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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Spiced pumpkin rum ice "cream"

a Holloweed treat or a treat for any time during the fall.
You need 2 pieces of equipment to make this; a high speed blender and an ice cream maker

1 cup roasted, pureed pumpkin
2 cups soymilk, unsweetened (see note)
1/2 cup raw cashews (see note)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup dark rum
1 tbsp kudzu
pinch sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
18 tsp cloves

In the high speed blender place the following:
cashews, 1 cup soymilk, salt, kudzu. Blend on high for 1 minute.

Place this mixtue into a saucepan and over low heat, slowly bring to simmer, constantly stirring. The mixture will thicken incredibly. Remove from heat and place back in blender and add the rest of the ingredients. Blend till smooth. Place these contents into your ice cream maker and use as your maker requires.

For non alchoholic version remove the rum and add 1 tbsp vanilla extract.

cashews must be raw and unsalted. Roasted cashews will not work nor will any kind of flavored cashews.
Soymilk must be plain, unsweetened with only soybeans and water as ingredients. Any added sugars, gums, stabilizers or preservatives will destroy this recipe.

Friday, October 30, 2009

how to make coconut milk

Canned coconut milk, like canned anything, is far inferior to the real deal. And of course, it takes a lot more energy to produce canned food than to prepare fresh food! Coconuts are, of course, never local or in season to Northern California. Thus i do not consume them regularly, however, there is nothing like a spicy Thai curry on a cold night, served with a green papaya salad and some rice and some stir fried veggies.

Making your own coconut milk is quite a simple task to accomplish and you only need one tool, a blender.

First, you will need to remove the coconut from its shell. With a hammer and chisel, knock out the 3 eyes at the top of the coconut. Pour out the delicious water into a glass and consume heartily.
Place the coconut in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and with your hammer, smash the coconut in half (do that step outside for easier cleanup!). Then gently pry the coconut from its shell. The heat helps separate and loosen it up but be careful not to actually cook the coconut. Discard the shell to the compost pile.

Cut the coconut in small pieces and place in a blender with 4 cups boiling water. Puree the coconut for 30 seconds to a minute.
Place a piece of cheesecloth in a colander and place the colander over a large pot. Strain the coconut milk through the cheesecloth by pouring the whole contents of the blender in to the cloth. Squeeze the "milk" out of the cheesecloth and return the shredded coconut to the blender. Add 4 cups more boiling water and repeat the process.

The first rinse is coconut cream and is incredibly rich in flavor and nutrients and has an amazing texture. The second rinse is coconut milk and has less flavor and less silky of a texture but is still delightful. I usually combine the 2 rinses together and proceed with whatever recipe i am creating.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Vegan Soul Kitchen, book review

In recent years, there has been a deluge of cookbooks entering the market offering various approaches to cooking without animal products. It is wonderful to see there is a demand for so many publications! Many cookbooks offer the same thing, many simple ideas, repeated over and over. At the same time, many unique chefs are presenting creative and new ideas, fusing old traditional ideas with contemporary knowledge, offering incredibly flavorful delights for our senses, yet staying true to the idea that food should be healthy for those who consume it as well as produce it. In one of the recent cookbooks that truly stand out for me Bryant Terry offers a brilliant recent publication, "Vegan Soul Kitchen. Fresh, Healthy, and creative African-American Cuisine".

Most of what Terry presents in this book are "easy", every day dishes, proving that one can eat very creative, colorful, flavorful and nutritious food with a minimum of effort and a lot of creativity. Roasted sweet potatoes with coconut milk, banana maple pecan cornbread muffins, crispy okra strips with lime thyme vinaigrette, red beans with brown rice and red wine simmered seitan are some of the delicious animal free, updates he is giving to traditional soul food. One strongly gets the impression these dishes originated in his grandparents home and like all living traditions, change as they are passed down, each generation adding their flavor to old ideas.

Understanding that music is an important part of the kitchen, all his recipes have soundtrack suggestions and sometimes films as well.

