Thursday, December 24, 2009

ariel's making ... somen noodle soup

i have a major addiction to japanese noodle soup. it's amazing on cold winter nights, but i've also been known to eat it on hot sweltering summer days. to speed up the soup making process, i've created an instant noodle soup using stir-fry veggies and a miso base.

for this soup, i used:

1 bunch fresh organic mushrooms, chopped
2 organic green onions, chopped
1 organic carrot, chopped
2 bunches organic baby bok choy, chopped
1/2 head of oraganic napa cabbage, chopped
2 T. organic brown rice miso
1 T. organic olive oil
2 T. organic soy sauce
1 t. organic sesame oil
2 handfuls organic somen noddles

start by putting a pot of water on the stove to boil. then add the olive oil to a pan. when the oil is hot, throw in the onions and carrots. after about five minutes, add the greens and soy sauce and sesame oil. cook until tender but not overdone. it'll cook more when added to the soup.

once the water is boiling, add the miso and then add the noodles. cook until the noodles are ready ... about five minutes.

place your veggies in a bowl and top with broth and noodles. this soup is so delish and it's seriously almost too easy to prepare! be creative with different vegetables and soup bases. i'm sure there are tons of wonderful variations you could come up with.

happy slurping ;)



Monday, December 21, 2009

Karina makes Vegan Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes!

I have a friend who works at a certain well-known clothing store on Haight St. While visiting the other day, I overheard her and her manager discuss how they still needed to buy a vegan dessert for their much anticipated, invitation- only, sale-in-store party. I took it as my duty to chime in and offer myself up for the job, and luckily was immediately hired!

I was planning on doing a cake, but we all decided it would be much cleaner and easier to do a whole lot of cupcakes. I wanted to do something festive so I chose chocolate, mint and orange...

This is the basic recipe I started with and I'll take you through my changes:

Vegan Chocolate Batter Base

1 cup organic, unbleached flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 tbl black cocoa powder (I couldn't find this so I left it out)
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup soy milk ( I used vanilla almond milk)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup maple syrup ( I used Trader Joe's organic maple/agave blend)
1/4 cup organic sugar
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
mint extract-see below

The first batch I did, I added some of the mint extract I bought for the frosting recipe because I wanted the cupcakes to be minty as well. Unfortunately, the bottle was knocked on the floor, spilt everywhere and no other stores around me carried more. I should have actually said fortunately, because this forced me to be creative and I made my own "mint extract" which was WAY better and tasted more natural. I took a bunch of the fresh mint I bought to garnish with, and first put it in the blender with some fresh orange segments and honey. This worked ok, but I tried it again with my morter and pestle and was able to grind up the mint leafs much finer. I drained the juice, saved some of the mint greens and kept it all for the second batter and frosting.

To the batter I added cinnamon, fresh squeezed orange juice,and a bit more cocoa until the batter was completely delicious. I of course made 4 times as much batter as that original recipe, so I experimented with a little more flour or oil here and there to make enough and have it be the right consistency. I lined the cupcake pans with cupcake liners, coated them with a mist of oil and filled them up about 3/4 of the way.

I baked the cupcakes in batches at 350* for 20-25 minutes each until they were perfectly cooked through but not too hard. I let them cool over night and went on to the frosting.

Vegan Mint Orange Frosting
1/4 cup non-dairy shortening (Earth Balance of course!)
3 cups organic powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp mint extract ( or a whole bunch of my own mint-orange mixture!)
1/2 tsp vanilla
This is such a great base for vegan frostings- you can add whatever flavors you want and the earth balance and powdered sugar make it thick, creamy and so yummy!

To prepare for garnishing, I washed and dried some fresh mint and crushed a bunch of starlight mints in my morter. I soaked cranberries in sugar and orange juice overnight so they would be sweet enough to eat.

Then I did my thing...

I had a co-worker's party the same night so I just busted out an extra cake out of the mix and killed two birds with one stone. Yum!

The crumbled peppermints ontop gave it a really great crunch in the otherwise smooth texture.

It was as easy as that!

ariel's making ... pickled beets

beets are a wonderful winter veggie. here's a recipe i made up for quick pickled beets.

you'll need:

6 organic beets, washed and sliced
3 cloves organic garlic, chopped
1 organic lemon
4 t. sea salt
2 t. anise seeds

place your washed and cut beets into a pot and boil until they are soft when pocked with a knife, but not falling apart ... about 10 to 15 minutes.

place the beets in a jar with the liquid you boiled them in, along with the other aromatic ingredients. let them soak in the brine for at least a day or two ... the longer you wait, the tastier they'll get.

we've been adding our pickled beets to salads, pasta dishes ... they're really a great little surprise in just about everything!

have fun pickling!



