cashew and cardamom fudge

by Stevie on August 31, 2012

This tofu dessert… yes, you read correctly, tofu dessert, is another super recipe from Nguyen’s Asian Tofu. She touts it as a higher protein version of the Indian kaju barfi, typically made with milk, sugar and cashew nuts.

cashew and cardamom fudge

cashew and cardamom fudge

Mine was delicious but didn’t quite have the consistency of what I consider to be fudge. This was soft. Perhaps I should have simmered the sweetened condensed milk longer to have less liquid? In any event, the flavor was wonderful and unlike most tofu-bearing recipes, you’ll never even know it is there.

cashew and cardamom fudge

8 oz super-firm tofu, grated with your finest grater
3½ oz raw cashews
1 can sweetened condensed milk
¾ tsp cardamom—I used whole pods which I ground and removed some of the fibrous shells
2 tbsp chopped pistachios

Line a small pan (she recommends 8”x8” but I didn’t have one so improvised) with parchment paper.

Grind cashews in food processor to a coarse texture. Add to shredded tofu (shredding the tofu was the hardest part of this recipe.) Toss to combine.

In a medium pan on medium heat, add the sweetened condensed milk and the tofu cashew mixture. Cook, stirring periodically, about 15 minutes. Don’t let it boil. Remove from heat and add ground cardamom.

Press into prepared pan. Press chopped pistachios on top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

When ready, cut into squares, bars or diamonds. Enjoy.

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spicy pressed tofu salad

by Stevie on August 21, 2012

spicy pressed tofu salad

spicy pressed tofu salad

I’m so excited about this new-to-me book, Andrea Nguyen’s Asian Tofu. I saw it by chance at the local Whole Foods and was cautiously interested. I ordered a copy from the library and couldn’t put it down once I started reading. I shall have to splurge and actually buy a copy soon.

Nguyen writes in a lucid style with a modern sensibility. Despite the extremely broad sounding title, the focus here is on traditional uses of the various kinds of tofu. She’s lots of helpful illustrations and really breaks down the subject matter into digestible portions—pun intended. I made this dish last week just before we left for a trip to LA to hear fun. at the Wiltern. Mmmmm!

spicy pressed tofu salad

1 package pressed tofu cut into bite-sided cubes
2/3 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
4 spring onions, cut into rounds
3 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp fermented black beans, mashed
2½ tbsp chili bean sauce
2 tsp soy sauce
½ tsp sugar
1 to 2 tbsp spicy chili oil to garnish

Andrea recommends “refreshing” the peanuts by lightly roasting them in a dry pan. Let cool. Add to tofu with spring onion.

In a small pan, add canola oil, sesame oil, fermented black beans and chili bean sauce. Heat about two minutes on medium. Remove from heat and add sugar and soy sauce.

Toss sauce with tofu. Sprinkle with some chili oil. Serve.


Sweet or savory, most countries have their own style of making pancakes. I really like the Vietnamese version, bánh xèo. This recipe is especially interesting because it utilizes two ingredients very common on our table in a totally different way: rice and beans, a favorite combination on this blog. See what I mean here.

Bánh Xèo AKA Vietnamese mung bean pancakes with leaft lettuces, mint etc. in the afternoon sunlight

Bánh Xèo AKA Vietnamese mung bean pancakes with leafy lettuces, mint etc. in the afternoon sunlight

I’ve often seen this with shrimp or pork. (I used fish sauce in the spicy dipping sauce, otherwise this would be vegan.) Omitting these two still delivers a pancake packed with delicious flavor. I’ve adapted this bánh xèo from two sources: flavor explosions and Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty cookbook. It didn’t come out as crisply as I expected, probably due to me limited experience in this art. Nevertheless these were divine.

Bánh Xèo AKA Vietnamese mung bean pancakes

For the batter:

½ cup hulled mung beans, soaked for 2h, drained and then steamed till soft and cooled down
1 cup coconut milk
2 cups rice flour
½ cup corn starch
2 cups water
1 tsp kosher salt
¾ tsp turmeric powder
4 whole scallions, chopped

For the stuffing:

I lb mung bean sprouts
1 shallot, chopped
Canola oil
1 pack enoki mushrooms, stems discarded

For the salad condiments:

Any sweet lettuce, mint leaves, cilantro, chives, mung bean sprouts all undressed

For the spicy dipping sauce:

1 serrano pepper, seeds and ribs partially removed, chopped and slightly crushed
1 tsp chili garlic sauce (Túong Ót Tói Viet-Nam)
2 tbsp fish sauce
6 tbsp water
5 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 limes
1 large fresh clove garlic peeled and smashed

Place sugar, water, vinegar, fish sauce, Serrano pepper, chili sauce and juice of one lime in a small pot. Warm on stovetop until sugar just melts. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Add juice of second lime, and garlic.