Terry's kitchen is obviously part of his activism. His writings, recipes and actions show a deep understanding of the big picture of food productions, distribution and consumption. Food is a rite! Access to real, non processed, organic, sustainably grown food needs to be part of everybody's daily intake and Terry is dedicating his life to working towards this goal. This is his second publication, "Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen" being his first.

check him out!

rappini with pine nuts and olives

Rappini, sometimes called Brocolli Rabe, is one my of favorite of the many delightful Italian greens. A nice mustardy tang and exceptional texture. This is a fairly simple side dish and if you substitute the rappini for other Italian greens, this dish will work just as well.

1 bunch rappini, rough cut in 2 inch long pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
10 calamata olives, pitted, chopped
2 tbsp pine nuts
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup dry marsala wine
salt and pepper to taste

Heat up a frying, add olive oil and garlic, 1/2 tsp sea salt and chili flakes and sautee for 30 seconds, stirring often. Add rappini, pine nuts and olives and continue sauteeing for 2 minutes. Add marsala wine, cover and let steam-sautee for 30 seconds, remove from heat, season to taste with more salt if needed, and add a little freshly cracked black pepper.

Note: Other wines can be used but of course every wine will give its own unique character and flavor to the dish. I love the flavor of marsala wine and use it in many Italian dishes.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Marsala tofu

Delightful and easy side tofu dish to prepare, excellent with pasta and a side of sauteed greens.

Take a one pound block of firm tofu and cut it in 8 even slices. Lay the tofu slices on a towel, place another towel on top of the tofu, place a board on top of the towel and lay a heavy weight (a cast iron frying pan works great) on top of the board. Press the tofu like this for 20 minutes.

In a baking pan place the following:
1/2 cup dry marsala wine
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
5 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
Mix all the marinade ingredients very well and then lay the pressed tofu in the marinade. Let sit in the marinade for 1 hour, turning once or twice.
Bake tofu in the marinade at 400 for about 30 minutes. The marinade will evaporate and cook off, leaving the tofu infused with all the flavors and slightly crisp.

Note on tofu: there are many styles of tofu from very soft to very firm. For cutlet style dishes, like this, you must use firm. Silken or soft tofu is an entirely different entity and does not work for dishes like this.
Only use organic soy products, using non GMO beans and the only ingredients in tofu should be organic soybeans, water and a coagulant.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

almond "ricotta"

This is a very common ingredient in my kitchen and shows up in a variety of Italian dishes: ravioli, lasagna, eggplant rollatini, and canneloni. A very rich, creamy texture and delightful flavor especially paired with pesto or red sauces. Is it the same as lactacting cow or lactating sheep extract ricotta? Of course not! However, omnivores as well as vegans who try this are always intrigued and delighted by the results.

The only special equipment you need to prepare this is a high speed blender such as a Vitamix. Yeah, these are expensive but it is used every day in my kitchen and without it, far too many of my staples would not be possible.

In the high speed blender place 1/2 cup almonds and 2 cup boiling water. Blend on high for 2 minutes till the almonds are completely liquified. You must blend till all grit of the almond has been liquified in order to achieve the desired texture.

Add to the blender:
1/4 cup potato starch
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp sea salt

Blend on high for 30 seconds

Pour the blended mixture into a saucepan and over low heat, constantly stir the mixture until it thickens up.
Once thicken, keep stirring and simmering for another minute to remove the starchy flavor.
Pour into glass container and let set, refrigerate a couple of hours before using.

Now, to fully enjoy this delightful NON PVC vegan cheez, make some homemade pasta.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Walnut sage sauce

An incredible sauce that is ideal for pumpkin gnocchi and is incredibly easy to make.

1 cup walnuts
2 cups soymilk (see note below!)
1 cup seaweed stock (see note below)
10 sage leaves
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 tbsp nutritional yeast

Toast walnuts in a pan till the nutty aroma develops.
Place walnuts, soymilk and stock in a blender and puree till very smooth. Place this mixture in a saucepan, add sage leaves and bring to simmer over low heat, stirring constantly to keep from burning. Continue simmering and stirring till the sauce is thickened. Remove from heat, remove sage leaves and add the rest of the ingredients and stir

Notes always, use unsweetened, NON PVC soymilk that contains only soybeans and water. Other ingredients like sugars, gums, stabilizers will destroy the taste and texture of this sauce

Seaweed stock. Simply soak kombu in water a few hours and bring it to simmer and remove kombu

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Baked stuffed apples

1 cup oats
1/4 cup safflower oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup currants
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch salt
Whisk all ingredients together.

