Avocado Toast Millionaire

Given the choice between avocado toast and home ownership, you can probably guess which one is more closely aligned to my goals. While it would certainly be nice to set down roots, or at least stop throwing money away on monthly rent, there’s nothing that could convince me to give up this brunch staple. What can I say? I’ve got expensive tastes.

Luckily, avocados often go on sale here for absurdly low prices. When they hit 29 cents apiece, you’d better believe I’m stocking up. Don’t try to tell me that there’s a limit to “stocking” avocados, those highly perishable fruits that go from ripe to rotten in a minute. Powerless in the face of a bargain, I’ll inevitably end up lining my kitchen counters with the surplus, calculating how many lavish toasts I can fit in before they all rot in place.

What To Do with Too Many Avocados

Even if you’re not dealing with such excess, this idea is still a great trick to keep in your back pocket for those avocados that simply get overripe, aren’t the most beautiful, or are otherwise unfit for slicing. Transforming it into cool, refreshing Avocado Toast Soup makes it a respectable entree for any meal. The base is an adaptation of my garlic bread soup from Real Food, Really Fast, enriched with gorgeous green avocados for a perfectly hipster twist. Crunchy croutons lavish the top to give it a satisfying crunch, just like the classic open-faced sandwich.

Topping Ideas and Serving Suggestions

Simplicity is beautiful, but there’s always room for more flavorful garnishes. Think of your favorite avocado toast toppings and incorporate those to taste. A few front runners include:

As a standalone dish, it’s already a nicely balanced and well-rounded brunch or light lunch. For a more substantial meal, a plate of roast vegetables or a hearty kale salad would be a welcome addition.

More Avocado Recipes to Indulge In

If you’re with me on team avocado, here are more avocado-rich recipes you’ll love:

I’d like to believe that one can have their avocado toast and financial security, too. If there was ever a way to do it, this easy, breezy, creamy soup must be part of the solution.

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Dipping Into A Different Take On Hummus

There comes a time in every hummus lover’s life when they will inevitably contemplate how to scoop the maximal amount of dip directly into their mouths without offending civilized company. Chips and vegetable crudites are already thinly veiled excuses to shovel more of the buttery chickpea spread onto an edible vehicle. For everyone else who’s stared longingly at a diminutive, communal bowl at the center of a party platter, I have a solution for you: Fattet hummus.

What Is Fattet Hummus?

Consider it the Levantine equivalent of chilaquiles. Made with toasted pita wedges instead of tortillas and deconstructed hummus instead of salsa, it’s a socially acceptable way to eat hummus by the spoonful, with no expectations of sharing. Myriad versions exist across the Middle East, just like the endless versatile, adaptable appetizer that is hummus itself. Some are described more like a savory pita bread pudding, flooded with yogurt and baked in a casserole dish. Others, such as my own here, use less saucy components to keep the pita more crisp and dry. This is one of those “recipes” that should be considered more as a suggestion than a rule. There are no wrong answers for either inclusions or amounts.

Types of Fattet Hummus

Specific regional variants of fattet can be found throughout Levant region, each with its unique twist on the dish. Mine is a bit of a mashup that borrows the most elements from the Syrian and Palestinian approaches.

  • In Jordan, the dish usually features minced beef or lamb sauteed in ghee and sprinkled over the yogurt layer with pine nuts, sliced almonds, and pomegranate seeds.
  • In Syria, whole chickpeas are used and the whole thing is drizzled with melted ghee, toasted nuts, and paprika.
  • In Lebanon, chickpeas and tahini simmer together with baharat spice mix before being layered with toasted pita chips, sautéed garlic, and toasted pine nuts, finished with a pinch of paprika.
  • In Palestine, you’ll find a version most closely recognizable as “traditional” hummus, and also the one with the most complex assembly. Cooked chickpeas are blended with lemon, cumin, tahini, garlic, salt, olive oil, and water until smooth. Half of this mixture is blended with yogurt while half is left plain. The pita is not toasted, but cut into squares and added as the first layer. Freshly squeezed lemon juice, cayenne pepper, salt, and aquafaba are added, soaking the bread until its soft. The yogurt hummus is then added, followed by the plain hummus, and garnished with toasted sliced almonds, toasted pine nuts, a drizzle of olive oil, and chopped parsley.

