Vegan

{gluten-free, vegan} Dark Chocolate Lace Cookies

Every year I say I’m not gonna do any baking events during the holidays.

And then every year I do a few anyway. Because, like today, sometimes you can’t say “no” to making something sweet for a good cause. Continue reading

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Carrot Soup with Tarragon, Ginger and Toasted Pepitas: Private Chef-ing By the Book with Seamus Mullen

Funny story:

Last April I was soaking my arthritic bones in a deep bath full of Epsom salts and essential oils, melting away the wet of Spring, with Seamus Mullen’s soon-to-be-released Hero Food cookbook. I was interviewing Chef Mullen for my column on Serious Eats NY, and the book had been messengered over for my research. As I flipped through the intro, I was flabbergasted: Seamus has rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic immune disease that manifests with symptoms and patterns similar to my own with Lyme. I jumped out of the tub, threw on a robe and, dripping, held the book up to my roommate, with a “you’ll never guess what this cookbook is about!!”

Which was an unfair proclamation.

Because while, indeed, Chef Mullen battles RA, the book isn’t about that. It’s about delicious food that also happens to be good for you.

When I was first diagnosed with Lyme Disease at 12 years old, massive amounts of antibiotics weren’t cutting it. I couldn’t walk for a long period, I couldn’t eat, I attended school sporadically when I could, and in general my brain and body were in Lala land seemingly without end. It wasn’t until my mom found a nutritionist who put me on a strict diet, lots of supplements and IV vitamin drips that my immune system got so strong that my symptoms went away – relatively speaking – even though the Lyme did not.

Growing up with Lyme – including dealing with two serious flairs again in adulthood – taught me a lot about food. There were many I had to avoid – some incredibly strictly during certain periods but in moderation in others – and some that to this day I can’t touch. But there were also some that I needed to load my diet with so that my digestive tract, immune system and joints had a bit of extra help.

Seamus calls them hero foods.

Two decades later, I’m a private chef in a household with no dietary restrictions. Actually, I call myself a “private cook”, because a chef I am not. I am adept at making delicious things and, yes, can cook without guidance. But for inspiration and to widen my skill-set I often take advantage of my job and bring favorite books I want to explore to work with me. And as my blogging time has been diminished by my cooking, interviewing and event-covering time, I figured I should let my professions overlap when possible.

Hence this new series, “Private Chef-ing By the Book”.

It’s fitting that I’m starting with Hero Food because this time of year I’m back in the tub often. My job is physical, and I have to medicate, soak and sleep more often to battle the pain it brings my joints. 

Just reading through Mullen’s Spanish-based recipes brings me comfort; not only do I love the ingredients he focuses on (olive oil, almonds, anchovies, good eggs, good birds, parsley etc.), but reminding myself why they’re healing for me helps me connect more intimately with them, reminding me to give them more attention when I’m frantically cooking in someone’s kitchen.

In Hero Foods this carrot soup is made to celebrate summer, with gorgeous fresh carrots and a splash of citrus. But since it’s chilly and damp in NYC I’ve made a few tiny adjustments. In the original recipe Chef Mullen blanches the carrots: I’ve chosen to roast them. He tops his with yogurt: for my boss-family I stirred some creme fraiche in instead, and for my holiday dinner-party I’ll serve it with tangy goat yogurt so I can enjoy it too. And because it’s autumn now in New York City, I toasted some pepitas and tossed them in cinnamon and a pinch of sugar to sweeten the deal a bit. I adjusted some ingredients a tad and served the soup hot rather than chilled.

This soup is delicious. I’d never thought to add orange juice or zest to a carrot or squash soup, and it brightens and enlivens the rooty vegetables. Streaming in olive oil at the end emulsified it to a smooth cream. And not using chicken stock – which is my go-to for adding flavor and depth – really let the carrots remain the star and the gentle garlic, ginger and tumeric do the flavoring. And while I love tarragon and use it often, serving it on top rather than blending it in as I usually do helps it stand out rather than meld with a pluthera of equally-amazing flavors.

