Watermelon Raspberry Breakfast Bowl

This chia-centric Watermelon Raspberry Breakfast Bowl is an A-plus make-ahead blender breakfast.

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I spent a good chunk of time this week cooking beautiful Indian food from the recipes in Dishoom. With the air-quality in Los Angeles getting increasingly bad, staying inside to cook through a number of intensive recipes helped me take my mind off the increasingly heart-breaking situation here in California and West Coast. In addition to the bhel puri, multiple chutneys, mattar paneer, black daal, aloo sabzi, and a technicolor-flavored garam masala, I put a wonderfully sweet watermelon to use. It was a gift from a neighbor we’re lucky to have. I used little chunks of it in place of pomegranate seeds in the bhel puri, and then whipped up this chia-centric Watermelon Raspberry Breakfast Bowl in the blender.
Watermelon Raspberry Breakfast Bowl
You can see it pictured here topped with extra watermelon balls, toasted almonds, crushed freeze-dried raspberries, and a sprinkling of chia seeds. I can imagine a kid-friendly version where you serve it in a tall glass, and sink a bunch of whole watermelon balls into it. The whole recipe really takes on the flavor of the watermelon, balanced out by the tartness of the raspberries. The key here is getting your hands on a super-sweet, top notch watermelon.
Watermelon Balls in Weck Jar
I shaped the watermelon into balls with a melon baller tool probably as old as I am. I’ll forever love eating melons in this shape, but if you don’t want to go to the effort, seedless chunks, roughly bite-sized are what you’re aiming for. They go in the blender, but also make an easy topping if you want to double down on the watermelon front.
Watermelon Raspberry Breakfast Bowl Ingredients in a Blender
I like making a big jar of this sort of breakfast using whatever is seasonal because they keep nicely for up to 4-5 days. I mean, the jar is typically empty by day 2 or 3, but it’s a good make-ahead breakfast. It’s also a good way to kick off your morning with some fruit, fiber, and nuts.
Watermelon Raspberry Breakfast Bowl
One last thought, and this is a personal preference. I find that with breakfast bowls of this sort, I really enjoy having lots of crunchy components on top. Here, you can see toasted almonds filling that roll, but I tend to switch it up day to day. If I have a good homemade cereal blend on hand (like this Breakfast Magic, or this Triple Oat Breakfast Cereal) I use that. Basically anything dry with a good-amount of crunch is fair game and encouraged.
Watermelon Raspberry Breakfast Bowl

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Simple Bruschetta

Good tomatoes are the thing that matters most when it comes to making this classic Italian antipasto. It is such a simple preparation that paying attention to the little details matters. My favorite bruschetta techniques, and a few simple variations as well.

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This is the very best time of year to make bruschetta. It’s late summer and tomatoes are vivid and ripe, saturated with flavor. Good tomatoes are the thing that matters most when it comes to making this classic, open-faced Italian antipasto. This is such a simple preparation it means paying attention to the little details matters. Today I’m going to talk through how I make my favorite bruschetta, and include a few simple variations as well.
Simple Bruschetta

The Importance of Using Good Ingredients

The first rule of making great bruschetta is to use the best ingredients you can get. You’re using such a short list of ingredients, it’s important they’re all super flavorful. Use fragrant, golden extra-virgin olive oil, vinegar that tastes good, and in-season, ripe tomatoes. We’ll talk about choosing bread next, but using good bread and tomatoes and olive oil is everything here and dictates whether your results will be “pretty good”, or “omg so good.”

What Kind of Bread Should you Use for Bruschetta?

In short, you want a hearty bread that can stand up to grilling. Marcella Hazan says, “the name bruschetta comes from bruscare, which means “to roast over coals” the original and still the best way of toasting the bread.” She calls for Italian whole wheat bread (pane integrale) sliced 1 1/2 inches thick. I usually use whatever hearty sourdough or country loaf I have on hand at the time. If you’re baking homemade sourdough, by all means use that. Bruschetta is a great way to use up day(s)-old bread. Many sources will tell you 1/2-inch slices are the goal, and Marcella weighs in suggesting we use bread sliced 1 1/2-inches thick. I find that slices 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch thick hit the sweet spot where you can get a good ratio of topping to bread in each bite. 

