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Let’s Get Cooking: Asparagus – Pistachio-Crusted with Feta Vinaigrette (vegan option)

Pistachio-Crusted Asparagus with Feta Vinaigrette

Recipe from Handmade Gatherings: Recipes & Crafts for Seasonal Celebrations & Potluck Parties (Roost Books).


Chef Ashley

Every spring, Ashley English, author and homesteader, uses asparagus fresh from her garden in Chandler, North Carolina.  She says, “When I notice that those first, tender, thin green spears have poked their sleepy heads from the soil, that’s my cue that spring has arrived.”  Here’s her favorite asparagus recipe.

Yield: 4-6 servings

2 pounds large asparagus

¼ cup olive oil

1 cup shelled pistachios

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons feta, crumbled (Look below for a vegan “feta” that is tasty – and 100% dairy free)

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped



¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup feta, crumbled

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

Several grinds of black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Rinse the asparagus, and cut about an inch off the stem ends. Pat to dry. Place the asparagus on a dry baking sheet, and cook it for three minutes to dry off any excess moisture. Remove the sheet from the oven and toss the asparagus on the sheet with the olive oil.

Crush the pistachios in a food processor (or under a towel with a kitchen mallet or hammer) for about 1 minute, until finely ground. Transfer the ground nuts to a small mixing bowl. Using a spoon or clean hands, mix the nuts with the salt. Lay the asparagus out evenly across the baking sheet. Sprinkle them with half of the ground pistachio and salt blend. Turn the spears over, then evenly sprinkle them with rest of the ground pistachios.

Cook 10 minutes, then remove from the oven, and carefully plate the spears onto a platter using tongs. Add all of the vinaigrette ingredients to a lidded container or a food processor. Shake or blend until smooth. Drizzle the plated asparagus with the vinaigrette. Top with the chopped parsley and feta. Serve at room temperature.

Seen in Spring 2017 edible ASHEVILLE, p. 42.

** For vegan feta, see this recipe from Nikki at for instant raw vegan feta:

Enjoy.  Happy Spring, Renée


Let’s Get Cooking – Bali: Mango and Chickpea Tabouli

This recipe from Ayu Spicy is loaded with protein and keeps for several days refrigerated – where it just gets better.

Mango & Chickpea Tabouli – Serves 4-6



Coconut yogurt from Chef Simon Jongenotter

  • 1 tsp. orange zest, grated – just the orange part not the white pith
  • 1 cup cooked rice or quinoa
  • 1 can (439 g, about 16 oz) garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 ripe mango cut into 1  1/2 cm x  1  1/2 cm pieces (under 2 inch cubes)
  • 2 Tbl. coriander leaf, chopped
  • 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds


In a medium sized bowl mix the orange and lime juices, the curry powder, yogurt, and the orange zest.  When this is well mixed add the cooked rice or quinoa and stir again.

Now add the garbanzo beans and raisins, mixing well.  Finally add the mango pieces and the chopped coriander leaf and mix gently.

Set the tabouli aside, covered, for at least an hour for the flavors to mix and mature.  When you are ready to eat, turn it onto a serving dish and garnish with the toasted almonds.

This tabouli keeps well in the fridge.  If you plan to have leftovers, don’t sprinkle all the almonds on at once but save some for when it comes ot of the fridge an sprinkle on just before serving.

Enjoy your meal!

“Salamat makan,” Renée

from: “Food Glorious Food” Bali Advertiser, 12-26 Oct. 2016, 45)

Image from: <

Let’s Get Cooking – Bali: Coconut and Lemongrass Soup


This weekend, the second annual Bali Vegan Festival was held in Ubud.  It was fabulous – with speakers, classes, talks, movies, music, food, and, of course, ideas.

To show you how wonderful – and easy – making healthy vegan food can be, here’s a recipe from the Bali Vegan Festival program.

The raw, vegan soup is a creation of Chef Arif Springs and his team at Taksu, spa and restaurant and a sponsor of the festival.


  • 2 tbsp cashew nuts
  • 1 tsp virgin coconut oil
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 4 stalks lemongrass
  • 1 tsp honey (or if you are vegan, substitute agave nectar, coconut nectar, or maple syrup)
  • Pinch of diced garlic
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Zucchini, cucumber and/or coriander for garnish


  1. Soak cashews in water for two hours.
  2. Cut a thin slice from a clove of garlic and dice finely.
  3. Juice lemongrass (strain out the pulp).
  4. Blend all ingredients until smooth.
  5. Garnish with pealed zucchini, cucumber and/or coriander.  A zucchini flower adds a decorative finish.

