My mom used to make this bbq sauce every summer, we used it on everything, including baked potatoes. It’s vegan, although back in the 50’s no one had ever heard that word. I checked online to see if there was something similar to this original Gourmet recipe, but there was nothing even close. Everyone who tastes it wants the recipe!

The ingredient list is long, but it makes a lot of sauce which seems to keep forever in the fridge. I make bbq tempeh pretty often, cut a block of tempeh into thirds, filet each chunk into thirds (9 thin pieces), dip each piece into sauce, lay onto parchment on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes until tempeh looks dry and lightly colored. Top it up when serving with more sauce! Makes great TLT’s or just serve with rice and a salad.

Hot Barbecue Sauce

2 cloves garlic, minced
2 C finely chopped onion
2 1/2 C chili sauce or ketchup
1 t red pepper flakes
3/4 C olive oil
1/3 C lemon juice
1 T brown sugar
2 T cider vinegar
1 bay leaf
2 t Tabasco sauce
1 t salt
1 t dry mustard
1/3 C water

Pulse the onions and garlic in your food processor, or chop fine. Combine with remaining ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil, and simmer 20 minutes. That’s it!

In a previous life I probably wouldn’t have made pho at home. I figured someone else could do it better, and cheaper, at a restaurant than I could at home.

Living in Hartford has its hidden perks: the lack of veggie-friendly Vietnamese restaurants has made me less of a snob about what I cook. We made this twice last week and the broth is perfect.

The recipe is at The Kitchn. I followed the broth recipe exactly, and then I followed it imprecisely (the carrots were gone). It’s better when you follow the recipe exactly. Veggies and tofu (broccoli, bok choy, shiitakes, thinly sliced marinated tofu, steamed acorn squash) go in the bowl with the rice noodles (which are best when you soak them in boiling rather than merely hot water). Herbs, lime chunks, and bean sprouts go on the side.  Action soup.

The action extends to the prep: there’s a lot of it. But once you have a stash of clean, dry herbs and greens, the soup becomes easy. I would plan to make it twice in a week.

aerial pho

pho with waning paperwhites

My mom bought two copies of the New York Times Cookbook a few years ago, one for me and one for her. I’ve probably only made two recipes from it since then, but I lugged it to bed for months to read the headnotes, which are universally fascinating.

there's a couch in the kitchen
cats steam and speed
tofu browning

Where would I be without takeout-style sesame noodles? The last time we made it was at the West Point Inn, and we carried the pre-made sauce in an empty jar of B-12 vitamins up Mt. Tam, in one of our backpacks. I had splurged on a packet of Hodo Soy seasoned baked tofu, which slices into these perfectly dense and creamy ribbons.

jut mt tam

Tonight we ate it with a pickled cucumber salad and braised tofu. I find myself saying what my dad always did when I was a kid: “There isn’t anyone in [Hartford] eating this well tonight.” You’re supposed to toss the cucumbers with the pasta and sesame sauce, but it’s easier just to eat them on the side. I’m not that good with my tongs. I forgot the chopped peanuts for the top of the noodles. Don’t forget the peanuts.

welcome to hartford

Takeout-style Sesame Noodles
this is the recipe

It’s so good that I double the sauce and use 16 oz. dried pasta instead of the 16 oz. fresh. (They recommend that you chop the garlic and ginger by hand, presumably because you live in nyc and have no counter space for a Cuisinart, but just throw everything in the hopper and be done with it.) I like the dish best with the “optional” sichuan peppercorns.

Pickled Cucumber Salad
This was just cukes, sweet onion rings, and a dressing of one part sugar, two parts rice vinegar, and some salt and pepper.

Braised Tofu
I fried 1 cm slices of tofu on each side, then added braising liquid (1/4 C broth, 1/4 C Annie’s Shiitake Dressing, plus some soy sauce). It’s not the perfect braising liquid–a little underseasoned and oily–but I’m currently on a vegan semi-homemade mission, so I’ll keep tinkering with the idea.

peas in a bowl

I’ve always loved peapods, this recipe works fine with the flat kind, but is even crunchier with snap peas. The season is short, on the east coast they disappear after a couple of months, after that, I buy the regular peapods. My daughter loved this dish and asked for it frequently, now she could try it with Asian tofu or some fried tempeh!

peas in a panpeas on a plate

Shrimp and Snap Pea Pasta
serves 2

1/2 lb. cooked medium shrimp
1/2 lb. snap peas
5-10 cloves garlic
1/2 lb. linguine or spaghetti
1/4 C olive oil
salt & pepper
parmesan cheese, optional

Trim snap peas, removing any tough strings, and cut in half on the diagonal.