How To Serve Fattet Hummus

Enjoy fattet hummus warm for breakfast or brunch as a complete bowl-in-one meal. You could always add schug (or hot sauce) if you like it spicy, pickles or salad to get more veggies in, or sweet black tea infused with fresh mint to start the day in style. It’s not the kind of dish that keeps well, so I make it just one serving at a time. If you have company, feel free to double, triple, or quadruple as needed.

Next time you’re craving hummus, don’t waste time with dainty dips; grab a spoon instead. A hearty bowlful of fattet hummus is what you’re really craving.

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Kalua Pork Without The Oink

Kalua pork isn’t just an entree; it’s a whole lifestyle. One of the earliest native Hawaiian foods recorded in the annals of history, it’s been a staple of the culture for thousands of years. It was, and still is, a dish of celebration, a momentous event in and of itself, to be reserved for only the most joyous occasions. Since the traditional approach could easily take all day, it’s not an undertaking for last-minute parties or spur of the moment cravings.

Vegan kalua pork is a whole different story.

What Is Traditional Kalua Pork?

The term kālua in Hawaiian means “to cook in an underground oven.” This is a complicated and time-consuming process, which begins by starting a fire at the bottom of a large pit using koa or kiawe wood. Porous lava rocks are then added like coals and heated for several hours. The hot rocks are then spread out at the base of the pit and covered with banana leaves and ti leaves. A whole pig is then placed on top, covered with additional leaves to trap the steam inside, and finally covered in dirt to seal the entire pit. After 6 to 12 hours, the meat will emerge fully cooked and infused with smoky flavor.

What Makes Vegan Kalua Pork Better

Most recipes for plant-based kalua pork start with jackfruit, given its uniquely fibrous texture that shreds beautifully. Not knocking it, but jackfruit itself is pretty bland, and can be downright woody when not cooked properly. Start with Sugimoto shiitake that are guaranteed to give you a tender, meaty bite and an incredible depth of flavor, every single time.

  • Ready in minutes. Bad at planning ahead? Me too! This recipe is so easy that you can whip it up in 15 minutes, from start to finish, if you have soaked shiitake ready to go.
  • Hearty and healthy. High in fiber, potassium, and Vitamin D. Sugimoto Shiitake in particular have the most natural Vitamin D of any dried mushrooms on the market.
  • Meatless. Naturally, by omitting the pork, you get a cholesterol-free, low-fat treat that’s still rich in Guanylate, which enhances flavors and creates a much more intense overall umami flavor.

Tips For Success

No matter what, you can’t go wrong with this brilliantly simple, quick recipe. To get the maximum enjoyment out of the process and best result, here’s what you need to know.

  • Start with Sugimoto Koshin Shiitake. These particular shiitake have larger, flatter caps, which makes for a much finer shredded texture, just like pulled pork.
  • Save any excess mushroom soaking water and stems for another recipe. These are great in all sorts of soups and stews!
  • Use a sharp knife to make fine shredded ribbons. Take your time; this step is key for getting the right mouthfeel.

What To Serve With Meatless Kalua Pork

All you really need to enjoy this entree is a fork, but like any other simple dish, it only gets better with accompaniments and garnishes.

  • Slap some vegan kalua pork on a soft slider bun or vegan Hawaiian roll and top it off with a crisp, crunchy slaw. This is the ultimate backyard BBQ or potluck offering, sure to be a hit with kids and adults alike.
  • Dress it up as a typical Hawaiian plate lunch, with a generous scoop of hot white rice and creamy mac salad. Use your favorite pasta salad recipe or toss together cooked macaroni noodles and vegan mayo with a pinch of shredded carrots, minced onion, and relish, to taste.
  • To drink, you can’t go wrong with pure coconut water, or go all-out with a cherimoya lava flow.
    For a proper luau, you can go all-out and serve an abundant spread of other Hawaiian staples, such as poke, chicken long rice, and lomi lomi. Don’t forget the mochi brownies for dessert!


