Archive for Cooking

Lucky Devil Bread

I have gotten so many requests for this bread recipe, I’m gonna cut right to the chase.

NO GLUTEN.
NO REFINED SUGAR.
NO FLOUR.

I found the original recipe here and along with half the internet, could not believe my good fortune. After following the recipe spot on a few times, I wanted to make some changes to it for myself.

Then I got into making traditional bread and did a lot of reading from Josey Baker who taught me to always toast the nuts and seeds first. I do it for everything now. It’s an extra step, not nearly as much of a pain in the ass as everyone makes it out to be, and it increases the depth of taste like 42 times. So toast the seeds and the nuts.

This recipe is incredibly forgiving and you can make it your own a hundred different ways. The important things that you want to stick to are the psyllium husk and the chia. They hold the bread together. Plus they provide so much fiber. And I should say, this bread is a great comrade in the Getting Digestion Moving department and is more enjoyable than anything a doctor will give you. Plus, it wows guests. And it’s easier than falling off the sidewalk. Which, come to think of it, is sort of a challenge, so pick a new metaphor. Just like in this bread feel free to do swapping. You can use walnuts, dried cherries, cacao nibs… whatever. The important part is that you try it. The tough parts are the ones where you have to wait. DO THE WAITING. Even though, as Tom Petty has told you a million beautiful times, the waiting really is the hardest part.

Dry Ingredients

2c gluten free oats (make sure the package says GF!)
1/4 c psyllium husk
1/2 c raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 c raw sunflower seeds
2T + 1t chia seeds
1/2 c chopped raw almonds
1t sea salt
3/4 c flax seeds

Wet Ingredients
1T maple syrup
2T olive oil
1T melted coconut oil
2c warm filtered water

Preheat the oven to 350 and in a thin layer on a baking sheet, toast your sunflower, pumpkin, and flax seeds along with the chopped almonds for 12 minutes. Combine the toasted goodness with the other dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl whisk together your wet ingredients, then add the wet to the dry in the big bowl. Mix everything together. A LOT. You can use a rubber spatula or just your clean paws.

Put the mash into a loaf pan you have oiled well with coconut oil. Now chill the “dough” for AT LEAST two hours, but if you can chill it longer, do it. See? There’s The Waiting, Part 1. Now preheat oven at 375 and when it’s ready, move your loaf pan to the oven for one hour. Now. Here’s The Hard Part #2: let the loaf cool for 2 hours. I know it’ll be tough, but it helps the bread come together in a way that’s worth it.

I like to double toast my slices. My favorite is to double toast, smear a quarter avocado on the slice, add sliced radish and an egg over medium. DELISH! Other nice things: melted coconut oil with cinnamon. Slathered in butter, straight up. Topped with banana slices. Topped with sautéed mushrooms and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil.

Have at it people. DO YOUR THANG. And let me know how it goes!

 

 

Solstice is Coming. Be the Khaleesi of Salad.

This is the Western part of the greens coming in.

I know this is not Westeros, and in fact it’s just Western Mass, but I have just wrapped up this season of Game of Thrones where Tyrion Lannister solidly WON Father’s Day. In the land in which I am Khaleesi, the dog wanders the yard and has finally figured out which greens not to pee on. The salad greens. In the mornings I meander about in an oversized SF Giants T with leggings, toting a colander about the plot. I gather green leaf lettuce, arugula, mizuna, some baby mustard, striated oregano, basil, spinach, lemon mint, red butter lettuce and some other tufts that “salad mix” envelope of seeds spit up. Radishes are coming along as well. So far the big money items haven’t formed yet so I augment with the farmer’s markets and at the store. Here’s a pretty good list of some things I check out and you, too can pick up for a good, colorful, nutrient rich time:

Summer squash, pluot, radish, spinach, tomato, purple cabbage, and cucumber in a roasted garlic vinaigrette.

Cucumbers, lemon cucumbers, fennel bulbs, carrots, cauliflower (all the colors), tomatoes, bell peppers, peaches, pluots, plums, strawberries, blueberries, jicama, celery, red onion, Chioggia beets, grapes, purple cabbage, avocado and asparagus. Any or all of these will take you out of the standard “garden salad” place of feeling like you SHOULD be eating salad into the glamorous world of Salad is Delicious. Building a salad can be super fun. Part of it is the dressing as well, which I think I’ve talked about before. OH, yes, there it is.

