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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

How to make your own Amazake

Amazake is a classic way to prepare sweet rice in Japan. Often in winter, especially around new years, when you enter a Buddhist temple, you are offered a hot, sweet, gingery drink made from rice. This is the most common way to serve amazake and a truly warming, delightful drink.  Here in the states, if you want to have real amazake, there is only one choice and that is to make your own. Of course some of you are immediately going to point out a horrendous company based about 1 mile from my loft that makes what they call "amazake". Well, guess what, they are faking it and selling fake amazake but few Americans, unfortunately, know the differene between the real cultured rice and the stuff that is laden with processed crap.
Fortunately, making amazake is EASY. I mean simple, beyond easy.

You only need 3 ingredients:
mochi kome (sweet brown rice)
koji (cultured rice)

for a basic recipe, follow this:

In a rice cooker prepare 1 cup mochi kome with twice the amount of water you would usually use. Use sweet brown rice, not white!
or in a pot, cook 1 cup mochi kome with 4 cups water and cook 1 hour at very low heat.

After the rice is cooked, let it cool down to room temperature.
Then add
2 cups koji (Koji can be purchased from miso and sake makers and Cold Mountain Miso company sells it in tubs and can be found in most Japanese and health food markets but as  usual, avoid Whole Foods like the plague. Besides they do not carry it lol)

Incubate the rice/koji mixture at 140 degrees for 16 hours. I use my dehydrator for this, covering the rice well so it does not dry out.

After 16 hours, remove the rice and you will find it is unusually sweet! You now have amazake in your hands. The koji has completely broken down the starches into sugars and you are left with what was once Japan's "sugar", before the meiji period.
Now if you add yeast to the amazake you can make sake.
If you put the amazke in shochu for 2 months and then filter it out, you have Hon Mirin (not the processed crap you find on the shelf which is alchohol and corn syrup!)

And now for the amazing winter drink that anyone who has visited a temple in winter in Japan has once warmed their hands and bodies and hearts with.

1 cup amazake
1 cup boiling water
small piece of ginger

place all in a blender and blend till smooth and drink up.

shinnen akemashite o-medetō-gozaimasu

Monday, December 28, 2009

yellow indian bean chipotle burgers

The last several months i have been exploring the full catalog of amazing beans from Rancho Gordo bean farm in Sonoma County, California. They specialize in heirloom varieties of beans, many unique and rare ones such as yellow indian beans and  black lentils as well as overwhelmingly high quality of standards like black turtle beans. The price is certainly higher than usual but the quality and the farming methods are obviously worth the extra cost. I am moving in the direction of only using these beans in my menus! Check them out at

Here is a burger i made recently using Yellow Indian beans from Rancho Gordo farms.

Step 1. the beans

1 cup yellow indian beans soaked overnight. Then drain, rinse, place these beans in a pot with 4 cups water and a bay leaf, bring to boil, cover, lower heat and let simmer 35 minutes. Drain the beans and set aside. When cool, mash them coarsely

While beans are simmering you can prepare the following:
1 stalk celery, minced
1 leek, minced
several cloves garlic, minced
i large carrot shredded.
1/2 cup walnuts chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1.5 tsp sea salt

in a frying pan, heat up oil and add the leeks and salt and cook till translucent. Add the rest of the above ingredients and cook for 3 minutes. Then add the following:

1 tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp thyme
 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
cook for one minute, remove from heat.

then add
the mashed beans
2 tbsp fresh parsley
1/3 cup grated yama-imo (a Japanese tubor that helps bind these together)

mix all well together.

Form these into 4 large burgers.
You can grill them, pan fry them or bake them. When i bake them, i like to broil them for the last 5 minutes to brown on top

Sunday, December 27, 2009

chanterelle leek and pesto pizza

i was born and raised in Brooklyn so if there is one thing i have a clue about it is pizza! Most of what passes for pizza in California and the rest of the country is rather absurd. Dominos is to pizza what Noah's is to bagels and Starbucks is to coffee, simply a far inferior simulation to the real thing; destroying peoples taste buds and sense of anything decent along with plummeting the local economies. Well unfortunately that has become the Amerikan way for the overwhelming majority of people and for whatever reason people accept it and even thrive on the mediocrity force fed them.

However, some of us have retained our tastebuds and our sense of wanting each neighborhood to have its own identity rather than everything turning into a homogenized mess of corporate mediocrity.  Perhaps we are the last generation not to succumb to the factory farmed approach to developing factory food. Anyways, i digress, yet good pizza is part of the solution as well as the problem. :)

Making pizza at home takes work but then again most good things in life require some effort on our part, eh?

Now after i became vegan 5 or 6 years ago (after being vegetarian since my first year of college), one of the things i knew would give me trouble was pizza. But then i started seeing cheese as simply what it is: curdled extract of a lactating cow and well, with that in mind, cheese has as much appeal to me as eating meat or should i put it more honestly, the remains of a tortured enslaved and murdered animal. It is all context, eh? I used to crave pizza dripping with curdled lactating cow extract but now i simply want some really nicely prepared vegetables and perhaps some herbs and nuts.
So cheeseless pizza became the norm in my house with the exception when i use small amounts of my own homemade almond ricotta.
Store bought fake melting vegan cheeses imitate plastic more than actual food and have no place in my kitchen. Anyone who knows my food firsthand or through my writings knows i have zero interest in processed crap, vegan or not and i think food should be healthy for the consumer and the planet and thus fake processed vegan cheese stays on the shelf where it belongs.  Besides most of those companies are owned by evil corporations which i wont support since that is the only way to vote these days; economically.

Anyhow, there are a zillion ways to make great pizza. Dominos method is not one of those ways nor is pizza hut or any of the other chains and most of the small places use the same processed materials as well.  There are more than one exceptional pizza dough recipe and certainly an unlimited amount of toppings. This is my way to make thin crust, neapolitan style pizza. Mushrooms are one of the ideal toppings for pizza and i had freshly foraged chanterelles from the day before and some leeks and basil in the fridge.
Learn some dough recipes and then let your imagination run wild, using any seasonal ingredients to top your delightful dough with.

step 1
the dough
Some will argue that the dough is the most important part, others the sauce and others the topping. This is a rather silly arguement as all parts are equally important. And like in a sandwhich, the sum will go to the lowest denominator so if you have great dough and lame toppings you get a lame pizza as a result. Every part has to be equally awesome in order to get an awesome pizza.
This is an insanely good pizza dough recipe!

1.5 cups white flour
1 cups semolina flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp yeast
1.5 cups water
you may notice there is no sweetener in this dough. Not a mistake! Just making sure you noticed.
combine your dry ingredients and then slowly add the water. Knead for 5 minutes. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes and then knead another 5 minutes. Cover well, and let it rise in a warm dry place for 5 hours.

The pesto
2 cups basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts
4 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil of a very high quality
place all in a food processor and blend till it becomes a pesto.
put aside

the leeks
2 leeks julienned (clean them well, first, of course!)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp olive oil
over low heat caramelize the leeks, stirring frequently. This takes about 12 minutes.
put aside

for the chanterelles
clean your wild mushrooms very well.
slice 2 pounds of chanterelles.
Heat up a large frying pan. sprinkle some sea salt on the pan and lay your mushrooms in the pan. Within a short amount of time, the fungus will give off its water. Drain the mushroom water but save it for stock or other uses as it is loaded with earthy flavors and minerals. After mushrooms have released their water, drain well and put aside.

Making the pizza
Take your dough and divide into 4 equal parts.
Roll each part into a circle, about 12 inches in diameter. This crust makes a very thin, neapolitan style pizza.
Smear (brooklyn word!) some pesto onto each one.
lay some caramelized leeks on each one.
place some of the chanterelles on each one.

Place pizza on a preheated pizza stone.
bake at VERY high temperature, 500 or whatever the highest your oven goes to.

this will bake in about 10 minutes.

avoid GMO: Monsanto get your hands off my pizza!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

yuzu-sichuan peppercorn truffles

i have always been intimidated by desserts and sweets in general. Truffles seemed like something you had to study in France in order to have a clue. Nonetheless i have been developing a fair amount of rather tasty and sometimes unique sweet dishes and i am rather proud of some of the accomplishments, particularly the vegan ice creams i have developed the past few years and have shared some recipes here on the blog and elsewhere.

Here is my first experiment with making truffles.

1 cup cocoa, very high grade
1 cup maple syrup
2 cups cashews
2 yuzu, juice and zest
several sichuan peppercorns ground down

in a food processor, grind the cashews down to butter. Then simply add the next 2 ingredients and blend very well and till totally smooth. Add yuzu juice and peppercorns and zest and mix well then refrigerate overnight.

Now you will need some matcha powder. Matcha is the powdered green tea from the Japanese tea ceremony, a delightful bittersweet flavor.
with a melon baller, create small balls. Roll the balls in matcha and refrigerate immediately.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

pumpkin gnocchi

One of the truly delightful fall and early winter dishes to come out of Italian cuisine. Not always vegan in stores and restaurants but easily can be when made at home. Gnocchi is not difficult to make once you understand the basic principles. From there it is simply a matter of practice to get the techniques together.

You will need
1 cup roasted pureed pumpkin
2 cups semolina flour
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp white pepper

Combine the dry ingredients. Add the pumpkin and work into a dough and knead for 20 minutes. A stand mixer is very nice to take care of this job for you.  The secret here is not to add too much flour! The less flour you add the lighter and more delicate will be your gnocchi.

Let the dough rest for 20 minutes in a dry, cool place, covered tightly.

Take a small piece of dough and roll out a log about 1/2 inch thick. Cut 1 inch long pieces from the log. Repeat till all the dough is rolled out into these small dumplings.

