Monday, December 7, 2009

Sorry for the absence! And Sweet Potato Casserole!

November was a colossally busy month!

I'll try to get back to posting recipes ASAP, especially with xmas holidays coming around soon. Here is what I made for the sweet potato dish for thanksgiving this year.

Take 3-4 lbs sweet potatoes (probably 3-4 big sweet potatoes, or 5-6 smaller ones). Peel and scrub thoroughly, then chop into large chunks (2-3" cubes or so). Boil until a fork indicates the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Now in batches, blend the sweet potatoes with a little brown sugar (to taste, maybe 1/4-1/2 C for the whole 3-4 pounds). Season with cinnamon, vanilla extract and pumpkin pie spice. Add butter or margerine if you prefer. Either serve warm, after reheating in the oven (30 mins at 350 should do it) or spread into casserole dish and top with marshmallow halves and bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Risotto with collard greens, butternut squash and white wine.

A more complex recipe, but really delicious. I got this from the NY Times Recipes for Health section.

Peel, deseed and dice 2 small or one large butternut squash. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 425 deg F for 30-40 minutes, until tender. Get a large pot of water boiling. When it is boiling, add 1 lb of destemmed collard greens and blanch for 4 minutes. Plunge into ice water, then squeeze dry and chop roughly.

In a large pot, get 2 quarts water and stock simmering. In another large pot, thinly slice and saute one medium onion over medium-high heat. Add 3 small garlic cloves. When the onions are translucent and the garlic is fragrant, add 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 1/2 C arborio or carnaroli rice. Stir until rice is oily and grains are separate. Add 1/2 C dry white wine (sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio would be good) and allow the wine to bubble slowly with the rice. Add the 1/3 of the squash and all of the collards and stir until mixed. When the rice is about dry, add 1-2 ladlesful of the stock, each time stirring occasionally until the rice is nearly dry. This should take 20-30 minutes - the rice should be tender and chewy, also creamy. Turn the heat to low, add 1/2 C of the stock, 3-4 tbsp fresh chopped parsley and 1/2 C grated parmesan. Add salt or pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Easy Improved cream of mushroom soup II

Cream of mushroom is generally pretty mediocre from a can, but it's a good base to make a great soup from.

In a large pot, saute 1 medium onion, sliced thinly, with a variety of mushrooms (I use portobello and white) sliced thin. When the onions are translucent, turn the heat down and add the condensed soup + 1 can of water or milk. Whisk the onions, mushrooms and soup until fully blended. Add 1/2 package frozen cauliflower and 1/2 package frozen broccoli. Keep heat at medium, cover until soup is bubbling. When soup is bubbling gently, season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and serve, garnishing with cheddar if desired.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Chickpea curry

Cook or buy a can of cooked chickpeas.

Thinly slice 2 medium onions and saute a tthe bottom of a big soup pot. Sprinkle liberally with curry powder. Cube 2 potatoes (I like red potatoes here) and add in with the onions. Add more curry if needed. slice a red bell pepper and add to the potatoes and onions. Add 3-4C cooked chickpeas in liquid and reduce heat to med-low. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Add one or more chopped zucchini and more curry powder if needed. Continue to simmer until zucchini is soft. Add salt, garnish with cashews, walnuts and/or fresh cilantro if desired. Good alone or over rice.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

what we need more of... is soup! Rainy October Soup Fun fest

Two awesome and really super easy recipes for a good hearty vegetable soup.

Veggie Chowder

thinly slice 2 small onions and several mushrooms (creminis are my fave here). Grab a bag or can of corn and a family size can of cream of mushroom soup. Also a couple potatoes, cubed. Put a large soup pot on your burner, add a little oil and turn on med-high heat. Add the onions and potatoes. Once the onions are translucent, add the mushrooms. When everything is looking maybe 50-75% cooked, add and reconstitute the mushroom soup and the can or bag of corn. Let simmer on low for 30-60 minutes, until onions and potatoes are tender. Add fresh pepper and serve.

Lentil Dal

Thinly slice 2 small onions and 2-3 medium potatoes. Get out curry powder and a soup pot. At med-high heat, add the onions and potatoes to the pot with some oil and add copious amounts of curry to the mix. When onions are translucent, add 2 cups dry picked over brown lentils and fry for a couple minutes with the curry potatoes and onions. Add water to cover and reduce heat to med-low. Lentils should be done in 20-30 minutes, simmer longer for a creamier soup. Garnish with sour cream or whole fat yogurt and cilantro.

Monday, September 28, 2009

cold curry and pasta salad

I've been going to the sunset valley farmers market recently, and I bought another pesto from sgt peppers - red curry, which is mainly roasted red peppers and curry powder, with some sunflower seeds (in place of the pine nuts) and some parm.

TO prep for this recipe, I've already cooked up some chickpeas and have them stored in the fridge in their cooking broth, canned in fine too, you'll need about a cup of chickpeas for this recipe.

For the pasta, I like bowties (farfalle) or cavatappi, but gemelli would work well too.

Get a large pot of water on high heat for the pasta and a large saucepan for the curry sauce. Add a little oil to the pan, preferably peanut or olive. Finely chop a small onion and saute. Dice 3-4 medium roma tomatoes and set aside. Finely dice (like 1/4" cubes) a zucchini and a summer squash and add to the pan with the onions. Add the tomatoes to the pan when the onions begin to look translucent and reduce heat to medium. Season liberally with curry powder and a littel salt and pepper. Add 1 C cooked chickpeas with some liquid and reduce heat to medium low. Let simmer while you cook the pasta (probably 8-10 minutes). Drain the pasta and place in a large bowl or tupperware container.

