Saturday, August 14, 2010

Ming Tsai's Miso Shallot Vinaigrette

I never fail to stop adoring this vinaigrette recipe ... it is wonderful on green salads, cucumber, and tofu. 

Makes 2 1/4 cups
  • 1/2 cup miso
  • 1/2 cup shallots, (I slice the shallots and steam them in the microwave)
  • 1/2 teaspoon togarashi or chile pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 cups grapeseed or canola oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • I add half a peeled apple and some fresh ginger too

Throw all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Black Chickpea and Papaya Curry

I am lucky enough to live in a city that has a wide variety of cuisine and markets to find hard to find products. One of my favourite foods is Indian - the combination of flavours, textures and colours is inspiring. There is a famous restaurant in the city called Vij's that serves phenomenal Indian food and next door is their café featuring many of the same recipes for a more affordable price. When I received the restaurant's cookbook as a gift, I started to try many of the recipes in the book. This is one of my favourites and one that has received rave reviews for dinner parties:

Eggplant and Papaya Curry with Black Chickpeas

notes from the book:

We combine roasted eggplant and papaya with black chickpea curry. Don’t buy fully ripened, soft papayas as they become difficult to handle and are too sweet. This dish won’t taste good without the black chickpea curry added to it. The black chickpea curry has many of its own spices, so we’ve used much less spicing in this eggplant-papaya curry.

If you have a grill or barbecue, you can reduce the roasting time by more than half. Just place each eggplant and papaya on a fully heated grill or barbecue. Allow the papaya to cook through for about 15 minutes and the eggplants for 20 to 25 minutes, while turning them regularly. Don’t worry if the skin of the eggplant or papaya has some burn marks on it. These marks will actually deliver a delicious roasted flavour.

  • 2 medium eggplants (about 2 lb/900 g)
  • 3 medium to large semi-ripe papayas (about 21/4 lb/1 kg)
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) canola oil
  • 2 very large onions, diced into 11/2-inch pieces (about 11/2 lb/675 g)
  • 3 large ripened tomatoes, diced into 11/2-inch pieces(1 lb/450 g)
  • 11/2 tbsp (22.5 mL) ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) turmeric
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) ground fenugreek seeds
  • 1 large jalapeno pepper, chopped
  • 11/2 tbsp (22.5 mL) salt
  • 2 cups (500 mL) black chickpea curry

    Black Chickpea Curry

  • 1 cup (250 mL) dried black chickpeas
  • 3 cups (750 mL) water for soaking
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
  • 61/2 cups (1.625 L) water for boiling
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) ghee (clarified butter)
  • 11/2 tbsp (7 mL) cumin seeds
  • 1 lb (450 g) onions, chopped (2 medium)
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) finely chopped garlic
  • 1 large juicy tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 large jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) garam masala
  • 1/2 tbsp (7.5 mL) mango powder
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) turmeric
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) ground fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups (500 mL) water
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup (250 mL) chopped cilantro
  • 11/2 tsp (7 mL) dried mint leaves (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 F (230 C). Wrap eggplants and papayas individually in aluminum foil. Place them on a baking tray. Since the papayas will cook faster, place them in the front so you can easily remove them from the oven. Bake papayas for 30 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow them to cool. Continue baking eggplants for 1 hour more or until they are very soft. The eggplants will become mushy and deflated. Remove eggplants from the oven and cool so you can unwrap the foil.
  2. Using a paring knife or potato peeler, peel papayas and discard the skin. Cut papayas in half. With a spoon, scoop out seeds and discard. Purée papaya flesh in a processor or finely mash papayas with your hands.
  3. Using a paring knife, peel skins off eggplant. Using a spoon, scrape off any eggplant stuck to the skins. Discard the skins. Coarsely chop eggplant into a mixing bowl, then using your hands, roughly mash the eggplants. They will have nowhere near the smooth consistency of mashed potatoes. Instead, there will be some chunks. (You can also place the whole eggplants on a large cutting board and dice them into 1/4- to 1/2-inch (0.6 to 1.2 cm) pieces.)
  4. Add the papaya purée to the eggplants and mix well. Set aside.
  5. Heat oil in a large heavy frying pan on medium-high heat for 1 minute.
  6. Add onions and sauté until brown, about 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in tomatoes. Add cumin, turmeric, fenugreek, jalapeno pepper and salt. Cook for 10 minutes. Pour the eggplant and papaya mixture into the masala and stir well. Combine the eggplant and papaya curry with the black chickpea curry and heat on medium for 5 to 10 minutes or until the mixture is gently boiling. Stir in chopped cilantro just as you turn off the heat.
  7. To serve: Present this curry on six plates with chapatis or lentil chapatis. Sprinkle dried mint on top of the curry on each plate.