1 apple per serving
Core each apple, leaving a base at the bottom of each apple.
Stuff each apple fully, pressing the stuffing firmly into the apple.

In baking dish, place the stuffed apples
Add, along side the apples:
1 cinnamon stick
3 allspice berries
4 green cardamom pods
1 vanilla bean, split
2 cloves

in sauce pan, bring to boil
1 cup chardonnay
1 cup apple cider

add this to the baking dish, being careful not to pour over the apples. Cover tightly

Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Serve warm with ice "Cream". Suggested flavors: Spiced pumpkin, vanilla, rosewater saffron.

Friday, October 23, 2009

pumpkin white bean soup w/ pumpkin seed pesto

For the pumpkin
Split a 1 pound sugar pie pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and guts (save them for the stock!)
lightly salt the pumpkin, place in roasting pan and roast at 425, covered, for 45 minutes. Let cool, remove skin and discard skin.

For the stock
seeds and guts of one sugar pie pumpkin
thick green part of one leek
4 cloves garlic
one allspice berry
1 cinnamon stick
one stalk celery, rough cut
one carrot, rough cut
4 sprigs thyme
10 parsley stems
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp sea salt
8 cups water

Bring all ingredients to a boil, lower heat, cover and let simmer, SLOWLY (very low heat) for 2 hoursm reducing the amount of liquid by about 50%. Strain all solid ingredients and discard them to the compost pile.

For the vegetables
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
white part of leek, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tsp sea salt
4 tbsp olive oil

in frying pan, saute the leeks in olive oil with salt for 3 minutes, then add the rest of the vegetables and saute 3 more minutes

For the beans
soak 1/2 cup white beans, overnight.
Pressure cook beans for 10 minutes, with 2 bay leaves and a few cloves of garlic with the beans. Remove bay leaves and garlic and add beans to the soup.

Puree the pumpkin with the stock.
Add the cooked leek/carrot/celery mixture and 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper. Add the cooked beans and season with sea salt if needed. Continue cooking over low heat till beans begin to break down.

For pumpkin seed pesto:
1/2 cup very high quality extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
2 cloves garlic
2 cups fresh sweet basil
1 tsp sea salt
In food processor, blend all ingredients till very smooth.

For plating.
Add soup to bowl and dollop the pesto in the bowl, then run a knive to create green patterns within the orange soup. If desired, add red lines with some chili infused -olive oil.

quinoa pilaf w/ sun dried tomatos

Quinoa is an incredible, delicate, light grain with a delightful flavor. This wonderful food packs some serious nutrition and was one of the main crops of the Incan empire.
I like using the 2 different colored quinoa for presentation but they taste pretty much identical.

First prepare the grain by placing the following in a saucepan
1/2 cup yellow quinoa
1/2 cup red quinoa
8 sun dried tomato halves
2 1/4 cups water
1 tsp sea salt

bring to simmer, cover, lower heat and let it steam over low heat for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, let sit 10 minutes before uncovering.
OR prepare in a rice cooker (my preferred method)

While quinoa is cooking, prepare the following and place in a bowl
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup cucumber, finely chopped
2 small cloves garlic, finely minced
a few black olives, chopped
1 small carrot, shredded
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 fresh tbsp lemon juice (if you have meyer lemons, use them!)
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

Add the cooked quinoa. Chop the sun dried tomatoes that cooked with the quinoa.
Add lemon juice and salt to taste

Stir gently and stir as little as possible. General rule: stir grains and pasta very little to ensure the best texture

Thursday, October 22, 2009

pumpkin bialys

Ok, a new experiment is turning out well. An American fall approach to an old Eastern European Jewish bread

bialy dough
2 cups roasted pureed pumpkin
1/4 cup water
2 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups flour

Combine the flours, salt and yeast. Add the pureed pumpkin and form a dough. You may have to add up to 1/4 cup water, this will vary as the water content of pumpkins will vary. You want a very wet dough and thus a stand mixer is ideal for this kind of bread dough. I let the mixer do its work for 20 minutes, then cover the dough and let it rise for 4 hours.
Divide dough into 12 equal parts.
Roll each part into a dough, wrap up and place in warm place and let rise 2 hours.

