Monday, January 25, 2010

Karina makes ..."Zuc Noods" with Vegan Avocado alfredo

I ate in this beautiful vegan restaurant in San Diego once where they had a Zucchini Noodle Pasta Dish on the menu. At the time my friend and I were too full and wanted only juices and an appetizer, but we obsessed on the idea of these "Zucc Noods" and were determined to come back and try them. Much to our devastation, the restaurant closed down for "renovation" only the next week and never seemed to open their doors again...

The other night I was craving a dish that was indulgent and satisfying in taste, but not too hard on the belly. When I looked at the fresh, organic produce I had just purchased and noticed I had picked up a great deal of zucchini, my desire to find out what these mysterious Zucc Noods could be all about flashed into my mind.

I had a big bunch of carrots as well as zucchini, so I decided I would combine the two to make my "pasta" that much more colorful, delicious, and nutritious. I experimented with several different ways to cut them into a noodle, and found simply peeling strips off with a carrot peeler worked the best for me.

I sprinkled the prepped noodles with lemon and stuck them in the fridge to stay crisp and fresh until boiling time.

I still had a bag of raw cashews left over, so I started the process of making a vegan sauce by soaking them this time. Me always being the experimenter that I am, decided I would soak them in OJ to give them a little citrus twist.

After several hours in the OJ, I drained them and added them into the food processor with 3 cloves of garlic, 2 tbls tahini, 3/4 ripe avocado, 1/2 red onion, a few leafs of basil, a bunch of spinach, 2 tbls earth balance, a splash of braggs, a few squirts of fresh lemon juice, a few shakes of salt, pepper, cayenne, sage, & paprika. I added some olive oil while it blended to make sure it was really smooth.

I heated some water on the stove and boiled my zucc and carrot noods for only a few mintutes (prob 5 or so) until they were soft and tender but not mushy.

After draining the water, I mixed in my vegan avocado "alfredo" and simmered on low until the sauce was warm. In the oven I had been preparing my pasta toppings: roasted shiitake mushrooms, garlic, and onions that I baked with olive oil, braggs, lemon, salt and pepper for about 45 minutes at 400*. I prepared a fresh spin salad with fresh organic heirloom tomatoes, cucumber, olive oil and lemon to go with it...

And finally devoured my fantasy feast of zucc noods! (I don't know how that restaurant actually prepared their dish, but let's just say they may have had a little competition coming their way...)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

chef sam's making ... basen ladoos

Ladoos are classic Indian cookies, peculiar because unlike Western cookies, these are not baked. The dough is cooked on the stovetop. I was compelled to make these after watching the Indian film, Water, where an impoverished old woman endlessly reminisces about the wondrous, fabled, sweet ladoos from her childhood, until one day, she finds one, eats it, and dies of a tummy ache.

I served these at a cookie party, and indeed, they were to die for.

You'll need:

1 c. graham flour aka basen (whole wheat flour is an acceptable substitute)

1/2 c. melted butter

1/2 c. sugar

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

A few tablespoons semolina flour

small handful of finely chopped almonds

around 10 pistachios, chopped small for garnish.

pinch of salt (optional)

Mix the pre- melted butter and flour in a hot pan. Stir continuously until light brown. Remove from heat and mix in almonds, cardamom, and sugar. Let the hot mixture cool until warm. Form into golf ball sized balls in the palm of your hands. Add more butter, or olive oil, if the dough does not stick together. Dip each ball into a little butter, and roll it over the chopped pistachios, for an attractive finish. Lightly salt the ladoos, if you wish, for an element of savory surprise.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

ariel's making ... oatmeal & goat milk yogurt pancakes

i love me some pancakes ... but not those fluffy, white thangs -- i'm talking about dense, delish, wholewheat, hippie flapjacks like my dad makes. to continue with karina's breakfast theme, i thought i'd share a recipe for some amazing pancakes.

you'll need:

1/2 c. organic rolled oats
1 c. organic wholewheat flour
1 T. baking powder
1 organic egg
1 1/2 c. organic milk
1 c. organic goat milk yogurt
1 T. organic olive oil

plus ... yummy toppings ... maple syrup, butter, fruit ... etc.

start by mixing your dry ingredients.

beat your egg and add milk. mix in yogurt and add wets to drys. if it's still too think (you want it to be pretty runny), add more milk, as needed.

heat olive oil in pan and cook up those hotcakes! they puff up beautifully!

yum!! a perfect breakfast dish!!

happy flippin' my friends ;)



Monday, January 18, 2010

Karina and Alma make a San Francisco Egg's Bene..

