Tuesday, July 29, 2014


When it's hot, sometimes I struggle with what to eat. Most of the foods I really like are foods that are good for warming you up: spicy things, heavy things, fried things, yang things, beer, caffeine... I haven't consulted any experts, but I'm willing to hazard a guess that my pitta dosha is chronically out of wack (official term). I'm always too hot, and summers are just getting more and more brutal, so I've decided that I can only take jobs in Alaska. Actually, Alaska is probably still too hot.

So anyway, pickles! Pickles are intensely flavorful yet light, good for eating with meals in hot weather. Here are three batches I've recently made:

This last one was a bit closer to the 'salad' end of the spectrum (is there a 'pickle'-'salad' spectrum?): thinly sliced cucumbers with a lot of lime juice and basil, plus a pinch each of salt and turbinado sugar. Mint would be good here, too.

Quick Pickle with Lime and Basil

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Beer-Battered Chicken and Cornmeal-Herb Waffles

I'd never before had chicken and waffles, vegan or otherwise. But I'd been dreaming of savory waffles for ages, so when I visited my mom (who, unlike me, has a waffle iron), this seemed like a very good idea.

I adapted two recipes from the venerable vegan brunch cookbook: Using trader joe's "chickenless strips" instead of tofu, I made the beer-battered tofu recipe, and I also made the cornmeal waffles, reducing the sugar and adding some herbs.

This was delicious--the beer batter was fantastic--but it also felt really unhealthy. I'd definitely want to serve it with some greens next time. I also wasn't sure what to do about sauce: maple syrup was out, since I don't really like sweet things; maybe gravy? Spicy gravy? Something other than the abortive spurt of sriracha with which these chicken and waffles are pictured below.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Creamy Mushroom Kale Soup with Wild Rice

I loved this soup. I started with this very not-vegan recipe, but it ended up wonderful. I halved the recipe, then changed some things, but I added so much more veggies that it ended up still serving four.  You can adjust the ratio of stock to coconut milk depending on how rich you want it.

Creamy Mushroom Kale Soup with Wild Rice
(adapted from the 36th avenue)

1/3 cup dry wild rice
2 TB olive oil
2 c sliced button mushrooms, chopped
1 c sliced shiitake mushrooms (I used rehydrated ones), chopped
(any combo of 3 c mushrooms will do)
1/2 c celery, chopped
1/2 c leeks, sliced (white part only)
1/4 c fennel, chopped
2 c kale, chopped (ribs removed)
1/2 TB garlic, minced or pressed
2 TB all-purpose flour
2.5 c vegetable stock (use less stock and more coconut milk for a richer broth)
1/2 c coconut milk
fresh thyme and parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 TB scallions, minced

1. In a medium saucepan, cook wild rice according to package directions.
2. In a large stock pot on medium heat, warm olive oil. Add mushrooms, celery, leeks, fennel, and kale. Cook until liquid from mushrooms evaporates (about 5 mins); stirring frequently. Add in garlic and continue cooking for 1 minute more.
3. Whisk in flour and stir constantly for a couple of minutes. Slowly whisk in broth and half-and-half until no flour lumps remain. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until thickened. Add herbs a few minutes before finishing. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Divide in four separate bowls and add a scoop of rice to each serving.  Garnish with scallions. Serves 4.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Lemon-Fennel Beans with Dill

Mmm... lemon, fennel, and dill. This feels like a fish recipe, but it worked brilliantly as it was, with beans. I used pinto beans out of necessity, which caused the size discrepancy issue (the little things fall to the bottom), but otherwise, the pinto bean texture was just fine--still light but hearty.

The fennel is best when really browned and also simmered until seriously succulent, so take your time with this. I always think of fennel as more of a background vegetable, but here it is legitimately delicious.

I had this with wild rice and a kale-edamame saute (motivic unity of small beans?). Good.

Lemon Fennel Beans with Dill

4-5 small fennel bulbs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt 
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
Half a lemon, scrubbed and sliced or cut into wedges
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups cooked white beans (corona, cannellini, etc)
1/2 cup water (or reserved liquid from cooking the beans)
1/2 cup roughly chopped dill

  1. To prep the fennel, remove each bulb's tough outermost layer. Trim each bulb's base, and slice along the length into 1/2-inch thick wedges.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. When the oil starts to ripple and move away from the center of the pan, add the fennel. Scatter the wedges across the surface of the pan rather than gathering them into a clump, and let them sit without stirring until the sides touching the pan caramelize and brown a bit, roughly 2 minutes or so. Stir and cook for another 2 minutes or so, until the fennel has cooked through. Add the honey, lemon, salt, and wine to the pan, stirring to combine. Let the wine heat and reduce for a minute or so before adding the beans and water. Cook until the beans are warmed through, about 5 minutes.
  3. These beans are good at just about any temp- hot, warm, or at room temperature. Serve topped with a big handful of chopped dill and a drizzle of your best olive oil. Serves 4.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Dandelion Greens Pesto

I know dandelion greens are like the healthiest edible thing to ever grow, but sometimes I find them a bit too much to handle. I had a big bunch languishing in my fridge, and I just couldn't force myself to saute them with garlic and tamari yet again. So, after considering a few other recipes, I decided to make pesto, inspired by this recipe from the kitchn. I used raw cashews instead of roasted pumpkin seeds and nutritional yeast instead of parmesean, and I had to add a bit of water to get it to blend properly, but in no time I had this satisfactory (if slightly bitter) creamy pesto. It tastes very much like the nasturtium pesto I once made, though this one has more nuts and is therefore richer. Also: I just took my leftover chimichurri sauce out of the freezer and used it as pesto with pasta, and that was great too! I love basil, but it's not the only option here.

Dandelion Greens Pesto
(adapted from the kitchn)

3/4 cup raw cashews, soaked and drained
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional)
1 bunch dandelion greens (about 2 cups, loosely packed)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
black pepper, to taste


Pulse the garlic and cashews together in the bowl of a food processor until very finely chopped.

Add nutritional yeast, dandelion greens, and lemon juice and process continuously until combined. Stop the processor every now and again to scrape down the sides of the bowl. The pesto will be very thick and difficult to process after awhile. Add some water if needed.

With the blade running, slowly pour in the olive oil and process until the pesto is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes about 1-1.5 cups.