Tuesday, December 30, 2008

WAKE UP TO SPICE! (My new e-cookbook)

I'm so excited - I have just this afternoon received word that my e-cookbook, Wake Up To Spice, has its page up and running.

You can find it here: http://www.vegandonelight.com/spice/

And that's also the place to get a free sample recipe from the new e-book plus some other freebies when you sign up for the free newsletter my enabler put out :) Have a peek!!!!!!

Love and hugs, River (aka, as you'll see, another name)

Friday, December 19, 2008

New Things Happening

Hello to you all, and my apologies for not posting for so long! The sunflowers, photographed at a New York market in early October, are my peace offering to you :)

The thing is that events have rather overtaken me this autumn, and I have found myself planning forthcoming happenings in a big way (some of them now past, cuz that's what they become when they're done with, right?) and trying to decide just which direction I want to take.

Most of you who have been following this will know that I have been playing around with eating raw vegan. And it is true that I think it's a wonderful idea and would be very beneficial. Right now, however, hasn't seemed quite the right time to make this switch for me and my dh. Undoubtedly, were either of us having any health problems we would probably make the change overnight and receive all the wonderful benefits, but that's just not the way of it. We are both in startling (to our doctors) good health, feel terrific in ourselves, are happy, mobile, active and full of good ideas for our lives as well as enjoying an eating style that includes raw foods but also depends to some smaller degree on cooked vegan yummy dishes. We like that.

So why not new recipes? In addition to enjoying our tried and true family favourites, I have been working on a project:

Early next year will see the online publication of an e-cookbook by yours truly (under my 'real' name rather than a nickname). Thanks to the encouragement of a dear cyber friend (Erin, that's you) I have put together a series of new recipes which are - wait for it - not only low salt and low fat as usual with me but also spicy, soy-free and gluten-free. Hey, what a challenge, eh? I loved (almost) every minute of the creation of these (about) two dozen new recipes and the revamping of the three or four which had their inspiration in recipes I had made before.If I got frustrated sometimes, it was only a small indication to me of the frustration those of you must feel who cannot eat all the things that the rest of the world takes for granted even in a vegan regime.

So there you have it. Meanwhile, I do have a few dishes I have made that are newish and not included in this forthcoming e-book, and I shall be letting you know about those in the next day or two.

For those who want to know what I'm up to when I'm not blogging on BeanVegan or posting on my groups on Care2 and Yahoo!, I remind you off my other blog - River Rambles: http://river-rambles.blogspot.com/

Chat again soon! Please watch this space for any new news about the coming e-cookbook!What an adventure!!!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Thanksgiving Dinner, 13 October 2008

Canadian Thanksgiving is today - and I just have to tell you about a recipe I found. Bryanna Clark Grogan came to my rescue when I wanted to make a 'traditional' (well, you know, the vegan version of traditional) Thanksgiving Dinner for the two of us. Going to


I found a whole series of possible recipes and finally settled on Bryanna's Seitan and Soy 'Turkey' along with a version of her stuffing. You'll need to scroll down past the first few recipes to find what I made.

The seitan and soy 'turkey' I did in a simple version, just as a roast, but next time I'll actually stuff the make-believe 'critter' and even, perhaps put the beancurd 'skin' around it. Her directions are pretty clear, and it'd be fun to try something a little more challenging visually.

The roast was succulent, tender, and to my vague recollection almost realistic. The flavour? Out of this world! Here it is below, in a boring rectangular shape (as I say, next time . . .) and topped with some mushrooms.

The stuffing I cooked a little more than she said (because it wasn't going into the roast), substituting sage for other herbs, and piled it into a halved and pre-cooked buttercup squash. This I popped back into the oven to crisp up on top. Lovely.

With this, apart from the mushrooms, we had fresh brussels sprouts, lightly steamed, fingerling potatoes, mushroom gravy and homemade cranberry sauce. Very simple, very good.

For the record, this weekend's weather has been out of this world - 26 C today - so I made the 'turkey' roast yesterday and baked the squash early this morning, leaving me only to reheat these items. All this was so that we could get out and enjoy the sunshine - a luxury here at this time of year.

