September 28, 2008

Black Bean Soup

I came up with this soup one day when I came home and my downstairs neighbor had made some whole wheat tortillas (from scratch). I checked what ingredients I had in the kitchen and it happened to turn out awesome. Again, I'm sorry - I don't measure anything so all the amounts I put for the spices are just my best guesses.


2 T. butter
1 onion - diced
1 tomato - diced
1 bell pepper - diced
1 can black beans - OR you can soak dry black beans for a couple of days and use them
chicken broth
1 lime
1 avocado

1/2 - 1 T. whole cumin seed
1-2 T. chili powder
1/2 T. paprika
1/2 T. ground cumin
ground cayenne to taste - I'm a spice wimp so I probably used 1/2 tsp and my cayenne is old
salt to taste


melt the butter, add onion, cumin seed, and salt. Saute for ~5-10 mins then add the tomato. Continue to saute for another 5 mins.

Add the rest of the spices and juice the lime into the pot. Add chopped bell pepper.

Add chicken broth until you get to the desired liquid:other goodies ratio that pleases you most, then simmer for about an hour.

Serve with tortilla strips, avocado, sour cream/plain yogurt - I had some today with overly salted guacamole (see the first post on this blog) and it was delicious!!

For any of you crazy cilantro lovers out there, go nuts!

I used a lot of broth and I think I'll get 3-4 servings out of this pot.

September 27, 2008

Egg Salad Sandwich

So Angelica was making fun of me for wanting to make a post about egg salad, but I make damn good egg salad, it's really easy and basic, and maybe someone out there doesn't know what they're doing and this is exactly what they need..

Egg Salad Ingredients:

4 XL eggs
onion - finely chopped/minced (I use red cause it's pretty - but it can change the color of the salad if it sits for a while
vegenaise - unfortunately real mayonnaise disgusts me and veganiase is delicious
salt and pepper to taste


fresh parsley


Hard boil the eggs (~8 mins after the water starts to boil) then let cool down under running water. While the eggs are cooling, mince the onion and add it to your bowl. After the eggs are cool enough I like to cut the eggs open and put the yolks in the bowl with the onion first - I swear this makes it taste better!

I mash up the yolks with the onion, then add the veganaise and salt and pepper

Then chop up the whites to about 1/4 - 1/2" cube size and mix in. Taste to make sure salt and pepper levels are good. If you're using the fresh parsley and paprika you may add them now.

If you're making a sandwich, I recommend some kind of rye or bread with caraway seed in it, and fresh tomato (salt and peppered) is a MUST!! Paprika can also be added before the tomato.

Recently, I've been using arugula instead of romaine lettuce and it's been wonderful. I like to have a lot of greens on my sandwiches to make sure they're not too dry and the added spark of arugula just put this sandwich over the top for me.. although I have to really smush it down to get it to fit in my mouth.

September 21, 2008

Mixed Vegetable Curry and Apple Crisp for Dessert

Along with the lentil dahl and the whole wheat naan there was also mixed veggie curry, salad, and apple crisp. Jesse made the salad, and he made it so the leaves were too big--it was unbearable. The leaves were like paper sheets and had to be folded--many times--so that they'd fit into our mouths. Gosh. Anyway, I should give the guy a break, it's the thought that counts.

Mixed Veggie Curry: a co-effort between Jesse and myself

1 Onion
2 cloves Garlic
1 tbs. olive oil
Summer Squash
Baby Bok Choy
1 15 oz. can Chickpeas

1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tbs. butter
2 tsp. curry powder
1 tbs. flour
1 1/2 cups veggie stock
1 cup cream or mix of cream and milk
(or...1 14 oz. can coconut milk and about 1/2 cup water instead of the stock and cream)

In a 4 ct. sauce pan saute one of the onions and 2 cloves garlic in the butter on med-high heat for about 2 minutes. Add 2 tsp. curry powder and 1 tbs. flour. Add the liquids and wisk until the flour/powder mix is worked in completely. Bring to a boil then reduce to a light simmer. Simmer on lower for about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Once thick, pass through a blender or blend in the pot using a stick blender.