In a large pot, bring water to boil. Drop in gnocchi about 12 at a time. When they float, they are done so immediately remove them one at a time as they float. Plate and sauce and serve immediately. As with all pasta do not overcook. This is easy as the gnocchi literally tells you when it is done by coming to the surface, literally saying, time to eat.

i like this best with the walnut sage sauce i blogged about earlier or a nice basil pesto.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Steamed collard leaves stuffed with wild rice, garbanzos and caramelized onions and kabocha

Collard greens are amazing! Usually they are cooked for hours on end until they are mushy and tasteless, devoid of all nutrition and texture and then flavored with some dead pig parts. Yeah, great way to destroy an amazing green vegetable. There are countless ways to prepare collards. One thing i lke about them is how hearty they are how they can be steamed or blanched slightly and then laid out, filled with various kinds of delightful culinary treasures, rolled up, steamed and sauced to create an infinite amount of culinary orgasmic delights.
Here is one idea.

First you will need a bunch of collard leaves. In Northern California, they are locally harvested 12 months a year.  Assume 2 leaves per person if a main course or 1 leaf per person for an appetizer or small plate.
Since you are using organic collards, you need to wash them carefully as the undersides of the leaves are where bugs like to make their hang and lay eggs and do what bugs do. Easy to simply clean any off that lingered from the nearby farm.
Blanch your leaves in boiling water where you add 1/4 tsp baking soda. Simply drop the leaf in and immediately remove it and let drain. Do NOT boil them. Do NOT cook them. Simply drop the leaf in and immediately remove it. Forget the cell phone ringing or the awful christmas music that may have just appeared for no reason in your space.

Now for fillings
wild rice
i use a rice cooker for all my grains and put 1 1/2 cups wild rice into the cooker and added water to the 2 line. Then added a dash of sea salt and cooked it on the white rice setting. perfecto every time!

Soak 1 cup garbanzos over night. In the morning drain, rinse and place them in 3 cups water and bring to boil. Cover, simmer and cook for 45 minutes. If you have old beans it will take longer. Or use a presssure cooker and cook for 10 minutes. Life is better with pressure cookers!

After beans are cooked, drain them, well.

Caramelized onions and kabocha
1 onion diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small kabocha, chopped. (never peel kabocha as it tastes awesome)
i carrot, chopped
2 tsp oregano
1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
2 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp olive oil
2 lemons, juiced

In cast iron skillet bring oil to temperature and add onions and salt. Stir well and sautee for 8 minutes stirring frequently. Add rest of ingredients except lemon juice. Cook for 7 minutes, stirring frequently. Add lemon, remove from heat.

Now for the package itself
Lay out your leaves on dry surfaces, spine side down. Gently smash the spine down if it is strong.
Place a small amount of wild rice on one end of your leaf. Add some beans and some of the onion/kabocha mixture. Do not overfill or it will be too difficult to keep closed.
Roll it up like you would a burrito or a nice spliff.

Repeat till all your leaves are filled. You should have enough mixture for about 15 leaves.

Place leaves in 3 tiers of bamboo steamers. Steam for 15 minutes.
From steamer, immediately place on plate. These can be sauced with a chanterelle sauce and/or a tahini/dill and many many other possibilities.

Monday, December 21, 2009

citron custard pie

sort of like a cheese cake but without the curdled extract of a lactating cow.

for the pie crust
1 cup pastry flour
1/4 cup non hydrogenated vegetable shortening
1 tsp tahini
pinch sea salt

combine shortening with flour, salt and tahini till it forms small pebble like pieces. Add enough water to form a dough and then refrigerate for one hour. Roll out into pie crust and fill immediately.

for the custard
1 pound silken tofu
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup tahini
1 citron
dash salt
1 tbsp lemon juice

Use the peel of the citron and
combine everything in a blender till very smooth.
Pour into pie shell and bake at 40 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before baking

Important note: Since this custard is made from silken tofu, it does not sit well. Thus you cannot make this in advance and refrigerate it. Must be served the day it is made or it will start to sour as all cooked tofu dishes do.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

carrot salad w/ mustard seeds and lemon

here is another simple dish, requiring very few ingredients yet giving great flavor and texture.

2 pounds carrots, grated
3 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp brown mustard seeds
1/3 cup freshy squeezed lemon juice

grate carrots.
heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Add salt and mustard seeds and stir fry till seeds begin to pop.
Add this to the carrots along with the lemon juice. Stir well and let marinate an hour before serving.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Miso soup

Now here is one of the most fundamental recipes from any culinary culture. Miso soup is eaten by some people in Japan with every meal. And for good reason, it tastes good any time of day and  you can vary it every time with different types of miso and different vegetables to keep the same idea constantly varying.

a basic recipe follows:
for each serving
1 cup kombu-shitake dashi (see elsewhere on my blog)
1 tbsp miso
2 - 4 tbsp diced tofu and vegetables
dash sea salt

bring dashi to simmer, add tofu and vegetables and simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat. Combine miso with a few tbsp stock from the soup pot in a small cup and blend well. Add to soup, stir and serve immediately
NEVER boil miso.

Now here is where the variety comes in.
There are countless styles of miso made in Japan. These vary in what they are made from and how long they are aged. Number 1 rule in miso is only purchase miso that is naturally brewed and made from organic soybeans. Non organic soybeans are genetically modified in this country (GMO is banned in Japan and Europe) and are grown under the worst ecological conditions imaginable. Soy, along with corn is factory farming at its most horrendous.  The ingredients should never contain any of the following: any preservative or alchohol or msg or flavorings. If there are added preservatives or alcohol, this immediately tells you it is not aged long and thus needs to be preserved. Naturally fermented miso will last by itself for a while if kept refrigerated, thus no added preservatives need to be used.
Miso can be divided into categories such as: white, red , black  with the lighter being sweeter and less aged and the darker being much more saltier and far more aged. White miso are often used in dressings and sauces and are the most commonly used miso in my kitchen. They can also be used to make miso soup, especially for hot weather times.  Red miso are aged longer, slightly saltier and are excellent in soup in fall and springtime. They have a more earthy flavor than white but not nearly as dark and robust tasting as the black miso.  Red miso is also often used in marinade and sauces. Hatcho miso is the darkest miso and also the saltiest. This black miso produces a very strong flavored soup, often favored in dark winter times.  If you can get your hands on the real hatcho miso made by the Okozaki family, you are in for some serious culinary treats.
Within these very broad categories are many other styles of miso. Saikyo miso is another prized type of miso and is the whitest of all miso, being the sweetest and least salty. I use saikyo miso in many kinds of dressings and sauces.

Try out the various kinds of miso and see what you like. There are excellent books about miso in English such as "the book of miso" by William and Akiko Shurtleff.

Now for filling the soup.
usually any kind of miso soup wil have a few cubes of fresh tofu. Other than that use your imagination and what is local and in season. Sliced leeks or green onions are delightful. Wakame, a type of seaweed is another delight. In the summer, corn and daikon and wakame is my personal favorite. In the winter, slices of sweet potato, tofu and leek. Use what you have and you like, there are no limits

Friday, December 18, 2009

tahini sauce

to go with the falafels and fresh pita breads you will need some tahini sauce! This is a simple and delightful sauce that works on many sandwhiches and can also work as a salad dressing.

1/2 cup tahini paste
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 head garlic
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
 1/4 tsp cumin

first roast your garlic in the oven.
Then combine all ingredients, blend well and serve.
add a little water if needed to get the desired texture

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Beets! Delightful earthy treasures to some and awful canned memories to others. Many of us grow up with soggy purple, somewhat rubbery, overly salty rings in jars and thus develop a serious anti-fondness for this vegetable. Those of us who get over this early beet trauma are left with a variety of culinary delights to play with. In northern California, beets are in season all year around and we have a variety of styles and colors to choose from. All beets are different, yet the classic purple beet is the most fun, as everything becomes a gorgeous deep purple that it touches.
One of the classic beet dishes is borscht, an Eastern European soup that is served cold in summer and hot in winter.  There are dozens of ways to make a great borscht and here i one.

Start with roasting some vegetables:
3 large beets, cut into small chunks
1 potato cut into small chunks
1 onion, quartered
8 cloves garlic
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp safflower oil

coat the vegetables in salt and oil and roast in a covered roasting pan at 425 for 30 minutes.

Place 1/4 of these roasted vegetables into a blender with 2 cups cold water, 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar  and 1/4 cup fresh dill and puree.
Add this puree to the rest of the vegetables and add 2 more cups cold water.

To serve hot, simply heat up but do not boil. To serve cold, refrigerate a few hours.

Season to taste with more salt and more vinegar if needed  garnish with fresh parsley and chopped green onions

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

cranberry vanilla ice "cream" recipe

There are tons of non dairy ice creams on the market these days. Problem is they are all really awful; loaded with gums, stabilizers, white sugar, corn syrup and other non edible entities that have no place in a real kitchen or real diet. Fortunately, it is quite easy to make your own non dairy ice "creams", which i have demonstrated elsewhere on this blog. And as always, when you make your own, you take control and can put whatever you like in it and of course, NOT put what you do not like in it, thus creating a far tastier and far healthier product. And of course when you make your own, the ecological factor comes into play as you are no longer consuming PVC (processed vegan crap), thus removing a great deal of packaging and shipping in your life and well, that is a good thing for you and for everyone else.

Here is a delightful late fall/early winter flavor using fresh cranberries and homemade vanilla.

you will need the following:
1/2 cup raw cashews (toasted will not work and flavored nuts will kill the dish)
1 cup soymilk (see note below)
2 tbsp kudzu
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 pints fresh cranberries
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp vanilla extract (see my earlier blog to learn to make your own!)
2 more cups soymilk.

in a high speed blender place the cashews, 1 cup soymilk, kudzu and salt. Puree on high till very well processed. Keep this on high for 2 minutes, till the mixture heats up and thickens greatly. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend till smooth.
Place in your ice cream maker and process till frozen.

goes really well with pumpkin bread, pecan pie and apple tarts!

note on soymilk: as for all my recipes, soymilk can only contain 2 ingredients: organic soybeans and water. Any gums or stabilizers or sweeteners in your pvc soymilk will ruin this dish badly. Get a soymilk maker and make your own as it is so easy and so much better.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

cranberry pie filling

Another delightful American fall ingredient; cranberries! Since they have a very short harvest, i tend to go a little crazy with these tasty tart morsels during their 6 -8 week appearance at the end of the year. Here is a cranberry pie filling that can be used for pies, tarts, cobblers or anything else you may like.

