Thursday, August 30, 2007

Carrot Top And Rice Soup, Lentil and Barley Stew


Somewhere or other I remember reading that carrot tops were good to eat and good for you. They are? Never heard that in my lifetime, I swear. But I do remember reading that in the last couple of months, and at the farmers' market these days there are lovely lovely little carrots with beautiful lacy tops, as crisp and green as you please. Weeeeeeelllll, game for anything, I tried nibbling. Hmmmm. Not bad. Carrotty, but green-carrotty, sort of a cross between carrot and parsley with a little je ne sais quoi thrown in (which phrase I threw in, I hasten to explain, to convince those of you who have been eating carrot tops all their lives that I'm not completely clueless. So there.).

So, your intrepid kitchen maven surfed the net and came up with a Tuscan Carrot Top and Rice Soup HERE, which of course, being me, I changed around a bit to make it fit in with my own eating style and what I had in my kitchen.

Instad of sauteeing in olive oil, as per the recipe, I cooked the veggies in a little stock until the onions were translucent and then added the vegetable broth (the last of my homemade broth, as it turned out - see below!). We use long grain brown rice here, not short grain anything, and I just happened to have some left over in the fridge which I put in a little later than the recipe called for, since it didn't need to cook. I used a bundle of tiny carrots more or less equivalent to the 2 small carrots the recipe called for, 4 cloves of garlic rather than three, 2 cups of the carrot tops, finely chopped, and of course skipped the grated cheese.

The result? Delicious. Mild tasting, wonderfully delicate, lovely carrot and rice soup with (what could it be, those green bits in it?), er, greens. Recommended.


I was reading Jackie's new blog, FROM JACKIE VETTER'S KITCHEN and saw this stew recipe with the provocative name! I thought it sounded good so I made it for lunch today! Sadly, I was out of homemade stock (and I no longer use the commercial variety unless I can get reduced salt or salt-free, which I can't right now), so I had to let the stew make it's own stock - which is to say I used water.

The second problem I ran into was thinking I had brown lentils, which is what Jackie used. I didn't, so (since we really wanted to eat today) I substituted (ready for this?) yellow split peas. I also used white potatoes instead of red, pot barley instead of pearl barley. Carrots, celery, garlic, onion, green pepper, canned tomatoes and the various lovely spices I had, so no problem. For 'greens' I used chopped kale. I skipped the sauteeing in olive oil, as per usual, and to make up for the lack of stock I added around 4 ounces of chopped mushrooms and some oregano. That worked fine - along with a quarter-cup of sherry - in the stew pot, not the cook.

Here it is after all ingredients have been added.

Somehow, the dished photo didn't get taken - we were too busy getting it into the bowls, onto the table and into our tums. I made half a recipe and there's enough for 3 or 4 more people our size :) We started with a spinach salad (with sliced pear, craisins, a little red onion, a little sweet red pepper in balsamic and rice vinegar dressing), accompanied the stew with fresh corn bread.

This stew recipe is a keeper. Thanks, Jackie!! And I promise to have brown lentils for next time!!!

And through all this? Well, the furkids slept, two of the three together. They missed all but some crumbs from the cornbread LOL

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Banana 'Bread', curried salad, and freshest produce . . .

Some time ago I made this wonderfully innovative Banana 'Bread' from my cyberfriend Erin's _Vegan Done Light_ e-cookbook (see his blog HERE). It's not made from flour of any kind and is not baked. Strange? Yeah - and goooooood!!! The secret lies in the main ingredient which IS cooked - yellow split peas! Now wait a minute - yellow split peas? For Banana Bread? Yup. Works miraculously, if you just follow the instructions and then chill, as
described, in the refrigerator. Here it is again below:

It's absolutely great for a quick lift at any time of day - really serious protein and fruit (the 'banana' part, right?) - and can, if you want to lightly toast the top of a slice under the grill or in a toaster oven, be spread with your favourite indulgence. Me, I love it just the way it comes and wolf it down with the aid of a fork - well, when I'm being polite, that is.

And now what I've been messing with in my kitchen when not indulging my sweet tooth -

Ever have one of those days when there's nothing much of anything but lots of little things that you want to eat but you don't know how to make it tasty? Lunch of that nature occurred recently. I wanted salad, but was out of fresh greens (shopping trip in the afternoon was called for). So I chopped a variety of vegetables, combined them with some leftover brown rice and some leftover couscous and flavoured the lot with some Indian spices, tossed in a chopped apple and a handful of raisins and had a nice lunch after all.

These days at the Farmers' Market (downtown Thursday and Saturday mornings only - and one has to get there early) there have been some wonderful heritage brandywine tomatoes. They look really like nothing you'd want to buy, ugly little suckers they are, but they are wonderful!

