Sunday, November 11, 2018

Vegan Doughnuts



I throw around the term 'vegan' a lot. I know I've stated before that I am not a vegan, but whenever I eat a dish that has no meat in it, it's automatically vegan because there is no dairy in them. My husband and I have been totally dairy-free for a few years now, and it's honestly gotten much easier with time. There are many products out there that make going dairy-free or vegan very easy, and you'll hardly have to sacrifice a thing! A word on donuts, though, before we begin:

The doughnut as we know it is an all-American food. We've seen doughnuts in popular culture for generations, and it's even mentioned back in old receipts books (that's old timey speak for 'recipe books'). You can cook them in a cast iron pot with boiling fat on the prairie, and what sounds more American than that? But what if I told you that this was not an indigenous treat? I'm sure you wouldn't be that surprised.

Doughnuts originate from Dutch cultures, and they were brought over to the Americas by the same people that brought us pancakes - which means, yes, "Dutch Pancake" is a tautology. You can find all sorts of nifty tidbits of info on the Dutch influences in American cooking in this lovely book, Cookies, Coleslaw and Stoops. Isn't learning great? I think so.

So the doughnut, originally Dutch, has made its way into our hearts. Gourmet doughnuts have emerged in the last few  years, and they are plastered on Instagram in droves! And why not? It's an enriched dough that's been deep-fried in fat and either rolled in sugar or slathered with glazes and toppings and stuffed with fillings that would make anybody blush! My favorite doughnuts are jelly doughnuts, especially with raspberry in them. I also love a good s'mores doughnut, glazed with chocolate and stuffed with caramel and marshmallow. (I've never actually bought one like that - I make those.) You can let your imagination go wild when you create your own doughnut! Just follow these simple instructions...

Vegan Doughnuts
yields: enough (you'll see what I mean)

  • 300 g AP flour (two cups and change)
  • 3 g yeast
  • 20 g cane sugar
  • 75 g vegan butter (you can use high-ratio vegetable shortening in a pinch)
  • 135 g warm coffee (leftover from the morning brew is just fine, warmer than body temperature but not so hot as to scald your fingers)
Combine the flour, yeast, and sugar into the bowl of  your standing mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Cut the butter into 1/2" chunks and distribute among the flour, then turn on your mixer to let the hook stir in the fat and yeast. Turn off the mixer, pour the coffee straight in, and allow everything to come together. Will this have a coffee flavor, then? Hardly - it'll be barely noticeable, but you do want the subtle complexities and gentle acids of your coffee to add depth and elevate the flavorings of the doughnut you'll add later...and the acids will cut the glutens to make sure that you won't overwork your dough and get nasty tunneling. You're looking for a very smooth dough that easily passes the window test, so let this little dough take its time and knead for about 8 minutes.

Remove the dough ball from the mixer and gently, lightly lubricate the bowl with some neutral oil. Smooth your dough into a nice round ball in your hands and roll around in the bowl of your mixer. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place to proof, or rise. They call it proofing because it 'proves' the yeast is working while it rises! This should take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. 

Meanwhile, let's talk about fat and deep-frying! You can spend your  money on a fancy deep-fat fryer that you'll only bust out every so often but will otherwise keep space on your counter and collect dust for months on end...or you can do what I do and fire up a stock pot! If I'm doing a large amount of deep-frying, say for fried chicken or croquettes, I'll use my big dutch oven. If it's just doughnuts, I'll use my 6 qt stock pot that I picked up at a thrift store, who knows when. 

You can also spend the money on nice liquid soybean or grapeseed oil, which has a high smoke point and you can get a lot of yield out of it...or you can just use creamy vegetable shortening out of the big blue drum - you know the kind. Why use this kind? I'll tell you in one word: cleanup. 

It is exponentially easier to clean up a fat that turns solid at room temperature, that you can scrape into your trash, than it is to strain and properly dispose of used liquid fat. But hey, if you want to strain your fat and bribe some guy at the local Chinese place to let you use their grease dumpster for it, be my guest. 

Oh, and let's remember: safety first. Always wear a full apron when dealing with fat, and keep a thermometer handy to make sure that it doesn't go over 400 degrees. You're going to want to be at about 350 degrees F for your doughnuts. And never, ever EVER throw water on a greasefire! Just turn off the heat, cover it, and walk away. Don't touch it, don't try to move it. Turn off the heat, cover it, and walk away. If you throw water on boiling fat, it will explode everywhere and you will get hurt. To prevent fat boil-over, never fill your vessel more than halfway up with fat. I think for my little pot, that's about three cups of shortening, heated. Please be safe!

So once your dough is proved, let's get cutting. 



Lightly flour your cold marble surface and choose your cutters. I took these two rounds from my cutter set. I floured them, my hands, and my rolling pin before very gently rolling out my dough into a 1/2" thick slab.You can do many different kinds of shapes, if you like. You can even do hearts or stars! I do like the traditional rings and I, of course, save the middles for doughnut holes. But what's to be done with the excess? 



I like to take my excess and roll out into a square, then cut in strips. These create a very charming, rustic long john! You can fill these, of course, or you can just leave them as is. You can also cut crossways as well as long ways to create square doughnut holes. Heck, cut square doughnuts! You can do whatever you want - you're the one that's eating them, after all.



