Posts Tagged With: cooking

Valentina’s Cocina: Patatas Bravas

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of announcing the publication of Roots: Where Food Comes From & Where It Takes Us. Today I bring you the second of my recipes from the famed Senora Valentina. This simple recipe is delicious for veg*ns and meat eaters alike. It can be served as a tapas with toothpicks for spearing or as a nice side dish.


Spanish Olive Oil

1 finely chopped onion

2 crushed garlic cloves

Salt to taste

1/2 cup Spanish Sherry (dry white wine will also work)

4 tomatoes, chopped and seeded (or 1 14 ounce can)

2 tsp red wine vinegar

2 tsp crushed dried chilis

2 tsp Spanish paprika

2 lbs. potatoes


  1. Heat about 1 TBS of olive oil in the pan until smoking and then add the onions, cooking roughly 5 minutes. When the onions are soft, but not browned, add the garlic and cook for an additional minute, stirring continuously.
  2. Add the wine and slowly bring to a boil over medium heat. Then add the tomatoes, chiles, paprika, salt, and vinegar, reducing the heat to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for roughly 10 minutes. Your sauce should have a thick consistency. OPTIONAL: Put the sauce in a food processor and pulse until smooth. (Valentina would smack you with her cane for this, but some people don’t care for a chunky texture.)
  3. Cut the potatoes into rough chunks. In a skillet, heat about 1 inch of olive oil. Add the potatoes and cook on medium-high for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are a pretty golden brown. Make sure to turn the pieces several times to cook evenly.
  4. Remove the potatoes using a slotted spoon and drain them on a paper towel, blotting gently to remove excess oil. Sprinkle with a little salt.
  5. Warm up the sauce and combine with the potatoes.

Senora Valentina Tip: Prepare the sauce the morning before you plan to serve it (you can actually make it up to 24 hours in advance). Allow it to sit, either covered on the stove, or in the refrigerator, until you have finished the potatoes. This will give the sauce stronger, more melded flavor.

For a healthier version, check out this recipe test from Robin Robertson’s Vegan Fire and Spice.



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Vegan Holidays: Ring of Fire Pickles

Ten years ago today my good friend Staley, who had spent most of early December helping me make gifts from the kitchen, took me out to dinner and, after several hours, asked me out. I can’t even say that this is our dating anniversary. Rather, it is the anniversary of use finally acknowledging that are friendship was something much deeper.

In honor of the wonderful, Johnny Cash-loving man I married, who eats vegan food with a smile even though he loves bacon second to me and our children (it was a sad day when I had to tell him the package of pulled pork he held hopefully in his hand was vegan), I would like to share one of my recipes, one that happens to be his favorite: Ring of Fire Pickles. I can’t say that I invented these–they came from an old cookbook that belonged to my grandmother (and has since fallen apart), albeit with some minor adjustments. These are simple to make and so tasty. I give them as gifts all the time and actually have people bring the jars back to me for refills.

While you can certainly make your own pickles, I don’t have that skill, so my version require premade pickles. Check with the pickle manufacturer to make sure they are vegan, but I find most Kosher dills work. I make mine with slices; you can also do spears or relish. These are amazing on sandwiches, tofu dogs, or just out of the jar (that’s how my husband eats them). Jar them up and give them away. Enjoy!

Ring of Fire Pickles


2 jars (32 ounces each) sliced dill pickles, spears, or relish (or, buy whole pickles and slice them yourself)

4 cups raw sugar

1 TBS hot pepper sauce (I use Tabasco)

1 tsp hot pepper flakes

Jars for storing pickles

One garlic clove for each jar, peeled


  1. Combine sugar, hot pepper sauce, and pepper flakes in a bowl.
  2. Drain the juice from the pickles. In a large glass bowl, layer 1/4 of the pickles, then top with 1/4 of the sugar-pepper mixture, spreading it to cover all the pickles. Add another layer of pickles and then a layer of the mixture, alternating until you have four layers. Do NOT mix.
  3. Cover the bowl and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
  4. Uncover the mixture and stir. Recover and leave for another 1 to 2 hours.
  5. Place a peeled garlic clove in the bottom of each jar. Spoon the pickles into the jar, making sure to include some of the juice. Close the jars and refridgerate for about 1 week before eating.

You can certainly break into those pickles right away; however, waiting a week lets the garlic kick in, making them even more yummy. If you really want to turn up the heat, slice up a jalapeno and place one slice in each jar.



Categories: Feed the Belly, Life and Other Nonsense | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vegan Holidays: Cranberry-Apple Bread

One staple of the holidays in my part of the world is yummy breads. We give and receive them as gifts and enjoy them for breakfast. Finding a bread I like it a bit tricky–I don’t care for banana bread or anything with raisins. So this year I tried out Cranberry Apple Bread from Vegan Cooking for Carnivores by Roberto Martin.

Vegan Cooking for Carnivores: Over 125 Recipes So Tasty You Won't Miss the MeatI have previously reviewed Martin’s book in this post, and my initial critique remains true. As with yesterday’s book, Martin does rely too heavily on processed stuff (the recipe calls for egg replacer), but I have learned to use other books like Cookin’ Crunk and a book I’ll review tomorrow to do more homemade versions of his processed stuff.


DSCN1777This bread whipped together quickly–I’d say about 5 minutes of prep and then the 45 minutes in the oven. I should have chopped the apples a bit smaller, but otherwise it came out beautifully. My substitutions are noted in red. I highly recommend this, especially as the recipe provides one to eat and one to gift.

Cranberry-Apple Bread

  • Quick
  • Easy
  • Kid friendly
  • Meat-eater husband and kid approved


2 cups organic bread flour (I used a mix of 1 cup oat and 1 cup whole wheat)

1 TBS baking powder

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 TBS egg replacer, mixed with 1/4 cup warm water (I used 1/2 cup apple sauce)

1/2 cup agave

8 TBS vegan butter

1 1/2 cups water

1 cup dried cranberries (I used 1/2 cup cranberries, 1/2 cup cherries)

1 large apple, peeled and diced


  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Place the first seven ingredients in a mixing bowl in the order listed and mix well with a wooden spoon.
  3. Gently stir in fruit.
  4. Pour equal amounts of batter into two greased loaf pans and bake for 45 minutes of until a toothpick inserted comes about clean.
  5. Let cool in pan before slicing.



PS. Tomorrow brings more treats for those on your list.


Categories: Feed the Belly, Life and Other Nonsense | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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