Spring Soba Bowl with Miso-Chive Sauce (vegan, gluten-free)

Spring Soba Bowl (vegan, gf) @ chelrabbit.com

I’m celebrating spring. In the Bay this year, the only difference between “winter” and “spring” has been the local foods at the market. And it has been so warm everything is coming in and out a little early than usual: asparagus is going, gone, while strawberries are in full swing. And while my dad’s garden in central NY is still covered in a light coat of snow, I’m going to take full advantage of the ridiculous growing season in CA (come visit, Dad?).

The ingredient that inspired this dish are the gorgeous little bunches of chives that I got from Happy Boy Farms. The ones that are beginning to flower are too tough to eat, but man they look gorgeous. And I have been meaning to make another “bowl” (my Quinoa, Tempeh & Avocado Bowl is still a weekly favorite at my house). What better way to get a spring fix than by putting all the fresh ingredients you can fit into a big bowl and covering it in your favorite dressing? And combining all the elements – complex carbs, veggies, protein, and fat – is the quickest way to make a delicious, easy dinner. 

Spring Soba Bowl (vegan, gf) @ chelrabbit.com

The fresh fava beans take a little work here – shelling them of their green pods as well as their thick outer shells – but all the other ingredients come together quickly and with a simple preparation in order to highlight their freshness.  

This is great warm or chilled, making it perfect for a potluck, tomorrow’s lunch, or a spring picnic.Spring Soba Bowl (vegan, gf) @ chelrabbit.com

Spring Soba Bowl with Miso-Chive Sauce
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Ingredients
  1. 8 oz (two bundles) buckwheat soba*
  2. 2 lb. fava beans
  3. 1 cup fresh peas (or frozen)
  4. 1 cup fresh strawberries, rinsed and diced
  5. mint leaves for garnish
For the dressing
  1. 3/4 cup chives
  2. 1/4 cup lemon juice or rice vinegar
  3. 1/4 cup olive oil
  4. 2 tablespoons sweet white miso
  5. 2-3 tablespoons water
  6. 1 tablespoon agave or honey
  7. 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the dressing
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add the extra tablespoon or more of water to make a pourable sauce.
For the bowl
  1. Remove the fava beans from their green pods and rinse. Cover with boiling water. When the water has cooled, remove the beans from their tough outer shells using a paring knife to cut a small slit on the edge and squeezing from the opposite end so the bean pops out.
  2. Prepare the soba. Bring a pot of water to boil and add the noodles, boiling for 4-5 minutes or until desired texture. (Or cook to package directions).
  3. Meanwhile, cook the peas** and fava beans. Pour a few inches of water and a couple pinches of salt into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add the fava beans and peas (if they are tender and sweet, throw them in right at the end) and gently boil for 3-5 minutes or until tender. Drain. Mix with a dash of olive oil.
Plating
  1. Top the noodles with sauce, favas, peas, strawberries, and mint leaves. Or mix the sauce in with the noodles, peas, and beans in a big bowl, plate, and then top with the strawberries and mint leaves.
Notes
  1. *Traditional soba is buckwheat only, but oftentimes American soba is made partially with wheat flour. If cooking gluten-free, be sure to read the ingredients list.
  2. **If using frozen peas, be sure to cook separately according to package directions.
Adapted from Dressing adapted from Whole Living's "Chive Vinaigrette"
chel rabbit http://chelrabbit.com/

Best-ever Beet Brownies (vegan)

Beet brownies @ chelrabbit.com

I made these brownies and then cruelly refused to cut into them until a day later. When I was alone. And all the brownies belonged to me.

Just kidding. I had to take photos for you, how kind I am, with icing, and I was out of powdered sugar (it happens often). The silly thing is… these definitely do not need icing.

Beet brownies @ chelrabbit.com

My search for the perfect pancake recipe took a heck of a long time. This took just as long in terms of trials, but the amount of time was significantly reduced. There were a lot of bad brownies in this house for a while, but fortunately this one came along right at the end and was super easy, delicious, fudgy, and, ultimately, chocolatey. Brownie-like. 

