Five Seed Crackers

September 28, 2006 at 6:02 pm (Other, unrated)

My friend made these Crisp Seeded Mega-Crackers from the King Arthur Baker’s Companion cookbook. She used a mix of five seeds: caraway, fennel, sesame, poppy, and flax. The combination of caraway and fennel was particularly addictive. I’m not sure if I’ll make these crackers any time soon (because I’m liable to eat them all at one sitting) but I definitely want to use the fennel caraway combo in another dish.

3 c (12 3/4 oz) flour
1 1/4 t salt
1/2 t powder
2/3 c seeds
1 t ground black pepper
2 T olive oil
1 c cool water

Whisk together flour, salt, powder, seeds, pepper. Stir in olive oil,
mixing thoroughly, then add water, tossing with a fork until the dough
becomes cohesive. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface
and knead and turn it over a few times to smooth it out. Divide the
dough into eight pieces and allow them to rest, covered, for 15

Preheat the oven to 450. Use a baking stone if you have it.

Roll one or two pieces of dough as thin as possible (really! when I
made them even thinner the next day, they were even better!). Transfer
them to the stone and bake 4 mins on first side, 2 mins on second

If not on a baking stone: on greased or parchment-lined baking sheet
on middle rack in oven. They’ll take about 6-8 mins on first side, 4-6
on second. Cool on a rack and store airtight.

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Pasta Primavera (B)

September 22, 2006 at 6:54 am (B_minus (2.5 stars), Cruciferous rich, Pasta, Starches, Vegetable dishes)

Pasta primavera is one of those dishes like spinach lasagna that I remember fondly from my youth, but never seems all that exciting when I try to make it nowadays. This particular attempt came out pretty well however. It doesn’t live up to my memories of course, but it was tasty nonetheless.

I started my whole wheat pasta going (6 ounces), then sauted

  • 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 cup broccoli stalks

Once the stalks started to soften and brown I added:

  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • a bit of salted water

Meanwhile I prepared

  • 1 small zucchini, grated
  • 1 small carrot, grated
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced

I then threw these in as well. The pasta was done shortly thereafter, so I drained it and added it to the pan, along with:

  • 2 cups of diced tomatoes
  • 3 Tbs. sliced scallions
  • 3 ounces feta
  • 1/4 cup lowfat monterrey jack cheese (organic)
  • 2 Tbs. grated parmesan
  • a slice of leftover silken tofu
  • 1 Tbs. dijon mustard
  • 1.5 tsp. garlic powder
  • black pepper, freshly ground

I would have added fresh basil and maybe nutritional yeast as well but I didn’t have any. This made 3 large servings, at 500 calories each. The calories are a bit too high, considering that I was hungry a few hours later, but the stats are very good. All the vitamins and minerals are green, fat 25%, protein 22%, and fiber 17g. Saturated fat was 9%.

This was a good dish to use up lots of veggies before I went out of town. It was also good with some leftover tempeh balls. The combination was surprisingly tasty.

I’d still love to learn how to make the primavera from my youth, though. If anyone has a recipe or a suggestion, please let me know!

Rating: B

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Tempeh Meatballs

September 19, 2006 at 5:54 am (F (0 stars, inedible), My brain, Tempeh)

A long time ago, when Soba (in Pittsburgh) was still doing Vegetarian nights once a week, Derek had a dish with tempeh meatballs that he adored. He’s wanted me to try to recreate them and here was my first attempt.

1.5 cups onion
16 ounces tempeh
1 Tbs. olive oil
6 Tbs. yogurt
2 Tbs. water
2 pieces bran for life bread
1 Tbs. chopped garlic
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1.5 Tbs. soy sauce
fresh pepper to taste
4 Tbs chopped parsley, fresh
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 tsp. thyme, dried
1/2 tsp. oregano, dried
2 Tbs. shallots, dried
1 egg

I sauted the onion and tempeh togther, then added them and the rest of the ingredients to the food processor. Actually, I started out with fewer ingredients and seasonings and tasted the batter and it just tasted overwhelmingly of tempeh. I kept adding more ingredients in an attempt to make it taste more complex, but no matter what I added it seemed the tempeh flavor dominated entirely. Derek tasted the batter and said it tasted good to him though. The batter was extremely thick, and I was worried that when I cooked the balls in the oven they would end up very dried out. That didn’t happen exactly. I baked them on an oil cookie sheet, and the texture remained exactly the same in the inside, with the outside getting just a tiny bit crisp. I think in the future I shouldn’t puree all the ingredients–the batter should be a bit more varied and rough, and that way not so dense.

I really wasn’t that fond of this recipe, but Derek enjoyed it with the tofu balls over pasta with tomato sauce. Later, in a desperate fit of hunger, I crumbled up some of the batter I had cooked into “burgers” into my leftover pasta primavera, and I actually thought it added a nice flavor. But maybe I was just starving. In any case, I’m still looking for a really good tempeh meatball recipe for Derek.

