Grilled Mushroom Satay wtih Garlic Scape Skewers

Satay on Platter
Checking out the new additions at the farmer’s market on Saturday, I was excited to see garlic scapes. A first for me last year, I immediately fell in love with their mild garlic flavor and versatility—soups, pesto, eggs, salads—scapes in everything—that is, for the short amount of time they are available.

The flower buds of the garlic plant, scapes are cut from the plants in late June to encourage the bulbs to thicken up. They are long and curl into a loop when cut and are sold in bunches of the most beautiful shade of green. Odd looking, but oh so pretty at the same time.

Garlic Scapes

Garlic Scapes

Wanting to use the scapes in a different way, I turned to Google for some ideas and stumbled across a Food52 recipe for this beef satay recipe that uses scapes as skewers. Genius! Something I never would have thought of, but now makes so much sense—why NOT an edible skewer?

My go-to veggie substitute for steak is the meaty portabella mushroom, so that was swapped for the round steak. I tweaked the marinade recipe a bit and used a different satay sauce, and the result was fantastic! In fact, I may use this as my regular marinade for portabella burgers from now on—the flavors just sing!
Satay on Grill PanYou can make the satay sauce a day or two ahead of time, or make it while the mushrooms are marinating. I poked each mushroom quarter with a metal skewer to create a hole and then threaded the end of the scape through that I had cut into a point. A couple mushrooms broke, so I just grilled them separately next to the skewers.

Arranged on a platter, the finished product is as eye-catching as it is delicious! And don’t skimp on the phenomenal satay sauce. Enjoy!
Satay with Sauce

Grilled Mushroom Satay with Garlic Scape Skewers

Inspired by this recipe from Food 52

6 garlic scapes

1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced

Juice of one lime

Small handful of cilantro leaves

About 10 mint leaves

About 10 Thai basil leaves

1/4 cup tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

4 large portabella mushroom caps, stems removed and gills scraped out, and cut into quarters

Make scape skewers by cutting 8-9 inches off the non-flower bud end of six garlic scapes. Trim one end of each scape into a point. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the marinade, cut 3-4 of the remaining portion of the scapes into small pieces (discard the wide part, which is the flower bud). Place in the bowl of a food processor and add the ginger, lime juice, cilantro, mint, Thai basil leaves and the tamari. Blend until smooth. With the blender running, drizzle in the sesame and grapeseed oils and blend until combined.

Pour the marinade into a large zip-lock bag and add the portabella mushroom quarters. Seal the bag and gently toss everything around to coat the mushrooms. Refrigerate for several hours, turning several times (alternately, marinate at room-temperature for about an hour, tossing occasionally).

While mushrooms are marinating, make the Spicy Satay Sauce (recipe below).

Heat gas grill to medium high (or charcoal grill to the equivalent). Poke the mushroom quarters with a metal skewer and then thread through the hole formed by the metal skewer with the scape skewers, using three mushroom quarters per garlic scape skewer.

Place the skewers on a pan designed for cooking items that might fall through the grates on a grill. Grill until the mushrooms are cooked through, turning about every 2 minutes in order to cook evenly, for a total of about 10 minutes, basting occasionally with remaining marinade.

Serve drizzled with Spicy Satay Sauce. Makes 4 skewers.

Spicy Satay Sauce
1/3 cup tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)

¼ cup light coconut milk

2 tablespoons natural peanut butter, at room temperature

1 tablespoons sesame oil

1 tablespoon rice or white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice

1 teaspoon minced ginger root

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon pure maple syrup or honey

1 teaspoon Asian chili paste (like Sambal Oelek)

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Whisk together all sauce ingredients in a bowl until combined. Serve at room temperature. Leftovers will keep a couple weeks in the fridge.

Barbequed Pulled “Pork”

On Saturday we attended the 2015 Diner en Blanc (White Dinner) Twin Cities. As always, it was a beautiful, magical, welcoming, classy, and immensely fun event. Throngs of people outfitted in summer whites seated in rows of lovely white tablescapes noshed on meals and sipped drinks that ranged from simple to extravagant. Much mingling and merriment followed, along with the traditional sparklers being waved as darkness fell.

This year’s location was Raspberry Island, a pretty spot in the middle of the Mississippi River with stunning St. Paul skyline views providing an amazing backdrop for an enchanting experience and a perfect evening. I can’t wait for next year!

While planning for this year’s dinner, I reviewed countless recipes suitable for a picnic before coming up with our menu. One recipe, while not really appropriate because it’s best served hot, intrigued me so much that I made it for a meal at home.