I’ve cooked from Chef Mullen’s book a few times already. And on top of the deep flavors I’ve created, it’s given me mindful time in the kitchen with ingredients that should be constantly in my rotation. Soon I’ll be pickling mushrooms to add to my cheese plate and pan-roasting Brussels sprouts with some (Portuguese… sorry Mullen) chorico for Thanksgiving. At work next week I’m going to make his tender lamb meatballs in a gentle tomato sauce and ricotta. And when the weather warms up again, I’m going to utilize the grill in my boss-family’s summer home to do more smoking, which I can’t do in my tiny NYC apartment.

But, until then…

There’s Hero Soup.

Stay warm and dry, East Coasters,

– Jacqueline

** Note: Chef Mullen is also the owner of Tertulia, in NYC. I took my friend Nikk – the chef whose job I took on – for his going away / birthday dinner. It’s one of the best meals I’ve ever had, and is one of my favorite restaurants around. If you love flavor-packed food, salty fish, cured meats, incredible cheeses, bright vegetables and potent wine, go there soon. If you don’t… um…

Carrot Soup with Tarragon, Ginger and Toasted Pepitas

Based on Seamus Mullen’s Chilled Carrot Soup with Yogurt and Tarragon from Hero Food.
Serves 4-6 depending on serving sizes

Ingredients:

2 lbs carrots, peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
1/2 cup olive oil (the book specified Arebquina, which happens to be what I had on hand!)
2 shallots, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1/4 tsp whole tumeric
Kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper
Creme fraiche, if desired, or whatever yogurt you can digest (or omit completely to make vegan)
About 4 tarragon fronds or 2 Tbsp coarsely chopped tarragon

For the Pepitas:

Note: Thanks go to Chef Anthony Ricco at The Spice Market, NYC, for this pepitas idea. He serves it on an incredible sweet butternut squash soup that I’ll be for Thanksgiving. His interview coming up in a few weeks on Serious Eats.

1/4 cup pepitas (small hulled pumpkin seeds)
1 Tbsp olive oil 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp sugar, if desired

Directions:

Heat oven to 375°.

Combine carrots and about 2 Tbsp oliver oil on a large baking tray. Sprinkle with salt, cover loosely with foil, and roast for about 30 minutes, until almost steamed and completely soft, and slightly browned on bottom. Remove to cool slightly.

While the carrots are roasting, prepare the pepitas: place pepitas and olive oil in a cold skillet and place over medium/high heat. As the temperature starts to rise stir and then start tossing until they crackle, pop and expand. When they’re equally lightly browned and full in size, remove quickly to a bowl. Toss with a pinch of salt, cinnamon and sugar (if desired – you don’t need to).

Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add shallots, and cook to sweat, 1-2 minutes. Add garlic and toss quickly to warm and slightly sweat, about another minute more.

Place cooked carrots, shallots, garlic, vinegar, orange juice and zest, tumeric, and ginger in a blender, food processor or large pot (and use a hand blender). Start running the blender on high and slowly add warm water until you get to the “velvety” consistency you desire, about 2 cups. Reduce the speed of your blender/mixer, and stream in about 1/2-1 cup olive oil until emulsified and gorgeously smooth.

Adjust taste with salt and pepper, and add more acid from vinegar or orange if desired.

Pour into serving bowls and top with a dallop of creme fraiche / yogurt, a few fronds of tarragon, a swirl of olive oil and some toasted pepitas.

Summer of Salads: Jicama and Watermelon

Jicama and Watermelon Salad

Every now and then, someone comes into your life and you breathe a huge sigh of relief.

One of those such special people made me a Jicama and Watermelon salad on the 4th of July. It went scrumptiously alongside some huge langostines I fried up all spicy-like and some ridiculously fresh sea bass that took a mere ten minutes to broil to perfection. He was all achy and sore from a pulled back muscle. I was exhausted from long days of cooking for other people. We feasted with white wine I had been saving for over a year for a special occasion – until I grew up and realized that every good meal with a good person is a special occasion. Then we climbed onto the roof and watched NYC’s spectacular fireworks burst over the Hudson river.

