Tuesday, May 31, 2011


raw ramps and spargel iii

Every spring I read about ramps--stories about ramp fests, and what people have made with the ramps they've found--and I have always felt left out because it seems to be an East Coast thing. This year I found them in the Pike Place Market at Frank's and Sosio's. I wonder where they grow around here... or maybe they're cultivated.

In any case, I got some and made myself a nice springtime dinner of ramps and asparagus with scrambled tofu and rice. I rubbed a little olive oil on the ramps and asparagus, salted and peppered them, and cooked them on my stripy pan. I gave the asparagus a four minute head start, and it only took eleven minutes altogether. I carefully didn't eat everything in one sitting so that I would be able to mix it all up into ramps fried rice for breakfast the next day. The ramps tasted just as I imagined: like extra flavorful, garlicky leeks. I look forward to getting them again next year, maybe finding a hidden ramp patch in some local park.

cooked ramps and spargel i

Monday, May 23, 2011


madeleines ii

Nurse Jennie got the new BabyCakes book and promised to bring it to work to show me, but when I looked it up and saw that it has doughnuts! and madeleines! I couldn't wait and bought it then and there.

I tried a year or so ago to make vegan madeleines, and they were sad failures: horrible, greasy blobs. As you can see above, these were much prettier, and they tasted pretty good too. I followed the recipe just as written except that I reduced the vanilla by two thirds--3 tablespoons sounded like an awful lot. I thought they were a little too sweet--next time I'll try reducing the sugar by a third or so, and see if they keep their nice structure--but Rachael disagreed and ate them right up. I only have two left, which I've hidden away for Annie.

I made twelve of them in a real, metal madeleine pan that I borrowed from Annie, and nine in a silicone pan and, strangely, the silicone ones got a better crust with nicer browning. I put the ones from the metal pan back in the oven, upside down, for a few minutes till they turned golden.

Friday, May 20, 2011

a springtime salad

asparagus and strawberries i
We had a potluck at work this week with the evening housekeepers, who brought yummy Ethiopian food--one of them even made her own injera. I couldn't think of any Irish specialties to bring, so I settled for seasonality instead and brought asparagus strawberry salad. I knew I had heard of this, but when I searched for recipes they all called for the asparagus to be cooked. I was sure that my salad would be more fresh-tasting and springy if I left it raw, so I had to invent it. It ended up being very tasty and pretty.

Strawberry Asparagus Salad
6 servings

1lb fat asparagus
1lb strawberries
30z walnuts, toasted for 10-15 minutes at 350°F
a small handful tarragon
2T balsamic vinegar
2T walnut oil
salt and pepper to taste

Peel the bottom halves of the asparaus, then slice them as thin as you can manage. Core and slice the strawberries, and add them to the asparagus. Roughly chop the walnuts and tarragon, and set aside. Whisk the oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper together.

Add the dressing to the strawberries and asparagus about an hour before you plan to serve the salad to allow things to mingle and let the raw asparagus get softened by the vinegar. Mix in the walnuts and tarragon at the last minute, to maintain the crunch of the walnuts and the sprightliness of the tarragon.

strawberry asparagus salad

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

a use for smoked salt

smoky salt tomato

Annie and I both worked on Mother's Day, so we celebrated it the following week, with breakfast before we went to the Magic Flute. I made us some festive Tofu Benedict (or maybe it was Tofu Florentine since I added some spinach I had on hand) from Vegan Brunch, and was happy to find that it called for smoked salt. You may recall that I made smoked salt a couple of years ago: at the time I'd been seeing lots of recipes calling for it, but once I had a jar of it I didn't seem to need it any more. In this case the salt is sprinkled over sliced tomato to make it simulate ham, kind of.... Anyway, it was good, and if you have some smoked salt that somebody gave you it's an idea for you! I bet it would be good sprinkled on the tomato in a TLTA, too.

tofu benny

Monday, May 2, 2011

creamy, lemony pasta sauce

noodle dinner

I had some leftover pasta dough yesterday, along with fingerling potatoes and sugar snap peas from my vegetable box, and I thought that together they would make a nice dinner for me and Rachael. But what would be a good sauce to tie it together? Back when I was a cream-eater, I made a lemon sauce from The Classic Pasta Cookbook--just boil lemon juice and zest with some butter and cream till it's reduced by half. I decided to veganize it by using almond cream. I could make the cream as thick as I liked, so I wouldn't even have to reduce it!

I cooked a pound of halved fingerling potatoes cut-side down in olive oil in a wide, covered pan over medium-low heat till they were tender, then turned the heat up to medium so they'd get a little brown. Then when the noodles (the equivalent of one pound of dried pasta) were done, I added them to the potatoes along with 8oz of trimmed sugar snaps. I stirred in the sauce, let everything heat up, then added a handful of chopped parsley. This sauce would be good with any spring vegetable: I plan to try it soon with asparagus or artichoke hearts.

Creamy Lemon Sauce

makes about 2 cups, enough for 1lb pasta

1/2C blanched almonds
juice and zest of a lemon (organic, please, as you're eating the zest!)
salt and pepper

A few hours before dinner, pour enough boiling water over the almonds to make a total of 1 3/4C. Let soak. Shortly before dinner, whiz it your blender till it's really, really smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Sunday, May 1, 2011



Until about a year ago I could buy sultanas at my favorite grocery store, the Madison Market. Then they rearranged their dried fruit section, and seem to have replaced them with a larger and more expensive variety, Hunza raisins. Sultanas are made from the same grape--Thompson seedless--as regular grocery store raisins and golden raisins (which are treated with sulfur dioxide), but are dried more quickly so that their color ends up halfway between the two. I have been keeping my eye out for them ever since, but had no luck till I went to Little Knits in West Seattle to get some needles for my Eala Bhan. I stopped by PCC and found my favorite raisins, on sale for only $4.99 a pound! I bought a couple of bags, and as soon as I got home made a batch of Sultana Biccies.

These cookies are truly quick and easy, a good choice when you realize you'll have company in an hour and you want to serve them a little treat.

sultana biccies

Sultana Biccies

makes about 3 dozen cookies

100g oleo
110g sugar
2T milk (whatever kind you like)
1T golden syrup (or corn syrup if that's all you have)
1t baking soda
210g flour
1/4t salt
80g sultanas
1t vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325°F. Melt the oleo, sugar, milk, and syrup together in a large saucepan, add the baking soda, mix till it fizzes, then take the pan off the heat and let it cool while you gather the remaining ingredients. Mix in the flour, salt, and sultanas, then the vanilla.

Roll the dough into little balls the size of big hazelnuts and arrange them on a parchment or Silpat-lined cookie sheet. Flatten each cookie with a dampened fork. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Leave on the cookie sheet for a minute, then transfer to a cooling rack.