Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Spicy not-quite-mole beans & rice


1 cup white rice (Probably want to add more water if you use brown rice)
1 cup water
28 oz can diced tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
1/2 onion, diced
1 jalapeno, diced (seeds removed if you're wimpy)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1 can black beans
1 can chickpeas
1/4 cube baking chocolate (optional, but you'll be glad you used it if you do)
cilantro (optional)


Put the rice, water,  tomatoes (and juice), and garlic cloves in a saucepan (I left the garlic cloves whole & just mashed it up after it was all boiled). Bring to a boil then reduce to low heat until about half of the liquid is absorbed. Add onion, jalapeno, spices. Let it continue to cook until most liquid is absorbed & add beans, chocolate, and about 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Samburgers 2.0 (Veggie burgers)

I don't have a picture but they're veggie burgers... they look about like the last batch. These were way better and are about 99% to my Perfect Burger goal. And they look a lot like meat, which might be important if you care about that sort of thing.

So here's the recipe:


1/8 cup oats
1/8 cup brown rice, prepared
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp soy sauce, tamari, or Bragg's Liquid Aminos
1/2 onion
1+ jalapeno
about 10 mushrooms
1 garlic clove
1 egg


Preheat oven to 450.

Start the brown rice boiling. Put the onion in a food processor and pulse until finely diced. Sautee over medium heat until golden brown.  Repeat with mushrooms, garlic, and jalapenos and cook until the mushrooms are soft and it all forms a bit of a chunky paste.

Put the mixture in a bowl and add oats, rice, spices, soy sauce, and egg (once mixture has cooled a bit so as not to cook the egg right away). Mix thoroughly with your hands.

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and put small handfuls of the mixture on it, evenly spaced. Flatten them to patty shapes and bake until browned on the edges and the egg has set (about 15 minutes).

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Samburgers, take 1

                                              Cost for this recipe: About $2.50* Serves 5-6

I used to work at a restaurant in Baltimore which was owned by the same person as a particularly iconic & odd diner, The Paper Moon. Every inch of the walls & ceiling are covered with everything from plastic army men, to toy gorillas, to old wagons. Toy helicopters swing from the blades of the ceiling fan, and everything on the menu is named after an employee, some local Baltimore-ism, a cartoon character, something... Anyway, one night I talked the owner into naming something after me over there. What did I want, she asked. "The veggie burger," I said, "We could call it the Samburger." "Done," she replied. So for a couple of years or so, the veggie burger at the Paper Moon was named after me (though she got the name wrong & called it Sam's Burger, but the sentiment was there).

I have no reason for telling you that other than wanting to put the name Samburger back into use. This isn't an attempt at the Paper Moon veggie burger (which may very well have been a Gardenburger. I don't remember). Also, I'm calling this Take 1 because I'm not completely satisfied. It tastes pretty good. The texture could use some bulking up. I'll keep working.

But for now, here's the Samburger:


1/4 cup quinoa
3/4 cup water
1 can black beans
1/2 can green peas
small sweet onion
1+ jalapeno
1 slice of bread (I used Udi's gluten-free whole grain bread)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp curry powder
1 egg


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine quinoa and water and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer until all water is absorbed. Dice up the onion finely and saute it in a bit of olive oil. Go slowly so the sugar in the onion caramelizes, and when they're a golden brown color, add the diced jalapeno & cook until just softened.

Put the slice of bread in a food processor to create breadcrumbs and transfer to a large bowl.

Drain the beans and peas in a colander. Rinse with water to get the clingy bean water out, and let them drain fully. In a food processor, pulse the beans and peas lightly so that some chunks remain. Transfer bean/pea mixture to the bowl with the breadcrumbs.

Add the onion and jalapeno to the food processor and grind to a fairly fine texture. Transfer this to the bowl. Add the cumin, curry, paprika, and an egg and mix thoroughly with your hands.