That said, let me back up a minute and note that a lot of the bruschetta I see photos of are actually crostini – small two-bite toasts sliced from a white baguette-style bread and topped with a tomato mixture. That’s not what I’m talking about today. The bruschetta I love uses hearty slabs of bread, preferably with a dense crumb. It is grilled, rubbed well with garlic (both sides!), and topped. These aren’t two-bite affairs, they’re more like 5-6.

As far as grilling the bread? In the A16: Food+Wine cookbook they note, “the word bruschetta, which is derived from bruciare, “to burn” implies that some charring on the bread is desirable.” Assuming both sources are right about the origins of the name bruschetta, we want to grill our bread, and get a kiss of the burn you get from grilling. If you don’t have access to a grill, second choice would be to use a broiler. Third option, use  a stovetop grill pan.
Grilled Sourdough Bread for Making Bruschetta

A Tip for Grilling Bread

Brush each slice with a bit of extra-virgin olive oil before grilling. I find this helps keep the bread from drying out as it is toasting. As soon as you’ve removed the bread from the grill, and it is cool enough to handle, rub both sides vigorously with a peeled clove of garlic. Especially if you love garlic as much as I do.

Today’s Bruschetta Recipe

It’s my favorite, simple, use-your-best-tomatoes version. Red tomatoes are tossed with olive oil, salt, torn basil, and a splash of vinegar. I’ll include the recipe for this down below, but you can use the same approach for the other variations I list here.
Simple Bruschetta with Ripe Red Tomatoes and Basil

Let’s Talk about the Vinegar Component

I think of the vinegar in bruschetta as a seasoning component of sorts. It brings acidity, melds with the olive oil, and brings some balance. I’ll say it outright. You can’t use awful vinegar and there’s a lot of it out there. I made so much bruschetta in my twenties using harsh vinegars, and I’m just sad it took me a while to find the magic of good ones. Two favorite vinegars top of mind right now include Katz vinegars, and Brightland’s Parasol.

If you taste your vinegar and wince hard, or if it has a musty smell, consider investing in a new bottle. In Italy you encounter bruschetta using a range of vinegars. I tend to use a favorite white wine vinegar (for this and many salads), but if you have a red wine vinegar, herb vinegar or balsamic vinegar you love, use that. I’d even argue, a squeeze of lemon juice is a better choice than a bad tasting vinegar. If you use lemon juice, add some zest while you’re at it. It might not be traditional, but it will be delicious! 
Bruschetta Made with Seasonal Tomatoes and Basil

A Few Bruschetta Variations

  • Yellow Tomato Bruschetta with Dukkah & Lemon Zest: A version of bruschetta with yellow teardrop tomatoes tossed with good olive oil, torn basil, a splash of good-tasting white wine vinegar. Pictured below. Finished with lots of lemon zest and a generous sprinkling of dukkah. You can make your dukkah. Or, I also love this Botanica version. If you keep a lemon olive oil on hand, use that for an extra-special version.
    Bruschetta with Yellow Tomatoes
  • Pan-blistered Artichoke Bruschetta: Top grilled bread with golden-crusted baby artichokes, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil or lemon olive oil, black pepper, and sprinkle with chives and/or chive flowers. Pictured in the center of the photo below.
    Bruschetta - Three Different Ways
  • More ideas: I love a spicy red tomato version drizzled with lots of spicy garlic-chili oil
  • Or a yellow tomato version tossed with a garlic-turmeric oil, and finished with lots of black pepper. This take is zero-percent traditional but everyone loves it.
    An Assortment of Simple Bruschetta

    Cold-weather Bruschetta

    Although I’m writing this in summer – prime tomato and grilling season – you can experiment with bruschetta all year long. Roasted slabs of winter squash or sweet potatoes topped with a salsa verde are great. Or sautéed garlicky winter greens or kale and a bit of grated cheese. Think of all the toppings you can do with roasted mushrooms, roasted beets, and the like. Combine any of these with the last of whatever beans you may have cooked earlier in the week.  I’ll also note, this is the time of year I shift any bruschetta-making to the broiler from the grill.
    Preparing Bruschetta in the Kitchen
    I hope more than anything that this post is a reminder that the simplest food can be the best food. The tail end of a loaf of homemade sourdough, a few tomatoes from the garden along with a sprinkling of whatever herbs and herb flowers are there, garlic, and olive oil? Makes a perfect little meal, or party spread (if we were still having parties xx). 

