Monday, October 29, 2007

Sweet Potato & Carrot Stew Pie


You may remember the Sweet Potato and Carrot Stew With Chard I posted earlier - well, it was good, but what was on that big square platter was only half the stew, although it was all of the chard that I had cooked. The leftover stew was weighing heavily on me - it improves in flavour, of course, but it lacks something in presentation and novelty. Still, 'Waste not, want not' as my long departed grannie used to say!

I had stored it in a couple of these small oval dishes. While it was in the oven reheating, I thought it looked boring so mixed a kind of 'muffin' or biscuit (in the American sense of the word) topping. I put half a cup of spelt with half a cup of barley flour, added in a pinch of salt, baking powder, paprika, oregano - whatever - mixed in a little soy milk until it looked right. When the mini-casseroles were getting pretty hot, I hauled them out and spread the topping on them and whooshed them back into the oven. Around 20 minutes or so later it was ready. The photo above shows one such dish - the other photo was blurred but, well, was the same.

The photo shows a small serving I set aside for the camera LOL It is sharing a plate with Wild Rice With Tomatoes And Chard - which I'll post next :)

Wild Rice with Tomatoes and Chard

I have actually turned over a new leaf, as it were (lettuce?), and am going to post here even if I have to be boring and show you my mistakes, my leftovers, and my days when I don't eat as well as I should. This next meal was a bit heavy in grain, but it had lots and lots of greens in it and I just adore yellow vegetables so . . . .


We love wild rice, and we mix it half and half with brown long-grain rice and have it with almost anything we would use rice for - not all the time, but often. A couple of days or so ago I had some leftover 'wild' rice (well, wild and brown) - plus half a bunch of chard in the crisper, half a can or plum tomatoes with juice - guess where I'm going with this!

Reminder: We cook for two. (Hence the leftovers too.)

1 onion, chopped
2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced
Half a large can of Italian plum tomatoes (around 12 or 14 ounces), roughly chopped
1 tsp oregano
good pinch of crushed dried chilies
1 Tbsp low-sodium soy
half a bunch of chard, chopped (stems thinly sliced)
1-1/2 cups or so (I didn't really measure it) of pre-cooked rice - half wild rice and half brown long-grain rice

Soften the onion and garlic in a little water or stock in a large skillet or with the sliced chard stems. Add the tomatoes, oregano and chilies and simmer for a little while until it all starts to look a little less than raw. Add the rice and keep stirring until all is coated in the mixture. Add the chard leaves and keep turning them to wilt them. Make sure the rice is hot and that the chard is dispersed throughout the rice and tomato mix. Taste for seasoning and serve.

We hadn't finished the menu yet, however - we had some with the Sweet Potato and Carrot Stew 'Pie' of my last post (Blogger is giving me a problem today, as you might have realized, hence separate posts). And of course we preceded with a salad -

Gotta show you our salads - no matter how mundane - because it helps me to be pleased that I'm eating my raw greens (I used to hate salads!).

And oh yes, we finished up with some fresh fruit as usual. Who'd want to eat pastries when there's fresh fruit in the house!!!

See ya later!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sweet Potato & Carrot Stew With Chard, Red Quinoa, Salad

[EDITED - to allow insertion of missing ingredient]

About three days ago (?) I had this urge to cook up some lovely root vegetables - I get this way in the autumn, just as I go crazy over Anything Green in the spring. I found a recipe in my slowcooker cookbook, but soon found I didn't have all the ingredients - short on carrot, no parnips, not even half enough mushrooms - oh dear! So the above dish is what I finally made, bearing about as much relationship to the original as a cat has to a dog. The idea for using caraway seeds, however, belongs to the original. Adding green leaves to the pot (in my case chard) was mine. It looked and smelled fabulous, and it tasted lovely, just lovely, with no fancy spices (unless you count the caraway seed), letting the flavour of the vegetables shine through. NOTE: Although I made this in my slowcooker, it could just as easily be cooked on the top of the stove. Your choice.

We had it with red quinoa and preceded it, as usual, with a lovely crisp salad.

What went in the pot:

1 small onion, chopped very fine
3 large stalks of celery, also very finely chopped
3-1/2 ounces mushrooms
2 carrots
1 sweet potato
3 dried mushrooms, soaked for 20 minutes and finely chopped (stems discarded)
1/2 cup TVP chunks
1 Tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp thyme
1-1/2 tsp caraway seed
2 Tbsp wholewheat flour
2 cups homemade vegetable stock
salt and black pepper to taste
1 green bell pepper (red would be nice for a change too, I think), chopped
half a bunch - about 7 ounces - fresh chard leaves, cut or torn into manageable pieces

I put all but the last two ingredients (the green papper and the chard) into the slowcooker and left it on high for three hours. At that time I gave it a quick stir (my it smelled good!) added the chopped green pepper, gave it another stir, then laid the chard leaves over the top, snapped this photo . . .