Rating: C
Derek: B

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Cream of Shiitake and Broccoli Soup

September 16, 2006 at 6:47 pm (C (2 stars, okay, edible), Cruciferous rich, Miso, Rebecca Wood, soup, Vegetable dishes)

This recipe is from the cookbook The Splendid Grain by Rebecca Wood.

2 stalks broccoli
1 tsp. unrefined toasted sesame oil
3/4 tsp. ground coriander
1 small onion, diced
3 shiitake mushrooms, trimmed and chopped
5 Tbs. oatmeal
6 cups vegetable stock
6 Tbs. white or yellow miso
2 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
lemon juice

1. Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the coriander and saute for 1 minute, or until aromatic. Add the onion and saute for 3 to 4 minutes, or until slightly softened. Add the shiitake and saute for 3 to 4 minutes, or until slightly softened. Add the broccoli stems and the oats and saute for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the broccoli stems soften slightly. Add just enough stock to cover the vegetables and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the broccoli is very tender.
2. Put the miso in a bowl, add 2/3 cup of the remaining stock, and puree with a fork. Set aside.
3. Pour the soup into a blender and puree. Return to the pot. Add the remaining stock, broccoli florets, thyme and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium-hihg heat. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the florets are just cooked. Stir in the miso puree and a dash of lemon juice. Simmer for 1 minute. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot.

My notes
I used 1 tsp. of olive since I’ve heard it’s bad to heat up sesame oil, then added the sesame for flavor at the end. I wasn’t sure what she mean by trimmed mushrooms, but I cut off only the tips of the mushroom stems. Again, I wasn’t positive what “5 Tbs. oatmeal” meant, so I used rolled oats. I didn’t have fresh thyme, so used a number of stalks of thyme that had been dried very recently. I thought 6 Tbs. of miso sounded like way too much, so I started out with just 3 Tbs. The soup was sufficiently salty for me, but perhaps one more Tbs. would have enhanced the flavor even more.

I was intrigued by the combination of coriander and thyme. In the final product, I’m not sure I would have been able to pick out either spice, but the flavor was pleasant. I used a stick blender, and so the texture wasn’t totally uniform, but the chunks didn’t bother me. I’m not sure about leaving the florets unblended though. They very quickly started to turn a putrid green from sitting in the hot soup and I found the texture a bit distracting. Maybe if I had cut the florets into smaller pieces?

Rating: B-

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Tofu Balls

September 15, 2006 at 8:43 am (B_minus (2.5 stars), Farm recipes, Quick weeknight recipe, Tofu)

I really want to find some good recipes for faux meatballs, or something to serve with spaghetti and a red sauce. This one is from the farm tofu cookbook: Tofu Cookery by Louise Hagler.

Mix together:

1 lb. tofu, mashed (I used nasoya extra firm)
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
2 Tbs. soy sauce
2 Tbs. nutritional yeast
1 Tbs. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
14 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. oregano

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Oil an 8×8 pan with 2 Tbs. olive oil.
2. Form mixture into sixteen 1.5 inch balls and arrange on the pan. Bake about 30 minutes, turning carefully about every 10 minutes, until browned and set.

My Notes
The batter for these tasted pretty boring, so I was a bit worried. But the final balls actually have a nice nutty flavor, probably from the nutritional yeast and wheat germ. I made them quite a bit smaller than called for, and used a cookie sheet and only 1 Tbs. olive oil. The balls didn’t hold together very well, and some of them broke apart when I turned them. I didn’t think they were great with pasta sauce–their flavor was too subtle and they immediately broke into pieces. Derek, however, said he liked the crumbles in his pasta.

When I heated up a second batch I just sprayed the pan with oil and set the oven to 400 degrees. The balls browned much better, and held together perfectly when I cooked them.  I think these balls make pretty nice finger food.  Derek thought they’d be good for a party, but they’re kind of a putrid brown, and look a bit like dog doo, so that would probably have to be addressed before serving them for company.

The first time I made these Derek gave them a B-, but the second time he changed it to a B+.  The only difference was that my tofu had gone slightly sour, so they had a more sour taste.  Derek said they tasted like liver (and to him that’s apparently a good thing).  He ate a bunch of tofu balls the night I made them for dinner, but he didn’t eat the leftovers, however.

Rating: B
Derek: B+

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Breakfast Cereal Reviews

September 15, 2006 at 7:39 am (Product Reviews)

These are my reviews of breakfast cereals I’ve tried. There are only a few here now but I will add to it as I get the time. For a fair comparison, nutrition info is always for a 150 calorie serving.

Nature’s Path Organic Optimum Rebound Banana-Flax-Almond-Matcha Green Tea

That’s a mouthfull!

