Thursday, December 25, 2008

Holiday Truffle Filling

The best part about truffles is they can be filled with anything that sounds delicious to you. Here are some ideas to make your holiday truffles even more festive.

Fluer de Sel
Make a dark chocolate ganash and fill the truffle shell 2/3 full with the ganash. Add a chunk of high quality caramel candy. Spread a thin layer of the chocolate shell on top of a completed truffle and sprinkle with a few chunks of large sea salt.

Before heating a milk chocolate ganash, add two tablespoons of smooth peanut butter. Heat as usual and fill the truffle shells with this chocolate peanut butter glory.

Get Fruity
Make a dark chocolate or milk chocolate ganash and add orange zest to the mixture, or after heating, plunge chunks of dried fruit into the center of the truffle shells. Fruits to try: dried apricot, dried cranberries, dried cherries, dates, and dried pineapple.

Just a Little Tipsy

For some holiday fun, add a 3 TBS rum to your chocolate ganash. Fill truffle shells as usual. Top the truffles with brown sugar. Or mix the ganash with 4 TBS tequila and lime zest, top with salt.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hanukkah Latkes or Potato Pancakes

Happy Hanukkah to all! Enjoy this family tradition with a twist. Eat with apple sauce and sour cream, and for all of those who enjoy a less traditional rendition, pull out the ketchup and Louisiana Hot Sauce!

4 Golden Potatoes or Russet Potatoes
3 Matzah Crackers crumbled
1/2 of a medium Red onion- diced
3 TBS Olive Oil
2 TSP Paprika
1 Tsp Cayenne
1 Clove Garlic- Crushed
1-2 TBS Flour
1/2 Cup Water
1 Tbs Peanut or Safflower Oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Using a grater or food processor grate the potatoes into small strips. Like you are making hash browns. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl combine the diced onions, crumbled matzah crackers, spices, oil, and water. Mix until well combined.
3. Add the shredded potatoes to the large bowl and mix well.
4. Add the flour and stir until the mixture is thickened and has a thick batter consistency.
5. Add the salt and pepper to taste.
6. On an electric skillet or in a pan skillet fry the latkes for 5-10 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
7. Serve with apple sauce and sour cream.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Basic Holiday Truffles

Ingredients: Outer Shell & Ganache Mixture
1.) 2 14 oz Bags of Wiltons Dark Chocolate Candy Melts

2.) 1 lb semi-sweet chocolate chips(Ghirardelli works well)

3.) 2/3 Cup Whipping Cream

4.) Your Choice of Flavored Baking oil (peppermint works well, and raspberry is delocious!)


  • 1" deep candy molds.
  • Double-Boiler (or a deep pot with 1 cup water at the bottom and place a heat-safe bowl in the center of the pot to create your won doble-boiler)
Cooking Instructions:
1. In a double broiler, or in the microwave pour 1/2 cup of the Wilton Candy melts and melt slowly. Stir often, but do not stir briskly.
2. Once the melts are melted, use a dinner spoon to scoop out the chocolate and using the back of the spoon run it across the mold until the mold is covered completely, but the space in the middle is not filled with chocolate. Tap the side of the mold to remove any air bubbles.
3. Place the chocolate covered mold into the freezer for 3-5 minutes to harden.
4. Meanwhile pour the 1lb bag of chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl. Combine with the 2/3 cups whipping cream. Microwave for 2 minutes. Remove the Ganache and stir until Ganach is smooth. If Ganache is not smooth yet, microwave for 1 minute intervals, removing the bowl and stirring. Do this until the ganache mixture is smooth. Once it is smooth you may add your choice of fillings/flavor (See below for filling/flavor options).
Combining Ganache & Shell:
5. Remove the candy molds from the freezer. Using the dinner spoon, fill each candy mold with 1/2oz of the ganache mixture. Leave 1/2 an inch of space between the ganche filling and the edge of the candy mold.
6. Place the molds with the ganache filling back in the freezer for 15-20 minutes until the filling is set (slightly hardened).
7. Remove the mold from the freezer, using the remaining chocolate from the double burner, Make sure it's still melted, and using the dinner spoon use the chocolate that gathers on the back of the spoon to fill in the bottom of the truffle.
8. Place the molds back in the freezer to set the bottoms for 3-5 minutes.
9. Remove the molds from the freezer. Let stand for 1 minute. On asoft surface, gently turn the molds upside down and release the candies from the molds.
10. Using a decorators brush, or a cutip, dampen the top of the truffe with water and sprinkle brown sugar, candy toppings, or sprinkles.
11. Impress friends and family with your creation!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Vegetarian Potato Soup

Here's a soup for those cold and damp winter months that is hearty and sure to warm your soul. A great treat to enjoy with loved ones and friends.

