Tuesday, December 9, 2014

About Linzertorte/Linzer Torte

For many years I had thought of Linzertorte as the almond crust, raspberry preserve filled torte I make for holidays and Chris's birthday. Then, when Chris made a Cranberry Linzertorte for Thanksgiving and I noticed variances in ingredients and technique, I began to think of Linzertorte in general.

My first stop was Kaffeehaus by Rick Rodgers, an excellent source of classic Austro-Hungarian pastry recipes, including the Sachertorte.  The Sachertorte and Linzertorte are two of Austria's most famous desserts, the latter named for the city of Linz. Rodgers writes,

"The exact origin of the Torte is not known.... The first printed recipe dates to 1719, and it contains the flour, almonds, sugar, egg yolks, and lemon zest that can still be found in today's version. During the Biedermeier period [~1815-1848], the Linzertorte was popularized by the Linz baker Johann Konrad Vogel, who boasted unconvincingly that he was its inventor"*

Rodgers goes on to describe what he considers the three essential variations of this torte, "The first two are based on a short crust dough, in which the butter is cut into the dry ingredients. 'White' Linzertorte is made from blanched almonds. Cocoa (or chocolate) and toasted hazelnuts (or unskinned almonds) give 'Brown' Linzertorte a darker color and deeper flavor. 'Creamed' Linzertorte... uses the same ingredients, but the butter is creamed, making the dough soft enough to pipe the lattice pattern on the torte, sometimes almost completely covering the preserves."*

When it comes to filling, Rogers states in Austria "the dough is usually filled with black currant preserves (raspberry preserves are used only in other countries like America, where they are cheaper than currant), but even that isn't a constant and changes from baker to baker."*

Rogers includes a recipe for Brown Linzertorte* which calls for a dough made with
toasted and peeled hazelnuts ( 7 oz), 1 T cocoa , zest of 1 lemon, 1/2 t ground cinnamon, 1/8 t ground cloves,1/4 t salt and 1 T lemon juice along with the flour (1 1/2 c), sugar (1 c), butter (14 T ) and 2 egg yolks. He uses a nine-inch spring form pan, lined with buttered parchment paper, He divides the dough into two discs, wraps the discs in plastic wrap and  and referigerates until firm, at least an hour and up to overnight. The dough (one disc) is pressed into the bottom of the pan and up 1 inch on the sides,  about 1/4 inch thick overall. The shell is brushed with beaten egg white and cooked for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees F.  The recipe calls for a filling of  1 c of black current, red current or seedless raspberry preserves. The dough for the lattice is rolled and cut with scraps used to form a ridge around the perimeter of the torte.  The lattice is brushed with a mixture of one egg yolk and 1 T milk. He garnishes the torte with 3 T of sliced almonds before baking.

The Cook's Cache recipe, adapted from the New York times recipe must also be considered a brown torte as it calls for almonds with skins, but not toasted.  It also calls for a springform pan which I line with buttered parchment paper but does not call for pre baking  the shell. The filling is 1/3 (NY Times) - 2/3 cup (my adaption)  raspeberry preserves, preferably with seeds and the lattice is individually rolled ropes not cut strips (see photos).  The lattice is brushed with beaten egg white before baking.

The Silver Palate Cookbook  Linzertorte recipe**  is a "white Linzertorte" made with blanched unroasted almonds as well as a "creamed Linzertorte" directing the maker to "squeeze out a lattice crust on top."  The pan of choice is a 9-inch false-bottom tart pan, unlined, and the preserve, raspberry. (2/3 cup)

In How to Cook Everything, Mark Bittman's Linzer Torte recipe*** calls for blanched, toasted almonds and an  8- or 9-inch tart pan.  The dough is rolled and prebaked then filled with raspberry preserves (1 1/2 cups).  He gives good directions for making a lattice using rolled dough.

