Category Archives: Entrées

Days alone: Potstickers

Some days I just want to be alone.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to spend time with friends and family. I’ll throw parties and talk your ear off if you’d let me.

But I also like to be quiet. To ride my bike, pick flowers, do laundry, get coffee, and notice different shades of lip prints on other people’s cups.

I like to sit beneath lemon trees.

I savor these days. They are not extraordinary or spectacular, they are small and laced with stray thoughts and dreams.

On a day like that I made some potstickers.

I could fold all 40 without a hungry belly watching and waiting.

Kale and Smoked Tofu Potstickers
I used a tea-smoked tofu from a local company called TofuYu. Any drained and smoked tofu would be fine.

2 TBS cooking oil (I used grapeseed)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBS minced ginger
2 cups kale, stems removed and chopped
1 medium carrot, finely shredded
3 TBS soy sauce
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped chives
1 cup smoked and drained tofu, finely cubed
1 lightly beaten egg
1 package of wanton wrappers (you need around 40)
small amount of oil for cooking

Heat oil and garlic in a skillet until garlic is softened. Add kale and ginger and wilt for about 3 minute. Cool

In a large bowl, fold together kale, carrot, soy sauce, cilantro, chives, and tofu. Fold in beaten egg.

set out a large workspace to fill the dumplings. You will need two damp kitchen towels to cover the wrappers  and the filled potstickers to keep them from drying out while working.
Lay one wonton wrapper out and wet all edges with your finger. fill with a teaspoon-ish of filling and pull all sides together as shown above. Push all the air out you can.

Repeat until all wrappers are filled.*

To cook, heat a sticky pan** with just a tiny amount of oil brushed on the bottom. Heat until water dances when it hits the pan and then add 8-10 potstickers.

Cook for 2 minutes without touching the dumplings. Add 1/3 cup of water and quickly lid. Cook for another 3 mintues with the lid off.

Remove and serve imminently.

* You can also freeze them beautifully at this point. Lay the dumplings out on a cookie sheet and, when frozen, put in a ziplock bag.

**as in the opposite of a non-stick pan. You need the stick for potSTICKERS




Filed under Entrées, Food Adventures

Planes and Trains and PotPies

I’m currently sitting on Amtrak heading towards the mountains, my family, and Joey. I have lost count of the amount of time I’ve spent on one of these trains to see him. We have been together for over three years now and seem to always be cities, countries, and continents apart.

How do you do long distance?
I guess it was never something that we planned. It was more like- why not? We love each other, why would we break up?
And in many ways I think it has made us independent. I study abroad and Joey goes on tour without it ever being “Us vs. The Adventure”.

But the distance is not easy. There are many plane, train, and automobile rides. He stayed up to Skype me on London time and I became a regular at the Ghanaian post office.
There is a kind of language I began to learn, words like: how long, come here, don’t go, and now sometimes express more than I miss you.  You lose you your breath at hello and take a deep one at goodbye.

Long distance is not for everyone. Maybe it’s not supposed to be for anyone. But as my dear friend once told me in high school:
“Just because love isn’t all that matters doesn’t mean it’s not the most important thing.”

So here I am, on the train again. I have learned a few tricks:
The expensive beer is always worth it- unless you brought your own.
Look outside- for peeling old barns and little kids waving through windows
Amtrak Guest Rewards points are cheaper to buy and use on few routes, like Fresno to Santa Barbara or Fresno to the Bay Area.

Portabella PotPie

I always tend to over-plan our time together- being a chronic over-planner since I was five. However, when Joey came last weekend (I’m seeing him two weekends in a row!) I baked the frozen Portabella Potpies I had slaved over the week before and got some fresh mozzarella from Cowgirl Creamery for caprice salad with reduced balsamic. The recipe was inspired by this one.



Portabella Pot Pies with Porcini Gravy
This recipe is for a big batch- just freeze the extra pies overnight and slip into zipock bags the next day. Cook frozen pies at 350 for 45-50 minutes.

Makes 8 individual pies or 5 individual and one 9 inch

3 sticks cold unsalted butter
4 1/4 cups unbleached flour
3/4 tsp kosher salt
12-14 Tbs ice water
1 beaten egg

Porcini gravy
1 oz. dried Porcini mushrooms, rinsed
2 cups. Red wine
2 carrots, cubed
4 celery sticks, chopped
2 bay leaves, torn
few sprigs fresh parsley and thyme
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 Tbs flour
Salt to taste

4 large portabella caps cut into 1” chunks
3 large peeled carrots cut into 1” chunks
2 lb young creamy potatoes (like red or fingerling) cut into 1”chunks*
1 lb asparagus cut into 1” pieces
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
Olive oil

Simmer porcini mushrooms in 4 cups water over low heat for 30 minutes until tender and fragrant.

