Sunday, May 30, 2010

ariel's dad makes ... a puerto rican feast

i just had to share some photos with you from a feast we had on friday night. in celebration of leenie's graduation, my dad made a huge puerto rican feast ... that was out of this world! the dishes included pollo fricase, habichuelas coloradas and tostones, and my mom made a great salad topped with tons of avocados.

the chef

the only contribution i made to the meal was making a round of fresh mint and meyer lemon mojitos for everyone.

everything was so great that there were hardly any leftovers!

thanks dad for the great eats! que rico!



Thursday, May 27, 2010

ariel's making ... a frittata sandwich

the last few weeks have been insanely busy and i've had very little time to play in the kitchen. but last night chef sam's brother came over for dinner, so chef sam and i threw together a few simple dishes (marinated asparagus, no-knead bread and a chard frittata ...all of which you learn how to make on our recipe page) and ended up having a lovely feast.

today there were still a few leftovers from the previous night, so i decided to make them into a sandwich.

my mom (aka snorkel mom) just got back from her annual trip to kauai. she always comes home with this amazing passion fruit mustard from anuty liliko'i, so i slathered a few spoons of it on chef sam's fluffy bread. then i added the frittata and a few leafs of crispy organic romaine lettuce.

it was the perfect lunch!

hope you're all doing well :)



Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Karina Loves Her Gentle Lentils...

Oh, lovely Lentils...

Did you know that 26% of calories from lentils are protein and that they have the third-highest level of protein by weight, of any plant-based food after soybeans and hemp? Lentils also contain dietary fiber, folate, vitamin B1, numerous essential minerals and are also one of the best vegetable sources of iron that we have. To top all of this off...they happen to be delicious!

I had been given a huge bag of lentils when my friend's sister moved from San Francisco, so I decided to wash and soak them quickly (always wash your lentils first), and jumped blindly into improvising some type of spicy Indian-inspired dinner. I ran to the market and bought some organic orange habenero peppers and ginger along with some other fresh veggies to throw into the mix. The plan was to eventually lay over whatever I created over the brown rice I had going on the back burner.

Once I brought my lentils to a boil (1 cup of lentils- 2 cups water) in a big pot, I reduced the heat to medium and threw in half of a sliced onions, a few smashed cloves of garlic, 2 tbls chopped ginger, and two diced habenero peppers to get the spices flowing. After 10 minutes or so, I started throwing in some vegetables including sliced crimini mushrooms, chopped asparagus, carrots, zucchini, and red bell pepper.

After about 45 minutes or so, I added fresh basil, spinach, salt, pepper, chili-flakes, cinnamon, cayenne, a lot of curry, and fresh-squeezed orange juice to flavor and balance. I started muddling it up a little bit with my kitchen masher, and increased the heat to try both to get rid of the excess liquid and get it ready for serving up!

I had not been able to deny these fresh organic peaches at the market (Thank you stone fruit season!) so I decided to make a fresh peach salsa/chutney to go on top. I diced some fresh basil and 1/4 of a habenero pepper and mixed it with two cut up peaches and olive oil, sea salt and lemon. Oh, the ways I love a sweet and spicy combo!

I piled a big scoop of my brown rice in my favorite bowl, followed it with my spicy delicious lentil concoction, and topped it off with a helping of habenero peach salsa. This took a lot longer than I had initially planned but boy was it worth it!

I had cooked WAY too much, so the following night I invited the roommates and a bunch of friends over for dinner and I re-made it into a creamier Indian-like lentil curry. I threw it all in the food processor and and re-heated in in a pot with sauteed onions and garlic and added two more bunches of spinach and some basil. I added more curry, cinnamon, salt, pepper, cayenne, chili-peppers, lemon and a splash of hemp milk to add to the creaminess. I also re-heated the rice in the oven and served it all up with some Naan from the local market. It was definitely a left-over success!

Karina Celebrates a Sunbursting Vegan Roast....

Working at a restaurant that feeds me organic, delicious food everyday (The Plant Cafe) obviously has its perks and I save a lot of money, but it makes finding opportunities to cook exciting meals at home for myself that much more difficult. I had a rare evening off last week and decided to walk down to my favorite Haight Street Market and find what fresh local ingredients I could get my hands on to make, what I considered, a well-deserved feast.

The first thing my eyes jumped to was a huge pile of gorgeous, organic sunburst squash. I had never cooked with them before so I jumped at the opportunity.

I also was tempted to splurge and buy one of my favorite fake meat products on the market: Vegan Field Roast's Celebration Roast. If you are not familiar with Field Roast's products, by all means click on that link and find out where you can get them! Their "meat" is dense and delicious and has no hard-to-digest soy like so many veg options out there, but rather grains and vegetables. I usually go with the sausages (my fav is the apple sage) but every blue moon I splurge and go for the squash, mushroom and apple stuffed celebration roast.

I decided to keep it simple and roast my squash in the oven with some olive oil, onions and garlic. I did this at 350* until they were cooked through and starting to golden, but not get completely limp. I spiced with lemon, pepper, and cayenne while roasting and splashed some brags and lemon on them at the end.

I sauteed some more onions and garlic in olive oil with a handful of sliced crimini mushrooms and spiced with salt, pepper, lemon and oregano.

I sliced a few inch-thick pieces of my celebration roast, layered on my mushroom mix, and threw it in the oven for about 10-15 minutes to heat it up and make it almost crispy on the edges.

I also bought a bunch of fresh, organic fixings (butter lettuce, broccoli sprouts, an apple, an avocado, and some tamari-roasted almonds from the bulk bins) and tossed them with lemon, olive oil and brags for a killer salad to go with the meal.

This was so simple and quick, but made me feel like royalty to sit down to with a crisp glass of
Gruner Veltliner.