Make 5-6 patties and place on a parchment-covered baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

* I didn't include the bun in the price calculation because of the big price discrepancy among types of burger buns. My gluten-free ones were pricy, as they tend to be (but I give a big thumbs up to these Livwell Gluten-Free Multi-Seeded Rolls! And holy cow, they have pitas & naan, too! I'm a new fan, Livwell) and had I not been trying to take a pretty picture for the blog I'd probably have just eaten them without a bun.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Spicy Black Bean Soup (crock pot)

 Total cost for this recipe: approx. $10 (serves 5-6)


     1 tablespoon olive oil
     1 yellow onion
     1 green bell pepper
     7 cloves garlic
     1 pound dry black beans *
     5 cups water
     3 cup vegetable broth
     2-3 diced jalapenos (or other hot pepper, depending on how brave you are)
     1 tablespoon cumin
     1 teaspoon thyme
     1 teaspoon salt
     1/2 teaspoon pepper
     2 bay leaves
     sour cream
     red bell pepper, diced
     white onion, diced
     fresh cilantro, finely chopped


Add the olive oil to the crock pot and turn it on the highest setting. Chop the yellow onion, and green pepper and add them to the pot. Using a garlic press, crush the garlic and add it as well.  Add the black beans to the crock pot along with water, broth, chilies, cumin, thyme, salt, pepper, and bay leaves. Cover and cook on high for at least 8 hours. Before serving,  puree soup with a hand mixer or submersible hand held blender. Ladle into soup bowls. Top each bowl with a dollop of sour cream,  diced red bell pepper,  diced white onion, and a sprinkling of finely chopped, fresh cilantro.

*A note about the beans. I find that soaking them, let's just say it makes you more tolerable to be around after consuming this soup. If you soak the beans, reduce the amount of water used by about 1 1/2 cups.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Kale Salad with Garlic-Tahini Dressing

This is based on the kale salad at the Whole Foods salad bar. Recipe is for one serving.


raw kale
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 1/2 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp soy sauce, tamari, or Bragg's Liquid Aminos
1 tbsp olive oil, plus a little extra for "massaging" the kale


Combine garlic, tahini, lemon juice, tamari, and olive oil & mix well. It will be fairly thick (much thicker than at the Whole Foods bar). I like it this texture, but if you want it runnier, add some water.

Now you get to get friendly with the kale. Raw kale is a bit fibrous, so it benefits from a little massage. How do I massage kale, you ask? Pretty much like it sounds. Put some olive oil on your hands, grab a fist full of kale leaves, and squeeze, knead, and rub them until they're slightly soft & glistening with oil.

Top with dressing and you're done!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Palak Paneer

OK, so I realize that picture isn't all that appealing. I promise you, though, that this is one delicious dish. I also had a hard time calculating the cost because the difference in price between buying a lot of this stuff at somewhere like Safeway and an Indian grocery store is pretty staggering. I'm basing the amounts I came up with somewhere between what I paid and what lists for prices on spices and basmati rice. And this isn't really what I'd call a cheap meal by my standards, but it's significantly cheaper than in a restaurant and it's so damn good you should make it anyway. So...

Cost for this recipe: $11.78 Cost per serving: About $2.89

This is a recipe I've used a lot but I recently decided to experiment with what I thought might be missing. I think those things might have been asafotida and fenugreek. So you can really leave those out and it'll be fine, but I think they added a certain ... Indian-ness.


vegetable oil or ghee
1 large onion, chopped
2 cardamom seeds
1 stick of cinnamon
2-3 bay leaves
2 whole cloves
1 tsp minced garlic 
1 tsp grated ginger
1 small tomato, chopped
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 lb fresh spinach, chopped*
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp fenugreek leaves
1/2 tsp asafotida
1 cup cream (or half-and-half works)
1 tbsp tomato paste
fresh cilantro leaves
paneer ( about 1/3 of a block, cut into small cubes)


Heat oil or ghee in a saucepan and lightly brown the onion. Add 2 or 3 bay leaves 
cardamom, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, cloves, ginger, garlic, sliced tomato and black pepper and saute for about a minute. 

