Vegetarian Enchiladas

AriCooks, vegetarian, Winter

A few weeks ago my favorite chef instructor from culinary school sent me a message to check in and see how I was doing. “I’ve been checking your blog,” she said, “But you haven’t posted in so long I was starting to get worried.” Oy.

She’s so right. My little neglected blog sits here growing more and more dusty as life whirls on and I come to terms with the fact that I cannot do it all. When I first started my blog in 2009, I was happy and excited with how much joy it brought me, both because I felt proud and inspired by being a part of the online food-blogging community, and because of the responses I got from friends and strangers. At the time, Auralee was just 2 and I had also recently taken over the ballet school I had been teaching at for many years, while often teaching at the culinary school on the weekends. Friends would cheer me on with encouraging words like, “I don’t know how you do it all!” And I did feel rather super-human. But the truth was that I had a charmed life.

Twelve years in the same city (the longest I’d ever lived anywhere, consecutively), afforded me connections and the support of friends and family. We had stumbled into a housing situation with friends in which we paid an amount of rent so low for the area it was unheard of. From the comfort of our little third floor, Victorian apartment, I cooked and blogged in the mornings, while my uniquely independent child played with her toys and entertained herself for hours. When Jeff got home in the afternoon, I was off to teach my dance students, take class myself, and come home to our little bohemian life with some Thai take-out and hand-crafted beers from the gourmet market on the corner.

When we decided to move to Israel, part of the decision had to do with Jeff’s school. I knew that our life would be drastically different when he began his rigorous master’s program, and I theorized that the low tuition we would pay if he went to school in Israel would make life easier for us than it would be in Boston. I’ll never know how true that is, since I have no basis for comparison. And while it should not have come a surprise that having a husband in school full time and a small child, while trying to work and make ends meet, would be difficult, I still was not prepared for the full weight of it.

Luckily, humans are adaptable, and as long as I don’t think too much about real Pad Thai, I am able to truly enjoy the unique and often magical things about being here, of which there are many.

But I love my blog, and since I don’t want to let it die, I might need to scrape together a little extra energy to share some cooking with you all (which of course happens every day, whether I manage to write about it or not!). Thanks to those of you who still read and comment, even as my posting-frequency dwindles, and to Chef Martha for reminding me that some folks use it as a way to check up on me while we are far away.

Corn tortillas

Corn tortillas, found at the Gluten and Sugar Free store on Agripas St, Jerusalem. Ingredients: Corn, water & salt.

Shabbat Enchiladas

After several attempts over the last few weeks at making Pad-Thai that tastes even vaguely similar to the stuff we get at our beloved Rod Dee (not going to happen without lime and whatever other magical mystery ingredients they put in there), I finally stepped into more familiar and successful territory with old staples, like veggie maki rolls (hurray! So easy and Auralee will eat them too) and mexican-ish food, which is also not to be found here unless made at home. After consulting with some food-friends, I hunted down corn tortillas at the Gluten Free store on Agripas here in Jerusalem. They sell them frozen, but I thought they were pretty good, and they did not break or crack too much when I rolled them. If you need info/directions to the Gluten Free store feel free to message me. This recipe is entirely my own, and not authentic in the least. Enjoy!


8 corn tortillas

1 cup dried black beans (you can also use canned)

large red onion, chopped

2 small zucchinis, chopped

2 small yellow zucchinis (summer squash), chopped

1 cup canned/frozen corn kernels

fresh spinach, washed well and coarsely chopped

cilantro, to taste

spice blend- I had my favorite spice guy (Hamami on Rechov HaShazif in the shuk) mix up a blend of mexican-ish spices for me. He used smoked paprika, oregano, cracked red chile, and a chicken spice-rub, but you can play with this and make your own.

3-4 cups tomato puree (I used the organic kind they sell in a glass bottle at the health food store)

salt & pepper to taste

olive oil

1 -2 cups grated, good quality cheddar cheese (only at Basher)

chopped fresh green chili pepper for garnish


Leave tortillas out to defrost while you make the filling.