BBQ Pulled “Pork.” Yes, you read that correctly. And the best part of all it’s not some wheat meat or soy based meat substitute. Made from young, unripe jackfruit (an Asian tree fruit, sort of similar to hearts of palm), this has the texture and flavor of the real thing without all the fat, calories, and cholesterol. You’ll want to use the unripe or young jackfruit because it lacks the sweetness of the ripe fruit. Look for it packed in brine or water, rather than syrup. I ordered it first through a secondary supplier on Amazon, but the cans arrived seriously dented. They did send another order, this time packed better, with only one of six cans dented. But more recently, I found it at Dragon Star Oriental Foods in St. Paul and I’m sure it’s available at other Asian markets, as well, and it’s very inexpensive.

Drain and rinse the jackfruit and cut off the core (the triangular tip) from the flesh and discard it. It seems like a lot of waste, but it is necessary. If you compost, that should lessen any guilt you might feel.
JackfruitCan of JackfruitI made this again on Father’s Day for a family gathering and it was a hit. You can use bottled barbeque sauce or your own favorite recipe. I don’t like a really sweet sauce and found Trader Joe’s Sriracha BBQ Sauce absolutely wonderful—good and spicy, but not overly sweet (you might want to skip the cayenne if you use this sauce).

Serve pulled “pork” on good quality toasted whole wheat buns with toppings of your choice—my favorite being a tangy coleslaw, but pickled onions, pineapple, and kimchi are other options. I’ve never had “real” pulled pork, but I can’t imagine how it could be any better tasting than this. Enjoy!
Sandwich 2

Barbequed Pulled Pork

Adapted from this recipe on the blog Blissful Basil

2 cans young green jackfruit in water or brine

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon smoke salt (optional)

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 cup barbeque sauce (bottled or homemade—your choice)

1/2 cup water

Whole-wheat buns

Toppings of your choice—coleslaw, pickled onions, pineapple, kimchi, etc.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until tender (5-7 minutes).

Drain and rinse the jackfruit in a strainer. Cut the core of the jackfruit (the triangular tip) from the flesh and discard the core.

Mix chili powder, cumin, smoke salt, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and brown sugar together in a medium bowl. Add in the jackfruit flesh and toss to coat.

Add seasoned jackfruit to the skillet with the onions and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes.

Whisk the barbeque sauce and water together. Pour into the skillet with the jackfruit. Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until tender.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the lid from the skillet and shred the jackfruit with a fork. Continue to simmer with the lid off for 5-10 minutes or until the barbeque sauce is reduced.

Spread the mixture on a baking sheet and bake for 20 about minutes; this makes the texture more “pork” like.

Serve mounded on toasted buns with garnishes of choice. Makes 6-8 servings.



The farmers’ markets near our house don’t open for another week, but I’ve had a yen for local produce shopping since early May, so on Memorial Day weekend, Pete and I headed to the lovely downtown St. Paul Farmers’ Market. It’s the most charming larger market I’ve ever been to and it’s always bustling.

I knew there would be lots of flowers and bedding plants, however, there ended up being more fresh produce than I expected. Pretty radishes, vibrant lettuces and spinach, spring onions, asparagus, green garlic, straight-from-the-farm eggs and even some potatoes (that must have been greenhouse grown)—we filled our totes to over-flowing.

Once home, I wanted to get at least some of our cache into breakfast. An omelet or frittata seemed too predictable, so I looked to the “Morning” section of my new cookbook, sure inspiration would be found. Sunday Suppers: Recipes & Gatherings by Karen Mordechai is delightful and teeming with fresh recipes and ideas for creative twists on basic dishes. It’s broken down into sections—morning, noon, afternoon and evening, offering full menus for various themes, many of which adapt well to picnics and meals on the road.

Like so many of my cookbooks in recent years, this was purchased at the Lake Superior Trading Post in Grand Marais. They have an ever-changing selection of unique cookbooks tucked away in a corner of the rustic second floor. I read it from cover-to-cover on our drive home from the cabin last month, and remembered there were a couple breakfast recipes that intrigued me.

Shakshuka—it’s a Middle Eastern breakfast dish that’s much more fun to say than “poached eggs in tomato sauce.” I had never heard of it, but if a recipe makes my mouth water just reading it, I must make it! I had most of the ingredients on hand and suitable substitutes for those I didn’t. Plus it was fun to see the look on Pete’s face when I said we’re having shakshuka. After a brief stunned silence, he said “Gesundheit!”

