Victoria's Vegetarian Victuals

About this time of year, back in the dark ages, my mother learned to ski. She learned at Grossinger's Resort in the Catskill Mountains, and she has always said that the food that she ate that weekend was superb. I have tracked down some of the recipes that she has mentioned to me, and I have included them this month along with a few traditional Easter recipes.

I remember the first Easter that I spent with my mom. I was nine years old, and we had been together for about a month. I didn't know much about Easter traditions, and I had never had a new Easter outfit. By the time that our first Easter rolled around, I had a new wardrobe, and Little Miss Rummage Sale was well on her way to becoming Little Miss Preppie.

My mom wanted my first Easter outfit to be special, so she decided to make it herself, except for the hat, purse, socks, underwear and shoes.

You have to know, by this point, that my mom has been sewing since she was about 4 years old.

We are both redheads, Mom and me, and, like most redheads, we like to wear the color pink. Depending upon the shade, this can be lovely or it can be a disaster.

Mom found a soft shade of pale pink hopsacking (sounds awful, but it is lovely fabric) and a sheer white cotton. Lots of lace, too, and teeny pink flowers.

She made me a frilly white blouse, trimmed with lace, and a pink skirt, jacket and cape, embroidered in white. She bought me a white straw bonnet and matching bag, ruffled socks, white gloves, and black Maryjanes. I was so elegant that I could hardly stand myself. I still have the outfit, packed away.

Now that I am grown (I'm 27), I hear the ticking of my biological clock, and I, too, want to adopt a school age girl one day.

I asked my mom this morning if she still has the patterns for that outfit, and she does! I think that I want to make it in pale green for my little girl, when she comes. Mom knows how to adjust patterns for size, so we can fit her whatever her age and size.

I can picture her in it, and she probably isn't even born yet. I wish that I could save her from the experience of foster care (I know about that), but there are some things that we can't control. All I can do is hope that we will find each other, and that I can do right by her, and love her like the very dickens.

And I hope that she will like my recipes.

Fruit and Nut Easter Eggs
Try piping a name on the egg after the chocolate is firm.
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 1/2 pound marshmallow cream
  • 1/2 cup shortening -- melted
  • 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 2 cups candied fruit (pineapple and cherries)
  • nuts (to your liking)
  • dipping chocolate

In a saucepan, cook sugar, syrup and water to 265 degrees on a candy thermometer. Add marshmallow creme and beat until almost firm. Add melted shortening, confectioner's sugar, candied fruit and nuts. Mix well. Shape eggs by hand and dip in dipping chocolate. Makes 10 eggs which will keep for 6-8 months.

  • Yields: 10 eggs
  • Preparation Time: about an hour
Italian Easter Bread
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup warm milk -- 120-130 degrees
  • 2 tablespoons butter -- softened
  • 7 eggs
  • 1/2 cup mixed candied fruit -- chopped
  • 1/4 cup blanched almonds -- chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise seed
  • Vegetable oil

In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Add milk and butter; beat 2 minutes on med. Add 2 eggs and 1/2 cup flour; beat 2 minutes on high. Stir in fruit, nuts and aniseed; mix well. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a lightly floured board; knead until smooth, 6-8 min.

Place in a greased bowl; turn once. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled; about 1 hour. If desired, dye remaining eggs while you wait for the dough to rise (leave them uncooked and use nontoxic dye); lightly rub with oil.

Punch dough down. Divide in half; roll each piece into a 24" rope. Loosely twist ropes together; place on a greased baking sheet and form into a ring. Pinch ends together. Gently split ropes and tuck eggs into openings. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 min. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan; cool on a wire rack.

  • Yields: 1 braided rope loaf
  • Preparation Time: about an hour
Hot Cross Buns
Hot Cross Buns are traditionally served on Good Friday (the Friday before Easter)and during the Lenten season, but they are good anytime.
  • 2 packages active dry yeast (1/4 ounce each)
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup softened butter or margarine
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6 1/2 to 7 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup dried currents
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 egg yolk

Have the water and milk at 110-115 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add the warm milk sugar, butter, vanilla, salt, nutmeg, and 3 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating the mixture well after each addition. Stir in the dried fruit and enough flour to make a soft dough.

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and turn over to grease the top. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 1 hour).

Punch the dough down and shape into 30 balls. Place on greased baking sheets.

Using a sharp knife, cut a cross (or X) on the top of each roll. Cover again and let rise until doubled (about 30 minutes). Beat the water and egg yolk together and brush over the rolls. Bake at 375-degrees F. for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Drizzle icing over the top of each roll following the lines of the cut cross.

For the icing, combine:

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 4 teaspoons milk or cream
  • dash of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Stir until smooth. Adjust sugar and milk to make a mixture which flows easily.

  • Yields: 30 buns
  • Preparation Time: about an hour and a half
Easter Crown Bread
To decorate this pretty Easter crown, you will need 5 colored eggs but they must be uncooked. Be sure to use non-toxic dyes as you color them.
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour -- divided
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup warm milk
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter or margarine
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup chopped mixed candied fruit
  • 1/4 cup chopped blanched almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon aniseed
  • 5 uncooked eggs
  • Non-toxic egg coloring
  • Vegetable oil

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Add the milk and butter and beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes on medium. Add the 2 eggs and 1/2 cup flour and beat on high for 2 minutes.

Stir in the fruit, nuts, and aniseed, mixing well. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 6 to 8 minutes). Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 1 hour).

Color the 5 eggs with non-toxic dyes. When they are dry, lightly rub them with vegetable oil.