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Super Natural Vegan Sushi

This is homemade vegan sushi made with sweet potato fries, seasoned tofu, avocado, kale chips, and a whole grain sushi rice blend. A quick kiss of strong wasabi-spiked soy sauce is my preferred dipping sauce.

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I make this vegan sushi constantly. Especially anytime the weather is hot (read:now). It’s a recipe I planned to include in Super Natural Simple, but ended up leaving it out at the last minute. So! They’re making their appearance here where I have more room to talk through rices, rolling technique, and variations. And don’t worry, you don’t need any special tools to make it. This is homemade vegan sushi made with sweet potato fries, seasoned tofu, avocado, kale chips, and a whole grain sushi rice blend. A quick kiss of strong wasabi-spiked soy sauce is my preferred dipping sauce.
Super Natural Vegan Sushi

Let’s Talk About Sushi Rice

The key to your success here is choosing the appropriate rice. One way to be sure your sushi rolls hold together is to use white short-grain sushi rice. For this recipe you’ll combine cooked white sushi rice with other whole grains to “boost” it nutritionally. I’ve found that using a percentage of white rice really helps the rolls come together. More importantly, it helps them hold together, especially important for newbie sushi makers or if you’re having kids help out.

To cook the sushi rice, rinse the rice grains well before cooking. And if you have time to let them soak, even better. I use 2 cups of rice and 3 cups of water, and a bit of salt – scant 1/2 teaspoon. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Allow to sit, covered, for 10 minutes more. You should end up with perfect chubby, sticky grains of rice you can then combine with other quinoa, cooked grains, pearled barley, black rice, or brown rice. I’ll outline the ratio I like below, but you can experiment. This organic sushi rice is an example of the kind of rice you’re after for the white sushi rice component.

Seasoning: Traditional sushi rice also uses a vinegar and sugar mixture as seasoning. Sometimes I add it to my cooked rice, other times I skip it. I know this might be a controversial admission, but I’d encourage you to think through a range of different ways you can season, spice, or boost your rice. The rice in these sushi rolls is plain and simple. That said, once you get the hang of the basics, you can experiment if you like! Use strong broth in place of the water in your rice. You can add spices (turmeric, curry blends, etc.) or ingredients like minced garlic, ginger, or scallions. Play around!
Vegan Sushi Ingredients

No Sushi Mat, No Problem!

You don’t need to have a special sushi mat to make sushi. I tend to use parchment paper. A clean linen or cotton towel can also work. If you want to make reverse roll (where the rice is on the outside, line your parchment paper with a sheet of plastic wrap. Do a layer of rice, next add the sheet of nori followed by more ingredients and/or rice. You can see my set up for getting ready to roll sushi in the photos below. Basically this is a long way of saying, you don’t need a bunch of specialty equipment to make vegetable or vegan sushi.Tofu in Skillet for Vegan Sushi

Vegan Sushi Filling Ideas

As I mention up above, I’m highlighting my favorite “everyday” vegan sushi roll for you today. I’ve made them twice this week! I’ll talk you through the main components:

  • Seasoned Tofu: Marinate slabs of tofu in a simple soy sauce, water, sesame-chile oil mixture. You can grill the tofu or cook it in a skillet (above) until golden. Cool a bit, and use a sharp knife to slice into matchsticks. You can see the sliced tofu pictured below.
  • Sweet Potato “Fries”: Slice sweet potatoes into fry shapes. Skins on or off, your choice. Toss with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, a bake at 400F until golden, flipping once or twice along the way. I tend to use the sweet potato version of these oven fries, but Wayne sometimes buys pre-cut sweet potato oven fries in a freezer bag, and those work great too.
  • Avocado: Thinly sliced, and perfectly ripe is what you’re after.
  • Kale Chips: I like the crunch you get from adding a few kale chips. Consider adding them a bonus if you have some on hand.
  • Sesame seeds: In your rolls, on your rolls, whatever.
  • Wildcards: If I have them sometimes I add a bit of cucumber, spicy tempeh crumble, or I’ll make the sushi with this tempeh in place of the tofu. I love this all-natural wasabi paste, and mix it with soy sauce, shoyu, or tamari as a dipping sauce.

