Thursday, September 14, 2023

Black Bean Enfrijoladas #WFPB Style

This is another wonderfully simple recipe from Chef AJ, my only adjustment would be because she makes it too mild and I like it hot. 

My Mexican friends constantly ask for mas caliente, mas caliente... And of course, you are free to make it as hot as you'd like... or you have the option to leave it up to the individuals, but depending on the situation, that can be unmanageable, to put out a set of trays with the toppings. So I usually prefer to make a single bowl and mix everything. Or a mild and a spicy bowl. 

 My principal adjustments are some jalapeños, some serrano peppers and perhaps a habanero or two. as well as some cut up sweet peppers, and some lime juice to keep it fresh as well as some medium salsa to create a more blended taste. This is simple, quick and delicious. 

Vegan Black Bean Enfrijoladas and Q & A with Dr. Niki Davis! - 
YouTube Chef AJ with Dr. Niki Davis 


  • 2 15 Oz cans of low sodium Black Beans. 
  • White or yellow corn tortillas, or tostadas if you serve it immediately (they tend to get soft). 


  • Avocado 
  • Tomato
  • Scallions 
  • Red Onions 
  • Chopped Greens (Spinach) 
  • Jalapeno
  • Serrano Peppers 
  • Habaneros
  • Green, jellow, orange, red bell peppers 
  • Juice of one lime 
  • medium Salsa 


Heat over stove on medium until blended beans are nice and hot! 

While the beans are heating, heat up your corn tortillas on a non-stick pan (both sides) on medium heat. 

Once the tortillas and beans are both hot, dip the tortilla into the blended beans completely, then remove and place folded in half onto a plate. Repeat until you have 3-4 folded tortillas on the plate. 

Add desired toppings and voila! 

Enjoy while hot.

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Better Breakfasts and Jackfruit Economics

Jackfruit can be intimidating, and not only because of its weight. Peeling a jackfruit is a significant chore, but the results are worthwhile, and I have documented them numerous times on this blog.


Steelcut oats, whith shredded apple, blueberries, cacao nibs, cinnamon and some raisings, goji berries, and topped with some Jackfruit.

Ready to eat

Today, I want to pay attention to the economics of the Jackfruit.

Jackfruit is apparently the national fruit of Bangladesh, so during the seaason, you will find them everywhere in my heavily Bangladeshi neighborhood.

  • This year jackfruit could be found in my area between $0.99/lb (rarely), but I got one 20lb jackfruit with a blemish for that price, and it worked out well. Only one flowerpod was affected by some rot, but overall the fruit was perfectly healthy and ripe to eat.
  • Some of the stores will peal them and sell you the flower pods, ready to eat, ant that tended to go for $5/lb.
  • You will find the nuts, the kernels at $9/lb or there abouts

I buy the whole fruit and I make a curry with the kernels, which is out of this world. I have publishedt that on this blog.

Being single, I make this a project to peel the fruit, which takes me several hours, but then I freeze the flower pods in quart bags, and I use it on my typical oatmeal breakfast. 

With the kernels I make a big pot of curry, and some of it I eat that week and the rest is frozen in quart bags for future use. This way, I can whip up rice with curry and have some kind of veggie on the side and I have an excellent meal in short order.

My 20lb Jackfruit yielded 7/8 quart bags of flowerpods, and 2-3 lbs of seeds. Obviously, if you have the traffic, it could be worthwhile to sell some ready to eat jackfruit.

Before I knew what to do with them, I'd give the seeds to my Bangladeshi neighbors. But now that I know what to do with them, they are actually a true delicacy in the right recipe. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Mas caliente, mas caliente - black bean salad

Of course the Americans want it mild, the Mexicans want it hotter: mas caliente, mas caliente. Everbody else is in between.

So today I made a very spicey black bean salsa, at least I thought so, but still: too hot for the Americans, not not enough for the Mexicans. 

  • Kombu
  • 1 lb black beans
  • 1/2 strip of kombu
  • Soak at least six hours.

Note: The Kombu makes the beans cook up softer and easier to digest.

And here are the beans with the kombu in a bowl for soaking.

In order to cook it, I cut the kombu up in smaller strips.

After cooking drain the beans really well, and mix in the kombu, it will completely disintegrate and is very healthy.

This time I put in a lot of peppers, but you can vary it to taste:

  • 1 poblano, or chilaca (or both)
  • 2 large jalapeños
  • 3 serrano
  • 1 habañero
  • 1 bunch cilantro, cut up fine
  • 3-4 celery stalks, sliced thin
  • 1 bottle of Green salsa
  • 3 limes - juiced

Served on a Tostada Buena Vista
En español:

Por supuesto, los estadounidenses lo quieren suave, los mexicanos lo quieren más caliente: mas caliente, mas caliente. Todos los demás están en el medio.

