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non-vegan vegan cauliflower alfredo bake

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This recipe but not vegan, haha. I didn’t have almond milk so I used a mixture of half and half and water to thin the cauliflower puree. Also pureed more than half of it, and topped it with crushed cornflakes mixed with melted butter.

It is substantially tastier with some olive oil and/or shredded Cheddar mixed in before serving. There’s no fat in the mouthfeel otherwise. It is really pretty dang tasty/decadent for something with so much vegetable in it, though.

Author Notes: Cauliflower, in this case, amplifies the joys of a real, delightfully starchy pasta creation rather than standing in for one. Cauliflower creates the base for a creamy, rich, and completely dairy-free alfredo sauce, and the cauliflower florets you don’t use in the sauce are folded into the pasta, which means that you’ll get pockets of savory vegetable goodness between the penne. (less)Gena Hamshaw

Serves 6

  • 12ounces penne pasta (you can use a gluten free penne, such as brown rice penne or quinoa penne, if desired)
  • 1medium head cauliflower, cut into small pieces and florets (about 7 to 8 cups, total)
  • 1tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 to 3small cloves garlic, minced or sliced
  • 3/4cup unsweetened almond, soy, or rice milk
  • 1/3cup nutritional yeast
  • 1tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/4teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1cup fresh green peas, blanched for 1 minute to soften (or frozen and thawed green peas)
  • 1/2cup vegan breadcrumbs (or vegan and gluten free breadcrumbs, such as Mary’s Gone Crackers Just Crumbs)
  1. Preheat your oven to 375° F. Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add the penne and cook, stirring every now and then, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until it’s cooked through but still a little more al dente than you’d want if you were to eat it right away (you may need to adjust cooking time if you use a non-wheat pasta, so check package for cooking instructions and modify your cooking time accordingly). Drain pasta, reserving a few tablespoons of cooking water. Toss the pasta with the cooking water to help prevent sticking and set it aside.
  2. Bring another pot of water to boil. Boil the cauliflower for about 5 to 6 minutes, or until it’s tender. Drain. Place half of the florets into your blender, reserving the other half.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a small pan over medium-low heat. Cook the garlic, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes, or until it’s fragrant and cooked through, but not burning. Blend half of the cauliflower florets with the garlic, non-dairy milk, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. The sauce should be very smooth, so add extra milk or a drizzle of olive oil if needed to achieve a smooth texture.
  4. Lightly oil a 9-x-13-inch baking dish. Toss the pasta, the remaining cauliflower florets, the peas, and all of the sauce together. Taste the mixture and add a dash of salt or pepper if desired. Transfer all ingredients to the baking dish. Top with the breadcrumbs. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until crumbs are toasted and the pasta is bubbly. Serve.

Written by orata

February 16, 2017 at 1:48 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Ramen salad

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1 package ramen, crushed up

1/2 head green cabbage

1 carrot, shredded with the julienne shredder

1 rib celery, chopped

3 green onions, chopped

1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

2 Tbsp roasted peanuts


1/3 cup oil (I used mostly avocado oil with a big drizzle of sesame oil)

1 Tbsp sugar

1/8 cup rice wine vinegar

1 ramen flavoring packet

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything together and then eat it.


Written by orata

December 20, 2016 at 1:50 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Chickpea cake

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Brought this thing I invented to Make Time:

1/2 pound besan (chickpea) flour

3 cups cold water

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp hing (asafoetida) powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

1 cup cauliflower, chopped

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

2 Tbsp urad dal

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced

1 tsp black mustard seeds

6 fresh curry leaves

3 fresh green chilis, minced

2 Tbsp coconut oil


Whisk together the gram flour, water, salt, pepper, hing, and turmeric and set it aside.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Heat 1 Tbsp of the coconut oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat and saute the onion till it starts to turn brown. Add the urad dal, ginger, garlic, chilis, mustard seeds, curry leaves, and cauliflower, and cook for another couple of minutes. Add to the gram flour mixture along with the fresh cilantro and stir to mix together. Melt the remaining 1 Tbsp coconut oil in the skillet and swirl to coat the bottom and sides with oil. Pour the batter into the pan. Put in the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Turn on the broiler on high and broil for a few more minutes, until slightly blistered on top.

Last night, we had Molly and Sam over and I made aloo tikki–I peeled and diced the potatoes before boiling them, then mashed them after draining, and added the toasted coarse upma semolina to bind it/on the outside for crunch. I used 4 Yukon Gold potatoes, not sure how much they weighed.

