Archive for July, 2008

The Naam
2724 West Fourth Avenue
In Kitsilano near the beach

The Oh So Great Naam, I would say!! If the fact that I tell you it’s great is not enough, here’s a fact: Jo and I ate there a total of 4 times in one week! They are a totally vegetarian/vegan joint with vegan desserts! How often do you find multiple vegan choices for dessert!? How about NEVER!! I just wish I had had the forethought to take photos…alas.

This place was so great, even a month later I’m wishing I had a slice of Shakti cake, or the Hot Apple Crisp a la mode, or a cup of the High C tea…or the sesame fries…oh, the sesame fries! It gets quite a queue during peak meal hours. Luckily we always made it in time to beat the rush (although sometimes by not much). Ok, so aside from eating sesame fries at every meal, the other items which we enjoyed were:

*a small Naam Salad (that turned out to be not so small, but how can you feel bad about eating a big salad – unless there was a mixup and they gave me a large salad when I was thinking I was getting the small, but I’m not complaining) with Naam dressing (the dressing was ok, they went a bit heavy on it, but that could’ve just been the day because other salad dressings weren’t as overly dressed); I also had a Naam side salad but ordered the Poppy Seed dressing…super good; as was the lemon-thyme dressing. Didn’t try the Miso-ginger…sorry.

*Chili – It was super super good! It was definitely spicy, and coming from a spicy gal…it’s not for those faint of palate. But I would call it more of a black bean spicy soup instead of a chili – in Texas chili is a very distinct type of dish.

*Potato-Leek soup was one of their soups of the day. And it was oh, so good! It wasn’t pureed like I’m used to having PL soups. It was kept brothy and so delicious!

*Jo had a chickpea curry and it was quite scrumptious.. I can’t remember the exact name..but it was a ‘curry of the day’ dish.

*the Naam Burrito Wrap – I love burritos! And this one was filled with all good veggies, plus teriyaki sauce and peanut sauce. Of course, not being a tofu fan, I got it without tofu.

Plus, they also had live music every night! It was great!! Anyone whose in the area should go! Now!! I know it’s on the list if I ever get back to Vancouver…

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Continuing with all things mini and July being blueberry month…I made my famous blueberry tart – mini-sized!! Oh, I can’t believe how cute it came out. I prepared the tart dough, and then the next day – when I went to roll it out, I thought – WAIT!…I have miniature tart pans! Why not make tiny tarts instead of the usual normal sized tart?! And I’m so glad I did!!! Just looking at them makes me smile with miniature excitement… The tart dough recipe is adapted from the Classic Home Desserts cookbook, as is the blueberry tart recipe. In the shell list of ingredients, I went ahead and posted the amounts for 2 shells (in the parentheses) if you’re looking for a new pie/tart crust recipe for other pies. The directions below are for a normal 9-inch tart (serves about 8 ), but the 1 shell comes out perfect for about 22-24 mini tarts, and I reduced the amount of filling by half, and I was a few shells shy of filling – that’s ok because some of my mini tart shells weren’t greased properly so I couldn’t get the shell out of the pan. I plan to turn them into crumbly goodness atop some blueberry sorbet!! You could also opt to make the whole batch of filling, and use the remaining as a blueberry spread on scones or biscuits.. or toast.. or coconut ice cream.. or anything you can imagine to spread blueberries on!


1 shell (quantity for 2 shells):
1.5 (2.5) C buckwheat (for gluten-free) or AP flour
2 (4) TBSP sugar
pinch (1/4 tsp) salt
1/2 (1) C cold butter, cut into pieces
3 (5) TBSP ice water

Blueberry Tart
Rich tart dough for 1 shell
3 pints fresh (or frozen if so inclined) blueberries, picked over
1/4 C cold water
2/3 C sugar, or less, depending on the berries’ sweetness
3 TBSP cornstarch
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 lemon


1. Make the dough: If making the dough by hand, sift together the flour, sugar and salt into a large bowl. Cut in the butter with 2 knives, pastry cutter, or fingertips, until the mixture is the texture of crumbly meal. *This can also be done in a food processor – pulsing briefly until crumbly. Add the liquid gradually and process just until the dough begins to clump together.

2. Sprinkle 3 TBSP of the liquid over the flour mixture and toss with a fork until the pastry just comes together. Add more liquid if necessary, but do not moisten the dough too much. Gather the pastry together in a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic or wax paper and chill for at least 1 hour before rolling out.

3. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a large circle about 1/8-inch thick. Fit it, without stretching, into a lightly buttered 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Trim off the excess dough, leaving 3/4-inch overhang. Tuck in the overhang, pressing the edges of the dough against the sides of the tart pan to form a high, smooth border. Chill the tart shell while you preheat the oven to 400 F.

4. Line the pastry with a sheet of lightly buttered foil, buttered side down. Weigh down the foil with dried beans, rice or pie weights (with the mini tart I didn’t have to weigh them down or cover them); place the tart pan on a heavy baking sheet. Bake on a center rack until the sides are set, 8-10 minutes. Carefully remove the weights and foil. Continue to bake the shell, pricking any air bubbles with a fork, until the dough is golden and baked through, 10-13 minutes longer. Cool the tart shell on a wire rack. For minis: Just bake uncovered for 8-10 minutes, then remove to cool.
5. Make the filling: Combine about 2 C of the blueberries with the cold water in a heavy nonreactive sacuepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, use a fork to stir together the sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon. Use a zester or vegetable peeler to remove the zest from the lemon; reserve a few long, thin strands of zest for garnish. Finely chop the remaining zest and add it to the sugar mixture. Juice the lemon, and stir the juice into the sugar mixture; add this mixture to the berries. Boil gently, uncovered stirring constantly, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes. You want it to not come back together immediately when you scrape the pan with a spoon….

6. Set aside about 1 C of the nicest looking blueberries. Stir the remaining uncooked berries into the cooled berry mixture. Pour the blueberry mixture into the tart shell, mounding it carefully. Top with an even layer of the reserved uncooked berries and garnish with a few strands of the reserved lemon zest. Chill covered with plastic wrap, if not serving immediately.

7. If the tart was chilled longer than 30 minutes, remove it from the fridge a few minutes before serving. Gently remove the tart from the rim of the pan. Top each slice (or mini-tart) with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

**Note: Just be aware that if you use the buckwheat flour for gluten-free goodness, it’ll have a ‘healthier’ taste to the crust, than it would if it was an all-purpose flour. So if you’re wanting something that has that bad-for-you appeal, use AP…but if you want to feel like you’re doing your body some good by eating dessert, use buckwheat or even a whole wheat if you can have gluten!

Happy Baking!

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After chatting with Jo about this new dish I came up with over the weekend, we’ve decided to create a whole new category. The current category, SOP, is for those recipes that should be standard operating procedure in any kitchen. This new category, DF, will be for those recipes which are ‘Dad-friendly.’ The criteria for DF recipes are as follows: minimal input ( <5 minutes prep), maximum output (multiple meals from one prep, tons of veg, super healthy). I was chatting with Dad on Friday night and he was all excited about the sun tea, yada yada. And I asked him if he’d made the red beans and rice soup recipe I posted just for him! His excuse, ‘I’ve been so busy with the back porch that I don’t have time to cook.’ This prompted me to circumvent this excuse by concocting something so simple that he wouldn’t be able to say he doesn’t have time or energy to cook. This category will take neither time nor energy to put together! For our maiden voyage into DF-territory, I give you Baked Rice Casserole! There is minimal prep (maybe 5 minutes of effort), but it does take some time in the oven, so plan accordingly (at least 1.5 hrs) – hey, there is no perfect system, we’re not the Jetsons 🙂 ! This recipe makes about 6-8 servings…


1 C brown basmati, rinsed and drained
1 can black beans, slightly drained (but you’ll want some of the juice)
1 TBSP pre-minced garlic
1 TBSP pre-minced shallots
2 C vegetable broth
1 C grape tomatoes
3/4 C frozen corn
1 C baby spinach
fresh herbs, 1 tsp each: oregano, thyme, sage; torn with fingers
1 sprig, fresh rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
1/2-1 C frozen peas (all depends on how much you love peas – I like about 1 C)
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped


1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Dump all ingredients, except the peas and cilantro, into a deep casserole dish or dutch oven. Stir to combine.

2. Bake in oven, covered, 1 hour 15 minutes. After 1 hour 15 minutes, uncover and cook an additional 20 minutes.

3. Add peas, and cook an additional 10-15 min – until all the moisture is absorbed and the rice is done.

4. Let cool for about 10-15 minutes, stir in fresh cilantro. Serve with steamed or grilled vegetables or even tamales (I’m jealous), wrapped in a tortilla topped with fresh pico de gallo or tomatillo salsa for a burrito meal, or over tortilla chips topped with salsa for a nacho-style meal. You could also squeeze some fresh lime juice onto the finished dish for a tangy kick! This would also make a good stuffing (once baked) for stuffed peppers… The possibilities are endless!!

