Tag Archives: vegan recipe

“Cooking For Good Times” — Sort Of

Quinoa with cauliflower, olives, oranges, and herbs -- a dish for good times and more challenging ones.
Quinoa with cauliflower, olives, oranges, and herbs — a dish for good times and more challenging ones.

Ah, yes, it seems like a lifetime ago — though it was merely a few bewilderingly months back — that I was contemplating a trip to Chicago later this year.

How I looked forward to taking one of those architecture-themed boat ride tours on the lake that I’d heard so many good things about. How my husband was salivating at the thought of deep-dish pizza and loaded Chicago-style hot dogs. How I had looked forward to trying one of the restaurants by chefs Stephanie Izard and Paul Kahan. How I had already circled on my calendar the exact week I should start trying to snag a coveted reservation for my bucket-list meal at Alinea.

So much for that.

I have friends who swear they’re curtailing any traveling whatsoever until a vaccine is available to defeat this deadly virus. Me? I can’t say that getting on an airplane holds any appeal for the foreseeable future. If I do venture out of my area when restrictions are finally lifted, I think the car is the way to go, because I wouldn’t want to be too far from home with so many ifs, ands or buts still looming on this precarious horizon.

So for now, I’ll just experience Chicago vicariously, through Kahan’s newest cookbook, “Cooking for Good Times: Super Delicious, Super Simple” (Lorena Jones, 2019) by Kahan.

There’s a sweet irony to the title, isn’t there? Because many would say that we as far from good times as it gets.

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Simmered Asparagus with Orange and Mint

A classy little asparagus dish that requires barely any time at all.
A classy little asparagus dish that requires barely any time at all.

My favorite way to enjoy asparagus is grilled. The high heat brings out the natural sweetness of the spears, while the lick of smoke makes anything tastier.

But now and again, it’s nice to swap primal and rustic for elegant and lady-like.

That’s where “Simmered Asparagus with Orange and Mint” comes in.

It’s much like glazed carrots — pan-simmered with a little water and aromatics until the liquid evaporates and turns to steam, leaving behind perfectly tender spears coated with deliciousness.

The recipe is from “All About Dinner: Simple Meals, Expert Advice” (W.W. Norton, 2019), of which I received a review copy. It’s by award-winning cooking instructor, cookbook author, and recipe developer Molly Stevens.

It’s one of 150 recipes in this indispensable book that offers up approachable and thoughtful dishes for home-cooks that make use of vegetables, grains, meats, fish, and sweets.

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Oh, Snap — As In Peas

You won't want to cook sugar snap peas any other way after this.
You won’t want to cook sugar snap peas any other way after this.

Sweet — and yes — snappy, sugar snap peas don’t need much to enjoy fully.

In fact, just the opposite is true — we often do too much to them or overcook them so their delightful crispness is obliterated. As simple as they are to prepare, they can be tricky to get just right. A few seconds too long in a steamer, saute pan or boiling pot of water, and they turn wrinkly and mushy.

That’s why I practically leaped for joy after making “Sugar Snap Peas with Pine Nuts, Fennel, and Lemon Zest” from “The Side Dish Bible: 1001 Perfect Recipes for Every Vegetable, Rice, Grain, and Bean Dish You Will Ever Need” (2019), of which I received a review copy.

This tome of spectacular side dishes is by America’s Test Kitchen, where proper technique rules.

This easy side dish recipe gets snap peas perfectly. The key is cutting the snap peas in half — something I admit I’d never done before. Usually, I just stir-fry them whole.

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Burnt Broccoli with Tahini-Mustard Dressing

Whisk together tahini, two types of mustard and vinegar for an addictive dressing for broccoli.
Whisk together tahini, two types of mustard and vinegar for an addictive dressing for broccoli.

Admittedly, much like a 5-year-old, my husband actually likes mayo or ranch dressing on his broccoli.

I get it, I get it. Folks like him just like a little creamy something-something to tone down the bitter, in-your-face vegetative character of broccoli.

But I’ve found something way better to dress it with instead.

“Burnt Broccoli with Tahini-Mustard Dressing” satisfies in the same way, but is definitely a step up.

This quick recipe is from “MUNCHIES Guide To Dinner” (Ten Speed Press, 2019), of which I received a review copy.

The book is by the editors of Munchies, the James Beard Award-winning food brand of VICE media group.

The look of the book is definitely millennial-driven, with its bright-colored, Instagram-like photos and its let’s-get-in-the-kitchen-and-hack-this vibe.

Some of the recipes would definitely qualify as stoner food, but ones you’d really want to eat no matter what your current state: I’m thinking of you, “Carne Asada Fries” and “Cacio e Pepe Popcorn.” Others are standards that should be in everyone’s wheelhouse, including “Lemognrass-Steamed Mussels,” “Grilled Caesar Salad,” and “Chicken Pot Pie.”

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A True Bright Spot: My “East Bay Cooks” Honored with “Golden Poppy Book Award”

A super easy cucumber dish that uses only a handful of ingredients. It's a featured recipe by Grand Lake Kitchen in my "East Bay Cooks.'' (Photo by Carolyn Jung)
A super easy cucumber dish that uses only a handful of ingredients. It’s a featured recipe by Grand Lake Kitchen in my “East Bay Cooks.” (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

In this stressful, challenging time, I scroll social media for glimpses of good news: chefs donating food to hospital workers, folks grocery-shopping for elderly neighbors, and everyday people trying to help lighten the mood with cheery videos and haikus.

And then I spied this gem: the news last week that my cookbook, “East Bay Cooks: Signature Recipes from the Best Restaurants, Bars, and Bakeries” (Figure 1) was honored this year with a “Golden Poppy” award by the California Independent Booksellers Alliance. It recognizes “the most distinguished books written by writers and artists who make Northern California their home.”

I couldn’t be more thankful for the incredible recognition. I share it with the talented team whom I had the privilege to work with to make this book a reality: photographer Eva Kolenko, Clair Mack at Rule & Level Studio, Figure 1, and of course, all the chefs and restaurateurs who participated.

I salute you all with a virtual toast — as well as this easy, addictive recipe from the book to enjoy. After all, times like these when we limit trips to the grocery store, call for dishes that come together with few ingredients.

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