And why use beets? I’m not sure, now that I look back on it. My friend Rachel made me a beet cake that was amazing and I just kept thinking about beet brownies.

Beet brownies @ chelrabbit.com

The thing is, the deep, earthy flavor of beets enhances the chocolate flavor, giving added depth to these brownies as well as keeping them tender and moist.

Beet brownies @ chelrabbit.com

I did happen upon my grandma’s recipe for brownies along the brownie-trial search – odd, because I am 100% positive hers do not include beets. Don’t let her know I said so, but she is infamous for not sharing her recipes – or sharing them but without an essential ingredient. This is why her grandchildren, who love only fudgy brownies except of course for hers, which are cakey, only slightly sweet, super chocolatey and studded with walnuts and chocolate chips – are waiting for me to share that recipe. Even if it can’t be her exact recipe, the ends did in this case justify the means. It reminds me of the character in the books “Sideways Stories from Wayside School” who can’t count correctly but always ends up with the right answer anyway. 

Beet brownies @ chelrabbit.com

That’s not this recipe, but the idea is the same: this recipe may include an unassuming garden root vegetable, but the result is a classic, fudgy, chewy, dense “best brownie ever” (two people have said this so far, so obviously it’s true). I just needed beets to get there.

Beet brownies @ chelrabbit.com

Best-ever Beet Brownies
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Ingredients
  1. 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  2. 3 tablespoons flax meal
  3. 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder or instant coffee granules
  4. 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons boiling water
  5. 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup chocolate chips)
  6. 4 tablespoons Earth Balance or (non-hydrogenated) margarine
  7. 1 cup beet purée*
  8. 1/2 cup canola oil
  9. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  10. 1 1/2 cup sugar
  11. 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  12. 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  13. 3/4 teaspoon salt
  14. 1/2 teaspoon soy lecithin (optional)**
  15. 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 cup chocolate chips)
For icing
  1. 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  2. 1/2 to 1 tablespoon beet juice, reserved from cooking*
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and transfer one of the oven racks to the lowest position. Line a 9x13 inch pan with wax paper, leaving an inch or so to fold over the edges (this will make getting the brownies out of the pan easier).
  2. Whisk cocoa powder, flax meal, coffee granules, and boiling water in a large bowl until smooth.
  3. Add 2 oz finely chopped unsweetened chocolate and margarine and mix with a spoon until melted.
  4. Mix in the beet purée, vanilla, and canola oil. If the mixture is cool, mix in the sugar until fluffy, otherwise wait until it has cooled and in the meantime, mix your dry ingredients (you don't want the sugar to melt).
  5. In a separate medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, and soy lecithin (if you choose to use it).
  6. Gently mix the flour into the wet mixture in 2-3 batches. When almost all flour streaks are gone, add in 6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate and fold in.
  7. Transfer the batter to the baking dish and use a spatula to spread it out evenly.
  8. Bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out mostly clean. Transfer the baking dish to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  9. Prepare the icing: Sift the powdered sugar into a small to medium-sized bowl and stir in half of the beet juice until the icing is runny - add the extra beet juice and even some water if necessary. Drizzle over the brownies when they are completely cool.
Notes
  1. *Clean and trim 2-3 large beets, cut in chunks and wrap them in foil. Roast in a 400°F oven until very tender (about 55 minutes). Reserve a tablespoon of the beet juice from the bottom of the foil for the icing (alternatively you can juice a beet, or squeeze juice from a cooked beets or in a filter or cheesecloth). Purée until smooth.
  2. **For those with soy allergies, use sunflower lecithin. Soy lecithin is used as an emulsifier to keep the oil and water combined so that the brownies don't feel greasy and tenderizes the flour a little. However, it's not essential that you use it, since flax seed meal will also work as an emulsifier. Soy lecithin is high in choline (good for making cell membranes) and has a slightly nutty flavor.
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated "Chewy Brownies", BBC Good Food "Better Beetroot Brownies, Rachel's beet cake
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated "Chewy Brownies", BBC Good Food "Better Beetroot Brownies, Rachel's beet cake
chel rabbit http://chelrabbit.com/

Travel Photos: Japan in Black & White

Japan in black and white

This is the second post of Japan photos; the other set can be found here. I mainly split these up because there were so many that I wanted to post and I didn’t want to overwhelm you with a bajillion pictures. So here are the black and white shots I took from the trip; most of them are from the Hase-dera Shrine in Kamakura.