Add 2-4 tbsp of the pesto to the pan, reduce heat to low and gently mix until the pesto and curry mixture are combined. Pour over the drained pasta and mix. Serve chilled or hot, depending on the season.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

creamsicle smoothie

Silken tofu is pretty awesome, it's got great texture and a lot of protein. It will taste like whatever you want it to taste like. Use soft tofu for smoothies, and firm for dips and spreads.

Add 1 block silken soft tofu to a blender. Add 1 C orange juice and 1-2 tbsp orange juice concentrate. Add 2 tbsp sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Blend until combined and add 4 ice cubes, then blend again until ice cubes are crushed. Pour and enjoy!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

almond joy cookies/cookies filled with preserves

These cookies are great, and actually decently full of protein because of the almonds.

Melt 1/2 C butter and cream with 1/2 C unpacked brown sugar and 1/2 C white sugar. Cream until smooth and beat in one egg and one tsp vanilla extract. Add 1 1/4 C white flour in several additions, then grind 1 C blanched almonds in a spice grinder until powdery and mix in.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Get a bag of high cocoa chocolate chips and some shredded coconut. Roll a tsp ball of batter into the coconut, place on a cookie sheet and use your thumb to make a small inentation in the cookie. Put 2-3 chips in each indentation.

For preserve filled cookies, grab some good jam (we tried strawberry, raspberry and orange marmalade) and roll the dough into ball, then indent with your thumb and fill with about 1/4 tsp preserves.

Bake on ungreased cookie sheets for 8-10 minutes, until browed. Let cool before removing from the pan.

farfalle with roasted chipotle pumpkin pesto

I paid a visit to the Sunset Valley farmers market in So. Austin yesterday. Sgt Pepper's Hot sauce company sells a line of lovely and creative pestos as well as hot sauces and i tried and loved the chipotle pumpkin - slightly sweet and smokey.

I got a pot of water heating and a bag of farfalle out. Chop a zucchini and a small onion and get them to saute-ing in a little oil. Season liberally with garlic, italian seasoning and fresh herbs if you got any (especially basil). Reconstitute some sun dried tomatoes (put in a glass bowl with some water and heat for 90 seconds in a microwave OR pour some boiling water over them to cover. Once they are soft, pout the liquid into your pan with the onions and zukes, then dice and add to the pan. Add a small quantity of tomato puree or marinara sauce and stir until you have a chunky sauce with a thin liquid beneath it. Let everything cook down a little, then reduce heat to low and add about a 1/4C of pesto and mix to combine.

When the water boils, add the farfalle and boil for 10-14 minutes (just taste the pasta occasionally and stop it when done and drain). Top with a little olive oil, then some sauce. Garnish with a little parmesan if desired.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Broccoli soup inspired by Colleen!

This soup was originally made without the onions, beans and sour cream by my friend Colleen. I love cream soups, and here is a lovely way to do one without dying from all the heavy fats. Minus the sour cream and queso fresco, this is vegan (and mozzarella vegan-rella would go really well with the soup too).

Get a large soup pot with a cover ready with a steamer in the bottom and about 1/2" of water in the bottom of the pot. Cut up 1.5 large or 2 medium heads of broccoli and steam until tender but crisp (or use a bag of frozen). Blend in blender (2-3 batches) with (plain) soy milk (enough to cover) and some sliced almonds then return to the soup pot. Thinly slice a small onion and peel 2-3 garlic cloves. Add 1 C cooked great northern beans to a pan and heat up. Add the onion, garlic and almonds and gently saute until the onion is transparent. Blend in batches with soy milk if necessary and add to the soup pot. Add a drizzle of olive oil and a lot of freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste. Simmer until thick and slightly reduced. Garnish with sour cream and queso fresco (or mozzarella).

Monday, August 10, 2009

Hummus, with or without red pepper

Hummus is really easy to make, despite how much it costs at the store. This recipe makes about a quart of great hummus.

I generally soak a whole bunch of chickpeas and then use them for hummus, indian dishes or on salads. You'll need 2 cups cooked chickpeas for a quart of hummus. This should be about 2/3 C dry. Soak the chickpeas in water for 4-8 hours (more is better). Place in a pressure cooker, with water used for soaking and heat on high (with pressure cooker top on to pressurize). Cook at high heat for about 30 minutes, then use a knife to gently tap the top of the pressure cooker to release steam. Once the steam is all released, open the pressure cooker, take out a chickpea, cool it and taste it. If it's soft and even slightly mushy, it's done. If not, try another 10-20 minutes in the pressure cooker.

Take 2 cups of the cooked chickpeas and place in a food processor (a small amount of cooking liquid included here is good). Add 1/2 C tahini, 1/4 C lemon, 1-3 cloves garlic and cumin and paprika to taste. Pulse briefly, then add 1-3 roasted red peppers. I buy these in jars, in the canned food section, as bell peppers are very expensive currently. Salt and pepper to taste, then keep in refrigerator until ready to serve. Good on pitas and sandwiches and with raw vegetables.

baba ghanoush

Traditional eggplant spread, great on pitas or sandwiches.

Cut a large eggplant in half and trim the leaves off of the top. Pop into the oven at 400 degrees, cut side up, for 40 minutes. Dunk into cold water when done, the eggplant should be very soft and the skins should be bubbling off. Put the halves into a food processor with about 1/8th C lemon juice, 1/4 C tahini (sesame butter, try your local coop or health food store), 1-3 cloves garlic (depending on how much you like it) and salt and pepper to taste. I also like to add a bit of chili powder if I've got it around. Pulse until blended and chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

Monday, July 27, 2009

easy blueberry muffins

Made with frozen blueberries, you can enjoy these all year round.

