30 April 2009

Edamoccoli Soup

Edamoccoli Soup is the name George gave to his soybean broccoli soup. I'm not going to claim that this soup is delicious; George concocted this swamp-green potion from tired scraps expiring in dark corners of the refrigerator. On a day when we were almost out of food, he wanted to give me something healthy with a lot of folate, something vegan. This soup is indeed vegan. It's the sort of food I used to imagine vegans eating back when I considered pepperoni pizza and cheeseburgers proof of the existence of God. I was down with a double helping of spring allergies and a cold, and I asked George to make me soup. He did, and so far I've had four servings. He hasn't had any.

I'm not sure exactly what went into this soup. George told me it involved broccoli, vegetable broth, and lime juice. The edamame were cooked until tender, 2 beans per spoonful on average. Imagine a puréed broccoli soup without cream or fat and with unsalted edamames all over it. That is the soup. He made it out of love, I ate it out of love.

But I added a lot of salt and pepper.

26 April 2009

Chai Iced Tea, Worse the 2nd Time

It's not even May yet and it was 85 degrees today! We dug two enormous holes outside in the yard and a good time was had by all. Then we were thirsty, so I decided to make something that Thomas had made for us before quite successfully, Chai Iced Tea.

The first clue I had that this drink might be problematic was the goopiness. Sweetened condensed milk has the same viscosity as honey and tamarind concentrate, and I dripped it all over the glasses and the paper towel. And the counter. And my pants. And the carpet. Sigh.

My second clue came in the form of three bonded-for-life ice cubes in the shape of an L. They wouldn't fit in the glasses and they wouldn't break, so we ended up with fewer ice cubes than we needed. So the iced tea was too warm, which is probably the worst thing that can happen to iced tea!

The right kind of chai would have made a big difference, I think, but this time we had a vanilla-spiced Indian chai. In my opinion fruitier chai (with orange zest, for example) goes much better with sweetened condensed milk than do vanilla notes. Two Leaves and a Bud chai has been excellent in the past for chai iced tea. Thomas used four of their bags per glass pitcher and steeped for quite a while.

Probably I should have steeped more tea bags as well. The steeped tea needs to be very strong and bitter to balance well with the sweetness of the sweetened condensed milk.

I think ultimately it would have been better if I had tasted as I went. And if Thomas the lab science whiz were here with me. You never know when titration skills will come in handy!

Still, I tolerated it fairly well. Chris drank half of his glass with a positive attitude, and even George downed it without comment. The last time we made this (with Thomas in charge), it was much better, but then we experimented a lot and also chilled the tea and the condensed milk overnight in the refrigerator before mixing. The ideal is a consistency and flavor similar to Thai Iced Tea (pictured above), but if you don't have Thai tea—and most people don't—then a good spicy fruity chai is a delightful substitute.

Article on how to make authentic Thai Iced Tea.

Chai Iced Tea (adapted from Mark Bittman's recipe in How to Cook Everything).

Your favorite chai bags with orange flavor
sweetened condensed milk, chilled overnight if possible
ice cubes, lots

Steep several bags of chai in boiling water in a glass pitcher until the tea is very strong and bitter. Remember it will be diluted by melting ice and sweetened condensed milk. Take out tea bags and chill until cold. If you are in a hurry make sure you have a large amount of ice cubes. Then somehow you have to thoroughly mix 1/4th to 3/4th inch sweetened condensed milk in your glass with the chai and a lot of ice cubes. Good luck with that. I mixed the milk and tea first and then put the ice cubes in, but then the bottom stayed warm a long time. I think it's best to pour the liquid over the ice cubes, so maybe you need to mix the liquids in a separate container first, and keep tasting until it's almost perfect but needs a little dilution by ice cubes.
Best with a large straw and some large bobo tapioca pearls.

21 April 2009

Apple Cabbage

For many Americans, the idea of cabbage for dinner is not appealing. "Oh great," they grumble, "Poor person food. Boring and boringly healthy. No thanks." Never mind that tawdry carnival stir-fried noodles are pathetic without cabbage. Never mind that cabbage comes in four different alluring varieties. Never mind that cabbage coyly curls into itself until a sharp knife slices it into springy, crinkly strips. Most Americans are simply not interested.