Rinse shrimp, dry on paper towels.

Chop garlic, 5 cloves will produce a lightly flavored pasta, add more if you like!

lots of garlicdon't push on the pasta

Measure out the olive oil.

Boil sufficient water for the pasta, adding a teaspoon of salt. Add the 1/2 lb pasta, time according to package directions. When there’s 5 minutes of cooking time left, heat a large saute pan. Add the oil, then the garlic, saute a minute or less, add pea pods and shrimp. Saute a minute, turn off the heat – you just want to heat the shrimp and peas, not cook them. Drain pasta and add to the saute pan, sprinkle on salt and pepper, stir around a bit, and serve.

I like some parmesan grated over the top.

cast of characters

I visited Philadelphia this past weekend, to see “The Largest Flower Show in the World.” Some Philadelphians mentioned it as the largest in the U.S. At any rate, it was big, and it afforded my cousin and me some time to test the cuisine in the area. The first night we ventured into a blustery, cold wind to find dinner, looked at several menus, and settled on an Italian restaurant with a large selection. We split a caesar salad, the romaine cut in ribbons like pasta, with a lovely dressing, no anchovies – my decision. I chose the sauteed chicken breast and grilled eggplant, sliced thin, which adhered to the meat with a little smoked mozzarella, a nice reduction over all. Between these courses, I ate a cup of onion soup, with no beef or chicken stock, that was rich and complex. The waitress told us the chef used tomato to thicken the broth, which led me to researching vegan onion soup recipes when I came home.

ALL the onions

At Amber Waves today, I was restocking onions in the produce section and noticed several had mold on the skins. I removed 12 of them, and thought “OK, now’s the time to make the soup.” This recipe is a compilation of the those I saw online, plus the tomato. No one had tomato in their recipe.

toasty soup

Vegan French Onion Soup

12 or so medium onions, thinly sliced
3 T olive oil
salt and pepper

1/4 C red wine
1-2 T balsamic vinegar**

1 t dijon mustard
2 t tomato paste

8 C vegetable stock (see below)
1 small bay leaf
sprinkle of dried thyme
french and italian bread for croutons, plus cheese

For the stock:
top 3″ of a bunch of celery
1 onion, cut in large chunks
1 large carrot, sliced
2 cloves garlic, smashed
8 C water
salt to taste

Put veggies into water, bring to a boil, simmer 20 minutes, turn off and let sit while you slice onions.


Pour olive oil into a large soup pot, add onions, salt and pepper, and saute on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they are reduced in volume and barely cover the bottom of the pan. Add the red wine and balsamic vinegar, stir, and continue to cook until the liquids boil off. Turn the heat down, get a magazine or a good book, and cook the onions further, timing stirrings at 5 minute intervals, for about 30 minutes, until the onions are brown and sticky. Stir in the mustard and the tomato paste. (This is where I forgot to take a picture.)

Taste the stock and add salt until it tastes good. Strain the stock and add to the onions, scraping up the bottom and sides of the pot, toss in the herbs, and taste for salt and pepper. Cook gently for another 20 minutes.

Serve with toasted croutons topped with cheese of your choice, run briefly under the broiler or in a hot oven to melt. The French have nice ovenproof soup bowls for this purpose, or you can just put the bread on a cookie sheet, toast it briefly, top with Daiya or Gruyere or mozzarella, and pop back in the oven till it melts. Then put it into your soup!

I made this soup during a nor’easter, there’s lots of prep and time watching the onions caramelize. If you’re in a hurry, choose another recipe.

Bon appetit!

** One tablespoon of really thick, syrupy balsamic vinegar will suffice in this recipe. If you have the regular grocery store variety, use 2 T.

I’ve made some recent discoveries.

1. Trader Joe’s frozen vegetarian meatballs are delicious. I’m one of those vegetarians that other vegetarians are talking about when they say, it’s a shame that people eat so much fake meat. Obviously I’m on board with real foods. But I also love tofurkey deli slices, and these meatballs. I just ate them in a lunchtime sub, and they’d be great on a platter of plain old spaghetti with jar sauce.

2. Summery cocktails are refreshing in February too. A Campari spritz I made up last night: 1.5 oz. Campari, 1.5 oz. fresh orange juice, 1 oz. sweet vermouth, over ice, topped with soda water. Really mild, both in terms of booze and bitterness, and shockingly red.

