Matcha Babka, or green tea swirl sweet bread

Make the brioche dough

On the day of baking, mix up:
1/3 C sugar
1/4 C melted butter
1.5 to 2 TB matcha powder

Roll out the dough with some flour to dust. Roll into square or rectangle. Make sure it's not stuck to the board underneath.

Spread the matcha  goo over the top thinly.

Roll up, jelly roll style.

Cut lengthwise down the roll.

Twist the two halves so that the cut side is up

See these photos from David Lebovitz how to assemble babka.

Alternative fillings:
- Cinnamon Raisin:  1/3  C sugar. 1/4 C melted butter. 2 TB cinnamon.  1 C raisins.
- Chocolate babka like David Lebovitz


Lamb Meatballs

I've become a fan of meatballs, especially lamb ones!  They are easy to eat on a soft food diet.

We make a batch up and freeze what we don't eat the first night. When you are ready to reheat, use the microwave (takes a long time on the stove to thaw frozen meatballs).

Saute in olive oil with salt:
1 diced yellow onion
2 C chopped mushrooms

Remove from heat, put the cooked veggies into a mixing bowl. Add and mix in the bowl:
red pepper flakes
ground black pepper 
1.5 lb ground lamb
1 C panko/breadcrumbs
1 egg
Optional: finely chopped parsley

Form into meatballs.  Place on a rimmed baking sheet (a little fat will render out during cooking)

Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes. Turn. Then bake another 15 minutes. Check by cutting open a meatball, make sure it's cooked (no longer pink).

Boil pasta in salted water.  I really like spaghetti.  Drain.

In the pan that cooked the mushrooms, deglaze with
1/2 C white wine
1/2 C veggie or chicken stock
1/4 C lemon juice

Add the cooked meatballs and cooked pasta and toss to coat and warm through. Serve.


Pasta Salad

I'm in the mood for pasta salad! It's a great BBQ or picnic food as you can prep it in advance. It's a carbohydrate that you can sneak veggies into.  I was inspired by this recipe, and this one, and this one from Food52. If you forgo the cheese, then it's vegan.

Boil pasta in salted water. Drain.

Mix and match the veggies/add ins that you like:
Tomato or cherry tomato
Capers, Olives, Red onion (thinly sliced)
Bell Pepper, Zucchini
Optionally choose one cheese: Feta, cheddar, parmesan

olive oil
white or red wine vinegar (I have a meyer lemon vinegar that is lovely in this)
or use lemon juice instead of the vinegar
salt & pepper

Choose your favorite:
Fresh herbs: basil, parsley, dill
Dried herbs: oregano, red pepper flakes, onion powder, garlic powder

Mix all together in a glass bowl. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.


Aloo Gobi (Indian potatoes and cauliflower)

This is a great party/potluck dish. The ingredients are cheap and mostly pantry staples.  It's a great autumn/winter dish as you can easily find potatoes, onions and cauliflower.   You can serve it hot or at room temp, and it holds relatively well, so you can cook it ahead of time.

I brought this to a brunch party today; the potatoey-goodness paired well with the other breakfast items.  It was a great way to sneak vegetables in!  Even though I'm an omnivore, I love bringing healthy vegan foods to parties, so that there's a healthy option, exposes people to new plant-based foods and typically helps reduce the amount of animal products that each person eats. I also have fewer fears of food sitting out at room temp if it's all plant-foods!


Prep first:
Dice 1-2 onions
Chop up 1 head of cauliflower into florets
Dice 3 potatoes (any kind, I used russet and yukon gold)
Grate 1 TB ginger

Measure out spices into a ramekin:
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground coriander 

In a hot pan with olive oil, brown the onions with salt. This usually takes 5-10 minutes.

Now add the spices and stir. Let them cook in the hot oil for 60 seconds, or until fragrant.

Add the chopped potatoes and cauliflower into the pan and stir to coat.

Now add liquids: 1 can diced tomatoes, and a little bit of water (probably 1/4 C). Cover and simmer on low for 20-30 minutes until fork tender.

Serve as is, or with whole wheat toast, basmati rice or roti/naan breads.

Veggie Dumpling Soup

I adapted a recipe from Vegan Casseroles book and it was really good!   Nice hearty meal for autumn or winter.

For 2 people

Brown diced onions in olive oil with salt
Add salt, pepper, oregano, crushed garlic and stir
Add 1 TB flour and stir for 30 seconds, cooking a roux
Add 4 C stock/veggie broth as well as chopped veggies, like carrot, celery
Simmer or pressure cook (5 min) until veggies are soft

Meanwhile, mix up the dumpling dough:
1 C flour
1/2 TB baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 TB olive oil
1/2 C rice milk

Stir in some cooked legumes to the soup, like lentils or chickpeas.