Last March I wrote a post with the goal of supporting each and every reader here to NEVER BUY SALAD DRESSING AGAIN. Making your own is easy, it’s cost effective, it’s free of preservatives and creepy Monsanto shit and the best reason: it tastes better. This isn’t even to mention the long term benefits adding your kitchen into your regular creative vault of delights, the ways that making your own stuff builds confidence as well as competency, AND you can use the money toward actually getting the salad. There’s some good recipes there and a great one from a reader in the comments section. So run with those. But let’s chat about building a hearty, interesting, beautiful salad.

Celery, radish, shaved fennel, purple cabbage, black & white sesame seeds tossed with lime juice, olive oil, sea salt and pepper.

1. Work with color: Green salads are phenomenal. But you can have a thousand shades of green in a salad. Each one will bring a certain depth that’s pretty to look at AND the color of your produce reflects the nutrients it contains. So the more color you serve, the deeper your nutrition, yo. So even in a green salad, go with speckled lettuces or dark greens with lights, red edges and yellow stripes. Moving out from green, go for the rainbow. More color means more nutrition, more taste, and it goes with more outfits. I like to mix in purple cabbage with my greens, add radishes and different colored peppers. Get the purple cauliflower sometimes or the red. Or those fancy heirloom carrots that are all different colors. Let yourself branch out and make the salad bowl into a riot of color.

3. Add fresh herbs: It’s so great that now we can walk into a produce section at any given market and find that lettuce has moved far beyond iceberg and romaine. (WHICH I’M NOT KNOCKING). Varietal strains come in all shades and shapes and various flavors from bright to bitter. People are getting into slicing kale super thin and adding that to a raw salad offering. Here’s what I’m begging you to do: add in herbs. You can grow an easy kitchen garden on a sill or you can get little bunches at the market. Just toss in your basil, oregano, cilantro, parsley and savory. Add in fresh chives with the blossoms and dice up some chervil and lemon mint. These greens wake up the entire experience with bright flavors and unexpected combinations that really come together.

4. Toppings, Toppings, Toppings: One of the easiest ways to take your salad to the next nutritional level is to throw seeds and nuts on it. Put a sprout on it. Any extra kaboom you can hit on will up your healthy fats, your omegas, your protein, and it’ll add a good accessorized look to the whole shebang. What works? Here are some ideas off the top of my head: crushed walnuts, almond slivers, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, any color sesame seeds and extra points for a mixing of shades, flax seeds, pine nuts, hazelnuts, pecans and any sprout that strikes your fancy. For extra points: throw seeds and nuts in a dry cast iron skillet and toast them over a low heat until the release some of the scent.

Baby spinach, toasted maple cardamon walnuts, and flame grapes roasted with olive oil, sea salt and pepper.

5. Add some protein: Me? I love a legume. Give me a harissa chickpea. A stewed chipotle pinto bean. A lemongrass hunk of tofu. Take any kind of protein you have and add it into a salad. This will turn your side dish into a whole meal. For the vegans, I vote for legumes the most. Tofu is great on occasion (it has a lot of phytoestrogens in it in addition to being pretty processed so I think it’s great sometimes, but I don’t like to advocate for it as the main source of vegan protein.) Also nutritional yeast is great as a sprinkle or also as an ingredient for your dressing. Especially a miso one. Vegetarians can add hard boiled eggs. And for the seafood lovers out there, adding fish to a salad is a favorite of so many people I know who swear by salads as entire meals. Especially in the summer, a well-built salad in a pretty bowl really does it for me.

And so, my friends, Happy Summer Solstice to you. May your pagan rites be merry. And may your salads kick some serious ass.

Hippie Dust: How We Fell In Love

Throw some hippie dust on that!

And so, with that direction bellowed over an enormous bowl of popcorn one fateful evening about 12 years ago, began my love affair with nutritional yeast. Actually, the love began as many affairs do, in a state of acrimony and denial with undercurrent of a tug pulling me toward something inexplicable. My first taste resulted in a somewhat crumply face of disgust as compared to a popcorn bowl full of delicious melted butter and salt with fresh ground pepper. But something about the nuttiness of the unexpected yeast pulled me back. And in no time at all, I was all in.

