Archives for category: sides and condiments

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!


Everyone’s telling me to batter these shishito peppers and do a tempura. Or just fry them in a skillet and eat plain with salt.

I think this is a better option. If you drizzle olive oil over the bruschetta before serving, it feels like you’re in a restaurant.

Shishito Pepper Bruschetta
makes 6 little appetizers

6 slices of bread from a nice crusty country white loaf
1 avocado, roughly mashed
15 or so shishito peppers
olive oil, salt, and pepper
aleppo or marash pepper for sprinkling

Toast the bread. I like to drizzle it with olive oil on a sheetpan, broil a minute or two, then lower the heat to 450 until the bread is crisp.

In a non-stick pan over medium-high heat, fry the whole shishito peppers in a little olive oil until they’ve got brown spots on all their sides. They’ll continue cooking after you remove them from the heat, so just aim for the brown, burnished spots and you’ll be fine. Remove them from the pan, salt them, let them cool a little, then slice.

Spread the toasts with a relatively thin layer of avocado. I say “thin” because I would usually aim for 1/2″ of avocado here, but that’s too much. You want just enough for the peppers to stick to, roughly equal amounts avocado and shishito. Season with salt and pepper.

Pile some peppers onto each slice. These are mild, so don’t be afraid. Use them all. Then drizzle with olive oil, and dust with a little smokey aleppo or marash pepper. Serve immediately.

Recently Justine and I have been talking about how much we miss good Chinese-American food. Authentic Chinese food is easy to find in LA. I don’t live there anymore, but maybe it’s easy to find in the Bay Area as well. It’s much harder to find a decent egg roll, the kind with pretty thick skin and lots of cabbage inside, that you spread all the hot mustard on.

Now that I’ve parted ways with meat, some of Chinese-American food dreams have faded. I would love to find a pan-fried, doughy dumpling stuffed with gingery, scallion-studded seitan–but considering that I never found its porky cousin on the West Coast, I’m not holding out.

On summer breaks from college, waitressing and hostessing at the pizza place and being the produce girl at Amber Waves, I would go out with my coworkers after dinner service to the Peking Palace, where we would blow our tips on fried appetizers and flaming scorpion bowls with little reservoirs of highly flammable Bacardi 151. Scallion pancakes didn’t come with the old school Polynesian Pu-Pu platter, nor did we get them on the rare occasion we ate out when I was a kid. But I liked to order them anyhow–savory fried dough is never out of place.

This recipe is a pretty standard one across the internet, but I added black rice to the filling for some visual interest and a little grainy, nutty flavor. The cakes are labor intensive and fatty, and there’s no way around it. If you use coconut oil you’re at least getting some good fats in there, in addition to all the gooey white flour. No apologies. I ate these with a simple bok choy and soft tofu stir fry. They’re a nice accompaniment to miso soup too, if you want to get pan-asian. They fry up just like you remember.

Scallion Pancakes
makes four pancakes
adapted from Ming Tsai

1/4 C black rice
2 C AP flour, plus more for dusting
1 C boiling water
1/4 t table salt
1/2 t ground black pepper
1 T toasted sesame oil
3/4 C sliced scallions
1/4 C sesame seeds
coconut oil

ginger dipping sauce

Bring a few cups of black rice to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the black rice, return to a simmer, and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside (this makes rice with very separable grains–perfect for this application).

In a food processor, blend together the flour, salt and pepper (you can also do all this in a big bowl). With the machine running, add the boiling water in a stream until a dough ball forms. Turn out the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel, and let it sit for 30 minutes.

Sprinkle your work surface (I use my biggest cutting board) with lots of flour. Dump the dough out and flip it around in the flour so all sides are nice and dusty. At this point keep dusting with flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to your work surface. Roll the dough out roughly into a thin rectangle (or rough oblong shape…it really doesn’t matter.) Brush the dough with the sesame oil, then sprinkle with the scallions. Roll up like a jelly roll and cut into two equal pieces. Set aside one of them.

Roll out the other piece, using more flour as necessary, into a smaller rectangle (again–looks do not matter here, just roll that dough out). Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of cooked black rice. Press the rice into the dough and roll up like a jelly roll again. Cut that piece in half. Repeat this process with the other half of the dough. Now you have four pieces of dough, and they all have scallions and rice in them.