Ashkenazi Jews are different. Mention cabbage to such Jews and they hum with affection. Cabbage is comfort food that one's bubbe's bubbe used to make. As stuffed cabbage, in borscht, or floating in chicken soup, cabbage transmits Love from Jewish parent to Jewish child.

Let me just say that if you don't give a gosh-golly-darn about cabbage, you won't enjoy this recipe. This isn't one of those cabbage-for-people-who-hate-cabbage recipes. This recipe exudes pure essence of cabbage. It looks, smells, and tastes like cabbage.

Mopsy loves it. I'm rather fond of it myself.

Apple Cabbage

1/2 small head red cabbage, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
1/4 Cup apple cider
1 Teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced

1. Combine all ingredients except Granny smith in a large pot. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until vegetables are mostly soft.
2. Reduce heat and add Granny smith. Cook until everything is tender. Serve hot, room temperature, or cold.

15 April 2009

Vegetable Stir-Fry

I should probably tell you that when I asked for feedback, the actual response to my mashed potatoes was:
Ezra--"I'm a fan."
Bill--"I'm glad it's not too rich."
Mopsy--"Eh, I'm not that impressed."

So there you go. Thoroughly humbled, I created my stir-fry the following night with the greatest of care. I remembered advice received from Vegetarian Times Magzine, George Mateljan's cookbook The World's Healthiest Foods, and a cooking secret from my favorite Thai restaurant, Little Plearn Thai in Berkeley, CA. Responses to this stir-fry were as follows:

Ezra--"That looks fantastic."
Bill--"Mmmfrarmph" (chewing)
Mopsy--"This is the best stir-fry I have ever had."

I called George to crow about it.
George--"You are getting a big head."

He's right. But it really was an excellent stir-fry.

Sarah's Kosher for Passover Stir-Fry
Just remember not to dry the vegetables after washing them.

ketchup (kosher for Passover OK, I used Gefen brand)
juice of one orange
Optional vegetables (I used all of them):
2 onions, sliced
1 stalk broccoli, quartered and cut into 2-inch pieces
a bit of cauliflower, quartered and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 bunch asparagus, woody ends discarded, snapped into 3-inch pieces
1 orange bell pepper, sliced
1 package shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, cut into bite-size pieces
1 package sliced button mushrooms
1 can straw mushrooms, drained and rinsed
1 can baby corn, drained and rinsed

1. In a very large skillet or wok, saute onions slowly in cottonseed or canola oil a quarter-inch deep.
2. When onions are golden and oozy, mix in salt, pepper, and ketchup to taste.Push onions to the side.
3. Add cauliflower and broccoli. Cover skillet tightly. Stir occasionally. When the broccoli tastes about 3 minutes away from being tender, add asparagus, bell peppers, and shiitake and button mushrooms. Cover again. Stir occasionally.
4. When asparagus is tender, turn off heat. Add more ketchup, salt, and pepper to taste. Add canned vegetables and mix everything together thoroughly. Toss juice of the orange over everything. Cover tightly to allow canned vegetables to heat up a little.
5. Serve immediately to 3 to 5 people. Bask in the glow of their admiration.

13 April 2009

Mashed Potatoes and Sauteed Mushrooms

I know, I know. Mashed potatoes? For real? Everyone knows how to make mashed potatoes.

But I never made them at all before today because I tend not to enjoy mashed potatoes. I never have in my whole life. The flavor might as well be styrofoam, the texture is unbelievably boring, and usually it's filled with fatty dairy products. The only reason I eat them is because I like gravy, specifically George's outer-space-awesome mushroom gravy.

However, my 2007 Thanksgiving in Berkeley, CA changed all that. I invited several of my Mills College graduate student buddies over for a very vegan potluck. Of course I turned once more to Myra Kornfeld's Voluptuous Vegan for inspiration: amaranth-studded cornbread, stuffed delicata squash, cranberry-pear molds, and lima bean gravy. This was the second time in my life that I enjoyed a vegetarian Thanksgiving, and both times were startlingly successful.

