Saturday, November 27, 2010

Two Thanksgiving Dinners

On the actual Thanksgiving day we were hosted by Kim and Gregg. Kim made lots of delicious food! Mark brought a loaf of bread and I made this turkey cake:

It's a flourless raspberry chocolate cake.

The next day, Mark and I thought we should also celebrate with our own traditional Thanksgiving dinner:

Stuffing, cranberry-orange sauce, gravy, turkey's insides, stuffed turkey, candied yams.

The turkey is made of seitan:

And it is stuffed:

The poor thing had to watch us first eat is insides, then cut him and eat his sides....

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Greek Zucchini Pie

We got some Bulgarian Feta cheese. It tastes somewhat rancid. Apparently, that's normal, but we still find it hard to ingest. So I looked for a recipe that would use it as a non-major ingredient, and also include the 2 zucchinis I had in the fridge. Luckily, such recipe indeed exists, and it is superb! Both easy to make, and yummy, and the Feta's rancidness is greatly diminished.

Since I only had 2 zucchinis, I scaled it down a bit, but other than that I followed the recipe quite faithfully.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Chia seeds

What a nice little seed!
I like soaking a tablespoon of them in about 1/4 cup water and leave it in the fridge for 20 minutes, then add them to a melon shake and drink it right before going for an energetic jog.

If I had a smoothie joint, I would definitely offer this little, energy-filled, boba replacement...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Coconut Potatoes

A few weeks ago I wanted to make something with potatoes and coconut milk. A google image search produced this Indian casserole (after sifting through all the mashed sweet potatoes with coconut milk). I omitted the mushrooms, simply because I didn't have them, but otherwise, I made it as recommended. They turned out really good - spicy and creamy, and they go well with naan.

Here's how it was done:
You can get the chili-vinegar paste from an Indian grocery store, but it's a lot more fun to make it yourself. Just put the following ingredients in a food processor:
  • 1/4 c dried red chilies
  • 2 T wine vinegar
  • 1 t tamarind paste
  • 1/2 t cumin seeds
  • 1/2 t peppercorns
  • 1/2 turmeric
  • 1 t roasted garlic
  • a small chunk of ginger (~1 cm)
  • a sprinkle of cinnamon
Puree everything, and your casserole is pretty much done!
Next you will need potatoes (I used about 6 medium to small potatoes), and some green onions (I used 4 big ones from our garden). Amounts may vary according to your needs and taste.
  • Mix 1-2 T of the paste with a can of coconut milk, add some salt to taste.
  • Layer potato slices in a casserole dish
  • Sprinkle chopped green onions
  • Pour 1/3 of chili-coconut mix
  • Repeat twice more
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for about 1 hour
A few days ago I made a summer version of this dish -- a lot less baking time -- by dicing the potatoes, and cooking them in the microwave for about 5 minutes in a covered bowl with a few drops of water. Then I cooked them on the stove with the coconut-chili mix and the green onions in a large pan for a few more minutes. It was much faster, especially since I already had prepared chili paste.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Candle Nuts

Mark's recent visit to Tempe -- and thus to our favorite Asian market -- resulted in a small bag of weird nuts - candle nuts. We tried them - they didn't taste very good. So I looked it up and found that they are mostly used as a thickening agent in Indonesian sauces. The most appealing - and least meaty - recipe I found was that of egg sambal. It seemed simple enough and didn't require too many weird ingredients. Still I had to modify it, and the result was very tasty.

Here's how I made it:

Put 4 eggs to boil.
In a medium pan I heated up 2 T peanut oil, and sauteed:
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 t roasted garlic (can substitute with some crushed garlic)
  • 1 t grated ginger (instead of the galanga root)
  • 1 T vegetarian red curry paste (figured it would be an excellent substitute for shrimp paste and red chilies)
  • 1 t tamarind paste (instead of sugar and lime juice)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 6 candle nuts, ground (I used mortar and pestle, and it worked wonderfully!)
That's it! It's ready in minutes. The only thing that took too much time was peeling the darn eggs!
To accompany the sambal, I made Mark prepare pizza dough, of which he rolled out 5 pita-sized rounds, rubbed them in oil, and I cooked them in a small non-stick pan. They came out so soft and delicious, and were perfect for the sambal.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Best Palak Paneer EVER!

As the title suggests, this is by far the best palak paneer I have ever had. I had a few store bought ones, I had some in restaurants, and it never really appealed to me all that much. There were plenty of Indian dishes far better than this. I even tried making one myself, and it wasn't anything more than blah. But this time - with a food processor on hand, not forgetting to add the cashews, and using our own grown spinach - it came out SO much better!
I followed this easy-to-follow recipe from Mahanandi, with some home-made paneer.
The only thing I was missing was the cilantro-ginger-garlic paste, so I made it from scratch by processing a few garlic cloves, some cilantro leaves, and a small piece of ginger - at rough ratios of 3-2-1, and I have no idea how it compares. But who cares? The overall result was delicious.