  • Taste: Excellent. I really enjoy the texture–flaky with substance but not rock hard. This cereal tastes very sweet and also pleasantly nutty.
  • Nutrition: 7.2g sugar, 5.8g fiber, 4.8g fat, 8g protein: a good balance of 23% fat / 17% protein.
  • Ingredients: There are a number of whole foods such as rolled oats, almonds, and sunflower seeds, as well as lightly processed foods such as soy nuts, wheat bran, dried bananas, oat bran, and molasses. However, there are also a number of refined sweeteners, soybean and sunflower oil, as well as highly processed ingredients like soy protein and puffed Kamut. They do add flax, but it’s *whole* flax seeds. Sigh.
  • Environment: The box is slightly smaller than a typical cereal box, but there is an inner plastic bag that is still only 1/2 full. It’s 100% organic which is a plus. The company also has a committment to sustainability, and has some good initiatives regarding electricity usage, carbon offsetting, and sustainable energy sources.
  • Company: Nature’s Path312is a Canadian company, with factories in Vancouver and Washington. It has no large parent conglomerate. The founder is a vegetarian.
  • Conclusion: An okay choice for an occasional breakfast but shouldn’t be a daily food choice.

Nature’s Path Ginger Zing Granola

  • Taste: Excellent. There’s a pleasant little bite (or should I say zing?) from the ginger, it’s a little sweet, and has good texture.
  • Nutrition: 5.5g sugar, 2.2g fiber, 5.5g fat, 3.3g protein: The lack of protein (32% fat / 9% protein) means this granola doesn’t have much staying power.
  • Ingredients: Oats are the first ingredient, but the second is sugar and third is soy oil. The rest of the ingredients look okay except for some more sweetener (oat syrupt solids).
  • Environment: It’s available in bulk. You can’t do better than that for lack of packaging. The company also has a committment to sustainability, and has some good initiatives regarding electricity usage, carbon offsetting, and sustainable energy sources.
    Company: Nature’s Path is a Canadian company, with factories in Vancouver and Washington. It has no large parent conglomerate. The founder is a vegetarian.
    Conclusion: A good alternative to dessert, but not a very good breakfast.

Nature’s Path Flax Plus:  not bad in flavor, okay in nutrition.  Will write more later.

Nature’s Path Oaty Bites:  I bought this chex-type cereal hoping it would taste like Barbara’s oat cereal, but no such like.  These are much sweeter tasting, with a strong rice syrup or barley malt flavor.  I really disliked them with soymilk, but they’re not bad to grab a handful of when you feel like munching on something sweet.  They have only 1g fat and 3g protein per serving, so mostly carbs.  They’re organic though, and the ingredient list is normal looking (grains, sugar, natural flavors).

Kashi GoLean Crunch

  • Taste: Good, not great. It’s a little sweet and a lot crunchy.
  • Nutrition: 10.4g sugar, 6.4g fiber, 2.5g fat, 7.2g protein: A bit high on sugar, and low on fat (13% fat / 17% protein), although adding flax seeds would balance this out.
  • Ingredients: Various whole grains make up the first ingredient, but the second is (highly processed) soy protein, and the third and fourth are forms of sugar. Later is has whole grain flour and canola oil, neither of which thrill me.
  • Environment: A typical bag, big box combo. Haven’t researched Kellogg’s otherwise, except that they have fought against GMO labeling.
  • Company: Kashi is owned by Kelloggs, maker of pop tarts, eggo waffles, etc.
  • Conclusion: Don’t buy, but if you’re stuck at a friends house it’s a better choice than fruit loops (another Kellogg’s brand).

Bear Naked Banana Walnut Oatmeal

  • Taste: Not too sweet, but sweet enough. A bit slimy from the flax seeds. Edible if you’re hungry, but not too tasty. The banana flavor was faint, but I didn’t care for it. I think I’d try the peach and nut flavor next time.
  • Nutrition: 7.9g sugar, 3.5g fiber, 6.2g fat, 4.4g protein. Reasonable stats, if just a bit high on fat, and low on protein (37% fat / 12% protein), but the flax seeds and walnuts help make this cereal quite filling.
  • Ingredients: Second ingredient is sugar, but otherwise it’s made of just a few natural, whole foods.
  • Environment: Individually packaged packs of oatmeal in a cardboard box. I couldn’t find anything about the environmental record of the Bear Naked compay.
  • Company: Appears to be a small, American company.
  • Conclusion: Not a bad product to keep in your desk at work for when you need reasonably filling, nutritious food fast, and you’re hungry enough you don’t mind the slightly slimy texture.