2 pounds cranberries, washed and drained
1/2 cup port
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 vanilla bean, split
1 cinnamon stick
pinch sea salt
1/2 cup potato starch combined with enough water to dissolve

in a saucepan, place cranberries, port, maple syrup, vanilla bean, salt and cinnamon stick and over low heat, cover and cook till berries are split open, stirring frequently until a nice thick syrup is forming. The port will cook off (mostly) and the whole process takes about 15- 20 minutes. Add potato starch mixture and blend well; this will get very thick at this point.
This is now ready for further baking in tarts, newtons, pies, cobblers, grunts, buckles.

Here is a topping i like to bake cranberries with:
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch sea salt
1/3 cup agave
1/2 cup earth balance.

Combine all the dry ingredients. Blend the earth balance in, cutting in with a pastry cutter. Add agave and mix well.

for a real treat, use the pie crust i posted with the pumpkin pie recipe on the bottom, the cranberries in the middle and the pecan buckwheat oat topping and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Monday, December 14, 2009

potato-lotus root-cauliflower latkes

Updating the traditional latke with some new flavors and textures.

First the Jewish grandma recipe.
You will need some potatos, a little lotus root (everyones Jewish grandma says, "What the heck t is a lotus root? We did not have any lotus roots in the shtetl! My grandmother never used lotus root in her latkes so why do you need to use them in yours?") a small amount of cauliflower (Everyones Jewish grandma says, "oy vey, he is putting cauliflower in his latkes" and then goes off mumbling some insults in yiddish). Some matzah meal, a little salt and pepper to taste and some safflower or peanut oil to fry em up.

Now for something to try to follow on your own;
1 medium kennebec potato
1 large russet potato
1 small lotus root
1/4 of a small cauliflower
1 sheet of matzah
1 small yellow onion
1 tsp sea salt
freshly cracked pepper to taste
oil to fry

grate the potato and lotus, draining most of the liquid. Then grate the cauliflower and onion and add to the spud and lotus root gratings. In a food processor, whack your sheet of matzah down into a fine meal. Add this to your spud mixture along with salt and pepper.
Form small pancakes and fry em up in hot oil. serve hot out of the fryer and thank the talmud that once a year you are forced to indulge in fried goodness.

Note: The universal rule of pancakes applies, thus only turn once.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

homemade pasta

Nothing beats homemade pasta! And here is a great vegan dough recipe.  The garbanzo flour adds protein and fat, replacing the bird embryo that is sometimes  unnecessarily used for pasta doughs.

Another staple in my kitchen that is used for a variety of shapes of different noodles as well as ravioli and dumpling dough.

1 2/3 cups semolina flour
1/2 cup garbanzo flour
 1/3 cup white flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1  cup water

mix together and knead for 20 minutes. Let the dough rest a half hour before rolling out into noodles or dumpling/ravioli wrappers.

Once you make the dough, only your imagination limits you as to what to do with it. Get your hands on a pasta roller to make life easy.  I use the pasta roller attachment for my (not mentioning the name of the brand since they are not paying to advertise here) stand mixer and it works out really great.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Tonight is the first night of Chanukah, the Jewish festival of lights, 8 days of a fried food extravaganza! This is one of the warped celebrations as far as i am concerned. When the temple is destroyed and most of the population is destroyed, i find it a little difficult to celebrate the fact that the lord let us know he was still present by making one small lamp of oil burn for 8 days. Personally, i would think the big one should have let his preence be known before the rape and pillaging but i see this religion thing differently than some others :)
Nonetheless, great food is great food and fried food always tastes good. And why not fatten up before winter with some fried starch!

The classic latkes (incidentally, Latke is yiddish for pancake) are made from potatos. However, one can easily blend in sweet potatos of various varieties, beets, squash and more. Use your imagination after you get the basic recipe/method together.

Now you need a special piece of equipment and it is hard to find these days, though very cheap. A grater that is a flat rectangle shape and has horizantal and verticle pieces of metal across it, thus leaving small squares that grate the spud. This gives the best latke texture available. If you are Jewish, trust me, your grandma and Aunt Rose (every Jewish person of my age has at least one Aunt Rose and often she was an awesome cook as mine was) had one of these. I came across one a couple years ago at some kitchen supply place and was thrilled.

After you have that, it is easy!

you will need a few ingredients:
oil for frying (HIGH heat oil such as peanut or safflower)
a handful of very good potatos such as kennebecs
a large onion
matzah meal (take some matzah and put it in the food processor till it is a fine meal)
some salt
some pepper

You will notice i am not giving amounts. Well, honestly this is the first ever dish i learned to make and i never learned to measure. As a kid, i made latkes for family a number of times.

Grate your potatos and drain them. Grate the onion into the potatos. Season with salt and pepper.  Add some matzah meal to the mixture. Form pancakes and fry up in hot oil on both sides till brown. Serve hot with applesauce!

or get into some Yiddish japanese fusion and serve with grated daikon, chopped green onions and shoyu as i plan to do tomorrow evening.

ok, now for amounts
3 potatos, large
1 medium onion
1 sheet of matzah
1 tsp salt
lots of freshly cracked black pepper

go for it! God told you to fry em up. Well, i think someone in the talmud said to do so but do you really need an excuse to eat something delightful?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

apple sauce

Chanukah is coming up which means latke time. And the perfect accompaniment to potato latkes is some freshly made homemade apple sauce.  As always, make your own to save money as well as to have a far superior tasting and more nutritious dish on your plate. And luckily, making applesauce is quite simple.

Use a variety of different apples if you can. Avoid the boring apples that are grown for longevity of shelf life instead of flavor and texture such as green and red delicious and macintosh. Instead go for fuji, braeburn, pink lady, pink pearl and other far tastier and nicer fleshed heriloom varieties of apples.

take 6 apples and core them and chop them up. In a saucepan, place your apples and a cinnamon stick  and one vanilla bean (split down the middle) and a small amount of lemon juice and a small amount of maple syrup. Over low heat, let the apples cook down till the flesh collapses. Stif often to prevent stirring and if needed, add a tiny bit of water to prevent burning.  Mash the cooked apples down further and serve with hot out of the frier latkes which will be coming to the blog very soon.

Experiment with different spices such as allspice, cardamom and cloves

Note: for those not familiar with Judaism, Chanukah is an 8 day festival of lights that one is supposed to eat fried foods during.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

how to make an edible pumpkin bowl from dumpling squash

This is easy to prepare, tastes incredible and looks awesome! You can stuff these "bowls" with several of the recipes i have posted or will post here, particularly the black bean stew and the green or red thai curries!

Simply take a dumpling squash and cut off the top stem end. Remove all the seeds and goeey part and save these for stock or the seeds for roasting.  Rub the squash with a very small amount of sea salt. Place in roasting pan, face up, add about 1/2 cup water to the bottom of the pan, making sure not to put water into the pumpkin itself. Cover tightly Roast at 425 for 30 minutes. Voila, an edible bowl waiting to be stuffed.

Because of the delightful sweetness of this bowl, it goes very well with a very spicy,  wet dish.Easy gourmet

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

spicy dal soup

Indian food is not one of my specialties but i have learned a number of dishes and methods of preparing dishes thanks to some friends and books. One book i highly recommend is Yamuna Devi's "the art of indian vegetarian cooking", 800 pages of information including 500+ recipes! Due to religious reasons she does not use onions or garlic and i have adapted her ideas, often adding these ingredients. Nothing personal to those who feel different but i could never join any group that bans garlic and leeks :)

This is a nice and fairly simple dal soup

8 cups water or pumpkin stock
1/2 cup moong dal, soaked overnight, drained
1/4 cup yellow mung dal
1/4 cup urad dal
1/2 kabocha, cubed

several cloves garlic, minced
1 or 2 chiles chopped
2 shallots, minced
2 tbsp chopped ginger
2 tsp fresh tumeric, minced
2 tsp coriander, ground
 1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf

1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
2 tbsp coconut oil

1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground fenugreek

3 jalapenos, sliced
3 tbsp cilantro, chopped

in soup pot add dals, water, ginger, chiles, garlic, shallots, tumeric, cinnamon stick, corianderbay leaf, dab of coconut oil. Bring to boil, lower heat and let simmer 1 hour

Now here is where it gets fun :)
In small frying pan heat 1 tbsp coconut oil. Add cumin seeds and mustard seeds and cook 20 seconds.
Add salt and jalapenos (optional) and cook 2 minutes till chilis are barely cooked.  Add fenugreek ad cilantro (optional) Add this to the soup , cover and let the flavors mingle a minute before serving.
You can vary the heat, of course, my limiting the amount of jalapenos but part of the joy of this dish is the heat as it will warm you up on a cold day!

Monday, December 7, 2009

lemongrass tempeh

Another southeastern flavored tempeh dish.

1/2 pound tempeh
1 bunch gai lan (chinese brocolli)
5 jalapenos, sliced
1 onion, sliced
2 stalks lemongrass, grated
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp shaoshing (chinese rice wine)
1 tbsp shoyu
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tbsp sichuan chili oil
1 tbsp sesame oil (NON toasted)
3 tbsp mushroom-seaweed stock
cut tempeh in 1 inch cubes and roast at 425 for 10 minutes, set aside.

in large cast iron pot or work, stir fry garlic, lemongrass, jalapenos and onion in sesame oil till onion wilts. Add chinese brocolli and cook 2 minutes and add the rest of the ingredients, stir well, serve very hot over rice. Green papaya salad is a great accompaniment!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

cilantro-mint peanut yuzu pesto

Yet another nice way to use Yuzu, one of the great citrus fruits. Yuzu is now being grown by more farmers in California so the price is coming down. Used to be upwards of $12/pound it is now being found locally in the bay area for $4/pound.  This Japanese lime has one of the most delightful flavors and aromas imaginable.

Like all pestos, this is insanely easy to make. throw things in the food processor and hit the button and voila, gourmet tastes!

