar, and immediately transfer everything out to a silpat or piece of parchment paper. Let cool completely before breaking it into chunks, and tossing the pieces into your food processor, along with the salt and oil. Pulse to break down the brittle to a coarse consistency, and then let the motor run until very smooth. It may take as long as 10 minutes, so be patient. Let cool before using, or store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Linzer Cookies:

1 Cup Non-Dairy Margarine
1/4 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed
1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Almond Meal
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
Zest of 1 Orange
1 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/3 Cup Plain Vegan Greek-Style “Yogurt” or “Sour Cream”
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line three baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper. Set aside.

Cream together the margarine and both sugars until homogeneous and fluffy pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the flour, almond meal, baking powder, salt, zest, and ginger, starting the mixer slowly to prevent the dry goods from flying out. Mix briefly before introducing the “yogurt” and vanilla as well. Mix just until a cohesive, smooth dough is formed, and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Press the dough into an even round and roll it out to 1/8th of an inch in thickness.

Use a 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter to cut out the shapes. Cut out the centers of half of the rounds with a smaller shape of your choice. Transfer the cookies to your prepared sheets, and chill them for 15 minutes before moving them right into the oven. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, until just barely golden around the edges. Let cool.

Assemble the linzer cookies by spreading 1 teaspoon of the praline paste on a whole cookie, and topping it with a cut-out cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies, and enjoy.

Makes 52 – 60 Cookies; 26 – 30 Sandwiches

Printable Recipe

Bonus! For a gift that keeps on giving, nothing beats a delicious, tried-and-true recipe from a friend. To share this recipe with someone you love, snatch up the free printable recipe card below. Just set your printer to “scale to fit” your paper, trim the excess as needed, fold down the center, and doodle something on the cover, or paste a photo if you prefer.


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Moving Right Along

…Is it safe to come out now? Has the Thanksgiving madness come and gone for another year? Thank goodness, it passed without too much fuss or duress around here, and for that, I am truly thankful.

Now that we’re over that hurdle, there’s nothing standing between us and full-blown winter holiday immersion. Decorations and wrapping may have been pushed to a prominent place in stores since Halloween, but now we can finally stop ignoring them- There’s no longer any shame in diving head-first into that sea of iridescent tinsel. It’s my favorite time to cook and bake, when diets don’t even factor in and everyone eats with abandon, simply enjoying the festive foods on offer. Desserts can be desserts, not healthy desserts or breakfast-like desserts (although they may very well be on the menu first thing in the morning, too) and extravagant ingredients can be just par for the course.

If ever there was an easy show-stopper of a treat for the holidays, for me, it would have to be a rum cake. Doused with spirits and emboldened with light spices, I have fond memories of picking moist crumbs off of empty serving plates as I carried them back to the kitchen. Under the guise of being a helpful child, I was really after those leftover scraps.

This year, I gave the traditional bundt a cloak of chocolate, transforming it into a downright fudgy mountain of gently boozy cake. Dotted with sizable chunks of candied ginger, every bite is a little bit different.

Sorry to be a tease, but my Chocolate Rum Bundt recipe can be found in the new November/December issue of Joy of Kosher. Keep an eye on the website though, because they often generously share the recipes after a certain time of having the magazine on the news stands.

I’m certainly in the holiday spirit now! How about you?


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Edible Heirlooms

You know those weirdos who get all excited about the simplest foods? Those people you see in the produce section, lunging for the first and most perfect pumpkin of the season? The shoppers playing bumper carts as they race down aisles, desperate to get the freshest, greenest head of kale? Yeah, I’m outing myself here: I’m one of them. Though the term “foodie” holds little meaning to me, I would gladly take the title of “food lover.” Spying a deal on favorite produce can make my day, and I have been known to literally jump up and down in the middle of a store upon finding a much sought-after edible.

Such was the scene in the early summer, when a brand new Whole Foods opened up practically down the street from me. Combing through the expansive bulk bin section first thing on opening day, a fascinating new selection of dry goods were right at my finger tips. Things I had only read about, like kaniwa, suddenly were within my reach. Right at the end of the line, as if saving the best for last, it was there that I came upon the 10 heirloom bean mix. Such a riot of colors and shapes seemed impossible to come from merely beans, those much maligned legumes that typically only came in varying shades of brown. Positively enchanted, I loaded up a bag full of the otherworldly bean blend, the smooth, dry skins clattering together gently as they slid off the metal scoop.