I'll celebrate with this vegan roast any day!

Karina Bakes Chocolate Java Lava Cakes

The first time I ever had Chocolate Lava Cake, it was at a fancy restaurant with my parents where we had to order it at the beginning of the meal because of the "extremely long" preparation time. I remember cutting my fork through the thick outer cake layer to find warm liquid chocolate oozing all over the plate. I was infatuated, obsessed, and have squealed at the delight of finding it on any dessert menu ever since. Because this dessert was made out to be so complex and hard-to-get in my eyes, I never even thought about trying to make it on my own. That is, until the other night when I had a fierce chocolate craving and I decided to google recipes just to check.

I read multiple recipes because I didn't trust how easy they all were. I assumed there must be hidden steps or tricks missing that would make it so time consuming and advanced but quickly learned how simple it really was.
Here is a basic recipe I started with and I'll take you through how I changed it:

Heat the oven at 400*
  • 2 tablespoons butter (I used Earth Balance!)
  • 1/3 cup organic sugar
  • 2 oz chocolate (I used my the other half of a rose/raspberry Dogoba Bar I had)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3 tablespoons flour

I mixed the sugar and eggs together until well blended and added in the pinch of salt.

I melted my chocolate with the earth balance and added it to the mix along with the 3 tbl flour. I looked up and next to my mixing bowl I saw my french press with left-over coffee in it from the morning. You better believe I poured some in. I also added a few tbls of almond butter, because..well I love almond butter, and then of course wanted some kick so I added some cayenne pepper (A few solid shakes). I tasted it and decided to add a few more turns of sea salt to perfect my dynamic spicy-savory-sweet combo. YUM!

I coated two of the holes in my cupcake pan with olive oil and a light dusting of sugar, and filled them up 3/4 of the way. I dropped a few chocolate chips in the middle of each and sunk them a bit just to ensure extra gooey goodness when I broke those babies open.

I cooked them at 400* for about 10-12 minutes. You can stick a toothpick in to check if they are done if you want, but do it on the outer side of the the cake (for clearly you don't want the center to be dry and cooked through or you will have no lava to flow down your chocolate mountain!)

I made a compote of mashed strawberries and bananas to top it off and then I went to lava town!

These cakes were so amazing and decadent and took so little time. I'm really wondering what was going on in that restaurant kitchen to take so long....

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

ariel's making ... baby 'chokes with fresh pesto

all purple and green ... these little artichokes are quite a chef's dream!

shuck off a lot of the outside leaves because they can be very tough ... then slice them in half.

chop up some fresh garlic and saute it in a pan with olive oil ... then add your little 'chokes.

saute for about 3 minutes, them add about 1/4 c. of water and cover and let them steam for about ten minutes 'til they're tender.

while they're steaming, make some pesto ... i made some with fresh basil, green garlic, olive oil and salt.

serve your dainty little artichokes with the pesto and a bit of strong feta.




Sunday, May 9, 2010

Karina: "Now That's A Spicy Cupcake!"

A.) I love me some spice.
B.) I love me some chocolate.

Put the two together and you get insanely good cupcakes. Here are my vegan chocolate-chili cupcakes with vanilla-cayenne frosting. Boom.

I took:
2 cups water

3/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp white vinegar
3 1/2 cups unbleached flour
2 cups organic unbleached sugar
1 tbls sea salt
2 tbls baking soda
3 tbls vanilla
1-2 tbls chili pepper powder
1/2 small diced green hot pepper
4 squares melted semi-sweet chocolate
3 tbls cocoa

I have to admit that these were approximately the ingredients I used (since I added and improvised along the way!) I started mixing the dry and the wet and then added them together until they were well mixed, smooth and delicious. I really wanted something with a lot or rich kick, so I started with less chili powder and fresh pepper and added more and more along the way. (Same with the amount of chocolate and sea salt.) Again, just follow your taste buds to the perfectly satisfying flavor. As long as you don't tamper too much with your flour, oil and baking soda amount while baking, you can add and change pretty much whatever ingredients you like! I divided the batter up in several cupcake pans and sent them to the 350* oven to transform into beautiful, spice-filled treats for 25-30 minutes.

For the frosting, I started with 1 cup powdered sugar and a few tbls of earth balance. I added a splash of vanilla hemp milk, a drizzle of agave, several shakes of cayenne pepper, a few of the chili-powder, and the scrapings of two vanilla beans. I blended with a hand mixer, adding more powdered sugar and earth balance until I had a thick, lovely texture with a whole lot of zing.

I also had the remaining hot peppers and decided to try to candy them to use as a garnish along with my pomegranate seeds I had found. I boiled them in a pot of sugar water (1 cup sugar - 1/2 cup water) for 10-15 minutes. I dried them out on a paper towel and drizzled honey and sugar over them. Even with the attempted sugar overcoat- DANG- these were spicy! I put them in top but warned people they might induce tears.

Hot Damn, Chocolate.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

ariel's making ... garlic asparagus

i love spring veggies, especially asparagus. but you gotta act quick with these babies -- they're only in the market for a few weeks! at the farmers' market this weekend i splurged on two beautiful bunches, and cooked them up for sunday dinner.

we also had this lovely fresh garlic, so i decided to marinate the asparagus with lots of garlic.

steam the asparagus for about 5-10 minutes until they easy to poke with a knife, but not mushy.

then top them with garlic, olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt, pepper, vinegar ... really anything you want!

here's the hard part -- wait! that's right ... try to wait as long as you can to eat this dish ... the longer it sits, the tastier it gets. but that's kinda hard to do, so just make a big batch, eat half, and let the other half soak 'til tomorrow.

now go marinate on that recipe ... and let me know what you think!