Whoops, it’s VEGAN! oh wait…nevermind.

Lately, I’ve been indulging in a particular vegan dish that is so satisfying to eat I had to share it. There is nothing weird about it, except that it’s vegan. I didn’t even intend it to be vegan, it just happens to be. Here it goes:

1. Heat up mixture of seseme oil, chili oil, and regular oil and fry some chopped up ginger. You can peel your ginger ahead of time if you want, but I never do, because it seems like too much work. The heat is medium high.

2. Add the cubed tofu. I use a full brick of “extra firm.” Let the edges of the tofu get a little brown.

3. I had some old radishes in the fridge so I added that too! My tofu is getting a little tore up here, I don’t give a fuck.

4. Here’s the sauce for this stir fry. It’s just miso paste and water. That’s it. Stir it around so that the paste is smooth and runny. It looks like I used about a 1/4 cup of miso paste here and an arbitrary amount of water.

5. Add that to the sauce to the pan. That shit is gonna bubble and sizzle!

6. Add the sugar snap peas! Add these later than sooner! I like when they JUST turn bright green and are still crispy.

7. Those little black pubes are HIJIKI seaweeds. It adds more body to the flavor.

8. I served this over a bed of freshly steamed premium short-grain japanese white rice. And then I put a hard boiled egg on top, but I suppose that can be optional.

I do not even think about meat when I eat this.

Viet-Mex Quizine

Doesn't look like much here, but this is the marriage of 2 countries, lol.

A little bit ago, Jed and I experimented with a little “Fusion” cooking to prepare ourselves quite a light and summery little meal in the heart of winter.

We were making dinner one night at my place, and we had all sorts of nonsense ingredients all piled up. We were scratching our heads, looking up at the ceiling, with our mouths open and no idea what to do! Hmmm…derrr…. Just kidding! We have creative minds, and had a lot of ideas, but we had to decide!

Jed brought over a some plantains, an avocado, limes, and a ripe papaya.

I had the usual staples, and we used from that garlic, onions, fish sauce, fresh jalapenos, and frozen shrimp.

First Jed made some TOSTONES (twice fried plantains). I don’t remember what all goes into it but it was pretty simple.

  1. He peeled and sliced the plantains, about 1/2 inch thick or so
  2. Then he fried them in a skillet with a generous amount of oil in it till they got soft
  3. He smashed them flat with a flat object, sometimes his bare hands
  4. Then he refried it to a crisp
  5. And twinkled it with a some sea salt

I made some guacamole to dip them in, and here’s my guac recipe, it’s the shit.

  • 1 avocado
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed, or finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, minced (leave the seeds if you’re not a wimp)
  • the juice from 1/2 lime
  • THAT’S IT

Combine and smash it all up with a fork.

The last dish was the ripe papaya and shrimp salad. I guess this was the only real Viet-Mex fusion dish on our dinner menu. Typically a Vietnamese papaya salad is made with a young, green papaya, because of it’s crunchier texture and because of it’s very mild flavor. A ripe papaya is definitely the opposite of that: soft, juicy, and very pungently sweet. I started to shred it on a mandolin, but it was just pure carnage, so I opted to finely julienne it by hand with a knife. This salad with it’s juicy sweetness, complimented the other things we prepared with it QUITE WELL!

Here are the limited ingredients I used for the salad:

  • 1 ripe papaya, julienne cut
  • about 1/2 lb shrimp, poached and halved length-wise
  • 1 jalapeno (I de-seeded them here, because these peppers were HOT AS FUCK, I found out the hard way)
  • 1/2 red onion, paper thin slices
  • the juice from the other 1/2 of that lime
  • a couple squirts of fish sauce to taste (adding more means it’ll be saltier)

Toss everything up! Be warned, this is a very WET salad, but it was MUY DELICIOSO.

So that was our little Viet-Mex fusion dinner. It made me see a lot of similarities in flavors and textures in both cuisines. Both use light, fresh, crisp ingredients, and favor acidic and spicy flavors. Looking forward to having a side of nachos with my next bowl of pho!

OH CORN

Hey it’s been corn season! Have you been taking advantage? I hope so! I would like to share 2 summery corn dishes here that are very genuinely delishes (delicious)!

First off is this dill corn clam soup. Jed and I made this soup together. Earlier that day, I got some fresh corn and 2 dozen clams from from the farmer’s market. You start off this soup by making a corn stock.

Scrape the kernels off about 3 ears of corn, and then reserve the cobs. Saute some onions and garlic in butter and olive oil. Throw the cobs in there too! Let this get soft. Then splash some good white wine in there. We used this CHATEAU DIANA, WHICH IS ACTUALLY A REALLY BAD WINE. WE ARE SO LUCKY IT DIDN’T RUIN OUR SOUP. WHEN JED DRANK SOME, IT WAS LIKE LIQUID GYM SOCKS. I THINK THIS CAN BE FOUND AT THE GAS STATIONS NEAR BARD COLLEGE, DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY!!!