Así que hoy hice una salsa de frijoles negros muy especiada, al menos eso pensé, pero aún así: demasiado picante para los estadounidenses, no lo suficiente para los mexicanos.

  • 1 libra de frijoles negros
  • 1/2 tira de kombu

Remoja al menos seis horas.

Nota: El Kombu hace que los frijoles se cocinen más suaves y fáciles de digerir.

Y aquí están los frijoles con el kombu en un tazón para remojar.

Para cocinarlo, corté el kombu en tiras más pequeñas.

Después de cocinar, escurra muy bien los frijoles y mézclelos con el kombu, se desintegrará por completo y es muy saludable.
Esta vez puse muchos pimientos, pero podéis variar al gusto:

  • 1 poblano
  • 2 jalapeños grandes
  • 3 serranos
  • 1 habanero
  • 1 manojo de cilantro, cortado fino
  • 3-4 tallos de apio, en rodajas finas
  • 1 botella de salsa verde
  • 3 limas - en jugo

Friday, May 26, 2023

Buena Vista tortillas & tostadas

I like tostadas for certain dishes, such as nopales salad and black bean salad. Las Tortillas Buena Vista in Hunts Point makes the best  tortillas, with just water and pure maseca, nixtamalized corn flour, free of fat or preservatives. The lye of the nixtamalization process serves as a preservative. Their tostadas come from Mexico.

My recipe for nopales salad goes back to Taqueria Tlaxcalli on Starling Ave, but reformulated entirely to be #WFPB compliant.

This time, my Mexican taste testers all agreed it was great, and I made the salad as follows:

* 4 large paddles of nopal 
* 1 medium/small yellow onion 
* 6 cloves of garlic sliced thin 

Cut the onion in half, slice off just the roots and make 6 large incisions, leaving the base attached. 
Clean the nopales and slice length-wise in 1/2" width, and then in 1-1/2" pieces. Cook the nopales with the onion and garlic in ample water for about 15-20 minutes. Let it cool in the fridge for 6+ hours.

* 1 medium red onion cut up fine
* 2 tbsp Mexican oregano 
* 1/4 or 1/2 block of firm tofu, cut in small cubes
* 3 tbsp of non-fortified nutritional yeast (makes it more cheesy - tofu is the texture, nutritional yeast is the flavor)
* 1 bunch of cilantro chopped fine 
* 2-3 fresh tomatoes or a 15 oz packet of diced tomatoes.
* 1 ripe avocado cut in small pieces 
* 2" daikon radish, shredded, or use regular radishes.
* 2-3 jalapeños, pitted, sliced fine 
* 1-2 serrano peppers pitted, sliced fine 
* 1-2 habañeros, pitted, sliced fine. To taste.
* 1/2/3 dressing with juice of one whole lemon and 1 like.

(1/2/3 dressing is 1tbsp maple syrup, 2 tbsp mustard, 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar.)
* salt & pepper to taste.

Best if marinated overnight.


P.s. The Tostadas Buena Vista have just one or 2% fat!


En Español:

Me gustan las tostadas para ciertos platos, como la ensalada de nopales y la ensalada de frijoles negros. Tortilleria Buena Vista en Hunts Point hace las mejores tortillas, solo con maseca pura, harina de maíz nixtamalizado, sin grasa ni conservantes. La lejía del proceso de nixtamalización sirve como conservante. Sus tostadas vienen de México.

Mi receta de ensalada de nopales se remonta a Tortilleria Tlaxcali en Starling Ave, pero reformulada por completo para cumplir con #WFPB.

Esta vez, todos mis probadores mexicanos estuvieron de acuerdo en que era genial, e hice la ensalada de la siguiente manera:

* 4 paletas grandes de nopal
* 1 cebolla amarilla mediana/pequeña
* 6 dientes de ajo en rodajas finas

Corta la cebolla por la mitad, rebana solo las raíces y haz 6 incisiones grandes, dejando la base unida.
Limpia los nopales y córtalos a lo largo en 1/2" de ancho y luego en trozos de 1-1/2". Cocine los nopales con la cebolla y el ajo en abundante agua durante unos 15-20 minutos. Deje que se enfríe en la nevera durante más de 6 horas.

* 1 cebolla morada mediana cortada fina
* 2 cucharadas de orégano mexicano
* 1/4 o 1/2 bloque de tofu firme, cortado en cubos pequeños
* 3 cucharadas de levadura nutricional no fortificada (lo hace más cursi: el tofu es la textura, la levadura nutricional es el sabor)
* 1 manojo de cilantro picado fino
* 2-3 tomates frescos o un paquete de 15 oz de tomates cortados en cubitos.
* 1 aguacate maduro cortado en trozos pequeños
* Rábano daikon de 2", rallado o use rábanos regulares.
* 2-3 jalapeños, sin hueso, en rodajas finas
* 1-2 chiles serranos sin hueso, en rodajas finas
* 1-2 habaneros, sin hueso, en rodajas finas. Probar.
* 1/2/3 de aderezo con jugo de un limón entero y 1 like.