Lightly flour again and place on a baking sheet lined with either parchment paper or a silpat mat to keep from sticking. Leave in a warm place to let them have a second rise while your fat is coming up to temperature. Remember, you're looking for 350 degrees F for optimal doughnut frying! While it's coming up, start thinking about your toppings. 


I had this caramel dark chocolate ganache left over from my wedding, so I melted some of it down to a liquid state for glazing. (For my basic ganache recipe, find it here!) I also took some granulated cane sugar with some cinnamon, cardamom, sumac, and a tiny hint of cayenne to create a sugar doughnut. You can also chop up things like candy bars, graham crackers, mini marshmallows, baked meringue cookies, heath pieces, sprinkles, your favorite cereal, and freeze-dried fruit to use as toppings! 

If you're just a fan of the classic glazed, do this:

Basic Sugar Glaze
  • 2 Tbsp vegan butter substitute, melted
  • 1 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp almond milk/coconut milk/hemp milk
Mix until smooth and flavor as you like! Correct the consistency as you need to - it should be a little gloopy and not too runny. I really like using vanilla paste for this particular glaze, but you can do any flavor you like and color appropriately. If you find yourself a pistachio flavoring, for example, don't be afraid to color it a festive green color! And a cherry flavor? Why, pink, of course, must be the answer. Pop it in a piping bag and set aside.

Now that your toppings are all in place, make sure that you have a way to get your doughnuts and doughnut holes out of that hot fat. I like chopsticks for big rings, and a pasta spoon to fish out the holes and long johns. And please make sure that you're nice and organized before you begin - because once you start frying, you're not going to be able to stop.



I always fry my doughnut holes first, dropping them gently from a few inches above the surface of the hot oil, stirring them around, and letting them cook to GBD (golden-brown delicious) before fishing them out. Shake them a little before you drop these ones in your spiced sugar mixture, and then toss them about with a restrained vigor. Evacuate and set on a plate!


You can also shave chocolate atop to give yourself a little texture!

I'd fry the larger doughnuts one at a time, if I were you, especially if you're a beginner. Use the chopsticks to gently turn them over and then fish them out through the hole. Either dump them straight in the sugar mixture or use a paper towel to dab them gently before letting them fall face-first into your ganache. If you glaze them, simply run your glaze around the doughnut in a ring so the glaze falls off and cascades down. If you'd like a more opaque effect of frosting, let the doughnuts cool a little before you glaze them and add sprinkles. 

Keep going until all of your doughnuts are finished! These will keep under plastic wrap for at least a couple of days, but I promise you that they won't last that long. 




So there you have it! Easy vegan doughnuts that will impress and let loose your creativity. I hope you enjoy the recipe, and try it for yourself. Happy cooking and happy eating!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Wedding Soup - Vegan Pumpkin Curry Soup


Hey all!

Wow, oh wow, what a crazy last couple of months it's been. For those of you that are not following me on Instagram or Facebook (though you should be, it's updated daily, unlike this), I should give you this update: I just got married.


That's right! B and I tied the knot at long last and are now continuing our life together as husband and wife. But hey, you didn't come here for that, did you? You came for the delicious wedding soup recipe! Why wouldn't you want to know why a vegan pumpkin curry soup is called 'wedding' soup? Well, let me tell you...

We got married on October 21st at a glorious little venue, surrounded by friends, family, and the most glorious floral arrangements you could imagine. A part of our aesthetic were these beautiful Jarrahdale pumpkins, that are a ghostly greenish-gray. They are spooky and autumnal without being kitschy, and that's just what I wanted for my enchanting wedding. We had, of course, lots of pumpkins left over so I told my guests to take them home, as many as they wanted...so long as I got first pick.

B and I honeymooned in the Grand Canyon and came back to a mess of a house - but hey, that's how we left it. And the pumpkins? Why, they were perfectly happy to be right there in the garage. It's cool and dry down there, and the perfect place to store produce. A pumpkin will keep for months in the right conditions, so they really are an excellent crop to have growing in your garden.  Do I plan on growing these in my garden from now on? You'd better believe it. It's not every day you get to designate yourself your own wedding pumpkin, now is it?

This recipe was made a bit on the fly, so I just copied down what I did, as I did it. You must remember that a pumpkin is a living creature, so each one will taste a little different than the last. Some may be firmer, some may have more water - just remember to follow your own instincts and taste as you go, changing as you need and as you like ... just like in life! And just like in marriage! Oh, and like in marriage (or in any long term relationship you get yourself into), patience is required. This recipe takes two days!

Wedding Soup
yields quite a lot, serves 8 - 10 


  • 1 medium Jarrahdale pumpkin, roasted (see following)
  • 6 Tbsp vegan butter substitute or canola oil, divided
  • 1 large leek, chopped
  • 4 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped (never mind the peel)
  • 5 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small habanero pepper, minced (wear gloves, if you please!)
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 Tbsp hot curry powder
  • 2 Tbsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground mint
  • 2 Tbsp white miso
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Vegan sour cream, to serve

First thing's first - let's get that pumpkin roasting. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F and cut your pumpkin in half. Be careful because it's a rather thick pumpkin with a smooth skin. Take your time and cut it in half safely. Scoop out all the seeds and cut deep scores on the insides. Rub the insides of the pumpkin with either oil or your favorite vegan butter substitute, and don't be stingy with it. Season with salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 2 hours, or until the pumpkin is very soft indeed. In the meantime, prep all of your vegetables and wash and rinse the pulp to harvest your seeds. It won't matter what size you chop your vegetables to, so long as they're all the same size, as you're going to be pureeing all of this anyway. 

