Sunday, February 24, 2013

Garden Spoils

From Sina's garden. I don't even know where to start. Lemon marmalade? Nasturtium pesto? Roasted radish? Pineapple-sage-infused something? Eee!

Roughly clockwise from the top left: Collards, purple sage, rosemary, red chard, kumquats, meyer lemons, flowers, black radish, nasturtium leaves, bok choy, more lemons, 5 varieties of salad lettuce, more chard, kaffir lime leaves, and pineapple sage.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Snax Dinner and Spice Rainbow

It all started with the idea to recreate mohawk bend's buffalo cauliflower. I tried to think of other things that go with buffalo wings... and eventually, we had:

* truffle fries (w/sauteed garlic, fresh parsley and mint)--thank you, mandoline slicer!

buffalo cauliflower with bleu cheese, carrots, and celery

'spinach' dip (using sauteed/braised collards w garlic)

* tortilla chips

The 'spinach dip' looked a bit weird, but it was tasty, and the leftovers made an incredible pasta sauce.


I sent my mom a package of less-common spices a while back. Here they are as a rainbow: kalonji onion (nigella), black mustard, sumac, aleppo chili flakes, fenugreek, turmeric, berberé, allspice, coriander, fennel seed, oregano, za’atar, caraway (not pictured: kala namak).

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Birds nests, pesto, pasta

Zippy challenged me to make some veggie bird's nests, a la trader joe's. So I did.

I blanched some carrots, then cut them into long julienne strips (thank you, mandoline!) and blanched them some more. I cut an onion into rings and also blanched those. Then I mixed the blanched veggies with little bits of scallion, chili, and ginger.

These were mixed with a batter that was 1/2 c flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp turmeric, and 1/2 tsp baking powder; all mixed with cold water until we had a batter that was runny but still slightly glutinous.

We heated up some oil in the frying pan, then filled a lil quarter-cupper nearly full. We emptied this into the hot oil, then cooked for a few minutes on each side.

They needed quite a bit of blotting/draining before serving. We made a sauce out of tamari, rice vinegar, sugar, and sesame oil.

In conclusion, these were delicious, but a little bland, and a little soggier than their frozen delicacy counterparts. Next time I would add more salt and garlic to the batter, as well as maybe more ginger, garlic, chilies to the veggie mix. I would also fry them at the hottest possible temperature for a shorter period of time to avoid the sog factor (not to be confused with hikescotland's bog factor).


In recent days, I also made some pesto out of every fresh herb I had in the fridge: basil, mint, and parsley. These were blended with ground almonds, garlic, salt, and olive oil for a pesto that is a little bit like a chutney. Recently I also made french fries with truffle oil and fresh mint and parsley; I think this pesto is reminiscent of those.

As luck would have it, I had also just bought some spinach fettuccine (that came in little bundles!), which was totally lovely with my weird pesto.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Creamy Mushroom Wild Rice Soup

I had over a cup of goopy stuff left over from moussaka (just a mixture of vegetable broth, soy milk, and silken tofu), and (thinking back on this soup) wild rice soup seemed like just the thing for using it up.

This was a resounding success. I think this was partly because of adding mushrooms (always an umami boost), but also because when starting out I used some leftover oil from making french fries a few days earlier. This 'potato-infused oil,' if you will, had a built-in sense of creamy savoriness, which was only boosted by the other aspects of this soup.

Creamy Mushroom Wild Rice Soup


1/2 c veg stock
1/2 c soymilk
1/2 c silken tofu (optional)

1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
pinch salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 serrano chili, minced (optional)
1/4 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
8 oz button mushrooms, quartered
2 small summer squash (or 1 zucchini), halved longwise and sliced into moons
1.5 c wild rice

5 c homemade stock
salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a blender, mix together the 1/2 c veg stock with the soymilk and tofu until the tofu is completely blended. If you're not using tofu, you can skip the blender and just mix them by hand.
2. In a large stock pot, heat the oil. Sautee the onion, carrot, and celery over medium heat with a pinch of salt for 5-7 min. Add garlic and chili and cook for a few more minutes. Then add mushrooms and squash, cook another minute, and then add rice and 5 c stock. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat, simmering until rice is cooked (35-45 min).
3. When rice has broken open and is tender, add soy-tofu-stock mixture to the soup (don't boil). Add salt and pepper to taste, then serve.
Serves about 4.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Robin Robertson's vegan planet has remained my favorite all-around cookbook, an opinion which her recipe for moussaka only confirmed. I hadn't realized that some moussakas were warm and some were cold; that some had meat in them and some didn't. This version is warm, and it uses chopped tempeh instead of lamb. The bechamel sauce poured over the top before baking is a simple mixture of vegetable stock, soy milk, silken tofu, and lemon juice, but it turns out so amazing! Zippy and I ate the whole thing within 24 hours. Serves 8, my foot!

Moussaka from vegan planet


And here is a soup I whipped together for lunch one day. Onion, garlic, carrot, celery, tofu, kimchi, miso broth, rice noodles, sriracha, mint, basil, scallions. It's not Korean, Japanese, or Vietnamese, but it is fast and delicious.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


So, clearly I have been on a bit of a blackeyed peas bender. They are so cheap, and so cute, and they cook so quickly! You really don't need to soak them overnight (unlike garbanzos, which take forever); just simmer for 40 minutes and you're good to go.

I had some leeks left laying around (languorously), and I almost made this bean-and-leek dish (soon!), when I discovered lubiya, I think by reading about Jewish good-luck New Year's foods. Lubiya, though, is apparently the Arabic spelling, not the Hebrew 'rubiya.'

