Moon cakes, spinach pies and blackberry mini cakes to try

Moon Festival is having a moon cake contest

If you’re an accomplished moon cake maker, you can show off your baking skills at the Best Fresh Moon Cakes 2010 contest on Sept. 18.
The competition is part of the festivities at the Moon Festival Celebration which will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. at the new Moondance Amphitheater in Beaumont Centre Circle. On the 15th day of the eighth lunar month of the Chinese calendar, the moon is at its fullest and brightest, marking an ideal time to celebrate the abundance of the summer’s harvest. The traditional food of this festival is the moon cake, Changzheng Wang, president of the Kentucky Chinese American Association, said. when the moon is believed to be at its fullest and brightest, the Chinese community celebrates the moon cake festival with family get-togethers and outdoor ceremonies to enjoy the beauty of the moon at its full prime. “The moon cake is the only food specifically tied to a holiday (the Moon Festival). This is the only time of the year people eat them. In Lexington, the Moon Festival Celebration is where people can taste some and buy a box or two to take home,” Wang said.
To enter the moon cake contest, contact Wang at wang1720@gmail.com or call (859) 224-8072. Hong Lin won the moon cake contest last year.
The moon cake consists of a thin baked crust with a soft filling that can be plain, fancy, traditional or contemporary. Before being baked, the raw mooncakes are pressed into wooden molds that give them their shape and create a traditional raised design on the top crust. It’s also called the “Chinese fruitcake” because of its dense texture and role as a gifting item during the mid-autumn festival season.

Here’s a moon cake recipe from Wang.

Mooncake

Filling:
1 pound red azuki beans
Water
3/4 cup lard or oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
Water-shortening dough:
2 cups flour
5 tablespoons lard
10 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon salt
Flaky dough:
1 cup flour
5 tablespoons lard
Red food coloring for design

To make filling: Soak red beans in water to cover 2 hours. Drain and discard the water. Cover with 8 cups fresh water and bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat 1 1/2 hours or until skins open. Strain the beans and discard the skins. Place the strained beans in
several layers of cheesecloth and squeeze out any excess water. Place in a saucepan with the lard or oil and the sugar. Cook, stirring continuously, until almost all the moisture has evaporated. Let cool.
You will need 2 cups of filling for the mooncakes. Divide this into 20 portions and shape into balls.

To make the doughs: Mix ingredients for the water-shortening dough and the flaky dough separately until smooth. Divide each dough into 20 equal portions. Wrap one portion of flaky dough inside each portion of water-shortening dough. Roll out
each piece of dough, then fold in thirds to form three layers. Roll out again, and once more fold in thirds to form three layers. Flatten each piece of dough with the palm of your hand to form a 3-inch circle. Place one portion of filling in the center. Gather the edges to enclose the filling and pinch to seal. Place the filled packet in the mold, gently pressing to fit. Invert and remove the mold.
Dilute red food coloring with water and pour onto a damp paper towel on a plate. Take some food coloring onto the cookie-design stamp, then press on top of the mooncake. Repeat process for remaining mooncakes. Arrange mooncakes on a baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool before serving.

Heritage Festival is Sept. 19

St. Andrew Orthodox Church, 1136 Higbee Mill Road, will hold its annual Heritage Festival from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sept. 19. Committee cochairperson Jeanette Gallaway said the date for this year’s festival has been moved up a little due to the FEI Alltech World Equestrian Games.
Spinach pies are one of the favorite Middle Eastern dishes that will be served at the festival. Here are tow recipes for spinach pie.

Middle Eastern spinach pies

Bread:
1 package dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar, plus extra for yeast
1/2 cup warm water
7 cups flour
2 cups water
1/4 cup oil
2 teaspoons salt
Filling:
3 pounds fresh spinach, chopped
1 cup diced onions
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon citric acid or lemon juice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
6 ounces feta cheese

In a small bowl mix yeast with 1/2 cup warm (not hot) water and a pinch of sugar. Mixture will foam.
In a large bowl, mix flour with 1 teaspoon sugar, and salt. Add 2 cups water and oil and knead until smooth. Set aside and let rise in a warm place for 2 to 3 hours. After dough has raised, form into small balls and let stand 20 minutes. Pat dough balls into round flat circles.

To make filling: In a large bowl, mix together filling ingredients and let stand a few minutes. Drain liquid. Place filling in center of dough circles and pull sides of dough around filling. Shape into triangles. Pinch edges to make them stick.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place triangles on cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with vegetable oil and let cool. Makes about 2 to 3 dozen depending on size.