As the sauce is thickening but in a separate skillet: stir-fry the onion in the olive oil on high heat for about 1 minute, add the garlic and stir-fry for an extra 30 seconds (don't burn the garlic). Now add those vegetables that will take longer to cook (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower) and stir-fry for a few minutes. Then add the soft veggies (zucchini and summer squash) and stir-fry for a minute or two more. Place the greens on the top and cover with a lid--give it a few minutes more so the greens wilt a bit. Once all the veggies have been cooked through pour on the blended curry sauce and serve.

Individual Apple Crisps:

5-6 Apples (Golden delicious or Granny Smith are best though any crisp tart apple will do)
Spoon fulls of sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 pinch nugmeg
1 tbs. flour
6 tbs. butter
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. extra cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Peel and slice the apples into bite-sized cuts. After each apple has been peeled and cut, place in a bowl and sprinkle a spoon full of sugar over it (be either liberal or conservative with the sugar--based on your political leanings, of course). After all the apples have been cut and be-sugared stir in 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tbs. four, and 1 pinch nutmeg. Mix this all together and set aside. In a separate bowl mix together the butter, 2/3 cup flour, the oats, salt, and extra cinnamon. Work all this together with a fork (I like to use my hands because it gives me a better feel for things...yeah) until evenly crumbly. Spoon apples into individual oven safe cups and cover with the crumble top (try not to make too much of a mess), place cups on cookie tray and place whole mess into the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the filling starts to bubble out around the edges. Let everything cool down for about 10 minutes before handing the cups out for devouring.

So that was dinner and dessert. Whoo!

September 20, 2008

Naan and Red Lentil Dahl

So Sarah and I (Sarah is my wife) wanted to get together with Jesse and his new lady for a fine dinner with friends before he scampers off to The City and becomes impossible to tack down. The four of us all treck up to Boulder Creek to visit Jesse's friends Matt and Kat (cute) and had a fantastic indian inspired mixed veggie curry dish with yellow aromatic dahl and naan flat breads (sorry, no pictures. I brought food, but no camera. You'll just have to use your imagination).

Jesse grabbed some fresh produce from his CSA grab bag: I think I remember him bringing up some yellow summer squash of various varieties, baby bok choy, an onion or two, small red tart apples, and Hungarian Hot Wax peppers (they look like big red Jalapeno peppers). Matt and Kat bought apples, onions, and garlic. They also had this awesome beer called Delerium Tremmens. Not only did Matt and Kat provide a place and good drink, they also provided most all cooking materials and all unplanned for necessities; they're awesome people. Sarah and I brought with us red lintels, naan dough that I had rising in a bowl, two bottles of wine (2004 Alexander Cellars Zinfandel and 2007 Venetian Moon Pinot Grigio--this last from Trader Joes), mini ramekins, and our cook book: "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" by Deborah Madison--which I believe is one of the best gifts we've ever been given. I also brought up my spice box, because you never know.

So I'm just going to lay this all out, most likely in order of appearance.

Naan flatbread:

1/4 cup warm water
1 packet active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/2 tbs. sugar
2/3 cup hot water
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup clarified butter or ghee, soft or melted (I just use normal butter because I'm lazy; I think making clarified butter is a pain)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat bran (if you don't want to use bran just add a little more wheat flour)
3 cups all purpose flour (unbleached please)

