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by Claire

Vegan Wholegrain Applesauce Waffles

April 15, 2014 in Breakfast, Recipes, Sweet Breakfast Dishes by Claire



Is there anyone who does not like waffles? Warm, crispy, and with all of those little squares to hold syrup, there is a waffle recipe to make everyone happy. They make pancakes seem boring by comparison. Waffles are more practical than pancakes, too, I think. You can make a double or triple batch and freeze some for later, and you can make breakfast sandwiches with them for a road trip. Try a waffle spread with a blend of nut butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup and topped with banana slices and another waffle. Wrap it up and hit the road. But don’t try it with pancakes.

To make waffles, you need a good waffle iron, of course. I’ve experimented with a couple and love one of them. If you’re in the market for one that makes four waffles at a time, I can recommend this Caphalon No-Peek waffle maker. It makes perfect, crispy, tender waffles every time.

I owned this one briefly too, but it was junk. I suggest you stay away from it – mine had a defective non-stick finish and the company wouldn’t take it back. Then the removable plates started falling out while I was serving waffles from it, making it dangerous. This is the only small appliance I’ve ever dumped in a trash can while it was still warm. (Then we ate pancakes!)

Once I sorted out the waffle makers, it was time to create the ultimate waffle recipe.  They needed to be whole-grain in addition to being vegan. I’ve been using a blend of whole wheat pastry flour and oat flour for pancakes and I wanted to keep that blend, but I tweaked the quantities somewhat to make them lighter. Finally, in my experimentation, I found that I liked waffles with applesauce in them best. I love the texture and slight sweetness it brings.

This my happiness-making recipe.

Don’t forget, you have two more days to enter the cookbook giveaway for Fillet of Soul: AfroVegan.

Vegan Wholegrain Applesauce Waffles

Yield: 8 square waffles

Serving Size: 2 or 3 waffles

  • 1-1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2/3 cup oat flour (see note)
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves or allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce (2 (3.9-ounce) single serving containers)
  • 1-1/2 cups almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons neutral tasting oil (I use untoasted walnut oil or canola)

Combine the whole wheat flour, oat flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves or allspice, and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the applesauce, almond milk, and oil and stir until just combined.

Cook according to waffle maker instructions. Or, cook on medium-high for 5 to 6 minutes. (These seem to take a minute or two longer to cook than waffles made with white flour.)


If you don't have oat flour handy, grind 3/4 cup rolled oats in a blender or food processor. They don't need to be perfectly fine, just mostly ground.


Don’t forget, you have two more days to enter the cookbook giveaway for Fillet of Soul: AfroVegan.

by Claire

Cookbook Giveaway – Fillet of Soul: AfroVegan

April 3, 2014 in Uncategorized by Claire


I am very pleased to be able to offer you a chance to win a copy of Fillet of Soul: AfroVegan by Wheeler del Torro.

This is a lushly photographed book with recipes from the places that inspired the author: France, Jamaica, the southern U.S., Senegal, and Ethiopia. In addition to the 28 recipes in the book, there is a beautiful description of the Ethiopian coffee ceremony, as well as del Torro’s story of travel and discovery woven throughout.

I wanted to make something from this right away. I happened to have another chef’s recipe for Senegalese Peanut Soup in my freezer (because lol, my freezer), so I chose something else from the Senegalese menu to have with it. The black rice salad, with its mango, jalapeños, lime juice, and cilantro sounded right up my alley. Jim and I both thought the salad was amazing. I’m looking forward to making more from the cookbook. Some of the other recipes I’m especially looking forward to making are

  • Mushroom, Walnut and Rosemary Pâté (Paris)
  • Curry Dumplings (Jamaica)
  • Spicy Black-Eyed Pea and Sweet Potato Soup (The South)
  • Banana Fritters (Senegal)
  • Chickpea Wat (Ethiopia)

To enter the drawing for the cookbook, leave me a comment and tell me which of the recipes above appeals the most to you. For a second chance to win, like this post on Facebook using the link at the top of the page and make a second comment letting me know that you did. Comment by midnight, Thursday, April 17 U.S. Central time. I’ll do a random drawing the next day, announce the winner, and email you for your mailing address. (Sorry, this drawing is limited to U.S. residents only.)