Fold out each piece of dough into a circle, spreading the middle very thin. Place a small part of the onion/poppyseed mixture in this middle.

Bake at 500 for 7-10 minutes, rotating once, midway.

Onion mixture
4 onions, finely diced
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup poppyseeds
2 tbsp olive oil

Caramelize onions in olive oil with sea salt for 20 minutes in a frying pan over low heat. Add poppyseeds and fry for 3 more minutes till the seeds give off a nice aroma, being careful to remove from heat before seeds burn.

Serve warm with the cashew cream "cheez" that is elsewhere in the blog

Autumn, 2009, dinner/concert series

Here is the rest of the fall series. These events take place in private, intimate locations in Oakland, California. Seating is limited to 19 or 20 people and reservations are necessary as we always fill these up. World renowned musicians and 4 or 5 courses of gourmet vegan cuisine are presented. Cost is $55/person. You are welcome to bring your own alcohol or other beverages. We serve water and occasionally green or oolong teas. All food is hand crafted and prepared from local seasonally based, sustainably grown, ingredients.

The musical genres are constantly changing on this series. We have featured traditional music from Japan, China, Ireland as well as avant garde musicians from all over Europe, the US and Japan, jazz players, songwriters. The genre changes but the quality is always virtuosic!

Saturday, October 24
8 pm
Daniel Berkman - solo kora
(sold out but taking a waiting list)

first course
Pumpkin soup with pumpkin seed pesto and star anise chili oil

second course
pumpkin gnocchi with walnut sage sauce

third course
baked delicata squash stuffed with pistachios, vegetables and herbs
wild mushroom ragout
roasted brussel sprouts with yuzu

Daniel Berkman - kora

buckwheat blinis stuffed with pumpkin "cream"
spiced apples
vanilla ice "cream"
toasted walnuts

Saturday, November 14, 2009
8 pm
Hafez Modirzadeh - tenor saxophone
Cornelius Duffalo - violin
a very unique combination of brilliant improvisors!!
first course
homemade socca w/ caramelized onions, sun dried tomatos and olives, hummous

second course
roasted acorn squash soup with shiso yuzu pesto

basmati rice pilaf with dill, cilantro and mayacoba beans
broiled tofu marinated with pomegranate, red miso, cardamom
sauteed brocollini
fennel, carrots and pecans with maple syrup
Hafez Modirzadeh - winds
Cornelius Dufallo - violin

pears poached in oolong tea and vanilla beans
Fig saffron ice cream
pomegranate sauce

Saturday, November 28, 2009
8 pm
LaDonna Smith - violin
India Cooke - violin
The first ever duet performance by these 2 brilliant violin players. This is also a very rare treat for the bay area to hear LaDonna live as she has not been out here in a decade and these are her only performances while on the west coast.
(only one seat remains!)

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"

Sunday, November 29, 2009
8 pm
LaDonna Smith - violin
India Cooke - violin
Now this wll be the second ever duet performance by these 2 brilliant violin players. This is also a very rare treat for the bay area to hear LaDonna live as she has not been out here in a decade and these are her only performances while on the west coast.

menu tba

Friday, December 11, 2009
8 pm
Kaoru Kakizakai - solo shakuhachi
Making his second appearance on the series, Kaoru san returns from Tokyo. He is one of the most in demand shakuhachi players and teachers, currently! A treat to have him return
(sold out but taking a waiting list)

first course
mixed greens with roasted beets and pumpkin with lemon poppyseed dressing

second course
pumpkin fettucini with walnut sage sauce



Saturday, December 12, 2009
8 pm
Kaoru Kakizakai - solo shakuhachi
Since the first night that was announced filled up so quickly, we added a second night. a rare treat to hear this excellent shakuhachi player in such an intimate context
(5 seats left)

first course
latkes, Japanese style
potato pancakes with fresh wasabi, grated daikon and shoyu

rest of menu soon to come

pears poached in green tea with chocolate lava cake and chocolate pecan ice "cream"

how to roast a pumpkin

Many people are asking me how to roast a pumpkin and some are asking "why cant i just use a can".

