burger test #1.

This one gets a 7/10. Not bad in any way, but not juicy or spicy or generally decadent enough, needs something like the vermouth/jalapeno/pickle mayo hinted at here to sex it up.



for posterity.

Because, you know, the future needs vegan lemon ricotta too. Goddamn when is someone going to come up with the lexical equivalent of "cheese" to describe all of these creamy processed nut concoctions that hundreds of thousands of people are making at home to substitute for cheese.

I made this ricotta substitute to put into a noodle-less zucchini Parmesan, which also doesn't have any Parmesan, so goddamnit we're going to need another name for this as well. Cashew in Italian is "anacardio"....and I basically made this.

By the way, some airbnb guests left three pieces of real cheese last week, it was really good.


zucchini al forno con anacardio e pomodoro. 

3 zucchini/courgettes, sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch planks
1 cup of lemon cashew ricotta (below)

2 cans tomatoes
2 bay leaves
2 garlic cloves
2 splashes red wine
2 glugs olive oil
pinch smoked paprika
2 tsp sugar
1 carrot
1 celery stalk
1 cup cooked green/brown lentils

1 good handful of fresh basil leaves, torn


lemon cashew ricotta. 

1 cup unroasted cashews.
2 cups water

3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp miso
zest of one lemon
juice of one half lemon

So, put the cashews and water in a pan and boil for 10 minutes. Drain the cashews, reserving the water you've drained off. Then combine 1/2 cup of that water and the cashews themselves in a food processor and process til it looks like ricotta. Then add your salt, lemon zest, lemon juice, and miso, and process some more. If it's too thick, add a little more of the cashew water. If it's not, well don't do anything. Just chill.



This is always improvised, and I always worry it's going to fuck up, and it never does, but just in case:


gluten-free vegetarian gravy.

1 tbsp tapioca flour
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 vegetable bouillon cube
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
pinch thyme
freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp butter

Mix the tapioca and the water in a small bowl, before heating anything. When tapioca is dissolved, put the mixture in a small saucepan and add everything but the butter. After it comes to a boil, let it simmer for a minute or two until it's the desired thickness, then add butter. Salt and pepper to taste.



black bean bitterballen.

Nelson/Hoogte Labs produced this bit of wonder over the past couple of days. It's a real, delicious, vegan vegetarian bitterbal made with black beans and pureed/whipped pozole, rolled in panko, deep-fried, and served with an outstanding vegan piccalilli mayo. Really impressive if I do say so myself, which I can because I only did half of it.

Why isn't it vegan? The chick running the deep-fryer couldn't get the panko to stick without an egg, so we need to look into a replacement technology here. And anyway, unbeknownst to the deep-fryer chick, the asshole running the blender had already added butter to the whipped posole so veganness was out the window.

Additionally, the whole concept was fucked with so much on its way to greatness that reproducing it will be a challenge. Leftover Rancho Gordo posole won't always be in the freezer for example. But I'm thinking if you roast a bag of corn (do they even have bags of corn here?) in the oven for 15 or 45 minutes and then whip it in a blender with oat milk and coconut oil that you might get close. Should also figure out if heating the oat milk is actually thickening the whole thing or if that's a myth.

The Labs also pumped out this alien looking thing today.

The internets told me it was the best thing to do with leftover pasta, and indeed it was pretttttttty good. It's Mark Bittman's recipe plus a handful of chopped spinach, one scallion and one clove of crushed garlic.



anti-fergettinizin' mechanism.

For a long time I seriously considered writing some ind of a cookbook, but now more than ever I'm pretty sure I don't see the point of it, we hardly really need one more stupie person telling people how to cook, etc.

But, I saw this quote today and it reminded me that I always kind of did imagine saying something about salt in my imaginary cookbook. Not to sound like I know what I'm doing, but carefully salting and tasting every component of a dish before it's served is probably the most important thing I do right in the kitchen.

But also, one should always keep in mind Peter Gallagher's wise, wise wisdom from Sex, Lies, and Videotape:

Graham (to Ann): Dinner was very good.
John: Yeah, it wasn't bad, honey. Usually Ann achieves a kind of critical mass with the salt, but, uh, tonight was...I always tell her, you can always add more, but you can't take it away.
Ann: Yeah, you say that, don't you?


