Archive for the ‘Vegetarian’ Category

Ayocotes are big, flat-ish beans (I’ve sometimes called them beans on steroids) that were popular in pre-Hispanic México and during the colonial time, but somehow got out of fashion. You can still find them, though, and luckily for those in the US, Rancho Gordo sells quite a variety of them. To make the ones here, I combined their instructions on the bag, Sara Kate Gillingham‘s idea of adding beer (that I got off an Instagram of hers) and my aunt’s recipe in Puebla, México. Here I’m using the same ones my aunt used for the recipe she gave me, scarlet runner beans.


  • 1/2 lb Scarlet Runner Beans
  • 1/2 head of garlic, each clove peeled, left whole
  • 1 box of baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 10-15 cilantro sprigs
  • 1 pasilla chile
  • 1tbsp dried epazote
  • 2 bottles Red Stripe beer
  • 10 c water


At least 6 hours before (or better yet, the night before) soak the beans in cold water. I recommend checking them for stones or little pieces of dirt that sometimes get into the bags of beans. As a child it was my favorite part of helping my dad cook beans: the game of find the pebble in the bag. But I digress.

In a large pot, add the soaked beans, including the soaking water (you’re throwing out flavor otherwise) and add the 10 cups of water. Turn stove to high heat and, when the water is warm but not boiling, add the garlic, cilantro, pasilla, mushrooms, epazote and beer. Bring to a boil. The liquid will foam. Remove it with a spoon (beans are famous for causing gas. According to my aunt, removing this foam is what makes the beans less gass-y).

Lower the heat to low and cook, covered, for about 2 hours or until  the beans are soft. I like my beans on the less-saucy side, so I discarded a lot of the liquid after they were cooked (normally I would save it for a tortilla soup, but not this week). Once you have the desired quantity of liquid, season with salt and pepper to taste.

These beans work wonderfully as a side-dish or added to a quinoa salad. If you try them, let me know what you think!

photo 1 (2)


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It’s been months since I’ve posted here. Studying for grad school qualifiers will do that to you. I made myself focus on the books and not cook as much, so therefore there was hardly anything to post. But now the test is over and I am back in the kitchen and loving it.

This recipe begins as many do: With a bunch of things left over in the fridge and the need to make something with them. That, and a strange craving for soup (don’t get me wrong, I love soups, but I’ve never been the biggest fan of them).


  • 8 cups chopped collard greens, stems removed (I got this from about 1 large bunch)
  • 3tbsp olive oil
  • 4 oz baby spinach
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 c hot water
  • generous sprinkling of dried oregano
  • 1 can cooked chickpeas, drained
  • 2 c vegetable or chicken broth
  • 7 oz (1/2 can) coconut milk
  • 1/2 c ground cashew nuts, unsalted
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice of 1/2 a lime (about two tbsp)


  • Cook the chard in a large pot of water until just wilted. Drain.
  • In the same pot, heat the olive oil. When glistening, add the onions and garlic, reduce heat slightly and cook until translucent.
  • Add spinach and the cup of hot water.
  • When the spinach has wilted, add the cooked collard greens, oregano, chick peas and the two cups broth of your choice.
  • Season with salt and pepper, bring to a soft boil and let the flavors mix, about five minutes.
  • Remove from heat and let cool slightly. With an immersion blender, blend until you have a smooth and uniform soup.
  • Return to the stove, add coconut milk and pureed cashews and bring to a soft boil, reducing thickness of soup until desired consistency (I like my soups on the creamy side, so I reduce them quite a lot).
  • Add the lime juice, taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed.

photo (5)

Soup freezes well; picture doesn’t do justice to the flavor punch that this experiment turned out to be.


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The middle of the summer is always the time in which I least want to cook. Not because I don’t want to, necessarily (though when I’m really tired I don’t), but because it’s too hot to cook! So I end up craving salads and other cold meals.

This is an adaptation of a recipe I found in the Epicurious website. As usual, I’ve adapted it to make-do with what I had at home. I used tri-color quinoa, but any color will do.