Happy Thanksgiving to any Canadian readers!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

GREENS: Spinach, Potato & Chickpea 'Roti'; Collards with Rice; Collards With Potatoes and Mushrooms; Chard with Tortillas


One of my favourite things to eat when we're out is Chickpea and Potato Roti - Jamaican style. Well, I don't know anything about that (never having been there) but as you know I love hot and spicy food. So one lunchtime I scrambled together some spinach out of a frozen pack, added onions and garlic browned in a pan to go with it, and tossed in some pre-cooked chickpeas out of my freezer along with a sprinkling of this and that from my Indian spices. Well, so far we had a 'stew' (smelling wonderful, I admit) but nothing to set it off. Fishing in the freezer for some tortilla wraps (desperate, wasn't I?), I quickly steamed them up and used them as an impromptu 'roti' to enclose, more or less, the vegetables that were simmering in the pan.Needing some salad-type things, I sliced heirloom tomatoes and, for the sake of the greens, quartered a lemon. The result was delicious - and quick to prepare. I have made it, with various greens from the refrigerator, several times since :) Leftovers work well too!

The next dish, also inspired by the perceived need to Eat More Greens was simple:


Rather than curried, this dish had the advantage of chilies and cumin to spice it up. The usual suspects - garlic and mushrooms - worked together with some lovely fresh collard greens from the market, and a lone 4 or 5 ounce potato was finely diced to cook with them in the same amount of time. Mushrooms, barely cooked at all, completed the picture. A little garnish, and the very simple meal was a delight.


Similar to the dishes above, above is another dish with lots of lovely greens, cooked with the usual suspects and probably a few more:)

Well, someone put me onto the idea that not everyone is as lucky as we are and is able to tolerate gluten. (That's the stuff in many flours, folks, which plays riot with some systems.) We don't eat a lot of bread, but I was feeling rather smug about using the whole wheat tortilla wrap earlier (see above) and thought maybe I should get out of that. What to have instead? Well, I can't buy corn tortillas easily here (perhaps I shop in the wrong places), so I was going to have to make corn tortillas myself. I got a little yellow corn flour (that I _did_ find) and found recipes on the net.

Whoooooooo-ooooo! Are you all laughing now??????? Did I have any clue as to how difficult it was to make a corn tortilla? Nooooo, I did NOT! LOL So here, a very humbling admission, is my first attempt at tortillas.

Not a pretty sight, are they? ;) What didn't fall apart got stuck to the pan or got overcooked! However, I still have some corn flour left and I will - I definitely will - keep trying, because the taste was great all the same.

I put a couple of the more acceptable results to have as flatbread with my lunch of greens with whatever (can't recall just now). Not bad. Truly, not bad!

By these little acts of humility shall thee know them!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

ADVENTURES IN RAW: Tabouli Longstocking, Raw Beets & Greens, Minted Potatoes & Peas

Apart from some enormous salads, platters of crudite, bushels of fruit and the like,this summer has been pretty well a wash-out as far as brining this blog exciting recipes. The market produce has been fabulous - from tiny bokchoy barely twice the size of a single clove of garlic -

- so delicate that cooking seemed a shame, to wonderful heirloom tomatoes, purple and golden cauliflowers

and all manner of greens, we have had a great time. But we haven't done much cooking. Here are a couple of things:


Not wanting to use cooked grain, I made this from sprouted lentils and seeds, plus some of the usual things people put into various kinds of tabouleh. Beautifully dressed with fresh lemon (who needs ooil!), it was welcome and refreshing! I plan to do it this way more often. (Why 'longstocking'? Because 'longlegs' sounded too, er, anatomical!)


I have one or two variations going on my Beets Cooked With Their Own Greens elsewhere on this blog and other places, but RAW? Yup. I grated the beets and tore the delicate greens into bit-size pieces and dressed the salad as if it were for the cooked dish.

This next is, if anything, a very simple 'hybrid' dish - cooked plus raw, so very plain that it seems foolish to include it, but oh with the lovely fresh veggies it was outta sight! So here you have


Tiny new potatoes (lightly steamed) with newsly shelled peas (at room temperature) and lots of garden mint :)

And my plate on one occasion:

As you see I had added a tomato salad.

And now off to the market to find some lovely greens for today's lunch!