I’ve got another quick bread on the docket. The first time I made this it was gone in a day. The next one lasted longer, but that’s just because two people can eat only so much quick bread.

nuts and seeds

mix the dry ingredients

I’m not a sesame-obsessed person, but recently I’ve grown more interested in how it might play on the sweet side of the arena rather than the savory. Especially when combined with other nuts, it brings this rich almost bitter quality to an otherwise mundane bread.

drip glaze

Toasted with butter is the best way to eat it.

sliced bread

Orange Sesame Bread

1/3 C coconut oil, melted
1/2 C brown sugar
2 T flax meal
1/4 C plus 2 T water
1 T orange zest
1 T vanilla extract
1 C soy/almond milk
1 t apple cider vinegar

1/2 C golden raisins, soaked in boiling water for 10 min. and drained
2/3 C toasted nut pieces (walnut was best, cashews very good)
1/2 C toasted sesame seeds, divided (reserve 1 T)
1 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C whole wheat flour
1/2 C spelt flour
1 t baking soda
2 t baking powder
1 t kosher salt
1/4 t cinnamon
1 t ground cardamom

1/3 C powdered sugar
2 t orange juice

Grease and flour a 4×8 loaf pan and preheat the oven to 350.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the first eight ingredients, the wet ones. In a separate, large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients, the raisins, the walnuts, and all but one tablespoon of the sesame seeds. Using a plastic spatula, fold the wet ingredients into the dry and stir just until there are no flour clumps remaining. Go slowly and avoid beating the batter. Spread the batter into the loaf pan.

Bake 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the bread comes out clean (45 minutes every time for me). Cool on a rack in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove the loaf and let it cool entirely on the rack.

Whisk together the powdered sugar, orange juice, and reserved sesame seeds, adding a little more juice if necessary to achieve a drizzly glaze. Once the bread is completely cooled, drizzle the glaze over it. Slice the bread and serve.

Two photography resolutions.

Stop using a camera phone.

i take too many pictures of leeks

Eat dinner at breakfast-time.


This is the second corn chowder I’ve posted here. I can’t help myself. This one is different; I promise. Both are smokey. Oh wow, both of them even have sweet potatoes. I’m sorry. But this one has collards, and even if you’re not a huge fan of collards you’ll like them here, I think.

Also, this one is vegan. Back then I thought that it was possible to whisk tofutti into soup. Ha.

soup and sandwichDSC_0024

Sweet Potato Chowder with Collards and Roasted Corn
serves 4 generously

1 C sliced, washed leeks
2 T vegetable oil
1 t kosher salt
1/4 C AP flour
6 C vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
1/2 t liquid smoke
3 C sliced, washed collard leaves
2 C peeled, cubed sweet potato
1 1/2 C frozen roasted corn
1/2 C soy creamer or half-and-half

In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, saute the leeks in the oil with the salt for about 5 minutes, until soft. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in the stock, raise the heat to high, and vigorously whisk some more (any remaining lumps will disappear as you go).

Add the bay leaf, liquid smoke, collards, and sweet potato. (Regarding the collards: I slice them while they’re dirty, submerge them in a big bowl of water, wash thoroughly, then lift them out of the bowl and directly into the soup–no need to dry them.) Once the mixture comes to a boil, bring the heat to low and cook 20 minutes, or until the sweet potato is tender and the collards are no longer quite so green and pretty.

Raise the heat again to high, and when the soup is boiling add the frozen corn. Cook for 2 minutes, then remove from heat, stir in the cream, and taste for seasoning. Serve hot, with some bread or toast on the side.

Kid got a new camera.

cabbage chop

Photographing food for this blog has been bumming me out for a long time. I cook at night — don’t we all — and the lack of natural light makes for blurry foodstuff or (worse, in my opinion) food lit by the garish point-and-shoot flash.

I have not yet become a master of this device, but suddenly it’s possible to have pictures with a foreground and a background. The next photograph does not feature this distinction, but I like it nevertheless.

place setting

Justin and I got back from our annual convention last week, an event whose encompassing cloud of anxiety we avoided for the most part by staying in Chinatown and escaping to my folks’ house as soon as we could. When we got back to Oakland this recipe had arrived in my inbox; about once a month Vegetarian Times really hits the spot with their courtesy emails, and I recommend this soup highly. It’s like a vegan risotto soup, pretty earthy with the cabbage but creamy because of those little white beans. Very comforting.