Prime the yeast in the warm water with 1/2 tbs. sugar for at least 10 minutes. No need to mix. The yeast should get really really bubbly after these 10 minutes are up. If this doesn't happen the yeast is either a little too old, or is dead. This first instance is more likely but isn't too much to worry about, the second is less likely but is a real issue. In the mean time mix the yogurt, hot water, butter, and salt. Add to this the whole wheat flour and bran and mix to a moist batter; add the yeast to this mix and work in. Add enough all purpose flour to make a heavy dough or to the point at which the dough can be handled without getting your hands too gummed up (no dough hands, dough hands are bad). Don't just put all three cups of flour into the mix. We're not making pancakes here so doing this may make the dough too dry, leading one to overwork it which will ultimately lead to a very chewy flat cracker like bread. Lay the dough out on a floured surface and knead in enough extra flour so that the dough is smooth and slightly tacky (just so it stops sticking to your fingers after the flour has been worked in). Drop this into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a moist towel, and place in a warm place to rise for about an hour, 1 1/2 hours if possible. When ready, heat a non-stick skillet on the stovetop. Punch down the dough and pull off pieces a bit smaller than your fist; roll these out on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thickness (too thin and the naan will not rise during cooking) and plop them into your heated skillet. Cook on each side for about 2 minutes or until well browned (not evenly browned, this is impossible).
Makes eight 6" naans.

Red Lentil Dahl:


1 1/2 cups red lentils (rinsed)
3 cups water
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 spicy pepper (we used one of the Hungarian Hot Wax peppers, we could have used 2)
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1 14 ounce can coconut milk (lite please)
2 tbs. clarified butter or ghee
3 bay leaves
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, or however much you can stand.

Saute the onion, garlic, turmeric and pepper in 1 tbs. of the butter for about 2 minutes. Add the lentils and water, bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer very slowly for about 20-30 minuets, until the lentils are soft. Once soft add the coconut milk and put back on low heat. In the mean time fry the bay leaves, mustard seeds, and red pepper flakes in the remaining butter until the mustard seeds turn a greyish yellow. Add these to the hot lentils and serve.
Makes a good portion, the six of us each had about 1/2 cup and there were leftovers.

I'll pause for now. I'll talk about the curried stir fry and dessert later.

September 16, 2008

Balsalmic Mushrooms


Not pictured- balsalmic vineger.


Cut stuff up.
Start boiling the water.

Cook half and
onion in butter with lots of garlic. While letting that go for a bit, dice up the tomatoes (use heirlooms), and toss them in, be sure to get all the yummy juices, mmm. Then douse the whole concoction with balsalmic vineger (use the black stuff and use a good amount). Finally, add some smoked pepper salsa if possible- not 100% required, but really adds some smokey zest to it.

Toss the pene in the water.

Start the squash. Until tonight, I've been cooking squash with the lid on, to steam it. Tonight I attempted to cook them at higher heat to try to sear the outside and get it crispy yummy brown. I would say I was 90% successful with only a bit of burning. It really added a grand amount of texture and flavor to the squashes, and I suggest you risk it and attempt this.

Dice up the mushrooms; I used chimi mushrooms, but I think any would work. Put them in the tomato concoction last so they don't over cook. Let the entire thing reduce down until it starts to get a bit sticky. The pene should definately be done by now as well as the squash. Put it all on a plate, add the feta (I used goat cheese feta)- minus feta and butter and you have vegan. Boom!
UPDATE: I ate this and it was fantastic, yummyum.

September 9, 2008

A Work in Progress

A month or so ago I was in Umeke Market and I saw in their deli case a square of something with a dark purple layer, yellow layer, and green layer. The colors were so rich and delicious looking I instantly got all these ideas in my head of how to make something like that and what to use for the ingredients.
Well, I finally got myself together and tried it yesterday. It's definitely a work in progress, but it has a lot of potential and I already have improvements in mind! The finished project was definitely sweeter than I'd originally planned, but somehow it still works and is delicious.
This is a super long post and if you really are interested in making this concoction, reading and making note of the changes to the recipe are necessary - no skimming and half-assing like I like to do!!
Oh yeah, and if anyone can think of a good name for this thing I'd be really excited.


