Friday, November 16, 2007

Empanadas de Calabasa Sefardicas

The dish for "E" is empanadas. This recipe for pumpkin empanadas was also featured on Vegan Lunchbox. Because Sefardica or Sephardic in English is used in the recipe title, we know this recipe is both Spanish and Jewish.

In case you are unfamiliar with the term Sephardic, I thought I might give a quick explanation. Sephardic is derived from the Hebrew word for Spain and generally refers to Jewish people from the Iberian peninsula including Spain, North Africa, Middle East, and Portugal. Ashkenazic is derived from the Hebrew word for Germany and generally refers to Jews from Eastern Europe. Each group tends to have some different traditions. Most American Jews follow Ashkenazic tradition. Believe it or not there are quite a few other delineations that these groups can be broken down into, but this is the simple view.

When I was in Spain, I was definitely not vegetarian. Empanadas were a quick easy meal to buy on the go or pack for a trip. Sometimes the empanadas were like little pocket pies just as this recipe. Other times they would make the emapanada in three layers on a cookie sheet (dough, filling, dough) and slice it in squares. In the 5 weeks I was there, I only recall finding veggie empanadas once. Often I wonder, whether I'd notice veggie options more now. Maybe they were everywhere and I didn't see them because I wasn't looking.

Anyway, these pumpkin empanadas are a tad on the sweet side for me. It isn't because of the sugar, but more likely because of the apple in the filling. I'm a huge pumpkin fan and between the spices and the apple, the pumpkin felt a little watered down. This crust is simple and is definitely something I would make again. I'm always having trouble with the more delicate pie crusts.
BTW - Thanks for the concern about me and the car. My window is all fixed and I'm onto lots of other issues including PT for my knee that I injured snowboarding last year.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Avgolemono Soup

Today, I'm taking a quick timeout from my alphabet scheme, though we are still touring the world. Yesterday was a crazy day. My car was broken into at my office parking garage and that messed up my schedule for the night. After filing the police report, dropping my car off to get the glass replaced, and then getting a rental vehicle, I didn't have much energy to continue with my plan for "E".

On the way home, I did stop to pick up some parsley so I could make a tester recipe that I've been waiting to try. Yup, you heard that right. What do you do after someone breaks into your car? ---Go home and cook.

Suzie from One Chubby Vegan has started some recipe testing for her cookbook. As soon as I saw her post on the Avgolomeno Soup, I knew I wanted in as a tester.

Avgolemono is a Greek soup made with lemon. Eggs are used as a thickener. Could this be veganized? Well, Suzie did it and this soup is marvelous. Thick lemony goodness with seitan, rice and parsley.
Avgolemono Soup

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Damper is a bread from Australia. The are many recipes, but all are simple. It was made from staples that the swagmen had on hand when they were in the outback. Generally you would mix flour, salt, baking powder, butter (if available), and water/milk/beer to form a dough. Then it is cooked on the coals of a campfire. Any Aussie will tell you to drizzle honey or golden syrup on the damper and serve it with billy tea.

Billy tea is also prepared over a campfire. You boil water in a billy (can) and add a fistful of tea per person. In a minute when the tea is done, you grab the handle with a bandanna and swing the hot can around in a circle. Really this is just for show, you could just as easily let the it sit for a few minutes to settle the leaves. Though swinging the billy in circles works, even if it is a bit dangerous.

For my damper, I used the following recipe:

2 cups of flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp (scant) salt
1 T melted Earth Balance
3/4 cup beer (approximate start with less and add until dough is smooth)

Mix, knead, flatten into a circle on the cookie sheet, and then bake at 425 for 20 minutes.

Damper sliced with agave drizzled on top

Here's an old photo of me (40 pounds ago!) enjoying billy tea in the Australian rain forest. It is way too early in the morning for me which explains my happy demeanor. Yes, our guide did actually swing the billy around the campfire!

Friday, November 09, 2007


Ceviche is a citrus marinated seafood dish that originated in Ecuador. While watching the news the other night, I saw a chef prepare Scallop Ceviche. Since "C" is up next, why not veganize the dish?

I pressed some firm tofu, cut it into cubes, and then followed the same preparation instructions as the scallops. After making some plantain chips, the ceviche was ready to serve. Though the dish is relatively simple to make, the presentation wowed a friend that joined me for dinner.

Tofu Ceviche
A couple of days ago I stumbled upon Meyer lemons at the store. I've always wanted to give them a try, so I was pretty happy to find some. Legend has it, the Meyer lemon is a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. This creates a sweeter citrus flavor. After checking some cookbooks and searching the net, I decided on Meyer Lemon Scones from a baking website.