Makes 8 large or 12 medium muffins.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease or line muffin tins with paper wrappers.

Mix together 2 C all purpose flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 C sugar, dash cinnamon, 1 tsp lemon zest (optional). Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and crack an egg into it. Pour 1 1/4 C yogurt into the well with the egg and mix ingredients until everything looks moist (batter can be lumpy). Add 1 C blueberries and distribute into muffin tins. Sprinkle tops of muffins with a little sugar - turbinado is especially good for this. Bake for 25-30 mins at 350 and let rest 5 mins before removing from cupcake tins.

Palak with tofu (palak paneer)

I'm a big fan of Indian food, but don't always like to go the whole 9 yards. Paneer, a traditional inian cottage cheese, is easy to make, but time consuming (you basically boil a gallon whole milk with a quart yogurt until curds form, then strain and press those curds to form a cheese block). Tofu is a healthy tasty paneer stand in when you don't have the time to make paneer.

Cube a pound of tofu and set out on paper towels to drain. Once drained, saute with curry powder until browned ad remove from heat. Thinly slice 3 small or 2 medium white onions and saute, sprinkling liberally with curry powder until translucent. Add about 3/4 package (12oz) chopped frozen spinach (no need to thaw) and stir until thawed. Run the whole mixture through a blender or food processor, pulsing until smooth but not quite pureed with 1/2 C whole fat yogurt or sour cream. Return to the pan with tofu and simmer on low.

Start some rice - either 1 C brown or 1 C white in a saucepan with 3 C water. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered until grain are fluffy and soft (white rice: 20 min, brown rice 30-40 min).

Monday, July 20, 2009

homemade whipped cream

So simple, but lots of people my age don't know how to make it. Fresh whipped cream is one of life's simple joys. Buy heavy whipping cream, as fresh as you can get it, and ideally the ingredients should say "Cream" and nothing else.

Use 8oz cream if you've having a few people over for waffles or sunday brunch, more (1 pint) if you're going to be serving lots of ice cream or dessert.

Pour 8 or 16 oz cream into chilled metal or glass bowl. Add 1/2 tsp vanilla extract per 8oz cream and 1-2 tbsp per 8oz cream. Grab a hand held mixer and start beating at the lowest speed to start, slowly increasing speed as the bubbles get smaller and the mixture get frothier. Beat until you hit stiff peaks, but not any further, or you'll get a lumpy mixture with tiny butter granules in it. Stiff peaks are when you can lift the beaters out of the cream and the cream sticks straight up, and flops over very little.


Smoothies are one of my favorite ways to eat a healthy breakfast. You'll definitely need a solid blender for this one - I have an Oster Pro and it only takes a few seconds to blend everything together. TO cut costs and also keep everything cold, I use a lot of frozen fruit. Here is the smoothie I made this morning:

(add in this order for best results)

1/2 C frozen raspberries
3/4 C frozen strawberries
1 C full fat yogurt (plain, no sugar)
1 medium banana, broken into several pieces (best if they're just beginning to get a few spots)
1 tbsp sugar/honey
1-2 tbsp orange juice concentrate

blend until the frozen fruit is completely pulverized. Add 4 ice cubes and blend until ice is crushed. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

soaking beans

Dried beans are my favorite as it's easier to cook them to your favorite consistency and flavor them accordingly. Great Northern beans are one of my favorites - give them a nice long soak, boil them up with a little broth, and they taste buttery and creamy.

Pour a pound of beans into a large bowl and give them the once over, discarding any non-bean particles and sketchy looking beans. Rinse once with cold water, then cover by 2-3 inches and let soak, about 8 hours. I try to get them soaking before work so they're ready when I get home.

After the soak, pour off the soaking water and re-cover with an inch or so of fresh water. Put into a large stock pot, turn heat to high and cover. Add stock or stock concentrate now. I like Minor's vegetable base, it goes really well with these beans. Set your timer for an hour, then take a bean out, cool it and eat it. If it's tough, keep going for another 30 minutes and try again, if you like your beans really soft, go for another hour (the skins might burst). You can also use a pressure cooker, just make sure not to overfill it and go for about 20-30 minutes at a time with presoaked beans.

I like to make quick vegetable soups out of the beans using frozen spinach and cauliflower and maybe a few tomatoes (sun dried are lovely). Since the beans are cooked, just get some water going, put the frozen vegetables in the pot and once they're thawed, throw some cooked beans in the pot and let it all mix together for 5-10 minutes at near boiling. You can also freeze the just cooked beans for future use. One pound of beans makes about 2 quarts cooked (I store them in clean yogurt containers).

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Banana Bread

A good simple banana bread, takes maybe 15 minutes to make the batter and about an hour to cook.

preheat the oven to 350 and grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan.

Mash 3 large ripe bananas together until smooth. Mix with about 1/2 C strong coffee. Add a dash cinnamon and 2 sticks melted/softened butter and 3/4 C loose brown sugar. Beat in 2 large eggs. Mix well and add 1.5 tsp baking powder and 1 C all purpose flour and 1 C whole wheat flour (pastry flour if you can find it). Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for one hour.

milk chocolate chip cake

Made for a friend's birthday who isn't a fan of dark chocolate, I used this recipe as a guide:

The cake is the same there as it is here, but the ganache changes and is made using milk chocolate and no caramel filling (as milk is much sweeter than dark chocolate.

Bring 3 C heavy cream to a simmer (steam rising off the pan) and remove from heat. Combine with 1.5 pounds milk chocolate chips in a bowl and whisk to combine until thoroughly mixed. Add a generous dash of cinnamon if you like. Place in refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease 3 shallow or two deep cake pans, about 9" in diameter.