To recap: you started with one piece of dough. You rolled it out, added sesame oil and scallions, and jelly rolled. Then you cut the roll in two. Then with each of those two pieces, you rolled out, sprinkled black rice, rolled up, and cut in two. Now you have four pieces.

Take one piece and get it floured all over and on both ends. Stand it on one end and push down to form the beginning of a pancake. Using your hands and the rolling pin as necessary, make it into a 6″ pancake.

Preheat your oven to 200 and throw in a sheet pan with a cooling rack on it.

Heat 1 T coconut oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. I used a baby frypan just the size of the pancakes and it worked great. Spread out the sesame seeds on a plate and press the pancake into the seeds, on both sides, so that some seeds are sticking to the cake. Fry in oil, 3-5 minutes per side, checking frequently and flipping with tongs when the bottom is a nice golden color. When it’s perfectly golden on both sides, introduce it to the warm oven. Add another teaspoon or two of coconut oil, and repeat with the next pancake. Keep going until all the pancakes are crispy and ready to eat.

Cut each pancake into four, and serve with the ginger dipping sauce.

Many, many people have asked me for this recipe. We used to make it for our deli at Amber Waves, and when we stopped, addicts forced me to give it out. It comes originally from the Mori-nu tofu company, I changed it a tiny bit, subbing red onion for scallions. I’ll include a substitution for the hard to find Simply Organic onion soup mix as well.

Spinach Dip

1 10 oz. package Mori-nu silken tofu, or other silken tofu
1 10 oz. pkg frozen, thawed, organic spinach
2-3 cloves garlic
1 pkg. Simply Organic onion soup/dip mix
1/2 C Veganaise
1/4 C chopped red onion
1 8 oz. can waterchestnuts, drained, rinsed and diced

Peel the garlic and put the cloves in your food processor. Pulse until tiny bits cover the sides of the bowl.

Squeeze thawed spinach over the sink with all your might, you want it pretty dry. It takes me three handfuls to accomplish this.

Add squeezed spinach, Veganaise, onion soup mix and tofu to processor, buzz till smooth.

Remove dip from processor and put it in a mixing bowl. Coarsely chop the waterchestnuts, finely dice the onion, and mix in by hand. Yeah, you can throw them in the processor, but the texture comes out too fine to notice there’s anything different in there. You want a nice crunch.

Serve with chips, or spread on sandwiches. Because this is tofu based, this
dip will not freeze. Keeps well in the fridge – about a week!

Substitution for onion soup mix:

2 T dried onion flakes
1 T tamari soy sauce
1 vegetable bouillon cube (one that makes 1 C, I have to cut mine in half as they make 2 cups)
1 T boiling water

Dissolve bouillon in hot water, add to tofu mix along with the onion flakes and tamari. Onion flakes take longer to hydrate in the dip than the soup mix, so plan to let the dip sit for an hour before serving.

A word to the wise–DON’T use Knorr onion soup mix. It’s just plain terrible. I know.

I grew up in a family of the culinary curious. My dad made friends with everyone, from everywhere. I thought I knew pretty much all there was to know about Indian cuisine, now I’m not so sure. I’ve made dal and pilafs, puris and pakorhas, curries, masalas and kormas, naan, parathas, chapatis, chutneys, and I’ve even made my own panir cheese. Then my daughter sent me this bag of deep fried puffed rice, noodles and crackers along with some chutneys and a recipe for bhel puri. Now I suspect I’ve just scraped the surface of a complex cuisine with regional dishes I’d never imagined existed.

For you Cape Cod folk, getting the essential puffed rice for this recipe will require going off Cape. I can’t find it from any of my distributors. Watertown seems like a good bet, if you happen to be passing through. You might also pick up the tamarind and coriander chutneys, not to be found in my catalogs. If you do find it, you’ll be rewarded with a taste experience unlike anything you’ve ever eaten: sweet, tart, crunchy, and addictive. And one bag of bhel and one jar each of the chutneys makes 3 full recipes!

This is the exact recipe my daughter sent.

Bhel Puri
serves 4

2 C cubed peeled baking potato
4 C bhel puri mix
1 C seeded chopped tomato
1 C seeded chopped cucumber
1/2 C chopped red onion
1 mango, peeled and chopped (she likes green, I like ripe)
1/4 C chopped cilantro
3 T tamarind chutney
1 T coriander chutney
1 serrano chile, seeded and chopped

Boil the potato and drain, about 7 minutes. Mix together the chutneys and the serrano. Then mix everything together in a large bowl and serve immediately. Serves 4 as an entree (it’s supposed to be a snack but I eat it for dinner).