And then, they sat. Not quite forgotten, but with no clear destination, my pound-plus of gorgeous flageolet, orca, canary beans, and so forth remained squirreled away in the pantry, out of sight and definitely out of mind. Who wants to spend half a day bent over a boiling pot of beans in the heat of summer anyway?

Not a paltry handful of months could dampen my enthusiasm; Finally the heat broke, and those lovely legumes sprung back into my sights and finally onto my menu.

An ideal meal for a chilly fall or winter day, any sort of stew is perfect to warm the belly and sustain a difficult day of work. Or, fuel the mind for a long day of writing. Or simply provide comfort and nourishment for the worn and tired soul. Though the cooking process did undeniable dampen my rainbow of heirlooms, I’d gladly take the trade off of delicious, earthy flavor and creamy textures instead. Any sort of beans will do in this simple mixture, so don’t feel compelled to go out in search of a rare bean blend- Unless that sounds like your idea of fun, too.

Garlicky Greens and Beans Stew

1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1 Medium Red Onion, Diced
1 Whole Bulb Garlic (12 – 15 Cloves), Peeled and Finely Minced
8 Ounces Mushrooms, Roughly Chopped
1 Bay Leaf
1 Teaspoon Dried Basil
1 Teaspoon Dried Rosemary
2 Teaspoons Smoked Paprika
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Corriander
1/4 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
2 Tablespoons Tamari or Soy Sauce
1 Cup Mushroom or Vegetable Broth
1 28-Ounce Can Diced Tomatoes
1 Large Sweet Potato, Peeled and Diced
3 Cups Cooked Beans (Heirloom 10 Bean Mix)
1 Bunch Kale (About 1 Pound), Cleaned, De-stemmed, and Chopped
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Set a large stock pot over medium heat, and start by sauteing the chopped onion in the oil. Once softened and somewhat translucent, add in the minced garlic, and cook for about 5 or 6 minutes, until the onion just begins to brown around the edges. Introduce the mushrooms at that point, and allow them 3 – 5 more minutes to cook down slightly and become aromatic.

Add in the spices and seasonings, along with your broth of choice, tomatoes, and sweet potato. Stir well, bring to a boil, and cover the pot. Turn the heat down so that the stew is at a lively simmer, and let cook for 15 minutes. After that time has elapsed, add in the cooked beans, and continue simmering, uncovered, for another 15 minutes. Test the potatoes to make sure that they’re fork tender, and if they are, turn off the heat. Mix in the kale a few handfuls at a time, using the residual heat to wilt it down. Mix in the balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot, with a chunk of crusty bread or over a bowlful of rice.

Serves 6 – 8

Printable Recipe


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3.14, and So On and So Forth

Math has never been and will never be my strong suit; The fact that I got passing grades and can still perform basic addition and multiplication is nothing short of a miracle, although that would still put me about on par with the skills of a 10 year old. Luckily, computers and calculators have taken all the agita out of complex equations, keeping recipes on track and making sure that all the numbers in my bank account add up correctly. The limitations of my grasp on such simple mathematics had never been quite so plainly evident, however, when I finally had to step up and learn the inner workings of the cash register at work.

Always happy to hide in back, hovering over the stove or fussing with messy knife cuts, five happy years had passed since first coming aboard at the restaurant, and customer interaction has always been kept to a minimum. Sure, I’ll chime in occasionally as I’m eaves dropping on conversations about veganism, cooking, or what-have-you, but ever the introvert, my place has been as far from the front of the house as possible. In the case of our tiny kitchen, that’s really only a few feet, but when immersed in gallons of cake batter, it feels like miles.

