Tag Archives: summer recipe


This Summer, Skip the Veggie Burger and Just Grill the Veggies

Ah, summer. Parties, get-togethers, and family dinners are all a little more fun when you throw grilling into the works. You’re probably familiar with outdoor gathering invitations that state, “We’ll have the grill going, so bring your favorite grillable and a side and we’ll make it a potluck!”

If you’re following a vegetarian diet or simply want to try out meat-free options, don’t be tempted to show up to your next backyard party with a box of frozen veggie patties or a few faux hot dogs. The grill unfortunately does no favors for fake meat. It dries it out and renders it rubbery, and even wonderful homemade veggie patties tend to crumble and fall through the grates into the grill fire. These non-carnivorous options fare better when cooked in a skillet or baked in the oven.

Trendy cauliflower steaks, on the other hand, are delicious and satisfying, and they’re a great canvas for bold, grill-friendly flavors like the recipe below. Unlike veggie patties, a thick cross-section of cauliflower benefits from a good char on the grill.  Bring along a bean salad like this one as a side to work in some extra protein.


Get ready to create a delicious alternative to run-of-the-mill veggie burgers.

Grilled Chipotle Lime Cauliflower Steaks
Adapted from Faith Durand, The Kitchn

Serves 4 to 6

You may need to cook your cauliflower steaks in two batches to ensure a good char. If you have a grilling basket, you can cut the cauliflower into 2-inch florets and grill those in the basket instead.

2 large heads cauliflower
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice and finely grated zest of 2 limes
2 cloves garlic, smashed into a paste or finely grated
1 teaspoon honey or agave syrup
1 tablespoon paprika (unsmoked)
1-2 teaspoons chipotle powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
Lime wedges, to serve

Remove the leaves on each cauliflower head and trim the stem end until you can set the cauliflower flat on the cutting board. Use a large, sharp knife to trim off the sides, then cut the cauliflower into 3 to 4 thick “steaks” about an inch thick.


You’ll want to slice your cauliflower heads into 1-inch steaks.

Whisk the olive oil, lime juice, garlic and honey or agave syrup in a small bowl. In a separate small bowl, mix the lime zest, paprika, chipotle and salt.

Heat a gas or charcoal grill to high. Brush each cauliflower steak all over with the olive oil mixture and sprinkle the top surfaces generously with the chipotle powder mixture. Place the seasoned sides down on the hot grill.


Grill the seasoned side of your cauliflower steaks first, then flip.

Cover the grill and cook for 3 to 6 minutes. Remove the lid and carefully flip the cauliflower. Cook covered for an additional 3 minutes or until done to your desired texture.

Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve immediately with lime wedges on the side.

by Sara Bir

booch n hooch

Kombucha: Not Just for Weirdos!

Mention kombucha in a conversation and you’ll get one of three reactions.

1. “What’s kombucha?”
2. “Kombucha? I LOVE kombucha!”
3. “I am so sick of everyone talking about kombucha all of the time.”

Number 3 usually comes along with an eye roll and a groan—and if you are in this camp, don’t feel badly! It’s easy to understand why a bunch of health-food nuts making a big deal out of a tart, fermented drink could be off-putting. I felt the same way, too, until I started mixing mine with booze.

But before we get too soused, let’s back up a few steps to Number 1: what is kombucha? “Kombucha is sugar-sweetened tea fermented by a community of organisms into a delicious sour tonic beverage,” writes fermentation expert Sandor Katz in his encyclopedic book, The Art of Fermentation. Katz compares its flavor to sparkling apple cider, but, just like apple cider, the taste of any given kombucha depends on many variables, such as the tea used in the brewing, the amount of sugar added, the length of fermentation, and whether additional aromatics (such as citrus or ginger) are used to give the komucha an added kick. Also, some kombuchas are fizzier than others.

popular storebought kombucha

Store bought kombucha comes ready to drink in a range of flavors.

Perhaps you’ve seen rows of bottles of commercially brewed kombucha at fancypants supermarkets—I can even get kombucha at our local Kroger, which means it’s gone totally mainstream. That’s a good thing—kombucha offers many health benefits, as it’s loaded with microorganisms that promote robust digestive wellness.

But that’s not why I drink kombucha, and it’s not why I brew it. I like the way it tastes, and it’s fun to make. Kombucha is even more hands-off than that no-knead bread everyone made a fuss about seven years ago, and it’s really hard to screw up. You’ll need:

-a large crock, jar, or stainless steel container
-granulated sugar
-dry tea leaves
-a big, slimy disc of bacteria

Wait, what’s that last thing? It’s a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), though some call it a mother. Mother is also the term used for the culture needed to make vinegar, and kombucha does indeed have the bright tang of well-made artisan vinegar. The scoby is an ugly bugger, but it’s where the life of ‘booch begins.

the scoby

The scoby is essential to successful kombucha fermentation.

How do you get your own scoby, anyway? You can make your own using store-bought raw kombucha, or you can get one from a friend. Like the starter for Amish Friendship bread, a well-fed scoby will keep on growing and growing—any home kombucha brewer is happy to share.

