I’ve always been curious about baking with puff pastry yet this is my first time: a puff pastry virgin no more!

Last week I saw a beautiful recipe on the cool blog, gourmet food, for asparagus tart with caprino de cabra that convinced me that is was about time for me to give it a try. The recipe uses lots of dairy. Aside from the filling, the puff pastry is loaded with butter. I was saving up, having eaten mostly vegan that week, so I splurged a bit with this one.

asparagus, fava and edamame tart

asparagus, fava and edamame tart

our weekend redwood forest retreat

our weekend redwood forest retreat

This was for a picnic lunch on our recent wine-tasting weekend trip to beautiful Sonoma County. We planned it around the spring wine pick-up at Williams Selyem. People are so excited about that winery. Several of our friends wanted to go with us but most of them bagged it when they learned that the event coincided with Mother’s Day. Chris was free, which was perfect. And we were extra lucky this time: our friends Devin and Jocelyn invited us to stay in their new cabin in the woods in Guerneville. (Unfortunately they couldn’t come themselves: a wedding in Southern California.) The cabin is nestled among so many stunning and remarkably tall redwood trees. The trees surrounding the house were enormous! I always feel like I’m inside a cathedral when I am among redwoods. Awesome.

asparagus, fava and edamame tart

¾ lb asparagus
½ cup fava beans, shelled, blanched and popped out of their inner shells
½ cup milk
1/3 cup water
1 tbsp flour
1 container frozen puffy pastry (14oz or ~400grams)
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
4tbsp sweet onions, chopped fine
3 tbsp parsley
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
4-5 tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt
Crushed red pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
Chives for decoration

some key ingredients for asparagus, fava and edamame

some key ingredients for asparagus, fava and edamame

fresh asparagus and fava beans

fresh asparagus and fava beans

preparing the vegetables

preparing the vegetables

Defrost puffy pastry in the fridge for 20-24h. Bring to room temperature 3 hours before use.

Peel asparagus outer skin and discard then cut tips off and reserve for decorating the top of the pie. Using potato peeler, shave all spears thinly.

Using a saucepan, combine shaved asparagus, onion, olive oil, water and milk. Bring it close to a boil and cook for a couple minutes. Add edamame and fava. Continue cooking for another minute or so. Juices should be absorbed by the vegetables. Mine didn’t completely, so to thicken it, I dissolved a tablespoon of flour in 1 or 2 tablespoon of cold water and poured it over vegetables. Mix to incorporate. Remove from heat.

Add salt, peppers, cheese, parsley and egg yolks. Immediately mix to combine then let cool for about 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375F

Stretch puffy pastry in a rectangular Pyrex type glass baking dish leaving some dough along the edges. Pour vegetable mix over pastry. Attractively arrange asparagus tips on top. Sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top and bake in the oven for about 35 minutes. Edges will turn into a golden color and become a bit flaky. Remove from oven. Let cool down completely.

Now get a good bottle of wine, some country bread and enjoy the spring.


vegan ajwain samosas

Our friends Christian and Alecks are moving back to the East Coast this summer. Alecks will be teaching at NYU and Christian is going back to grad school. Exciting times for these two boys with lots of changes happening in their lives right now! Congrats to both of you!

They are going to live on Washington Square at the end of 5th Avenue in Manhattan right, where the East and West Villages connect. How nice! I know that area well. When I moved to NYC in 2003 I lived on 8th Street at 6th Avenue in the shoe shop district. I was just a block from my beloved Balducci’s. I think that Balducci’s was the best gourmet food place I’ve ever been: small, well stocked with goods from all over, and always fresh and unique. Too bad they no longer exist. There were also other exciting places to shop around that area. I enjoyed Jefferson Market on 6th Ave; the fabulous cheese shop on Bleeker Street; and the farmer’s market on Union Square. In late summer, the Union Square Farmers Market had this scrumptious peach pie a la Martha Stewart that was just incredible. You know how peaches taste in the late summer: ultra ripe, sweet and amazing. Yumm! Sometimes I would venture south form there to Dean & De Lucca on Broadway and Spring Street or even further down, to Canal for Asian produce and fish. Downtown Manhattan kicks ass! Here I am reminiscing about the Big Apple. C&A enjoy your stay there! You’ll have a blast.

Last Saturday we held a small going away party at our place for the lucky couple. We wanted to make something different and memorable, so I suggested Ethiopian food. When I said that, I saw Christian’s eyes light up. I knew from then on that he had something brilliant in mind. He had cooked Ethiopian before; many times, actually. He wanted to prepare the meal himself. Alecs and I acted as sous chefs.