If you are thinking ahead, you can soak the beans the night before, and they will boil up quickly. Otherwise, just check them for stones, and put them in pot, covered by a few inches with water, bring to a boil (do NOT ADD SALT) and let simmer until tender ~ 1.5 hours.

In a wide saute pan, gently heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil and add onions, sauteing until very soft. Add a few pinches of your spice mix and the chopped zucchini and summer squash. Saute everything over medium heat, adding salt and pepper and more spice mix of you choose. Stir in corn and beans when they are ready along with chopped cilantro, to taste. Taste and adjust spices.

Set veggie mixture aside.

In a clean pan and using nothing other than the water clinging to their leaves, gently cook spinach until wilted. Set aside.

Heat the tomato puree, adding some of your spice mixture, salt, pepper and any other embellishments you choose. Set aside.

Now you have all your enchilada components ready. Heat oven to 350°F/170°C and have a lasagna pan ready. Pour about a cup of the tomato puree into the bottom of the lasagna pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle the cooked spinach over the puree and season it with a little salt and pepper. On a cutting board, lay out corn tortilla and fill with zucchini mixture (1/4-1/3 cup filling). Roll the tortilla up and place seam-down in the pan. Repeat with the 7 remaining tortillas (or however many you can fit), you may have some leftover filling, which is delicious on it’s own or in an omelet. When all your tortillas are snugly rolled up side by side, pour the remaining spiced puree over them, trying to make sure to cover all the tortillas so they don’t get too dry, top everything with the grated cheddar cheese.

Bake for 45 minutes or so, until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is nicely melted. If one of those things starts happening too fast, you can cover the pan with some greased foil (so the cheese doesn’t stick to it).

Serve hot, with chopped more cilantro and fresh green chilis.

Helloooo March

AriCooks, Gluten Free, Vegan, vegetarian, Wheat Free, Winter

Nothing like opening up my blog and realizing that somehow it’s been a month since I last posted. It was a long winter of shivering in our little house, and turning on space heaters, the oven, the hot plate, and boiling pots of water to set out in our freezing bedroom. There were beautiful red flowers and holidays that promised spring’s arrival was near, and then another stretch of cold rain and wind. There were crazy busy days at the cafe, as people shuffled in for soup and warm coffee drinks. We catered a lovely party for a new bride and groom, and baked sheet after sheet of hamantaschen for Purim.

Salad plates set out for catering, in the cafe's kitchen

Nidal and Ida, cleaning wine glasses for a party at Belinda

cupcake-decorating centerpieces for each table (my chocolate cupcake recipe is simply this delicious devils food cake in cupcake-form)

Even after baking hundreds of these Purim cookies at work, I still felt inspired to make our own at home. I based my recipe off of Miriam Kresh's, of Israeli Kitchen.

Then in the midst of a rare Jerusalem snowstorm, my friend Anna arrived, her hair all golden from the california sun, and bringing a fresh, warm energy to our home. Her visit coincides with a big transition in our lives, my leaving my full-time cooking job at the cafe to pursue something new and exciting that I will be posting about soon. There are few friends that I would feel comfortable sharing my space with as I navigate the stress, and feelings of uncertainty during this time, but Anna is an amazing and supportive person who is helping me laugh my way into a new reality this month. More on that to come….

In the meantime I’d like to share these gluten-free recipes with you, as I’ve been experimenting with gluten-free eating this month. The following are new favorites (they all work, I promise!), enjoy!

Gluten free chocolatey brownies from Gluten Free Goddess

Fluffy Gluten free pancakes, also from Gluten Free Goddess 

Ari’s Qunioa Salad:

Rinse two cups of quinoa and cook in 2 cups of boiling water with a pinch of salt and a drizzle of oil. Bring to a boil and then simmer until done.

Toss quinoa with 2 peeled and diced carrots, a handful of chopped parsley, a handful of chopped mint, 1/2 cup raisins and 1/3 cup chopped walnuts.

