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Pasta with Roasted Vegetables and Pesto

This dish is so easy. It's just chop, bake, boil and process. The toughest part is roasting the peppers, but, really, that's easy, too.

1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
10 basil leaves, finely chopped
fine sea salt, to taste
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 eggplant
2 zucchinis
2 portabella mushroom caps
remaining head of garlic (after cloves above are removed)
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
1 pound whole grain pasta (whole wheat, brown rice, whole spelt)
pesto sauce*

large pot of water with pasta insert or colander
paper lunch bag
small bowl
small whisk
garlic press
chef’s knife
cutting board
large glass baking dish
pastry brush
aluminum foil
large bowl

1. Preheat oven to 450˚F.
2. Boil large pot of water.
3. On bare stovetop, roast bell pepper over open flame, turning as each side becomes charred.
4. Move charred peppers to paper lunch bag. Close and set aside.
5. In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, garlic cloves, basil, salt and pepper.
6. Cut eggplants, zucchinis and mushrooms into large chunks.
7. Brush glass baking dish with olive oil mixture.
8. Line baking dish with vegetables.
9. Drizzle remaining olive oil mixture. Toss to coat. Place in oven.
10. Take remaining head of garlic, cut off top, drizzle with olive oil, wrap in aluminum foil and place directly on oven rack.
11. Salt boiling water, add pasta and cook according to package directions for al dente.
12. Remove charred skins and seeds from peppers. Cut into large chunks.
13. As veggies start to roast on one side, turn over for even cooking.
14. Cook until soft, but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven.
15. Drain pasta and run (in colander) under cold water to stop cooking process.
16. In a large bowl, combine pasta, roasted vegetables, roasted garlic (squeezed from casing) and pesto*. Toss until ingredients are well distributed. Serve immediately.

* The thing to remember with pesto is that a little goes a long way. Start by adding half of the pesto and mix. If you would like more, add as desired.

Serves 6

© 2009 by Allison Lattman

Pesto Sauce

Pesto is such an easy and fresh sauce to make when you really don't want to cook. It's great on pasta, chicken, fish or used as a spread on sandwiches or in wraps. If you prefer a vegan or non-dairy version, just omit the parmesan.

4 cups packed fresh basil leaves
½ cup pine nuts, toasted and cooled
1 ½ ounces fresh parmesan (omit for a vegan version)
2 large cloves garlic
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
fine sea salt, to taste
fresh ground black pepper, to taste

large pot of water
slotted spoon
large bowl of ice water
food processor fitted with bottom chopping blade

1. Boil a large pot of water.
2. Blanch basil handful at a time for 2 seconds in water.
3. Remove with a slotted spoon to shock in ice water.
4. Drain in colander and pat dry with towels.
5. Combine blanched basil, pine nuts, parmesan (if using) and garlic in food processor. Process until chopped fine.
6. Continue processing while adding oil in a very slow stream.
7. Mix in salt and pepper to taste.

Yields about 1 ¼ cups

© 2009 by Allison Lattman

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

"YUM" doesn't even begin to describe this! You'll have to try it for yourself.

chocolate cake

cake leveler or large serrated knife
pastry brush
10” cardboard round or platter
strips of parchment paperlarge frosting spreader

1. Even out tops of cakes with a cake leveler or large serrated knife. Brush away any crumbs
2. Place a dollop of frosting on cardboard round.
3. Place a cake layer, top side down on round.
4. Put strips of parchment around cake base and brush away any crumbs.
5. With rubber spatula, dot cake with large dollops of frosting. Spread evenly with spreader.
6. Place second cake layer on top and repeat.
7. Place third cake layer on top. Thinly frost sides and top of cake. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
8. Dollop top of cake with frosting and frost top and sides as desired. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
9. When ganache is slightly cool, but still pourable, pour over cake. Allow to set.
10. Decorate as desired.

