Mise en falafel

I enjoy food blogging because I can share snapshots about my life and how I make my food choices. For example, I love Korean dramas. I think they’re hands-down the most predictable and engaging programs. The characters are pretty much the same across shows; the plot usually revolves around a couple who should not have crossed paths but they have and life takes them on a crazy journey. The programs embody (sometimes offensive) gender stereotypes but in this oddly sincere way. I can’t get enough of them.

These shows also make me want Korean food and vats of soju. To temper these cravings, I try to find recipes to experiment with. A place in Brooklyn makes great tofu edamame falafel but I’m outside of their delivery range. So I went with the best option: make it yourself.

The important thing to remember when making any kind of fried, cohesive food is to make sure the mix sticks together but not to your hands. Also, when you’re placing items in the mixing bowl, you can really let your organizational side come out and group the items nicely before mixing all together. It’s very satisfying.

Currently watching: Secret Garden.

Edamame falafel over rice with marinated cucumbers, pickled ginger carrots, sautéed broccoli + green beans, homemade gochujang sauce

Edamame Falafel (makes approx. 12-14)

What you need:

  • 1 medium bowl, food processor (regular blade), frying pan, slotted spatula
  • 1 cup edamame, shelled and thawed
  • 1 cup canned chickpeas, drained
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • 1 tbsp.  sesame oil (or olive oil)
  • 1-2 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1/2 tbsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp. coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • dash of paprika or cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup carrots, 1/4″ slices
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 1 egg
  • vegetable oil for frying

How to make it:

  1. Put the edamame, chickpeas, sesame oil, lime juice, cumin, coriander, salt and paprika in the food processor and pulse until nearly smooth. It should still have a slightly coarse texture. Transfer to the mixing bowl.
  2. Add the cilantro to the food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to the mixing bowl. Do the same with the carrots and place in bowl.
  3. Add the panko, sesame seeds and egg to the bowl and mix until fully incorporated. It should stick together but not stick too much to your hands. Prepare a plate with paper towels to place the cooked falafel on later.
  4. Over medium to medium low heat, heat the vegetable oil for frying. When full heated, make a falafel ball the size of a ping-pong ball and flatten slightly. Place in pan and cook until brown on both sides. If it held up okay and tastes good, proceed with making more falafel and frying. If not, add a little salt or spices or more panko if it’s too runny.
  5. Enjoy the falafel in a sandwich, wrap, over rice, or as an appetizer!

Cinnamon Synonymous with Savvy

I noticed a few weeks back that I had a bunch of pantry items that I haven’t used in a while like the 1lb bag of confectioner’s sugar I bought to make royal icing for Star Wars gingerbread cookies (cookies were made, frosting was not). So I made it my goal to use everything I could before I move out of my apartment in May.

Surprisingly, I didn’t have chocolate chips around to make cookies so I settled on what I had the most of: cinnamon. It was also my birthday recently so cake was on my mind. Put those two together and you have a cinnamon cake. Boom. A savvy way to use up ingredients just hangin’ around.

Oh, so if you didn’t know, there are many conversations happening around the “realness” of mass produced cinnamon. I enjoy observing these conversations the way one shamelessly delights in watching reality television. Pass the cake please! We’ll be here for a while.

I didn’t swirl the cinnamon/sugar filling and it basically made two disjointed layers of cake. Still delicious though!

Cinnamon Coffee Cake

  • 2 medium to large mixing bowls, hand mixer, bundt pan

For the cake:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cups unsalted butter, softened (1.5 sticks, must be softened not melted)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup milk

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp milk

How to make it:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and lightly flour the bundt pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat in the butter until crumbly. Add the eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, and milk. Mix until well incorporated.
  3. In the other mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon using a fork to mix. Set aside.
  4. Pour half of the batter into the bundt pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar/cinnamon filling evenly around the pan. I recommend taking a thin utensil like a chopstick to gently swirl. Pour the remaining half of the batter on top so that the filling is covered.
  5. Bake for 55-60 minutes until browned and cook through. While the cake is baking, whisk the confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon and 1 tbsp of milk in the bowl the filling was in. Add 1 more tbsp of milk for a smoother consistency. Add a little more milk if needed. Set aside.
  6. When the cake is done, allow to cool in  the pan for 20 minutes. Flip onto a plate to cool completely. Remove cake from pan. Drizzle the icing over the bundt cake. Enjoy!


Polenty of Pizza

Pizza. It’s all I think about sometimes. How can I get it? What should I put on it? Where should I get it from? What kind of crust do I want? These are all questions than run through my mind, especially when hunger has set in and it’s only a matter of time before I implode.

I’m sure you’ve had a similar experience.

When I remember to think ahead or I have some extra time on my hands, I like to make these polenta pizza crusts. They’re simple in terms of ingredients and instructions. The process is a bit time consuming but it’s absolutely worth it. The crust is gluten-free but that doesn’t mean that it’s not filling or tastes weird. It has a satisfying texture of crispy and smooth- it’s kind of magical actually.