1 cup peanuts, toasted
1/2 cup mint leaves
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1 tbsp saikyo miso
2 yuzu. Use the juice as well as zest
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
4 cloves garlic

place all in a food processor and grind down. Add a small bit of water to help it turn into a paste.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thai Red Yuzu Curry paste

Spicy, and ultra flavorful and can be used in a wide variety of dishes. Instead of using kaffir lime leaves, i am using yuzu to give a very unique flavor to this classic paste.

8 dried guajillo chilis
20 fresh thai chilis
1 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted
1 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted
1 tsp black peppercorns, toasted
3 stalks lemongrass, chopped
2 tbsp ginger
8 cloves garlic
1/2 yuzu, seeds removed
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp chinese fermented bean curd (this replaces the fish sauce and is necessary)

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process till a smooth paste, adding a little water if needed.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

chanterelle sauce

In the fall in Northern California, a variety of wild mushrooms are available. Thanks to the wine and olive industry, spores of morels, chanterelles and porcinis are now propogating in this area as the spores tagged along with the vines.
Chanterelles are one of my favorite varieties that appear in the fall. And lately the prices are as low as 6 dollare a pound.
Here is a mushroom sauce that is very nice for pasta, tofu burgers, ravioli and many other possibilities

1 pound chanterelles, well cleaned and chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
many cloves garlic, miniced
several sprigs of fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup marsala wine
1 cup pumpkin stock or more to dilute to desired consistency
2 tbsp olive oil

in sautee pan, add olive oil, 1 tsp sea salt, thyme springs and the onions and leeks. Sautee till they begin to sweat. Add the rest of the vegetables and cook for 15 minutes till everything is well cooked. Add wine and simmer till it mostly cooks off.
Remove sprigs of thyme and put this mixture into blender and add enough stock to dilute the sauce to desired consistency. Bring back to saucepan, bring back to simmer and add more salt if needed. Season with black pepper and serve

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

homemade sichuan chili oil

Some like it hot! And some like it really hot! This is for those who like very spicy food. This oil will add incredible flavor and heat to many different dishes. Very easy to make and keeps for months if you store it in a cool, dark place.

This is referred to as numbing spicy oil, as the sichuan peppercorns leave a tingly numbing effect on the lips and tongue. Very sensual food!
Sichuan peppercorns are very unique and cannot be replaced with other peppercorns. In fact they are not even in the same family as the more familiar peppercorns. You can easily find them at reputable spice importers.

2 cups sesame oil (not toasted)
2 cups tien tsen dried chilis
1/4 cup sichuan peppercorns
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick

in a food processor, grind down the chilis and sichuan peppercorns coarsely.  Place these into a stainless steel or cast iron skillet and pan toast a couple of minutes. Add the sesame oil and bring to simmer, lower heat and let simmer 2 minutes. Remove from heat, add star anise and cinnamon stick.  Let fully cool and store in a glass jar (plastic is a very bad idea for any food, let alone one like this!). Let the oil mature for 2 weeks before using

Saturday, November 28, 2009

pumpkin stock

yet another pumpkin recipe! :)
And many more en route this week and next.

What do you do with all the leftover parts of your pumpkins and squashes? The goeey guts, seeds and skin are loaded with flavor and nutrients. Simple way to access both of these is to make a stock.

1 gallon water
guts, seeds and skins of various pumpkins and squashes
leek greens
carrot tops
celery tops
a potato
an onion
several cloves of garlic
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 parsnip
parsley stems

Basically, this stock is made from the leftovers of a handful of vegetables.
Simply bring everything to boil, lower heat and let simmer for several hours and strain.

Depending on what you are going to use the stock for you can add more spices to the simmering liquid such as star anise, cinnamon stick, allspice berries, coriander seeds and chili peppers

Friday, November 27, 2009

pumpkin multi grain rolls

a nice hearty, fall bread

2 cups roasted pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup rye flour
1/2 cup corn flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 or more cups white flour
1 tsp yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil

Combine pumpkin puree, yeast, salt and flours, adding enough white flour to form a nice dough. Knead for 20 minutes. Roll dough in oil, cover and let rise in a warm space for 5 hours. Punch down, form into small rolls, place on baking sheet and let rise an hour or till doubled in size. Bake at 450 for 20 minutes

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Homemade tempeh



One of the great vegan source of protein. for 2000 years Indonesians have been fermenting soybean into cakes and then making all kinds of delicious treats with them. Now i know some of you are saying, "soy is evil, it makes men grow tits, it cause the end of western civilization, makes people gay and perhaps even worse". Yeah, whatever. I read the shabby anti soy research and i read the amusing Wesson Price stuff and well, i eat soy and have no plans on stopping. Why do i ignore this shabby research you might ask? Well, for obvious reason. the research is simply based on isolated soy protein, not based on real food, thus it is irrelevant. The research should convince you to avoid isolated soy protein but again, who cares as if you read this blog, chances are you have no interest in eating PVC (procesed vegan crap) which is what that research is really talking about. But it only takes a small amount of thought to think that if a food is consumed by traditional cultures for 2 thousand years, it has not destroyed them and therefore that may have more importance than the writings of a crotchity old dentist and some articles funded by the meat and dairy industry. That said, here is how you can make your own tempeh :)

One can buy tempeh in most health food stores and even the ultra evil mega corporation Whole Foods sells tempeh for absurdly high prices. And of course, the homemade product is always far superior to what you can purchase in a store. Besides, Lesson #1 for learning to cook is to avoid ultra evil, Whole Foods like it is the plague that it is.

You will need some equipment to make tempeh;
trays, preferably glass
an incubator or something that keeps temperature at 92 degrees. Tempeh, like yeast is very temperamentl and needs specific temeratures to develop.
Something to cover your trays with such as foil or plastic wrap. I loathe plastic but it helps to be able to see through and besides foil is evil, too.
A pin to poke holes in your wrap
soy beans (organic, non gmo, only!)
tempeh starter.

Tempeh starter i easily found online though a few resources.

Soak one pound of soybeans overnight (about 2 cups)
You need to then remove the hulls and split the bean in half. This is done by submerging hte beans in a bowl of water and reaching in and with a massaging motion, crack the beans and remove the hull. This is the most time consuming part of making tempeh but it is easy and if you have children, they will enjoy helping. The hulls will rise to the surface and you can skim them off.
Then rinse your beans off and boil them in ample water for 45 minutes or till cooked. Cooking time varies depending on how fresh your beans are.
After cooking, drain the beans well. Then lay them on a towel and blot them dry. Moisture will inhibit the spores from developing.

Add 1 tsp cider vinegar to your beans and enough tempeh spores for 1 pound. The amount of spores needed varies from spore maker to maker. Check the package your spores came in.
Mix the spores into the beans. Place the beans into 2 separate trays, laying them evn. Cover the tray with plastic wrap and poke many pinholes in the wrap to allow steam to escape. Again, moisture content is crucial so do not skip this step.

Incubate for 24 hours at 92 degrees. Your tray of beans will now be a cake of tempeh to be enjoyed in a variety of dishes

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

cauliflower watercress miso soup

This is an amazing soup i came up with a few years ago using one of my favorite vegetables, cauliflower. Various kinds of miso appear in many of my soups, the incredible Japanese ingredient helps bind the rest of the flavors together. Here i am using a mellow white miso. There are so many types of miso and it is worth your time to aquaint yourself with the difference between the whites, reds, browns and black varieties. They all have different salt and sweetness contents. Always use miso made from organic soybeans and miso should never have preservatives or alcohol in the ingredient list as this shows it was not matured (fermented) long enough.

6 large bowls

1 head cauliflower
6 fingerling potatos,
1 leek,
1 onion
5 large cloves garlic
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
1 bunch watercress
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup white miso
2 cups seaweed mushroom stock (recipe on this blog)
2 cups ricemilk (only organic rice and water can be the ingredient)

Preheat oven to 425

break cauliflower into florettes. Dice the potatos. Clean leek well of all dirt, cut in half lenghtwise and then in quarters. Peel and quarter the onion. Cut carrot and celery stalk into quarters. rub the vegetables with salt and olive oil and add the garlic cloves. Place in roasting pan, cover tightly and roast for 30 minutes.

Wash watercress very well.

Place vegetables, watercress and white miso in blender. Add stock and puree till smooth. Add rice milk and blend well.

Return to saucepan and bring to simmer. do NOT boil. Be careful never to boil miso or you lose flavor as well as nutrients.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

cranberry port sauce

An adult version of a classic holiday dish.

1 pound cranberry
half bottle port
1 vanilla bean, split
1 cinnamon stick
2 allspice berries
pinch sea salt

Place everything in a sance pan and over medium heat, bring to simmer. Lower heat, cover and let simmer 30 minutes till most of the alcohol evaporates. Remove, vanilla, cinnamon and allspice.
You can mash the berries up or puree them if you prefer.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ladonna Smith/India Cooke Dinner/concert on Sunday, November 29 in Oakland

By demand we are adding second night!

2 brilliant violin players, performing duets for the first time! Actually this is the second night so it is the second time.
LaDonna Smith - violin
India Cooke - violin

Sunday, November 29
8 pm
limited seating for 19
$55/person, byob
private location in west oakland
for reservations, phil at philipgelb dot com

pumpkin and wild mushroom menu

Pumpkin miso soup with matsutake mushrooms, served in pumpkin bowl

second course
pumpkin and almond "ricotta" ravioli with chanterelle mushrooms sauce

Timbale of wild rice-cranberry-pecan pilaf, tofu-nut "patty", sauteed red kale, kabocha tempura
porcini mushroom sauce

chocolate pumpkin brownies
chocolate pumpkin ice "cream"
chocolate sauce

Ladonna Smith/India Cooke Dinner/concert on Saturday, November 28 in Oakland

2 amazing violin players, together for the first time! LaDonna Smith, making a rare West Coast visit and this will be her only performance while in the area! She will be joined by another amazing violin player, India Cooke, not to be missed!

