You can make this simple and yet elegant vegan cake with any favorite seasonal citrus, from tangerines to clementines

Overhead view of a cake still in its baking tin, resting on a wire rack. The cake is topped with 1 crosswise slice of orange in the center surrounded by 7 other slices.
Overhead view of a cake still in its baking tin, resting on a wire rack. The cake is topped with 1 crosswise slice of orange in the center surrounded by 7 other slices.

If winter citrus is part of your life, make the most of it with this extremely simple olive oil cake recipe. Whether it’s Cara Cara, Blood, or Mandarin oranges, grapefruit, or Meyer lemon, this cake works with the flavor of the citrus fruits for a pantry-friendly snacking cake that brings brightness to dreary days. It also looks beautiful, thanks to the supremed citrus on top becoming caramelized and getting jammy. This requires no frosting, not even a dusting of powdered sugar, because the fruit itself acts as all the texture, contrast, and acidic sweetness you need.

Making this cake begins…


Serving up creamy, rich vegan desserts since the beginning of ‘vegan desserts,’ and there’s still nothing better

Ramekin of chocolate mousse on top of The Farm Vegetarian Cookbook, Vegan Pie in the Sky, Brooks Headley’s Fancy Desserts
Ramekin of chocolate mousse on top of The Farm Vegetarian Cookbook, Vegan Pie in the Sky, Brooks Headley’s Fancy Desserts
Photo: Alicia Kennedy

Blending silken tofu up in order to create a creamy dessert is one of those things that sounds like only a vegan could love. Tofu, in my dessert? Yes, tofu in everyone’s dessert! It works perfectly, seamlessly every time.

I have long maintained that this is the absolute best, most fool-proof egg replacement in creamy applications. It brings bounce and density, tastes like only what you flavor your mixture with, and it is both cheap and easy, while the end result is incredibly impressive. Silken tofu has historically been my favorite way to make pumpkin pie, but this year I…


And why an immersion blender is the tool I rely on for making creamy vegan dressings in my home kitchen

A photo of bright green spinach leaves coated in a creamy light brown balsamic dressing
A photo of bright green spinach leaves coated in a creamy light brown balsamic dressing
An unmixed salad to show the thickness! Photo: Alicia Kennedy

My personal favorite salad dressing is a very thick Balsamic served at Delfiore Pizza & Food Co. in my hometown of Patchogue, New York. I could never quite figure out how they did it, and my mother insisted eggs must have been involved to get it quite so viscous, but I was not convinced. This dressing had to be possible with just olive oil, vinegar, and some additional flavorings. It took me until the desperate homesickness of the pandemic to do it on a whim, but it worked — because I used my immersion blender.

Previously, I mostly used the…


A delicious way to preserve your extra fruit and feel a bit fancy, without too much effort

A yellow/orange passion fruit curd with flecks of black seeds and a jar full of the sweet stuff with a spoon dipped in it
A yellow/orange passion fruit curd with flecks of black seeds and a jar full of the sweet stuff with a spoon dipped in it
Photo: Alicia Kenendy

Asweet fruit curd is a versatile and delicious way to preserve citrus and other acidic ingredients. They are wonderful when filling up a shortbread tart, filling a layer cake, or simply topping a one-layer snacking cake. The great thing about making a vegan curd is that you don’t have to worry about tempering eggs, because here we use starch instead, meaning you spend very little time working over the stove and more time simply whisking it up.

I have made a passion fruit curd because my upstairs neighbor recently came home with a bucket full of them. The tree at…


Romy Gill’s ‘Zaika: Vegan Recipes From India’ is all about creating big flavors with simple ingredients

A hand holding the book “Zaika” by Romy Gill, which has illustrations of various vegetables and fruits on a dark green cover
A hand holding the book “Zaika” by Romy Gill, which has illustrations of various vegetables and fruits on a dark green cover
Photo: Alicia Kennedy. `Zaika: Vegan Recipes from India` by Romy Gill © 2019 Orion Publishing Co.

“For me, to write this book was very, very important,” chef and writer Romy Gill tells me over the phone from her home in the United Kingdom. The book is Zaika: Vegan Recipes from India, and it is a homage to her mother and the way she grew up eating. She tells me that the idea that everyone in India cooks with ghee, butter, and other dairy products is a Western misconception. In her family, it was oil, and that’s why it was so important to her to make this a vegan book rather than vegetarian.

What she says is…


Vintage Veg

1981’s ‘World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking’ taught Western home cooks how to use spices other than salt and pepper

Madhur Jaffrey’s World of the East Vegetarian Cookbook book cover is pictured, with an Asian-inspired font and illustration
Madhur Jaffrey’s World of the East Vegetarian Cookbook book cover is pictured, with an Asian-inspired font and illustration
Photo: Alicia Kennedy

Madhur Jaffrey is the queen of Indian home cooking, a title she’s held for quite some time thanks to the numerous influential cookbooks she’s published. I have so many of her books that I’ve not actually used all of them, including World of the East Vegetarian Cooking. This is one that I just like to look at, especially for its kitschy illustrations that try to tackle the entire Western imaginary’s conception of the “East,” including the Middle East, South Asia, and onto Japan.

The book is a gigantic tome of 500 pages, first printed in 1981. By the time my…


Why does it often feel so fraught and judgy?

Two .5 kg dumbbells, measuring tape, and a salad on a rustic wooden table.
Two .5 kg dumbbells, measuring tape, and a salad on a rustic wooden table.
Photo: boonchai wedmakawand/Moment/Getty Images

This was first posted as the October 5 “From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy” newsletter. You can sign up here.

The first time I saw the word “fat” used as a descriptor without a whiff of judgment was when the show Two Fat Ladies was playing on Food Network. It was a BBC show from the late ’90s, and the cartoon of them driving around in a motorcycle with a sidecar is burned in my brain. These were two broads who knew how to live, the introduction implied, and Jennifer Paterson and Clarissa Dickson Wright did indeed do some living.


Vintage Veg

A quirky, egg-free vegetarian cookbook from 1968 offers unexpected inspiration

A hand holding up a vintage cookbook with a quaint illustration of fruits and veggies on the front.
A hand holding up a vintage cookbook with a quaint illustration of fruits and veggies on the front.
Photo: Alicia Kennedy

When I bought Pegeen Fitzgerald’s Meatless Cooking: Pegeen’s Vegetarian Recipes, it was because it seemed quirky enough. Published in 1968, both the foreword and introduction are staunchly in favor of ethical vegetarianism. “As you know, I am a vegetarian,” she begins. “My belief comes not only from an innate reverence for life but from a love of animals.”

As I read a bit more about the author, I discovered she and her husband hosted a long-running radio show called “The Fitzgeralds” in New York. Their New York City apartment and Connecticut home were overrun by cats that their listeners had…


This cake is elegant yet homey — perfect for a small (safe) celebration as temperatures drop to denim-jacket levels

A layered cake on a silver cake stand — the cake is golden brown with lightly applied white icing and strawberries.
A layered cake on a silver cake stand — the cake is golden brown with lightly applied white icing and strawberries.
Photo: Alicia Kennedy

Depending upon where you live, right now the air might be getting a bit cooler. It might seem like time to get cozy again, with the oven on, to roast some vegetables or bake a cake. For those who are indeed feeling a chill in the air, now’s the perfect occasion for a hazelnut cake. I first made this when I found some hazelnut meal on sale, because it can be quite pricey, but it is a versatile, flavorful, and worthwhile ingredient to have around, and it keeps well in the freezer.

Here, I amplify the cake’s inherent nuttiness with…


This tahini-or-cashew caesar dressing is a versatile food-brightener and mood-enhancer every vegan should have in their arsenal

Chickpeas and lettuce shimmering with a creamy caesar dressing, stuffed into a large tortilla folded wrap-style.
Chickpeas and lettuce shimmering with a creamy caesar dressing, stuffed into a large tortilla folded wrap-style.
Photo: Alicia Kennedy

Nothing brings me back to being a kid like a Caesar salad wrap. The creamy dressing enveloping all that romaine lettuce, contrasted against warm protein, wrapped in a tortilla that got a bit of grilling to crisp up? It felt grown-up and it felt healthy, despite the richness of Caesar dressing. At a little take-out spot called Tallulah’s next to my first adult job, they made a great one, and I would always pair it with their lemony French fries to create a contrast of fatty and acidic that I could’ve eaten every single day of my life. …

Alicia Kennedy

I’m a food writer from Long Island based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Subscribe to my weekly newsletter on food issues: aliciakennedy.substack.com

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