Thursday, October 22, 2020

MEX #WFPB 002 - Nopales - Cactus Salad

 I wrote about cactus salad the first time in January. When I was just hoping to start doing some cooking classes on Mexican cuisine #WFPB style. Covid came along. You know the rest.

But I've gotten back to trying to develop some recipes. And the next evolutionary step follows below:


3 good size Cactus leaves, cleaned.
1 Red Onions
15 Oz can of diced Tomato
Optional: avocado
1/2 bunch Cilantro
2 tbsp (Mexican) Oregano
some Radish or daikon
Serrano peppers and/or fresh jalapeño, or Jalapeño in vinegar
3/2/1 dressing with lemon and lime
Pepper to taste
Variations: with cubes of firm tofu, or with cevici-style marinated mushrooms


  • Cut the cactus leaves in 1" strips and cut in 1/2" chunks.
  • Cook in boiling water with some onion and garlic.
  • Let cool
  • meanwhile:
    • Cut up the red onion
    • Combine with the diced tomatoes
    • add the cilantro, Mexican Oregano
    • add in the radishes, cut fine, and/or the avocado, cut in slivers.
    • cut up the peppers (jalapeño, serrano, as the case may be)
    • add the salad dressing
    • mix and add in the nopales when cool.
    • Let it marinate in the fridge.

Serving suggestion: with tortillas, or just by itself.

Obviously, you can make this as mild or as spicy as you want.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Mex #WFPB 001 - Three Sisters Posole Remix

 Just before the Corona virus madness, the plan was to do  a series of Mexican classes in my cooking classes at St. Helena's. Hopefully, we will resume in the spring, but until then, I am going to discuss some Mexican recipes.


I will use as my guide the Mexican Recipe section on Nutrition Studies, en Español. 


Yesterday, I made a Three Sisters Posole, but a kind of derivative of the recipe on Nutrition studies. I can never stop improvising, improving (and sometimes making it worse, but learning all the time).

The recipe for Three Sisters Posole

Here are the original recipes on Nutritionstudies in English and Spanish.

So here goes with the revised instructions, but I will include the links to the original. One problem I ran into, my local Mexican grocery did not have blue corn posole, so instead I used Hominy, which is Nixtamalized Corn. Chang Li Market has hominy from the Mama Tere brand. You can get Blue Corn Posole on Amazon. I'll try that next time.



  • 2 cups dried blue corn posole, or hominy 
  • 1 cup tepary beans, or any kind of small beans 
    • Optional: you can add some summer Savory to the beans while cooking them
  • 1 cup barley (optional) 
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp Mexican Oregano
  • 1 Tbsp ground red chile
  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp arrowroot
  • 1 bunch of scallions
  • 1 lime
  •  Sea Salt to taste


  • Cook posole for 2 hours until tender - or shorter if using a pressure cooker. (Hominy in Instant Pot for 15-20 mins on High pressure)
  • Cook the beans separately 1.5-2 hours until tender (Instant Pot for 7 mmins or so).
  • In a large pot, add the minced garlic, chopped onion, zucchini, oregano,, ground chile, and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil.
  • Add the cooked posole and beans as well as the barley, if you are using it.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to come together.
  • Turn off the heat. Dissolve the 2 tbsp of arrowroot into the soup last and mix in well to thicken the soup.
  • Add Seasalt to taste
  • Serve with warm tortillas, wild onions, or scallions. and a squeeze of lemon or lime.

For the most part, you can play a lot with the level of spiciness, and also bear in mind that adding the arrowroot makes it thicker, but also milder.


Tuesday, July 21, 2020

#WFPB - Recipe - Jackfruit Seed Curry

This recipe is a bit elaborate. You could make it simpler, but this version was unabashedly delicious... fingerlikcking good as they say...


1/2 cup veggie broth
1 onion chopped
3 cloves garlic diced
1-2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/2 cup water
1 small can tomato paste
1 small (5.6 fl. oz.) can coconut milk, or some besan dissolved in water
1 can Thai curry paste
1 tbsp garam masala
2 cups jackfruit seeds
2 cups fresh spinach
salt and pepper to taste


Ahead of time... for you want this to have time to cool off...
Place the jackfruit seeds in an Instapot, add enough water into the pan to cover the jackfruit seeds.
15 minutes on High Pressure will do the trick.
Alternatively, place the pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Remove from heat.

Let the jackfruit seeds cool, and when they are cool enough to handle, pat them dry and slowly peel off the outer white covering. Peeling the seeds is a bit tedious, but, worth it.

Caramelize the oniont. 5 mins dry, no stir at medium/high (425F) , 5 mins while adding veggie brogh and stirring often.

Add in the garlic, ginger, peeled jackfruit seeds, water, tomato paste, and garam masala and mix well and let simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes, over medium / low heat.

Then add in the coconut milk and spinach, and gently stir until spinach is wilted.

Season with salt and pepper and remove from the stovetop.