As I mentioned, on the rice front, I like a rice blend with a good amount of whole grains in it, and have had the best results using half white sushi rice mixed well with half whole grain rice. For the whole grain rice portions, I like to cook short grain brown rice with a good amount of quinoa in it. That said, any whole grain blend should work with the white sushi rice. It’s sticky and helps everything hold together nicely.

How to Assemble Your Sushi

Sushi doesn’t have to be perfect to be delicious. Keep that in mind if you’re new to this. I thought I’d post a play-by-play photo series of how these rolls come together. Before we get into it, one thing that is helpful to know if your sushi rice is sticky and hard to work with is this. Use cold water to wet your hands or spatula. It’s a game changer.

Ready to roll: Once you have all your ingredients prepared it’s time to make sushi. What you see in the photo below is a sheet of parchment paper in place of a sushi mat. On top of that a 8×8-inch sheet of nori is placed. About a cup of rice is spread across the bottom third. Pat it down with a spatula so it holds together. Now add strips of avocado, sweet potato, tofu, and whatever else you’d like in your sushi.

Preparing Vegan Sushi on Sheet of Nori
Working from the bottom, use your sushi mat or parchment paper to start gently (but confidently!) guiding and shaping everything tightly into a roll. You can see how it starts in the photo below. 
Demonstration of How to Start Rolling Sushi
Use your extra fingers to keep ingredients in place and to pull the roll in toward the sushi mat. See photo below. The goal is shaping and keeping things tight. Keep guiding and rolling.
Demonstrating Sushi Tuck-and-Roll Technique
Once the rice and fillings have been encircled by the nori, compress and pull things tight one more time. I basically run my hands along the length of the roll making sure nothing is loose. 
Using Sushi Mat or Parchment Paper to Roll Sushi
Continue rolling to the end of the nori at this point, guiding the sushi mat or parchment paper out of the way as you go. See above and below examples.
Finished Vegan Sushi Roll
At this point you should be able cut the roll into pieces of sushi. Use your sharpest knife, and keep it clean as you go.
Super Natural Vegan Sushi Recipe
It’s a lot of fun to explore the world of vegetarian and vegan sushi. Next up on my list is to make a roll using sushi rice version of Bryant Terry’s Amazing Green Rice. Basically, I imagine it will be very similar to this roll, but using his blender technique to green-ify the rice. Or maybe as we make our way into the fall a mushroom-centric roll. Excited to see your versions!

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Steaming Vegetables

A reminder of what a great cooking technique steaming vegetables is. Fast and flexible for the win.

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Steaming vegetables is an underutilized cooking technique in my kitchen. After my last trip to Japan, I pledged to remedy the issue. This simple, direct method of cooking is one of the reasons I love eating in Japan. I mean, let’s be honest, I probably like steamed vegetables more than most, but I enjoy them exponentially more there. Somehow, many of the things I love about traveling there are summed up in this simple preparation.
Steaming Vegetables - assortment of colorful vegetables
I’d often receive a sampling of seasonal produce as part of a combination lunch. The vegetables arrived at the table beautifully arranged in the bamboo basket they were steamed in. I’d work my way through a rainbow of vibrant, tender potatoes, squash, mushrooms, broccoli rabe, and the like, sometimes adding a pinch of zesty shichimi togarashi, but more often than not, a casual toss of a few grains of salt would be all. Each meal was a vibrant, satisfying reminder of just how good vegetables can be when prepared simply with care and intent. Their natural flavors coming through direct and perfect.

Break out the Steamer!