If you have some leftover rice (already cooked), use it (about 1.5-2 C)! It’ll cut down on the baking time…
Possible veg additions if you don’t mind chopping: tomatillos, red bell pepper, spicy pepper (if you want heat), even red potatoes cut into small cubes…
Possible spice additions: 1 tsp of chili powder, garlic powder (for extra garlicky goodness), cumin…any favorite spice you like! Or even use Indian spices for a more curry flavor..mm…

Variations: You could exchange out the brown rice for millet or quinoa – which I suspect would cut down on the baking time. You could check at 1 hour, and either option would probably (but hasn’t been personally tested) be done, but you’ll have to check. Using either millet or quinoa would also make this gluten-free

Happy Baking!


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When I posted my chocolate chip cookie recipe the other day, I mentioned off hand that I live at high altitude. I didn’t think much of it, and only mentioned it because Sara (although she is a superb cook and baker) can never get the chocolate chip cookies right. Conversely, I have a very hard time baking cakes and Sara does not. Now, I’ve been living in Albuquerque for 5 years, during graduate school, which means I haven’t had very much leisure time to think about why neither of us can master each other’s specialties. But then VeganVerve wrote how glad she was that my cookie recipe was for high altitude.

So I finally gave it some thought, and wanted to share with everyone. The reason altitude affects your cooking, and baking in particular, is that the lower air pressure (Albuquerque has about 20% less atmospheric pressure than sea level) allows water to boil at a lower temperature (203 degrees at 5000 feet, compared to 212 degrees at sea level). This means that when you’re boiling potatoes, the water boils faster, but the potatoes are being cooked at a lower temperature, i.e. they have to be cooked longer. If you’re baking, your dough will rise much faster as the water escapes, but won’t set until later, as it needs a longer cooking time. For example, a cake will rise very quickly, and then fall, which is what happens to me. Baked goods will also come out drier.

The solution is to adjust a few different things: amount of moisture, amount of leavening agent and temperature. The quick and dirty way is to leave everything the same except the amount of flour. This is generally what I have done in the past, and it works in that adding more flour to cookie dough will make the cookies spread less, and adding less flour will make them spread more. However, if you’re baking cakes or anything that requires a little more precision for a delicate crumb, you should stick to these rules:

3000-5000 feet: you may or may not need adjustments, depending on the recipe. If you have problems with your cakes falling, try slightly lower adjustments than listed for 5000 feet.

> 5000 feet: increase liquid by 2-3 Tbs per 1 C of flour; decrease sugar by 1-3 Tbs; decrease leavening agent (baking soda or powder) by 15-25%; increase temperature by 20 degrees

> 7000 feet: increase liquid by 3-4 Tbs per 1 C of flour; decrease sugar by 1-3 Tbs; decrease leavening agent (baking soda or powder) by 25% or more; increase temperature by 20 degree

It’s funny that I finally thought about these things 1 week before I’m moving back to sea level :). But now I know why when Sara visited me here, she would put the water at a simmer to cook noodles, but I would leave it at a rapid boil. Both of us had adapted our cooking to our environments, without realizing it!

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It seems like Jo and I went bananas with saffron this weekend! I made this surprisingly delicious meal with vegetables and spices served over minty orzo! I say surprisingly because I’ve never used mint with a pasta, with no other spices, and then the combo of spices with saffron cooked in the veg was simply out of this world!! I have to admit, I ate 2.5 servings in one blow! I had my first bowl with a glass of Eroica Riesling, and then I thought..mmm..I want a bit more, so I made another bowl. Then I couldn’t help myself to a small 3rd helping!! Ah!! I guess it could be worse, stuffing myself on veg isn’t as bad as, say, eating an entire batch of cookie dough! Even with the red pepper flakes it wasn’t in any way spicy, so have no fear!


