lavender citrus loaf

lavender citrus loaf

I’ve been biting my nails since Wednesday waiting for my developed film, which is totally ridiculous given that a) two days is not long to wait for anything b) this is not some emergency documentary evidence that we are processing here c) I could’ve just used a digital camera instead of opting to be a neurotic hipster but that would’ve been way too easy right. I’m willing to forgive my silliness and anxiety though, because for the first time in 6 months I’ve felt inspired about cooking again.

..oh my. It’s been 6 months. Hi. *embarrassed*

Sure, there have been meals in between this and now. Not so many though. In fact, I can probably summarize what I’ve eaten into just a few categories:

  • Indian takeout. Delicious but not exactly food blog material. Unless I change course and start blogging about the many Indian takeout places that I frequent which come to think of it would not be the worst idea in the world.
  • New Years Resolution Meals. We all feel that tug around January and even into February to eat Heathy Things. I had some pipe dream around this time to be writing twice a week…lol. So yes, there were a number of lackluster salads that made me feel more like a dinosaur eating leafy greens than the SF blogger/social media whore that I aspire to be. Sigh.
  • The obvious: emotional cookie dough. Usually in high volume batches.
  • Emotional glass(es) of wine to supplement the above.

All and all, a culinary uneventful string of meals turned to weeks turned to months. I think many people can relate to this feeling – I couldn’t find pleasure in the things that used to make me happy. That is until a week ago when I became obsessed with this lavender poundcake I ate in Stockholm I needed to bake it and I could hardly wait. Yes, I’m belong completely melodramatic, but I have to cop up to the fact that this poundcake turned me a lil manic. Who frantically searches for lavender in Swedish grocery stores two hours before their flight?? Who steps off a 10 hour plane and instead of going home to shower heads straight to Whole Foods to buy oranges and yogurt?? THIS GIRL.

lavender citrus loaf

But now YOU can reap the benefits of my lavender-induced insanity. And I can finally sleep easy with this checked off my bucket list. Win win.

The Swedish inspiration for this loaf struck the perfect balance of flavors – not an easy task. Lavender is a finicky thing. Too much and it tastes like a mouthful of soap. Yuck. Paired with citrus though, the intense floral is subdued. I used yogurt and olive oil here to pretend to be healthy and the result is a lighter version compared to the original – rich, moist, but not nearly as dense. You can practically call it a breakfast food. You can thank me later.

lavender citrus loaf
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roasted root risotto

roasted root risotto

roasted root risotto

Seasons work differently in San Francisco. I grew up on the East Coast, where September meant leaves turning, apple picking, and bundling up. On this coast, September looks more like shorts and tanning at Dolores Park. So while I don’t often miss the cold, I was thrilled to travel to Copenhagen and get a little taste of fall (pun intended). The food there is incredible – fresh and distinctly Nordic.

Nothing gets me craving comfort foods like brisk temperatures and the Danish know how to satisfy this craving. Maybe it was the wall of potatoes the lined the grocery store, but I found myself on a mad hunt for root vegetables. Lucky for me, these are aplenty in Denmark. I found this particular recipe in a Danish cookbook and painfully translated it. Mostly though, it was made up on the spot to maximize hygge (Danish for coziness) and inspired by the beauty and hospitality of Denmark. You can make this with any root vegetables you have on hand. It’s perfect for the fall – just choose which ones appeal to you at the grocery store and go from there.

roasted root risotto
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chocolate babka

vegan chocolate babka

vegan chocolate babka

vegan chocolate babka

I try not to eat my feelings, I really do. But life has been hard recently and I can’t help but turn to sweets. I’m looking at you chocolate peanut butter cups from whole foods. In an effort to someone curb my ridiculous sugar consumption, I’ve started baking more. When I saw this recipe, I knew it had to be in my belly. Chia seeds bring a shade of health, and also drastically reduce the overall preparation time – which means you can decide you want to bake this and eat it THAT DAY. Which is pretty much how any sweet craving of mine goes. Cheers to chocolate!

vegan chocolate babka

vegan chocolate babka

vegan chocolate babka

vegan chocolate babka
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one-pot pasta

vegan one-pot pasta

One of the biggest pieces of feedback I’ve received about my blog goes something like this. Oh – it all looks good – but it’s too hard for me. And I get that. We’re busy and working and sometimes (read: almost always) you don’t want to spend an hour prepping and an hour over the stove for a weeknight dinner. People in general, myself included, tend to showcase those things about themselves that are most aspirational. Food blogging is no exception. I really don’t think you want to see pictures and instructions for that night I ate saltines and peanut butter straight from the jar. Though I’m flattered if you do.

This one-pot pasta is my answer to you. It’s easy enough for weekdays and adaptable for whatever you have lying around in your fridge. That being said, I wouldn’t hesitate to serve this to guests. As the name suggests, there is only one-pot required for this dish, which makes for a cleanup situation that we can all appreciate.

vegan one-pot pasta

vegan one-pot pasta

vegan one-pot pasta

vegan one-pot pasta
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asian-style baked sweet potatoes

asian-style baked sweet potatoes

asian-style baked sweet potatoes

asian-style baked sweet potatoes

asian-style baked sweet potatoes

Many recipes, as you well know, ask for lemons. And for many times and recipes and years, I have ignored this. Lemons – in fact citrus fruit in general – I thought to be an unnecessary addition. It wasn’t an omission driven by hate but rather by laziness. What’s the juice from a measly half a lemon gonna do? Who’s gonna notice that teaspoon of orange juice, right? Is a dash of lemon zest *really* that important? Nothing, no one and hell no.