With the soup lightly simmering, spoon dollops of the dumpling dough from two spoons into the pot. Cover and simmer on low for 15 minutes without peeking.

Check dumplings are done inside, then serve hot.


Vegan Enchiladas: Potato, Legume, Tofu and Corn

Wowza these are amazing! Easily the best enchiladas I have ever made. When my friend told me she makes these at least once a week, I knew I had to try them.  Since that day, I have made this recipe at least 5 times, and it's one of the few my husband remembers by name to request!

I adapted the recipe from the Oh She Glows cookbook (which is one of my favorite go-to cookbooks) to use regular potatoes (yukon gold or russet), and I've used tofu and black beans or french lentils.  My husband really liked the white/yellow potatoes in this, as it makes them lighter than dense burritos chock-full of just beans. The frozen corn is really necessary as it adds a sweetness to the spicy sauce.

I love how you can assemble these ahead of time, and then cook when you are ready.  Assemble the enchiladas in a pyrex pan, and reserve the sauce until you are ready to cook.  Or you an assemble them individually with the sauce inside and freeze in foil (see below for freezer instructions).

They would be great as a party dish for entertaining or holidays, as they are crowd-pleasing and can simply come out of the oven when you are ready to serve.  Only downside is they aren't terribly pretty if you aren't careful getting them out of the pan and onto plates (sometimes they tear apart!).

Yield: made 2 pans worth of enchiladas and used up 9-10 large (10 inch) tortillas.


Make enchilada sauce.  This can be done ahead of time.  Make a roux of 2 TB oil and 2 TB flour. Stir in:
4 tsp chili powder
1tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Cook the spices for 30-90 seconds until fragrant.

Stir in 1 C tomato paste and 1.75 C veggie broth. Season to taste with 1/2 tsp salt. Simmer 5 minutes until thick. Reserve. Can be refrigerated or frozen.


Cook 2-3 diced white/yellow potatoes (either boil until soft, or pressure cook/steam for 5 minutes).

Saute 1 diced white/yellow onion in olive oil and salt.  Add spices and stir:
3 cloves crushed garlic
1/2-1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp ground cumin 

Now add and stir:
2 C cooked black beans (or any other bean/legume of your choice.  Cooked lentils are nice)
2 C cooked potato chunks (from above)
1 C frozen corn
diced firm tofu
optional: spinach
1/4 to 1/2 C red enchilada sauce
Less than 1/4 C water to help it warm through if it's too dry

Pour 1 C enchilada sauce into each of 2 pyrex baking dishes.

I use the large flour tortillas, 9"-10" in diameter, in 10 packs.  For each flour tortilla, scoop 3/4 to 1 C of the legume/potato mixture and roll up. Place into the pan on top of the sauce.  Finish all the tortillas. Then pour the remaining enchilada sauce.

Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes.

This is essentially guacamole and gives the enchilada an extra salty and fatty kick, which is why you won't miss the cheese in these vegan beauties.

Whiz in food processor:
2 TB lime juice
1 avocado
1/2 C cilantro
garlic powder

Smear over the finished cooked enchiladas just prior to serving, or squeeze in squiggly lines in a pastry bag (or a plastic bag with the tip cut).  When sending these as lunches, I pack the sauce separately so it doesn't get microwaved.

VARIATION: Freezer Enchiladas
On a square of aluminum foil, roll up one enchilada, spooning some enchilada sauce inside the tortilla. Wrap up and close foil. Freeze.   To enjoy, remove foil and heat in the microwave.  Serve with the avocado crema.


Shoyu Ramen

I became a fan of ramen in Tokyo, where a friend introduced me to Japanese ramen. It's so much better than instant noodles!


The way they do it in Japan is to prepare everything separately, and combine it in your bowl. This method makes more dishes, but it makes sure that each item is at the right done-ness (instead of getting soggy noodles because something else in the pot needs more time).  Once everything is ready (broth is hot, noodles are done, toppings are ready), then the meal is composed in the bowl, and the hot broth is poured over.

Figure out how much liquid you need for the # of people you are serving, and only make up that much broth/liquid.  In my earlier attempts, I would fill up a large stock pot with broth, only to realize it was out of proportion with the toppings.  Pouring broth over a bowl with the right amount of toppings is another safeguard to getting the right proportions of liquids to solids in ramen.


You can make different kinds of ramen, mostly based on the liquid you use.

  • Shoyu ramen: broth + soy sauce, the easiest, and what I made below 
  • Miso ramen: what it sounds like, broth + miso 
  • Tonkotsu Ramen, or Ippudou style broth, the kind that is milky white/opaque color. I've read this is from using specific bones from a pig.  See Mark's blog for a recipe for Tonkotsu Ramen.