In a bowl, sift/mix together 2 C sugar, 1 3/4 C all purpose flour, 3/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1 1/2 tsp each of baking powder and soda. Add 1 C whole milk, 2 large eggs, and 1 stick melted butter. Once the ingredients are combined, add 1 C strong coffee to the mix. Divide the batter evenly amongst your pans and bake for 32 minutes.

Once the cake is done, allow to cool completely and then gently remove from pans. Place a layer onto a surface you can use to construct and serve the cake - I use a cake container. Cover the layer with ganache and evenly spread more chocolate chips. Place the second layer op top of the first and again cover with ganache. Follow with your third layer, if you have one, or finish by evenly spreading the top and sides of the cake with the remaining ganache. freeze or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

awesome buttermilk cornbread

A good solid cornbread. Good with chili on top.

Grease a loaf pan and set the oven to 375 F.

Cream 1/2 C butter or smart balance with 1/2 C sugar and beat in two eggs. Add 1 C buttermilk and 1/2 tsp baking soda. Mix in 1 C cornmeal, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tbsp chipotle or chili powder and 1 C all purpose flour. Pour into loaf pan and bake for 40 minutes.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

nutella peanut butter cookies

Basically like a regular peanut butter cookie, but half of the PB is replaced by nutella, and 1/2 C flour is replaced by cocoa powder.

preheat oven to 375 F.

cream 1 C smart balance with 1/2 C chunky natural peanut butter and 1/2 C nutella. Add in 1/2 C white sugar and 1 C packed brown sugar. Beat in 2 eggs, then 1/2 C cocoa powder, then 2 C all purpose flour and 1 1/2 tsp baking soda. Mix well, refrigerate for about 30 minutes, then roll into balls and flatten onto baking sheet with fork tines. Bake for about 10 minutes, then cool. THe batter also freezes well for future use!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

easy orange-ginger tofu stir fry

A quick and easy dinner or lunch.

add 1.5 C brown rice and 3C water to a cooking pot an bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat.

Cube 1/2 lb tofu and drain on paper towels. In a heavy bottomed saucepan or wok, saute the tofu until browned. While the tofu is browning, in a bowl mix together 1 tbsp sesame oil, 1/2 C soy sauce, 1-2 tsp sambal, 1-3 chopped scallions if you have them, ~1tbsp grated ginger and 1 tbsp brown sugar. Peel part of the rind of an orange (using a vegetable peeler and mincing, or small grater) and add to the mix. When the tofu is browned, add to the liquid, adding a small amount of water (1-2 tbsp) if desired. Allow to marinate while you fix the vegetables.

Chop 1/2 medium head broccoli into florets, 2 carrots into diagonal rounds, slice several mushrooms and cut one zucchini into rounds. Saute for 2-3 minutes in the same pan you browned the tofu in, the add 2-3 tbsp of water and 1 minced clove of garlic and cover on medium until the carrots are tender but not mushy. Add the tofu and sauce and simmer uncovered on low. Check the rice to see if it's done (taste a small portion, if it's at all crunchy, it's not there yet, cooked brown rice is chewy, nutty and the grains should be opening up on the sides).

When the rice is done, top a portion with vegetables, tofu and sauce and enjoy. Garnish with cilantro if you like.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

coconut lime chili sea scallops

A really simple way to prepare scallops on or off the grill.

Buy 1 - 1.5 lbs sea scallops from a reputable fishmonger. Place in a pan large enough so the scallops are next to each other but not really piled on top of each other. Squeeze fresh lime juice (about one lime's worth) onto the scallops, then pour coconut milk on top. Add a small amount of chili powder and a small amount of salt and pepper to the mix and marinate for about an hour, more if desired.

Cook the scallops in a fish basket on a charcoal grill or in a nonstick pan on the stove until lightly brown. Serve hot.

coconut-heavy carrot cake

I made this a little last minute, so I didn't have pineapple or walnuts, two traditional carrot cake ingredients, but the cake was a big hit anyway!

Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a 9 x 13 cake pan.

Grate a few carrots, to make 2.5 C grated carrot. Place in a large bowl and beat in three eggs. Spice liberally with ground cloves, cinnamon (vietnamese if possible), ginger, nutmeg and vanilla extract. Add 1/2 C smart balance and 1/2 C vegetable oil. Beat in 1.5 C white sugar, or brown if you have it on hand. Add 1/2 C raisins and 1/2 C coco creme (coco lopez) and 1/2 C sweetened shredded coconut. Finally add 2 cups all purpose flour (whole wheat if you have it) and 2 tsp baking soda. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 1 hour. Remove and cool completely, then frost with cream cheese frosting.

Frosting: use about 2 tbsp neufchatel cream cheese and 2 tbsp smart balance. Use a form to blend together until smooth and completely blended. Add about a cup of confectioners sugar and a few drops of vanilla extract and cream together until blended. Gradually add more sugar, using a few drops of hot water to keep the mixture smooth until frosting is sweet and thick (probably about 3 cups).

Saturday, May 30, 2009

vegan chocolate orange pudding

One of the best, fastest vegan desserts to make.

Buy a package of silken tofu (Mori-Nu is a common brand in the US) either soft or firm and remove from package. Break up and place in food processor. Add 1/4 C cocoa powder and 1/4-1/2 C sugar/sweetener (honey, agave.....) depending on how sweet you like your pudding. Add 1 tsp orange extract, 2 tbsp orange juice or concentrate, or 1 tbsp finely minced orange rind (or any combination of the above). Pulse until smooth, and push unblended sections down off the walls of the food processor and pulse again. Remove from processor bowl and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cauliflower curry with cashews and raisins (and tomatoes and zucchini)

This is a great fast curry for cold days. Use the basic curry powder I've mentioned previously, or just experiment with a good mix of indian spices (ideally pepper, cumin, coriander and tumeric to start, add more spices as you gain confidence).