I once, pre-blog, so no photos, made a Linzertorte using the recipe from  Cold Weather Cooking. Sarah Leah Chase's Chocolate and Apricot Linzertorte recipe**** called for lightly roasted and skinned hazelnuts and cocoa in the crust and an  apricot filling (made with apricot preserves, dried apricots, orange juice and Grand Marnier). Replacing "our" traditional almond crust and raspberry filling with a chocolate crust and apricot filling was considered heresy by my family. However, it definately falls within the parameters of a Linzertorte. For the record, the recipe calls for an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, pre baking the bottom shell, rolling the dough for the lattice and brushing the top before baking with beaten egg whites.

The Joy of Cooking Linzertorte recipe***** calls for unblanced almonds and a good quality raspberry jam, preserves or apple butter.  It is a creamed Linzertorte with the lattice made by forcing the dough through a pastry tube. Only pan instructions are to use an  [9-inch] ovenproof dish.

Unable to find a recipe for Linzertorte in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, I went to Deb Perelman's blog where I did find a recipe for linzer torte . This recipe is in fact a double quantity recipe making 2 9"-inch round, 2 8-inch square or one 9-inch by 13-inch torte. The rectangular tortes are cut into bars not wedges.  Ms. Perleman uses walnuts and a raspberry jam plus breadcrumb/panko filling (1 cup jam/torte), rolls the lattice, brushes the top before baking with a mixture of egg yolk and water and tops with slivered almonds before baking.

And now back to the Cranberry Linzertorte that started this whole discourse.  This recipe calls for roasted almonds and hazelnuts, the latter skinned after roasing and a cranberry filling (with orange jiuce and orange zest).  It calls for a tart pan with removable bottom and lattice made from rolled dough.

The takeaway for the recipes I reviewed:  Linzertorte (or less frequently used "linzer torte") can be made with a variety of nuts, roasted or not roasted, skinned or not skinned and filled with a variety and varying quantity (1/3 cup to ~ 1 1/2 cups) of preserves.  Pans with removable bottoms are preferred and a tart pan is most frequently used . Bottom crusts are sometimes pre-baked and the lattice most often cut from rolled dough.  The top is sometimes brushed with beaten egg white or beaten egg yolk and water before baking.  The Linzertorte recipe I use is an outlier being the only recipe  that uses individually rolled pieces for the lattice, I am going to try rolling the lattice next time.  I am also going to try using a tart pan with a removable bottom instead of a spring form pan.

Pages 54, 54, 54, 52-53
** Pages 302-302, 1982 edition
*** Pages 700-701, 1998 edition
**** Pages 176-177, 1990 edition
***** Page 604, 1964 edition

Reviewed 9/21/2017


Monday, December 1, 2014

Cranberry Linzertorte

(Raspberry) Linzertorte is one of Chris's all time favorites, in fact a Linzertorte has been his birthday cake of choice for many years. Consequently, I was not surprised when he noticed the recipe for Cranberry Linzer Torte in the November 11 New York Times.  We had decided on fewer dishes this Thanksgiving: Roasted Almonds, turkey, potatoes, stuffing and demi glaze, Cranberry Ice, a green vegetable and one pie.  I volunteered to do a green veggie which turned out to be Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad and Chris volunteered to make a pie.

He acknowledged that we usually had Apple Pie or Apple Tart and Pumpkin Pie, then asked about a "Cranberry Pie". I replied that there was some family precedent for cranberry pie and referenced my Grandmother's Mock Cherry Pie (recipe below), and besides the Cranberry Linzer Torte sounded pretty yummy to me.  That was all Chris needed....

© 2014 Christopher Kern
Chris's November 17 Facebook page posted a photo of an awesome looking pie (photo left) with the comment, "Practicing for Thanksgiving".   Looked delicious and I began really looking forward to a piece. Chris decided, however, that the pie was too sweet and decided to make the Thanksgiving edition with less sugar.  He reduced the sugar in the filling by 25% and the result was a delightfully tart torte.  While a raspberry linzertorte would have been too sweet to follow such a heavy meal, the Cranberry Linzertorte was perfect!  I know I will vote for a reprise next Thanksgiving, and I'm now wondering what Chis's next birthday "cake" request will be.

The recipe that follows contains all of the ingredients and quantities given in the New York Times recipe, except sugar has been reduced from 2 cups to 1.5 cups.  The directions have been modified based on Chris's input.

