Tag Archives: vegetarian

Kale Salad

i’m eating leftover kale as a snack RIGHT NOW.

I have a lot of flaws.  I’m impatient, competitive and sometimes I listen to the same song 4235 times in a row.  I quote Liz Lemon and wait to see if anyone notices, I yell at pedestrians for crossing where there’s no crosswalk and do EXACTLY the same thing myself, I cheat at cards and I would agree to watch a documentary only if I was also reading a book.  I am 28 years old and still make fart jokes, I eat mini marshmallows straight from the bag and I never listen to my voicemail.

But!  I also eat a shitload of kale, so I figure it all balances out.

Realistically, I eat this salad 2-3 times a week.  Because I LOVE it.  People I’ve made it for have scoffed, heartily, at this salad, because technically the kale is raw.  But they have all been turned by the power of kale salad.  Once, a 7 year old ate this salad voluntarily.  I dress this salad in one of three ways: sesame-soy dressing, lemon-parmesan dressing, or garlic-tahini dressing.  Any of the three will change your life.  Additionally, you get to enjoy the smug sense of superiority you can only get from eating something REALLY healthy.  Later, when you eat french fries while drinking a beer in a bar, you can say to everyone in shouting distance “IT’S FINE, I ATE A LOT OF RAW KALE EARLIER.”  Everyone will really appreciate it.

The main drawback to this salad is that it’s about 100% more labor intensive than I like cooking to be.  You have to wash the kale (it’s a sandy vegetable), rip out the bitter, overly cruciferous spines, rip up the leaves, massage the lot with salt, then rinse all the salt off, then wring it out, then dress it.  It’s like a 20 minute process.  But it’s worth it.  I had the best run of my life after having had coffee, 4 gallons of water and kale salad.  It’s magic.  (I also just realized this salad is vegan the only way food is acceptably vegan: accidentally.)  Because I haven’t written a blog post in 7 years, I’m going to give you all three dressing recipes.  You’re welcome.

Kale Salad

2 bunches of kale (I make two bunches for only myself.  If you’re making it for guests, probably go 3-4.)

2 tablespoons or so of kosher salt

Dressing of choice*

put on some usher or something while you’re washing, it’s gonna be awhile.

So basically, the salt cooks the kale a little.  It wilts the leaves, takes away the bitterness and shrinks it.  So!  You wash the kale leaves very well (sandy!), rip out the spines of the leaves, and rip up the leaves.  Put all the ripped up leaves in a big bowl.

When you’ve washed and ripped all the kale (approximately 2 months after starting the process), sprinkle about a couple teaspoons or so of kosher salt all over the kale.  Don’t be afraid of saltiness, because you’re going to rinse all the salt off later.  Massage the salt into the kale for 2 minutes.  If possible, draft someone else to do the massaging, because why not!

this picture is actually from when i was in denver a couple months ago and made kale salad for sue. she also now eats it multiple times a week.

After massaging, you can let the kale sit for awhile, kind of marinating in the salt, if you like your kale really wilted.  If not, rinse the salt off right after the massaging and the kale will be more crunchy and bouncy.  When you’re ready to rinse it off, put all the kale in a colander and rinse it very well.

too salty kale is tragic.

If you do a bad job, the kale will be too salty and everyone will cry.  So rinse it well.  Then, take it in handfuls and squeeze out all the excess water, putting the kale back into the big bowl.  Then dress it and try not to eat it all while you make the rest of dinner.

*Dressing options:

Soy-sesame – My favorite.  2 teaspoons soy sauce, 2 teaspoons rice vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, black pepper.  If you have sweet Thai chili sauce, put a couple teaspoons of that in there too.

Lemon-parmesan – juice of 2 lemons, zest of 1 lemon, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 cup or so fresh parmesan, salt and pepper.

Garlic-tahini – 1-2 cloves garlic, zested on a microplane, juice of 1 lemon, 3 tablespoons of tahini paste, salt and pepper.  In the interest of being honest, I will admit that I copied this recipe from a kale salad they have at Whole Foods in the pre-made salad section, which I eat when I am lazy.