Roughly chop a head of cauliflower and cube a pound of tofu. Place both in a large saucepan and turn heat to high. Saute/simmer for 10 or so minutes, then chop 3 tomatoes and add to pan. Sprinkle with curry powder and chop two zucchini and add to pan. Add 1/2 C cashews, 1/2 C raisins, 1/2 C chopped cilantro and cover. Simmer for 20-30 minutes while cooking 1 1/2 C long grain white rice (1 1/2 C white rice, 3 C water, cover, boil and bring to a simmer for 20 mins).

Once rice and curry are done, serve together with yogurt and fresh cilantro to garnish.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Epic Omelette

This is one of my favorite omelettes to make - mushroom, feta and spinach. If you have some kalamata olives those are great too, and tzatziki is a great garnish.

Serves 2:

Beat 4 eggs until fully blended, add some freshly ground black pepper and a little fresh or dried tarragon. Get out a bag of frozen spinach so it can thaw a bit.

Slice the mushrooms - portobellos or creminis are really good here, but white mushrooms are good too. Saute the mushrooms in a little olive oil until cooked and put into a bowl.

Pour the eggs into the pan (same one you used for mushrooms) and keep the pan temperature to medium - you don't want to burn the eggs! Sprinkle a little spinach around one half of the pan, on top of the eggs, and them add the mushrooms and a little feta on top (also the olives if you have them, sliced in halves or quarters).

Once the egg all apears cooked (firm, not dry, but not runny) use your spatula to gently release the edge of the egg around the edge of the pan. Get your spatula under the half of the eggs without all the cheese and goodies and gently fold the plain half onto the filling. You want to cook the underside of the omelette to make sure the eggs are completely done and the fillings are all mixed together. Grab a large circular plat and gently plunk it on top of the omelette hemisphere. Place one hand on the pan handle and the other supporting the plate, and flip the omelette onto the plate. Slide it back into the pan, (upside down, now) and allow the omelette to cook for another 5ish minutes, until the eggs are lightly browned on both sides.

Serve with toast and tzatziki or sour cream to garnish.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

lemon poppyseed cake!

This cake is great with a glaze or without and can also be made into muffins.

Heat the oven to 325 F.

In a bowl, mix 2 C all purpose flour with 2 tsp of baking powder and 1 tsp salt.

In a separate bowl, soften or melt 1 C butter (unsalted) and cream together with 2 C granulated white sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in 3 eggs, one at a time. Add zest of one lemon and a little lemon extract. Add a couple tablespoons poppy seeds. Slowly mix in 1 C sour cream, alternating with the flour mixture. Pour batter into a greased bundt pan or muffin tins. Bake 1 hr for a cake, and for the muffins, when an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Lemon glaze:

Blend 2-3C confectioners sugar with 1 tbsp soft butter and 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice. Pour over cooled cake.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


So we made tzatziki, now we'll make falafel.

Soak a cup of dried chickpeas for 20-24 hours in water. Chickpeas expand a lot, so cover them with 3-4 inches of water.

Pulse the drained chickpeas in a food processor with 1 tsp coriander powder, 1 tbsp cumin, 1 tsp cayenne or chili powder, 1/2 C chopped cilantro, 1/2 C chopped parsley, 1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice, 1/2 tsp baking soda, dash sea salt and 1 small onion, quartered. Make sure the falafel batter is somewhat dry, but still sticks together. If it's too dry, add a few drops of lemon juice. Once the batter is smooth and uniform in texture (it will be somewhat gritty) heat up a deep saucepan with about half an inch or so of vegetable oil in it. once the oil is just barely bubbling, and a drop of batter fries quickly, you're ready to go.

Make the falafel batter into tablespoon sized balls and drop into the oil, no crowding! While the first batch is in the pan, set a timer for 5 mins, grab a slotted spoon and some paper bags or paper towls for draining the falafel. After about 2-3 minutes, turn the falafels over using the slotted spoon. The undersides should be brown. After another 2-3 minutes, remove and drain.
Continue until all the falafels are done.

Serve with lettuce and tomato (and kalamata olives if you have them) in pita bread with tzatziki sauce.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tzatziki sauce!

This is basically strained yogurt, flavored with dill, salt, garlic and cucumbers. It's good on gyros and great with falafel (hopefully I'll post a falafel recipe tonight!)

Using the yogurt recipe, make half a gallon of yogurt and let it set for ~7 hours. Line a colander with fine cheesecloth (use multiple layers) and place some sort of drainage pan to catch the whey under the colander. Pour the set yogurt into the colander and allow to drain overnight.

Once the whey has drained (about a quart will drain from a half gallon of yogurt) finely chop some dill and a few garlic cloves (I'd use a lot, maybe 4-5, but I love garlic a lot, do this to taste). Set the dill and garlic in a bowl together with a sprinkle of sea salt (maybe 1 tsp). Peel and chop a cucumber (remove the seeds) and mix with a little salt to dry it out. Pour off the cucumber liquid.

Put the yogurt into a food processor, pulse once and add the other ingredients. Pulse until smooth and uniform. This will keep a week or two in the fridge (I use an old clean yogurt container to store it).

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

5/6/09 Sorry it's been a while, and A Tangy Salad!

Sorry for the long break! Totally unintentional. Anyway, here is an awesome salad I made last night.