Add spinach and cook until it turns dark green and reduces in volume.

Add salt, turmeric, coriander,  garam masala, fenugreek and asafotida (the asafotida technically needs to be tempered in oil over heat but rather than get out a new pan, I just cleared a side of the large pan and did it right there and then mixed it in. I think next time I might try tempering all the spices together in a separate pan).

Add cream, tomato paste, chopped cilantro and cubed paneer. Cook for another couple of minutes over high heat. 

Serve over rice.

*Don't bother spending extra money on baby spinach. It cooks down so much you can use the coarse, cheaper spinach and it'll be just fine. Also, to get the texture that palak paneer has in most restaurants, you can run the spinach through the food processor before you cook it. Mine is just so tiny it's never worth the effort.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tempeh Tacos with a Jicama Slaw

Cost for this recipe: $3.92. Cost per taco (because who am I to determine what's a serving of tacos? For me, it's four...) $ .39. Recipe makes about ten tacos.

I wasn't sure how this was going to turn out, but I had an idea of what I wanted & started experimenting this afternoon. I've made a variation on this before, but I decided it needed chocolate this time. That seems like a safe guess in pretty much every circumstance.


1 pack of tempeh* (usually found near the tofu in grocery stores)
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup water
1/4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 jalapeno pepper, diced

1 jicama
2 1/2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp lime juice
a few sprigs of cilantro

corn tortillas


Crumble the tempeh to a fairly fine texture into a saute pan and add the chili powder, cumin, garlic, oregano, salt, water and chocolate. Stir well & let it simmer over medium heat until the water has cooked away & you're left with something that looks like this:

Peel the jicama with a vegetable peeler. I forget every time I use jicama that it remains a bit fibrous slightly beyond the brownish skin. Don't be like me. Peel it about another 1/4 cm beyond the skin unless you want to be picking chewy things out of your slaw. Grate the jicama using the coarser side of a grater. I'm including a picture for size reference of the jicama I used because you might want to adjust the amount of mayo & lime juice accordingly. I just eyeballed it & kept tasting.

Add the mayonnaise, lime juice and finely chopped cilantro to the grated jicama & mix well.

Now, heat a small frying pan on medium high and brown your tortillas. You can use a bit of oil if you'd like them to crisp up slightly, but it's not necessary.

Spoon equal parts of the tempeh mixture and slaw into tortillas.

Ta daa! Tacos!

*A note on tempeh: It is made of fermented soybeans and often includes other grains. It comes in several varieties. If you're gluten-free, be sure to read the ingredients (not that you aren't already a slave to ingredient labels, I know) because the one I bought contained barley.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tomato-Chickpea Soup

Total cost- approx. $8.00. Cost per serving- approx. $1.60 
(Canned tomatoes & dried beans would bring the cost down even more. I used canned beans).

  • 1 cup dried garbanzo beans, OR 2 16 oz cans, drained & rinsed (Bean cooking directions below)
  • 6 ripe plum tomatoes
  • 2 - 3 large carrots
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp spicy paprika
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp raw cane or turbinado sugar
  • 1 Tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp salt*
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp dried basil, or 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 2 Tbsp Braggs liquid aminos (or soy sauce/tamari)
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley or cilantro
How To Cook Garbanzo Beans (If using dried beans)

Sort and clean the dried beans. Soak the beans in hot water for four hours, or overnight in cold water. Drain and rinse. Place in medium saucepan, cover with cold unsalted water. Bring to boil uncovered, boil for ten minutes, skim the foam. Stove Top: Cover and simmer soaked beans for 2 hours. Pressure cooker: Soaked beans, 9 minutes at high pressure. Slow cooker or Crockpot (large size): After boiling and skimming the soaked beans, cook for 6 - 8 hours covered on low

Soup Directions: 

