Category Archives: vegetarian

my new addiction: dangerously quick and easy scallion pancakes

scallion pancakes with a smashed garlic scallion soy dipping sauce

i am in the midst of a very dangerous scallion pancake obsession. if you’ve ever had these flaky fried disks dotted with slivers of green onions, you know that they have potential to become a serious addiction.  you pick up a piping hot triangle, shimmering lightly with a bare trace of sesame oil and threatening to pull apart into thin layers of nearly translucent dough.  you dip a corner into the smashed garlic soy vinegar sauce and bring it to your mouth, inhaling the scent of crispy seared scallions and the nutty warmth of the lingering sesame flavors.  and then you bite down, the doughy inner layers dissolving on your tongue as the crispy outer shards of the browned pancake crack into pieces like the icy surface of a frozen pond as springtime approaches.

oh…it tastes so good. and then you want to do it again. and again. and again.

and when you have perfected the quick and easy scallion pancake recipe to the point that it takes a mere stomach-rumbling twenty minutes to go from a bag of flour and a handful of scallions to the tastiest of pan-fried snacks…well, it’s dangerous business. because you will do it all the time. trust me, i know.

so i give you this scallion pancake recipe with a warning: with great power comes great responsibility.  after trying these pancakes, the mere sizzle of the pan or scent of freshly chopped scallions may cause you to relinquish control, churning out pancake after pancake and consuming every bite. cook at your own risk…

step by step scallion pancakes recipe in photos

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the veg bag game: easy roasted tomato zucchini bread soup

note: parts of this (the non-rambling, correctly punctuated parts) were originally published here at eat.drink.better. read there and support an awesome green blog.

roasted tomato potato soup

one of my favorite parts of the week is picking up my growing communities veg bag from hackney city farm. every time, i still feel really lucky to live in a place where i have access to locally grown and organic produce from an incredible organization and i can pick it up less than a block away.  i also still feel a little weird using the phrase veg bag – it sounds like an insult (you dirty veg bag!) – but hey, when in rome…

this week, i’ve got:

potatoes, onions, and zucchini from ripple farm organics in kent

carrots from hughes organics in norfolk

cherry tomatoes and eggplant from wild country organics in cambridge

and finally, a salad bag locally grown in my very own borough of hackney. amazing!

this week’s salad bag had numerous unidentifiable bits of greenery including baby lettuce, basil, what looked like yellow chard, and a bizarre mottled green lilypad-esque leaf with a peppery bite. hilariously enough, i tweeted about it, and a farmer from georgia randomly told me that it was probably nasturtium leaves. after a quick google search, i think they’re right.  man, these interwebs.

following on my veggie burger and carrot potato explorations, i’m doing more fun kitchen experiments figuring out how to use all the random vegetables that come my way.  it’s the veg bag game! can’t beat anything that combines games and food: two of my favorite things on the planet besides panda babies.

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The Veg Bag Game: Carrot Potato Pancakes and Veggie Fritters

potato-carrot-pancakesevery week, i pick up a two bags full of dirty straight-from-the-farm fruits and vegetables from the growing communities organic veg box scheme at hackney city farm.  every week, the contents of the bags are a surprise and an opportunity for cooking fun, experimentation, and learning. what’s the best way to cook summer squash? can i eat these cauliflower leaves? (answer: yes! recipe here). how did i end up with so many freaking oranges? are the carrots multiplying on the counter to taunt me?

to counteract the carrot invasion, i’ve been playing around with a bunch of recipes that showcase the root vegetables that always seem to be  hanging around the kitchen. go read them here on eat.drink.better and support the green blog network of green options. i’ll reprint them here in a few days. while you’re waiting, go read this excellent article by michael pollan in the sunday times magazine last week on cooking as a spectator sport. why do so many people watch cooking on tv but never turn on their stove? don’t get me wrong, i love the food network but i love playing around in the kitchen even more. it’s creative, entertaining, and most importantly, results in something delicious to eat. one such experimentation resulted in the delicious fried veggie fritter meatball thingamajigs below. who doesn’t like deep fried balls? mmmm….go cook something!