Serve at room temperature or refreshingly chilled for a hot day.  Recipe for two.


Salamat malam, Renée

Let’s Get Cooking – Bali: Mushroom Filled Tempeh-Potato Patties with Lemon Aïoli

As a great appetizer or a vegetarian main dish, these patties are high in protein – and tasty.  Plus you can vary the taste by your choice of mushroom. And you can choose just to make the mushroom sauce and lemon aïoli if you have prepared veggie patties.

Makes: 30 small patties or 8 big ones.


  • 1 recipe of Tempe Potato Patties uncooked ( – see below or  buy prepared tempeh patties from you local health food market
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill

Ingredients for the mushroom filling:

  • 1 Tbl. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 100 g. (3/4 cup) fresh shitake mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
  • 200 g  ( 1  1/2 cups)fresh portobello mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 Tbl. crumbled dried thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • salt and pepper – to taste

Ingredients for the Lemon Aïoli

  • 4 hard-cooked egg yolks, save the whites for another use
  • 3 Tbl lemon or lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 pinches of ground cayenne
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest, finely grated
  • 1 small clove of garlic, pressed
  • 5 Tbl. extra virgin olive oil


Make the recipe for Tempe Potato Patties up to the point where you form the patties or – as I would do – open up your Life Foods veggie patties.

If you love cooking, you can make your own patties:


Tempeh patties

Tempe Potato Patties from
Serves 4

Ingredients for Potatoes :
– 350 gr. (about 1.4 cups or 12.34 ounces) potatoes
– ½ tsp. salt
– ¼ tsp. cumin powder
– ¼ tsp. coriander powder
– 1/8 tsp. cayenne or red chili powder
– 1 clove garlic, pressed
– 2 Tbl. celery leaves finely chopped
– pepper to taste

Ingredients for Tempe :
– 100 gr. (3/4 cup or 3.53 ounces) tempe
– 1/8 tsp. salt
– 1/8 tsp. cumin powder
– 1/8 tsp. coriander powder
– cayenne or red chili powder to taste
– pepper to taste
– 1 egg beaten in a small bowl
– ¾ cup bread crumbs on a small plate
– Canola oil for frying



Boiled potatoes

Boil the potatoes in their skins until soft. Set aside until cool enough to handle and then remove the skins. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher. Once they are evenly mashed add the salt, cumin, coriander, chili powder, celery leaves, and pepper. Mix well. Set this aside.

Boil the tempeh for about 10 minutes or until done. Mash the tempeh. Add the salt, cumin, coriander, chili powder, and pepper. When this is well mixed add the potato mixture and mix very well. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Make patties about 6 cm in diameter and 2 cm thick from this mixture. You should have about 8-9 patties.

Or – if you don’t have time or the passion for cooking, buy quality veggie patties such as those from Life Foods:




Life Foods has other great veggie choices

Whatever your choice, cook the patties:

Heat about 1 Tbl. canola oil in a non-stick frying pan big enough to hold all the patties in one layer. (You can also do this in two batches – it is important that they are in one layer.) While the oil heats, take a patty and dip it in the beaten egg and then in the bread crumbs, coating both sides of the patty. Do this with the remaining patties. Fry the patties until golden brown and then flip them over and brown the other side, adding oil as needed. These are most delicious when well browned and served warm.

Set this aside.

Make the mushroom filling by heating 1 Tbl. olive oil in a frying pan.  When the oil is hot add the garlic and shallots, stir frying until the shallots are limp.  Crumble in the dried thyme leaves, giving it a good stir and then add the shitake and Portobello mushrooms.  Stir fry these over a high heat until they start to brown and release their juices.  Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper and continue stir frying until most of the juice evaporates.  Remove from the heat and set aside.


Sauté the mushrooms until most of the liquid is gone.

If you are making appetizers, take a spoonful of the Tempe Potato Patty dough and flatten into a 5 cm disk.  Make another one the same size.  Put 1 tsp.of the mushroom filling on a disk and top with a sprig of dill.  Take another disk and lay on top of the mushroom filling, pushing down to flatten and pinching the sides closed.  Continue like this until you have used all the tempe potato dough and the sautéed mushrooms.  You should have about 30 small filled patties.

If you want to eat this as a vegetarian main course make the patties bigger and fill with a larger amount of sautéed  mushrooms.  You should have about 8 large filled patties.

Keep the patties warm in the oven until ready to serve.

As you are cooking the patties, make the lemon aïoli.

Put all the ingredients for the lemon aïoli, except the oil, in blender, food processor, stick blender container or a deep mortar with a pestle.  Combine the ingredients until smooth. Slowly add the oil while continuing to mix.  Taste and correct for salt, pepper and lemon juice.