Dice tomatoes, carrots and celery. Add to beans and bean stock with bay leaves, basil, salt, tomato paste, tahini, and sugar. If using canned beans, drain and rinse, then add 4 cups water and 2 veggie cubesHeat olive oil on medium low. Peel, core and mince the garlic cloves, and brown in the oil. Stir the cumin and paprika into the oil and heat for five minutes. Add 1/2 cup hot water to the spice mixture to make a smooth paste, then transfer to the beans and veggies. Stovetop: Bring to boil, simmer covered for one hour. Crockpot: Turn heat to high, cook for 2 hours.  Add Braggs/tamari/soy sauce, fresh minced herb,  and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese if desired (You desire. Trust me).

* I keep forgetting that the bouillon cubes I use are pretty salty & that, along with the tamari, I really didn't need the 1 tsp of salt. You may want to start with less & see what you think depending on the type of cube you use.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Channa Dal

Total cost: $2.43  Cost per serving: approx. 60 cents

This is a slightly modified version of a recipe I got from a guy named Manu back in my days (oh tribe, may you rest in peace). He is a follower of the Ayurvedic lifestyle & does not consume garlic or onions. At first I thought any recipe without garlic or onions had to be bland & awful, but I discovered that the substitute (asafotida) is one of the most amazing flavors on earth. Some of these ingredients will not be available outside of Indian grocery stores.


1 cup channa dal*
6 cups water
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp ghee or olive oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
2 seeded green chilis, chopped
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp hing/asafotida**
1 1/4 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup grated unsweetened coconut
chopped fresh cilantro

Bring the channa dal to a boil in 6 cups of water & cook for about 45 minutes or until soft. Remove from heat & add turmeric.

In Indian cuisine the idea of tempering spices in oil seems important, and it makes sense because everything gets a chance to "marry" before it's even added to the pot. This is especially important for the asafotida, as it is a resin & it needs to break down a bit over heat. Heat 2 tbsp ghee or oil in a pan & when hot add mustard seeds, chilis & fennel seeds. Cook for a minute or so & add ginger, asafotida & brown sugar. Mix for a minute & then pour into the dal. Add salt.
The tempered spices. 

In another small pan roast the grated coconut until browned & add to the dal.

The toasted coconut

 Garnish with cilantro & serve with basmati rice.

The channa dal begins as pretty much a soup, and any leftovers end up as more of a stew texture as the beans & coconut continue to absorb water. Both ways I put a scoop of rice underneath.


* In a pinch, you could substitute yellow split peas, but the texture will be different & the cooking time much less.

** Asafotida (also known as hing) is pretty much exclusively available at Indian stores. I've never seen it elsewhere. A note to the gluten-free people: Asafotida is available in two forms. There is a powdered form, which usually contains a bit of wheat flour, and a resin form, which does not. If you use the resin kind you will need to use 70% less.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


As a person of small financial means, I'm always looking for delicious, inexpensive recipes. I've been a vegetarian for decades & I'm too much of a food snob to be satisfied with "random gray things over rice," but finding middle ground is difficult.

In the past couple of years I've I had to cut wheat out of my diet, and, so as not to be That Guy who can't eat anything at a restaurant, I decided to add the occasional seafood item, so recipes here will be wheat-free*, mostly vegetarian, but might include a bit of seafood now & then.

I'm also going to include a cost-per-serving on each recipe because sometimes that's been a big deciding factor in what I'm going to make that night & surely I'm not the only one. I make a good amount of Indian food so some of these recipes might involve a trip to your local South Asian grocery store to stock up on some spices you might not already have on hand, which will be a small investment up front, but I'm aiming to keep these at a few dollars per serving.

So stay tuned. I hope to start adding recipes soon!

*A note to gluten-free folks: While I can't eat wheat, I do seem to be able to tolerate small amounts of fermented wheat products like bourbon & soy sauce, so as printed, these may not be entirely wheat-free, but I will try to make note where substitutions can be made.