Archive for the 'appetizer' Category

Tempeh “crab” cakes

I’m throwing myself a small pity party right now. You can come, especially if you want to help me do dishes.

And I hope you don’t mind the fog. That’s supposed to be a beautiful view of the ocean. The sun is trying SO HARD to break through but it’s just.not.happening.

So I’m having this pity party because it’s the first day of school, and I’m not there. I’m on maternity leave with no baby, and no signs of her coming any time soon.

The good news, though, is that this childless maternity leave means I can cook things whenever the mood strikes. Like these amazingly delectable tempeh cakes, which are just like crab cakes, except better! With a spicy, caper and mustard mayo sauce and a pile of mashed potatoes, there aren’t many things I’d rather eat right now.

I know a lot of people are kind of anti-tempeh but I promise, this is THE recipe that will win them all over. I think the key is boiling the tempeh in a little water and soy sauce to soften it up and infuse some flavor. After that it’s mixed with some bell pepper and spices and bread crumbs, and pan fried to perfection.

(adapted from Post Punk Kitchen)

makes about 10

8 ounces tempeh, crumbled
1 cup water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tsp olive oil
1 bay leaf

3 tablespoons mayonaise
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon Sriracha (or to taste)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup very finely chopped red bell pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspooon salt
fresh black pepper
2 cups whole grain bread crumbs, toasted

3 tbsp mayonaise
1 tbsp whole-grain mustard
a few dashes Sriracha
2 tbsp capers, drained

Start by combining the crumbled tempeh, water, bay leaf, soy sauce, and olive oil in a small saucepan. Boil over medium-high heat, covered, for about 15 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Discard the bay leaf and put the tempeh in a bowl. Mash with a fork and let stand until cool, 20-30 minutes.

Stir in the mayo, mustard, hot sauce, spices, vinegar, bell pepper, salt and pepper. Add about 1 1/2 cups of bread crumbs and mix well. The mixture should hold together when pressed into patties. Put the remaining crumbs in a wide, shallow bowl

Heat a thin layer of oil in a skillet. Form about 1/4 cup tempeh mixture into a 2-3″ disk. Coat each side with the leftover bread crumbs, then place in the skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

To make the sauce, whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl, taste and adjust seasonings.

Chevre and Apricot Phyllo Purses

Since I started this blog just over three years ago, I’ve made a bunch of friends in the blog world, some of whom I’ve met in real life, and many of whom I haven’t. At first it felt a little weird telling people about my “internet friends” scattered all over the country, but now it seems completely normal to casually mention the virtual baby shower a bunch of people I’ve never met are throwing for one of our blog friends.

Josie is one of those people I’ve never met in real life but feel like I know. I love her beautiful blog, and when Annie emailed me and a few other bloggers about throwing her a baby shower, I was excited to participate. Josie already has an absolutely adorable little girl, who will be getting a brand new baby brother in just a few weeks!

I know that Josie loves the goat cheese and fruit combo, and cute little phyllo purses seemed perfect for a baby shower. I based this recipe off of this one from Confections of a Foodie Bride, using roasted apricots and fresh rosemary along with the goat cheese.

You can see what everyone else contributed to the shower here and here. Congratulations on the new addition to your family, Josie!

(adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride)

makes 8 purses

3 apricots, halved
4 ounces goat cheese, softened
2 tsp fresh rosemary
6 sheets phyllo, thawed
4-6 tbsp melted butter

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Roast the apricots on a parchment-lined baking sheet for about 40 minutes or until very soft. Let cool, then chop finely and place in a medium bowl. Turn the oven up to 425 F.

Add the goat cheese and rosemary to the apricots and mix thoroughly.

Working on a clean, dry surface, spread out one sheet of phyllo and brush with melted butter. Top with another sheet, more butter, and then a third sheet. Cut into fourths.

