Sam, Elise, and Lizzie are three high school best friends living in Toronto, Oakland, and Brooklyn. We grew up cooking together and have started sharing recipes as a way to stay connected during times of isolation. These are excerpts from what’ll become our cookbook.
Sam’s Favorite Sandwich
4 oz smoked tofu
A bit of cheddar (If you can’t find smoked tofu, try regular tofu and smoked cheddar—just something’s gotta be smoky.)
Two slices of sourdough (or your favorite bread)
Spicy pickled peppers
Some sort of oil for the pan, canola, sesame, sunflower, whatever you like
A 12” heavy-bottom pan and a lid that can sort of fit over top
Slice tofu into ¼” thick slices. Slice cheese into ⅛” slices. Oil the pan, and turn on the stove to medium or medium-low. Place the tofu and bread onto the oiled pan before the oil gets really hot. This gives the oil a minute to bind to the bread and tofu before things start cooking. Then put cheese on each slice of bread and drizzle some soy sauce onto the tofu. Delicious things will happen if some soy sauce gets on the pan as well. Cover everything with a big lid and let the heat do its thing for about five minutes.
When you hear things popping and sizzling, check on the tofu. You’re looking for browning. When it’s browned, flip it to brown the other side. Keep an eye on your bread. When the cheese is melted and the second side of your tofu is close to being done, take the bread off the pan and place on a plate. When the tofu looks irresistible, get it off that pan and on to the cheesy bread! Then pile on your sauerkraut and pickled peppers (be generous, imagine you are at a NY Deli), close it up and enjoy! Napkins will be necessary.
Pear Salad with Jammy Shallot Dressing
Variety of strong, bitter greens. Ideally frisee, radicchio, and endive, but kale works too.
Pomegranate seeds as garnish
*Optional: cheese (shaved manchego or gorgonzola both work well)
Jammy shallot dressing:
One large shallot
Dijon mustard (grainy or not)
Quick pickle shallots by slicing them thinly into rounds and mixing into your ideal briny mixture of vinegar, salt, and sugar (to taste). Let sit minimum 10 min, but can be overnight. Make sure that the brine slightly covers the shallots.
Mix a heaping tablespoon of apricot jam and a teaspoon of dijon into shallots and brine, topping with however much olive oil you choose. Texture should be thicker and jammier than your usual dressing! Dress the greens until they’re glistening, then top with sliced pear, cheese, and pomegranate seeds.
Celery and Cabbage Soup
4 tablespoons butter
2 onions, finely diced (3-4 cups)
1 small or ½ of a large green cabbage, chopped into thin ribbons (roughly 4 cups)
½ head of celery (roughly 2 cups chopped very thinly)
2 cups of water
2 cups milk
Zest of 1 lemon
Sweat the onion in butter with a little salt until translucent (no browning!), add garlic and sweat for a few more minutes. Add the celery, season again with salt and pepper and sweat for 10 minutes. Then add the cabbage, milk, and water and cook covered over very low heat until cabbage and celery has completely softened, about 40 minutes. Blend the soup with the lemon zest until velvety smooth.
FAST Sesame Soba
Serves 3 hungry people
3 bundles of dried Soba
½ cup frozen edamame, shelled
½ cup sweet corn
1-2 sliced fresh red chilis, if you like heat
3 TBS tahini
1 TBS mirin
1 TBS soy sauce
1 TBS rice vinegar
1 TSP roasted sesame oil
Boil three liters of water. Add the Soba and cook as long as the package instructs, around seven minutes. While the noodles are cooking, gently defrost your edamame. Don’t overheat them, they’ll get pasty and gross. I like to soak them in hot water for ten minutes or put them in water in the microwave on the “defrost” setting. When the soba is done, drain and rinse with cold water. Sprinkle with sesame oil to keep the noodles from sticking together.
Mix up your sauce, balancing the ingredients to your palate (mirin= sugar, vinegar = acid, soy = salt, tahini = fat).
Dress your noodles and serve into three dishes. Top with edamame, corn, and chilis.
Gazpacho (breadless recipe)
1/4 or 1/5 of a yellow onion depending on the size
1/3 of an english cucumber, peeled
3ish cloves garlic depending on your taste and the size of the cloves
1/3 of a green pepper (bell peppers work, also red bell peppers if you want it sweeter, or the skinnier Spanish green peppers called padron)
4-5 quartered tomatoes (vine tomatoes are best)
big pinch of sea salt
10 second slow pour of olive oil (it’s a lot). This is assuming you have a spout on the top of your olive oil bottle, not something that’ll make a “glug.”
splash of sherry or red wine vinegar
*Optional: strawberries, especially if they’re slightly past ripe
DO NOT CHOP—half or quarter all veggies to give the right proportions. Put vegetables into blender in the above order, filling to the top with the tomatoes once all other vegetables are in. Blend for a couple seconds until everything’s mixed—taste test for salt and vinegar proportions. Tweak if need be. Then blend fully—longer than you expect—and put in fridge to chill for an hour or two if possible. Will keep 3-4 days, although the vinegar will get stronger over time.
