COLE SLAW WITH ALMOND DRESSING

Let’s get the V word in the open right away: vegan. This is vegan. And also very tasty. If you are not too fond of mayonnaise, this cole slaw will have your name written all over. Low in saturated fat, high in flavor. I did not add red cabbage because I wanted to keep a milder texture but consider including some if you prefer more crunch.

VEGAN COLESLAW WITH ALMOND DRESSING
(adapted from The Complete Vegan Cookbook)

for the dressing:
½ cup blanched, slivered almonds
1/2 cup water
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon agave nectar
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
juice of 1 lemon
water as needed to adjust consistency

for the coleslaw:
1 small head of cabbage, cored and very thinly sliced
3 large carrots, shredded in the food processor
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded, cut into matchsticks
1/3 cup fresh parsley, minced
1/2 tsp dried dill
salt and pepper to taste
fresh lemon juice, to serve

Combine the almonds with ½ cup water and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover, remove from the heat, and let the almonds soak for 20 minutes. In a blender, combine the almonds with their soaking water, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, agave, salt,, and oil. Blend until creamy, adding water if needed to bring the consistency to that of mayonnaise or a little thinner. Reserve.

Add the cabbage, carrot and yellow pepper pepper to a large bowl and toss with the dressing. Fold in the parsley and dill, season with salt and pepper, and serve with a fresh squeeze of lemon juice all over.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I was very intrigued by this dressing, which goes in the direction of the cashew cream, but using almonds instead. I advise you to make the dressing a little thinner than mayo, because it tends to get drier as it sits. Leftovers lasted for two days without getting soggy – maybe everything turned slightly softer but not by much. The flavor actually intensified a bit.

The vegan aspect of our meal was destroyed by associating the coleslaw with grilled pork tenderloin. Of course, if you are vegetarian, pick other dishes to enjoy with this delicious slaw. We don’t eat mayo, some versions we like use yogurt instead, but for my personal taste, this is the best alternative dressing for coleslaw we’ve had so far.

ONE YEAR AGO: Busy Bee Sugar Cookies

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THREE YEARS AGO: Shibari Bread]

FOUR YEARS AGO: Incredibly Simple Times Four – January 2018 

FIVE YEARS AGO: Two Salads and a Blog Award!

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EIGHT YEARS AGO: Zucchini Pasta with Cilantro-Cashew Pesto

NINE YEARS AGO: Bran Muffins, Take Two

TEN YEARS AGO: Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Mogo Mojo

TWELVE YEARS AGO: Slow-Roasted Chicken Thighs: an Ice-Breaker

CAULIFLOWER-CHICKPEA PICCATA

I saw this recipe not too long ago at The New York Times and knew I was going to love it… I wasn’t sure how the husband would feel about it, but decided to take my chances. Glad to report he thought it was “totally blog-worthy.”

CAULIFLOWER-CHICKPEA PICCATA
(slightly adapted from The New York Times)

1 cauliflower, cut into large 2-inch florets
grapeseed oil, about 2 tablespoons
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, finely diced
3/4 cup vegetable stock
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons capers, drained
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Parsley, chopped

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the cauliflower florets onto a sheet pan and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil. Season with kosher salt and black pepper, and roast for 25 minutes, add the chickpeas and roast for 5 minutes more. Reserve.

Heat a medium skillet to medium-high. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the shallot, and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour the stock into the pan and simmer until reduced by half, about 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, then stir in the butter, capers, parsley, lemon zest and juice. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and a few turns of black pepper.

To serve, place the cauliflower and chickpeas on a serving plate. Top with the lemon caper sauce. Serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The preparation of this recipe goes a bit against logic. Why roast the cauliflower until it’s all crispy and brown, and then soak it with sauce? Seems counterproductive. BUT it works. Roasting concentrates the flavors and make the veggies stand better to the luscious lemony sauce. We loved it! For vegetarians, a little couscous on the side would make it a pretty nice meal. We enjoyed it with grilled pork tenderloin and a bit of tahdig rice, made in my favorite, quick way. A great mid-week dinner…

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THE BEST-EVER EGGPLANT PARMIGIANA

Am I breaking my own rule of never ever stating that a recipe is the best ever? Apologies for the convoluted phrase. But to answer my own question, no I am not. Because I was NOT the one who chose the name. It was published as such in Saveur magazine. You can read the interesting article clicking here. My beloved husband found it, showed it to me and said “we should probably give it a try.” Even though we alternate cooking dinner – one day he cooks, next day I do – he thinks I should be the one venturing in new territories. Which is totally fine with me. The problem with this recipe is that it will have you fry countless slices of breaded eggplant. It seemed like an ordeal and with a high chance of disappointment in the end: a heavy portion of greasy eggplant loaded with cheese. But after reading the article, I decided to humor the husband and give it a go. I tell you one thing: I was wrong. This was one OUTSTANDING eggplant parmigiana, and worth all the work.