(The little guy in the above photo is our co-resident Misha.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Aloo Gobi (Indian-Style Cauliflower & Potatoes)


FROM: http://www.quickindiancooking.com/2007/03/16/aloo-gobi/
and posted with kind permission of Mallika, who originated the recipe there.

Photos are mine taken in my own kitchen.

This recipe serves four:

400gms cauliflower, cut into large florets
4 large new potatoes halved or two large normal potatoes peeled and quartered
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped fine
Half inch ginger, grated
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
Half tsp garam masala
Quarter tsp turmeric powder
Half tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp oil
Fresh coriander to garnish
Salt to taste

Heat the oil and fry the onion, garlic and ginger. Throw in the potatoes, all the powders apart from the garam masalas, add a tiny bit of water, cover the pot and cook the potatoes.

Don’t add too much water but make sure there is just enough to cook the potatoes.

When the potatoes are almost cooked (you will be able to insert a fork into the potatoes with some difficulty), add in the cauliflower.

Again, cover the pot and cook until the cauliflowers become soft and a fork can be inserted into them easily.

It’s very important to add the cauliflower when the potatoes are almost cooked or they’ll be overcooked.

Add salt and sprinkle garam masala and fresh coriander to finish. This dish should be served bone dry, ideally with some naan or roti.

River's Note:
Excellent quick version of this dish - I'll be making it this way now Those who don't enjoy their Indian dishes quite as hot and spicy as we do, however, should be aware that the chilli powder in the recipes means powdered chillies (I used cayenne) and might find it a bit HOT. Please add your chilli powder with due caution.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

ASPARAGUS 2 WAYS: Raw Asparagus & Tomato Curry; Spicy Asparagus Stir-fry

Sometimes we have great produce at the Farmers' Market, sometimes not so good. It all depends on the weather, right? But this last while we have been pretty lucky. Recently we had some great stuff available (see above) which we carted back home. Then the question comes: What to make with all this delightful produce! This is what we came up with in our house.


Before you run away, remember that asparagus is very VERY tender when eaten young and fresh, and of course tomatoes only need a little coaxing to render up their wonderful juices and flavours. Okay - with me so far?

This recipe is adapted from one by Kate Wood in Eat Smart Eat Raw. Since tastes differ and, in any case, we tend to cut way WAY down on or cut completely out added oils and unnecessary oily ingredients, we didn't try this recipe as originally intended. Instad we came up with the following:

For The Sauce:

4 sundried tomatoes, soaked
3/4 lb tomatoes
1 stick celery
1/4 pound carrots
1 or two thick slices of onion, to taste
1 red thai chili
2 Tbsp garam masala, or to taste
a little liquid (soaking liquid from the sundried tomatoes will do fine)

For the Vegetables:

1/4 lb carrots, peeled into long 'noodles' with a vegetable peeler
1 bunch young asparagus (around a dozen stems), cut into bite-sized pieces
4 mushrooms, sliced
1/4 lb spinach, finely shredded
2 tsp pumpkin seeds/pepitas
1 ounce sprouts (I used mixed 'salad sprouts') - and save a few more for garnish

I made the sauce first, putting everything into the blender, adding as much of the tomato-soaking liquid as was needed to make blending possible. This should be a nice smooth puree.You can chill this, but I preferred it at room temperature..

Next the vegetables. The only trick here is the carrot preparation, and that's easier than it looks. Simply use a vegetable peeler and peel thin strips down the carrot to make 'noodles'. When you can't peel any more, chop the tiny nub that's left as best you can and start on the next carrot.

See them below:

Add all these lovely carrot 'noodles' to the rest of the veggies, mixing them into a bowl. Then dump in the sauce.

The sauce is wonderful, but you may want to taste for more seasoning. It can be as salt and/or as spicy as you want it to be.

After adding the sauce, few stirs to coat all the vegetables with the great curry flavours..

That's it. It is easy and it tastes - well - WONDERFUL! Try it :)

For my next trick, I'll just give you my standard


(serves 2 for a light meal)

This is cooked, I assure you, although 'stir-fried' is an exaggeration, since I prefer to stir-steam (you know what I mean).

This recipe was inspired by a very similar one in Madhur Jaffrey's _World Vegetarian_ cookbook. The dish is from Hong Kong.

