chapati spring vegetable wraps

the past few weeks have gone along at a slow, relaxed pace. david and i had ten full days of climbing in bishop california. ten nights of camping. one desperately needed shower. and a lot of bacon and eggs (as i predicted). actually, we managed to whip up some excellent meals on david's two-burner camp stove but i was always too hungry to stop and dig out my camera from the bottom of my backpack to blog any meals. i did however, take loads of climbing pictures and even some awesome go pro videos. david edited them into two short films: one of all of his crazy shenanigans, and one of all my small accomplishments (learning to top out boulders and gaining confidence with climbing outdoors for the first time!). *link coming soon 

after a long drive north, we had a fun night in bend, oregon and a beautiful day of hiking in smith rock state park. we spent our final night of the trip in portland. on our way in, we drove directly to the circuit bouldering gym to burn off the excess energy we had pent up on our drive. afterwards, we cashed in a gift card to pok pok. our dinner there was drool-worthy, spicy, and admittedly lived up to all the hype. 

driving back to seattle, i felt sort of giddy coming around the corner to our apartment. perhaps it was just my bubbling excitement to shower and sleep in a real bed, or to be reunited with my vitamix. but in all seriousness, you know life is pretty good when you are happy to return home even from a lovely get-away. spending the afternoon in my kitchen, making chapati and roasting vegetables felt so comforting.

chapati ~ makes 4-6
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat or oat flour
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

mix all ingredients together. consistency should not be too sticky. add additional flour if needed. kneed into a small ball and cut in 4 or 6 evenly sized pieces (depending on how large you want to make your flat bread). on a floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll each piece of dough into a thin 1/8" disk. heat a cast iron skillet over medium low heat with a small amount of additional olive oil. fry for about 30-60 seconds on each side until lightly spotted. do not overcook, otherwise they will become brittle. serve warm.

goats milk yogurt & herb sauce
small container plain goats milk yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
simply stir to combine.

spring vegetable wraps with seared white fish ~ serves 2
4 smaller chapati or small flour tortillas
1 small bunch asparagus
4 radishes, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (i used sheeps milk feta)
8 oz boneless, skinless white fish (halibut, cod or sol)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon aleppo pepper
goats milk yogurt & herb sauce
wedge of lemon
salt to taste

preheat oven to 'broil'. trim asparagus ends and place onto a baking sheet. toss with a small drizzle of olive oil and place under broiler. check every minute or so until asparagus is fully cooked and slightly charred. salt and pepper to taste.

for the fish, heat a saute pan over medium-high heat and add two tablespoons of oil. carefully place fillet of fish into the oil and sear for a few seconds. gently wiggle the pan so that the fish does not stick, then turn the heat to medium-low and cook for two minutes. flip the filled with a thin spatula, and sear the second side. continue cooking until fish gently flakes apart with a fork. about 5-7 minutes total. remove from heat and top with aleppo pepper and a drizzle of lemon juice.

to assemble, smear a few tablespoons of yogurt sauce onto each chapati/tortilla and divide fish into two-ounce portions. top each wrap with slices of radish, several spears of asparagus and crumbled feta. enjoy instantly! 

a wheat berry, rye & kale salad

after a long weekend on orcas island with my band, i came home and spent several days packing for our road trip while david finished out his work week. our plan was to leave friday afternoon after work, drive to the city of bend oregon to stay with a friend, and then spend all of saturday driving south to bishop, california. amidst all the packing i did on friday, i managed to make a batch of english muffins, tahini sauce and a giant kale salad to bring with us to fuel the road trip. this was overly ambitious considering how much packing needed to be done, but somehow i pulled it off. but it certainly paid off to have clean food while on the road, and home-made english muffins grilled on our camp stove the first morning spent at our campsite! 

this kale salad was inspired by a salad i used to enjoy after my morning yoga class at the oddfellows cafe in seattle. the cafe made their salad with farro, but i used a mix of hard red wheat berries and whole rye. it's hearty, salty, and delicious... with a side of roasted marinated golden beets, it was the perfect meal for sustaining me through one and half days of riding passenger in a car driving just shy of a thousand miles south. now we are limited to a small two-burner camp stove, but i'm for the culinary challenge! i hope to post some of my more successful camp-stove meals in the weeks to come! for now, i leave you with this lovely recipe! 

wheat berry, rye & kale salad ~ serves 2-3
1/2 cup wheat berries
1/2 cup rye berries 
1 large bunch lacinato kale
1 shallot
1/3 cup shaved parmesan
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
pinch aleppo pepper
pinch black pepper

soak wheat & rye berries in several cups of water for at least two hours. strain and place in a small sauce pan with 3-4 cups of water. simmer over low heat, covered, until the grains are tender but not so overcooked that they begin to fall apart. cooking time will depend on how long the grains soak for, but aprox. 30-60 minutes. stir every 10 minutes or so. once cooked fully, strain the grains from the water and place in a bowl to cool. 

to prepare the shallots, peel and thinly slice the shallot and place them in a bowl with a cup of cold water. let soak for at least 5 minutes to remove the bitterness of raw shallots. 