4 Cloves of Garlic crushed
16 oz White Mushrooms, sliced
1 cup White Wine
2 tbs of safflower oil
2 lbs Yukon Potatoes
2 Purple Potatoes
3 Red Potatoes
8 Cups of Water
2 tbs Condensed Vegetable Broth (Vegetable Bullion works well)
1 tbs Soy Sauce
1/2 tbs Rice Vinegar
1/2 tsp Pure Maple Syrup
1 tbs Dried Thyne (if using fresh, only use 1/4 tbs)
1/2 tbs Dried Basil (if using fresh, use 1 tbs)
1/2 tbs Dried Cayenne Pepper (Optional, or to taste)
1/2 Tbs Onion Powder
2 Stalks Celery
To Garnish"
Sour Cream
Grated Havarti or Jack Cheese
Chopped Green Onions or Chives

1. In a large, deep pot add the safflower oil, all the garlic, sliced mushrooms, and wine and simmer for 15 minutes until the mushrooms have reduced in size and released their water.
2. Meanwhile, slice the potatoes into 1/2 inch thick slices and combine the condensed vegetable bullion and the water to create a broth and set aside.
3. Add the sliced potatoes to the pot with the broth increase the heat and allow the soup to boil gently for 5 minutes.
4. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to medium. Add the Thyme, Basil, Cayenne, Onion Powder, Soy Sauce, Rice Vinegar, and Maple Syrup. Stir well and then cover the pot. Let cook for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
5. After the potatoes have become soft and tender add the sliced celery to the pot and let cook for another 5 minutes.
6. Using a food processor blend the soup to the consistancy you desire. I tend to like my soups with a little more "chunk" to them, however you may blend the soup until smooth.
7. Serve with the grated cheese, sour cream, and chopped green onions as garnish.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Vegetarian Pho I Love You So!

Vegetarian Pho... this recipe has taken months to perfect. I started dreaming about it long before I ever attempted to put it all together in a cooking pot. Who knew a Vietnamese Meat soup could moonlight as a vegetarian?

The list of ingredients: Ok, so I have tried to alter the ingredients so you don't have to march off to your nearest China Town (as much fun as that is) to make this soup. Pho is all about simplicity and the explosion of aromatic flavors. My hope is with a little rummaging through your own baking spices and with the help of your local grocer you too will be able to concoct this amazing-soul-warming soup.

1 Cinnamon Stick
4 Whole Star Annis
6 Whole Cloves
1 TSP Paprika
1 TSP Cayenne Pepper
8 Cloves Garlic
1 Shallot
1 TBS Fresh Chopped Ginger
1 Cup White Wine (I like to use Pinot Noir)
1/4 Cup Peanut or Safflower Oil
1/2 Yellow or White Onion
1 Cup Chopped Fresh Shitaki Mushrooms
3 TBS Soy Sauce
3 TBS Rice Vinegar
5 Cups Water
1 Carrot Peeled and chopped
1 Small Bok Choy Chopped
2 Cups Soba, Udon, or Rice Noodles
To Garnish:
1 Cup Fresh Cilantro
1 Cup Fresh Basil
2 Jalapenos Sliced
1 Lime Cut into Wedges

Optional: Add Morning Star Fake Beef or Chik'n strips for an extra protein flavor boost! Or add tofu when you add the water, soy sauce, and rice vinegar to the broth.

1.Cut a 6X6" square of cheese clothe. Place the Cinnamon Stick, Star Annis, and Whole Cloves into the center of the square. Gather the ends of the square and tie off the top with cooking twine. Set aside.
2. In a large pot pour the oil into the bottom. Add the chopped garlic, shallots, and onion. Cook until onion is translucent and garlic is slightly browned
3. Add the spice sachet from step 1 and add the paprika, cayenne, ginger, and white wine. Let simmer for one minute.
4. Cut the mushrooms and add to the pot. Cook until they have released their water and have reduced in size.
5. Add the 5 cups of water, soy sauce, rice vinegar. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.
6. In a separate pot bring 4-5 cups of water to boil. Once the water is boiling add the noodles and reduce heat. Let the noodles stand in the hot water until soft. Drain the noodles and rinse in cool water. Set aside.
7. Add the chopped carrot and bok choy to the broth. Let cook for 5 minutes.
8. Combine the noodles with the broth.
9. Serve in a large bowl with the garnish on top or on the side.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Samiches, Samiches...Butternut Squash Style

A fond way to say farewell to fall and to all of its gourdes. Serve these samiches with a side of Alfredo and a glass of white, dry wine. Saviong Blanc or a dry Riesling

1 Butternut Squash
1 Loaf of Ciabatta Bread
Swiss Cheese

Preparation: Butternut Squash
1. Slice butternut squash in half.
2. Remove seeds
3. Place on cookie sheet with the meat side down
4. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the cookie sheet
5. Bake for 45 minutes at 400F