Next prepare the filling. Sauté shallot in one table spoon of canola oil until translucent, add mung bean sprout and cook briefly just to wilt them a bit. Sprinkle with salt. Set aside.

To make the batter, place cooked and cooled mung beans, salt, turmeric powder, and coconut milk in food processor and whiz until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl. Add water, rice flour, corn starch and whisk to combine. Mix in scallions. Adjust consistency if too thick with a bit more water.

Add one tablespoon canola oil to a non-stick skillet on high heat. Let it warm up. Depending on the diameter of the pan, ladle in one or two scoops of batter. Spread batter evenly on surface of pan, add some mushrooms so tips are showing on the edge of one side of the pancake. Cook for a couple of minutes, until border is crispy. Flip with a spatula and cook for another minute, flip back again, add a bit of sautéed mung bean sprouts and fold it to shape into half moon. Repeat process with rest of the batter.

Serve the pancakes and salad with spicy dipping sauce.


This delightful recipe comes from Eating Well. I was feeling inspired after Hegui made those tremendous red lentil croquettes. We eat a lot of beans at home and frankly it gets a bit boring just having them tossed with garlic and olive oil after a while. Sure, that always tastes great, but variety is the spice of life.

Southwest black bean and fresh corn croquettes

Southwest black bean and fresh corn croquettes

This dish certainly has variety, and spice. I used 4 cups of black beans that I rehydrated myself, rather than the suggested two cans. That turned out to make enough for a “double” portion of the croquettes, which means since I only had enough salsa ingredients for the original Eating Well recipe, I didn’t have any leftover to garnish. I used fresh corn which I cut from two ears. For some reason my “batter” was a bit runny, so I ended up adding more breadcrumbs. Also I used dried pasilla powder and chile in adobo instead of chili powder for the spice. Yum!

Southwest black bean and fresh corn croquettes

4 cups prepared black beans
2 tsp cumin
2 ears sweet corn, corn cut from cobs
~1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
2 cups chopped tomatoes
4 scallions, chopped
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
2 tsp pasilla powder
1 chile in adobo, minced
Kosher salt to taste
2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 425F. Cover a baking tray with parchment paper.

Mash black beans with cumin in food processor. Remove to a bowl. Add corn, tomatoes, scallions, 1 tsp pasilla powder, chile in adobo, cilantro, salt and enough breadcrumbs to make batter firm enough to shape. Mix well.

In another bowl, mix ½ cup breadcrumbs, 1 tsp pasilla powder, a pinch of salt and olive oil together.

Shape batter into balls and gently roll into breadcrumb mixture. Bake croquettes about 20 minutes until they become a golden brown.

Serve warm or at room temperature with lime wedges. These would be particularly tasty floating on some tomatillo salsa.


This isn’t a recipe that I would have been excited by before my “Veganist” epiphany. Nancy Harmon Jenkins’ dish relies on Spanish chorizo. I’ve yet to find vegetarian chorizo so made due with Tofurkey brand Italian sausage. To make the olive oil redden, I added a bit of sweet paprika. (In the full on meat version, the chorizo has the paprika inside, which imparts a reddish color as it cooks.

Spanish-style chickpeas with spinach and veggie sausage

Spanish-style chickpeas with spinach and veggie sausage

I like Jenkins’ book, The Essential Mediterranean, a great deal. The recipes are often familiar, though like this one, many are new to me. She structures the text a bit differently in that after the intro, each section has a long and rather engaging discussion of the main ingredients for that section, including their history in European cuisine and her own personal anecdotes. So the book is practical and yet like an educational travelogue all at once. Sort of blog-like really…

I had already prepared my dried chickpeas so diverged a bit from her instruction here. I don’t think that it made too much difference. Next time I think that I shall try a different type of veggie sausage. The texture and taste weren’t quite what I’d hoped. Nevertheless, the recipe itself is sound.

Spanish-style chickpeas with spinach and veggie sausage

2 cups prepared chickpeas
2 medium onions, both peeled, one left whole, the other chopped
3 bay leaves
Small bunch of Italian parsley
4 tbsp olive oil
1 lb baby spinach
3 cloves garlic
1 package of veggie sausage of your choice, cut into bite-sized rounds
1 tsp paprika
Salt and black pepper to taste

Begin by placing chickpeas into a medium pot with the whole peeled onion, bay leaves, parsley, some salt to taste and enough water to just immerse them. Simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes to flavor them. Remove and discard onion, parsley, and bay leaves. Reserve some of the cooking water and drain the rest.