Veg Times suggest stirring a mixture of breadcrumbs and pine nuts into the soup. In an effort to one-up them I’ve added capers to the breadcrumb mix, for a little tang, and I served the breadcrumbs on the side for maximum individual control over crunchiness. I know pine nuts cost an arm and a leg but they’re worth it here — no nut is quite as creamy.

warm kitchen

White Bean and Arborio Rice Soup
serves 6
adapted from Vegetarian Times

3 T olive oil, divided
half a large yellow onion, finely chopped
2/3 C Arborio rice
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 t chopped fresh rosemary
8 C vegetable stock
2 C sliced green cabbage
1 bay leaf
1 15.5 oz. can white cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

2 slices country white bread, torn into 1-inch pieces (about a cup)
1/4 C pine nuts
2 t capers, drained

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large heavy stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and a pinch of kosher salt. Cook, stirring, until the onions are wilted and translucent, about 6 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook until it’s toasty, about 4 minutes.

Stir in the garlic, rosemary, and cabbage, the add the stock and bay leaf and raise the heat to high. Once the soup boils, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, make the breadcrumbs. Pulse the bread, pine nuts, and capers in a food processor until mixed together and chopped. (My bread was the tough and chewy sort, so I ended up with breadcrumbs plus bread chunks–this is just fine.) In a small frypan over medium heat, saute the breadcrumb mixture in the remaining tablespoon of oil for about five minutes until the crumbs are crisp.

Taste the soup. Season with salt if needed, and once the rice is cooked add the beans. Serve, spooning the toasty breadcrumbs over the top.

There’s a place to forage mushrooms near Oakland–lots of places I’m sure, but only one I’ve been to several times. Once–the first time!–we left with a huge cache of chanterelles; twice with nothing; and always with a crop of poison oak that lingers for over a week and a half. The spot is not welcoming to foragers, but so far, so good, no tickets.


I can’t imagine how much that first cache would have would cost at the store.

sack of mushrooms

Saute the leeks first but don’t cook the mushrooms. Use a tiny bit of cheese or daiya (which is really only tasty when used sparingly). I’ve become lazy and I buy pizza dough at the store. Hottest oven possible, preheat the baking sheet.

crispy edgesteakettle photobomb

Leek and Mushroom Pizza
makes one pizza, enough for two people and a little leftover

one lump of pizza dough (get it at the store, or do this, which makes two lumps)
3 T olive oil
2 C sliced washed leeks
1/2 lb. assorted mushrooms
1/4 C daiya or mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper

If you’re using store-bought dough, take it out of the bag and place it on a floured cutting board. Let it come to room temperature before trying to manhandle it. I use a rolling pin, and let it rest for 10 minutes whenever it seems like it doesn’t want to get any bigger. Turn, flip, and dust the dough with flour regularly.

Put your pizza pan in the oven and preheat to 500.

Heat 2 T of the oil in a frypan over medium-high heat. Saute the leeks for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and some of them are brown and a little burny.

Slice and tear the mushrooms into bite-sized pieces.

Take the pizza pan out of the oven. Put the dough on it (I fold the dough into quarters to make it easy to move, then unfold and stretch it on the pan). Brush the remaining 1 T olive oil over the dough, concentrating on the crust. Sprinkle the leeks over the dough, then the raw mushrooms and cheese. Bake for 8-12 minutes–check on it at 8, and remove from the oven when the crusts are golden brown.

Susan, the newer employee at Amber Waves, shared this recipe with me. It’s chewy, slightly sweet, practically fat free, and as Sue promised, absolutely delicious.


Old-Fashioned Date Nut Bread

1 C cut-up dates (I use Medjool, that’s what we sell, and they make a world of difference. One 1/2 lb. pkg is all you need, with a few left over!)
1 t baking soda
1 C hot water (I boil it)

1 egg (use a flax or chia egg if you’re vegan)
2/3 C sugar
1 t vanilla
1/2 t salt
1 T melted butter or oil
1 3/4 C flour (I used organic white to stay traditional, but I’m going for half whole wheat next time)
1/2 C chopped walnuts

Set oven to 350 degrees.

Place chopped dates in a bowl, sprinkle baking soda over, add hot water, stir a little, and let sit while you gather the rest of the ingredients.

Beat egg and sugar, butter, vanilla and salt. Add flour alternately with date mixture, adding nuts in last flour addition. I do this in two steps, flour-date, flour-nuts-date.

Bake in an oiled loaf pan 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in the pan, then cool to room temperature on a rack – makes slicing easier.

Great with cream cheese, but wonderful just toasted a bit all by itself.

(Teacups are from Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly, London, where I vacationed with my cousin Beth in September. I didn’t buy any.)teacups for fun