. . . and put the top back on quickly, timing it for 15 or so minutes, since I guessed the pepper would still have texture at the end of that time and that the chard wouldn't have disintegrated but would certainly have wilted. (Guess who had never done this in a slowcooker before! LOL)

Well, it worked just fine. To serve, I pulled the leaves out with a large fork and laid them a large (in this case square) platter, saving the ones that had been in contact with the stew for the centre of the platter. Then I piled the root vegetables etc. in the centre (yes, the green pepper was just right!) and cut a few wedges of lemon juice for the chard.

We had it with red quinoa and preceded it, as usual, with a lovely crisp salad.

The quinoa is the kind I was writing about in an earlier blog this week. It was the first time I had used it - or even tasted it - and I have been given some hints on how to cook it very nicely by the person behind the counter. I decided, however, that for the first try I would like to see what it tasted like on its own, not 'messed around' with other flavours! It's lovely and nutty and imho a welcome change from plain ol' white quinoa! I LOVE the colour as well as the taste! And I keep thinking what a hit it would be on a buffet table.

The salad is of course another one of my crazy concoctions that helped me to get over my general dislike for 'boring old greens'. Snowpeas, craisins (dried cranberries, to those who live on the other side of the world, maybe) and apple made it a little different - but that doesn't stop me adding onion. I feel greens never taste quite right without at least a little onion, red onion being a favourite of mine (and boo-hoo I was out of them too!) The dressing - can't quite remember that now, but a good guess would be rice vinegar and balsamic vinegar with, maybe, a little pureed fruit? Or did I use a little sherry or mirin? Hmmmmm!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Orange Soup, Barley Banana Cornbread, Boston Brown Bread

The best Orange Soup I have tasted was in Austria last month at a little veggie (around 95 per cent of the menu items vegan) restaurant - Die Bio Bar Von Antun - in Vienna. I suspect that they put lots of orange juice in it, but it also had a certain something that made it absolutely delectable. I recognized most of the ingredients (since they had very finely grated or chopped but hadn't actually pureed their soup), but . . . Barley, yes. Carrot, yes. Pumpkin? Orange zest? yes, maybe. Or was that . . . ? And before I could work it all out my spoon had unaccountably moved rhythmically until it was all gone. We went back, but it wasn't on the menu the next time, although other delicious and satisfying things were. Siggggghhhhhh.

Still, orange soup is a wonderful idea, and I am grateful to many recipes I have glanced at on the internet and one by Lisa Walford (in Roy Walford's The Anti-Agin Plan which I have modified considerably to suit our particular taste prejudices. With all respect to the original recipe, when we first tried it we found we were unable to enjoy it because the flavours were too strong even for us - and that's saying a lot, since we tend to use very powerful spices in our cooking for ourselves. (In modifying the original, I hasten to add, I will no doubt of destroyed the delicate balance of nutrients in the Walford version. So be it. Those who want the Real Thing can turn to his book.) My modifications are along the lines of suggestions I have read elsewhere :)

And I'm still hanging out for the orange soup I tasted at the Bio Bar Von Antun!!!!!


1/4 cup barley
1 cup water
1 large sweet potato, freshly cooked and chopped
2 medium- large carrots, freshly cooked and chopped
2 cups canned pumpkin (the UNsweetened, unspiced kind - not the pie filling! LOL) - or use fresh cooked squash
kombu - a strip approx 3 by 2 inches, or a little more if you like it, soaked in boiling water then finely chopped
2 cups of low-sodium vegetable stock - homemade if possible - or a little more if you have it and need it
3 Tbsp nutritonal yeast
pinch of dried rosemary
1-1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground dried ginger
1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
pinch dried chilies
2 Tbsp wheatgerm
2 or 3 Tbsp wholewheat flour
2 Tbsp wheatgerm
freshly ground pepper to taste
Zest of two oranges
2 oranges, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped

Cook the barley for about fifteen minutes. Meanwhile, cook the sweet potatoes and carrots in some of the broth if you haven't already done so (the smaller you cut them, the quicker they'll cook, eh?). Combine these with the rest of the ingredients, including the barley and softened soaked kombu, in a large pot or bowl and start pureeing (in batches), adding the rest of the stock as you go along. You may need to add more stock or water. Reheat, test for seasoning and serve. Garnish if you like with a curl of raw carrot or orange zest or a bit of greenery such as coriander/cilantro leaves - wonderful taste with the cumin, ginger and orange.


This is on our table in the evenings more often than not - it must be one of three quickbreads that my husband counts among his favourites (one of the other two is pictured further down in this entry)! It has the virtue of cooking as quickly as a tray of muffins and of being both tasty and nutritious. (I put 'tasty' first because no matter how healthful something is there's no point in recommending it to anyone unless it also tastes good. Tastes vary, of course, but it's a good rule of thumb for me to follow.) This is a variation on a variation on a variation on a traditional cornbread, which I understand is cooked in an iron pan on top of the stove, not in a ceramic oven dish! (But what would I know??)