Place about 2 tbsp of the apricot mixture onto each phyllo rectangle, and gather the corners together. Twist slightly, and pinch to shape the purses. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with 3 more sheets of phyllo and the remaining apricot mixture.

Bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool slightly before serving (etiher warm or at room temperature.

Broccoli Pesto Bruschetta

With the holidays fast approaching, the need for crowd-pleasing, festive-looking, and great-tasting appetizers for holiday parties is growing by the day. If you’ve been searching for a delicious vegan appetizer, this bruschetta is a perfect option! I made this tonight to go with a giant bowl of pasta in preparation for a LOOOONG trail run tomorrow. It’s got a great mix of textures and flavors, and definitely has enough garlic to keep the vampires (or unwanted attention?) away.

Plus, that festive green color is perfect for celebrating the Oregon Ducks’ 10-0 record! My sister came down for the game at Cal and spent Friday night with us, which was awesome because I haven’t seen her in far too long. We immediately headed into San Francisco for some shopping and food.

First stop: Forever 21. Uh Oh.

Nope, we did NOT make it out empty-handed.

As soon as Mike got off work we met up and walked through Union Square, which already has a Christmas tree and a tiny ice rink. IT IS STILL NOVEMBER.

We walked through Chinatown…

Banksy sighting!

I was a little photo-crazy but it’s not my fault this city is so photogenic! Mike and Em got tired of waiting for me.

We crossed over into North Beach and were getting extremely hungry. So hungry, in fact, that we sat down at probably the most-touristy establishment in the neighborhood. We were sucked in by the tables on the sidewalk and all the candles.

Beer was definitely in order (Fat Tire for me, Great White for Emily).

Beer and pizza make us happy.

The pizza (sorry for the HORRIBLE lighting): marinated eggplant with black olives and goat cheese. Not the best execution, but a combination I definitely plan on replicating at home.

Much more exciting than the pizza was the adorable Fox Terrier named Molly at the table next to us!

After dinner we made our way home and slept so we were ready for a 4 mile run this morning. It was absolutely BEAUTIFUL out.

Emily had to meet up with a friend in the city to go to the game, so we decided to go back to North Beach for some more pizza. (I didn’t realize until after we got into the city that my memory card was not in my camera, so these are crappy iPhone pictures) We decided to try a slice at Golden Boy Pizza.

I loved this place! It’s totally funky inside and they have about 5 different kinds of pizza by the slice.

I loved my slice of Pesto Vegetarian!

We spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out with friends before coming home tired and VERY hungry. With 20+ very hilly miles on the agenda for tomorrow, we wanted a lot of carbs for dinner (and lets be honest, even when I’m not running 20+ miles, I want a lot of carbs).

I whipped up some vegan broccoli pesto adapted from this recipe), and toasted some baguette slices under the broiler. This garlicky, bright green spread makes a perfect bruschetta topping and it’s pretty quick to whip up, plus it’s a nice change from the typical basil pesto.

20 slices of baguette (about 1/2 a loaf)
3 cups broccoli florets
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
a pinch or two sea salt

Arrange the slices of bread on a baking sheet and toast under a hot broiler for a few minutes on each side, or until golden around the edges.

Set a steamer basket over simmering water and steam the broccoli florets until very tender. Let cool for about 10 minutes.

Combine the broccoli, walnuts, garlic, salt, and olive oil in a small food processor and pulse until smooth. Taste and add garlic or salt if necessary. Spread the pesto on the toasted bread, then put under the broiler for a minute or two to heat through.

And out of curiosity, how do you feel about Christmas stuff in early November? I think it is WAY too early…

Tempeh Salad Rolls

I’ve blogged about rolls a lot like these before, but it was back when ten people read my blog (and most of them were in my family). These are an updated vegan version, without the noodles inside because I think they’re a lot better (not to mention easier to roll up) this way. The marinated tempeh provides a nice textural contrast to the vegetables in addition to some protein. I think the marinade would also work really well for chicken, if you’d rather put that in yours.

