DDD #81 – Vegan Eggplant Timbale with Rigatoni in Vodka Sauce

Leave a comment

All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

vromans front

vromans back

Click the image above to watch the video.

A long, long time ago, I had a boyfriend.  And that boyfriend had – egads! – ex-girlfriends.  One of these ex-girlfriends was (and remains) a famous actress.  A beautiful, famous actress.  She had been reaching out to him to “reconnect.”  My boyfriend at the time announced that he would be having dinner with this ex at some point in the future.  I informed him that I would be attending this dinner myself.  He looked at me like I was crazy.  “Nothing’s going on,” he explained.  “She just wants to get together.  We are friends.”  I explained that, as his live-in girlfriend, his friends should be my friends, too, and asked that if everything was so innocent, why couldn’t he just invite her over to our home for dinner.

It took a bit but I won this debate.  The invitation was extended & then the pressure was on.  ME.  On me because I had to cook the damned dinner – a dinner to impress this chick.  I wanted to impress her with both my culinary skills & with the level of our domesticity.  It was a passive-aggressive counter-attack to what I sensed were not entirely innocent intentions on her part.

This was pre-internet and pre-40 million cooking shows – so I had only my trusty collection of cookbooks to consult for ideas.  After hours of deliberating – I ended up making two dishes I had never made before – always very dangerous if making a good impression is your top priority.  I made a two-color soup much like this one (this one here is not my creation):


Photo borrowed from HERE.

And I made an eggplant timbale as shown here in this blog.  As fate would have it, my dinner was a huge success & the ex-girlfriend was smart & funny & charming & the two of us were quickly gabbing like old friends, nearly cutting my boyfriend from the conversation completely.

And – for the record, ladies (and gents) – this ex-girlfriend never “reached out” to “touch base” again – to either me or my boyfriend.  So – my instincts had been correct.  She had been perhaps interested in rekindling more than just old times.  But – to her credit – once she met me, she was forever respectful and was never again a threat to our domestic bliss.

So – if you ever need to impress someone or scare off some interested interloper from meddling with your love life – serve them this whopper of a dish.  It is far easier to make than folks guess and it tastes delicious – and it is classier than a slap fight & hair pulling.

Also – as an aside, I bought this fucking gigantic can (I know canned tomatoes are bad but sometimes you gotta bend rules) of tomato sauce for $2.69.  That is practically free!  It makes 12 cups of whatever the Hell sauce you are making.  I made arrabbiata (surprise, surprise) and I froze 8 cups of it & used 4 cups of it to make the vodka sauce in this recipe.

Vodka Sauce – large quantity


2 28-ounce cans tomato sauce

1 small onion – diced

1/2 cup vodka (optional)

1/4 cup olive oil

5 garlic cloves – chopped

1 TBS crushed red pepper (optional)

1 cup chopped basil

1 cup peas – optional

S&P to taste

For a pink sauce (optional) – 1 cup vegan heavy cream or vegan cream cheese


Heat oil & saute the onion until soft.  Add garlic for one minute then add the vodka.  Cook on high a minute & then add the other ingredients, bring to a boil then reduce heat to low & simmer for 30 minutes or more.  For a pink sauce – add 1 cup vegan heavy cream or vegan cream cheese.


Vegan Eggplant Timbale with Rigatoni & Vodka Sauce



1 pound rigatoni (or other pasta) – cooked & drained

8 oz vegan mozzarella

4 large eggplants

1/4 cup bread crumbs

1/8 cup vegan Parmesan

Chopped tomato or chopped fresh parsley or basil – as garnish


Pre-heat the oven to 350.

Slice the eggplants into 1/4 inch slices.  You can go the long way or the other way – creating round disks.  (OPTIONAL – Place in colanders or on paper towels & sprinkle with salt on both sides.  Let the eggplants drain for about 30 minutes.  This not only helps remove moisture from the eggplant but also minimizes bitterness. I skipped this step.)


You can either rub olive oil into your eggplant before grilling or you can dip them in an Italian salad dressing – really just to lubricate them so they do not stick to the grilling surface & tear apart.  Grill (a grill pan works, too) the eggplant until they get nice grill marks on one side, turn them & repeat.  Remove & set aside.


Cook the rigatoni according to the box directions.  Err on the side of under-cooking – as they will cook more in the oven.  Drain the rigatoni & mix in a bowl with cheeses & 2 or more cups of vodka sauce.  Add more sauce if you like a really wet pasta.  You will have extra vodka sauce that you can use to add as a garnish to the finished slices of timbale or to use in another recipe.  It might be nice to have extra sauce for the timbale when you are in the leftovers phase.



Grease a spring form pan & then put some bread crumbs & vegan Parmesan inside.  Swirl the pan to coat all the surfaces.  Throw any unstuck bread crumbs/cheese away.