The suggestion to replace the traditional oil in cornbread with banana comes from a post to (and I hope I remember this correctly!) Susan V.'s Fat Free Vegan group last winter, and I have noted that the poster also referred to hers being a variant on Dr Neal Barnard's. My use of barley flour instead of all-purpose or wholewheat flour, which other 'diet' gurus suggest, came from Dr Barnard's website. Dr Barnard used applesauce instead of oil in one recipe I saw (and tried - very good, but different!) - and apple is also lower on the glycaemic index for those who have a problem with sugar. The additions and slapdash method are more or less mine, but as I say there are soooooo many variants around!

Preheat over to 425 and lightly spray a 9-inch by 9-inch baking pan or equivalent.


1-1/2 cups light soymilk (keep aside a Tbsp or two to help puree the banana)
1-1/2 Tbsp vinegar
1 medium to large banana, pureed with Tbsp or two of the soy milk)
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup barley flour
2 Tbsp turbinado sugar (optional if you have a problem with it, but it's traditional, they tell me, for some sweetener to be included)
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of crushed chilies (optional)
3/4 cup corn kernels (either canned and drained or defrosted frozen - I use the latter) - this is optional, obviously, but it goes so nicely with the flavour of the corn and, yes, the banana.

Put all but a couple of Tbsp soymilk in a small bowl with the vinegar and let it sit while you blend the banana (I use a small container and one of those near-indispensible wand blenders).

Carefully combine the dry ingredients (including the chilies, if you're using them, since you don't one them to be clumped in one part of the finished dish) in a large bowl (I use one of the french whisk things that non-vegans use to torture eggs), whisk the banana into the soymilk mixture, and turn the whole lot into the dry ingredients and stir. You will not want to over-mix this, but stir until just mixed together without any dry clumps :)

Pour the mixture into your prepared baking dish and pop it into the oven for 25 minutes or 30 minutes, depending on your oven, and serve it HOT! :) Lovely with anything that is even remotely South Of The Border, and with most robust soups and stews.

As you see below, it isn't your traditional yellow-coloured cornbread at all, which comes as a surprise (but I hope not disappointment) to some people. It's a lovely mellow caramel colour, smells glorious and tastes like heaven. (The one in the photo was made without the corn - we were out of it yesterday - and chilies.)

Heh heh, I mentioned the colour (although the colour of baking - indeed the difference in appearance and texture - shouldn't come as a surprise to most vegans!) because we had out-of-town visitors here earlier this year who were being re-introduced to veganism (they are omnis) at our table. We usually dine out so that we are spared the kitchen hassle and can talk more, but I had everything hot and waiting in the oven or on the stove.

I had made a lunch which included brown rice, a bean casserole, etc. etc., and cornbread - which I brought out last because I suddenly remembered 'Whoops - the cornbread!' as I was sitting down. They exclaimed that they loved cornbread and blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda. When it appeared a couple of moments later there was puzzlement because it 'isn't yellow!'. I explained that I used a different flour from the usual white flour with the cornmeal. They said it was lovely - and seemed to enjoy it (well, it disappeared!) - but I guess I'm going to have to dream up another name for it when serving it to omnis in future! LOL Best not to risk dashing anyone's expectations!


We make this so often, that I thought it was time I mentioned it on this blog. (Thought I had, but a quick search of the archived posts shows nothing, nada, zilch for Boston Brown Bread. How could that be? It's a staple here! It's not made in the conventional way for this traditionally-named loaf, but it is excellent and
My recipe for this is lifted straight from Baranard and Kramer's The Garden of Vegan, with minor exceptions. I make mine with spelt flour rather than any variation on regular wheat flour and add a quarter tsp more baking powder than called for; I sub sultana raisins for the currants and/or sometimes even craisins (dried cranberries for those who don't live on this continent); and I use organic rolled oats - sometimes some of the flakes are actually highlighted in the photos by the camera flash ;)

This bread freezes well, carries well, goes with most soups, stews, is great with chilies and would only be a stranger to asian food :) - and I'm not so sure it might not work there too! It's somewhat sweetish in flavour (the fruit and molasses). It's grrrrrreat for breakfast! and, if you like vegan sliced cheez, I remember it was lovely sitting with a little cucumber on top of a slice of this bread for any time of day.

Hmmmmm! Next time I make it (I still have some in the freezer) I'll do one of my way-out versions so that I CAN post the recipe, okay? It's worth knowing!!!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pasta Bolognaise, Field Greens Salad With Orange & Apple


I kinda threw this together yesterday lunchtime, a quick pasta sauce (since my freezer was bare of any at all - catastrophe!) with quinoa pasta, preceded by a Field Greens Salad With Orange & Apple.

About the quinoa pasta: this is really really good! For those who know quinoa, you know how nutritious and tasty it is, and those who don't, well you need to discover it soon! It's usually seen as a tiny grain, and comes usually in white. I discovered the red quinoa recently, and that is a real treat! The pasta I bought is macaroni, made from both red and white quinoa - not together, but half of them are the red quinoa noodles and half made from white. It's delicately pretty to look at and delicious in taste!

The package says to cook for 13 to 15 minutes, but that's far too long imho. I give it around 8 or 9 and find it's good.