Make the Filling (Filling may be made in advance OR after dough, while dough is chilling)

Combine in a saucepan and cook over medium-high heat

12 ounces/340 grams cranberries
1 1/2 c/335 grams sugar
Zest of 1 orange
Juice of 1 orange plus water to equal 3/4 c
Pinch of salt

Stir frequently until sugar is dissolved, then lower heat to a brisk simmer and stir frequently until cranberries burst. Continue cooking, mashing cranberries with the back of a spoon until mixture is jam-like, about 30 minutes.  Set aside.

Roast the Nuts

On a baking sheet in a  a pre-heated 400 degree F oven, roast for 10 minutes or until well browned

3/4 c/120 grams whole hazelnuts
3/4 c/120 grams whole almonds

Rub skins off hazelnuts while still warm [Chris could only find hazelnut pieces so he did not remove skins], Discard skins.

Make the Dough


1 3/4c/270 grams unbleached all-purpose flour

Cool nuts, then using a steel blade grind finely in a food processor adding 3 T of the measured flour.
Mixture should have the texture of coarse cornmeal.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine

14 T/198 grams unsalted butter
3/4 c/160 grams sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange

Using whisk attachment, beat until sugar is dissolved and mixture is pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Beat in

1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1 t vanilla
1/8 t cloves
1  1/4 t cinnamon
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt

Then gradually add the ground nuts and the remaining flour.

Divide dough, which will be slightly sticky, into two pieces, one slightly bigger. Form the larger piece into a ball, wrap in wax paper and flatten until it is about 1 inch thick..  Form the smaller piece into a rough rectangle, wrap and flatten until dimensions are approximately 4 by 5 inches by 1 inch thick. Chill 2 hours or longer (overnight is okay) in the referigerator.

Assemble the Torte

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter and flour an 11-inch fluted French tart pan. Remove dough from refrigerator and let stand for 10 minutes.  On floured parchment paper, roll the larger piece of the dough into a 12-inch circle, dusting the top with flour as necessary. Pat evenly into pan until sides and bottom of pan are completely lined with dough. Refrigerate or freeze the shell until dough is firm.

Roll out the smaller piece of dough on floured parchment paper until it is approximately 10 by 12 inches.  Cut into strips about 3/4 x 12 inches.  Transfer the strips, still on parchment paper, to a tray and referigerate or freeze until firm.

Spread the cranberry filling evenly into the chilled shell. Lay dough strips across the top in a lattice pattern.  Form remaining dough scraps into a rope long enough to encircle the outer edge of the tart. After the dough is in place around the perimeter, score diagonally with a fork or flute with fingers to make a border.

Bake for 30 - 35 minutes, until filling is bubbling and pastry is lightly browned.  Cool and serve.


Maybe this was served for Thanksgiving in New Hampshire circa 1930-1945.  The recipe comes from my Grandmother Hope's Cookbook and like most of her recipes just lists ingredients:

"1 cup cranberries
1 cup raisins
1 c sugar mixed with
1 large tbsp. flour
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla"

Reviewed 6/17/2017

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Cooking with Wood

Stopped by Verrill Farm today to pick up a few late fall veggies. Simmering on the wood stove in a very large cast iron skillet was a beef stew. Brought back memories for Ed who recalls his Mom cooking aboard their boat on a much smaller wood stove.  Brought back memories for me of New Hampshire farmhouses in winter.... Imagine replacing your stove with this.

Reviewed 9/21/2017

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Chicken (Ginger) Rice

This recipe was given to me by Dan ("for your blog") who along with Alex had variations of Chicken Rice during a trip to Vietnam a few years ago.  I did the prep for Dan and Alex a couple of times in Oregon but last night was the first time I made this myself.  It is going to become a frequent dinner.  When Dan gave me the recipe, he listed ingredients but not quantities. At first I thought that strange but as I made the Chicken Rice I found that unlike a cake or other recipe that requires exact measurement, this is a recipe very much to taste.. hotter, not so hot; sweeter, not so sweet; heavy on the ginger, light on the ginger.

