BrokeAss Gourmet

BrokeAss Gourmet

Tempeh Bacon

  • Prep Time 5 minutes
  • Cook Time 22-24 minutes
  • Estimated Cost $6.50
  • 0 Comments

They say there's nothing like falling in love for the first time; the excitement, the magic of connection, the rush of hormones--when you've never felt it before, it overtakes you, like liquor on the lips of someone who's never been drunk. 

I remember the first time it happened to me, as a seventeen-year-old at a retreat for a Jewish teen program. In the Marin Headlands, just above the Golden Gate Bridge, I went wandering down a sandy beach in the dark with a boy I'd only recently met, but for whom I felt a shock of electricity the moment he said hello. We'd snuck away from the other teenagers in our group, and were attempting to find a moment alone to talk, unsure of what it would bring (neither of us knew what we were doing), but compelled by the fluttering we were feeling in our bellies. Without understanding how or why, I knew he was someone I would be getting to know a lot better very soon.

Our first kiss didn't happen until later that night, in the dormitory bunk where our group was staying, and when it did, it intoxicated me instantly. In the days and weeks that followed, I could think of nothing other than when I could kiss him next. I was a cliche of an infatuated teenager, but in that moment on the beach, I was changed. I had tasted the zing of intense mutual desire, and I liked it.

Of course, we were children, and so, like most high school love stories, ours eventually died a sad but predictable death. We moved on with our lives, went to college, started our careers, met other people, and fell out of touch. Sixteen years after that night, I got engaged to my person at Cavallo Point, less than a mile away from that beach.

Recently, as Evan and I prepare for this next step, I've been taking something of a mental inventory of my romantic history--a sort of internal tidying and boxing up. Of course I had other relationships between that first one and this, my last; many that lasted awhile, and even one that seemed to have had a chance at permanency. Still, the memories that remain the clearest and most significant are of the first. I'm pretty sure this is because the first time imprints you in a way that can never really be replicated. The first cut is the deepest, as they say, but so is the first kiss. The first touch. The first time a boy tells you he loves you. And though the imprinting experience is intense in and of itself, I think its real purpose is to prepare you for what more is to come.

Because now, when I drive by the Golden Gate Bridge and see the exit sign for the Marin Headlands, I think instead about Evan and our recent engagement. Though the whisper of that first taste of love remains a sweet memory, it is quieter now. 

On a seemingly separate but definitely related note, I want to talk about tempeh.

I first tried tempeh right after moving to San Francisco at age 24. A Greek food stand in my neighborhood served traditional Greek gyros with lamb, and for vegetarians, as I was at the time, tempeh gyros. Tempeh is like tofu in that it is a protein source made from soy beans, but that's about where the similarities end. Where tofu is uniform in flavor, tempeh is fermented and tangy--and full of nooks and crannies that get crispy when cooked. It takes on the flavors of whatever you add to it, unlike tofu, which tends to just swim around in sauce.

I ordered a tempeh gyro, wrapped in pillowy fresh pita, topped with creamy yogurt tzaziki, cubed cucumbers and tomatoes, and the thinnest slivers of red onion. I had intended to eat it in my new apartment, but it smelled so good, and was so warm in the bag, that on my walk home, I found a bench and dug in. It was unbelievable. Somehow, the crunch and flavor of this soy product stood up to lots of yogurt and juicy vegetables. It was dense yet tender, and rife with umami flavor. I was in love. 

I cooked it myself several times immediately afterward, and it took some time to figure out how to make it as crispy as it was in that phenomenal gyro. Eventually I figured out the secret: plenty of oil and medium-low, consistent heat. Today, I like to crisp strips of it, spiced with paprika, smoked salt, brown sugar, and black pepper, in the oven and serve it alongside scrambled eggs, like bacon. Of course, you would never confuse it with real bacon (if you're looking for something like that, try my Mushroom Bacon), but it's smoky and crispy and utterly delicious in its own right.

