Pumpkin Spice Latte

Lots of people are drinking pumpkin spice lattes on these cooler fall days.  Here’s a homemade version to warm you up.  Just whip up a batch of the syrup, then add it to your coffee with some hot frothy milk.  I know it’s supposed to be a shot of espresso, but I don’t have an espresso machine at home, and I drink decaf anyways… but this is still really yummy, and it’s waaay less than five bucks a pop!

Oh, and there’s actually no pumpkin in it.  Just the spices!

What you need:

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 -1& 1/4 cups water

1 cup sugar

a piece of cheesecloth for straining

What you do:

1.  Bring water to a boil in a small pot.  Add the spices and boil on low for about five minutes.

2.  Line a sieve with cheesecloth and strain the liquid through it.

3.  Pour the liquid back into the pot and add the sugar, heating until the sugar has melted.  Stir in the vanilla and remove from the heat.

4.  Once the syrup has cooled you can pour it into a jar.  Use a teaspoon or two per cup of coffee, depending on how sweet you like it.

I just make some really strong coffee, heat some soy milk, add it to the coffee along with some syrup.  I froth the last bit of the soy milk, then add a dusting of nutmeg to the top.

Spinach Borek with Apple Tahini Sauce

Spinach Borek is a great little vegan savoury appetizer than you can make up ahead of time, then pop in the oven as guests are arriving.  I made up the filling the day before and filled it right before putting it in the oven, but you could also fill and fold them up ahead of time.  Just put them in the fridge with a slightly damp towel over top.  I found this recipe in Molly Katzen’s ‘Enchanted Broccoli Forest’ years ago and have only slightly modified it.

What you need for the Spinach Borek:

2 packages frozen spinach

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large onion, chopped finely (about 1&1/2 cups)

1/2 teaspoon salt

pepper

3 cloves garlic

1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

1/3 cup fine bread crumbs

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind

1/2 cup currants

a little grated nutmeg

1 pound filo pastry

What you need for the Apple Tahini Sauce:

1/2 cup tahini

1/4 cup apple juice, or more as needed

1 & 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of cayenne

How to make the spinach borek:

1. Thaw filo and spinach.  Filo needs a few hours to thaw; read the instructions on the label.  If you have it in the fridge, take it out at least one hour before you plan to use it.

2.  Heat about 1 tablespoon of the oil and fry the onion over medium heat for about 8-10 minutes.  Squeeze the excess moisture out of the spinach and add it to the onions, cooking for a few minutes.

3.  Remove from heat and add all the remaining ingredients and mix them in well.

4.  Lay out the filo and brush a little olive oil over the sheet.  Follow the diagram below to fold them up, then brush on  a little more olive oil before they go in the oven.

5.  Bake at 375F for 30 minutes.  These are great hot, and can also be served at room temperature.

How to make the tahini sauce:

1.  Use electric mixer to beat tahini for about 5 minutes.

2. Gradually add apple juice and cider vinegar.  Add more apple juice if it’s too thick.

Note:  if you don’t add it gradually it will become a blobby mess and the oil may separate, like it did for me.  I spent ages trying to bring it back to the consistency it should be.

3.  Add remaining ingredients and taste to see if you want to adjust the seasonings.

4.  You can keep this in the fridge for a few weeks, but keep in mind that it thickens up when it’s cold.  You may want to take it out of the fridge a while before serving so it has time to soften up.

This sauce is also great for a veggie dip, or a spread for crackers or bread.