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Kasha (Buckwheat) Potato Pie
Mushroom-Garlic Sauce
Maple Pecan Puffs
Cardomom-Pistachio Cake


Kasha (Buckwheat) Potato Pie

Serves 6-8 as main course (makes 1 - 9"x13" pie)

Buckwheat is suddenly all the rage, being an alternative (pseudo) grain that is naturally gluten free. The earthy, satisfying flavor of buckwheat is especially comforting during the winter. The unroasted grain, or groats, can be cooked as you would oatmeal. Buckwheat’s even being used in crunchy breakfast cereals like granola.

In this recipe, the groats have already been roasted (you buy them that way - if they are a nutty brown color, they’ve been roasted, and their name changes to kasha), and when cooked, make a delicious container for seasoned mashed potatoes with cabbage. Replace the dairy butter and milk with vegan alternatives and you have a lovely and flavorful vegan main dish. Kasha pie may be further embellished by adding a mushroom gravy, such as a double recipe of Mushroom-Garlic Sauce (see accompanying recipe.)

2 c. boiling water
3/4 c. kasha (toasted buckwheat groats)
1 tsp. sea salt
4 Tbs. olive oil
1 1/2 lb. leeks, washed, trimmed and chopped into 3/4" pieces, both
    white and green parts (8 c.)
1 1/4 c. finely chopped onions (2 small)
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 lb. mushrooms, chopped
1 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves (stemmed)
1/2 c. tahini
1/3 c. tamari

2 lb. red potatoes, washed and quartered
4 c. shredded green cabbage
4 Tbs. unsalted butter or non-hydrogenated margarine
1/4 c. plain milk, soy or nut milk
4 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh dill (or 1 tsp. dried)
1 Tbs. nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1-2 Tbs. butter or non-hydrogenated margarine, cut into small pieces

To prepare crust:  In a small saucepan, combine boiling water, kasha and salt, stirring.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to barest simmer and cook, covered for about 10 minutes, or until kasha is fluffy and all water is absorbed.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium flame and sauté leeks, onions, garlic, mushrooms and thyme, stirring often, for about 8-10 minutes, or until vegetables are just tender and volume is reduced by half. (You may need to do this step in two batches).   Stir in tahini and tamari, then add this mixture to the cooked kasha and stir thoroughly.  Set aside. 

Preheat oven to 375 d.

For the filling:  Place potatoes in 4 qt. pot with water just to cover.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 20 min., or until potatoes are tender.  Meanwhile, steam shredded cabbage until slightly tender, about 10 min.  Remove from heat and set aside.
Drain cooked potatoes, and in a large bowl mash them with the butter, soymilk, parsley, dill, yeast flakes, salt and onion powder, until smooth.  (Do not over-mix.)  Now you are ready to assemble the pie. 

Lightly oil a 9"x13"x2" casserole dish.  Press kasha mixture into the bottom and sides of your pan, making a crust that is about 1" thick.  This will be visible at the top when the pie is filled; the top should be nicely shaped and smooth and should come up to the level of the pan.   Distribute the steamed cabbage evenly on top of the kasha crust, to be followed by the seasoned potatoes.  Smooth potato mixture, then rake the potatoes attractively with a fork.  Dot with butter. Place pie in center of pre-heated 375 d. oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until thoroughly hot and crust is beginning to brown. Then, turn your oven on to the broil setting (without moving pie to broiler - just keep it in the oven) and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes, or until potatoes turn a beautiful golden brown.  Let cool 10 minutes before cutting.  

Note:  If roasted buckwheat (kasha) is not available, you can purchase raw buckwheat groats and pan-roast your own:  Heat a heavy skillet (cast-iron is great) to medium-low, add groats, and roast them, stirring often, for about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and fragrant.

Recipe adapted from the Follow Your Heart Cookbook by Janice Cook Knight, 2005, Wiley and Sons. 



Mushroom-Garlic Sauce

8 oz. whole small button mushrooms, white or cremini, washed and trimmed
1 Tbs. safflower oil
1 Tbs. tamari
1 medium clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried basil

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over ow heat, stirring occasionally, just until mushrooms are tender, about 10 minutes.  Mixture should be quite juicy.  Adjust seasonings. 