Aloo Tikki


500g medium floury potatoes such as desiree or maris piper
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp neutral oil, plus extra to fry
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1-2 medium green chillies, finely chopped
1 tsp black mustard seeds
½ tsp garam masala
100g shelled peas (frozen is fine)
3 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
Juice of ½ lemon
4 tbsp semolina or cornmeal (or plain flour)
Knob of ghee or butter (optional)

Put the potatoes, whole and unpeeled, into a pan just big enough to hold them, along with the turmeric and a generous pinch of salt and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer until very tender and drain. Put back into the hot pan for a minute or so to steam dry.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and then fry the onion until soft and beginning to caramelise. Stir in the ginger, garlic, chillis, mustard seeds and garam masala and fry for another minute. Stir in the peas and cook for a minute or so to defrost if necessary.

If you must, peel the potatoes, then mash well, and add to the frying pan. Stir in the lemon juice and two tablespoons of semolina, mix well then season to taste.

Roll the mixture into golf-ball sized portions, then flatten into cakes. Press both sides in semolina.

Coat the bottom of a frying pan with oil, and add the ghee if using. Heat over a medium-high flame, then add the tikki (they should sizzle). Cook until golden brown, then carefully flip over and repeat. Serve warm with chutney.

Saag paneer, modified from this:


1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
12 ounces paneer, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 (16-ounce package) frozen chopped spinach
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
1 (1-inch thumb) ginger, peeled and minced (about 1 tablespoon)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large green serrano chile, finely chopped (seeds removed if you don’t like it spicy!)
1/2 teaspoon store-bought or homemade garam masala, recipe follows
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Place a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, and add the paneer as the pan warms. In a couple of minutes give the pan a toss; each piece of paneer should be browned on one side. Fry another minute or so, and then remove the paneer from the pan onto a plate.

Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil to the pan. Add the onions, ginger, garlic and chile. Now here’s the important part: saute the mixture until it’s evenly toffee-coloured, which should take about 15 minutes. Don’t skip this step – this is the foundation of the dish! If you feel like the mixture is drying out and burning, add a couple of tablespoons of water.
Add the garam masala, coriander and cumin. If you haven’t already, sprinkle a little water to keep the spices from burning. Cook, stirring often, until the raw scent of the spices cook out, and it all smells a bit more melodious, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the spinach and stir well, incorporating the spiced onion mixture into the spinach. Add a little salt and 1/2 cup of water, stir, and cook about 5 minutes with the lid off. Remove the spinach mixture to a food processor and puree. Add the cheese and season with lemon juice.

Persian rice (accidentally burned it and ruined the crust):

Made half of this and didn’t do the separate saffron bag thing–I stirred in saffron threads into the rice.

Steamed Persian Rice

6 to 8 servings

Adapted from M.R. Ghanoonparvar ’s recipe for chelo in his cookbook, “Persian Cuisine” (Mazda, 2006).


Pinch sugar

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads

1 tablespoons hot water

4 tablespoons kosher salt

3 cups extra-long-grain rice (basmati rice will work), rinsed five times in warm water

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


Use a mortar and pestle to crush the sugar and saffron threads into a fine mixture. Add the hot water and stir to combine.

Fill a large bowl with 8 cups of water and stir in 2 tablespoons of the salt until it dissolves. Add the rice and let it soak for an hour. Drain the rice.

Dissolve the remaining 2 tablespoons of salt in 8 cups of water in a large, nonstick pot and bring the water to a boil. Add the drained rice and boil for 6 to 10 minutes or until the grains are firm, but not crunchy. (The time will vary depending on the quality of the rice.) Stir the pot occasionally to prevent sticking. Drain the rice.

While the rice drains, clean the pot and add 1 tablespoon of melted butter to the bottom. Swirl the butter around to coat the bottom of the pot and about 2 inches up the sides. Spoon the drained rice into the center of the pot, making sure to keep it away from the sides. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke several holes in the rice, all the way to the bottom of the pot. Pour the remaining melted butter over the top of the rice.

Wrap a clean kitchen towel around the pot lid to cover it on all sides, securing the cloth with a clip or a rubber band to make sure it doesn’t fall onto the stove burner. Cover the pot with the towel-encased lid and cook the rice for 10 minutes over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and let the rice steam for another 30 minutes.

Add 8 drops of the saffron solution to the rice in the bag. Seal the bag and shake it vigorously until the rice is evenly tinted yellow. Garnish plated rice decoratively with the saffron rice as you please.