Don't put in too many salted cashews!!

Needless to say we had it with yummy fluffy naans that Mark baked.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wild Thing

We got some wild rice and weren't quite sure what to do with it. So I made something up:

It was very yummy and quite easy to make. Wild rice is good!

Basically, I just cooked the wild rice with some brown rice (added the brown rice about 15 min through). At the same time I cooked whatever veggies I had in the fridge: mushrooms, edamame, corn, green onions, parsley (I think I put a bit too much of the latter) with some spices (I used chicken spice [=oregano, rosemary, marjoram, thyme, black pepper]) and salt and pepper to taste. The nuttiness of the rice perfectly compliments the juiciness of the veggies.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Coco-Lime Cupcakes

Another amazing cupcake from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. Awesome juicy-fresh frosting!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Fennel Awesomeness

When you have a lot of one kind of the same vegetable, you might want to enlarge your repertoire of dishes that contain it. But then you have the one simple delicious dish that you can make over and over again. For example, we had lots of sugar snap peas, which we used for stir fries and cold noodle Thai salads, but mostly, we ate them as a salad, by simply blanching them and then adding salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. They are delicious as they are simple.

We just started exploring the possibilities with fennel, and only used it thrice* so far, but I already know what my favorite fennel recipe is:

Roasted fennel with balsamic vinegar and olive oil!
So simple: just cut the fennel in half or quarters, place it in a casserole dish, spray olive oil on top, smother with drizzles of vinegar, sprinkle some salt, and cover. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes or until nice and soft all the way through. We baked it at the same time Mark's Best Roasted Potatoes Ever were baking, and enjoyed a very yummy dinner.

* The first time out of the tree was a failing attempt to make this very recipe -- covering the casserole dish is crucial!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Carrot Cake (Low Fat)

A few years ago, while we still lived in NC, Robin brought the most delicious carrot cake I have ever had over to Mark for his birthday. It's his favorite cake, and it's very low fat. Even though I had the recipe (developed by Mark and Robin), I could never make it myself, because I did not have a food processor. But now I do! So I made the cake:

Here's the recipe, which I modified slightly to make it a bit less low-fat, but also a bit less wasteful, as I do not know what I would do with extra yolks:

In a large bowl combine:
  • 1 egg
  • 6 egg whites (this is where I just used 3 eggs)
Beat, then add:
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar
  • 3/4 c brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 c unsweetened apple sauce
  • 2 t vanilla extract
Beat some more

In a separate bowl combine:
  • 2 c minus 2 T all purpose flour
  • 3 t baking powder
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 1 T cocoa powder
Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix only till incorporated, then add:
  • 1 lb shredded carrots
  • 2 c raisins
Pour into three 8" pans lined with wax paper and bake in a 350 degrees F preheated oven for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let cool, and in the meantime prepare the frosting:

  • 2 8oz packages of fat free cream cheese
  • 2 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 1 t vanilla extract
beat well, and spread on cakes.

For decoration, I used solid glaze:
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 c powdered sugar
  • a drop of almond extract
All mushed together with a fork, then colored and shaped as carrots. I got 4 large yummy carrots.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Mark's Gross Dinner

Mark always makes fun of me for cooking new, weird things all the time. He finds it unusual that everytime I cook something it contains new combinations of ingredients and that I keep making new things, instead of making the good, old, tried-and-perfected dish. Hence, everything I cook is bound to be "gross". Well, last night he made a "gross" dinner. It was delicious :)

For some unknown reason he decided to try and combine ingredients in a way he has never tried before. Moreover, he did that without following any recipe!
Basically it's whole wheat pasta with asparagus and other veggies, sauteed in olive oil. The veggies include fennel (mostly leaves -- the bulbs are still very small) and parsley from our garden. Also featured are tomatoes, olives, and lots of garlic.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Thai Red Curry

Making Thai red curry feels like cheating. Well, if you use red curry paste it does. You hardly do anything, and you get a rich and complex flavor. No herbs and spices needed (well, except for the ones in the red curry paste) - I'm not used to that!

I basically followed this recipe, adding whatever vegetables I had on hand: broccoli, carrots, water chestnuts, and - of course - delicious sugar snap pea from our garden.

I started by mixing 3 T of red curry paste I got from Lee Lee's (the one doesn't contain any animal ingredients) with some basil and 2 cans of coconut milks. This made it very soupy, as evident in the pictures. Once the mixture was gently boiling I added the veggies and tofu, and simmered till the broccoli stalks were soft enough for me. Can't get much simpler than that, and still qualify as making dinner from scratch, can it?

Served it on long grain brown rice.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Peanut Butter Chocolate Pillows

Doesn't the name make it sound really good? Well, if that wasn't the case for you, how about a picture?

