Coseppi Kitchen

Inclusive Vegetarian Cooking by Taylor Cook & James Seppi


That Takes the Cake!

Takes the Cake

Sugar sculptures at 2013 That Takes the Cake

This weekend  I volunteered to participate in the annual That Takes the Cake sugar and art show as a judge for the tasting competition. The competition was divided into five categories: angel food cakes, moon pies, candy, cookies, and “mini-bottle cakes.” If you don’t know, and I initially did not, mini-bottle cakes are cakes made with or flavored with alcohol. Obviously, I was most excited to try the 18 entrants in this category.

And try I did! The range of styles, flavors, and creativity of these cakes was impressive, which made judging all of these cakes extremely fun and filling work. My three favorite cakes were: 3) a nicely decorated chocolate Guinness cake with Bailey’s icing, 2)  a delicious limoncello coffee cake, and (drum roll!) 1) a beautiful White Chocolate Godiva Liqueur layer cake with Chambord icing. The winners from each category were evaluated by all of the judges and the bottle cake winner was bested by a fantastic chocolate raspberry mousse confection.

Taylor Tastes at That Takes the Cake

Taylor Tastes at That Takes the Cake

In addition to the tasting competition, That Takes the Cake is also a sugar arts show. This is a whole sub-set of the baking world that I am unfamiliar with but some of the feats of sweets that I witnessed were beyond impressive. That Takes the Cake was a a great demonstration of the creativity and talent that exists in the Austin culinary scene and it made me happy and proud to live here.

The show was also quite inspirational.  Coseppi Kitchen does not feature a lot of baking, but that is in part due to our focus on healthy and inclusive cooking. But, I like a challenge so when we went to a potluck/coed baby shower on Sunday I brought my newly invented Mini Allspice Dram Cakes with Mayfair Icing. Maybe in 2014, That Takes the Cake will see a Coseppi vegan, gluten-free entry!

Superbowl 2013

I typically stay in the room for one televised football game a year, and the Superbowl is the one. It is not for the commercials or half-time shows either, I am just there for the party.  This year our friend and occasional photographer Gabe is hosting and we volunteered to help with the refreshments.

In honor of the San Francisco 49ers we made a Pisco Punch. In the 19th century Pisco was the liquor of choice in Northern California where it could be easily imported from South America. Pisco Punch is made from pineapple, citrus, simple syrup, and Pisco.  This  concoction is notoriously strong but easy to imbibe.

For snacks we let Gabe handle the chicken wings and guacamole while we focused on some vegetable-based dishes.  Not ones to take sides, we decided to also honor the Baltimore Ravens with our Poor Man’s Crab Cakes, a vegetarian take on the classic, and of course we sliced up a tray of seasonal vegetables to serve with a big bowl of homemade hummus.

No matter which team reigns victorious in New Orleans, we are all winners when friends, flavor, and fiber converge.

A Week in Old Mexico

For the short break between Christmas and New Year’s, we took a quick trip down to Mexico.  We decided that because of its proximity and wealth of cool historical sites and legendary food, Mexico would be perfect for quick jaunts mandated by short work holidays.  On this, our first such trip, Taylor and I tackled (well, barely scratched the surface of) Guanajuato and Mexico City.

Taylor above Guanajuato

We had a great time checking out the sites, including lots of churches, mummies, some haunted houses (very popular for some reason), museums, and Aztec temples. We of course also had a lot of fun with the the food culture, though sometimes it was a challenge to find good vegetarian options.  In Guanajuato, however, Enchiladas Mineras, which are typically vegetarian, are a local specialty dish. Also, if you were ever doubting it, we learned that enchiladas are definitely an “anytime food” – breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, or whenever!

Getting some roasted chayote on the boat in Xochimilco

We’d like to give a shout-out to Carmen, the proprietor of Hogar de Carmelita Hostel.  Aside from being a friendly, gracious host, Carmelita and her staff were also fantastic cooks, preparing delicious vegetarian breakfasts for us each morning.  Here are our versions of our favorite Mexican breakfast dishes: MolletesEnchiladas, and Chilaquiles.

Market Fruit Stand

And who can forget the classic tradition of making that slightly off-tasting Mexican beer taste by adding some lime and hot sauce – micheladas! We, uh, “sampled” them several times a day while there, and were impressed by the variety of preparations.  Basically, as long as you have lime and beer, you have a chelada, or add some hot sauce and you have michelada.  Our michelada recipe is based off of one we had before we went for very fun boat ride in Xochimilco, but don’t be afraid to be creative when you make your own!

We cannot wait to go back to Mexico again.  There is a whole lot more for us to check out! Click the picture below to see all the pictures from our trip:

Coseppi Trip to Guanajuato and Mexico City

Farm-City, State Documentary

We want to give a quick plug to our friend David Barrow and his crew who are currently making a documentary called Farm-City, State.