Add olive oil, chopped onion and garlic to a hot skillet with a pinch of salt. Sauté for a few minutes until onion starts to get tender then add sliced veggie sausage and paprika. Cook for a few minutes. Add chickpeas with a bit of reserved water. Heat through. Add spinach and black pepper. After spinach just wilts, adjust flavors and serve.


Spring is racing by and asparagus are plentiful right now here in sunny Northern California. But it won’t last. This is the time of year when this beautiful vegetable tastes best. It is true that nowadays one can buy any vegetable or fruit basically whenever but the difference is in taste and in the size of the carbon footprint. I am always dubious about veggies that arrive at my table following intercontinental flights. They’re often as flavorful as cardboard. I’m not impressed. We’re better off eating seasonal and local ingredients as much as possible.

roasted asparagus and chickpeas with toasted sesame oil, Meyer lemon and fresh mint

roasted asparagus and chickpeas with toasted sesame oil, Meyer lemon and fresh mint

Speaking of local I’m thinking of planting some asparagus in our community garden plot. The reason I didn’t before is that our last plot was a bit too small. Asparagus plants take about two years to produce and you can’t rotate crops in the area where they’re grown. A couple of the other community gardeners have them growing in their plots. It’s cool to watch the spears shooting out from the ground in springtime. Left alone, they grow into big wispy bushes: very interesting and even decorative. If I do it now, maybe in a couple years I can make this salad again with asparagus grown on Potrero Hill, just a few blocks away. Now that’s very local!

This recipe is so good that it can’t wait. I like the combination of legume and vegetable here. The flavors that the Meyer lemon, sesame oil and mint impart to the dish are singular: smoky, herby and slightly tart. You can serve this dish either warm or at room temperature as a main dish with a green salad or as a side dish to go with anything really. I’ve adapted it from asparagus recipes.

key ingredients for roasted asparagus and chickpeas with toasted sesame oil, Meyer lemon and fresh mint

key ingredients for roasted asparagus and chickpeas with toasted sesame oil, Meyer lemon and fresh mint

roasted asparagus and chickpeas with toasted sesame oil, Meyer lemon and fresh mint

2 bunches of asparagus, rinsed, dried, each spear cut into 3 pieces
3½ cups prepared chickpeas, drained (canned is okay)
4 tbsp olive oil
¾ tbsp toasted sesame oil
Kosher salt to taste
~ 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Several fresh mint leaves, chopped
Juice of 2 Meyer lemons
Zest of 1 Meyer lemon

Pre-heat the oven to 450F.

Place asparagus, chick peas, sesame and olive oils, salt and black pepper in a bowl and toss to combine. Spread in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Roast for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and toss. Position rack closer to grill, return to oven and continue roasting for an additional 5-8 minutes. This will allow for some of the chickpeas and asparagus pieces to brown. Remove from oven and let it cool for about 5 minutes. Toss in lemon juice, lemon zest , mint and serve!


I am a big fan of lentils of all kinds. They’re super versatile, tasty and perfect for a vegetarian diet, as this legume packs a good amount of protein. This recipe, adapted from the book Homestyle Vegetarian published by Bay Books (strangely there’s no author named) is nice because it has an Indian flair, which I like. Any time I cook with red lentil (dal) I get sentimental (it even rhymes!) and enjoy revisiting other dal recipes, like this soup, this pilaf, or this red lentil cabbage soup. I think I’m obsessed.

fried red lentil patty with leafy salad

fried red lentil patty with leafy salad

I made this dish for an early dinner on the day we happened to have a solar eclipse. We are blessed with having our kitchen, dining and living rooms with a Western exposure. So in the afternoon on most days, these rooms are flooded with beautiful sunlight. On that Sunday at a certain point the sunlight dimmed in an odd way. We’d just assumed that the fog was rolling in. But not so: the sky was clear. For five or perhaps ten minutes, it all looked strangely dark and ominous. Could Edward, Bella and the Cullen entourage be joining us for dinner? Would we be the dinner? I heard vampires don’t like garlic so I think we’d probably have been safe.

eerie view of the solar eclipse

eerie view of the solar eclipse: full sun yet it's dark out

The original recipe for this latest dal delight calls for breadcrumbs, which I lacked at the time. It also asks for green peas, another item I didn’t have. So I improvised. This was supposed to be made into patties and fried in oil. I tried that but thought they got too oily. So I prepared a few patties or rissoles and the rest ended up as balls, which I baked in the oven till golden brown.

