Homemade Dairy-Free Lebanese Rose Milk Tea


In honor of the roses we all want to get on Valentine’s Day this week, I’m making a copycat version of the Lebanese Rose Milk Tea from Labobatory, a boba tea shop that I always visit when I’m in San Gabriel. Mine doesn’t contain boba, but that’s better for me anyway, as those starchy tapioca balls are bad news for my waistline.

I love copycat recipes because every time I make one of these, I think, “I’m saving five dollars!” Not to mention, a long drive out to San Gabriel.


All you need is Zhena’s Gypsy Rose Organic Black Tea (available at Whole Foods or online), rose water, ice, and a non-dairy creamer such as Coffeemate. The rose water is really the key — it’s what gives Labobatory’s rose milk tea that Middle Eastern flavor. You can find it at Persian or Indian grocery stores.

Labobatory uses non-dairy creamer, but you can substitute almond milk or coconut milk instead. You can also add sugar or another sweetener if you wish.


1 cup boiling water
1 tea bag of Zhena’s Gypsy Rose Organic Black Tea
1/2 teaspoon rose water
1 cup ice
non-dairy creamer, to taste

Steep the tea bag in boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bag, and let the tea cool for 20 to 30 minutes. If you like your tea strong, do this step a few hours before you plan to drink it, then refrigerate it (otherwise the warm tea will melt some of the ice and dilute your drink).

Add rose water to the tea and stir to combine. Fill a glass with the ice. Pour the tea over the ice, and add non-dairy creamer to taste. Stir and enjoy. Makes one serving.


My Go-To Dairy-Free Breakfast Smoothies

My Dairy-Free Breakfast Series wouldn’t be complete without a few of my favorite smoothie recipes. A year ago my husband and I got a NutriBullet blender, and ever since then we’ve been having fresh, homemade, dairy-free smoothies every morning. Trust me, that’s not as hard as it sounds!

Last summer we switched to a Vitamix blender (my dad had one he wasn’t using often, so we’re “borrowing” it from him). Although it takes up more counter space, its larger size allows for more flexibility in the quantity of ingredients. In other words, we don’t end up overfilling it and making a mess.


A lot of folks just wing it when they make smoothies, throwing in whatever fruits and veggies they have on hand. I do this too sometimes, but I’ve noticed those smoothies tend to all taste the same, no matter what goes in them. Plus, they usually come out an unappetizing shade of brown. So I like to stick to the tried-and-true recipes most of the time.

Here are three of my go-to smoothie recipes — all free of dairy. For each recipe, you simply place all the ingredients into your blender, put the lid on tight, and blend until smooth.


2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 orange, peeled and cut into 4 sections
1 cup frozen peaches
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 cups coconut water

This one’s a crowd pleaser and good for your eyes!


1 cup spinach
1 cup frozen mango
1/2 banana
1 teaspoon flaxseed meal (optional)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond or coconut milk


1 cup spinach
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
4 fresh or frozen strawberries
1/2 banana
1 1/2 cups coconut water

Ratatouille with Poached Egg


The fourth installment of my Dairy-Free Breakfast Series is inspired by my favorite dish at a now-defunct café in New York’s Greenwich Village. The dish, named Oeufs Gamins, consisted of a poached egg atop a crispy potato pancake infused with goat cheese and surrounded by roasted ratatouille. This gorgeous concoction was the perfect hangover cure, served by French expat servers who acted like they couldn’t care less about you. So Français!

I’ve recreated this dish without the potato pancake (too much work) and the goat cheese (too much dairy). Although I will always treasure the memory of the starchy, cheesy Oeuf Gamins, the one I make now is healthier and just as tasty. It’s a great way to fill up on vegetables first thing in the morning. Because they’re caramelized, they taste wonderfully sweet. And don’t be afraid of poaching eggs — it’s easy once you get the hang of it.


1 yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch half moons
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
8 ounces eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch slices
8 ounces zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
2 ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch chunks, squeezed and drained
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
splash of white vinegar
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste

To make the ratatouille: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, toss the onion, bell pepper, eggplant, zucchini, garlic, olive oil, rosemary, and salt until well mixed. Spread the vegetables evenly in a baking pan. (They will shrink as they cook.)

Roast the vegetables for 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Stir in the tomatoes and continue to roast for 30 more minutes, again stirring halfway through. When the vegetables are browned and caramelized, remove them from the oven and stir in the basil.

Store the ratatouille in an air-tight container in the fridge. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

To poach an egg: Fill a small pot with about an inch of water, add a splash of white vinegar, and bring it to a boil. Crack the egg into a small cup or ramekin. Turn the heat down to a simmer and gently pour the egg into the water. Let it cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the white is just set. (The yolk should still be runny.)

Meanwhile, heat up a serving of ratatouille in the microwave. When the egg is done, lift it out of the water with a slotted spoon and place it atop the ratatouille. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Rice Congee


Welcome to the third installment of my Dairy-Free Breakfast Series! This week I’m featuring an old comfort food of mine: rice congee. If you like porridge-y foods, such as oatmeal and other hot cereals, this recipe is for you.

Congee is rice porridge. I enjoy having some meat in my breakfast, and congee is a great savory one-dish meal that satisfies my craving for protein. (Sometimes I have it with a tea-soaked egg, as you can see in the picture above, but that is extra work.)

One of the things I like best about congee is that you can make a pot of it in the rice cooker ahead of time and keep it in the fridge all week. Then in the morning, you just spoon some into a bowl, nuke it, add chopped scallions and you’re done.