UPDATE: 4/18/2014 Dave, comment 23, is the lucky winner. Congratulations, Dave!

really random


Black Rice Salad with Mango and Groundnuts

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Adapted from Fillets of Soul: AfroVegan by Wheeler del Torro

  • 2 cups black rice
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used canola)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 ripe mangos, peeled and diced (I used 4 small Ataulfos)
  • 1/4 cup fresh minced cilantro
  • 1/2 large red onion, finely chopped, about 3/4 cup
  • 1/2 cup unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
  • 2 jalapeños, minced (see note)

Cook the rice according to package directions. Or, bring the rice and 1-3/4 cups water to a low boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 25 minutes until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes. Whisk together the lime juice and vegetable oil and stir into the rice gently. Spread the rice out on a baking sheet to cool. Transfer to a serving bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients, salt through jalapeños.


The original recipe called for leaving the seeds in, but the salad is pretty hot this way, so seed the jalapeños if you desire.


by Claire

Christmas in March: Vegan Peppermint Cheesecake Blondies

March 28, 2014 in Cookies-Brownies-Bars, Desserts, Recipes by Claire

peppermint blondies

I have thirty-four recipes in my queue waiting for me to take photos and post them. This is part of my attempt to get them out to you. Here is the first Christmas in… recipe, and here is the second.

This idea I had to post my Christmas recipes throughout the first part of the year is starting to feel ridiculous. It’s a hot, sticky spring day, I have the windows open, and Christmas could not be further from my mind. These blondies are so good, though, that they’re worth making anyway.

These came about because I wanted to make some cookies with peppermint, but I didn’t want chocolate, as our Christmas dinner dessert had chocolate in it. Looking at various peppermint cookie recipes, I noticed that a handful had cream cheese in them. Then I went looking for other cookie recipes with cream cheese and found dozens. I picked out a couple that looked good and modeled mine after them.

They were delicious, but they spread out too much, even though I had added extra flour and refrigerated the dough first. I thought the most likely reason why mine were so sticky and melty was the vegan versions of the ingredients. So, this time, I baked them in a pan and refrigerated the pan before I cut them. Success!

Christmas in March: Vegan Peppermint Cheesecake Blondies

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 48 (1-1/2 inch) squares

  • 1 (8-ounce) package vegan cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine, such as Earth Balance
  • 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup peppermint baking chips (see note)

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Oil a 9 x 13-inch cake pan. Add the cream cheese, margarine, and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla extract.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Turn the mixer on low and add the flour by big spoonfuls. As soon as the last spoonful has been added, turn off the mixer and add the baking chips. Stir in the chips and the last of the flour by hand until just mixed.

Spread the dough in the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden and puffy on top.

Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for an hour or longer. Cut into pieces. (I cut mine into 48.)


If you can't find peppermint baking chips you can crush peppermint candies, either by pulsing them in a food processor, or by hand with a rolling pin. You'll need 5 ounces to make a cup.

by Claire

White Bean Tempeh Chili

March 17, 2014 in Main Dishes, Recipes, Soup-Stew, TexMex, World Cuisines by Claire


For several years, my go-to chili recipes has been this black bean chili. I’ve made it so many times, though, that I’ve gotten a little tired of it and I’ve been looking for something different to make.

Texans can be really particular about what goes in our chili. Some Texans won’t even put beans or tomatoes in their chili. Obviously, if you’re making vegetarian chili you have to let yourself choose from a larger list of ingredients, and I’m fine with some vegetables not typically found in chili. Carrots? Bring them on. What I get fussy with is with the spices. I won’t even look twice at a recipe that doesn’t contain both fresh and dried chilies. It’s called chili for a reason, people! I also try to stay away from any forward spices that aren’t usually found in Mexican cooking, such as curry powder, with its sweet, distinctive note of fenugreek seed. If you want to put curry powder in your chili, go for it, but this Texan will just stay over here and admire your boldness from afar.