These are perfect for hot summer days because of how little cooking is involved, and they’re superbly light and refreshing. I love dipping them in either sweet chili sauce (look at Asian grocery stores) or hoisin sauce with some chopped peanuts stirred in. If you’re not going to eat them right away, through a damp tea towel over them so the wrappers don’t dry out.

(marinade adapted from Haiku Tofu)

1 package tempeh
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 chopped fresh Thai chili
2 cloves garlic, chopped
juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp vegetable oil

8-10 rice paper spring roll wrappers
1 small bunch green leaf or butter lettuce
1 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup fresh mint
2 carrots, julienned
1/2 cucumber, peeled and seeded, julienned

Sweet chili sauce or hoisin sauce with chopped peanuts, for dipping

To make the tempeh, combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice, chili, and garlic in a medium saucepan. Cut the tempeh into thin strips and add to the soy sauce mixture. Add enough water to just cover, and bring to a boil. Cook for about 12 mintues, or until all the liquid has been absorbed, watching carefully so you don’t scorch the bottom of the pan.

Heat the oil in a wide skillet and add the tempeh in a single layer. Cook, flipping once, until golden on both sides. Remove from heat.

To assemble: Have all filling ingredients ready, and fill a shallow pan with warm water.

Submerge the rice paper in warm water until pliable, about 30 seconds. Shake off excess water, then place on a clean cutting board. Pile a little lettuce, cilantro, mint, carrots, cucumber, and tempeh in the center, fold in the sides, and roll up burrito-style. Slice in half and transfer to a plate.

Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling, and serve with dipping sauce.

Vegetarian Pot Stickers

I thought pot stickers were one of those things I’d never eat again when I stopped eating meat. Of course it’s possible to make them without meat but the few vegetarian pot stickers I tried before were definitely not worth eating. These, however, have a great mix of vegetables and crumbled tempeh, and are flavored with mushrooms and grated ginger. Paired with a soy-vinegar dipping sauce there isn’t much out there I’d rather eat.

Even if you’re not vegetarian, I HIGHLY recommend the blog Herbivoracious. It’s beautiful, healthy food and a lot of the recipes involve Asian flavors, which I totally love. This was the first of MANY recipes I plan to try from that blog!

(adapted from Herbivoracious)

8 oz tempeh, sliced very thinly
1 1/2 tbsp + 1 tsp + 1 tsp canola oil
1 cup thinly sliced napa cabbage
6 green onions (white and light green parts only), minced
12 small brown button mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp sesame oil
1 pinch sugar
1 egg
1 10-ounce package of potsticker wrappers
canola oil and water for cooking

Heat 1 1/2 tbsp of oil in a wide skillet. Add the tempeh in a single layer and cook, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides. Set aside to cool, then crumble into a medium bowl.

Add 1 tsp of oil to the pan after removing the tempeh. Add the napa cabbage and stir fry for a few minutes, until most of the moisture is gone. Add to the tempeh.

Heat the remaining tsp of oil in the pan and add the mushrooms. Stir fry for a few minutes (until soft), then add the wine. Cook another 30 seconds, then transfer to the bowl with the tempeh and cabbage.

Stir in the ginger, green onion, soy sauce, sesame oil, egg and sugar.

To assemble:
Have a small bowl of water handy.
Place one pot sticker wrapper on your work surface, and put about 2 tsp of filling in the middle (definitely err on the side of less filling…it will be much easier to crimp that way).

Dip your finger in the water and trace halfway around the circumference of the wrapper.

Fold the wrapper in half, sealing the filling inside.

Crimp the seal between your fingers.

Now repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.

If you want to freeze the pot stickers for later use, line a baking sheet with parchment and arrange them so they are not touching.  Put the tray in the freezer until they are completely frozen, several hours.  Then transfer them to freezer bags until ready to use.  You won’t need to defrost them,  just cook them as follows straight from the freezer.