Then I stole his recipe.

I adapted it slightly for the family I cook for, and set it on the pink-canopied backyard table with some of my garden chicken salad and grilled burgers. By the time I got around to snapping pictures of it 24 hours later it had faded in color but the flavors had developed even more fully.

Jicama is a root that’s a cross between a water chestnut and rhubarb, believe it or not. Watery, slightly sweet and somewhat starchy, it’s often eaten in its native Mexico with fiery spices. Because of the light sweetness and water content, it pairs extremely well with watermelon, giving a salad of both some crunch and texture. They’re found at most big grocery stores out in the east coast, but are easy to overlook.

After grunting and sweating away peeling the annoyingly large jicama, I tossed it lightly with watermelon, lime, cilantro and a bit of jalapeno for a ridiculously refreshing salad that my blew my  bosses guests away.

Happy summer, happy Friday!

– Jacqueline

Jicama and Watermelon Salad


Jicama and Watermelon Salad

Serves 6 as a side

1 medium jicama, peeled and cut into thin 3″ long strips (about 3 cups)
1/4 watermelon, cut into thin 3″ long strips (about 3 cups)
1/2 jalapeno pepper, peeled, seeded and finely diced
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 cup chopped parsley or cilantro

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and chill before serving.

Roasted Garlic Aubergine Spread (and an NYC story)

Roasted Aubergine Garlic Spread

Hello there friends,

I had one of those mornings that tougher NYCers would laugh at but that’s left me with a scrunched up feeling in my heart.

I awoke once again just feeling off.  Not full-blown sick, but really out of whack.   I muscled to the living room to do a low-key Qi Gong DVD, which definitely had me slowing down, centering, focusing, and returning to somewhat a manageable plane of energy.  I was feeling calmer, at least, and ready to tackle my morning.

Then the parking situation came.

In my neighborhood we have alternate side-street parking where you can’t park for 90 minute blocks certain days of the week so they can be cleaned.  It’s a fun little matrix I now know well.   It’s not rocket science (shout out to my friend Tim who is actually a rocket scientist), but takes some planning and moving your car quickly when the cleaning’s done on a street, so that you have a place before your time expires.

So at 10:05 I, feeling very grounded and quiet, took Mitra for a walk around the corner, stopping to tousle with her friends Scrabble and Checkers, before jumping in the car and pulling to a street a few blocks away.  There, a few cars were doubled-parked on the narrow one-way street.  Double parked!  It normally isn’t an issue, though, because they come and move their cars when the time changes.  So… you guessed it… 10:20 rolls around, usually when people are slipping in to park and waiting in their cars until go time (like yours truly and 3 other cars), and the squatters are no where to be seen.  10:30, nothing.  Two of the other cars want to park and leave, which is now creating a pileup of passing cars, including a school bus that can’t get through.  10:35, still those cars and now the legally parked people are waiting, having pulled onto the curb so people can pass.  By 10:38, I’ve dealt with plenty of yelling and honking people who are not happy.

So when the drivers finally come out, they’re met with grumpy people including me, who gives a lady an exasperated scrunch of the shoulders.  She fires immediately, “oh, I’m 3 minutes late, kill me!” to which I respond, “actually you’re 8 minutes late and have pissed off about 20 people” to which she responds as she walks to her car “ooh, 8 whole minutes, doesn’t something ever come up for you?  Welcome to New York baby, it happens” to which I go “I’ve been here ten years, no welcome necessary, it not an excuse to those 20 people backed up for you” to which she closes “I’ll tell my sick mother you said that”.

Scene.

I park my car and get out to start walking before she can follow in my direction.