This was so good I made it two weekends in a row. Make sure to have some good quality bread (sour dough rye is wonderful!) or fresh pitas to dip in those runny egg yolks and saucy stew. I guarantee, if you make this once, you will make it again! Next time, I’m making it for company. Enjoy!
Pan of Shakshuka


Adapted from Sunday Suppers: Recipes & Gatherings by Karen Mordechai

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 green bell pepper or other bell pepper, chopped into 1” pieces

1 bay leaf

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ to 1 jalapeño pepper, minced (include the seeds for extra heat)

A couple handfuls fresh spinach, chopped

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground coriander

10 oz cherry tomatoes, quartered (or 10 oz. full sized ripe tomatoes, diced)

One 14 oz. can diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

4 eggs

Additional salt and pepper, to taste

Chopped fennel fronds, green onion, parsley or cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Bread or fresh pitas, for dipping

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pepper, bay leaf, onion, garlic, and jalapeño and cook for about 5 minutes, until the onion has softened. Stir in the chopped spinach and cook a couple minutes more until spinach is wilted. Add the salt, pepper, paprika, fennel, cumin, and coriander. Cook for a minutes, stirring constantly, to release the fragrance (breath in, it will smell amazing!)

Add the fresh and canned tomatoes and the tomato paste, reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Remove bay leaf.

With the back of a spoon, make four indentations in the sauce. Crack an egg into each indentation. Season the eggs with salt and pepper. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until the eggs are done to your liking, 10-15 minutes. Scoop eggs and sauce into bowls and garnish with fennel fronds, etc., if desired. Serve with good quality bread (toasted or not) or fresh pitas.

Green Sauce


Green Sauce

Today there was a meeting at work where lunch was served. It was from a place called Brasa, and while the bulk of the meal wasn’t vegetarian, even I could tell this was quality food. It looked like spiced roasted pork and pulled chicken, along with a killer slaw and several varieties of pickled veggies, all for people to pile on fresh buns with a couple sauces, one barbeque and the other just called “green sauce.”

That green sauce looked mighty intriguing and I thought it might be a good match for the pasty (or pastie) I had brought for lunch (I’ll save the pasty story/recipe for another blog post, but it’s my healthier and vegetarian version of the tradition Cornish savory hand pie filled with meat & vegetables). Whoa, was I right! Green sauce made a delicious lunch mega-delicious!

Could I buy it? Could I make it? I must have more! I Googled “Brasa Signature Green Sauce” (the official name of this elixir). I found references to the restaurant only, no recipe, but I did find out that green sauce is really a thing, and there were a number of recipes out there. Based on an attempt to copy the taste, and a desire to make my version a little less caloric, I settled on the following recipe. It’s pretty darn close and every bit as good. It will take anything you sauce or dip or dress with it to mega-delicious status. And don’t be put off by the quantity of cilantro—I’m normally not a big cilantro lover, but it MAKES this sauce. Enjoy!

Pasty and Green Sauce

Pasty with Green Sauce

By the way, in my Googling, I found out Brasa Premium Rotisserie (the full name of the restaurant/caterer) gets outstanding reviews and actually has a separate vegetarian menu. I see a date night with Pete at Brasa very soon!

Green Sauce

Adapted from the green sauce in this recipe from Once Upon a Chef

1 medium jalapeño pepper, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves

½ cup mayonnaise (I used the amazing vegan Mindful Mayo made by Earth Balance)

¼ cup Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

A scant ½ teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Place all ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. With machine running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and process until it is fully incorporated. Transfer to a container and refrigerate until ready to use. It tastes best if given some time for the flavors to mingle.

Serve on everything and anything!

Napa Cabbage Kimchi

Jar of Kimchi
With its signature fish or anchovy sauce, the traditional fermented Korean side dish kimchi (also spelled kimchee or gimchi) was an elusive concept to me, as a vegetarian, until a little over a year ago when I spotted a vegan version at Trader Joe’s. Packed in a handy re-sealable pouch and only $1.99, it was convenient and a bargain! I began eating it with everything—eggs, salads, sandwiches, in this, and this; you name it—everything was better with kimchi!

And then one day, horror of horrors, they no longer carried it, and I couldn’t get my fix. I asked the cheerful Trader Joe’s clerk, “Why oh why did you do this to me?” She told me they were getting complaints because pouches were bursting as the product fermented. Until they found packaging that could contain it, no more Trader Joe’s kimchi. The versions I’d find at other stores all contained the dreaded fish sauce. So sadly, I went without my spicy, funky Korean essential for many months.