Take a small orange pumpkin. Large jack o lantern pumpkins are not for eating, besides the seeds. The large ones are bitter, stringy and are not terribly desirable except for carving and designing. Most farmers and stores refer to the small orange pumpkins as "sugar pie" pumpkins, quite easy to find all over the US in the fall as well as in many other countries.

Cut the pumpkin in half. Scoop out the seeds (save them, clean them and roast them for more delights) and scoop out the stringy, gooey part.

Rub the inside of the pumpkin with a very small amount of sea salt (this helps the vegetable to caramelize). Place face up in a roasting pan, add a half cup water to the bottom of the roasting pan, and cover the pan tightly.

Place in preheated 425 oven and roast for 45 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool and peel the skin. The pumpkin can now be mashed with a potato masher or put in a food processor to puree.
Now you have roasted pureed pumpkin, ready to go into a slew of amazing fall dishes such as gnocchi, breads (savory and sweet), pie, cookies, and whatever else your culinary imagination can conjure up.

Now for the seeds!
After removing the seeds, you will want to rinse them and dry them off. Then pay them on a small baking pan in a single layer. sprinkle sea salt on them and a very small amount of safflower oil. Roast at 400 for 5-10 minutes, watching them to make sure they do not burn. These are a great snack by themselves or you can further season them. Or you can grind them down to use in a variety of dishes as well

Of course you can use a can; assuming you prefer bad flavor and have an insatiable desire to create as much pollution and use as much energy as possible every time you eat. If those are your priorities, head to your local megamart and stock up on cans. For those who prefer better flavors, less support of the corporate structure and having their daily lives have less impact on the world, simply follow these easy instructions and you will have some amazing pumpkin to work with to feed your friends and family.

Food comes from the earth, not a box or can!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

pumpkin fettucini (work in progress)

i am still working on this recipe and will offer updates through the fall as i continue the experiments.

1 cup roasted pureed pumpkin (do not use canned unless you prefer bad taste and more pollution)
1 2/3 cups flour
1/2 cup garbanzo flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Combine the flours, salt and nutmeg and then add the pureed pumpkin. Form into a dough and knead for a long time. Since my right hand is messed up from playing shakuhachi for 20 years, i cannot knead well, so i use a stand mixer and let it knead about 20 minutes. Wrap dough and let it sit for at a half hour.
Proceed to roll out pasta sheets with your favorite pasta rolling machine and then cut into fettucini size. Cook immediately for 2 minutes or till soft. Fresh noodles take a very short time and you never want to overcook pasta.

i served this recently with pearl onions, fresh peas and a walnut sage sauce

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

tofu scramble

a southwestern flavored tofu scramble, one of my fave breakfast items that can be whipped up fairly quickly.

This recipe makes 4 large servings.

1 carrot, finely diced
1 red or yellow bell pepper or if you can find a gypsy pepper, finely diced
cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapenos, seeded, chopped
1 stalk celery, finely diced
few shitake or other kind of mushroom, finely diced

2 tbsp olive oil

spice mix
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp tumeric
1 tsp ancho chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper or more to taste

1 pound firm tofu drained, pressed and then crumbled (DO NOT AVOID draining and pressing)

4 green onions, chopped
3 tbsp lemon juice (or more to taste)
chopped cilantro

In a hot skillet, add all your spices and vegetables (except green onions and cilantro!) and sautee over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add crumbled tofu and stir well and sautee for 4 minutes, stirring regularly. Remove from heat, add cilantro, lemon and green onions and serve hot. Goes great with hash brown potatos (recipe for that to be posted soon)

Note: how to drain and press tofu.
Tofu comes packed in water and for most recipes, you want to remove the water from the tofu itself. Quite easy! Simply place the block of tofu on a towel or cut it in rectangles to create more service area. Place another towel on top of the tofu and place a cutting board on top of the towel. Now place a heavy object on the cutting board to press the tofu down, removing the water. If you skip this step, you will have a watery dish and most packaged tofu is somewhat rancid so you will be adding sour water to your dish which is not exactly a tasty idea.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pumpkin pie

What says American Autumn more than pumpkin pie? Ok, maybe apple pie, but that will be in a different post.