This film will ponder the question “What if an entire city [namely, Austin] could feed itself?”.  Here’s a little information about the documentary from their site (

The film will follow protagonist Brenton Johnson, of Johnson’s Backyard Garden, who has grown from 1/4 of an acre to over 200 acres in the past 6 years to help feed the city of Austin. Starting a new non-profit, FarmShare Austin, to feed the ‘food deserts’ of Austin, Brenton will show how organic food is not only for the wealthy. The film will include other urban farmers, politicians, local food non-profits, locally-sourcing restaurants, and large grocery stories.

The film has already involved Brenton Johnson, Dorsey Barger, Glenn and Paula Foore, TX Representative Eddie Rodriguez, Judith McGreary, Ty Wolosin of Windy Hill Organics, Natural Grocers, Central Market, Whole Foods, Chef Sonya Coté, FarmShare board members, Carla Crownover, SXSW Eco and we will be interviewing many, many more including chefs, public figures and more farmers!

Farm-City, State will explore the social, political, and economical state of local food in Austin, Texas. A family will also endeavor into a 30 day local diet with help from local farmers, local chefs and other community members to further explore the economic impact of this lifestyle.

We encourage all our readers to either donate to Farm-City, State‘s fundraising campaign, or just to share the project with your friends:  After talking with David and watching the film’s teasers, Taylor and I are definitely excited for the finished product!

Holiday Cookie Party

Cookies for the Holidays

Cookies for the Holidays

Cookie Parties are a delicious holiday tradition for many families and groups of friends. It is a great way to make a wide diversity of cookies with plenty to sample and spare. This year, why not bring vegan and gluten-free cookies to the party with some of our favorite cookie recipes? This year, I wanted to tackle some of James’ family favorites including some Italian treats like Pistachio Biscotti, Italian Wedding Cookies, and Vegan Rosettes.

If you want to celebrate the holiday with some of our more unusual winter vegetable cookies try our traditionally flavored Sweet Potato Drop Cookies or vibrant Beet Cookies. Or, if something a little more All-American is what you want to bring to the party try our Oatmeal Raisin.

Making Norwegian Rosettes for the Holidays

Growing up, a family friend of my Norwegian grandfather would always bring over an assortment of Norwegian Christmas cookies each year for the holidays.  He would of course share this bounty of sweets with his children and grandchildren, and I was always delighted for these special once-a-year cookies. Sadly, that family friend passed away several years ago, and both my grandfather and I have moved away from the town we lived in in Maryland, so it has been a long time since he or I have enjoyed, or even seen, those Scandinavian treats.  Moreover, I didn’t even know the names of any of the cookies!

Well, wouldn’t you know it, but Edible Austin, the Central Texas food magazine, has on the cover of its current issue a magnificent photograph of one of the Norwegian cookies I remember best, and it turns out they are called Rosettes!  Inside is a great recipe for them (with spicy Mexican chocolate!) by Jessica Maher of Lenoir.  I read that you need a specialized tool, called a rosette iron, to make these cookies, so I promptly ordered one from Amazon.  Intimidated slightly by the prospect of deep frying, Taylor and I mustered our courage and made our first batch of rosettes this past Sunday – and they turned out great!  They are light, crunchy, and just-sweet-enough, just like I remember them.

Norwegian Rosettes - Just like I remember them!

Norwegian Rosettes – Just like I remember them!


The traditional recipe has both eggs and milk, so Taylor got work devising an inclusive vegan version.  We made those last night, and they turned out spectacular! I’m sure even my grandfather wouldn’t be able to tell that they are not made with animal products!  In fact, I’ll be mailing him some of these for Christmas this year (don’t tell him – it’s a surprise!).  I know he hasn’t had them since his friend passed away, so I’m confident that they will put a big smile on his face.

Even though we aren’t likely to see any of the real white stuff  this year in Austin, these beautiful snowflake-shaped holiday cookies will leave you dreaming of the snow-peaked mountains of Scandinavia, and they’re sure to put a smile on the faces of all you share them with.  Be sure to check out our Vegan Rosettes recipe and make yourself some of these wonderful cookies!

Oppan Veggie Style


Not long ago, we won Michael Natkin‘s cookbook Herbivoracious at an Austin Food Bloggers‘ event. The book starts with a great introduction to ingredients and equipment, and its collection of recipes includes many international dishes with tons of variations and side suggestions. James and I have really enjoyed reading it and tonight we finally got around to trying a couple dishes.

Kimchi Stew sans Kimchi with Spicy Stir-Fried Squash

It finally dipped below freezing in Austin last night so we decided to tackle Natkin’s Kimchi Stew with Shiitake and Daikon. Thanks to JBG and some luck, we had nearly all of the ingredients in the refrigerator except for the title Kimchi! James loves to make this all-important fermented Korean staple and, surprisingly, we were out. Even more surprisingly it does not appear kimchi is stocked at Central Market!

Working with what we had, we doubled down on the ginger and garlic and added a bunch of broccoli rabe  to to the soup to stand in for the kimchi. It turned out really well and I can only imagine how delicious the more authentic soup is. We paired the soup with a side of Natkin’s Spicy Stir-Fried Zucchini (or in our case, calabaza) and cold soba noodles. Even without the kimchi, I think Psy would have approved (maybe).