In this version, oil is at a minimum and the flavours at a maximum ;=) Since this was for a light meal I used only one bunch of asparagus for the two of us. Obviously, all measurements are to taste, but if you really don't like spicy food this just won't taste the same without lots of ginger, chillies and garlic.

1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces
A little water or stock to 'sautee' the vegetables - or you can use a little oil if you prefer
3 thin slices of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 or 2 dried hot red chillies, crumbled
2 Tbsp (or so) vegetable stock
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp brown sugar
salt to taste
1/2 tsp sesame oil (optional for those cooking low fat)
1/2 tsp sesame seeds for garnish and flavour
springs of cilantro for garnish and flavour

Soak asparagus in cold water to keep crisp while chopping the other ingredients. Put stock (or oil) in skillet/fry pan over high heat and stir in ginger, garlic, and crumbled chillies. Stir well and then add asparagus pieces (well drained) and stir quickly to coat with spices. Add the extra stock, soy sauce, sugar and salt and when it comes to the boil (almost immediately!) turn the heat to low and cover for about four minutes, being careful not to let it burn. Remove cover. Asparagus should be almost but not quite cooked - in the Chinese way. The liquid should be absorbed, but if not let it evaporate over the heat. Add the sesame oil (if used) and stir. Garnish with sesame seeds and cilantro and serve over steamed brown rice.

Note, timing is approximate and depends on the weight of your pan and the heat of your stove. The point is: don't let is burn, don't let it go limp, whatever you do. The vegetables should be hot but not losing their very crisp texture.



Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Chinese Hawker-Style Noodles and More Catching Up

The thing about street food, in places like Singapore and elsewhere, is that it has to be cooked quickly over charcoal (at least originally - goodness knows what they use now, as it's been a over ten years since we have been there) and, therefore, in a modern kitchen is sinfully quick to prepare. Get your veggies chopped early, then heat your stock (I am usually in a hurry and use a powdered stock or cubes) with the spicy ingredients in there to add more flavour, then pop most of the stuff in the bowls as directed. Now this can all wait until you're ready to eat. Then cook the noodles, add them to the bowls, and pour on the scalding stock. Top with whatever you've chosen for garnish and you're done. A simple and easy lunch or supper, any time of the year!


This is my basic recipe - one doesn't really need to write it down, but it's nice to have a base from which to work. Variations, two of which I have used recently, work just fine.

For two persons (and halve or double or treble etc. as needed).

3 - 4 cups Vegetarian stock
3 - 4 slices of ginger root or to taste, cut into matchsticks
3 chilies finely chopped (more or less to taste)
2 - 3 green onions, sliced crosswise very finely
1 tsp asian sesame oil
6 mushrooms, sliced (if you have time, soak a couple of dried ones too)
50 gr. (or so) medium tofu, sliced into bite-sized thin strips
NOTE: for the photos pictured above and below I used some vegan hamm.
100 gr. fine noodles (angelhair kind - often in 'nests' in asian groceries)
NOTE: for the photos you see I used japanese-style buckwheat noodes. Ya use what ya got!
2 - 3 handfulls bean sprouts
coriander, chopped, for garnish (optional)
peanuts, for garnish (optional) - I used raw cashews this time
soy sauce as needed

And here are most of the ingredients (I think!) just as I was ready to make the whole thing.

Heat your vegetarian stock together with the ginger root, the mushrooms and the chilies. (If you do use some dried mushrooms, add the soaking liquid to the stock.) Slice onions and divide between two large soup bowls together with the sesame oil and the tofu slices.

When stock comes to the boil, break the noodle nests in half and throw into the stock, separating the strands as soon as you can with a couple of forks or a spaghetti server. Noodles should soften very very quickly. Don't let them overcook. Remove from stock with spaghetti server, dividing between the two bowls. Toss the beansprouts into the stock, swirl around for a few seconds then divide between the two soup bowls.

Finally, divide the stock and any mushrooms, etc., that remain in the noodle pot between the two bowls.

Give each bowl a stir to bring up the flavours and ingredients from the bottom and disperse them through the noodles. Garnish and serve.

