The funny thing about having to stay home during this whole COVID-19 debacle is you enhance your culinary creativity. Here are the good, the bad, and the REALLY ugly of my Quarantine Kitchen. These recipes are from March 12th through April 30th.
March 12, 2020 - Respiratory Relief Tea
IMPORTANT AND THE EASIEST TO DO
If you've been to any of my classes or received a session from me, you might be aware that Otto has been dealing with respiratory issues, on and off, for at least a year now. We have tried countless of interventions, including Chinese Herbs, Antibiotics, various cough medicines. At the start of the "shelter-in-place," I got to reading about the hydrophobic nature of the virus, specifically its lipid outer layer. So I added a little coconut oil to my normal lemonade tea, plus added Reishi Extract, which I read does not enhance the cytokine immune response in the body, so it is one of the safer Chinese Tonic Herbs to take. As soon as Otto drank this (and he LOVES it!), his cough went away, almost overnight!
March 27, 2020 - Gluten-free, Vegan Chocolate Cake
I embellished this recipe for a decadent treat. Sometimes, they say that when you are feeling no sweetness in your life, you tend to look for something sweet as a replacement. Well, #stressbaking has definitely taken over our household, starting with this bad boy. It was fluffy and delicious straight out of the oven, but with prolonged refrigeration it became a more dense chocolate cake, akin to most flourless cakes I have tasted in the past. That being said, it was still delicious.
April 2, 2020 - Vegan Apple Gallette
I am a fan of the Great British Baking Show. There is nothing more relaxing than watching a bunch of British folk courteously competing in a baking competition. This actually happened while I was watching their "Pastry Week" episode. It was a result of trying to make a vegan puff pastry, and massively failing. In my defense, I don't even own a rolling pin. So I just decided to make a gallette, especially since I also don't own a pie tin. These days, I simply use a recipe for a vegan pie crust that I found online. It is super easy to make.
As far as the filing goes, I just cooked some apples in vegan butter, added some dried currants, sprinkled some brown sugar (to taste), added a capful of vanilla extract, and added a dash of cinnamon. I don't measure, so it's up to you to calibrate the measurements on this one. I'm a fly by the seat of my pants kind of chef. I put the filling in the middle of the pie crust that I rolled flat, then I just folded the edge into the middle to seal. I made some designs with the leftover crust, and brushed some of the sauce from the filling outside. I baked until the outside was a nice dark brown.
April 4, 2020 - Vegan Chocolate Cake with Whipped Coconut Creme Frosting
With the recipe from March 27th, I created this layer cake featuring homemade orange compote in the middle (to add acidity to break up the sweetness of the chocolate) and a coconut whipped cream topping. It tasted lighter and more balanced than just the plain old chocolate cake. I was starting to feel really naughty about all the baking I was doing, but I happened upon this article that supported my theory: baking is alleviating all the stress from the unknown of this virus. So I carried on, you know, for mental health.
April 7, 2020 - Vegan Pizza
We were sorely missing our regular visit to Donna Jean, our go-to vegan pizza joint. And so I got this idea to make pizza dough from scratch. Using this pie crust recipe, I decided to make two, 8-inch pies: one margherita using store-bought vegan mozzarella, and one mimicking our favorite pizza, Black Widow. (I just checked and it is not available right now with Donna Jean's limited takeout menu) Again, let me reiterate that I do not measure when I cook without a recipe, but I am making a step-by-step list to make it seem like I am actually providing you with a recipe.
VEGAN MARGHERITA PIZZA
Salt and Pepper
Sauté garlic in coconut oil, then add tomato sauce, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then let rest so the sauce will reduce and get thicker. Spread the sauce on the pizza crust, and top with pieces of vegan mozzarella (Miyokos is the brand we love). Bake until crust is light golden brown. Top with pieces of torn fresh basil.
VEGAN ROASTED GARLIC, DATE, CARMELIZED ONION AND SPINACH PIZZA
Half a head of garlic
Take the half head of garlic, minus one clove, and, without peeling it, cut a small portion of the top to expose the garlic inside the peel. Roast until the garlic is soft when prodded. While the garlic is roasting, dice the clove of garlic and sauté in coconut oil until soft, then add the spinach. As the spinach melts, squeeze lemon and sprinkle with salt to taste. In a separate pan, sauté diced onion in coconut oil until brown, or carmelized. Once the head of garlic is done, squeeze the garlic into a food processor or blender, then puree with three times the volume of dates as there are garlic.
Spread the garlic/date puree on the pizza crust, then top with carmelized onion and spinach. Bake until the crust is light golden brown.
April 10, 2020 - Fish Tacos
Fish tacos are a Southern California staple, owing to our proximity to our awesome neighbor, Mexico! These are easy to make and are oh, so delicious. You can use salsa, but for this version, I made a simple radicchio salad to add a bit of bitterness to it. Plus, my two hungry boys were able to munch on the salad while I put the tacos together.
Breaded and Fried White Fish
Refresh the corn tortillas over high heat on a dry pan for 30 seconds each side. Top with fish, sliced avocados, and radicchio salad (recipe below).
Radicchio, cut into 1-inch square pieces
Combine the honey, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar in a small canning jar with a lid. I like to use a ratio of 1:1:2. Add salt and dill to taste. Cover and shake vigorously until fully integrated. Add sparingly to the radicchio, only until you make sure all pieces are gently covered in dressing.
April 12, 2020 - Mini Apple Pies
I basically used the recipe from April 2nd, the Apple Galette, and used a mini cupcake tin (still don't own a pie tin, y'all!) to create a pie crust. Again, I wasn't on Otto duty, so I had time to carve out for the fiddly task of creating those miniature petals around the vent holes at the top of the pie. The apples were also cut into smaller pieces, but you guys knew that!
April 21, 2020 - Hummus
Since we have been snacking a whole ton, we are consuming copious amounts of hummus. Of course, homemade hummus is hands down much cheaper, and tastes fresher than store-bought hummus. It is easy to make, as well, as long as you have a food processor or a high-powered blender.
1 cup dried chick peas, soaked at least for 24 hours and boiled for 2 hours
1 cup tahini
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
4 oz olive oil
Pine nuts or walnuts
Place olive oil, garlic, chick peas, and tahini in food processor or blender in that order. Squeeze the juice of both lemons into ingredients, then top with a handful of pine nuts or walnuts, salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth. If the hummus is too thick, add a little water, but be careful not to add too much as it would be too liquid in consistency.
We enjoy this with fresh carrot sticks, cucumber slices, or crackers.
April 22, 2020 - The Disaster
After boiling the chick peas for the hummus, I had some Aquafaba (water used for boiling chick peas) left over. I have heard that it can be used as a substitute for egg whites in a merengue-like capacity. So I thought I might make some vegan macarons with blueberry buttercream filling.
I know what you're thinking (and it's nice of you to think this way): "Maybe it tastes better than it looks." Well, it tasted ABSOLUTELY AWFUL. I am not saying that it is impossible to make this and have it taste good. I am just saying that I am not the one to do it.
Why am I including this in my story. Well, because it is a part of my cooking journey. Much like what has happened during this pandemic, we are all experiencing ups and downs. I am embracing this mistake as a reminder to embrace the imperfections of every moment, that even the best piece of art can have darkness within them. And it is in those dark moments that we can look back at the joyful, blissful times with even more gratitude.