Breadshop Bulk Blueberry ‘n Cream Granola

  • Taste: Not very sweet at all, with unsweetened soymilk a little dull tasting.  The dried blueberries are great, but I think I’d rather just add dried  blueberries to another cereal.   The texture is not great–the granola doesn’t have much crunch, more like meuslix.
  • Nutrition: 4.8g sugar, 2.7g fiber, 5.1g fat, 4.1g protein.  High fat (31%) without even a nice crunch.  Low protein (11%) and low on fiber.  Poor.
  • Ingredients: Excellent! Just a few ingredients, all pretty whole/natural:  Oats, honey, expeller pressed canola oil, freeze-dried blueberries, natural blueberry flavor, oat bran, soy milk powder, natural vitamin E.
  • Environment: Bulk, can’t do much better than that.
  • Company: Owned by Hain, a large organic/natural conglomerate that doesn’t have a parent company.
  • Conclusion:  Neither nutrition nor the taste is solid enough to buy this cereal.  I won’t buy it again.  I will find some dried blueberries to add to my cereal though.

An article about organic cereals, and their parent companies

Cascadian Farm -> General Mills

Kashi -> Kellogg

Barbara’s Bakery -> Weetabix, the leading British cereal company, which is owned by a private investment firm

Mothers -> Quaker Oats -> Pepsi

Healthy Valley -> Hain-Celestial group (a large organic/natural conglomerate)

Arrowhead Mills -> Hain-Celestial Group
Peace -> Golden Temple, a for-profit company owned by a nonprofit group

Nature’s Path -> a Canadian company with no parent company

A chart showing the ownership of many organic and natural brands:

Click to access orgChart.pdf

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Watermelon and Watercress Salad

September 10, 2006 at 8:21 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Derek's faves, Quick weeknight recipe, restaurant inspired, Salads, Summer recipes)

At Kaya this week I ordered a watermelon and watercress salad, topped with a very mild creamy feta and a ginger dressing. The combination was new to me, and surprisingly delicious. The peppery watercress was very noticeable, and went well with the sweetness of the melon, and the salty creaminess of the feta. The dressing was tasty, but I could barely detect any ginger–it was not a greasy dressing at all, but maybe it was watered down by the melon juice. I liked the salad so much I decided to crack open the watermelon I bought from Rick at the Oakland Market and try my hand at my own watermelon and watercress salad.

  • 4? cups watermelon, small dice
  • 2 bunches watercress, with stems, coarsely chopped
  • ginger vinaigrette
  • feta, crumbled (I used a creamy Israeli feta from Stamooli’s in the strip)

I grated about 2 Tbs. of a very fresh and mild ginger, and combined it with 1 Tbs. of olive oil and 1 Tbs. of canola oil, plus a few Tablespoons of assorted vinegars: champagne, rice, and apple cider, plus a sprinkle of salt. I couldn’t figure out which vinegar was right–none tasted quite acidic enough for me, so I just kept adding more.

Spoons thought the dressing tasted somewhat Japanese, and suggested adding toasted sesame oil to it. Another guest thought it was taboulleh–she thought the watermelon was tomatoes and the watercress was parsley!

This dish needs a bit of work to figure out all the measurements and get the balance right, but it has a lot of promise. The basic combo of watermelon, watercress, and ginger is delightful.

I was curious if this combo was invented at Kaya. A quick google search reveals a cornucopia of recipes for salads that include watermelon and watercress. One blog states that it’s a pretty typical Greek combination. One recipe from Bon Appetit for
watermelon and watercress salad with ginger
got impressively high reviews. The recipe also includes cucumber, green onions, garlic, lime peel, and cilantro. Other recipes I found called for a variety of ingredients including red onion, lime juice, sugar, parsley, shallots, chervil, almonds, sesame oil, raspberry vinegar, pine nuts, basil, and mint. In general I’d like to keep this recipe simple, but I might try adding lime juice since lime and watermelon go very well together.

Rating: B+
Derek: B+

Update July 2013:

Watermelon, arugula, and feta salad with a ginger vinaigrette

We made this salad for dinner tonight, except we can (almost) never get watercress here, so we used a mix of arugula and radicchio instead.

  • 1.25 pounds of diced watermelon (about 4 cups of diced watermelon)
  • 5 ounces of arugula
  • 2 ounces of radicchio
  • 4 ounces of feta, crumbled
  • ginger vinaigrette (see recipe below)

For the dressing I used:

  • 27g of ginger pulp (from an approximately 1-inch piece of ginger grated on a microplane grater)
  • 1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.5-2 Tbs. brown rice vinegar
  • 1 pinch of salt

It made 4-5 large salads.  Both Derek and I enjoyed it.  I missed the intense pepperiness of the watercress, but the other bitter greens worked reasonably well.  For the recipe to climb to an A rating I think it needs a little something extra.  Maybe something with a bit of crunch.  Ideas?

Rating: B+
Derek: B+

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Chaat Masala

September 10, 2006 at 11:28 am (Indian, Madhur Jaffrey, Quick weeknight recipe, unrated)

Chaat masala is a hot and sour spice mixture that is sprinkled on snack foods in India. This recipe is from the cookbook From Curries to Kabobs: Recipes from the Indian Spice Trail by Madhur Jaffrey.