Nutritional yeast has an enormous benefit to many people over its cousins brewer’s yeast and baker’s yeast. This yeast, grown mostly on beet sugar is an inactive yeast which means it can be incorporated into a nutritional arsenal of a system that is often challenged by other active yeasts. (Of course, ask your doctor or nutritionist their view on this for your health.) Hippie dust is a dynamo of benefits packed into a magic flourish over foods for a nutty, almost cheesy, flavor. Look here:

1. Vitamin B-12- This is a crucial nutrient for the body involved in the production of red blood cells and for producing and maintaining myelin, the protective insulation around your nerves. Most sources of Vitamin B-12 are animal based, so nutritional yeast is a major player in the nutritional well being of vegans and vegetarians. One tablespoon will provide an adult with a full day’s supply of B-12, if you can keep the tastiness to that!

2. Protein- 2 tablespoons of hippie dust contains 9 grams of protein. That’s more than in 1 cup of whole milk (8g), a large egg (6g), or one oz. of beef (7g). It’s a wonderful source of energy for your workout mornings.

3. Fiber- Fiber is one of my personal favorites in terms of gut health and functional digestion. It also helps our systems regulate blood sugar giving us a more sustainable even store of energy throughout our days and at higher levels. Nutritional yeast provides 3 grams of fiber per tiny serving.

4. Gluten Free- Not only a boon for the Vegans out there, but this treat is also gluten free providing all of this power with an anti-inflammatory ease.

5. Folic acid- Nutritional yeast is also a great source of folic acid. Especially important for women out there trying to get pregnant or carrying future citizens of the planet, folic acid is known to prevent spina bifida and other major birth defects. For those not planning to get pregnant, folic acid is still important for its role in cell maintenance and production.

Here’s one of the easiest recipes in the world and it’ll wow your dinner guests as well.

1 head cauliflower
1T olive oil
1t black sesame seeds
1/4c nutritional yeast
Sea Salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 350. Take all the ingredients and drop them in a mixing bowl. Toss it with your hands until all is coated. Spread on a cooking sheet with parchment paper or foil and cook for about 20-25 minutes. Cauliflower should be a golden light brown. THAT’S IT!

*Originally, I wrote this article for a wellness site here on the web that I’ve decided not to write for anymore. As it has grown to a pretty impressive size, the site continues to insist on not paying its writers for their work. (COMMON PRACTICE) Not even a dollar. Not with coupons or anything, just “Since we do not compensate contributors for posts, we’re more than happy to include a byline and your brief bio containing links to your website, Facebook, Twitter accounts, which we will promote when your post goes live.” I suppose I got lulled into this belief that I had to continue, after many years as a professional writer, to work for free to promote someone else’s content. In the agreement I found myself also letting my voice be compromised, which is actually my favorite part of writing. When I inquired to the editors about when they planned compensation, fiscal or otherwise, for the writers that wholly drive their content, I got no reply at all.  So I decided to simply write here on my own site and accept that I may stay small, but whatever. At least I’ll stay true. 
This text has been edited from its original form to be reprinted here.

Maple Miso Delicata Squash with Chickpeas and Kale

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sliced my hand open working with butternut squash. And don’t even get me started on the kabocha. I’ve since found a U-shaped peeler that makes these endeavors quicker, easier, and a whole lot less bloody, but before I made that discovery, there was the: (angels singing) Delicata squash.

I love this squash because you can bake the skin and eat it. Plus the edges come out like scalloped moons, lacy little things that look fancy. I suppose you’ve gathered by now that I really go for low-investment, high-yield kitchen work. I want a lot of flavor, pretty plates, and solid nutrition without breaking my back about it. Unless I’m throwing a party. Then I love to fuss. But just for the day-in, day-out kind of cooking, I like it fast and easy. I won’t make jokes about myself in college, but it’s tempting.

ANYHOW!!! Roasting a delicata squash is so easy. It’s delicious. It’s good looking. It’s cheap as hell, and it’s good for you. Great. Let’s cook some. I got this idea originally from this recipe over at Sprouted Kitchen. The original recipe is QUITE different from this and you can try that one next!

1c cooked chickpeas
1/2 bunch dino kale
1 delicata squash
1t chickpea miso
2t pure maple syrup
3T olive oil, separated
juice of 1 lemon, separated
1t toasted sesame oil
1T pumpkin seeds
1T crushed walnuts
crushed black peppercorns

Preheat your over to 400 degrees. Slice the squash open the long way and run a spoon along the inside to get rid of the seeds. Make 1/4 inch moons from both halves and toss them into a small mixing bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the miso, the syrup 2T olive oil and half the lemon juice. When the miso smoothes out, and the sauce to the squash and toss with your hands until covered. Turn out onto a baking sheet and sprinkle with black pepper. Cook at 400 for about 30 minutes. Toss it around once at about 20.