Saturday, November 28
8 pm
Private Location in Oakland
limited seating for 19
$55/person, byob

white bean with roasted kale and white miso

second course
butternut sqash risotto
sauteed chanterelles
caramelized onions
pine nuts

third course
stuffed collard roll
acorn squash puree
cranberry sauce

LaDonna Smith - violin
India Cooke - violin

maple pecan pie
spiced pumpkin ice "cream"

double chocolate pumpkin brownies

Combining chocolate and pumpkin can bring amazing results! This is a moist brownie that will likely please any chocolate and pumpkin lover. As always, use only quality ingredients. If you used canned pumpkin and really low quality cocoa do not expect this to taste very good. See my earlier blog entry on how easy it is to roast and puree your own pumpkin, an absolutely necessary skill to develop in order to cook many pumpkin dishes.

1 cup safflower oil
1 cup maple syrup
1 cup roasted pureed pumpkin
1/4 cup unsweetened soymilk (organic soybeans and water must be the only ingredients!!!) w 1 tsp lemon juice added
1 cup pastry flour
1 cup white flour
1 cup cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup toasted, chopped walnuts
1 cup chocolate chips

mix your wet ingredients in one bowl.
Mix your dry ingredients in a separate bowl.

Combine the 2 together, gently, being careful not to overmix or your brownie texture will be ruined.

Bake at 350 for 35 minutes

Sunday, November 22, 2009

list of musicians who have appeared on the dinner/concert series

Yoshio Kurahashi (kyoto) 3 times solo, one time in duet with Kaoru Kakizakai
Pauline Oliveros, solo
Joelle Leandre (Paris), solo
Vinny Golia, solo winds
Gianni Gebbia (Palermo, Italy), solo saxophones
Frank Gratkowski (Germany), 2 times, solo clarinets, saxophone
Oliver, Lake, solo saxophone, poetry
Shoko Hikage (Japan-San Francisco), solo koto
Jie Ma (China, San Francisco), twice, solo pipa and duet with Philip Gelb
Kaoru Kakizakai (Tokyo), solo shakuhachi and duet with Yoshio Kurahashi
Roscoe Mitchell, solo saxophone
Jane Rigler, solo flute
Jon Raskin, Liz Albee, duet, saxophone, trumpet
Jon Raskin, alto saxophone, Thollem McDonas, piano duet
Shira Kammen, Bon Singer, duet, violin, voice
Shay Black (Dublin-berkeley), solo voice, guitar
Chris Caswell, solo harp
Diana Rowan (Belfast-Berkeley), solo harp
Diana Rowan duet with Lily Storm, voice
Lily Storm, Dan Cantrell, duet voice, accordion
Mark Dresser, duet with Jen Shyu,
Michael Manring twice solo electric bass
Philip Gelb, duets with Jane Rigler and Jie Ma
Sinan Erdemsel (Istanbul) Sami Shumays, duet, oud, violin
Tim Perkis, John Bischoff, duets computer
Monique Buzzarte, solo trombone, computer
Amy X Neuburg, solo voice, electronics
Pamela Z, solo voice, electronics
Daniel Berkman, solo Kora
Sinan Erdemsel, solo oud
Cornelius Dufallo, violin, Hafez Modirzadeh- tenor saxophone
Mark Dresser, solo bass

Pomegranate miso glazed tofu

Another tasty, colorful way to prepare tofu.

4 servings

1 pound extra firm tofu
Cut these into 8 equal size pieces.
Press the tofu by layin each piece on a towel. Cover with another towel, then cover this with a board and then put something heavy (5 pounds will suffice) on the board.
Press the tofu for half hour. This is a necessary step! You want to remove the water from the tofu, allowing the marinade to infuse.

1/2 cup pomegranate juice
3 tbsp pomegranate mollasses
3 tbsp red miso
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tbsp mirin
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tbsp ginger, finely minced
1/2 cup seaweed-mushroom stock

Whisk marinade ingredients together. In baking dish, marinate tofu for 2 hours. Bake at 400 for half hour, turning tover over halfway. Bake until the marinade evaporates and tofu starts to darken. It will infuse a very nice red color

Saturday, November 21, 2009

walnut lentil pate

Here is another wonderfully tasty and fairly easy to make spread for breads, chips, and vegetables.

1 cup green lentils, soaked overnight
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 red pepper, chopped
2 tbsp parsley
2 tbsp fresh dill
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, very high quality
1 cup walnuts

soak lentils overnight, change the water and then cook them in 3 cups water for 10 minutes or till soft. Drain.

place 1 cup walnuts on a baking tray and bake at 300 for 10 minutes.

in frying pan, sautee onion in olive oil and salt for 2 minutes, then add the rest of the vegetables and dried herbs and continue cooking for 5 minutes.

In food processor, add the cooked veggies/herbs, walnuts and the lentils and puree till smooth, add the fresh herbs, extra virgin olive oli and lemon juice and puree more. Chill for an hour before serving

Friday, November 20, 2009

red sauce

There are a zillion ways to make a great red sauce. Here is one

1 quart roma tomatos, chopped
1 onion, chopped
10 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp thyme
2 tsp sea salt
1 cup red wine
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Sautee onions in olive oil till translucent. Add the rest of vegetables and herbs and cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the rest of the ingredients (except basil), cover, bring to simmer, lower heat and let cook 3 hours or longer over very low heat, stirring occassionally to ensure it does not stick or burn. Add a little more wine if it gets too thick.
add basil, remove from heat.

For marinara, puree the sauce.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

black bean stew

4 servings

1 cup black beans
1/4 cup olive oil
1 gypsy pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded, chopped
2 serranos, seeded, chopped
2 fresh cayenne peppers, seeded, chopped
10 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ancho chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp sweet paprkia
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
2 bay leaves
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
2 dried guajillo chilis, reconstitured and seeded
2 chipotle, reconstitured and seeded

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice.
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Soak beans overnight. Drain, place beans in pressure cooker and 3 cups water, 2 bay leaves and pressure cook for 10 minutes. Remove from cooker, remove bay leaf do NOT drain.

in a frying pan, heat up oil and add onions and leeks and salt and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring regularly. Add the rest of your vegetables and spices and cook 10 minutes. You may need to add a little of the bean liquid to keep from sticking.

Add the vegetable/spice mixture to the cooked beans, add lime juice and cilantro and mix well.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Persian pilaf

i learned this dish from a friend from Iran back in grad school. Delightful mix of rice, herbs, green onions and olive oil creating a fragrant, colorful and very tasty side dish.

4 servings

1 cup brown basmati rice
2 tbsp each: chopped fresh dill, cilantro, parsley, green onions
1/2 cup cooked lima beans
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

Soak rice overnight and then rinse. Parboil in 2 cups water for 10 minutes, drain

Add all ingredients to a cast iron dutch oven. Add 1 cup boiling water and cover tighly. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. The rice will form a delightful crust on the bottom (okogee in Japanese and i think Tadjik (sp?) in Farisi).

Serve hot. This goes really well with eggplant stewed with tomatoes in the summer

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

rosewater-saffron-cardamom ice "cream"

Another one of my ice "cream" recipes
You need an ice cream maker and a high speed blender to be able to make this delicious frozen ambrosia.

3 cups soymilk (see note)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup cahsews
1 tbsp kudzu
pinch sea salt
1 tsp cardamom
2 tsp rosewater
healthy pinch saffron

in a high speed blender, place 1 cup soymilk, cashews, kudzu and salt. Blend on high for a minute till totally smooth and pureed. Tranfer this mixture to a sauce pan. Over low heat, constantly stir the mixture till it becomes very thick and then continue to cook for one more minute. Transfer this back to the blender, add the rest of the ingredients and blend well. Transfer to your ice cream maker and proceed to freeze as your maker requires.

Note: As in all my recipes that call for soymilk, only use soymilk with 2 ingredients: organic soybeans and water. Any sweeteners or gums will make this dish taste bad and come out with very nasty textures.
Yes, commercial vegan ice "creams" and most commercial ice creams use gums and stabilizers and other processed non-food crap. But they do not taste good nor do they have good consistency so we have no interest in imitating them.

Monday, November 16, 2009

vegan fritatta

Lots of possibilties with this one! All kinds of fillings can be added, so use your imagination after learning this basic recipe.

1 leek, washed and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound silken tofu (see note)
1/4 cup soymilk (see note)
1/4 cup basil leaves, chiffonade
1/2 cup sliced shitake mushrooms
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp tumeric
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp brandy
in a food processor, place tofu, soymilk, and tumeric and blend till very smooth. Set aside.

in a cast iron skillet, sautee leeks and garlic with salt and olive oil for 5 minutes or till caramelized. Add shitakes and basil and cook for another minute or till mushrooms are cooked. Add black pepper and brandy to deglaze the pan.

Let the mixture cool off a minute and then combine the tofu mix to the vegetables and stir well.

Coat a baking pan with oil and preheat oven to 400. Drop a ladel full of the tofu/veg mixture on to the baking pan, making small little "omeletes". Bake for 25 minutes or till set and starts to brown. Lightly sprinkle with smoked paprika before serving.

there are many kinds of tofu available from silken to extra firm. These differences are in regards to water content and the different varieties are not interchangable. Never use tofu in vacuum packed boxes as it is, to put it mildly, awful. Use freshly made, local tofu as tofu has a very short shelf life.
As in all my recipes that call for soymilk, only use soymilk with 2 ingredients: organic soybeans and water. Any sweeteners or gums will make this dish taste bad and come out with nasty textures. Purchase a soymilk maker and make your own and get rid of more PVC in your life

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Socca is a simple flat bread, made from chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour. Totally gluten free and quite easy to prepare.

1 cup chickpea flour
1 cup water
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp rosemary
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp olive oil

and additional olive oil for the crepe pan

Mix all ingredients together and then let sit overnight, or at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350. Heat up cast iron pan in oven for 10 minutes.
Add 1 tbsp olive oil to pan, swirl it around and add the batter to the pan. Place in hot oven for 15 minutes. Remove and serve.