To most NYers, no big deal, right?  Neither of us were obscene, and while she was yelling at my open window and looking very pissed off it was kept at that.  It was inconvenient, and even if only for 8 minutes, those two people were basically stating that their time was more valued than others.  But still, why did I have to engage? I usually assume that people are just having a bad day, or that something came up, and it’s only 8 minutes anyway.  What if her mother is really sick and she was dealing with something important?  What if she’s having a really low day and I made it lower?

I walked back into my building assessing my actions, not so much concerned at the severity of the situation – in reality it’s not that big a deal – but because I don’t want to present myself that way to the world. I don’t want to be a city-dweller who is insensitive to the fact that there are real people everywhere around me.  I want to act respectfully first and assertively second.

Maybe I’ll go leave a note on her car.  Just in case she actually cares.

So back inside, I make some coffee and start to work on this dish.  A purple-ribboned aubergine called out to me at the market.  I don’t normally eat eggplant (they’re a deadly nightshade vegetable and so not good for people with arthritic conditions) but in these cold winter NYC months I need smooth veggies, and lots of garlic, and my apartment smelling like cooking food and love.

To serve, I tried two ways.  First, by slicing a sweet long pepper and filling each half with half of the mixture.   And just because I wanted to see how it would taste as a munchie appetizer, I piped half into Tostito Scoops and topped with a bit of the chopped pepper.  I’m not a huge chip / snack fan, but had some leftover corn chips from our Superbowl gathering (um, yeah Giants!).  And when I do eat chips, they’re corn chips.

Already in my belly...

This plate?  Yeah, gone by the time I got to typing this sentence.

The spread is both incredibly savory with a huge waft of garlic, but also sweet in the aubergine and the roasted flavor that comes from cooking the garlic in this way.  It’s warm and filling without being heavy.  And so full of flavor for such a small list of ingredients.  I’m not a huge “party snack” fan, but this is definitely high on the list now.   And I now have the rest of the head saved for something else (why do I not roast garlic more?!).

And with that, I’m going to get to some real work today.  Cooking helps when mornings are cranky, and I’m fortunate to have set up my work lifestyle in such a way that I can go to the kitchen for an hour when I most need it.

Happy Thursday folks.

– Jacqueline

Roasted Aubergine Garlic Spread

Ingredients:

Warm, soft, roasted garlic

  • 1 small aubergine / eggplant, sliced thin
  • 1 entire head of garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I used fleur de sel and an awesome 5-spice pepper blend)
  • 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Place sliced aubergine on a cooking sheet and rub with about 1 Tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper.  Eggplants/aubergine absorb a lot of oil quickly, so don’t expect it to be coated like most vegetables.
  • Place about 1 Tbsp olive oil in a small ramekin.  Cut off the bottom / root part of the garlic bulb and place cut side down in ramekin, then place on cooking sheet.
  • Roast for about 30 minutes, flipping the aubergine halfway.  After 30 minutes, check to see if garlic is roasted by gently lifting slightly and pushing down on a clove: if it falls out easily, it’s done.  If not, cook entire tray another 8 minutes or so.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
  • Place entire aubergine in a food processor or blender.  Pinch out the garlic, and add a few cloves to start (I added 5 and eventually worked my way up to 8 large cloves).  Add chickpea and about 2 Tbsp olive oil.  Start to process mixture, scraping down sides as necessary and swirling in my oil to moisten as needed.  Taste, then add salt and more garlic to your level of taste.  Puree until completely smooth.

Smooth, silky, creamy...

Green and Garlic Soup (Vegan and quite scrumptious)

Green Soup - Kale, Chard, Sweet Potato

I don’t diet.  I probably should, sometimes, but I hate any negative relationship with food, having grown up in a culture and country that over-indulges and then punishes itself on a rotating basis.  And as I’ve had complications with my digestion because of Lyme Disease from the itty bitty age of 12, I embrace what foods I can eat and try to celebrate them as wholly, fully and naturally as possible.

So with the abundance of sweet things in my kitchen comes a love for incredibly clean, simple foods that are fortifying and cleansing.