a-cup-of-fried-vegetarian-meatballs

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Easy Veggie Burger with Carrots, Zucchini, Chickpeas and Halloumi Cheese

i’m still in a bit of a recovery mode from yesterday’s rambling tea party and banquet, so here’s a post originally published on eat.drink.better.com.  it’s the first recipe in a series inspired by the what-the-hell-am-i-going-to-do-with-all-these-vegetables game i play (and very much enjoy) every week when i pick up my organic veg bags. read the original here and support an awesome local healthy eating website!

happy saturdays,

mei

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Zucchini Carrot Veggie Burger on Salad

A lot of supermarket vegetarian burgers try so hard to resemble meat that they ignore the fact that vegetables actually taste delicious in the first place. Why try to replicate a beef burger with a monotonously colored brown thing full of mysterious ingredients and even weirder textures when you can eat a vegetable burger that actually showcases the flavors of the vegetables? Here on Eat.Drink.Better we’ve seen fantastic burgers made of black beans, white beans, lentils and portobello, and and even beets! Here’s another veggie burger that’s brightly colored, packed with exciting flavors, and simple to make with both fresh and canned vegetables. Plus, it’s healthy but still deliciously tasty thanks to the freshness of just-grated carrots and zucchini with the heft of canned chickpeas and the salty tanginess of halloumi cheese.

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how to eat wild and exotic mushrooms without dying!

here’s a post of mine that was originally published at eat.drink.better, an awesome sustainable food website, as five ways to serve wild and exotic mushrooms.  all you need to eat exciting and rare mushrooms is to let someone else do the work of finding them. less effort and less likely to kill you! yay farmer’s markets for both improving and saving my life.

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I’ve always loved the idea of foraging for food, but the idea of dying from a poisonous mushroom overdose has always put me off from plucking edibles from the ground for dinner. Luckily, you can often find a carefully selected array of wild and exotic mushrooms at grocery stores or farmers markets. Sometimes, when there’s potential for serious injury, I find it’s best to leave things up to the professionals.

I found this gorgeous array of exotic mushrooms at the Sporeboys stall at London’s beautiful Broadway Market. Mushrooms are easy to cook, good for you, and have a deliciously rich, almost meaty taste that’s a great vegetarian substitute. I made a simple sautéed mushroom mix with olive oil, herbs, and cheese that tasted great on toast as well as pasta. It could also top a number of other dishes that you’ve already got in your kitchen. It’s simple, versatile, and oh so tasty…and no fear of poison! What more could you ask for?

Here’s an easy way to cook your mushrooms and a number of ways to serve them too:

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just in case you obtain a large number of cauliflower leaves, i now present a soy, garlic, and onion roasting recipe

so much to post! so little time! i’ve got about eight posts full of deliciousness on the way – some promised videos of donuts and japanese pancakes, a secret supper, more market visits, and the world’s hottest hamburger – so get excited. but alas, bed and anna karenina are calling at the moment, so i’ll leave you with the perfect recipe should you ever find yourself in possession of an abundance of cauliflower leaves. you never know…

it’s originally from the fabulous eat.drink.better, so go read it there and support sustainable eating! yum!

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Until I started receiving local British vegetables through my organic veg box scheme, I had only ever purchased cauliflower as a large white vegetable swaddled in crinkly translucent plastic at the supermarket.  However, this week’s veg bag came with a huge green lump about the size and weight of a dodgeball. At first, I thought it was some sort of unknown English cabbage. However, upon peeling away a few of the thick, dusky green leaves, I discovered a tiny cauliflower the size of my fist nestled amongst the paler, thinner stalks.  I’ve never even seen so many cauliflower leaves before, much less a version of the vegetable that consisted of about 80% leaf and 20% flower.

