Rice pudding

arroz con leche

Make a cup of rice – put a cup of rice in two cups of water in a medium-size saucepan. Cover, and heat until it boils. Reduce the heat and let it simmer until the water is absorbed and the rice is soft. (Or use leftover rice from something else.)

With the rice still in the saucepan, add enough milk to more than cover the rice. Add a few spoonfuls of sugar, white or brown. Heat on medium heat for about 20 minutes until the rice soaks up a lot of the milk and it is a thick creamy pudding. Add a spoonful of vanilla, and some cinnamon to taste. Serve hot or cold. (It will thicken up more as it cools.)

Vegan or vegetarian?

This is vegetarian but not vegan. It’s gluten-free though.

Will it keep?

Yes, rice pudding will keep fine for several days in the fridge.

Raspberry granita

Like Italian gelato

This raspberry ice has a serious raspberry flavor. It reminds me of Italian gelato, very intensely raspberry and not very sweet.

How to make Raspberry Granita:

Heat one cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves, a few minutes, and let it cool. Puree four cups of raspberries in the blender with the juice of half a lemon and a few mint leaves. Mix with the sugar syrup and spread out on a cookie sheet. Spread the puree thinly on a cookie sheet and put it flat in the freezer. Stir with a wooden spoon every half hour for three or four hours, until the granita is completely frozen, then scrape into a serving bowl and serve with sugar cookies.

Vegetarian or vegan?

All vegan, all the time, and so are the cookies!

And will raspberry granita keep?

Sort of. You can freeze it if you can keep it solidly frozen all the time; if it gets soft and then you freeze it, it will freeze into a solid block. Then you have to melt it a little, break it up again, and refreeze it to make it into granita again.

Raspberry meringues

Eggs for dessert!

Spring is the season for eggs, and meringues are eggs for dessert. Try to use the freshest eggs possible – which means getting them from your farmer’s market, if not from your own chickens or your neighbor’s chickens.

How to make meringues:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Separate five eggs, putting the whites in a medium-size mixing bowl (preferably not a plastic one), and doing something else with the yolks. Lemon curd is a popular choice, or hollandaise sauce. Mix one cup of sugar and 1/8 cup of water and microwave for one or two minutes, until the sugar melts and forms a sugar syrup.

Begin beating the egg whites with an electric mixer, and slowly and gradually pour in the sugar syrup as you beat the eggs. (or, if you want it to be easier, just dump a cup of sugar straight into the egg whites, but it won’t be as smooth).

Beat until the egg whites form stiff peaks, and then use a big spoon to ladle out about half a cup of the egg whites at a time on to a baking sheet. Leave at least an inch between the blobs. Bake about 15 minutes, or until the meringues are browned on top. Use a metal spatula to remove the meringues.

Serve immediately, hot from the oven, with raspberry sauce or with the lemon curd.

What if I want hard, crunchy meringues?

Preheat the oven only to 300 F. Mix the same as before, but when you put the meringues in, reduce the heat to 250 F and bake the meringues for about 2-3 hours or until they are completely dried out and crisp. If you have a convection oven, use the convection feature to move the air around the meringues. Then turn the oven off, but leave the meringues in the oven to cool until the oven is completely cool.

Will these meringues keep?

The soft meringues will be all soggy and stale even after a couple of hours. You have to eat them fresh. If you want to keep them a couple of days, make the hard crispy kind of meringues.

Pumpkin pie

Don’t use canned filling!

Honestly, it only takes a few minutes longer (plus cooking time) to make pumpkin pie from scratch, and it will taste so much better and be cheaper too.

But don’t use carving pumpkins

The pumpkins they sell at Halloween for jack o’lanterns are bred to make good jack o’lanterns and not to be good to eat. You want a pie pumpkin. If you can’t find a pie pumpkin, use a couple of butternut squashes – those are widely available in grocery stores, and cheap. And most of the canned pumpkin pie filling in stores is really butternut squash anyway.

How to make pumpkin pie:


Preheat the oven to 400 F. Cut the pumpkin or squashes in half, using a serrated knife (a bread knife). Use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy parts and compost them (or save the seeds to roast if you like roasted pumpkin seeds, which I don’t). Put the halves in the oven, cut side up, and leave them there for an hour or until they are soft and a little caramelized (browned) at the edges. Then take them out and let them cool for about half an hour.