(1/2/3 del aderezo es 1 cucharada de jarabe de arce, 2 cucharadas de mostaza, 3 cucharadas de vinagre balsámico).
* sal y pimienta al gusto.

Mejor si se marina durante la noche.


PD. ¡Las Tostadas Buena Vista tienen solo uno o 2% de grasa!

Friday, May 12, 2023

Bird's beak knives

 A lot can be said about bird's beak knives, but I consider the main issue to be that the handle is thin enough to hold it with my fingers, and that it is short enough to use with my thumb opposed. The photos will show why. In this case this is about coring and quartering strawberries - and, of course, in the process you can easily cut out any bad spots with the tip.

See here for using the knife with the thumb opposed

And here is the overview of the whole breakfast almost finished.

And here is the finished dish with some hemp seeds spread on top, see below for the dish complete with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

The final result, with a drizzle of balsamic.

Steelcut oats, ground granny smith, blueberries, raisins, goji berries, dates, topped with strawberries, banana, hempseeds and a drizzle of balsamic.

What a way to start your day.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Cooking Cycles 1 - Asian - Oriental style

Being economical is not just a matter of buying cheaper, but also being smart about using ingredients and establishing a cooking cycle over several days. This includes an understanding of what you can refrigerate or freeze.

Here is one example:

I make a bowl of soba noodles with collard greens according to this recipe:

Basic Soba Noodles, but I add a roll of collard greens (leaves without the stem), which I slice thin, like about 1/4" width.

Now I simply cut up the stems in 1/4" chunks and I freeze them in a quart bag. I keep adding to this from kale or collard greens until the bag is fairly full.

Then one day, I may be making some kind of Dal. This weekend I made Kala Chana Dal, but I added in a bag of cut-up stems from the kale and collard greens. It cooks long enough to get soft, and it adds a delicious aroma.

I also still had some cooked bitter melon ( just sliced lengthwise, pitted and then cut up in 1/4" slices), I cook them in some water with finely cutup garlic, and maybe a splash of Yondu.

The end result is a very healthy meal, and I usually end up freezing part of the dal, as I cook a large pot of it.

Of course, brown rice you can cook for a few days at a time. I prefer brown basmati, and I always buy rice from India, Pakistan or Bangladesh, as it has lower arsenic content.

I parboil the rice for 5 minutes and drain the cooking water, that minimizes the arsenic levels even more. There's a great video on this from Dr. Michael Greger
So in this case I had the rice pre-cooked, and I had already cooked the dal, so all I had to do was to thaw the dal, pour it over the rice. I cooked the bitter melon and put it on the side to warm it up together. The reason for putting the bitter melon in with the rice and dal is because some of the liquid will prevent the rice from sticking.

The upshot is, this is just one example of sharing ingredients between very different dishes, and creating a cycle of cooking that works.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Tostadas, Tostadas & Tostadas

 I like tostadas as a way of serving some types of salad and salsa, but some popular brands that are in the stores are loaded with fat.

One good one that can be hard to find is Tostadas Buena Vista, which comes in three varieties, Corn, multigrain and a whole wheat with flax. They contain only 2% fat. In our area you can get them at Frutas y Vegetales La Reyna, on the corner of Westchester Avenue and Beach Avenue.

Another brand which is also very good is La Gavillera, which has 4% fat, and that is still acceptable to me. In our area it is available at Chang-Li Supermarket on Benedict Avenue, across the street from St. Helena's church. 

Many of the supermarket brands, like Guerrero have very high fat content, and you want to avoid them if you are serious about whole foods, plant-based nutrition. In terms of recipes, I previously wrote about my favorite meals to serve on a tostada, cactus salad & black bean salsa, but this year I will be developing more.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

In Memoriam Peter E., A Bronx Tale

I came to know my neighbor two floors up a few years ago, after he had been hospitalized. At the time he had been sent to rehab, as he had drunk himself nearly to death after his brother Danny died, his older brother who he had cared for for several years. His brother had been bipolar, and taking care of him, after he had been homeless for a while, was no easy thing. The brother had been an electrician, but eventually his mental problems derailed his life. Few people could have handled caring for him. Peter even had the stove in his kitchen disconnected for fear that the brother would set the apartment on fire. He had to bail him out a few times, and the brother gave away his union pension to the homeless people in the neighborhood and then expected Peter to pay for everything. Once I heard these stories, I told Peter he deserved a Nobel Peace prize for taking care of his brother for all that time.