Years ago, I remember making white chili with chicken and white beans that was quite different from a bowl of “red.” I had that chili in mind when I developed this one.  I briefly thought about using some veggie chicken, but I tried tempeh instead. Tempeh turned out to be terrific with beans; I should have made something with this combination sooner.  Earthy hominy rounds out the flavor, but if you can’t get hominy, a cup and a half of fresh or frozen corn would work in its place. At the end, I was debating stirring some fresh cilantro into the chili, but then I thought about how lovely it would look on top, instead, and it tastes fresher this way. The bowl is even tastier accompanied with some avocado and green onions.

I’m sending this chili to My Legume Love Affair, the long-running blog event created by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook and now managed by Lisa of Lisa’s Kitchen. MLLA is being hosted this month by Cinzia of Cindystar.


White Bean Tempeh Chili

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 1/2 pound Anaheim peppers, about 3, diced (or 2 poblanos)
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (8-ounce) package tempeh, crumbled
  • 1 (15-ounce) can small white beans, undrained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can Cannellini beans, undrained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can white or yellow hominy, undrained
  • 3/4 pound tomatillos, about 7 medium, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons ancho chili powder or other mild chili powder
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons ground coriander seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • For the garnish
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 1 large Haas avocado, diced
  • 4 green onions, green and white part, sliced

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté onion and chili peppers until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. (Be careful not to get any of the spicy steam from the peppers on your face.) Add the garlic and tempeh and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add beans, hominy, tomatillos, and water. Add the mild chili powder, cumin, coriander, chipotle chili powder, salt, and black pepper. Stir well and bring to a low boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes to cook tomatillos. Taste and adjust seasoning. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently, to thicken the chili, if desired, or serve right away.

Divide into 6 bowls and garnish with cilantro, avocado, and sliced green onions. This also freezes well.



by Claire

Vegan Broccoli Cheese Pot Pie

March 3, 2014 in Casseroles, Main Dishes, Recipes by Claire


When winter weather looks like it’s going to hang on into spring, it’s time to warm up with a new casserole recipe or two. This broccoli cheese pot pie was something I’ve wanted to make for ages.  The first time I made it, I loosely based on a broccoli cheese soup recipe I have in my files, and it was good, but not great. Then I remembered my beloved tofu pot pie recipe and used it as a guide. This time, my new pot pie was seriously delicious. We could not get enough.

Vegan Broccoli Cheese Pot Pie

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

  • 1 medium potato, about 8 ounces
  • 2 carrots, diced small, about 2/3 cup
  • 1 small crown broccoli, cut into small florets, about 1-1/2 cup
  • 1/2 (14-ounce) package firm tofu, preferrably frozen, thawed, and squeezed dry
  • 3 tablespoons Earth Balance margarine
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups almond milk
  • 1/2 (8- ounce) package Daiya vegan cheese, cheddar flavor
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • Pinch cayenne (optional)
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced, white and green part
  • Puff pastry - about 2/3 sheet

Oil a 1-1/2 quart or larger casserole dish.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Have a large pot of ice water handy. Cut potato into 1/2-inch pieces. Cut carrot into 1/3-inch pieces. Cut broccoli into tiny florets or pieces about 1-inch. Add the potato to the boiling water, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Add the carrots to the potatoes and cook for 2 more minutes; add the broccoli and cook for 4 more minutes. Drain vegetables and immediately transfer to the bowl of ice water. Chill for 1 to 2 minutes, drain again, and set aside. (The ice-water bath will help keep the broccoli green in the pot pie later.)

In the pot you cooked the vegetables in, melt the margarine over low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the almond milk and continue whisking until mixture is smooth. Turn heat up to medium and cook until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Add cheese, paprika, salt, and cayenne, if using. Stir until cheese melts. Add green onions. Stir in the tofu and veggies. Transfer to the casserole dish.

Cut a piece of puff pastry 1 inch shorter and narrower than the casserole. Using a rolling pin, roll the pastry to fit the dish (rolling it will make it puff more.)

