Honey Teacakes

photo by the lovely and talented Amanda P.

A few days ago I had agreed to bake something for a party but was feeling a little under the weather. Not wanting to make (and inevitable nibble on) something full of sugar for the sake of my immune system, I dug up this recipe I’d been wanting to try for Honey Teacakes.

These delicate little cakes deftly straddle the cupcake/ muffin divide. Served plain, they would make a sophisticated accompaniment to a cup of tea, but slathered with vanilla-bean cream cheese frosting they transform into a luxuriant and unusual cupcake, but still contain no sugar, just delicious anti-bacterial honey. I used clover honey, as it was what I had on hand, but next time I’d use a stronger flavored honey, like wildflower.

Honey Teacakes (makes 10 cupcakes)

3/4 cup strong chamomile tea
1/3 cup earth balance sticks (or butter) at room temperature
1/2 cup honey
1/2 Tbs. vanilla extract (use something high quality- the flavor really comes through)
1 1/2 tsp. vegan egg-replacer mixed with 1 Tbs. non-dairy milk
1 1/2 cups flour (I used white whole wheat)
1/2 Tbs. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cloves

1) Pre-heat the oven to 325°F. Line two muffin tins with 10 cupcakes liners.

2) Boil water and pour over three chamomile teabags to make 3/4 cup. Let steep.

3) Mix water and egg-replacer and set aside.

4) With an electric mixer, cream butter until light. Add honey and vanilla and beat throughly. Add egg-replacer mixture and beat until just combined.

5) Combine flour, baking powder, salt and cloves in a bowl. Mix well.

6) With the mixer running, alternate adding 1/3 of the dry ingredients and 1/2 of the tea (starting and ending with the dry). Mix until just uniform.

7) Distribute batter into the cupcake liners, filling cups no more than 2/3 to 3/4 full.

8 ) Bake about 10 minutes, until golden on top and toothpick comes out clean.

Vanilla-Bean Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz. Tofutti brand “Better than Cream Cheese” (or cream cheese)
2 Tbs. Earth Balance Buttery Sticks (or butter)
honey to taste (at least 1/4 cup)
vanilla extract to taste (at least 1/2 Tbs. plus seeds scraped from one or more vanilla pods)

1) Beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.

2) Drizzle in the honey, tasting until you’ve reached the desires sweetness.

3) Add enough vanilla extract and vanilla seeds to achieve a rich vanilla taste and cute speckles.

4) Chill until ready to frost the cupcakes.

Don’t wait till your sick to try these little gems. Enjoy as breakfast/ afternoon snack/ tea time/ dessert today!

Fancy-Pants Pizza di Patate

Take off your Italian fancy pants (Armani?), and pizza di patate is potato pizza. Yes, pizza with potato as a topping. Potato pizza is one of those things that just doesn’t seem like it should work but somehow does. Like potato-chip sandwiches. It’s actually very common in Italy, and if the Italians say it’s good pizza I think we humble American’t-cooks must defer judgment.

Now for you folks out there (like my mother) who are tsk-ing and saying that’s too much starch! and where’s the protein! I’ll have you know that potatoes are actually one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, containing particularly high doses of Vitamin C, B Vitamins and potassium. They offer a not-insignificant 3 grams of protein per tuber and have been shown to reduce high blood pressure and elevate mood. This is no big secret. Julia Child even praised the oft-vilified tater as being exceptionally low in calories and nutrient dense in one of her classic cooking shows (before dousing them in butter, cream and cheese… but still!).

My boyfriend discovered its wonders on our recent trip to the boot-shaped-homeland and proceeded to sample just about every variety he could get his hands on, often multiple times a day. Yes, this stuff is that good. Per his expert opinion, I decided to go with a diced potato topping (as opposed to slices) for more texture and potato-y flavor.

To experience its starchy joys yourself, put on those fancy pants*, brush off your Italian, and get in the kitchen!

1) Make or buy pizza dough (or get your future in-laws to make it for you).

2) Oil and sprinkle cornmeal on a baking sheet or pizza pan. Preheat the oven to 475°F.

2) On a big cutting board or clean counter (without flour!), roll out the dough into a thin rectangle or circle to fit into your pizza-baking receptacle. Pinch the edges to form a slightly thicker crust. Careful transfer to your dough to the sheet/ pan and press to fit. Set aside.

3) Peel and dice about 4 large or 8 small potatoes. I used Yukon Golds, but feel free to experiment with the variety.

4) Cover the bottom of a large skillet with olive oil and warm over medium heat. Add a teaspoon (or more, or less) or garlic. When just hot enough, add the diced potatoes. Stir a few times, to make sure they will not burn on the bottom. Cover (still stirring occasionally) and cook until tender but not mushy.

5) Drizzle some olive oil over the pizza dough. Spread the cooked potatoes over the dough. Sprinkle generously with sea salt. Top with cheese (vegan cheese, of course) and a couple of pinches of rosemary.

6) Bake for about 10 minutes, or until crust is golden and cheese is bubbly.

7) Manga, manga!

*Note: author will not be held responsible for you spilling olive oil all over your Armani trousers

Spit Spot, a Spotted Scone

Sunday mornings just cry out for scones. Some long lost DNA coding from my British ancestry rears up and demands a spot of tea, a proper scone, and a leisurely perusal of the day’s intellectually stimulating newspaper articles… or the comics. And last Sunday was no exception. There is something about their tender, just sweet enough, flavorful, cuppa tea accompanying awesomeness that just can’t be beat. A lone lovely lemon lingered in my fridge and prompted this highly successful (=delicious) departure from my usual orange currant variety. And so, without further ado, I give you….

Blueberry Lemon Scones

1 1/2 tsp. Ener-G Egg Replacer (basically just a powder made of a few different kinds of starch)
2 Tbs. water
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 cups white spelt flour
3 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. + 1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
zest from one large lemon
3/4 cup diced frozen blueberries
1/2 cup non-dairy butter (sticks)
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup milk

Heat your oven to 425°F. Make sure it’s all the way pre-heated before you put the scones in! Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or lightly coat with oil.

Beat together the egg-replacer and water until thickened and foamy. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir until thoroughly combined. Add the grated lemon zest and stir again.

With a pastry blender, cut in the non-dairy butter, leaving pea-sized pieces. Add the frozen blueberry chunks and stir gently to coat. Add the applesauce and stir gently to moisten.

Fold in the milk and egg-replacer, until the dough just begins to stick together. Don’t overmix! …unless you want to make doorstops instead of scones, in which case beat thoroughly at this stage.

Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured cutting board and mold it into a rough circle with you hands. Gently flatten the disk until it is able 1 1/2″ tall. Brush with a little milk and sprinkle with a little sugar.

Very gently cut into 6 or 8 triangles and lay them on your cookie sheet. Bake in your preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, until golden on the top and crusty on the bottom and delicious in the middle.

Enjoy on the settee while muttering a British accent.