• how do you like them apples?

    December 24, 2009

    I know I’m just sliding in with this one so close to Christmas Day, but it’s so good I think you’ll want to make it long after the holiday madness dies down.  So, without (any) adieu, I present:

    new recipe: please pass the pumpkin pie

    I came up with this one last year from a mishmash of recipes, and this year I’m substituting almond milk for soy.  One of the best parts about this pie is the crust made with oats and pecans:


    I wish another experiment had proven as successful.  For months I’ve been reading about raw apple pie and tried some at VitaOrganic in London.  When a work colleague asked about my slice, I gave an enthusiastic “ok,” but the truth was I thought the pie was terrible.  I thought I could do better; and, wanting to put a yet healthier spin on one of my favorite desserts, got in the kitchen and threw together this raw apple pie.  Except that it was labor-intensive and messy, something I don’t mind and am happy to do most of the time.   But I have no desire to try this pie.  I’m not going tell you I love it just because it’s raw, or that I prefer it to regular ole apple pie.  When you look at it you might wonder what I’m talking about.  It sure does look pretty.


    Or, you might be like my friend Sarah who exclaimed, “Nothing says Christmas like vegan and raw!”

    I’m going back in the kitchen to bake an apple crisp.  It’ll still be vegan, but I’ll be able to smell it.

    Merry Christmas!

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  • pan-asian with panache

    December 19, 2009


    It seems that while I’ve been in the UK for the past six years the US has seen an increase in the number and variety of Asian-food establishments.  Was Panda Express so popular before I left?  I can’t remember, but I’m seeing them all over the place now.  Then again, I was living in New York City back then and am now spending most of my time in suburbia.  So they may have been around, just not around me.

    My mom has been raving about Pei Wei.  Billing itself an “Asian diner,” the place looks quite modern from the outside; and I finally decided to give it a try with her a few days ago.  Nice!  I love Pei Wei.  Nearly all the dishes are offered with vegetables and tofu, so I was spoiled for choice here.  I went with the Thai Dynamite that was supposed to be spicy, but having just spent five weeks in the hot-salsa haven that is Southern California, this barely made my tongue tingle.

    What I loved most about this dish is that the vegetables were barely cooked–they were beautifully crisp and colorful.  And the brown rice was just perfect.  I couldn’t finish the whole thing, and it came to under $8.  Pei Wei seems to be attached to malls, so if you’re doing some last-minute shopping, steer right past the food court and get yourself some healthier wok cooking at this place.  It seems that over 41,000 other people agree with me.

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  • going platanos

    December 15, 2009

    I thought I’d expand a bit on the platanitos maduros pictured in my post about Cuban black beans.  You need very, very ripe plantains in order to make these.  You buy them like this:


    and then you let them sit on your kitchen counter until the skins are black.  Then you peel them, slice them on the diagonal, and fry them over medium heat.  Transfer to paper towels to drain, and eat while warm.

    Incidentally, another banana specimen I have been enjoying while re-discovering the States is this cute little one we Hispanics call Manzanos — after “manzana”, because they have the faint taste of apples:


    You need to wait until these are really ripe, too.

    So, if you’re a little bored of your banana, give either of these babies a whirl.  Both should be available at markets that cater to Latin shoppers; in London I’ve seen them on Portobello Road and Shepherd’s Bush.  Of course, for the impatient there is always the “toston” that employs green plantains and a special tool called, appropriately, a tostonera.  More later as I report from my mother’s for the holidays…

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  • back in black

    December 8, 2009

    I didn’t think it would take this long to settle in, and I’m still not.  I’ve been in Southern California now for over a month, and the change from the London life I knew has been nothing short of extreme.  Surrounded by taquerias instead of pubs, the only thing I’ve been longing for is…some old-fashioned Cuban loving.

    So, after more than a couple of calls to my mom and aunt, I scavenged two Mexican supermarkets and emerged with enough ingredients to replicate that family favorite: black beans, white rice, and fried plantains.

    Yes, this is far from the high-raw focus of not long ago, but when so many changes are underway, comfort (and flexibility) calls.

    new recipe: bring-me-back black beans

    The sofrito

    The platanitos (ripe, fried plantains)

    Arroz con frijoles


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