Now the sauce:

1/2 cup tvp granules and equal boiling water to rehydrate them
1 small rib of celery, chopped very finely
1/2 carrot, chopped very finely
1 small onion, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
4 or 5 medium mushrooms, chopped
12 or 14 ounces canned plum tomatoes (and a little of their juice)
Oregano to taste (or an Italian mix of herbs, if you prefer)
black (or mixed, your choice) pepper, freshly ground
pinch of crushed chilies, again to taste
1 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes

I boiled the kettle, poured the required water on the tvp granules and chopped the vegetables.

I put the celery, carrot, onion and garlic into a skillet with enough water to soften them.

While the veggies were cooking, I crushed the plum tomatoes and then used the wand blender to puree around 2/3 or so of them - your choice as to how chunky you want it to be.

When the veggies were softened I added the mushrooms, tomatoes, oregano, pepper, chilies, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. After stirring these simmered until they had blended nicely - it depends how much time you have. We were hungry, but not desperately so, so I guess they got around half an hour in the pan. Part way through cooking I realized it was going to be a bit watery, so I thickened with tomato paste. That worked just fine.

We had the salad (see below) as a first course, so I put those to cook while we had that.

When the pasta was cooked, I drained and tossed it with the sauce and garnished it with cilantro (not trad but we like it!). I used a sprinkle of my own cheezy crumby mixture on top, but vegan parmezan-type cheez would be fine.

And here it is:

About the salad:


This doesn't really have - or need - a recipe, but I figure that I pick up ideas from other people's books and websites and maybe someone who sees this who isn't keen on salads might be attracted to trying some of our combinations. Besides, we all oughta eat more salads, and here I am being a good girl and eating mine and I'm taking their photos and posting them, by golly!

One salad looks pretty much like another once you get it reduced to a tiny photo, and if you eat salad as often as we do, then the trick isn't so much in the mix of things (although variety and a few surprise elements help a lot!) but in the dressing. Not using oil in dressings, I find that the lighter the better, but sometimes I break out. This one took a little sweetener - mirin - and orange juice along with some seasoned rice vinegar. Otherwise, you can see that we love to mix fruit into our salads (and match the dressing to it - or even just use a squeeze of lemon juice or a sprinkle of one of the vinegars we keep in.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007



I have been rather slack about taking photos of my/our baking these last weeks. We bake our own, er, 'baked goods' - never buy them. Even in an emergency - what would that be? - it takes less time to throw a quickbread together and into the oven than it does to go to a shop (and there is a 'Convenience Store' right next door to our building). Well, maybe our elevators aren't that slow, but by the time I would have given the dogs a treat, donned my outdoor shoes, tidied my hair and found my purse . . . .

Not much to say about this lovely loaf of rye bread - except that I grow more in love with breads using more than one flour each time I bake!

I put my recipe for rye bread on this blog back in March, I see, right HERE, but this one was made a little differently and I think it is nicer - the method and recipe has been evolving over the months. (Translation: 'I don't use a recipe for yeast breads.') Next time I make it I will write down the ingredients as I go along. I use mostly rye flour now, for example, since we like a dense loaf, and I like to add some carob powder for flavour and colour. (I know it's supposed to be cocoa powder, but . . . ) The 'seeds' added - whether fennel, aniseed, poppy or caraway are always a last-minute decision. Some call that creativity, others call it indecision, still others call it forgetfulness! Me? Oh I'm easy - I call it versatility ;)

I prefer to make sourdough rye if possible, but my starter died when I wasn't paying it attention so I have to, literally, start over on that.

So no new recipe for Rye Bread now - but it's in the works. It will have to be - I'm down to the nub end of this one - and that means about two or three slices, and since the doggies beg for the last piece . . . .


I like Barnard and Kramer's recipe books! Here is a photo of their oat bread, to be found in their The Garden of Vegan - except that I leave out the oil and add maybe a spoonful more water, depending on how the flour is behaving. I used wholewheat flour for this one. I long ago stopped using all-purpose or any white flour, and for some reason I don't much like wholewheat pastry flour. I love the colour of brown flours, don't you? And they smell and taste so rich! For my next baking of this recipe, however, I plan to use spelt. (I also like tossing barley flour into a lot of things that don't expect it - wonderful flavour!)

These loaves look a little rustic, but they tasted wonderful. We baked two, as you see, and cut each in half and froze the halves separately, since there are just the two of us here. We like this bread for breakfast - or with soups, stews, etc. Great bread - but the last crumb disappeared yesterday! More needed soooooon - an emergency!!!


This is another variation on a recipe from Barnard and Kramer, found in their How It All Vegan - with the slight changes (which probably make it a different recipe, of course) of doubling the amounts (so we could halve the loaves and freeze three half-loaves), subbing an extra banana for the half cup of oil, cutting down on the salt, using a little more baking powder and using a mix of barley flour and spelt flour in addition to the wheat germ. The added carob chips was suggested by a note in the recipe that a half cup of chocolate chips could be thrown in 'for added sweetness.' You can't go wrong with their recipes, I've found! I personally found it a bit toooooo sweet with the carob chips, but hey, whatever floats your boat - and my dh loooooooves it this way! Well, actually, I helped to eat it too. More than once (two loaves, remember??)!