In the meantime, assemble the crust. Mix together salt and flour in large bowl and cut in cold butter. Work with a fork or pastry cutter until it is the consistency of rough cornmeal. Work in just enough water to hold pastry together and wrap and chill.

Strain out porcini mushrooms from broth and keep for your own use. Return broth to stove and add wine, carrots, celery, bay, and herbs. Simmer for another 30 minutes until everything is tender.

Strain out all solids and compost. Set broth aside and melt the butter in the stockpan. Add flour and cook the roux until it smells like pancakes and the raw flavor is gone.

Wisk in broth and cook 10 minutes or until it coats the back of a spoon. Taste and season with salt.

Heat a large pot with a drizzle of olive oil and brown portabellas. Remove and set aside. Use the same pot to cook carrots and potatoes with a drizzle of oil until tender.  Add mushroom gravy, asparagus, and peas and cook for 5 minutes. Taste and Season. Remove from stove to cool.

While the filling cools, assemble the pie shells and brush all sides that touch filling with beaten egg (this is so it doesn’t get soggy).

Fill and bake fresh pies for 25 minutes at 375.

* The young potatoes are important to use because regular ones will become mealy in the freezer.



Filed under Entrées, Food Adventures

Black Bean and Butternut Squash Enchiladas

The nice little summer we’ve been having around here (June-uary) left us for a few days and was replaced by wind and rain.

I ventured to Isla Vista on Friday night for lazy night of Phó, wine, and a movie. Severe weather warnings dubbed over the CLIMATIC WEREWOLF FIGHT SCENE in Wolfman (epic thriller, Black Swan-shwan.) and then the power switched out just as the credits rolled. Oh- it was also a full moon and a tree fell over outside the house. But nothing will stop IV, even if their bass speakers are off.

I like living away from it all. Here in this tiny, slanted house that’s smack in the middle of Goleta and downtown Santa Barbara, I feel peaceful.

And that of course makes me want to cook.

I like the chocolate-y smell of Pasilla (or Ancho) chiles- the rich sauce goes really well with the sweetness of the roasted butternut squash. This dish is so warm in every way. I love it. Share it with someone you really like.

Pasilla Enchilada Sauce
I read from different sources that you need to scrape the chile membrane from its skin in order to not have a bitter aftertaste. But I was in a hurry so I just puréed them whole. It was a little bitter…but not bad.

3 oz dry Pasilla chiles
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. olive oil
½ t. cumin
½ t. cinnamon
2 round T. tomato paste
2 c. vegetable broth
2 round T. unsweetened cocoa powder
salt to taste

Slit dry chiles open and remove stem, seeds, and veins. Heat a large skillet and press the chiles flat, skin side up. Toast for about 5 seconds (the first time I made this, I burnt the chiles, be careful!). Add chiles to a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then let soak for 10-15 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of liquid. In the meantime, heat oil and garlic in a skillet until garlic has softened. Add cumin and cinnamon and heat for about 30 seconds.

Purée chiles, garlic-spice mixture, tomato paste and vegetable broth in a food processor. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve and add reserved chile-water and salt (taste). Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Wisk in cocoa powder.

Black Bean and Butternut Squash Enchiladas
I have also made these with corn tortillas!


1 small butternut squash, cubed (about 5 cups)
olive oil & coarse sea salt
2 c. cooked black beans (I defrosted some I cooked myself, but you can use canned)
12 oz shredded Jack, mozzarella, or queso fresco
2 1/2 c. enchilada sauce
½ sweet onion, sliced in wedges
7-9 flour tortillas (I used “fajita” sized)
cilantro, plain Greek yogurt (You can use sour cream, but I like the taste of yogurt better- plus I always have it in my fridge), and avocado slices

Heat oven to 400 F. Coat squash with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle with salt, spread out on a large pan and roast for 30 minutes (more info on this here).

Turn oven down to 350.

Sauté the onion with a little olive oil until just soft.

Spread about 1/3 cup of enchilada sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish. Coat both sides of a tortilla with the sauce in the dish. Fill with a couple tablespoons of beans, cubed squash, and cheese, along with some of the sautéed onion. Roll up and arrange seam side down. Repeat until your dish fills up!

Cover with the rest of the sauce and cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Serve with the avocado, yogurt, and cilantro!

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