    Black Chickpea Curry

  8. For the chickpeas: Wash and drain black chickpeas. Place chickpeas and the water in a bowl and soak overnight, or for at least 6 hours. Note that black chickpeas don’t expand in size the way other beans do after soaking.
  9. Drain chickpeas. Place chickpeas in a large pot with salt and the 61/2 cups (1.625 L) of water. Bring to a boil on high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer for 1 hour or until chickpeas are cooked through. The outer skin of black chickpeas is thicker than the skin of regular yellow chickpeas, so taste one or mash one between your fingers to be sure they are fully cooked. Do not drain.
  10. For the masala: In a separate large pot, heat ghee on medium-high for 1 minute. Add cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle for about 30 seconds. Add onions and sauté for 8 minutes, stirring regularly, until golden brown. Add garlic and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, then add jalapeno pepper, garam masala, mango powder, turmeric, fenugreek, salt and cayenne. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the masala for 5 to 8 minutes, until ghee glistens on top. Stir in water.
  11. Add boiled chickpeas and their water to the masala. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat, then cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes (this ensures that the spicing has gone into the chickpeas). Stir in cilantro.
  12. Wine: Choose a cool-climate Pinot Blanc, as it has good acidity that complements this curry.

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Dead Easy Clam Dip

This is fabulously addictive and so simple!

1 can clams
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp lemon or lime juice

1/2 brick softened cream cheese, low fat
1/2 cup yogurt cheese
salt* and pepper to taste

fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp lemon zest for garnish

Drain 2/3 of the clam juice into a ziplock and freeze for fishy soups or sauces. The other 1/3 plus the clams go into the food processor plus the other ingredients. Process until smooth, transfer to serving dish and garnish. Serve with radish slices and celery stalks.

* I like to use a smoked salt or infused citrus salt but any salt will do just fine.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cinnamon Scented Chocolate Fruit Shake

This was a great thing to wake up to this morning - a little chocolate, some fruit, yogurt and spices. Simply fabulous!

1/2 cup skim yogurt
1 banana
1 pear
1 tbsp cocoa
1 tbsp flax meal
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom

Blend all together in a tall glass with a hand blender. Taste and add agave nectar or honey if needed. Enjoy!

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Nut Chocolate Bars

These are a chewy and surprisingly moist cookie.

2 cups unbleached flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup butter at room temperature
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups chopped nuts
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cream the butter and then add the sugar. While continuing to beat, add the eggs, vanilla, nuts, chocolate chips, and dry ingredients.

Spread in a greased 9 x 13 inch pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until done. While still warm, cut into squares or bars.

Makes about 3 dozen bars

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Refreshingly Cool Beet and Cucumber Soup

The weather is sunny and gorgeous today and I think this will be just perfect with a light salad dressed with sherry vinegar and hazelnut and sprinkled with an aged Canadian cheese. Yum!

2 small beet bunches, with greens
water to cover
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
3 cups buttermilk
1 cup yogurt, kefir or sour cream
2 - 3 lemons, juiced
1/4 cup pickle juice
cracked pepper
1/2 long English cucumber, 1/4" dice
1 bunch scallions, minced
1/4 cup minced fresh dill

Cut greens from the beetroot and wash both well to remove any clinging dirt. Peel beets, quarter and thinly dice. Place in a pot and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil. Add salt, partially cover and reduce heat. Simmer until the beets are just tender.

While the beets are simmering, finely shred the beet greens with their stems. When the beets are tender, stir the greens and sugar into the pot. Cover and turn off the heat. Let stand 10 minutes. Uncover and cool to room temperature, then chill thoroughly before proceeding. (This step can be prepared up to 2 days in advance, or frozen up to 1 month.)

In a large bowl, combine the beets, greens and cooking water with buttermilk, yogurt, lemon and pickle juice. Season with salt, cracked pepper, sugar or more lemon to get the right balance for your taste buds. Chill the soup for at least one hour before serving.

To serve, stir in the cucumbers, scallions and dill and taste one more time to adjust the seasoning. Serve in chilled bowls.

Serves 4 - 6

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Tassajara Cappucino Coins

We blend the flavour of coffee and chocolate in these little coins of caffeine bliss. These cookies are a favourite of Tassajara guests.

1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
4 eggs
4 cups unbleached flour
1 tbsp instant coffee
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, finely ground

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and add eggs; mix well. Add flour, instant coffee, cocoa, cinnamon, salt and chocolate chips;mix thoroughly for 2 to 3 minutes.

