Go green

September 28th was Hug a Vegetarian Day. It was merely coincidental that The Fearless Cooking Club decided to go vegetarian this month.

Cindy said that she was “afraid” of meatless fare. Then her world-traveling daughter returned home with her Spanish-Vegan boyfriend. He will be our guest chef tomorrow  demonstrating vegan recipes for us.

There are seven kinds of vegetarians. Nowadays, we hear more about vegans who exclude meat, eggs, dairy products and all other animal-derived ingredients. Many vegans also do not eat foods that are processed using animal products, such as refined white sugar and some wines.

We are all bringing a vegetarian dish tomorrow to show our flair for the meatless. I could be a lacto-ova vegetarian; I don’t know about being a strict vegan.

I prepared a dish that includes Greek Yogurt: Grape leaf herb and yogurt pie from The Splendid Table episode on what to do with grape leaves.

We have a lovely grapevine my DH planted oh so many years ago. They are beautiful this time of year, still green with burgeoning grapes.  I was so happy to see a recipe using fresh grape leaves.

 Yotam Ottolenghi, Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Dishes from London’s Ottolenghi, Chronicle Books (2011).

Grape leaf herb and yogurt pie

20 to 25 grape leaves (fresh or from a jar)

4 shallots, finely chopped

4 tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1 cup Greek yogurt, plus extra to serve

2 1/2 tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted

1/2 tbsp finely chopped tarragon

2 tbsp finely chopped parsley

3 tbsp finely chopped dill

4 tbsp finely chopped mint

grated zest of 1 lemon

1 tbsp lemon juice

salt and black pepper

1/2 cup rice flour

3 tbsp dried breadcrumbs (preferably panko)

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the grape leaves in a shallow bowl, cover with boiling water and leave for 10 minutes. Then remove the leaves from the water and dry them well with a tea towel. Use scissors to trim off and discard the bit of hard stalk at the base of each leaf.

2. Sauté the shallots in 1 tablespoon of the oil for about 8 minutes, or until light brown. Leave to cool down.

3. Take a round and shallow ovenproof dish that is roughly 8 inches in diameter, and cover its bottom and sides with grape leaves, slightly overlapping them and allowing the leaves to hang over the rim of the dish. Mix the melted butter with 2 tablespoons of olive oil; use about two-thirds of this to generously brush the leaves lining the dish.

4. Mix together in a bowl the shallots, yogurt, pine nuts, chopped herbs and lemon zest and juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Then add the rice flour and mix well until you get a homogenous paste. Spread this paste evenly in the baking dish.

5. Fold the overhanging grape leaves back over the top of the filling so they cover the edges, then cover the filling completely with the remaining grape leaves. Brush with the rest of the butter and oil mix. Finally, scatter the breadcrumbs over the top and drizzle over the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.

6. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the leaves crisp up and the breadcrumbs turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for at least 10 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve at room temperature, with a dollop of fresh yogurt.

Patty’s Points

1. I can’t believe I made a recipe using the grape leaves!  Brushing the oil on the leaves softened them nicely.

2. The herbs made the dish taste so fresh. I was surprised I could make something so organic.

3. I think this was probably the most interesting dish I have ever made. Bob’s Red Mill is a great brand for the rice flour staple. I will have to check out the recipes on the website to figure out what to make with the rest of the bag.

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A Blog Award

The Addictive Blog Award rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and include a link back to their blog.Thanks to Mama’s Empty Nest for the honor.
  • Share a little bit about why you started blogging. On my 50th birthday party we went to the opening of the movie Julie and Julia.  After that landmark event in my life, I vowed that I would start a blog and a cooking club to celebrate cooking, food and friendship. In June 2011 that dream came true with The Fearless Cooking Club.My goal is to showcase our culinary specialties in our home kitchens. Because we are FEARLESS that means we will occasionally challenge ourselves to make dishes never attempted before.  The world of good cooking is a challenge and a leap of faith. It is always better to leap into the culinary abyss with friends than alone, don’t you think? “This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook – try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!” – Julia Child –
  • Copy and post the award onto your own blog.  Boom, done, finished!
  • Nominate up to ten eleven other bloggers you think are addictive enough to deserve the award.  Here are some of my addictions:

The Seaside Baker

Los Rodriguez Life

Jo the Tart Queen

The Hungry Australian

Marinating Online

Sugar and Spice Baking

Food and Fitness 4 Real

My Custard Pie

Boulder Foodie

Ladies Go First

Janna T Writes

Blogging is a journey and an expression of the inner voice. Thanks to all my fellow bloggers. Stay true to yourself.

Waltzing Matilda

It has taken me, what it seems like, forever to make Pavlova.  And look I even have a tea towel from my Mom and Dad when they traveled to New Zealand in the 1990s.

Well my time came. My son took a job in Australia so I had to give it a try.

According to What’s Cooking America the Pavlova recipe started appearing after Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova toured Australia and New Zealand in 1926 and 1929. The airy dessert was created to honor the dancer who “soars as though on wings”.  There is disparity between Australia and New Zealand on who created the dessert first. They both claim it as their national dessert.

My friend Joy, whose two children have been to Australia as exchange students, has made Pavlova a lot. This is her Pavlova plate that is oven-safe and beautiful enough to serve from oven to table for presentation.

Joy made the Pavlova for Ben’s going away party. Then I made my Pavlova after the tea towel recipe

4 egg whites

Few grains of salt

3/4 C castor sugar (granulated sugar)

1/4 tsp vanilla essence

1 tsp vinegar

1 tsp cornflour (cornstarch)

Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees Centigrade (300 degrees Farenheit). Brush the plate with melted butter and dust with cornstarch. Beat the egg whites to a foam with an electric mixer, add the salt.  Beat to a stiff foam, add 1 Tbsp of sugar at a time until form stiff peaks. Remove the beater then add the vinegar and cornstarch and blend together.

Spoon the meringue onto the plate forming a 9 inch circle.

Bake at 140 degrees C (275 degrees F) for 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 120 degrees C (250 degrees F) and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the oven and allow to cool in the oven.

Serve with whipped cream atop then decorate with strawberries, kiwi, mango or any fruit of choice.

Patty’s Points:

1. I let the egg whites come to room temperature before whipping. I’m not sure why my whipped egg whites weren’t full and piled high. Baking caused it  to spread out on the plate. Egg whites are sensitive to heat and humidity; that could have been the reason.

2. Cooling the Pavlova while in the oven was a perfect technique as it allowed it to cool slowly and prevent the meringue from cracking.

3. Pavlova in an egg. Okay what? Joy told me about a product where all the ingredients for Pavlova are in an egg-shaped container. Of course we are talking about dried egg whites. I found a website review of Pavlova Magic by blogger foodycat.  Joy’s Pavlova in an egg version turned out well. It piled high on the plate for a pretty presentation.

4. The taste? It was good, but then again I’m a sucker for baked egg whites. I’m obsessed with macarons remember? I skipped the whipped cream with mine but it is a fabulous addition, also adding height.

Our son has started a new chapter in his life. He is waltzing Matilda, Aussie-speak for wandering happily. It’s also the unofficial Australian national anthem. This food blog wanders happily in cooking adventures. Happy trails in cooking all.