Preparation: Sammy Time!
1. Slice ciabatta bread into size of samich you want
2. Slice the amount of Swiss cheese you desire. I like to use 2 thick chunks one on each half of the samich.
3. Toast the ciabatta with the cheese until cheese is melted.
4. Scoop out the cooked squash from it's skin and place a thick layer on one side of each samich.
5. Eat and be happy

Griffin Says: You Can Eat the Seeds!
That's right. It's one of my favorite snacks from the kitchen...toasted butternut squash seeds. They cook-up just like pumpkin seeds and add a little extra fun to this simple dish.
1. Slice the butternut squash in half
2. Remove the seeds and the seed pulp
3. Place on a cookie sheet (with the pulp)
4. Sprinkle with salt (curry powder adds a little something extra)
5. Bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes, or until seeds are slightly browned and pulp is no longer moist.
6. Eat as a snack while you wait for the butternut squash to cook, or serve as a side to the samich.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gramma Samiches- a Thanksgiving Tradition

Special Thanksgiving Treat!

My husband's Great Grandmother used to make this tasty comfort food when family would come over. After her passing her family decided to honor her each Thanksgiving by serving her famous treat. below you will find our recipe for Gramma Anne's Samiches.

Sour Dough Bread (12 Pieces)
2 Cups Sour Cream
1 Cup of Cheddar Cheese
1 8 oz can Pitted Black Olives
4 Green Onions Chopped
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 TSP Paprika

Chop the green onions and set aside. Mince the garlic and set aside. Grate the cheddar cheese. In a large mixing bowl combine the sour cream and the grated cheese. Stir well. Once combined, add the black olives, chopped green onions, garlic, and paprika. Mix well until all the ingredients are incorporated. Spread 1 TBS of the mixture onto each piece of bread. Place the samwhiches onto a non-greased cookie sheet. Bake in the oven at 375 F for 10-15 minutes, checking often. They are finished when the topping begins to brown. Serve as a snack or as part of your main meal.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

"Chicken" A-La-King

1/4 Cup Butter (Salted Works Best)
1/3 Cup White Flour
1 TBS Dry Sherry
1/2 a large Yellow Onion chopped (About 1 cup)
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 Cup of Vegetable Broth
1 Cup Soy Milk
1 1/2 Cup Mushrooms (Regular or Shitaki work best)
1 Green Pepper Chopped & Seeded
1/2 Cup Frozen Green Peas
2 Freshly chopped carrots
1 Bag of Morning Star Starter Meals, "Chicken"
1 TSP Garlic Powder
1/8 TSP Nutmeg
Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste

In a frying pan melt the butter. Once the butter is melted add the flour slowly and stir it in until it is combined with the butter. Add the chopped onion and simmer for one minute. Add the Dry Sherry and the minced garlic, mushrooms and cook for 2-5 minutes. Add the vegetable broth and soy milk and cook for 5 minutes. Stir constantly. Add the green pepper, frozen peas, chopped carrot and cook for 2-5 minutes. Add the morning star chicken, garlic powder and nutmeg. Cook until the chicken is cooked through. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Serve: Over rice, pasta, or toast a few pieces of sour dough bread and spoon the a-la-king on top.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lois the Pie Queen

Two Sundays ago I had a hankering for a down to earth, home-style, grits-loving, brunch. I hadn't had grits in years! I know they aren't rocket science to make, but there is just something about getting a nice batch of grits all steamy and fresh from a diner with a side of fruit and a pot of Joe that just keeps flowing. Scrumptious!

I looked all around my town and there was just nothing that would offer me the warm your soul food I was craving. So I asked a friend for some suggestions and she produced an encyclopedia of brunch places in and around the East Bay. So many options! Of course, my issue always revolves around what is a veggie-lovin' girl in a meat-loving world going to do? The brunch options for a vegetarian are often sad and just don't cover that ravenous brunch craving. Typically a vegetarian opts to go for a greasy spoon and just neglectes to recognize that there just might be some bacon grease atop her side order of hash browns. Or we vegetarians congregate in those places that smell of wheat grass and grow spouts on the window sill.

Well, Lois the Pie Queen changed my world! It is no high class restaurant, but it's no greasy spoon neither. They offer what every person craves for a traditional down-home style brunch: Eggs, hash browns, homemade biscuits and jam, and GRITS! Oh, and their sweet potato pie is to die for. The selection is slim for vegetarians on the main menu, but they are conscious of their cooking and will take care of you kindly. They have a variety of side dishes and they are happy to combine anything together. The coffee is endless. You will think you have consumed some of the coffee, yet your cup will amazingly always be filled to the brim. Be prepared to be called "Honey," "Sweetie" and "Darlin" by your server and all others working there. It will truly make your day. It can get pretty busy in the morning. Expect to wait a few minutes for a table, but they will get you a place much more quickly than you would guess. A good thing to remeber is they only accept cash, so if you are going with a group, make sure to bring smaller bills. Enjoy your time and make sure to get some of their sweet potato pie!