Since Dan, Alex and I all go heavy on the ginger, I have added ginger to make the title more descriptive.  I have given the quantities I used, but vary according to personal tastes and the hotness of the peppers used.

Dan's recipe (the "traditional" version) Calls for chicken thighs to be boiled until done, set aside to cool and then soaked in ice water for one minute. The stock is reserved for the rice.  For a less fatty version, Dan bakes and Ed  grills chicken breasts.

Ingredients list [for 2 with leftover rice]

Chicken thighs for 4 [8 oz breast, 2 c chicken stock]
White rice [1 c jasmine]
Ginger [I used ~1.8 oz  - a little less than one-half of the whole ginger shown; 1- 1.5 oz would have been plenty]
Onion [4 oz]
Peppers [2 oz]
Vinegar [4 T rice vinegar]
Sugar [2 T]
[Soy sauce]

Finely chop the ginger, onions and peppers (ginger may be grated). [Put the vinegar and sugar in a small sauce pan and boil until sugar is dissolved]. Put rice, chicken stock, 2 T ginger and onion in rice cooker (or covered pan) and cook according to rice instructions. While rice is cooking bake or grill the chicken.

Mix peppers,vinegar and a surprisingly large amount of sugar in a ramekin, maybe some reserved stock. All to taste.  Serve chicken sliced into strips on top of rice. Use soy sauce [I added extra ginger] and pepper sauce for dipping.  [Just so Ed would "have more color on his plate" and a "salad", I garnished with grilled scallions, and a little bit of watercress and kale.  This dish, however, stands very well on its own and the peppers do add the requisite color.]

Yumm!  Thanks Dan and Alex!

Reviewed 5/13/17

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad/Roasted Brussels Sprouts

We are having a small, simple (but even simple is decadent in the world context) Thanksgiving this year. Six people and just a few dishes to go with the turkey.  I am making Roasted Almonds, Cranberry Ice and "something green".  Since Chris has already done a trial run on the pie he is making (Cranberry Linzertorte), I decided I should test my "green thing".   My one criteria is the "green" should be fresh and preferably local, not the token frozen peas of years past.  After finding local brussels sprouts, I cobbled together several recipes, and made a warm brussels sprouts salad tonight. Think it is going to work :-)

Ed, who likes brussels sprouts declared it one of the best salads ever, I, who am not crazy about this vegetable, thought the salad was very good.

Serves two; scale up accordingly.

Prepare the brussels sprouts removing any moldy outer leaves, trimming the stems, and slicing very thinly lengthwise. Weight, after trimming should be

8 oz brussels sprouts

Next,  make the dressing by whisking together in a small bowl:

1/2 t Dijon mustard
1 T wine vinegar
2 T olive oil
1 t fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 t dried thyme leaves
1 t lemon juice
zest from 1/2 lemon

Heat a skillet or wok until hot, add enough olive oil to thinly coat the bottom. Add the brussels sprouts and cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly until just barely tender.  Brussel sprouts will be lightly charred in spots. Remove from the heat and stir in about half the dressing.  Let cool to room temperature.  Serve with the remaining dressing on the side.

Also good plated on a small bed of arugula or thinly sliced kale.
If serving this way, add all the dressing when cooking.

December 2014:  ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS  Since I could still get local sprouts at Christmas time , I cooked the sliced and stir fried version  a few times over the holidays. Then Alex and Dan suggested they cook just plain roasted brussels sprouts.  They preheated the oven to 450 degrees F. Cut away any tough stems and removed any damaged/moldy outer leaves from the brussels sprouts. They then tossed the brussels sprouts in olive oil and salted them liberally using a coarse salt.  They baked for about 5 minutes --- some thought the brussels sprouts were on the "crisp" side and could have been cooked longer.  Check after 5 minutes, then remove from the oven or continue cooking until the sprouts are done you your taste.