Enjoy this Jackfruit Seed Curry with rice, naan, chapati or some Sri Lankan roti.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

#WFPB and The Apartment-size Fridge

From the #PBOB Dept - Plant-Based On a Budget - 

In a way, I am fortunate to live in an odder building, with one of the better kitchens I have had in my now 22 years of living in apartments in NYC. 

Meet My Fridge

My point here is going to be about efficient planning of your fridge in a plant-based kitchen. First, let me introduce you to my fridge:

Frigidaire Model # FFET1222UB
Vital Stats:
60" H x 24" W x 28.75" D, 11.6 CuFt, being 8.4 cu. ft. fresh food capacity and 3.1 cu. ft. freezer capacity, with one shelf in the freezer. 

I am not mentioning the fridge because I am promoting it, but simply as an example of how to use the space/capacity efficiently. To round off the numbers a bit, we have here 

Using the freezer Long Term vs Short Term

Evidently, the freezer is roughly a quarter of the capacity. But, used wisely, you can use every corner.

For the Long Term 

At the max, 50-70% of my freezer is used for frozen dishes. 
  • Often times it is simply easier to cook a larger amount rather than a small amount. I am always cooking ahead, and in my case when I make a large pot of soup or some kind of dal, I just freeze whatever I cannot eat within a few days for the long run, in quart bags. And when the freezer fills up, I shift to living on the stock pile and do less cooking, and I eat all these dishes, and often times all I have to do is make some salad and cook up some fresh veggies, etc. and some rice or noodles or potatoes to make a meal.
  • Also in the long term storage might be some products like whole wheat and besan flour, which last me a long time, and I don't want to get any bugs in them. I only use them 1 table spoon at a time.

For the Short Term

The 30-50% that is short term storage is mostly for price arbitrage. 
  • For example, during this COVID-19 episode, I saw blueberries for as much as $9 for an 18 Oz box, or $3/6 Oz. But I bought 18 Oz boxes just prior at $2 for 18 Oz, or $0.67/6 Oz and I had frozen them. Needless to say, I never bought them for the high price. 
  • I always also have a bit of mixed veggies or some frozen spinach, more for convenience, just so I have something to fall back on when I run out of time to shop fresh. 
  • I also tend to have one frozen bread. (Dave's Killer Bread of course). I don't eat a lot of bread, so I just toast a slice or two when I am in the mood.
  • Another thing for the shorter term is a bag to save up left over cut-up beggies, that come in handy to cook my own home made veggie broth. Lots of pieces that are not usable otherwise work fine in broth or stew. Some celerty that would otherwise go to waste, can be cut up and put to use this way. The trick is just not to let any veggies go bad,
  • Another thing is, when I make broth, I usually preserve some as icecubes in an icecube tray. Often, when stir-frying beggies, instead of adding liquid broth, I can use use a couple of broth cubes.

In short, with a little bit of planning that fridge is a powerful tool and the freezer compartment is absolutely maxed out.

The Refrigerator Compartment

Obviously, the refrigerator compartment is more short term by nature. If you are going to use a frozen zoup or a dal, you can take it out 24 hours anhead of time and defrost it.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Chickpea Omelet from Scratch

The Recipe

Chickpea Omelet #WFPB


1/4 cup besan (chickpea flour)
1/3 cup water
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp black salt
1/4 - 1 cup of vegetables of choice (onions, garlic, turmeric, chilis, parsley, spinach, peppers, mushrooms... etc etc)
1 cup of water (optional with Yondu, or BLA, or use veggie broth)


Mix chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, salt and whisk to eliminate clumps, add the water and whisk until smooth, let it stand while you prepare the rest.

Cut up onions, garlic, peppers, chilis and dry roast for a few mins at medium high for 5 mins, no stirring.
Mix in desired spices, and/or green veggies e.g. garlic, turmeric, parsley, panchpuran, spinach, peppers, mushroom, and stir-fry at medium high for another 5 mins, slowly adding in water.

Continue to cook at medium, for another 5 mins while adding in the mixed flour with the nutritional yeast and black salt, and cook some more while slowly adding the other 1/2 cup of water or veggie broth.

You can make this as an omelet or scrambled, with toast, or, at your option serve with a grain like Farro.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

A Simple Indian Cooking Class with Chef Raj

On Saturday 2/15 we had our usual #WPFB Cooking lesson, which was basically a cooking demonstration by Chef Raj, to show how easy it can be to make a simple dal, while others prepared the salad and we had farmed out making the rice to Neerob restaurant. Khokon's wife Muni was in the class, but Khokon came over at 3:30 to bring the rice.

Chef Raj of PlantPoweredChefs

Simple Dal


  • Yellow pigeon peas aka toor dal (3-4 cups)
  • Ginger (5-10 grams~ thumbsized piece)
  • Mustard seeds(1tsp)
  • Asafoetida (1 tsp)
  • Garam masala (1/2tsp)
  • Turmeric powder (1/2 tsp)
  • Whole cumin seeds (1 tsp)
  • Black pepper powder (1/2 tsp)
  • Tomato (2 units large or 3 units medium)
  • Jalapeno chili, serrano, thai chili (1 unit //optional)
  • Fresh coriander (1 bunch ~8 oz)
  • Salt + to taste (1tsp)
The preparation is utterly simple.
You wash and soak the amount of Dal you are going to use. In this case we used Toor Dal, which is split pigeon peas.