Serves about 3 as a main dish


  • 1 c quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
  • 2c water
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1/4 c pistachios, shelled
  • 6 or 7 Campari tomatoes, washed and quartered
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1/4 c white balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 head of kale (about 4 cups), washed, stemmed and chopped


Add two tbsp olive oil to a large pot or casserole over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until they become translucent. Add the quinoa and stir a bit to mix it in. Add the kale and the water.

Quinoa Kale raw

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook for about 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed and the quinoa has gotten fluffy. Remove from heat and toss to start cooling it.

Quinoa kale cooked

Meanwhile, mix the mustard, vinegar and remaining tablespoons of olive oil to make vinaigrette. Mix until emulsified.

Once the quinoa-kale mix has cooled, add it to the pistachios and quartered tomatoes.

Tomatoes and pistachios

Drizzle the dressing on top, add salt and pepper to taste and mix.

Quinoa kale mixed


I find that refrigerating the salad overnight enhances the flavors. You can heat it up a bit (hence the “warm” in parentheses) or you can eat it chilled.

I got distracted and neglected the onions a bit, so some of them caramelized. I think it works to the advantage of the dish.

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This is the first dessert I ever made. It was ages ago, while I was in high school. My maternal grandma had a huge double boiler/steamer pot that I learned to do it in and I fell in love with how simple, yet versatile the recipe is. You can put fruit in it, and the version with shredded coconut was a favorite of my grandpa (on my mother’s side). Today’s version doesn’t have coconut, since I didn’t have any freshly shredded one, but you can always add it.



  • One can condensed milk
  • One can evaporated milk
  • 3 eggs
  • drop of vanilla (optional)
  • 2 tbsp sugar (for caramel)
  • One peeled and sliced apple, peach or pear, or 2/3 c shredded coconut (optional)


  • In a bowl, mix both milks, eggs and vanilla, if using.
  • If using a metal mold, melt the sugar over low heat until it caramelizes. Remove from heat before it’s completely deep in amber color (remember the sugar will keep on caramelizing, so if you wait too much, you’ll burn the caramel) and move the mold so the sugar coats it as it cools.
  • (If using a pyrex, melt the sugar in a heavy pot and transfer quickly to avoid the caramel cooling and sticking to the pot).
  • If using a steaming pot on a stove: Place the pyrex or metal mold with the caramel sugar in the shallow side of the pot. Add the custard mixture. Pour lukewarm water into the pot (careful to not spill water into the custard mixture). Bring to a slow rolling boil, reduce the flame to medium-low and cover with the deep part of the steaming pot. Cook for about 45 minutes to an hour or until a knife inserted into the flan comes out clean. Careful when opening the pot, as the steam may burn you. Also, check that the water doesn’t run out, or your flan will burn. If water is running low (check about half way through the cooking process), add some more lukewarm water to the pot.
  • If cooking in the oven: Heat oven to 350F. Place the mold with the caramel in a bigger pyrex/metal container. Add the custard mix to the mold and the lukewarm water to the bigger pyrex. Cover lightly with foil and bake in the middle rack until the custard sets (same test with the knife). 45-50 minutes. As with the steamer, check that the water doesn’t dry out.
  • Once the custard sets, remove it from the oven/stove and let it cool completely. Run a knife over the edges to release it, shake it lightly to make sure it’s free, invert a plate over the mold and carefully but quickly flip the mold onto the plate. If you have caramel stuck to the mold, add a little water and heat it lightly until it comes off and you can pour it on the flan.

Chill and enjoy.

Full disclosure: I don’t like the oven method. I haven’t done flan in years because of it. Since I now have received a steamer pot gift from grandma, I am back in the flan business. This means, then, you may have to tinker with the times and temperature of the oven cooking option. I have seen this method on cookbooks, but like I said, I did not like the results (it came out too hard, I like my flans fluffy).

Today I tried to make this lower on sugar by using less on the caramelizing part. Next up I will try to make it even lighter by using light milk mixtures.