Toss with this dressing:

juice of 1/2 an orange

juice of 1 lemon

salt, pepper, pinch of cayenne, pinch of cinnamon

1/3 cup good quality olive oil, drizzled in, while whisking vigorously


AriCooks, Salad, vegetarian, Winter

Look, I’m not trying to brag, but in Israel, food tastes better. This is not a statement on where anyone should live, or some sort of euphemism for our improved quality of life now that we’re here, it’s just the truth. Even Israelis who left the country years ago to make their homes elsewhere will still wax nostalgic about the food in Israel. Breads, spreads, produce, coffee, cheese, even snackfood, this is a land full of people who love to eat and take their ingredients very seriously. The most unassuming, hole-in-the-wall bureka shops and felafel stands serve up flavors and textures that surpass your average American sandwich place or cafe by miles. In fact the only place in Boston that comes close to giving you what I consider an authentic and varied middle eastern food experience is Ana Sortum’s Oleana (and now her bakery-cafe, Sofra in Watertown). The difference is that Sortum gets away with charging absurdly high prices for items I can get for pennies in the shuk (outdoor market). She is a smart woman who knows the value and effect of the flavors of this region and exploits them well.

There are a number of reasons why fruits and vegetables pack so much flavor here in Israel, but I think the most obvious one is the proximity of the farms to the markets. Israel is a tiny country, about the size of Massachusetts, if that, and all produce available at the outdoor markets is grown within Israel and the territories. Since the country is 290 miles in length and 85 in width, most produce does not travel more than 100 miles from ground to table, and much of it travels far less. Plus, many people here still shop daily for the freshest food.

When I decided to make a winter salad using some of the root vegetables I’d been seeing at the shuk, I was trying be sure we were getting our greens. What I did not consider was that fresh kohlrabi would taste so good I would nearly eat it all while chopping, before it made it into the bowl. Root vegetables that sit on the refrigerated shelves at Whole Foods have little on the tangy, earthy, crisp flavors of this winter mix. But if it’s the best you’ve got, I still recommend giving this salad a try — at least you’ll be getting your veggies.

Root Vegetable Salad

1 kohlrabi, cut into thin slivers

1 carrot, cut into thin slivers

1 celery root, cut into thin slivers

1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced

2 handfuls green beans, cut vertically into halves or quarters

handful chopped almonds

for the dressing

1 Tablespoon zataar

1 tsp finely chopped  hot chili

1 Tbs honey

1 Tbs soy sauce

2 Tbs olive oil

salt and lemon juice to taste

Mix the veggies in a large bowl and toss them with the dressing (you may want to make a double batch depending on the size of the vegetables). Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Red Lentil Soup

AriCooks, soups and stews, Vegan, vegetarian, Winter

Settling in…

It basically involves stocking the fridge and kitchen, making sure you have enough paper goods and blankets, scheduling meetings with various government agencies, getting a bank account and so forth. For me, it wasn’t really enough to keep that anxious-transitional feeling at bay, so after a week here, I got a job.

It’s a little retail gig, a few days a week. Just something to keep my hands occupied (there’s a lot of folding involved) while I figure out what the heck comes next.

Oh the unknown(s)…

Red Lentil Noodle Soup, from Ha’aretz, contributed by Doram Gaunt

This soup is comforting and hearty, without being too heavy or stew-like. Everyone in Tel Aviv keeps complaining about what a cold winter we’re having, and most of the time I have to turn my head so they do not see me laughing. If 57º F is cold (and that’s when the sun goes down), what would they think of Boston? That being said, apartments here are not equipped with central heating, and when you are sitting in your kitchen before midday, or at night, and it’s 60º F in the house, you don’t feel so toasty. This soup is a light meal on its own and is very soothing and warming whether you are snowed in, or just…in. I served mine over rice — which was quite tasty — you can also use noodles, as the recipe instructs, or just  serve it with some crusty bread. Enjoy.