8 oz. cooked chickpeas
1 TBSP vegan mayonnaise
1 TBSP fresh lemon juice
2 green onions
2 stalks of celery
Handful of fresh dill
Crackers, cucumber slices, or whole wheat sandwich bread
Raw Zucchini Balsamic Salad
Zucchini (1 small zucchini per serving)
Red wine vinegar
1 clove Fresh garlic (if making 3 or more servings, add more)
Salt and pepper
Mandolin slice zucchini, either as rounds or as long strips. Crush garlic to a paste or use a garlic press. Mix garlic with balsamic glaze, slowly adding in red wine vinegar and salt until the dressing suits your liking and is both sweet from the glaze and has a bite from the red wine vinegar. Add in olive oil to your liking and dress the zucchini until it is well dressed but not soupy. Let sit at least 10 minutes before serving.
Coconut Lentil Curry
Serves 6 (make the whole thing, trust me, you’ll want the leftovers)
Adapted from The Endless Meal
2 tablespoons ghee
1 tablespoon each: cumin seeds and coriander seeds
1 head of garlic, chopped (10–12 cloves)
1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons ginger, chopped
1 tablespoon turmeric
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 cup dried brown lentils
1 teaspoon cayenne powder
3 cups of water
1 15-ounce can coconut milk
1 bunch of a sturdy green, like Swiss chard or kale, chopped
chopped cilantro and greek yogurt to garnish
Heat the ghee in a large pot (I like an enamel dutch oven) over medium-high heat. Add the cumin and coriander seeds and toast until they start to brown, about 45 seconds. Add the garlic to the pot and let it brown, about two minutes. Add the can of crushed tomatoes, ginger, turmeric, and sea salt to the pot and cook, stirring the pot a few times, for five minutes. Add the lentils, cayenne powder, and the water to the pot and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let it simmer for 35-40 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. If the curry starts to look dry before the lentils are cooked you can add some extra water. Once the lentils are soft and the curry is thick, add the coconut milk and greens and bring the pot back to a simmer. Serve topped with cilantro and a dollop of greek yogurt over brown rice.
Egg Alfredo Noodles
For when you want the comforting taste of a cream sauce but you also want protein, and for it to be one step.
Pasta of your choice! Fresh, dried, whatever.
Eggs (1 per small serving)
Red pepper flakes
Fresh ground pepper
Cook pasta in well salted water until (al dente—don’t overcook!) according to package instructions. One serving per person– does not make good leftovers. Beat one egg per serving and season it with salt and lots of pepper. Save a quarter to half cup of pasta water when you strain. Return pasta to pot on lowest heat possible. Add in ample butter—noodles should be well-lubricated. Olive oil is okay in a pinch. Add back in a tablespoon or two of pasta water. Pour in eggs and stir slowly but constantly—heat should be low enough to cook the eggs slowly without forming clumps. Add in more pasta water if eggs are getting globby, and feel free to take off heat if you’re getting clumps. Keep stirring until eggs have cooked to the consistency of alfredo sauce.
Serve immediately! Garnish with ample parmesan, lemon zest, lemon squeeze, red pepper flakes, and a sinful amount of cracked black pepper.
This recipe can clearly be tailored for many things—add any veggies, meats, herbs you like!
Ricotta Spinach Manicotti
Serves 2-3 people
This one is a bit of work but worthwhile, especially during a pandemic quarantine.
Approximately 6-8 cups of halved Roma tomatoes
¾ cups red wine
1 large Spanish onion
⅓-½ c. Olive oil
16 oz. ricotta
Two large bunches of spinach, err on the side of extra
1 cup curly parsley
4 garlic cloves
2 TSP. Savory or Oregano
½ c. shredded Parmesan
This recipe is a bit heavy in the multi-tasking department and takes a while. For these reasons, please make your sauce in advance so you aren’t in the kitchen for a ridiculous amount of time all at once.
For the sauce:
The key to deliciousness here is the wine so don’t be shy!