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an award-winning chili recipe and a straight-from-the-farmer’s-market salad

i’d like to take the opportunity to share the recipe for the best chili i’ve had the pleasure to taste, as invented by my cousin jeff and his friend jack.

pssssh, you say. everyone thinks they have the best chili recipe.

well, does everyone have a ‘people’s choice’ award from an actual legit chili cookoff?

people’s choice?’ you disdainfully snort. that’s like the loser miss congeniality award for the girl that doesn’t have big enough fake boobs to actually win Miss New Jersey Junior Teen America.

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organic one-pot veggie udon soup (2 meals for under $8!) woohoo!

based on several recent posts stuffed chock-full of food porn and serious meat eating, you may think i have absolutely zero self-control when it comes to eating out, and you might be right. as much as i believe that we should all eat less meat for health and environmental reasons, i have trouble turning down a really delicious meat dish that has been sustainably sourced. and luckily (or not, depending on your viewpoint) there are ample bay area restaurants (linked above) that make it a point to get their meat from local, humane, non-industrial producers.

however, i rarely cook meat when i’m cooking for myself since it’s much cheaper and healthier to cook vegetarian, or at least mostly vegetarian. one of my goals is to make this blog at least marginally useful and share some ideas for cooking affordable, healthy, easy meals that are ideally local, organic, and/or sustainable. thus, i present the all-organic–asian-inspired-under-ten-dollars-one-pot-veggie-udon soup. word.

first, the grocery list:

organic-vegetable-udon-soup

1  package organic planet udon – $2.22

1/2 box pacific organic free-range chicken broth – $2.04

1 bunch organic kale – $2.29

1 head of organic broccoli – $1.15 (or so)

your shockingly low two-meal total? – $7.70!!!

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fun with leftovers – the ultimate cage fighting of the cooking world

to follow up on my food politics and cooking post, i’m going to try to write a bit about easy, affordable, healthy, and hopefully sustainable ways to cook. one way to keep things free and sustainable is by recycling the items already available in your fridge! if you find yourself in the somewhat-unlikely-but-always-possible scenario of having a fridge full of leftovers from a bacon smackdown, you may not be able to cover the healthy part, but hey, animal fat is good for you, right? right?

the thing i like best about cooking with leftovers is that there are no rules. it’s like the ultimate cage fighting of cooking  – you can forcefully fish-hook someone in the nostrils or make brown sugar pork pie if you that’s what you fucking feel like doing. you’re not trying to follow a predefined recipe or get your souffle to rise, you’re just tossing together what you’ve got in a way that hopefully tastes delicious. so what if it’s not an actual dish? when you’re done mixing shit up, it will be.

food porn and alien pigs after the jump.

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mission taste tour: tartine and the devil’s bread. plus, panzanella!

someone at tartine bakery must have sold their soul to the devil because their bread is fiendishly, hellaciously, fire and brimstone-y good (no, i don’t even know what that means). sure, their banana cream pies, ham and cheese croissants, bread pudding, morning buns, croque monsieurs, and just about everything they make deserve every deliciously over-the-top superlative i can think of, but their bread merits its own separate tribute. bread is oh so simple, yet oh so fucking hard to perfect. it’s just a few ingredients – usually flour, water, yeast, and salt – yet making that ultimate crusty yet chewy, structural yet yielding,  flavorful but not overpowering loaf is an absolute work of art.

i know i sound obsessive, but every person i’ve served it to starts off skeptical, chews for a few moments, then says something along the lines of, ‘i would trade one of my kidneys to eat this every day.’  i couldn’t agree more (you only need one, silly).  every time i buy a loaf to serve as an appetizer, i can never enjoy as much as i want because an entire dinner is coming. so my roomates and i planned  a dinner last week of  just tartine bread, cheese, and salad. they sell the bread only on wednesday through sunday and it comes fresh out of the oven at 5pm. i almost didn’t want to write that because the bread goes so fast, but hell, it’s on their website and everyone knows about it.  which is why all of it had been sold in less than an hour when we stopped by last thursday. GAHHH. arrow straight to the heart. they were nice enough to give us a small piece of tester loaf for free, and we bought a still-really-good-but-poor-substitute-for-tartine-bread loaf of acme cranberry walnut bread from bi-rite.

