Deep Roots

All successful restaurants are the product of passion, innovation, and fearless vision, but in the case of Bloodroot in Bridgeport, CT, it was radical feminism that came before the food. Founded over 40 years ago, Selma Miriam and Noel Furie made a statement by planting this seed of rebellion before such progressive concepts hit mainstream awareness. Part bookstore, part community center, the menu is as diverse as the people drawn to this vegetarian bastion.

Established right by the water’s edge in a residential neighborhood, small sailboats bob just beyond the grassy parking lot. You’d be forgiven for thinking you walked into someone’s home by accident, but that comforting vibe is entirely intentional. Fluffy cats laze around on bookshelves alongside obscure texts, purring contentedly in the quiet moments between the clanging of pots and pans.

Offering refuge along with solidarity and nourishment alike, the unconventional business model is one that shouldn’t work on paper, and yet, Bloodroot remains firmly established, feeding the masses with an ever-evolving bill of fare that reflects seasonal and local produce.

Famous for their soups, “Tightwad Tuesday” is a favorite incentive for a midweek visit, when a generous bowlful is ladled out with a side of salad and a hearty chunk of their homemade breads, chewy loaves dotted with seeds and whole grains, at an affordable price. Escarole & Garlic, Lima Bean with Lemon & Parsley, Tomato & Fennel, among many others, never fail to soothe the soul.

Worldly inspirations color the eclectic assortment of dinner options, such as meatless Jerk Chicken with Coconut Rice, Mexican Mole, and Grilled Greens-stuffed Tofu Pockets, just for starters. The flavors bring a taste of the world to any table, but the ladies keep no secrets to their success. Literally an open book, all the recipes are detailed in their numerous cookbooks, and sharing is explicitly encouraged. That openness and generosity is the true key to Bloodroot‘s success; it takes a village to support such an unconventional business, just like bold objectives it seeks to achieve. Here, enjoy a side of acceptance with a drizzle of equality, right next to your Szechuan Peanut-Sesame Noodles.

See-Food

Cooking during quarantine has forced me to get a bit more creative than usual for my daily sustenance. All those years of looking for unconventional substitutes is paying off, in ways I could never expect.

No more tomato paste? Well you’re in luck, because I just found a few packets of ketchup in my bag! Bottle of soy sauce ran dry? There’s miso for that!

It’s also done wonders to clean out my stock of specialty goods, the rare, random oddities that caught my eye while shopping, but seemed too precious to simply consume without fanfare.

So, as supplies dwindle and lines to enter grocery stores continue to wrap around the building and down the block, this day seems like just the special occasion to dig in. The time has finally come to thaw out the strange, slippery, bouncy jumbo prawns to make something great.

What does one make with chewy konjac-based seafood and a limited pantry? Luck was on my side, as I had just the idea waiting in the wings. Simultaneously cleaning out my digital pantry, this was a concept I had outlined ages ago, saved away in the “to-make” folder, and promptly forgotten about. Though I didn’t have the anticipated crowd of party revelers to impress, when my long-forgotten formula for meatless shrimp toast finally came to fruition, it was no less magnificent to behold.

Hatosi (蝦多士 in Cantonese) literally translates to “shrimp toast,” a beloved party bite or snack enjoyed as a savory happy hour staple, and beyond. Traditionally made with crisp sandwich bread cradling a layer of shrimp puree flavored with ginger, garlic, and scallion, it’s coated in sesame seeds before being deep-fried. Briny, umami, with just the right amount of salty-greasy satisfaction, such a foolproof preparation could appeal even to seafood haters.

Nothing against the conventional approach, but I’m not about to pull out a bubbling vat of oil for this party of one, so I baked mine instead. Healthier, easier, and more economical, since I can keep my reserves of oil full for another day.

While shortages remain a very real fact of life across the globe, I realize that this recipe is pie in the sky for the large majority of readers, no matter how bottomless your food stockpile. Even on a good day, it’s a kind of crazy amalgamation of quirky ingredients. All we can do is work with what we’ve got, and right now, this is what’s keeping me cooking. Rather than offer up alternatives that won’t even come close to the intended effect, I want you to read this with optimism, as a promise of more to come. Save it for better days, keep growing your “to-make” folder, and keep dreaming of unrestricted abundance. Sometime soon, I hope we can all raise a triangle together, and literally toast to good health for all.