I like this multi-grain tempeh from Trader Joe's. It contains barley and millet, along with the soy. If you're gluten-free, look for something without grains.

Smoked sea salt brown sugar, black pepper, and paprika impart smoky sweetness.

It bakes in a relatively low oven (350) for about 25 minutes on a foil-lined baking sheet, until really crispy. 

And then I platter it up.

That gyro all those years ago was my first taste of tempeh love--my imprint. This bacon is my love letter to it.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon smoked sea salt $2 (see headnote)
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar Pantry
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika $2 for 1 ounce
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper Pantry
  • 1 8-ounce package tempeh, cut into long, thin strips, about 1/8" thick $2.50
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil Pantry

 

Recipe Serves 2-3

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set aside.
  3. Combine the smoked salt, brown sugar, paprika, and pepper in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.
  4. Put the tempeh slices in a rimmed dish, like a pie plate, and drizzle the oil all over, using your hands to ensure each strip is coated lightly.
  5. Wash and dry you hands, and sprinkle the spice mixture all over the oiled tempeh strips, making sure they are evenly coated.
  6. Arrange the coated strips on the prepared baking sheet with a little bit of space between them.
  7. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until brown and very crispy.
  8. Let cool slightly, then serve warm.

Kale Salad with Figs

  • Prep Time 10 minutes
  • Estimated Cost 10.50
  • 1 Comment

Welp, I started planning a wedding.

My wedding, to be clear. To Evan, my official taste-tester, fashion consultant, and number-one dude.

We've been working hard to get the big stuff figured out. So far we have a wonderful wedding planner (Ali DiLuvio), a date (next summer), a venue (a gorgeous winery in the Sonoma Valley), a caterer (Park Avenue in Cotati) , a rabbi (who also happens to be a long-time close friend of Evan), a photographer (Jennifer Bagwell), and a cake (Patisserie Angelica). There's still so, so much to do. And man, there have been a lot of decisions to make. 

What are the colors? 

How many people?

Which people? (Oh good, an opportunity to divide the people I love into ranked lists. That's not stressful at all.)

Standing chuppah or individual poles?

Do we really need flowers? We're getting married outside. Doesn't that basically count as one big flower? (My mother has informed me that I am incorrect about this, and yes we do need flowers.)

Buffet, individual plating, or family-style food?

Other desserts besides cake?

Father-daughter dance?

Mother-son dance?

How many toasts?

How many horas?

DJ or live band? 

Hashtag? 

Do we need to register? We basically have all the stuff we need already. (The feedback on that one has been a resounding "YES, unless you want 25 toasters.")

And so many more. 

But it's all good. We know we've already answered the most important question: yes, we want to marry each other. More than anything.

With all those details to consider, all those vendor meetings and Pinterest-stalking (OMG, so many mason jars), I'm trying my best to keep things as normal as possible around here. That means date nights where wedding planning talk is not allowed, stress-reducing cardio, focusing on all our work projects, and eating healthy, seasonal food. 

Today, I'm talking about kale. My favorite kind, Tuscan (dinosaur) kale, de-ribbed.

Sliced up into thin slaw-like strips.

Tossed with a simple vinaigrette--nothing more than good extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

And topped with sliced fresh figs, chopped almonds, and some creamy clumps of goat cheese.

Now the only decision I have to make is whether or not to drink wine with my salad.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch Tuscan (dinosaur/Lacinato) kale, de-ribbed and sliced thinly $2 
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil Pantry
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar Pantry
  • a pinch of salt Pantry
  • 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese $3.50 for 8 ounces
  • 1/8 cup chopped toasted almonds $1.50 in the bulk section
  • 6 ripe figs, sliced into quarters $3.50 for a basket
  • pepper to taste Pantry

Recipe Serves 3-4

Directions

  1. Place the kale leaves in a large salad bowl.
  2. Whisk together the olive oil and vinegar and set aside.
  3. Sprinkle the salt all over the kale and gently rub it in (this helps break down the tough leaves).
  4. Drizzle with the dressing and toss well.
  5. Top the salad with the goat cheese, almonds, figs and black pepper to taste.

