Sunday, August 10, 2008

Lavender iced tea

I used a tea-maker for this, but I can provide instructions for making this if you don't have one.

You'll need:
5 regular black tea bags (whatever your favorite kind is)
2 tablespoons lavender
3 tablespoons honey
Ice and water

Tea-maker: Pour the amount of water needed to brew 2 quarts of tea into the tea maker, using your tea-maker's instructions. Do NOT put ice in the pitcher, however. Put a coffee filter in the brew basket, then put the tea bags (remove the tags; they can add an unpleasant flavor to the tea) and lavender in the coffee filter. Brew the tea. Stir in the honey once the tea is finished; you want to do this while it's hot so it will dissolve quickly (so this is why you're waiting on the ice). Top off the pitcher with ice to the 2-quart mark. You're done :)

No tea maker?
Bring 4 cups water to a boil. Put the lavender in a tea ball (if you don't have one, you can put it into some cheesecloth or a square of linen, then tie it off with a piece of string), and put the lavender and tea bags into a pitcher. Pour the water over the tea bags and lavender. Let steep for about 5 minutes, then remove the bags and lavender (use a slotted spoon if you took the tags off the bags). Stir in the honey, then top off the pitcher with ice.

If you use a coffee maker for the brewing step, make sure you scrub out the brew basket and pot with vinegar or borax (borax works GREAT) to keep the tea from tasting like stale coffee.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Vegetarian Bastilla

Bastilla is a Moroccan pastry; it is also called pigeon pie, because it traditionally contains pigeon meat. Obviously, I did not include pigeons in my version of it.

I would recommend setting aside about an hour for prep time, and make sure you start with a clean kitchen that has your utensils and cooking dishes clean.

The ingredients are divided according to how they are put together. Read through the entire directions at least once before starting.

SO, you will need:

1 package phyllo sheets, thawed (put the frozen package in the refrigerator overnight; leave in the refrigerator until you get to the step that asks for it)

1 stick butter, halved, plus one tablespoon (you'll use part for one purpose, part for another)

1/2 Vidalia onion, finely chopped
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon dry or 1 tablespoon fresh ginger
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 package Quorn tenders, finely chopped

6 eggs
3 scallions, finely sliced
1/2 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (can substitute cilantro if you like cilantro)

1 1/2 cup almonds (unsalted, and you can use whole or sliced)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
extra cinnamon

Do all of the chopping of ingredients, then preheat the oven to 400ºF

Put the almonds, granulated sugar, and 2 teaspoons cinnamon in a food processor until the almonds are well crushed. It is okay if there are a few pea-sized chunks, but you generally want them smaller than that. Set the almond/sugar mixture aside for now.

Melt half a stick of butter in a large skillet, then sautee the onion, shallot, turmeric, ginger, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in the butter until the onions are translucent.

Stir the Quorn into the onion mixture and cook until hot and very slightly browned in some places. You may need to dribble in a couple tablespoons of water to keep it from getting too dry to cook.

Put the Quorn mixture into a bowl and set aside (alternatively, get out another skillet for the next step).

Melt a tablespoon of butter in the skillet, then scramble the eggs and cook them. When they are partway done, fold in the parsley and scallions. Cook until the eggs are done, then add the Quorn mixture to the eggs and mix them together, then remove from heat and set aside.

Now, you should have a skillet of egg/Quorn stuff, and a bowl of almond/sugar stuff. At this point, you may cover and refrigerate them to use later; you might even want to do this for half of them, because the recipe makes two large pastries.

Melt the remaining butter in a bowl. Get out two pie pans and brush butter on their bottoms.

Very gently open the package of phyllo dough (do not open it early; it dries out FAST) and unroll a sheaf of pastry leaves. They will resemble very fine sheets of paper. Take two sheets and layer them so that one covers half the pan (with the edges hanging out over the sides), while the other covers the other half. Layer more sheets on top of these in the same fashion until it seems fairly sturdy (if using Athenos brand, you'll use maybe 6-8 sheets if they are the little 8x10 sheets). If you're using larger, thicker sheets, you may be able to use just two. *

Once BOTH pie pans have been prepared with phyllo dough, get out your bowls of egg/Quorn stuff and almond stuff. Starting with the almond mixture, alternately layer some of each mixture in the pie pans. Try to spread them such that you get about four layers total (two almond, two quorn) in each pan. You don't have to be exact here, and the layers are going to blend together. That's okay.