I continued to search kimchi labels for the rare vegan version and lo and behold, I finally found it! A brand carried both at my co-op and a local grocery store. Happy once again, I resumed my kimchi love affair. The downside, though, was this wasn’t $1.99 like the TJ’s brand; it ranged between $9 and $11 depending on the store, making it a pricy habit.

It had never occurred to me to make my own until I saw The Kimchi Cookbook: 60 Traditional and Modern Ways to Make and Eat Kimchi one day on Food 52. Who knew there were so many ways to make kimchi!?! I ordered it immediately and found a recipe that was similar to what I had been buying, but it included fish sauce. The book suggests a vegetarian modification of either mushroom broth (which they provide a recipe for) or adding some apple and salt to the paste, neither of which seemed to me like good substitutions. I ended up using capers and a little caper brine, an idea taken from a vegan Caesar salad dressing I love.

There’s nothing too complicated about making kimchi, but it is time-consuming. Lots of chopping (which I don’t mind), brining, packing, plus the fermenting time, results in at least a week before you can enjoy the fruits of your labor, but believe me, it’s worth it! I was a bit concerned that the tops would blow off my canning jars—if the fermentation can burst pouches, I wasn’t sure. But no need to worry—just leave a good inch of space at the top of your container. Having never made anything fermented before, I was absolutely giddy to see the stuff bubbling and realizing the process was actually working! The finished product tasted even better than store-bought. Enjoy!
IngredientsSeasoning PasteMixed

Napa Cabbage Kimchi

Adapted from The Kimchi Cookbook: 60 Traditional and Modern Ways to Make and Eat Kimchi by Lauryn Chun

Note: Korean chile flakes (gochugaru) are not the same as crushed red pepper flakes. They are slightly sweet and smoky and have less heat that crushed red pepper or cayenne. If you can’t find them near you, they are easily available through Amazon.

2 medium heads (about 4-6 pounds total) napa cabbage

2 cups julienned daikon radish

2 cups julienned carrot

1/3 cup kosher salt

Seasoning Paste:
½ cup thinly sliced yellow onion

4 teaspoons minced garlic

2 teaspoons peeled, finely grated ginger

1 tablespoon capers

1 tablespoon caper brine

2 teaspoons sugar

½ cup Korean chile pepper flakes (gochugaru)

4 green onions, green parts only, cut into 2-inch pieces

¼ cup water

Half each head cabbage vertically, then cut each half in half to make quarters. Cut the core from each quarter, then cut each into 2-inch squares that are as uniform as possible.

In large bowl, combine the cabbage, daikon, carrot and salt and set aside for about an hour, stirring every once in a while. Drain the liquid and rinse the vegetables to remove any traces of salt. Let the veggies drain in a colander for 20 minutes or use a salad spinner to remove most of the water.

Meanwhile, make the seasoning paste. In the smaller bowl of a food processor (if you have more than one bowl size), pulse together the onion, garlic, ginger, capers, caper brine, and sugar until a paste forms. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the Korean chile pepper flakes. Set aside for at least 15 minutes to let the flavors combine.

In a large bowl, mix together the green onions, seasoning paste and drained vegetables until thoroughly combined, making sure the seasoning paste is distributed evenly among the vegetables (I used my hands for the final mixing).

Pack mixture tightly into a two-quart container or 2 one-quart jars, pressing down as you pack it to ensure there are no pockets of air, leaving at least an inch at the top to allow for expansion.

Add the ¼ cup water to the mixing bowl and swirl the water around to collect the remaining seasoning paste. Add the water to the container(s), cover tightly, and set aside for 3 days at room temperature. The cabbage will expand and bubble as it ferments. After 3 days, refrigerate and consume within 6 months. The flavor will evolve and change over time with a steady, cold temperature. Keeping the kimchi tightly packed in the jar will ensure an even, slow fermentation. Makes about 2 quarts.

Empty jar

Carrot Top Pesto

Big bowl o' pasat
On Sunday while stocking up on produce for my first foray into kimchee making (more on that in a future blog post), I saw the freshest looking bunch of carrots, complete with lovely green tops still intact. I’m always drawn to carrots displayed that way rather than the trimmed and packaged ones, even though each time I end up cutting off those pretty tops and throwing them away, and feeling terrible about it.

This time was different. A little voice out of nowhere said, “Make carrot top pesto and stop being so wasteful!” And so I did. And I’m happy I did. And Pete is happy I did.

I made it pretty much the same way I’ve made pesto with other green stuff, not expecting to be wowed by it, but surprisingly, carrot top pesto is a wonderful thing! Last night we had it over whole wheat spaghetti with some red onion, grated carrot and red and gold cherry tomatoes. The flavor of the carrot greens is subtle and I think that allowed the other ingredients to not be overshadowed like they tend to be with the bolder flavor of basil or arugula.

