Sunday, January 24, 2010

Imbolc Recipe: Goat Cheese Cheeseball

Since Imbolc/Imbolg means "in the belly" and occurs around the time the pregnant ewes start lactating, sheep's milk is appropriate. Sheep's milk or goat's milk cheese (chevre) is a lovely, soft, slightly tangy cheese. Serve this cheese spread with some poppy seed or sesame seed crackers, as foods with those seeds are also appropriate for the Sabbat.

I love to make cheese spreads and it's fun to experiment with additions. This recipe was inspired by a Williams-Sonoma recipe for a fig and goat cheese tart.


8 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup finely chopped dried figs (or figs and dates)
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 cup toasted, chopped walnuts or pecans
salt and pepper to taste
optional: 1 tablespoon honey


Combine the softened cheeses in a bowl and blend together with a hand mixer (easy) or wood spoon. Add the honey to lightly sweeten, if desired. Blend in the thyme, salt and pepper and dried fruit.

Lightly moisten your hands and form the mixture into a ball, oval shape, or log. Roll it in the chopped nuts, wrap in plastic wrap, and park it in the fridge for 2-3 hours before serving.

**You can substitute other dried fruits for the figs if you wish. If you choose to use something else, such as cranberries or cherries, omit the thyme.

Serves 12. Per serving:

Saturday, January 23, 2010

No Meat? No Problem!

If you do not eat meat or just don't eat pork, you can still make the lovely spinach salad described in the previous post. If you eat meat but do not care for pork, you can use turkey bacon, or just use the substitution listed below.


3 Tablespoons imitation bacon bits, hydrated in 1- 1 1/2 tablespoons hot water - this will make the texture "meatier", and draining off any extra water will get rid of some of the sodium

Cook the onions and garlic in 1-2 tablespoons of olive, vegetable or Canola oil instead

Imbolc Recipe: Warm Spinach Salad

Wilted spinach salad with warm dressing is a dish I remember fondly from my childhood. Being far from home, I sometimes feel the need to recreate family recipes. I never recreate them exactly, however. Thanks to my mom and a package of real bacon crumbles, I was able to put this salad together tonight for supper.

I guess it really isn't a salad in the traditional sense, as it is served warm. That's one of the things that makes it great for Imbolc and Ostara, though. A chilly plate of crisp greens isn't what most of us are craving during the winter months.

Warm Spinach Salad

Note: I used frozen spinach. If you wish to use fresh baby spinach, please feel free to do so. You will need to allow it time to wilt in the skillet and you may need to add a tablespoon or two of water to help it along.


1 pound frozen spinach, thawed, excess moisture squeezed out
1/4 cup sweet onion, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
4-6 thick slices bacon, diced
salt and pepper to taste


1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, cook the bacon until crisp.
Remove and drain all but about 2 teaspoons of the fat.
Cook the onion in the bacon fat for 3-4 minutes over medium/medium-low heat.
Add the garlic and stir for 2-3 minutes.
Add the spinach and allow it to heat through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Combine all the dressing ingredients except for the oil in either a small saucepan or microwave-safe container. Heat until the sugar is dissolved, then whisk in the olive oil. You can also make this dressing at room temperature; the sugar will still dissolve with enough mixing.

Add the bacon back to the spinach and turn out onto a serving platter. Pour the dressing over and serve.

**You can also use fresh baby spinach and just wilt it with the warm dressing. In this case, you may also leave the onions raw. I suggest rings of red onion. The garlic can be omitted, or just added to the dressing. Mushrooms are also a lovely addition to this salad if you wish to eat it raw.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Muttar Pulao (Indian Rice and Peas)

The pea is a symbol of love. Rice is a symbol of not only love, but also protection, fertility and prosperity. Since this recipe also includes other protective ingredients, I would recommend the dish for protection, if you wish to use it for any magical purpose.

Of course, you can just make it, eat it and enjoy it for Imbolc or Ostara, or any time of year. Frozen peas make it possible to enjoy any time, but using fresh peas would be great for Ostara or Beltane. Spicy dishes are appropriate for Imbolc.

I had this for dinner last night simply because it sounded good and I had frozen peas to use. Here is how I did it.

Muttar Pulao

1 cup of rice (Basmati is my preference, but use whatever you have)
1 teaspoon ginger, grated
6 cloves garlic
1 large-ish chile, minced
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
3-4 whole cloves
3-4 whole cardamom pods
1 teaspoon cumin (ground or seeds)
1 small cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
salt to taste
optional: pinch of turmeric or a few saffron threads bloomed in water

Heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a pot. Add the cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon stick (break it in half first) and cumin seeds. (If you're using the ground cumin, add it later.) Let these sputter in the hot oil for a minute. Stir things about so they don't burn.

Add the onions and chile and soften for about 5 minutes. Next, add the garlic and ginger and cook for 2-3 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.

Add your washed, drained rice and stir to coat with the oil and spices. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add the peas, bay leaf, ground cumin*, and turmeric, if using. Stir in two cups of water, some salt to taste, and the bay leaf. Cover and cook until the water has been absorbed by the rice. Let it sit uncovered for 5-10 minutes.

Garnish this with slivered almonds or chopped cashews, if desired.

Serves 4. Per serving: