Monday, November 23, 2015

game changing grilled kale

I cannot stress enough how much I love this stuff.  Dress it up or eat it straight off the stems with your hands, oil dripping down your chin. I don't really want to eat kale any other way these days. This recipe's chewy, smoky, juiciness satisfies me at a very primal level.

Plan on one bunch of kale per person. You'll want to fire up your barbecue for this one.


1 bunch of kale (curly is awesome but any will work)
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup oil (avocado, sunflower, olive are my faves)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 lemon

Wash, drain and place the kale in a large bowl. In a blender, blend the garlic, oil, pepper and salt together. Pour over the kale and toss to coat.

Over low heat, place the kale leaves on the grill. Cook for a couple of minutes and flip, and cook for a couple of more minutes on the other side, until the leaves are soft and edges starting to char just a little bit. Don't over-grill, as the burnt ones aren't as awesome to eat.

Remove from the grill. Squeeze lemon juice over leaves and go to town.

Another way to serve is to chop the leaves off the stems and make a salad.
This one is quite amazing.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

kelewele bites

photo by kelly bone

My current assignment is to come up with creative and attractive African inspired appetizers for an event. The first thing that came to mind was kelewele (pronounced kelly-welly), a dish that I know and love from years living in Ghana, West Africa.

West African plantains are the best I've ever had. They're spiked with ginger, garlic, hot pepper and salt. In Ghana they're deep fried but I like to coat and roast. If you cut them into skinny little discs and stack them up on a toothpick they are transformed from humble nighttime street snack to high class cocktail party item.

  • 3 lbs ripe sweet plantains (skin black if possible) sliced into 1/8"-1/4" rounds
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil (or other oil)
  • 4 ounces fresh ginger
  • 3 ounces fresh garlic
  • 1-2 habanero peppers
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 375F. Place the plantains in a mixing bowl. In a blender, combine oil, ginger, garlic, peppers and salt. Blend until smooth, and then pour over the plantains, stirring to coat well. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Spread plantains on a parchment lined baking sheet (or two) in an even layer. Roast for about 20 minutes, until edges begin to caramelize. Using a spatula, flip them and continue to roast until they are golden brown and caramelized. Stir once or twice during the process to prevent the outer pieces from burning. 

Once cooked, remove from oven. These are best hot but still taste good even as they cool down. If you are serving them as an appetizer, spike three to a toothpick and arrange on a plate with a dusting of sea salt, garlic chives and aleppo pepper.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

vegan mushroom cioppino

Hi, I'm back! I've been cheffing and managing for a vegetarian restaurant these past two years, and my musings have been posted elsewhere on the web. 

Speaking of musings, I am going to keep my future posts short and sweet. I usually scroll right down to the bottom of most food blogs, skipping the novel that precedes the recipe. I find all that writing to be superfluous. In addition, in writing less words, the likelihood of my sharing recipes and other useful information will be greater.

So, without further ado, I would like to share with you the recipe for this vegan mushroom cioppino, a standout soup that was originally created in the late 1800s by Italian fishermen in San Francisco. This version swaps oyster and trumpet mushrooms out for the seafood. I am a big fan of my food processor and used the slicing attachment for the leeks, trumpet mushrooms, garlic, fennel, celery and tomatoes. I suggest you do the same if you have the luxury, its a real time saver.

Omnivores and vegetarians alike go bonkers for this amazing vegan soup, which was in regular rotation at the caffe. Enjoy!

the ingredients

Makes about 12 servings (can easily be halved)
  • 1 pound royal trumpet mushrooms, ends removed and sliced into bite sized pieces.
  • 1 pound oyster mushrooms, ends removed and torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 stalks leeks, tough green ends removed, rinsed & thinly sliced (see bottom pic)
  • 18 cloves sliced garlic
  • 2 cups fennel, sliced thin
  • 1 bunch celery, sliced thin
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 vegetarian bouillon cube
  • 2 1/2 lbs chopped tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 3 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Fresh oregano, chopped

In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil until it ripples. Add the leeks, celery and garlic, and brown for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and continue to brown (another 3 to 5 minutes)
Stir in the fennel, then the wine. Let the wine come to a boil, then simmer for 2 minutes.
Add the water and bouillon cube, tomatoes, salt, pepper, chili flakes and Old Bay. Simmer for 30 minutes on low until the mushrooms are tender and the fennel is soft. Remove from heat and add a small handful of chopped fresh oregano. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Ladle into bowls. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with sourdough bread

Quick tip for cleaning leeks I learned from David Lebovitz: slice lengthwise up to the root,
making them very easy to rinse off. Then slice as needed.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

karelian pies: vegan, two ways

Unless you are Finnish, you are probably asking, "what is a Karelian Pie?" I never knew until I went there and had them for breakfast multiple times. Eaten warm, and slathered with not-so-vegan egg butter, these savory rye and rice pastries are so good. In Finland, I saw them in one format: plain. Which is absolutely delicious and when I make them now, I do half plain and half in some other flavor. Because I am not Finnish, I guess it's ok for me to riff on the original. If you are a Finnish investor and would like me to come and live in Helsinki, and run a Karelian pie bakery that isn't afraid to take these classics to a new level, please contact me and we can talk.

I have broken from tradition here in two ways. In Finland, Karelian Pies are filled with a porridge of milk, salt and short grain rice. The first time I made these, I made two different kinds, one with cow's milk and one batch with coconut milk. I am not sure why, but it was virtually impossible to tell which one was which. This is good news for vegans and people avoiding dairy. The other liberty I took was to stir boiled, pureed carrots and a bit of oil tempered with cumin seeds in to half of the finished rice porridge before stuffing the pastries. This resulted in a creamy, slightly sweet cumin laced pie, which I have to say I like even more than the original. One thing I have learned about Karelian Pies: the flavor must be simple and pure so as not to overpower the subtle flavor of the rye flour crust. 

A word on rye, gluten and other ancient grains. I have been floating on a sea of information and observation for years now, trying to decipher and filter out what works for me in regards to what I eat, and how it makes me feel, both psychologically and physiologically. The island I have landed on in recent months is one that I like, and think I will stay here for a while. I do not have celiac disease. And I may or may not have a sensitivity to gluten, as I sometimes notice if I eat too much wheat, or believe what my allergy blood test tells me. But I often wonder if it is not just the super-sized wheat mutant monster that scientists have created to satiate America's gluten addiction that some of us are reacting to? Perhaps the more delicate, sensitive gluten found in ancient, unadulterated grains such as rye, spelt, kamut and barley are more digestible? I am no scientist, and I am not going to cross-reference my readings here. But this is where I am at, and I have been baking a lot using these wheat alternatives, which have gluten, but my body seems to know what to do with. I was so healthy and happy in Finland, as if my system was finally in its nutritional homeland. Don't even get me started on the bread there. The rye bread alone was worth the trip.

Back to Karelian Pies. This is a food you are unlikely to see outside of Finland very often. Luckily, they freeze well, and hold together well enough to pop into the toaster or toaster oven for a quick breakfast. Although whenever we make them here, they don't make it to the freezer at all. 

Karelian Pies are typically eaten with egg butter (I love egg butter). It is basically hard boiled eggs mashed up with room temperature butter, and this is the part of the puzzle that I haven't tackled for the vegans, as I do eat eggs. If you eat eggs but not dairy, like my man, you can make the egg butter with coconut oil and it is just as good as the one made with butter.

This is one of those cooking projects, like tamales, that is more fun done with friends and wine and when you have time to cook. Make lots, share with everyone, eat a bunch, and hopefully you'll even have enough left over to freeze.

If you are inspired to make some other flavor, please share...these things are ripe for experimentation!

Here is a good recipe for traditional Karelian Pies, and the one that I adapted from.

Vegan Karelian Pies 
(makes 40 pies)
600ml water
3 14oz cans coconut milk (minus 1/4 cup)
2 cans water
370 g abborio or other short grain rice
1 tsp salt

(for carrot version)
6 large carrots, peeled & chopped
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
2 teaspoons cumin seeds

600ml water
600-700 g rye flour
pinch of salt

50g coconut oil
1/4 cup of coconut milk
600 ml water
3-4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cooled
100g soft butter or coconut oil
Make the porridge. Boil the water in a large pan. Add the rice and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the coconut milk and bring to a soft boil. Simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour, until it is a thick, creamy porridge. Add salt and let cool completely.

Make the carrot-cumin element. Steam or boil carrots until soft. Puree in blender. In a small pan, heat the coconut oil until it spatters when you drop a single cumin seed in there. Once ready, temper the oil with the remaining cumin seeds, allowing them to pop, toast and spatter for about 15 seconds. Remove from heat, stir into the carrot mixture. Divide the rice porridge in half, and add the carrot cumin mixture. You will now have two flavors of Karelian Pie!

Make the rye dough. Combine water, salt and 500 grams rye flour in a bowl. Continue to add flour until the dough can be kneaded and handled. Cut the dough into quarters, and then roll each quarter into a cylinder.  Divide each cylinder of dough into ten equal portions and flatten each portion to make a round disk. Cover the disks with cling wrap to avoid drying. 

Make the pies. Roll one disk at a time into a thin (2-3mm thick) oval, spread couple of tablespoons of porridge onto the disk, and wet the edges of the disk with water using your finger. Pinch the sides together around the disk, creating a little basket using your thumb and index finger. 

Bake the pies. Place the pies on baking trays lined with parchment paper and bake in a preheated oven (425F) for 15-20 minutes or until the tops are slightly browned.

Heat coconut oil, coconut milk and water in a saucepan. Dip each pie in the hot mixture to soften. Place on drying rack for 5-10 minutes so the milk does not make the bottoms soggy. 

Use a fork to mix the eggs with soft butter and serve the pies topped with this mixture. These pies can be frozen (minus the egg butter).

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

fabulous finland

We have had such a lovely time in Finland. The entire two weeks were spent enjoying the best food, drink, scenery, company & conversation. We camped. We rode bikes in the archipelago between Finland and Sweden. When my leg began to hurt, we were rescued by a wonderful couple who are destined to become longtime friends. They hosted us, fed us, and helped us rent a 1600cc motorbike. We skinny dipped in pristine lakes amongst wild moose and deer. We drank apple cider and ate delicious dark rye bread, Karelian pies with egg butter, baby carrots in cream thickened with spelt and tempered with a pinch of brown sugar, new potatoes drenched in butter with dill, sea salt and black pepper, blueberry rhubarb pie, squeaky cheese with cloudberry jam, and fresh salads with grilled haloumi cheese and dried berries. We had fresh chanterelles from the forests of nearby Estonia. Our fingers are stained red from strawberries both wild and cultivated. We enjoyed countless fresh peas, popping them straight from the pods into our mouths, while sitting on the edge of the Baltic sea, or in a green park in Helsinki, or in a lake, on an island. We had coffee and cardamom rolls while waiting out a thunderstorm in the town of Navu. We devoured top notch Thai food on a tiny island, after a blissful private sauna that included lots of scrubbing and cans of cider that stayed surprisingly cold in the 90°C air, at a place called Bjorkslund's Batslip. We went to a 15 year old girl's communion party, where we were invited to the neighbor's wine cellar to drink a delicious bottle of Spanish Albarino wine. We had a picnic on the fortress island of Suomenlina, watching cruise ships navigate treacherous & narrow straights.

Hostess Hanna

And we window shopped... because Finland is not only one of the prettiest places I have ever been, but also one of the most expensive. If not for the open hearted generosity of the people we met and are visiting, we'd be deep, deep into the black. But do not despair, budget travelers! If you are willing to camp, picnic, and get off the beaten path, you too can have a blissful, vegetarian and affordable adventure in this often overlooked wonderland. And if you open yourself up to the people you meet, you'll find some of the warmest, friendliest people ever. 

209€=too much!