I got back from a long trip home for the holidays and my friend Alma and I wasted no time planning our next adventure in the kitchen together. We had a late morning business meeting on that Sunday, so we decided to ease into it by first making a decadent, delicious breakfast.

Now both of us love a good eggs benedict (who doesn't?) but Alma rarely is afforded the opportunity to order one with real hollandaise because she will not touch dairy with a ten foot straw. Neither of us eat meat, so there goes your traditional slice of ham, and the thrill of substituting spinach or avocado just wasn't doing it for us this particular morning. The benes of our pasts called for a real spicing up and we were prepared to take on the task.

Now if there is one place to get fresh, local, colorful vegetables whenever the moment calls, it is certainly San Francisco. We decided to show our appreciation for the abundant resources in our beloved city and give San Francisco its own signature benedict using a vegetable for every color in the rainbow. (Because what screams the streets of San Francisco more than a rainbow?)

We sauteed purple cabbage with onions for the base veggie layer to cover purple (obviously), spinach for the green, boiled beets for red, orange bell peppers for..well, orange, and saved the yolk in the egg for yellow. We skipped blue because there's nothing natural in blue foods besides blueberries and clearly that was not going to work for this dish (although the culinary crazy in me did try to an suggest a blueberry sauce that was promptly turned down by Alma!)

Alma headed the task of cooking and flavoring each veggie with a different combination of olive oil, herbs, lemon and spices. I've described often enough what I typically use to spice with (cayenne, paprika, curry, etc) so this is a great chance to do into your spice cabinet and experiment with your favorite flavors for each layer.

When trying to get a creamy, cheese-like flavor for a vegan sauce, you can start be soaking cashews and blending them up (this is how people often make vegan alfredo sauce). We had no time to soak them, but I decided to try making our hollandaise anyway with roasted, salted cashews. I put them in the food processor with tahini, garlic, basil, lemon, salt, cayenne and a bit of earth balance and it was amazing! It was a bit thicker than hollandaise sauce but the flavor was surprisingly similar and indulgently delicious.

We layered each of our prepared hue on top of freshly toasted olive bread (no surprise in the choice of bread) and prepared our top layers:

Even if they looked nothing like a recognizable rainbow in the end, they were painfully good.

I think San Francisco would be proud to see its bene on the breakfast menu...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

chef sam's making ... steam buns

As a child, the only kind of vacation my family knew were long road trips, usually an annual angling pilgrimage to some far-flung and fish-few lake or river. We stuffed the car to the gills: red canoe on top, rods and gear in the trunk, and delicious goodies in the cabin. The night before these trips my mom would often stay up late into the night cooking steam buns. We hardly bothered with rest stops, so when the hunger came, my mom would get the steam buns out of the cooler that took the seat between the two of us, and pass the white bundles out like gifts at Christmas. They were perfect to munch on in the car while watching the scenery roll by. Few things remind me of family more than a good steam bun. Not having my mom's original recipe, I've improvised my own buns (incorporating some time-saving tricks along the way) with tasty results and near-mom authenticity.

(This is what the dough looks like after the second rising. It feels so good and soft.)



1 and 1/3 c. water

2 and 1/2 c. white flour.

1/2 c. wheat flour

1 t. salt

1/3 - 1/2 t. yeast


(go crazy on this and improvise using cabbage as a base)

organic onions

organic garlic

organic napa cabbage

organic fresh shiitake mushrooms

organic green onions

1 t. organic ginger

1 organic happy chicken eggs

organic soy sauce

organic olive oil

1 T. organic cornstarch

1 t. organic honey

This is my no-knead recipe adaption, which is so easy as long as you have a little forethought. Mix the flour salt and yeast in a pot. Add the water and stir until incorporated. Put a lid on the pot and keep in a warm place (I use my pilot-light warmed oven). Let the dough sit for 12-18 hours. Mix it once more, and let rise for an hour.