In addition to serving with pasta, this pesto would be great on roasted veggies, taters, as a spread for a hearty sandwich, in scrambled eggs, drizzled in a hot bowl of soup, as a pizza sauce—there are unlimited ways! Have fun with it!
Spoon full of pestoPlated Pasta

Carrot Top Pesto

1 tightly packed cup carrot top leaves (stems removed)

½ cup chopped walnuts, toasted

1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Place carrot top leaves, walnuts, garlic, lemon juice and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until combined. With food processor running, add olive oil in a slow, steady stream and process until smooth. Taste and add more salt, if necessary. Keeps for a day or two tightly covered in the fridge. Enjoy!

Grilled Vegetable Tostadas

Grilled Vegetable Tostadas

This week the weather around here hasn’t exactly been the kind that gets you thinking about grilling out. But, hey, a warm day in January is colder than a cool day in April and we grill then, so why not now?

At least that was my thought yesterday when Pete asked me if I was interested in grilling. I inquired what he was thinking of, and his response of mushrooms got my wheels spinning. I know he was thinking of portabella mushrooms caps, marinated, grilled and made into a yummy sandwich, but my mind went in a slightly different direction—grilled vegetable tostadas. Spicy, smoky, and slightly charred, veggies of vibrant colors piled on crisp corn tortillas with some creamy guacamole as a crowning touch and maybe a bit of cheese—wouldn’t that be fabulous!?!

A quick stop at the store for crimini mushrooms (baby portabellas—they grill up just as meaty as the big ones) and a couple other items and we were set to get those veggies marinating. While all the marinade flavors were doing their thing, I made a quick batch of guacamole and Pete fired up the grill. Less than 15 minutes after the grilling started, we sat down to a delicious dinner.

You can vary the vegetables to your liking and skip the cheese if you want to keep it vegan—this packs plenty of flavor without it. Pomegranate molasses isn’t easy to find, but some Asian or Middle East food stores and larger super markets stock it. I ordered it from Amazon—a bottle lasts a long time and you’ll find yourself using it in all sorts of recipes (I’ve heard a few drops take a simple glass of champagne over the top!). But if you don’t have it, this will still be wonderful.

My only regret was that I didn’t make a larger batch; sadly, there were no leftovers. Enjoy!
Pomegranate Molasses

Grilled Vegetable Tostadas

1/3 cup grapeseed oil

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses

1 teaspoon ancho chili powder

½ teaspoon Korean chili flakes (can sub regular crushed red pepper flakes)

1 clove garlic, minced

½ teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon salt

1 10 oz. package crimini mushrooms, stems trimmed and cut in half (keep smaller ones whole)

1 small green pepper, cut into chunks

1 small orange bell pepper, cut into chunks

1 red onion, cut into chunks

4-6 corn tortillas, brushed lightly with olive or grapeseed oil

1 mango, peeled, pitted and chopped

3 scallions, sliced diagonally

A handful of cilantro or Italian parsley, chopped

Guacamole (recipe follows)

Sriracha or other hot sauce

Shredded or crumbled cheese of choice, optional

Place prepared vegetables in a large zip-lock bag or large shallow container. Mix oil, lime juice, pomegranate molasses, chili powder, chili flakes, garlic, oregano and salt; pour over vegetables, toss and let marinade 20-30 minutes.

While veggies are marinating, prepare guacamole and prep your mango, scallions and cilantro/parsley.

Heat gas grill to 500 degrees F. or a charcoal grill to fairly hot (hopefully you know more than I do about charcoal grilling!). Spray a pan designed for a grill (has holes all over it, but small pieces can’t fall through) with cooking spray and place on hot grill. Dump the veggies onto the pan and spread them to a single layer. Cover grill and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir veggies and cook for another 5-7 minutes. During the last 3 or 4 minutes, place the corn tortillas on the upper rack of your grill (or away from the fire if you don’t have a shelf). Flip them after a couple minutes and continue cooking until crisp.

To serve, place a couple tortillas on a plate, slightly overlapping and top with a little cheese (if using). Spoon lots of grilled veggies over the cheese. Garnish with any or all: mango, scallions, cilantro, guacamole, hot sauce and more cheese.

Serves 2-3

Quick Guacamole

1 ripe avocado, pitted and removed from skin

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

Salt, to taste

Mash avocado with garlic in a small bowl. Sprinkle with lime juice and salt and mix. Taste and add more lime juice or salt, if necessary.