Street Food.

Recently I had the good fortune of learning the fine art of tamale crafting from a radical chef, Kajsa Alger of Susan Feniger’s Street. Chef Kajsa was awesome. She taught a great workshop and all of us who were lucky enough to take it are now masters in the art of fine tamales. Only the finest tamales will do. She taught us the secrets to perfect masa and showed us how we could spice up regular masa with pumpkin, cinnamon and all kinds of other goodies. We also learned how to create a beet and cauliflower ceviche as well as humitas, the South American version of tamales, wrapped in banana leaves and made with grits instead of masa. All you need to say to me is grits and you have my attention. Anyone who doesn’t love grits have only eaten gross grits…and they can be gross. But when they’re right, they’re really right.

At the end of a delightful workshop, Chef Kajsa was signing copies of the book she helped Chef Feniger pen, Street Food. I glanced through the book once before when I was eating at Border Grill. Susan Feniger’s restaurants are incredibly vegan friendly. I’m not 100% sure why that is, but I love it. You can get gourmet, delicious vegan options at all of her places which this vegan really appreciates! I looked through the book again and decided it had enough vegan recipes and enough recipes that could be adapted into something vegan that it was worth a purchase. Chef Kajsa kindly signed it for me and off I went.

ÒSusan FenigerÕs Street Food,Ó

The story of how I came to make my first recipe from the book could turn into a huge and crazy separate post of its own. I decided the first thing I wanted to make was the Trinidad Duck and Potato Curry with Plantains and Green Beans. The recipe called for a few things I didn’t have slash never heard of. Particularly this herb called shado beni/culantro. Yeah, just like cilantro, but with a u. So, I had to go around looking for it. I went to 3 asian markets before I finally found it 99 Ranch Market under its Vietnamese name. 99 Ranch is the best btw and I should have gone there first. It always fills all my asian cooking needs. But, in my travels to other markets in search of this herb, I happened upon a bunch of yuzu. Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit, likely a product of the sour mandarin and a plant called Ichang papeda. Even though I wanted the ingredients for the curry, I had remembered seeing yuzu as an ingredient in another dish in the book, although I could not remember which. I snatched up a couple, thinking I’d make the curry and whatever recipe it was that called for yuzu because yuzu is relatively rare and hard to find. When I got home, I discovered that I had seen spicy yuzu mayo in the book which was an accompaniment to a Tatsutage Fried Chicken. Fried things kill me a little, but I went ahead and made a batch of chicken seitan, collected all of the other ingredients and made the yuzu mayo. The resulting dish was this deliciously crispy fried seitan with delicious Vegenaise yuzu dipping sauce.


The batter was filled with all kinds of goodies like furikake, a mix of sesame seeds, nori and other goodies. Vegans be on the lookout though because most furikake has some kind of bonito or fish flake in it. I found Eden brand which was vegan and delicious.

I also did end up tracking down all of the obscure things I needed to make theTrinidad Duck and Potato Curry with Plantains and Green Beans. Anyone that knows me knows that one of my guilty pleasure lies in canned mock duck. Don’t judge me. You can get mock duck in any asian grocery and it’s kind of wonderful if you know what to do with it. Which I do. Because I loves it. Most of the curry ingredients were made into a homemade green curry paste. It had a beautiful aroma that I can only describe as intoxicating. The resulting curry was extremely good. The paste was so deliciously savory, cooked with coconut milk….ay. I love plantains too and every bite of sweet curry soaked plantain was better than the next. You’ll have to forgive the picture. I think the curry looks perfectly unappetizing in photo form. The colors don’t look so great and I really should have wiped my bowl, but hell….I forgot. I promise it’s one of the most flavorful, yummy things you’ll ever eat, despite it’s lack of color.


The last thing I ended up making was the Waipio Valley Sweet Fried Rice. First, since I was at 4 asian grocery stores I couldn’t get away without buying a big ol’ taro root. I’ve discussed my sick love of taro here before. SO GOOD. The rice recipe happened to be vegan already and didn’t have too many obscure ingredients. Plus, it’s Hawaiian so of course I couldn’t resist. This rice was so good. The name is deceiving as I found this rice to be savory with lightly sweet elements mixed in. This may be my favorite of the three recipes I’ve made so far. My only complaint/note is that the recipe calls for too much oil. Next time I make this I am def reducing the oil.


I have no idea what I am going to make next, but I have decided that I love this book. All three of these recipes were really good. I like that each recipe had several layers of flavor. There was real depth in each bite and I love that, even in the rice, which was a relatively simple dish compared with the fried seitan and the curry.

