Monday, June 10, 2013

Easter, etc.



Inquiring minds who want to know: oatmeal date nut cookies, which are already vegan, can also be made gluten free. They’re just a little crunchier and snappier, and who minds that?!

I baked those tasty things for a church choir potluck. For Easter! It being June as I write this and Easter, of course, not being a June holiday, let me clarify. I celebrate Orthodox Easter (the Easter of the Orthodox Christian church- if you have Greek, Russian, Lebanese, Romanian, etc. friends it may be theirs, too) and it’s on a different calendar than Catholic and Protestant churches. So it was a LOT later than American Easter. (Though, er, still awhile ago).

So anyway this Easter potluck was so we could practice the complicated and difficult music. Except only five people showed up (and two of us were related). So it was not all that successful, except the food part!

Making the food was actually a fun challenge since for food to be Lent-appropriate, it should be vegan (I don’t eat totally vegan during Lent because of calcium fears, but many in my church do, and the food served at the church itself should be supportive of the church’s official policy, obvi).

It also had to be gluten free (or should be, out of kindness) because both our church’s choir director John and his wife Betty have Celiac disease.

Also, Betty for charming reasons best understood by her had come up to me in the middle of church one Sunday and handed me this pad thai sauce container:


I appreciated her gift, and figured I might as well use it on something I could share with her.

So I cooked up some rice noodles, made some tofu:


threw in some veggies:


And voila, pad thai. Ish. No final picture- it was ugly. But good!

And we also brought, of course, dessert.


But the really exciting dessert was a week later, on Easter itself. Something I have allllllllllways wanted to make? Olive oil cake!

I discovered this scrumptious-sounding if ever so slightly vague recipe for olive oil cake and mostly followed it (subbing a mix of white flour, whole wheat, and semolina for the plain flour) then consulted this overly complicated but methodologically clear olive oil cake for timing (which caused me to let the cake rise for two hours before baking it) and anyway it was great!

Heat some olive oil


Infuse with lemon


Plus anise seeds (mm)


The recipe wasn’t clear whether or not you were supposed to strain out the seeds, and I thought a few might be nice to help retain the flavor, so I casually poured the oil mixture in the batter, leaving behind the lemon and approximately half the seeds in the pot.


Batter was SUCCULENT! Could’ve eaten the whole thing with a spoon. So dense and creamy.


Baked that off- it didn’t rise much but it was real tasty! For the finished cake, I improvised a glaze which involved orange marmalade thinned with water- not a lot more complicated than that.

This ended up REALLY good.


Meanwhile, right before Easter, we received a VERY generous Easter basket from a very sweet family friend. It contained this GI-NORMOUS sweet, almond-paste-studded Easter bread.


And the Easter celebration itself was at my sister’s godparents’ home. They had gotten a lot of it catered. The spread was quite beautiful.


They had requested that all the lamb be cooked well done (…) I snuck into the kitchen with the caterers and begged them to save a medium rare bit for me. They obliged, and were very very nice :)

My dinner plate:


Blessedly medium-rare lamb with scads of tzaziki (definitely eyes>stomach on that one, but Steve was nearby so all was good), grilled vegetables (done by caterers- EXCELLENT! Perfectly cooked!), spinach and cheese pies, roasted potatoes that were wonderful, and salad. And wine! Gave up booze for Lent. Such a worthwhile thing to do. I’m no lush, but I only want to drink when I feel like drinking, not when everyone around me is. It was a useful exercise in mindfulness.

Spent much of the meal lounging by their pool, looking at their e-normous house!


Believe me when I say this barely scratched the surface on dessert. Phase 1 was enjoyed poolside.

Gazillions of berries, koulourakia (traditional Greek cookies), some of my olive oil cake, one of Steve’s oatmeal-toffee cookies.


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