Alecs enjoying a vegan ajwain samosas

We made: pumpkin & cauliflower stew, spicy red lentils, gingered collard greens, and monk fish with Berber spice. The injeera bread came from a store in Oakland. With Christian’s supervison, I made the pumpkin and cauliflower stew which I will publish soon.

While reading about Ethipioan food, I noticed they use the spice ajwain in their cooking, which is similar to Indian cooking. With that in mind I decided to make these vegan samosas from the Ajanta cookbook as an appetizer.

Christian enjoying a vegan ajwain samosas

Since making these samosas, I’ve fallen madly in love with ajwain seeds. The week after the Ethiopian party, I made angú with leek, fava and ajwain. Delicious!

The samosas turned out divine! I served them with a tamarind/mint/cilantro salsa which was adapted from the same book.

vegan ajwain samosas for good bye

For the dough:

2 cups flour
¾ tsp kosher salt
6 tbsp canola oil
2 tsp ajwain seeds
½ cup water (plus more)

For the filling:

5 small cooked potatoes
4 tbsp canola oil
1 cup frozen garden fresh pea
1 cup sweet corn
1 cup frozen shelled edamame that has been boiled for 4 minutes
Kosher salt to taste
4 tsp coarsely ground coriander seeds
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp dried crushed red pepper
3 tsp mango powder (amchur powder)
2 tsp turmeric

To make the dough:

Mix all ingredients together plus ½ cup of water, then knead for few minutes. Add a little more water if too thick. It should have the consistency of pizza dough. Shape dough into a ball, place on a bowl and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Let rest for about 45 minutes.

While dough rests, make the filling:

Cut potatoes into small cubes. Add oil to a non stick skillet followed by the sweet corn and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add salt, coriander, amchur powder, turmeric, black and crushed red pepper and give it a good stir. Add remaining ingredients and cook for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool.

stuffing the samosa

wrapping the samosa

Assembling the samosas:

Using a rolling pin flatten the dough on your counter top to about ½ inch thick. With a knife cut the dough into 12 equal parts. Roll each part into a ping-pong ball shape and place them on a tray. Cover with a damp towel.

To form each samosa:

Place one ball on the counter and flatten it with your rolling pin to make a circle of about 7 inch wide. Cut the circle in the middle to make two ½ moon shapes. Place 1 to 1&½ tsp of the filling in the center of a half moon. Fold corners over the filling to make them into triangular samosa shapes. Transfer to a lightly greased tray. Repeat process with the other 1/2 moon and 11 balls.

Makes two dozen.

stuffed samosas ready for frying

To fry samosas:

Fill a 10 inch wide pan to about 1 inch deep with canola oil. Bring temperature to medium high. Add 4 to five samosas at a time and fry them for about 4 minutes on each sides or until color becomes golden. Remove from pan and place on paper towels to drain. Repeat process with remaining samosas.

Serve hot or room temperature with tamarind, mint and cilantro salsa.

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I’ve been feeling like eating Indian food lately. There are a few great restaurants here in San Francisco for South Indian, like Dosa and Udupi Palace. However, whenever possible, I prefer making Indian food at home. This way I learn more about the cuisine and I can play with the ingredients that go into each dish.
Often, I’ll use less ghee or cream or even replace them with something else. We’re trying to eat less dairy lately. Adding things like edamame is also something that works well though I suspect that you won’t find that at an Indian restaurant.

spicy Indian-style cauliflower with edamame

I served this spicy cauliflower with okra edamame aloo mutter and cumin carrot basmati rice. The meal was delightful, flavorful and the leftovers; as is frequently the case, was even more incredible.

pan roasted cauliflower at rest

Spicy Indian-style Cauliflower with Edamame

1 head of cauliflower, broken into small florets
1 cup frozen edamame
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 onion, minced in food processor
3 ripe Roma tomatoes, skin removed, chopped
1 tsp fresh ground ginger
1 tsp fresh mashed garlic
1/8 tsp cayenne chili pepper
Kosher salt
Pinch garam masala
4 tbsp olive oil

cumin seeds make this dish pop!

Place 1 tbsp of oil in a hot skillet. Add cauliflower and cook on high, stirring occasionally until cauliflower browns a bit. Set aside. Add remaining oil to skillet. Add cumin seeds and toast a minute or so. Add onion and garlic. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until raw smells are gone and the air gets permeated with a sweet onion aroma. Add tomatoes and cook until dissolved. Fold in cauliflower and garam masala. Salt to taste. Cook for another 10 minutes over very low heat. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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vegan aloo mutter with okra and edamame

Aloo mutter is another dish I like for lunch at Rotee Express on Howard and Spear. I like Rotee Express though invariably, they always serve their food cold. Apparently, due to a lack of space in the tiny restaurant, the food is made at their main location and then shipped over.