With those elements in place, you can be enjoying a glass of home-brewed ‘booch in a week or two. I’ll defer to Katz on the finer points of this process, but it mostly amounts to brewing sweet tea (it must be caffeinated tea, not herbal tea), letting it cool, dumping it in your fermentation vessel with the scoby, and mostly ignoring it for at least seven days. When is it ready? When it tastes the way you like.

My own scoby/mother (or ‘booch mama, as I like to call it) is a third-generation descendant of Katz’s, but here’s the magical part: my kombucha tastes vastly different from that of the friends who gave the scoby in the first place. Theirs is tannic and very sweet, while mine is bright and tart, yet smooth. A friend I gave a ‘booch mama to now makes her own distinctive kombucha, fizzy and funky and bracing. It’s a bit like having offspring: you control what goes into the kombucha, but what you wind up with will definitely have its own personality.

scoby and fermenting kombucha

After your kombucha is finished fermenting, combine it with moonshine for a fantastically refreshing cocktail.

This all takes us to my long-delayed promise of a cocktail: the ‘Booch-n-Hooch, or kombucha and moonshine. There’s no better thing to do with a restorative, probiotic beverage than add liquor to it. Since kombucha is both sweet and acidic, it’s the perfect cocktail mixer—you don’t need anything else but crushed ice and moonshine for a complex, grownup aperitif. It’s not too hard to find (legally produced) artisan moonshine at well-stocked stores–make sure you get straight-up moonshine and not some fruit-flavored swill. I use about 5 parts ‘booch to one part hooch. Ice cubes are okay, but crushed ice is preferable. Give it all a little stir, indulge in a few deep yoga breaths, and sip away in bliss.

Whether you opt to defile your kombucha with spirits or not, this enlivening liquid has a lot more to offer than trendiness. And even if simply hearing the word still provokes an eye-roll, you can’t deny this cultured drink has a fascinating subculture.

by Sara Bir


Drowning in Summer Squash? Bake it!

Heirloom Finds image of Wittens Farm Market and their homegrown zucchini

My summer squash plants shriveled up and died this year, leaving me in the lurch. I’m one of the few people who can’t get enough of the stuff, in all its forms: patty pan, yellow squash, and especially zucchini.

Perhaps you gardeners and friends-of-gardeners out there face the opposite problem and are swimming in squash. Fortunately, zucchini is bland and plays nicely with other flavors, so it’s not very challenging to weave into a menu. Writer Deena Prichep threw an all-zucchini dinner party a few years ago, featuring zucchini in every course, just to show her zucchini-hating friends what’s what.

But here’s my favorite way to put a dent in that pesky stockpile of baseball-bat-sized garden zukes that got out of control: fudgy and dense Mexican Chocolate Zucchini Bread. I came up with it a few years ago as an antidote to all of the classic but boring 1970s-style zucchini breads. Adding cocoa powder and a little cayenne to the mix gave it a sophisticated edge. This recipe is vegan; I’ve found vegan quick breads have a richer texture and more refined crumb. I promise everyone, vegan or not, will love this complex, cakey loaf. I top slices with a smear of plain Greek yogurt and enjoy them for breakfast or a snack.

Heirloom Finds Mexican Chocolate Zucchini Bread Recipe

Mexican Chocolate Zucchini Bread baked, aged and ready to eat!

Oh, and a tip: to keep your summer squash at bay, just pick it earlier, when it’s still small and tender. If your monster zucchinis weigh more than a newborn baby, make sure to use only the outer parts and not the pulpy interior.

Mexican Chocolate Zucchini Bread

This makes two loaves, but it keeps well. I sometimes freeze one loaf for later. The amount of liquid needed to create a wet enough batter might change, depending on the moisture content of your zucchini.

Heirloom Finds Mexican Chocolate Zucchini Bread Recipe

Ingredients prepped and ready to mix together!

Makes two 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 x 2-1/2 inch loaves

¼ cup finely ground flax seed or chia seed
1-1/4 cups strong-brewed coffee
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
15 ounces (3 cups) whole-wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
14-1/2 ounces (2 cups) sugar
2 ounces (10 tablespoons) natural (preferably not Dutch-processed) cocoa powder, sifted if lumpy
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon, or ½ teaspoon cassia cinnamon (the normal kind)
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon baking powder
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups grated zucchini
1/3 cup cacao nibs or 1 to ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips, optional

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F and position a rack in the center. Grease and flour two 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 x 2-1/2 inch loaf pans.

In a medium bowl, combine the ground flaxseed, coffee, and vanilla. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, cinnamon, cayenne, and baking powder. Add the vegetable oil, zucchini, and the coffee-flax mixture and fold together with a large rubber spatula until combined. The batter will be thick, with a body that resembles brownie batter. If the batter is too dry or pasty, fold in a few more tablespoons of coffee, or some water or non-dairy milk. Stir in the cacao nibs or chocolate chips, if using.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake until the tops are dry and springy and a skewer inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean, 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Cool bread in pans for 5 minutes, then remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack. The loaves will have a better flavor if aged for a day before you slice into them.


By Sara Bir of The Sausagetarian