Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Eve

Thanksgiving is tomorrow! The world seems particularly messed up this year, and/but I am really looking forward to sharing food and ideas with friends.

Also, Adge and I have been brewing our own kombucha for a while now, and we made a ginger pomegranate and a (pumpkin) spice for the party.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Lentil Caprese Salad

This is an updated version of that good old lentil salad. I slightly undercook the lentils, then let the acid in the balsamic vinegar finish the job of making them tender (at least, that's the idea). The basil and balsamic make the tomatoes taste downright sweet.

Lentil Caprese Salad

3/4 c dry brown lentils (1 1/2 c cooked?), cooked until just tender
big red tomato, de-seeded and diced
1/2 c yellow cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 cucumber, diced
2 scallions (green parts only), thinly sliced
lots of basil, chiffonade
to taste:
balsamic vinegar
olive oil
red pepper flakes
smoked salt

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Hot Weather Food

I'm not going to lie... the weather in Los Angeles has really been getting me down. October, and highs in the 90s? As someone who is pretty much always too hot, it feels like the end of the world. But even besides the temperature itself is the fact that there's no end in sight. Summer in Minneapolis or Chicago it can be 100 and humid, but it feels dynamic: on a micro level (it builds up and then blows off) and on a macro level (fall will come). There's a hydraulic aspect to the weather onto which you can map your own psyche. LA, by contrast, is unchanging, dirty, relentlessly bright, purgatory. Like something out of Camus...

Here are some things I've made in lieu of cooking.

Cucumber salad with lemon, dill, red pepper, smoked salt, and cashew cream

Potato salad with picked green beans, cherry tomatoes, dill, smoked salt, lemon vinaigrette

"Autumnal pickles": butternut squash and cauliflower with white wine vinegar, black peppercorns, sage, thyme, and marjoram

Cucumber salad with lime, peanuts, and blackberries 

Cucumber salad; roasted zucchini; kale salad with avocado, corn, and pickled tomato; brown rice; roasted tofu

Sunday, October 11, 2015

South Indian Chickpea Curry

Tasty South Indian chickpea curry from Holy Cow. More about the spices than the spiciness.

South Indian Chickpea Curry 
(from Holy Cow)

Friday, October 2, 2015

Mushroom Ravioli with "Vodka" Sauce

Ravioli is so much work, but that very fact makes it a very satisfying endeavor. Think about it: how many food cultures have some sort of dumpling, or dough-around-filling type parcel, despite the fact that there are almost always easier delivery mechanisms for the same nutritional components (for example, sauteed slop on top of wheat berries)? No, there is something particularly attractive about a parcel of food--even the abominable Gushers fruit snacks enjoy some of this allure.

Adge had mentioned she really liked vodka sauce, which I'm not sure I'd ever had. I did some reading on why on earth you would ever put large amounts of vodka into a food (which sounds horrendous, even if most of it cooks off). But in addition to some pseudo science about flavor molecules that are only soluble in alcohol, the big thing is that there's cream in this tomato-based sauce (and maybe the alcohol helps stabilize the cream vis a vis the tomato?). So here's a tomato sauce with white wine and cashew cream. Other than that, it's pretty much the standard marinara-ish sauce I always make.

The method for the ravioli pasta, and the timing for filling, sauce, and pasta, are over here.

Mushroom Ravioli with "Vodka" Sauce
(filling was same as this one, except I used mushrooms for "something meaty")

For the sauce:

1 TB olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 chilies, minced (remove some or all seeds)
1 large fresh tomato, diced
1 large can diced tomatoes
1/2 c white wine
1/3 c cashew cream (just blend raw cashews and water)
fresh basil
salt and pepper

In a medium-to-large saucepan, heat olive oil. Saute onion until soft, then add garlic and chilies with a pinch of salt and cook a few minutes.
Add tomatoes and wine, then turn down heat to simmer. Add oregano and marjoram (or the herbs of your choosing), and cook on low until tomatoes are soft.
When sauce is close to done, add sugar, cashew cream, basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for a bit longer.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