After that cooks down a little, add some water, maybe about 3 cups. After that comes up to a boil, let that simmer for maybe half an hour or more. Then take out your cobs and throw in your kernels. Let that cook, and right before you’re ready to serve, throw in your clams so that they cook and some FRESH DILL FLOWERS!!

This shouldn’t take long. If you have fresh clams, just close the pot lid and cook the clams just so they open. The dill flowers, we just pulled off the flowers. The stems are a little tough, so don’t use that, unless you like to chew wood.

I didn’t take a picture of the final soup because we ate it all pretty quickly, so I photoshopped an image of what it might have looked like:

THIS WAS SERIOUSLY SO GOOD. PLEASE TRY IT SOMETIME.

I still had some corn left so later that week, I made a corn salad on a salad. I like to grill corn directly on the stove burner:

I scraped the kernels off the cobs afterwards and tossed it with:

  • halved grape tomatoes
  • fresh chopped dill
  • fresh chopped chives
  • some chopped onions
  • mozzarella cheese chunks
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • black pepper
  • paprika

This is what it looked like:

I’m typically totally fine with eating a whole bowl of corn like this, but I was serving it as a meal to my boyfriend and some friends, so I served it on a bed of arugula and cucumbers:

I got a lot of kudos, and it was cool. This was a very yummy salad. I would remake this as well!

Corn is awesome.

VEGETARIAN-ASS PIZZA

Hi guys! I’ve been trying to lay off the meat group a little bit, and after a long day of shooting vegetable and animal still lives with Josef Kraska, I had a lot of vegetables leftover!! Quite frankly it stressed me out a little bit thinking about what to do with all these leftover veggies. How do I cram as much arbitrary vegetables as possible into one dish? I thought to myself… oh, okay, I guess I can make a vegetable pizza. Luckily me endless summer schedule has allotted me the time to make everything from scratch.

I started out with a spinach dough. I melted a packet of yeast in some warm water with some honey. It started looking pretty fizzy after about 5 minutes or so. Sorry for the arbitrary measurements. While the yeast was activating, I cooked a whole bag of spinach down in a little olive oil, and then pureed it with a hand blender. It looked like a green dump! I added that to the activated yeast!

Here is the dough recipe:

  • one packet yeast
  • 2 tb honey
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • one bag fresh spinach, wilted, pureed
  • 2 1/4 cups of flour
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Okay, I guess where at the part where you add the flour, cornmeal and the salt. I added the cornmeal there to give it some more crunch texture. It works well!!! Mix that all together with your hands and let the dough sit for a few hours, until it’s at least doubled/tripled in size.

SAUCE

Meanwhile, I made a very rich sauce for the pizza. I sauteed some onions and garlic in butter and garlic. After that got soft, I added 2 diced tomatoes. I also had a bunch of kale. The kale was unfortunately covered in poly-fil from the photoshoot, so I tried to labor-intensely wash and pick out all the fuzz. Imagine your bathrug covered in pubes, this was what this process was like.

I did my best until I said fuck it who cares, and chopped up the kale and put it in the pot with the rest of the crap. I then poured it a generous amount of balsamic vinegar, and let that reduce down. I also had some leftover syrupy PLUM PUREE from making popsicles, so I dumped that into the sauce as well! This might have been the magic ingredient here. I let all this cook down until most of the liquid was evaporated, but the vegetables were still soft and wet.

TOPPINGS

I had some mini eggplants, so I sliced them up into coins, and then I made my boyfriend go get some cheese, which was the only thing I had to go out and get. He returned with a cube of fresh Polly-O mozzarella, and I cut it up into some chunks.

I also had some leftover romano cheesse, which I grated.

ASSEMBLING AND BAKING

So the dough got nice and poofy, so I kneaded like 3 times, and stretched it out into an oiled sheet tray. Then I put on the sauce, then the eggplant, then the mozz, then the romano, then I ground some black pepper on top.

I baked it in a preheated oven at 400 F for 20 minutes. My oven runs a little hot, but ideally you want the oven in the 420 range of temperature.

It came out perfect!

And in one fell swoop, I got rid of the almost rotting spinach, kale, tomatoes, onion, garlic, eggplant, and plums. The kale was a surprisingly awesome element to the pizza, the sweetness from the plum puree syrup and the vinegar and the onions, really set off that kale in a stellar way. Who knew this vegetarian pizza would be so satisfying? Might be the best I ever had!