3 Okinawan sweet potatoes
yamaimo (about 6")
butternut squash (probably about 3 lbs)
leafy greens of your choice (I used collard greens, but would like to have had spinach as well)
2 large onions
coconut milk (I used a whole package of Hawaiian Sun frozen coconut milk)
16oz ricotta cheese
butter (about 1/2 stick)
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste


pre-heat oven to 375 deg. Split the squash and remove the seeds. Brush all exposed surfaces (except the skin) with olive oil, put the squash face down in a pyrex dish, baking sheet, or equivalent and bake until the skin is browned and you can easily stab with a fork (45-60 mins depending on the shape of the squash). Wash the sweet potatoes, rub with olive oil, split down the middle and bake along with the squash (they're fine on the oven racks).

The sweet potatoes should be finished around the same time as the squash and should also be easily stabbed with a fork. They will be dark purple and soft on the inside. While the squash and potatoes are baking, cut the yamaimo and boil until it is also easily split with a fork as if you were making mashed potatoes. Remove everything from the oven and let it cool - enough to be easily handled. The potatoes don't take too long if you finish cutting them in half and separate them.

Scrape the sweet potato off of the skin and into a large mixing bowl. Combine with the yamaimo and coconut milk and mash with a potato masher until creamy.

like this! woohoo!

Spread the potato mixture into the casserole dish/es

Next, remove the skin from the squash, add the ricotta, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. I used quite a lot of nutmeg, but I'm a nutmeg monster so figure out your own level of deliciousness.

When I was finished, it looked like this:

Make a squash layer on top of the potato. I would have preffered mine was about twice as thick as this

For the greens I chopped up all the onion, and sauted them in the butter with salt and pepper.

While they were cooking I washed and chopped up the collard greens

then added them to the onion. I let them cook for maybe 15-20 minutes or until the leaves are cooked. Depending on the type of greens you use the time will vary majorly. I definitely would have preferred to have maybe 3 times the amount of greens I used. Next time, I'll be combining spinach and whatever other kinds of big leafy greens I can get my hands on. I added 6 eggs to my greens due to the fact that I had such a small volume of greens but I wanted a thick enough layer to balance out the sweetness of the potato and squash.

I scrambled the eggs first then added them to the greens after they'd cooled enough to not cook the eggs through contact heat. In retrospect, I'd do this step (the cooking of the onion and greens) first so they have plenty of time to cool off while everything else is cooking.

The oven was preheated to 350 deg and I cooked both casserole dishes for about an hour - it took that long for the egg to solidify. I'm not sure how long I'd cook it if I had more greens and less eggs.

In the end, this dish took a lot of prep and time. It's really tasty which makes it worth it, but I think with some mostly minor changes it could be really great. My first change would be to really make sure I have enough greens, otherwise, by the time the coconut milk is added to the sweet potatoes and baked a second time, everything is pretty sweet and the small amount of greens and egg just didn't even it out as much as I'd have liked. The flavor was excellent though.
Also, a suggestion that Ann at work brought up was the possibility of playing with filo dough or laying down some large leaves on the bottom of the casserole dish so the stuff can be scooped out without losing most of it. I will try any or all of these things next time! I could also see adding some regular blue potato to the mixture as well to bring down the sweetness factor... anyway, the possibilities are really endless. Have fun!

September 3, 2008

Qunioa Vegan Burritos

I make these burritos fairly often, and it has become a staple of mine. They are very easy, and only take maybe 15minutes to cook in total since there is no meat. You can easily adulterate them into a vegetarian, or go all the way to come corny meat if you wish. I need to add pictures and shall the next time I make this dish- as I made it for Dave last night.

1 cup of qunioa (any color)
1 can of black beans (or equivalent if you want to soak/make dried beans)
1/2 an onion
1 zuccini
1 squash
1 red bell pepper
1 or 2 leaves of chard
1 spicy pepper (type and size depends on your huevos)
1 tomato
1 avocado
some cilantro if you aren't Liz
some oil (or butter)