Reviewed 6/18/2017

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Padron Peppers

Almost every time I go to Portland (OR), especially the Portland Farmers Market, I, often with the help of Alex and or Dan, discover a new veggie... Haiku TurnipsLobster Mushrooms, and Celeriac to mention a few.  This year was no different.  Alex, Dan and Henry spent the spring in Spain where Alex and Dan really enjoyed the tapas including padron peppers. When we visited Portland Farmers Market in early October, Dan purchased some padron peppers which he later roasted and served with a chilled Spanish white wine on the terrace. What a late summer treat! The peppers were so good that when I returned to Portland in late October and found them still in the Farmers Market I could not resist.  Alex and Dan vetoed the first basket I chose telling me the peppers are much better when they are small and we should check out a different vendor to get the smallest peppers.  When we got home, Dan showed me how to prepare them.

Ingredients: Padron peppers, olive oil, sea salt.

Wash and dry the peppers.  Heat a cast iron frying pan large enough to accommodate all of the peppers (or better a small batch of peppers) on one level. When the pan is hot, add enough olive oil to lightly coat the entire bottom of the pan.  When the olive oil is hot add the peppers.  I started just stirring the peppers as they cooked, but Dan pointed out that it is much better to turn each individual pepper as it blackens on one side. They blacked very fast towards the end of cooking and I belatedly discovered this would have been better done in smaller batches. When peppers are lightly blackened on both sides, remove to a serving platter,  salt generously and serve immediately.

Reviewed 5/14/17

Friday, July 4, 2014

Lemon Poppy Seed Olive Oil Cake

This is another recipe that finds its inspiration from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.  However, while Ms. Perelman leaves the lemon cake for the "grapefruit olive oil pound cake" *, I return to the lemon cake and add poppy seeds. Orange Poppy Seed Bundt Cake has been a long time favorite in our family and a few years ago I started making a a zero cholesterol Orange Poppy Seed Olive Oil Cake.  But in the height of strawberry season I wanted an accompaniment other than shortcake and whipped cream to go with the berries. The orange cake seemed a bit too sweet. The grapefruit cake promised the tartness I was seeking but it was not grapefruit season, lemon it seemed would be perfect. So taking Ms. Pearlman's recipe as a starter, I used lemon zest and juice instead of grapefruit zest and juice, granulated sugar rather than half granulated and half raw or turbinado (1/2 c each), and an "egg product" instead of eggs, and skipped the glaze... the strawberries would bring enough added sweetness.  The Smitten Kitchen recipe calls for buttermilk or plain yogurt.  I have made this cake with both plain yogurt and buttermilk equivalent  (mix 1/3 c - 1 t milk and 1 t plain vinegar, let sit for five minutes).  The choice of a loaf pan, which gives the cake a nice volume, is a good one .

Butter and flour a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl rub together with your fingers:

2 T lemon zest
6.90 oz (~ 7/8 c) granulated sugar
Whisk in:
1/2 c olive oil
1/2 c "egg product" or 2 eggs

In a smaller bowl combine:

6.70 oz (~1 1/2 c) all purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t salt (I usually omit)

In a measuring cup, combine:

2 T lemon juice
1/3 c buttermilk (see note above) or plain yogurt

A little at a time, alternately add the flour and lemon juice mixtures to the oil and sugar mixture.


1/3 c poppy seeds

Mix well then pour batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth top to even.
Cook about 50 minutes or until a small skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Let cake cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and brush with lemon syrup:

Combine and cook over low heat until sugar dissolves:
2 T granulated sugar
1/4 c lemon juice

(Note: Perelman uses 2 T sugar and 1/3 c juice and pricks holes over the top of the cake so that syrup will be more absorbed by the cake).

Let the cake cool completely while it absorbs the syrup.

After the cake has cooled Perelman adds a glaze made from combining and whisking until smooth:

1 c (4.2 oz) confectioners' sugar
2 T grapefruit [lemon] juice
Pinch of salt

The glaze is poured over the cake and drizzled decoratively down the sides.

* Pages 241-243


This variation makes the third orange poppy seed cake in my repertoire. Orange Poppy Seed Bundt Cake is still my favorite, but is a special occasion cake given its high butter content.  I like this olive oil variation equal to or perhaps even better than Orange Olive Oil Poppy Seed Cake.