Tamarind chutney:

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the spices; cook and stir for about 2 minutes to release the flavors.
  2. Stir the water into the pan with the spices along with the sugar and tamarind paste. Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat until the mixture turns a deep chocolaty brown and is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. This should take 20 to 30 minutes. The sauce will be thin, but it will thicken upon cooling. (I thickened it with cornstarch)

Roasted cauliflower:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut 1 head cauliflower into florets. Roll in vegetable oil and then besan flour mixed with hing and salt. Roast for 20 minutes.


Written by orata

December 11, 2016 at 6:42 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Whole30, Day 17: nonstop snacking

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Started the day not hungry at all, then grazed on snacks all day long. Nothing too exciting today, food-wise, aside from my husband announcing today that he wanted to stay on this diet after the end of the month. His coworkers have been commenting on his weight loss!


Coffee with almond milk




Cauliflower tabbouleh



Tomato slice (this and the pickle scavenged from a friend’s discarded burger fixings–as I bit eagerly into the tomato slice, after confirming “you really don’t want this?!” I looked up at him with desperation and explained: “this is what my life has become!”

Cinnamon almonds

Dried mango

Jackfruit chips


Italian sausage 


Written by orata

June 17, 2015 at 11:34 am

Posted in Uncategorized

tuna piano

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1 can tuna, drained

1 can white beans, drained and rinsed

juice of 1 fresh lemon

generous glugs of toasted pumpkinseed oil and EVOO

caper leaves, chopped

fresh parsley, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

1/2 small yellow onion, chopped

toss to mix, serve over arugula with sugar snap peas.

Written by orata

July 30, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

vegetarian sandwich yumminess

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New obsession: this sandwich.
Peel sweet potato, slice into 1/2 inch slices. Preheat oven (I used the toaster oven) to 400 degrees. Coat the sweet potato slices in grapeseed oil, lay out on foil, roast for about 25 minutes.

Butter whole wheat bread, arrange the sweet potato slices on it, sprinkle with feta cheese and a big handful of arugula, drizzle with honey, eat.

Things cooked in Austin for the 4th of July:

Lemon ice cream:
Heat 2 cups heavy cream with 1 cup sugar and stir to dissolve. Grate in the zest of 4 lemons. Let cool. Stir in juice of 3 lemons and a spoonful of vanilla extract. Freeze.

Roasted vegetable tart:
Mix together:
1 ¾ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup olive oil
4 tablespoons ice water
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
Line 2 9″ pie pans with the pastry.

Slice up a bunch of vegetables and roast them: 1 eggplant (450 degs 30 mins), 2 zucchini, 1/2 onion, 1/2 bell pepper, 6 small tomatoes. Layer them into the pie crusts with fresh parsley and basil and some lemon zest, then pour over 2 eggs beaten w/heavy cream, water, salt, and pepper, and sprinkle with feta. Chop and scatter 2 cloves garlic over the top.

Tuna pasta salad:
Mix together:
1 package cooked orzo
vinaigrette (lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, salt, pepper)
2 cans tuna
Fresh parsley
Fresh green onions
Hearts of palm
Cooked frozen peas
1/2 finely minced red onion

Makes an enormous quantity of pasta salad.

Casey made fresh kale rubbed with avocado and lemon juice, and lentils cooked with tomato sauce.

Written by orata

July 9, 2014 at 9:17 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Quick and dirty Thai-ish salad

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Sort of inspired by this recipe that I looked up after reading this article. Sort-of-som tam, sort-of-larb. 

Saute 1 chopped yellow onion and 2 chopped cloves garlic in sunflower oil and add 1 package ground turkey and some water. Cook till the turkey is cooked through.

In the meantime, put into a Magic Bullet:

  • 1 Tbsp dried shrimp
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 fresh lime (I had about 1/4 lime and supplemented with the squeezy lime juice)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 fresh chile peppers 
  • 1/4 fresh large tomato
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic

Blend this all together until reasonably smooth.

In a bowl, combine:

  • the cooked ground turkey mixture
  • 1 package Trader Joe’s broccoli slaw
  • about 1 Tbsp fresh mint leaves, julienned
  • 3/4 fresh tomato, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp roasted peanuts
  • dressing mixture

Mix well and add more lime juice to taste. (In retrospect, this could have used more dressing, more fresh herbs, and maybe some chopped raw onion) 

Written by orata

June 4, 2014 at 1:19 pm