Friday, November 13, 2009

pita bread

If you are going to be making the hummous recipe i posted yesterday, then a logical accompaniment would be pita bread! This incredible middle eastern pocket bread is fairly easy to make and absolutely delicions. Nothing compares to freshly baed bread, just out of the oven!!

2 cups water
2 and 1/2 cups white flour
1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp maple syrup
2 tsp yeast

combine all ingredients in a stand mixer and let the machine knead the bread for 20 minutes. Or you can mix together by hand and knead by hand as well. As i have posted before, my right hand, due to 20 years of shakuuhachi practice, is no longer available for kneading so i always use a stand mixer to work my bread and pasta doughs.

After kneading, roll dough in another tbsp olive oil, place in bowl and cover and let rise in warm, dry place for 2 hours. The dough should double in size.

Punch the dough down and divide into 12 equal size pieces and then round each piece. Cover and let rise another hour.

After the second rise, roll out each into a flat circle. Sprinkle corn meal on a baking sheet and bake the rolls at 500 degrees for 5-7 minutes or till lightly browned and start to puff up.

To create the pockets, place the baked breads in a bowl or baking tray, cover with a towel for 2 minutes and the breads will collapse, forming the classic pocket bread.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


There are countless ways to make delicious bean purees that can be used as dips, sandwhich spreads, taco fillings and as many culinary uses as your imagination can conjure up. Hummous, of course, is the middle eastern bean spread made from garbanzos (also known as chickpeas). Another very easy dish to prepare yet how many times have you tried packaged or homemade hummous that lacked much depth of flavor. There is simply no excuse to make bad food, especially for those of us who live in the San Francisco bay area, a place renowned for 12 months/year of delightful local harvest and a plethora of access to pretty much any kind of ingredient we need.
As always, the secret to the results of your dish, rely wholly on the quality of your ingredients and of course, some techniques can help.

There are infinite versions of this recipe! Vary the spices and find your own method. This is my basic recipe

1 cup dried garbanzos, soaked overnight, pressure cooked for 15 minutes, and drained
1/2 cup very high quality extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 bulbs garlic roasted and peeled
1/3 cup roasted tahini
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 cup parsley

After the beans are cooked, simply place all your ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth and pureed. You may need to add up to 1/4 cup of water to help this process.

Serve on homemade pita bread with olives, cucumbers, tomatos and tahini sauce.

Canned beans taste like tin. Of course, if you like metallic, artificial flavors, then canned food is the way to go. Canned food costs more so if you like higher prices, go for the can. Canned beans take far more energy to produce and get to your kitchen then dried beans so if you like extra pollution in your meal, please use more cans and less fresh ingredients in your dishes. The choice is always yours to make and everyone else's lives depend on your choice so make it well :)

If you like more tart, simply add more lemon juice and you can also add some of the zest from the lemons you are juicing.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Grilled Matsutake Mushrooms

Matsutake are one of the prized finds of mushroom hunters. This very illusive fungus is one of Japan's autumn culinary treasures, these costly mushrooms find their into many recipes.
The first time i had the fortune to enjoy these mushrooms was while hiking through the woods, in early November, north of Nikko, heading to an onsen. A group of older Japanese people were excitedly filling bags with something they were scavenging. As this was only my second time in Japan, i had no idea what they were gathering. One woman approached us and offered my friend and i a small bag and opened it. My friend was very excited and i stupidly asked, "shitake desu ka", wondering if these were some kind of wild shitake. I was quickly offered a simple demonstration that these piney aromatic mushrooms were a delicacy and up to 100 dollars a pound and here we had 2-3 pounds being offered. I was also taught the difference between the high quality, small, closed matsutake and the larger ones where the head opens up. Not much longer in the day, after coming out of the hot springs, some of those mushrooms were cleaned up, split in half lengthwise and grilled over coals. After they were cooked, they were brushed with shoyu and drizzled with yuzu. How simple of a preparation is that? Yet, how delightful of a dish. Truly one of the great mushroom dishes in the world. And perhaps the easiest to prepare!
Since that wonderful hike, onsen and meals, i had the fortune to eat matsutake in a few different preparations in Japan. And now in the US, matsutake are being harvested in Oregon and Northern California! Fortunately, i know a few mushroom foragers and of course the farmers markets and Berkeley Bowl, Nijiya Market, Monterey Market also know many foragers and carry exceptional wild mushrooms on the right day. The American ones are certainly not the same as they lack the very powerful pine aroma yet they are still very tasty.
I have prepared matsutake many ways, some complex, some simple. However, the most traditional manner of preparing these, grilled over coals or wood and brushed with shoyu (yuzu optional) is by far, the ideal way to eat this beautiful mushroom.

There have been attempts to cultivate these in Japan but so far, not very successful. With such a high price tag, mushroom growers would very happily produce some yet, if it becomes possible, it will be at the expense of flavor, aroma and texture. So far, in Northern California, this year has not been a good matsutake harvest. Hugh, Will, if you are reading this and are finding any yet, please call. I am happy to add a fifth course to Saturday's dinner/concert.

shoyu is one of the traditional styles of Japanese soy sauce. Use only naturally brewed with no added sugars, alcohols or preservatives.
Yuzu is one of the greatest pieces of citrus; a Japanese lime

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thai Green Curry with Japanese vegetables

1/3 cup Thai Green Curry paste (recipe on the blog)
2 cups homemade coconut milk (recipe on the blog)
1 cup seaweed-mushroom stock (recipe on the blog)
1/2 pound tofu, cubed
1/2 kabocha cubed
1 lotus root, cut in 1/2 inch slices
1/2 cup chinese long beans, cut in 1 inch long pieces
1/2 cup thai basil leaves
1/4 cup shoyu
2 tbsp agave syrup

in a saucepan, combine, curry paste, stock, coconut milk, shoyu and agave and mix well. Bring to simmer over low heat. Do NOT cover! If you cover coconut milk when it simmers, it will curdle and ruin your dish.

Let simmer 10 minutes, then add the rest of your ingredients and cook 10 minutes or till vegetables are cooked.

serve over rice

Monday, November 9, 2009

seaweed mushroom stock (dashi)

Many of the recipes i posted reference this so it is about time i put it up here. This is perhaps the simplest stock in the world to make and can be the base for other stocks as well.

1 gallong water

12 dried shitake
4 sheets kombu

Put all ingredients in a stock pot, cover, bring to simmer, reduce heat and simmer till liquid is reduced in half. Strain solid parts out.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

gobo renkon kinpira

A delightful, traditional Japanese side dish made from 3 incredible root vegetables, seasoned with a lot of garlic, ginger and chili.

1 pound burdock, scrubbed and julienned
1 pound carrots, scrubbed and julienned
1 pound lotus root, scrubbed and julienned
3 tbsp garlic, minced
3 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
0-6 thai chilis, chopped, depending on how spicy you desire
1/4 cup seaweed/mushroom stock
2 tbsp sake
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp tamari
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

in a work frying pan, heat up oil and toss in the garlic, ginger and chili and stir fry for 15 seconds, then add the burdock and stir fry for a minute and add carrot and continue stir frying another minute. Add Lotus and continue for another minute.
Add the mirin, sake and tamari, stock lower heat, cover tightly. Cook about 10 minutes or till liquid is mostly evaporated. Add sesame seeds and serve hot over rice.

Gobo is the Japanese word for burdock root and renkon is the Japanese word for lotus root. Kinpira is the cooking technique employed to make this dish.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

burdock pickles with sesame-sichuan peppercorn dressing

Here is another delightful Tsukemono dish that is easy to prepare and most satisfying

you will need
2 pieces burdock, cut in quarters lengthwise and then in 1 inch long pieces.
3 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
1 tbsp sichuan peppercorns, toasted (see Note)

2 tbsp shoyu
1 tbsp mirin
2 tsp sake

When working with burdock, as soon as you cut this delightful vegetable, it starts to discolor. So have a bowl of water with a little bit of rice vinegar in it and immediately put your burdock pieces in this bowl as you cut them.
Boil the burdock pieces for 10 minutes, remove from heat, rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process.

While the burdock is boiling, toast your seeds and sichuan peppercorns in a pan over low heat till the seeds to start to pop and give off that wonderful nutty aroma. Grind these down in a mortar and pestle or in a food processor, adding the shoyu and mirin to form a paste.

Drain the burdock and coat the pieces with the sesame mixture. Let marinade overnight before serving. Serve chilled or at room temperature. This will keep in the fridge for several days.

Note: Sichuan peppercorns are not related to black peppercorns. They have a totally different flavor and leave a very nice tingling, numbing feeling on the lips and tongue. This is an essential ingredient in the delightful spicy cuisine of sichuan province and cannot be replaced with other kinds of peppercorns. They are easy to find at any serious spice shop and as always, only purchase high quality spices if you want your food to taste good

Friday, November 6, 2009

kitchen equipment

Many people ask me about kitchen equipment and many want to know if they need certain machines. So these are some basic, rudimentary ideas on how to equip a kitchen with a few notes about some basic equipment.

The simple answer to "do i need a high speed blender" or " do i need a rice cooker" are, if you are going to use it, yes, you need it. Some machines will open up possibilities that are perhaps, not possible without them. For example, a high speed blender will puree sauces and soups in ways that a regular household blender cannot. It will also pulverize cashews into cashew cream, opening up endless possibilities in regards to savory and sweet dishes. So this machine is probably a worthwhile investment if you want to make cream sauces, ice creams and certain soups or sauces. And thus it will be worth the several hundred dollar investment as it will give back for many years far more than you paid for it.
Good machines and equipment will make your life easier and your cooking skills and potential will expand as a result of a well equipped kitchen. Preparing food at home is far less expensive than eating out so these are all worthwhile investments that will easily pay for themselves. Some equipment such as soymilk makers will also allow your kitchen to be far more ecological than if you did not have one unless you already make these "milks" in other more traditional methods.