I took a photo of the bread cut, to show the prettiness of the dates and carob chips within the slice, but we were so impatient (the aroma of this bread is absolutely intoxicating!) that the carob was still melty and we got chocolatey-coloured streaks all through that slice and the pic was blurry from hands trembling to grab the first taste - as you see here. Ain't greed a wunnerful thang??!! We finished off the very last of it out of the freezer yesterday *sigh*

Rainy weather yesterday, not so today, but more predicted later in the week. Good time to be baking, I'd say ;)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Beans 'n' Greens, Avocado and Apple Salad

Over the weekend I tried a recipe for Red Beans and Greens from Judith Finlayson's 125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes (2004). It took 2 cups of dried red kidney beans, plus the usual suspects :), and simmered forever. I followed her recipe, except for sauteeing in oil. Then she asked that 2 pounds of steamed greens (such as collard or kale) be added, tossed with 'butter' and balsamic vinegar (See NOTE below). Again I skipped the oily ingredient and since I can't buy collard greens and was out of kale I used chard.

It was very good and quite the nicest way I've had my greens in a long time. I dished it (except for the garnish of tomatoes and cilantro I chose) and kept it warm until we'd had our salad. Garnished, as you see above, I served the beans and greens simply an oven-baked sweet potato in its jacket, which we like to eat plain.

NOTE: I should mention that I took out the portion needed for the two of us and used a proportionately smaller amount of chard to mix with it. The rest of the beans, without the greens, was saved for another time!

Here's the salad that preceded the main course - avocado, apple, celery, chunks of heritage tomato, tossed with a homemade 'vinaigrette' and served on a bed of baby spinach, garnished with a handful of beansprouts. Lovely!

Spiced Split-Pea And Spinach Soup

A couple of days ago I made a lovely Yellow Split-Pea Soup inspired by one I had found among recipes by Roy Walford. Actually, it's very similar indeed to a cross between my own recipe HERE (except for the herbs and spices) and his (although I tweaked his spices to my taste). To my own recipe I added some dried kombu (softened in boiling water, then chopped), 1 tsp ground coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1-1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger root, a couple of dashes of cloves (not in Walford), 1 tsp ground cumin, a little fenugreek (can't remember how much, but perhaps half a teaspoon, but that wasn't in Walford either), a tsp paprika, 1/4 tsp cayenne (not in Walford), and skipped his oil as usual. Ya get the idea, eh? LOL In other words, I kinda curried it, but didn't make it very hot with chilies.

The method was pretty much as in my own - just throw the whole thing into the soup pot and cook - although in this case I added the spices towards the last twenty minutes of cooking.

The major difference, which is something I haven't tried before ('Well, DUH!' I hear you say. 'Ya need to get out more!') was to throw in a package of frozen spinach, defrosted, chopped, at the end. These days I'm doing everything I can to incorporate greens into meals more and more. I mixed the whole thing well, then scooped out a couple of ladles or so of the mixture and set aside. I put the rest of the soup in my trusty blender, returned it to the pot, then stirred the unpureed mix back into the soup - for texture - and reheated to serve. The result was thick and a little chunky with a lovely blend of flavours.

Always soup here, isn't there? Well, we love soups and stews and one-pot meals! More and more they - plus salads and fresh fruit - are the mainstay of our daily menu.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Mostly Leftovers plus Salad with a Sherried Vinaigrette

Yesterday we ate mostly leftovers - so many recipes make enough for four or six and sometimes we make the whole thing to save ourselves time. So yesterday we had the more of my version of the lovely millet dish that has been bandied around the net for some years now (with great gratitude to the ladies who provided the original version!). I had simply taken what remained in the slowcooker and pressed it into small baking dishes, as you see, and then, when I wanted it again, popped it into the oven to reheat while I put away my other groceries and made the salad. It was if anything even nicer for having sat for a couple of days. (It freezes pretty well too, although rarely lasts long enough for that, since it makes a great quick meal, even breakfast.)

To go with that we had some Italian-style brown lentils (well, they're french lentils, those tiny ones, but the recipe is Italian.), a recipe which my husband has adapted from one in Vegan Italiano by Donna Klein.

He had made these lentils some time ago and frozen half of them, so you see they're pretty good for a lazy meal too! Again, in an ovenproof dish they could be defrosted overnight and then popped in the oven along with the millet dish. I must hassle him for the exact recipe soon so that you can have it here!

I steamed a little broccoli with that - lovely, just fresh from the farmers' market that morning. And while we were waiting for the broccoli to steam and the other dishes to re-heat, we enjoyed a quick salad, made of the rest of a bag of arugula, some beansprouts I'd bought for something else, some snowpeas (we love them raw - so crisp!), the rest of the yellow cherry tomatoes (not many left as I thought, but a few to add 'colour') and a few slivers of onion.


This was a combination of a couple from other people's cookbooks plus an idea of my own :) bearing in mind what was in the salad.