Meanwhile, make the pie crust. In a medium-size mixing bowl, melt 1/3 of a cup of butter (most of a stick) in the microwave. Add 1 cup of flour, and mix. Turn the dough into a pie pan and spread it out with your fingers to cover the bottom and sides of the pie pan.

When the cooked pumpkins are cool enough to handle, preheat the oven to 400 F again. Use a serving spoon or a knife to scoop all of the cooked pumpkin or squash out of the shell. This is the hardest part. Take your time. Put all the cooked pumpkin into a bowl and mash it with a potato masher or an immersion blender. Add one cup of sugar, a pinch of kosher salt, and 1/4 cup of some mixture of pumpkin pie spices like ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves. I often add a teaspoon of cumin or curry powder too, or some Chinese five-spice, to make the taste more interesting.

Mix and add three eggs and a cup of full-fat Greek yogurt, and mix again. Pour the filling into your pie crust and bake for about an hour, or until a knife stuck into the center of the pie comes out clean and not covered with glop. Serve warm or cold, with whipped cream or without.

Vegetarian or vegan

Pumpkin pie is vegetarian, but it’s not vegan. If you want it vegan, use olive oil in the crust instead of butter, but the crust will be more crumbly. And, you’ll need to use an egg substitute for the eggs.

Will it keep?

Yes, pumpkin pie will be fine for a week well covered in your refrigerator.

Pound cake

In France, this cake is called Quatre-quarts, meaning “Four Quarters”, because it is supposed to have equal quantities of four ingredients: flour, butter, eggs, and sugar. That’s why it’s called pound cake in English, too – a pound each of flour, butter, eggs, and sugar. So be warned – this is not health food. The version I make has more like a half-pound of each ingredient, and they’re not really equal – it’s half a pound of flour and sugar, but a little more than half a pound of butter and less of eggs. But it’s the same general idea, and it makes an excellent base for fresh or frozen berries.

How to make pound cake:

Preheat the oven to 325 F. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, melt 2 1/2 sticks of butter in the microwave (about two minutes). Add a cup of sugar and mix. Separate four eggs and add the four yolks to the batter and mix. Add two cups of flour and mix. Using an electric hand mixer (or your hands if you feel very energetic), whip the egg whites until they are stiff. You can add two more spoonsful of sugar to help them get stiff if you like. Fold the beaten egg whites into the batter. Grease a bread pan with butter and pour the batter in, using a spatula to get the last bits out of the bowl. Add 3 teaspoons of lemon zest. Bake about one hour, or until dry in the middle and a little browned around the edges. It should be cracking on the top. Let cool 1/2 hour before eating, cut into slices half an inch thick with strawberry sauce spooned over the top.

If you want half a pound of everything, it would be two sticks of butter and six eggs.

Vegetarian or Vegan?

Pound cake is vegetarian, but it’s not vegan. For a vegan cake, try this excellent chocolate cake recipe.

Will it keep?

Yes, if you wrap it tightly in plastic, it will keep for a day or two, but after that it will be stale. Pound cake should be eaten fresh.

Plum clafouti

Italian Plums in Portland

It seems like every yard in Portland has at least one Italian plum tree, and they all come ripe at once in an avalanche of plums while every year we scramble to figure out what to do with them all.

Sure, you can freeze them, dehydrate them, or cook them down into jam and can them, but this recipe for plum clafouti is another good option. (Check out our recipe for sweet and sour lamb meatballs with plums, too.)

How to make plum clafouti:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Then make a pie crust. In a medium size glass pie pan, melt a third of a stick of butter. Add 1 cup of flour and mix with a fork until it’s all mixed. Spread it with your fingers until it covers the bottom and sides. Cover the bottom of the pan with plums cut in halves or quarters, with the pits taken out. (Or you can skip the crust and just put the plums right into the pie pan.)

In a medium size mixing bowl, mix 4 eggs, a cup of milk, a teaspoon of vanilla, half a cup of sugar, and 1/2 cup of flour. Pour the filling into the pie shell, over the plums. Bake at 350 until the filling is set and not runny, about half an hour.

Vegetarian or vegan?

Vegetarian. Sorry, there’s no way to make this vegan; make a plum crisp instead.

And will plum clafouti keep?

Yes, you can keep it in the refrigerator, covered, for several days.

Peppermint candy

Make your own candy

How hard is it to make hard candy for yourself? Not hard at all. Once you’ve got this recipe down, try using juice flavors instead of mint, and pouring the candy into molds instead of on to a cookie sheet.