1 cup rice
2 cups cold water
4 ounces ground pork or chicken
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce
4 shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 scallions, chopped
ground black or white pepper to taste
sesame oil to taste

Rinse the rice a few times. Fill the rice cooker insert with 2 cups cold water (or up to the 1-cup porridge line). Stir in all remaining ingredients except scallions, pepper, and sesame oil. Set the rice cooker to the “porridge” setting, and cook with the lid closed until the rice cooker beeps, indicating that the rice is done.

Stir the congee. When it’s cool, cover and refrigerate it.

In the morning, reheat a bowl of congee in the microwave oven until hot. Sprinkle with scallions, pepper, and sesame oil just before serving. Makes 5 to 6 servings.

Pistachio Snowballs


I’m taking a break from my Dairy-Free Breakfast Series to honor the Christmas tradition of sharing cookie recipes. I clipped this recipe from the Los Angeles Times a year ago and was excited to finally try it out yesterday. These cookies aren’t dairy-free — they contain butter — but there’s not enough lactose in one or two to upset my stomach.

I love these cookies because they’re slightly exotic and not too sweet… and I’m obsessed with spherical food. (I find rolling food into balls oddly therapeutic.) They taste a lot like shortbread, but the hint of rosewater and cardamom give them a Middle Eastern kick.

If you’re not a fan of pistachios, you’ll want to pass this one up. Those little green nuts make up much of the dough.

Adapted from a recipe by Beth Corman Lee

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/4 cup sifted powdered sugar, plus more for coating
1 teaspoon rosewater
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup sifted flour
1/2 cup finely chopped toasted pistachio nuts

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the rosewater, cardamom, and salt. Slowly beat in the flour until fully incorporated. Beat or stir in the nuts.

Roll the dough into a ball and wrap tightly with plastic. Refrigerate the dough until chilled, at least one hour.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Break off and form the dough into one-inch balls. Place the cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet so they’re not touching each other. Bake until set but not browned, about 8 to 12 minutes.

Transfer the cookies to a wire rack. After they’re cool enough to handle but still warm, roll them in powdered sugar to coat. Return them to the wire rack to cool completely. Makes about 18 cookies.


The Slut (Coddled Egg & Mashed Potato)

“The Slut” from Eggslut in Venice, CA.

Welcome to Week 2 of my Dairy-Free Breakfast Series! This week I’m going to tell you how to make “The Slut,” the signature dish at L.A.’s popular breakfast joint, Eggslut. It’s a coddled egg over super-smooth mashed potatoes, poached in a little glass jar and topped with minced chives and a generous sprinkling of coarse sea salt. It’s served with toasted baguette slices drizzled with olive oil. Yeah, it’s as good as it sounds.

The best part is it’s easy (and much cheaper) to make at home, especially if you have leftover mashed potatoes lying around. All you need is a small glass jar with a lid and a large pot full of water.

Here’s how my homemade version turned out.

I didn’t have any bread, so I ate it with a side of bacon.

For the best results, use really smooth mashed potatoes. You can see my recipe for Milk-Free Mashed Potatoes here. Also, keep an eye on your egg. Some people like their eggs more well-done than others. The rate at which your egg cooks can vary a lot depending on several factors.

Have a slutty morning!


1/2 cup mashed potatoes
1 egg
minced chives, to garnish
coarse sea salt, to taste
3 slices toasted baguette
olive oil

Fill a large pot with water, making sure there’s enough to cover the glass jar you’re using. Bring the water to a boil on the stove.

If you’re starting with cold mashed potatoes, heat them up first. Place the warm mashed potatoes at the bottom of a small glass jar (a jelly jar works great). Crack the egg on top of the mashed potatoes. Screw the lid onto the jar.

Turn the heat down to medium-low so that the water is simmering gently. Using tongs, carefully lower the lidded jar into the water. Cover the pot and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the egg white is no longer clear but the egg is still jiggly.

Remove the jar from the water. Wearing heat-proof gloves, carefully unscrew the lid. Garnish with chives and sea salt. Spoon your Slut onto baguette slices drizzled with olive oil. Makes one serving.


Easy Dairy-Free Huevos Rancheros


I’m a big fan of breakfast. It’s my favorite meal of the day. But breakfast can get boring if you tend to eat the same thing every morning. It can also be daunting if you’re trying to go dairy-free and you’re used to eating things like cereal with cow’s milk or bagels with cream cheese.

So for all of you breakfast eaters who need some dairy-free inspiration, I welcome you to the first post of my Dairy-Free Breakfast Series!

Just to clarify, I don’t consider eggs to be dairy, since my dietary restriction is lactose. I love eggs and they are the staple of my breakfasts. They’re a great source of protein, and if I don’t have protein at the start of my day, I can barely function.

Today I’d like to share a ridiculously easy recipe for huevos rancheros that can be whipped up with stuff I usually have on hand. The photo above shows one I made using leftover homemade black bean chili, but you can use canned beans. I promise you won’t miss the cheese. There are enough strong flavors in this dish to make up for the lack of queso.

Cholula: Mexican food’s best friend. If you don’t have it, get some.


1 tablespoon olive oil
2 eggs
1/4 cup refried black beans (canned is fine)
1/4 cup salsa
Cholula or other hot sauce, to taste
2 teaspoons minced cilantro
tortilla chips
guacamole or sliced avocado (optional)

Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Crack the eggs into the pan, cover and cook for approximately 2 minutes, or until the whites cook through.

Meanwhile, heat the refried black beans in the microwave until hot.

Spread the warmed beans on a plate. Top with the fried eggs. While the pan is still hot, warm the salsa, seasoning it with Cholula to taste. Garnish the eggs with the salsa and minced cilantro. Serve with tortilla chips and, if you have it, guacamole or sliced avocado.

Makes one serving.