Cut a pound of firm tofu into squares/triangles and sear in a pan on high heat in a little vegetable and sesame oil until browned and crisp on the outside. Turn the heat down to medium and add about a tablespoon of say sauce to the pan and toss until the tofu has an even coating. Turn the heat off completely and dust with nutritional yeast (NOT brewers yeast). Set aside.

Thinly slice a golden delicious apple and wash, then roughly chop some lettuce or mesclun mix (red leaf is really good here). Crush some roasted and salted peanuts or cashews.

Construct the salad by tossing the greens with some Annie's Goddess dressing (it's very easy to make this dressing as well, it's tahini and citrus mostly, with some herbs thrown in) placing the apples on the lettuce and topping with the warm tofu. Garnish with the crushed nuts. I really like this salad as it has a lot of different flavors and a good balance of fat, protein and carbohydrates.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

4/26/09: Vanilla/Chocolate cake with Orange buttercream frosting

A great flavorful cake!

Set over to 350 and grease two 8-9" cake pans.

Mince 1 vanilla bean and place into 1/2 C boiling water and let steep.

Mix together 1 C white flour, 3/4 C cocoa powder, 1.5tsp baking powder, 1 tsp cinnamon and .5 tsp salt.

Separate four eggs. Mix 5/8 C white sugar with 5/8 C brown sugar with the vanilla water and the yolks and 1/4 C neutral oil (canola, veg, etc). Add flour/cocoa mixture and mix well.

Beat whites to stiff peaks and fold by hand into batter.

divide batter into pans, bake for 25 minutes. Turn cakes out onto wire racks or cutting boards to cool.

Heat 1/2 stick butter until melted in stove or microwave. zest 1/2 - 1 orange rind into orange and mix with 10X confectioners sugar (or grind your own in the coffee/spice grinder) until thick. Add about 1/4 C milk and a bit more 10x confectioners until the frosting is drippy but a fingertip will hold about a tsp of frosting.

Once cake is cooled, spread frosting on the bottom layer, and place the top layer on top. Frost the top and sides. Serve - especially good with whipped cream or a good vanilla gelato.

4/26/09: Making Yogurt

Yogurt is 2.09 a quart. Milk is around 3.50 per gallon. Using this logic, I deicided to try to make yogurt at home to save money. You'll need a thermometer that goes from 100 F to 220 F, gallon/half gallon of milk, 1 or 2 cups of yogurt, a large glass jar (or old yogurt containers), a towel and a warm place to keep the yogurt for 7-14 hours.

Pour the milk into a large deep saucepan and slowly bring to a boil (if you have a large capacity double boiler, use it!). Put the yogurt in a bowl at room temperature and allow to warm while the milk heats up. bring the milk just to a boil and remove from heat. When the temperature reaches around 105 F, whisk the milk and yogurt together and put into the glass bottle. Close the bottle gently (less than finger tight) and wrap in a warm towel. Place in a warm spot (or in an insulated cooler) for 7-12 hours, then refrigerate.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

4/21/09: Udon with broccoli, tofu and shiitakes

Basic recipe is from the New York Times:

Get a large pot on water boiling, and chop a head of broccoli (about a pound) into florets. Cut a half pound of firm (or dry) tofu into squares, bite sized. Cut your shiitakes (~6oz, but if you're low on shiitakes, cut up some creminis to add) into slices. Now would also be a good time to get out your sambal or red chiles, peel a couple garlic cloves, grab some ginger root and a grater and make sure you've got your udon (or soba) noodles ready to go, with a couple big bowls for putting stuff into.

First, the broccoli - blanch for a minute in the boiling water and remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl, but keep the water hot as you'll need it for the udon.

Get a deep saucepan heating on high with about a tbsp of oil (I like peanut) in it. Once the oil is hot, saute the shiitakes for a few minutes until they begin to soften and look translucent. Turn the heat down to medium, add 4-6 chopped scallions, about a tsp of sambal (chile and garlic paste), some grated ginger (about a tablespoon, and I freeze the ginger beforehand so it's super easy to grate) and a couple crushed garlic cloves. Saute until fragrant and add to the broccoli bowl. Udon takes about ~12 minutes to cook (soba takes 8), so add it to the boiling water now.

Keep the temp hot on the pan and add the tofu. A little sesame oil or soy sauce would go well here, and stir fry the tofu until it is lightly browned, then add all the mushrooms and broccoli back into the pan. Grab some stock, or stock concentrate and dissolve about a tsp into a cup of water and add to the pan with mushrooms and broccoli. Let simmer on medium low while the udon is cooking.

When the udon is done, drain the noodles and put into a big bowl. Pour the broccoli/mushroom/tofu mix on the noodles, toss a bit and enjoy.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

4/16/09: Fast lunch, leftover pilaf with vegetables

I had some of that pilaf I made the other day left over, and wanted to turn it into a lunch.

Cut up 1/4 lb of hard tofu into chunks (squares, triangles...) and toss into a hot pan with some sesame oil. Chop maybe 1/3 of a head of broccoli and a few shiitake mushrooms (or other good mushrooms) and add to the pan once the tofu has begun to brown. Cover for a couple minutes to allow the broccoli to steam and soften slightly, then uncover and splash with soy sauce (maybe 1-2 tbsp) and turn heat off. Allow to cool, and add to rice. This is a dish that can be elaborated on immensely, but when you need to leave for work and want to bring in lunch, this gets you food in under 10 minutes. If you've got extra time, consider adding a bit of ginger, some green onions at the end or some nuts to garnish. You can also do the tofu and vegetables separately, and dress the tofu with soy sauce and sprinkle with nutritional yeast, which is just delicious.