Alternatively, you can weave the puff pastry. Cut out one piece almost the length of the dish and about half the width. Cut out another piece almost the width and about half the length. Roll both pieces out slightly. Cut them into 1/2-inch strips. Lay a long strip down the middle of the dish. Lay a short strip perpendicular to the first strip in the middle of the dish. Lay two more long strips on either side of the first, spacing them about 1/2 inch away.

Now, peel back the middle long strip half way. Place a short strip next to the first, about 1/2 inch away, and replace the long strip. Peel back the other two long strips and add another short one. Continue the same way, weaving from the center to the outside in all directions, until you cover the top.

Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and the casserole sizzles.


by Claire

Christmas in February: Apple Cream-Cheese Bundt Cake

February 19, 2014 in Desserts, Pie-Cake, Recipes by Claire


I have thirty-one recipes in my queue waiting for me to take photos and post them. This is part of my attempt to get them out to you. Here is the first Christmas in… recipe.

Years ago, sometime in the 80s, someone gave me their old Bundt cake pan when they were moving. I never used it, not once, so I donated it when we remodeled the kitchen a few years ago.

And then I immediately started craving Bundt cake.

I staved it off for a couple of years, and then the Christmas before last, the craving got too strong and I gave in and bought another Bundt pan.  What got to me was that I was specifically craving an apple Bundt cake and I had found this recipe. This recipe has all the apple cake things: spices, nuts, cream cheese, and a praline topping. It’s such an over-the-top cake, I knew I had to make it.

Veganizing the cake was easy – I used ground flax seeds and water in place of the eggs, and vegan cream cheese. Both of these steps have worked well for me in the past.

I also tweaked the spices, and cut the glaze in half. I’ve found that most Bundt cake glazes make too much and half of it ends up on the cake plate instead of where it belongs. The glaze is amazing, by the way. The first time I made the cake I left it off and just used a dusting of powdered sugar, but I liked it so much when I finally made it that I’m dreaming up another cake recipe to use it on. It deserves to be on more than one cake.

One last change I made was to slip a cup of whole wheat pastry flour into the cake. This, along with the nuts and cream cheese, means you’re less likely to have a blood sugar crash if you eat a big slice of cake for breakfast. (Oh yes, I did.)

Christmas in February: Apple Cream-Cheese Bundt Cake
    For the cream cheese filling:
  • 1 (8-ounce) package vegan cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons Earth Balance margarine
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • For the cake:
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 3 tablespoons flax seed meal
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup apple sauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 3 cups peeled and finely chopped Granny Smith apples, from about 3 large apples
  • For the praline glaze:
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Earth Balance margarine
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons almond milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar.
To make the cream cheese filling:

With an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, margarine, sugar, vanilla, and cornstarch until smooth. (A handheld mixer works great for this) Set aside.

To make the cake:

Spread the pecans in a single layer in a baking pan. Bake at 350 F (I don't preheat the oven for this) until fragrant, about 10 to 12 minutes. Stir once or twice. Note: if your oven is already hot, this will not take as long.

Oil a Bundt pan. Preheat oven to 350 F.

Add the flax seed meal, water, sugar, brown sugar, oil, and applesauce to the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium until frothy. Add the vanilla and blend.

Measure the flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves into a bowl and combine with a large spoon. While the mixer is running on low, add the dry ingredients to the wet ones one heaping spoonful at a time. As soon as you've added the last spoonful, turn off the mixer to prevent over mixing, even if some of the dry ingredients are not yet incorporated. Add the toasted pecans and apples to the batter, and stir them in with a spoon. Stir just enough to incorporate the last of the dry ingredients.

Spoon about 1/2 the batter into the cake pan. Add the cream cheese filling, keeping it away from the sides of the pan. Top with the remaining batter. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool to room temperature before glazing.

To make the glaze:

In a medium saucepan, bring the margarine, milk, and brown sugar to a boil. Whisk continuously for a minute. Turn heat down to low and stir in vanilla. Gradually add powdered sugar and whisk until completely smooth. Drizzle over cake right away.

by Claire

Desi Fries with Chaat Masala

February 12, 2014 in Indian, Recipes, Sides, Various Sides, World Cuisines by Claire


There is an Indian restaurant here in Houston that I absolutely adore called Pondicherri. They serve  classic dishes as well as street food. The food is often a bit Indian-American fusion and always perfectly spiced.