4 tsp. lightly roasted and ground cumin seeds
1.5 Tbs. ground amchoor
3 tsp. cayenne pepper (I used 1.5 tsp.)
1 tsp. finely ground black pepper
3/4 tsp. black salt (I omitted and added an extra 1/4 tsp. salt)
1 tsp. salt

Mix all the ingredients, breaking up any lumps. Store in a tightly lidded jar away from heat and sunlight. This recipe makes about 5 Tablespoons.

The recipe for zucchini sabzi calls for it, and Derek also liked it on the mung and toovar dal from the same cookbook, and on the okra and onions dish. My mom enjoyed it as well.

Derek: B+

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Okra and Onions

September 8, 2006 at 10:14 am (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Indian, Madhur Jaffrey, Quick weeknight recipe, Seitan, Summer recipes, Tempeh, Vegetable dishes)

This is a simple but tasty Pakistani dish based on a recipe in the cookbook From Curries to Kabobs: Recipes from the Indian Spice Trail by Madhur Jaffrey.  The original recipe was tasty but very oily and salty.  I reduced the oil and salt and increased the vegetable quantities.

Makes 2 main-dish servings and 4 side-dish servings.

  • 1 pound fresh okra, cleaned and very dry, with tops removed and sliced in half lengthwise
  • 2 Tbs. oil
  • 2 small red onions (about 3 ounces each), sliced into fine half-rings
  • 2 tsp. whole coriander seeds
  • 1 whole hot dried red chili, broken in half, seeds removed
  • 1/2 tsp. fine salt or scant 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped cilantro
  1. Pour the oil into a 12-inch skillet and set over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the okra.  Fry, stirring frequently, for about 7 minutes, or until the okra is very lightly browned on all sides. Add the onions. Stir and cook for a further 5 minutes, or until the onions, too, begin to brown.
  2. While the vegetables cook make the spice mixture: Put the coriander seeds and chili in a clean coffee or spice grinder and grind to a coarse powder (or use a mortar and pestle). Add the turmeric and salt and pulse once to mix.
  3. When the onions are ready, add the spice mixture. Reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring for another 5 minutes. Taste for a balance of seasonings and sprinkle the cilantro over the top.

My notes

I used 2 Tbs. of oil (rather than Jaffrey’s 3 Tbs.) and 12 ounces of okra (as Jaffrey’s recipe calls for), and found the finished dish a bit too greasy.  Also, I think 3/4 of a pound of okra is not quite enough, and I might increase it to a whole pound. Likewise, a 3 ounce onion is tiny. I used 6 ounces. I also found 3/4 tsp. kosher salt to be a bit too much. Derek liked it of course, but I thought the amount of salt could be cut slightly, to slightly more than a 1/2 tsp.

The okra was starting to burn even with regular stirring after only 7 minutes, so rather than waiting the full 10 minutes Jaffrey recommends, I added the onions, and only cooked them for about 3 more minutes. The okra was a bit crisp–Derek and I both thought the texture was quite nice, certainly preferable to the cooked-to-death texture of bhindi in typical Indian restaurants.

Overall, we really enjoyed this dish. Halving the okra lengthwise was a new idea for me, and it made a very pretty presentation, with the plump okra seeds getting their 5 minutes of fame. The flavors were simple but very tasty, and authentic tasting. This is certainly a dish I’ll be adding to my repertoire.

Rating: B+
Derek: A-

Update August 18, 2009:  I tried adding 6 ounces of thinly sliced tempeh to this recipe, to make it more of a one pot meal.  I heated 2 Tbs. of peanut oil, then threw the tempeh in before the okra.  Unfortunately, the tempeh immediately soaked up all the oil, so when I added the okra it didn’t cook very well. My 12-inch skillet was extremely full (certainly not one layer), and the vegetables touching the bottom were burning and nothing else was cooking.  I had to add another 2 tsp. of oil to get it to cook.  Still, a number of the larger okra pieces never got cooked.  Because of the extra bulk from the tempeh I increased the coriander amount to 1 Tbs., and used 2 dried chiles, and 3/4 tsp. kosher salt.  It was quite salty (next time I’d use 2/3 tsp. kosher salt), and just a tad powdery.  The combination of the tempeh and okra was okay–it certainly looked pretty, but the tempeh wasn’t all that flavorful.  If I try this again, I will definitely cut the amount of tempeh and okra down, or cook it in two batches, and add the okra not the tempeh first.