Gather the dough together and turn onto a lightly floured board. Using lightly floured hands, roll the dough into 2 or 3 even 1 inch logs. Wrap the logs separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Move oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Slice the chilled logs into 1/4 inch thick coins and then place 1/2 inch apart on the lined cookie sheets.

Bake until lightly golden and firm enough at the edges to slide off the parchment without sticking, about 15 to 17 minutes. Cool on the cookie sheets set on wire racks.

Makes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies

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Tassajara Chocolate Chews

The most popular cookie at Tassajara ...

1/2 lb semisweet chocolate
3 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup butter
3/4 tsp instant coffee
3 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup unbleached flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanila
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a double boiler, melt the semisweet and unsweetened chocolate, butter and coffee together.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs and sugar until light in colour and thick. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Let the chocolate mixture cool slightly and then whisk into the eggs and sugar. Stir in the vanilla and then gently fold in the dry ingredients. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop by tablespoon onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

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Tassajara North African Lemon Dressing

This dressing is suggested for salads with tomatoes, sweet onions, cucumbers, peppers, or fruit salads and cottage cheese. At Tassajara, we use it often with salads of lettuce and grapefruit sections. A delicious variation can be made by using limes in place of lemons.

zest of 2 lemons
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp tsp cayenne or Tabasco sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 to 3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp sugar

Combine all ingredients in a bowl; mix well and chill before serving.

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Tassajara Poppy Seed Dressing

This dressing is a favourite for salads with fruit and greens.

1/2 cup honey
6 tbsp cider vinegar
5 tbsp olive oil
2 small shallots, minced
4 tbsp Dijon
2 tsp poppy seeds
salt and pepper

Whisk together in a small bowl.

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Tassajara Avocado Dressing

Serve on cabbage salads with fruit or vegetables. This dressing will keep its colour for several days in the fridge.

1 medium sized ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tbsp lemon juice
pinch of black pepper
dash of Tabasco
1 tsp salt

In a food processor, combine avocado and onion and blend until smooth. Combine in a small bowl with sour cream, lemon juice, pepper, Tabasco, and salt. Beat until smooth.

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Tassajara Lime Ume Dressing

This dressing is great with daikon or carrot-based salads. Soak them briefly, then drain well. Garnish with slivered nori.

1/2 cup lime juice
1 1/2 tbsp ume plum paste
1/2 cup sugar
salt, to taste (this brings out the crucial flavour of the ume - otherwise it is too sweet/tart)

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well to blend. Serve chilled.

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Tassajara WaFu Dressing

Try this dressing with a salad of wakamé, carrots, daikon, cucumbers, radishes and cherry tomatoes. Dress generously.

1/2 cup tamari
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Chill before using.

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Tassajara Japanese Marinated Salad with Diced Tofu

This salad can also be used as a sandwich filling if drained well before using.
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
12oz extra-firm tofu, pressed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 small carrot, diced
1 tomato, chopped fine
10 green beans, blanched and chopped fine

Whisk together the soy, oil, vinegar, and sugar in a small bowl. Then combine the tofu and vegetables in a large bowl. Add dressing, cover bowl and marinate for 8 to 10 hours in the fridge. Drain the vegetables slightly before serving.

Makes 2 cups

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Tassajara Cabbage Salad with Miso "Floating Cloud" Dressing

The Miso Floating Cloud Dressing is very popular at Tassajara and is what sets this cabbage salad apart. It is also good with a salad made of cabbage, tomatoes, and tofu.

2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 cup lemon juice or rice vinegar
1/4 cup red miso
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp each, powdered ginger and dry mustard, or to taste
4 cups shredded green cabbage
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 red onion, julienned
1/2 cup toasted walnuts

Whisk together in a bowl the oils, lemon juice or vinegar, miso, garlic, ginger, and mustard

Toss the cabbage, bell pepper, onion and nuts in a medium sized bowl. Pour dressing over top and mix well. Serve.

Makes 1 1/2 quarts

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Tassajara Tofu marinated with Parsley and Olive Oil

This tofu is a little unusual, as it is not cooked after marinating. It has a fresh, herb and garlic taste. It can be grilled or, if preferred, it can be baked at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.

2 (12 oz.) blocks, firm tofu
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup finely chopped parsley
1/2 tsp salt
pinch black pepper
3 tbsp capers
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
fresh herbs such as basil, oregano, or thyme (optional)
1/3 cup olive oil

Slice blocks of tofu into thirds and then each third into slices, then into cubes. Mix garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, capers, lemon juice, and fresh herbs, if using, in a small bowl. Let stand for a few minutes, and then pour in the olive oil; stir to combine. Coat each piece of tofu with the mixture and then layer in shallow sheet pan. Let stand overnight and serve on platters with a garnish of fresh herbs. Serve at room temperature.

