Saturday, June 4, 2016

Chinese Chickpea Mason Jar Salad

This is a vegetarian version of the beloved Chinese Chicken Salad I used to eat in Los Angeles all the time. I've tried a few different versions but this is the best. I put it in a jar this time, it came out great, so I will write what I did so I don't forget.

Ingredients -- makes 3 4-cup jars of salad each

From: Pickles and Honey

for the roasted chickpeas:
  • two 15 oz. cans cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained well (about 3 cups) (I made this with 1 can and it was fine)
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon chili sauce (or to taste)
for the dressing:
  • 4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1½ tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • fine grain sea salt to taste
for the salad:
  • 6 cups shredded romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 1 cup snow peas, sliced lengthwise into thin strips
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • one 10.5 oz. can mandarin oranges, drained
  • ½ cup almonds, toasted and chopped
for topping:
  • black sesame seeds
  • crispy noodles (use rice noodles if gluten-free)

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a mixing bowl, toss together all of the chickpea ingredients until evenly coated. Transfer them to the prepared baking sheet and spread them into an even layer. Don't worry about the extra liquid; it will thicken to form a sticky glaze. Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring once half-way through. (These are very good, if in a rush you could just use chickpeas drained straight from the can.) 
  2. While the chickpeas bake, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients in a mixing bowl or glass jar. 
  3. Rip 3 squares of plastic wrap. In the center of each square, put 1/3 of the almonds, a small handful of crispy noodles, and some black sesame seeds. Wrap up into 3 airtight packets.  (you need to do this because these ingredients will get soggy if you put them in the jars with the vegetables)
  4. In 3 4-cup ziplock containers,  layer:
    1. dressing
    2. mandarin oranges 
    3. chick peas (cooled!)
    4. green onions
    5. carrots
    6. snow peas 
    7. lettuce
    8. put 1 of your plastic wrapped packets in the top of each salad. 
    9. close tightly, and refrigerate until needed
To serve, dump salad into mixing bowl, unwrap packet and pour ingredients on top, mix together, and be the envy of all your workmates!! 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Strawberry Shortcake

Every year when I see the first local strawberries in the store, I think "strawberry shortcake." It's one of my favorite desserts, and I finally found the perfect biscuit recipe, I don't want to forget it!

Adapted from Betty Crocker

Makes 6 biscuits worth


1 lb fresh strawberries 
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2.5 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt
1/2 cup milk, plus a little more for brushing on biscuits
1 teaspoon granulated or coarse decorating sugar
3/4 cup whipping cream 
1 Tablespoon sugar



  • Heat oven to 400°F. In large bowl, slice strawberries, mix with 2 Tablespoons sugar; set aside.
  • In medium bowl, cut butter into flour, 2.5 Tablespoons sugar, the baking powder and salt, using pastry blender or 2 forks, until butter is the size of small peas. Stir in milk.
  • Place on lightly floured surface; knead 5 to 7 times or until dough forms. Pat dough 1/2 inch thick; cut out 6 rounds with 2 1/2-inch round cutter (I used a cup). Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Brush milk over rounds; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar.
  • Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 15 minutes.
  • In chilled small bowl, beat whipping cream and 1 T. sugar with electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. (or do what I do, put it in a tight Tupperware container, cover tightly, and shake) 
  • Split shortcakes in half horizontally. Spoon strawberries between halves and over tops. Top with whipped cream and additional strawberries.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Redemption Beans

I have been on a cookbook-buying binge lately. After reading a blog post about a cookbook called The Taco Cleanse full of vegan taco recipes, I immediately ordered it. I made this Jamaica-inspired recipe today and not only was it fast and delicious -- baby loved it! So I must blog it so I don't forget about it. This recipe makes  a LOT of sauce, so if you don't want so much sauce you may want to reduce the coconut milk a bit, or add in another can of beans.



-- 1 T. oil
-- 3 garlic cloves, smashed (I used a mortar and pestle)
-- 3 scallions, smashed (I used a mortar and pestle)-- 2 bay leaves
-- 1 t. thyme
-- 1/2 t. ground allspice
-- 1 t. salt
-- 1 scotch bonnet or habanero pepper, whole (I omitted this)
-- 1 13-oz can coconut milk
-- 2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed


-- Heat oil in pan. Add smashed garlic and scallions and let cook a little. Then, add in the rest of the spices and fry in oil until fragrant.

-- Add in the coconut milk, salt, and pepper if using, and boil 10 minutes or until reduced a bit.