– Cat



Filed under Dressings, Salad, Sides, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Kruse and Muer style Gazpacho and Herbed Croutons

I’m sure by now everyone has heard of the show “The Best Thing I Ever Ate”, in which celebrity chefs discuss the restaurant that makes their favorite cheeseburger, chocolate cake, fois gras, whatever. Well, if I had to choose it would be Kruse and Muer bread (also the Brazilian coconut shrimp soup from Shuga’s, but that’s another post).  Kruse and Muer is one of a family of restaurants in metro Detroit, where I grew up.  Their bread, universally called  “Kruse and Muer bread”,  is famous, and AMAZING.  I don’t think there is a single person within a ten mile radius of a Kruse and Muer restaurant that doesn’t love this bread.  One time when Cat still lived by one, I made her cut up a loaf and put it in a Ziplock and bring it to me in Denver. When it got here, I wouldn’t share it with anyone. If Cat still lived near one, I would make her send me some weekly. It is THAT good.

Beyond the bread, Kruse and Muer has a fantastic menu. They have an amazing cheese tortellini in a tomato cream sauce that tastes like no other tomato cream sauce you’ve ever had. Not to mention their famous pizza, with a crust made from the famous bread.  One of my other favorites was their gazpacho, which they only served in the summer during the height of tomato season. I should disclose that one of the many components that made their gazpacho fantastic was the croutons made from the famous bread.

I would love to say that I have learned to replicate the bread, but I haven’t. What I do have is the “bread blessing” recipe. This is not top secret, it has been floating around Rochester, Michigan for years and years, and it’s in a cook book by Chuck Muer, restaurant founder. The bread recipe provided with the blessing, unfortunately, comes nowhere near the chewy crusty deliciousness of real Kruse and Muer bread, but if you are looking for a flavor that reminds you of that beloved bread, this will do the trick. This bread blessing tossed with a good French baguette, will make some fantastic croutons; one of the key components to their amazing gazpacho. Are you wondering what a bread blessing is? Simply, it’s herbed oil or butter that is brushed on to bread after it is risen and before it is baked, it is also commonly brushed on just after it comes out of the oven.

Now that I have rambled on and on about bread for a page, we should probably talk about gazpacho. Gazpacho is a cold tomato and bread based soup. It is of Spanish origin, and can vary widely from recipe to recipe. One of my favorite things about Kruse and Muer’s gazpacho was the tangy, acidic bite. It’s taken some time, and lots of tasting to develop this recipe. To me, 1,298 miles from the nearest Kruse and Muer, this is the closet replication I could make (yes, I Googled that exact location).

Kruse and Muer Bread Blessing/ Crouton Recipe:

Blessing Ingredients (1/2 recipe):

½ cup olive oil

½ large garlic clove, minced or pressed

1 Tbs dried oregano

1 Tbs dried basil

¼ tsp salt

1 Tbs poppy seeds

Crouton method:

1 French baguette, which you can find in the deli section of most grocery stores, I recommend white. Cut about 2 inches of each end and set aside (to be used in the gazpacho). Cut the rest of the loaf into small cubes. On a large baking sheet drizzle the blessing over the croutons and toss with your hands to coat.

Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, or until crispy on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside (You can bake your croutons longer to be crispier, but this is similar to how Kruse and Muer’s are).

Gazpacho Ingredients:

4 cups of chopped tomatoes, whatever is the ripest **see note at the bottom**

3 cucumbers, stripe peeled (peeling some skin, leaving strips of some skin, or just peel it all if you like)

2 bell peppers, any color you like

1 Vidalia or other sweet onion

1 ½ cloves garlic, minced or pressed

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup red wine vinegar

3 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

Ends of the baguette from the croutons, or 2 medium slices dried crusty bread

Juice of 2 lemons

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste (at least ½ tsp of salt and 4-5 grinds of black pepper)

Sour cream (or Greek yogurt) for serving.