SAVEUR EGGPLAN PARMIGIANA
(from Saveur magazine)

For the sauce:
2 (28-oz.) cans plum tomatoes with their juices
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
6 large garlic cloves, peeled (I used finely minced celery in its place)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the eggplant:
3 large eggs
Kosher salt
1¼ cups dried plain fine bread crumbs
1 Tbsp. dried Italian seasoning, or equal parts dried basil, dried rosemary, and dried oregano
3 medium eggplants (about 3 lb. total), mostly peeled except for a few strips of skin, sliced into thin rounds slightly thinner than ¼ in.
About 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1½ cups (about 10½ oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese (not fresh)
3 Tbsp. finely grated Pecorino Romano

Make the sauce: In a blender, pulse the toma­toes and their juices until just slightly chunky. In a pot over medium-low heat, add the oil and garlic (or celery), and cook, stirring occasion­ally, for a couple of minutes. Pour in the puréed tomato mixture and season with a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened slightly, at least 1 to 1½ hours. The sauce can be cooled and refrigerated for up to 2 days.


Bread the eggplant: In a wide shallow bowl, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon water. Season with a generous pinch of salt. In a second baking dish or bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt. Working with one or two at a time, dredge the eggplant slices in the egg wash and let the excess drip back into the bowl. Transfer to the bread crumbs and coat very lightly on each side. Line a large baking sheet with a few layers of paper towels and set by the stove. In a large high-sided skillet over medium-high heat, heat ½ cup oil until shimmering. Turn the heat down to medium and add some eggplant slices in a single layer until the skillet is full. Cook, turning once, until well browned on each side, about 6 minutes total. Transfer to the pre­pared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining eggplant, working in batches as needed and adding a little more oil every other batch, or as needed.


Heat the oven to 400F.

In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, ladle ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sauce into the bottom. Cover the sauce with a single layer of eggplant (start with the thickest ones on the bottom and save the prettiest slices for the top). Ladle another ½ cup sauce on top, spread­ing it evenly. Sprinkle with about 1⁄3 cup plus 2 tablespoons mozzarella and 1 tablespoon Pecorino. Add another layer of eggplant and repeat this process until you’ve reached the final layer of eggplant. Top this layer only with ½ cup sauce, a final thin layer of mozzarella, and some Pecorino. (Reserve any remaining sauce for another use.) At this point, the eggplant parmigiana can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 1 day.


Bake, uncovered, until the cheese is melted and bronzed in places and the sauce is bubbling around the edges, about 20 min­utes (add about 10 minutes if your dish was previously assembled and chilled). Remove and let cool slightly. Slice into squares and serve warm.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I am normally a lot more lax when I follow a recipe, and don’t worry about careful measurements (unless it is baking). But in this particular case I decided to follow it to a T and measured every component. Once the baking dish was fully assembled with the eggplant, sauce and cheese, I was quite skeptical about the outcome, because it did not look luscious enough. But I have to agree, when you follow the recommended amounts of sauce and cheese, and deal with the eggplant slices exactly as advised, the final dish is pretty amazing. The taste of the eggplant comes through without being “suffocated” by sauce and cheese. It is satisfying but not heavy. We are still talking about how good it was. Added bonus: leftovers kept frozen for a week tasted almost better with a slow defrost in the fridge and a brief warming in a low oven…

If you have a vegetarian friend to entertain, look no further. The main dish of your menu is decided!