Start with the quinoa, do a 2:1 water:quinoa ratio (or err on the side of some extra water). Bring the water to a boil, then add the quinoa and put the burner on low and let simmer. Basically cook it just like rice and everything should go ok. While the quinoa is cooking, dice up the onion and the spicy pepper into small pieces and cook them in oil (butter). Keep the pan covered at all times that you are not putting things in as the juices are yummy and should be retained. While the onion is reducing, you chop up the summer squashes. You can cut them however you want, I tend towards slices, maybe half or quarter slices depending on the gearth of the phalic veggie you are handling. Toss those into the pan and let them cook a bit, maybe even develop some yummy golden browness on the sides of the slices. While the squashes are cooking, chop up the red bell pepper into reasonable edible size bits. Now that most things are cooking, wash and strain the black beans so they are ready to get heated up when the quinoa is almost done. Chop up the chard into maybe 1" to 2" squares (they reduce). Toss the chard in last minute, you only want to cook the chard for maybe a couple of minutes, until it gets psychadelic green from the steam in the pan. Meanwhile, chop up the tomato and avocado and cilantro. You can make them into a gringo pico de gallo by mixing them up, or you can leave them seperate to be added at the individuals leisure. Dump the black beans into the warm/hot quinoa just to heat the beans up as they are typically already cooked. Heat up some burrito shells either on the stove, or in the micro. Finally, just take a shell and add the black bean/quinoa combo, dump some veggies onto the quinoa, slather on some avocado (use it as burrito glue), and some tomato and cliantro, maybe some salt and pepper- and ENJOY!

(This was just off the top of my head and there may be some mistakes, feel free to add/subtract).

September 2, 2008

Look what's happening next door!

angelica's tomato sauce (with an entire HEAD of garlic in it)

they recently bought a dehydrator... so naturally beef jerky has got to be made! This one was marinated with fresh papaya

This one is the smoked flavor

I can't wait to try it!

September 1, 2008

Calabrese Meatballs

Here's the meatballs that go with the Calabrese Sauce which is posted below. They are the most delicious meatballs I've ever had. Again, my parents brought back these recipes from some vacation they were on.

At the beginning of the recipe there is this story:

This famous meatball recipe is my father's. He was the cook for almost all the Italian weddings when we lived in Schreiber. His tomato sauce and meatballs were the talk of the town. The amazing thing about my father's meatballs is the fact that the meatballs go directly into the sauce to cook - no frying, baking, etc. Once you have tried these meatballs you will not settle for any other. This recipe is my pride and joy. The secret to the moistness of the meatballs is in the ricotta cheese. You may choose to mix half pork and half beef, but the pork tastes the best. Make these and enjoy!

I wish I knew who wrote this all out so I could credit them for what is indeed the beat sauce and meatballs I've ever had!


3 lbs pork (I used 1lb organic pork and 2 lbs grass fed beef from the big island)
3/4 cuo Romano cheese grated (I didn't have romano, I used parmesean)
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup breadcrumbs, moistened with
1/3 cup water
3 eggs whisked
fresh basil approx. 6-10 leaves (I like to use more)
salt and pepper to taste


Mix all ingredients together.

I did all the mixing by hand, using finger cots to keep the raw meat from getting underneath my fingernails. This was the first time I actualy remembered to try this and it was wonderful. Make sure that all ingredients are well mixed.

In mixing the meatballs, make sure they are not too stiff, but rather medium soft and about the size of a gold ball or even slightly bigger (Mine were about the size of raquetballs). A rule to follow is always make one meatball to see if it holds together but is not as hard as a ball. If the mixture is too soft, add some more grated cheese and breadcrumbs. If the mixture is too hard, add another egg and perhaps 1/4 cup of water. I had none of these issues, but would like to add that as with the Calabrese sauce (and in general everything you're cooking), the quality of your ingredients is a large factor in the quality of the finished product. Spending a little extra for the organic ricotta, eggs, and meat was well worth it for this recipe.

Drop the meatballs into the ready Calabrese tomato sauce. Make sure the sauce is not too thick. If ti is, then add 2 cups (I added about 3 I think) of water before you add the meatballs. In this way, the meatballs will be able to float easier. I also needed the extra volume of sauce to ensure that all the meatballs were covered by enough sauce and so that I could definitively say when they were floating.

When the meatballs float to the top of the sauce, they are ready to eat.