I would recommend this book to vegans and non vegans alike. My only warning is that if you don’t live near a major metropolitan area, you may have difficulties in locating some of the ingredients called for. My suggestion is to do your research, is ever a great place to go when you’re searching for something particular in regard to food. And always remember that many things like various cooking wines and things like furikake can be purchased online. I think there are even websites where you can order fresh yuzu and other obscure fruits.

Vegan Hawaiian Bread.

Finally. I succeeded in making a vegan version of King’s Hawaiian Bread. Sort of. The truth is I don’t really remember King’s Hawaiian bread all that much, but I think I’ve got a pretty fine replacement with this bread. Prior to my success I worked on a few different versions which were all funky. The stuff I made while in Hawaii was so crazy dense. Then I made another which was completely the opposite and was more like a cake than bread. I was almost discouraged, but I marched on. I ended up playing with the version that turned out like cake. More flour and using the stand mixer to knead the dough with a couple of other minor adjustments did the trick and then…..then there was bread.

Hawaiian Sweet Bread



1 packet active dry yeast

1/4 c warm water

pinch sugar

1 1/2 flax eggs ( 1 flax egg = 1 tbsp ground flax mixed w/ 3 tbsp water–allow sit for a minute)

1/2 c pineapple juice

1/4 c water

1/4 c + 2 tbsp unbleached cane sugar

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 c Earth Balance, melted

3 c unbleached all purpose flour


In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water with a pinch of sugar. Let the yeast and water stand for about ten minutes, until you have something a little foamy or creamy.

In a large bowl (preferably your standing mixer), mix together the yeast, flax eggs, pineapple juice, remaining water, sugar, ginger, vanilla and Earthy B. If you’re using your standing mixer, fit it with the dough hook and place the bowl in the base. Gradually add flour until a stiff-ish dough is formed. You don’t want something super tough though, so use the good judgement I know you have and give the dough a touch after it’s been kneaded/mixed by the mixer for a minute or two if you’re unsure about it. Also, if it feels/looks super sticky, add some more flour to it. This should not be a sticky dough. Oil another clean bowl (sorry to use so many bowls!) turn the dough into the oiled bowl cover with a clean, damp cloth and set in a warm spot for an hour to let it rise.

After an hour, take the dough and push it down. You can choose to bake a loaf or do what I did and take individual sections of dough, form them into balls, and place them in an 8″ cake pan. This doesn’t exactly make it a pull apart bread, but sort of. This recipe would also make great individual rolls. So prep your dough to make whatever kind of bread shapes you please, then cover again with a damp cloth and let rise for an additional 40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F at some point before the 40 minutes is up.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until bread sounds hollow and the top is golden.


Lilikoi Bars.

Since I’m going back to my precious Maui in March (and Molokai this time), I think I’m just going to stay in a tropical state of mind. Any other year I’d be thinking of what I can make with coconut nog, cranberries, pumpkins and ginger and apples. And while I still love all of those things, my mind keeps thinking pog…..passionfruit, orange, guava…..and pineapples….and mangoes….and breadfruit! The other day I drove around and around looking to see if I could find some fresh breadfruit. I went to 4 asian markets and found all kinds of treats like yuzu and culantro–no that is not a typo. I finally ended up in a tiny caribbean market in what I think just might have been south central. No worries though because they had frozen breadfruit! Not my breadfruit of choice, but I can definitely make the ulu-corn chowder I was thinking about. All of the Jamaicans were curiously asking about how I even knew about breadfruit. I told them about Hawaii and they were shocked to learn that Hawaiians know breadfruit. I told them that the largest collection of different breadfruit trees is on Maui in Kahanu Gardens. I drove by Kahanu Gardens after I was full of Coconut Glen’s ice cream, but did not go in. We could see the breadfruit trees and different varieties from the car, but next trip I plan to take a tour.

But sheesh, this isn’t a post about breadfruit. I wanted to talk about lilikoi, aka passionfruit. Here in CA we typically get the purple fruits like these:


They get all wrinkly on the outside when they are ripe. Then you just split them open and suck out the tart insides, which are filled with edible dark seeds. Passionfruit has a pretty unique flavor and is distinctly tropical. They are available at lots of CA farmer’s markets when they’re in season here and I have seen them at grocery stores like Whole Foods and such too. I bought some from the farmer’s market while on Maui and just ate them as snacks.