Gazpacho Method:

In a food processor puree 2 cups of the chopped tomatoes, along with the bread. Drizzle in olive oil and blend again.  Pour the puree into a large bowl.

Slice the cucumbers in ½ and scrape out the seeds, then dice. Dice the onion. Remove the ribs and seeds from the bell pepper and dice.

Add diced vegetables to the puree, along with the remaining 2 cups of chopped tomatoes. Add garlic, vinegar, lemon juice and spices, mix with a large spoon to combine.Test mixture and adjust spices, oil, vinegar, and lemon juice to taste.

Serve chilled, topped with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt, and croutons.

Will keep in the fridge for a week.

A few notes:

** For the puree of tomatoes I used fresh large tomatoes from the farmers market, and for the additional two cups of chopped tomatoes I used quartered cherry tomatoes, orange and red. I LOVE those baby orange tomatoes, especially this time of year. If you find that at your local market, I highly recommend using them.

-Bell peppers and I are not friends. I would love to love them, but my tummy thinks otherwise. Despite the recipe above, I used just one yellow. You can use whatever color, and up to three if you love them.

-The original bread blessing does not include the poppy seeds. Before the bread is “blessed” it is rolled in a poppy seed and salt mixture. Poppy seeds are key to Kruse and Muer bread, so since I wasn’t baking the bread, I added them to the blessing.

– If you live anywhere near Kruse and Muer and you are reading this- send bread immediately.

– Sue


Filed under Appetizers, Recipes, Soup, Vegetarian

Grilled Vegetable and Orzo Salad

This is quite possibly one of the easiest BBQ sides I have ever put together.  I knew a few things: I wanted grilled vegetables, and I didn’t want them on a salad, and I didn’t want them plain. While I love grilled vegetables plain I wanted to spice it up. When you put grilled vegetables on a big salad they all sink to the bottom and end up making the lettuce soggy. While a grilled vegetable salad can be plated nicely individually, it’s not as successful as a big dish.

This salad was also met with rave reviews; it’s been awhile since I had such a rush of requests for a recipe. A few other great things about this recipe: it can be made ahead, and I can attest to this because I ate every last bit of the leftovers. It can also be eaten warm or cold (versatility at its finest). It’s a GREAT summer salad because there is no mayo in it or anything to get all nasty when you leave it out in the sun while you are distracted playing bags (I know I’m not the only one). You can feel completely safe about eating round two hours after this salad has been sitting out. Feta cheese is one of those great cheeses that never really melts and never gets the greasy sweat that other cheeses sometimes do. Perfect for something like this.

By far- the best part of this recipe is how damn easy it is. Cook some orzo, skewer some vegetables, and crumble some feta…delicious amazing salad complete.

Grilled Vegetable and Orzo salad


1 cup orzo pasta, cooked and drained

¾ to 1 cup block feta cheese, crumbled

1 zucchini, cubed

1 yellow squash, cubed

10 asparagus spears

15 (or so) cherry tomatoes

1 medium Vidalia (or sweet) onion chopped in large pieces.

Olive oil

Salt and pepper


Skewer the zucchini, squash, cherry tomatoes, and onion. Skewer only one kind of vegetable together. The onions will take a little longer, and the tomatoes will take the least amount of time which is why I keep like vegetables together. For the asparagus, prepare a foil packet for the grill and toss the asparagus with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper before sealing up. Drizzle the skewers with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and a healthy grind of pepper. Over medium heat grill each of the skewers until each of the vegetables has a nice light char. Onions first; asparagus, zucchini, and squash at the same time, and tomatoes a quick turn last. While the vegetables cook (or before) cook the orzo according the the directions on the box.

In a large bowl top the orzo with the vegetables and the feta cheese and toss.

Add a drizzle of olive oil and a few grinds of pepper (no salt is necessary, the cheese has plenty) and serve.