After this past trip, my inexpensive, tri-level bamboo steamer was promptly dusted upon my arrival home, and put into proper rotation. The thing that never ceases to surprise me is the speed even the most hearty chunks of root vegetables or squash become tender – ten minutes, often less.Bamboo Steamer

Choosing a Steamer

Bamboo steamers are easy to come by, and relatively inexpensive. Go this route if you aren’t sure how often you’ll use your steamer. The one downside is they take up a good amount of storage space, not much more than a big pot, but still. These steamers are available in a range of diameters, and are made of interlocking trays intended for stacking on atop of the other. Placed above simmering water, the steam from the water rises through the trays and cooks the food. It’s a simple premise that works astoundingly well. I use three trays, but you can certainly go up or down a level.
Steaming Vegetables in Bamboo Steamer
I eventually graduated to a ceramic steamer, and also picked up this Mushi Nabe, donabe steamer. Both are nice because you can make a broth or curry in the base, and then use steam the ingredients up above at the same time. Any of the steamers make a nice jump from cooking to table. If you want to expand beyond steaming vegetables, you can also steam everything from dumplings and tofu to eggs, tamales and certain rices.

Colorful Vegetables in a Bamboo Steamer Basket

Some Tips on Steaming Vegetables:

  • While steaming with water is most common, I’ve also played around using miso broth, vegetable broth, vegetable dashi, or tea in place of water. Each imparts a different scent and flavor to the vegetables. More times than not though, I use water.
  • Arrange your slowest cooking vegetables in the bottom basket, working up to the quickest. Another time saver is to get your densest, slowest cooking vegetables started in in the bottom tray, while you prep the quicker cooking vegetables for the mid and top baskets. Place the lid on whatever basket is on top at the time.
  • Some people line their steamers with cabbage leaves or parchment. I don’t bother, placing the vegetables directly on the steamer instead. I like how it seems to keep the steam circulating. A quick scrub with hot water and the rough side of a sponge makes clean-up simple.
  • When using the bamboo steamer, you can use a wok (steamer sits above the simmering water) or wide skillet (I set the steamer directly in a shallow skillet of simmering water)…A wok is more traditional, and easier on your steamer, but both techniques work well.

Plate of Assorted Vegetables to be Steamed

So, less of a recipe, and more of a reminder today of how good the most basic preparations can be. A few years after I initially posted this, I did another deeper dive into Using your Underutilized Steamer. Have fun! -h

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Homemade Bouillon

You can absolutely make homemade bouillon. Use it in all sorts of soups, stews, and noodle bowls. It’s so much better than any canned broth I’ve tasted.

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You can absolutely make homemade bouillon. And I know you can thanks to Pam Corbin. Pam wrote the lovely River Cottage Preserves Handbook.* In the very back of this exquisite little book, long past the rhubarb relish, and well beyond the piccalilli and winter fruit compote, she proposes a simple idea: make your own bouillon. I’m not sure why this never occurred to me, but until I reached page 207, it hadn’t. She outlines a list of ingredients that are pureed into a concentrated paste of vegetables and herbs, preserved with salt. I’ve been cooking with a version of it all week, and it is infinitely better than any canned vegetable stock I’ve tasted. And the best part about it? You can build on the general idea and tweak it based on what is in season and my own personal preferences – which is what I did.
Homemade Bouillon

What is Bouillon?

Technically, a bouillon cube is a dehydrated cube or powder used to create an instant vegetable stock. Pam calls her version “souper mix”….but you use it in a way similar to bouillon cubes. It is used to make quick, flavorful broth. For example, when cooking soups, risottos, curries, whatever really. Homemade Bouillon

A Few Tips

The main thing? Keep in mind bouillon is quite salty and very concentrated. I mention in the recipe I’ve been using 1 teaspoon per 1 cup of water/liquid to start. You can adjust from there based on what you’re making and personal preference. And as far as variations go, this first batch was made primarily with ingredients from my refrigerator, but I’m really excited to try other versions using different herbs and ratios of the base ingredients. In fact, if you have any suggestions or ideas give a shout in the comments – I’d love to hear them!

More Bouillon Variations

A number of your variations caught my attention, so I thought I’d highlight a couple here. Love these!