And, yes, I did label the jar "wedding seeds" in the cupboard. #JustWitchyThings
My pumpkin yielded a whole jar full, once rinsed and let dry! You can save them in an airtight container in a dark place, of course, for your garden next spring, or you can cook them. Roasted pumpkin seeds can be excellent snacks, and you can cook them into a lovely candy brittle, if you so choose. I'm saving mine for the garden, so I'll be keeping them in my cupboard until spring. 

Once it's roasted and very soft, I advise you to let it cool overnight in the fridge. This will make everything much easier and a bit safer to handle in the fridge. Besides, I only used half of the roasted pumpkin for my soup! It was too much for my Dutch oven to handle all of the pumpkin, so I took the other half and pureed it instead, and then popped it in the freezer for later use...probably to make pies or cakes later in the year as the holidays go!

Now that it's the next day, ideally early in the morning, and your pumpkin half is cool enough to be handled and scraped out, take all of the vegetables that you've already chopped and sweat them in 2 Tbsp of your favorite vegan butter substitute, with the lid on, until rather soft and aromatic, which should take 15 minutes on medium heat. Add in your scraped out pumpkin, two cans of full-fat coconut milk, and your 2 cups of vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let cook for about 30 minutes on low. It's at this point that you stir in your spices and miso, and then turn off the heat. Let it sit, covered, for 20 minutes, before you remove the cover, stir again, and then pop in your fridge to let cool all day (ideally overnight). But what the heck are you doing this for?

Well! 

Pumpkin has a delicate flavor, so you don't want to cook it for too long - after all, you've already roasted it - and the spices don't want to be murdered in the heat, but slowly allowed to seep in and dance with the other flavors that you're developing. Think of a tea! You're making a cold-brew soup. Right? Right!

When you come home from work  - either that same day or the next day - you're ready to finish the soup. Simply bring it up to a boil again, taste for salt and seasonings, add more or less miso depending on if it's too spicy for you, and then turn off the heat. Take out your vitamix (or whatever blender you have) and blend in batches. And dear GODS above, please start on the lowest setting possible. This is an absolute crucial thing to do when dealing with hot liquids, so please do be safe. 

You're blending the soup in batches, going from lowest to highest, blending for at least 1 minute per batch, to ensure that this is the smoothest and creamiest soup you ever did sup. Pop in a clean and warm serving kettle and retire your dutch oven to the sink, and serve tableside. You may finish with some tofu sour cream and some mint, if you like, or just have it with a grilled cheese (made from vegan cheeses, of course).  



I made enough for dinner for 8 people, so I gave some to our neighbors across the street - one of which is the fabulous @Mia Mercado, the author of "An Ode to Soup" (so you know I had to give her and her husband some). We froze some, as well, and are keeping the rest for lunch during the week.

This soup is a fabulous concoction, so smooth and creamy that you'd never know it was vegan. I encourage you to give this pumpkin soup a shot during fall, a.k.a. Soup Season. Thanks so much for reading, and wish me luck on married life! May your own love life leave you so satisfied with the taste of it that you end up scraping the dish. 


Happy cooking and happy eating!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Hemp Milk Banana Pudding

Get ready for this all-American dessert!

Banana pudding is one of those dishes that don't seem like they can be elevated. You think of them for potlucks or maybe something your grandmother might toss together for a family dinner. Most think of them as the kind with the vanilla wafers (you know what I'm talking about) with the Jell-O banana pudding mix and some cool whip. And hey! There's nothing wrong with that. But if you're in the mood for something that's homestyle and yet a little more nice, keep going...

A banana pudding as we Americans know it is mostly - for all intents and purposes - a sort of trifle. Trifles are often a star on The Great British Bake-off with a 400-year history. Trifles have to have compatible flavors, as the great Mary Berry says, but to me the flavors of banana pudding are just...banana, vanilla, and sweet cream. My fiance, B, is highly lactose intolerant and eating dairy-free is kind of the only saving grace I sort of give myself for not keeping kosher. 

So, for my Jewish readers, this is pareve! Woohoo! 

American regional cuisine and the study thereof is a sort of passion of mine. I think it's so interesting to see how we, all in the same country, can be so different. We've got a beautiful melting pot of cultures that has evolved because of the many different cultures that came from other places. If you ask me, the American South has one of the most-interesting ethnically  historical stories to tell. New Orleans alone brought ethnic diversity from all over - all because the nobility of a certain time shipped criminals and enemies of the state off to another land. Hilarious! 

Alton Brown has a fun skit to tell you all about it...