I often prep all the veggies, mix them, and stash in the fridge. Same with the sauce. When I want a serving, I mix one cup of the bhel mix with a quarter of the vegetables and 1 T sauce. Crunchy every time.


When I first received the package of bhel mix, the coriander chutney had popped its cap in transit. I just used the tamarind, and it’s great, a little heat, enough for me without the serrano. Don’t know what the coriander chutney has to offer, but I imagine it would be nice. [Ed. Looks like she adds some chopped cilantro?] The bhel mix comes from the province of Gujarat, north of Mumbai. Ahmadabad is the big city there.

So, fine, parsley scallion hummus is an idea I stole from the Whole Foods salad bar.

You know what else is really good at Whole Foods? The arugula, corn, and red onion salad. And the rare, exotic slippers.

I kid, WF! I kid because I am deeply ambivalent about you.

Oh well, this hummus is awesome. There is so much herbage in here that it tastes abnormally fresh, and it is a super pleasant hue of green. I want to recommend that you eat it not just with pita chips, but on an openfaced hummus bagel, which is my new favorite breakfast. You toast a bagel, spread each half with at least 2 T of hummus, and top each with a slice and a half of tomato, four slices of cucumber, and a few slivers of red onion (I dig precision). Plus some salt and pepper.

What a fine breakfast! Or lunch; I had it yesterday. You have to hold those cukes in place as you shove the thing in your mouth but the awkwardness is worth it.

If you’re accustomed to buying canned chickpeas, I encourage you to try cooking your own. It’s satisfying and cheap as all getout. I’ve used my mom’s quick-cook instructions in the recipe; this reduces the soaking time from overnight to just over an hour. That means you can make beans anytime you have a spare couple hours. I realize that I am speaking from a position of luxury. I don’t work 9-5. But even if you do, you can boil beans from scratch.

Parsley Scallion Hummus
makes 3 C

1 C dried chickpeas
4-5 scallions, sliced thinly
2.5 C parsley leaves (this was about one bunch for me)
2 T tahini
2 T lemon juice
1/4 t cumin seeds
1 1/2 t kosher salt
olive oil

In a small saucepan, cover the dried chickpeas with cold water. Bring to a boil, cover, and turn off the heat. In an hour, make sure the beans are still covered with water (add more if you need to), bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the beans are soft (about 50-60 minutes). Set aside.

In a food processor, finely chop the scallions. Then add the parsley and grind grind grind. Add the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, and salt and process until the chickpeas are all ground up and have formed a ball. Then, with the processor on, start drizzling in olive oil. You’re going to keep drizzling until the chickpea ball becomes hummus. You can stop at any time, taste it, and see if the hummus is moist enough for your taste yet. This will require a good amount of olive oil! I’m guessing at least 1/3 C. If this freaks out you, you can reserve 1/4 C of the chickpea cooking water and use that when you’ve hit your oil wall. But I enjoy a good fat.

Check for seasonings, and add more lemon or salt as needed. Serve at room temperature.

At Amber Waves, we used to sell fresh tomatillos from time to time. When they didn’t all sell, we’d make green salsa. When the green salsa didn’t sell, we’d make green enchiladas. This sort of behavior exemplifies a central family philosophy: make ’em eat it. I do this all the time, but I am ’em. You’d think I was raised in the depression. I get the same pleasure out of finishing the last of whatever glop is lurking in a tupperware as I do from crossing tasks off a list.

In any case, a love for tomatillos, their weird, sticky flesh and their papery shells, was born.

(I used red onions originally, but I don’t think the salsa needs them and so I left them out of the recipe.)

This salsa I made from first-rate ingredients, but I’ve made too much and now I’m looking for a new vehicle. My current idea is that it would be amazing on top of rice and beans. Maybe with some fried plantains.

But for now I’m eating them with these yuca tortillas from Veganomicon. I wanted to write about them too but I find yuca too frustrating for words. How can a yuca root yield so little yuca? It’s very frustrating. Unlike this salsa, which is pliant as well as delicious, and best suited to eating with a giant sack of corn chips.