  • Karen “tried a variation with local ingredients: carrot, long onion (like a leek), daikon radish, japanese wild parsley, salt, and 7 pepper blend. added a bit of soy sauce for more salt and flavor, too. then i used it to make red lentil soup. WOW! the soup never tasted so good!!!”
  • Dominican Foodie liked the texture of the version she made noting, “I made a couple of changes to your recipe. I doubled the ingredients (except salt and tomatoes) Added extra garlic and white onions, juiced the first half (set aside), tossed the second half in olive oil and roasted for two hours, then tossed everything into a large deep pot, added bay leaves and simmered until liquid was reduced by half. Took out bay leaves, stuck an immersion blender in the pot and smoothed everything out into a paste. Perfection!”

*The U.S. edition of the River Cottage Preserves Handbook is now available.

There is a whole directory of great soup recipes where you can put your bouillon to use!

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Caramelized Brussels Sprouts and Apples with Tofu

A Brussels sprout recipe for people who think they might not like them. Shredded Brussels sprout ribbons, apples, garlic, pine nuts, and tofu in a skillet with a hint of maple syrup.

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I bought a three-foot stretch of Brussels sprouts the other morning at the farmers’ market. For those of you who’ve never encountered the spectacle of Brussels sprouts still on the stalk, it is something to behold. A thick, stick-straight center stalk is punctuated by tight, green Brussels sprout pom-poms. It looks fantastically prehistoric. And while it doesn’t fit very nicely in my market basket, once I get it home the sprouts will keep nicely this way – seemingly longer than off the stalk.
Brussels Sprouts on Stalk
I buy sprouts on the stalk whenever I can, and typically get three or four sprout-centric meals out of each, breaking off the buds as needed. In this case I combined shredded Brussels sprout ribbons, apples, garlic, pine nuts, (and tofu if you like) in a skillet with a hint of maple syrup.
Caramelized Brussels Sprouts and Apples with Tofu
I know not all are Brussels sprout fans, but based on some of the emails you’ve passed along to me, this golden-crusted Brussels sprout recipe seems to be a well-received gateway recipe for people who thought they didn’t like Brussels sprouts, but really do. You could start there, and then make the jump to this recipe if you’re at all apprehensive. Or, I highlight a few other ideas down below….

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Peace, Love & Energy Dip

The best thing in my refrigerator right now. It’s a dip! An updated version of the virtuous hippie spreads found for decades in California grocery co-ops and farmers’ markets.

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I’m going to share the best thing in my refrigerator right now. It’s a dip, and I can’t get enough of it. If you can imagine an updated version of the virtuous hippie spreads found for decades in California grocery co-ops and farmers’ markets — that’s what I was going for. The base is a trifecta of creamy ripe avocado, nuts (cashews or almonds), and chickpeas. Citrus juice kicks in with acidity from orange and lime. And I raided the spice drawer after that – cayenne, curry powder, and ginger all play for keeps here.

Peace, Love & Energy Dip

A Versatile Dip (or Spread!)

This is a hardworking dip. It’s great with baked pita chips, tortilla chips, crackers, etc. It can also play a supporting role in many other ways. It’s a versatile sandwich spread. And I love it slathered across garlic-rubbed grilled flatbreads. It’s A+ inside burritos, or on top of quesadillas. Make a big under swoosh in the bottom your favorite grain bowl and load it up. You can even thin it out with a splash of olive oil, and extra citrus juice for a creamy dressing. 

Peace, Love & Energy Dip

Toppings

I like the idea of using toppings to let people know what they’re eating. So, for example, here you see cashews, chickpeas, and the curry powder. The toppings also add varied texture to the creamy dip. You can use as many or as few as you like, but I do notice the toppings always get scooped up first with this one.

Peace, Love & Energy Dip

Please make this dip, you won’t be sorry 😉 It’s just so good and so versatile. But if you think it might not be your thing — other dips / spreads I love include this vibrant beet caviar, or, of course, great guacamole. Enjoy! xx, -h

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Roasted Tomato & Sourdough Soup

If you have both tomatoes and sourdough on hand, consider this. A spicy, saffron-smacked take on pappa al pomodoro, the bread-thickened Tuscan classic. A spicy, saffron-smacked take on pappa al pomodoro, the bread-thickened Tuscan classic.

