2017 New Year’s Meal

2017nymealHappy New Year dear vegan community!!

I haven’t posted anything since my birthday in September. I’ve been busy cooking and baking for the last 5 months. In fact, I was so busy cooking and baking, and learning restaurant business, that I couldn’t find any moment to post until now. This is an abbreviated version of a traditional Japanese first New Year’s meal. I had this at noon on the New Year’s Day, yet it was the first meal of 2017. I love love Japanese black beans simmered with tamari and sugar. They are so good and sweet. They are my favorite dessert.

Toasted rice cake in miso soup with lotus root, carrot, Japanese sweet potato, shimeji mushrooms and scallions
Quick pickled lotus root and carrots
Japanese black beans simmered with tamari and sugar


BBQ Bean Plate


OMG! This was so good and so easy. And can be quick, too, if you have a pressure cooker. The BBQbean recipe came from the Thug Kitchen. I didn’t bother to make Baked Spanish Rice. I had roasted kabocha pumpkin and steamed sweet potato that I incorporated here. An awesome recipe. A can of chipotle pepper in adobo sauce is used, which is kind of cheating, but hey, it’s a secret that everybody knows.

Ingredients for BBQ Bean:
1/2 yellow onion
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 head of garlic
4 chipotle peppers and 1 Tbsp sauce (or 5 Tbsp chipotle sauce)
1/4 cup water or vegetable broth
2 Tbsp orange juice
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp molasses
1 tsp tamari
3 cups cooked pinto beans

Ingredients to make a plate:
1 cup cooked brown rice/serving
1/2 avocado/serving
1/4 cup salsa (tomato salsa/grilled peach salsa/mango salsa)/serving
1 or more of following;
3 slices of roasted pumpkin or squash
1/2 roasted or steamed sweet potato (sliced)
a few leaves kale (stems removed, and steamed for 1 minute)

  1. Chop onion roughly. Peel and crash garlic cloves. Put all of BBQ beans ingredients except beans in a blender or a food processor, and run it until the sauce becomes smooth.
  2. Heat the sauce in a medium pan until it becomes bubbly. Add cooked pinto beans. Cook additional 5-10 minutes.
  3. Pile each ingredient on a plate. Enjoy!



Vegan Rice Bowl with Baked Tempeh


I love rice bowls. All the goodies mingle with each other bind with citrous tamari sauce. A healthy satisfying meal. A dear friend of mine always complains about a dish like this saying “But you have to make so many different things to create one dish! I can never do that.” Am…it’s kinda true, but everything is so easy to make and if you already have left over roasted brussels sprouts like I do here in the picture, this is a 30-minute-cooking.

Ingredients (enough for 4 servings):
4 cup cooked brown rice (1 cup/serving)
8 oz tempeh
2 small broccoli heads
pickles (1 daikon radish, 1/2 small carrot, 1 lb kirby cucumbers)
tamari or soy sauce
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp hot sesame oil
2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp sugar
5 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp lemon juice (yuzu or lime juice works as well)

Quick Pickles
Daikon + Carrot:
Peel and matchstick daikon radish and carrot in a similar size. Put them in a container with a lid. Mix 5 Tbsp rice vinegar, 2 Tbsp sugar, and 1 tsp salt in a small pan. Heat it until everything is dissolved. Pour it over the vegetables. Put the lid on. Shake it. Let it sit at least 30 minutes before serve. Keep refrigerate the leftovers.

Kirby Cucumbers: Slice 1 lb kirby cucumbers in 1/4″ thickness. Put them in a container with a lid. Sprinkle 1 Tbs sugar and 1 tsp salt. Put the lid on. Shake it. Let it sit at least 20 minutes before serve. Keep refrigerate the leftovers.

Baked Tempeh
Slice tempeh 1/2″ thickness. In a small bowl, mix 3 Tbs tamari, 1 Tbs maple syruyp, 1/2 tsp hot sesame oil. Marinate tempeh slices in a shallow bowl for at least 10 minutes. Drain and toast them dark in an oven toaster on a foil or a baking sheet.

Steamed Broccoli
Divide broccoli into small florets. Peel tough skins and slice the stem. Steam them until they become bright green about 3 minutes.

Citrus Sauce: Mix 2 Tbsp tamari, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 Tbsp maple syrup, and 2 Tbsp water in a small bowl.

Assemble Rice Bowl: Assemble the rice bowl in a big bowl in any way you want. Sprinkle the citrus sauce at last. You don’t need it much because all toppings are already seasoned.