2 tbs. olive oil

2 onions, finely chopped

3 carrots, peeled and cut into stalks or cubes

2 cups red lentils

Sprig of rosemary (optional )

2 tbs. soup powder (I used an Israeli brand that has a lot of flavor and no MSG, if you would rather use vegetable stock, that would be even better! I would do 5 cups water, 5 cups stock)

10 cups water

The juice of a half a lemon

Salt and black pepper

1.5 cups medium, flat noodles, uncooked


Fry the onions in the olive oil until golden. Add the carrots and fry for another minute or two. Add the lentils, stir and let them heat up. Now add the water, soup powder and rosemary sprig.

Bring to a boil, lower the flame and cook until the carrots are soft and the lentils are falling apart (around an hour ). Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Add the noodles, turn the heat off and cover the pot.

After around ten minutes the noodles will be soft and will have released their starch, further thickening the soup. If the soup is too thick for your taste, dilute with water.

A stranger at home

AriCooks, soups and stews, Vegan, vegetarian, Winter

on my way to the market this morning

When I was younger my family and I lived in many different parts of Israel, but never Tel Aviv. As a teenager, during high school and army prep camp  this city was the place my friends and I went to party, and where we changed buses at the massive Central Station on our free weekends. I never considered life in Tel Aviv beyond those places and it is strange to be here now, among them, but with a very different purpose and outlook than I had at 16.

There is no question that I feel at home in Israel. My comfort level in this place far surpasses the feeling I get when I wander the streets of Boston or Cambridge. The reasons for that are a little mysterious to me, and probably too complex to explore in this venue, but the point is: being here, now, is both familiar and foreign at the same time. It is home because Israel was always home, even when we lived in the States, and foreign because this city in particular is largely new to me and (more relevantly) because I was away for so long. To stay away from a place you love for eleven years  takes conviction and a sense of purpose. I was trying very hard to be at home elsewhere. In the process, Boston did become a home, filled with friends, family, jobs I loved (and ones I did not) and familiar places and memories. I am missing those things very much right now, and yet, Israel does not suffer in comparison. It’s strange.

Hamin is a dish that I ate at my agricultural high school and at people’s homes on shabbat in Israel. I grew up with something similar — cholent (my mother and many of our Ashkenazi friends made cholent for holidays and shabbat) but my Sephardic Turkish grandmother did not make anything like it that I can recall. Hamin is well-suited to the day of rest, because it can be left in a slow-cooker or on a hot plate indefinitely and grows tastier each day as the flavors meld. Coming up with a version that speaks to your family’s taste and background is part of the fun of cooking this dish.

Hamin חמין

There is no right way to make Hamin (Sephardi Cholent). Each ethnic group (and every grandmother) has their own version. Mine is vegetarian, naturally, and always includes potatoes and beans along with some tomatoes (or tomato sauce/paste), peppers and sometimes squash. In this recipe I added some winter wheat berries, since we are in the midst of what passes for “winter” here in Tel Aviv.

1 cup winter (hard) wheat berried, soaked overnight


1 large onion, coarsely chopped

2-3 small boiling potatoes (such as yukon golds), peeled and cute into large chunks (I cut mine into quarters)

salt, pepper, cumin

2 zucchini or magda summer squash, peeled and cut into large chunks

1 spicy pepper, seeded and chopped (optional)

1 red or yellow bell pepper, chopped

1 can of white beans in tomato sauce


5-6 cups spinach (washed very well)

1 cup golden raisins

wheat berries, after soaking

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a soup pot over medium heat, add the onions and cook for 5 minutes until they begin to soften, then add the soaked wheat berries, potatoes, salt and pepper (to taste), and a few pinches of cumin. Cook on medium, low, stirring occasionally for 7-10 minutes then add water to just cover. Bring to simmer and cook for another 15-20 minutes (until you can easily pierce the potatoes with a fork) then add the beans in sauce, zucchini and the peppers.

Cook, covered for about 15-20 minutes then add spinach,a handful at a time, covering the pot and cooking down between additions, and simmering until all the spinach in incorporated. Add the raisins, stir and cover the pot. Keep on low heat until ready to serve (the longer, the better).