1 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar, 1 Tbsp balsamic, 1 Tbsp sherry (I had some Amontillado in the sideboard, so that added a nice not-too-dry but not-too-sweet touch, finely minced garlic and ginger (I dunno - a little scoop of each, maybe a little less than a tsp of each - I tasted as I went), a tsp of smooth-style Dijon mustard (which is all I keep in) and that was probably it - all whisked together quickly.

Okay, not much of a recipe I know, but you can't say this entry was devoid of ideas after that ;)

For dessert? Honeydew melon - no photo, sorry!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Beanthread Noodles With Tofu and Green Vegetables

Yesterday's lunch?


This is not the most glamorous dish in the world, but it has the virtue of being a quick one-pot meal that it tasty and nutritious. I find that stir-fried (so-called - I used stock, not oil) vegetables are so quickly done they barely take longer than a salad. If you then throw them together with already-cooked brown rice or with quickly cooked noodles, then you have a filling meal in no time.

In this case I boiled the kettle and poured boiling water on around 90 to 100 grams (enough for two people) of beanthread noodles - the ones that are sometimes called glass noodles - which are, as their name says, made from the soybean. There's no need to cook these more than that, and it's best not to do it too far in advance of wanting to eat them because they can get a bit on the soggy side! Mine did yesterday - which was really too bad. But, hey, we ate 'em anyway! Best to give them around ten minutes at most.

I had put around 1/4 pkg. of firm tofu to marinate with a Tbsp reduced sodium soysauce and a little minced garlic and minced ginger (when I'm in a rush I grab all this from jars) and some sambal oelek, which is an Indonesian crushed chili
in vinegar and other things. Then I chopped a stalk of celery, some bok choy stems (saving the leaves for a little later in the preparation), a few 'coins' of fresh ginger cut in slivers, finely chopped clove of garlic, a few sliced mushrooms and some onion and set them into a skillet with a little water to soften a tiny bit.

Then I added around half a green pepper and, at the last minute, snowpeas cut on the diagonal along with some previously opened canned sliced water chestnuts and bamboo shoots, a couple of handfuls of beansprouts - and those shredded bokchoy leaves. Oh yes - AND the tofu! (There may have been something else in there, but I think that's it.) I stirred these around, popped the lid on for a minute or two to wilt the leaves, then rescued the noodles, quickly snipping them into shorter lengths with the kitchen scissors and tossing them in the pan with the veggies.

I found I hadn't made it as spicy as I wanted, so I added crushed red chilies at the table.

Gotta work on how to use beanthread noodles a bit - it's been years since I have cooked with them and one does indeed lose the knack!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fruited Spinach & Arugula Salad, Strawberries With Oranges

Just so you know that we really do eat some fresh, uncooked things (usually a salad that starts the meal), here's today's first-course luncheon salad.


I mixed some argula in with some spinach, added small slices of one of those lovely Ontario-grown little red McIntosh apple, a small handful of raisins, three dried apricots (chopped), some slices of green bell pepper, a few slivers of sweet onion,a few sliced water chestnuts (for the texture and the flavour), and a couple of handfulls of yellow cherry tomatoes (so sweet!), halved. I think that was all ;) Everything was organic except the apricots and the water chestnuts.

For the dressing (remember, I'm stubborn and try not to use oil), I mixed balsamic with seasoned rice vinegar, added maybe half a teaspoon of mirin, about 1 tsp of the juice from a jar of ginger, and a tsp of a nice unsugared organic apricot jam. I whisked it all together, poured it on, tossed the salad, and there we were - surprised and delighted as well as hungry.

We usually have fruit after lunch (lunch is our main meal of the day, so we make a bigger deal of it than otherwise), sometimes just from our never-empty fruit basket, sometimes sliced into a fruit salad of some kind (although more rarely). Today my husband made -


This was so good. He sliced fresh organic strawberries into a bowl, added the zest of 1 organic valencia orange, the orange itself (peeled, seeded and chopped), a little sweetener, and a Tbsp Grand Marnier. It was a lovely fresh ending to a nice light meal.

I should add that I also like strawberries with chopped mango, strawberries with chopped mint, strawberries with more strawberries, etc. etc. etc.


This recipe has many variants and is usually, I believe, cooked in a casserole in the oven. I have tried that, but much prefer my crockpot for this kind of recipe. Rather than chopping onions, garlic, celery and fresh herbs, it uses those things usually on the spice shelf and, in my opinion, is preferable to the 'real' veggies version - I have indeed tried both. Here's my version:


5 cups water, to which is added a couple of tsp vegetable stock powder
1-1/4 cups millet
1-1/2 tsp dried dillweed
1/4 tsp celery seed
1 tsp powdered garlic
1/2 tsp crushed dried red chilies
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp toasted onion flakes
2-1/2 Tbsp soy lecithin granules
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes

Combine all ingredients in a crockpot/slowcooker, set to High, cover and let cook for about three hours (some cookers are set at a higher temperature than others, so you will need to check). It comes out as very very stiff 'porridge' and is unbelievably good!