The authors of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World have struck again! [Actually it was a long time ago, I'm just starting to catch up.] This time with a cookie book: Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.
For the same reason I love making cupcakes from VCTOTW, I also liked making these cookies - it's so simple, and yet looks so sophisticated and tastes so delicious and special. I had to wait till Valentine's Day to justify such decadence, just because it looks that way. But now I don't think I need any excuses for making it again.

Monday, February 15, 2010


I never thought I would actually have to milk soy beans to get their milk out, but that is exactly what I was doing!
I followed the instructions here. With a few exceptions, of course...
At first I removed the outer layers of the beans after they've soaked, per said instructions. A lot of them were very easy to peel, and practically came off of their own free will. Most of them, though, were more resistant. After awhile, seeing how many more beans I still have to peel, I decided to read the post and comments again, just in case I missed something. Sure enough, I did! One of the commenters mentioned that he doesn't remove the peel, and it may even add some fiber if you leave it on. Good enough for lazy me!
Other than that, I followed pretty much exactly, and here's what I got:

One quart of rich, creamy, soy-tasting drink. It was not the same as Silk or most other store bought soymilk, but it did remind me the soymilk-black sesame drink (minus the black sesame flavor) I got from an Asian store. I guess that makes sense. The soy flavor is pretty mild, and overall, I think it's a darn good drink!

I'm not sure I want to do it again, though. It was A LOT of work. And A LOT of dirty dishes to wash afterwards. I'm going to try another version, that cooks the beans before extracting the milk. We'll see if I like that method better.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Tiger Year!

I was invited to a new year party this week, but because I'm lame, I didn't go. It seemed like it would be a lot of fun, though: The guests were to bring a dish they considered to be Chinese, and their favorite Chinese quote. The best quote contributor will be the winner of a grand prize and two shots of sorghum wine!

So I thought that this dish would be a good choice:

Plus, it contains noodles, which are known to bring good luck to their New Year eater.
It's based on Bittersweet's recipe, but adapted to what I had on hand. Also, although I LOVE soba noodles, I decided to try acorn noodles - they turned out to be very good indeed!

Here's the original recipe as well as my adaptations:

Fish-Free Dashi

4 Cups Vegetable Stock
1 Heaping Tablespoon Instant Wakame Flakes [didn't have any, omitted]
3 Fresh Shiitake Mushrooms, Finely Chopped [chopped some brown beech mushrooms instead]
2 Tablespoons Tamari or Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Barley Miso Paste [used whatever miso I have at home]
1 – 2 Scallions, Thinly Sliced [no scallions, oh well]

The instructions say to mix all these ingredients together, bring to the brink of a boil, and then pour it over cooked noodles and vegetables. As I mentioned before, I used acorn noodles (yum!) and the vegetables were snow peas from our garden (yum!) and carrots. Both veggies were cooked in boiling water for just a few seconds.

I liked it. Mark didn't care much for it. I suspect it's the miso. I doubt it was the absence of Wakami flakes, as Mark doesn't like seaweeds at all. Hopefully he will get the good luck anyway.

Oh, as for the quote, here's my favorite:

"A book is like a garden you can carry in your pocket".

Monday, February 1, 2010


As I opened the yogurt container, I couldn't help admiring the contents. As I spooned some of it into a bowl, I was amazed by its smooth texture and creamy consistency. It really was the most beautiful yogurt I have ever seen.

Doesn't it look awesome?

And to know that I made it all by myself - well - that's something to be proud of, don't you think?

The fact that it's incredibly easy to make it should not diminish the pride, either. All you need is milk, some yogurt, and a thermometer!

  • Heat 1/2 gallon of milk (fat content of your choice) in a pot over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, so it doesn't get burnt on the bottom. When the milk gets to about 160-170 degrees F (I take it to 170, but not a degree more), you can remove it from the heat and finally stop stirring (it takes about 15-20 minutes, and the milk starts to foam, but it should not boil).
  • Then let it cool to 120 degrees. To me this step takes about 40 minutes.
  • Once it's cool, transfer a bit of the warm milk to a small bowl containing 4 tablespoons of yogurt to make it a bit more liquidy, and then pour the yogurt into the warm milk, making sure it's mixed well.
  • Now cover the pot with the lid, wrap the whole thing in a big towel, and just let it sit overnight and the bacteria will do their thing.
  • Next morning, you'll get a nice wabbley yogurt. You will need to drain it, and you can drain it for as long as you like - mine was drained for 1.5 or 2 hours, and the product fits exactly in a 32 oz yogurt container. You can use a white sheet or a pillowcase.
You see - you can do it over and over again, if you just use the last of your yogurt to make a new batch. - A very small anna calls it a neverending yogurt. I followed her instructions pretty much to the point, except I found that going up to 190 degrees makes my yogurt look grainy (though it still tasted smooth), so I only go up to 170 degrees, as mentioned above.

Simple, ha? If you like yogurt, and don't like the jello-like texture store-yogurt has and/or don't want to pay too much for Greek yogurt, you should give it a try!