2 TBSP olive oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (I used a jar of roasted red bell)
1 large sweet potato or 2 small red potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
Pinch saffron
4 C low-sodium vegetable broth
2 C broccoli florets
1 C frozen peas
1.5 C orzo
1/4 C chopped fresh mint
1/2 tsp salt


1. In large nonstick pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, cumin and cinnamon. Cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
2. Add bell pepper, potato, saffron and 2 C broth. Increase heat and bring liquid to a boil. Reduce heat, cover pan and simmer, stirring once or twice, until potato is tender, about 10-15 minutes. Add broccoli and peas. Cook 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat.
3. Meanwhile, in medium deep-sided skillet, heat remaining tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add orzo and cook, stirring often, until lightly coated with oil, 2 to 3 minutes. Add remaining 2 C broth (or water) and pinch of salt to orzo. Bring to a boil. Stir a couple of times; cover and reduce heat to simmer until all liquid is absorbed, about 12-15 minutes.
4. Divide orzo among 6 plates, top with mound of vegetables and sprinkle with chopped mint.

This was so good with a glass of Riesling and a slice of French Boule! And with only 300 calories per serving, I have no guilt about eating as much as I did..and neither should you!!

*Note: If you’re needing gluten-free, make sure your pasta of choice is gluten-free!!

*Variations: As yummy as the orzo is with these veg, sometimes you want a change from pasta..so I bet this would also be super yummy served over rice. You want something hearty enough to handle the sauciness of the veg, and to soak up the juices. I think it might be good with quinoa if you’re not looking for a grain that can hold it’s own with the veg and juice – I think quinoa would become very incognito in this dish. So play around with different pastas and/or grains!

Happy Cooking!


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Saffron Taters

I got some luscious baby golden potatoes at the farmer’s market this week, and wanted to do something special. So since our mom asked for saffron recipes, here are my saffron taters.


2 lbs potatoes, in 1/2 inch slices

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

pinch saffron threads, lightly crushed

3/4 C water

2 Tbs oil


Heat the oil in a wide skillet to med-high. Lay the potatoes in a single layer and cook for 5 minutes, or until browned. Turn over and brown the other side, another 5 minutes. Pour in the water and spices. Reduce heat to medium, or slightly less. Simmer 10-12 minutes, until water is gone and potatoes are cooked through.

Variation: If you don’t like saffron to be the central flavor of the dish, or just want something with a little more oomph, add 1/2 tsp each of cumin, coriander and dried garlic along with the water. Then sprinkle with some fresh cilantro before serving.

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Before I became vegan, my chocolate chip cookies were renowned far and wide. But when I made the switch, veganizing my previous recipe just didn’t cut it. So I’ve toiled away to create a brand new recipe, which may even taste better than my original! These are soft in the middle, crispy at the edge and delicious all around. I’ve been using spelt flour a lot these days, which requires an extra 1/4 C compared to all purpose. I also developed this recipe at high altitude (Albuquerque is mile high), so if you’re at sea level, you may want to send a single scout cookie into the oven first. If it spreads out too much, you need more flour (start with 2-3 Tbs). If it doesn’t spread out enough, add a bit of oil (1-2 Tbs is a good place to start). It may seem strange to use both “butter” (I hate using that word, but saying “margarine” sounds even more gross to me) and shortening, but trust me, this strikes the perfect balance between the scrumptious texture from the shortening and the yummy taste from the “non-hydrogenated vegan butter-substitute.”


1 stick Earth Balance “butter”

1 stick Earth Balance shortening

1.25 C turbinado sugar

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 C oat milk

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 C rolled oats

2.5 C flour (a bit more if using spelt or pastry flour)

1 bag chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Pull the “butter” and shortening out of the fridge 10 minutes before you want to start mixing, if mixing by hand. If you have a fancy electric mixer, don’t bother to let it soften. Cream the “butter” and shortening with the sugar. Add the vanilla, oat milk, and 1/2 C of flour. Be careful, as the liquid will splash if you’re using an electric mixer. I mix by hand and just treat the liquid gingerly until it mixes in. (Or if you’re smarter than me, you can incorporate the liquid in small stages.) Then add the rest of the flour in a couple of stages, along with the salt, baking soda. At this point you have cookie dough, so feel free to taste test, without the fear of salmonella! Add in the oats and chocolate chips. Taste test again.

Drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Or if you’re anal about it (like me) roll into balls with your hands. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

The cookies in the picture are two-bite sized, but feel free to make giant ones!

Variation: I’ve been experimenting lately with reducing the sugar, and I’m quite pleased. You can taste the oats more and they’re still sweet, but not too sweet. Try cutting back to 3/4 C sugar and 1/3 C oat milk.

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