A few notes:

You could use any kind of vegetable here. Bell peppers would be lovely (if I liked them) along with eggplant, or any other vegetable (I can’t think of any other vegetables you grill, but maybe you can).

I love grilled (or roasted) tomatoes, but this salad could also be served with them fresh.

I highly recommend trying this as is first, but a bit of fresh basil, or other fresh herbs, would be wonderful.


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Filed under BBQ, Recipes, Salad, Sides, Vegetarian

Spring Vegetable Risotto

Classifying risotto as a quick and easy dish would be a lie. Here is the silver lining though: yes, risotto takes a full 30 minutes of standing over the stove, but it’s not actually a lot of effort, and the end result looks like you slaved in the kitchen for hours- not a measly 30 minutes. So put all your fears aside and just do it, tackle the risotto! Risotto is the chameleon of the kitchen, you can add practically anything to it, you can add any spices, any type of cheese, any kind of broth- it is endlessly adaptable.

My very lovely boyfriend, whom I adore, does not dig on the veggies as much as I would like, so in the past when I have made risotto I have tried to accommodate that. Well, he was out of town, so I went veggie crazy. In fact, while talking to Cat I had to cut down my list of vegetables I intended to put in this. However, that’s the point- you could add pretty much anything, especially the way I prepare it. In this version I made a basic risotto, roasted a few of the veggies and sautéed a few of them; at the end I mixed them all into the creamy risotto and the result was divine. The vegetables each held their own distinct flavor while the silky cheesy risotto brought everything together. Absolutely to die for.


1 bunch of asparagus

1 medium yellow squash

1 small head broccoli

½ lb (about 10) mushrooms of your choice

1 jar quartered artichoke hearts in water, drained

½ large yellow onion, diced

3 Tbs olive oil, divided

1 Tbs butter

Salt/pepper/spice blend to taste

1 ½ cups Arborio rice

6-8 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)

¾ cup grated parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 350. Chop the broccoli into small florets. Slice and cube the squash. Cut off the bottom of the asparagus and discard, slice the remaining stalks into 1 inch pieces. In a large roasting pan (or glass baking dish) add the broccoli, squash, and asparagus. Toss with 1 Tbs olive oil, salt, pepper, or spice blend of choice*. Set aside.

Slice mushrooms and drain artichokes. Place in a medium skillet with 1 Tbs (about) olive oil and set on a back burner.

In a medium sauce pan, warm the stock to a simmer. In a cast iron enameled dutch oven (or pot of similar size) add 1 Tbs olive oil, sauté the diced onion until soft. Add 1 Tbs butter, when the butter is melted, add the rice. Lightly toast the rice while stirring for about 1 minute. Adjust the heat to medium, and add ¾ cup wine and stir until all the liquid has been absorbed.

Put the vegetables into the oven, and begin to sauté the mushrooms and artichokes over medium heat. The vegetables will take about 30 minutes to roast while you make the risotto. Once the mushrooms and artichokes are done, keep them warm until the risotto is done.

Over the next 20 to 30 minutes, add the warm broth one cup at a time, allowing each cup to be fully absorbed by the rice before the next addition. It will take approximately 6-8 cups; you will know it’s done when the rice is cooked. Remove from heat and stir in ¾ cup parmesan cheese.

Stir in all the vegetables and serve immediately.

A few notes:

-You could make this with almost any vegetable. Some other suggestions would be: peas, butternut squash, zucchini, roasted cauliflower, carrots or any other vegetables you like.

-This would also be delightful with a bit of goat cheese. You could use ½ cup parmesan and ½ cup goat cheese, or you could prepare as above and add crumbled goat cheese as a topping.

– To make this vegetarian you can absolutely use vegetable broth. I think chicken broth adds more depth of flavor, but whatever you prefer is fine.

– I used my go to spice blend, garlic and herb blend from Frontier Spices. You can use whatever spices you like, or just salt and pepper.