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Legume Love Affair

Stocked up on dry beans recently? Judging by the empty shelves anointed with “sold out” and “temporary shortage” placards replacing usual price tags, you’re certainly not alone. Always one step behind the trend, pickings were already slim by the time I got motivated to hit the grocery store. A few bedraggled sacks of dusty pinto beans looked the most promising, which isn’t saying much.

Nothing against the little legume, but it doesn’t inspire the same way that, say, chickpeas do. They’re not quick-cooking like lentils. They’re not sexy like fresh fava beans. They’re not my first choice, but by no fault of the bean itself. It’s a personal failing that I couldn’t see beyond their ruddy pink skins to embrace the creamy elegance within. Every bean is worthy of greatness, especially in such lean times, so it was still a prize to snatch up at that late hour.

Rather than taking the typical Texan approach, I cast an eye out to farther afield to Georgia for inspiration. No, not The Peach State, but the eastern republic nestled at the intersection of Europe and Asia. There, lobio (ლობიო), is an indispensable staple, marking the place at every dinner table throughout the year. A thick, rich stew made with pureed kidney beans, finely ground walnut paste, and the tangy smack of tart cherry juice, sour green plums, or unsweetened pomegranate juice gives it a distinctive (and addictive) taste. It’s worth pointing out that the word “lobio” only means “beans,” allowing ample room for variations on the theme. There are a number of varieties of this dish already in the wild, so one based on pinto beans is hardly a stretch.

Some prefer to keep their beans entirely whole, while other cooks roughly mash the tender legumes, and still more chose to puree the mixture to silken sufficiency.

Tkemali, a sharp, fruity sauce made from sour plums is the traditional topper most highly recommended here, but a drizzle of thick, syrupy pomegranate molasses, or even a bold balsamic reduction can provide a similarly satisfying contrast, cutting through the concentrated bean bonanza.

You can serve lobio as an easy one-pot entree, or a side with grilled kebabs, baked tofu, or some other simple meatless protein. Either way, don’t let a lack of any one bean stop you from firing up the stove; all legumes, big and small, are welcome here.

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Wordless Wednesday: Greens is the New Black

Potato Griddle Cakes with vadouvan and spinach. Served with coconut tamarind chutney, shaved fennel, mint, and lime vinaigrette.

Arugula Salad with charred cauliflower, watermelon radish, avocado, and pumpkin seeds.

Grilled Brussels Sprouts with muhammara sauce, pomegranate reduction, and slivered almonds

Mesquite Grilled Brochettes with mushrooms, Mariquita Farm potatoes, peppers, fennel, sweet potatoes, red onions and Hodo Tofu with chermuoula.

Wild Mushroom and Spinach Phyllo with Moroccan chickpea stew, green harissa, roasted carrots, and maitake mushrooms.

Broccoli Pizza with macadamia cheese, baby arugula, and spicy red pepper pesto sauce.

Blackened Hodo Tofu with Carolina Gold hoppin’ john, cabbage slaw, and golden BBQ sauce

DeVoto Orchards Apple Crisp with ginger streusel and coconut sorbet

Greens Restaurant
2 Marina Blvd A
San Francisco, CA 94123

Wordless Wednesday: Once in a Lifetime Fine Dining

Focus \ Concord Grape, Parsnip

Maize \ Husk
Smut \ Huitlacoche, Corn, Pink Pepper

King \ Coconut, Culantro, Mango
Ink \ Korean Barbeque

Truffle \ Pine Nut, Wojap
Bone \ Mushroom, Barbeque

Heirloom \ Beans, Sassafras

Trumpet \ Cured, Blueberry

Cookie \ Lavender

Taco \ Smoke, Myoga

Rosini \ Cauliflower, Frites
Fungi \ Mushroom, Truffle

Paint \ Strawberry, Banana, Toasted Jasmine

Alinea
1723 N Halsted St.
Chicago, IL 60614

 
 

 

 

Wordless Wednesday: Let’s Do Brunch

Huevos Divorciados with JUST Egg & Morning Bowl with Avocado from Wooden Spoon

Breakfast Plate from Gay4U

Greektown Scramble from Kal’ish

Pesto Tofu Scramble, Caesar Salad, and Country Fried Chick’n Platter from Eternal

Chipotle Tofu Burrito from Candle Cafe

Garden Breakfast with Tofu from Bouldin Creek Cafe

Japanese Tea Service with Tempeh from Samovar Tea Lounge

Tofu Scramble and Buffalo Salad from Two Mammas Vegan Kitchen

Turmeric Daikon Congee with Tofu from The Well