In my kitchen and in the recipes i am putting forth, you will find the following come up often, as you will in any serious kitchen:
high speed blender
stand mixer
pasta attachments for stand mixer
food processor
soymilk maker
rice cooker
pressure cooker
crepe pans
frying pans
sauce pans
stock pots
baking pans
roasting pans
muffin pans
cooking utensils
bar b q

The very first thing you will need is a knife and eventually a set of knives! People often remark at how many i have and ask if it is necessary. One only needs 2, actually. First, a good chef knife will allow you to do most basic cuts. So if you are only going to have one, this is the one i suggest. Learning to maintain a knife is one of the basic skills for anyone interested in cooking. For vegetarian cooking, you do not have to worry about any kind of boning knives or skills. A bread knife is necessay if you plan to cut bread as a chef knife cannot do this job. From here, you will want to eventually get a paring knife and perhaps more specialized knives such as santoku for vegetable preparations. A good cleaver is good for getting into hard vegetables such as pumpkins. The more you develop your knife skills and collection, the more creative your dishes will be.

Frying pans:
Cast iron is my preference and i have a set of various sizes that are used constantly. Copper and stainless steal pans are also exceptional.
Avoid aluminum and any kind of coated pans, non stick pans or any other gimmicks with large advertising budgets. Dow and Dupont corporations have no place in any serious, healthy kitchen!

Sauce pans and stock pots:
Depending on how many people you will be cooking for, sizes you need will vary.
I use stainless stell though copper is of course, exceptional though highly expensive. Same as frying pans, Avoid aluminum and all coated, processed crap. Take control of your health and do not use non stick coatings or other toxic gimmicks in your kitchen.

Pressure cookers:
These will save you time when preparing dried beans. Of course you are not going to be opening up cans of PVC beans, when you can simply save alot of money purchasing organic, dried beans and soaking them overnight and pressure cooking them. Fast, easy and safe to use and essential for any vegetarian kitchen since beans are an essential part of the vegetarian diet.
The Japanese and Swiss make the best ones! Stainless Steel is the way to go. Always avoid aluminum.

Crepe pans:
There are only 2 dishes i prepare that i use crepe pans for but i prepare them often enough to warrant this addition to my kitchen; thai style savory crepes and buckwheat crepes. This pan make turning and cooking crepes easier. Stainless steel and copper are preferred and of course, avoid aluminum and coated ones!

Rice Cooker:
Very difficult to find ones that have brown rice settings and also are stainless steel! Japanese and Koreans make exceptional, high quality rice cookers. To me this is a necessary part of any vegetarian kitchen since our diet employs a lot of whole grains. This machine opens up a stovetop space and ensures perfectly prepared grains every time.

Many exceptional ones of different styles on the market today. Many awful gimmicky ones as well. If you drink juice, this machine will pay for itself quickly. Add up the cost of juice you purchase that gets shipped all over the place, refrigerated and see how quickly you will save money and have a more ecological approach to your diet when you add a juicer to your kitchen!

for making dried fruits, veggie, tofu jerkey and it works well as an incubator for making homemade tempeh.

Soymilk maker:
Another key part of my kitchen and the answer to so many questions i get as to why my sauces and desserts taste so different. Freshly made soy, nut or other grain milks are amazing! They are so much less expensive and so far superior to the processed crap you can buy in cartons. Besides saving money, if you consume soy or rice or other "milks", think of all those cartons you are purchasing and then tossing out? Purchase regionally grown, organic grains, beans and nuts and make your own and stop consuming PVC. This is a great machine to help you on your way to liberating yourself from PVC :)

High Speed Blender:
The most used tool in my kitchen, by far! Never want to be without this. My renowned ice creams could not work without it.

Ice cream maker:
if you want to make sorbets and ice creams, then this tool is needed. Avoid the ones where you have to freeze the bowl!! Use ones with a built in freezer or one you need to use ice and salt. Who wants to live without ice cream? Who does not like freshly made versions of any flavor you can conjure up?

Stand Mixer:
If you are making doughs regularly, this is a great machine. My right hand is a mess due to 20 years of shakuhachi practice, so kneading is not very possible for me. Nonetheless, i make pastas of all types regularly as well as various types of breads so this machine is employed frequently. Kitchenaid has cornered the market on these for years but there are better, more expensive options, these days. Cheaper ones are just that, cheap and will not last, costing more in the long run.
I use a kitchenaid and have several different size pasta attachments for it. Exceptional for making sheets and a few different cuts of fresh noodles.

Muffin pans:
want to make muffins or the ultra trendy cupcakes? Well, you will need muffin pans then. use cast iron or stainless steel only. Avoid aluminum and all coated ones

Baking pans/roasting pans:
use high quality stainless steal only. avoid aluminum and all coated ones!

bar b q:
Some may ask, "what can a vegan chef prepare on a bar b q" and the simple answer is "far more than you can ever possibly imagine". marinated grilled vegetables alone has endless possibilities and of course all kinds of tofu burgers, tempeh burgers, black bean burgers, grilled corn, sweet potatos, need i go on?

Food Processor:
Another one that is only necessary if you are going to use it. But once you have it, things will open up for you. Avoid cheap and small ones as they will frustrate you beyond your imagination. There is a HUGE difference between cheaply made ones and ones by compaines such as Robot Coupe, not only in price but also in function and durability.

Cooking utensils:
Large spoons, spatulas, cooking chopsticks, etc. Use Stainless steel or non treated wood or non treated bamboo only. If you are using pressed/treated wood, when you stir a hot dish, you are adding that treatment to your food, perhaps a bad idea? Definitely avoid as plastic and kitchens are a bad pairing.

The main suggestion for kitchen equipment is never buy "cheap". When you buy cheap gadgets or cheaply made equipment, it will not work well, nor will it last long. Thus it will end up costing you far more as you will need to replace it with several more cheap ones or simply purchase a very well made, durable machine from one of the reputable companies.

wild rice pilaf with dried cranberries and pine nuts

Thanksgiving is coming up and this is an ideal dish for this joyous holiday as well as any fall dinner. And once again, it is easy to make, especially if you have a rice cooker. I cook all my grains in a rice cooker, saving stove top space and also ensuring a failproof method of preparing grains every time! A very worthwhile investment to have in any kitchen.

This makes 6 large side dishes

3/4 cup wild rice
3/4 cup long grain brown rice
1 tsp sea salt
4 sprigs lemon thyme

1/2 cup dried cranberries, unsweetened
1/4 cup pine nuts
black pepper to taste

Place grains, thyme and sea salt in a rice cooker, fill to the brown rice marking of "4 cups" and cook on the brown rice setting.

If you do not have a rice cooker, place grains, sea salt, and thyme in a sauce pan with 2 3/4 cups water. Bring to boil, lower heat to very low, cover tightly and cook for 50 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Do not open the lid while cooking or the texture of the grain will not be optimal.

toast pine nuts in a pan over low heat, stirring constantly till you smell the wonderful nuttiness. Add the nuts and dried cranberries to the grain, stir very gently and serve immediately.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

yuzu or lemon turnip pickles

This is a wonderful Tsukemono, or Japanese pickle.

1 bunch small white tokyo turnips, tops intact (see bite)
3 yuzu or lemon
1 1/2 tsp sea salt

Clean the turnips very well, both the roots and the greens. Chop the greens in small pieces and thinly slice the roots. Using a mandoline is very helpful for getting very thin slices.

Rub the roots and greens with salt and let stand in a colander for one hour.

Thinly slice the yuzu or lemon, removing all seeds.
In a bowl, place a layer of yuzu, then a layer of the turnip tops, then the greens and then another layer of yuzu. Let this sit for a few hours before serving.

Note: Please use The Japanese white variety of turnip often called, "Tokyo Turnip". The large purple ringed turnips will not work well for this dish

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

thanksgiving catering menu

Place your thanksgiving orders, soon! We will be delivering all over the bay area on the holiday and the day before.
Please contact me if you have questions or would like more menu options.

As always, everything is hand made from local, organic ingredients.

-cauliflower watercress miso soup $13/quart
-white bean with kale soup $12/quart
-lentil/roast vegetable soup $12/quart
-split pea soup $12/quart
-adzuki bean/kabocha miso soup $13/quart
-potato sorrel soup $13/ quart
-potato leek soup $14/ quart
-pumpkin miso soup with snow peas and enoki mushroom $14/ quart
-carribean pumpkin soup with pumpkin seed pesto $14/ quart
-acorn squash soup $14/ quart
-tofu spinach soup $12/quart

-cranberry sauce $10/cup
-cranberry port sauce $20/cup
-roasted pureed root vegetables $5/serving
-roasted sweet potatoes $4 serving
-sauteed greens with olives and pine nuts $3 /serving
-roasted pureed butternut squash $3/serving
-mushroom sauce $10/quart
-wild mushroom sauce (price varies on the type of mushroom and availability)
-salad dressings are $8/cup and include the following flavors: Creamy herb miso, lime cilantro miso, date pomegranate, basil balsamic, mustard herb, lemon poppyseed miso
-roasted brussel sprouts with pine nuts $4/serving
-roasted brussel sprouts with yuzu dressing $6/serving
-roasted beets with horseradish and basil $4/serving
-roasted red beets and butternut squash with basil $4/serving
-mixed green salad $3/serving
-tangerine-spinach salad w/ tangerine dressing
-seaweed salad $3.50 serving
-roasted portabella mushroom/arugula/radichio salad $5/serving
-carrots/fennel and pecans with maple dressing $6/serving
-green papaya salad $4/serving
-dandelion greens with walnut miso dressing $4/serving
-choy sum stir fried with garlic and ginger $4/serving
-braised red cabbage $4/serving
-wild rice pilaf $10/serving
-polenta w sun dried tomatos $6/serving
-polenta w/ wild mushrooms $7/serving
-buckwheat pilaf $5/serving
-kascha knishes $36/dozen knishes
-vegan quiches $40/quiche - 8 servings (variety of fillings available)
-black bean tart with green salsa $40/tart - 8 servings
-lasagna our homemade pasta, homemade almond ricotta and homemade red sauce. $80/tray, serves 8-12
-canneloni $11/serving

-pumpkin pie $30
-apple walnut tart $28
-pear pecan tart $28
-apple pie $26
-pear pie $26
-pecan pie $35
-brownies $24/tray
-carrot - oat cookies $10/dozen

-delicata squash stuffed with pecans, pink lentils, herbs and veggies $8/serving
pumpkin ravioli with walnut sage sauce $10/serving
-Whole baked pumpkin stuffed with thai green curry (price depends on size of pumpkin and party)
-collard leaves stuffed with lentils, rice, vegetables, herbs in tomato pomegranate sauce $16/person
-baked acorn squash, stuffed with apples and walnuts, veggies and herbs $14/ per squash, serves 2-4
-thai red curry with pumpkin, tofu and long beans ($11/serving)
-Thai massamam curry with potato, tofu, long bean, lotus root and peanut ($11/serving)
-tofu dengaku (broiled tofu with sesame miso topping)($7/serving)
-seitan char shiu $14/pint
-baked marsala tofu $4/serving
-cornmeal/spiced crusted baked tofu $4/serving

ice "creams". Our renowned cashew based ice creams are a favorite of many omnivores and vegans! prices are $12-$20 for 1 liter. limited availability
our current flavors include but are certainly not limited to: vanilla, chocolate, double chocolate, vanilla chocolate chip, rosewater saffron, cardamom- saffron, rosewater-cardamom, spiced pumpkin, spiced pumpkin rum, strawberry, matcha (green tea)

hash brown potatos

Another delightful and easy breakfast item and it pairs wonderfully with the previously posted tofu scramble.