Here is James’s Variation:

Kimchi Stew with Shiitake and Daikon (sans Kimchi)


  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 cups daikon radish, sliced into thin half moons
  • 1/2 cup baby carrots, sliced into thin rounds
  • 5 or 6 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 1/2 large cayenne pepper (or other hot red pepper), diced
  • 4 large cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, grated
  • 4 cups water
  • 3-4 tablespoons Sriracha (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon Better-than-Boullion paste
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce (gluten-free if required)
  • 1 pound hard tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, roughly chopped
  • salt to taste
  • diced spring onion for garnish


  1. In a large pot, saute the daikon, carrots, and mushrooms in the sesame oil over high heat for about 2 minutes.
  2. Add onion, cayenne, garlic, and ginger and continue to saute until the onions are soft, 2-3 minutes more.
  3. Add the water, Sriracha, Better-than-Boullion, and soy sauce, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the tofu and broccoli rabe, bring back to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes more.  Season with salt to taste.
  5. Serve garnished with diced scallion.





Lone Star Vegetarian Chili Cook-Off, 2012


This year, Coseppi Kitchen answered the call to duty when the Austin Food Blogger Alliance (AFBA) asked for volunteers to represent the organization at the 24th Annual Lone Star Vegetarian Chili Cook-Off. With the help of some AFBA volunteers including Jessica of Bake Me Away (see her write-up here), we made five gallons of Black Bean, Lentil, and Eggplant Chili and served hundreds of Cook-Off attendees! After braving the wind, some knife nicks, and a few steam burns, we went on to win the “All Veg” Category and the greatest honor of all, People’s Choice!

Thanks goes out to everyone who helped including Jessica, Gabe Hasser, Taylor’s parents Mike and Shelly who came down from Fort Worth to help, and the folks who lent us the equipment – Stephen Palmer, Clayton Ernst, and Molly Frisinger.  We also need to thank Johnson’s Backyard Garden for the delicious eggplant and cilantro that carried us through to victory!

Lone Star Vegetarian Chili Cook-Off
First Place All Veg and People’s Choice

Black Bean, Lentil, and Eggplant Chili


  • ½ pound black beans, pre-soaked overnight
  • 2 dried chili pasilla peppers, stemmed
  • 4 large cloves garlic, diced and divided
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 dried chili pasilla peppers
  • 3 dried chili cascabel peppers
  • 2 dried chipotle peppers
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 poblano pepper, diced
  • 1 pound eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • ½ 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable Better-than-Bouillon
  • ½ cup dry green lentils
  • Juice of 2 key limes
  • Salt to taste


  1. Boil the black beans with 2 stemmed chili pasilla peppers, 3 bay leaves, and half of the diced garlic until soft, about 1 1/2 hours.
  2. While the beans are cooking, finely dice (or use a food processor) the remaining chiles pasillas, chiles cascabeles, and chipotle peppers.
  3. When black beans are tender, remove from heat.
  4. Saute the onion, diced dried chilies, and ground cumin in olive oil over medium-high heat until the onions are soft and the cumin is fragrant, about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the remaining diced garlic and the diced poblano pepper, and saute for 5 minutes more.
  6. Add the eggplant and a pinch of salt, then continue to saute until it is tender, about 8 minutes.
  7. Add the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, water, Better-than-Bouillon, and lentils.  Bring to boil then lower heat to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are almost cooked, about 30 minutes.
  8. Add the cooked black beans and let the chili simmer until the lentils are soft and the flavors have melded, about 30 minutes more. The longer you let the chili simmer, the thicker it will become, so you can adjust based on your preferences.
  9. Season with salt to taste and add the key lime juice.
  10. Serve with fresh chopped cilantro, diced jalapenos (for extra heat), or your preferred chili topping.


Soup and Sweater Weather

Today the temperature in Austin stayed in the cool fifties. By way of contrast, it was 90 when I was sipping cocktails al fresco on Friday, and today most Austinites realized that we can’t remember where we last saw our sweaters seven months ago. Once I found a fleece that I have not had a chance to wear since we left the Andes, I remembered that what I also really needed to brave the unseasonably cold weather (or normal if you live almost anywhere else) was a hearty soup and freshly baked cornbread.

Winter Squash Cornbread

We made a nice barley and kale soup, but it was the cornbread that stole the show. Hard winter squashes are actually grown in the summer, but most varieties can be stored and consumed throughout the colder months. Johnson’s Backyard Garden has been selling several types of winter squash this year and like the overgrown squirrels that we are, James and I have been hoarding them for the last few months. Roasted squash makes a great addition to many baked goods since it is nutrient dense, cuts down on the amount of fat that is needed to make a rich creamy dough, and it tastes wonderful. I also used some wonderful coarse ground Hickory King cornmeal that we received from Richardson Farms. To balance the sweetness of the squash and corn I added some diced jalapenos (aka chipotles) that we smoked earlier this summer and some fresh ground cumin.

This dynamite Winter Squash Cornbread would go amazingly well with our Pureed Kale SoupItalian White Bean and Kale Soup,  Tomatillo Chili, and many more soups to come!

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