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There are two things we have in spades right now – ripe tomatoes and sourdough bread. Inevitably, this time of year the variations on tomato soups and sauces coming out of the kitchen are many. The other night, I made this. Walking into the kitchen, I imagined building on the idea behind pappa al pomodoro, the tomato-centric, bread-thickened Tuscan classic. We ended up sitting down to a spicy, saffron-smacked stew with a tomato and sourdough foundation dotted with chickpeas. It was a big hit, so I made it again the next day so I could shoot and share it here. If there’s a place where summer eating meets comfort food, this is it.
Roasted Tomato & Sourdough Soup Recipe

The tomatoes!

Let’s talk details. Your choice in tomatoes here is key. It’s the flavor base of this soup. Go for the most flavorful, ripe, in-season tomatoes you can get your hands on. Ugly or not-perfect is fine, they’re going to get roasted and blitzed anyway. I save my cherry tomatoes for other uses – salads, roasting, pastas, etc. and opt for medium-sized varietals like Early Girl or San Marzano instead.  
Roasted Tomato & Sourdough Soup Recipe

Roasting For Flavor

Here’s roughly what your tomatoes, onions, and garlic should look like after roasting (below). I put the onions and garlic on their own baking sheet in case they cook faster. It makes it easier for you to remove them early if needed. You can certainly do a version of this soup without roasting, but the depth of flavor you get from this extra step is worth it.
Roasted Tomato & Sourdough Soup Recipe

The Bread Component

Our “house” sourdough bread is ~60 % whole wheat / rye flour blend, plus a good amount of cooked quinoa. It’s quite hearty and wholesome, and it’s great here. I use heartier whole-grain sourdoughs in soups like this one, or bread-thickened ribollita all the time. I think people worry that they need to use a white loaf (like a ciabatta or “Italian” bread), but you can totally experiment. It might not be typical, but it can be tasty (and more nutritious).  
Roasted Tomato & Sourdough Soup Recipe

Variations

I was craving something invigoratingly spicy when I threw this together the other night. I was after a straight, direct shot of tomato & spice. That’s why you see a good dose of cayenne in the recipe. I added a bit of saffron because tomatoes and saffron are one of my favorite flavor combinations. That said, there are (of course) endless other directions you could explore! For example: 

  • A more classic flavor profile: dial back the spices, turn up the basil.
  • Add a dollop of harissa instead of cayenne.
  • Use yellow tomatoes + lots of black pepper & experiment with a turmeric-chive-garlic drizzle of some sort.
  • Use some of your corn by adding it with the chickpeas. And for the experimenting bread bakers out there – how about a sourdough with a percentage of cornmeal, whole corn, etc in the bread slot? I’d use something other than a quick bread style cornbread (not enough structure when it hits the soup). 

Roasted Tomato & Sourdough Soup Recipe

It’s wild how in my garden there will be a blast of tomatoes for a few weeks and then it’s over in a flash. If you’re looking for other ways to put a dent in your tomato supply right now – some ideas. Try to make the most of them while they’re here. Try a fresh version of this tomato sauce. Use them in a tomato tart. Make this favorite salsa. Or load them into a coleslaw. xx – h

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Mango Breakfast Chia Pudding

Mango Breakfast Chia Pudding is a great way to start the day. This chia pudding is super nutritious. It is vegan, dairy-free, gluten free, and naturally sweetened.

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I’ve been feeling like my breakfasts needed a jolt of inspiration, and this mango breakfast chia pudding is a step in the right direction. It’s creamy from nut milk, naturally sweetened with pure mango puree, and you can top it with as many nuts, seeds, and powders as you like.

Mango Breakfast Chia Pudding Recipe

I asked a bunch of you about your breakfast routines (here on Instagram), and was floored by the nearly 600 responses! If chia pudding isn’t your jam, definitely check out the breakfast comments attached to that photo – SO many great alternate ideas. 

Mango Breakfast Chia Pudding Recipe

Chia Pudding for Breakfast! Start the Day Strong.

Today’s recipe, it’s super simple. First of all, I love chia for breakfast. Chia seeds are protein and fiber-rich, and are the richest plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids. You can read more about why chia is often thought of as a superfood here. In practice, they keep me full, are a great vehicle for flavors I love, and are wonderfully versatile.

