Friday, February 24, 2012

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (and Eat Japanese food)

Ever since Zach joined the Fort Lee Fire Department, he goes to house duty every Thursday - which means I'm all on my lonesome Thursday nights. It also means our apartment is man-less during that time, which gives me a GREAT excuse to host a girls night out (or in actually). So I invited three of my girlfriends over for a Japanese inspired dinner party. It would have been awesome if I required everyone to dress like Harajuku Girls, but unfortunately that thought came to me too late. The girls looked super cute on their own anyways.

I love deciding what to create for dinner based on a specific ethnicity. Tonight I chose to create a Japanese inspired menu, although it's probably not what the Japanese traditionally eat in Japan. This is my interpretation of Japanese food from what I can make of it here in America. I'd imagine the food in Japan is far more beautifully plated, smaller portions and less saucy. I'll get a better idea of it once I get a chance to travel there, but until then, here's my version.

We started off with Edamame and Lemon (There won't be a recipe at the end for this because its literally just steamed edamame with fresh lemon wedges squeezed on top.)

Napa Cabbage Salad with Peanut Ginger Dressing

and Miso Glazed Eggplant.

For our main course I served Vegetable Soba Noodle Soup.

And finally, for dessert I made Green Tea Chia Seed Pudding.

This sounds like a lot of work to do after coming home from your day time job, but if you plan ahead, it's really not. What I usually do is choose a day of the week to do my produce shopping. On that day, I clean all my veggies, dry them, and pack them into zip lock bags so that they are ready to eat or cook. The most time consuming thing about cooking in my opinion is prepping... so getting that done with ahead of time makes things easier for you when your ready to cook. I planned this dinner pretty last minute, so I actually didn't have my veggies washed and cleaned already. I was lucky enough to have Zach do that for me on Thursday morning (he's the best).

One more thing about veggies before I get to my recipes! If you over shop in your produce section (which I tend to do often) and don't get to use all the veggies you brought home that week, just freeze them! Most veggies freeze just fine, although there are a few exception - ask me if your not sure about a particular one. Just chop or slice your veggies before freezing them so that they are ready to cook with. Frozen veggies are best cooked with while they are still frozen as opposed to letting them defrost. For example, I made a basic tomato sauce the other night using diced up frozen eggplant I had in the freezer - a quick and easy way to pack in more veggies into your meal.

Now, onto the recipes!

Napa Cabbage Salad with Peanut Ginger Dressing
by Sarah Farsh, February 23, 2012

  • 1 head napa cabbage, cleaned and sliced
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • 1 cup snow peas, in pod, chopped thick
  • 1/2 cup carrots, shredded
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped (keep out if your a baby)
  • 2 tbsp freshly ground peanut butter, ingredients should just say "peanuts".
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp green onion, thinly sliced
Toss salad ingredients together in a large bowl.  Whisk dressing ingredients together in a separate bowl. Drizzle a tablespoon of dressing per serving of salad.

Miso Glazed Eggplant
By Sarah Farsh, February 23, 2012
  • 3 Japanese eggplant (or eggplant of choice), sliced in half vertically
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp white miso paste
  • 1 tsp juice of lemon
  • 1 tbsp juice of orange
  • 1 tbsp green onion, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 350˚. Lay eggplant slices skin side down on cookie sheet. Whisk honey, miso, lemon juice and orange juice together in a bowl. Paint 1/2 of the glaze on top sides of eggplant, bake for 15min. Lower heat to 300˚, paint remainder of the glaze on top of eggplant and bake for an additional 20min. Garnish tops with sliced green onion. Serve with salad or enjoy all on its own.

For the soup, feel free to use any variety of vegetables that you'd like or already have on hand. I do not have a steamer.. it's on my list! So I just improvised and used my large pot, it worked just fine.

Vegetable Soba Noodle Soup
By Sarah Farsh, February 23, 2012
  • 1 head broccoli, cleaned and cut into bit sized pieces
  • 1 bunch enokitake Japanese mushroom, brown part cut off
  • 3 eryngii mushrooms (king oyster), sliced vertical
  • 1 cup shiitake mushroom, whole
  • 2 cups baby bock choy
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp white miso paste
  • 1 tbsp green onion, sliced
  • 2 tbsp nori, chopped or broken into pieces 
  • 1 box soba (buckwheat) noodles
  • 6 cups water
In large steamer (or pot) steam broccoli, mushrooms and bock choy using the 2 cups vegetable stock. Steam for 7-10min. Cook soba noodles by following the directions on the box *be sure not to over cook. Drain noodles and set aside. In pot, boil 6 cups water and add in miso paste, nori and green onions. Serve in individual bowls, noodles first, mixture of vegetables second and poor the miso soup on top.