I prefer to use white creamer potatos for this dish.

1 pound potatos
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp sweet paprika
a couple of fresh rosemary sprigs
1 tbsp safflower oil
2 tbsp chopped parsley
freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Using a mandoline, slice the potatoes thin.

In a glass baking dish, place potatoes and sprinkle with salt and paprika and rub it in well. Add oil and rub that in. Place rosemary twigs under potatoes, wrap well and roast for 30 minutes at 425. Remove cover for last 5 minutes of baking. sprinkle with parsley and serve

See how easy it is to make amazing food? No need to go buy frozen processed potatos as it takes only a tiny bit of time and effort to make your own. As always use this "recipe" as a springboard to improvise with. Vary the spices and herbs you put into this and find your own approach. Experiment with different types of potatos and learn about the different flavors and textures.

Monday, November 2, 2009

DIY Vanilla extract

For those who love to bake, you obviously consume a fair amount of vanilla extract. Lots of expensive, small bottles coming and going. Have you ever thought of making your own? It is easier than you may think and although costly, is far less expensive and far superior to the bottles you purchase. The quality of Vanilla extract available to purchase varies from exceptional to awful, the difference being the quality of the beans and the alcohol. The same theory applies to what you produce yourself, the higher the quality of the ingredients produces a higher quality result.

What a wonderful present to offer your friends who love to bake.

You need 3 things to make your own vanilla extract
about 100 vanilla beans
1 gallon vodka
1 gallon glass container

Vanilla beans are expensive yet they are one of the greatest culinary pleasures on the planet, providing one of the most delightful aromas and gorgeous flavors imaginable. Difficult to grow, the pods of this orchid are prized for their beans within.
One can purchase online, "seconds" of vanilla beans. These are beans that are defected in looks but with the right distributor, you will get fresh, flavorful and aromatic beans at a much discounted price. For the vodka, the results of your extract will be a sum of the 2 ingredients, so, like wine in a sauce, never use something you would not want to drink.
There are different kinds of beans and each has a different flavor and aroma. I like to combine Madagascar, Tahitian and Mexican beans together; Tahitian providing the most aroma, while the other two varieties are more flavorful.

To prepare your vanilla extract follow these simple directions.
Split the beans.
Sterilize the glass containers. Fill the container with the beans, add alcohol and seal the container closed. Keep in cool, dark place for 1 year. Shake the container regularly, however, never open it. After 1 year, filter out the solid parts and let the extract sit for one month to mature. Then it is ready to use.

Alcohol extracts or tinctures have been used by a wide variety of cultures to extract nutritional/medicinal value as well as flavor from roots, herbs and other organic matter.

Depending on how much you use and give away, start different batches at different times so you always have vanilla to use.

in Praise of a local collective bakery, Arizmendi, in Emeryville

Emeryville is an odd little town, along the east side of San Francisco bay, between Oakland and Berkeley. It is known for huge shops such as Ikea and other mega corporations, the kind of businesses notorious for putting out local shops and not known for their worker ethics. So one would be a bit surprised to see a small, collective cooperative bakery in Emeryville! Arizmendi in Emerville is the fourth of the sister bakery cooperatives, started in the late 1960's with the cheeseboard collective in Berkeley. Several years ago, Arizmendi Oakland opened on lake shore avenue and then one opened on 9th avenue in San Francisco and a few years ago, on San Pablo avenue, opened the latest one.

About 20 workers all own and run this incredible bakery, putting out some of the finest breads in an area already known for its exceptional bread bakeries. Yes, it is in the air! Wild yeast that is and San Francisco sourdough is renowned in the world as the local wild years here makes very tasty bread in the same manner that Belgian wild yeast produces the worlds finest beer. All one has to know is how to harvest the yeast from the air and 40 years ago, the cheeseboard collective began their sourdough starter. 4 decades later, this starter is still evolving and in the hands of some very creative and talented bakers in the various Arizmendi bakery cooperatives.

The baquettes are truly the finest in the east bay and the city and country breads are also spectacular. In the morning, one can find at least 2 or 3 varieties of foccacia, always one being vegan. Incredible rolls of various kinds rotate on a daily basis with the potato and Cherry chocolate being truly over the top choices. For those who indulge in extract of lactating cow that has been curdled, they also make a variety of cheese breads and pizzas. My main complaint is the complete lack of vegan pizza choices, ever. What is up with that?

A most friendly environment to stop by. For one, the workers are not disgruntled, underpaid nor exploited. All you see are people working very hard yet looking like they are having the time of their life. Each worker owns the bakery and the pride is quite apparent. They are in control of their employment and they know they are putting out high quality baked goods, produced from the highest quality, locally sourced, organic ingredients. And they are in control of every aspect of the business; each worker rotates through all the different aspects of running and maintaining a world class bakery.

I personally know several of these great folks, having taught music to some and been on stage with others. Their commitment to their craft and their study and development of their baking knowledge is beyond professional.

Arizmendi is named after Father José María Arizmendiarrieta Madariaga (his name is thankfully often shortened to Arizmendi), the founder of the Mondragon Cooperative Movement.

Sustainable and exceptionally high quality baked goods and sustainable employment, these are the reasons that my business, when i need bread, looks to Arizmendi-Emeryville. Arizmendi provides a model for other businesses to follow; worker-owned collectives producing the highest quality work in their trade. Yes this is truly anarchy in action and it tastes and looks oh so good.

Green Curry Paste

Thai food is another one of the world's great cuisines! A crossroads of cultures, blending Chinese, Indian and indigenous culinary ideas, employing a wide variety of spices and fresh herbs. In the US, there are many Thai restaurants now open, yet few are vegan friendly and most have opted for large amounts of sugar instead of other flavors, apparently to gain favor with American palettes.

Curry pastes are commercially available, usually with incredible amounts of salt and various kinds of dry fish or other seafood particles amidst the paste. With a minimum amount of effort, we can produce our own curry pastes.
One needs either a mortar and pestle or a food processor to make curry pastes.

3 stalks lemongrass
20 green thai chilis
5 jalapenos, seeded
20 cloves garlic
2 tbsp ginger
10 kaffir lime leaves
1 tsp green peppercorns
1 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted
1 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted
1/4 cup cilantro stems
1 tsp sea salt
2 cubes chinese fermented bean curd (this is what makes the paste work without using fish or shrimp sauce! do not omit)

In Mortar and pestle or food processor, grind all ingredients down to form a paste. You may add a little bit of water to assist. You want a fully homogenized paste and then it is ready for a number of stir fry and curry dishes!

Make the paste and make some coconut milk and you are ready to make a delightful Thai Green Curry, as good, if not better than you will find at any American Thai restaurant. Learn the way curry pastes work (i will be posting many other kinds in coming weeks) and you can then vary them to your own tastes and interests.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

black bean pureee

Mexican cusine is exceptional! Brilliant, complex combinations of fresh and dried vegetables and spices make this bean puree a culinary treasure. You can use this simply by itself as a dip for some blue corn chips or you can use this in enchiladas, tacos, burritos, chimichangas, empanadas or any other Latin flavored dish that calls for black beans. Play around with the recipe using different combinations of dried and fresh chilis and spices. If you can get the herb epazote, use it sparingly in place of, or perhaps in addition to cilantro.

I remember when i became vegetarian someone once told me, "with no meat, beans will have no flavor". Unfortunately, many people prepare beans in ways that make this absurd statement become true. However, it is very easy to produce bean soups, stews and purees that explode with flavor. A simple approach is all that is necessary: use very fresh, in season vegetables, and then add very high quality spices and dried chilis, fresh herbs and oils.

1 cup dried black beans, soaked overnight
1 onion, choped
1 carrot, chopped
1 red or yellow bell pepper or gypsy pepper, seeded, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, chopped
1 chipotle, reconstitued, chopped
1 dried guajillo pepper, reconstitued, seeded, chopped
1 serrano pepper, seeded, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ancho chili powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
3 tbsp olive oil

juice of 2 lemons
2 tbsp chopped cilantro

Soak beans overnight and then change the water and place in saucepan and simmer for 45 minutes or till soft.

In frying pan, heat up olive oil, add salt and onion and over medium heat, sautee for 2 minutes. Add the rest of vegetables and spices and continute to sautee. Add 1/2 cup of the bean cooking water, to keep the spices from sticking. Make a thick paste. You may need to add a bit more of the bean cooking water. Cover, cook 5 minutes, till vegetables are soft.

Drain the beans, discard the water or use in your garden. Place the drained beans and the cooked vegetable/spice mixture in a food processor. Add lemon juice and cilantro and process till very smooth.