Yields 1 2-layer 9” round cake

© 2009 by Allison Lattman

Chocolate Cake

My friend Joel once told me that he didn't want me to make him a chocolate cake for his birthday because he felt chocolate cakes tend to be dry. I assured him that mine wasn't, but he still declined. I made him a delicious white chocolate, almond and raspberry cake instead. At another friend's birthday party, Joel tried the chocolate cake and stated how moist and delicious it was!!! This cake has a lot of steps, but is really easy and yields delicious results. The trick is to use butter to grease the pan. If you use oil or spray, the outside will cook too quickly, and you will be left with a hard outer crust.

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon espresso powder
2 cups boiling water
2 ¾ cups white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 ½ cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

dry measuring cups
dry measuring spoons
liquid measuring cup
medium sauce pot
2 medium bowls
stand mixer with paddle attachment or hand mixer with large bowl
rubber spatula
2 9” × 2” metal round cake pans with straight sides, lightly greased with butter, bottom lined with parchment, lightly greased again and lightly floured

cake tester
cooling racks

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and espresso powder.
2. While still whisking, slowly add boiling water. Mix until smooth. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.
3. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
4. In a second medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
5. In bowl of mixer, cream butter with sugar until mixed thoroughly. Scrape sides down with rubber spatula.
6. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until light and fluffy. Scrape down.
7. Add vanilla extract, beat until mixed. Scrape down.
8. Add flour mixture in fourths, alternating with chocolate mixture in thirds, beating thoroughly after each addition, being sure to begin and end with flour mixture.
9. Pour batter evenly into prepared pans. Smooth tops and gently tap once on counter to remove air pockets.
10. Bake 35-40 minutes until surface springs back when gently pressed with fingertip and cake tester comes out ALMOST clean.
11. Remove pans from oven to cooling racks. Allow cakes to cool 10 minutes in pans.
12. Turn cakes out and flip back onto cooling racks. Allow to cool completely.

Yields 2 9" cake layers

© 2009 by Allison Lattman

Peanut Butter Butter Cream Frosting

½ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup natural peanut butter
10 ½ cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
9-12 tablespoons light cream
1 ½ tablespoons vanilla extract
light corn syrup as needed for decorating consistency (add to remaining frosting after frosting the cake)

dry measuring cups
liquid measure shot glass
stand mixer with paddle attachment or hand mixer with large bowl
rubber spatula

1. Beat peanut butter and butter together until smooth.
2. Add confectioners’ sugar, beating a little at a time until smooth.
3. Add cream and beat until desired consistency.
4. Add vanilla and beat until mixed.
5. After frosting the cake, beat in corn syrup until desired consistency.

Yields ample frosting to fill, frost and decorate 1 9” 2-layer cake

© 2009 by Allison Lattman


Hamantaschen are triangular shaped cookies, traditionally filled with poppy seed filling, that are eaten on the Jewish holiday of Purim. These cookies are now filled with all sorts of jam fillings. I have also created cheesecake, peanut butter and chocolate and brownie filled Hamantaschen. The trick to Hamantaschen that keep their shape while baking is to refrigerate the formed and filled cookies on the baking sheet for an hour before baking. This helps the dough to set and not spread in the oven. The other tricks are to use very little filling (no more than ½ teaspoon--It looks like too little, but spreads while baking.) and, instead of jams or jellies, to use Solo Brand Pastry and Pie Fillings. These are canned fillings that can be found in the Kosher aisle of most grocery stores. If you are lucky enough to live in an area with Kosher markets, you will find more of a variety of fillings there.

4 cups
white whole wheat flour
1 ½ teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
⅓ cup orange juice
assorted pie and pastry fillings
cheesecake filling, optional

¼ recipe refrigerated basic brownies (Fill Hamantaschen with batter before baking.), optional
peanut butter filling, optional
⅓ recipe chocolate ganache (Be sure to top already baked Hamantaschen with ganache. DO NOT BAKE GANACHE!!!), optional

dry measuring cups
measuring spoons
liquid measuring shot glass
liquid measuring cup
medium bowl
stand mixer with paddle attachment or hand mixer and large bowl
rubber spatula
plastic wrap
flat surface and rolling pin
3-inch round cookie cutter
baking sheets lined with parchment paper
small spatula
cooling racks

1. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl.
2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar.
3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until light and fluffy.
4. Add vanilla and mix until combined.
5. Add dry ingredients in fourths, alternating with orange juice in thirds, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Be sure to beat thoroughly after each addition, without overmixing.
6. Form dough into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Flatten into a disk.
7. Refrigerate overnight.
8. Preheat oven to 350°F.
9. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Lightly flour rolling pin and 3-inch round cookie cutter.
10. Roll out dough to ⅛-inch thick.
11. Cut into rounds using cookie cutter.
12. Move rounds onto parchment lined baking sheet, placing them ½ inch apart.
13. Place no more than ½ teaspoon of filling in the center of each round.
14. Fold three edges up to form a triangle. Pinch corners.
15. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
16. Remove from refrigerator and remove plastic wrap. Bake for 12 minutes, until lightly brown around the edges.
17. Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes.
18. Move Hamantaschen to cooling racks and cool completely.

Yields about 4 dozen Hamantaschen

© 2009 by Allison Lattman

Cheesecake Filling


16 ounces block cream cheese, softened
1 large egg yolk
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon corn starch

stand mixer with paddle attachment or hand mixer and medium bowl
rubber spatula
dry measuring cups
liquid measure shot glass
liquid measuring cup
measuring spoons

1. Beat cream cheese until smooth.
2. Add egg yolk, sugar and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth.
3. Add corn starch and beat until incorporated.

© 2009 by Allison Lattman

Peanut Butter Filling

This filling is akin the the filling in a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup! It is so delicious and can be used to even make your own homemade peanut butter cups!

¾ cup + 2 tablespoons creamy natural peanut butter
scant ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
scant ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
1 ⅓ cups confectioners’ sugar

stand mixer with paddle attachment or hand mixer and medium bowl
rubber spatula
dry measuring cups

1. Beat peanut butter and butter together until smooth.
2. Add sugars and continue beating until smooth.

© 2009 by Allison Lattman

Chocolate Ganache

This is such a delicious and versitile food. You can use it to fill and frost cakes, to dip and make candy or just to eat by itself. If you prefer a less bitter ganache, you can substitute semisweet chocolate for the bittersweet.

12 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate
1 ⅔ cups heavy cream

cutting board
chef’s knife
large bowl
small sauce pot

1. Finely chop chocolate and place in large bowl.
2. Slowly heat heavy cream just until small bubbles begin to form.
3. Immediately, pour the cream over the chocolate.
4. Slowly mix with whisk until smooth.
5. Allow to cool until desired consistency. (Ganache thickens as it cools.)

© 2009 by Allison Lattman

Basic Brownies

These are brownie perfection: moist, chewy and rich. If you want cakey brownies, go somewhere else!

1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ cup butter, cut into pieces
4 ounces good quality unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped toasted nuts (optional)
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks (optional)

dry measuring cups
small bowl
small whisk
large bowl
rubber spatula
large saucepan
large whisk
9” × 13” baking pan greased with butter, bottom lined with parchment and greased again
cooling rack
baking sheet
cake knife

1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
2. In the small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3. Fill the large saucepan with 2 inches water and simmer over medium heat.
4. Put the butter and chocolate in the large bowl. Set over simmering water and melt, stirring with the rubber spatula, taking care that the water does not boil or touch the bowl. You may need to turn the heat off during this process.
5. When chocolate and butter are almost completely melted, remove from double boiler. Continue stirring until completely melted. Allow to cool to room temperature.
6. With a whisk, beat in one egg at a time.
7. Beat in sugar, 1 cup at a time.
8. Add vanilla extract and mix thoroughly.
9. Add flour mixture, in fourths, mixing just until combined after each addition. Do not over mix.
10. Stir in nuts and/or chocolate chunks, if using.
11. Pour batter into prepared pan.
12. Bake for 35-40 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few crumbs. Do not over bake.
13. Cool pan on cooling rack until brownies are completely cooled.
14. Turn brownies onto baking sheet and remove parchment paper.
15. Cut, top side down, into 24 pieces, cleaning the knife between each cut. (Cutting this way prevents the tops from cracking too much.)
16. Turn brownies right-side-up to serve.

Yields 2 dozen brownies

© 2009 by Allison Lattman