Reduce the sugar to 6.6 oz
Increase the flour to 7.0 ounces

Instead of lemon, use zest of one orange
Instead of buttermilk and lemon juice, use juice of 1 orange and add enough buttermilk/milk/orange juice so liquid equals 1/3 c plus 2 T.

Add 1/2 t vanilla

Follow direction given above, then cover with orange glaze:

2 T orange juice
2 T sugar

I served this a few nights ago with a choice of a scoop of vanilla ice cream or vanilla non-fat frozen yogurt, both topped with orange fused olive oil and rosemary.

Revised 5/11/17  REVISED 1/8/22

Monday, June 9, 2014

Shaved Asparagus Salad

No recipe posts in quite a while. Am I less adventurous or having more failures in the kitchen? Maybe a little of both.  This recipe turned out to be a resounding success on the first try --- only wish I had had it for last year's asparagus season too!  A couple of Christmases ago Chris gave me the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. I immediately read it and flagged several recipes to try.  One that missed my eye the first time, maybe because of the pizza part, was "Shaved Asparagus Pizza". On re-reading I discovered the origin of the pizza. Deb Perelman writes, "I was at a restaurant that served it [asparagus] shaved raw into ribbons, dressed only with lemon, olive oil and Parmesan"*. Wow, I thought, we are in the height of asparagus season, forget about the pizza, go for the salad.  Using Perelman's pizza recipe (no lemon juice), it was easy to come up with a salad recipe.  I had a critical tester who I think this time of year begins to hope the asparagus season will soon be over.  After tasting this salad, he offered no suggestions except to make it again soon.   It is as pretty as it is tasty, especially when made with asparagus that is picked the same day.

When I boil/steam asparagus I like the pieces with small diameters.  However, the bunches usually have spears of mixed diameters.  Slightly larger diameters work best with this recipe.

Wash and dry

1/2 pound (about 16 medium size spears) asparagus; do not remove the tough end of the stalk.

Place each spear, on the edge of a cutting board, hold it by the tough end and and using a vegetable peeler, slice into thin strips. The last piece will be thicker than the others which will be "ribbon like". Cut the thicker piece into bite-size pieces. Save the tough end of the stalk to make Asparagus Stock.
Put the asparagus in a bowl and add:

2-3 scallions thinly sliced (purple bulb scallions, if available, add a bit of color)
1 t olive oil
1 t lemon juice
1/4 t salt
pepper to taste
1-2 T Parmesan cheese, grated

Divide between two plates and garnish (optional) with a dusting of Parmesan and a few scallion rings

VARIATION: Make the salad, increase the olive oil to 2 T and toss with 6 ounces cooked whole wheat spaghetti (to serve two).  So sorry I just discovered this combination as the asparagus season ended....

* Page 109

Reviewed 6/18/2017

Market's Choice Dinner

In my trip to the farm stand last night, I found pea tendrils and scallions. I already had some chicken breasts in the fridge. Ed grilled the chicken and the scallions (recipe at bottom of post) and I prepared the pea tendrils by removing the toughest stems and divided the tendrils between two plates. Topped with a chicken breast and grilled scallions this was an easy, pretty dinner for a hot night!

Reviewed 9/14/2017

Lady's Slippers!

This blog is more than recipes... what's in season... our family in the kitchen...what's growing in our yard. This post falls in the latter category. When we first moved to Lincoln, we had a few lady's slippers on our property and our neighbor's woods had over two dozen.  Over the thirty years we have lived here, largely due to being eaten by deer, most of these rare orchids have disappeared. In April of 2003 our woods was severely burned by a forest fire and all the ground cover as well as mid-canopy was destroyed.  Before the fire, we had about four lady's slippers growing under a large birch which miraculously survived the fire. In subsequent years these four returned.  This year, however, in the location where four had been, I found nine, and in another part of our woods I found an additional lady slipper! Considering that lady's slippers do not reproduce easily and have been disappearing in many locations around us, this is a special surprise.