You cut up the tomatoes and the peppers, and ginger

You heat up the pan with the spices (all except the garam masala which is roasted already). The dry roasting of the spices will release the fragrance. Make sure you stop before you burn them. 
Next you add the tomatoes and peppers and let that cook for a while, stirring regularly. When the tomatoes are soft, add the dal and enough water to cover. Let it cook till the dal is soft, stirring occasionally, about 30 mins.

Brown basmati rice (4-5 cups)


Cucumber (2 units) 
Lettuce, Cabbage or dark leafy greens mix (2 lb ~32 oz)
1/2/3 dressing
1 part Maple syrup, 2 parts Dijon Mustard, and 3 parts balsamic vinegar, with the juice of 1-2 lemons or a lemon and a lime.

In short, we had an easy dinner, and even with replenishing some supplies, we spent just $8 a head, so that St. Helena's got a nice donation from this group.

Happy Diners
With a rush visit from Fr. David   

Notes: The Asafoetida is a primarily Indian spice, and it really adds a flavor as if you had used onions and garlic. Very interesting.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Mexican #WFPB Cooking Class

This Saturday, January 18th, 2020 was our second ever Mexican cooking class, and we had Leobarda, the cook for the rectory at St. Helena's as our guest of honor.
Note that Mexican cuisine is an ideal starting point for your whole foods, plant-based lifestyle.

Here is what we made:

Cactus Salad


Red Onions
Optional: avocado
(Mexican) Oregano
Radish or daikon
Serrano peppers and/or fresh jalapeño, or Jalapeño in vinegar
3/2/1 dressing with lemon and lime
Pepper to taste
Variations: with cubes of firm tofu, or with cevici-style marinated mushrooms


Cut the nopales paddles in 1/2" strips and cut those to 1" lengths.

Boil the nopales paddles in ample water for 15-20 mins with a small onion and some garlic in the water.

Place the nopales in a large bowl; add the chopped tomato, onion, serrano peppers, radish and cilantro.

Mix the ingredients.

In a separate bowl mix the dressing with oregano, salt, and pepper.
Add this to the nopales mixture and stir.

Top the salad with crumbled fresh firm tofu and possibly some nutritional yeast and avocado slices.
(Radishes go well with this salad also).

Eat with corn tortillas or tostadas, or rice cakes.


Black Bean Salsa


1 lb bag of black beans, or 1 25Oz can, rinsed and drained
Optional: one 15 Oz can of Corn
A bunch of fresh Cilantro
2-3 celery stalks, sliced thin
Juice of 2-3 limes (depending on how juicy the lime)
16 Oz jar of medium green salsa
whatever peppers you choose - cut up fine - jalapenos, chilis, serrano, poblano - it all depends on your taste for more hot or aromatic
optionally add in some pickled jalapenos.


Soak and Cook the beans with a kombu strip (Abt. 45 mins.), or simply drain the can and rinse the beans.
Wash and chop up the cilantro
Add lime juice, mix in the black beans and the salsa.
Mix well.

Serve on rice cakes or tortillas.


Mexican Chili Bean Stuffed Peppers

Mexcian Stuffed Peppers from Nutrition Studies
NB. Here is the original recipe on Nutritionstudies in English and in Spanish.


1¼ cups red kidney beans, raw (or 4 cups cooked)
6 medium bell peppers, any color
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 medium jalapeno chili, stemmed, seeded and minced
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
3 tsp garlic, minced
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper


 1) Preheat oven to 425. Cut tops off peppers, keeping stems in tact. Scoop out the ribs and seeds. Place peppers and tops cut-side-down on a sheet pan and roast in a 425 F degree oven until slightly brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven. Reduce heat to 350 F.
2 Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add peppers and onions. Cook until well-browned, about 10-12 minutes, stirring every few minutes. If peppers start to burn, add water and reduce the heat slightly.
3 Once peppers and onions are soft, add spices, garlic, and tomato paste. Cook another minute or two, just to toast the spices and darken the tomato paste.
4 Add 2-4 tbsp. water to deglaze the pan, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits. Reduce heat to low, and cook until aromatic, about 5 more minutes (but you can keep this low saute for up to 20 minutes).
5 Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro, salt, and pepper.
6 Stuff each pepper with about 1 cup of the stuffing mixture. Place the peppers into a 350 F oven and heat until warm, about 10 minutes.

At the end of all that, we were able to contribute $4 to St.Helena's from the grocery money, and Fr. David had 1 stuffed pepper and some of the two salads with tortilla. There was 1 stuffed pepper for the seminarians, plus enough of the black bean salsa and cactus salad for 2-3 people. And I used the rest of the stuffing the next day for 4 more stuffed peppers. Net, net we spent about $14 per person, and that included stocking up on some staples.