Hence green soup now and then.

I love this soup.  I love soup in general, but one of my favorite things about the glory of vegetables and a hand mixer is just throwing stuff together and seeing what comes up.

So, here it is, one of my favorite staples in the particularly cold months.   I served this ladeled over millet and enjoyed with a hot mug of gyokuro, one of my favorite green teas.

Green and Garlic Soup

Ingredients:

Equipment: a hand blender.  If you don’t have one, get one.  Really. Worth it.

  • 2 Tbsp (large swirl) olive oil
  • 1 large vidalia or sweet onion, sliced thin
  • 8-10 cloves garlic, pressed and roughly chopped
  • 2 yams or sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 3 cups)
  • 2 cups water or broth (more if you need later)
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch of kale, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 bunch of green chard, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 bunch of parsley, rinsed and chopped
  • 3 Tbsp vinegar (apple cider, red or white wine)

Directions:

  • In a 5-quart heavy pot, bring olive oil to medium heat.  Reduce to low and cook garlic and onion until soft, about 6 minutes.
  • Add  yams water/broth and salt and pepper and bring up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the yams are slightly soft, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the kale, chard, parsley and vinegar and cook until all vegetables are soft.
  • Blend with a hand mixer until smooth (or pour progressively into a blender, being extremely careful when blending as the heat might make the top pop off!).  Add more vinegar and spices as desired.

Roasted Kabocha Squash with Cassava Bread Stuffing (vegan, gluten free) – Burwell Recipe Swap

It’s Burwell Recipe Swap time again! I must say, I was pretty excited when CM sent out this month’s recipe, something simple and savory and a good contrast to the sweets that pour out of my kitchen (and often straight into my belly).  I cook all the time, and can pretty much cook anything, but I rarely actually post what I make because I usually don’t measure, work by instinct and create as I go along.  So, jotting down numbers and results is good for me.

This month's swap recipe from Pine Tavern

I love the “foot of Oregon Avenue” in the address title.  I’m going to start to describe my apartment location in that way.

For this recipe I didn’t feel like going too crazy.  During the winter months I crave vegetables and citrus fruits, needing to fortify with vitamins and root foods.  So squash makes a regular appearance and I often omit meat from my meals.  Instead of just replacing wheat bread with gluten-free bread, I planned to use three grains that I love – jasmine rice, millet and quinoa – but then discovered cassava bread from the Dominican Republic in my local market and figured I’d try it.  On it’s own I’m not a fan – made with only yuca, I have a feeling what it tastes like originally is not what made its way to Washington Heights.  This bread is really hard, and sorta tasteless.  But it crunches well in the recipe, adding some texture.  And now I know.  If you can’t find cassava bread I suggest using gluten-free rye crackers instead, or omitting completely.

This feeds one person as a vegan, filling entree, or split between two as a side.  I’m making it for brunch. Yum.

Oh, and this is day 2 of my 3 swaps in a row! Check out my Chocolate Ginger Puer Tea Bread (gluten and dairy free) from yesterday’s Chocolate Love swap, and tune in tomorrow for Carrot Cake Truffles (gluten and dairy free) for the first Milk Bar Monday swap!

Please visit the other swappers to see what deliciousness they’ve come up with!

Cassava bread

Roasted Kabocha Squash with Cassava Bread Stuffing

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 kabocha squash, seeds removed
  • 1 Tbsp each millet, quinoa and rice
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil + more to taste later
  • 1 stalk of celery, halved length-wise and slice thinly
  • 1/4 cup chopped carrot
  • 2 mushrooms, chopped thinly
  • 2 Tbsp chopped white onion
  • 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar (or cider or red wine vinegar, even white will add something)
  • 1 tsp kosher or seasoned salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp herbs d Provence
  • 1/4 cup cassava bread crumbs (you could also use rye crackers or something similar)
  • 1 Tbsp sunflower seeds or ground nuts
  • 1 Tbsp raisins, dried cranberries or goji berries