Polenta Pizza Crusts (2 9″-crusts)

What you’ll need:

  • A medium pot, whisk, 2 9-11″ tart dishes, baking spatula, baking sheet
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup of fine ground cornmeal + 2 tbsp
  • 1/4 cup coarse cornmeal (polenta)

Toppings (completely up to you but this is what’s pictured above)

  • 3 tbsp sundried tomato pesto
  • 2-4 oz cheddar cheese, shredded or cut into thin pieces (cheddar featured above)
  • 1 handful broccoli, cut into tiny florets

How to make it:

  1. In a medium pot over medium heat, combine the vegetable stock, olive oil, basil, oregano and salt. Bring to a boil.
  2. Lower the heat to medium low and slowly stir in both cornmeals with a whisk. Keep stirring for about 3-4 minutes with as few lumps as possible.
  3. Remove from heat and evenly divide the polenta to the tart dishes. Use a baking spatula to spread the polenta into an even thin layer. Let them cool in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350. Sprinkle the cornmeal on the baking sheet. Remove the polenta crusts from the fridge and transfer to the baking sheet. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the edges are crispy and the crust has browned a bit on the bottom.
  5. Remove from the oven and top with your favorite toppings. Bake for another 15 minutes. Enjoy!

*Made vegan by not topping it with cheese.

**Thanks to Steve for help with the title.

It’s what’s on the inside that counts.

If you’re in the NYC metro area today, you’re probably experiencing the same rainy and dreary day that I am. Everyone has her or his own way of dealing with unpleasant weather. Today, I’m reflecting on the best part of the season instead of the confusing winter we seem to be having. As the kids are saying these days: Go home, Winter. You’re drunk.

Can you name the citrus featured in the photo?

It’s a cara cara orange, known for its sweet, pink flesh that’s less acidic than its traditional navel neighbor. This fruit is a well traveled (Venezuela to Florida to California) mutation of the Washington navel and can be spotted in grocery stores between December and April-ish. They’re smaller than the average navel oranges and the skin sometimes has a pink mottled look to it. I rely on the produce staff to label the oranges correctly but I have been duped before (as I refer to as the Great Blood Orange Fail 2015).

What can you do with it? It can be difficult to peel but it’s so worth the effort. I also like to juice it for smoothies, cocktails and schorle. Why should you eat it? Well, other than the obvious reason of it being a fruit, healthy, vitamins, etc., it’s easily the best orange. Ever.

Let me know what your favorite citrus is or if you share a mutual fondness for this sweet savior!

Annnd she’s back.

After a very extended hiatus, I am excited to report that I’ve returned to the blogosphere. In my nearly two years of catering life, I have learned a tremendous amount about cooking and our food system. I’ve also been heavily involved in the process of opening a restaurant.

The takeaways? Cooking is historically and presently the most indicative element of human nature; our food system needs a lot of work; opening a restaurant is difficult.

To get the ball rolling on what I hope is a wonderful year of eating well and thoroughly (re: saying yes to butter), I want to share an oldie and favorite.

Butternut Squash Soup (for 1)

What you’ll need:

  • A high-powered blender, medium pot, chef’s knife, cutting board
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, pulped and cubed (1″)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced or chopped
  • 2 tbsp butter, preferably unsalted
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, pulped and cubed (1″)
  • Flavorful bouillon + 2 cups of water (or 2 cups of vegetable stock)

How to make it:

  1. In the medium pot over medium heat, melt the butter, covering the bottom of the pot.
  2. When heated, add the onions and garlic. Stir and cook until the onion is translucent.
  3. Add the butternut squash and 2 cups of water OR stock. If you’re using bouillon, add the corresponding amount according to the directions. Bring to a boil and cook until the squash is tender.
  4. Transfer the contents of the pot to a high-powered blender, leaving some broth in the pot. You can make the soup as thick or thin as you’d like using more or less, respectively. Blend until smooth. Add salt + pepper to taste.
  5. Serve with your favorite bread, salad, etc. Enjoy!


The Closer You Are to Food

The less of it you actually eat.

In my case, it’s more about cooking. Since the last post, I have taken a job in catering which means an erratic schedule and a newfound catering diet (leftovers <3). I’m hoping to get back into the recipe posting/sharing arena since it’s such an inspiring time of year.

In the meantime, you can bet I’m going to town on souped up instant ramen and a jar of locally made kimchi. Because I can.

xox Shay

Black Bean & Quinoa Soup

When my colleague told me she made black bean soup for her household, I was jealous. But mostly, I was inspired. It was exactly what I needed to prepare for the cold weather. I haven’t been craving soups and this was the first time in months that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. You can imagine, as the queen of soups, how happy this made me!

What makes this soup special is that it’s simple. It has all the parts of soup that you could ask for: filling, flavorful and a great ratio. This recipe is based off of Post Punk Kitchen but with some minor changes. I added nutritional yeast for some cheesiness, subbed in paprika for a smoother heat and got rid of the garlic. I can’t seem to keep garlic around the kitchen long enough but you’re welcome to add that in at home.


Black Bean & Quinoa Soup

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion, medium diced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 large carrot, medium dice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 24 oz can black beans
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 lime wedge
  1. In a medium pot large enough to fit all of the ingredients, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until translucent. Add the carrots, cumin, oregano, paprika and stir.
  2. Pour the vegetable broth and quinoa into the pot. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add the black beans and bay leaf. Cook for an additional 10 minutes, until the quinoa is tender.
  3. Remove from heat and remove the bay leaf. Stir in the nutritional yeast. Garnish with the avocado and lime.

Serves 4.