Or so I thought. This marinade, though, is making me reconsider. Sure, it only calls for a half an orange – not even the full monty – so it might be easy to consider leaving it out. You may have the rest of these ingredients at home already, so why not just go ahead without. DON’T DO IT. Go buy that half an orange. Go beg your neighbor if you must. Spoiler alert: it makes a difference after all. My first attempt at this dish, I opted to go without and the results were good – Spencer loved it, I loved it and we finished the meal without much thought. Round two, however, I had an orange on hand and oh my heavens I will never look back. The citrus and ginger combination, with the spike of cayenne and sweet of maple, balances every flavor group. I want to marinade everything in this and I’ve been trying just about all vegetable without fail. I’ve also been known to sneak a spoonful of the stuff now and again. It’s addicting. You’ve been warned.

asian-style baked sweet potatoes

asian-style baked sweet potatoes

asian-style baked sweet potatoes

asian-style baked sweet potatoes
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lemon strawberry layer cake

vegan lemon strawberry cake

vegan lemon strawberry cake

vegan lemon strawberry cake

It’s not obvious from my blog, but throughout childhood and entering adulthood I had a wicked sweet tooth. I was that girl who subsisted off of candy and cookies and ice cream. Come Halloween, Dad would come home with industrial size boxes of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups from Costco and I would eat peanut butter chocolate monomeals well into November. In high school, the student lounge sold chocolate chip cookies the size of my head and you bet I had those for every meal and in between. And let’s not even talk about the time sophomore year I went for two months eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch for breakfast…and lunch…and dinner. Two months. I’m not exaggerating. It’s shocking that I didn’t contract scurvy.

It’s only been in maybe the past couple years that my taste buds have ever so slightly matured. I’m proud, or maybe ashamed that it took this long to eat like a real person. That’s not to say my sweet cravings are a thing of the past. In fact, this month, they’ve been in full-fledged super craving mode. I’m particularly obsessed with cakes lately. It’s less about making and eating a sugary concoction, though that certainly has it’s appeal, and more about baking something beautiful. Inspired by Copenhagen Cakes and other culinary Instagram porn, I wanted to create picture worthy cake. I won’t lie, this comes at the expense of health. You simply cannot make a decent frosting without margarine (trust me, I’ve tried). Cake there is more wiggle room – you can substitute flours, refined sugar for natural sweeteners, etc. But frosting – creamy and spreadable – really needs fat. I’ve tried to avoid it, but when a girl’s gotta make a cake, a girl’s gotta make a cake. Sorry health police.

Speaking of frosting…oh my lord this stuff is addictive. Since I started avoiding animal products, I’ve been skeptical of margarine. Taste wise, could it ever compare to butter, I thought? And health wise, what’s the point of following a plant-based diet only to eat something like margarine, which I admit seems so very….unnatural? Well, the taste speaks for itself – this is some of the best frosting I’ve had, bar none. I’ve also discovered that nowadays, even margarine has alternatives. Woah. It’s really not a bunch of horse shit, though, and these margarine alternatives don’t have hydrogenated oils and preservatives like the original. Basically, the options are a whole lot healthier than I once thought.

And since I used strawberries in the cake this is practically a serving of fruit, right?! Nuts to garnish makes this a complete and balanced meal ;) I hardly need an excuse to eat a slice, but if I did, I don’t think I’d have any problem convincing myself. So you shouldn’t either – enjoy this guilt-free (and cruelty-free) cake!

vegan lemon strawberry cake

vegan lemon strawberry cake

vegan lemon strawberry cake

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panisse burger

vegan panisse burger

vegan panisse burger

I’ve been harboring an addiction to House (…ironic considering the namesake’s own drug dependency). Literally, I can’t go a day without watching an episode. Some people may like long relaxing bubble baths, but I much prefer my hour of doctor, blood and sarcasm.

Most recently, I watched an episode revolving around a sixteen year old patient and his girlfriend. The plot is irrelevant – mostly I was alarmed that anyone could be convinced that these actors were mere teenagers! They look well into their twenties…maybe even pushing thirty. I realize, though, that this is all a matter of relativity. Being in my early twenties, I’m much more discerning about this age range than say, people in their sixties or children in their sixes. Ever met a know-it-all tot who insists that being four and three quarters is SO much older than four and half? Exactly.

The same logic applies to food. In this case, I’m talking about panisse, crispy fried chickpea slices traditional to Provence. What to the French is probably greasy pub food, to me seems like a sophisticated hour d’ourve. Even the name panisse recalls images of dainty napkins and upturned pinkies. I’d like to think this is not all in my head, though, and that panisse is actually a better lighter version of American fried finger food. While appetizers like onion rings tend to feel heavy because of breading, panisse sits light, with a smooth interior reminiscent of polenta.

Of course, I couldn’t just make plain old panisse. I apologize in advance to any French I’m offending with this blatant American basterdized version. I swear it is out of love and upmost admiration of French food. I live in California though, so this would not be complete without a bun and avocado. Inspired by the many tempeh burger incarnations I enjoyed in Bali, I decided to spike my panisse with sautéed mushrooms and kale and serve it burger style. The crispy fried exterior of panisse lends itself well to burger form. Don’t be afraid to embellish this recipe with your own favorite burger toppings. I’ll be adding tomatoes and pickles next time around.

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