Q: Can I make this vegan kalua pork recipe oil-free?
A: While the oil contributes critical richness to mimic the naturally fatty pork and is very strongly recommended, you can omit it if necessary. Simply cook the shredded mushrooms with the marinade until all the liquid has been absorbed.

Q: How can I add more protein?
A: Believe it or not, Sugimoto Shiitake actually do contain protein, to the tune of 1 gram per serving, or 14 grams per package. If you’d still like to add more to your meal, consider incorporating up to one cup of shredded seitan or soy curls.

Get a taste of the Hawaiian islands from the comfort of your own home any day of the week. Create an incredible depth of savory flavor with minimal ingredients and just minutes on the clock. You’ll want to save this recipe as your new all-purpose entree for parties, weeknight dinners, or midnight munchies.

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White Hot

Color is a critical indicator for how we approach food.

Color Psychology in Food

  • Green typically signals vitamins and nutrients, a healthy choice, and possibly grassy flavors.
  • Red often tells us what we’re about to eat is sweet, or ripe and rich in umami.
  • White, perceived as the absence of color, suggests a lack of taste altogether.

Bland, boring, devoid of notable nutritional value, white fails to elicit the same sort of instant hunger that a bold, brilliantly colored dish can.

Such a shame for what is actually a reflection of every color in the spectrum. White is the ultimate shapeshifter, concealing a world of different spices. That’s why curry, found in every brilliant hue under the sun, is a particularly dangerous dish to cloak in bright white.

Consider this recipe your newest painful pleasure. Introducing, curry of another color.

What Is White Curry?

Creamy coconut milk is a common base for curry, smoothing out the harsh edges of hot spices with a rich and cooling finish. Most are tinted with yellow turmeric, and/or red or green chilies, but there’s more than one way to add a fiery bite to your food. My unconventional white curry uses pale Hungarian wax peppers to bring the heat, along with tiny but mighty bird’s eye chilies, small enough to disappear into the stew without any visual impact. From there, only white vegetables and plant protein join the party. White button mushrooms add umami richness and Asian pears contribute a subtle sweetness that’s essential to the nuanced, balanced flavor profile, but there’s plenty of room for adaptation.

Ideas For Additions

Make this recipe your own and try all sorts of different vegetables instead! Think there aren’t enough white produce picks to keep things exciting? Think again. Consider the following:

  • Jicama
  • Potatoes
  • Daikon
  • Parsnips
  • Cabbage
  • Fennel
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lotus root
  • White corn
  • Navy or cannelini beans
  • White asparagus
  • Hearts of palm

Don’t count the “lack” of color on this dish as a red flag. The amount of heat concealed in that creamy sauce could set off alarm bells for the unprepared. Don’t forget to serve with plenty of white rice to soak it all in!

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Quick and Easy Soup for Slow and Difficult People

Soup fills many needs, effortlessly crossing international and linguistic boundaries: comfort, love, adventure, education, and healing. Soup Peddler in Austin, Texas knows this well, inspired by a single man’s desire to translate his love for community and travel, two seemingly disparate concepts, into one pursuit. Cooking is the ultimate answer to bridging this divide.

Who’s the Soup Peddler?

Over twenty years ago, Soup Peddler founder David Ansel really was hitting the streets with bicycle-based deliveries of his favorite soups and stews. The business has grown to include a half dozen brick-and-mortar locations that offer cool fruit smoothies to combat the summer heat, but the sentiment remains the same. Whether it’s through a straw or on a spoon, there’s love in this formula. A dish like this satisfies an appetite beyond hunger.

Luckily for us, and for anyone outside of city limits, it’s not a secret formula in the least. The Soup Peddler’s Slow and Difficult Soups was published in 2005, shedding a light on David’s winning recipes. Don’t let the sardonic title scare you off; it strikes me as quite the opposite in practice. Case in point, the ever-popular mulligatawny soup that remains a perennial favorite on the menu.