Reviewed 9/14/2017

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Vegan Flourless Chocolate Torte

This is another great recipe from Terry Romero's Vegan Eats World, made without flour or eggs, only oil for the pan and with the protein of 12 ounces of tofu. Ed still prefers, Chocolate Chipolte - Olive Oil Cake, but I like this even better.  Ms. Romero seasons her Ethopian Chocolate Flourless Torte with 1/2 teaspoon ground Berbere Spice Blend.  Rather than add another packet of spice to my drawer, I used a variation of her Mexican option.*  Not only is this torte very good, it is also very easy to make!
Coat the bottom of an 8-inch spring-form pan with olive oil (or butter if not vegan), line with parchment paper and oil/butter paper. (Romero's recipe calls for "an 8-inch round baking pan with a round of parchment paper...." **)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

 In a food processor blend until ground:

2/3 c almonds or hazelnuts (Romero uses "1/2 cup [pre] ground almonds or hazelnuts")

Then add :

2/3 c bittersweet chocolate chips, melted ***
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
12 oz. extra firm silken tofu (Mori Nu recommended*****)
3/4 c sugar
2 T cornstarch
1 t pure vanilla extract
1/2 t almond extract
2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t chipolte chili powder

Mix until completely blended and smooth, then using a spatula put the batter into the pan and smooth the top.  Bake for 45 minutes or until the top feels firm. Remove to a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes. Unhinge the pan, lift out the torte, remove the parchment paper. Serve either as lifted from pan or per Ms. Romero's recipe, inverted with cocoa powder sifted over the top. Ms. Romero recommends serving slightly warm. using microwave, if necessary, to reheat. I usually sertve at room temperature. Strawberries, raspberries or pomegranates are a nice garnish.

"For best presentation, place the torte on a serving plate that's perfectly flat. Even a slightly curved dinner plate will create a depression in the center of this slender cake." ****

I often serve cake as lifted from the pan, at room temperature topped with a drizzle of melted dark chocolate.

*1 additional t cinnamon [for a total of 2 1/2 t] and 1/2 teaspoon Mexican chile powder, ancho chile powder or cayenne pepper.[I use a bit less cinnamon.]

** If not using a spring-form pan, remove as follows: "Run a knife around the edges of the torte, place a serving dish on top of the pan, and invert the cake pan.  Tap the bottom of the pan a few times to release the torte, lift the pan and peel off the parchment paper." page 341

*** Romero uses semisweet. Her recipe calls for adding melted chocolate after all other ingredients have been mixed and gives  instructions for melting chocolate as follows:  "the easiest and fastest way is to pour the chips into a glass bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute to melt some of the chips. Move the half-melted chips around with a rubber spatula, then return to the microwave for 40 seconds and stir again until all of the chips are melted; if necessary microwave for another 20 to 30 seconds until all of the chips are soft and easy to stir." page 340 (I check more frequently to be sure chocolate does not burn.)

**** Page 340.

***** May 2017:  When I first started making this torte, I always used the Mori Nu silken tofu.  Then I was no longer able to find the Mori Nu in the Whole Foods refrigerated section (with other tofu). I recently discovered that Mori Nu tofu, which is packaged in anaseptic package which does not require refrigeration, is now stocked in the baking section.  Meanwhile,  I  made this several times using Nasoya tofu which comes in a 16 oz, instead of Mori Nu's 12 oz. container.  After dealing a few times with 4 ounces of left over tofu, I revised the recipe to use the full 16 ounces:

7/8 c almonds or hazelnuts
7/8 c bittersweet chocolate chips, melted
2/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
16 oz.Nasoya silken tofu
1 c sugar
2 T + 2 t cornstarch
1 1/3 t pure vanilla extract
2/3 t almond extract
2 2/3 t ground cinnamon
2/3 t  chipolte chili powder

Cook for 50 minutes and then test center with a toothpick.  Return to oven if necessary until toothpick comes out clean.

Reviewed 10/1/2017

Saturday, January 4, 2014

An Awesome Gift --- Tomato Powder

The card read "I think each jar has the equivalent of 75 Juliette tomatoes in it.  I absolutely LOVE this stuff and put it on everything.  Finally dried enough tomatoes this year to make some for you guys :-) (YOU BETTER LIKE IT!!)" and the label on one side of the jar reads, "Add it to: pasta, popcorn, cream cheese, pesto, salsa, soup, salad dressing, baked potatoes. JUST USE IT!!"