Called upon to take up the slack at dire times, however, I couldn’t think of a good reason to continue this illogical avoidance, and thus began to learn the strange way of our out-dated cash register. Some buttons are mislabeled, a few ring up the wrong prices, and some are completely without labels, but that confusion was nothing compared to the ordeal of making change for patrons. Not able to automatically spit out change or even the correct number for change, I was left with a dinky solar-powered calculator and impatient people anxious to get their due coins and run. We aren’t called Health in a Hurry for nothing! Those first few days, I feel as though I must have mischarged everyone for more money than actually came in.

So I can’t tell you a damn thing about math, but I can tell you that today, March 14th (3/14) is semi-officially pi day! Any reason to bust out a pastry-laden creation is good enough for me, even if it involves that confounding arithmetic. Going down the savory route for once, spring flavors danced in my head, inspiring a fresh new take on the traditional pot pie.

Yet again, I’m perhaps a bit early on this one, but you’ll thank me in a few weeks when you already have these recipes in your arsenal. Cradled in a flaky, golden crust, asparagus and fava beans commingle with the standard mirepoix, mushrooms, and savory spices. Just creamy enough without being overly rich or heavy, this is one hearty meal that still won’t weigh you down. Topped off with tender potatoes, crisped around the edges and finished with coarse sea salt, it’s one stunning entree to present to a loved one. And let me tell you, you had better REALLY love that special someone, because this is admittedly a good deal of work for two servings. If you don’t have a huge appetite, it could be stretched to perhaps 3 or 4… But based on the delectable taste, I can make no guarantees. Save this one for a special occasion- You’re sure to win some serious brownie points!

Fresh Fava Pot Pie

Bottom Crust:

1 1/4 Cups All Purpose Flour
Pinch Salt
6 Tablespoons Non-Dairy Margarine
2 – 4 Tablespoons Cold Water

Filling:

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Medium Carrot, Peeled and Finely Diced
1 Stalks Celery, Diced
1/2 Small Yellow Onion, Diced
1 Skinny Leek, Quartered Lengthwise and Chopped (1 Cup)
1 Cup Roughly Chopped Crimini or Button Mushrooms
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Cornstarch
1/2 Cup Plain, Unsweetened Non-Dairy Milk
2 Tablespoons Mirin, or Dry White Wine + 1 Teaspoon Light Agave Nectar
1 Teaspoon Red Wine Vinegar
1 Bay Leaf
2 Teaspoons Nutritional Yeast
1/4 Teaspoon Poultry Seasoning
1/4 Teaspoon Hot Paprika
Pinch Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 1/2 Cup Shelled and Skinned Fresh Fava Beans, or Frozen and Defrosted
1 Cup Chopped Asparagus (1/2-Inch Pieces)
1/4 Cup Fresh Parsley, Chopped

Potato Top Crust:

1 Medium Russet Potato
1/2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Pinch Coarse Sea Salt

Fresh Chopped Chives or Scallion for Garnish, Optional

First things first, prepare the pastry dough. The easiest way is to toss the flour, salt, and margarine into a food processor, and pulse until you get a coarse consistency with lumps of margarine the size of peas. Add in the water slowly, one tablespoon a time, while continuing to pulse, until it all comes together into a cohesive dough. Otherwise, you can also place the flour and salt in a large bowl, and cut in the margarine by hand with a pastry cutter or two forks. Then add in the water until it comes together. Wrap up your pastry in plastic wrap, flatten it out to a rough disk, and stash it in the fridge for at least one hour, or overnight.

Once chilled, turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and roll it out gently, as thinly as possible without creating holes. Approximately 2 – 4 cm is ideal. Lightly oil two medium sized glass or ceramic dishes that can hold about 4 cups each, and cut out rounds of pastry slightly larger than the bowls. Ease the pastry into each prepared dish, and use your fingers to smooth out the corners and sides. Press the pastry hard against the rim of the dishes to trim it, and leave a tiny bit of overhang to help keep it standing tall while baking. Place the pastry-lined bowls in the fridge for the time being.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and set to work on the filling next.

