Category Archives: $1 Ingredients

Smoked Tofu Curry Noodle


I spent the first beautiful weekend of summer in Ithaca, NY. Between hiking, ultimate frisbee, and yoga, I had a little bit of time to check out the local food co-op and grocery store.

Ithaca is home to a thriving vegetarian scene, including the landmark Mosewood Restaraunt, so I couldn’t wait to try the locally made organic tofu I found. Each individually-wrapped, golden brown block of Ithaca Soy Tofu-Kan cost around $2.00, and came marinated, baked and ready to eat.

After using it in this recipe, I fell in love with this ingredient. Continue reading


Rolling with the Peaches

Saturday was my friend Sky’s birthday party. We celebrated with lots of karaoke and a vegan feijoada prepared by her best bud Marcela and me. Feijoada is a Brazilian feast that features black beans, rice, various salads, and a huge platter of MEAT. (Guess which part we left out.)

The preparations began a few days ago, when Marcela emailed me with the idea and I ran to my bookshelf and pulled out my 1968 edition Latin American Cooking by Time Life Books.

Elegant Brazilian Ladies enjoy a feijoada completa.

I remembered there was an entire section on feijoada, because of the picture above. This image had made a big impression on me because I’d bought the book right after freshman year of college/Latin American Sociology 101, where I’d learned all about the brutal military dictatorships and economic disparity of that era. So I always narrowed my eyes a little at these fun loving, aristocratic ladies. It’s funny to think back on it now.

One winter break later, I visited my sister who was studying abroad at the University of Sao Paulo. We paid a visit to her friend Thais’ family in Rio, who had a terrace just like the one above where we welcomed the year 2000 with lots of dancing, triple kisses (one on each cheek is NOT ENOUGH), and a feijoada – just like the one in the book.

Since I was vegetarian, my favorites were maioneise (mai-yo-nay-zee), a Brazilian potato salad with peas and egg; and vinagrete (vee-nay-gret-chee), a Brazilian condiment that is similar to pico de gallo. Their names were also so darn cute and fun to say.

The plan for the party was that I would make Sky’s birthday cake on Thursday. On Friday, after dinner with Sky’s parents, Marcela and I would make the beans, vegan maioneise and mango vinagrete. On Saturday we would finish up- Marcela with the rice, and me with my Colombiana touch: tostones and maduros (savory and sweet fried plantains). The party would start at 3:30pm and at some point we would throw some fish and pineapple skewers on the grill.

One Brazilian…one Colombian…a Latin feast. As the day of the party approached – like a size 2 dress on a size 6 mamasota dancing samba – the seams of our tidy little plan began to unravel.

Continue reading

Shhhh, Don’t tell NY


I love you, California.

Stick It To the Pan

(This is a late post.)

Every once in a while, I poke my nose into a magazine to see what is going on out there in the crazy world of restaurant food, of which I know next to nothing about because I am either stuffing my cheeks with $3.50 kim bap from Woorijip in Koreatown, or wandering the streets of Hell’s Kitchen in search of that 99-cent fried chicken stand.

According to NY Mag, a new West Village restaurant is stirring things up among NY food snobs for not stirring things up. They specialize in risotto alla pilota, a low-maintenance working man’s version that is not stirred. But, according to the magazine, “there is no such thing as a quickie risotto.” I guess they figure that if you don’t stir it, then it’s just rice, and how cute is that?

I have made (what I comfortably refer to as) risotto a bunch of times and even though I just grab whatever kind of rice happens to be in my cupboard, it always comes out sumptuous and tasty. As long as you add some parmesan at the end to make it gooey, it looks and taste like risotto. It is great to snack on because you can make it from whatever you have around the kitchen. In the following recipe I used basmati rice and some veggies from the fridge.

20-Minute Asparagus and Tomato Risotto

1 tbp. butter
4 tsp. vegetable seasoning
1 c. rice
1/3 c. minced onion
½ c. grated parmesan cheese
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ bunch asparagus (about 1/3 lb.), chopped
1 plum tomato, chopped
1 tbp. olive oil
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Fill a medium pot with water, bring to a boil on the back burner, and leave simmering. Put 1 teaspoon of vegetable seasoning in a heat-proof bowl.

Melt the butter in a medium skillet. Sauté the onion and garlic until soft, and stir in the rice.

Pour one cup of the water over the vegetable seasoning, swirl to combine and pour over the rice. Stir, cover, and reduce heat to low. When liquid has been absorbed, repeat the process 4-5 times until rice is very soft.

Stir in the oregano, asparagus and tomato. Last, add the parmesan, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Season to taste and divide between bowls. Top with grated parmesan, if desired.


A tip for keeping asparagus fresh: Store them, refrigerated, like flowers: in a wide glass filled with 1/2″-1″ of water. Cover with a small plastic bag and secure (around the glass) with a rubber band. Right now, To The World Farm on Grand Street in Williamsburg has fresh asparagus for $1.00 a bunch!

You can also use regular vegetable broth and ladle it out as needed, but I prefer the individually measured batches because it doesn’t waste broth and it helps you control the flavor and saltiness. (And cheepiness).

More Cheese, Please

Happy 2008 and welcome friends, snack addicts, finger-lickers, sleep-eaters, and crumb catchers!

I am now into my second month in Brooklyn, and barely remember Soho…

Have you been to East Williamsburg? It is a concrete cornucopia. My favorite vegetable stand has the sour oranges I coveted so much in Puerto Rico. The local bakery has barley rusks like the ones I smuggled home from Athens.

Stepping into the butcher shop down Graham Avenue is like stepping back 50 years. There is no rushing in and out of this place. You come, you chat, you joke, you get teased. Then you gather your meat and go, giddy from the insane deal you’ve just scored ($3.50 for a whole chicken?!).

The local flora is what inspired my New Year’s pizza party. See my Google map to find out where I got everything to make them, including fresh Neapolitan-style pizza dough (1$ per pound= 1$ per pizza), cheap baby bella mushrooms, hand made smoked mozarella ($5), and fresh shrimp (1/2 pound $3.50, enough for 1 pizza) – all within 5 blocks!


I served the pizza on a table covered with brown package paper to avoid dishes or disposables. At the end of the night, just fold up the mess inside the paper and toss it. (Or rip out the greasy bits and recycle, which, er, I, um…) Then you can wake up new year’s morning to a nice, fresh table. Just don’t look at the floors.