Thursday, March 27, 2008


I've been doing quite a bit of baking lately, but every time I go to photograph the "goods", they're gone. I think that I've got cookie gremlins in my house. Fortunately I was able to snap these shots quickly before they were devoured.

The biscotti recipe is up on everyday dish (along with a video), and they are really good! Chocolate chip orange. Yum!

The oatmeal cookies are from a recipe that I found floating around the internet. They are so, so good (and low fat too!). I found the recipe on the Village Vegan blog (and she found it on David Lebovitz's blog), but it's originally from Nick Malgieri and David Joachim's cookbook Perfect Light Desserts (HarperCollins). Of course it's been veganized, thanks to Anna's suggestion of using ground flax for the eggs and Earth Balance for the butter. I've changed it a bit further by adding crispy brown rice cereal (or Rice Krispies) and chocolate chips in place of the raisins (I have a raisin hater in my house). You've got to give these cookies a try. I can't keep them in the house, as the cookie gremlins love them.

So if you're in the mood for baking, I suggest you give both of these cookie recipes a try.

Happy Baking!

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Makes 24

1 cup all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Earth Balance margarine, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 tablespoon finely ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tablespoons water (let sit for a couple of minutes to thicken)
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups rolled oats (not instant)
2/3 to 1 cup crisp brown rice cereal (or Rice Krispies)
1/2 cup dark raisins or 3/4 to 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone mats

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F degrees.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the Earth Balance and granulated sugar until smooth. Mix in the brown sugar, then the egg, applesauce, and vanilla.
4. Stir in the dry ingredients, then the oats and raisins or chocolate chips. Stir in the rice cereal.
5. Drop the batter by rounded tablespoons 2-inches apart on the baking sheets and use a fork to gently flatten the dough.
6. Bake the cookies for 10 to 14 minutes, or until they "look dull on the surface but are moist and soft". Rotate baking sheets during baking for even heating.

Storage: Once cool, store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.

Recipe adapted from Nick Malgieri and David Joachim's book, Perfect Light Desserts: Fabulous Cakes, Cookies, Pies, and More Made with Real Butter, Sugar, Flour, and Eggs (HarperCollins) -it's screaming to be veganized, don't you think?

P.S. I used organic sugars and vegan semisweet chocolate chips. If you can find them, look for the Enjoy Life brand. They are delicious, vegan, and made in an allergen-free plant (no nuts, dairy or gluten). They're tiny and cute too!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Tofu Scramble And Homemade Pasta

Jam On Hawthorne is an awesome breakfast joint here in Portland. They have incredible scrambles, vegan chai pancakes and homemade jam. The food is delish, and one of our favorite breakfast spots. So, after a little begging, the executive chef from Jam agreed to come tape a couple segments for Everyday Dish. Let me tell you, it's really good! So, if you have a hankering for a great scramble, head on over to Everyday Dish and check out the video (and recipe) for Vegan Tofu Scramble.

On another front, Jay and I cooked up some homemade pasta last week, and it was good! Actually, as you can see by the pictures, Jay did most of the work. I did, however, make the pesto sauce, salad and Italian sausages. I usually step aside when he's rolling the pasta, and have fun with the sauce and the rest of the meal.

We used Bryanna's delicious pasta recipe from her cookbook Nonna's Italian Kitchen. It's mostly all-purpose flour with a little chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour, salt and water. It's an awesome recipe, and worth the price of the book for that recipe alone.

So here's the pictorial of the pasta making process. Enjoy!!

Friday, March 7, 2008

A Tribute

I felt it only fitting to write a tribute to Grace Hasson, otherwise known as Vava (or Yaya, which is Greek for grandmother) to her friends and family. I guess I can begin by explaining that Vava was my husband’s grandmother, who passed away last week at the beautiful age of 104! We should all live that long.

Vava lived an amazing life, and I feel bad condensing it here into a few paragraphs, because her life was so full. But I guess that I will have to leave the hundreds of other stories for another day (or maybe a book or two).

Beginning her life on the Island of Rhodes (now part of Greece, but at one time under Italian and Turkish rule), Vava and her husband Joseph immigrated to the United States when she was in her early twenties, winding up in Southern California. Since she and her husband Joseph were Sephardic and spoke Ladino (a language fairly close to Spanish), East Los Angeles was a perfect place to settle, raise a family and open a flower shop. Yes, this is how my husband’s grandmother wound up in East LA.

Along with raising a very large family (4 children, 16 grandchildren, 16 great grandchildren and two great, great grandchildren), I think Vava was most famous for her food. She was always cooking up amazing amounts of delicious Sephardic delicacies, from beans and rice, stewed okra and zucchini, to burekas (pastry turnovers filled with mashed potatoes, onions and parmesan), Boyus de Spinaka (spinach pastries), leek patties and quashadu (a Sephardic spinach and egg fritatta-like dish), all on a tiny old stove. Next to the simmering pots and baking sheets filled with hundreds of burekas, was something that her grandchildren often referred to as her “magic” coffee pot. This tiny little pot would continuously percolate cup after cup of coffee, all day long, seemingly never needing to be refilled.

It was always a treat to spend time in Vava’s kitchen, making sure to stand out of her way while noshing on burekas, sipping a cup of her special coffee, and listening to the chatter of her Spanish soap operas playing in the background on her little black and white TV.

Visiting Vava was like watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding, with all of the cousins and aunts and uncles crowding the front lawn, hanging out, catching up and sharing food.

When I first met Vava, I was terrified of her, as she looked me up and down giving me the "look" which said “oh great, he brings another young girlfriend home to meet the family”. But once Jay and I decided to get married, Vava softened up and welcomed me into her family. She even took me aside one day and told me to “hide my money” in my bra, that men will always spend it and that it’s up to women to keep it safe and tucked away.

Vava continued to cook through her 90’s, but was hesitant to share any of her recipes. Being very superstitious, she wanted to make sure that no one could replace her or cook like she could. So although some recipes were reluctantly shared (mostly by observing her cook with a pinch of this and a handful of that), true “Vava” food will never be duplicated. We will miss you greatly Vava, hanging out in your kitchen and sharing your incredible meals.

She leaves us with a legacy to admire, which spawned several generations that will never forget her.

(These are the hands of a woman that cooked copious amounts of food and fed generations of family and friends. No need for oven mitts, she would just scoff and use her bare hands)