Monthly Archives: May 2012

Michael Natkin’s Herbivoracious: Roasted Maitake Mushrooms in Smoky Tea Broth

Well hello there. A few weeks ago, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Michael Natkin of the site (and new cookbook) Herbivoracious. As the name suggests, he is a vegetarian chef.

I also found out that Michael is a really nice guy. He loves what he does and is really passionate about sharing his knowledge and love of vegetarian cooking with the world. The book’s introduction outlines his very personal journey to becoming a vegetarian, which involved his mother’s battle with cancer, his taking over the cooking for the family, and ultimately learning through trial and error about food and cooking.

The recipes in Herbivoracious are straightforward  and easy to follow. I chose to make the Maitake Mushrooms in Smoky Tea Broth. The choice was simple. I am in love with Lapsang Souchang tea. Therefore, any recipe that allows me to use said tea, is for me. It turned out just as the book said: salty, smoky and earthy. Considering this is such a simple recipe, you could really wow a crowd with it because the mix of flavors packs a powerful punch.

It has been about 9 months since I started attending food blogger events out in the real world. I’m amazed at what a nice group of people I’ve met and how open they all are in sharing tips and tricks of blogging. When I arrived at Cookhouse, the beautiful North Beach location where the event was held, I was nervous and worried I wouldn’t feel comfortable with the crowd.

The nerves disappeared immediately when Michael walked right up, shook my hand and we proceeded to discuss the night’s menu. His ease with the crowd was refreshing. He talked to me about sharing vegetarian tips (since I dabble with vegetarian recipes and he’s an expert) and offered up encouragement with my vegetarian experiments. His blog is amazing and really shows his personality and skill through the written recipes as well as the video demos.

If you’d like to make the Maitake Mushrooms in Smoky Tea Broth that I have shown here, click on over to Michael’s Herbivoracious site to check out the book.

Posted in dairy free, gluten free, soup, vegan, vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Perfect for Warm Weather: Slow Cooker Coq au Vin

Stews and soups seem odd for spring and summer cooking. If I can throw everything into a slow cooker at the start of a beautiful day, head outside, enjoy the weather and get home and have a meal waiting for me, I say “Huzzah, bring on the slow cooker!”

These nice long days are getting me outdoors more, leaving me a little less time to cook. The slow cooker sitting in my pantry has been calling my name. It’s the perfect solution for a beautiful day. Just a half hour of prep, including a little bit of browning, and I was out the door with a promise of a great tasting coq au vin waiting for me at the end of the day.

I’m still figuring out proportions on my slow cooker recipes. Coq au vin is one of my favorite stews, so I thought I’d give it a go in the slow cooker. If you want to add or subtract some of the tomatoes or red wine based on successful slow cooker recipes you’ve used before, feel free to do so. And, get in touch with any slow cooker tips, especially about adapting standard recipes to slow cooker style recipes.

I have a friend (who blogs at Weekends So Sweet) that does quite a bit more slow cooking than I do. She has experimented with not browning ingredients before slow cooking and has had good results. Just wanted to mention this because a lot of these recipes end up looking like they have a lot of steps, but they can be simplified. I look at slow cooking as a good place to experiment. I’ve only had one real disaster (involving several acorn squash that just looked and tasted horrible after 8 hours on low in the slow cooker). For once, my attitude of throw it in the pot and see what you get can work here as real advice.

So get outside, enjoy yourselves and come home to a warm nourishing meal!

Slow Cooker Coq au Vin


  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 1/2 pound cooked bacon, chopped into pieces (cooking method here)
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1 onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 to 2 cans canned tomatoes
  • 2 sprigs fresh oregano (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat a large skillet over high heat, adding olive oil (or bacon grease if you have it) just before the pan is smoking hot.
  2. Salt and pepper the chicken thighs and place them in the pan, skin side down and cook for 5 minutes on high.
  3. Turn over the thighs and cook another 5 minutes.
  4. Place the thighs in the slow cooker along with the cooked bacon.
  5. Return the pan to high heat and sauté the garlic and onions until softening, and just turning brown.
  6. Add the onions, garlic, wine, tomatoes and spices to the slow cooker.
  7. Set the slow cooker on low for 8 to 9 hours.
  8. Serve with boiled potatoes, salad or over egg noodles.