4/16/09: Easy soba noodles with vegetables and thai peanut sauce

This one is easy mainly because I am using Thai Kitchen's Peanut Satay sauce as a base, but mixing a good peanut butter (should contain peanuts and nothing else) with a little sugar, coconut milk and sambal (chiles and garlic) will give you the same general feel. Definitely use fresh cilantro if you've got it with this recipe.

Get a couple quarts of water covered and ready to boil for the soba noodles.

Chop a head of broccoli, a couple carrots, 1/2-3/4 pound hard tofu, some mushrooms and some green onions. Stir fry vegetables for a few minutes, then add tofu and cover for 5-10 minutes, this steams the vegetables so they'll be tender, and uses the water from the tofu to do it.

Open the satay sauce and scoop into a large bowl. Rinse the jar the sauce came in with water and add to the sauce in the bowl. Add some sambal, or chopped red chiles and a couple cloves of garlic. If you have thai basil, chop some clean leaves and add them to the sauce. Turn the heat down on your vegetables and tofu (med-low) and add the sauce. Let simmer while the noodles cook.

Once your water is boiling, put the soba noodles (I cook 8 oz packages) in the water and boil for 8 minutes or until the noddles are soft but not mushy. Drain.

Grab some noodles (tongs or a pasta spoon work well for this) and dress with the sauce, and garnish with peanuts (or cashews) and fresh cilantro if you've got it. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

4/14/09: A good pilaf

Rice pilaf is probably one of the more marketed and packaged dishes that are really easy to do. Middle East (food company) markets about 10 billion varieties of pilaf, but real rice pilaf is not only cheaper, but a lot better for you. I ran out of brown rice, so this recipe uses white rice.

Pour 1 quart (4C) water into a medium sized saucepan. Add some stock cubes or better than bullion type concentrated stock and whisk into solution. Add 2 C white rice and bring to a boil over high heat. While waiting for everything to boil, add 2 large crushed or finely minced garlic cloves and some freshly ground black pepper. Fresh or dried thyme and sage would also be good here. If you have it, add about a quarter to half a cup of orzo (available in the rice section of most supermarkets). Once the rice is boiling, bring to a simmer for 20-25 minutes, taking the lid off at the end if there is extra moisture that needs to be steamed off. This recipe would also be good with nuts, particularly almonds if slivered, or pecans. The nuts can be added at either the beginning or the end, depending on what texture you desire.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

4/12/09: Oft requested - overnight waffles

I definitely got this recipe from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything.

Do this the night before you want to eat the waffles, and allow at least 8+ hours to rise.

In a large bowl, put 2 cups white or wheat flour or a mix, 1-2 tbsp sugar, dash cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1-2 tsp yeast (instant or non-instant, either works). Add 1/2 C melted butter (I use smart balance) and 2 C milk or substitute (I use silk). Mix gently until loose and creamy. Cover with saran wrap, leave in a warm place (70ish degree if possible) and allow to rise o/n.

In the morning, separate 2 eggs and add the yolks to the risen batter. Beat the whites (using a whisk or electric mixer) until they form soft peaks and gently fold into the batter using your hand or a silicone baking spatula. Make as pancakes on a hot griddle or as waffles in a waffle iron and enjoy. ALWAYS serve with real maple syrup if possible ;).

These are also good when adding chocolate chips or nuts to the batter if desired. You can make these into gingerbread waffles/pancakes by grating some fresh ginger into the batter, at least 1-2 tbsp, and maybe adding a little brown sugar and cloves/more cinnamon and nutmeg.

Friday, April 10, 2009

4/10/09: Kosher for Passover - Quinoa Pilaf

This one is great, since it adapts to many restricted diets - it's kosher, as well as kosher for passover (quinoa is I think the only allowed grain since it's technically a grass), vegan and gluten free.

Chop an onion finely into slices and grate 1-2 medium carrots. Stir fry in a deep pot (one you'd use to cook rice or other grains in) until slightly browned, add a couple crushed cloves of garlic if you like and add the quinoa and gently stir fry until slightly browned. Add water to cover by an inch or two and cover. Boil for a couple minutes then bring down to a simmer. If you have some good fresh or dried herbs, add them now. I used thyme, sage and rosemary (no parsley though!). Set a kitchen timer to 25 minutes and let the quinoa simmer.

While the quinoa is cooking, thinly slice 1-2 medium portobello caps (med to me is ~3" in diameter) ~2 C white mushrooms, and ~10 shiitake caps. These three are nice and easy to find, but any good mushroom will work here, the more variety, the better. Slice, and saute in a nonstick pan with a little olive oil for flavor. You can add a little fresh or dried tarragon here if you like. Once the mushrooms are done, tip them on top of the cooking quinoa, grind a good bit of sea salt and fresh black pepper on top and let finish cooking. If the quinoa is tender but still a bit wet, take the cover off and let cook on low-medium heat for 5-10 minutes to let the water boil off. If the quinoa is still hard-ish, recover, add a little more water if needed and let simmer for 5-10 minutes and test again. If you bring this to a seder or potluck, cover the entire pot in a towel to keep it warm!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

4/9/09: deluxe red curry

This is red curry with all the trimmings! We had tofu, scrambled egg, avocado, broccoli, bamboo shoots, straw mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, portobello mushrooms and white button mushrooms. Also included were a sauce of sambal and red curry paste (thai kitchen) in coconut milk. I added a little soy sauce as well. This verison of the recipe feeds 4-6.

First get your brown rice going (or white) in a deep pot. pretty much add as much rice as you want, cover by about an inch of water, put on the stove and bring to a boil, then simmer until done (probably 30-40 minutes for brown rice).

open a can of cocnut milk (we needed a 24 ounce can for this recipe) and whisk in about 2-3Tbsp of red curry paste, add thai basil leaves (washed and chopped, as much as you like)

chop a head of broccoli into florets, slice 1-3 carrots on the diagonal, and slice the mushrooms thinly. Zucchini would go well here, if you have it.