If you know me well, you know that for most of my childhood, through my college years, and well into my mid-twenties, I was a vegetarian (a move spurred by a particularly intense day at my hometown's local petting zoo). I reconnected with meat (an awkward phrase, I acknowledge, but it makes sense here), in my late twenties, when I began to get serious about food writing, and wanted to be open to trying everything. Today, while i do love a rare steak, can go to town on a juicy burger, and dream of juicy pork dumplings, my day-to-day tastes still tend toward meat-free. Most nights, our meals are comprised of a few different kinds of cooked vegetables, a hearty salad, and a vegetarian protein sources, like beans, tofu, tempeh or eggs.

This sensibility is not only reflected in my home cooking--it also follows me to fancy restaurants (I'll almost always choose the handmade vegetarian pasta over the steak), hotel buffets (I'll fill my plate with composed salads and grilled vegetables, which are usually pretty healthy, and, most importantly, hard to screw up), and, yes, barbecues, even those where meat is king. 

I cannot tell you how many barbecues I've been to where, even as a meat eater, I have been annoyed on behalf of my vegetarian (or vegan or kosher) friends, about the lack of really good options for those eschewing meat. Potato salad and some chips does not a meal make. Lettuce and tomato with mustard in a bun is not a proper sandwich. Moreover, it is so, so easy to do better than this. 

Here's how i like to barbecue. And yes, sure, you can absolutely add meat to this menu if you really want to. But you definitely won't need it. 

1. Start with 2 or 3 really good composed salads. And go a little unusual. Basic potato salad is always good, but why not try a flavorful roasted sweet potato salad? It's lighter, more complex, and much more interesting.

Tear up some stale bread and toss with juicy tomatoes and salty cheese for a hearty panzanella, or pick out the ripest avocados you can find and make guacamole salad, which combines all the ingredients of really good guac. Serve it with tortilla chips. 

 

2. This is a barbecue, so you're going to need to fire up that grill! Sure, you can break out the usual store-bought veggie burgers, or, better yet, make your own!

 

Generally though, I think it's more interesting to use the grill for less-expected items, like pizzas and flatbreads. Cook the stretched dough on the grill on one side until crisp, then flip, add your toppings, and cover until the cheese is melted and the bottom is crisp. 

3. While it's always nice to have wine, beer, and non-alcoholic beverages available, I like to make a signature cocktail. Margaritas, spiked punch, and sangria are all great, but my current favorite is this refreshing lemon-watermelon cooler, featuring fresh watermelon, mint, and Mike's Hard Lemonade.

Just combine 1 part Mike's Hard Lemonade with 2 parts cubed seedless watermelon, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and ice in a blender and pour into glasses, garnished with a watermelon wedge if you want to get all fancy. Instant refreshment. 

4. And finally, grill your dessert! You already have it fired up, why not use it for dessert? There's nothing better than this uber-easy, quick and impressive grilled strawberry shortcake. Start with storebought cake, assembe the skewers head of time, make fresh whipped cream before your guests arrive and keep it chilled in the fridge. Then when it's dessert time, just toss your cake and strawberry skewers on the grill, and serve with the whipped cream and some fresh mint. 

How do you do backyard barbecues? Let me know in the comments! 


Disclosure: I'm a Mike’s VIP sponsored blog partner, but all opinions are my own. 

I was compensated by Mike's Hard Lemonade for this post, but the opinions and recipe are my own. Please consume alcohol safely and legally.

Disclosure: I'm a Mike’s VIP sponsored blog partner, but all opinions are my own. Please see below for additional disclosure.*

Today I'm teaming up with Mike's Hard Lemonade** to bring you a summer grilling pairing I can't seem to get out of my mind:  smoky, sweet grilled corn with jalapeño butter and just a touch of salty, crumbly cheese (I used cotija, but feta or even Parmesan would work just fine)

and refreshing hard lemonade.