You can either drizzle the sauce over the patties or serve it in a bowl for each diner to dip into.



Bon Appetit!

Recipe by Ayu Spicy in “Food Glorious Food” from Bali Advertiser, 14-28 Sept. 2016, p. 44

Enjoy – and as they say in Bali, “Selamat makan,”  Renée

Images from: <;; <;; <;; <;












Glimpses of Old City Dali, Yunnan Province, China

Barry and I traveled to Dali, Yunnan Province, home of many Chinese ethnic minorities; we found sunny blue skies, friendly colorful people, and interesting history.   Because we liked it so much, we got stuck there, staying longer than we had intended.

Sunset over the mountains outside Dali.  The tree is loaded with clementines.

Sunset over the mountains outside Dali. The tree in the neighboring yard is loaded with clementines.

We awoke to see snow on the mountain tops and warm sunshine.

Snow on the mountains, but warm temperatures in Dali.

Snow on the mountains, but warm temperatures in Dali.

The food was varied and good.

Our new friend Nature helped us find the Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant where we ate many times.

Our new friend Nature helped us find a vegetarian restaurant where we ate many times.

The Lovely Lotus Delicious Vegetarian Restaurant was a favorite.

We liked the selections - and the friendly staff.

We liked the selections – and the friendly staff.

Our friendly Muslim noodle man.

Our friendly Muslim noodle man.


Yummy freshly made noodles!

Restaurants of all kinds.

Restaurants of all kinds.

We loved walking the narrow streets of the Old City Dali.

Old City Dali

Old City Dali

The streets teemed with life.

The streets teem with life.

Catholics, Christians, and Buddhists have centers in Old City Dali.

Dali Christian Church

Dali Christian Church

Although this site is now strictly a cultural site, we heard chanting from other buildings, and the Buddhists provide free daily meals to those in need.

We went to the Three-Pagodas  one afternoon – and stayed so long that we had to climb over a fence in order to leave 🙂

Although this site is now strictly a cultural destination, we heard chanting from other buildings in Dali and learned  that the Buddhist community provides a  free daily meal to those in need.

A temple to Confucius.

A temple to Confucius.

The opening of a Belgium waffle shop involved chanted blessings (and free cigarettes and tea).

The opening of a Belgium waffle shop involved chanted blessings (and free cigarettes and tea).

The Dali residents dress in a variety of ways.

Some women in ethnic dress, some in modern clothes

Some women wear ethnic dress, some  modern clothes.

Colorful foreigners too.

Colorful foreigners are here too.

Old City Dali pedestrian street.

Old City Dali pedestrian street.

Many shopping choices line the Old City Dali streets.

Shopping choices.

Shopping choices

Farmers bring their produce to sell in the streets.

Farmers bring their produce to sell in the streets.

Beautiful vegetables.

Beautiful vegetables.

Peanuts, scarves?

Peanuts and scarves

Shoe repair shop on the street.

Shoe repair shop on the street.

Hair braiding/threading  shop.

Hair braiding/threading shop.

Dali is known for its beautiful stone.

Dali is known for its beautiful stone.

Shops in colorful, historic buildings.

Shops in colorful, historic buildings.

Stylish women's dresses.

Stylish women’s dresses.

Beautiful choices.

Beautiful choices.

Cafés, coffee bars, and restaurants line the walking streets.

Cafés too.


Varied restaurant experiences.

Varied restaurant experiences.

A good place for an afternoon coffee.

A good place for an afternoon coffee.

Cool doorways –

Old City Dali

Old City Dali

Some entrances are humble.


Stately entrances

Some have stately entrances.

Some entrances are new.

Some entrances are more modern.

White walls, black tiles

White walls, black tiles

Walls of color too.

Walls of color too.

Beautiful gates and doors in Old City Dali.

Beautiful gates and doors in Old City Dali.

Some gates are hundreds of years old.

Some gates reflect ancient styles.

Beautiful windows too.

Beautiful windows.

Old stone walls.

Old stone walls.

Old City Dali gates:

Old City Dali gate.

Old City Dali gate.

North Gate

North Gate

Local women outside an Old City Dali gate.

Local women outside an Old City Dali gate.

Old City Dali offers entertainment of many types.

Games on the street.

Games on the street.

With the name Johnny Hawaii, we had to go see this "Paper Presentation".

Because his  name is Jonny Hawaii, we had to go see this “18th Performance with Paper Reading.”

Would Jonny Hawaii do a dramatic reading?  I was hopeful his presentation would  be in English.

Jonny in the foreground; Rachel read.

Jonny in the foreground; Rachel reading.

We were warned that Jonny’s  presentation would be loud.

Many of us held our ears because of the screeching that accompanied Jonny's performance.

Many of us held our ears because of the screeching that accompanied Jonny’s symbolic performance.

Innovative Education in Old City Dali:

We discovered “The Living School” when we met Joy, a teacher, and his students selling challa bread one afternoon in Dali.  Fourteen Dali families have joined together to “homeschool” their children.  Instead of the traditional Chinese school of long hours of memorization, these children study academics in the morning and then develop their own passions (music, art, crafts) during the afternoons.  The school   encourages innovation and hands-on learning.  The students learn to cook and garden and make mud bricks and develop new skills.

Lunch with The Living School students and Joy.

Lunch with The Living School students and Joy.

The school also invites  Couch Surfers to stay at the school and share their experiences.  One  evening I saw a program presented  by Eurate & Sam who have been traveling for 2 1/2 years – by bicycle! Coming overland from the Basque region of Spain, they are on their way to  New Zealand – and they have had many adventures.

Sam & Eunate, Couch Surfers, who have been bicycling from Basque region in Spain toward New Zealand.

Sam & Eunate explain how they handled the laws of Iraq that don’t permit touching between men and women.

Sam showing the bicycle route from Spain to Dali, China.

Sam showing the bicycle route from Spain to Dali, China.

The Living School kids, their teachers, and Eunate.

The Living School kids, their teachers, and Eunate.

Eunate says all you need to travel is a smile.  She says money causes trouble, so she and Sam have traded work for places to stay and food wherever they have gone.  I love their spirits and sense of adventure.

Joy and his students singing a thank you song for Sam & Eunate's presentation.

Joy and his students singing a thank you to Sam & Eunate.

Barry and I loved our stay in Old City Dali.  Our Dragonfly Hostel with its friendly staff, comfortable rooms, rooftop garden, and reading/music room became our home in Dali.

Our Dragonfly Hostel room.

A Dragonfly Hostel room.

Old City Dali - a mingling of the traditional and the new.

Old City Dali – a mingling of the traditional and the new.

Zaì jiàn, Renée

Barry’s Gleanings: Each Monday?


Ducks on Jalan Bisma, Ubud, Bali.

“A decade ago, the trailblazers at Meatless Monday asked Americans to go flesh-free 1 day a week. Now that people in 29 different countries have embraced the switch, it’s a movement with serious impact.

‘Eliminating a day of meat can cut your weekly saturated fat by about 15%,’ says Peggy Neu, president of the Monday Campaigns. It also saves fossil fuels: If all Americans avoided meat and cheese 1 day a week for a year, we’d save the same amount as taking 7.6 million cars off the road. That’s a lot of bang for your veggie burger buck.”


“Is It Monday Yet? Try Crispy Black Bean Corn Cakes with Avocado Salsa — or one of the nine other delicious meatless recipes from Mario Batali and other premier chiefs–from <>”

From: “New Food Rules” by Mark Bittman in Prevention, March 2014, p. 91.

Aloha, Renée

Let’s Get Cooking: Balinese Gado Gado, cold vegetable salad

Gado gado, a  Balinese salad (served with peanut sauce) is a traditional vegetable dish.  What makes this healthy salad particularly delicious is, of course, the peanut sauce.

gadogadoKizmetwAt Dewa and Ayu’s family compound – a wonderful Balinese meal.

Gado gado is simple and healthy.

This recipe from Payuk Bali: Balinese Cooking Class serves four.

CSIngredwSpices ready for use at Payuk Bali –

Ingredients for the salad:

–       100 gr (3.53 oz) long beans, cut and blanched

–       1 cup (240 mL) bean sprouts, blanched

–       100 gram (3.53 oz) spinach, blanched

–       1 young carrot, thinly sliced

–       1/4 head of cabbage, chopped and blanched

–       1 piece tempe, deep fried, thinly sliced

–       1 hard boiled egg, cut in wedges (optional for vegetarians)

–       2 tsp. (10 gram)  shallots, sliced, fried

–       1/2 cup (120 mL) Balinese peanut sauce (see previous post).

The presentation varies.

gadogadoBollerow-1Gado gado at Bolleros on Jalan Dewasita in Ubud.

gadogadosomaw-1Gado gado at the new Soma’s on Jalan Gootama in Ubud.

Mix the ingredients together as you wish – and serve.

gadogadodewawGado gado at Dewa Warung on Jalan Gootama in Ubud.

See the previous post for the Balinese peanut sauce recipe.

