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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Feast Fit for a Sacred Union - Guest Post by Zedral Z

Tuesday, April 20, 2010
This is a guest post by Zedral Z over at Witchin' in the Kitchen

Beltane is coming up and it’s time to start celebrating spring, fertility, and the union of the Horned God and the Lady. This year, put together a feast that is fit for a sacred union.  Fill your table with fresh spring flowers, pink candles for love and green for life.  Below you will find some recipes for dishes that offer protection, fertility and love energies.

Warm Spinach Salad

This salad is made using boxes of frozen spinach.  You can also buy bags of fresh baby spinach and wilt it in the skillet, but it will take at least three bags, as it shrinks down to practically nothing!

2 10-ounce boxes frozen spinach, thawed, excess moisture removed
6-8 slices bacon (optional for the vegetarians; see notes)
½ small onion, minced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced


2 tablespoons brown sugar
½ cup red wine vinegar
5 tabelspoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

First, fry the bacon until it is crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and crumble when cooled.  Drain the fat from the skillet, reserving a little bit to cook the onions and garlic.  Cook until softened, 5-7 minutes.  Add the spinach and let it heat through.  Season with salt and pepper.

In a sauce pan, mix the vinegar and brown sugar.  Let the mixture reduce for a few minutes. Take off the heat, season with salt and pepper, and whisk in the olive oil.  The dressing will be thin.

To serve, place the spinach mixture in a bowl. Pour over the dressing and top with crumbled bacon.

Note:  if you are making this dish vegetarian, obviously you will leave out the bacon and just use olive oil to cook the onions, garlic and spinach.

Leek and Onion Quiche

Leeks and onions provide protection, while the eggs are a symbol of fertility.  Leeks are a spring vegetable and fit the theme nicely.  Dairy and egg dishes are traditional for Beltain.


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chilled butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup chilled shortening, cut into small cubes
1/4 - 1/2 cup ice water

If you have a food processor, this crust is super easy to put together. Put the flour, salt and fat (mmmm....two kinds of fat) into the food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the ice water a few tablespoonfuls at a time, pulsing in between. To test, pinch a little bit of the dough together. If it sticks together and isn't crumbly, it's ready.

Turn the mixture out onto a board or table and gather into a ball. Flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for an hour.

After an hour, divide the dough into two pieces. (I actually used the whole thing for my 10-inch dish. The crust was a little thicker, which is how I like it.) Using a floured rolling pin and a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry out into circles about 1/4 or 1/3-inch thick. Place in a buttered pie plate and poke holes all over the bottom. This will let steam escape and keep the pastry from being puffy.

Heat the oven to 375. Put a buttered piece of foil or parchment into the bottom of the crust and weigh it down with a handful of beans or a couple handfuls of rice. You can buy an expensive pie weight if you wish, but you probably have extra rice or dried beans lying around the house. You can't eat the beans or rice after, but you can store these items in a jar and reuse for future crusts.

Bake for 10-15 minutes.


2 leeks, split down the middle and sliced into thin rings **
1 1/2 white onions, thinly sliced
1 - 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
4 eggs
1/2 cup cream
salt and pepper to taste

**Note on leeks: Leeks are notorious for being hard to clean. I find that the easiest way to get rid of the deep-down grit is to split them down the middle and slice them into the pieces I want to use. I discard the tough green tops. Then, put the slices into a bowl of water. The leeks will float and after a few minutes, all the grit will sink to the bottom. Use a strainer to scoop out your clean leeks.

Melt the butter in a skillet and add the onions and leeks. Cook on low, low heat until the leeks and onions have caramelized. The smell is just fantastic! They will become soft and brown and beautiful. Season with salt and pepper.

When the crust has blind baked, remove it and remove your homemade pie weight. Spread the onion and leek mixture onto the bottom. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and cream. Add salt and pepper. Pour over the leeks and onions and pop into the oven. Bake until set.

I didn't notice exactly how long mine baked. It seemed as though it were perfectly set after 15 minutes or so. Maybe it was because I had the oven on for a while.

Dessert- Chewy Chocolate Cherry Cookies

Chock full of love and chocolate, these will be a nice treat at the end of the day.

2.5 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
pinch or two of salt
¼ cup dark cocoa powder

1 cup butter, divided
2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
6-8 ounces dark chocolate (semi-sweet or unsweetened, so the cookies aren't too sweet)

1 cup chocolate chips (the darker the better)
1 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Melt half the butter with the dark chocolate. Put the rest of the butter and sugar into a mixing bowl. Add the melted chocolate. Mix until well combined. Beat in two eggs. Add vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients, then mix in the chocolate chips and dried cherries and the nuts if you're using them. I would use pecans, almonds or hazelnuts. Walnuts might be too overpowering. The cherry flavor is quite delicate.

Grab about a tablespoonful at a time, roll into a ball, and place onto a greased cookie sheet. Flatten slightly. Place the cookies 1 1/2-2 inches apart. Bake at about 350-375 for 6-8 minutes per tray. I like to remove them when they're still just a teeny bit soft and just let them finish firming up as they cool. Melting the butter helps make them really chewy.

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