Then the other day I got into my head that I wanted to make something with them. I made a passionfruit cupcake once that was good cupcake but lacking in passionfruit flavor. This time I decided to do bars. It was an experiment, as most non-vegan bars are made of eggs and gelatin. These bars are tofu based and not overly sweet. To add that extra bit of sweetness, just dust them with confectioner’s sugar when they are all cool. I forgot to do that, for my eating pleasure and for my picture, so excuse my naked bars. The lilikoi is subtle in these bars, but you get the flavor. The crust is like shortbread, buttery and really rich with the macadamias. The turmeric is added simply for color. The bars would be a yucky off-white because of the inclusion of the tofu. The lilikoi juice is a light orange and is not enough to give something a bold color without eggs. I originally added an entire tsp of turmeric, but I think 1/2 tsp should do the trick just fine.

Lilikoi Bars




1 1/3 c unbleached all purpose flour

1/3 c macadamia nuts, chopped

1/3 powdered sugar

¾ c Earth Balance, slightly softened


1/3 c lilikoi juice

1 c extra firm silken tofu (Mori-Nu brand), pureed in food processor until smooth

¼ c unbleached all purpose flour

1 ½ c unbleached cane sugar

½ tsp turmeric

1 ½ tsp baking powder

Pinch of sea salt

Powdered sugar for dusting *optional


Preheat oven to 350°F.  In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine flour, nuts, & sugar. Mix in the softened Earth Balance until well combined. Press the mixture into a lightly greased 8×8 square dish for thicker bars, or a 9×13 for thin bars.  Bake crust for 12-15 minutes or when it starts looking golden. Remove from oven and let cool while you make the filling.

Combine all ingredients for the filling (except for powdered sugar) and whisk. Make sure the mixture is well blended and pour into the baked crust. Put back in the oven and bake for 30-40 min or until filling seems mostly set. It may jiggle just a bit in the center. After the bars have cooled, dust with powdered sugar.



More Aloha.

While I don’t have any more posts regarding my recent Maui trip, I have been really inspired since I came home. I brought this hibiscus tea home and made Hawaiian Arnold Palmers with that and homemade pineapple lemonade (made with Maui pineapple of course). I didn’t take any pictures of it because I still have not learned how to make drinks look attractive. Someday. I did manage to take some pictures of other Hawaiian inspired goodies.


Green Salad with Avocado & Creamy Papaya Dressing


Coconut-Macadamia Tofu Cutlets


Garlic Seasoned Taro Wedges

I will have some kind of recipe soon. I am testing out lilikoi bars and still working on that elusive Hawaiian bread.


Maui Pt 4: Places I Ate.

I should’t be writing this now because I’m totally hungry. I will probably be in some kind of ravenous beast mode when I finish this post, inhaling anything edible that comes my way.

Today I wanted to share with you some of the radical vegan food I ate while visiting Maui. There were a few restaurants I missed, but the ones I tried had pretty delicious offerings. Lets start with….

1. Maui Brewing Co. Probably my fav. Located right around the corner from our property in Kahana. Wonderful, delicious beer, amazing fries and the most delicious vegan burger. This place doesn’t have Vegenaise, but you can top the burger with some guacamole or their housemade ketchup—which is crazy good. They also have a vegan hummus trio which is pretty dang good and can also be used to top your burger. We get some of the brewery’s beers here on the mainland. I had already tried the Mana Wheat (brewed with Maui Gold Pineapple), the Coconut Porter and Sobrehumano Palena ‘ole (with lilikoi & cherries). I have yet to sample cans of the Bikini Blonde or Big Swell, but they have them at BevMo and Whole Foods on the reg, so I know I will get around to trying them. Since I was at the brewery (a few times), I decided to try beers that I could only get there. I also tried not to drink as much beer as I would have liked, because my body was like…hey girl, we’re like, on an island and you have to wear swimsuits in front of people, so like…chill out on the beer consumption…..But anyway, I first sampled the Kula Harvest Pumpkin seasonal brew. Man, this beer tasted like pie! In a good way. I’m sure there are some beer connoisseurs out there who are thinking “that’s DISGUSTING”, but I’m only a little bit of beer snob, so I found it delightful. It was one of the only things that reminded me that it was fall and Halloween and such. I was also treated to an amazing growler full of Maui Brewing Co’s Liquid Breadfruit ale, a collaboration brew with Dogfish Head (who make the BEST beer). This beer was sturdy, hoppy and super delish. I can’t start talking about breadfruit now or I will go on and on about it. But I am going, going, back, back, to Maui, Maui in March and there will be much talk of breadfruit when I return.