Line the inside of the pan with grilled eggplant.  You can either do as I did or, if you have circular disks, fan them on the bottom of the pan & then stick some, overlapping, up on the sides.  However you do it – try to cover every part of the pan with eggplant.  Pour the pasta & vodka sauce & cheese mix in – layering in extra cheese, if you fancy.  Top with any remaining eggplant slices.


Cover the timbale in foil & place some heavy dishes on top & put in the fridge to compress for about 15 minutes.


Then – bake at 350 for about 45 minutes.  Let rest, unmolested, for at least 15 minutes and then put a serving dish on top of the timbale, flip the whole thing over & then very carefully – remove the spring form pan.


Garnish with either grated Parmesan or extra vodka sauce.

DDD #80 – Vegan Aloo Palak – Indian Spinach & Potato Curry

Leave a comment


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

images (1)download (1)

9-10-15 (19)

9-10-15 (34)


vromans back

9-10-15 (30)

9-10-15 (43)


Click the image above to watch the video.

I fucking love Indian food.  I always have.  I have posted many Indian recipes & Indian food is the easiest way to feed someone vegan food without them noticing.  If you research, you will find that most recipes have largely overlapping ingredients.  If you intend to get into cooking Indian food – the critical spices (outside of cumin & coriander) are garam masala & cardamom.  If your local market does not carry the spices you need – and there is no local Indian spice source (ethnic markets are THE BEST resource for cheap spices) – buy them on Amazon.  This recipe calls for fenugreek (or kasuri methi) but I read that celery seeds are a decent substitute.  If you can’t find either – blow it off.

If you are accustomed to cooking Indian food – you might notice I tend to use far larger amounts of the spices than your average recipes.  The measurements are very forgiving, though, so don’t worry if you want to use more – or less – than what I suggest.

I used a vegan goat cheese that I bought at a Soledad Santuary stand at the Hollywood farmer’s market.  If you live in Hollywood or can make it to that market – look for them.  They recently turned vegan & are experimenting making many kinds of vegan cheese.  (If you get there – BTW – look for Dave’s Korean stand, too.  Their tempeh is INSANE!)  You can use any soft vegan cheese (cream cheese or yogurt or goat cheese – if you can find some).  If you are not vegan – a Boursin or garlic/chive cream cheese would work.  You just need some sort of “dairy” to mellow out the overall flavor.

9-10-15 (10)

Vegan Aloo Palak (Indian Spinach & Potato Curry)

Serves 4-6 with rice


1 1/2 – 2 lbs fresh spinach (You can use canned or frozen but the flavor will not be the same & you won’t get the vibrant green color.  Google Aloo Palak & see how ugly it can look.  LOL)

3 large red potatoes – cubed

1 large onion – diced

1-3 jalapenos (to taste) – chopped (remove seeds to lessen the heat)

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp cumin

1 TBS turmeric

1 TBS fresh ginger – minced (I used jarred)

1 TBS garlic – minced (I used jarred)

1-3 tsp chili powder (I used 3 but I like heat)

1 TBS ground coriander

1 tsp dry fenugreek (or celery seeds) – OPTIONAL

1 TBS garam masala

1/2 cup vegan soft cheese


Olive oil

Garnish – cooked rice and/or naan







Boil a large pot of water & blanch the spinach by immersing it for 30 seconds to a minute – so it wilts.  Plunge into cold water & drain.

Heat 1-2 TBS olive oil & pan fry the potatoes until they begin to brown – turning often.  This might cook them through – depending on how large your cubes are.  If it doesn’t do not worry.  They can cook more in the spinach.  Set aside.

In that same pan – heat another TBS olive oil & add the cumin seeds.  Once they begin to sputter, add the onion, jalapeno, garlic, ginger, & spices.  Cook until the onion is soft.

In a food processor – blend the onion mix.  Then – add the drained spinach & puree.  Return this to the pan.  Stir in the cheese & add the potatoes.  Heat through & be sure your potatoes are soft.  You may have to add between 1-2 cups of water to thin it out.  If it is too thick add more water.  Too thin?  Cook it down.

Serve with rice or naan – or eat it naked!  I mean – the spinach & potatoes could be naked – as the potato adds a starch to the dish, already.  But – if you wanna be naked yourself – I don’t see a problem with that.  Your roommate or children might feel awkward but fuck’m.  You just made motherfuckin’ Aloo Palak.   What the fuck have they achieved lately?  Probably not appreciate you enough, that’s what.

See my point?  Might as well swill some wine, too.  Haters gonna hate.  No reason for you to give any fucks at all.  Eat, drink & be proud you just made a yummy vegan meal!

9-10-15 (32)

9-10-15 (47)

Easy Vegan Cauliflower, Broccoli and Turmeric Mac & Cheese

Leave a comment

All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

images (1)download (1)


All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.