I think you will love gado gado too.

“Selamat makan”  (enjoy your meal),


Let’s Get Cooking: Balinese Peanut Sauce

Balinese meals include wonderful sauces. Many are spicy; my favorite is the peanut sauce, often used for satays and for a tasty Indonesian salad, gado-gado.

csspicesw-1Ingredients ready for chopping –

gadogadoayuwBarry eating a gado-gado with Ayu’s spicy peanut sauce at Vera Accommodation in Ubud.

This peanut sauce recipe from Payuk Bali: Balinese Cooking Class in Ubud, Bali, serves four.


–       300 gram (10.58 oz.) peanuts

–       1 clove garlic

–       4 shallots

–       aromatic ginger – to taste

–       12.5 gram (.44 oz) brown sugar (or palm sugar in Bali)

–       fresh (or dried) chili pepper – to taste

–       fresh lime juice

–       1 Tbsp sweet soy sauce

–      coconut milk (or water)

Cooking –

Fry the peanuts until golden brown, remove from the pan and leave to cool.

Drain off all but a little of the excess oil.

Grind the peanuts to make a paste.

Add fresh chili pepper, garlic, salt, brown sugar, and aromatic ginger to the peanut paste, grind to mix.  Sample to adjust flavor.

Put peanut pate in a pan, add a little water to thin—use coconut milk for richer taste.

Add sweet soy sauce into the peanut sauce to taste and bring to a boil.

Simmer peanut sauce until thick and season with lemon or lime juice.

gadogadopswBalinese peanut sauce.
“Selamat makan” (enjoy your meal),  Renée

Let’s Get Cooking: Chocolate-Zucchini Cupcakes with Fresh Raspberries–from Bloomington, Indiana

Vanessa is a great cook!  This is what she did with zucchini--chocolate/zucchini cupcakes with raspberry topping!

Vanessa is a great cook! This is what she did with zucchini–chocolate/zucchini cupcakes with raspberry topping!

My cousin Vanessa loves cooking and follows her mother’s tradition of always having something special to eat ready for visitors.  So when Barry and I arrived at her home in Bloomington, Indiana, Vanessa had these just-from-the-oven cupcakes ready for us.  You would never guess something as healthy as zucchini is in this recipe. When your garden or local market has those two-pound zucchini, you can now use one to make this excellent treat :).

To make her cupcakes, Vanessa adapted the following cake recipe from Bon Appetit:

yield: Serves 12

The zucchini helps keep the cake moist.


2 1/4 cups sifted all purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini (about 2 1/2 medium)

1 6-ounce package (about 1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter and flour 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into medium bowl. Beat sugar, butter and oil in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract. Mix in dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk in 3 additions each. Mix in grated zucchini. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips and walnuts.

Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool completely in pan.

From: <>

Vanessa poured the cake batter into a cupcake pan.  After the cupcakes were cooked and cooled enough to take out of the pan, she topped them with a little chocolate frosting and fresh raspberries. Yummy!

This is what awaited us when we arrived--still warm from the oven

This is what awaited us when we arrived–still warm from the oven!  And yes, a bite is already missing.

Enjoy.  Aloha,  Renée

Oven-Roasted Cauliflower

Farmers’ markets have huge heads of wonderful cauliflower now.  Here’s a great cauliflower recipe for you to try from Mark Estee, chef and owner of Campo in Reno, Nevada.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

1) Cut 1 head cauliflower into florets

2) To make the dressing, whisk together the following ingredients:

– 3 garlic cloves, minced

– 3 anchovies, minced  [or if you are vegetarian as I am, to get the salty taste, substitute  nori strips, miso, Kalamata olives, or capers]

– 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

– 3 Calabrian chilies, minced [These are small, round, red chilies that are touted as the “best tasting hot chilies.”  However, they  are hard to find outside Italy or  big places such as N.Y. city. Most of us can substitute quality dried red chili flakes].

– 2 Tablespoons crushed red pepper

– 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

– 1 cup olive oil

3) Toss dressing with cauliflower florets and roast until tender, about 10 minutes.

4) Remove from oven and top with a few tablespoons of bread crumbs.

– from Spirit Southwest Airlines, July 2012, p. 46.

Not only is cauliflower tasty, but it is also healthy.  A 1/2 cup of cooked cauliflower has 14 calories, 1.1 g of protein, 2.6 g of carbohydrate, 0.3 g of fat and 1.4 g of fiber.  Cauliflower’s  low calorie and carbohydrate content helps control weight and blood sugar.  <>

Enjoy this wonderful summer vegetable.

Aloha, Renée

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