Update Oct 3, 2009:  I used 2 Tbs. of olive oil, a full pound of okra, 3 oz. onions, and 3/4 tsp. kosher salt.  The okra was oily but not too greasy, and just a tad too salty for me (perfect for Derek).  When I added the onion I also added about 1 ounce of julienned seitan (Kittee’s).  Unlike the last tempeh fiasco, the seitan didn’t really effect the recipe.  The flavors didn’t blend, exactly, but the seitan tasted fine.  If I wanted a real one-pot dinner I might add more seitan next time:  maybe 3-4 ounces.  Other than being just a tad salty, and not having enough onions, I think the recipe was close to perfect. The only change I might make next time is to sprinkle on a little amchoor powder at the end.  I think this would make a lovely dinner with a side of dal and some raita.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 1/4 recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 117
Total Fat 7.1g
Saturated Fat 0.9g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 303mg
Carbohydrate 12.9g
Dietary Fiber 4.7g
Sugars 4g
Protein 3.1g
Vitamin A 11% Vitamin C 72%
Calcium    11% Iron 7%

The macro breakdown:  49% from fat, 10% protein, 41% carbs.

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Tomato and Mint Chutney (B-)

September 8, 2006 at 10:10 am (C (2 stars, okay, edible), Indian, Madhur Jaffrey, Quick weeknight recipe)

This chutney is from the cookbook From Curries to Kabobs: Recipes from the Indian Spice Trail by Madhur Jaffrey.

1 cup mint leaves
4 to 8 hot fresh green chilies, chopped
2/3 cup chopped tomato
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp. ground amchoor or lemon juice
1/8 tsp. salt or to taste

Remove the leaves from the mint stalks and wash well. Leave them with the water that clings to them naturally. Put the tomato into the blender first and blend to a paste. Now add the mint and all the other ingredients. Blend to a paste, pushing down with a rubber spatula whenever necessary. Store, covered, in the refrigerator.

My notes
I used my stick blender to blend this, which was extremely easy and fast. I felt the chutney was a bit too watery and salty, but the mint flavor was pleasant. I think I prefer the mint and cilantro yogurt chutney I’ve made from Madhur Jaffrey’s World of the East cookbook to this one though. It was fine, with a good spice level, but not exciting ultimately. Derek tried it once and didn’t want seconds.

Rating: B-
Derek: B-

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Carrot-Raisin Raita (B)

September 8, 2006 at 10:00 am (B_minus (2.5 stars), Indian, Madhur Jaffrey, Quick weeknight recipe)

This recipe may not be terribly authentic (at least according to my South Indian office mate), but it is refreshing and tasty. The recipe is from the cookbook From Curries to Kabobs: Recipes from the Indian Spice Trail by Madhur Jaffrey.

Serves 4 to 6.

4 Tbs. golden raisins
1.5 cups plain yogurt (I used organic nonfat)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. sugar
freshy ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/2 tsp. toasted cumin seeds, ground
2 mediumc arrots, peeled and grated

1. Cover the raisins in a generous amount of boiling water and soak for 3 hours. Drain.

2. Put the yogurt in a bowl. Beat lightly with a fork or whisk until creamy. Add the salt, sugar, cumin, black pepper, and cayenne. Stir to mix. Add the carrots and the drained raisins. Mix again. This raita may be covered and refrigerated until needed.

My notes
I made this last minute so I didn’t soak the raisins, plus I only had dark raisins not golden ones. I had Derek taste it and he said it was bland, but he didn’t know what to add. So I tasted it and thought it tasted sweet and tasty, but still a bit bland perhaps. I really thought it needed lemon juice, but I didn’t have any, so I added a tsp. of amchoor powder. It was still not that bright tasting, so I added a handful of dried barberries. I only used 1/4 tsp. salt but I still found it too salty. In the end, the recipe was tasty but not stellar. If I make it again I will use significantly less salt and add lemon juice and maybe barberries or unsweetened cranberries.

Rating: B
Derek: B-

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Vegan “Mayonnaise”

September 5, 2006 at 5:09 am (Mom’s recipes, Quick weeknight recipe, Silken tofu, Tofu, unrated)

Tofu or “soy” mayonnaise is not really all that similiar to mayonnaise in flavor, but nonetheless it’s a versatile substance. I’ve used it on sandwiches, to make tofu salad, in place of yogurt in an apple salad, and as a dip. On this day I couldn’t find my mom’s tofu mayo recipe, so I used this one that’s part of her recipe for Mock Turkey Salad.

* 1/2 lb firm tofu
* 2 Tbs. oil
* 1 Tbs. lemon juice
* 1 tsp. sweetener
* 1 1/2 tsp. mustard
* 2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
* 1/2 tsp. salt

It came out quite a bit too sweet–the balance was off. So I called my mom and got her recipe:

  • 1 pack (12 ounces) silken tofu, firm
  • 3 Tbs oil
  • 3 Tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp. sugar

Aha, less sugar! Also no lemon juice or mustard, but otherwise the same. I’ll try it next time instead. This recipe makes just over 1.5 cups of mayo, or about 26 Tablespoons. Each tablespoon has about 22 calories, but is surprisingly rich and creamy tasting.