After the rehab, he had been in a nursing home for a bit, and then he came home. Being he was not very good at taking care of himself, I offered him to share my meals with him sometimes. He gladly accepted, even if my whole foods, plant-based meals were a bit alien to his Irish meat and potato palate. And then, lo and behold, after six months or so, he got word from his doctor that his liver was recovering and they took him off the transplant list. He volunteered: "It must be your food, Rogier." I am sure it helped a bit.

With the talk about the food, I also gradually came to learn that he was born in this building, and still lived in the apartment that his parents had rented in 1946. He was the youngest, born in 1952. Gradually the picture became clear that his brother had been slightly older, and as kids his brother beat him up a lot, to the point that the parents eventually separated them. I learned that Gleason Avenue was named after a cousin, Daniel Gleason, who had first been a traffic cop at Fordham University, but then, from talking with the priests, he decided to go into the priesthood. I heard Peter's stories of attending St. Helena's school, and of his father previously attending another school in the area. I got to learn a lot about the history of the neighborhood.

With the benefit of hindsight, I now suspect that when he got the good news that his liver was recovering, he also started to drink again, only a few beers, he explained, no more hard liquor. As another Irish friend explained, with 40+ years in AA: watch out when an Irishman tells you he's drinking "only" beer, or wine, that is the beginning of the end. Well, he was right in this case. 

I had been aware of Peter's brother, who was homeless for a while, but eventually, Peter took him in. And I heard some of the stories, and wondered many a time how anybody could get through the issues that Peter faced caring for his brother. In a way then, I could understand why he was totally distraught after his brother died - taking care of him was a full-time job and suddenly the apartment was empty. Once he recovered and was back home, he started to try and find a job again and I helped him with his resume. He was bothered by the gap in his work history, for the years when he cared for his brother. I pointed out to him then that taking care of his brother had been his job and he deserved a Nobel Peace prize for his work, so he should be proud of himself. To no avail, apparently, the bottle won out. On Christmas day of 2022 we had to call 911 and get an ambulance, but the first team gave us a hassle, and later in the day, we called 911 again and this time they took him to St. Barnabas. He spent a few days in the ER, waiting for a bed and was finally admitted to the ICU, where he was in a coma for a few days, and never really came to again.  He passed away on January 13th, which happens to be my birthday also.

Peter leaves behind a classic car collection he had not been able to work on in the last few years, and also a huge collection of Lionel trains. He is survived by a sister who lives in Maryland. It is always amazing to see what little is left at the end of the trip, but for me, I will miss the historian of the building, and he will forever have a spot in my heart for the way he took care of his brother, which few people could have ever managed to do. Peter did, undoubtedly that was one of his finest moments. It was where he showed up in life. Rest in peace, old friend.

Below is a collage of pictures that was displayed at his funeral mass on June 17th, 2023.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

A spicy dal, or a simple chili. Instant Pot. Inspired by Chef AJ

Super simple food, really, and delicious to boot.

Red Lentil Chili/Dal - Instant Pot

Inspired by Chef AJ, adapted from Instant Pot Recipe book


1 tbsp of panch puran

1 cup water with Yondu for the sauté

1 medium/small Onion, chopped

4 cloves of garlic

1-2 carrots, shredded or sliced thin

1 large red bell pepper

2-3 Thai chilis

1 Jalapeño

1 cup red lentils

4 cups water

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp parsley flakes or fresh chopped parsley

1 tbsp oregano

1 tbsp salt-free chili powder

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp chipotle powder (or more)

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes to taste

1 tsp cumin, milled

1 tsp caraway, milled

1 tsp fennel, milled

1 piece of turmeric minced, or a tsp of turmeric powder

1 14.5 Oz can of diced tomato (fire roasted)

1 6 Oz can of salt-free tomato paste



Set aside the tomatoes, red bell pepper.


In a large soup pot, first roast the tablespoon of panch puran, then water sauté or dry sauté the onion, garlic, peppers until translucent, about 8-10 minutes.


Add remaining ingredients but not the tomatoes, and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium and cook until lentils are creamy, about 20 minutes.


Blend the tomatoes, bell pepper and garlic in blender and blend until smooth. Skip this step if you like it chunky.


a) Place all ingredients in an electric pressure cooker and cook on high for 10 minutes,

or b) place all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.

Garnish with finely chopped scallions and a sprinkling of Faux Parmesan (or nutritional yeast).


Optionally, you can make this with more veggies, liek beet greens, chard, and other such. In that case, I left out the tomato puree.

I also made it more spicey and aromatic than the original from chef AJ, but by including veggies, it becomes more of a dal.

For offsetting the acidity of tomatoes, I prefer using a carrot over using dates or date sugar (which is really granulated dates, which still has the fiber in it, it is not refined, like sugar).