Anyway. Here's what I saw today, I'm agreeing with the "use more than you're comfortable with" part, not the "salt things until they taste like the sea," though I can see experimenting with that:

Nosrat frees her readers to use their own senses instead of measuring cups. 
She says we should salt things until they taste like the sea — which is a beautiful image, but also sounds like an awful lot of salt. 
"Just use more than you're comfortable with, I think is a good rule for most people," she says. You know, especially when you're boiling things in salted water, the idea is that most foods don't spend much time in that water. So the idea is to make it salty enough that the food can absorb enough salt and become seasoned from within. A lot of times you end up using less salt, total, if you get the salt right from within, because then the thing isn't over seasoned on the outside and bland in the center."


This post was originally just to remind all y'all that if you make a big pot of great black beans on Saturday, you can certainly have a few then, but then the next day you can make this salad, and the day after that you can make a soup like this one minus the wine and the full can of chipotles...and it still doesn't feel like too much black beans.

None of which has to do with the above picture, which was about trying to create a satisfying vegetarian version of the Dutch classic of white asparagus with buttered potatoes, ham, hard-boiled egg, and more butter. My ham substitute was mushrooms cooked in quite a lot of, yes, butter, with smoked salt and smoked paprika, not bad at all.




Vegan recipes: occasionally difficult to title appetizingly. Title aside, this Anna Jones thing was delicious, fluffy like a Spanish tortilla, creamily starchy like french fries with mayo, and spicy and herbal like a falafel. OK I guess it was really truly only like a tortilla. Served with a spicy mayo, which you'd almost never do, egg on egg crime and whatnot. Wait what am I talking about you'd totally do that. I myself used to do that all the time, toasted bread, egg over-easy, mayo and sambal badjak, it's called the Sjako. That's a good sandwich. Chomp.


carrot and chickpea flour pancake with lemon-herb mayo. 

150g chickpea flour
230ml homemade oat milk or other non-animal milk of your choice
2 tbsp EVOO
2 medium carrots, grated...I decided that I hate grating carrots enough to buy pre-grated
1 or 2 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil for frying

4 normal gherkins or 8 cornichons
1 fresh green chile
a few sprigs of fresh parsley
4 or 5 tbsp homemade vegan mayo (this recipe, is, in fact, nearly indistinguishable from trad mayo if you bump up the lemon and the mustard a little)
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
the zest of 1⁄2 an unwaxed lemon, or 1 tsp of Moroccan preserved lemon rind

a handful of mesclun for serving.

Serves 2, which is important to note. Also important to note: in order to get this looking awesome like the picture in the book you've got to have your tortilla/frittata-flipping skills happening as well as two cooperative skillets. Somehow mine worked.



This is not cheese, it's cashews and tapioca starch and a bunch of other stuff designed to emulate Camembert. OK, don't think of it like that, but goshdarnit if it isn't kind of cheesish.



falafel taco.

Serendipity? I didn't invent this unholy bastard mess but I should have. Above: storebought taco shell filled with: avocado and shredded iceberg dressed with lime and salt; momofuku cukes, tomatoes and red onions; zhoug; amba; beet hummus; soy tzatziki; sriracha. And homemade falafel. After a week of pretty awful cooking by me it was time to go for what you know.

Below, the next day's non-taco version.




Always thought that was a good band name. So there's been a thankfully uncharacteristic series of kitchen failures this week, probably related in an either cause or effect way to an also uncharacteristically persistent shitty mood.

This is the first unreservedly successful thing I've made in days.



1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 tsp cacao
50g dried coconut (the cheap kind)
2 tbsp chia seeds
50g dried fruit (i used half dates and half raisins)
1 tsp maca powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cacao

1 tbsp nut butter (i used pumpkinseed)
1 tbsp date syrup (or agave or maple)
pinch salt

2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp cacao

Combine first things in a food processor until they're a coarse crumble that's beginning to stick together. Add the nut butter, date syrup and salt, then process again for ten seconds or so, you're trying to get something you can roll into a ball.