The phyllo that is hanging over the edges of the pie pans should now be folded over the top of the fillings. Use a pastry brush to brush melted butter on top of the folded phyllo.

Pop those suckers in the oven for fifteen minutes, or until the dough on top is golden brown.

Remove from the oven. Put a plate upside-down over the top of each pie plate, and then very carefully (this means you, Brian) turn them over so that the pastry is turned out upon the plate. Remove the pie plate (and again, carefully--use oven mitts).

You should now have a pastry on a plate. If it has been damaged by the turning out, that's fine! Cover each pastry with half of the powdered sugar (you can use a sifter or strainer to make it coat evenly), then sprinkle cinnamon on top in a criss-cross pattern (well, that's traditional, but hey, you can use a stencil to make something cuter, I suppose).

Let it cool a little bit before eating! It is HOT. It is traditional to eat it with your fingers, no utensils. I, however, give you permission to use a fork or spoon :) Also, you can cut a slit in the top before serving to let some of the heat out quicker.

* Also note that you can make mini-bastilla with ramekins, and probably just use two small sheets for that, both centered on the ramekin.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Lentil Stew

Please know that this was thrown together, and I might not remember exactly how it was done.

2 cups lentils
4 cups water
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon Adobo with cumin
2 teaspoons Better than Bouillion (vegetarian)
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
1 large carrot, chopped into small pieces
1 parsnip, quartered and slivered
1/2 onion, minced--OR 2 shallots minced
2 ribs celery*, chopped
1/2 cup chopped collared greens (I used frozen; I keep it on hand for my turtle's salads, haha)
1/2 stick butter (real stuff, if you can eat it)
Sea salt to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste (the more, the better, imo!)

Throw it all in a small crock pot. Cook on low for 5-6 hours. You can kick start it a bit if you cook it on high for an hour or two in the beginning, then turn it down for another couple hours. If it's too rich, stir in some freshly cooked rice.

* Don't toss the leaves out--chop them up and throw those in the pot too!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

You HAVE to be joking

I got this little missive in my email today:

From: Anne R. Brooks
Date: 1/31/08

Sent: To [me]

cc: Alan Rupp, Ruth Fejfar; Carol Hamilton
Subject: Derby-Pie® Infringement

To whom it may concern,

It has come to my attention that you have published pages with a reference
to "Derby-Pie" or some similar name on the web page listed below. I wish to
inform you on behalf of Kern's Kitchen Inc. of Louisville, Kentucky, that
they hold the trademark for this name and it is not legally proper to
promote a product by this name without Kern's Kitchen's permission. The
registration number is Reg. No. 878,334 and it is on the Principal Register
with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

To avoid any formal legal action, it is requested that you remove any
reference to "Derby-Pie" on any and all web pages.

The following WebPages contain the misuse:

If there are others we would ask that you take care of them also.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation. If you have any questions please
direct them to:

Carol Hamilton a paralegal at:
Lynch, Cox, Gilman & Mahan P.S.C.
400 West Market Street, Aegon Center
Suite 2200
Louisville, Kentucky 40202
Tel: 1 502 589-4215

[email to:]

Alan S. Rupp
Kern's Kitchen, Inc.


I will definitely never patronize this company--and I thank them for bringing themselves to my attention so that I can be sure not to do so.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Garlic, and shopping at the Asian grocery

I gave up on fresh garlic a long time ago. It's annoying to peel, garlic presses are a pain to clean, and garlic goes bad too quickly to keep enough on hand for the amount that I use.

Instead, I use minced or crushed garlic in a jar, the wet kind. It really tastes the same, is cheaper, it's easy to load up in a dish (spoonful after spoonful...mmmm!), and it keeps for a long time. No one has ever noticed the difference, and it's light-years tastier than garlic powder. It's saved me a lot of time, money, and aggravation. I also use ginger in the same format; we are ginger addicts here, and I never disappoint a guest with my cooking.