AriCooks, soups and stews, Vegan, vegetarian, Winter

This is what limbo feels like: quiet, lonely, and kinda scary. And it’s only the beginning. I know that soon life will feel a little fuller, we will find a school for Auralee (if anyone has tips on that feel free to share, by the way), Jeff and I will start exploring school and work options… and so forth. But right now I feel like a ghost, walking the streets of a new city with so few connections or obligations tying us to this place. It’s a little liberating, but mostly I look forward to feeling like a whole person again. Cooking helps.

I went back to the shuk this morning — it was a much less crowded, more leisurely experience than it was on Friday (shopping at the shuk on Friday is for die-hards, tourists, and people who forgot to get something on Thursday) — where I happily collected the ingredients for this minestrone soup with basil cream. The recipe was adapted from something I found online when searching for “middle eastern basil dishes” and reminded me a lot of the soups I used to make for Jeff when we lived in Beer Sheva back in the day. Welcome home.

Quiet Minestrone Soup with Basil Cream

This soup will not win any awards, and it is far too humble-looking to ever be featured on the front cover of Saveur, but it is simple, homey, and packed full of nutritious vegetables. Do not skip the basil cream (you can use soy yogurt or soy sour cream as well), it gives the soup body and really amps up the flavor.

serve 4

for the soup

1 medium onion, chopped

3 small potatoes (yukon gold are good), chopped into soup-sized chunks

2 carrots, chopped

2 handfuls green beans, trimmed and cut into soup-sized pieces

1/2 a green cabbage, thinly sliced

3-4  plum tomatoes

water or vegetable broth

1 can (15 oz. or so) kidney or great northern beans

2 cups cooked pasta

for the basil cream sauce

handful of basil, finely chopped

2-3 Tbs parsley, finely chopped

1 cup shamenet, sour cream, yogurt or labane (I used goat ‘white cheese’, which is like thick yogurt)

grated hard cheese (parmesan, pecorino) to taste- optional

2-3  Tbs olive oil


Make the soup

In a soup pot, heat a couple tablespoons of oil (medium heat). Add chopped onions, potatoes and carrots, plus a little salt, pepper and paprika, and saute gently until onions begin to soften. Add the cabbage, beans and tomatoes and saute a few minutes more, stirring to coat everything with oil. Then add water or broth to cover all the veggies by a couple of inches. Simmer until everything is fork-tender, and then add more salt and pepper (to taste) and some parsley if desired. When you are ready to serve, add the cooked pasta (I used shells) and let it simmer with the soup for a minute or two.

Mix together all the ingredients for the basil cream. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a generous dollop of the cream.

Apple Cider Dumplings

AriCooks, Autumn, Dairy Free, dessert, dumplings, Tips and Tricks, Winter

Tomorrow is the day we ship our stuff off across the seas. That will include nearly all my kitchen equipment so this is likely my last post before Tel Aviv!

My sister came by yesterday evening, bearing Thai Food (we never turn Thai-food bearers away) and bringing her usual witty banter, smudged eye-make-up, and hilarious anecdotes from another day of waitressing. There are not a lot of people who are allowed to see the state of physical and emotional affairs up here on the third floor, in the final days before our departure, but Alissa is one of the privileged exceptions.

Post-noodles, dumpling-making seemed like a good idea to my slightly manic, pre-move self. After all it was only 9pm- the night was young! These apple cider dumplings were an apt choice since they remind me of Here… of cold weather, and New England flavors and cooking for people I love.

dumplings simmering in apple cider syrup

Cinnamon Dumplings with Apple Cider Syrup, adapted from Martha Stewart Living, September 2005

Serves 6

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1/2 cup all purpose and 1 cup whole wheat pastry)

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

2 cups sugar

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter/vegan margarine, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk

1 1/2 tablespoons whole milk/soy milk

4 cups apple cider

Creme fraiche, for serving (optional)


Sift flour(s), baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Stir together sugar and 3/4 cup water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook, without stirring, until sugar begins to melt and turn light amber, about 14 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar has melted and mixture turns medium amber, about 2 minutes more.