Recently I had the opportunity to sample some delicious vegetarian borshch made by an amazing old lady who grew up in Ukraine (n.b.: ingredients I now know how to say in Ukrainian: onion, carrot, chili, garlic, mushroom, beet, cabbage, dill). Here I wanted to make a version that was not too far from that but also could stand on its own as a one-pot meal. I read that sometimes these soups have sausage in them, so I added tempeh, mushrooms, and some sausage seasonings--which add not only protein, but also a great depth of flavor. Using the "No Beef" stock paste is also an incredible shortcut (and it works fantastically here). Chilies, tomato paste, and worcestershire sauce also amp up the flavor.

Finally (and not to sound like a broken record), cashew cream is probably the most amazing thing in the history of veganism. Literally all you do is soak raw cashews in water, then drain, then blend with new water (and a pinch of salt, lemon, etc), and you get the most perfect substitute for yogurt, cream, sour cream, milk, and so on, depending on how you tweak it. Half a cup of cashews will yield more than a cup of cream, making it way way cheaper than any commercial/processed alternative (and you can make only as much as you need).


1-2 tsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 serrano chili, minced (seeded or not depending on your taste--I seeded half of mine)
pinch salt
1 block tempeh, cut into small cubes
1 tsp fennel seed
small pinch ground allspice
splash tamari
5 cloves garlic, minced
7 oz mushrooms, chopped
1 c vegetable stock (I used Better than Bouillon "No Beef")
2 large beets, peeled and diced
1/2 head cabbage, shredded
4-5 c more stock (or if you're cautious about salt, do 3-4 c stock and 1 c water and adjust to taste)
3-4 TB tomato paste
splash Worcestershire
1 TB minced dill
cashew cream
more dill
red pepper flakes or paprika

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, and chili with pinch of salt, and saute until soft and fragrant.
Add tempeh, fennel, allspice, and tamari and saute some more, until tempeh is lightly browned.
Add garlic and mushrooms, cook briefly, then add 1 c vegetable stock to deglaze/keep from burning. Cook a few more minutes.
Now dump in the beets, cabbage, and the rest of the stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until the beets are tender but still firm. Add more water or stock as necessary to just cover.
Add tomato paste, Worcestershire, and dill. Taste for salt and other seasonings, and adjust.
Serve hot, garnished with cashew cream, more dill, and red pepper flakes or paprika. Serves 6-8 (freeze some for later?).

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Red Curry Carrot Soup, Fried Rice

Fantastic dinner featuring a carrot soup recipe from 101 cookbooks.
  • carrot soup (recipe from 101 cookbooks
  • fried rice with black vinegar and green peas
  • slow-baked chili tofu (something like this)
  • cucumber-cashew salad (recipe adapted from the asian vegan kitchen)

Simple Carrot Soup with Red Curry Paste
(from 101 cookbooks)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin coconut oil
1 onion, chopped
scant 1 tablespoon red curry paste, or to taste
2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped - 1/2-inch chunks
1 14-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
1 1/2 cups / 360 ml of water, or to cover
1 lemon or lime

In a large soup pan over medium-high heat add the oil and onion. Stir until the onions are well-coated, and allow to saute until translucent, a few minutes. Stir in the curry paste, and then the carrots. Allow to cook another minute or two, and then add the coconut milk, salt, and water, adding more water to cover if needed. Allow to simmer until the carrots are tender, 10 - 15 minutes, and then puree using a blender or hand blender until the soup is completely silky smooth. This next part is important (with any soup) - make any needed adjustments. Add more water if the consistency needs to be thinned out a bit. After that taste for salt, adding more if needed. And add lemon or lime juice at the end. Serves 4.


Cucumber-Cashew Salad, Slow-Baked Chili Tofu, Fried Rice