-- Add the kidney beans and boil 5-10 more minutes or until it's thick to your liking.

Serve on with corn tortillas with roasted cauliflower, and guacamole, and hot sauce on the side.

Cold Rice Noodle Salad

I bought a couple cookbooks the other day. One of them was Bowl by Lukas Volger -- vegetarian versions of many asian one-bowl dishes such as pho, ramen, etc. On first glance, the recipes seemed a bit more ingredient and labor intensive than I had hoped, and I was a bit disappointed until I found this one, which I immediately made for dinner. It's perfect, easy providing you own a mandoline, fresh, healthy and restaurant-quality. I also think it would make a great layered jar salad, I will try that sometime. I can't wait to try more of these recipes.

Cold Rice Noodle Salad


-- 1 serrano chili, seeded if desired, coarsely chopped (I left this out)
-- 1 clove garlic, chopped
-- 1 T. chopped fresh ginger
-- 3 T. brown sugar
-- 1/2 cup boiling water
-- 3 T. soy sauce
-- zest and juice of 1 lime

-- 8 ounces dried medium-width rice noodles or rice vermicelli

-- 1 firm kirby cucumber (or 3 small persian cucumbers) peeled (I did not peel mine)
-- 1 medium carrot, peeled
-- 8 ounces smoked or baked tofu (I used regular tofu, which fell apart)
-- 4 cups shredded crisp lettuce, such as butter, boston, romaine or iceberg
-- 1 red, orange, or yellow belle pepper, cored and sliced into thin strips
-- 2 scallions, green and white parts, sliced on the bias
-- 1 cup chopped herbs such as cilantro, mint, or basil
-- 1/4 c. coarsely chopped peanuts, for garnish


-- Combine chili, garlic and ginger in a mortar and mound into a rough paste using a pestle. (Alternatively, mince and mash the mixture using a chef's knife) Combine in a small bowl with the brown sugar and the water. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then add the soy sauce and lime zest and juice. You should have about 3/4 cup sauce. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, but ideally for a few hours.

-- Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook until tender. Drain and rinse under cold water, then drain thoroughly and keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

-- Cut cucumber in half and scoop out seeds with a spoon (I used small persian cucumbers and did not do this). Use a mandoline to slice the cucumber and carrot into long thin strands. Cut the tofu into matchsticks.

-- Divide the lettuce among four bowls, then top each serving with the cold noodles. Arrange the cucumber, carrot, bell pepper, tofu, and scallions over the noodles in each bowl, then garnish with herbs and peanuts. Pass the dipping sauce at the table for guests to pour over their salad, or serve in small bowls for dipping.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Vegetable Kurma or Korma

Vegetable Korma is a traditional north Indian dish but Mahesh's family eats it a lot. This is Amma's south Indian version of it:


- 2 carrots, chopped
- 1/4 cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1/3 cup frozen peas
- 1/2 cup green beans, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 big or 2 small potatoes, chopped

- 1/2 inch stick cinnamon
- 2 whole dry red chilis
- 4 whole cloves
- 1/2 tsp whole fennel seed
- 4 cashews, roughly broken

Tomato/Onion Mixture:
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 big tomato, chopped
- 1 large or 3 small onions, chopped small
- 1 inch knob of ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 Tablespoon shredded coconut (can used dried or if it's fresh fry first)


1. Vegetables: chop and boil carrots, cauliflower, peas, beans, and potatoes in a little water until just slightly tender -- this will cook more later so don't overdo it!

2. Spices: Put 2 tablespoons of oil in a pot, heat over medium heat, and one by one add in the cinnamon, chili, cloves, fennel seeds, and cashews. Fry a little bit and then take spices out of the pot and set aside.

3. Tomato/onion mixture: In the same pot, add a bit more oil if necessary and add in the garlic, ginger, onion, tomato and coconut. Cook until the onions are tender, then let cool.

4. In a grinder or Indian Mixee, grind the spices until they are a fine powder. Then add the Tomato/onion mixture and grind into a paste. Add this back into the cooking pot, mix in the boiled vegetables, and cook a little more until the vegetables are done to your liking.

5. Finally, taste the korma. Add salt to taste and if you want it to be a bit more sour (if the tomatoes are very sweet), add in a scoop of plain yogurt. Only add yogurt directly before serving, as it may separate if it sits.