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Take a small slice off the curved end of the squash so that it sits flat in a baking dish.  Brush lightly with olive oil and bake while you prepare the grains and vegetables.
  • In a small pot, toast the 3 grains on medium heat until fragrant.  Add water, bring to a simmer and cook, covered, until all the water is absorbed (about 10 minutes).
  • Meanwhile, heat a large skillet on medium heat for about 2 minutes.  Add the olive oil, vegetables and seasonings and toss to coat.  Cook for about 5 minutes until they start to brown.  Add the vinegar and cook until soft, about 20 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, combine cooked grains, vegetables, cassava bread, nuts and dried fruits.
  • Stuff into the cavity of the half-cooked squash, drizzle with olive oil and return to oven for 20 minutes or until squash is cooked and stuffing is toasty.

{Gluten-free, Vegan} Pumpkin Spice Donuts

 

Hello bloggereaders! I’ve missed the CRAP outta yah.  So much so that, yes, there as a “h” on the end of “ya” to prolong the sound of the word and therefore encapsulate my joy at getting to blog right now.

In a nutshell: sourcing for magazine, writing for diff magazine, shooting DB show, hanging with Meals on Wheels, managing family business, going to Chocolate Show.

Okay forget that, I’m tired after waiting for my internet to decide to work while watching Pan Am (it’s like a bad car crash, I just can’t look away… or plane crash, as it were).

Let’s just say I’ve missed blogging.  Because while I’ve been baking away I haven’t had any time to take photos (with my new lens – which now makes my camera completely old and completely manual and completely ah-MAZ-ing) or write up the recipes.

But I have still enjoyed reading YOUR blogs! And if there’s one thing I’m learning from the holidays approaching it’s to sit and have a breather now and then, to drink more water, watch my sweets, and to enjoy the little moments.  To give thanks.  Gracias to my life coach, Lindsay at Rosemarried and the murder-sprees on American Horror Story and Boardwalk Empire for reminding me of this lately.

Now, end of the rambling and onto the donuts.

Sometimes 1st time is a charm.  I didn’t quite believe that when making these so tried two more times, concluding that my first go was by far my favorite.  In each recipe I adjusted a bit here and there – kind and quantities of flours, amount of leveners etc.  I knew that:

  • I wanted them to be high in fiber / whole grain
  • I wanted them to be vegan
  • Obviously gluten free
  • Easy to assemble
  • I wanted them to be moist

Check, check, check, check, check.

I brought the batch upstairs to some neighbors: we all have dogs and now and then gather for walks, a glass of wine or some delicious food.  One is a private chef and the other is just really good with food, so they’re great to run recipes by.  The chef remarked that the flavor was “perfect, perfect, perfect”.  But he had no advice as to how to get them to taste chewier, like a real donut.  Because while these do taste amazing, the texture is more like a moist cake than a donut.  Making them gluten free and vegan… gonna be hard to get the chew.  I’m still working on it, but let’s just say that these are a delicious take on a classic donut.  Their guests noted that the pumpkin flavor was full throttle, the texture was soft, the flavor balance was perfect and they might even fare well after a day or two of drying out a bit.  I didn’t take any home with me – so they were a hit.

For this recipe:

I recommend having all ingredients at room temperature or slightly warm.  Like a basic cake recipe, you want the ingredients to meld slowly and not be shocked into expanding and then collapsing.

This recipe does NOT use xanthan gum.  I usually do, in everything.  But with this I found the absence of it made for a better texture given the amount of starch in the recipe already, as well as the flax, which also binds things together.

Teff is wonderfully high in protein and fiber and the world’s smallest grain so it’s extremely fine and works well in this kind of recipe.  If you can’t find teff flour, I’d suggest amaranth or quinoa – because of the moist pumpkin and spices, the flavors get absorbed well and give you all the punch-packing nutrients.