(photo via lcbo.com)

The spicy, juicy corn, coated in spicy, salty butter is a perfect side dish to a grilled spread (though, honestly, I've had it with a giant salad for dinner on more than one occasion), and the cold, bright lemonade serves as the ultimate complement. I topped the corn with a shower of fresh cilantro (as I do just about everything), but if you are averse, you could definitely use parsley or even thinly snipped chives. 

Mike's Hard Lemonade is one of the sponsors of the Boot Campaign, which supports men and women who serve in the United States Military. If anyone deserves a cold, refreshing lemonade, it's these brave people, and therefore, I dedicate this pairing to each and every one of them.

For more information about Mike's partnership with the Boot Campaign, check out this video

 

 *I was compensated by Mike's Hard Lemonade for this post, but the opinions and recipe are my own. 

**Please consume alcohol safely and legally.

Ingredients

  • 4 ears corn, shucked, cleaned and halved $2
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter $1 for a stick
  • 1/2 jalapeño, diced finely $0.50
  • pinch salt Pantry
  • few sprigs cilantro, chopped $1 for a bunch
  • juice and zest of 1/2 lime $0.50
  • 2 tbsp crumbled cotija, feta, or grated Parmesan cheese $3 for 4 oz.

Directions

  1. Heat a grill or grill pan over high heat. Grill corn pieces for 2 minutes on each side, or until light charring develops.
  2. While corn grills, melt butter in a small sauce pan. Add jalapeño, salt, lime, cilantro, lime juice and zest and remove from heat.
  3. Drizzle butter mixture over grilled corn pieces. Garnish with cotija or feta.

Rainbow Fruit Salad

  • Prep Time 10 minutes
  • Estimated Cost $13.00
  • 6 Comments

I woke up this morning to the beautiful news that the Supreme Court of the United States had officially declared marriage is indeed a right for all.

All day long I have been weeping tears of gladness, my heart bursting with joy that my future children will be born in a land that legally recognizes all love as being equal.

That they will have the right to marry whomever they choose, no matter which state they live in.

That they will look at me with confusion and probably horror when I tell them that, not so long ago, marriage wasn't legal for everyone. 

And that my wedding will take place in a country that recognizes all marriage as being legal and meaningful.

I've been meaning to tell you: a couple of weeks ago, Evan and I got engaged. 

We had been talking about it for a long time. We were both ready--respectively, and as a couple.

I have never loved another person as much as I love Evan, nor have I ever been this sure about anything. I've never been someone who yearned for marriage in general, but I know with all my heart that I want to marry him. And I'm going to.

Every person deserves to have that option. 

To celebrate this joyous day (which also happens to be the start of Pride weekend in San Francisco!), I made fruit salad. 

Early summer produce is looking especially ripe and juicy these days.

It made the most beautiful rainbow.

The beauty of fruit is that there are so many options to get this symbolic color combination. Raspberries could replace the strawberries, orange slices could be swapped in for the apricots, yellow peaches could stand in for the bananas, kiwis could take over for the mint, and blackberries or boysenberries could fill in the bottom of the rainbow.

These fruits could also be baked into a tart, perhaps a goat cheese one, or served as part of a cheese platter.

However you make your rainbow, I hope it brings you a taste of the love and sweetness I am feeling. Today is a truly joyous day. 

Happy Pride!

Ingredients

  • 8 strawberries, ends removed, sliced $3.50 for a pint
  • 5 apricots, pitted, sliced $0.50
  • 2 bananas, peeled and sliced $1
  • 1 handful fresh mint leaves $0.50
  • 20-25 blueberries $4 for a pint
  • 1 sliced Black Mission fig $3.50 for a pint

Recipe Serves 3-4

Directions

  1. Arrange fruits in a rainbow shape on one large platter or on 4 individual platters in this order: strawberries, apricots, bananas, mint, blueberries, fig. 
  2. Serve on its own, or add a drizzle of honey, whipped cream, yogurt, or vanilla ice cream.