Chia seed pudding is definitely not for everyone.. it has a very gooey, tapioca, bubble-tea consistency that some people just cant stand. Luckily all three of my girls LOVED it - I was honestly nervous they would be grossed out. Chia seeds are one of those super foods that are full of nutrients, you can read about the top 10 benefits here. I have cut caffeine out from my diet along with refined sugars, salts and processed foods. I made a small exception for this recipe. I call for Matcah, which is a green tea that does have caffeine in it, there's only 1 tbsp for this big serving. If you are not including caffeine in your diet, you can flavor this pudding with your choice of flavors such as fruits and spices.

Green Tea Chia Seed Pudding
By Sarah Farsh, February 23, 2012
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 2 cups soy milk (or non dairy milk of choice)
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp matcha tea powder (unsweetened)
This comes out best when made the nigh before serving. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together. Cover top of bowl and cool in fridge for 3 hours - overnight.

It was a perfect night with amazing company, I wouldn't have changed a thing. The girls enjoyed my healthy meal and even cleaned all my dishes after! (even though I begged them not to)

Whats a girls night without a mini photo shoot session?

The End.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Salad, Stew and Pistachio Rose Pudding.

Today my parents come over to hang out and have dinner with me.  I love when they come by, and it's always fun to cook with them. My Baba (Baba means "Dad" in Farsi) is my sous-chef and my Mom is our personal taste tester. This is how Baba cleans my pots...

Today we made a Vibrant Mango and Cilantro Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

Persian inspired Kabocha Squash and Kale Stew served with Basmati Rice

and a Vegan Pistachio Rose Pudding for dessert.

I served the salad as a starter to our meal.  The salad was just made up with veggies I had in the fridge, it turned out to be a really nice combination.

Vibrant Mango and Cilantro Salad
by Sarah Farsh, February 19, 2012
  • 1 head red leaf lettuce, washed and chopped
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, washed and finely chopped
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, washed and finely chopped
  • 1 head broccoli, rinsed and chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 mango, cubed
  • 1/2 cup organic corn 
Honey Mustard Dressing
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

In a large bowl, toss vegetables and fruit together.  In a separate bowl, combine dressing together and whisk well.  Drizzle dressing on top of salad when ready to serve.

The Kabocha Squash and Kale Stew was our main course. I used Persian spices to flavor this stew, the only ingredient you may not find in your local grocery store are dried lemons. If you've never seen a dried lemon before, this is what they look like.

They add some serious flavor to stews and soups, the best way I can describe the flavor would be an earthy, lemony and slightly bitter taste.  You don't actually eat these dried lemons, they just cook in your soup or stew to add flavor, you can squeeze the juice out when they get softer.  *Before cooking with these babies, use a fork to stab some holes into them to release their flavor. If you don't have the dried lemons and want to make this anyways, you totally can.  I would just add a juice of an additional lemon to substitute. To speed up the cooking time, bake the kabocha squash before putting it into the stew, it also makes taking the skin off much easier.

Persian Inspired Kabocha Squash and Kale Stew
Adapted recipe of Lentil Kabocha Stew by Tracy Flaherty
  • 1 kabocha squash (or butternut squash or sweet potato)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 vine tomatoes, diced
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 2 bunches kale, chiffonade
  • 3 dried lemons
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 cup brown lentils 
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1 6oz can pure tomato paste
  • 3 tsp date paste
  • 2 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp chili flakes (less if your a baby)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
Preheat oven to 350˚. Cut squash into 4 pieces and lay cut side down on cookie sheet. Bake for 20min, let cool then remove skin. Cut into bite sized peices and set aside. Heat up an extra large sauté pan until very hot. Dry sauté onions until lightly brown, add tomatoes and carrots as soon as onions start sticking to pan. Stir in kale and put lid on pan for 5 min until kale softens down. Pierce holes into dried lemons using a fork, add whole dried lemons into stew. Add tomato paste, lemon juice, broth, apple cider, date paste, lentils and all spices. Give everything a good stir and cook on low with lid on for 25-30min. Lastly, add in squash and stir. Serve with brown basmati rice or just on its own!

My dessert was inspired by traditional Persian ice cream, pronounced Bastani in Farsi. You won't have to feel guilty for eating my version.  I used the traditional flavors of pistachio and rose water to make this pudding.  If I had any saffron, I would have added it in too. Pistachios are my favorite nut, not only are they incredibly delicious, but they are so colorful and beautiful.