If you really want to find inexpensive garlic in a jar, try the Asian market. I pay a lot less for many ingredients, including coconut milk, canned specialty vegetables (bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, baby corn), dried mushrooms, produce, fresh mangoes, and sauces (tamari, vegetarian oyster, stir-fry). Some of them are up to 50% less than in the standard grocery store, and there is little to no difference in quality. We hit up the Indian grocery for staples like basmati rice, dried chickpeas and lentils, and spices (cardamom is especially inexpensive, and it's a great place to get pre-blended spices like garam masala).

Good food is important in our household. We eat a LOT of vegetables, and our friends really enjoy visiting for dinner. Because we're fairly poor, our food budget does not allow for much dining out, and fast food places are not vegetarian-friendly anyway. Lunches usually consist of leftovers, and snacks are cheap stuff like yogurt, dried fruits, cheap pretzels, and bulk nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans--I am allergic to peanuts, but okay with tree nuts). We're definitely not "junk food vegetarians"; we couldn't stand to eat so unimaginatively!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

tofu stroganoff

You'll need:
1lb of pressed, frozen/thawed tofu*, cubed
2 cups sliced baby bella mushrooms (or other dark, meaty mushrooms, cut into small pieces)
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock (I use Better Than Bouillion)
4 shallots, diced
2 teaspoons paprika
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
2 tablespoons corn starch or arrowroot powder (flour can be substituted)
olive oil
seasoning salt (Lawry's or similar)
freshly-ground pepper (I prefer a four peppercorn blend)
1/2 pound egg noodles (dry weight)
1/2 cup sour cream

Use a big skillet for the stroganoff preparation! If you are using a nonstick pan, the tofu will not stick as badly; if you are not using a nonstick pan, you're going to need a metal spatula to scrape as you're browning the tofu.

While you're cooking the tofu, start a pot of water for the egg noodles.

Put some olive oil into the skillet and heat it up on medium-high. Once it's good and hot, toss in a little salt and the tofu. Cook the tofu until it is slightly darkened, scraping it and turning it every so often so it cooks evenly.

Once it's cooked a bit, toss in the paprika, shallots, and mushrooms. Continue to turn the mixture over with the spatula until the mushrooms and shallots are well-cooked.

Stir in the corn starch, folding it into the mixture until there are no lumps.

Add in the stock, red wine, and tomato paste and stir thoroughly. If you're using Better Than Boullion, it's okay to just pour in the water and spoon in the bouillion mix without pre-cooking it (so easy!). Turn the heat to LOW and allow the mixture to simmer.

Put the egg noodles into the pot of water that should be boiling by now and cook them according to directions.

Once the noodles are cooked, the stroganoff mixture should be ready to serve. Grind in some pepper, and give it a taste test to see if it needs more salt.

Serve stroganoff over the noodles, with sour cream on the side. I find that I like it better without the sour cream, but tastes may vary.

* To prepare the tofu:
Squeeze out as much water as you can without crushing the block.

Set the tofu block on top of something screened, like in a colander, or a splatter guard placed over a . Put something clean on top, like an upside-down plate, and then pile something heavy on top, such as books, or a brick. Let the tofu sit like this for about half an hour.

Toss the tofu into the freezer and allow it to freeze solid. Then, allow it to thaw. Freezing changes the texture, making it firmer and more spongey.

Monday, November 26, 2007

7 things about the Lady of Shallots

1. I can't stand beets or yams, but I love squash.

2. I rarely use measuring spoons or cups.

3. I think many people overuse garlic because they lack the skill to spice more subtly.

4. I cannot make marinara sauce or pie crust.

5. My favorite cookbook author is Robin Robertson.

6. Any birthday cake for me MUST be a white cake with vanilla buttercream. Chocolate will NOT do.

7. I never get take-out Chinese food. I learned to make my own, after having worked at three different stores that were next door to Chinese restaurants. I won't say anything more than that.