It looks a little lonely on that plate, I'd say, but we accompanied it with, of all things, some Green Beans With Mushrooms (Indian-style) from one of Madhur Jaffrey's books and lightly spiced and lightly steamed chard.

We preceded it with a salad and followed it with fresh strawberries and oranges (see next entry).

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sardinian Cauliflower Soup With Tomatoes And Pasta

I've never been to Sardinia, but if the cuisine is anywhere as good as this soup suggests, then I would probably eat myself into bliss. I know I loved the food in another not-so-far-away island, Sicily - but that was in my pre-veggie days (I still ate f*sh back then).

Anyway, this soup, I am told, is typical of Sardinia. I found the original recipe, which I have modified, in Donna Klein's wonderful Vegan Italiano - or I should say my husband did. He loves this soup!

We first made it from a head of cauliflower, lots of garlic, crushed red pepper flakes (or live chilies), Since we don't use oil in cooking (get enough of that from the fruits, grains, beans and veggies we live on), it all goes into the pot along with around four or five cups of water or vegetable broth and cooks until the cauliflower is done - in pre-cut florets, that's around 10 minutes. At that point the soup is pureed, tasted for seasonings (some lovely fresh-ground pepper comes into its own here), and returned to the pot along with that pasta to be heated through. But wait, there's more!

The next time we made it we added 14 ounces stewed canned tomatoes (half of one of those big cans that I'd opened for something else!) and some fresh chopped basil to the puree. At the end we added cooked pasta (some brown rice elbow macaroni) to make it into an even heartier soup. Deeeeeee-lish!!! (The little bits on top are vegan bakon bits.)

Friday, October 12, 2007


I always hesitate to call veggie versions of traditional dishes by their traditional names - and I generally don't like to suggest to anyone, by making such dishes, that I think they can be 'just as good' (to omnivores) without the 'essential' ingredient of me*t. Calling this dish Tofu Eggplant Bake, however, wouldn't quite convey the nature of the dish, so 'Moussaka' it is! I had a nice eggplant and some mushrooms but couldn't find my Veg Moussaka recipe in a hurry. I hunted on the net and somehow printed out a version of Vegan Moussaka for 25 people - a bit of overkill for our household of two humans, wouldn't you say?! The recipe did, however, remind me of the kinds of seasonings/spices I used to use in my veggie moussaka, and that's what I was really after. You can find the recipe I found for 25 (a Greek wedding!) here:

I did make some changes - of course, and not only in quantities! For one thing, I do not keep in pasta sauce unless I have some homemade in the freezer. I don't use 'vegan beef crumbles' at all (too salty, for one thing, and I don't like the taste for another. It tastes too much like, well, beef!!!), although I know many people just love fake me*t and I do think it's great that they make it especially for people like us if we want it. (Whew! I wriggled out of that one, I hope!)

Anyway, here's what I did:

1 eggplant at around 1 lb, sliced in 1/4 inch slices and steamed (you could fry in olive oil) until just cooked and set aside.

The Filling:
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1/2 pound mushrooms, mostly chopped but some left in slices for texture and interest
Tbsp or two red wine vinegar
375 g. package firm low-fat tofu, crumbled up to resemble, er, ground tofu (that's what!)
sprinkle of dried rosemary (I'm not fond of the stuff, so . . . .)
1/4 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon (or maybe a tad more)
1 tsp of dried oregano
lots of black pepper, freshly ground
1/3 cup pureed tomatoes (I pureed some sodium-reduced tomatoes from a can)
salt if you use it (we don't)

Put first four ingredients in a large-ish saucepan and cook on medium until the onions are soft and the mushrooms have given up most of their liquid. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for another five minutes or so. You don't want this to be too wet. Set aside.

The Topping:
1 pkg soft silken tofu
1 tsp chopped garlic (I used some from a jar)
1 Tbsp white miso (this was the only salty item we used) - it adds a great flavour
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes (for a cheezy flavour)
3/4 Tbsp egg replacement powder (from the original recipe - so I used it too)
LOTS of grated nutmeg to taste (we can't get enough of it, but you'll want to exercise your own judgement)
salt to taste, if you use it

Blend until smooth.

1/2 cup pureed tomatoes (I used tomatoes from a can - pasta sauce was called for and would work even better)
Seasoned bread crumbs (I used a crumby topping I make myself)

Now, Put it Together:

Preheat oven to 375.
In a square or oblong pan, put in enough tomato puree to keep the eggplant from sticking to the bottom. Add half the eggplant, half of the filling, and a spoonfull or two of the tomato puree. Repeat. I like to top with some of the eggplant too, but it's up to you.
Spread the creamy topping over the whole thing and shove in the oven for about 25 minutes to half an hour. Sprinkle with crumbs and bake for another 10 or 15 minutes.

We preceded ours with a nice green salad with apple and raisins, accompanied it with some steamed chard (gotta get yer greens, right?), and followed with some fresh plums, pears, etc., from our never-empty fruit basket.