(Start the video at 9:01 - my html player is being weird)

Speaking of Alton Brown, we're adapting his recipe today for the custard. But! We're of course using my recipe for spongecake, as spongecake is what this particular banana pudding is using. Here's why I like spongecake in trifles instead of cookies/biscuits:
  • Cookies/biscuits are for dunking
  • Cake is a same-textured lovely thing that's ideal for soaking
  • Cake can be cut into many different shapes, be they cubes or strips
  • I'm going to eat half the sleeve of cookies before I eat half a cake, so I know that I'll have enough for the recipe
See? Plenty of good reasons. Here's how to make a basic - and I do mean basic - spongecake:

Basic Spongecake
yields one half-sheet pan or a perfect square cake in a 12" tin
  • 240 g whole eggs(4 or 5)
  • 120 g sugar (granulated cane OR coconut sugar)
  • 135 g AP flour
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 tsp flavoring**
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. A spongecake is different from your standard cake in the sense that it needs to not be greased in the tin, as the bubbles need somewhere to climb. I used my square pan, so I lined it with ungreased parchment paper. And, yes, this does mean that you can use this recipe to make cupcakes, but I'd recommend adding in half a teaspoon of baking powder if you do so, just for a little insurance.

**In this recipe I used about half a teaspoon of key lime essence, which came in an oil form.You can use vanilla extract, orange zest, just about anything! This is such a basic sponge that you can even pulverize some nuts in there and fold it in. The sky is the limit.

Whip your eggs and sugar together using the whisk attachment of your standing mixer, and when I say whip it like a cyclone, I mean whip it like a cyclone. This should take about four minutes in your standing mixer, starting on medium and ending on high. The volume should triple, of course, and while that's whipping, go ahead and measure your flour and salt together.

Fold in the flour in little shimmy-shakes, ideally through a sifter/strainer. Fold them in gently, please, as we don't want to disturb the bubbles too much. Add in your flavoring and pour into your prepared pan.

If you've spread this evenly in a sheet pan, you'll only need 10-12 minutes tops for this. I had a square cake tin, so I did 20 minutes, or just until it was set. I'm not going to be rolling this cake, though, for a roulade so I'm okay with having it be a hair drier than the average bear. The cake will bake beautifully, but please be sure to allow it to cool before removing it from the tins for at least 15 minutes while you make your custard. Otherwise, the bubbles could risk popping and you could risk your cake deflating.

Now for the custard!

Warm Vanilla Custard

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup sugar + 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour(gluten-free flour is fine, or 3 Tbsp cornstarch if you prefer)
  • 2 cups hemp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste (or extract, whatever you have)
Clean out your standing mixer bowl and whisk thoroughly and dry. Separate your eggs so that the yolks go in the bottom of a saucepot and the whites go in the bowl of the standing mixer. Add the 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, and vanilla paste to the pot as well and whisk until homogeneous. This will take a hair of elbow grease, but I believe in you - you're strong and you can do the thing. 

Add the milk, a little at a time, whisking in until everything is quite smooth. Introduce some medium heat and whisk constantly, being sure to get the corners. You're going to want to cook this custard without boiling it, so make sure that you keep a thermometer around to watch for 180 F/82 C degrees. You'll know when it's thick, of course, to turn down the heat while you check. Once it's ready, remove from the heat and set aside. 

Whip the egg whites and the 1/4 cup sugar together on high to create stiff peaks. What do stiff peaks look like? Well...


They should be glossy and smooth and should not be lumpy or look dry. If you do, however, overwhip your whites, don't panic. Just add one more egg white and stir/whip in. It will salvage the meringue enough to use it. Presto! Keep that oven on at 400 degrees while we assemble this pudding!

Banana Pudding
  • 1 batch Warm Vanilla Custard
  • 1 batch Basic Sponge cake, cut in strips or cubes
  • 5 -6 bananas 
  • A dash of rum, if you like
  • Meringue
Glass bowls are preferred for this endeavor because you can both see the layers and most glass is extremely durable. Your standard pyrex bowls that you get at the grocery store is oven-safe, but please be diligent and check the bottom of the bowl to see. You may also use a metal bowl, but let's be honest, you want to see the layers.

Mmm caaaaaaaaaake

Take your sponge cake from the tin and peel away the parchment. I sliced mine in half lengthwise because I didn't want large cubes, but you can cut them however you want. I cut mine in about 3/4" strips to fit the bowl. I did have some leftover, but that's okay - you can spread jam between the layers and eat it like a sandwich later this evening. 



Drop a wee dollop of custard in the absolute bottom of the bowl just to keep the spongecake in place. Layer on the sponge, then the bananas, then the warm custard. The reason you want to layer this on while it's still warm is so the bananas will cook. By letting them cook, you get away with using less sugar, and you don't have to soak the cakes in rum if you don't want to. If you want the rum, however, sprinkle it on each spongecake layer while you build up. Live your best life.

I mean, don't add booze if you're going to be serving this to kids. Or do. Whatever your laws are.
Keep layering up and up and up until you reach the topmost point of the bowl with custard being your top layer. You want moisture, of course, but if you must have that extra kick of rum, please layer with a thin bit of spongecake and give it a good solid drizzle now.

Oh yeah. Seal in that goodness. Do it. 

Spread the meringue thick atop to cover. It is of the utmost importance that you scrape the side of your spatula to secure/seal the sides of the bowl. You're creating a protecting layer of meringue, here, to keep your custard safe. Give it a few swirlies, though, with your spatula for the aesthetic. While you can broil this with a torch, I think you should keep it classic and just bake it for 5 minutes.