Meanwhile, work butter/margarine into the flour mixture using your fingers or a pastry blender until flour is incorporated but mixture is still crumbly. Whisk together egg, egg yolk, and milk in a medium bowl. Form a well in the center of flour mixture; pour in egg mixture. Stir gently with a fork until combined.

Remove sugar mixture from heat; slowly whisk in cider. Return to heat; bring to a simmer. Using your hands or a small spoon, divide the dough evenly into 12 pieces, and roll into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.

Carefully drop 6 balls of dough into the simmering cider syrup. Cook, turning once or twice to coat fully, until dumplings have tripled in size and are deep golden brown, about 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer dumplings to a platter, and cover. Repeat with remaining balls of dough. Divide dumplings among 6 bowls, and drizzle with the remaining cider syrup.

Serve with creme fraiche/whipped cream or just as they are.

Bitter Green Salad with Roasted Pears

AriCooks, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Salad, Vegan, vegetarian, Winter

Bitter and Sweet.

Isn’t that just like life?

When my daughter was born I experienced an extreme example of the way life seems to always dole out the bad with the good. I had a beautiful, healthy, sweet baby along with carpal tunnel so bad I could not sleep at night (or hold her) and post partum depression that lasted until well after her first birthday.

And now at age 32 I am finally making peace with Israel (I hope), and choosing to make our home there after a lifetime of emotional and physical back and forth. The irony being that I am leaving more behind than I ever did in my previous moves ‘back’ to Israel. Of course there is something nice about knowing that there has been, and will continue to be so much for us here, should we ever want or need to return, but when you are trying to look forward that knowledge is only partially consoling.

It’s a weird time.

Bitter Green Salad with Roasted Pears, from Gourmet Today, edited by Ruth Reichl, 2009

Sustenance was getting a little dense and heavy around here with my cook-with-beer kick still in full swing — it was time for some greens… I imagine that the name of this salad may not be winning appeal from a very broad audience, which is unfortunate because bitter greens, in addition to being good for you, are quite tasty when paired with the right ingredients. So do yourself a favor and give biter greens a chance (if you have not already) and make this colorful, tangy-sweet salad tonight!

This recipe serves 10-12, I cut the recipe in half and still had a lot of salad left over.

For salad

8 firm-ripe Bosc pears (4 lb), peeled, cored, and each cut lengthwise into 8 wedges

1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small head chicory

1 small head escarole

1 small head radicchio

1 bunch watercress, coarse stems discarded

1 bunch mizuna, coarse stems discarded

1 small head romaine

For dressing

1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot

2 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon honey

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Roast pears and make salad:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.

Toss pears with oil and spread in 1 layer in a 17- by 12-inch shallow baking pan, then season with salt and pepper. Roast pears, stirring and turning over twice, until pears are tender and beginning to brown, 20 to 30 minutes, then cool about 15 minutes.

While pears are roasting and cooling, tear enough tender chicory and escarole leaves (discard ribs) into bite-size pieces to measure 6 cups total. Tear enough radicchio, watercress, mizuna, and romaine into bite-size pieces to measure 10 cups total. Toss torn greens in a large bowl and reserve remaining greens for another use.

Make dressing and toss salad:
Whisk together shallot, vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified.

Just before serving, add roasted pears and dressing to greens and toss to combine well.

Note: I highly recommend washing your greens a day ahead and storing them wrapped in paper towels, then plastic bags, in the fridge. There are so many greens in this recipe, it will make preparation seem a lot easier on the day of.

More with Guinness

AriCooks, Cooking and baking with Beer, soups and stews, Vegan, vegetarian, Winter

I have to admit that there is something to be said for serving up a thick, meaty stew on a cold winter evening. Though I have been a non-meat eater for most of my life (partly because I do not enjoy the hands-on raw meat experience) I can appreciate that meat lends itself to cooking in a way that vegetables cannot when it comes to the flavor and texture of certain dishes. One such dish is stew. Though not all dictionaries define stew as containing meat, almost all do describe the dish as something that is cooked or simmered for a long time. As us cooking-folk know, if you simmer vegetables alone, for too long, you get mush (or a semi-tasty sludge, commonly referred to as “vegetable curry” at most Indian restaurants in the United States).

