January 23, 2012

Kale Pesto Bowties with Baked Tofu

Snow days in Brooklyn! Saturday afternoon was a few dreamy piano chords and the significant silence that follows the white blankets, fallen. LP and I stayed in. Two blocks away in the park I'm sure birds were walking on snow over ice over a lake but I only know that because Kay Ryan told me. I was quiet and surveyed the refrigerator to find a handful of materials to make this simple meal. Kale pesto is a deliciously earthy alternative to your average summertime basil pesto and spares you a few pretty pennies. This recipe uses walnuts, but if you are feeling really fancy you can use pine nuts. Makes enough to keep and use all week.

2 cups walnuts (toasted)
3-5 cloves garlic (sliced thinly)
1 bunch kale (any kind, rinsed and chopped)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
ground pepper
squeeze of lemon juice
olive oil

Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Toast the walnuts dry in the pan, stirring often. Once the nuts look toasted, remove from pan and place in a bowl to cool. Rinse the kale, chop and remove thick stems. In a large food processor, process the walnuts and garlic until in very small pieces. Add the kale, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper and process until all pieces are small. Wile the food processor is running, add the lemon juice and olive oil until the mixture retains a smooth consistency. Add pepper, salt, and lemon to taste. To store, pack in a jar and top with a layer of olive oil before sealing.


Yours Will Number

This year has brought in many untraditional birthday songs and a handful of tiny flames to accompany them. In a spirit of vegangelicalism and tradition I make these puffy, tippy, tiered towers and try my best to maneuver them through the city without loosing layers or letters, both of which do happen here and there at the intersections of unruly turnstiles and clumsy feets. Below is a sampling of the celebratory bounty, with words sung by bands IM and SS. I am excited to have been given the honor and challenge of doing my very first wedding cake this summer for my dear friends, SM and KM.

KM is born. We eat Carrot and Coconut Spice cake with Cream Cheese frosting, Toasted Coconut, and Marzipan Carrots.
When you wake up sun will shine.
We will not go under any cloud.
Let balloons go up in town,
ring out every bell.
Happy birthday, beautiful,
all the birds of this day
sing a song, sing a song.

AS is born. We eat Lemon cake with Curd, Buttercream, and Braised Lemon Slices.

Dream of trains carrying you
through the state parks with the cherry flowers.
When you wake up it will be
the beginning of the world.
Happy birthday, beautiful,
in the fields of this day
hear a song, hear a song.


BKLG is born. We eat Red Velvet with Missoni Buttercream and Fondant Flags.

Oh, undeserved sweetness and light,
stay by my side.
We will go out in the morning now,
a crown of maple leaves, a crown of flowers
circling your sweet head.
Happy birthday, beautiful,
in the streets of this day
play a song, play a song.

GK is born. We eat Apple Spice Cake with Cardammom Buttercream and Carmel Peneuche and Blanched Peanuts.
 Yours will number, yours will be
A paragon a Paraclete.
Keep your bed warm, keep your humor,
Keep your proverbs short and sweet.

PG is born. We eat red velvet with Buttercream and Fondant Slabby Words.

With Celebration,

January 17, 2012

Blackberry and Persimmon Applesauce

After the first frost, there are very few fruits you will find lining the "organic/local" section of your grocery store. The persimmon is among them, a true berry with a tight, waxy skin, and a dense, bright interior. There have been some dark days here, but these veracious and gorgeous hand-fruits have managed to ripen and become sweet.  Persimmons come in many varieties and can be eaten raw or baked into all sorts of delights. This applesauce was a quick fix for some dry pancakes using on-hand ingredients and could be modified to include almost any fruit waiting in your freezer or hanging basket. A tart alternative to a syrup-laden stack of flapjacks.

1-2 cups frozen blackberries
1/2 cup water
2 ripe persimmons (peeled and finely chopped)
2 cups applesauce (store-bought or homemade)
1 tsp cinnamon
zest of 1 lemon

In a saucepan, heat the frozen blackberries and water over medium heat until hot, stirring frequently. Add the persimmons and simmer for a few minutes. Add the homemade or store-bought applesauce and cinnamon, and simmer for a few more minutes, stirring frequently. Leave the sauce on low heat while you finish frying up the rest of the pancake batter. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest. Serve warm.

Brighter days to you,

January 10, 2012

Pumpkin French Toast with Crystallized Ginger and Pecan-Coconut Syrup

Last Sunday, in celebration of the occasion of the birth of KM and a visit by RW, we honored the full-brained, world-class roommates, expert veggie-slicers, courageous kitchen-experimenters with these decadent slices of Pumpkin French Toast. Thick slabs of Amy's Sourdough were soaked in a spicy pumpkin batter, fried in earth balance, and topped with spoonfuls of plain yogurt, pecan-coconut maple syrup, and chewy ginger. Sure, these slices may be better defined as cake masquerading as a breakfast item, but we had a birthday to celebrate! I have the amazing Vegan Brunch to thank for this recipe, but I've made a few changes for a runnier, pumpkinnier batter (see below).