wash, dry and remove stalky parts of the kale. cut into thin ribbons the width of the kale and place chopped kale into a large salad bowl. using your hands, massage the kale just for a minute until the leaves turn a shade darker. 

in a small bowl, stir together the lemon juice, olive oil and honey. add this dressing to the kale, along with the grains and the remaining ingredients. strain the shallots from the soaking water and add these to the salad. toss and adjust seasoning to taste... you may want a bit more salt, or more parmesan or a touch more olive oil.

roasted roots and runny yolks

the jar of emerald-green chimichurri sauce has been sitting on my kitchen counter, rapidly diminishing in volume as i seem to have added it to every other meal the past few day. i smothered it over black beans, rice, and now spread it under my go-to breakfast combo of roasted root vegetables and runny eggs. i've played around with different root vegetables but most importantly, i love having variety in color and flavor. today, i roasted two full trays of beets, japanese sweet potato and carrots, but you could use whatever root vegetables you enjoy or have on hand. 

simple roasted root vegetables ~ serves 4
1 pound root vegetables (beets, carrots, parsnips, yams, potatoes, etc.) 
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
fresh ground pepper to taste

preheat oven to 400 degrees. clean roots, peel any particularly rough patches of skin otherwise leave skin intact. cut roots into small cubes, the size of a hazelnut or slightly larger. (note: i like to roast my beets on a separate baking sheet, otherwise everything turns pink when you toss the vegetables.) spread vegetables out on two baking sheets, drizzle with a tablespoon of oil on each tray and use your hands to toss veggies with oil until coated. season with salt and pepper. do not over-crowd your vegetables. if they are too close together, they will just steam and wont get nice and crisp and brown. 

roast for 30-40 minutes until lightly brown. stir every 10 minutes or so. serve with a spoonful of chimichurri sauce (recipe from my previous post) and one or two eggs any style you like. i love runny, saucy yolks, but if you prefer firmer eggs, those would be just as delightful.

for perfectly soft poached eggs, bring two inches of water to boil in a small sauce pan. once it comes to a boil, lower the temperature back to a low simmer so that there are gentle little bubbles. crack an egg into a small cup. then start to stir the water with a large spoon to start a whirl pool motion. stop stirring for a second and lower the egg into the water from the cup, gently! the whirl pool will help keep your egg whites together. let cook for a few minutes and then scoop out the egg with a slotted spoon. test it with your finger for done-ness. if you want it firmer, plop it back in for a minute or two. cook to your desired firmness. then let the egg rest back in the cup until your are ready to serve it.

chimichurri black bean soup

in two weeks i will step far outside of my comfort zone and find myself in the high desert of california under a bolder, working my way to the top of said bolder. i've been persuaded to tag along with david on one of his climbing road trips. this adventure involves a full day of driving from seattle to bishop california, two weeks of camping without showers and as many days of climbing as our fingers/skin/muscles can manage. i'm skeptical about many aspects of this trip, but what doesn't kill me (or injure me) will only make me stronger.... right? i'm excited to get outdoors, make some gourmet camp stove meals and snap lots of photos and videos of my monkey man and maybe clamber up a few boulders myself. i'm trying to psych myself up for this trip, train harder at the indoor climbing gyms, and hopefully gain a little more confidence to pull onto some "high ball" boulder problems. this song by the dodos has become my motivational mantra. excuse me if i bust out into song while climbing up something intimidating. 

we sat down yesterday to write out a long list of everything we need to pack into the car. david expertly crafted a detailed list of gear and supplies. i started brainstorming practical (and probably impractical) meals we could make on his two-burner camp stove. if i left this task to david, we would eat bacon and eggs for three meals a day. that's all fine and dandy for him, but i wither away without vegetables. i'm excited to take on this culinary challenge! and i'll be sure to blog some of the more successful camp meals. i have a feeling there will be many nights of rice and beans or lentils. although, it will be a challenge to make something as delicious as these chimichurri black beans. i think this recipe epitomizes my comfort zone. but as they say, the true magic always happens outside of your comfort zone. so bring it on california! bring me some camp-stove-culinary-magic! 

slow cooked black bean soup ~ serves 4-6
2 cups dried black beans
4 cups vegetable broth or water
2 sweet bell peppers
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon aleppo chili flakes 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1 bay leaf

for the chimichurri 
1/4 packed cup finely chopped parsley
1/4 packed cup finely chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon aleppo chili flakes
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar 
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed

soak dried beans overnight in a bowl, completely submerged under several inches of water. in the morning, drain the beans from soaking water. add soaked beans into a crock pot (or large soup pot) with 4 cups of broth or water. add cumin, oregano, salt, chili and bay leaf. cover and cook on low heat until beans are soft and start to gently fall apart (all day in a crock pot, or several hours on the stove). 

if serving with rice, begin cooking rice 45 minutes before serving soup. during this time, saute diced onion in one tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat until caramelized. add to soup pot. preheat the oven broiler for 5 minutes or so, while you dice your bell peppers into small cubes. on a baking sheet, toss chopped bell peppers with a tablespoon of olive oil to coat. broil for several minutes, until lightly charred. set to the side. 