I think this lovely dessert should be served warm, so it's excellent to make ahead and then bake for dinner parties. I just want you to remember something:

Glass, while extremely durable, gets fragile and will explode with drastic temperature changes. So please, oh please, do not take your glass bowl from the fridge and then immediately put it into a screaming hot oven. I know that most Pyrex bowls are safe for this, but the last thing I need is a lawsuit. Let the glass come up to room temperature before you bake it. Or just make this right before your party, cook everything else, and then bake. You'll be fine, especially because it's nondairy.

The reason I love hemp milk in this recipe is because it's very high in fat. It has a whopping 5 grams of fat per serving, and has a wonderful complex taste as well. I think that the depth of hemp milk is perfectly appropriate for this dessert, and I encourage you to try it out as well. Please experiment with all different types of milks and tell me how it went!


I had a craving for banana cream pie for some odd reason. 🍌🍌🍌 Oddly, though, I didn't feel like making pie, so I just baked a sponge cake and sliced it into strips to use instead of your standard vanilla wafers.☺ Banana pudding is very different depending on what region you're in. If you are north of the Mason Dixie line, you're probably used to the refrigerated kind topped with whipped cream. If you're in the South, however, you most likely prefer a warm banana pudding topped with meringue. The biggest difference is between England and France, who initially colonized those places. I prefer the French version a pretty much everything, so of course I did the warm version with the baked meringue. 🀩 (#dairyfree of course) #foodiechats #foodblogger #wannabgourmande #bananapudding #meringue #french #pudding #pastry #spongecake #cheflife #desserts #custard #banana
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Thanks so much for reading! Happy cooking and happy eating!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Easy Potato Latkes

You can practically hear the sizzle, can't you?
I go to the Brookside farmer's market every Saturday during market season and always get produce from my favorite vendors is Urbavore Urban Farms, run by Brooke Salvaggio, who has become a friend. In the early seasons she has plants as well as produce, but she always has something that I want to buy, usually the eggs from the heritage breed chickens. That being said, I'm a big fan of the later season, when potatoes come up.

While only 200 different varieties of the noble potato grows in Northern America(yes, I did say 'only'), over 4,000 different varieties grow in Bolivia. Potatoes, like tomatoes, pumpkins, avocados, coffee, and chocolate, are an American crop. Why? Because they originate in South/Central America!

Image result for hot tea
This tea is BOMB
Yes, yes, you hear about the miracle crop being tied to Ireland all the time, but a little digging in the world of culinary anthropology will tell you that potatoes originate right here in the Americas. Pumpkins, corn, tomatoes, coffee, and chocolate - yes, chocolate, are categorized under all-American treats. In fact, the only reason that Italy has tomatoes, and therefore marinara sauce, is because of its expeditions to the Americas.

I'm sure that there are some among us that would like to believe that America itself was cultivated from all over the world, but the truth is that they had their own culture and unique biodiversity before Europeans came to colonize and spread syphilis and smallpox and introduce slave labor to the indigenous peoples. But I digress, this blog is not about tea.

This is about potatoes, and specifically the brand/breed of potato called purple viking. Yes, potatoes have different breeds. We've established this, please keep up.

It kind of looks like a dinosaur egg, don't you think?
This is a purple viking potato. It can grow to be nice and large, and has a creamy white flesh. I love the color, of course, and am always a big fan of unusual things. Did you know that the best way to  be healthy is to have a diverse diet? This doesn't always mean entirely different things every day - sometimes it's just trying a different variety of a vegetable/root you already love! Do you love orange carrots? Try white ones, roasted. Try purple ones, steamed. Eat the entire rainbow without every changing around.

Generally, potatoes can be set into two categories: starchy and waxy. A starchy potato, such as a classic Idaho/baking potato, will have a thick skin and will go a sort of pinkish brown if peeled and left out. They're high in starch but quite low in moisture, and are rather fluffy when cooked.

The starchy potatoes are considered to be the best for making french fries and - by some schools - mashed potatoes. The trouble, though, is that from starch comes glue if over-agitated, which is why sometimes your mashed potatoes might go gloopy if you stir them too much. The skin on said starchy potatoes, as well, are best for doing twice-baked potatoes and, in general, being vessels for other things. They don't exactly hold their shape well, however, so it's best if you do not use them for gratins, casseroles, or potato salads. For some reason, however, they're considered to be a classic for latkes by many.

The waxy potato is it's thinned-skined brethren, which are very low in starch and generally hold their shape quite well when cooked. When it comes to nearly every application, I'll take a waxy over a starchy any day of the week. I think that they're much more versatile, and I can whip the ever-living bejeezus out of them when making mashed potatoes and they won't go gloopy unless I screw something up. They're suitable in gratins, fries, and - of course - latkes.

See? CREAMY white flesh!
There are many schools of thought when it comes to these classic Ashkenazi potato fritter, and some will swear that a starchy potato is the best. I assume that this is because it's the tradition, but I find that this isn't true.

When you grate the potatoes, you must soak and rinse them to get rid of as much starch as possible, otherwise the latke will go gloopy. Now, why in the world would I start with an already-starchy product that might not hold its shape so well were I to use a not-so-starchy product in its stead? I tell you, dear reader, that I wouldn't, especially because the purple viking potato only needs one good rinse to get rid of the starch versus the four or five that your standard Russett or Idaho might need.

