I am of the mind that tahini could (and should) be used in pretty much everything. Tahini in my mac and cheese? Done. Tahini on my toast? Yep. Tahini in my cereal? Why not? Tahini as toothpaste? Alright, I’ve gone too far.
I have such a big crush on tahini (So smooth! So nutty!) that I decided to try it in my Peanut Butter Chocolate Rice Krispie Treat recipe. I figured that the cloying sweetness of vegan marshmallows would be mellowed (MALLOWED?) out by the earthy, nutty flavor of tahini and I was totally right. [#nailedit]. I added black sesame seeds in for an extra little crunch and sesame flavor. Ben thought they were ants. YES, BEN. I WENT OUTSIDE AND SCOOPED UP ALL THE ANTS TO PUT IN THE DESSERT. Anyway, these are my new go-to when I have a hankering for Rice Krispie treats (or ants).
Tahini Rice Krispie Treats
Makes roughly 24 squares
- 1 bag of vegan marshmallows (I use Dandies)
- 6 cups Rice Krispie cereal
- 2 tablespoons vegan margarine
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 3/4 cup tahini
- 1/4 cup black or white sesame seeds
Melt the vegan margarine and 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a medium saucepan. Add the marshmallows and cook, stirring, over medium heat until the marshmallows are totally melted. Add the tahini and stir until the mixture is smooth and there are no clumps.
In a large bowl, combine the marshmallow mixture, cereal, and sesame seeds and mix well to combine. Press the mixture firmly into a 9×13 pan. Place in the fridge and let set for 15 minutes. Slice into squares and serve.
I studied in Russia for a year in college. I have a lot of good stories from that era. There was the time I went to a club called Jesus and a rando picked me up and spun me around the dance floor on his head. There was the semester when my friend Sasha and I taught at an after school program called Galactica at the far end of the subway line💫. There was thee toothless friend I made on a 48-hour train ride to Rostov-Na-Donu who bought me candy and made me balloon animals. Let’s not forget the elderly women who swatted my friend Izzy and me with bundles of dried sticks while we held hands, naked, side by side in a bath house. The time I embarked on a cruise around Lake Onega on a boat called the Karl Marx (and subsequently got locked in my cabin). Or the time my parents came to visit and I lost them in a crowd and thought I’d never see them again. The time I went to the Steppe and couldn’t stop making Ciara puns. Anyway, one of the interesting parts of living there was eating all the food in sight, but also remaining vegan. If you’re familiar with the mayo-drenched nature of Russian cuisine, you might be wondering what I ate. The answer is: A whole fucking lot of grechka.
Grechka (toasted buckwheat) is as common in Russia as white bread is in the United States. It’s served as a side dish at every single restaurant (sometimes with fried onions) and is super cheap to make at home. It was sort of my Russian answer to rice and beans for dinner when you’re totally broke.
Last summer I went to Brighton Beach with my friend Izzy and picked up some grechka (I absolutely lost my shit when I saw it for sale on the sidewalk in Brooklyn). I’d been saving it in my pantry and decided to use my prized grechka in Kasha Varnishkes. This is a traditional Ashkenazi Jewish dish that combines grechka with bowtie noodles. Most of the flavor comes from the grains (super earthy and a bit smoky from the toasting) and ultrasweet caramelized onions.
2 cups thinly sliced onions (about 2 large onions)
½ cup sunflower oil or other cooking oil
¾ cup grechka (buckwheat groats)
Salt and ground black pepper
½ pound bowtie noodles (farfalle)
Place onions in a large skillet with the cooking oil over medium heat. Add a generous sprinkle of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for 15-20 minutes until the onions are brown. Set aside.
Set another, smaller pot on to boil and combine about 2 cups water, the buckwheat, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and simmer until the buckwheat is fluffy, 15 minutes or so. Remove from heat and set aside, covered.
Place a large pot of water on to boil and cook the bowtie noodles according to package instructions. Drain the pasta and combine in a large bowl with cooked, fluffy buckwheat and caramelized onions. Season with salt and pepper to taste and a splash more oil if desired. Serve hot.
My aesthetic this holiday season is somewhere between “marshmallow dipped in white chocolate rolled in crushed candy cane” and “snot-encrusted nose dipped in shredded Kleenex.” I’ve been listening to the twee, unadulterated joy of the She & Him Christmas Party album (10/10 would listen on repeat for 18 days straight) and baking away all my problems. The glue in my holiday baking seems to be cranberries and pistachios, if not for their perfect combination of sweet and crunchy, then probably just because they’re red and green. I also got a good deal on them at Stop & Shop.
Granola is a great last-minute gift for the holidays: it honestly takes less than an hour to make, you probably have most of the ingredients on your shelf, and people will think you’re fancy. I know you want people to think you’re fancy.
Cranberry, Pistachio, Cashew Granola
This recipe is adapted from the Do-It-Yourself Cookbook
- 5 cups rolled oats (not quick oats)
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup melted coconut oil or vegetable oil
- 3 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup cashews, loosely chopped
- 1/2 cup pistachios, loosely chopped
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 325*
In a large bowl combine the maple syrup, brown sugar, oil, vanilla, and salt. Whisk until combined. Slowly mix in the rolled oats and cashews and stir until everything is coated in the maple mixture. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper then spread the oat mixture across the whole sheet. Firmly press the mixture down with your hands. Bake at 325* for 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Allow the mixture to cool for an hour, then with your hands break it up into clusters. Stir in the chopped pistachios and cranberries. Stir in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.
Thank god November is over. What a brutal month. July feels like it was 23 seconds ago yet November seemed to last at least eight weeks, which makes perfect sense because math?
Now that it’s December it’s prime holiday party season (also known as drink-all-the-drinks-and-talk-to-your-neighbor’s-second-husband season). If you’re looking for something to bring to said party or just need a new, inventive way to consume chocolate at home, then this is going to be your shit. You can put LITERALLY ANYTHING IN IT. Dried cherries. Granola. Chopped Hazelnuts. Stale Cheetos. Cat hair. Your will to live. Anything.
18 ounces chopped dark chocolate (can be broken up bars of any kind, including semi-sweet)
1 cup pistachios, loosely chopped
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 tablespoon coconut oil
Set a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water (or use a double boiler if you have one). Melt the chocolate and add the coconut oil, stirring. While the chocolate is melting, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. Pour the melted chocolate in a large rectangle over the silpat and sprinkle in the nuts and cranberries. Place in the fridge or freezer for 1 hour until firm. Slice or break into pieces. Devour.