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FIVE YEARS AGO: A New Way to Roast Veggies

SIX YEARS AGO: Two Takes on Raspberries

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TWELVE YEARS AGO:  Pugliese Bread

MASALA SMASHED POTATOES: MUMBAI MODERN COOKBOOK REVIEW

I am not sure how long ago I’ve started following Amisha through her food blog and IG page. But definitely it’s been a long time. She is one of those people who is good at everything, from cooking savory meals to baking spectacular desserts. When I heard she was going to publish a cookbook – Mumbai Modern – I pre-ordered it right away. And today I share a wonderful recipe from her book, a small review and as I always like to do, a teaser recipe with just the photo and a short description. If you are into colors and “fusion cuisine”, this book has your name written on it. Amisha is not only a superb cook, photographer and writer, but one of the sweetest human beings out there! I am thrilled to share this review with you.

MASALA SMASHED POTATOES
(slightly modified from Mumbai Modern)

for yogurt sauce:
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, minced
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
3/4 tsp salt

for Masala potatoes
12 baby potatoes
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chaat masala

Heat the oven to 400F.

Make the sauce by mixing all ingredients in a high-speed blender. You should have a drizzle consistency. Adjust with a little bit of water, if needed.

Add the potatoes to a pot with water to reaching a level 1 inch higher than the potatoes. Add the 2 tsp salt. Boil for 20 minutes until tender. Drain and reserve to cool so you can handle them for the next step.

Make the olive oil sauce by mixing all the spices into the 1/2 cup oil. Whisk well. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, add them to a baking sheet sprayed with oil. I used a non-stick aluminum foil to protect the baking sheet. Place the potatoes over and, using a flat-bottomed glass, gently press each potato to flatten until each one is no thicker than 1/2 inch.

Brush each potato generously with the olive oil mixture. Place in the oven and roast for about 25 minutes. I flipped the potatoes and let them roast for 5 minutes longer. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes or so. Serve with the yogurt sauce drizzled all over them.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: These were absolutely WONDERFUL. Hubby said – well, your potatoes stole the show. And that they did. But of course, they were not really “mine”. They were Amisha’s… Nothing else got much attention at the table. I advise you to make more than you think you’ll need… They will be part of our dinner on a regular basis. The mixture of spices is perfect, not too hot, and very complex. If you don’t have chaat masala, add a little amchur powder, which is part of the mix, and will add a bright flavor.

And now for the teaser recipe…

SAMBHAARO
Cabbage and Carrot Salad

When I told you that if you like color you will love this book, that’s one tiny example of what you’ll get. I loved this salad so much that I was close to tossing a coin to decide which recipe to feature here. What makes this salad special is that you temper the spices in oil and they VERY briefly toss the veggies in the hot, spicy mixture. It changes their texture, mellows everything considerably. Brilliant!

Without further ado… let’s start a virtual tour of Amisha’s book…

To order the book, visit amazon.com with a click here

The book is organized in 7 chapters.

Pantry and Refrigerator Staples… She shares recipes for goodies that will be part of recipes in other chapters. For instance, her Apricot and Saffron Jam is one of her favorite concoctions, that of course stands on its own, but wait until you see the masterpiece Peacock macarons she fills with that jam… Like jewels, I tell you! I am making her Avocado, Cilantro, and Poblano Pepper Dressing this weekend.

Breakfast… Color opens the chapter: Apple, Fennel and Cardamon Tarts. Her description of being fascinated by things she saw in grocery stores in the US as someone arriving from a foreign country made me smile. I felt EXACTLY the same. My love-affair with TV dinners was something I cannot quite comprehend today. But her fascination with Pop-Tarts led her to make her own version, and that was a perfect outcome. More beautiful color in her Chocolate Cardamon Pastry Cream, Halvah and Pistachio Danish. Exotic (to me) and intriguing Sooji Dhokla (Semolina Savory Spongy Cakes).

Appetizers and Salads… Masala Smashed Potatoes opens this chapter and you know how I feel about them. Sambhaaro follows along. I would love to try the Dahi Wadas (Lentil Fritters in Yogurt Sauce), and her version of Arancini ( Aloo Tikki Arancini). They look amazing! Other serious temptations for me are Corn Mushroom Tomato Chili Cheese Danish, Handvo (Savory Rice-Lentil Vegetable Cake), and Khaman (Chickpea Flour Savory Cake).

Mains… Undhiyoo called my attention right away because it is a vegetable stew that includes bananas, and that of course reminds me of Brazilian cooking. Moqueca is originally made with shrimp and/or fish, but there is a version that uses a particular type of banana, and it is delicious. Vegetable Koftas in Tomato Cashew Curry almost made the cut to be featured, and I intend to make it very soon. Perfect for this time of the year. Same goes for the Ultimate Mumbai-California Veggie Burger. I simply must make it.