However you spell it, and whoever's complicated culinary history you situate it in, lubiya is sort of like Middle Eastern chili. I found this excellent recipe on adaba foods (now julia's kitchen). I followed the recipe pretty much to the letter, though in a moment of laziness, I dumped some cooked greens and saffron rice into the bowl so as to only need to wash one dish (see above).

(from adaba foods)

1 c dried black eyed peas, soaked overnight
2 TB olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 leek, cleaned and sliced
4-5 large cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 tsp cumin
1 tsp sumac, if available (if not, use add lemon juice when beans are soft; see next ingredient section)
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 chili pepper, minced
6-8 c of water
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 c strained tomatoes
2-3 TB olive oil
2-3 TB freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste (if sumac is not available)
a dash of cinnamon
salt and pepper, to taste
1 c brown basmati rice, preferably soaked overnight
1 TB olive oil
pinch of saffron (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
water to cook (1 3/4 cups water if rice was soaked)

1. Drain and rinse your black eyed peas and rice, keeping them separate, and set aside.  In a large soup pot set over medium heat, saute onions in olive oil until lightly browned, then add leeks and continue to cook.  When the leeks begin to brown, make a well in the center, pour in a little more olive oil, and saute the minced garlic and cumin for a minute or two until it’s very fragrant.  Stir it all together, then add the celery, minced chili pepper, water, paprika, and turmeric.  Bring to a boil and then turn the heat to medium low and cook until the beans are as tender as you like them.
2. Meanwhile, cook the rice. If you’ve soaked it, put it in a medium pot with the olive oil, saffron, salt, and water in the proportions given above.  Bring to a boil, then turn heat to medium low and cover to simmer for 30 minutes.  If you didn’t soak it, follow the rice:water ratios provided on the package. as well as the cooking time.  Now it’s time to finish the soup.  Once you add the acidic ingredients (tomato and lemon) and the salt, you might find that the beans won’t soften any more, so be sure they are soft enough before you do that.  The rice is fine sitting in the pot until you are ready for it.  Add the tomato, lemon, salt and pepper and simmer for about another 15-30 minutes (or more).  Taste, adjust seasonings, and serve hot. Serves about 4-5.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Hoppin' John Risotto

Oh my, this is an old post. I was going to link to vegan feast kitchen for lore about New Year's black-eyed pea traditions. Still interesting, but a bit belated!

Hannah at bittersweet created a risotto that combines creamy rice with blackeyed peas and with greens. It's really, really good. Seriously. I know the photo is sort of 'eh,' but as this was cooking, I thought, this is what the word 'savory' really means. Depth, aroma, a little bit of sourness and sweetness, but mostly just pure deliciousness.

I omitted the bell pepper and used a carrot instead, snuck in part of a serrano chili, and cut way back on thyme. I needed quite a bit more than the suggested 5 c of vegetable stock, and I don't think that this was due solely to the face that 1/6 of the rice I used was brown instead of white.

On that note... this recipe makes a lot. And this was one of my favorites in the last few months, but still, as a single person who likes to eat leftovers, I would definitely halve this recipe next time.

Hoppin’ John Risotto
(from bittersweet)

6 c vegetable stock
2 TB olive oil
2 TB coconut oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 serrano chili, de-seeded and minced
1 carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 c short-grain white rice (or arborio, etc)
1/2 c dry white wine
1/2 c coconut milk
2 TB tamari
1/4 c nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
salt and pepper, to taste
1 bunch fresh collards, washed, de-stemmed, and chopped
1 3/4 c cooked (or canned) black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained


Starting heating the oil and margarine or coconut oil in a large stock pot or saucepan over medium heat. Pour the vegetable stock into a separate saucepan and heat over a second burner on medium heat. Keep this covered, just below a simmer at all times.

Add the chopped onion into the large pot, stirring to coat the the hot fat. Sweat and saute for 2 – 4 minutes, until semitransparent and aromatic, before tossing in the chili, carrot, celery, and garlic as well. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 5 – 8 minutes to soften all the vegetables, just barely beginning to brown them around the edges. Add in the rice last, stirring well to coat with the oil and vegetable liquid, for about 2 minutes or until somewhat translucent in appearance.

Deglaze the pan by slowly pouring in the wine or water, carefully scraping up any bits that might be stuck to the bottom. Turn down the heat to medium-low. Add in the coconut milk, liquid aminos or soy sauce, nutritional yeast, and all of the remaining herbs and spices. Bring the liquid up to a simmer, and once it has mostly absorbed into the rice, add in 1 cup of the hot stock. Continue to cook gently, stirring every few minutes to check on the consistency, adding in another 1/2 – 1 cup of the stock as needed. The rice should cook for about 20 – 25 minutes, until tender but creamy. In the final 10 minutes of cooking, incorporate the beans and greens, adding the greens a few handfuls at a time so that they can wilt down and not overflow out of the pot.

Always keep the mixture looking somewhat liquid-y without being soupy; remember, this is not a pilaf where you want dry, distinct grains.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and remove the bay leaf before serving. Enjoy immediately, as the rice will continue to thicken as it cools.

Serves about 8.


In other news, Trader Joe's continues to introduce new vegan products that are as good as their expensive, name brand, Whole Foods counterparts. Awesome. I've never been impressed by soy ice cream, and this coconut milk ice cream is (like coconut bliss) so much better! Nothing fake-tasting here. As for the silken tofu, I have a recipe or two using it in the works.