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We Don’t All Have A BBQ for Memorial Day: Oven Baked Ribs

Just as my title states, we don’t all have BBQ grills at our disposal. I live in an apartment with a tiny backyard. It’s unclear if a BBQ would be a welcome addition to said yard, so I don’t have one at the moment.

These oven baked ribs make me very happy. They taste great and don’t require much work at all. In fact, I think these are even better than making ribs on the BBQ because they come out super tender and no worry about them charring on the outside while being under cooked on the inside.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.

Happy Memorial Day non-BBQ weekend to you!

Oven Baked Ribs


  • 1 large rack of pork ribs
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp curry
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • ½ tsp pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp red pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Wash and dry the ribs in the sink.
  4. Cut the rack into pieces if it won’t fit into your roasting pan.
  5. Coat the ribs on all sides with the dry rub.
  6. Place the ribs in your roasting pan(s).
  7. Let sit for at least 30 minutes (up to overnight, if you have the time).
  8. Place the pan(s) in the preheated oven.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes.
  10. Turn the ribs over carefully.
  11. Bake for an additional 30 minutes.
  12. Turn off the oven and leave the ribs in the hot oven for another 10 minutes.
  13. Remove from oven, cut the ribs apart and enjoy!
Posted in pork, ribs | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Memorial Day Gluten-Free Pasta Salads: Pasta with Romanesco Cauliflower, Pasta with Olives and Walnuts

Going to a Memorial Day BBQ? Pasta salads are an easy made-ahead side dish that can feed a crowd.

These are just two examples of pasta salads that you can make. Improvise some, add in some cheese for an extra rich variety. Or, some bacon instead of the tuna in the Romanesco cauliflower pasta salad.

Whatever you do, make these ahead of time, kick off your shoes and enjoy the BBQ.



  • 1 head Romanesco Cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 can Solid White Tuna, drained
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • 2 cups Pasta, cooked (I used gluten-free rice pasta like this one from Tinkyada)
  • 3 Tbsps Capers, drained
  • 4 Pickled Italian Cherry Peppers


  • Boil a large pot of salted water.
  • Chop the peppers into small pieces, removing the stems.
  • Once the water has boiled, add the pasta and a steamer basket on top of the pasta to parboil the romanesco cauliflower.
  • Cook the romanesco for 3 minutes with the lid on.
  • While the pasta/romanesco is boiling, heat a large skillet over high heat.
  • Put the olive oil and the tuna in the saute pan and cook for 1 minute on high heat.
  • Add the parboiled romanesco to the saute pan and cook for five minutes, or until beginning to brown.
  • Put the capers and peppers in with the romanesco and cook for three minutes.
  • Drain the pasta, rinse in cool water and  put in a large bowl.
  • Mix the pasta and the tuna/romaesco mixture together and enjoy!

Pasta with Olives and Walnuts


  • 1/2 cup  Lindsay chopped black olives, drained
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 lb pasta spirals (I used gluten-free rice pasta like this one from Tinkyada)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 diced red onion
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 tbsps Olive Oil, divided, plus some for drizzling at end


  1. Set a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil for pasta.
  2. Put drained, chopped olives in a bowl, add 2 cloves minced garlic, salt, pepper and *red pepper flakes.
  3. Leave to marinate while pasta water boils, and pasta cooks.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  5. Add 2 tbsps olive oil to pan, swirl to coat.
  6. Lower heat to medium, add remaining 2 cloves of minced garlic, and chopped red onions.
  7. Sautee until golden, then reduce heat to low.
  8. Add chopped walnuts, moving them around in the pan so they brown evenly.
  9. Cook pasta according to directions on box.
  10. Just before it’s cooked through, add marinated olives to the onion, garlic, walnut mixture.
  11. Raise heat to medium. Heat until olives are just warmed.
  12. Drain pasta and place in large bowl.
  13. Pour onion, garlic, walnut and olive mixture over pasta and mix.
  14. Drizzle olive oil over mixed pasta, add a pinch of salt and *red pepper flakes.
  15. Serve and enjoy!
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