Mango Breakfast Chia Pudding Recipe

Make it Your Way

This chia pudding is super nutritious. It is vegan, dairy-free, gluten free, and naturally sweetened. As I mention above, you can boost it with as few, or as many toppings as you like. If you have a look at the photo below, you’ll see toasted almonds, shichimi togarashi spice (or use a pinch of cayenne), bee pollen, frozen mango pureed with a hand blender, banana chips, quinoa crispies or crisped brown rice. 

Mango Breakfast Chia Pudding Recipe

Also, chia seeds are just cool in general. It’s because of the way chia seeds expand and gel up that the whole concept of chia pudding works. In addition, you can sprout chia seeds, use them to thicken dressings, or as a base for chia puddings like this one. They’re great!

Add some crunch!

Lastly, the crunch factor, let’s talk about it! It’s important. I like crunchy toppings on chia puddings, and the more the better. It contrasts with the the way chia gels. Banana chips are great, quinoa crispies are another favorite, and you can’t go wrong with toasted nuts and seeds. Enjoy!

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A Favorite Rice Noodle Stir Fry to Make with Whatever Green Veg you Have

A favorite noodle-based stir fry with silky rice noodles, bright and crunchy broccoli, toasted cashews, quick-marinated crumbled tofu, and pan-seared onions tossed in a feisty chile-boosted soy sauce.

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If you messaged me this week after I posted a badly lit photo of an exceptionally tasty stir fry on Instagram, this is 100% for you!  It’s the kind of stir fry I pull together often, a catch-all of things needing to be used up. You’ve got silky rice noodles, bright and crunchy broccoli, toasted cashews, quick-marinated crumbled tofu, and pan-seared onions tossed in a feisty chile-boosted soy sauce. I added mushrooms the second time I made it (for these photos), but you don’t have to. I used broccoli, but you can use asparagus, shredded brussels sprouts or kale. I’ll talk more about that down below. I definitely tend to do that thing you’re not supposed to do here – overload the pan- but it’s the kind of one-pan meal I love. Enjoy!

A Fave Rice Noodle Stir Fry Recipe
A couple things before we get to the recipe. If you make a lot of stir fries, consider investing in a wok. The cast iron wok I bought with Grace Young from The Wok Shop in San Francisco years ago is one of my prized cooking vessels (this is the one). It’s the kind Cantonese home cooks swear by to impart the coveted taste of wok hay. I’m not saying I’m there yet, but I aspire. And if you don’t have a wok, don’t let it deter you – grab your largest skillet and use it for your stir fry.
A Fave Rice Noodle Stir Fry with Whatever Green Veg you Have on Hand

A Few Stir Fry Variations

I’ll put most of this in headnotes of the recipe as well.

Green Vegetables: I’m writing this recipe up using broccoli as the green vegetable here, but you have lots of other options. Use an equivalent amount of asparagus (1 1/2-inch segments), or 4-5 big handfuls of , chopped kale, pre-cooked artichoke hearts are fair game, or peas, (or pea shoots!). You see where I’m heading? This is all really adaptable based on what you have on hand.

Make it a Little Creamy: A splash of coconut milk toward the end is nice.

Citrus is Good: One of my favorite finishing touches here is to throw something citrusy in at the end. I have a market lime tree on the patio, so I often sliver a couple leaves razor thin and add them at the end. Lemon zest, Meyer lemon zest, and/or orange zest is equally welcome here. Totally not necessary, but it really is a nice touch.

A Fave Rice Noodle Stir Fry Recipe

Boil versus Soaking the Noodles

I’m having you boil the noodles here to get them just the right amount of tender. It’s what I did to get dinner on the table quickly the other night, and works great. The common alternative is to soak them, but there is such a wide range of noodles out there, and I’m sure you’ll all use quite a range of them, so I think boiling them is the safest bet for consistency across the board. Depending on the noodles, sometimes the soak technique doesn’t work, and you end up boiling them anyway.

Recipe Journal Entry of a Stir Fry with Handwriting and Photo
Here’s the photo I posted taped in my recipe journal along with notes about how to make it after dinner the other night. I do this when I want to remember something I liked so I can make it again at some point. You can see the size of the noodles I used (left-hand page), and I also like to leave “next time” notes to myself (down in the corner) – ways to tweak, flavors or ingredients to add or explore, etc. Enjoy!

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