Meanwhile, slice your kale up into ribbons and put in a mixing bowl with the chickpeas, a dash of sea salt, a teaspoon of the olive oil that’s left and the rest of the lemon juice. Mix everything until it’s all covered with the liquid. Let it sit and the kale will soften.

In a skillet, use the rest of the olive oil and the toasted sesame oil to warm the seeds and the walnuts. Use a low heat and just until the sesame oil is fragrant. If you begin to hear sizzling, turn it down.

As soon as your squash is ready, add it to the kale and chickpeas and mix it all up. Then toss the warm seeds and walnuts in and mix again. Enjoy!!!

Easy and Divine Asian Slaw

I leave in the morning for a working vacation in the beautiful Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts, and as is usual for me, I’m still rushing around getting ready to go. I like to just pack it all in leading up to a departure so when I get on the plane, I sleep right the hell through it all. I’ve got my client folders ready, my business book downloaded, and my friend Lucy Corin‘s new collection ready to revel in. Have you had a chance to read any of her incredibly beautiful, funny, whipsmart, complicated, and devastating work? Well, she’s one of my favorites. So I am wholly thrilled to have her new book along with me. Plus… I made this to eat on my journey. I though you might like it,  too.

I am a lover of salad, but I tend to follow a few tried and true versions all the time. For this venture, I got out of my regular zone and plucked a bunch of greens from the shelf I don’t normally go to at first and I gotta say, I’m loving this concoction.

 

For the Salad
1 cucumber
1 fennel bulb
1/2 head napa cabbage, cored
1/2 bunch bok choy
1 carrot
1 mango
2 plums or pluots to your liking
1T black sesame seeds
1T  white sesame seeds

For the Dressing
1T toasted sesame oil
1T olive oil
1T ume plum vinegar
1T rice vinegar
1t tamari or coconut aminos
1T fresh grated ginger

Dice your greens in long thin strips. Grate your carrot. Chop your cucumber, plums, and mango into small cubes. In a separate bowl, whisk all your dressing ingredients together. Pour the dressing into the salad and toss thoroughly. Add in your sesame seeds and toss again. Chill the salad for 20 minutes to let the flavor set.

Get your grub on.

Broccoli and Fennel Soup with Red Onions

How about a quick and dirty post about soup? Great. I’m doing my Summer Cleanse right now so much evenings are occupied by soups. I like to switch it up and lot and to keep it brothy. This means I always have some vegetable stock going using the veggie scraps I pick up for slicing and dicing along the way. Onions ends, kale spines, garlic butts and carrot ends make regular appearances along with ginger skins, parsnip butts and cauliflower cores. I put all the scraps in a bag in the freezer and when the bag gets full I boil them down and BAM, veggie stock. Delightful. You can’t beat it. I sometimes add a dash of salt and pepper to mine. The other thing I keep on hand that shores up a soup with richness is the cooked liquid from batches of beans. Pot liquor gives a depth to soup that plain water doesn’t even approach, and as a lady lover of big flavor, I appreciate that. Any time I look into the fridge and see a mason jar of either one of those, I know I’m going to be just fine.

Well, Sunday was just such a day… the kind of day where all feels kind of lost. You’re on a cleanse, nothing is prepped, you’re staring at a soup that you’ve had one too many nights in a row and you’re still in shock about how bad Project Runway looks this season. But look… there’s some veggie broth, and so collect what else you have and MAKE IT WORK.

1 fat stalk broccoli
1 red onion
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bulb fennel
5c vegetable stock
1/4c nutritional yeast
2t ground black pepper
1t celery salt
1 1/2T olive oil

To prep, separate your broccoli into florets and then remove the hard outer skin from the stalk. Chop the inside of the stalk into coins and set aside. Chop your fennel as thin as possible all the way up to the fronds. You’ll include all of it in the soup. Chop up your red onion as well. Heat your olive oil up and add your peppercorn, onion, fennel, broccoli stalk coins, and garlic. When everything is coated and the onion and fennel begin to soften, add about 3T of vegetable stock. When everything is boiling, add in the hippie dust, I mean yeast, and stir until it’s a golden vegetable roux. Add in the rest of the veggie broth and the celery salt. Bring everything to a rolling boil, then turn down to a simmer and add your broccoli florets. Cook for 20-40 minutes based on how you like your vegetables in soup.