There are many excellent pumpkin pie recipes and here is my version.

Pie crust
1 cup pastry flour
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tsp tahini
pinch sea salt

combine flour, salt and baking powder. Add shortening and mix till small crumbs. Add enough water to form a dough. Wrap up and place in fridge for one hour.
Roll out dough and form into pie shell.


in a high speed blender, place the following:
2 cups roasted, pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup soy milk (unsweetened! only soybeans and water)
1/3 cup kudzu
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract

blend on medium speed for 1 minute, till very aerated. Pour into pie shell, and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Let set for a couple of hours before cutting.

What is PVC

PVC stands for processed vegan crap. You know the kind of awful stuff that comes in boxes and packages and has colored labels, big ads in veggie magazines and such. Usually PVC imitates PC (processed crap made from animal sources) in the form of fake meat and imitations of other items that vegans supposedly want to avoid. Many people believe that being vegan means that you go from consuming processed crap to processed vegan crap and suddenly you are a better person. True, you might be saving animals by consuming PVC but what about your own health, the health of the workers and farmers producing PVC and the health of the planet that results from producing and consuming pvc? Problem is most PVC is produced by the same people who produce PC and thus we are falling into the same trap of consumption, supporting the same problematic system, even if we choose to remove animal products from our diet.

Another part of the problem, especially for those of us who grow up in the United States is we are raised to have a mindless and endless desire to consume mediocre products made by mega corporations. As soon as they put us in front of a television as babies, we are barraged with being told what to listen to, look like, eat, etc. Thus if one changes their diet from omnivore to herbivore, they simply look for what corporations are offering them and settle for what they are "told" to consume and that is usually the latest fake meat, fake cheese, fake margarine, and other highly processed products. An awareness of the larger picture of food consumption has to look at the even greater picture of mass advertising and other forms of control. And this is a very complicated issue and i suggest looking at writers such as Michael Pollan for some well written insights into this problem.

One of the aims of making this blog is to help others realize that PVC not only tastes like crap but when it comes down to it, there is no need for it. And if you want to avoid eating meat, something i can certainly understand for a variety of reasons, why do you want to eat a simulation of meat? But that question is a very long, complicated one and perhaps will be addressed in a different post.

Make your own is always my motto and it is much easier than you think! Yes, it takes time but you eat every day, usually a few times a day so dont you owe it to yourself and the planet to stop and take this daily activity very serious? If being "green" is a concern, then your daily activities must be taken into consideration if you want to really live a "green" lifestyle that is real, not one that is about posturing. If you have a family or friends, getting together to produce many ingredients can be quite fun as well as save you money and make you and the planet a lot healthier. Young children often take great joy in producing food and doing this puts them in a direct relationship with their nutritional intake. Raising families to know food comes from the earth is far different than thinking food comes from a box or a fast food restaurant.

Let us take a frequently consumed item that many vegans drink and use for recipes; soymilk. Soymilk is incredibly easy to make at home, especially if you purchase a soy milk making machine. This machine saves you time from making soymilk the old fashioned way, is not expensive (it pays for itself very fast), and will greatly reduce your ecological impact on the world. Each box of PVC soymilk travels a great distance to get to your store and then home. Most PVC soymilk is made from Geneticaly modified, inorganic soybeans and has sugars and all kinds of other nasty things added. Soymilk should contain only 2 ingredients, organic non-gmo beans and water, especially when using in recipes. Perhaps if you drink it, then you can add some of your own flavors such as agave, maple, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, etc. Using your imagination and your palette will give you all kinds of interesting results.

For years i have been using machines from (no i do not own or work or have any affiliation, simply a content customer, passing on a good idea). For a few dimes, i produce the highest quality soymilk, saving me lots of money and i do not have to recycle boxes or even have the boxes made in the first place! i purchase 25 pound bags of organic soybeans grown in California for about 35 dollars (and rising!). Only takes a half a cup of beans to produce a liter of soymilk. Do the math and see the savings. Taste the difference! And again, if environmental issues are important to you (and i cant imagine why they would not be!), see the vast difference in how you consume effects others.