Many say you can grate in lots of other flavors into the potato - and you can! You can grate in half an onion, some garlic, plenty of herbs, and more. This is your latke and you can decide what to do with it. Yes, it was created by the Ashkenazi peoples (or so I'm told) but everybody can agree that these are delicious and that deep-fried potatoes can and should be for everyone. I like to use a 2:1 ratio if I'm adding in white onion to the fritter. Say, I do two large purple viking potatoes and one medium white onion with just a touch of salt and pepper - delicious! But this is the basic recipe, so just do what you like after you've tried this one.

Nowadays, you would mostly eat this around Hanukkah and serve it with apple sauce and/or sour cream. I like them with breakfast, any day of the week. Sue me.

Easy Latkes
yields 6 fritters
  • 1 large Purple Viking potato
  • 1 egg
  • A touch of salt
  • Neutral oil to fry in, such as canola or grapeseed 
Grate the potatoes using the largest side of your box grater and pop them into a mesh strainer. Rinse them quite thoroughly until the water runs clear, and then ring out the water in small handfuls to get them as dry as you can. Pop these in a medium bowl and season generously. Crack in one fresh egg and mix well, breaking up the yolk and white and coating absolutely everything in that bowl. As mentioned previously, you can add fresh herbs to this - I like parsley and dill, personally, but that's me.

Heat a thick yet shallow skillet with about an inch of oil to medium-high heat. Test the heat by dropping in one or two shreds of the egg-potato mixture. If it floats and sizzles, you're good to go. 

Gently lay in heaping spoonfuls of the latke mixture into your oil and press gently down in the middle to create a flat pancake. Swirl it carefully to just make sure that it didn't stick to the bottom, and then add in another. I can fit up to three latkes at a time in my pan, but don't you overload your oil because it lowers the temperature. 


Protip: You want the oil to be rather hot because things only get greasy when the oil is too cold and the oil seeps in. If it's hot enough, the water on the inside of the item you're frying will turn to steam and create a barrier for the oil to not get into, kind of like it when the footballers of the sportsball team do that head-butt thing at the beginning of the plays. 

Flip them gently with a fork or a pair of chopsticks, taking care not to splash yourself wit hot oil, and cook on the other side. The entire process shouldn't take more than two minutes in total, and the finished latkes can hold in a warm oven while you cook the rest. 

Please also make sure that you save the fat in a jar or a metal can and allow to cool before disposing of. Please don't throw it outside as it's bad for your homestead/garden, and please don't dump it down the drain. You can strain it and reuse it once or twice, but you can just pitch it in your can safely in a garbage bag once it's all used up. 



Serve these with breakfast, lunch or dinner! Latkes are truly a diverse food item and I encourage you to try them using all potatoes. (Just maybe not all at once.) Please also be sure to make an effort to get down to the farmer's market! This is, of course, to get better food, but it's also to get to know your growers. I'm going to let you in on a little secret...

The people that are making an effort against big chain grocery stores and taking food back to basics are the people you want to have a conversation with. Ask them questions, have them tell you the story of that crop. Connection with your fellow human is what the world needs right now, and the fellowship over food is truly what can unite us, instead of divide us.

Here in America, we are dealing with political turmoil unlike any in recent memory. If I have any international readers, I want them to know that we all want this to end, and that we are not horrible bigots. We Americans are loving and welcoming and we believe that immigrants make America great. As someone who's worked in the culinary industry her entire professional life, you would be starving were it not for immigrants and migrant workers. They cook your food, they harvest your crops, they do all of the hard jobs that you don't want to do, often with a smile. I welcome the immigrants and I want them to know that I'm an ally. I am an American, and hatred has no home in my backyard.

Happy cooking and happy eating! 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

New-Fashioned Buttermilk Pie


Okay so it's not real buttermilk, but you can use this recipe (if you so choose) to do so, but I used entirely dairy-free options. As always, Blue Diamond's Almond Milk is my dairy of choice in my home for drinking, and I cannot praise the virtues of Earth Balance's vegan butter enough. But why make a buttermilk pie without buttermilk? Because I wanted it, Karen. Geez.

Let me start off by saying that when it comes to cooking and baking, you won't go to prison for trying something new and experimenting for yourself. A buttermilk pie is a wonderful thing, and there's something just so summery about it. It's a American Southern Classic and oughtn't be forgotten. There are tons of pieces of American Southern culture that are just awesome - not the racism and the slavery, of course, but things like fried chicken, cornbread, and buttermilk pie? Oh yes.

I first learned how to make the classic buttermilk pie when I was working at an assisted living facility while I started up my bakery, which allowed me a lot of freedom to make what I liked, so long as the folks living there had enough to eat. Working with the elderly has some drawbacks, but a lot of rewards - some of them were alive during some crazy times, and I even had one lady that told me stories of her travels all throughout Budapest, Prague, Italy. I had many that had come 'up north' from the deep south and grew up during the Jim Crow segregation era. One of the women specifically requested a buttermilk pie, so I made the classic version. It was delicious, of course, but I can't have that in my house with the amount of dairy that's in it. So? What's a gal to do? Make up her own version of course!
"Yaaaaaaaay pie!"

This recipe is adapted from a blog I love called Spicy Southern Kitchen. Try hers for the old-fashioned version!

Oh, and if you want to master pies for yourself on your own accord with a little more instruction, one of my favorite reference books is Pies and Tarts, written by the Culinary Institute of America - or CIA, if you like. You can pick it up here! It's an excellent reference book and has many different recipes inside, both sweet and savory, and has plenty of info on the hows and the whats and the whys. I've adapted their all-butter crust to suit my needs in this particular application. I find that it's just excellent, especially for decorative motifs on pies that you must pull together in a pinch. Honestly, it's the fastest pie dough I've ever made, and I recommend it - especially if you don't have a food processor or an entire afternoon to devote to this project.

New-Fashioned Buttermilk Pie
yields 1 9" pie, serves 8

Whole wheat crust
  • 14 oz locally ground whole wheat flour
  • 10 - 12 small mint leaves, chiffonade
  • 1 tsp powdered sugar
  • 6 oz cold vegan butter substitute, cubed rather small
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • Ice water as needed
Buttermilk Custard
  • 3 large eggs
  • 10.5 oz (1 1/2 cups) fair trade cane sugar (you can also use brown sugar or honey, if you like!)
  • 4 oz (1 stick) vegan butter substitute
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 3 Tbsp flour or 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup vegan sour cream substitute (I like tofutti)
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
To make the crust simply bring together in either a food processor with pulses, or use your fingers to pinch and push in the fat to the flour. Once the fat is small enough and incorporated enough that it looks to be about the size of a pea, you're ready to add your liquids. Add first the vinegar, then the water, a few drops at a time, until everything just barely comes together. Turn out the dough onto a cold marbled surface. Starting from the edge, use the meat of your thumb and palm to smear a bit of the dough out. Continue to smear and push until everything is homogeneous. This is a technique I like most called 'frasier.' Watch this video below to see for yourself! 



Once that's all together nicely, divide in two and wrap one of them in clingfilm for later use. You're going to place the other half between two sheets of clingfilm and roll it out that way. Simply gather together in a disc, sandwich between the film and roll out gently, turning and rotating as needed, to roll out to at least a quarter-inch thickness. Pop this in your pie pan by simply peeling off the top layer, putting the pie pan over it upside-down, and then carefully flipping everything over! Gently peel away the now-top layer of plastic and ever-so-gently lift up the edges so that the dough can sink into the crevices of the pie dish. Let it sit in there for about five minutes, in the fridge, so that the dough can relax and therefore won't shrink on you. 

Once rested, trim the edges and save the dough to make decorations. I love making leaf shapes using cookie cutters, but you can crimp the edges, scallop or prick with a fork...the sky's the limit! This is your pie, so you can decorate it how you please to do so. 


Prick the bottom of the pan and pop this in the freezer while your oven heats to 350. Move your oven rack to the bottom of the oven, as low as it'll go. Once it's come up to temp, par-bake your pie crust for 10 minutes at the bottom of the oven, sitting on another sheet tray that's been lined with aluminum foil. I suggest blind-baking using aluminum foil or parchment paper filled up with beans, pie beads, rice, lentils...whatever you have lying around. You'll only want to bake this for 10 minutes because it's going to hang out in the oven for another 50 after this. You just want to ensure that you don't have a soggy bottom.

Now, to make the custard! Scrape the insides of the vanilla bean into the butter and melt gently over medium heat. Make sure you either put your scraped vanilla bean in either the sugar container or into a bottle of cheap vodka or bourbon with other scraped vanilla beans to make either vanilla sugar or your own homemade vanilla extract! (Yes, you CAN do that.)

While that's melting, combine the vinegar, sour cream, and almond milk. You can use coconut, hemp, or oat milk as well if you have a nut allergy. Let this sit near the stove to take the chill off of it, and let sit for at least 5 minutes. Your butter should melt within that time. Once it's melted, set it aside while you whisk together your flour/cornstarch with the sugar of your choice. Add in your eggs and whisk quite well. Add in the vanilla butter and whisk to incorporate quite well. Add the nutmeg, 'buttermilk' mixture and whisk quite well, ensuring that every single last bit of everything is incorporated quite well. If I were you, I'd take my time to pop this mixture into a large pitcher (the one on your blender works just fine) before continuing with this next step.

Carefully open your oven door and - using oven mitts - remove the blind baking instruments you've used, if any, be they beans, rice, or baking beads. Set them aside to cool. Pull our the oven rack that holds your pie dish out just enough to safely pour your custard in without burning your hands. Pour your custard mixture in very slowly indeed, and then very gently indeed push the rack back into the oven, trying to not jostle the custard so it won't spill. Shut the oven door, lower the temperature, to 325 and bake for 50 minutes, or until the custard wobbles just barely in the middle. The pie will have quite a dome on it, which is fine, because it'll collapse once it cools. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least two hours in the fridge - one hour on the counter, one in the fridge.


Slice and serve with some sweet tea and sit on the veranda to enjoy maximum flavor. Please let me know if you do try this, of course! It's one of my favorite custard pies, and I think the whole wheat crust adds to it by balancing out some of the sweetness. I've also made this recipe with half parts AP flour and rye flour with great success. Don't be afraid to experiment!

Happy cooking and happy eating! 

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Beet-Dyed Deviled Eggs with Mint and Curry



This post has been blowing UP on my Instagram! Apparently, purple deviled eggs are a revelation, and I coined it. Yay, me!

