Thursday, February 19, 2009

Dr. Marsha Kardon's Basil Pesto (V*)

This is my favorite basil pesto (non-vegan ones included). It's not too hard to make, but it's sometimes hard to find enough basil. Whole foods often has large bouquets of basil which are fairly cheap, and Harvest sometimes has large quantities.

Serves: 1 pika


12 cups of fresh basil leaves (about 7 large basil plants, or around 6-8 Whole Foods bouquets of basil.)
1/3 c fresh rosemary (replace with an extra 2 c parsely if rosemary is too expensive)
1 cup fresh flat parsely
24 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cup pine nuts
3 cups walnuts
1 cup nutritional yeast (try the vitamins section of Whole Foods - should be there if it isn't in bulk)
1/3 c lemon juice or more
3 cups olive oil
2 Tbsp salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste


Combine all ingredients except oil in food processor

Run processor until finely chopped, adding all the oil as you chop it.

I recommend mixing the pesto with about 10 pounds of penne rigate pasta. It's also great on
whole-grain pizza crust or as a spread.

Six Minute Vegan Chocolate Cake (V*) with Chocolate-Raspberry Sauce (V*)

This is an awesome chocolate cake recipe that takes very little prep time (theoretically 6 min, usually more like 10-15 min) and produces very little mess. Great as an afterthought for a pika dinner. This is taken pretty directly from "Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home", but the raspberry sauce is my own creation.

Serves: 1 pika


  • 4 1/2 c unbleached white flour
  • 1 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 T baking soda
  • 1 1/2 t salt
  • 3 c sugar
  • 1 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 3 c cold water or brewed coffee
  • 2 T pure vanilla extract
  • 6 T vinegar
  • 1/3 c cocoa powder
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 3 T corn starch
  • Frozen raspberries (the more the better! Other berries will do, but raspberries are the best!)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Mix together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and sugar into one of those giant 16" round baking pans (ungreased).

In a liquid measuring cup, mix together the oil, water or coffee, and vanilla.

Pour the liquid ingredients into the baking pan and mix the batter with a fork or a small whisk until smooth (don't overwhip it, or it'll get tough).

Add the vinegar and stir quickly.
There will be pale swirls in the batter where the baking soda and vinegar are reacting.
Stir just until the vinegar in evenly distributed throughout the batter, but not too long, or you'll lose the rising effect of the reaction (don't stir for more than 30 sec)

Immediately bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Make the raspberry sauce while the cake bakes:

Fill a large pot partway full of water, and put it on the heat

Float a smaller pot in the water.

Pour the baking cocoa, sugar, and corn starch into the inner pot, then add water until it is a somewhat runny sauce (remember that it will get about twice as thick when it cools).

Alternately add water and starch until you have the consistency you want.

Throw in the raspberries.

When the cake is done, set it aside to cool a bit.

Serve with the sauce!

Crazy Brian's Crazy Veggie Burgers (V*)

Serves: 1 pika (with some leftovers)

(all amounts are approximate - I measured with the venerable "squint, pour, and mix" method, then tried to remember amounts later)
  • 6 15 oz cans of black beans
  • 4 cups mushrooms (whatever kind you want - I used half crimini and half portobello)
  • 6 medium onions
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 2 cups pine nuts
  • 4 cups fine breadcrumbs
  • 3 cups cornmeal
  • 1 cup nutritional yeast
  • salt
  • pepper


Coarsely chop the onions, garlic, broccoli, and mushrooms (size is unimportant -they're getting pureed later on)

Stir fry the onions and garlic in olive oil in the big wok

When the onions are starting to get tender, add the broccoli

When the broccoli is starting to get tender, add the mushrooms

When everything is nicely cooked (but not too cooked - they're gonna get fried real soon), mix in the beans (drain them first), cornmeal, yeast, pine nuts, and about half of the breadcrumbs.

Put the whole shebang in the food processor and puree until quite smooth (you can probably do it in 2 food processor loads).
Tip: Put stuff in and let it chop for a good 1-2 minutes - it'll look like it isn't doing anything at first, but as it gets smoother, it'll start mixing itself.

Move the burger paste to a bowl.

Mix in salt generously (taste it as you mix it in - it goes from somewhat bland to savory and tasty with the addition of some salt)

Add black pepper to taste.

Mix in more bread crumbs until it is quite stiff and thick - it should easily retain its shape when put a glob of it on a surface.

Add more cornmeal if you want a grittier taste.

Get three or four flat skillets on the range, cover generously with canola oil - put on medium/high heat.

Start frying! Put down globs of burger paste on the pans, flatten them gently, wait until they're nice and dark brown, then flip and repeat. Make sure to keep a good puddle of oil in the skillets as the burgers soak it up.

I found that the burgers turned out much better when they were small - 5" or less in diameter. The large ones were less evenly cooked, and tended to fall apart (they were still tasty though).

I liked the burgers best when they were almost black on both sides, but not quite black - very darkly browned. The cornmeal is yummy when it almost burns.

Serve hot on buns w/ lettuce and tomato and other burger toppings!

Ideas for future experimentation:
(these ain't called crazy burgers for nothin'):
  • Add rice to the blend - could be good. Cooked brown rice could probably replace (or supplement) the mushrooms if necessary. Could also be served with rice.
  • Try other kinds of beans?
  • Try more mushrooms, less beans - that probably would make it more meaty
  • Add more veggies - green peppers, parseley, carrots, etc
  • Some corn starch or WW flour might help the burgers retain a burgery shape more easily
  • More pine nuts!