My shortlist of tips for the shoestring veggie-voyager coming to Finland: bring a tent, sleeping gear, leatherman, swimsuit, sunblock, wind breaker, and mosquito repellant. If you plan to visit saunas, bring body products like scrubbers, moisturizers (oils) and exfoliants to enhance your experience. Be willing to eat rye, dairy and eggs, as there is butter, cheese, rye or eggs in most of the vegetarian options. If you are vegan, get ready for lots of fresh, raw veggies and fruits. Many people we met were either vegetarian or pescatarian, and most people are very concerned with the origins of their food and with the current Monsanto/GMO crisis. Restaurants are very expensive; you'll spend 15-20 euros easily per person. Apple cider is more common than beer. Luomo means organic. Pretty much every one speaks English, so you'll have no trouble communicating if you don't speak Finnish. In the summer there are tiny wild strawberries that taste like candy growing in the countryside. I could go on and on... But that should cover the basics.

When I get back home, and have a real keyboard (using slide mode on a tablet here...) I'll start posting some recipes. But if you want a taste of a Finland summer, here's a suggested menu for you!

Boil a couple of pounds of baby potatoes in some water with a few generous pinches of sea salt. Drain. Serve while still hot, with fresh butter, dill, black pepper and sea salt. Allow your guests to dress their own! If you can get some fresh chanterelle mushrooms, simply saute them in butter with a pinch of salt. Serve this with fresh peas still in the pod, hot toasted rye bread, more butter, and bottles of cold hard apple cider. Enjoy a big salad with tender new lettuce and a squeeze of lemon juice. Dessert could be a bowl of ripe strawberries, fresh whipped cream, and some good dark chocolate. Simple, easy, elegant and YUM!

Until next time, hugs to you all.
Love, K

Monday, June 24, 2013

midsummer magic

Greetings from eastern Finland, where we have been blissfully spending the past few days experiencing what it is to be Finnish at its best: sweating in a traditional sauna, swimming in a pristine lake halfway over the Russian border, eating tender, new potatoes fresh from the earth and decadent black forest cake made with fresh cream and ruby red strawberries, drinking strong coffee and crisp apple cider, snuggling with sheep that are friendly as dogs, and most surprisingly, singing karaoke songs under a midnight sun. Not to mention, fabulous conversation, laughter, and lots of pesky mosquitoes. Yes... unfortunately every garden has at least one snake lurking in the leaves.

Suffice it to say, all the things our hostess had promised have been delivered in full. I met Hanna in Mumbai, where we developed a friendship over the months that has blossomed into this trip. We spent much of our time together there talking about Finland in the summertime while enjoying the perks of my posh condo in the communal steam room... that was used more by the two of us than all the Indian residents in the entire complex. Naturally, the dreamy steam reminded her of her homeland, especially the summers. Her stories of swimming, cider, sauna, and other peaceful, blissful activities transported me to a place very different than Mumbai. And here we are!

We arrived on midsummer eve, just in time for one of the biggest Finnish holiday weekends. Along with a group of friends and family, we drove out to the Finnish/Russian border to one of the 180,000(!) lakes in this lovely, underpopulated country, our rental car full of games, groceries, and good moods. It was a lovely weekend...
And we visited Hanna's parents, who live a life so photogenic and idyllic that I could barely believe my eyes. I just kept running around, photographing everything I saw, which made those sweet people laugh in puzzlement (although I imagine they know exactly how gorgeous their charmed life really is). Irma, Hanna's mother, had baked a stunning gluten free black forest cake, with layers of chocolate cake, fresh whipped cream, pears, meringue, and strawberries. She gave me the recipe... here's the link. She replaced the gluten flour with gf flour.
If you don't speak Finnish, you'll need to filter it through a translator ;-)

Next post: cycling the archipelago, squeaky cheese, and other northern delights...

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

kale with roasted eggplant pepper sauce

I'm eating this energizing, yummy, easy lunch right now. It is out of this world!

If you have roasted eggplant laying around it takes no time. Here is the breakdown:
Chop up a bunch of sturdy kale and saute it in a little onion, garlic & oil until its how you like it.

In a food processor, blend 1/2 roasted eggplant (skin & all), 1/2 red bell pepper, 1 tablespoon goat cheese, and 1/2 tomato, along with salt, cayenne pepper, a dash of basalmic vinegar & a dash of olive oil. And 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast. Taste, adjust seasonings.

Blend till creamy and then spoon over the Kale. Mix it up and eat. Yum!