As you wait for the second rise, prepare your filling. Decant olive oil into a hot pan and sweat your onions, garlic, and ginger. Add chopped cabbage and mushrooms. Add a little water and let steam. Add chopped green onions, to cook for about a minute, and then add your cornstarch slurry and stir (Mix 1/4 c. water, 1 1/2 T. cornstarch, 1 t. honey, and 3 T soy sauce (or to taste)). Reserve some fresh green onions to add at the end.

I decided to add eggs for protein (my mom would have used pork or chicken). Mix 2-3 t. of soy sauce, 1/4 c. of water, and 1 T. of cornstarch in a small bowl. Add organic egg and scramble. Fry in a hot pan with olive oil. As it cooks, agitate the eggs slightly with your spatula. Flip it.

Now take a baby's handful of dough, pat it into a circle, flour it for easy handling, and put your filling in the middle. Bring the outer edges up, and seal into a nice pucker with your fingers.

Steam these beauties until they puff up with love and pride. In this picture, you will notice that I used nasturtiums leaves to keep the buns from sticking, but any edible leaf works just as well.

These steam buns were wonderful. I made them the night before Ariel and I flew down to San Diego to see our friends' wedding. The buns went down well at the airport as we watched the new sun lick its way up the sky (rarely do we get up so early), and then again in our hotel room as we clicked our way through the cable channels (we don't have a t.v. at home), and then gobbled them up again as we walked 10 miles into town (we avoid fossil fuel transport when possible). As Ariel and I are going to get married ourselves (Yeah!!!!) , sharing these steam buns further sealed our fate as family. What could be more perfect than the simple act of sharing a steam bun with someone you love?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

ariel's back from mexico!!

happy new years darlings! i just got back from a trip to the yucatan with chef sam. we had a wonderful time exploring ancient mayan ruins and swimming in the warm beautiful sea. we also ate a lot of amazing food and i thought i'd share a few fotos just to tickle your tastebuds a bit. above is a cheese chili relleno we had at the best restuarant we went to on the whole trip on the island of cozumel called "sabores." you had to walk through the family's livingroom out to an amazing tropical backyard where there were tables scattered about.

we also did a lot of home cooking since many of the places we stayed at had kitchens. these were cheese and jalapeno sandwhiches we made for lunch in tulum.

there is a traditional lime soup made in the yucatan that is sooo good! zesty, sweet and filled with corn tortillas. yum!

in a market in merida we got fresh tortillas that were so hot when we bought them that i could hardly carry them!

the trip was perfect and relaxing, but the best part was when chef sam proposed to me while we were swimming in a magical cenote (a naturally formed limestone swimming pool) while fish nibbled at our toes and birds were flying above us. it was so romantic! together we will cook great feasts and share delicious meals, para siempre!

un salud a mexico y al amor!

buen provecho amigos!



Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Karina Goes Home for the Holidays...

I just returned from a beautiful and snowy week in Durango, Colorado with the Wolfe clan for the holidays. If there is one thing my family knows how to do well, it’s eat, drink and be Merry. Just like on any Christmas I can remember growing up, my mother immediately put us, her culinary army, to work in the kitchen. As always, she had stocked up and prepared to make feast after feast of jaw-dropping, belly-splitting splendor.

Night one: Christmas eve.

Dad’s assigned to take the reigns and prepare dinner for us while the girls work on Christmas Day dishes. He decides to spice things up and do something completely different- Cajun Boil!

I know we typically only post vegetarian recipes here, but I do eat seafood occasionally and this way too good not to share!

  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 5 tablespoons Creole or Cajun seasoning
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cayenne, divided
  • 2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 8 small boiling potatoes (about 2 inches)
  • 4 ears of corn, shucked and halved
  • 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp in shell
  • However many crab legs
6 small lobster tails

After cutting, washing and preparing all of his glorious seafood, he squeezed lemon juice into 4 qt water in a large pot. He added the lemon quarters, Creole seasoning, 2 teaspoon cayenne, bay leaves, garlic, the potatoes, and 2 tablespoons salt (omit salt if it is the first ingredient in seasoning).