The recipe was easy to veganize, just replace the butter with Earth Balance. I also made the scones slightly more healthy by subbing some whole wheat pastry flour and garbanzo flour. My only suggestion if you try the recipe, use powdered sugar instead of white sugar for the glaze. White sugar sounded wrong to me, but I followed the directions anyway. The topping is ok as is, but not a typical glaze. The scones are delicious.

Meyer Lemon Scones

Thursday, November 08, 2007


My first VeganMoFo post happened to include Amazake from Japan. As I started to think about my plan for the month, I thought why not continue along to the letter B. This month we'll be touring the world and wandering through my cookbook shelves from A-Z.

Today's post is Bazirgan, a Syrian recipe for fine crushed wheat "caviar". The recipe is from A Fistful of Lentils which consists of Syrian-Jewish recipes.

The ingredients called for fine-grain bulgur. I only had medium grain, so it required a trip to the Middle Eastern store. Of course, I had to wander through all the aisles and check out everything. Before leaving, I purchased some whole wheat Markouk bread to use for dipping the Bazirgan. I'd never seen Markouk before. It is paper thin and they fold the large circles to fit in the package. Here's an interesting article about how it is baked by hand in Lebanon.

Here's a photo of a piece Markouk. It unfolds into a 3 foot circle!

Here's the Bazirgan.

Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of this recipe. There a lot flavors mixed into one dish. I'm thinking I may add some extra plain bulgur to "water" it down a bit.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


So, a bunch of PPKers decided we should have VeganMoFo - Vegan Month of Food. It is in response to NaNaWriMo where the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel over the course of November. Unfortunately, I can't commit to cook, take photos, and write once a day. However, I will guarantee a bunch of extra posts this month.

When I was in high school, I made some lame attempts at completing novels. My mom was a was writer and you'd think I would have picked up on some of her skills. Nope, blogging is the best I can offer. In honor of VeganMoFo, I bring you lots of foods posts. Who can resist the participating when they managed to abbreviate using MOFO?

Sunday I planned to start this with a new recipe from ExtraVeganZa. However, I am not the best at preparing and I failed to read through the recipe on Saturday. It required that the batter sit out overnight, so the recipe was rescheduled for yesterday.

Amazake is a sweet, Japanese rice beverage. It is one of my favorite drinks especially the pecan pie flavor that I occasionally find at the store. I used almond Amazake to make spelt pancakes. The recipe from ExtraVeganZa stated the spelt flour, Amazake and salt should be mixed and left out overnight. I did this Sunday and cooked up the pancakes Monday morning.

Unfortunately, they were not as light and fluffy as I expected. Perhaps the Amazake is supposed to act like sourdough. If that is the case, the batter never really took off. They look good and the flavor is a nice change of pace. The recipe was for a crepe like, thin pancake. These little guys ripped easily, so eventually I gave up and made some silver dollar pancakes.

A couple of crepes with syrup and dried cherries. (You know I hate raisins, right?)
Plain silver dollar cakes. (Boring photo, that's what happens when I cook in the morning.)

Oh yeah, thanks for all the great comments on my carving from a few years back. Honestly, anyone can do something like that with some tools and pattern. Grab yourself some of those carving books on clearance and save them for next year. Here's a photo of the pumpkin in daylight. You can see that the carving is not as intricate as you might have guessed.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Pumpkin, Pumpkin and more Pumpkin

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. Though today, the blustery storm is a bit much. The wind makes it seem so cold.

I love the smell of fall, the brightly colored leaves, and the crisp air. Pumpkin seemed like the proper homage to the season.

On warmer day, I tried my hand at making pumpkin ice cream. I used the recipe from A Vegan Ice Cream Paradise.

Last week I made sourdough pumpkin pancakes. All I did was add pumpkin, nutmeg and cinnamon to the regular sourdough recipe I've linked to in the past.

Could I have been more happy to finally receive Veganomicon in the mail? The second recipe I tried was the Pumpkin Saag. Saag translates to greens. This is an Indian dish with roasted pumpkin, spinach, and loads of spices. It turned out fabulously, despite my concerns. (I'd been unsuccessful cooking with fresh pumpkin in the past.)
Unfortunately, this year I did not carve a pumpkin. It was a rough week for me and my normal Halloween spirit was no where to be found. Halloween night, I actually met a friend for dinner and a movie. (We saw Darjeeling Limited, if you were wondering.) Anyway, here's a photo of one I carved a few years back.