Then: shape into balls and roll them in a mixture of sesame seeds, cinnamon and cacao.




Such an uninformative photo. But this was really delicious, a total surprise, veganized by Nelson, original recipe by someone that I have been onstage with more than once, another total surprise. Official adaptation to follow.



meißen to groningen.

Meißen was perhaps a bit of a step down in the accommodations department, but we'd done so well up to this point how could you really complain. Plus there was the normal German Sausage Array for breakfast.

The town itself was, as you can see, wunderschön, "best Saxon hill town we visited on this trip", etc. And then we hit the road, plowing through more endless fields of rape, listening to a little Barbra and Barry, and stopping for lunch at a combination gas station/Subway/pizza place/burger joint. The sign down there says that the meat they use is local and they slaughter it themselves. I don't even know what that is I'm eating, I thought I ordered a bratwurst, this was like a big delicious meatball. Everyone else pussed out and ordered a Subway because they included vegetables. I just needed one more moment alone with my meat: goodbye fleisch, it was nice.


kraków to meißen.

We were a tiny bit sad to leave Poland, because well, Poland was a big surprise. It almost immediately became my third favorite European country that I don't live in. You can't really tell from this day of photos, but Wroclaw was kind of wonderfully shabbily beautiful and Krakow was surprisingly grand and everywhere just reeked of history and atmosphere.

The people were without exception sweet and quiet. There was music everywhere. And Poles seem to put a little bit of extra effort into atmosphere and gezelligheid, more so than maybe anywhere I've ever been. Sure there are shitty soulless bars and cafes and snackbars, but it was very easy to find a place that was dark and candlelit and crammed with the furniture and belongings of millions of dead people. That's a horrible joke but A) I'm apparently half Polish and 2) it's true.

Above: the breakfast room of the Klezmer Hois. Below: trying to find kielbasa to take home, because somehow I managed not to fucking have one while I was there. Below that: gas station sandwich calling out to my apparently blood-genetics based Polish love of pickles and eggs. Below that, boomkanker, or as most people refer to it, mistletoe. It was everywhere along the Polish highways and its presence engendered a week-long discussion of the history, science and myth around this mysterious parasite. I guess we had a lot of long drives. Below that, the only bad meal we had in Poland, a case of the #1 TripAdvisor restaurant in town feeling like a depressingly inauthentic experience. There were real Polish people there, construction workers and what not, but 75% of the diners at my table didn't eat even half their food, some much less. The whole place just felt kind of off, and it was an unfortunate end to a few days of unexpectedly good eating.

Below that, the next logical step after our continuing to watch the temperature drop in five-degree increments from 55F to 35F as we headed west across Poland. Below that, arrival in Meißen.

krakow day 2.

Behold, our walk from the Klezmer Hois (our hotel) in the historic Jewish district of Kazimierz to the old center of Krakow. My lunch target was full Chinese tourists and seemed a bit ongezellig, so we moped around for a little bit and ended up at the other place I recognized from my research, Szara.

Which seemed like, oh shit, we walked into the most expensive restaurant on a touristy square in a touristy city, it's very empty in here, fuuuuuck. But the atmosphere was totally nice, and the food was truly excellent, Nelzer had a perfect asparagus and enoki risotto, and my "Polish-style steak tartare" was full of top-notch components. And the whole thing was a totally reasonable €60, one course of really professional cooking for four people, plus one wine and three coffees.

The evening's meal went unphotographed due to phone death, a place called Qrudo that was kind of sadly soulless inside and featured live music of the "acoustic jazz-pop with female vocals" type, so not really a score in that regard. But the wine was good, the pierogi were maybe the best of the trip, and Aaltje ordered a really really delicious creme brulee with rosemary, Angostura bitters and a teeny-tiny pitcher of Jagermeister to pour over top. Then we returned to the Klezmer Hois, where there were constantly string players warming up, tuning, learning songs...I'm glad we didn't sit down to watch the music, but the place was just full of it and that seemed an appropriate atmosphere for old Jewish Krakow.