A Surprise Gift, Clue: it’s a SWEET POTATO

So, someone from Dublin Ohio had sent me a Facebook message about a very special sweet potato that they had found at their local grocery store, and thought it was a good idea to send it to me. I agreed, and I didn’t believe she would really send me, but sure enough, it arrived today in a Fed Ex box. First I was scared because I forgot about this interaction, and I had no idea, nor was I expecting a package from anyone. It could have been a bomb or poison, or a variety of other things, but to my sheer delight, I was welcomed with such a wonderful gift. Luckily I had a digital camera at hand to document my reaction. Thanks Danny B for taking these pictures.

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I thought instead of eating it, I would like to have it live forever. So I put it in my pot so that it can grow and flourish for as long as I am alive. Thank you sweet potato fairy, for giving such a unique potato baby.

2009 Vegan Chili Rumble

Chili Awards

So, you think you have what it takes to complete the Vegan Chili Rumble?  You think your gizzards can handle the gut-grinding, seam-bursting effects of TWENTY FIVE different lightning bolts of pure chili?  If so, then maybe you have what it takes – to enter the Chili Rumble Hall of Fame.

On May 30th, about a hundred and thirty of Cleveland, Ohio’s best eaters descended upon 1387 East Boulevard for the 2009 Vegan Chili Rumble, organized by my roommate Nina Sarnelle. If you convert that attendance (per-capita) into New York City numbers, that would be 2,935 people.

Eat Up!

Sure, that’s a lot of people, but we live in Cleveland so our $280/month apartment comes with a bountiful 2-acre garden, all thanks to my landlady Julie Patton – shown here with Ryan, who manages a fancy Brazilian restaurant called Sergios. His Chili was Brazillian and featured tanning lotion and tiny swim suits.

Julie and Ryan

Ryan and the other contestants brought their best crock of chili to be voted upon by a panel of Cleveland’s most discerning gourmets.

One of those gourmets was none other than Katherine Koenig, host of the Maximum Consumption radio show on WRUW, shown here with John G (famed local illustrator), and a tiny version of myself that I keep around as a decoy for mosquitos.

The chilis were all soooo good, it was hard to give any of them less than five spoons during the voting. Here is a woman named Tofu Cat and her Black Bean Chili. I gave it five spoons. Other chilis featured white beans, pinto beans, adzuki, great northern, black-eyed peas, and of course kidney beans.

Tofu Cat

This is Jennifer and Earl and Linda, and it looks like they’re feeding the sage bush, which is crazy because I just fed it a few days ago and it’s not supposed to eat that much chili.

And this is Judy. I’m putting her picture up because I keep forgetting her name, and putting her picture on New York’s most famous blog will help me remember that her name is JUDY. See, I already remembered!

Eventually the votes were tabulated, and Divya’s curry-flavored “Rajma Chili” took home the 1st place trophy (see recipe).  She is from Chennai (formerly “Madras”), India, and came to Cleveland years ago with no idea that her D-E-S-T-I-N-Y was to win this competition.

That’s Nina in the red dress, she really did a great job of organizing this party, don’t you think so too? Of course you do! Feel free to move to Cleveland now, it’s really cheap and if you’re really lucky you can be roommates with Nina Sarnelle. My name is Ian Charnas, look me up when you move here and I will be your friend. Thank you and goodbye.

Zombee Pee Pee

Food is so good coming in that most people rarely think about it’s exit voyage. Or perhaps they only consider the necessity preventative measures. You know like nobody wants to drink too much coffee before they get on the plane or eat a spicy, greezee meal before their date with that special someone. But I personally like to think of all the great upcoming bowel movements I’ll be having when I eat a well balanced diet! And so I’d like to now present to you a recipe that will focus not on a delish taste sensation but instead on your pee pee. Let’s have fun with what goes in the potty!!!

You will need a juicer and these things for juicing:

BEETS! some Carrots! and Apples to make it taste good and juicey!

Juice those things! I typically do 2 beets, 1 carrot, 2 apples (cored)

And the entree shall include:

ASPARAGUS

Lightly steam these with some butter and salt/pepper to taste but be careful not to overcook! nice and crisp, that’s the ticket! Put an egg on it! Delicious!

Wasn’t that delicious and nutritious too? A pile of crisp asparagus stalks MMM! and some tasty beet juice to wash it all down. Now we wait. Perhaps a cup of coffee or some beer will speed the process………………………………………………..

DING! TIME TO PEE PEE! Isn’t it horrible? Aren’t you terrified? The beets have stained your pee red and the asparagus is well known for that terrible roadkill odor it produces in your pee pee. It’s like peeing carrion. It’s like peeing real gore. Are you dead inside? Haha! MAYBE! Aren’t you disgusted? You’ll freak so bad you’ll forget to wipe! Show that pee to your mom, maybe she will take you to the doctor and then you don’t have to go to school today because your insides are rotten. Feed this recipe to your unsuspecting friends and enemies! They will be confused!

Tell everyone that your pee pee brings the scent of DEATH because it will be true. It will also be funny because in the same area you can create life.