Saturday, December 29, 2007


When I was frosting my "HO's" for Christmas I took a couple of the darker cookies and experimented a little with them. I was going for a candy cane look. However I didn't get it right; the frosting was too stiff and the bottle I was using to apply wasn't right. It should have had a broader tip. But this wasn't all for naught. This would be perfect for creating American flag cookies. So I need to keep this in mind the next time I'm in need for a patriotic or American cookie.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Almond Torte

We celebrated Christmas with my family early this year. Thanksgiving was with my parents in Wisconsin and Christmas is in Michigan with Lorrie's parents. So that meant an early exchange of gifts which actually really made this year quite easy as far as the whole Christmas rush goes. We were done by the time others were just starting.

I brought the dessert for the Thanksgiving meal and one of the things I made was this almond torte. It is based on a family recipe; one that is hugely popular. I've made tortes before but not like this. My favorite dessert was chocolate torte but that was pudding based and had cream cheese in it. This had neither. It was custard based and so delicious. The almond flavor was present but not overpowering and this was very creamy. It actually tasted a lot like a blitz torte only without sponge cake in it.

I am submitting this as my best recipe of 2007 mainly because this is my new favorite dessert! The best of 2007 is being put on by Zorra of 1x umrühren bitte and Sandra from Un tocco di of 2007 By the way, since this is 'roughly' a Christmas post, check Zorra's advent calenders.

Almond Torte

1 c graham cracker crumbs
1 c flour
1/2 c melted butter
1/2 c chopped almonds.

Mix & pat in l0 x l4 pan. Bake at 325 °F for l0 to l5 min until light brown.

1-1/2 cup milk
1 cup sugar
5 eggs separated
1/4 cup sliced almonds + enough to sprinkle across top just before serving
1/4 tsp salt
2 T corn starch
1-1/2 T Knox gelatin
1/4 c cold water
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp Cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar

Combine milk, l c. sugar, & egg yolks in double boiler & beat until sugar is dissolved. Add salt and cornstarch & cook until thick. Dissolve gelatin in 1/4 c. cold water & add to cooked mixture. Cool. Add almond extract. Beat egg whites, cream of tartar, & sugar. Fold into cooled filling and sliced almonds. Pour onto cooled crust & refrigerate 6 hours. Best if served within 24 hours.

Top with whip cream and sliced almonds (I beat 1 pint of heavy cream and this was enough to cover the whole thing sufficiently).

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Menu for Hope IV

For the fourth year running Pim Techamuanvivit of Chez Pim is organizing the food bloggers to raise money for a worthy cause. Menu for Hope raised US$62,925.12 to help the UN World Food Programme feed the hungry in 2006. This year Menu for Hope is working in conjunction again with the UN World Food Programme to support the school lunch program in Lesotho, Africa.

This program was selected because providing food for the children not only keeps them alive but it also keeps them in school, learning skills to feed themselves in the future. It's also a model program in local procurement - buying food locally to support local farmers and the local economy. Instead of shipping surplus corn across the ocean, the WFP is buying directly from local subsistent farmers who practice conservation farming methods in Lesotho to feed the children there.

Full detail is available on Chez Pim.

Here's How to Participate in A Menu for Hope

1. Choose a prize or prizes of your choice from the Menu for Hope at Chez Pim.

2. Go to the donation site at Firstgiving and make a donation.

3. Please specify which prize you'd like in the 'Personal Message' section in the donation form. You must write in how many tickets per prize, and use the prize code. (Each $10 you donate will buy one raffle ticket toward any prize. For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for EU01 and 3 tickets for EU02. Please write 2xEU01, 3xEU02.)

4. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so they could claim the corporate match.

5. Please check the box to allow them to see your email address so that they can contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone. Check back on Chez Pim on Wednesday Jaunary 9 for the results of the raffle.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Cashew Creme Pear Tart from My Sweet Vegan

This past week I had the pleasure of going through one of the first copies of Hannah Kaminsky's new cookbook My Sweet Vegan and it really is impressive. I knew there would be great recipes in it but what surprised me was how complete of a cookbook it is. This book not only had a large number of different recipes but it is a good information source for cooking vegan (and allergy-free, gluten-free, etc.), especially for someone new to vegan cooking such as myself.

My Sweet Vegan starts with a brief introduction into Hannah's journey into vegan baking and then an overview of some of the special ingredients and tools she uses. I found the ingredient guide helpful because some of the recipes called for ingredients I'd never used or purchased before. It also helped me look at the ingredients from a vegan's perspective. Case in point, margarine. I thought margarine was non-dairy. Not true, brands like Imperial and Land O Lakes contain whey and buttermilk respectively. I only looked based on Hannah's advice.

My Sweet Vegan is broken into five chapters: Sweet Starts, Cookies and Bars, Cakes and Cupcakes, Pies and Tarts, and Miscellaneous Morsals and Desserts. The majority of recipes fall into the Cookies and Bars and Cakes and Cupcakes chapters. Each recipe has a little caption where Hannah talks about the item in the recipe and a large, full-color photo. As far as cookbooks go, I'm more likely to pick a new recipe if there is a picture because either the picture will appeal to me or the picture gives me an idea of how the recipe should turn out. I was also impressed by the large variety of recipes. Some books give you a chapter on something like pies and then give you basically the same pie with different fillings. The recipes presented by My Sweet Vegan varied quite a bit. Old standards like banana nut muffins, black & white cookies, Whoopie pies, and pumpkin pecan pie share the pages with pink lemonade tartlets, root beer float cupcakes, graham flour fig scones, and green tea tiramisu.

My Sweet Vegan ends with a food allergy index and an ingredient index. The food allergy index is a brilliant idea, making it very easy choose a recipe for my food allergy challenged friends without having to go through the ingredients list of each recipe.

The first recipe I tried was the Cashew Creme Pear Tart, which I selected mainly because of the picture. I was able to find almost all of the ingredients in my local supermarket, which isn't very fancy and definitely not the source for hard to find items. The only thing I couldn't find there was the brown rice syrup, hence the use of corn syrup as a substitute. I also made 6 (should have been 7) small tarts out of this recipe instead of one big one. As you can see below, the instructions were straightforward and simple to follow and this tart was a breeze to make, especially if you use the cashew butter like I did. I really like how the pear and the cashew creme tasted together and the crust was very similar to a sugar cookie. This definitely would be a good sweet ending to any meal.

Overall, I really like My Sweet Vegan and even though I'm not vegan, I can see making recipes out of this book for a long time to come.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

She Said Yes!

I proposed to Lorrie this weekend and she said yes!

Her birthday was on Friday and for it I gave her this scrapbook page with the proposal. I put it inside a frame so one, she really had to guess what her birthday gift was and two, she could then display it. The background is a page that contains various love quotes and the flowers are ribbon roses.

I had here open the card first and there was a little 'Yes' sticker glued inside. She asked why it was there and I just told her it was part of her gift.

The idea was she could give her answer by placing the sticker on the page.

I did not provide a 'No' sticker and we didn't need it.

We're engaged!