NOTE: Some may prefer to use veggie crumbles for the greater depth of flavour. Others may like to marinate the tofu in a little brags or whatever to make it look darker. We liked it as is.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Zucchini Hash with Mushrooms & Potatoes; Stuffed Shells

This dish comes in the nature of a using-up-the-veggies exercise too - I had some nice zucchini and a couple of very tiny white potatoes (what did I mean to do with those, I wonder). Lunch loomed. So I took a look at what was in the veg bin and came up with:


1 stick celery, chopped in small rounds
1 yellow cooking onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 small potatoes, diced
1-1/2 zucchini, chopped in quarter-'moons' (amount depends on size - enough for two hungry people is what I used
5 or 6 or more mushrooms, roughly chopped
optional: a tsp minced ginger or to taste (I tend to put it in a lot of things)
pinch of crushed chilies or to taste
salt (if you use it) and pepper to taste

I softened the onion and celery in a little water and threw the potato in with them to cook (the dice was small, so they didn't take long), added the zucchini, mushrooms, ginger and chilies when the potatoes were almost done, careful not to overcook the zucchini. I served garnished with celery leaves and added in a tomato, fennel and onion side salad.

The next dish was in the nature of an experiment. One day, feeling creative but lazy (the latter means I didn't want to shop before lunch) I found some giant pasta shells I had bought to make a completely different dish and never used. So this is what I dreamed up:


Giant Pasta Shells for two persons (I used a little over 4 ounces, 120 grammes)
1/2 lb extra-firm low-fat tofu
a couple of slices of onion, finely chopped
4 or 5 mushrooms, finely chopped
two handfuls of basil, chopped
a pinch of cayenne, if you like it (we do)
salt and pepper to taste
two or so cups home-made tomato pasta sauce (from my freezer - you could use your favourite)
handful of torn basil to be added before going in oven
crumby cheezy topping for dish for baking

I cooked the shells and, meanwhile, heated the oven to 350 F, crumbled the tofu into a bowl and set the onion and mushrooms to soften and cook in a little water while I chopped the basil and defrosted the pasta sauce.

When the onion and mushrooms were cooked, I added them to the tofu along with the chopped basil and zapped the whole thing with the wand blender, to form a kind of creamy ricotta-like mixture. Season.

I spooned the mixture into the shells, added a few pieces of torn basil leaves to each stuffed shell, poking them into the mix with a naughty finger.

In a flat baking dish, I added a little of the pasta sauce - to just cover the bottom - lined up the shells as prettily as I could, added the rest of the sauce and sprinkled my own mix of equal parts cashews, crumbs and nutritional yeast (all ground together with oregano, paprika and pepper) over the top.

I baked in the oven for around 25 minutes covered, then removed the cover for a few minutes at the end.

I had never but NEVER stuffed shells before, and these were dead simple and very nice! They disappeared so fast that it was all I could do to snap a blurry photo before they were consumed! There were no leftovers.

Steamed Eggplant with Tomato and Ginger

A few days ago I had all these lovely 'dwarf' eggplants from the farmers' market (aren't they adorable?!) - and of course I had to do something wonderful with them, but couldn't think what! I wanted to keep it fresh and light - but also cooked. I had tomatoes in my refrigerator that needed to be used before they went too soft -

Heritage Tomatoes: Brandywine, Striped German and Cherokee Purple.

and half a bunch or so of lovely basil.

One of my favourite cookbooks came to the rescue here - Miyoko Nishimoto's THE NOW AND ZEN EPICURE: Gourmet Cuisine for the Englightened Palate (1991), pictured here in case you can find it in your library or in a second-hand bookshop somewhere (her tofu bourguignon is positively addictive!).

And there she had it: the perfect recipe for my situtation -


I must say I did change it a bit, using the dwarf eggplants, cheating and using jarred garlic and jarred ginger (I needed a shopping trip) and indeed more of it than she suggested, chose a red onion and lots and lots of fresh basil rather than the 1/4 tsp of dried in the recipe, but there you are. I also halved the recipe, since there were just the two of us for lunch and I had designs for the rest of the eggplant.

To serve 2 for lunch:

1 large tomato, chopped (I used a little more than half of one of my huge heritage tomtoes)
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
eggplant equal to 1/2 a medium eggplant (I used the dwarf ones), chopped in chunks but not peeled
1 Tbsp minced ginger root
handful or so of fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
more basil to serve, if you like it as much as we do

I stewed the onion, garlic and ginger in a very litttle water in a pan until the onion was translucent then added the eggplant and tomato and covered (stirring a couple of times to keep an eye on things) until the eggplant was JUST tender but not mushy. It was important not to overcook the eggplant, because it goes mushy very easily. Just as the eggplant was 3 or 4 minutes off being done I added the basil so that the flavours would go throughout. Garnished with more basil, chopped or whole, and served over brown rice it was lovely. I should add that there was neither salt, pepper or oil in the recipe anyway, so I didn't have to do a thing about that :) I did simplify the cooking a little. I'll do this again soon, I think. So simple a dish that lets the flavours of the veggies shine through!