Lois The Pie Queen
851 60th St
Oakland, CA 94609

Mon-Fri- 8:00 AM- 2:00 PM
Sat-Sun- 7:00 AM -3:00 PM

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Pumpkin Curried Soup

1/3 Cup Chopped Yellow Onion
1 TSP Minced Garlic (or 2 Cloves)
1/4 cup Peanut or Sunflower Oil to saute the garlic and onion
1/4 cup white wine (anything will work great except chardonnay and dessert wines)
1/2 to 1 TBS Curry Powder
2 TBS Olive Oil (Extra Virgin works well)
1 Cup Pureed Pumpkin (or about 1/2 can of pumpkin)
1/4 TSP Nutmeg
1/8 TSP Ground Cloves
14 TSP Ground Ginger
1/4 Cayenne Powder or 1 Fresh Cayenne Pepper
1/8 TSP Agave Nectar (granulated sugar works well too)
2 Cups Veggie Broth
1/2 Bay Leaf (Use a full if Bay Leaf is dried)
1 1/2 Cups Soy Milk
1 TBSP Corn Starch
2 TBSP Sour Cream (or Heavy Cream or Soy Cream)
Salt to Taste

I have made this soup with canned pumpkin, which works well. Be sure to purchase just the 100% canned pumpkin, not the "pie filling." You can also make this soup using a fresh pie pumpkin see the note from Griffin Bird at the end of this recipe. To prepare the soup you will need a large pot, one cutting board, and a sharp chopping knife. Be prepared to welcome the Thanksgiving season with this soup into your home!

1. Mince the garlic, dice the onion or chop into small 1 inch squares. Pour the peanut or sunflower oil into your pot. Add the onions first and saute for a few minutes then add the garlic just before the onion is tender. Saute for a few minutes together.
2. Add the pumpkin, nutmeg, curry, cloves, ginger, and cayenne pepper cook for one minute.
3. On the side mix the vegetable broth and the water together. Add the broth and half of a bay leaf to the pot and bring to a boil.
4. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes.
5. Remove the Bay Leaf
6. Stir in 1 Cup of the Soy Milk and cook for 5 minutes on low heat. Keep the heat low so as not to curdle the milk.
7. In a separate bowl stir in the remaining soy milk and the corn starch. Make sure the corn starch dissolves completely before adding to your soup.
8. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbling.

Serve: Ladle your soup into bowls. Swirl in a spoonful of sour cream, or as desired. Garnish with cilantro or chives, or both.

I served this soup as a precursor to Thanksgiving dinner two years ago and it was a huge hit! It is ready quickly and is a great as a starter entree, or served with sour dough toast for a warming autumn dinner.

Griffin Bird Says: To make this delicious soup with a fresh pumpkin, purchase a fresh pie pumpkin from your local food market. chop the fresh pie pumpkin in half. Place it face down on a cookie sheet and add 1/4 cup water to the pan. Preheat oven to 400 F' and cook for 45 minutes. Allow to cool before scooping innards for the soup. Use the remaining fresh pumpkin for a pumpkin pie, or pumpkin cookies!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Nutty Tacos

Nutty Taco Meat:

1 Cup Walnuts
1 Cup Almonds (soaked)
1/2 Cup Sunflower Seeds
1/2 Cup Pumpkin Seeds (non-pre-cooked-optional)
2 cloves garlic Fresh Garlic
1/2 TBS Cumin Powder
1/2 TBS Turmeric
1 TSP Onion Powder
11/2 cups water
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Cilantro
Salt to Taste
1/3 cup Peanut or Sunflower Oil

Soak almonds in water overnight to soften. Chop the cloves of garlic until minced. Add 1/4 cup of olive oil to skillet. Saute garlic until golden. To make nutty mixture place walnuts, soaked almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and spices and 1 cup of water into a blender or food processor. Pulse until the mixture is combined and the nuts have all been reduced to a paste. Add the remaining olive oil, cooked garlic, and 1/2 cup of water and cilantro and pulse until the cilantro and liquid is absorbed into a paste. Add salt to taste. Pour 1/3 cup oil (peanut or sunflower oil works best) into a frying pan. Scoop the "meat" into the pan and cook on medium heat until the "meat" is darkened and crispy on the edges. Serve with your favorite tortillas and taco fixings, or throw onto a bed of lettuce, a little grated cheddar cheese, canned black olives, and your choice of salsa for a satisfying taco salad.