Chop a pound of tofu into cubes and stir fry in a non-stick pan until brown. Once done, let marinade in red curry and coconut.

In a large wok or frying pan, stir fry the vegetables until crisp but cooked (DON'T add the avocado yet!). If you are using canned bamboo shoots or other canned vegetables, wait until near the end to add, and I prefer to add the veggies drained of their water, personally. When the veggies are almost done, turn the heat down to medium-low and pour the tofu and sauce into the wok. Let simmer.

Beat 2-3 eggs in a bowl and gently scramble in a non-stick pan, Chop roughly with the spatula and add to the simmering curry. Add the avocado at this time as well, cut into chunks or slices.

There you go! The rice should be about done by the time you finish cooking, so ladle some curry onto the rice and have at it!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

4/7/09: Breakfast - yogurt and berries

Probably my favorite breakfast ever, aside from yeasted waffles.

cut up some strawberries, wash (maybe half a cup).
wash half a cup of blackberries (or raspberries, cloudberries, etc)

I put the berries in a 16oz mason jar and sprinkle about a tsp of sugar (~12g) on top to get the berries to release moisture. top with about a cup of plain yogurt (high fat is best, but low fat is acceptable, especially if greek yogurt is used) and maybe a little vanilla extract or cinnamon if you like. I then ride my bike to work with this jar in my backpack (encased in a bread bag to prevent spills) and everything gets all mixed and ready to eat by the time I get to work. This recipe is why I can't really excuse myself from breakfast anymore - it's too easy to make.

4/5/09: Sunday dessert! Coconut Lime Bars

This recipe is from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

grate 4 tsp lime zest from 3-4 limes (this is a lot of zest, measure it accurately for a true lime flavor here). Mix the zest with half a cup of sugar and one cup butter (cream it!) and 2 cups flour. Mix well and press into a 9 x 13 ungreased pan - this is your crust. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. Remove and cool a bit, make the filling while it cooks.

Beat 6 eggs with 3 cups sugar and 1/2 C fresh squeezed lime juice (I like to add some vanilla bean or extract here) until bright, uniform and fluffy. Add 6 tbsp flour and 1 tsp baking soda and mix well. Pour on top of the crust and top with some coconut (sweetened and unsweetened work well). Cook at 350 for 25-30 minutes and allow to cool completely before eating (the fridge for about an hour is appropriate). Keeps for 2-5 days.

4/6/09: yesterday, a day late: farfalle with vegetable sauce

A good protein heavy meal, lots of vegetables and flavor.

Step one: get the water going for your pasta - an 8 quart pot, about half full (low water usage!) and cover on high.

Cut up 1-2 medium onions and grate 1 large carrot or two medium ones. Saute in a pan on medium until translucent. Crush 1-4 garlic cloves into the sauce, and cut up 1-2 zucchinis (sliced thin into circles) and add to the pan. If you have any, add about 1/2 cup red wine to the pan at this step. If things are sticking, add a little olive oil (I do this in non-stick pans) and allow everything to cook down a bit. Add a few leaves of fresh thyme and fresh chopped basil (or dried, your preference). Open a can of tomato puree or crushed tomatoes and add to the pan with vegetables (24 ounce can sounds right). Add about half a cup of tvp/tsp, (textured soy protein, available at most food coops and health type stores) and mix in well. Add sea salt or regular salt, to taste, also some freshly ground black pepper. Let simmer on low, covered.

Your water should be about ready to boil now, so add the farfalle to the pot and stir occasionally. Farfalle takes 10-13 mins. Once the pasta is done, add a cup or so of the water (which should be yellow-tinted) to the pasta sauce, stir well and uncover to let the sauce thicken slightly. Drain the pasta. Grate a little parmesan or mozzarella, cover about a cup of pasta with 1/2 to 3/4 cup sauce and garnish with cheese.

4/7/09: pumpkin curry soup with naan

pumpkin curry soup sounds exotic, but is really easy. The hardest thing in this soup is the curry powder, which I make myself and will describe how to make here:

curry powder:
1 part tumeric
2 parts ground cumin seeds
2 parts ground coriander
1-2 parts ground gram masala, chiles, pepper, cardamom (especially elcha black), sea salt, mustard (pick and choose or use them all!). I grind these in a coffee grinder, well cleaned, then mix all the powders together in a shaker container with a pereforated top and a handle, which I think was bought at goodwill or the dollar store.

peel and cut two onions in half, then slice thinly (so you get nice thin strips of onion). saute in a deep skillet or pan (I prefer nonstick on gas stoves) until slightly translucent, then add the curry powder. I don't measure here, just dash it on until fragrant. cover the onions and set heat to low - allow to cook until nearly formless and very see-through.

While the onions are cooking, grab two 15 ounce cans of pure pumpkin, open and empty into a large deep pot, at least 8 quart capacity. rinse the cans out with warm water and add the rinse to the pot as well. This is a thick soup. If you like, add some broth, I use vegetable "better than bullion", and about 1-2 tsp of the concentrate. put over low-medium heat and cover.

once the onions are done, either: blend in food processor until nearly uniform, or add to the soup, mix, and ladle a couple cups at a time into the food processor before returning to the pot. I generally add some silk and smart balance (or use milk and butter) during the processing here, just a small amount of each to add a nice richness to the soup. Once the soup is as blended and creamy as you like, let simmer for a while and prep and cook the naans (i'll try to get a good naan recipe here, Randy makes those so I know less about this part). Garnish with sour cream and cilantro if desired. Good for cold nights!