The restaurant calls their addictive fries ” Desi fries.”  As far as I can tell, they’re fries spiced with chaat masala*, easy enough to have at home once you have the spice blend made. My fries aren’t curly like Pondicherri’s, and I bake mine instead of frying them, but these are just as addictive and the perfect accompaniment to a veggie burger.

I’ve made chaat masala before,  but since then I’ve acquired some new ingredients – ajwain seeds and kashmiri chili powder – and I think I nailed it this time. I used the recipe from eCurry as a guide. (I also like the recipe I used last time as the recipe author lists which ingredients are optional, making this easier to put together than some recipes.)


Chaat masala ingredients clockwise from top left: black salt (it’s pink!), amchoor powder, ginger powder, Kashmiri chili powder, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cloves, ajwain seeds, Tellicherry black peppercorns, and in the center, arbol chilies.

Just to tell you how scrumptious these were, I started with a single huge Russet potato weighing over a pound and a half, intending this to make four servings. The two of us ate all the fries in one sitting.

*A review of the restaurant tells me that the spice is garam masala, but I definitely taste the sulphur flavor of black salt and the tang of amchoor powder, so I’m sticking with chaat masala.

Desi Fries with Chaat Masala

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Serving Size: 2 to 4

I like Russet potatoes best for oven fries, but use what you have on hand. Yukon Golds are nice too, and require less oil to keep them from sticking to the pan.

    For the chaat masala:
  • 4 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon ajwain seeds
  • 4 whole cloves (or 1/8 teaspoon ground)
  • 2 dried red chilies (I used arbol chilies) stems removed
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons black salt (kala namak) or regular salt
  • 1 teaspoon amchoor powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder or paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger powder
  • For the fries:
  • 1-1/2 pounds potatoes
  • 2-3 tablespoons canola oil or other neutral tasting oil
  • Chaat masala to taste (I added 1 teaspoon)
For the chaat masala:

Heat a dry skillet to medium. Toast the coriander, cumin, peppercorns, ajwain seeds, cloves, and chilies. Transfer to a spice grinder. Add the black salt or regular salt, amchoor powder, chili powder or paprika, and ginger powder. Grind. Makes about 1/4 cup.

For the fries:

Preheat oven to 400 F. Oil a large baking pan. Cut potatoes into fries about 1/2 inch on a side. Toss with the canola oil and transfer to the pan. Bake for 15 minutes, turn over, and bake for another 15-25 minutes until lightly browned. Sprinkle with the chaat masala until the fries taste salty enough to you - you'll need about a teaspoon.

by Claire

Boston Brown Mini-Muffins

February 4, 2014 in Bread, Quick Bread, Recipes by Claire


When I made baked beans a few weeks ago, I was planning to have them with veggie dogs but the beans were so good I decided to have them as a main dish and make some Boston brown bread to go with them. I’d never made Boston brown bread before and while it was delicious, it was also crumbly. My solution when I made the bread again was to make mini muffins. You never have to worry about two-bite mini muffins breaking in half and falling into your lap.

Classic Boston brown bread recipes often all for a little rye flour. I never have rye flour on hand and noticed that several of the recipes said that additional wheat flour was a good substitute, but I wanted something different so I used brown rice flour. This may have been why the bread was crumbly, but I loved the texture the brown rice flour brings.

Boston Brown Mini-Muffins

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 24 mini muffins

Serving Size: 6-8 muffins

  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (I used pastry flour)
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour (or additional whole wheat)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar (or white vinegar)

Preheat oven to 425 F. Oil a mini muffin pan. Stir together all the ingredients. Spoon the batter into the muffin pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

by Claire

Christmas in January: Chai-Spiced Mulled Cranberry-Apple Juice

January 28, 2014 in Alcohol Drinks, Drinks, Non-Alcoholic Drinks, Recipes by Claire


I have thirty-four recipes in my queue waiting for photos and write-ups. That’s a lot even for me! Many of these are very experimental and I want to play with them more before I make them public, but I also noticed a significant number of recipes from Christmas. I tend to make a very traditional (for us) menu for Thanksgiving and then let loose with Christmas and maybe even New Year’s dinners. There are some terrific recipes here that I just never got around to photographing during all the holiday fun and chaos. I even have a Bundt cake recipe from 2012 languishing there.