Desserts… Let me just say I would like to make them all. Period. Just choosing a few to mention here: Blood Orange and Hibiscus Tart (gorgeous!), Thandai Shortbread Cookies Dipped in White Chocolate with Pistachios and Rose Petals (swoon!), Carrot Halva, Chai Masala Creme Brulee with Cashew Cardamon Shortbread (OMG), Mini Maple Sandwich Cookies with Pear and Spice Buttercream, PEACOCK MACARONS (my heart flipped, I kid you not, they are masterpieces), Coffee Cardamon Mini Cheesecakes, Eggless Chocolate Fudge Cake (worthy of a Parisian boulangerie).

Drinks… Well, I don’t drink, but she has many non-alcoholic options like a Ginger Masala Chai, and Brazilians out there will be pleased with her version of “caipirinha” using Kumquat and Ginger. She also shares shrubs (I am quite fond of those) like one with Nectarine, Star Anise and Ginger. And a version of Turmeric Milk I might try soon: Haldar Nu Doodh.

Accompaniments and Snacks… Pass me the whole lot, and I want to make them all. Just a few to include here: Spinach Puri, Plain Rotli, Triangle Paratha (so so cute), Masala Puri, Masala Potato Chips, and Turmeric Rice (have I mentioned I am a Turmeric Cheerleader?). Chorafali Crackers are also adorably cute and I bet super tasty.

As most people who read my blog should know, I am not vegetarian, but I eat meatless meals often. Amisha’s book is a wonderful source of ideas, whether you are vegetarian or just flirt with that style of cooking sometimes. It is clear she put a ton of love, and attention to every little detail in the making of her book. The photography is outstanding, the tone of the book very conversational, as if she is standing next to you. I love it!

Amisha, thank you for allowing me to publish a recipe in my blog! I wish you all the success in the world, and I hope you already have a second cookbook “in the making”.

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NINE YEARS AGO: Chicken Parmigiana, the Thriller

TEN YEARS AGO: Wild Mushroom Risotto

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Tartine Bread:  Basic Country Loaf 

TWELVE YEARS AGO:  Pugliese Bread

PASTA WITH CREMINI MUSHROOM RAGU

I could have added the denomination VEGAN to the title of this post, but was afraid to cause The Great Bewitching Exodus of 2021. So, yes, it is a vegan recipe but will please any omnivore around. Phil and I included. It is hearty, satisfying and with a depth of flavor that will surprise you. I started from a recipe published by America’s Test Kitchen, but I am a lot happier with my considerably modified version.

VEGAN MUSHROOM RAGU
(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

2 pounds cremini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms
2 large carrots, peeled
2 large stalks celery
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup texturized soy protein (I used this one)
1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Reserve about 1 cup of cremini mushrooms whole. Working in batches, pulse the remaining cremini and shiitake mushrooms in food processor until pieces are about 1/2 inch in size. Transfer to a bowl. Pulse the carrots and celery in the food processor, add them to the bowl with the mushrooms. Add the can of tomatoes with the juices to the processor and run it until smooth. Reserve.

Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add processed vegetables, season with salt and pepper. Mushrooms will release liquid, so keep cooking until it seems dry. Stir tomato paste, cook for a minute or so, stirring constantly. Add the wine and simmer gently for 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, texturized soy protein, vegetable broth, soy sauce, and more salt and pepper (about 1/2 tsp each). Simmer for 5 minutes, quarter the reserved cremini mushrooms and add to the sauce. Simmer everything together gently for about 10 minutes.

Adjust seasoning, and serve over cooked pasta of your choice.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: You are probably not very thrilled about the texturized soy protein, as it is one exotic ingredient to buy, but I’ve made this recipe without it and the difference in texture is quite striking. I highly recommend you include it. If you want to omit it, add a little water to the sauce and simmer it longer. I also recommend that you get the brand I bought because it is apparently the best one out there.

It is tempting to compare it with Bolognese sauce, but I rather not go there. Let me just say you won’t be disappointed if you try this version, and it’s something that might come in handy if you want to entertain a person who is vegetarian or vegan. I’ve made it three times so far, and it will show up again at our table, maybe as a lasagna version.

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