Serving ideas:
* sandwiches (obviously)
* mix together with greens and brown rice and nutritional yeast for a great comfort food casserole
* use in place of yogurt in an apple salad
* mix with tofu to make a sort of mock chicken salad
* anyone have any other ideas?

Note: I had some silken tofu in aseptic packages that I took with me on my drive to Chicago, and they froze in the moving van. I decided to just go ahead and try to make mayo out of them. The tofu was kind of weird–it had the texture of silken tofu and of frozen tofu at the same time. The mayo texture was a bit less silky and thicker than normal, but once I added it to the rice and greens the difference wasn’t detectable.

Update May 2011:  I tried making the above recipe (for mock turkey salad) with soft silken tofu and it came out way too thin.

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Corsu Vecchiu with Spiced Carrot Salad and Golden Raisin Puree

September 2, 2006 at 9:15 am (Other, unrated)

My friend adapted this recipe from The French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller, as one course in an extravagant birthday dinner. The spice mix is marvelous, and the combination of sweet raisin juice, slightly bitter carrot juice, tart lemon, pungent spices, and salty rich cheese was heavenly.

3/4 c carrot juice
1 pinch of spice mix, see below
1/2 c golden raisins
2 T lemon juice
8 oz wedge Corsu Vecchiu, Gruyère, Emmanthal, Mahón, or Petite Basque
3/4 c shredded carrots
6 sprigs chervil

1. reduce carrot juice — strain, bring to a boil, and then simmer until reduced to about 1 1/2 to 2 T, about 10 minutes, skimming scum off the top; add a pinch of spice mix and set aside.
2. plump raisins — place raisins in a pan, cover with water, add lemon juice and simmer 2 to 3 minutes.
3. purée raisins — place raisins in a blender with enough cooking liquid to let them turn; strain and set aside.
4. cut cheese into 30 thin triangles
5. combine carrots with carrot reduction, season with salt
6. plate — place 1 T of raisin purée in the center of each plate; top with a “haystack” of carrot salad and place the cheese and chervil on top.

Spice Mix
1 1/2 t coriander seeds
1 T black peppercorns
1 in piece of cinnamon
OR 1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
3/4 t cloves

1. heat spices together in a small pan until fragrant
2. grind to a powder

Yields about 2 1/2 T spice mix. Store in an airtight container for up to a week or in the freezer for longer.

My friend’s notes

The pureed raisins didn’t get combined with any of the spices – they went on the plate first, with the carrot mix on top.

The spices go into the reduced carrot juice after it’s finished reducing. I put in a pinch then (1/16 – 1/8 tsp?) and i let that sit while I did the other things. Then, I combined the carrot juice/spices with the shredded carrots just before serving.

I would also add one more note to step 2. after simmering the raisins, I let them sit for 10 minutes or so before pureeing them. That should make them easier to blend. We used ‘sultana’ raisins from the bulk section of the co-op, mahon cheese, and thyme instead of chervil.

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Mung and Toovar South Indian Dal

September 1, 2006 at 5:36 pm (B_minus (2.5 stars), Indian, Madhur Jaffrey, Quick weeknight recipe)

This traditional South Indian dal is from the cookbook From Curries to Kabobs: Recipes from the Indian Spice Trail by Madhur Jaffrey.

Serves 4

  • 1/2 cup hulled and split mung dal
  • 1/2 cup hulled and split toovar dal
  • a generous pinch of ground asafetida (I omitted this)
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp. peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed to a pulp
  • 1 medium shallot, cut into fine slivers
  • 3 fresh hot green chiles, finely chopped
  • 1 to 1 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 to 3 Tbs. olive oil or ghee
  • 1/2 tsp. whole brown mustard seeds
  • 2 dried hot red chilies
  • 8 to 10 fresh curry leaves (okay if not available)
  • 3 Tbs. coarsely chopped cilantro
  1. Wash the two dals in several changes of water and drain.
  2. Combine the dals with 4 cups of water in a lidded pan and bring to a boil. Do not let them boil over, turning the heat down as necessary. Skim off the scum that rises to the surface with a slotted spoon.
  3. Add the asafetida, cayenne, turmeric, ginger, garlic, shallot, green chilies, and salt. Stir. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover with the lid, and simmer gently for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the dals are tender.
  4. Pour the oil into a small frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, put in the mustard seeds and red chilies. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop, a matter of seconds, crush the curry leaves lightly in your hand and throw them in. Quickly empty the contents of the frying pan, oil and spices, into the pan containing the dals. Cover immediately with the lid to trap the aromas. Stir gently before serving. Scatter the cilantro over the top when you do so.