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Travel Photos: Japan in color

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Well, hello. I just got back from a trip to visit my brother and sister-in-law in Yokohama, Japan. My brother flies helicopters for the Navy and is currently stationed at the Atsugi Naval Base. 

I got a fancy new camera from my dad for the trip and took lots of photos, and thought I’d share them in lieu of all those recipe posts for the past few weeks! There is this post plus a post for the black and white shots coming up. You can also check out my Instagram photos as well (@chelrabbit).

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Shakshuka with Saffron Cream (vegan! gluten-free!)

Shakshuka with Saffron Cream - vegan, gluten-free - chelrabbit.com

I love shakshuka: at it’s most essential, it consists of eggs baked in tomato sauce. Sounds good, but it gets better when that tomato sauce is spicy and full-flavored, and the eggs are replaced with high-quality soft tofu and drizzled in my version of runny egg yolk: saffron cashew cream. Hey now, don’t make that face. A Japanese- or Hawaiian-style silken or soft tofu It is perfect here – light and creamy, but still slightly firm (yes, like an egg white) with a rich flavor. Soft tofu is made with higher-fat soy milk and is never pressed, giving it a light, smooth texture. Plus: tofu is lower in sodium and has more calcium than egg gram for gram, and also has zero cholesterol.

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Avocado, Fennel, & Grapefruit Salad (vegan, gluten-free, raw) PLUS How to Supreme a Grapefruit

avocado-grapefruit-fennel-salad-raw-gluten-free-vegan-recipe-pickled-onion

This is a fancy recipe that I made just for you. And don’t worry, it’s not at all hard to make. 

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Mint & Chocolate Chip Muffins – a healthier bakery-style muffin (vegan)

 Mint Chocolate Chip Muffins - healthier vegan bakery-style muffin

I have previously waxed philosophic about my love for muffiny-type muffins rather than cupcake-type muffins. I like muffins that are just sweet enough – and these are even a bit more decadent with the addition of chocolate chips, and super minty flavorful with crushed spearmint leaves and a few teaspoons of peppermint extract. They are perfect as an on-the-go breakfast or a midday snack without hitting you over the head with a sugarbomb. 

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Soy-Glazed Radishes (vegan, gluten-free)

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People are always surprised to find out that my mom and dad eat vegan, but they actually started eating vegan before I did.

I grew up on cube steak and meatloaf, but salad was an essential part of dinner (my dad would sulk otherwise): big chunks of tomatoes, chopped carrots, onion and lots of lettuce. When I went vegetarian, my dad would make special salad-tortilla wraps for me and my mom would buy TVP-chili box mixes from the co-op. 

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Early Morning Carrot Quickbread (vegan)

vegan-healthy-quick-bread-carrot-loaf-recipe-muffins

 This is my winter version of zucchini bread: carrot bread. It’s a healthier version of a quick bread – it uses mashed carrots for moisture and only a bit of oil, and lots of grated carrots on top of that. Orange zest and fresh grated ginger brighten it up and there’s lots of my favorite (and hopefully your favorite) spices in there, too: cardamom, clove, and cinnamon. Plus coconut – a great texture for the topping. It makes it look kinda like a carrot snowball (the dessert… not a real carrot snowball). 

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Romanesco Round-up: How to cook Romanesco

how-to-cook-romanesco-broccoli-cauliflower-vegan-vegetarian-raw 

So you found some Romanesco at the farmer’s market this weekend, didn’t you… You just couldn’t resist those Fibonacci spirals and that fluorescent lime-green color. But what do you do with it?

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