Quintessence=My Second Favorite Vegan Restaurant in Town

Taco, Caprese Pocket, Gochuchang Fofu

Taco, Caprese Pocket, Gochuchang Fofu

Sushi Roll Entree

Sushi Roll Entree

I had an expiring groupon at Quintessence to use, so I went with M. It was packed at 7 p.m. on a cold Tuesday night. Who else wanted to eat raw food on a cold night? East Villagers’ dinner time is after 8 p.m. What happened to that?? We were told that it was a 30 minutes wait. A waitress took M’s phone number. We walked around. 40 minutes in, we got a call letting us know our table is getting ready. When we walked in, we were told to wait outside (again) until she set up the table. But it was 16 ºF outside… I asked her if we could wait just by the door. She said NO. She was firm. We went outside and watched her set up 2 tables rather slowly fiddling napkins’ positions a few times. It’s a tiny space, so that I understand that she needed space to work, but she didn’t make me feel welcomed. When we were finally seated, it was 7:52 p.m.

We ordered 3 appetizers (Caprese Pocket, Gochuchang Fofu, Taco) and a Sushi Roll Dinner. They were all very good and that put a smile on my face. We were hungry and I ate as much as I could, but we couldn’t finish the sushi rolls and no space for deserts left. Gochuchang Fofu was creamy and kimchi-spicy. Caprese Pocket was refreshing, creamy and pesto-y. Taco was not a regular taco. It contained plenty of guacamole and something grainy and hummus like paste in a sweet hard shell.
Since our last visit on Valentine’s Day in 2013, Quintessence has changed their menus. They are no longer raw food only. They took off Creamy Curry Plater which M loved, but added quite a few cooked dishes. They still have enough raw dishes.

Vegan Tofu Lasagna

Tofu Lasagna

Tofu Lasagna

When winter wind blowing outside, I would like to have something warm and yummy, comfort food. This is the comfort food in the oven. I made a double batch of tomato sauce a few days ago thinking of making this.

1 batch of tomato sauce
1 yellow onion, 3-4 cloves garlic, 1 28 oz tomato can, 3 oz tomato paste, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, a pinch cayenne, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp oregano, 1 carrot or 1 bell pepper or 1/2 lb any mushrooms, olive oil, 1/2 cup wine

Tofu Filling
1 lb firm tofu
2 Tbsp nutritious yeast
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1-2 lemon (2 tsp zest, 3 Tbsp juice)
1 tsp dried basil or 1 cup chopped fresh basil

1 box lasagna pasta

  1. Make tomato sauce. Splash olive oil in a large sauce pan, cook chopped onion, garlic, and vegetables for 5 minutes or until they become soft.
  2. Shake in salt and spices. Coat the vegetables.
  3. Squash tomatoes in the can, add them to the pan. Add wine and tomato paste as well.
  4. Heat to boil. Reduce heat to simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Make tofu filling. Drain tofu. Mix all the tofu filling ingredients until smooth by a mixer or blender.
  6. Preheat oven at 375ºF.
  7. Assemble. In a deep baking dish, spread 1/4 tomato sauce. Place 1 layer of lasagna pasta. Spread 1/3 tofu filling. Repeat until the dish is full. I usually use 3/4 box of pasta and run out of other ingredients. End with tomato sauce on top.
  8. Cover with a foil. Bake for 30 minutes.

*You can sprinkle vegan faux parmesan on top for more cheesiness and crunch.

vegan faux parmesan
Grind cashew:walnut/pecan:sesame seeds:nutritious yeast=1:1:1:1 in a coffe grinder. Mix in salt and black pepper to taste.

Osechi (Japanese New Year’s Day Food)


from top left: Kuri Kinton (candied chestnuts with sweet potato), Kombu Dashimaki (seaweed), Kuromame (black beans), Su-Renkon (pickled lotus root), Datemaki (egg-fish cake custard), Ozoni (baked rice cake in broth)

I usually try to cook 1 or 2 traditional Japanese New Year’s food every year. This year, I made
Kuromame (black beans, cooked in sugar, tamari and sake)
Kuri Kinton (candied chestnuts with sweet potatoes that were boiled, sieved and simmered with sugar, sake and salt)
Ozoni (baked rice cake in kombu/shiitake mushroom/bonito broth garnished with spinach, carrots and snow peas)
Su-Renkon (pickled lotus root).

This is totally an abbreviated version, not like the way my Mother used to make, but hey, I’ve cooked something. Each dish represents something you wish for the new year. For example, Kuromame is for ability to work diligently. For others, I forgot.