Shep’s Pie

Vegan

Shep's Pie

 

Adapted from Happy Herbivore by Lindsay S. Nixon

Being a newly converted vegetarian, I wanted some new vegetarian cook books to help me out with some new ideas for meals. My university’s bookstore was having a major sale so I decided to buy myself a late birthday present. This recipe is from one of the two books I bought. I had previously though about making a seitan shepherd’s pie when I got home but decided to try this lentil-based recipe from one of my new books instead. It was a great choice. I was a bit anxious about what my dad would think because he’s not huge on legume-y type things but he liked it a lot too. I hope your meat-eating friends/family likes it too.

Yield: 2 individual pies

The Shep’s Pies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup No-Beef Broth, divided (recipe below)
  • ½ small onion, diced (I used half a medium onion for double the recipe)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • ½ cup cooked lentils
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/8 tsp yellow curry powder
  • Easy Mashed Potatoes (recipe below)

Directions:

  1. Line a skillet with a thin layer of broth. Add the onion and carrots and sauté over high heat until carrots become fork-tender. Add some more broth if necessary.
  2. Add the peas and more broth if necessary and continue to cook until the peas are warm.
  3. Stir in the lentils.
  4. Whisk the cornstarch into the remaining broth (about ½ cup) and pour into the skillet.
  5. Stir in the tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring, until it thickens. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Stir in the curry powder.
  7. Spoon the mixture into individual ramekins or small bowls and top with the mashed potatoes.
  8. If not eaten immediately or if you want crispy-topped mashed potatoes, bake for a few minutes in a 350F (177C) oven.

No-Beef Broth

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp original soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk all the ingredients with1 cup of water until well combined.
  2. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 minute.

Easy Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium potatoes
  • nondairy milk (I used almond milk)
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Peel and cube the potatoes and boil until fork-tender.
  2. Drain and beat with an electric mixer.
  3. Add a splash of nondairy milk (about ¼ cup) and beat again, adding more liquid as necessary to achieve the desired consistency.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

Comments: This was a marvelous discovery. At first, I was wondering how a lentil-based “shepherd’s pie” could come even close to the taste of the real thing. My question was answered with the first bite. The No-Beef Broth has a really good umami taste that boosts the flavor and kills some of the lentil taste. I was surprised at how good it was. If you have the broth and mashed potatoes ready, this shouldn’t take too long to make. If you want you can add onion and garlic powder to the mashed potatoes and/or the lentil and vegetable mixture.

Shep's Pie II

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Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake

Cakes

Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake, decorated

Adapted from www.sallysbakingaddiction.com

The start of a spring break…too short but a lot of much needed free time. It was my mom’s birthday on Thursday and she had her party on Saturday. I decided to bake her birthday cake and knowing how much she loves lemony things, I found and choose this cake. It’s not hard to make and it is really good. Because of the buttermilk, it comes out spectacularly moist. The frosting is not too sweet and surprisingly light and fluffy, perfect for my mom. Everyone LOVED the cake.

The first layer, frosted

The first layer, frosted

The second layer

The second layer

The Cake

Ingredients:

  • 230g butter, at room temperature
  • 250g granulated sugar
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 375g all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup (240 mL) buttermilk
  • zest and juice from 3 medium lemons
  • 275g frozen blueberries, non-thawed
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350C (177C).
  2. Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment beat the butter on high until creamy.
  3. Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat on medium-high until creamed, scraping sides as needed.
  4. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat on medium speed until combined.
  5. In a large bowl, toss together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  6. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Beat on low for five seconds then add the buttermilk, lemon zest and lemon juice. Remove from the mixer and stir lightly until everything is just combined.
  7. Toss the blueberries in 1 tablespoon of flour and carefully fold into the batter.
  8. Spoon the batter evenly into 3 greased 9-inch cake pans.
  9. Bake in the preheated oven for 21-26 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  10. Remove and cool completely before frosting.

Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake, sides

The Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz (224 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ cup (115g) butter, at room temperature
  • 420g confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until no lumps remain.
  2. Add confectioner’s sugar, cream, vanilla and salt with the mixer running on low.
  3. Increase to high speed and beat for about 3 minutes.

Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake, frosted

 Assembling the Cake

Ingredients:

  • 3 9-inch lemon blueberry cake layers, cooled (recipe above)
  • cream cheese frosting (recipe above)

Directions:

  1. Place one layer on the cake stand. Evenly cover with the cream cheese frosting.
  2. Top with the second layer and cover with the frosting.
  3. Add the third layer. Top with the frosting and cover the sides.
  4. Add any desired garnishing such as lemon slices, candied lemons or blueberries.

Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake, decorated II

Comments: So that the cake doesn’t fall apart when you cut it, put it in the refrigerator at least 45 minutes before serving. Since it is refrigerated, it makes a nice cake for spring or summer. The quantities are very important for this cake in order for it to not be crumbly and dry; therefore, weighing the ingredients is a much better and accurate method for this recipe. You also do not want to overmix at any point. If you don’t have 3 9-inch cake pans, you can always buy the disposable ones. I can’t stress enough how moist and delicious this cake was. Indulge!

Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake, pedazo

Ultra Choc-Chip Cake

Cakes

Ultra Choc-Chip Cake

 

Adapted from Crazy for Chocolate

I made this cake for my father’s birthday. As the name clearly states, it is very chocolatey and the chocolate chips add an extra touch to it. You can decorate it with the chocolate zig-zags to make it extra pretty.

The Cake

 Ingredients:

  • 125 g (4 oz) butter
  • 1 cup (185 g/6 oz) Brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup (40 g/1 1/3 oz) self-raising flour
  • 1 cup (125 g/4 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ cup (60 g/2 oz) cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup (185 ml/6 fl oz) buttermilk
  • ½ cup (90g/3 oz) dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Grease an 8-inch round cake pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar with an electric beater until light and creamy. Add eggs gradually, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla.
  3. Sift the flours into a medium bowl. Add the baking soda and cocoa powder until combined.
  4. Using a metal spoon, fold the flour and cocoa mixture alternately with the buttermilk into the butter mixture. Stir until combined and smooth. Add the chocolate chips.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes in the preheated oven until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake. Leave the cake in the pan for 30 minutes. Then transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool completely.

The Icing

Ingredients:

  • 100 g (3 1/3 oz) butter
  • 100 g (3 1/3 oz) dark chocolate, chopped

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter and chocolate in a small microwavable bowl according to the microwave instructions on the chocolate’s packaging.
  2. Allow to cool.

Assembling the Cake

Ingredients:

  • Chocolate cake (recipe above)
  • Icing (recipe above)
  • Chocolate zig-zags, optional (instructions below)

Directions:

  1. Once the cake and icing are cool, spread the icing evenly over the top of the cake.
  2. Top and decorate with the chocolate zig-zags.

The Chocolate Zig-Zags

Ingredients:

100 g (3 1/3 oz) dark chocolate or chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Wrap a rolling pin with baking paper.
  2. Place the chocolate in a microwavable bowl and melt it according to the directions on the packaging.
  3. Pour the chocolate into an icing bag or piping bag. Drizzle the chocolate over the wrapped rolling pin in zig-zag patterns.
  4. When set, carefully lift off with a flat-bladed knife.
  5. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator between sheets of greaseproof paper.

 

Comments: This is a beautiful, delicious, decadent cake. It is also quite simple. The only suggestion I can make is to add confectioners’ sugar to the icing. The picture in the book shows the cake with a nice, thick layer of frosting. However, if you follow the directions for making the icing, you get an icing that’s more like a ganache. If you like the ganache, that’s fine; next time I make this cake, I will try adding confectioners’ sugar to get something more like a frosting. It is also essential that you keep the zig-zags in the refrigerator because they will melt.

Quiche au Fromage de Gruyère

Quiches

(Gruyere Cheese Quiche)

Quiche au Fromage de Gruyère

Since I was little, my mom has made the Argentine-style quiches called tartas. My favorite one was always the ham and cheese one. Needless to say, I love this Gruyère cheese. Gruyère will give any dish a great boost of flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Nutmeg, to taste
  • 3/4 cup (3 oz) grated Gruyère cheese
  • Partially cooked pastry shell placed on a baking sheet or left in baking dish

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).
  2. Beat the eggs, milk and seasonings in a mixing bowl until blended.
  3. Gradually add the grated cheese and blend well.
  4. Pour the mixture into the pastry shell.
  5. Set in the upper third of the preheated oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the quiche is puffed and browned.

 

Comments: If you have the pastry shell ready ahead of time, this quiche literally only takes a few minutes to prepare. It’s very simple but easily pleases. If you would like, you may add pieces of bacon. Sprinkle them into the bottom of the pastry shell and then pour the egg and cheese mixture on top. That would be a mix between he traditional quiche Lorraine and the Gruyère quiche.