Place a large pot or sautee pan over medium heat, and add in the oil. Once hot, toss in the prepared carrots, celery, onions, leeks, and mushrooms, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Once softened and lightly browned, add in the salt and cornstarch, stirring well to thoroughly coat the vegetables in the starch. Pour in the “milk,” mirin, and vinegar, and mix vigorously to prevent lumps from forming. Next, incorporate the bay leaf, nutritional yeast, poultry seasoning, paprika, and black pepper, to taste. Turn down the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, pull out your mandoline if you’ve got one, and slice the potato into coins of about 1 mm in thickness. You can also do this by hand with a sharp knife; Just be sure to have patience in good supply. Toss the slices with oil, and set aside.

Turn off the heat on the filling, and toss in the fava beans, asparagus, and parsley at the last possible moment- You don’t want them to get over-cooked in the oven. Mix well to distribute the veggies. Divide the filling evenly between your two pastry-lined dishes, and place both on a baking sheet for easier removal from the oven, and to catch any accidental drips. Layer your potatoes in a circular pattern on top of each pie, and finish each with a light sprinkle of coarse salt. You will likely have extra potato, but hang on to them; They make for fantastic chips. Move the assembled pies into the preheated oven, and bake for 45 – 50 minutes, until the crust is lightly golden brown and the potatoes are browned around the edges. In case the potatoes threaten to burn, tent the pies with aluminum foil about 35 minutes into the baking process.

Let cool for at least 10 – 15 minutes before serving, and finish with a sprinkle of chopped chives or scallion, if desired.

Makes 2 – 4 Servings

Printable Recipe


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Peas and Thank You

Perhaps I jumped the gun a bit, but with such great temptation staring me straight in the eyes, my will to respect the seasons and their respective vegetative offerings was instantly reduced to zero. After a day of brilliant sunshine and even being able to leave my heavy winter coat at home, can you really blame me? I’m over winter, and considering the waning piles of dirty snow left on sidewalks, I think it’s finally starting to relinquish its icy grip, ever so slowly. Thus, when I saw those dazzling green pearls sitting alluringly in the refrigerated grocery case, shelled and ready to go, I snatched up that last parcel of fresh peas before anyone could talk me out of it. Enough beating around the bush- Let’s just get on with spring already.

To really honor such a lovely main ingredient, a brilliantly simple formula for pea soup sounded like just the thing to kick this season off right. Hardly even worthy of a written recipe, this is a dish that nonetheless is worth your attention, because it draws out the fresh, green flavor from each tender sphere, and allows them to shine. As a dish shared by Sue Cadwell, my boss, mentor, and best friend, I could hardly expect anything otherwise. A gentle swirl of vegan sour creme added the touch of richness I was craving, but it’s also perfectly delicious with a drizzle of olive oil to finish, or left entirely unadorned. If you wanted to liven things up, consider adding a splash of lemon juice, a pinch of smoked paprika, or a few springs of fresh mint, too.

Since shelling so many peas could be an endeavor requiring much more zen-like patience than the average person can manage, should shelled fresh peas be unavailable, go right ahead and substitute frozen. They’re just as tasty, if slightly less vibrant.

Fresh Pea Soup
By Health in a Hurry Chef/Owner Sue Cadwell

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
4 Cups Chopped Yellow Onions
4 – 7 Cups Vegetable Broth
2 Pound Fresh, Shelled Peas (or Frozen)
Salt, to Taste

Vegan Sour Creme, to Serve (Optional)

Coat the bottom of a large stock pot with the olive oil, and set over medium-low heat. Sauté the onions briefly, stirring well to coat with the oil, and add in 4 cups of the broth. Cover, and cook for approximately 20 minutes. You don’t want them to brown or caramelize at all, but cook down practically to mush. lid, cook until they’re mushy without browning.

Rinse peas under hot water and thaw if frozen. Toss them into the pot of onions and stock, and cook gently for 5 – 10 minutes until tender, if using fresh. For frozen peas, immediately turn off the heat and don’t let them cook much at all. You want to preserve that brilliant green color, and they’ve already been blanched prior to freezing so they’re pre-cooked.

Transfer the mixture to your blender and puree, adding more broth if desired until the soup reaches your ideal thickness. You may need to do this in batches, depending on the capacity of your blender. Add a pinch of salt and mix well. Top with “sour creme” to serve, if desired.

Makes Approximately 3 Quarts

Printable Recipe

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