My Favorite Cookbooks, Part 2

I have 8 cookbooks sitting in my virtual shopping cart right now and I’m sitting on my hands. I don’t know if I told you here, but I’m relocating with my business, myself, my dog, and my handsome butch to western Massachusetts in February so adding heavy (beautiful) cookbooks to my collection at this time isn’t going to work. Shopping for them works, though, and I’ll tell you what I discovered: although I have a pension for always wanting more of them, I still believe you can do wonderful things in a kitchen with a skillet, an oven pan, a sauce pan, a soup pot and one little cookbook. You may love fancy gadgets, but you don’t NEED them to succeed with your food. Just like I LOVE collecting cookbooks, but really, you can just begin with one. And don’t forget your local library! Take them out and audition a few before purchasing. That shit is FREE. So in chorus with this sentiment, I am continuing on with Part 2 of my favorites list for your enjoyment. I’ll begin with my personal bible which I’ve spoken of maybe, like, a billion times.

6. The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters – I know you’re sick of hearing about this book from me by now but what can I say? It continues to bat 1000 from the plate. Since reading it, I have never again purchased salad dressing, mayonnaise or creme fraiche. I have a completely grounded understanding abut how to build my personal pantry of foods for the way I like to cook making whipping things up so much easier. The book not only taught me how to cook things but it helped me feel empowered to cook things. Ms. Waters clearly loves food and she has a more refines taster than I do, but she gives me a sense that as I move along, I too will develop into a person that detects the subtle taste and texture differences in the way a shallot might work vs. a red onion. Or why a lady might choose which oil to drizzle on a soup. Her care and yet simplicity is a combination I come back to over and over because it provides me with a kind of faith I can build in myself as a person who uses food to nurture my life and cooking to arrive as a place or creative expression. Plus, it’s a beautiful book, which I’m a sucker for every time.

7. Tender by Nigel SlaterSpeaking of beautiful books, I almost cried when this thing arrived on my doorstep. I’d been fondling it lovingly at one of the best places in America, Omnivore Books, and then while I was on vacation one time, I just couldn’t hold off and bought the thing online. British food writer Nigel Slater invites you into his garden and talks not just of cooking but of growing the food you cook and what it likes to do. Like Bryant Terry’s Inspired Vegan, this is also a tremendously personal offering. Mr. Slater is a wonderful writer and his attention to detail is actually emotional.When you sit down with him in his vegetable patch you feel encouraged to not only cook, but to go ahead and make a mess on your way. He’s all about the process of food, how things take attempt before they find their pinnacle and the pinnacle isn’t so much the point, but the journey there.The way he writes about pod peas made me want to kind of date them.

8. The Sprouted Kitchen by Sara Forte and photographed by Hugh Forte - This is a whole foods book built around vegetables. Sure there’s a scallop here and there plus plenty of desserts, but the heart of the book is about vegetables and Ms. Forte clearly loves them. Her experience on the organic farm comes through in bright recipes that take beauty into account as an intrinsic part of the enjoyment of food alongside the taste. The photographs by her husband Hugh are fantastic and she makes it easy to go along with her. This is a fantastic place to start for beginner cooks or people who’ve felt intimidated in the kitchen. The introduction sets the scene, demystifies technique and invites you along for a gorgeous ride. The food is robust and healthy with fantastic pangs of flavor that punch each seasonal note. I think the beauty of this book as an object is a reflection of how this couple came together for the project. Something about their collaboration comes through and serves not just the recipes, but the readers beholding them as well.

9. The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter BerleyI got this book a few years back when I embarked on my first cleanse. I picked it in a haphazard way just because it had a fat gold James Beard Award medal on the front. I didn’t know Mr. Berley’s background as either the former chef of Angelica Kitchen in NYC or as a cooking teacher of many years. But his way with writing is telling of his teacher’s background. He speaks to both beginners and experienced cook at once somehow using his knowledge of technique and his experience to encourage his readers. It’s a really supportive book. It’s surprising to me I went with a book that’s got black and white photographs of food as I’m usually so easily seduced by the pictures in books, but this one was perfect for me. I found his work with whole grains in particular incredibly useful and come back to that over and over. Plus the drawings are wonderful.

10. Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson - I’ve been reading Ms. Swanson’s blog, 101 Cookbooks forever. It’s been one of the best free resources my kitchen has ever had. I have to say, it’s maybe a little alienating to me in this way that has to do with money and what my friend Silas likes to call The Sheen of the Well-Off, and some days I can’t quite rise to the task of peeking in at what appears to be a perfect photograph of perfect food arranged in a perfect dish in a perfect kitchen in a perfect life. Now I’m not proud to say that reveals much more about me than it does about Ms. Swanson, but I like to level with you all. But I’ll tell you what, this lady knows her way around a vegetable. I have never made a recipe from this book I didn’t love. And I use it all the time. She makes food with great flavor, has no fear of richness, and takes you around the globe with her inspirations. (This is because she is often traveling around the globe.) This is her second book and it’s been out for a bit. Her first is just as lovely. In fact, most of the authors in Parts 1 & 2 have numerous books to check out so don’t be shy.

There you have it…. My top ten. I bet if I did it again in a month there would be some moving around, but I feel great about these.

 

My Favorite Cookbooks, Part 1

Some people might call it a problem. I call it a library. I know that there are so many cooking sites to visit online. The recipes are solid, they’re free, and you don’t have to pack them into boxes and lug them across the country when you move. (We’re MOVING in February!) But I’ll never get over books. I like the way the matte pages feel, I like the feel of flipping a page over, and with cookbooks, I love the photographs. I really feel wild about a good cookbook. People ask me all the time what my favorites are. I’m making a list my my ten more consulted here. I love many others, but this is part 1 of core group that I return to over and over. One of them is new and is an instant classic that I am currently in a deep love affair with. Since these are in no particular order, let’s start there:

1. Vegetable Literacy by Deborah MadisonThis book is the kind of book I always found myself looking for and could never find. But now here it is. Part encyclopedia, part cookbook, this volume tells you everything you might want to know about things that grow and then we eat them. She tells you how things grow and where, what kinds of nutrients they have to offer, how they like to be cooked and what they go well with. She tells you how to store things, what to look for when you shop. I read this thing like a novel, from cover to cover. The recipes range from incredibly simple to simple, but with some labor. Nothing is difficult and all her combinations that I’ve tried tend to sing. Her Red Lentil and Coconut Soup with Black Rice, Turmeric and Greens is one of the best soups ever. I could eat that jazz every day.

2. Clean Food by Terry Walters This book is the perfect introduction to clean cooking and eating. Ms. Walters has organized it by seasons. For people who are new in the kitchen, this is so helpful because the recipes match up with what looks good in the market. As you get accustomed to shopping and cooking, eventually your body will acclimate to its natural yens rather than feel confused by the general processed food that we often eat in the Standard American Diet. In addition to supporting beginning cooks and cooks new to this kind of cooking, Ms. Walters gives a great variety of choices for each season including desserts. Her sweet choices are always made with alternative flours and sweeteners making her recipes much easier on the system without skimping on flavor. She tends toward very simple preparations with pops of satisfying flavor.

3. A Year in my Kitchen by Skye Gyngell I would like to spend a year in her kitchen, too. This is one of my very favorite books for flavor. Ms Gyngell is from London so sometimes there are ingredients I can’t find in San Francisco, but WHO CARES?!? This is a woman who cooks like a painter. The flavors in each recipe hit all parts of the tongue and her preferences tend toward explosive color. She begins this book with her version of a toolbox, or what she believes are the staples a cook should have in their kitchens at all times. She talks about how flavors work together, what different components come together to work in shaping a taste experience, plus the book is gorgeous. It’s a small little thing with soft matte pages and dreamy photographs that make you want to follow all her directions to a tee. Her roasted tomatoes changed my life, even without the sugar, not to mention her pickled pear relish and her chilled almond soup.

4. Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi This might be one of the most elegant vegetarian (not vegan) cookbooks in existence. The work in this book is so varied and covers so many different styles of cooking that it feels as much like a travel log as it feels like a cookbook. It’s downright romantic the thing is so gorgeous. The recipes range from simple to all day prep affairs. Some of these recipes will make their way into your No Big Deal catagory without even batting an eye, whereas others may stay on your When Company Comes list for a year or more. But even when the meals look over the top, they are so much fun to read and look at, that the very act of perusing them will ignite your creative kitchen fire. The Cardamom Rice with Poached Eggs and Yogurt just slays me and I’m not mad about the Cucumber Salad with Smashed Garlic and Ginger either.