This is where seitan enters the picture. Not a year-round staple on our table, seitan — the product of kneading flour, water and vital wheat gluten until you get a tough, dense product that can be baked, boiled, stewed or sauteed for hours without disintegrating — does make a few appearances during the colder months because of it’s beefy qualities.

This recipe, which was inspired by an Irish stew from Gourmet Today, suffers very little from the substituion of seitan for beef, and becomes irresistable with the addition of Guinness both in the stew and along-side the meal. Enjoy.

Ari’s Irish Stew

Although I have made seitan from scratch in the past (it’s not difficult, just a bit of a process), store bough seitan is perfectly fine – The Bridge brand available at Whole Foods, is particularly tasty.

16 oz seitan, cut into 1-inch cubes,  moisture squeezed out

2 Tbs flour

salt and pepper

olive oil

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

3 carrots, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbs tomato paste

1/4 cup water

1 1/2 Tbs worcestire sauce (there is a vegetarian version avaible at some markets)

1 cup Guinness or other stout

1 cup vegetable broth

2 tsp green peppercorns in brine (drained)

2 sprigs fresh thyme

Toss the seitain with the flour and a couple pinches of salt and pepper in a large bowl, unitl seitain is well coated.

In a large (oven-safe) sautee pan, heat olive oil on medium heat and add seitan. Brown the seitan on all sides, them remove from pan and set aside.

Add a bit more oil to the pan and gently sautee the onion, carrots and garlic until onions begin to soften.

Add tomato paste, mixing it into the vegetables. Add seitan to the pan along with water, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the beer, broth, worcestire, peppercrons, and thyme and bring to a simmer, covered.

While stew is simmering, preheat oven to 350ºF. Put the pan in the oven and cook for 1-1 1/2 hours, covered– check after 1 hour to make sure too much liquid has not evaporated.

Serve with crusty bread, a simple salad, and more Guinness!


Cooking and baking with Beer, Dairy Free, dessert, quick breads and tea cakes, Winter

A move this big is crazy. Even crazier when you are going to a new city without jobs and with a small child who needs to eat three times a day. In addition to the normal anxiety that goes along with turning our lives upside down, it’s December in Boston, which means short days, gray skies, freezing temperatures and bleak…bleakness. What I am trying to say is that alcohol may be involved for the duration. More specifically, Guinness — my most favorite beer! I love Guinness not only because of it’s frothy, rich, creamy, delicious flavor, but also because it lends itself to cooking and baking so nicely. Cheers.

In this case, some tunnelling is okay (developing of gluten which causes those holes) you need some gluten to give this heavy cake structure and prevent it form collapsing in the center

Gingerbread Cake [so good it’s almost sinful], from Cook’s illustrated, Jan/Feb 2011

This is some seriously moist, sticky (yes,sticky!), molasses-y, dark, rich, gingerbread. If you double the recipe (and I highly recommend that you do), you will use an entire 12-oz bottle of guinness stout.

3/4 cup stout

1/2 tsp baking soda

2/3 cup mild molasses (I could only find blackstrap, but I like it)

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups  all purpose flour (I used a mix of all purpose and whole wheat pastry)

2 Tbs ground ginger

1/2 tsp table salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp finely ground black pepper

2 large eggs

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 Tbs finely grated fresh ginger

Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour an 8-inch square baking pan.

Bring stout toa boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda (mixture will foam vigorously).

When foaming subsides, stir in molasses, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until dissolved; set mixture aside. Whisk flour, ground ginger, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and pepper together in a bowl; set aside.

Transfer stout mixture to a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the eggs, oil, and grated ginger until combined. Whisk wet mixture into the flour mixture in thirds, stirring vigorously until completely smooth after each addition.

Transfer the batter to prepared pan and gently tap pan against counter 3 or times to dislodge any large air bubbles. Bake until top of cake is just firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean ~ 40 minutes.

Cool cake in pan on a wire rack, about 1 1/2 hours. Cut into squares and serve warm or at room temperature.