on our way back, we stopped in tartine to have a glass of wine and listen to a weekly band that always seems to include some form of accordion (bean, you’d love it) and what did we see on the counter but this thing of beauty:

bread1

apparently it was a test loaf of fougasse, which is basically a french version of what would be focaccia in italian. i spoke to a really nice guy who works there named eric, who was taking photos of the bread. i asked if i could take a photo too, then snapped a few shots of him and the fougasse with his camera. we chatted a bit about how we’re neighbors cause he lives over the bakery, and told him about how we came home empty-handed after missing out on the day’s bread. i sat back down and then after a few minutes he came up to us and handed over the fougasse because apparently they had to get rid of this mountainous bready wonder of a test loaf.

GOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! the bread score of a lifetime. we took it home, added the other tester loaf, one of my favorite cheeses – the incredibly rich and creamy king island seal bay triple cream brie (anything with triple cream is triple awesome) – as well as a really fresh mozzarella, some deliciously spicy and fruity mcevoy olive oil, and a fantastic bottle of charles creek cabernet that we got at a tasting room up in somona last week. nom nom fucking nom.

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it was like a meal you have as a kid when your parents are out of the house – i’m gonna eat whatever i want! thirty-six marshmallows, two pop tarts, a bag of cheese puffs, and a hot pocket! – except the grown up version. no thought for nutrition, balance, or even vegetables (the salad greens were ignored in the fridge) but just what tastes good, and a lot of it. the fougasse was incredible -  it had a crunchy and cracker-y crust with a thin sheen of oil and a sprinkling of salt on top, and a very airy inside without a lot of heft that the traditional loaves have. it was fantastic with the cheese (duh), but we came to appreciate its true bread-y power because of its deliciousness when standing alone with no accompanying flavors. truly awesome.

and the best part – leftovers! despite attacking the fougasse like a ravenous pack of marauding t-rexes, there was still a fair amount left at the end of our meal (note: this is not because we eat like corseted duchesses at a garden party, it’s because the fougasse started off the size of a fully grown koala bear, i kid you not). here’s an important food tip – never throw out good bread. there are tons of dishes you can make with leftover bread like ribollita (tuscan bread soup), panzanella (tuscan bread salad), bruschetta (holy shit, italians are geniuses!), or breadcrumbs for mac-n-cheese and a bajillion other dishes. just throw the bread in a plastic bag and tie it up tight for a day or two, and stick it in the oven to crisp it up when you want to use it.

the next day,  i decided to make bread salad with the leftovers, which is super easy because you can throw in pretty much any vegetable you like. tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onions are standard, but you could also throw in asparagus, artichokes, green beans, white beans, any kind of bell pepper, pine nuts, olives, anchovies – basically anything you’ve got lying around in the fridge or whatever’s fresh at the farmer’s market. we went with just the basics, made a garlicky vinaigrette, and it turned out smashingly delicious:

panzanella

for the salad: leftover bread. four tomatoes. half a red onion. one cucumber.

chop the tomatoes and cucumbers into bite-size pieces and the red onion into thin slices. toss the bread in the oven for about 10 minutes at 350°, until it gets crispy. tear the bread into bite size pieces. don’t do it straight out of the oven or you’ll burn the shit out of your hands (yes, sometimes i’m not that smart).

for the dressing: one big clove of garlic, a chunk of red onion, olive oil, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper.

mince the garlic (i like to lay my knife blade flat on top of the garlic and then bring my fist down hard to smash it – boooyakasha i’m a ninja! -  then it’s really easy to peel and dice) and the red onion. splash in the olive oil and vinegars. i like red wine vinegar for the acidity and tartness and balsamic to sweeten it up. add salt and pepper. whisk everything together with a fork. the fresh garlic will give it that spicy garlicky taste that perfectly complements the richness of the olive oil and sweetness of the balsamic. mmmm.

once you’ve made the vinaigrette, pour it over the bread and veggies and toss. if the bread is very dry or in thicker pieces, let it sit for a bit to soak up the vinaigrette. enjoy!

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