Quiche au Fromage de Gruyère, pedazo

 

Pâte Brisée

Quiches

(Pastry Dough, Pie Crust)

Quiche Dough, ready for baking

Quiche Dough, ready for baking

This crust was an incredible discovery. It is flaky, flavorful, and perfect in every way. My brother usually doesn’t particularly like homemade savory pie crusts but he loved this one. Everyone always comments on the crust when I make quiches. Here are the directions for partially cooked shells used for the quiches.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ sticks (6 ounces) chilled butter, diced
  • 4 tablespoons chilled vegetable shortening
  • ½ cup ice water

Directions:

  1. Drop the flours, salt, and butter into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 5 or 6 times to break up the butter.
  2. Add the shortening, turn on the machine and immediately pour in the ice water, pulsing about 3 times. At this point, the dough should look like a mass of small lumps and it should just hold when you press a handful together. If it’s too dry, add a few more drops of water and pulse.
  3. Turn out the dough onto the counter and push blobs of dough with the heel of your hand in front of you. Gather the dough into a relatively smooth cake and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 400F (204C).
  5. Cut the chilled dough in half and keep one half wrapped and in the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll the other one into a circular shape about 1/8 inch thick. It should also be about 2 inches larger all around than your pie pan.
  6. Roll the dough up on your rolling pin and unroll it over a greased pie pan. Press the dough lightly into the bottom of the pan. Lift the edges of the dough and work it gently down the inside edges of the mold with your fingers, taking about 3/8 inch of the dough all around. This will make the sides of the shell sturdier. Trim off the excess dough with a knife.
  7. Push the dough 1/8 inch above the edge of the mold and press a decorative edge all around.
  8. Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork.
  9. Grease the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and line the pastry with it. Press it against the sides of the pastry and fill it with dried beans or pie weights. This will keep the sides from collapsing and the bottom from puffing up.
  10. Bake in the middle level of the preheated oven for 8 to 9 minutes until it is set. Remove the aluminum foil and beans. Prick the bottom with a fork once more and return the pastry to the oven for 2 to 3 more minutes. When the shell is starting to color, remove it from the oven.
  11. Repeat with the other chilled half of the dough.
  12. They are now ready to be used for a quiche
Quiche, masa parcialmente cocida

The Prebaked Shell

 

Oscar’s Famous Pizza

Pizza, Vegetarian

Pizza Oscar, masas

Some years ago, my uncle ran a small pizza business in Argentina from his home. His pizzas are some of the best around. Here follows the recipe for the pizza crust and the basic steps for making a pizza. Be as original or classic as you want it comes to the toppings.

Makes 4 Pizzas

The Pizza Crust

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg all-purpose flour (I like to use whole wheat flour)
  • 30-50 grams instant dry yeast
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • About ½ can tomato purée (to taste)

Directions:

  1. Weigh the flour and place it in a large bowl.
  2. Dissolve the yeast in 500 mL (about 2 cups) of warm water. Then add a pinch of salt and some sugar.
  3. Pour the yeast mixture into the bowl with the flour and stir. Add more warm water to the flour, as needed, to get sticky and elastic dough.
  4. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and leave it to rise in a dark, cool place for about an hour.
  5. Knead the dough and divide it into 4 smaller balls. Leave them to rise another hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350F (176C).
  7. Spread the dough into round disks on 4 greased pizza pans.
  8. Spread each round with tomato purée or sauce if you prefer.
  9. Cook the pizza doughs in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes or until it is firm but not golden.
Apple and Goat Cheese Pizza, uncooked

Apple and Goat Cheese Pizza, uncooked

Greek Pizza, uncooked

Greek Pizza, uncooked

Pepperoni Pizza, uncooked

Pepperoni Pizza, uncooked

Assembling the Pizzas

Ingredients:

  • Pizza crusts (recipe above)
  • Mozzarella cheese, grated or sliced, or other of your choice
  • Other toppings of your choice
  • Italian spices

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 420F (215C).
  2. Top the prepared pizza crusts with a generous amount of cheese.
  3. Add any other cheeses or toppings you desire.
  4. Cook the pizzas in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the dough has turned a golden brown.
Apple and Goat Cheese Pizza, cooked

Apple and Goat Cheese Pizza, cooked

Greek Pizza, cooked

Greek Pizza, cooked

Pepperoni Pizza, cooked

Pepperoni Pizza, cooked

Comments: When making the dough, do not be afraid to use your hands! You can start out by mixing the mixture with a fork or spoon; however, I find it easier to use my hands near the end to mix well and to feel the consistency of the dough. After letting the dough rise you can always freeze it for later use. Here are some suggestions for toppings. One of my favorite pizzas is with goat cheese, apple slices and caramelized onions. Another pizza I tried was a Greek-style one with myzithra cheese (or substitute for feta) and eggplant slices with an abundant amount of oregano and nutmeg.

A Slice of the Greek Pizza

A Slice of the Greek Pizza

A Slice of the Apple and Goat Cheese Pizza

A Slice of the Apple and Goat Cheese Pizza