once black beans are fully cooked, remove bay leaf and pour 1/2 of the soup mixture into a blender. blend for just a minute, until smooth. add pureed beans back into the soup and finally add the charred bell peppers. adjust the consistency of the soup if needed - adding more broth or water to thin the soup. let simmer for a few additional minutes while preparing the chimichurri. 

simply combine all ingredients for chimichurri in a small bowl. chimichurri should be more oily than pesto, salty and with a strong fresh garlic flavor. adjust seasoning to taste. 

to serve, ladle black beans over cooked rice and add a tablespoon of chimichurri on top. garnish with sliced avocado, aleppo chili flakes, or a spoonful of sour cream. 

vegetarian hum bow

my father has never been shy to ask for recipes. if you invite him to dinner, he will either ask for the recipe or try his best to replicate a dish from memory. if he is enjoying a meal out, he might ask the chef straight up for the recipe. or at the least, to identify some flavor he can't place his finger on. this, i learned, is the secret to becoming a great chef. ask questions, take mental notes, remember flavor combinations and fearlessly try to replicate dishes you've enjoyed in the past. eventually, your recipe repertoire will grow and you yourself will become an intuitive cook.

sometime when i was in elementary school, my dad signed up for a cooking lesson with a parent of one of my aikido classmates. (i never did ballet or gymnastics as a girl, i did softball and aikido and played african hand drums. tom boy much?). anyhow, this is how hum bow became one of my family's favorite go-to meals and a recipe in my dad's vast repertoire that he loved to show off to dinner guests. it's been years and years since i last made hum bow with my dad, but just the other day, david had a hankering for hum bow from his favorite shop in the pike place market, and i decided it was time to finally make some for myself. we made some with left over roasted chicken, but in the past i've made a fabulous vegetarian version as well.

a few notes:
*the best substitute i've found for bbq pork inside of hum bow is firm baked tofu. the store bought kind is actually ideal, because it has so little moisture. if using fresh tofu, you will first want to press and bake the tofu to remove the moisture.
*honestly, the only secret to delicious hum bow is hoisin sauce. (later this spring, david and i are signed up to take a pho cooking class, in which we will learn to make our own hoisin sauce. so until i have an updated recipe for you, store bought sauce is simple and perfect).
*the recipe my dad passed on to me called for 3 1/2 cups self-rising flour. i did not have self-rising flour in my pantry, but supposedly you can mix your own by adding a certain ratio of salt & baking powder. this seemed to work just fine.

hum bow dough ~ makes 12
3 1/2 cup self rising flour 
(or 3 1/2 cup all purpose flour + 1 1/2 teaspoon salt + 1 tablespoon baking powder)
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 egg white

wax paper, cut into a dozen 3"x3" squares.

in a large bowl, mix all ingredients together until thoroughly combined and let rest for 15 minutes. after, kneed the dough on a large floured surface for no less than five minutes. continue to add a tiny bit of flour if the dough starts to stick to your surface. eventually, the dough should start to soften slightly and become smooth in texture. at that point, cut the dough into 12 evenly-sized dough balls. let them rest on floured surface while you prepare the filling. 

bbq tofu filling:
14 oz super firm tofu, or baked tofu
1/2 or more cup hoisin sauce 
1 teaspoon sriracha hot sauce

if using fresh firm tofu, you will need to do a bit more prep to remove the moisture: first, place tofu between two paper towels on a plate and weight down with the heaviest flat object in your kitchen (for example a cast iron skillet). let rest for 15 minutes. in this time, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. afterwards, pat the tofu dry and cut into 1 inch cubes. place tofu on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes, rotating the cubes every 5 minutes or so, until all edges are nicely browned. alternatively, you can purchase baked tofu in health food stores or even at trader joe's. they are often marinated, so just choose one with soy sauce or teriyaki if you cannot find plain baked tofu. and if you want to make meat filled hum bow, your could just swap the tofu out for 2 cups of cooked pork or chicken.

once you have your baked tofu, roughly chop into small bits and toss into a bowl with 1/2 cup hoisin sauce and a teaspoon of sriracha. you want the tofu to be thoroughly coated, so add more hoisin sauce if needed, and add more sriracha if you want some added heat.

to form your hum bow, work with one dough ball at a time. roll it out to about the size of a cd, making sure the rolled dough does not get too thin. spoon a couple tablespoons of bbq filling into the center of the dough. collect the sides together and pinch dough together to seal into a rounded bun. make sure the filling cannot escape, otherwise the steam will burst your hum bow open. place seam-side down on a square of wax paper. (it's a bit difficult to end up with the perfect ratio of dough to filling, depending on how thinly you rolled the dough and how much filling you add to each bun. if you have extra filling, just gobble it up with a spoon.)

in a large pot, bring about two inches of water to a simmer. set up a multi-layer bamboo steamer or just a single basket steamer - making sure the water level will not touch the buns. place the buns with their wax papers in the steamer leaving an inch of room between each bun. cover and steam for 20 minutes over medium-low heat. once done, remove hum bow from basket and let rest for a few minutes before serving. if working in small batches, steaming 3 or 4 buns at a time, watch the level of the water and add more, returning back to a simmer if you need.