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Good Mediterranean recipe combo

I’m trying to do a tiny bit more meal prep on the weekend so that I don’t default to something beige or unhealthy. Last weekend I came across a great recipe combo, things that are pretty easy to manage all at once on a Sunday afternoon.

* The baba ganoush recipe is fabulous, but I’d recommend either cutting back on the garlic or mincing the garlic directly in to the lemon juice and letting those chill together for at least 10 minutes so that the garlic flavor mellows out a little.

Some tahini is trash, and that makes a huge difference in the resulting hummus or baba ganoush. Good tahini should taste nutty and silky, ideally not overly bitter, and never sour or pungent. It’s not a great sign if it is separated, that probably means that it’s been sitting out for a while. Tahini goes rancid pretty quickly, so the fresher the better and keep it in the fridge.

The best tahini I’ve ever had was Al Nakhil brand (Lebanese, comes in a beige jar with green writing and a green lid) from The People’s Supermarket in London. I don’t think I’ll find that in SF so have been trying whatever I can find. The Whole Foods 365 jar I got recently was ok so I’ll rely on that in a pinch. The jar of Tarazi I had before that was great, but very pricey from the grocery nearest to me. I’ll probably try to do a big shop at Samirami’s on Mission and 26th since I hear they’ve got great tahini and it looks like they do a lot of bulk spices and dry ingredients.

The above dishes combined with diced cucumber, diced ripe tomato, and a little bit of hot sauce is just lovely, great for multiple meals during the week. With falafel it’s even better. We used Ziyad box falafel mix and it was pretty great, but I’d love to try one of the Serious Eats falafel recipes some time. They’ve got a good food lab post on falafel. The Hilda’s Kitchen falafel recipe also looks really good.

If I didn’t have a wildly out of hand mint plant, I’d probably make the Serious Eats Israeli-style tahini sauce.

Edit 2 September 2020: Added notes about baba ganoush recipe and tahini.

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Rosemary’s memories of SF

I was in SF 1968–1975. This was when CA was the Golden State. I always lived around Union Street. The last address was on the corner of Buchanan and Green. It was an old 4-plex. I loved that place. By now it’s probably torn down and something else is built in its place. It was on the corner. My bedroom was huge and looked over Buchanan. There was a Chinese laundry across the street on Green. Gees I can’t remember how those streets went. One of them was parallel to Union St. Anyway, I took my laundry to the Chinese laundry every week. They washed and folded it for me.

Union St was a happening street when I was there. Weekends we would go out to Tiberon to… Gees! I think it was called Sam’s? We would sit on the dock and have brunch. I always had a Ramos Fizz. I don’t know if anyone drinks them anymore.

A text from my relative and dear friend Rosemary sharing some of her memories of living in San Francisco. Looks like Sam’s is still open, we’ll have to go. Until then, I’ll channel her by making myself a Ramos Gin Fizz at home. Have to wear red lipstick for the full effect.

I struggle with dairy so might try it with either coconut cream or a lactose-free “cream”. The goal is to create a ton of foam and a super creamy consistency. Shaking techniques seem to vary, so have a look online to see what you prefer.

Ramos Gin Fizz recipe

Makes 1 drink

In a cocktail shaker, combine 2 oz gin, 3 to 4 drops orange flower water, 1 large egg white, ½ oz cream, ½ oz fresh lemon juice, ½ oz fresh lime juice, and ½ oz simple syrup. Shake vigorously for about a minute, then add a lot of fresh ice and shake for at least another 30 seconds. Strain the drink in to a Collins glass. Pour 1–2 oz seltzer (soda water) down the inner edge of the shaker to loosen the froth, then pour the soda water and froth on to the drink. Garnish with a quarter of an orange wheel and mint if you’ve got it, then serve.

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Ottolenghi’s black pepper tofu

Gem made Ottolenghi’s black pepper tofu for Sam and I when we visited her place a while back. So, so good. I wanted something similar so tried making it the other day and omg. I now fully appreciate her making it for us, it took a while! Forgot that she said she used slightly less pepper than it called for, when I made it I used the full amount and it was borderline too hot to handle. 🔥 Still delicious though, will definitely make it again. The cornstarch method is super effective too, would be good with all sorts of sauces.

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Mix-and-match grain salad

I’ve been making a mix-and-match grain salad a ton recently. It’s great for using up leftovers, and it keeps really well in the fridge as long as the greens you use are substantial enough.