For those who are concerned about animal rights, please do some research on the companies who produce your PVC and you will be surprised how many soymilk companies, veg burger companies, etc are owned by the dairy and meat industry. So if you think consuming these products is helping your cause, you may want to research whose pockets you are feeding. Who owns Silk, Morningstar Farms, Whole Foods, etc?

As i said, one of the goals of this blog is to help you remove PVC from your lives.

eat and be well!

Carrot cookies

Another basic, easy recipe that produces amazing results.

dry mix
1 cup oats
1 cup pastry flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder

wet mix

1/2 cup safflower oil
1/2 cup agave syrup
1 tsp vanilla

1 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins

In separate bowls, mix the dry ingredients in one and wet ingredients in another. Add wet to dry and then add the carrots, nuts and raisins

For small, teaspoon size cookies on a baking tray. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Remove and place on cooling rack.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

creamy herb miso dressing

one of my more popular salad dressings

1/2 cup soymilk (see note below)
1/4 cup white miso (saikyo miso is best for this)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp fresh tarragon
2 cloves garlic
2 green onions
2 tbsp fresh basil
1 tbsp fresh parsley
1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp sea salt

place all ingredients in a blender and blend well. Chill for 2 hours before using

When using soymilk in a recipe make sure it is unsweetened! If you do not make your own, use only soymilk that contains 2 ingredients; water and soybeans. Other processed soymilks simply wont work for this or any of my recipes)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

beet nut pate recipe (raw)

This is an incredibly popular dish i often make for events. It has a gorgeous purple color, delightful flavor and aroma and it is simple to produce. Simply place all of the following ingredients into a food processor and blend till smooth.

1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 small beet
i small carrot
1 gypsy pepper, seeded
3 green onions or 1/3 cup leek
1/4 cup daikon
1/4 cup basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp shoyu
1 tsp crushed black pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
process till smooth, adding a little water, if needed.

spread for baquette or pita
dip for vegetables
filling for ravioli
part of an appetizer plate

vegan cream "cheez"

Many people at the bake sale today were asking about this and it is soooo incredibly simple to make. You will need a high speed blender, something every kitchen should be equipped with. A regular blender will leave you with a very gritty texture which is not desirable.

Place in the blender the following:
1/3 cup cashews
1/4 cup water
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp maple syrup
blend on high for a minute or till very smooth and creamy

add the following to the cashew mixture in the blender
1 tsp sea salt
1 package medium to firm tofu

Blend till very smooth.

Remove from blender and add the following:
1 small carrot, finely grated
2 green onions, finely chopped
a few basil leaves, finely minced
1 clove garlic, finely minced

Mix well and refrigerate till serving.

Nov 14 dinner/concert, Hafez Modirzadeh and Cornelius Duffalo performing

Fascinating combination of 2 innovative musicians, for this evening! Cornelius Duffalo visiting from NYC on violin joined by San Francisco State professor of music, Hafez Modirzadeh.

Saturday, November 14, 2009
8 pm
Private Location in Oakland, CA
limited seating for 19
$55/person byob
for reservations, phil at philipgelb dot com

first course
homemade socca w/ caramelized onions, sun dried tomatos and olives, hummous

second course
roasted acorn squash soup with shiso yuzu pesto

basmati rice pilaf with dill, cilantro and mayacoba beans
broiled tofu marinated with pomegranate juice, red miso, cardamom
sauteed brocollini
fennel, carrots and pecans with maple syrup

Hafez Modirzadeh - tenor saxophone
Cornelius Dufallo - violin

pears poached in oolong tea and vanilla beans
Fig saffron ice "cream"
pomegranate sauce

Friday, October 16, 2009

vegan bake sale in San Francisco, Saturday, oct 17

i will be taking part along with about 50 other contributors! Please come and sample. i will be offering 2 savory treats:
bialys with a cashew herb cream "cheese"
socca (chickpea bread) with caramelized onons and gypsy peppers and cherry tomatos

Daniel Berkman dinner/concert, October 24

An underground restaurant in the east bay has been happening for over 3 years, serving up amazing gourmet cuisine and pairing this with world renowned musicians, making the world a healthier place, one mouthful and one earful at a time.....