But I digress. My friends also brought voluptuous food. Kiyomitsu stewed apples in wine while Sally made both a dessert of oranges, mint, and honey and a side dish of mashed potatoes. For the first time in my life I really loved mashed potatoes.

Two years later we find our heroine staying in D.C. with Mopsy, Bill, and Ezra during Passover. Because it's Passover, we don't eat wheat, corn, soy, beans, string beans, peanuts, and peas. Because I'm on a vegan diet I furthermore don't eat eggs, milk, or butter. Bill has celiac disease. I was scratching my head trying to come up with things I could cook that would fall within these rather stringent parameters, and finally I came up with a few things. One of those things was mashed potatoes. I made this version up myself!

Mashed Potatoes

yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed carefully
sea salt
olive oil
fresh herb like rosemary, minced
1 head garlic plus 1 clove garlic.

1. Put whole potatoes into a pot and cover with water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Check with fork. When fork slides easily all the way to the middle, remove potato. The potatoes will probably finish at different times.
2. Meanwhile preheat oven to 350. Peel off all but the last layer of skin on a head of garlic. Cut off the top fourth or third of the head so that part of each clove is exposed. Drizzle the tops with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Wrap in aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour.
3. In a small bowl, mix extra virgin olive oil, 1 clove minced garlic, minced rosemary and sea salt. Let sit until potatoes are done.
4.Crush potatoes (with skins still on) with bottom of a 1 Cup dry measuring cup. Then cut them up further with a fork.
5. Pour oil and herb mixture over potatoes and mix, tasting to make sure it doesn't get too oily or salty.
6. Remove head of garlic from oven and unwrap from foil. With a heat resistant device, turn garlic head upside down over potatoes and squeeze from bottom of clove. The roasted garlic should just ooze out where you cut it. Mix it all together, add salt to taste, and serve hot.

Then--I can't believe I was such a genius to invent two successful dishes on the same night--I sauteed oyster mushrooms in a tiny bit of white wine and water and sea salt, and they were fantastic. The trick is to cut up the pieces small enough so that they'll cook evenly but not so small that they won't be delightfully chewy. Then you cook them slowly until they've given off all their water and dried up all the liquids in the pan. They'll sear slightly and it will be delicious. Bill scraped the bowl with his fork, they were that amazing. Or maybe I told him to eat up and stared at him until he did.

I served this with homemade applesauce. Bill and Mopsy also ate that old Passover stand-by brisket which, being brown squares in brown sauce, just didn't live up to the standards of my gorgeous vegan masterpieces. Salivate on that, you meatetarians!

10 April 2009


We have a pretty extensive list of foods to make every Passover for the seder. This year Ezra also threw in a roasted zucchini and summer squash dish, but normally we only make homemade applesauce, marinated mushrooms (Moosewood Cookbook), chocolate almond macaroons (Cook's Illustrated), sponge cake (Great-Aunt Janet), strawberry sauce, gefilte fish (Great-Grandmother Dora?), brisket (don't know), matzoh balls (Mrs. Manischewitz), potato kugel (Mrs. Manishchewitz), tzimmes or an equivalent sweet dish (different every year), homemade chicken soup (Mom), roasted chicken, steamed asparagus, fruit plate, raw vegetable plate, sliced kosher pickles, sliced hard-boiled eggs, and charoset.

Charoset (kha-ro-set) is always made at the very last minute in a wooden bowl with a special round chopper. Because the chopper isn't dangerous for children to use, Ezra and I have always been the ones tasked with producing it. Charoset has four ingredients: Manischewitz Concord Grape Wine, walnuts, red apple, and cinnamon. No amounts given. You just chop it all up until it's well mixed and all the pieces are very small. Charoset is meant to represent the delicious, delicious mortar used by the enslaved Jews in creating the store cities of Pithom and Raamses. Some people grind everything up so much that it turns grey and goopy like real mortar, but our family thinks the result too unappetizing.