– The wine is optional, it adds a nice additional flavor, but if don’t have wine, or don’t drink wine, you can omit this and still have a delicious risotto.

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Filed under Recipes

Lemon Olive Oil Cake

Yes, you read that right, olive oil in a cake. Olive oil has been making appearances all over the dessert world for awhile. In the right uses, and the right varieties, it can be delicious. This was one of the first dessert recipes I ever made using olive oil, and I fell in love right away. It is a light, delicate cake, with a faint taste of lemon. My favorite thing about this cake is that you can eat it for breakfast. That’s right, this is a breakfast dessert cake, the only other cake I know of that can successfully toe that line is angel food cake- which I also love. This is a moist fluffy, almost good for you cake (look at the ingredients!) that can be eaten any time of the day or night.

I would recommend using a lighter olive oil instead of extra virgin in this recipe, I have used both and I find the flavor with the lighter olive oil to be more pleasant. To be honest I have no idea where I originally found this recipe, it’s all over the internet today, but for sake of fairness I’m going to credit Epicurious.


¾ cup olive oil, plus additional for greasing pan

1 large lemon

1 cup cake flour (not self rising)

5 large eggs, separated, reserving 1 white for another use

¾ plus 1 ½ tablespoons sugar


Preheat oven to 350. Grease springform pan with oil and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper, lightly oil the top of parchment as well.

Finely grate enough lemon zest to measure 1 ½ teaspoons and whisk together with flour. Halve, then squeeze the lemon and reserve 1 ½ Tablespoons fresh lemon juice.

Beat together yolks and ½ cup sugar in standing mixer fit with a whisk attachment at medium high speed until thick and pale, about 3 minutes.

it should look like this

Reduce speed to medium and add olive oil and reserved lemon juice. Mix until combined (it will appear separated, this is normal). Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour mixture until just combined.

Beat egg whites (from 4 eggs) with ½ tsp salt in another large bowl with cleaned beaters at medium high speed until foamy, then add ¼ cup sugar a little at a time, beating, and continue to beat until egg whites hold soft peaks, about 3 minutes.

this is what soft peaks looks like

Fold 1/3 of the whites into the yolk mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.

Transfer batter to springform pan and gently rap against work surface once or twice to release any air bubbles. Sprinkle top evenly with remaining 1 ½ Tablespoons sugar. Bake until puffed and golden and a wooden skewer comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then run a thin knife around edge of pan and remove side of pan. Cool cake to room temperature. Remove bottom of pan and peel off parchment, then transfer cake to a serving plate.

moist fluffy deliciousness

A few notes:

I have made this cake with lavender sugar and it was lovely. You can also sub raw or turbinado sugar on the top for a bit of a crunchy texture.

I served this with lightly sweetened whipped cream flavored with a touch of orange blossom water, and blackberries.

You could serve this with pretty much any fruit, any flavor whipped cream, or just all by itself.  It’s even good with a cup of coffee.



Filed under Baked Goods, Breakfast, Dessert, Recipes

Baba Ghanoush, Baba Ghannouj, Baba Ghanoug, Babaghannoush

All words for the same wonderful, perfect, delicious smoky dip.

I like hummus.  I really do.  I think it’s nice.  Hummus is like an ex-boyfriend who has a perfect driving record and is a big fan of Third Eye Blind.  You really thought you liked him at the time;  it was all healthy and chickpea-y, was easy to bring to work in a little tupperware container and went well with baby carrots.  Baba ghanoush is like a mysterious stranger that seduces you from the mezze menu and takes you on exciting weekend excursions out of town on its motorcycle and recites little poems, which might be Baudelaire if you knew more about poetry, but could also be originals.

The point is, baba ghanoush is sexier than hummus, by 1000%.  Hummus is Bill Compton, baba ghanoush is Eric Northman.  If hummus is Jack Hodgins, baba ghanoush is Seely Booth.  If hummus is the lead singer that everyone finds adorable, baba ghanoush is the brooding, quiet bass player.  You get what I’m saying.