Make good quality bone broth.  I made mine from grass fed beef bones. You can use a slow cooker or a pressure cooker to make your bone broth.

Measure out the right amount of liquid for the number of people you are serving- approximately 8 oz per person.

Bring it up to a simmer.   Season with garlic and soy sauce.

Meanwhile, prep your toppings:

  • Carmelize white or yellow onion slices in oil and a generous portion of salt
  • Cook up your protein.  I browned large slices of firm tofu in oil with a sprinkle of salt.  I've seen hard boiled eggs used, as well as braised meat slices like cha-su
  • Chop veggies you want to include, like the broccoli I used. If the vegetable takes a while to cook, consider steaming or boiling it separately to make sure it's done before adding to the soup. 
  • Slice up green onion or negi
  • Measure out 1 tsp wakame flakes per person

Cook up the noodles.  I used buckwheat ramen noodles- you could find any kind of noodle you like. Either cook these in a separate pot and strain (like they do in Japan), or carefully cook them in the broth.

When the noodles are ready, broth is hot, and the toppings are ready, assemble everything in a bowl.  I start with the noodles and add the toppings, then pour the broth over the top. Serve immediately.


Zaru Soba: Summertime cold Soba noodles with dipping sauce (Tsukejiru)

When the weather gets hot, I love to eat cold soba noodles.  In Japan, you'll see these in many restaurants, and it's especially popular to top them with tempura shrimp.

Good soba noodles are made from just buckwheat and water.  Check the ingredients as many cheaper soba will be made of primarily wheat.

If you want to serve them hot, check out this post on kakejiru.   When cold, serve soba noodles with a dipping sauce called tsukejiru.  Both tsukejiru and kakejiru contain dashi, sugar, and soy sauce; just in different proportions.

In a pot, bring up to a boil:
3 C dashi
6.5 TB soy sauce
1 TB sugar
Let cool in the fridge.  You can do this up to a week ahead of serving.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Dried soba noodles are usually bundled into 1 person serving sizes, so pull out 2 bundles for 2 people or more bundles for each person you are feeding.

Place the noodles into the boiling water and simmer uncovered for 4-6 minutes or until al dente (check the package for instructions).  Once cooked to your liking, cool them down.  

I like to drain them off, then plunge into a big bowl of ice water.  Once they are cooled, you can either drain off the ice water and serve, or fold the noodles into little bundles.  This post has some great serving ideas and photos for reference.

Soba and Hot Broth (Kakejiru)

I love soba. It is quite delicious when done right. Most of the soba on the shelves is wheat flour with a sprinkle of buckwheat flour.  Seek out the kinds that are 100% buckwheat flour-- that's the real deal.  At some point I want to figure out how to make soba noodles on my own.

Soba can be enjoyed in either a hot or cold broth.  In this post, we're doing hot soba, which is served with a dipping broth/soup called Kakejiru.

I served this with a salad of shredded daikon, toasted sesame seed oil and aonori flakes (or use furikake), steamed vegan gyoza and steamed sugar snap peas to make it a meal.

For two people

First, make dashi stock. Great dashi instructions are over at Serious Eats, of you can reference my notes on dashi in my secrets of miso soup post.  Feel free to make the dashi ahead of time (store in the fridge, or freezer).

In a pot, bring up to boil:
1 quart dashi
1.5 TB sugar
1.5 tsp salt
2 TB soy sauce

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. This pot is for the noodles. Once the noodle water and the dashi are hot, then put the dried soba noodles into the boiling water, stir to break up the clumps of noodles and let simmer uncovered for 4-6 minutes or until al dente (check the package instructions).  Drain, rinse and drain and set aside.

Place a wad of the cooked noodles in each soup bowl. Pour over the hot tentsuyu/flavored dashi soup stock and eat immediately.

Here are the bowls prior to being filled with soup:
Leftover tips: do not store the noodles in the soup, they will get too mushy. Store them separately then heat up the soup and pour over the noodles.


Summer Mint Tea

We were introduced to this concept at a friends house and were transfixed by house delicious mint tea is! This is just the herb, no bags or anything added besides a little bit of sugar. This is a great picnic beverage.

Prepare in a quart pitcher that can withstand heat and cold:

handful of fresh mint leaves, bruised by crushing in your hands
3 TB raw cane sugar (like turbinado)

Pour in a few cups of filtered hot water and muddle with a spoon.  Let cool a bit (so as to not shock the container). Then fill up the rest of the container with water and/or ice (in total I think you'll have a quart of water).

Chill and serve cold.