To cook:

Heat 1 tbsp of water in a wide frying pan with a tight-fitting lid.  Add the pot stickers so they are not touching.  Cook for about 2 minutes, or until golden on the bottom.  Add 1/3 cup water and immediately cover the pan.  Cook for about 3 minutes,  then remove the lid and continue cooking until all the water has evaporated.

Serve with soy sauce and rice vinegar mixed in equal proportions.

Baba Ghannouj

I make hummus all the time. I just love having it in the fridge as an easy snack, and it’s rare that I don’t have all the ingredients on hand. Baba ghannouj, on the other had, is a little more “special occasion” to me. The ingredients are pretty similar, with smoky eggplant rather than garbanzo beans, but the process is slightly more complicated.

There’s the charring of the eggplant that has to come first, and that takes a little more effort than just opening a can of garbanzos.

Some people recommend roasting the eggplant in a hot oven, others suggest putting it under the broiler. I will stick with the burner on my gas oven, even if it makes a little bit of a mess. The most crucial thing is to make sure the skin gets very charred, and the whole eggplant is very soft. Once that’s accomplished, the rest is easy! Like hummus, you’ll want to play around with the amounts listed. Some people like a lot of lemon, others prefer more garlic. When I have fresh mint around, I love to chop up a few leaves and mix them in to add another layer of flavor.

1 large eggplant
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp olive oil
fresh mint (optional)

Place the eggplant over a gas burner and turn every few minutes until all the skin is black and charred and the entire eggplant is very soft. Place in a bowl and cover with a clean towel. When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, scrape off and discard the skin (I like to use a paring knife to scrape it off). Put the eggplant into the food processor (if there are a lot of large seeds, throw them out, but most of the time I don’t bother).

Peel the garlic and mash it up with the salt in a small mortar and pestle. Once you have a smooth paste, add it to the food processor with the remaining ingredients. Pulse until smooth, then taste and adjust seasonings.

Serve garnished with fresh mint

Roasted potato chips with goat cheese

It’s a tradition in my husband’s family to have an appetizer party a few days before Christmas. I always love finding new recipes to try, and this year, this and my favorite appetizer (salad rolls/fresh spring rolls – whatever you call them, I love them!) were my contributions.

The inspiration for this recipe came from the goat cheese my sister in law just gave us because she wasn’t going to be able to use it up before she goes on vacation, and the GIANT bag of potatoes we bought on our first shopping trip for our new apartment. With a little guidance from White on Rice Couple, these appetizers were really easy to put together, and disappeared within a few minutes!

Of course you could use a mandoline to slice the potatoes evenly, but I think it’s a whole lot more fun to practice your knife skills (and believe me, mine need practice) and slice them by hand!

adapted from White on Rice Couple

4 small Russet potatoes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons olive oil
a few big pinches of sea salt
about 5 ounces goat cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 F and line several baking sheets or jelly roll pans with parchment or Silpats.
Scrub the potaotes well, then slice about 1/8″ thick using a mandoline or sharp knife.
Toss with the olive oil, rosemary, and salt.
Spread in a single layer on the prepared pans, then put into the oven. The baking time will depend on how thin your slices are, so bake for 10 minutes then flip each slice over. Check every few minutes after the initial 10, and remove the chips that are golden brown.
Once all the chips are no longer hot, use a butter knife to dab a little goat cheese on each one.

Zaalouk (Eggplant-Tomato Dip)


We were having friends over for dinner, and after planning the menu, I remembered that one of the guests HATES eggplant. I had already bought everything I needed to make this, so I whipped up a batch of hummus to serve along with it, so she would have something to eat.

As it turns out, I didn’t need to do that, because this turned out to be the first eggplant-containing food she has EVER liked! That should show all you eggplant-haters out there how awesome this stuff is. Lots of spices, a little bit of heat, and diced eggplant and tomato all simmered together to make this fabulous dip. After cooking, you can either mash it up with a potato masher, or leave it chunky (which is what I did, and it was great).