What’s mulligatawny soup?

Thick with tender vegetables and lentils, a warm but mildly spiced undercurrent of curry runs through the soulful, deceptively simple base. To fit the rough translation of “pepper water,” I like to spike mine with fresh jalapeños, not included in the original version. What’s more, I’ve made some light modifications to streamline the cooking process. I’m already difficult enough without my soup following suit, after all.

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Sushi For Sakura Season

Spring in Texas means vast fields of bluebonnets, rippling in the wind like waves in the ocean. In Japan, all eyes are on a different sort of flower, turning the air itself into a sea of petals. Sakura are reaching peak season right now across central Honshu, the main island which includes the hot spots of Tokyo and Kyoto. It’s the most popular time to visit either metropolis, heralding in a crush of tourists from around the world.

Why Are Sakura, AKA Cherry Blossoms, So Important?

Their aesthetic attraction needs no explanation, but there’s a deeper meaning that strikes at the core of Japanese culture. Their fleeting beauty illustrates that nothing in this world is permanent; blink and you’ll miss it. This philosophy is called “mono no aware.” Translated as “an empathy toward things”, or “a sensitivity to ephemera”, it’s also a vivid reminder to live life in the moment, or else it will pass you by.

Don’t let another sakura season pass you by. This spring, even if there are no blossoms to be found near you, host your own personal hanami and watch as sakura sushi blossoms on your plate.

Ingredients You Need To Know

I’m going to assume everyone understands the basics of sushi by now. Aside from the usual suspects, these pretty pink rolls call for a few specialty items:

  • Sakura powder: Many so-called sakura snacks cheat and use cherry flavoring with red dye. Real sakura blossoms taste nothing like their namesake fruit. Instead, the petals have a delicate floral taste, subtly sweet and lightly sour. Dried sakura blossom powder can be found online or in Japanese markets. If you want to replicate the experience with more accessible ingredients, you can swap 1 cup of the water for beet juice and add 1 teaspoon rosewater instead.
  • Umeboshi: Most people simply define these shriveled fruits as pickled plums, but there’s so much more to them than that. Unripe green plums are first fermented, introducing beneficial cultures and probiotics, then gently sun-dried, and sometimes infused with red shiso leaf. They’re powerfully sour, salty, and slightly bitter. It may be an acquired taste for some; I hated them in my early years but can’t get enough now. The best umeboshi will be sold refrigerated, as shelf-stable options will undoubtedly have added preservatives.
  • Shiso: Also called perilla, ooba, Japanese basil, or beefsteak, there’s no substitution for this unique green herb. The broad, jagged leaves are a member of the mint family, although if you ask me, they have a flavor reminiscent of toasted cumin and sharp citrus.

How Do You Make Sakura Sushi?

The unconventional shape may throw you at first. Don’t overthink it! Rather than taking a complicated mosaic approach to building a whole new art form, these sushi rolls take shape exactly the same way as your classic hosomaki.

  1. Use a thin layer of rice to cover only the bottom 1/4 of the nori. Layer three leaves of shiso and three pitted umeboshi on top.
  2. Roll it up as tightly as possible, taking care not to rip the nori. Seal the end with a light dab of water across the edge.
  3. Use a very sharp knife to cut the roll into pieces. Six is ideal; you only need five to make each flower, so consider the messiest one a mid-prep snack!
  4. Take each individual piece of sushi and use your hands to model it into a rough heart shape; pinch one end into a point, and press a divot into the opposite side, forming two bumps.
  5. Repeat with all the pieces.
  6. Arrange your sushi on a plate with the points facing inward in a circle. Garnish with an extra leaf of shiso and pickled ginger if desired.

Naturally, the best way to enjoy sakura sushi is outside on a picnic blanket while gazing skyward towards the pink petals, falling like snow. I’m happy to report that they taste every bit as good eaten inside on a cold, gloomy day, too. No matter what spring looks like for you, it’s worth taking a moment to celebrate, revive your spirit, and begin the season with a full stomach.

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