All you do is combine a cooked grain of some sort, greens, at least one soft-ish vegetable, at least one crunchier vegetable, and dressing. Things that I’ve found work in most versions of this salad include kale, green onions, grated carrot, thinly sliced onion, small tomatoes, olives, capers, and cucumber. I find that bagged, chopped-up kale keeps for a super long time in the fridge both before it is prepared and after it goes in to the salad.

Bonus additions include toasted seeds or nuts, feta or grilled halloumi, chickpeas or puy lentils, hardboiled eggs, croutons fried up from the leftover heel of a loaf of bread, bacon bits, leftover roast chicken, that sort of thing. It’s best if you leave the cooked grain overnight in the fridge so that it can dry out a little bit, and when you use it in the salad it’s worth breaking up any clumps with your hands first.

These are some decent combos and their dressing counterparts. I’m counting cous cous as a grain since it functions a similar way!

  1. Components — Wild rice + shredded red cabbage + thinly sliced green onions + grated carrot + roasted peanuts
    Dressing — Rice wine vinegar + soy sauce + sesame oil + minced garlic + sugar + ground ginger
  2. Components — Bulgar wheat + massaged kale (stalks removed) + thinly sliced red or white onion massaged with sumac + diced cucumber + fresh mint / dill / parsley / thyme if you have it
    Dressing — Olive oil + honey + lemon juice + a tiny bit of tahini + minced garlic + salt + pepper
  3. Components — Cous cous + massaged kale (stalks removed) + roasted red peppers (jarred is fine) + toasted pine nuts or cashews + fresh oregano / basil / parsley if you have it
    Dressing — Olive oil + balsamic vinegar + salt + pepper
  4. Components — Quinoa + arugula + diced tomatoes (or whole small tomatoes) + thinly sliced onion + chopped olives and / or capers + canned tuna, drained
    Dressing — Olive oil + red wine vinegar + Dijon mustard + salt + pepper

This is the recipe I contributed as part of a recent recipe chain mail. I normally really dislike chain mails but am always happy to participate in a food-based one!

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A damn fine margarita

John makes the best margaritas, finally texted him for the ratios. Needs must!

Most recipes online seem to call for about 2 oz tequila + 1 oz triple sec + 1 oz lime juice (2:1:1). This is way too intense IMO, almost feels more like a martini or something (that’s not the right analogy, but you get what I mean). The extra sweetness from additional triple sec balances things out. I’m calling for Cointreau below because that’s John’s recommendation.

Combine 2 parts tequila + 2 parts Cointreau + 1 part fresh lime juice (2:2:1). If you’re making two, 3 oz tequila + 3 oz Cointreau + 1½ oz fresh lime juice works super well (I tried this using an egg cup as an ounce measure due to where we’re at, YMMV). Shake thoroughly with ice, then strain into one or more glasses of fresh ice. Or use a single huge cube of ice if you’re at chez Goods. If it’s your preference, rub a wedge of lime around the rim of the glass and dip in to coarse salt before pouring in the drink.

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Pantry Parkin

This is a use-up-all-the-things parkin recipe. Useful if you want something sweet and super spiced when you’re about to move. Or, say, in the middle of a pandemic. Now is perfect. It takes an hour and a half to bake, so it’s perfect for a lazy Sunday self isolation.

For proper authenticity, use a beat-up Tala Originals Cook’s Dry Measure for most ingredients. Judge the butter amount by gauging it based on a whole block, then hope for the best.

Don’t hesitate to substitute ingredients, that’s the whole point. The only things you probably can’t get away with substituting are the black treacle / molasses and the ground ginger. If you substitute the flour, use Traditional Ovens’ converter to make sure you’ve got the right volume.


Based on a parkin recipe from The Spruce Eats.

Preheat the oven to 140C (275F) and line a 8×8″ (20×20cm) tray or two 1lb loaf tins.

In a large saucepan, melt 220 g butter, ½ c dark brown sugar, packed, ¼ c black treacle or molasses, and 1 c golden syrup or corn syrup

In a bowl, mix ½ c muesli with raisins removed, 1¼ c dark rye flour, 2 t baking powder, ¼ t salt, 4 t ground ginger, 2 t ground nutmeg, and 1 t random spices that are something similar to mixed spice. A blend of ground coriander, black pepper, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon (heavy on the cinnamon) seems to work well.