Pistachio Rose Pudding
by Sarah Farsh, February 19, 2012
  • 4 cups soy milk (or non dairy milk of choice)
  • 1/4 cup pistachios
  • 3-4 tbsp date paste (more or less to taste - you can substitute using 6 whole date)
  • 1 tsp rose water
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 3 tbsp corn starch
In VitaMix™ or high powered blender, blend soy milk, pistachios, date paste, rose water and the inside of 1/2 vanilla bean.  Poor mixture into a pot and cook on low heat.  In a small bowl, mix corn starch with 3 tbsp warm water until starch is dissolved. Raise heat to medium and poor corn starch liquid into pot, stir continuously on medium heat until boiled.  Once boiled, lower heat to low and continue to stir.  This takes some time, be patient - it will thicken up.  Stir for approximately 10min, poor into martini glasses and cool in refrigerator for 1 hour. Garnish with crushed pistachios and rose petals. You can make this the night before, it comes out better. A thin layer of film will develop, just mix before serving and it will be fine. Cheers!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Breakfast: Almond Apple Butter

This morning I woke up with a craving for a Brioche á la Cannelle, like the one I had in Paris this past summer from this bakery.

It was by far, the most delicious pastry I have ever eaten. My picture is of the strawberry flavor that the Boulanger Patisserie had.  Definitely not a health food, and definitely not something I could get from any local bakery in my area - nor did I want to start my morning off with something like that...

To satisfy my craving, I thought almond butter on toast with cinnamon on top would suffice. Accept I didn't have any almond butter... But I did have almonds, and I do have a Vita Mix. So I was driven to make a yummy and satisfying morning treat.  I needed something to wet the almonds in the blender, I had apple sauce in the fridge and I thought that would add a nice texture and flavor.  After I blended together the almond and apple sauce to make a creamy, sweet and tangy spread, I toasted some old world sprouted grain bread and spread the almond apple butter on top. I enjoyed two slices with my morning green smoothie - it was perfect.

Almond Apple Butter
February 18, 2012 by Sarah Farsh

  • 1 1/2 cup almonds (raw or roasted - unsalted)
  • 3/4 cup pure apple sauce
  • 10 raisins
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
In VitaMix™ or high powered blender, blend almonds and apple sauce until smooth.  Add more apple sauce if you would like it to be more creamy.  Serve on top of sprouted grain bread (or bread of your choice) and garnish with raisins and cinnamon.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Vegan Tiramisu Trifle

I created this healthy alternative to the traditional, high in saturated fat and processed sugar dessert. Although I don't consider it a health food - my version is much better for you than having the real thing.  It's not the prettiest dessert I can make, but it tastes damn' good. Here are two (poorly taken) pictures of the tasty treat:

It would definitely be nicer in a martini glass.

I made the tiramisu trifle and brought it with me for a new years eve party that I went to this year.  I wanted to bring a dessert so that I wouldn't be tempted to eat something super unhealthy at the party.  I also brought homemade chocolate dipped strawberries using the chocolate syrup from here.

Because everyone loved it so much, I decided to make it again for a Valentine's Day cook-off challenge we had at work.  I was sure I would win... If only I hadn't forgotten to add the baking soda. (womp-womp) I thought maybe no one would be able to tell how dense and globby the cake chunks were, but I was wrong - everyone could tell! I lost big time.  I wasn't too hung up about the loss though, I'm pretty confident that it's a delicious treat and can now advise you not to forget any ingredients. (particularly the one that gets the cake to rise) 

The recipe looks a little confusing, but it really isn't.  To summarize, you would first bake the chocolate cake - it shouldn't be overly sweet because you'll be dipping it into syrup.  You then make 2 separate creams, a chocolate and vanilla.  And finally, the soaking liquid - which you will dip the cubes of cake into.  You then layer all the ingredients in whatever container you'd like and scoop the servings out with a large spoon.  You can add fresh strawberries or fruit of your choice to the layers if you'd like.

Vegan Tiramisu Trifle
December 31, 2012 by Sarah Farsh

(chocolate cake)
  • 4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 cups unsweetened almond milk (or non dairy milk of choice)
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
(vanilla cream)
  • 4 dates
  • 3 cups raw cashews
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups almond milk
(chocolate cream)
  • 1 container firm tofu
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
(soaking liquid)
  • 2 shots espresso
  • 1/4 cup rum
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350º. In a medium bowl, mix cake ingredients together using an electric mixer. Use nonstick sheet cake pan and poor cake mixture into pan.  Bake for 20-25min - check w toothpick, should come out clean. Allow cake to cool for 20min.