5. The Inspired Vegan by Bryant Terry Bryant Terry designs the meal for you. Each recipe comes with a drink and damn soundtrack. Mr. Terry made this book so that each turn of a meal is designed around an entire experience, born from the inspiration of jazz and hip hop. I love this book for its intimate invitation to hang out with your chef. You get stories, you get a radical kind of politic, you’ll find yourself jamming out to his ideas about sustainable food cultures and social movements. This book is so much more than a standard cookbook experience and his success with it is deeply moving. Not many chefs offer you justice and compassion with their entrees but for Mr. Terry, his ethic about life is not separate from his cooking. He understands that food is a right and healthy food is a gorgeous experience that supports artistic, beautiful and creative living for all people. Cooking from this book, for me, has been not only a creative and fun experience, but each time, it feels like an honor to connect with Mr. Terry’s world. Plus the sweet potato curry is fabulous.

 

Shakshuka: Fun to say, even better to eat.

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My Spring Fling Cleanse officially ends in about 90 minutes. Each season when I go through this process, I have an entirely different experience. Of course this is true for many reasons: I am a season older, the group I lead changes each season, the body wants different things at different times, and sometimes the mind is able to engage a commitment more than other times. But two things remain constant: I always want the nightshade family back when the cleanse ends and I never get over eggs. I will pretty much put an egg on ANYfuckingTHING. One of my all time favorite breakfasts is a bowl of an entire head of dino kale shredded and cooked down in ginger, lemon juice and coconut aminos with a fat scoop of Farmhouse Culture’s Smoked Jalapeno Sauerkraut and a skillet fried egg done in coconut oil on top with some kind of fancy salt. On a cleanse, I take some time to make space without the peppers in the kraut or the egg so usually the first thing I reintroduce are nightshades and then eggs. Everything else comes slowly. And then some things (sugar and mostly coffee) not at all. But the breakfast bowl, that’s a siren song for me. I love the colors and the faint sweetness of the coconut along the edge of the spicy and the sour. I like the give of the yolk all through the kale, done with still the tiniest bit of crunch left in the spine. And I love the way the day starts with such bold assertion there, breakfast greens and eggs in a bowl cupped in sleepy hands.

But this time, I took a bit of a detour with my return. I’ve been obsessed with Shakshuka. It’s a word that’s fun to say, but the meal, well, that’s where the good time really starts. The dish comes from east of me, some say Egypt, some say Tunisia. But wherever it came from originally, you’ll find it all over Israel, Yemen, Libya and it’s a staple in the breakfast world. I read a billion recipes for it. From the NYT to smitten kitchen and back through both of Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes in the wonderful vegetarian Plenty, and the drop-dead gorgeous new book, Jerusalem. (If you love cookbooks, don’t waffle on Jerusalem. Just shell out for it.) There were a thousand other blogs and books that had an entry for this Comfort Jewfood and even a lady with a blog called The Shiksa in the Kitchen, which is fabulous.

This is my first attempt and I culled things I liked from all the recipes and went to work with my own new hybrid. The tang, the smoke, and the creaminess of the egg yolk were all exactly perfect for a late lunch on a windy day here in the fog belt of San Francisco. I can imagine this dish with plenty of variations including the popular addition of feta, but also with endless pepper combinations, spice tweaks, and maybe even a more Italianish flavor variation with a mozzarella basil situation. But here’s how mine went. And for a first try, I have to say, it was KILLER. I’m already looking forward to lunch tomorrow, as I am still loving my cleanse smoothies for breakfast. Until then, I leave you with some visuals and a recipe. It’s super easy and the payoff is big time.

Seinberg’s First Shakshuka

Serves 6-8

1T extra virgin olive oil
1t ground cumin
2t paprika
1t smoked sea salt
4 garlic cloves, diced
1 onion, diced
1 shallot, diced
3 Anaheim chiles
1 jalapeno
1 red bell pepper
1 28oz can of diced tomatoes or four fresh tomatoes, diced.
4 eggs
Diced parsley for garnish

Preheat your oven to 375.

One thing you need for my version is a pan that can go from stovetop to oven. You can use whatever you like, but something relatively shallow and wide is best. I picked this cast iron skillet, which is a popular choice in the recipes I culled, plus it makes you feel like a cowboy. And personally, I like that feeling.

First heat the oil up in the skillet and add your onion, shallot, and garlic. After about 5 minutes, add in all your diced peppers and cook everything down for about 10 minutes. Then mix in your salt, cumin and paprika. Get everything all coated with color and cook for a few minutes. Pour in your can of tomatoes and mix it all together on a medium flame. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Make four little wells in the mixture and crack an egg into each. Let the mixture cook on the flame for another 2 minutes.