Spanakopita triangles

1 pound filo dough
Vegetable oil or rendered butter

Cut dough into 3 strips lengthwise. Brush oil between layers. Place 1 heaping tablespoon of filling (above recipe) on strips. Do a flag fold and continue to fold. Oil top of dough and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Fall tea and style show

Members of Akielo Temple No. 128 Egyptian Band are showing off their sense of style and cooking talents at their annual Fall Tea & Style Show at 2 p.m. Oct. 3.
The tea will feature favorite recipes prepared by the members. The menu features: cream scones with peach jam and clotted cream; chocolate truffle grapes; southern tea punch; savory bleu cheese bites; spinach balls; cheese rounds; Hawaiian tea sandwiches, apple cranberry crostini; ham salad sandwiches; curry chicken salad in cream puffs; mini blackberry party cakes, caramel chocolate mini bars, pineapple carrot tea cake, chocolate bark, and chocolate mint meringues.
Tickets are $20. Call Susan Wade at (859) 333-0146 or Paula Hubbard (859) 621-8999. The tea will be held at Oleika Shrine Center, 326 Southland Drive.
Here are recipes for mini blackberry party cakes and apple cranberry crostini.

Mini blackberry party cakes

Cake:
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon blackberry juice ( this can be made by collecting the juice from the frozen berries as they thaw)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups chopped blackberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl sift together flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside. Place butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer. Use paddle attachment for mixer. Beat until fluffy and light in color, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time. Add buttermilk, oil, blackberry juice and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture until just combined. Fold in blackberries. Fill mini muffin tins and bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

Blackberry Icing

8 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
1 stick unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
3 cups powdered sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons of blackberry jam (to taste)
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy and creamy. Add vanilla and lemon juice. Slowly stir in sugar. Add blackberry jam to taste. I needed add 1/2 tablespoon of water at a time to reach desired consistency.

Apple cranberry crostini

1 ½ cups granulated sugar
¾ cup finely chopped onion
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablepsoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 ½ cups water
1 ½ cups fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over
1 ½ cups finely chopped apple
1 cup golden raisins
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
½ teaspoon ground ginger

Place sugar, onion, vinegar, garlic, cinnamon, cloves, salt, cayenne pepper, and water in
a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Let come to a boil, stirring. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the cranberries, apple, raisins, brown sugar, and ginger and let simmer until the cranberries pop and the apple has softened, about 15 minutes. Spoon the chutney into a glass dish and let it cool about 15 minutes, then cover and refrigerate. Serve on crostini or your favorite cracker.

Party at a farm this fall

Fall is a perfect time to visit some of Kentucky’s agritourism destinations. Here are some events where you can eat fried apple pies, learn to make apple butter, and learn about alpacas.
■ Boyd Orchards, 1396 Pinckard Pike in Versailles, will host a different fall festival each weekend through the end of October. Apple Days Festival is Saturday and Sunday; Scarecrow Festival, Sept. 25-26; Old Cider Days Fest, Oct. 2-3; Fall Festival, Oct. 9-10; Pumpkin Festival, Oct. 16-17. Go to Boydorchards.com.
■ Evans Orchard, 180 Stone Road in Georgetown, will hold its harvest festival kick-off from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday with u-pick pumpkins and games. Go to Evansorchard.com or call (502) 863-2255.
■ Maple Hill Manor, 2491 Perryville Road in Springfield, will hold Fiber Fun Festival on the Farm from 1 to 5 p.m. Sept. 25. Learn about alpacas and their highly-prized soft and silky, warm fiber. Go to Maplehillmanor.com or call (859) 336-3075.
■ Reed Valley Orchard, 239 Lail Lane, in Paris will hold a Country Festival and Back Forty nature walk from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Oct. 2. There will be live music, petty zoo, shearing demonstration, and food booths offering oven-fried apple, peach, blackberry and blueberry pies, and country ham and caramel apples. Go to Reedvalleyorchard.com or call (859) 987-6480.
■ Apple Butter Day will be Oct. 9 at Bramble Ridge Orchard, 2726 Osborne Road, in Mt. Sterling. Fresh apple butter, doughnuts, cider, jams and honey will be available. Go to Brambleridgeorchard.com or call (859) 498-9123.
■ Acres of Land Winery and Restaurant, 2285 Barnes Mill Road, Richmond, will have a cheese sampling and wine tasting from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 16. Cost is $1.95 for three wine tastings, and $3.75 for six wines. The cheese sampling is $5. Call (859) 328-3000.