He brought this to a boil, then simmered, partially covered, until potatoes were almost tender, 10 to 12 minutes..

He then increased heat to high, added corn, crab legs and lobster tails and simmered, partially covered, 4 minutes. He stirred in shrimp and cooked until just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes.

After he drained the water he placed all of his ingredients in a larger turkey roasting pan and tossed it with hot oil and more spices (cajun, cayenne, garlic pepper, & salt).

Clearly we were all very impressed...

Day Two: Christmas morning!

I’m the only vegetarian in the family. (Or pescatarian if you want to be specific). My folks have been know to give me a hard time about it, but mom went above and beyond to accommodate me this year and even bought veggie sausage to try and new egg dish!

1 package of ground breakfast veggie sausage

1 cup chopped onion

1 jar (7 ounces) roasted red peppers, drained and chopped, divided

1 package (10 ounces) frozen organic chopped spinach, thawed and well drained

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 eggs

2 cups milk

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded provolone cheese

In a skillet she cooked the veggie sausage and onion and transferred it to a greased baking dish. She sprinkled half of the red peppers and all of the spinach.

In a bowl, she combined the flour, Parmesan cheese, basil and salt. Then she combine eggs and milk, added it to dry ingredients and mixed well. She poured this mix over the spinach and Baked at 425° for 20-25 minutes.

She sprinkled it with provolone cheese and remaining red peppers and baked for 2 minutes longer to melt the cheese.


My parent’s friends invited us to their place in Telluride, so we all had to pitch in to get all the prep work done prior to the 2-hour road trip.

The meal was to include a delicious salad, twice-baked potatoes (as seen above), asparagus, and bread.

The family was most excited about their prime rib, but to make me feel not so left out, mom found a recipe for an amazing butternut squash lasagna made with crumbled amaretto cookies. I am adding a link to it because it was that good:

Last, but never least, was the cake. Mom found a great coconut cake recipe that she wanted to make, and I took on the task of making a frosting and decorating it (obviously my favorite part!)

This is the cake she made:

We added lemon curd in between each of our three layers!

I was hesitant to use the recipe they gave for the frosting but since mom had printed it out and gotten the ingredients, I gave it a shot. No surprise when I ended up veering off course as soon as I started.

First of all, if this was going to be white cake with coconut, I wanted something beautiful and green to incorporate to make it really festive. I loved the natural look and taste of when I candied Thyme so much for one of my previous cakes, so I decided to try it with Rosemary.

In a small saucepan I simmered some organic maple syrup and agave and mixed in a bunch of powdered sugar. I squeezed some lemon and cinnamon in, and once I got a small boil, I dropped in my fresh rosemary and simmered each piece for a few minutes. Like before, I took out the sprigs and placed them in a small dish of sugar, dipping on each side and let them dry. I took this rosemary flavored syrup mix and saved it for the frosting.

This is the original recipe:

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or 1 tablespoon white corn syrup

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup water

2 egg whites

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Place sugar, cream of tartar or corn syrup, salt, water, and egg whites in the top of a double boiler. Beat with a handheld electric mixer for 1 minute. Place pan over boiling water, being sure that boiling water does not touch the bottom of the top pan. (If this happens, it could cause your frosting to become grainy). Beat constantly on high speed with electric mixer for 7 minutes. Beat in vanilla.

So instead of corn syrup, I added my rosemary mix. I was seeing that even after mixing for a long time, it was way too thin for what I wanted. I added a lot of powdered sugar to thicken it and it helped somewhat, but still was not a great consistency. I transferred it into my mom’s kitchen mixer and added some earth balance and left over amaretto cookies. After experimenting and adding this and that for what felt like a lifetime, it tasted great, but still was a little thin. We figured the only solution was just using it as a icing glaze to stick a whole lot of coconut to the cake!

Then I garnished with the rosemary, blueberries, and sugar-rolled cranberries...

It's what one might call a Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night...