The sauce may be cooled and refrigerated; reheat briefly before serving. 




Maple Pecan Puffs

Yield: about 40 - 1½ " balls

I love these simple cookies and make them every year for Christmas.  The powdered sugar melts as it touches the warm cookie, forming a lovely glaze. 

Because there is so little flour, the cookie is delicate. It literally melts in your mouth, bathing your palate with buttery roasted pecans. 

1/2 c. unsalted butter at room temperature
2 Tbs. maple sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. shelled pecans, very fresh
1 c. sifted whole wheat pastry flour or spelt flour (sift before measuring)
Additional maple sugar for powdering, about 1/4 c. - see note   
     following recipe - or about 1/4 c. regular powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 300 d. 

With a wooden spoon or an electric mixer, beat butter until soft.  Add maple sugar and blend until creamy.  Stir in vanilla, and set aside.

Measure pecan meats first, then grind them in a nut grinder or very briefly in a food processor until a fine meal is formed (if using food processor, just pulse a few seconds, or you will get nut butter).  

Stir the ground pecans and pastry flour into the butter mixture.  Roll dough into small balls, about 1 1/4" in diameter.  Place balls on  greased cookie sheets about 3/4" apart.  Bake on upper rack of oven for about 20-25 minutes, until cookies have a nice roasted smell and bottoms are just lightly browned (check periodically to make sure bottoms are not browning too quickly - if so,  reduce heat to 275 d. and continue).  Roll while still hot in powdered maple sugar* or powdered sugar.  After cooling, store these in an airtight container.

I imagine they'd keep for about a week, but they never last that long!

*Powdered maple sugar: To make this, place about 1/4 c. of maple sugar in an electric coffee grinder, spice grinder or the small (1 c.) attachment to a blender.  Grind at high speed for about 20 seconds, or until sugar is very fine and powdery (it won't be as fine as regular powdered sugar).  Use to roll hot cookies in. 



Cardomom-Pistachio Cake

Many years ago I learned to make Indian food from Neelam Batra, a cooking instructor in Santa Monica.  Besides traditional Indian recipes, Neelam has explored adding Indian ingredients to western-style recipes, such as in this cake, laced with cardamom and pistachios.  She’s published several cookbooks which I often refer to for inspiration.  Find out more about her at: http://californiaindiancuisine.com.

Serves 8-10

1 Tbs. plus 1 cup sugar
1 Tbs. ground raw almonds
1 Tbs. ground raw pistachios
½ tsp. freshly ground cardamom*
1 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 c. sour cream or plain thick yogurt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 c. all-purpose flour or white spelt flour (may substitute 1 c. of whole-grain
  spelt or whole-wheat pastry flour)
¾ to 1 c. chopped pistachios or sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 350 d.  Grease and flour one 10-inch bundt pan. 

In a small bowl, combine the 1 Tbs. sugar and the ground almonds, ground pistachios, and cardomom seeds and set aside until needed.

In a food processor or in a large bowl with handheld electric mixer, beat the butter and remaining 1 c. sugar together at moderately high speed until fluffy.  Add the eggs, sour cream, baking powder and vanilla and beat until everything is well mixed.  Add the flour and beat once again until a smooth batter forms. 

Sprinkle the chopped pistachios or sliced almonds on the bottom of the prepared bundt pan.  Pour half the batter into the pan.  Top with sugar-almond mixture, then top with the rest of the batter.

Bake on the center rack of the oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30-40 minutes.  Remove from the oven a let cool for at least 30 minutes before transferring it to a serving platter.

*"Cardamom seeds can be purchased at Indian groceries, both in their green shells and already shelled. They are much fresher than the cardamom that's already ground in spice jars from the supermarket. So if you can get the fresh ones, shell them and grind them in a small spice grinder - you'll be rewarded by their fragrance, and your cake will taste heavenly."

Adapted from Neelam Batra’s Chili to Chutneys: American Home Cooking With The Flavors Of India, Morrow 1998.
















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