They’re the inspiration for this dish, though I’ve no idea of their recipe and, of course, I served mine warm. It does require a fair number of various spices, which is exciting. I love to try different spice blends and I’m slowly getting a handle on Indian cooking. Cooking Indian still feels like a lab experiment but one that’s becoming more familiar with practice. So don’t be put off by the ingredient list on this one. It’s really good and good for you, too. And you can show off to your friends and loved ones when you present a homemade Indian masterpiece.

I love experimenting with new spices, like amchoor powder

Vegan Aloo Mutter with Okra and Edamame

1 lb medium sized potatoes, skin on, quartered
1 cup fresh shelled frozen edamame
1 cup fresh frozen okra
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 jalapeño pepper, seeds and ribs discarded then minced
1 large onion, run through food processor
¾ tbsp ground fresh ginger
1 tsp mashed garlic
2 ripe Roma tomatoes, run through food processor
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp amchoor powder (green mango powder)
1/8 tsp ground chili pepper
1 cup water
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp cashew nut butter
Kosher salt


cilantro leaves, fresh onion and wedges of lemon or lime.

...and cumin seeds

Place olive oil in pressure cooker (If you don’t have one, use a regular deep pan. You’ll just have to cook it longer.) Add cumin seeds and cook until aromatic and slightly browned, about a minute or so. Add jalapeño, followed by processed onion. Sauté until onion becomes translucent. Add garlic and ginger. Continue sautéing for a couple of minutes more, stirring constantly. Fold in ground cumin, turmeric, chili pepper, coriander and amchoor powder. Stir in tomatoes. Cook for 4 minutes. Add potatoes and water. Seal the pressure cooker and cook on high for 3-4 minutes after valve starts whistling. Shake the pan a few times to prevent sticking. Remove from heat. Run some cold water over sealed pan to cool it and release pressure so it will open.

Stir in edamane, okra and cashew nut butter. Return to heat for another minute until edamane becomes softer. Add nutritional yeast and stir again. Remove from heat then let cool down for 5-10 min and serve! This dish, like a lot of Indian food, seems to taste even better the next day, after it’s been sitting around for a while.

I garnished the aloo mutter with fresh cilantro leaves, fresh sliced onion and lime wedges. It went really well with with carrot cumin basmati rice. We drank a bottle of a scrumptious white Côtes Du Rhône, the 2008 Domaine de la Becassonne,which matched perfectly.


rustic fava, edamame and dill tart

This recipe comes from Silk Road Cooking: A Vegetarian Journey. I’ve been itching to make it for months but have had to wait for Spring and the return of fresh fava beans. I don’t usually go for making my own pie crusts but I’m so enchanted with Najmieh Batmanglij’s book in general and the picture of her “Sicilian Fava Bean, Garlic and Dill Crostata” in particular that I thought I’d give it a try.

I prepared it on a weeknight, which might have been a bit of a mistake because it took longer than I thought it would. The crust came out perfectly. At first, it was a little friable and hard to manage. I ended up putting it into my glass pie dish in several pieces which I then squished together while in place.

fresh dill and fava beans in the pod

Unfortunately, I didn’t end up with enough fava beans from my 2 pounds of fresh pods. It was a simple matter of large pods with few beans. Because of this shortage, I added a bag of frozen edamame. They’re not as subtle as fava so I expect that the dish tasted differently from the original recipe.

organic vegetable shortening

You have the option of using a half cup of vegetable shortening in the crust rather than butter. I used soy milk instead of heavy cream for the filling, too. Hegui was highly skeptical about the shortening and gave me a hard time about it. However, my doctor keeps reminding me to lay off foods with cholesterol and this already has three eggs (I hate egg substitutes). I like soy milk. Plus I used organic shortening without trans-fat. That’s got to be good for you, right?

Finally, by the time it was out of the oven it was already eight o’clock. We were too hungry to let it cool. Since it tasted even better the next day for lunch, I’d recommend making this the day before and letting it cool to room temperature.

The dill was very aromatic and filled the whole apartment with its inviting smell. This would be marvelous served at a buffet or perhaps for a picnic in wine country. We had ours with a simple tomato salad and sautéed broccoli rabe.

Rustic Fava, Edamame and Dill Tart

For the dough:

1½ cups flour
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
½ cup vegetable shortening
1 egg
½ tsp. vanilla
3 tbsp. ice water

For the filling:

1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
5 cups fresh fava and/or frozen edamame
1 bunch chopped fresh dill
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. sugar
2 eggs
1¼ cups soy milk
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

To make the dough:

Pulse the flour, salt and baking powder in a food processor. Add the vegetable shortening and pulse until mixed well. Add the egg and vanilla. Pulse for 20 seconds. Add water until dough firms up but before it becomes a ball. This may take more water. Remove dough from food processor to a floured surface. Using a rolling pin, flatten into circular form and then line round baking dish. Do your best. Pierce the dough a few times with a fork. Cover with aluminum foil and put in freezer for at least thirty minutes. (Najmieh says you can freeze it for several weeks.)