I tossed some in cinnamon and sugar, made quick glaze for others with almond milk, powdered sugar and nutmeg, brushed some with melted coconut oil and then dunked them in sugar… have fun.

Let me know what you think.  What’s your favorite gluten free donut recipe? I want to try it!

This pumpkin at my family’s home made me happy…

So I STOLE and MADE DONUTS OUTTA IT! Just kidding… I used the kind in a can… organic…

Pumpkin Spice Donuts

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Preheat oven to 325°.  Lightly grease donut pan.

Whisk together in a small bowl:

  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot starch (or tapioca starch)
  • 1/4 cup teff flour
  • 1 Tbsp sweet rice flour (or sticky rice flour)
  • 1 Tbsp flax meal
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice

Whisk together in a large bowl:

  • 1/2 cup palm sugar (or white sugar)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil or canola oil
  • 3/4 cup almond milk, warm, with 1 1/2 tsp white vinegar

Whisk dry ingredients into wet until thoroughly combined.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until springy to the touch.

Blackcurrant Cream Cheese Frosting (vegan)

Vegan Blackcurrant "Cream Cheese" Frosting

I love this frosting.  I want to roll around in it.  I want to put it on steak, eggs, green vegetables and toast.  I want to give it a national holiday.

OK, those are all going way to far.  But it’s good.  It’s really good.

Smooth, creamy, pungent with currant, it’s my new favorite thing.

It’s not fluffy and not pipeable.  It makes a mess.  But I love it so much I don’t care.

Slather it on all things sweet, especially if they contain chocolate or heavy spice.

Maybe don’t put it on steak, eggs, green vegetables or toast.  Other than that, go batty.

Ingredients:

  • 1 8oz container Tofutti “cream cheese”
  • 1 stick (8 Tbsp) butter flavored Earth Balance
  • 2 Tbsp Toffuti “sour cream”
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted, plus more to taste
  • 3 Tbsp blackcurrant jam

Directions:

  • Beat “cream cheese” and Earth Balance until blended.
  • Add “sour cream” and beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes.
  • Add powdered sugar and beat until creamy and slightly fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  • Add jam and continue to beat to desired consistency.

Variations:

  • Use strawberry or raspberry jam instead of currant.
  • If you don’t need to go vegan, use regular cream cheese and butter just colder than room temperature.
  • Instead of the sour cream, use milk (soy, almond or cow), or omit completely, depending on the consistency you desire.

Ralph Macchio Dancing Potatoes (Perfect Roasted Potatoes)

Ralph Macchio Dancing Potatoes

Disclaimer:  I do not, actually, have a crush on my boyfriend’s friend, who we’ll call Ralph Macchio.  The real Ralph Macchio is on my mind because I want him to win the crap out of Dancing With the Stars next season – though I’ve never seen an episode.  But really.  The Karate Kid?! My Cousin Vinny?  Heck, he was even adorable on Ugly Betty!  Let’s go Macchio!

Anyway, the pseudo Ralph Macchio has excellent taste in colorful shirts.  And despite my incredible desire to be lazy on Sunday we enjoyed 90 minutes of YogaX together, where I melted into several Warrior series and cursed the phrase “Yoga Belly” before we went out in the rain for sake and sushi. Ralph can cook, and (possibly to appease my desire to have a partner in the kitchen) my boyfriend put us together a few weeks ago when he was visiting to make brunch for some friends.  And in single moment of delicious, crisp, buttery potato perfection, Ralph reminded me of the state of bliss potatoes reach when you’ve taken the time to par-boil them properly before roasting.

So I made them tonight to go along with Phat Tuesday dinner after a long day.  And my little sis wanted the recipe.  And so I reminded her that I have a blog for that purpose.  Then she remarked that my holiday header is gone… showing that she hasn’t actually been on this site since Christmas.

Family is awesome! Truly.  It was a delightful night of food and conversation, and sinfully crispy potatoes.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 Yukon Gold or white potatoes per person
  • scarily delicious olive oil
  • freshly cracked sea salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • your combination of any of the following: garlic powder, onion powder, crushed red pepper flakes, dried basil, dried oregano, white pepper, dried lemon etc.