(adapted from

1 large eggplant, peeled and chopped
5 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro and parsley, mixed
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
large pinch sugar
pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup water

Mix all ingredients in a large, deep skillet or pot. Cover and simmer over medium to medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust the heat if necessary to avoid burning the zaalouk.

Taste and adjust seasonings before serving. If you want a smoother texture, you can mash up the vegetables with a potato masher

Serve warm with bread or crackers for dipping

Jijimi (Korean Vegetable Pancakes)

When I thought about moving to Korea, I imagined that I would become an expert on cooking Korean food. I knew I’d have a kitchen and full access to all the ingredients I might need to make just about any Korean dish I wanted.

I didn’t really think about the fact that I might not feel like making Korean food every day, or that what I’d end up craving about 80% of the time would be comfort foods from home (including things I never really even ate when I was still in America). But instead of making my own kimchi or perfecting bulgogi, I have been sticking to pretty basic non-Korean food.

I saw jijimi (also called buchimgae, according to my students) listed on a few menus (mostly drinking places, because apparently it’s usually a bar snack), and thought it sounded like something that was worth a try. I did a little web research, and ended up making this, which seems to be a cross between Japanese okonomiyaki and jijimi. There are numerous possibilities for adapting this recipe to include different vegetables and toppings, and I fully intend to experiment with it some more. I think it’s pretty tasty dipped in soy sauce mixed with vinegar or topped with kimchi, and of course, a nice cold beer would be a welcome accompaniment.


1 egg
1 cup flour
1 cup water
a generous pinch salt
2 c thinly sliced cabbage
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp vegetable oil

for serving:
soy sauce and rice vinegar

Whisk together the water and egg, and gently stir in the flour and salt. Fold in the vegetables and sesame seeds. It won’t look like typical pancake batter, it will probably look more like coleslaw.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over high. Swirl the pan so the oil is evenly distributed. Pour the cabbage mixture into the pan and spread to the edges so it is evenly thick.

Cook 3 to 4 minutes each side, or until golden brown. If the bottom begins to burn but the top is still very runny, turn the heat down.

Flipping can be a bit of a challenge. If you need to, slide the pancake, cooked side down, onto a plate, and then invert back into the pan to finish cooking. When cooked through and golden on both sides, cut into quarters to serve.

Mix the soy sauce and rice vinegar in a one-to-one ratio for dipping, or top with kimchi.


Deli Tuna Salad


A long run early in the morning is the perfect time to think – I just let my mind wander, and most of the time either a song gets stuck in my head or I start thinking about recipes.  On a particularly beatuiful run along the river the other day, I found my thoughts occupied by tuna salad.  But not just any tuna salad; this one is special.

I spent one summer in college working at a deli making sandwiches. It was a family-run place near the beach, and our customers were mostly people escaping the smoldering heat of the central valley for a weekend on the coast.  It wasn’t my dream job by any means, but it definitely had it’s perks. For one, the owner’s father made fresh mozzarella every morning and I will never again be satisfied with the bland, flavorless, rubbery mess that you find in the grocery store.   For another, I discovered a whole new way to make tuna salad. This may not seem terribly earth-shattering, but for someone who only ate tuna mixed with mayo and sweet relish, it was a delicious eye-opener.

So while I was running, I realized I needed to re-create the tuna salad that changed my opinion of canned fish.

It’s been a few years since I made this at the deli, so I don’t remember the exact recipe they used. I know it included capers, red onion, and olive oil, with no mayonaise in sight.   It’s like your average tuna salad’s more sophisticated (and healthy!) cousin.

2 6-oz cans solid white albacore in water, drained
1 tbsp chopped capers
1/4 red onion, finely diced
1 rib celery, finely diced
juice of 1/2 lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Serve on crackers, in lettuce cups, or on sandwiches.


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