Heirloominestrone

Last year was a bad year for tomatoes here in Northern California. Cold temps and lots of wind kept them from doing well, so I was thrilled when early this spring we got a a ton of rain. Followed by the sunniest summer I’ve seen here in a while. What does that mean to your normal not-weather-obsessed person?

 

Heirloom tomatoes. For $1.25 a pound.

 

 

We picked up our first haul today from the Alemany Farmer’s Market and tonight I’m making minestrone. With heirloom tomatoes. My kitchen smells so amazing right now, I decided to pass some kitchen waiting time by posting the recipe. It tastes fine with normal tomatoes, but then you can’t call it Heirloominestrone, and where’s the fun in that? [Read more →]

Fastest dinner in the west

I usually post recipes here that either take a bit of time (but are worth it!) or are a bit more on the fancy-pants side. However. Sometimes, you just don’t have time for that kind of cooking. Sometimes, you drive an hour-long commute, work a very long day, go to a 1 1/2 hour vinyasa yoga practice during which the yoga instructor tells you repeatedly that You Can Do This despite your tears of frustration in not being able to balance your entire body prone on your elbows while breathing in a slow, relaxed manner, and drive another hour to get back home.

For those times (and others like them), you just need something fast and you need it to be delicious such as to make up for that hour and a half of balancing-induced frustration.

Enter the Fastest Dinner in the West: Stir-fried seitan with pasta sauce.

 

It’s fast. It’s delicious. It’s low-carb, high-protein, and can kill your ravenous hunger in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. It could be gluten-free if you use tempeh instead of seitan. Which means it might be the most Perfect Meal Ever. I apologize that I don’t have a photo. There was no time to take one, as I had scarfed up the meal in about 30 seconds. Here it is:

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BBQ tempeh “ribs”

What? I haven’t posted this entire year yet? What the hell is wrong with me?

I’m so sorry. *makes the puppy-dog eyes*

I’ll make it up to you, right here and now. With my dad’s beef short ribs recipe, vegan-style.

My dad has a habit of sending me mouth-watering recipes, but conveniently forgets every time that I’m vegan and I don’t put veal bones in my soup stock (for example). He sent me this recipe for beef short ribs the other day. It sounded so good (and I miss BBQ ribs so much) that I decided to *gasp* change my dad’s patented recipe.

That’s right. Here you go. It’s time-consuming but really easy to prepare, and so worth your time. Enjoy.

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Grandma’s Gingersnap Holiday Cookies


My grandmother’s mother was a professional baker. She made my parent’s wedding cake, and her recipes have been used in our family cooking as long as I can remember. Every Christmas, my grandmother would bake a huge batch of cookies; sugar cookies with frosting, peanut butter cookies, chocolate drop cookies, and gingersnaps. I hated them as a kid. The gingersnaps, I mean. My dad LOVED them, which meant every year she made a full batch of them just for him. She had two recipes: soft and crispy. I don’t know if she got them from her mother, but in any case they’ve been baked in our family as long as I can recall. Every year. My grandmother is no longer with us, but her recipes are. And this year, I thought I’d send out a special Thank You Christmas card to all the design firms and people who have recommended me, interviewed me, hired me, or even just looked at my work. In the card I included a homemade cookie, because I’m of a firm belief that nothing says thank you like homemade cookies. Well, the response has been great, and I’ve already had requests for the recipe. By the way, I must have been nuts as a child. These cookies are delicious, bursting with holiday spices and cooled with delicious vanilla icing. So without further ado, here we go. Thanks, Grandma!

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Four Bean Chili with Roasted Chiles

Why haven’t I posted this before? This was one of the first vegan recipes I made on my own. If I had a spice scale, from 1 to 10, with 1 being a bland potato and 10 being a habanero pepper, I’d put this recipe at a 3 or 4. It’s got some heat, but not in a way that overwhelms the flavors. You can get HP sauce at any British import market or Cost Plus; it’s a delicious brown sauce that is also fantastic as a french fry dip. But I digress. I served this with blue corn jalapeno bread, the recipe for which I’ll post soon. This recipe makes a lot of chili; have some friends over to enjoy it, or have some plastic or glass storage containers on hand to freeze the remainder.

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Corn & Flour Tortillas, from scratch

My sister-in-law told me, on my recent visit to her home, that I was silly for buying tortillas when I could make them easily from scratch, costing a fraction of the price. And my husband wanted enchiladas a few days ago, so I decided to give it a whirl. But, there was no recipe I could find quickly for my favorite tortilla – corn AND flour. There’s recipes for corn tortillas and flour tortillas but none that mixed the two. So I made one up based on the flour tortilla recipes I saw, and it turned out delicious. I’m never, ever buying tortillas again. This recipe makes about 12 tortillas, and I highly recommend using a small cast-iron skillet so that the heat is nice and even.

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Black bean & mushroom enchiladas

Black bean and mushroom enchiladas

 

I can’t believe I haven’t posted this recipe yet. I’ve made it 4 or 5 million times, and it comes out really nicely. Sometimes I substitute pinto beans or navy beans for the black beans, or I’ll do a combination of all three. Go hog-wild. One of these days I’m going to do this with porcini or chantarelle mushrooms for a fancier version. But so far, it’s just ordinary crimini mushrooms, which are delicious. You can use enchilada sauce with these for a more traditional dish, or try using mole sauce. This recipe makes about 11 or 12 enchiladas, so be forewarned – you’ll have yummy leftovers for at least a day or two. Also I highly recommend using tortillas that are a mixture of corn and flour; flour only gets too gummy with all the sauces, corn only tends to break easily when you’re forming the enchiladas. A tortilla made of corn and flour solves this hiccup nicely.