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Quinotto vegetariano

Lately I’ve been in one of my “I need quinoa” moods. Last week I finished off a salad with orange and cranberries, this week I decided to make a quinotto. The original recipe is from the Peruvian chef Cucho la Rosa. I’ve taken out some stuff and made it mostly lactose free (my experiments returning to milk were a fiasco, so I’m back in the soy milk world).

I’ve no idea how many people this feeds. I’m guessing 8 as a side dish, 4 as main. Maybe more. Quinoa goes a long way.



  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 spoons olive oil
  • 2 tb white onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 c sliced mushrooms
  • 3 tb dry white wine
  • 4 tb heavy cream
  • 2 tb shaved parmesan cheese
  • 1 tb fresh parsley
  • strips of roasted red pepper
  • salt and pepper


  • On a skillet over medium-high heat roast the quinoa until it starts to hiss or pop. Don’t let it burn.
  • Pour the quinoa in a fine sieve and run cold water over it, moving it with a wooden spoon, rinsing it. Place it in a pot and cover with two cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook quinoa for about 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed.
  • On a skillet, heat the olive oil and cook onions, garlic and mushrooms, for about 6 minutes.
  • Add the white wine, reduce the liquid until it’s about halved and add the quinoa and cream. Add salt and pepper. Cook under medium heat for about three minutes until the mixture is creamy. Add the parmesan and remove from heat.
  • Serve garnished with the parsley and the strips of roasted red pepper.


You can substitute the heavy cream with soy milk creamer, as I did. I just added more of it, since it’s more liquid and less heavy.

Do: Measure the wine instead of just tipping the bottle, as I did. My quinotto was druuunk, and I had to cook it a little longer to make the alcohol evaporate. And I still think the flavor is a little too wine-y.

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This is an oldie but goodie. I don’t remember when I discovered it (sometime in ’09), but it’s the fruit of looking in the fridge one day, seeing what you have and then typing it in a recipe search engine to see what you get. It’s probably my favorite tofu dish, so much so that it’s featured on this blog’s banner (up center, not a great picture, but there)

You can find the original recipe link here.

Last night, when I made the most recent batch, I had to do without fresh ginger and basil (none available in the little corner market where I got what I was missing), but I found that frying up a decent-sized pinch of powdered ginger (careful…) in medium-hot oil for about 10 seconds to release the flavor worked well. I did that and added immediately the garlic. As for the fresh basil, I put dry flakes.  Again, be mindful with the basil. While it’s one of the few herbs that when used dry needs more than the fresh quantity (drying it does not make it stronger, as with some other herbs), you do not want to overdo it. As with any recipe, tasting as you’re going is what matters.

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This pie truly lived up to the name of this blog. All of it was an adventure, and it proved to be tons of fun. First, I had no business making a pie in the middle of the summer, when it’s so hot in my apartment that the butter seemed to mock me as I was rolling out the dough. Second, I stuffed the pie to much, making the filling spill and burn, filling my apartment with smoke. Third, I attempted to make a mini-pie with a new silicone baby shell I bought a couple of months ago. I thought it would stand in place, but it ended up committing suicide by sliding through the top rack, landing on top of the big pie on the bottom level. I should’ve taken a picture. It looked like the big pie had a small crown. I ended up chucking the tiny pie, but who cares. Despite the smoke, I ended up with a yummy apple pie.


2 c flour

1 1/2 sticks of butter

pinch of salt

2-4 tbsp cold water.

Three green apples, peeled, cored and sliced

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup of sugar

2 tbsp tapioca balls

2 limes

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp milk


Combine the first four ingredients as outlined here (under prep) to make the dough. Divide the dough into two balls, flatten them sligthly and wrap them in cling wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

Mix apples, lime juice, tapioca, sugar and cinnamon and let it sit for 15 minutes so that the apples release their juices.

Preheat oven to 375 F

After your dough has chilled, roll it out and line a round pie shell with one of the discs. Spoon filling and distribute it evenly. Top with the 2 tbsp butter. Close pie with second disc, sealing it and rounding up the edges decoratively. Slice top in a couple of places in order to let filling breathe.

Bake in the oven for about an hour, or until the crust is golden and the filling bubbles.


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