Pumpkin menu! 4 courses of pumpkin dishes for this one and as always, an amazing virtuoso musician to feed your ears after the delightful meal. For this evening, we have Daniel Berkman, an amazing kora player! Daniel has been studying this West African harp for many years in Senegal, Gambia and Mali.

Saturday, October 24
8 pm
location: Private residence in oakland, CA
limited seating for 20
$55/person, byob
reservations are needed! please contact phil at philipgelb dot com for reservations

first course
pumpkin miso soup with enoki mushrooms

second course
pumpkin gnocchi with walnut sage sauce

third course
baked delicata squash stuffed with pistachios, vegetables and herbs
wild mushroom ragout
roasted brussel sprouts with yuzu

Daniel Berkman - kora

buckwheat blinis stuffed with pumpkin "cream"
spiced apples
vanilla ice "cream"
toasted walnuts

yeah it is vegan and yeah it will blow your mind!

note: by pumpkin i am referring to the whole pumpkin/squash family. So each dish will use different varieties such as kabocha, pie pumpkin, butternut, acorn, delicata, etc.

We were mentioned in the recent article on vegan supperclubs in the last issue of Vegnews magazine

pumpkin muffins

Pumpkin is perhaps the worlds most useful vegetable. Quite a strong statement, i realize but this nutrtionally dense vegetable loans itself to so many savory and sweet dishes; originally a vegetable native to North and Central America, pumpkins have been a major source of culinary creations in many traditional cultures as well as all over the world as it spread out since the 16th century.

Please do not consider canned pumpkin! It is worth your while to split open a beautiful vegetable, scoop out the seeds (which you can dry and roast to eat or use in many recipes) and roast and then puree the flesh.

Here is a very tasty and simple to make muffin

dry ingredients
1 3/4 cups pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp cloves
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup dried cranberries

wet ingredients
1 cup pureed pumpkin
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup safflower oil
1/4 cup soymilk with 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar added
1 tbsp vanilla extract

combine wet ingredients in one bowl.
in seperate bowl combine dry ingredients

Add wet to dry and mix gently and as little as possible to combine the ingredients. Do NOT overmix or your muffins will be rubbery.

Fill muffin tins (6 large ones or 12 small ones)
bake at 375 for 20 minutes or till done

Thursday, October 15, 2009


i have a regular column in this excellent, online magazine. It is free to subscribe.

you can find a fan site on facebook

and on myspace

you can find reviews on a dubious site (reviews disappear and reappear at times)

and hopefully a real business site coming soon at

wow, did not think i would do this

Never thought i would start a food blog but many people are asking for recipes and such and well, this is a place i will post some as well as write about food and cooking in general. Hopefully this will be fairly interactive and get some interesting conversations going.

For those who are new here and have no idea who i am, i am a chef in the San Francisco Bay Area with a catering and personal chef business, In the Mood for Food. The label vegan is often used to describe my culinary creations since i do not use any animal products in any of my work. Due to spending a fair amount of time in Japan and having a separate career as a shakuhachi player and teacher, there is a very strong influence of Japanese cuisine in my ideas. This is quite evident as are my Eastern European Jewish roots and my serious interest in cuisine from around the world with particular interest in Italy, China (sichuan province in particular!) and Southeast Asian.
In attempts to provide the freshest flavors and produce meals in the most sustainable manner, we try to produce everything ourselves. Thus ingredients such as tempeh, seitan, soymilk, coconut milk, tofu, a variety of noodles are made in our kitchens from the finest, freshest organic ingredients, sourced locally whenever possible. Menus are always seasonally based and with the exception of a few ingredients such as chocolate, spices, teas, coconuts and the occassional tropical fruit or vegetable, always locally based.

We can cater intimate parties for 2 as well as large dinners for 200!

In addition, we host a very popular dinner/concert series, twice a month, pairing 4 or 5 courses of gourmet cuisine with world renowned musicians in intimate spaces in the East Bay.

Group and private cooking classes are available.