Dice the onion and put in a dutch oven or big pot with the olive oil. Cook on medium heat until translucent and then add the wine (carefully! The alcohol will evaporate very quickly spattering the oil so pour from a distance). Cook further for 15 minutes, using your nose to confirm that you’ve cooked off all the alcohol. Then add the tomatoes. Cover and turn down to medium low heat. Cook for about 20 minutes. Uncover and stir your tomatoes, mashing them a little. Now you have to make a judgement call about the amount of moisture in your sauce: You want to cook the sauce for about 40 more minutes. If the tomatoes are really juicy, maybe you continue cooking uncovered. If the sauce is quite dry, perhaps leave the lid on for another 20 minutes and check in again. When the sauce has reached your desired consistency, add salt and pepper to taste.
For the manicotti and filling:
Begin by putting 3-4 liters of water to boil in a large pot. Prep two 9” glass/ceramic dishes (or one, 13” dish) with olive oil and a bed of tomato sauce for the future Manicotti to sit on. You could also try using a heavy skillet, but maybe not cast iron because tomatoes are so acidic it might harm the pan/make your tomatoes taste like iron. I don’t think a thin sheet metal pan would be great for this, but do what you gotta do.
While the water boils, set a large pan on low heat with a generous amount of olive oil (3-4 TBSP). Mince your garlic and toss into the warm oil. Bring up the heat to med-low and get to stemming and washing your spinach. Do a good job because nobody likes sandy Manicotti. Once washed, coarsely chop the spinach.
When the garlic is barely toasted put half the spinach in and stir. In a minute or so, that spinach will shrink making room for the rest. Stir occasionally and cook on med-low for 15-20 minutes. This slow cook will take a good amount of water out of the leaves which is important so that our manicotti aren’t swimming in spinach water after baking.
While your spinach is cooking, the pasta water will come to a rolling boil–gently place the manicotti into the water and set a timer for 12 minutes (or an amount of time slightly less than that suggested on the pasta package).
While these two things are going, grab a large mixing bowl and mix your ricotta, parsley, a generous splash of salt and pepper, and the Savory or Oregano. Mix in the spinach when it is ready.
When your timer goes off, check out your pasta. It should be tender but quite al dante. Shut off the heat and set up a wide, shallow colander or plate. Gently take out the Manicotti from the water one at a time. I use two wooden spoons to take the Manicotti out because they are very slippery and the grain of the wood helps you hold onto them without pinching too hard. They tend to split, so be gentle. Rinse under cool water so you can handle them.
You should now have a bowl of ricotta-spinach filling, cool and cooked manicotti, and dishes with tomato sauce. Now you stuff your pasta! I have no tips for this, I’m terrible at it, it is very messy. Maybe someone has a Nonna who can advise us. In any case, somehow you will manage to get your filling into the manicotti without tearing the noodles and place each one onto the tomato sauce. Once they are all filled and in the pan, dust with Parmesan and get ‘em into the oven! Bake at 350 F for 40-60 minutes.
Rye Ginger Cookies
Makes about two dozen
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup rye flour (you can sub all-purpose or whole wheat if you don’t have rye flour, but consider buying some; rye crops return a lot of lost nutrients to soil!)
2 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup crystalized ginger cut in ¼ inch chunks
¾ cup sugar
1 cup almond butter
2 tbsp peanut oil
¼ cup butter
1/4 cup date syrup (feel free to use molasses as an alternative)
2-3 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
*Optional: a high quality dark chocolate bar, chopped (I used one with almonds in it and loved the extra crunch.)
Whisk together the first seven dry ingredients in a bowl, then add the ginger chunks. Separately, cream the butter, oil, sugar, and nut butter; add the egg, date syrup, and grated ginger and mix well. Fold in the dry flour mixture followed by the chocolate chunks, if including. Chill for one hour.
Roll dough into balls roughly 1 ¼ inch in diameter, cook for 12 minutes in 350-degree oven. Cookies flatten out and end up staying chewy inside once cooled, with a slight crunch on outside.
Marmalade Whiskey Sour
2 tablespoons marmalade of choice (I use homemade kumquat and meyer lemon, which is rather bitter)
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon honey
4 oz whiskey
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 egg white
2 Luxardo maraschino cherries (don’t bother with any other kind)
Make a simple syrup with the marmalade, water, and honey, then strain and cool.
Shake the egg white in a shaker or mason jar until foamy as fuck. Then add the simple syrup, whiskey, lemon juice, and several ice cubes. Shake again well. Strain out ice and serve with cherry.
These ratios are all variable, and as written this makes a rather sour drink. If you like a sweeter drink, you may want to increase the amount of honey in the simple syrup, or leave out some lemon juice. You can also add some syrup from the cherry jar for a different twist. Play with it until you find your balance. ▩