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Yuba Omelette with mushrooms and spinach

Ever since I first tasted yuba, I’ve been itching to make an omelette out of it. First, it has an egg-like taste. Second, it unwraps into this thin sheet that is perfect for filling with delicious things. Finally, this morning I made a yuba breakfast omelette, and it was everything I had hoped it would be. And, it took half the time my usual breakfast scrambles take, so it’s a win on all fronts!

Fresh yuba comes folded up into a small rectangle. There’s two kinds I can get here in San Francisco. There’s the cheap kind at the Asian market, which is fresh and works great sliced into ribbons and sauteed, but won’t unwrap very easily. And then there’s Hodo Soy yuba, which every time, EVERY TIME is fresh, delicious, and unwraps into a single sheet that I can use as a “skin” for making spring rolls or omelettes. It’s also twice the price, but in my opinion, worth every penny. Seek them out, you won’t be disappointed.

Ingredients:
1 package of Hodo Soy yuba (there should be two folded rectangles of yuba per package)
1 small onion, sliced into thin half-moons
2 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 cups of crimini mushrooms (any mushroom will be fine), sliced
1 – 2 tbsp safflower oil
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
salt, to taste
2 handfuls of fresh baby spinach

Method:
1. Heat a skillet with safflower oil on high until the pan is quite hot. Add the onions, saute until they get browned and a bit crispy. Add the garlic, saute another minute or two, then add the mushrooms. Shake the pan to evenly distribute the mushrooms (they need a large surface area to cook evenly). Add the thyme and pepper. Continue to saute on high until the mushrooms are browned, shaking the pan from time to time to distribute the mushrooms. Add sherry, shake the pan and saute until the liquid is absorbed. Add the spinach, cook until just wilted. Set aside.

2. Unwrap one yuba rectangle completely. Lay it flat on a non-stick surface. Take half the mushroom filling, place it on one side of the yuba (if you mentally divide the rectangle into thirds, you want the filling in the first or third section, not the middle). Spread the filling evenly to fill this third of the yuba rectangle, leaving about 1-2 inches at the top and bottom, and about 2-3 inches on the short side. Sprinkle some daiya vegan mozzerella cheese on top. Fold in the top and bottom, then gently roll the yuba and filling until it’s wrapped around completely. It’s kind of like making a burrito. Repeat for the second yuba rectangle.

3. Heat a bit of safflower oil on medium heat. When the oil coats the pan evenly and quickly, place the yuba omelettes in the pan and let them saute for about 3-5 minutes on each side. They might be difficult to turn over, but with gentleness and a large spatula you’ll make it work. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and serve with tempeh bacon or seitan sausages.

Seitan & Yuba breakfast scramble

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OK so I have been making a lot of breakfast scrambles lately. Namely, Isa’s tofu scramble, a lot of times, which is pretty fantastic in it’s own right. But I needed a change, my husband likes yuba, and thus this recipe created itself. It’s loaded with protein and good green veggies which will give you your vitamin boost for the morning. And it cooks up pretty quickly. So a win on all fronts!

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Spicy Mole Poblano sauce

Man, I love me a good mole sauce. It’s been a hard transition, becoming vegan, with most of the traditional mole sauces made with lard and / or chicken stock. But having found a couple of restaurants that make vegan mole, I’m convinced that you don’t need lard or chicken stock to make it.

And then I found this awesome mole recipe in one of my mother-in-law’s kitchen cookbooks. I borrowed the cookbook, made my own modifications (I didn’t have the specific chiles they asked for, so I used what I had) and YUM is the result. I should warn though, it’s pretty spicy. I thought it was a fair medium – hot, but my husband is convinced I’m numb in the mouth and that it’s actually quite hot. Whatever, it’s delicious, is the most important thing.

Also, this recipe makes a lot (about 2-3 quarts). It freezes well (keeps about 3-4 months in the freezer) and refigerates really well (about 2 weeks in the fridge is recommended).

Ingredients (these are my modifications – for the original recipe, get the book):

7-8 dried aji chiles, stems cut off (keep the seeds for heat)

6-7 guajillo chiles, stems cut off (keep the seeds for heat)

8-10 New Mexico chiles, stems cut off (keep the seeds for heat)

3-4 cups water

2 large onions, peeled & quartered

2 cups peeled tomatoes in their juice (about 4 – 5 med. tomatoes)

4 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered

1 tsp salt, more to taste (I added in the end about 1 – 2 more tsp)

1.5 tsp ground coriander (or coriander seeds, ground up by hand)

1.5 tsp ground star anise (or ground by hand)

4 tbsp white sesame seeds, lightly toasted

1 cup blanched almonds

1/2 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1.5 tsp ground cinnamon

2 cups water with 4 tbsp vegan chicken stock dissolved in it, or 2 cups vegetable broth

1 cup gravenstein apple juice, unfiltered

1.5 oz unsweetened chocolate

Method:

1. Place the chiles, water, tomatoes, onions, garlic and salt in a pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently for about 20 – 30 minutes, until the chiles and onions are soft. Add water if needed to keep the chiles covered. Puree with a hand blender until smooth, turn off the heat temporarily.

2. Blend sesame seeds, almonds and pine nuts in a food processor until they become a coarse meal. Add the coriander, star anise, raisins, cloves, cinnamon and process again until it makes a sticky pasty coarse meal. You might need to add a bit more raisins until it gets more sticky. Scrape out and add to the pureed chile mixture.

3. Add the vegan chicken stock and apple juice to the chile sauce. Stir as you bring it back to a simmer. Add the chocolate, broken into pieces. Keep simmering and stirring as the chocolate melts. The mole should have the consistency of thick cream. If it’s too thick, add more broth.