Early in my culinary training, I worked in an upscale French bistro establishment that did beet-pickled quail's eggs for an amuse bouche. I remember it so clearly, and how it looked so beautiful and pink. When I volunteered to make deviled eggs for a summer solstice celebration, I couldn't resist going a little overboard with it and giving it a twist.

I've had a change in employment recently, which has allowed for more money and more flexibility on my end, so my quality of life has definitely had a shift. That being said, I can't help but feel a little gutted at not cooking high-volume every day. I think I've more-recently realized that I'm quite blessed to have a fiance that is an adventurous eater and is so good-tempered that he'll eat just about anything that I put in front of him. I also have some awesome friend that'll try anything once.

Anyway, here's how to make these awesome deviled eggs! I made this for a party of 14 friends, assuming that each friend was going to eat more than one.

Devil-Red Eggs with Mint & Curry
yields 36 individual deviled eggs, so like 12 servings

  • 18 eggs (mine were from the farmer's market so they were ungraded - I'd say medium is fine, though)
  • 1 cup red wine, leftover from last night is fine
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 medium red beet, chunked
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c mayo (sour cream works, too)
  • 1 Tbsp spicy mayo
  • 2 Tbsp hot curry powder
  • Plenty of mint sprigs, fresh from the garden
We'd like a red beet for this application, please!
Take your eggs and pop them in a sauce pot with just enough water to cover. Bring them to a boil, turn the water off, and cover it with a lid. Set your timer for 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, take your beet and chop off the greens. Combine the water, wine, chopped beet, and the cinnamon and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let cook for about 15 minutes and turn it off. You can add in a pinch of salt at this point, then add the vinegar. Let it hang out on the back burner.

Once that 15 minutes for your eggs is up, drain the water and dump on quite a bit of ice. Ice will make the eggs easier to peel once cooled. Don't you dare throw away those egg shells, though! Chuck them outside for birds in need of calcium, or to give your garden a nice boost. You can also keep them in a jar and use it with a scouring pad to really scrub cast iron pots and be a nice abrasive for burnt-on stuff. There are about a million different uses for egg shells, and we are in a time of 'waste not, want not.' Don't you think?

Cut each of the peeled eggs in half. Put the yolks in a medium bowl and put the whites in a large bowl with high sides. You can also put them in a high-sided sauce pot for this next step, or a large pitcher or jar that will fit in your fridge. Cover the whites with the red wine liquid, adding a little water if you need it to cover them. You're going to now leave them for at least two or three hours, ideally overnight to really allow the color to penetrate.

"That's not a good enough reason to use the word 'penetrate.'" - Name that movie.

Use a fork to smash up the yolks and mix with the mayo, garlic, curry powder, and mustard. Taste for salt. If you feel that you need to add a spoonful or two of mayo to get the consistency you like, go right ahead. Taste it, of course, to make sure it's got enough salt, curry powder, mayo, etc. If you feel it's a bit thick, add a drop of vinegar. If you feel it needs a little more of an aromatic touch, add a pinch of ground coriander. Either way, you're going to scrape all of this into a piping bag (or a large ziploc bag) and set in the fridge. 

Tomorrow morning, put together a platter to present. I used kale and large mint sprigs from the garden, trimming off the smaller leaves to garnish my eggs. You'll want a nice full-looking presentation, especially if you don't have a serving dish with divets on it for deviled eggs. If you do, good on ya. If you don't, no big deal. You just don't want to let these things slip and slide around and fall onto the floor. Arrange the larger mint leaves here and there, and keep the smaller mint leaves aside. 

Cut off the tip of your piping bag or cut a corner in your ziploc bag and pipe in the filling with a firm hand. You ought to have plenty, so be sure to fill it up nice. Garnish each one with a small mint leaf and arrange accordingly. I have apple mint growing in my front garden, but I used the peppermint that grows in the back. 

Please note that peppermint is sometimes seen as a weed. It's not, even though
it grows like one. It will be prolific, and it will spread everywhere, but responds
just fine to pruning and harvesting. It's an extremely versatile plant and I, for
one, love it. I think you should love it, too!
Sidebar on why you should grow peppermint:

Not only is it a perennial herb that spreads EVERYWHERE, you can use it in just about everything...and I do mean everything.

I've used it in foods, ice creams, soaps, and more. I will also hang it by the windows in the spring and summer, as it repels many biting bugs. You can even use their nice scent against a pesky mosquito by crushing up fresh leaves and rubbing it all over your skin. You'll smell minty fresh and be mostly bite-free throughout the day! (It works for me for about 3 hours; results will probably vary.) Either way, I highly recommend growing mint in your garden. Peppermint, which is the kind that I grow in the back, repels fleas, moths, ants, mosquitoes, and most flies. Snip sprigs and hang it by your door in warmer months. Word is you can even toss mint sprigs in with your clothes in the clothes dryer in lieu of buying dryer sheets. Granted, this is only practical if you actually grow your own and have a surplus of it, like yours truly. Please don't buy fresh mint sprigs in neat little plastic containers for $3.49 at the grocery store just to toss it in the dryer. Buy fresh mint sprigs to put on these deviled eggs, if you're not growing your own, and prepare to wow your friends and family with this show-stopper.


Thanks so much for reading. I hope you try this recipe, and hope that you let me know if you do. It's so easy, you're able to make it ahead, and so beautiful to look at. Totally #InstaWorthy. Happy cooking and happy eating!