Directions

  • Peel and cut your potatoes into wedges about 1 – 1 1/2 inches big.  While doing so, place a large pot of water on to boil with a good amount of salt (I used about a tablespoon) and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • When the water is at a good boil, drop potatoes in and cook about 5 minutes, until a fork just pierces into them but they’re still very firm.  Immediately strain and allow all water to fall off.
  • Coat a medium baking dish (I used a classic Pyrex glass dish) with about 3 Tbsp Olive Oil (one that rocks your world) and toss potatoes in to coat.
  • Add freshly cracked salt, pepper and seasonings to taste.  If you’re not sure what to try, I recommend grabbing a premixed spice blend – they’re easily available now and usually mixed pretty classic-ly.
  • Roast in preheated oven for approximately 25 minutes, tossing occasionally.
  • Turn heat up to a broil and broil for 5-8 minutes until golden.

Eat the crap out of them.

Kamui Den Cold Asparagus Salad

Kamui Den Cold Asparagus Salad

It was a long weekend, full of way too much fun with good people and delicious food.  And at the end of an exhausting Sunday, where I had gotten drenched by the NYC rain too many times, sort-of enjoyed THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU and muscled my way through YogaX (the yoga version of P90X a visiting friend shames us by doing daily),  I wanted to “eat the crap out of some sushi”.

Enter Kamui Den.  The best thing about eating sushi there is that the sushi is not the best thing on the menu.  It is delicious – buttery soft with lots of ginger and mild wasabi on the site – but it’s the appetizers that win.  Lotus Root salad, picked vegetables, tempura so light you can see the texture of the vegetables before you bite into them.  And a simple cold asparagus salad that my boyfriend boldly proclaimed to be the best asparagus he’s ever had.

Thank god it’s a simple dish.  The boyfriend can’t cook to save his life (sadly I think that’s a completely true statement) but the visiting friend (Tim) is an extremely able man in the kitchen.  We agreed that the most likely way to replicate the dish is to flash boil the asparagus and then douse it in a cold water bath before drizzling on the simple sauce of lemon, oil, salt and pepper.  Tim also pointed out to salt the crap out of the water – literally, so that it tasted like the Arctic.  I knew it would help bring out the color of the asparagus, but didn’t know how much salt it takes to season vegetables in the boiling state.

This morning I hit the train to Connecticut and stopped by my brother’s place, where he left me some Brussels sprouts and asparagus in exchange for checking in on his cat (it’s sort of endearing that he knows leaving me his unused vegetables does really make it that much easier to get a favor out of me).  While my laziness enticed me to stick to my millet/lentil/get-my-tush-in-the-office plan, the desire to learn how to make this for someone I care about won over.

And it’s really simple.  Really.  As in, he can make it.

Maybe.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • salt (table salt for boiling and I used rock sea salt for flavoring)
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice (fresh preferred)

Directions

Plain old asparagus, sorta green and full of potential

Trim the ends off of each spear and then cut in half, so that your pieces are about 3″ long.  Bring a medium pot of water to a boil with a lot of salt… I estimate that I used about 2 tablespoons.  While waiting for the water to boil, prepare an ice-water bath and make sure you have a colander ready.  When at a roiling boil, drop in asparagus and cook for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes, until the thickest spear is soft enough to easily pierce with a fork but the pieces still have a lot of firmness to them.

The vibrant green after boiling

Quickly drain and toss in the ice-water bath, swirling the asparagus to make sure they’re all submerged.

While the asparagus chills, whisk together 2 Tbsp very good virgin or extra-virgin olive oil, 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, and freshly cracked salt and pepper to taste.  Toss the cold asparagus in and then drain as much of the oil off as possible.  Use excess oil for drizzling

Enjoy!

Kamui Den Cold Asparagus Salad

 

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