At the seder we eat the mortar with matzah (bread of affliction), and maror, or bitter herbs (grated horseradish). Tasty! Everyone loves this part. People have maror-eating contests. Once George ate so much maror that he hallucinated in black and white. Last night I'm pretty sure the maror dynamited me a third nostril. When has remembering oppression ever been so fun?

02 April 2009

Where Did I Go Wrong?

How on Earth did I mess up this meal? I decided to make a noodle bowl for myself. I cooked whole wheat angel hair pasta al dente and drained. I steamed tofu, shimeji (clamshell) mushrooms, and sugar snap peas together. I made a sauce I liked of sesame oil, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, and honey. I tossed everything together.

It was terrible!

But I ate it anyway because there are children starving in Zimbabwe.

Cauliflower, elegant and rejected

I made some cauliflower the other night and wow! It was the most delicious and complex cauliflower I had ever made. Eyes watering with self-admiration, I looked up at George and basked in his future praise. That's when I noticed that he had stopped eating. "You don't like it?" I asked in disbelief.

"I don't like mustard," he explained.

Ah yes, mustard. Like tempeh and balsamic vinegar, mustard has become a permanent fixture of George's Won't Eat list. There is no conceivable amount of any of these ingredients that George can appreciate in his food. For example, I mixed an entire head of steamed cauliflower with a tablespoon of white wine vinegar (approved), a tablespoon lemon juice (AOK), a couple of tablespoons fresh chopped dill (admired), half a chopped shallot (likewise), two tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper, and 1 scant teaspoon Dijon mustard (WARNING—Recipe Failure).

Doug of course merrily gobbled it up and then ate George's portion. I hastily concealed the rest in a pot until he departed. Finally, leftovers!

By the way, my salad was a major success. George and Doug expressed suprised at how clever and tasty it was, forgetting that I had made tiny variations upon this salad every week all last autumn.

Salad by Sarah

lettuce leaves, room temperature
sliced shallots
chopped dried Mission Figs
chopped toasted walnuts
feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
Dressing: fresh squeezed lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil

01 April 2009

Onion Sonata Soup

It's officially been spring here for at least a week—crocuses are taking over Connecticut and the birds won't shut up. That means it's finally time for me to lose my extra winter poundage, and I'm doing it by combining a lot of exercise with low-fat veganism until my birthday, May 20th. I will only make an exception for Shabbat challah.

To kick off this diet and celebrate Doug's birthday, I made Onion Sonata, a soup adapted from The Voluptuous Vegan (my special occasion cookbook) by Myra Kornfeld. Kornfeld should probably have called it Onions Waiting for Godot because this soup takes more than 3 hours to make. A Labor of Love or Act of Atonement? Either way it's worth it.

I'm pretty sure that Myra Kornfeld is the most masterful recipe composer since the Dawn of Humanity. Onion Sonata is a perfect example of her vibrant artistry. This vegan—vegan!!—soup tastes 10 times better than the real French Onion version. It doesn't taste healthy but neither does it taste unhealthy; it's voluptuous and rich, Allium's golden colors emerging one by one then melding soulfully together.

The original recipe requires chives and scallions as well, but by the end of the recipe I'm exhausted and frankly the soup is still amazing without them. If you're not going to go out and buy her revelatory cookbook immediately, you can try making a version of your own. (This is a very filling soup, so please don't serve steak and macaroni and cheese and banana splits alongside. Thank you.)

Onion Sonata

Make a stock from a lot of vegetables, potatoes, parsley, leek greens, thyme, soy sauce, brown lentils, and 15 Cups of water. Cook 45 minutes and strain.

Meanwhile, very very slowly saute 14 to 15 thinly sliced Cups of the onion family: a head of garlic, shallots, leeks, yellow onions. After a long long time (15 minutes after you've fallen asleep on your feet) add the stock, some soy sauce, some molasses, salt and pepper, and simmer another half hour or so.

For each bowl of soup, toast 3 slices French baguette and rub sliced raw garlic on each slice. Ladle the soup over the bread. Serve with hankies.
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