This dish is pretty simple to make and most of the cook time is hands off making it ideal for a weeknight.
I came up with this dish because I wanted something light and filling, but was tired of my standard recipes. When working with black beans I often gravitate towards the obvious, Mexican inspired flavors. So, this time I decided to be a bit more adventurous. There was a butternut squash I had bought on a whim that had not found its place in the weekly menu yet. I don’t usually think of black beans and butternut squash as going together, but they both pair well with spices like cumin, coriander, and turmeric. After making the decision to use the squash the trick was how to bring in the raw salad element I wanted. A big bed of spinach sounded good, but my regular salad add-ins like pepper and tomato did not. That let to the idea of doing a creamy avocado dressing on the spinach and it ended up being the key to pulling the whole dish together.
This dish is pretty simple to make and most of the cook time is hands off making it ideal for a weeknight.
Lately, I have been feeling a bit nostalgic for Russia, which is probably because Andrey is back there visiting. He is there for a very good reason, his brother’s wedding, but that doesn’t change the fact that I miss him and wish I could have gone as well.
There were reasons we went to live in Russia and reasons that we chose to come back. Some of you wonder why I would miss a place that still has movie theaters without modern plumbing, but Omsk had its good points. To put my sudden nostalgia to good use I thought I would share a few of the things I miss about Omsk.
1. I miss that every morning on my way to the theater I passed the beautiful Dormition Cathedral. Even on cold, snowy mornings I was happy to get a look at it from the bus.
2. I miss the Siberian silver birch forests that surrounded the city. They presented a gorgeous view that I had never experienced before my first visit.
3. I miss hearing Russian spoken everywhere. Even though I didn’t understand everything and often got lost in a conversation, I enjoyed hearing it and trying to see how much I could catch.
4. I miss visiting my husbands parents and trying to get through whole recipes with my mother-in-law without Andrey’s help. And of course I miss the homemade vareniki and bellini she often greeted us with.
5. Finally I miss being the amerikanka. It was fun to be so special. Everywhere I went people wanted to ask me something about the U.S. or about why we were in Russia.
And to finish off my mental trip to Russia here is my version of a traditional recipe, кулебяка рыба or fish pie.
Russian Salmon Pie
Makes one 8x8 inch pie
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 sticks butter, cold
1 tsp. salt
½- ¾ c. ice water (as needed)
1 lb. salmon
½ c. cooked rice
2 hard boiled eggs
1 large shallots
1 large carrot
4 tbs fresh dill, chopped
1 tbs fresh parsley, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
2 tbs. butter
2 tbs. flour
½ c. fish broth or vegetable broth (low sodium)
½. c. white wine
1. Heat the butter in a small saucepan.
2. Add the shallot and sauté until cooked.
3. Use a fork to stir the flour into the mixture.
4. Add the broth and wine and simmer on low for 4-5 minutes to cook the flour.
5. If it is too thick you may add a bit more broth or cook it longer if it is too thin.
6. Set the sauce aside until the rest of the pie is ready.
1. Take the butter out of the fridge and cut it into small chunks in a bowl.
2. Add the salt to the flour.
3. Add the flour one cup at a time using a fork to mix it gently into the butter. Then continue using a fork and knife to cut the butter into the flour until it is pea sized, but avoid mashing the butter. This should be done as quickly as possible, so the butter does not begin to melt.
4. Remove the ice from the water and pour a half a cup into the flour and butter mixture. Mix it in and add the additional water if necessary.
5. After it is mostly mixed use your hands to bring it together. Use as few strokes as possible to kneed it and do not over-work the dough.
6. Once the dough has come together in a ball place it onto a floured piece of wax paper.
7. Split the dough in half and set one part aside.
8. Form one half into a square and set it on the wax paper. Flour it and place another piece of wax paper on top of it. Now use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into the correct size (using your pan as a guide).
9. Repeat with the second half of the dough.
10. Lay one rolled out piece into an 8x8 inch square baking dish pressing it into the corners and cutting off any that goes over the top. This will look a little rough, but it is a rustic style pie and no one will see it once it is filled.
11. Leave the second piece between the wax paper and use a cookie sheet to place it in the refrigerator until later.
1. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan. When it is hot lay the pieces of salmon in skin side down and cover. After about 3-4 minutes flip the salmon over and peel off the skin. Recover and cook another 1-2 minutes or until done. Remove from the heat and flake the salmon. Set it aside.
2. Finely dice the carrot and shallot.
3. Heat olive oil in a small frying pan and add the shallot. Cook until it softens and add the carrot. Cook until the carrot is done being careful not to let it burn.
4. Dice the hard boiled eggs.
5. Chop the dill and parsley.
6. Mix the rice, egg, herbs, and shallot and carrot into the salmon using a fork. Avoid breaking the salmon into smaller pieces.
7. Add salt and pepper to taste.
1. Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.
2. Reheat the sauce and pour half of it into the salmon mixture. Stir it in and add as much more as you think it needs. The rest can be reserved to serve on the side.
3. Spoon the salmon mixture into the bottom pie crust.
4. Take the top crust out of the fridge. Carefully peel one piece of wax paper off. Then flip it onto the baking pan and peel the other piece of wax paper off, so that the crust is left laying on top of the pie.
5. Use your fingers to press the two crusts together.
6. Bake for 30 minutes or until the curst is golden brown.
For a healthy vegan dessert this pie is deceptively sweet and rich, which means that a whole week after Easter we still have half a pie left! This is not to suggest that it isn’t amazing, but it must be eaten in tiny portions (or you will regret it).
I cannot claim this creative recipe as my own it is from Oh She Glows and you should check out her original post for its beautiful photos. This was my second time making the pie and I use her recipe with only one alteration: I leave out the ground flax because I think the taste is better without it.