In a VitaMix™ or high powered blender, blend vanilla cream ingredients together. Pour into a bowl and keep cool.

In a VitaMix™ or high powered blender, blend chocolate cream ingredients together. Pour into a bowl and keep cool.

Use a deep dish or deep cookie sheet for soaking liquid mixture. Stir together all soaking liquid ingredients well so syrup melts into espresso.

Cut cake into bite sized cubes. Using your fingers, dip cake cubes into the soaking liquid mixture. Layer the bottom of a bowl with the soaked cake. Cover cake with a layer of vanilla cream. Add another layer of soaked cake cubes and top with a layer of chocolate cream. Repeat until you reach the top of your bowl. Powder the top with cinnamon.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Love Day

Yesterday was Valentine's Day - the day of love.  I felt really lucky and loved from my friends, family and Zach (boyfriend).

I don't consider Valentine's Day to be just about romance (even though it's a nice addition), but I feel most importantly, it's a day to simply love.  Love yourself, love the ones around you and love the life your living. Even though I worked during the day, it was still a special day and work wasn't even that bad.  It seemed like everyone was in festive spirits and the smell of fresh flowers was floating all around.

I even got my very own fresh bunch to smell when I got home.

This year Zach and I decided to stay in and cook together instead of go out for the holiday. Even though we often cook together, I was still excited to create a menu with an extra dose of love.

Here's what we made:

Fresh Berries Dipped in Chocolate Syrup
The chocolate syrup recipe is from  I substituted agave nectar with 1/4 cup maple syrup and used 1/4 cup soy milk instead of water.  Serve with berries of your choice, I picked strawberries and raspberries.  I decided to serve the berries and syrup in my crystal martini glasses. (fancy)

Portobello Mushroom Steaks with Cauliflower Mash and Curried Swiss Chard 
The Mushroom Steaks are from  I added 1/4 cup of red wine instead of the sherry. The Swiss Chard was inspired by Happy Herbivore and the Cauliflower Mash was inspired by my mom - recipes for both will follow below.

Pumpkin Chocolate Cake 
I swear, I don't get all my recipes from HH! Even though its a great source, I mostly make up my own. I guess I was extra inspired by Lindsay's recipes yesterday.  Anyways, the recipe is here, She calls the recipe "Pumpkin Swirl Brownies" but I actually used it as a cake.  I substituted the cup of raw sugar and cup of light brown sugar with 1 cup maple syrup.  I also left out the plain soy yogurt and used 6 oz additional applesauce. Also, I shortened the bake time to 35-45min (or until a toothpick comes out clean). To make it easier on myself, I simply put all the ingredients into a big bowl and mixed (instead of doing the swirl process).  After the cake cooled, I then topped it with the Chocolate Syrup (from above) and added fresh raspberries.  The red contrasts so beautifully with the dark chocolate color, they also give a nice clean bite to the rich chocolate.   Zach rarely eats dessert - I was pleasantly surprised to see him eat his whole piece after finishing his plate of dinner.

Curried Swiss Chard
Inspired by
Serves 4 or 2 w leftovers
  • 2 bunches swiss chard - chiffonade
  • 1/2 yellow onion - diced
  • 2 carrots - coarsely shredded
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tbsp chili flakes (I like extra spicy, go lighter if you're a whip)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp curry powder
  • 3 tbsp low sodium tamari
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground almond butter
  • 1 fresh mango - cut into thin sticks
Heat up large sauté pan and dry sauté onions and chili flakes. Lower heat to medium and add orange juice, almond butter, curry powder and carrots, cook for 5 minutes.  Add the chard and cook until softened (about 5min).  Add mangoes and stir until well combined - don't cook the mangoes too long.  Serve immediately or reheated when ready to serve.

Cauliflower Mash
Inspired by my mom, Robin
Serves 4
  • 1 head cauliflower - cut into large pieces
  • 2 yellow potatoes
  • 7 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp tahini paste
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup almond milk (or non-dairy milk of choice)
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
In a medium sized pot, add cauliflower and potatoes - fill with water and cook until boiled. Drain water from cauliflower and potatoes.  Throw potatoes, cauliflower and all other ingredients into VitaMix® or a high powered blender and blend until smooth.  Garnish with fresh thyme.