Preheat oven to 425F.

Remove crust from freezer. Keep covered with foil and bake for fifteen minutes. Remove from oven and remove foil.

To make the filling:

Remove fava from pods. Boil them for a few minutes to soften membranes around each bean. Remove from water and rinse to cool. Peel membrane off each bean. If using edamame, cook per package directions.

Sauté onion in vegetable oil for about five minutes on medium heat. Add garlic, beans, dill, salt, pepper and sugar. Sauté for five minutes more. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Beat eggs, soy milk and ¼ cup of cheese together.

fava edamame dill tart with tomato salad and broccoli rabe

To assemble tart:

Place remaining cheese into partially baked tart shell. Pour bean mixture on top. Cover with egg mixture making sure to get all air bubbles out.

Reduce oven temperature to 375F.

Bake 30 to 40 minutes until crust is a golden brown. Remove from oven. Allow to cool. Enjoy!


vegan edamame pâté

by Heguiberto on December 21, 2009

This is a very simple dip you can eat with pita bread, pita chips and crudités, like: raw carrot, celery and jicama sticks, as well as, cherry tomatoes, and broccoli and cauliflower florets or anything else that appeals to you. It’s essentially the same recipe you might use for hummus, but chickpeas get replaced with edamame. The dip is a soothing green, which I love and tastes great, too. It’s packed with protein, which is good. If you have a vegetarian friend coming to your house for the holidays rest assured he or she will love this treat!

edamame pate

Vegan Edamame Pâté

Vegan Edamame Pâté

2 cups fresh frozen edamame
2½ tbsp tahini
Kosher salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
Juice of two medium sized lemons
1/3 tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp ground cumin (or more)
4 tbsp olive oil
½ cup water, plus water for boiling edamame
2 cloves garlic
crushed red pepper for garnish

How to:

Boil 2 cups of lightly salted water. Add frozen edamame and cook about 8 minutes. Drain. Let cool slightly. Place garlic cloves in food processor and spin it for few seconds to mince. Add edamame, water, salt, cumin, black and cayenne pepper, lemon juice and olive oil. Run food processor for another minute or so to blend completely. Adjust flavors with more salt etc. if needed. Transfer to bowl. Sprinkle with a pinch more cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. I served this pâté for a main course with pita bread and Napa cabbage tabouli.


edamame miso party dip

by Stevie on June 30, 2009

edamame miso party dip with baked pita chips

edamame miso party dip with baked pita chips

I got the idea for this dip from some show that Alton Brown was in on the Food Network. Maybe it was “Good Eats?” I saw the program six or eight months ago so don’t quite remember. It’s really a variation on American basil pesto or how one might make hummus. The main difference is using edamame and miso instead of basil, nuts and cheese or in the case of hummus, chickpeas. My recipe is a bit different from Mr. Brown’s, though I’m sure that his is excellent, too.

This week, my sister was visiting from San Diego. She is very health conscious, avoiding fried foods and a lot of dairy. This recipe is dairy-free. The miso gives the dip a fermented richness of flavor that is similar to cheese. Her visit was the perfect opportunity to try it out. I already had all of the ingredients at home. It’s fast to make and it turns out that it’s delicious! The color of the dip is a stunning bright green. I served this with baked pita chips with sea salt from Trader Joe’s and a 2008 Costières de Nîmes blanc, Château L’Ermitage. This wine was almost as good as the 2007 that we tasted earlier this year and went well with the dip.

Edamame can easily be found these days in the frozen section of most supermarkets. Mine came from Trader Joe’s. I’ve seen miso paste around more and more often lately, too. The one that I used was a red miso from a local Japanese supermarket.

Edamame Miso Party Dip

2 cups shelled frozen edamame, cooked per package directions
2 tsp. miso paste
¼ to ½ cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, roasted in dry skillet and peeled
1 inch thick slice onion, roasted in dry skillet
1 jalapeno pepper, roasted in dry skillet, seeds stem and ribs removed
juice of one lemon
½ tsp. salt
black pepper to taste

To roast garlic, onion slice and jalapeno, heat skillet on high; add vegetables without oil. Allow to cook about five minutes or so until begin to char, turning periodically. Remove from heat. Peel garlic. Remove and discard pepper seeds and ribs.

Add all ingredients to food processor. Process until forms a smooth paste. If too thick add more olive oil. Serve with chips or raw vegetables as a party appetizer.

red miso paste

red miso paste

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