Now take the whole skillet and put it into your heated over for 15 minutes. The whites should be cooked through and the yolks will still be soft. You can serve it with parsley diced on top. Or cilantro if you like. You can also serve it with pita bread but I kind of feel like unless you make homemade pita that kills, fuck it. Just eat it with a spoon, friend.

Vegan Matzo Ball Soup

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I cook a lot. At home, I’d say about 90% of what I cook is vegan. But when it comes to old school Jewish Gr’ma family recipes, I usually don’t fuck around. I’ll get some chicken and render schmaltz and the whole Megillah. Or Haggadah, as it were. I put eggs in the matzo balls and the big fluffy things with dense centers float to the top of the soup like doughy halos. If it ain’t broke, not only does it not need fixing, but messing with 200 generations of Jews and their soups is no small undertaking. Still, like Haggadahs change, so too, do we all. As humans, it is our central JOB to change. Our priorities shift and move, our bodies continue to have changing needs, and our FAMILIES change as we grow as well.

Like many enthusiastically queer people, we have a long tradition of collecting chosen families. While I’ve been lucky and blessed to still be welcome and celebrated in my family of origin, this is not often the case. We sometimes leave home, leave our towns, and come together into new families we build out of a different kind of mortar. A sweetness that bind queers together, that binds all people who fight to live together. And in this way, we make new families, we make new traditions, and we make soup.

Last night I got invited to a seder of my best friend Schaefer and her lady. I’ve known Schaef since I was 23, which makes this year our 20th anniversary together. We’ve seen each other through a TON of transitions, often over BBQ. But some years ago, Schaef became vegan and brought me a whole new set of creative challenges. I kind of love when a set of dinner guests have extensively different food preferences and needs. It helps me off the beaten path to new ideas and riffs on things. It’s like jamming for a garage band, except I don’t have a band and well, my kitchen outfits are decidedly less metal than a good rock band. Whatever. I have some good aprons.

Last night I tried two* things. And this one was epic. Stepping off the flagpole for a vegan Matzo Ball Soup was kind of intense. But guess what: This shit is off the hook. And it will come as no surprise that I believe the reason for this is the hippie dust. Now before you even begin, I want to point out that you need several hours, if not overnight for the ball dough to chill in the fridge. I had mine in there for like 4 hours and that seemed fine. This recipe is a mash-up of many ideas and experiences but a driving force was this recipe.

Vegan Matzo Ball Soup

THE BALLS:

1c matzo meal
1/2c hippie dust (nutritional yeast)
1/4c extra virgin olive oil
1t ground black pepper
1 package firm sprouted tofu
2T vegetable broth
1t coconut aminos, Bragg’s, or tamari

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Then chop up your tofu into small hunks and put it in your blender with the oil, the tamari (Bragg’s or coconut aminos), and the vegetable broth. Blend until smooth. You can use a food processor for this, but since my blender is out, I thought I’d see if it had the power to pull this off and it does. Now take your blender of silky vegan fluff and fold it into your hippie mix. Everything will come together nicely. Form the dough into the balls like you see above. I like mine kind of small to midsized. I used to love to make them as big as my head like they do at Canter’s in LA, but as life happens, my preferences changed. Now put the goods up to rest in the fridge for many hours. At least 4.

THE SOUP

1 red onion
1T olive oil
4 stalks celery
1 parsnip
6c homemade vegetable stock
1 1/2T celery salt
fresh parsley

Heat your olive oil up in a big soup pot. Add your chopped onion, chopped parsnip, and chopped celery.  Cook on medium until the onion and celery are translucent. Add the stock and the salt slowly and taste to make sure you like it. Bring everything to a boil and then turn down and let simmer. Get your balls out of the fridge and place them into the broth. Cover the soup for a half hour. When your timer goes off and you look, your balls will have floated on up and you will feel victorious and incredibile. Now let your soup cook for about an hour on low. Add the fresh parsley about ten minutes before you wanna eat. BAM.

Vegan Matzo Ball Soup: Dayenu!

*The other experiment I did was a gluten-free, sugar-free carrot cake. It turned out weird because I threw in some chia seeds and the flavor was off and whatever. The thing about experimenting is sometimes it doesn’t work and that’s FINE.

So here is my Passover offering to you. First some soup, and then this: May we all be free from the things that enslave us this Passover. And may we do what we can to free ourselves, and those that still suffer.