Baba ghanoush is exactly the same thing as hummus, but instead of chickpeas as the base, it has roasted or grilled eggplant.  If you think you don’t like eggplant (because I, for one, do not like eggplant), don’t let that put you off baba ghanoush.  A weird alchemy happens to eggplant when you roast or grill it.  It stops being a purple, weird shaped thing that tastes and feels exactly like a dish sponge, and starts being a smoky, lightly sweet and totally unique substance that is crying out for you to enjoy with some pita bread.  I don’t have a grill (yet), so I roasted mine in the oven, and for good measure kept a few pieces of the blackened skin when I processed it to make sure the smoke flavor was imparted to the dip.  I watched 6 people (myself included) devour the whole bowl of baba ghanoush in about 4.5 minutes, so it must have worked.

Baba ghanoush

2-4 smallish – medium eggplants (I like a smaller eggplant as I think they are less bitter than larger ones.  I used 2 medium eggplants this time, and it made probably 3 cups of baba ghanoush.  Next time, I will use 400 eggplants, because I never want to stop having baba ghanoush.)

3 cloves garlic

3 tbsp tahini (Tahini is sesame paste, they should have it in a jar in the mediterranean section of your grocery store.  If they don’t, you need to find a new grocery store.  You may have this in your fridge already, if you ever make hummus at home.)

Juice of 2 lemons

2-3 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper


Turn your broiler on high.  Cover a cookie sheet (rimmed) with foil, and prick your eggplants all over with a fork.

eggplants are weird.

If you don’t, they will explode, which sounds awesome, but makes an absurd mess.  Put the eggplants on the sheet under the broiler for about 30-40 minutes, turning every 10 minutes or so to make sure it’s blackening evenly.  The eggplants will deflate slowly like a balloon, and start to look really sad and weird, as the juices run out.   When the eggplants are soft all the way around, remove them from the oven and let them cool to room temperature.

this picture is horrible and not clear, but you can kind of see how soft the eggplants are.

Prepare a colander in the sink.  Strip the skin off the eggplants (no need to be super picky about this, some skin is okay, I’d say if you remove 90% that’s fine) and put the flesh in the colander.  Squeeze the flesh against the holes of the colander to remove all the liquid you can.  A lot will seep out.

When most of the liquid is removed, put the flesh into a food processor with the other ingredients.  Pulse until smooth and serve.  Enjoy total adulation.

mmmm dip.

– Cat


Filed under Appetizers, Recipes, Sides, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Asparagus and Radish Spring Salad

Here is a secret: raw asparagus is fantastic.  I think I like it better than cooked asparagus.  And while I do prefer my radishes smeared with butter and salt, I’m not opposed to them in other preparations.  Like in this salad, for instance.  The raw asparagus is pretty sweet, for a vegetable that makes your pee smell weird.  So the sharp, lightly bitter crunch of the radish is lovely with the tender, buttery asparagus.  The lemony mustard vinaigrette is clean and springy, the whole salad is beautiful and wonderful like violin playing unicorns who never eat fried food or use foul language.

Asparagus notes:  1. You can store asparagus for a few days after you buy it at room temperature, stuck in a glass or jar of water.  2.  To trim asparagus, snap the yucky, dry, tough end off, letting the asparagus spear choose where to break.  It will snap at the best point.

Asparagus and Radish Spring Salad

1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed, sliced into teeny, tiny slices

1 bunch radishes, ends trimmed, sliced thinly

1 bag of arugula

1 cup shredded or shaved parmesan cheese

juice of 2 lemons

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp sugar

3 tbsp dijon mustard

salt and pepper to taste

Method:  Mix together the vegetables in a large bowl, sprinkle with the cheese and toss.  Whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour over the dressing over the salad.

so precious. just like baby bunnies eating Peeps shaped like baby bunnies.

– Cat

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Filed under Recipes, Salad, Sides, Vegetables, Vegetarian