So, I’ve resolved to do better. That means repeating experimental recipes and perfecting them once and for all, if I can. And it means posting my Christmas recipes, even if it means posting them in January, February, March… I’m going to try to get one Christmas recipe out a month until I’ve cleared the backlog. Who knows, I might keep the series going with new recipes.

I’ve decided that I’m not really a mulled wine person. I love the spices, love a hot drink, but I think hot wine is a tiny bit bitter. Also, not everyone drinks alcoholic drinks and it’s nice to have something for everyone. So next I thought of mulled cider.

In casting about for a mulled cider recipe, I decided to use the spices one would find in chai masala for a nice change from the usual. Then, when I was at the store, I was inspired to buy cranberry-apple juice instead of apple cider. I was glad I did – the cranberry juice adds a beautiful color and complements the spices nicely.

Feel free to use different spices here. Keep in mind that the primary spices used in chai masala are ginger and cardamom, so if that’s the flavor you want, keep those. Cinnamon and cloves are also quite common in both chai masala and classic mulled cider and wine. The star anise is optional, but I love its brightness in chai masala and here.  Also, feel free to spike this with a little white rum if you like.

Christmas in January: Chai-Spiced Mulled Cranberry-Apple Juice

Cook Time: 30 minutes

  • 2 quarts cranberry-apple juice
  • 2 (2-3/4 -inch) sticks cinnamon
  • A 2-inch piece of ginger, cut into thin slices (unpeeled)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon whole cardamom pods
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 teaspoons cloves
Stovetop method:

In a large saucepan, heat almost to a boil, then turn the heat down to the lowest setting (if you have different-sized burners, use your smallest). Cover and heat for 30 minutes. Serve immediately. (See note)

Crock pot method:

Transfer all the ingredients to a crockpot. Heat on low for an hour or until hot. Reduce heat to medium and serve. (See note)


You can keep this warm in the crockpot all day or reheat on the stove as many times as you like, but be sure to strain the spices out after a 3 or 4 hours, or the flavors will get too strong. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

by Claire

Focaccia with Purple Potatoes and Rosemary

January 24, 2014 in Bread, Recipes, Yeast Bread by Claire


This cold weather has me making lots of soup. I imagine a lot of you are doing the same. Bread is probably my favorite dish to have with soup, and I usually bake small loaves of rosemary bread, as I have a big rosemary plant in the back yard. The last time I made soup, I wanted a twist on the usual recipe, so I came up with this one. The purple potatoes are a fun color and are a natural flavor pairing with rosemary, and the onion adds a bit of savory crunch.

Update 1/25/2014: I originally had the amount of water in the recipe listed as 1-1/4 cup, but I actually used 1-1/3. The recipe has been corrected.

Focaccia with Purple Potatoes and Rosemary

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

  • 1-1/3 cups warm water, about 105 F
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 cup bread or all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 5 small purple potatoes, about 8 ounces
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced onion
  • 2 tablespoons rosemary leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

Add water, yeast. and all-purpose flour to a medium bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with dough hooks. Combine well with a fork, cover, and let stand for an hour at room temperature (or longer, up to overnight, in the refrigerator). The mixture will bubble up and expand.

Add vital wheat gluten, sugar, salt, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and whole wheat flour. Combine with a fork. Knead for 5 minutes on low with the mixer, or turn out dough onion a floured surface and knead by hand for 10 minutes. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for an hour or until doubled in size.

Brush a baking pan, preferably a dark one, thoroughly with olive oil. Stretch the dough to an approximate 9 x 12-inch rectangle. Allow to rise again until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 F. Slice the potatoes 1/8 inch or thinner. Dimple the top of the dough lightly with your fingers. Top with the potatoes and brush with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Toss the onion and rosemary with 1 teaspoon olive oil and scatter on top of the potatoes. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until the top is golden.

Cut into 12 pieces.