large plate of baked red lentil croquettes

large plate of baked red lentil croquettes

red lentil (dal) rissoles, patties or croquettes

2 cups red lentil, rinsed
1 large white onion, cubed small
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp ground coriander
3 carrots, diced small
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup fresh frozen organic lima beans – steamed al dente
3 tbsp canola oil
Olive oil
1 cup oatmeal
~1 cup cream of wheat
Black pepper
Kosher salt
1 tbsp nutritional yeast

Put canola oil in a saucepan, crank temperature up, add cumin and cook until aromatic, about a minute or so. Throw in onions and cook until translucent. Add carrot, garlic and continue cooking for another minute. Then add lentils, salt, pepper, and 3 cups of water. Stir to combine then cover. Bring to a boil then lower temperature to medium and cook, stirring every now and then, to the point lentil dissolves and becomes pulpy, about 20 minutes. Remove the lid towards the end if lentils look ready but still watery this will allow the mix to firm up a bit. Likewise add a bit more of water if not ready. You don’t want it to be soupy.

frying up the red lentil patties

frying up the red lentil patties

Remove from heat and let it rest for about 10 to 15 minutes. Mix in lima beans, walnuts, nutritional yeast and oatmeal. Adjust flavors if needed. Add just enough cream of wheat to allow the lentil dough to be shaped. Mine needed approximately 2/3 of a cup.

If you are frying add a layer of oil to a frying pan, while oil heats up, shape patties to the size and thickness you like, coat with cream of wheat and fry them for about 3-4 minutes on each side. Transfer to a platter lined with paper towels to soak up oil excess. I fried 4 of them.

these red lentil croquettes just need a splash of olive oil to be ready for the oven

these red lentil croquettes just need a splash of olive oil to be ready for the oven

With the rest I shaped them into ping-pong size balls, drizzled them with olive oil and baked them in the oven at 450F for about 12 minutes.

Serve with leafy salad.


fava bean tempura

by Heguiberto on May 14, 2012

Since we were in rush to move to the new garden plot we weren’t able to wait for the fava beans that we planted back in November (in the old plot) to be completely ready. It takes a while for the pods to appear and then grow to a useful size. So we harvested what we could, mainly the pods growing at the bottom of plants. We were able to get a fair amount. Steven gave away some to his co-worker Ernestina. She’s my Facebook friend, so I know she sautéed them in butter, salt and garlic. Because the favas were super young you don’t need to remove the inner membrane that covers the flesh of the bean. I made some of ours exactly the same way except that I used olive oil instead of butter, added a bit of chili flakes and some cherry tomatoes for additional color. It made a great side dish.

fava bean tempura

fava bean tempura

I used the rest for this incredible fava bean tempura. I got the idea from this restaurant in town that, unfortunately, has closed now. I left the beans in the pods but since they’re very young you can treat them just like green beans. And just like them, when cooked, they’re very tender. The texture is a bit different. Fava bean pods have a white velvety layer inside that acts as a cushion for the actual bean: nature’s way of protecting the development of life? That spongy layer makes eating this tempura especially fun as when you bite into it, it almost feels like it will pop in your mouth.

Enjoy this as a side dish or snack. It matches very well with a cold beer or a crisp un-oaked white wine.

fava bean tempura

about 20 fava bean pods
1 cup plain four
2 tbsp rice flour
Kosher salt
Black pepper
1 tbsp mirin
Canola oil for frying

Remove the tips and the stringy part of the pods.

Whisk together flours, salt, black pepper, mirin and enough water for the consistency of a runny pancake batter.

Add canola oil to the pan and heat to medium high. Dip individual bean pods in batter and drop them carefully in hot oil. Fry for a couple of minutes on each side. Transfer to a platter lined with paper towels. Repeat with remainder. Sprinkle some extra salt over pods as they come out of the pan. Fried food is naughty good, don’t you think? Eat responsibly :)


Indian inspired black-eyed pea curry

April 13, 2012

We’re constantly trying to add new legume-inspired recipes to our repertoire. After all, how can one be almost vegetarian without eating beans? I think, perhaps, that we don’t feature black-eyed peas as we should. Recently Steven made a delicious black-eyed peas and polenta dish. Every now and then I make a brown rice and black-eyed […]

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springtime garden tempeh with snow and garden peas, Kabocha with quinoa and almond butter sauce

April 6, 2012

This recipe was adapted from the latest issue of Vegetarian Times. I didn’t have most of the veggie ingredients so I made do with what was available at home. It turned out as granola as it can be, of course not in any pejorative way, but simply healthy and delicious. The sauce reminded me of […]

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