Tomatillo Avocado Salsa
makes 3 cups (i.e. a ton)

1 lb. tomatillos, husked
3 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 jalapeno, seeds removed
1 C cilantro (mostly leaves, some stems are fine)
1 t kosher salt
2 T lime juice
2 avocados

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Dump in the tomatillos and garlic cloves and cover for three minutes. Fish out the tomatillos as they soften. As you would expect, the small ones cook faster than the large ones. As you drag out the last fatties, grab the garlic cloves too. Refrigerate the tomatillos and garlic for one hour.

In a food processor, buzz up the japaleno and garlic cloves. Add the cilantro and buzz again. Then add the chilled tomatillos, salt, lime juice, and one of the avocados. Process until smooth.

Peel and chop the second avocado. Stir it into the salsa and serve.

Another over-the-counter recipe from an Amber Waves customer! I asked what she was making with all the hot curry powder she was buying, and she said “Greek yogurt curry dip!” “How do you make it?” Here’s the answer.

Yogurt Curry Dip

1 8 oz. container low-fat or non-fat plain Greek yogurt
2 T mayonnaise or Veganaise (no eggs, lighter taste)
1/4 t salt
1 t hot curry powder, or regular curry powder, or half hot, half mild

Mix together, let sit an hour or more, serve with veggies, breadsticks, crackers. The mayo keeps the yogurt from separating. This is really good, my husband and I polished off an entire recipe in minutes.

I was telling my friend Judy how to make this simple pilaf, and she had a lot of questions and wanted more detail. I remembered not everyone is an intuitive cook, and instructions and measurements are essential for many.

This recipe comes from the Middle Eastern restaurant of my childhood, the El Morocco, in Worcester, MA. Saifie, the Lebanese woman behind the stove, was always happy to share her cooking secrets with my dad, who considered everyone his friend. This pilaf accompanied all the main dishes at the restaurant.

Essential Rice Pilaf
Serves 4

1 C long grain white rice (Dad always used Uncle Ben’s, probably the only thing on the market in the 50’s)
1/4 C orzo, or other small pasta, or broken-up spaghetti
2 T butter, or oil (Saifie used butter, but oil works)
1 bouillon cube, chicken or vegetable
1 3/4 C water

Measure out your rice and pasta and water and keep them near the stove.

In a small 1 qt. saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until it starts to foam.

Add the pasta, I’ve used fine egg noodles here, but would have used broken spaghetti, alphabets or orzo if I’d had any. Saute over medium heat until the pasta turns a toasty brown, about 3-4 minutes.

Add the rice and stir until the grains become somewhat transparent. This will take a minute or two. Pour in the water, it will bubble and sizzle as everything is pretty hot. Add the bouillon cube, wait a minute, smash it against the side of the pan with a spoon, and stir it in.

Cover, turn down the heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes until the water is absorbed. The aroma of browned butter/oil pasta will permeate the kitchen.

I had a bunch of tomatoes to use up, so I sauteed several with onion, garlic and a green pepper and served this on top!

My friend Judy came into Amber Waves the other day and recited the Dr. Joel Fuhrman GOMBS diet to me. GOMBS is an acronym for the foods that prevent cancer:

G = greens, esp. broccoli, but even green tea is good
O = onions, and that includes all of that family
M = mushrooms (every mushroom has anti-cancer properties, not just reishi or shiitake)
B = berries
S = seeds

I started thinking about a good side dish incorporating some of these foods, and as snap peas were on the counter:

Snap Peas, Shiitakes, and Onions

1/2 lb. fresh snap peas
1 large onion, peeled and sliced thinly root to top
4-5 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 T olive oil
1 T tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 T sesame seeds

Put dried mushrooms into a small bowl and pour boiling water over them, just to cover. Allow them to rehydrate while you prep the peas and onion. You can use fresh shiitakes, but they seem to lack the wonderful flavor of the dried.

Clean snap peas by pulling off one end towards the other, stripping the tougher vein away from the pod. New tender pods don’t need this, older ones do. Wash them and cut them in thirds, or halve the small ones.

Reserve the soaking liquid, and slice the now soft shiitake into strips, discarding the tough stem.

Saute the onion in the olive oil over medium heat until wilted, then add the snap peas and shiitakes and the soaking liquid. Stir until water is almost entirely evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and sesame seeds, stir briefly, and serve. Once the peas are in the pan, try to keep cooking time at around 3 minutes, as you don’t want to overcook them. This recipe would be terrific in winter with broccoli or cabbage and a little longer on the flame.