Blend the wet and dry together thoroughly, then use a wooden spoon to beat in 2 eggs. The consistency should be like cake batter. If it’s too dry, add a splash of water / oat milk / normal milk.

Pour the mixture in to your prepared tin(s) and bake for an hour and a half. It may need to bake 15-20 minutes longer if using loaf tins. When done, allow to cool in the tin.

When cool, store the parkin in an air tight container. Try to let it sit at least a few days first, it will get better and better. Keeps for about two weeks, and it freezes well.

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Leek and potato soup with smoked paprika and toasted fennel seed

All measurements are approximate. Taste as you go! Doesn’t call for cream because I can’t have it.

In a big pot, heat about 2 T olive oil over medium heat. Add 3 leeks, rinsed and sliced and two cloves of garlic, crushed. Sautée until softened. Add a big pinch of salt, 2 t fennel seed, toasted and crushed, and 1 t smoked paprika. Stir to combine and allow to continue cooking while you prep the potatoes.

Peel 3–4 medium-sized potatoes, then cut them in to manageable pieces and add them to the pot. Add vegetable bouillon (I use Swiss Marigold powder) and enough oat milk and water to submerge the potatoes. The total amount of liquid should be about ⅔ oat milk, ⅓ water.

Bring to a boil, then allow to simmer for 15–20 minutes until the potatoes are cooked and the liquid has reduced slightly. Remove from the heat, then remove a stick immersion blender to purée the soup thoroughly. Taste and adjust the seasoning, it may need more salt and will probably need the juice of at least ¼ lemon.

To serve, ladle in to bowls and drizzle a little olive oil over the top, then sprinkle over a tiny bit more smoked paprika and plenty of freshly cracked black pepper. Goes nicely with crusty bread.

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Oatmeal streusel muffins

Makes a dozen muffins.

Preheat the oven to 200C (400F) and grease a 12 cup muffin tin.

Make the streusel topping. In a medium bowl, combine 45 g (½ c) rolled oats, 40 g (⅓ c) plain flour*, 40 g (⅓ c) chopped pecans or walnuts, 66 g (⅓ c packed) light brown sugar, 1 heaped t of ground spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, etc.), and a pinch of salt. Pour 4 T melted butter over the mixture and mix thoroughly to combine in to a crumb-like mixture.

Make the batter. In a large bowl, thoroughly combine 240 ml (1 c) milk*, 113 g (½ c) cooled melted butter, 1 large egg, 100 g (½ packed c) light or dark brown sugar, and 1 T white vinegar. In a separate bowl, combine 125 g (1 c) plain flour, 90 g (1 c) rolled oats, 1 t ground cinnamon, a pinch of salt, 1 t baking powder, and ½ t baking soda. Stir the dry in to the wet just until combined.

Immediately after making the batter, ladle it in to the prepared muffin tin. The batter should fill the cups about ¾ of the way. Next, add a generous tablespoon of topping to each muffin.

Bake in a 200C (400F) oven for 18–25 minutes. Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes in the tin, then remove the muffins to a rack to continue cooling.

* This seems like a substitution-friendly recipe. I made these with a combination of dark rye flour and gluten free flour when I didn’t have normal flour in for whatever reason and they came out really well. Wouldn’t hesitate to try all GF flour or similar substitutes. Oat milk works really well too.


This recipe is a tweaked combo of a Cooks Illustrated recipe (paywall) and another oatmeal muffin recipe.

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Flourless peanut butter cookies

Makes about 10 cookies. Can use crunchy or smooth peanut butter.

Preheat the oven to 175C (350F) and line a tray with baking parchment.

In a large bowl, combine 66 g (⅓ c) brown sugar, 66 g (⅓ c) granulated sugar, and 1 t baking soda. Add and blend in a pinch of salt if using unsalted peanut butter. Next, add 1 large egg and 250 g peanut butter, and then mix thoroughly to combine.

Use two spoons to maneuver walnut-sized balls of dough on to the tray, leaving ample space between each cookie since they will rise and spread. Flatten the balls slightly with a fork, creating a cross-hatch pattern.

Bake in a 175C (350F) oven for 8–10 minutes. Allow them to cool on the tray for at least 5 minutes, then move to a rack to cool further. They will be very soft to the touch fresh from the oven and firm up as they cool.