1 can pureed pumpkin
2- 2 1/2 cups almond milk
1 Tbs. maple syrup
2 Tbs. cornstarch (dissolved in 2 Tbs. cold water)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. ginger
2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch cardamom
pinch allspice
1 large stale-ish sourdough loaf, sliced into thick slabs

Whisk together all of the ingredients and pour over slices of bread. Let the bread soak for a few minutes, rotating to make sure all sides are coated.  You can use a casserole or two to do this in. Next, heat a large skillet on medium-high heat for two minutes, dry. Add a bit of earth balance, swirl around, drop a few slices in the pan. Fry on each side until just browned and crispy. Keep the slices in a warmed oven while preparing the whole batch! Serve warm with yogurt, nuts, fruits, and syrup!


January 6, 2012

Tofu Class!

I just registered myself for a class on how to make your own perfect tofu from scratch. This is my first formal cooking class ever and my heart is exploding with enthusiasm! The class is taught by the amazing Peter Berley, natural foods advocate and former executive chef of Angelica Kitchen! After we learn how to whip soybeans into shape, we'll make these recipes: Fresh Tofu in Dashi with Tempura Vegetables • Tostadas with Spicy Hashed Bean Curd and Pepitas • Spinach Mushroom Quiche • Tofu Steaks with Black Beans and Mango Salsa • Crispy Pressed Tofu with Garlic and Mint • Baked Tofu in Lemon, White Wine Sauce • Lemon Tofu Cheesecake "Angelica Kitchen Style".

Are you drooling at the computer yet? I'll be sure to share some tips with all of you, but in the meantime, grab a block of white potential and try your hand at Isa's Tofu Benny (above), Fire Escape Baked Tofu Sandwich, PPK's Pumpkin Cheesecake, or a Baked Tofu Melt.

Aspiring tofu-master,

January 4, 2012

Scrambled Tempeh and Sticking Around

We've been lucky to have some very special visitors from NM, MA, and WA wander through our halls over the past few weeks. Together, we traded in the ball drop and roc center tree to enjoy chilly bike adventures, neighborhood explorations, and casual conversations. KAM (aromatherapymasterflex) and I were glad to host a relaxed, sweat-pant awarding meal of soups, breads, and fresh fruits for our friends who rolled into the apartment on New Years Day, exhausted from a long night of heel-wearing, cab-chasing, cocktail-mixing, friend-making, eye-linered escapades. I know it is seriously risky to host a dinner the day after New Years Eve, but my fears subsided as the herds filtered in. On the menu: Black-eyed pea soup with tomatoes, Holland Style Split Pea Soup , Baguettes, Apple Spice Cupcakes, Sourdough Loaves, Brussels Sprouts with Red Onion and Apples, Pomegranates, and Oranges.

Another reason to love apartment-guests? Breakfast. I rarely cook breakfast just for myself and it was so great to share this extra spicy and hearty tempeh scramble over some good gossip, coffees, and sprawling papers.

The quality and longevity of relationships has been on my mind, mostly, sustained, devoted, platonic, life-long friendships.Of course, I'm cheating a bit by trying to keep people around by feeding them and tapping into a part of their psyche that associates with survival and sustenance, but it's been meaningful to be a part of this strange family of friends. It's like the article in last week's New Yorker, where Carrie Brownstein (Portlandia, Wild Flag) says of her good friend, Fred Armisen, “We drove home late and I dropped him off at his hotel. Sometimes I get confused and think, Are we supposed to kiss goodnight? But, the truth is, I don’t want us to kiss, I want us to teach each other how good it can be to stick around.”


January 3, 2012

Fennel Coleslaw with Satsuma Tangerines

Happy New Year! Even on bright, blistered days as this one, I get a hankering for something fresh and crispy. Resolved to be kinder and more adventurous with bulbs, roots and tubers this year, I avoided the rosemary branches and prepared this quick salad with a light vinaigrette dressing. Give your winter vegetables a break from their usual coat of olive oil and blazing oven heat to try them raw!

3-4 fennel bulbs (sliced very thinly)
6-8 sour tangerines (peeled and segmented)
1 pomegranate (seeds separated)
consider adding - toasted walnuts, red onion, scallions
1/4 cup red or white wine vinegar
1/3 cup orange juice (optional)
1 tsp sugar or agave
1/4-1/2 cup canola oil

Use a sharp knife to thinly slice the fennel bulbs. Place in a bowl with tangerine slices and prepare the dressing by whisking together the vinegar, orange juice, salt, and sugar until dissolved. Slowly whisk in the oil. Toss fennel and oranges in dressing and let sit for an hour or so. Top with pomegranate, walnuts, or scallions and serve!