What an awesome gift from my niece, Leigh. It was hard to imagine 75 tomatoes packed in this small 2 1/2" diameter by 3" high jar until I opened the jar and got a whiff of the aroma --- wow! Started with the pasta suggestion. I mixed some delicate pasta with finely chopped garlic and olive oil that had been mixed together a few hours earlier.  I then tossed in some slivered basil, tossed again and topped with a dusting of the tomato powder. Great dinner! Thank you Leigh!

This homegrown, homemade product is private stock.  Sorry no links to the farmstand :-(

A few weeks later I used this a a topping for Trader Joe's Lemon Pepper Pappardelle Pasta tossed with Vegan Cream Sauce. Also very good :-)

Reviewed 9/21/2017

Friday, January 3, 2014

Beet, Apple and Toasted Hazelnut Salad with Horseradish Cream

When we were in Portland last week we had an excellent dinner at Tabla Mediterranean Bistro.  Alex and I started with a delicious
"Beet and Apple  celery root, hazelnuts, horseradish cream, arugula" salad.

This is a simple variation of Beet Salad with "Horseradish Panna Cotta", basically apples, beets, and hazelnuts with a horseradish cream.  I did not use any celery root and served the beets and apples on a bed of baby winter greens.

Make the horseradish cream:  whip together in a small blender until very smooth:

4 T "cream" *
1 1/2 T [fresh]  horseradish ** (adjust quantity to taste and hotness of horseradish)

2 medium beets, peeled, cooked until tender, then cooled and sliced
2 small apples, quartered, seeded, and thinly sliced
~ 24 roasted hazelnuts

Add the horse radish cream to the beets, apples and nuts and toss gently.

Divide among 4 salad plates:

Arugula or winter greens

Top with the beet and apple mixture.

* First try I used low fat plain yogurt.  It was good but would be much better with 4 T heavy cream, softly whipped or 4 T sour cream. Tried it with real cream and the horseradish seemed too muted, then the porch lights went on....

**  Think what made the Tabla salad so special was fresh horseradish!  Next time....  Yes!  Fresh horseradish, finely grated really gives this salad a special zip.

Reviewed 6/18/2017

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Savory Baked Tofu

Happy New Year!  I now have my own copy of Terry Romero's "Vegan Eats World"  and can finish what I started several months ago. Finishing a long over due project is always a good way to start a new year. Here is the recipe for Savory Baked Tofu as called for in the Green Curry recipe I posted in July.
If using super-firm tofu (a great, fairly new product), pressing is not necessary.  If using extra-firm tofu press for 20 minutes to one hour. Slice tofu in half, then slice each half again. Then again, slice each piece in half resulting in a total of eight pieces of tofu.  Place the pieces on a dishtowel laid on a counter or cutting board, cover with the same or an additional dishtowel. Place weight(s) on top to squeeze out excess moisture. I use  brick covered with aluminum foil, heavy cans/cutting boards work too.
20 minutes prior to baking the tofu, preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  
Combine in a 9 x 13 pan:

3 T soy sauce
2 T canola or vegetable oil
1 T agave nectar or maple syrup [I use syrup]
2 t lemon juice
1/2 t garlic powder
1/4 t ground cayenne pepper

Place the tofu in a single layer in the marinade and turn until each side is well coated with the marinade.  Bake for 20 minutes, then remove pan from the oven and flip each piece of tofu.  Bake for an additional 20 to 24 minutes or until almost all of the marinade is absorbed and the tofu is browned.  Try keep most of  extra marinade under tofu pieces. (Pan looks awful, but after a short soak it cleaned easily.)
Ms. Romero notes, "...these lightly seasoned cutlets slide into sandwiches and, when diced, into stir fries, stews and even salads.  ...stored in a tightly covered container it can last 10 days or more." * One-half a recipe is called for in her "It's Easy Being Green Curry" (photo left).

* Page 50

Reviewed 7/11/2017