My notes

I used only 1.5 Tbs. of olive oil and 1 tsp. of kosher salt. I was scared of that much cayenne and so only used 1/4 tsp., plus I seeded one of the green chilies. It turned out not particularly spicy, so I think next time I’ll follow the amounts given. I missed the instructions to only partially cover with the lid, and left the lid on tightly. I cooked the dal for 30 minutes, then had to go so just offed the heat and left for 2 hours. When I returned the dal was very soft and starting to fall apart, so I didn’t cook it anymore. However, the dal was too liquid-y, and needed to be reduced. I got 5 cups of dal, and I think I should have reduced it to 4 cups only (to make 4 servings). As Jaffrey says, this is a simple dal, but it tastes reasonably authentic. It’s pleasant, and even reasonably light. I don’t love it, but I’ll keep the recipe around until I find one I like better.

Rating: B
Derek: B

There’s a great picture of the different types of lentils at The image of the mung dal is quite accurate.


On a second try I left the lid cracked, and it was still quite watery, so for the last 15 minute or so I left the lid off entirely. Even so, we needed soup bowls to eat it. The next day, though, the dal was extremely thick and almost gelatinous, and I had to add water to it! I multiplied the recipe by 1.5, and used 1.5 times the amount of fresh and dried chilies, but didn’t multiply the cayenne. It was a good spiciness. Derek loved this dish with liberal amounts of chaat masala. I had cilantro this time, and it really helps the balance of flavors to add it at the end. I increased the amount of mustard seeds slightly, but still used the same proportion of olive oil as last time. I’m sure it would taste richer with more oil, but what I added was plenty in my opinion.

Third try: I used only 3.25 cups water. I should have stirred it midway though because it stuck to the bottom a bit. It seemed plenty watery at first, but as it cooled it thickened up quite a bit. I think 3.5 cups water would be perfect. I used all the green chilies called for, 1.5 Tbs. oil, 2 tsp. mustard seeds, 4 dried red chilies, and 1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt. I thought it was plenty rich but a tad too salty.

Fourth try: I ran out of toovar dal and so substituted chana dal instead. The dal was still good, but the chana dal wasn’t quite cooked enough I think–a bit al dente. Also, the flavor was better with the toor dal.

March 2012:  I doubled the lentil amounts and soaked them in very hot water for a few hours, then drained them and returned them to the pot with about 6 cups of water. A lot of foam came to the top.  I skimmed it off.  I used 2 tsp. of fine salt, and that was plenty.  The dal ended up restaurant-salty.  It tasted good but it was definitely salty.  I had to stir the dal occasionally to keep it from burning on the bottom.  For the fat, I used 60g of ghee (I think a little over 4 Tbs.)  I doubled the black mustard seeds to 2 tsp.  My store was out of cilantro, so I skipped that step.  The dal came out amazing!  I could have eaten the whole pot.  The texture was perfect, and it was very rich and very salty.  The next day, however, the dal had thickened up quite a bit, and when reheated in the microwave the dal wasn’t anything special.  It tasted fine, but I was perfectly happy to stop at one serving.  I don’t know why I had found it so addictive the day before.  Maybe the intoxicating aroma of the curry leaves dissipated over night?

Update July 2, 2016

Buttery pigeon peas: Derek chose this simple toovar recipe from our cookbook 660 curries. It says that this recipe is the first solid food fed to babies in south Indian homes. It is also the first course at weddings. You basically rinse the dal, boil it, then puree it, add turmeric, salt, and ghee. I halved the ghee and salt, but still it tasted quite salty and reasonably rich. Neither Derke nor I loved it, and Alma wouldn’t eat it. Maybe we would have liked it more with the full amount of ghee? Even if we did, I think I probably wouldn’t make it again. I can think of much better uses for ghee. There’s something about the textureless pureed dal that I just don’t love. Maybe we would have liked it more on top of rice. I served it on top of potatoes.

Update Apr 24, 2022: I made this tonight x1.5. I cooked the dal without seasoning except turmeric and salt, and took a bit more than a cup of plain dal out for Alma. In a separate skillet I added oil, then the black mustard seeds (more than the recipe said), the shallots, the ginger, the garlic and the dried chilies. I added some ground cumin and then half a can of whole tomatoes with some of their juice. I forgot the asafetida and cayenne, I didn’t have any curry leaves or fresh green chilies. I added cilantro to people’s bowls. My Mom and sister loved the dal. Derek said it was a little bland.

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Zucchini and Green Pepper “Sabzi”

September 1, 2006 at 9:51 am (B_(3 stars, like), Indian, Madhur Jaffrey, Quick weeknight recipe, Summer recipes) ()

This recipe is from the cookbook From Curries to Kabobs: Recipes from the Indian Spice Trail by Madhur Jaffrey. It is the perfect dish to make in September (or whenever your summer ends), since it calls for zucchini and green peppers. The dish is quite pretty. It makes a nice vegetable dish to serve with dal, since the long skinny, slightly crisp pieces of zucchini and peppers are a pleasant antidote to “vegetarian mush syndrome.” Read the rest of this entry »

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