Chocolate Coconut Pie
Vegan, grain-free, processed sugar free
1 ¼ c. pitted dates*
1 ¼ c. coconut
2 ½ tbs. raw cocoa
1 tbs. coconut oil
¼ tsp. salt
1 c. coconut milk (full fat)
300 g. chocolate
3-4 tbs. maple syrup/honey*
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt
*soak ahead of time if they are firm.
* depending on how sweet the chocolate you are using is. If you use an unsweetened baking chocolate you will need all 4 table spoons, but if you use a baking bar or chips that are semi-sweet then you will want less or none at all.
1. Toast the coconut. This is not essential, but it only takes 7-10 minutes at 350 and adds to the texture.
2. Line the 9-inch pie plate with saran-wrap. You absolutely want to do this. The second time I decided I would just grease the pie plate and I spent a long time carefully chiseling each piece of pie out.
3. A food processor is the best way to prepare the crust, but if you don’t have one it is possible to do it without one. If you are not using a food processor you should definitely soak the dates. If you have an emersion blender that can be used to pulverize the dates, this is what I did the first time I made it.
4. Start the crust by putting the dates either in a food processor or using an emersion blender or blender to pulverize them.
5. Then continue to add the ingredients to the dates in order until they are all combined. If you are using a food processor do they whole crust in it. If you used a blender or emersion blender I would mix the other ingredients in by hand.
6. Now the crust should be in a ball feeling sticky but pliable. Place the ball in the middle of the pie plate and begin flattening it out. Be careful to press the dough out evenly in all directions, so that you don’t end up with too much on one side. Set the crust aside.
7. To prepare the filling begin by melting the chocolate in a double broiler or over low heat with consistent stirring. Once it is smooth let it cool to room temperature.
8. Combine the melted chocolate and the coconut milk and whisk until smooth.
9. Whisk in the sweetener, vanilla, and salt.
10. Spoon the filling into the pie crust and carefully set it in the freezer to harden. There might be a bit more filling than fits into the crust. Both time I put the extra in a ramekin and froze it as well.
I hope you guys enjoy this recipe as much as we have. Let me know if you make it and what you think of the results!
Easter holds many happy childhood memories for me. Some that are specifically related to the holiday like dying eggs or decorating the house, but many more that are generally related to the coming of Spring. That wonderful time when the sun feels warmer and the outdoors feels alive again. When this change in weather occurs I am always reminded of the past by the scents and sights of Spring. I walk past a yard that is being mulched and I think about going to gardening stores with my mom to pick out things to plant and of course to order a giant pile of mulch. The new grass reminds me of the much coveted feeling of putting one's bare feet in the grass for the first time after Winter. As a child the weeks around Easter were a time when I was still in school, but the promise of Summer vacation was within reach. A wonderful time of excitement and expectation and the Easter holiday was the preview. A chance to sample all the wonderful things that Summer will bring.
Even now with no promise of a Summer vacation I still enjoy celebrating Easter. For me it has become a day to stop and recognize that Spring is here with all the wonderful feelings of new life and a clean slate that this particular season holds. Plus who doesn't enjoy having a reason to make a special meal.
I was pretty excited to plan a menu for this Easter and decided to try a couple new things. Thanks to some prep-work these were ready on Sunday morning.
We dyed the eggs using vegetable and fruit pigments, the best results came from onion skins and blueberries, but we also tried beets and spinach. The scones were actually supposed to be a Russian Easter Bread, a first for us. This was one of my attempts to add some Russian Easter traditions into our holiday. However, the dough ended up not rising, so my mother made a quick save by turning them into mini-scones!
Continuing on the theme of blending some Russian traditions into our holiday, brunch was blini with a variety of toppings: smoked salmon, cream cheese, stewed blueberries (from dyeing the eggs), jam, and eggs. During the meal we even played a Russian Easter game. While American children search for hidden eggs on Easter morning, Russian children play a slightly more aggressive game. One person holds an egg and the other attempts to crack the opponents eggs with their own egg, but without damaging their own egg. Whoever doesn’t have a cracked egg gets both eggs and eats them.
Since the weather was beautiful yesterday and we had just finished a very filling brunch, a walk seemed like a natural choice. Our first idea was to check if the cherry blossoms were out, but it looks like one more week until DC is filled with their blooms. Instead we headed down towards the mall and wandered through several of the small gardens between the Smithsonian’s museums.
After we got back we laid out a cheese board and some smoked blue fish for an afternoon snack. Apparently we were so excited to consume it that I didn’t even take a photo of it, but it was delicious.
As you might imagine after that a long break was required before anyone even wanted to think about eating again. But eventually around 8pm we reconvened for a dinner of scallops, asparagus and a new mushroom tart. It was a tasty dinner, but we were all so full that we could barely enjoy it. Clearly we should have gotten an earlier start to the day or planned fewer dishes.
I mentioned earlier that I was trying some new dishes out and the mushroom tart was one of them. I love mushrooms and goat cheese so the idea of a pretty tart consisting of both sounded perfect. However, the recipe is a work in progress. We used an all whole-wheat crust and it was a bit strong for the tart and the mushrooms were less flavorful than we hoped. It will require some tinkering, but eventually I will share a mushroom tart recipe.
Finally I couldn’t do Easter without some sweets (even if I should have). I made my homemade bounty bars in the shape of eggs and the chocolate coconut pie I made for New Year’s. We manage somehow to sample them, but not much more so we have dessert for the week now.
I would love to hear how you all spent Easter. Let me know in the comments below. And if you were hoping for the chocolate coconut pie recipe check back in a few days please.