Sunday, December 20, 2009

chef sam's making ... coconut peanut soup with homemade whole wheat noodles

ariel here! hola! i'd like to introduce someone very special in my kitchen: chef sam. he is a master with flour ... aka the dough boy, who keeps our house constantly full of fresh breads, steam buns and homemade noodles. here's what he made last night ... it was amazing! now, sam, take it away...

Few things delight more than sharing warm soup with your friends and loved ones. With each slurp, your mind disrobes its worries to bathe oblivious in the bottom of the warm bowl; with each spoonful, a new flavor massages the mind and works hard kinks into supple joys; and with the final tilt of the bowl, you sit back, breathless, even sweaty, and pause in a supreme jolt of stupefaction.

After three weeks of studying for law school finals and anxious to take a muscle relaxant, I finally got the chance to make soup, and make it right, with homemade noodles. The resulting soup was all that I dreamed of. Everyone kept going back to ladle and lap from that magical well. My soup was an oasis at the end of a great burning journey of finals-inducing anxiety, and a PERFECT way to end the semester.

The broth -

For the broth you'll use anything you have on hand. You want a rich, complex flavor, and you want it now. Grab indiscriminately and surprise yourself.

The following is what I used:

1/2 organic onion (sliced or diced)
2 green onions (the white part)
1/2 finger of ginger (slivered)
3-4 bay leaves
4 cloves of garlic
1 dry chile
2 T. olive oil
4 dry shitake mushrooms
1 turnip
1/2 c. of Ariel's leftover conquering kale tomato sauce (see prior post)
1/2 meyer lemon from our tree (Diced. Meyer lemons have such tasty skin!)

1/2 can coconut milk
3 heaping T. peanut butter (be generous)
2 T. honey
1 t. Thai spice or curry spice
1 T. salt, or to taste
1 big splash of fish sauce
2 bunches organic baby bok choy

Get your aromatics sizzlin' on the bottom of your pot in olive oil (garlic, ginger, onions, bay leaves). Then fill your pot 3/4 with water. Throw it all in, but save the baby bok choy for the last 4 minutes of cooking to keep its freshness, and reserve the greens of the green onions for a flavorful garnish.

The noodles -

The noodles I made are simple, and are traditionally made for udon soup. (For udon soup, the broth is easily made by heating water at a light simmer with a big square of kelp and dried shitake mushrooms. Remove the kelp and mushrooms and add salt to taste.) Traditionally, people use white flour (which tastes great) but I enjoy the more complex joys of whole wheat flour, so that's what I used. If you use white flour, less water will be needed.


1 t. salt
3/4 c. water
2.5 c. whole wheat flour

Dissolve the salt in the water. Pour the water bit by bit into the flour, and mix as you go. Add more flour or water as needed. This should create a nice firm dough that is not sticky to the touch. Knead for 10-15 minutes. Cover the dough so it won't dry out, and rest it for a few hours. After it has rested, knead the dough for about 5 minutes. Flatten it out with a rolling pin to about an 1/8". Cut into tiny strips using a sharp knife, or an unusual instrument like the one I found at a thrift store. You got yourself some delicious fresh noodles. Nothing can beat it.

Get a big pot of water dancing at a vivacious boil. Invite the noodles in, and cook them for about 5 minutes. If you leave them in too long, the noodles will get too soft. Unlike store-bought dried noodles, these fresh noodles do not need to be reconstituted, and they cook up fast.

Marry the noodles and broth. Savor the joyous honeymoon of flavors in your mouth, and sing your gratitude (Mmmm-mmmm!) for this singular moment of consummate perfection.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

ariels' making ... meyer lemon tart

meyer lemons are one of the most amazing gifts we get living in california. they are incredibly versatile in cooking and baking and so sweet that sometimes i can't help eating them plain. i ate an amazing lemon pie a few months ago at mission pie and wanted to try making my own version of this scrumptious dessert.

for this recipe you'll need:

5 organic meyer lemons
2 cups organic powdered sugar
1 t. organic butter
3 organic eggs, beaten
1 cup organic rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 chopped organic almonds
3 T. organic olive oil
2 T. organic berry jam

first start by zesting your lemons. then slice them very very thinly.

then mix the sugar, zest and sliced lemons and let them sit so that the lemons start to macerate and get all juicy.

now it's time to make the crust. in your pie pan, add the flour, oats, almonds and olive oil ... mix and press it into the bottom of the pan. if it's too dry, add a bit of water, as needed.

then spread the berry jam over the top of the crust ... it'll be a sweet little surprise under the tart lemons.

mix the beaten eggs into the lemon and sugar mix and pour over the crust.

bake at 350* for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden and the eggs are set.

this tart came out great, is so easy and there are still many more lemons on my tree in the backyard. i plan on making several tarts in the next few weeks for all the holiday parties coming up -- yum!

happy baking darlings!



Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Karina makes "Chicken" "Noodle" Soup...

The cold weather has arrived in San Francisco and since the heat doesn't seem to work in my apartment, I decided to warm-up in the good-old Campbell's soup commercial kind of way. Even though I don't eat meat anymore and didn't want something heavy like pasta, I decided to make a version on the most comforting soup I could possibly think of from my childhood: Chicken Noodle Soup. Solution- simply use spaghetti squash and tempeh.

First I simmered organic onions, garlic, dried porcini mushrooms, peas, quinoa, sage and the stems and leafs of beets in a pot of vegetable stock and water for an hour or so to really bring out the flavors. I spiced with my usual salt, pepper, cayenne, curry and paprika. I then put this stock in a blender to get a smooth consistency and added it back to the pot.

I cut a spaghetti squash in half, gutted it and put it in the oven on 400* for 30 minutes or so until it was soft and ready to fork out.

In a pan I sauteed onions and tempeh in a bit of olive oil & braggs until golden brown.

I added the spaghetti squash "noodles", onions, tempeh, organic fresh spinach, and peanuts to the stock and simmered for a long time. I spiced it as I stirred along the way, making sure my precious ingredients were being flavored as best as possible. Then I turned to any soup's best friend- a dynamite salad! First to take care of the dressing...

I scoped out what ingredients I had left. Still had some amazing fresh organic sage, peanuts, lime and tahini so they were obviously in. It would be foolish to think I would ever leave garlic and ginger out if I had them (which I always make sure to do) so I added them all in the blender and started spicing and flavoring.

All of us in the house were so blown away with how creamy and delicious this dressing was, it was hard to leave any for the salad!

Speaking of the salad..

I made a fresh salad base with all of my favorite friends from the Haight Street Co-Op. Organic mixed greens, spinach, cucumber, avocado, pomegranate seeds, carrots, and peanuts.

I made a delicious sautee of fresh asparagus, mushrooms and onions, spiced it and threw it on top.

I tossed it all together with my sage-tahini peanut dressing...

...and the two lived happily ever after in our warm and satisfied bellies.

Who needs central heating?!

Friday, December 11, 2009

ariel's ... conquering kale

i have a confession to make. i'm not really into kale. i think it's from being a kid -- my family used to get csa boxes and the winters were these total kale invasions in the kitchen and i got really kaled out. a friend gave me a bunch of kale this week and it's just been sitting there calling to me to cook it ... so it's time to overcome my kale fears and make something i like with it.

i decided to make a kale pasta sauce. for this dish you'll need:

1 bunch of organic kale
1 organic carrot, shredded
1 organic onion, chopped
1 can organic pasta sauce
organic olive oil
spices (organic dried basil and oregano)

first i sauteed my onion in some olive oil until they were starting to look clear. then i added my shredded carrot and kale and sauteed for another 5 minutes.

then i added my pasta sauce, spices, salt and pepper. then i covered the pot and cooked it for about an hour at low heat until it was thick and fragrant.

i topped some organic spiral noodles with the sauce and added a handful of sharp cheese. it was super good and i was so excited! mission accomplished! kale and i are now friends! anyone have any other kale recipes they can suggest to me? i would love to hear them :)

happy friday!



Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Karina's Cakes...

I've done a few entries on recent cakes I've been asked to make, but I thought I'd share a couple photos of the cakes I've experimented with in the past!

Vegan Lemon Lavender Cake with Chocolate Rose Frosting. Garnished with edible flowers and raspberries.

Vegan Lemon Ginger Basil Cake with Lime Basil Frosting. Garnished with Basil and Golden Raspberries. For "Lemon" art installation opening at Fulcrum Gallery.

Orange Rose Rosemary drizzle cake. Two layers with an orange rose butter-cream in the middle and chocolate ginger rose frosting. Garnished with strawberries, oranges, almonds and candied rosemary.

Oscar "Gold" Cake for Academy Awards. Mango Ginger Banana Cake with a Caramel/Peanut Butter frosting. Sounds heavy but surprisingly light and moist. Garnished with fresh dates, almonds, strawberries and gold and red pears.

Ginger Carrot Cake with Orange Coconut Cream Cheese frosting. Garnished with Oranges, fresh mint, dried fruit, pecans and coconut.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Ginger cake with Chocolate ginger cayenne frosting. Garnished with strawberries, blueberries, almonds, hazelnuts, candied ginger, coconut, and plums.