|Gluten-Free Raspberry Buttercream Cake|
Well I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. Sunday was Easter of course, and while the holiday has no real religious significance for me I will take any excuse to host or attend a social gathering. Particularly one in which decadent food is present. My husband and I went to my mother-in-law’s cousins home as we do each year and it was lovely as always.
Before the celebrating could even begin of course I was busy as a bee, working half of Saturday away in the kitchen. Then getting up at six thirty on Sunday morning to continue. Several days earlier my friend J informed me that she’d be brining a spanokopita from Isa’s book Vegan with a Vengeance, and a kale coleslaw, the recipe for which she found online. Perfect for our little mixed vegan/vegetarian party of five. While I was quite happy about this I was also a little caught off guard, as I’d been planning on bringing a main dish myself, and you simply can’t have two main dishes with no sides. Not in my world anyway and so I decided I would have to rethink my plans. Though I’d been thinking about what to make for weeks I still hadn’t really come up with anything I felt entirely sold on. However with J brining spanokopita, combined with my heritage I thought why not jump on the Greek theme?
|Potatoes with Lemon and Oregano|
So after a bit of careful thought about what would travel well and what wouldn’t I decided on two dishes, both of them traditional and delicious. The first dish I settled on is a longtime favorite of my husbands and I’ve made it quite often in the past. "Patatoules sto fourno me rigani" also known as Potatoes with Lemon and Oregano. The other dish was a new one for me, but I’d been craving eggplant and so it seemed perfect. "Melintzanes tiganites me tomata" also known as Fried Eggplant with Tomato Sauce. Unfortunately for you I didn’t get adequate pictures of either of these dishes for you, but since the eggplant was such a hit I’ll be making it again in the future and will post the recipe when I do.
|My plate, Lemon Oregano Potatoes, Spanokopita to the right, |
Kale Coleslaw above, and Fried Eggplant to the left.
J thought it was a bit funny that we were eating Greek Food for Easter, and I guess considering what Americans normally eat it was definitely a divergence from ‘tradition.’ However I pointed out that people celebrating Easter in Greece were probably eating similar foods, and in reality I felt a much greater connection to spring, and the pagan traditions of Ostara - the Saxon Goddess for which Easter is actually named - eating our Greek inspired meal then I’ve ever felt a connection to Jesus by eating a traditional American or Canadian Easter feast. I felt a much greater connection to the earth and to my ancestors, and I was filled with life and a vibrant love for the stories of Ostara, Ishtar and even Persephone all of whom have had a big hand in shaping what we today consider part of our "Easter traditions" but that’s a long, long story for another day entirely.
|Mocha Cream Cheese Brownies - see the marbling along the top?|
For dessert I decided to make brownies instead of the cupcakes which seem to have become my custom over the past couple of years. I went with two different batches one the "Mocha Cream Cheese Brownies" from Lane Gold’s book "Vegan Junk Food" and the "Banana Split Pudding Brownies" From Isa’s "Vegan with a Vengeance" both turned out fantastically, and were both very well received. I have to say the Banana split pudding brownies were a particular stroke of genius on Isa’s part because when you bite into one your almost at a loss - I mean is it a brownie or is it pudding? As J so elegantly put it "It’s a brownie on the outside, and pudding on the inside." Indeed, they certainly seemed to be the favorite.
|Mocha Cream Cheese Brownies|
To top it all off I also decided to make a cake. Brownies just didn’t seem lavish enough and I’m nothing if not an over-achiever. So I chose to make the Gluten-Free Raspberry Buttercream Cake from Emily Mainquist’s book "Sweet Vegan." While I’ve made a gluten-free baked good here and there, I’ve never made a gluten-free cake and so I was a bit worried about it to say the least, but it looked so good I just had to try it. The recipe calls for a large amount of potato and tapioca starch in addition to white rice flower. There things I’ve never worked with and when I dipped my fingers into the bowl of mixed dry ingredients I couldn’t help but think it felt like a big bowl of cornstarch. That immediately set me on edge, but I continued. Once the wet ingredients were mixed nto the dry I have to say it didn’t make me feel much better. The batter had a strange feeling to it, and a rather starchy taste when I licked some off the back of a spoon. I was nervous, but I’m not GF expert and so I thought I’d leave it in Emily’s obviously capable hands and see how it turned out.
|Banana Split Pudding Brownies - look at that tasty banana layer on top!|
The biggest advantage you can bring with you into the kitchen is faith. Faith in your own ability, and faith in the author of whatever cook book you happen to be using. You have to have the faith that it’ll all work out, but also the intelligence to be able to alter things when needed, and the humility to leave them alone in a moment when you might be unsure. It’s a fine balance I think, and can be hard to judge but I figured In this case Emily had more experience and so I went with my gut and let her recipe take the lead. Though I’ll admit I did add more raspberries then were called for but that’s simply a personal preference.
When the cake came out of the oven I was very unsure. It didn’t have the same feel as a normal cake, and it looked a bit dried out even though I baked it for the exact time specified. The edges were a bit golden thought the rest of it was as white as it had been when I pushed it into the oven. A tiny voice in my head wanted me to put it in longer but reason won out with the argument that it didn’t matter what it looked like now because it would be frosted the next day. So I left it as was.
Sunday morning I made the frosting, using soy milk instead of the water recommended and then I generously frosted the cake, decorating as I went and adding the remaining raspberries in a pattern I found pleasing to the eye. In the end it turned out far better then I ever could have hoped and it was the universal favorite. By the end of the festivities only one tiny slice remained! I was both relieved and overjoyed - when it comes to baked good I really don’t like to disappoint.
Interestingly my Greek potatoes and fried eggplant were also a big hit amongst the non-vegans/vegetarians. It sure was a good thing I’d had the forethought to make sure I served the five of us first before anyone else was ready to eat otherwise we might not have gotten any food at all. J’s Spanokopita was delicious and I liked it very much although I think were I to make Isa’s recipe I would make a tofu feta beforehand rather then just simply use plain tofu. As the spanokopita was lacking that sharp salty bite associated with feta. J’s kale coleslaw was also really delicious, I’ve no idea where she got the recipe but it was brilliant. It reminded me a lot of Christmas thanks to the seasonings of clove, all spice, and cinnamon. It also had a kind of Caribbean feel to it probably do to the bit of smokey heat from the smoked paprika.
By the end of the night we were all stuffed and exhausted which is exactly how you should feel after a big holiday meal.
Oh and I nearly forgot. To kick-start the day I made a delicious breakfast for my husband and I. A Mediterranean Tofu Scramble - playing on the Greek theme - which was absolutely fab! I’ll post the recipe and some pictures of it for you all tomorrow, but for now - homework!
|Mediterranean Tofu Scramble|
PS: I wish I’d taken a picture of the inside of the cake, it was so pretty dotted with fresh raspberries, but It went so fast I didn’t get the chance!