The amazing beer list
The amazing beer list
Vegan burger! As you can see, the patty has a crispy/fried coating situation on the outside making this burger a super mouthgasm. Gah, I want one right now.

2. Cool Cat Cafe: To keep with the burger theme, I also wanted to tell you that Cool Cat Cafe in Lahaina also has bomb veggie burgers. The patties are vegan, but most veggie burgers come with non-vegan toppings. Cool Cat has an array of delicious add ons though, like avocado and green chiles. This veggie burger was awesome–a friend and I brought some of my teriyaki-aioli along to slather these up with. So we both had a giant stack of veggie burger goodness with an onion ring, avocado, and green chiles. Mixed with our homemade sauce, this was a good night. I had a hard time eating mine, as the canker sores of doom were at their peak of terrible, but I still managed to put away 97% of it, some fries and one big ass pina colada. 🙂


3. Tortillas: Tortillas is a tiny little place in Paia. It sort of has a Chipotle deal going on inside, where you start at one end and build a burrito or burrito bowl to your liking. They have a few different rice options, from cilantro to brown, and lots of yummy add ons. I went with a bowl filled with cilantro rice, black beans, cucumber salsa, pico de gallo, lettuce, extra white onions, extra cilantro, guacamole and lots of black pepper on top. My friend chose something similar for her burrito. I can’t remember which salsas she got, but both things were darn good and pretty healthy.

Burrito bowl
Burrito bowl
Burrito guts
Burrito guts

4. Milagros Food Company: Also located in Paia, Milagros was awesome. Here we had two fantastic lilikoi margaritas. I was hungry and got a big burrito, but my friend wanted more of a snack so she chose the chips and guacamole. The two of us eat a lot of guac. What can we say? We’re Californian and we love avocados! And they grow magnificent avos in Hawaii as well, so it’s a great place to drown yourself in light green, buttery goodness. Milagros was great. They use veggie broth in their beans, rice and basically everything so it’s the perfect place to grab vegan or vegetarian Mexican food. And margaritas. Don’t forget about those. 😉

more burrito guts


5. Ono Gelato: Oh Ono Gelato, how I love you. LOVE. Ono Gelato, with locations in Paia and Lahaina, is the best vegan ice cream ever. It was rich, creamy and delicious. This place is so badical; they have one case with dairy based gelato, but offer equally as many flavors of non-dairy gelato. Everyone can have what they want. Amazing. 🙂 We hit this place up more than once. First time around I went with a combo of chocolate and Kula strawberry. The second time I opted for a single scoop because I was so full. I got the chocolate again because, well, I love chocolate.

vegan options galore


5. Coconut Glen’s Homemade Ice Cream: If you’re going by way of Hana, you must stop at Coconut Glen’s for some ice cream. It’s a little shack of sorts on the side of the road that serves up a little selection of coconut based treats. This is more of a traditional ice cream, as opposed to Ono Gelato which, you know, is gelato. Since I’m half Italian, I prefer gelato. Well, probably has nothing to do with me being half Italian, but whatever. I’m not knocking Coconut Glen’s though because that ice cream was spectacular and gives you a much needed pick me up on the long, winding, treacherous albeit beautiful road to Hana. I’m heel though and ate the ice cream and forgot about taking a picture. But hopefully you all know what ice cream looks like and you can imagine it in your mind being served up in carved out coconut shell…because that’s totally what we ate it out of. With coconut husk spoons 🙂


My friend Stacy and I (right). I feel totally chubbed out from ice cream in this pic so don't judge!
My friend Stacy and I (right). I feel totally chubbed out from ice cream in this pic so don’t judge!

And everything else that was eaten out did not get the picture treatment. Not because the food didn’t deserve, but because I was likely to busy shoveling food into my mouth to stop and take a picture. For more vegan options, we ate a damn good cheeseless pie (pizza variety) at Flatbread in Paia. I also had a pretty good Singapore noodles dish from Fresh Mint, also in Paia. Everything awesome is in Paia friends, everything. And not to mention there are always vegan goodies available at Mana Foods in Paia, Whole Foods in Kahului, and TONS of other little shops that have veggie stuff. There were a couple of restaurants I wanted to try in Haiku, but didn’t get the chance. I will venture to them on my next Maui trip this March and report back with my full belly. 🙂

Aloha friends!