Makes about 3 cups

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Tassajara Sweet Tomato Chutney

This spicy sweet chutney is great with goat cheese and roasted vegetables.

1/4 tsp fenugreek
1/4 tsp fennel
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp ground mace
1/4 tsp garam masala
3 medium sized tomatoes (about 3/4 lb total), finely chopped
10 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp grated ginger
1/4 cup raisins (I omit this as I don't like raisins in savoury foods)
1/4 tsp cayenne
2 cups white vinegar
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 cups sugar

Grind the first 5 ingredients together in a spice mill and set aside. Combine the tomatoes, garlic, ginger, raisins, cayenne, and spice mixture in a heavy skillet. Cook, uncovered, over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is evaporated, about 12 minutes.

Add the vinegar, salt and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until thick, about 15 to 20 minutes. Spoon into clean jars and seal or refrigerate.

Makes 2 cups

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tassajara Veggie Walnut Pâté

Apparently this tasted like real chopped liver!

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups chopped green beans
2 hard boiled eggs (optional)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 - 2 tbsp white wine or 2 tsp lemon juice
1 - 2 tbsp mayonnaise
1/2 cups chopped parsley

Heat oil in a small skillet. Add onion and salt and sauté over medium heat until onion begins to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the green beans and sauté until tender.

Combine all ingredients together in a food processor and blend until a smooth paste forms. Spoon into a serving dish.

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Tassajara Basil, Lime, and Pumpkin Seed Pesto

This is an excellent pesto packed with nutrition and fiber. The freshness of the lime and basil are a great complement to the rich, nutty flavour of pumpkin seeds.

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup basil, packed
4 tbsp lime juice
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Lightly toast pumpkin seeds and grind until they stick to the walls of the food processor. Add the remaining ingredients. Add more olive oil or lime juice to thin if necessary.

Makes 1 cup

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Tassajara Persian Olive, Walnut, and Pomegranate Tapenade

In this recipe, the seeds burst their sweet-tart flavour into the creamy tapenade. Serve with feta, cucumber slices and sangak (Persian flatbread).

1 cup unseasoned green olives
2/3 cup toasted walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup whole pomegranate seeds
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1 clove minced garlic
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
lemon juice
2 pita rounds, cut into triangles

Finely mince the olives. In a bowl, combine the olives, walnuts, pomegranate seeds, cilantro, garlic and olive oil; stir to mix. Add a few drops of lemon juice and salt if necessary. The mixture may not need salt if the olives are salty.

Preheat the oven to 375 degress F. Toast the pita triangles on a baking sheet until lightly coloured and crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes; let cool. Serve tapenade with the pita toasts.

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Tassajara China Moon Eggplant Spread

These Asian flavours make a delicious spread. The sesame oil and brown sugar add dept and sweetness, while freshly grated ginger and dried chili pepper gives the spread a refreshing spiciness. Best if used within a few days.

1 large eggplant, roasted
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1 tbsp minced ginger
2 tbsp minced cilantro
1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tbsp rice vinegar or mirin
1 tbsp hot water
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

Roast eggplant. When the eggplant is cool, scrape pulp off skin and puree in a food processor. Stir together the remaining ingredients except sesame oil. Heat a wok with the sesame oil. When the oil is hot, add the sauce and stir a couple of times. Add the puréed eggplant and stir to blend.

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Tassajara Quinoa Caviar

This is a spread that is a quick and easy way to get nutritious quinoa into your diet.

1 eggplant
2 onions, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsbp olive oil
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
salt and pepper
1/4 cup minced cilantro
1/4 cup minced parsley
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp lemon juice

Roast eggplant until charred.

Sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil until soft. Stir in the quinoa and lightly toast for 1 minute. Stir in the water and salt to taste; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover the pan, and gently simmer the quinoa for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Uncover the pan and fluff the quinoa with a fork; transfer to a bowl and let cool.

Purée the eggplant with the cilantro, parsley, soy sauce, and lemon juice in a food processor. Stir this mixture into the quinoa. Adjust seasoning, adding soy sauce, pepper or lemon juice to taste. Garnish with sprigs of cilantro and parsley, if desired.

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Tassajara Artichoke Walnut Spread

Its rich, decadent flavour makes an excellent appetizer served with crostini.

1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1/2 cup firm silken tofu or ricotta cheese
12 artichoke hearts canned in water, drained
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 tbsp minced fresh oregano, or other fresh herb
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice, or to taste
salt and pepper

Grind the walnuts in a food processor until fine. If using silken tofu, wrap in a towel and press with a heavy weight for 30 minutes before using. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend in the food processor or by hand until chunky but a uniform mixture; cover and chill until ready to serve.

Makes 2 cups

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