They don't ever turn completely red, but the green part is really red on the inside, as you can see. Sweet and juicy, they are fabulous for anything that calls for fresh tomatoes. We can't get enough of them. We especially like them in a raw tomato salsa that we use to dress our newly found brown rice spiral pasta. The recipe, using other tomatoes and a wholewheat penne, can be found HERE. I put lots and lots of these tomatoes in along with absolutely bushels of the basil which is so plentiful right now!

These are probably the last of the season's edamame. We love them just lightly steamed and then sprinkled with a few grains of salt at most, nibbled straight from the pod, as a first course for our main luncheon meal. Wonderful. Where have I been and what have I been doing most of my life not to have discovered these years and years ago! Sighhhhhhhh.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Eggplant Bharta

This dish is a something of a steal from Sarah Kramer's excellent _La Dolce Vegan!_ - although I've made similar before. Sarah makes it easy! I played around a tad with the proportions, the spices and the method (don't I always), but I turned to her recipe first.


(For two people)

You will need enough grain for the two of you - I used long-grain brown organic rice - to start cooking while you make the dish itself. Here is my version:

1 'small' eggplant, cubed (I left the skin on and used several smaller eggplants)
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup (approx.) of vegetable stock (homemade is best - enough to 'saute' the vegetables)
5 cloves garlic, chopped fine
2 inches of fresh ginger, grated
1 Tbsp ground cumin seed
2 tsp ground coriander seed
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp cayenne - or to your taste
1 small thai chile
4 roma tomatoes (I used the equivalent amount of regular tomatoes), finely chopped
a couple of handfulls of fresh cilantro (coriander leaves, 'Chinese parsley'), chopped
cilantro for garnish

In a large pan put all ingredients except for the tomatoes and cilantro and 'saute' covered on med-high for around ten minutes or until the eggplant is soft. You may need to add a little more liquid to prevent burning, so keep an eye on it.

Reduce the heat to simmer and add the tomatoes and cilantro, cover, and let it simmer for another 5 minutes.

Serve over rice with any 'side salads' and condiments you usually use for an Indian-style meal.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Summertime or not, I would have a hard time doing without homemade soup. Usually I make the kind that freezes well, but this one (whose green-veg texture would be destroyed in the freezer) is soooo good and so sinfully healthy that we eat it every second day until it has disappeared.


2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 cup chopped carrot
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
8 cups vegetable stock (homemade if possible)
5 cups or so of chopped kale (de-stemmed)
freshly ground pepper
sea salt (optional)

Put the first five ingredients into a large soup pot (it will have to be able to hold the kale too), bring to the boil, cover and then simmer until the root vegetables are cooked - around 20 minutes, but test to make sure. Puree the contents of the pan in a blender, in batches if necessary. You may want to or need to add extra stock or water - it all depends on the size of your cubed veggies, the size and shape of your pan, and the heat at which you choose to simmer, but extra liquid will come out of the kale when it is added.

Return the partly made soup to the cooking pot, add the chopped kale, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes or so or until the kale is tender.

Taste for seasoning and serve with huge hunks of wholegrain bread.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


What a lazy summer! I am guilty of neglecting this blog - yet again - shamefully. We have had a lovely few months, but little exciting has been happening in our kitchen as far as new recipes are concerned. What we have been doing is buying fresh produce from the Farmer's Market twice a week and having wonderful salads, fruit, and lightly steamed veggies :)

This is a combo that we particularly like - nice and refreshing.


No exact measurements here, of course, but for a couple of us we use, well, enough arugula/rocket for two then slice two or three smallish radishes very very finely and a smallish carrot too (only this sliced sort of 'on the bias' to produce lovely wafer-thin ovals). Supposed to be dressed simply with a little extra-virgin olive oil, it is dressed in our kitchen with a little sprinkle of seasoned rice vinegar instead - a far cry from its Italian roots, but equally lovely.

Another, which defies ethnic description is a minted salad made out of whatever I usually have in the fridge.


This one is red onion, red bell pepper, apple, cucumber, celery, tomato and goodness knows what else (I forget!), dressed with a little lemon juice and a handful or whatever of roughly chopped fresh mint leaves.

And here's a pasta dish we have had several times, with minor variations:


This past is easy, but it does need one to four hours to marinate. Exact measurements depend on number of people and their appetites, but for two of us in the middle of the day I use approximately:

2 large tomatoes, chopped
3 sundried tomatoes, soaked and finely chopped
grated zest of a lemon
1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup Italian (flat-leaf) parsley leaves, chopped
1/8 tsp of salt or to taste (you may prefer more)
freshly ground pepper to taste, either black or a mix (we prefer a mix of green, red, black, white most of the time)
juice of lemon
pasta to serve (penne or similar shaped/sized past is good rather than long pasta)
a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved, to stir through before serving
a few basil or parsley leaves for garnish

Marinate the tomatoes etc., giving it a stir a few times during the process, for at least an hour - longer is better.
When you're ready to eat, cook your pasta according to your usual practice, drain well, toss with the tomato mix and serve.