12-14-14 (90)

12-14-14 (93)

12-14-14 (102)


vromans back


12-14-14 (8)

12-14-14 (27)

I took those two outdoor images this weekend on my Hollywood sign hikes.  Living in LA does NOT suck.  Don’t believe the hype.

You know what else doesn’t suck?  Pretty much any variety of mac & cheese.  But being a big fat ass does suck – so I added a huge head of cauliflower & two small heads of broccoli to this so it is about 50% veggies & 50% pasta.  Easy & delicious.  I skipped the whole roux business so this is a very quick dish to put together.

I used turmeric because it adds that vibrant yellow color but I also added it because it is really good for you.  Google “turmeric benefits” or look HERE & see some of the amazing good it can do for you.

Click the image below to watch the video.


12-14-14 (43)

12-14-14 (58)

12-14-14 (87)

12-14-14 (115)

Easy Cauliflower and Broccoli and Turmeric Mac and Cheese

Feeds 6


12 oz dry pasta

1/2 large head cauliflower – cut into bite-size florets

2 medium heads broccoli – cut into bit-sized florets

12 oz unsweetened non-dairy milk

1 cup vegan sour cream or cream cheese or a mix

1 or more cups vegan cheese of your choice

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional)

1 TBS turmeric

2 garlic cloves – minced

1 tsp salt

1 TBS ground pepper

A few squirts of hot sauce – I used Crystal (optional)

1-2 cups panko or other bread crumbs

`12-14-14 (68)

12-14-14 (86)

12-14-14 (108)

12-14-14 (30)

12-14-14 (35)

12-14-14 (36)

12-14-14 (39)

12-14-14 (42)


Heat the oven to 350 & grease a large casserole pan.

Cook pasta according to directions.  Cook as long as the package says – but add the cauliflower & broccoli in the final three minutes.  Drain.

Heat the milk & stir in all the other ingredients.  Add the pasta & veggies & combine.  Put in your greased casserole dish.  Top with breadcrumbs.  A spritz of cooking spray will aid the breadcrumbs browning.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly & the breadcrumbs are beginning to brown.


12-14-14 (62)

12-14-14 (63)

12-14-14 (75)

12-14-14 (66)

12-14-14 (73)

12-14-14 (79)

12-14-14 (91)

12-14-14 (95)

12-14-14 (104)

12-14-14 (110)

12-14-14 (117)

12-14-14 (122)

DDD #78 – Vegan Red Lentil Curry or Soup (Instant Pot or Slow Cooker)

1 Comment

All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

images (1)download (1)


All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.


11-9-14 (79)

Click the image above to watch my thwarted efforts at making a curry for rice.



Slow cookers.  Mmmmmm!  So satisfying.   Coming home to a house filled with the aroma of a fresh cooked meal is the next best thing to having a wife.  Or a husband.  Because the dogs just never seem to get motivated enough to cook.  Or maybe they do – but they just eat it all up themselves.  This recipe can be made either as a curry for over rice or as a soup.  If you are doing a version for rice – use a slow cooker.  I cannot figure out how to cook something as delicate as red lentils in the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker unless I want it to be a soup – which is how I salvaged this potential disaster.




This could also be made stove top in just the time it takes to cook the lentils but you might want to saute the onions a bit first to soften them.

Vegan Red Curry Lentils

feeds at least 2 very well with rice or  — make the soup


1 1/2 cups lentils

1 TBS olive oil or coconut oil

10 oz can of Rotel or other diced or strained tomatoes

1 small onion – diced

1 TBS garlic cloves – minced

1 TBS fresh grated ginger – I used jarred

1 tsp ground cumin

2 TBS red curry paste

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp salt

1-2 tsp cayenne pepper (according to your tolerance for heat)

1 tsp garam masala (recipe below if you cannot find it as garam masala)

1 TBS harissa or other hot sauce – like sriracha

2 cups water

1 (6 oz) can coconut milk

Chopped cilantro as garnish (and cook some rice to serve the lentils over if you did not make soup – I used brown Basmati).  A bit of vegan sour cream might be nice to stir into the soup – if you went that way.

11-9-14 (37)




11-9-14 (18)

11-9-14 (20)

11-9-14 (21)

11-9-14 (24)



11-9-14 (44)



Just stick all the ingredients into a slow cooker & set it on low.  Go away for 8-10 hours.  Or set it on high and it should be done in 2-3 hours.   Serve over steamed rice.  Garnish with cilantro & maybe additional hot sauce.


On the saute setting, saute the onion until soft.  Add everything else & cook on manual for 8-10 minutes.  Add more water to thin it to taste.

Serve with vegan sour cream & Sriracha & cilantro.

11-9-14 (57) 11-9-14 (75)

Garam Masala


1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/4 tsp ground cardamom

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg