Chocolate Applesauce Walnut Cake

A vegan variation on a cake recipe by my college roommate Elizabeth, with orange promoted to a primary flavor -- increasing the zest in the cake from 1/2 tsp to at least a tablespoon, and adding a very zesty orange glaze. Yum! Larry loved it. And as cakes go, it's fairly healthy, with whole wheat flour, apples, and walnuts as main ingredients and not much oil.

1/2 cup soft vegan butter (or oil is ok)
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
2 flax eggs (2 T flaxmeal, 6 T water)
3/4 cup dairy-free milk + 1 tsp vinegar
2 cups applesauce OR pureed apple
1 tsp vanilla
1 T grated orange or tangerine rind

3 cup whole wheat flour, or a mix of whole grains
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1+ cup chopped walnuts

Glaze (optional)
1 cup powdered/confectioners sugar
1+ tsp orange zest (I like more!)
2+ T orange juice
(additional water, as needed)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour c…

Dried Figs

Figs! We have so many figs. Larry is picking a dozen a day, scrambling onto the roof to get half of them from the top of the tree. During an afternoon get-together, Shuchi tells us that she gets a lot of different fruits off her trees and dries them -- the sugar concentrates, and they taste like candy! She keeps them in jars on her counter and they snack on them for days. So we bought a Cuisinart dehydrator and tried it out with some figs and pears and other fruits. Figs are pretty juicy and took a lot longer to dry than the others, so we decided they were better when cut into smaller sizes, and perhaps dried by themselves - or if you do other fruits, just check the others earlier.

Fresh figs, a dozen or more

Figs are pretty juicy, so slice them into quarters at minimum, and into eighths if you can (i.e., they still have integrity).

Place them on dehydrator shelves, skin side down so they don't stick to the shelf. We put our dehydrator on our outdoor counter…

Buffalo Cauliflower

We've had some really good buffalo cauliflower at Vegenation in Las Vegas, and I finally got around to trying to make it. It was tasty! Here's what a did - which is a combination of a recipe in Vegan Comfort Classics and some recipes I found on the web, like this one that has a nice video. Yum!

1 large (or 2 small) head cauliflower
2 cups bread crumbs

3/4 cup flour
1 cup nondairy milk - or more
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder (optional)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp each salt & pepper (or to taste)

Buffalo sauce:
2 T vegan butter
1/4 cup Sriracha (or more; 1/3 ?)
1/4 cup ketchup
1 T maple syrup

Ranch dressing:
1/2 cup vegan mayo
2 tsp apple cider
1 T chopped fresh dill or 2 tsp dried
1 T chopped chives
1 tsp onion powder (optional)
1/4 cup nondairy milk (optional; if you like it a little thinner; I do)
salt and pepper to taste

Clean and cut up the cauliflower. Mix together the batter ingredients - and you can add more or less nonda…

Seville Gazpacho

Last month we went for a walk on the beach near Half Moon Bay, where Larry proposed 22 years ago. Along the way, we came across a small tapas place and had some delicious gazpacho. Googling for a good recipe, I came across this Best Gazpacho in the New York Times that looks just like what we had. I tried this with a regular green pepper, sherry vinegar, some scallions and tomatoes from our garden, and cucumber from our neighbor Elsa's garden. We used our Ninja blender, didn't strain it, and only chilled 15 minutes. It was delish!

2 pounds ripe red tomatoes
1 long, light green pepper (e.g., cubanelle) if you can get it - or a regular green bell pepper is ok
1 cucumber, about 8 inches long, partly peeled
1 small mild onion (white or red)
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt (some may want more)
1/2 tsp cumin (optional!)
2 tsp sherry vinegar (or substitute with a sweet white, apple, or rice wine vinegar)
1/3 C extra-virgin olive oil

Cut tomatoes, pepper, cucumber, an…

Blackberry Syrup

We have SO many blackberries we can't keep up. I started putting cups and cups of them in bags in our freezer - which is getting WAY too full. I got an idea: What if I try to use up some of these by making a blackberry syrup? I found this recipe for homemade blackberry syrup from daring gourmet. Oh. My. Flying. Spaghetti. Monster. It's incredible. I'll NEVER complain about too many blackberries again!

The following recipe (slightly adapted with a bit less sugar) makes about 1.5 cups syrup. Try it over pancakes or (vegan) ice cream! Double if you can! Oh, and put on an apron -- or wear clothes you don't mind getting stained!

4-5 cups blackberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup extra fine sugar
1 T lemon juice
1 tsp pectin

Place the blackberries in a medium-sized pot and bring them to a boil over medium-high heat.  Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until very soft and mushy.  Remove from heat and mash with a potato masher to furth…

Lentil Arugula Salad with Cumin Roasted Carrots

Shelley followed up the wonderful mango guacamole with a fresh pea soup and this fantastic masala lentil salad, which is pretty easy to make if you buy the lentils & arugula ready to eat at trader Joes. Roast the carrots ahead of time and toss it all together!


1 1/2 pounds carrots, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
2 T olive oil
1 T maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 cup lentils (use precooked from Trader Joe's)
2 cups packed baby arugula
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
(optional) 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

Masala Dressing:
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp garam masala
2 T apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
(optional) Pomegranate molasses OR squeeze some juice out of pomegranate seeds
(optional) Toasted pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or pine nuts

Roast carrots: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the carrots in a large bowl. Drizzle with the oil and maple syrup, sprinkle with t…

Mango Guacamole

Shelley made this mango guacamole and served it with pita chips and sliced jicama. Delish!

3 large avocados, peeled and pitted
1 small red onion, chopped
1 mango - peeled, pitted, and chopped
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

For serving:
pita chips
sliced jicama

Mash avocados in a medium bowl to a lumpy consistency. Mix onion, mango, lime juice, garlic, salt, and cilantro into avocado.

Chocolate Chip Apricot Bars

Wanda shared a chocolate chip apricot bar recipe with me more than a decade ago, when I made it for our SRI chili cookoff and it won best dessert! The recipe is adapted from a Gourmet 1995 recipe. I forgot about it until yesterday, when I was thinking about what dessert to take to a neighbor's barbecue. I mentioned to my dad that I thought I'd take cookies, and he said, "Chocolate chip? Those would disappear!" He's right! But this is an interesting twist on that -- with just a tweak to the butter to make it vegan, and reducing the brown sugar a bit (it's pretty sweet as is).

For apricot filling: 6 oz dried apricots (~1 cup packed), chopped fine
1/4 cup granulated sugar 3/4 cup water 1 teaspoon vanilla
For chocolate chip mixture: 1 1/3 cups pecans  1 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips  1/2 to 2/3 cup vegan butter (like Miyokos or Earth Balance)
confectioners' sugar for…

Ginger Molasses Crinkles

I made these cookies to bring to Munira & Vinod's for dinner because I know they love ginger. The recipe is a cross between my grad roommate Elizabeth's Molasses Crinkles and Vegan with a Vengeance's Sparkled Ginger Cookies. I put in more ginger than called for in either. They were really good! But Munira said add more ginger! Don't be shy. (Elizabeth's had 1 tsp dry ginger; Vengeance had 3 tsp; I used 2 tsp dry + 2 T ginger paste. So below I suggest 3 tsp dry  + 2 T ginger paste.)

2 C flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves

3+ T fresh grated ginger (or 3 tsp ground)
1/2 C canola oil or vegan butter
1/4 C molasses
1/4 C soy or almond milk
1 C brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

granulated sugar (coarse if you have it)

Preheat oven to 350. Mix dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix together wet ingredients. Combine the two and mix well. Chill dough (optional). Roll into 1-inch balls, flatten, and pr…

Green Chutney

Munira gave us some delicious homemade hot green chutney. I tried to replicate it - with success: even Munira and Vinod liked it! This is adapted from a video Munira shared for this recipe for Green Chutney (Mind & Coriander) and also Neelam Batra's The Indian Vegetarian cookbook. Most of the ingredients came from our garden, which was extra fun. Serve with samosas, on veggie burgers or sandwiches like Pav Bhaji (but that might make it too hot to eat!).

Ingredients 1 red onion or 2 long scallions, sliced 2 jalapeno peppers, sliced (carefully!) 2 inches of ginger, sliced
2 C cilantro (fresh coriander) 1 C fresh mint
(or 2 parts cilantro to 1 part mint)
1 tsp cumin juice from one lime (or lemon)

1/4 cup seeds from pomegranate
2 cloves garlic
1 green or yellow pepper

salt and pepper to taste
Instructions In the food processor, grind the onion, peppers, and ginger coarsely (and any optional ingredients like pomegranate and garlic, if using). Add the rest of the ingredients…

Soy Yogurt

I bought a new instant pot to get the Yogurt button! I found this blog post on soy yogurt and I've made several batches and I love it. Plain soy milk (no additives) is my favorite. I also made it from soaked almonds, worth trying that again. But the soy is so easy and I love the tang. Larry wanted to try an experiment with oat milk and coconut milk, but they didn't work. Maybe it was because they had additives. Anyway, it takes less than 5 minutes to set up. Here's how!

1 qt unsweetened soy milk
1+ T yogurt from the previous batch for each jar
(or first time use vegan yogurt starter)

Berries, roasted flax seed, grapenuts or granola
Jam or honey if you want it sweeter (I like it tart)

Pour the soy milk into 2 jars. (You can put it straight in the Instant Pot, but you'll have to transfer it to jars to cool later, so save some cleanup!) Add the starter. Mix! Put the jars in the Instant Pot and press Yogurt. I do it for 14 hours; y…

Yummy Rummy Cake

Munira is cooking us another delicious dinner, and wants rum cake! So I gave it a try. I googled and found a few recipes, and based this on two of them that looked good to me: A vegan coconut rum cake that was somewhat similar to my favorite vegan chocolate cake, and a brown sugar and molasses based rum glaze. I didn't have coconut oil, coconut extract, or enough coconut milk -- but most rum cakes aren't coconut anyway -- so I adapted and used a little more coconut flakes, ground by Larry in our mortar and pestle, instead. You could also make this without coconut flavoring.

I'm blogging this before I have tasted it, but it looks so pretty and the glaze was yummy on the spoon, so I'm optimistic. Update: Yes, it was Yummy! (New title suggested by Sandy :)

3 C flour (I use whole wheat)
2 C sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 C coconut milk (or almond milk if you're not a coconut fan)
3/4 C canola oil
3 tsp white vinegar

If going with the coconut flavoring:

Pav Bhaji (Indian Street Food)

My friend Munira is a wonderful cook! For years she would never share her recipes, saying why would we come over for dinner if we knew how to cook the food? :)

But last weekend we arrived as she was starting to make Pav Bhaji (from Cook w/ Manali), a popular Indian street food where rolls/buns are served with spicy mashed veggies and butter (for us, no butter) -- and she allowed me to take photos! So lots of photos below. Munira says that many things she makes have this similar base -- just add beans or whatever you feel like at the end, or use different spice mixes (Indian stores have many masala mixes; experiment!)

2 T canola oil
1 jalapeno pepper and/or
   1 dried red hot pepper (2 for super spicy)
1 T cumin seed
1 tsp mustard seed
1 large onion (red best), chopped
1 cup cilantro
2 cups chopped tomato

chili powder
Pav Bhaji masala (or other spice blend)

various vegetables, like (roughly)...
2 green peppers
head of cauliflower (steamed a bit fir…