Monday, December 27, 2010

Moo-less Chocolate Pie

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through my head, recipes were stirring, filling me with dread. We were hosting the festivities on Christmas Day, and I wanted to make two desserts. I'd already decided on an apple pie, thanks in part to my husband bringing home a huge box of apples, each one the size of a small child's head. Scrambling for another recipe, I racked my brain for something easy that wouldn't need much (or any) time in the oven, since we were already planning on roasting some vegetables that morning.

Randomly I cruised around the Food Network website, thinking maybe something chocolate would pop up. And there it was: Alton Brown's "Moo-less Chocolate Pie." I scanned it - quick, no-bake, and no trips to the grocery store needed. Bingo!

I used a block of tofu I had stashed in the fridge (soft, not silken, but close enough) and a bag of chocolate chips purchased in last week's cookie-baking frenzy. The recipe calls for coffee liqueur, which I didn't have, so I used an equivalent amount of coffee. Since my pie plate was already occupied, I made a quick graham cracker crumb crust in my tart pan. Two hours later, and with the addition of a little whipped cream, I had a rich, decadent, relatively healthy dessert that walloped you with chocolate. Easy as pie, indeed!

Moo-less Chocolate Pie
(Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown at

  • 2 cups chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet)
  • 1/3 cup coffee liqueur (I'm assuming Kahlua would be great)
  • 1 block silken tofu
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 prepared chocolate wafer crust (though any pie crust would be delicious)
  1. Place a small metal bowl over a saucepan with simmering water. Melt the chocolate chips and coffee liqueur in the bowl. Stir in vanilla.
  2. Combine the tofu, chocolate mixture and honey in the jar of a blender. Liquefy until smooth.
  3. Pour the filling into the crust and refrigerate for two hours, or until the filling is set.
(Note: I tried making this in my blender. Maybe my motor isn't strong enough, but it didn't mix well. I poured it out of the blender and into my food processor - much better! You want this really smooth so you don't see the white of the tofu, with a uniform, creamy texture.)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Carrot Raisin Salad, All Grown Up

My friend hates mayonnaise. No biggie. But in June, she emailed me asking for help. She needed a recipe for a summer salad to bring to a teacher appreciation luncheon for her son's school. She didn't want to do a green salad, but couldn't think of anything else. "Hmm," I thought to myself, "Potato salad ... out. Macaroni salad ... no go. Waldorf salad ... nope." And for whatever reason, I literally couldn't think of one side salad dish that didn't have any white and creamy components. I felt like a failure!

The one recipe that didn't come to mind was this one, a different spin on one of my childhood favorites, carrot and raisin salad. The one my Mom used to make was simply shredded carrots and raisins in a little mayonnaise. I loved it then and still do. But if you have mayo haters in your life, or are bringing something to a potluck (and want to avoid food poisoning fears of leaving a mayo-based salad out too long) this one is for you. The mint and lemon dress up this old favorite, and the raisins add just enough sweetness and balance. Tie it together with olive oil and a shake of salt and pepper, and you're good to go. (Better late than never, right Sena?)

Carrot, Mint and Golden Raisin Salad
(from Martha Stewart's Living Cookbook)

  • 1 pound large carrots
  • 3 tablespoons golden raisins (I used some mixed variety raisins from the farmer's market, and probably used more than than what Martha calls for)
  • 2/3 cup fresh mint leaves, cut into 1/4 inch strips (I used less mint, probably a 1/2 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Grate the carrots on the large holes of a box grater or with a food processor using the grater blade. In a medium bowl, combine the grated carrots with the golden raisins, mint, lemon juice, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine well. Serve.

Friday, December 10, 2010


It's that most wonderful time of the year -- Soup Season! When it gets cold, nothing is better than a giant bowl of soup. Avgolemono (coming from the Greek, "avgo" means egg, and "lemono", well, you can probably guess that one!) is a quick, easy chicken soup spiked with lemon, thickened with egg, colored with spinach, and chock full of bright, cheery flavors!

If you are looking for more recipes to use up chicken carcasses, here is one of the best. I'm sure a turkey carcass would work just as well. Use two breasts with bones if you don't have a carcass handy. The starch component offers a little leeway: I like orzo best, but you can try rice (be sure to add the rice about 20 minutes before the spinach and other ingredients so it has time to cook through) or another small pasta or grain.


  • 1 chicken carcass, or 2 chicken breasts with bones and skin included
  • 1 10-ounce box of frozen chopped spinach
  • 3/4 cup orzo
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

  1. Put the chicken carcass in a large pot with enough water to cover. Boil until chicken is cooked through and falling off the bone. Remove carcass to a large bowl to cool. Strain broth and return to pot.
  2. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove from bones and chop into small pieces. You should have 2 - 3 cups of chicken.
  3. Return broth to the stove and heat on medium. Add the box of spinach (it's fine it it's still frozen, just drop that green block in there!) to the broth, along with the bay leaves and the chicken. Now look at the consistency of your soup. Do you like it really brothy? Add more water. Do you like your soup thicker? Now is the time to raise the heat and reduce your broth.
  4. When you have your preferred consistency, add the orzo to the soup. Cook on medium heat for about 8 minutes.
  5. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs with the lemon juice. Slowly add a ladle-full of your broth to the eggs, to temper them, so they don't seize up when you introduce them to the soup. When the eggs have been warmed by the broth, turn the heat off the stove. Slowly stir the egg and lemon mixture into the soup. Keep stirring to make sure you don't get any eggy clumps. Season with salt and pepper.
I like this soup with a big salad and some bread. Enjoy!