How to make peppermint candy:

In a medium-size frying pan over medium-high heat, put a cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of water. Stir once and then do not stir again while it heats up. You can gently swirl the pan from time to time. You’ll see the sugar syrup start to form bubbles, and then there will be a lot of bubbles. Pass the time by greasing a cookie sheet with butter or oil.

But eventually the sugar will begin to turn brown. Let it get to be the color of hazelnuts – the whole thing a little brown – and then add 1/4 teaspoon of peppermint extract.

Carefully pour the sugar on to the baking sheet and tip the baking sheet so it makes a thin coat. Let the candy cool about half an hour until it is hard, and then break it up into little pieces.

Vegetarian or vegan

Just naturally vegan if you use oil to grease the cookie sheet! Enjoy!

Can I keep this for later?

Sure. This candy will be good for quite some time if you keep it cool and dry.

Peach ice

Peach Granita

How to make Peach Granita:

Heat 1/3 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of white wine in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves, a few minutes, and let it cool. Take the pits out of three peaches, and puree them in the blender with the juice of half a lemon. Mix with the sugar and wine and spread out in a glass pie pan. Put it flat in the freezer. Stir with a wooden spoon every half hour for three or four hours, until the granita is completely frozen, then scrape into a serving bowl and serve with sugar cookies.

Vegetarian or vegan?

All vegan, all the time, and so are the cookies!

And will peach granita keep?

Sort of. You can freeze it if you can keep it solidly frozen all the time; if it gets soft and then you freeze it, it will freeze into a solid block. Then you have to melt it a little, break it up again, and refreeze it to make it into granita again.

Peach cobbler

Peaches in summer

Don’t be tempted to buy peaches in winter, and even in summer, don’t buy peaches from big grocery stores, or you’ll think peaches are just naturally supposed to taste like cardboard. This is a recipe that needs good peaches, juicy tasty peaches that were picked when they were already ripe. July and early August peaches. Buy your peaches at the farmer’s market, and even then not at the end of the season. If the peaches aren’t good, make something else.

How to make Peach Cobbler:

Cut up three peaches into dice-size pieces (no need to peel them) and put them in a saucepan with 2/3 cup of sugar and one egg. Heat over medium heat but do not boil.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 F. Now make the dough. In a medium mixing bowl, put 6 tablespoons of butter (most of a stick), and melt it in the microwave. Then add a teaspoon of salt, 3 teaspoons of baking powder, one more tablespoon of sugar, and 3/4 cup whole milk. Mix. Add 1 3/4 cups of flour and mix again.

Grease a pie pan with butter and turn the heated fruit into the pie pan. Layer the dough over the top. It will be gloppy and uneven; that’s okay. Put several pats of butter on top and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar (mix 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon with 1 teaspoon of sugar). Bake for half an hour.

Vegetarian or vegan?

This is vegetarian, but not vegan. For a vegan dessert with peaches, make peach granita.

And will peach cobbler keep?

Oh, just go ahead and eat it! What do you want to keep it for?

Orange caramel cake


A great way to use up some ageing clementines or oranges by making something yummy and pretty.

How to make orange caramel cake:

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a pie pan with butter, then melt the rest of the stick in a medium-size mixing bowl in the microwave. Add a cup of sugar and 3 eggs and mix. Add 1 1/2 cups of flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, a pinch of salt, a pinch of cinnamon, and mix. Peel four clementines and chop the peels finely; add two tablespoons of the peels to the batter. Add the juice of one clementine, and set the other clementines aside. Pour the batter into the piepan and bake about 3/4 hour or until done (browned on top, not gooey in the middle). Take out and let it cool while you make the topping.

For the topping, put 1/2 cup of sugar and a tablespoon of water in a medium-size frying pan, and swirl it around (don’t mix it!) over medium heat until it liquifies. Chop the remaining clementines crossways into bits (not sections) and add them to the sugar pan. Shake occasionally, but don’t stir; wait for the sugar to caramelize. When it is the color of hazelnuts, turn off the flame and quickly pour the sauce and orange bits over the top of the cake. Let cool, slice, and serve.

Vegetarian or vegan

Vegetarian but not vegan, on account of the eggs. You could probably do it with more baking powder and no eggs, or use a yeast-baked cake, though. The sauce is vegan.

Can I keep orange caramel cake for later?

It’s better fresh, but it will be fine the next day too.