Enjoy with rice, or with chapatis (can substitute whole-wheat tortillas for chapatis), or bread

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving Ramen Bowl

So Thanksgiving here in Canada is just another weekday. I have been making these composed noodle soup bowls lately (you put all the ingredients in the bowl first, then pour the broth over the top) and I wanted to make one with the goodness of thanksgiving in it. Well it turned out fantastic! One great thing about these noodle bowls is you can customize each one -- so the vegetarians in our family had tofu, and I put some chicken in mine! We definitely want to make this again, so here is the recipe.

(makes 3 hearty bowls)

Ingredients (very approx, I did not measure anything):

-- ramen noodles for 3 people -- I bought the ones in individual packs and used 3 packets
-- approx. 1/2 med winter squash like butternut
-- 5 ounces baby spinach
-- 1 lb mushrooms (I used crimini)
-- 1 inch knob ginger, sliced into 1/2" thick slices
-- 1 onion, chopped
-- 1 stalk celery, chopped
-- 4 slices bread, cubed
-- 3 tablespoons butter
-- 1 tablespoon oil
-- 5 cloves garlic, sliced thin
-- 1 T. better than bullion soup base (vegetarian)
-- 1/2 block med tofu, cubed and/or 1/2 cup cooked chicke
-- sage
-- thyme
-- soy sauce
-- green onions, sliced thin


1. Measure 3 large noodle bowls worth of water into a pot -- this will become your broth! But for now it is your boiling bowl. Put pot on stove, turn on to high heat until water boils.

2. Wash and cut squash in half, clean out seeds, then slice squash with skin on into 1/2 inch slices. When water is boiling, boil squash until soft but not falling apart -- I did not time this, but maybe 10 minutes? When squash is done, remove from boiling water with tongs and set aside. When squash is cool, use a knife to cut off the peel, you should have nice rings of cooked squash.

3. Then add your ramen noodles to your boiling water, cook until done, maybe 2-3 minutes for the kind you buy already soft. Take out of pot with tongs and set aside.

4. Meanwhile, in a second pan, make Stuffing Croutons -- saute the celery and 1/2 onion in 2 T. butter until soft. Add in 1/2 t. fresh thyme and 1/8 t. dried sage. Add in cubed bread and set on medium, keep the pan on medium and keep mixing every now and then until the bread is toasted and crispy. Set aside.

5. Meanwhile, in a third pan, fry mushrooms in 1 T. butter and 1 T. oil until brown, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Dump into the broth, then in the same pan fry garlic in some oil until cooked (watch it because it burns easily!) Dump that into the broth when you are done.

6. Now you flavor the broth -- add in 1 T. of Bullion mix, 1/2 t. salt, pepper, ginger slices, the rest of the chopped onion, and 1 t. fresh thyme. Let that boil for at least 15 minutes or until onions are cooked through. Taste the broth, add more salt or soy sauce or whatever you think it needs to be tasty -- this broth will be the main flavoring of the dish! 

7. Add all the soup ingredients directly into the empty soup bowls -- I like to fill approx. 1/2 with noodles, then stick 3-4 slices squash in on one side, then a big handful of spinach (fresh is OK because the hot broth will wilt it down) then 1/2 cup tofu or chicken per bowl.

8. Carefully ladle boiling hot broth onto your ingredients. Add approx. 1/4 cup stuffing croutons and sliced green onions onto the top. Serve! (with hot sauce and extra soy sauce, if you like)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Corn Chowder - light and delicious!

We went apple picking this weekend, and the farm also offered U-Pick corn as well! Of course we had to take some home. I decided to make some corn chowder with our fresh corn, and I was glad I did! This recipe is a lot lighter than some of the other recipes I googled, and truly worthy of corn just off the stalk. The real genius here is making a corn cob broth that captures every last bit of sweet corn essence.

The minimalist's Corn Chowder

Adapted from Mark Bittman


  • 4 to 6 ears corn
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tomatoes, cored, seeded, and chopped, optional
  • 1 cup milk
  • Parsley for garnish


1. Shuck the corn and use a paring knife to strip the kernels into a bowl. Put the cobs in a pot with 4 cups water; bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, put the butter or oil in a saucepan and turn the heat to medium-high. When the butter melts or the oil is hot, add the onion and potatoes, along with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 5 minutes; add the tomatoes if you're using them and cook, stirring, for another minute or two.

3. After the corn cobs have cooked for at least 10 minutes, strain the liquid into the onion-potato mixture. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down so the mixture simmers. When the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes, add the corn kernels and boil for 3-5 minutes or until tender. Add the milk and heat through. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary, garnish with parsley, and serve.