Punch down the risen dough. Divide in half. Roll each half into a 24-inch rope. On a greased baking sheet, loosely twist the two ropes together. Form into a ring and pinch the ends together. Gently split the ropes and tuck the 5 colored uncooked eggs into the openings. Cover and let rise again until doubled (about 30 minutes). Bake in a 350-degree F. oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until a golden brown. Remove from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack.

  • Yields: 1 ring loaf
  • Preparation Time: about an hour
Passover Dark Chocolate Nut Cake
For the Cake:
  • 10 - 12 eggs
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 cups very finely chopped almonds or pecans
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 cup sugar
For the Glaze:
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee crystals
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 3 tablespoons dairy sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon maple flavoring

Set a large mixer bowl in a sink filled with 2 inches of warm water. Separate eggs (you should have about 1 1/2 cups whites). Pour the whites into the warm mixer bowl and place yolks in a smaller mixer bowl (or let separated eggs stand, covered, at room temperature for 30 minutes).

Meanwhile, in a small, heavy saucepan, partially melt unsweetened chocolate and semisweet chocolate pieces over low heat. Turn off heat and stir (chocolate will continue to melt).

Cut a waxed paper liner for the bottom of a 10" tube pan, cutting it 1/2" wider than the pan and the center hole slightly larger than the tube. Grease pan thoroughly. Place liner in pan and grease liner.

Beat egg yolks with an electric mixer on high speed for about 4 minutes or till they're thick and lemon colored. Add the 2/3 cup sugar, beating till very thick. Stir in the melted chocolate and chopped nuts.

Thoroughly wash and dry beaters. Beat egg whites with vanilla and almond extract till foamy. Gradually add the 1/4 cup sugar to egg whites, beating till soft peaks form.

Lighten egg yolk mixture with about 2 cups beaten egg whites. Add to the remaining egg white mixture and fold together to combine. Turn batter into prepared pan.

Bake at 350-F for about 40 minutes or till top springs back when lightly touched. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and center to loosen. Cool in pan for 1 hour. Invert onto cake plate. Remove waxed paper.

To prepare the Dark Chocolate Glaze, melt chocolate over low heat in a small heavy saucepan or skillet. Remove from heat and stir in butter or margarine. In a small bowl, dissolve instant coffee in hot water. Stir in the sour cream and maple flavoring. Add sour cream mixture to chocolate, stirring till smooth and shiny. Spread over top and sides of cake.

  • Yields: 10 servings
  • Preparation Time: about an hour
Zucchini Napoleon
  • 2 pounds zucchini
  • 3 tablespoons margarine
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • 4 medium tomatoes -- peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 dash pepper
  • 1 tablespoon flour -- substitute potato starch for Passover

Cut zucchini into 1/2" slices. Saute onions in margarine until tender. Add tomatoes and cook 5 min. Then add zucchini, salt, oregano, and pepper. Cook covered over low heat until zucchini is tender (about 12-15 minutes). If a thicker sauce is desired, sprinkle in flour and cook a few minutes longer.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: about 45 minutes
Fruit-Filled Puffs
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup matzo cake meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup nondairy whipped topping
  • 3 cups strawberries -- thinly sliced
  • 3 medium kiwi fruit -- coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup

Preheat oven to 450 F. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

In medium saucepan, combine 1 cup water, the oil and vanilla; bring to a boil. Stir in matzo cake meal and salt; continue cooking, stirring constantly, about 1 minute, until mixture no longer sticks to side of saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in eggs, 1 at a time, stirring thoroughly after each addition.

Drop dough by 12 rounded tablespoonfuls, 2" apart, onto prepared baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes.

Reduce heat to 400 F. and bake 10-15 minutes longer, until browned and puffed. Cool completely on rack, then slice in half horizontally.

To fill, fit a pastry bag with 1/4" diameter star tip. Fill bag with whipped topping. Divide fruit evenly among bottom halves of puffs. Pipe or spoon 2 tablespoons topping over each filled half. Place tops on puffs and drizzle 1/2 teaspoon chocolate syrup over each.

  • Yields: 12 servings
  • Preparation Time: about 45 minutes
Vegetarian Liver
  • 6 onions
  • Oil
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1/4 cup walnuts

Chop onions and saute in oil until brown. Put all ingredients through a food processor or blender. Shape into patties and serve.

  • Yields: 8 servings
  • Preparation Time: less than half an hour
Sweet-Potato Tzimmes
  • 4 large sweet potatoes -- peeled and diced
  • 1 butternut squash -- peeled and diced
  • 4 tart apples -- peeled, cored and diced
  • 1/3 cup Passover wine -- sweet and red
  • 1/2 pound prunes -- pitted and halved
  • 1/3 water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well to distribute the liquid evenly. Dump into a baking dish and seal the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and a lid. Bake 1 hour at 350 F. Cool.

To serve, reheat, then empty into a serving dish. Don't serve it out of the pan you cooked it in (the movement into the serving dish squeezes juices out of the fruit). It benefits from being made ahead and then reheated.

  • Yields: 8 servings
  • Preparation Time: about an hour and a half
Sweet Potato Surprise
  • 6 pounds sweet potatoes -- cooked and halved lengthwise
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon shredded orange peel
  • 1 pound canned apricot halves
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • 1/4 cup orange juice

Place sweet potatoes in greased 10x6" baking dish. In saucepan, combine brown sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon and orange peel. Drain apricots, reserving syrup. Stir 1 cup apricot syrup into cornstarch mix.Cook and stir over medium heat until boiling; boil 2 minutes. Add apricots, butter pecan halves and orange juice; pour over sweet potatoes. Bake, uncovered, at 375F for 25 minutes.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes

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