NOTE: The ingredients are barely cooked - the tofu heats from the hot soup, the beansprouts likewise. The mushrooms are still crisp. You can do variations on this, as I've noted above, but this is how we've eaten it for years. I have also made it using vegan chikken pieces instead of the tofu. Works fine too :)

AND for the rest of this 'catch-up' round?

Well, have a quick look at some photos I have on file.

Here are a few things we've been eating lately:

Above is STIR-FRIED TEMPEH WITH VEGETABLES (well, again, steamed). This is always a good and quick dish, with or without the rice. I like to make sure I always add some ginger root, garlic, onion, chilies and a little celery to give a good flavour to whatever else I'm using. And I generally marinate the tempeh in soy sauce and a little minced garlic and giner before adding to the rest.

And oh yes, above is my SPLIT PEA SOUP that I keep making again and again, enhanced this time with extra spices (mostly mexican style) plus some chopped vegan hamm and coriander and some dear little baby corns cut into coins AND cilantro. Very nice. You can do almost anything with split pea soup as a base. Actually, you can also do it more quickly with red lentils, but that's not what I used here :)

GINGERED CARROT-SQUASH SOUP (above) is exactly that - some onion (not too much) with carrot and squash and flavoured with fresh ginger root and varied herbs etc. Excellent. You can play with the ingredients and flavourings to your heart's content here and not go wrong!

An just above is of course a simple side SALAD. Gotta get your fresh raw veggies as often as possible, especially if you're having a touch week or month or year!

And here comes a favourite standby:

Variations on my STUFFED AVOCADO recipe abound. It doesn't really matter what you use in the way of stuffing as long as it tastes good to you and doesn't fight with the avocado. I usually base mine on carrot, celery and onion, then add all sorts of things like lime or lemon zest, lime or lemon juice, dark or light miso, a little Braggs, plus some seeds (generally pumpkin or sunflower) to give it texture after I've pureed the rest. Any stuffing left over makes a great spread for anything you've got a mind to put it on.

Take care now!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Catching Up - and Spiced Tempeh-Stuffed Shells


Is it really possible to catch up after such an absence! Whew!!!!!

Well, first, let me say thank you to everyone who wrote in to say lovely words about the loss of our little beagle Made' aka Maddie, our second (though older) dog-daughter on 14 June. She is so sadly missed by us all, but your thoughtfulness and kindness has somehow made it easier to bear. Meanwhile, our younger girl, Casey, is reaping the benefits of having full-time attention of both her parents. Well, you can imagine!!!

Soooooo, you ask, what have you been cooking/eating since your last food post??? Good question. I seem to have taken some photos, wobbly ones mostly (so what's new there? LOL), but nevertheless they remind me that we have eaten a few things other than salads and wraps and fresh fruit. Not that those three things don't make for very nutritious as well as tasty eating, but they don't exactly make for an exciting food diary!

So here goes on one of the things that seem to have come across our table since arriving back from Paris a month ago.


These are, you guessed it, another version of my Stuffed Shells recipe, which you can see HERE in my first experiment with such a dish and HERE as the then preferred version. I still like both of those, but I decided to branch out just a tiny bit and make this lot from tempeh and add much more creative spice to the mixture. I followed the same basic method as before, but rather than basil or spinach I used handfuls of chopped cilantro (coriander leaves) and used chopped jalapeno, ground cumin seeds, lime zest and juice, miso, nutritional yeast and goodness knows what else (it was a while ago - I must make it again to get it right!) to the stuffing. The result was amazing. The tempeh was mashed to make it like ground, er, ground stuff.

Here it is at the point I'd just put it into the shells.

At this point it still needed a sauce, right? I had none ready in fridge or freezer, so I grabbed a can or tomatoes, added onions and garlic to them with some cayenne, zapped them in a blender and poured it over the dish like this:

The crumby topping, above, is a mix of wholewheat cracker crumbs zapped in a mini-processor with some cashews and nutritional yeast plus varied dried herbs and paprika.

The baked result you have already seen - somehow it never looks quite as nice as the unbaked version when I do things. But it was excellent to eat, and here you have, below, a quick snapshot of my plate before I took it to the table.

The taste was more fusion than Italian, but that's the joy of being able to please oneself in the kitchen. My husband voted for this version over the two others, so that's good enough for me :)

More later :)

Monday, June 16, 2008

In Memoriam: Made'

(I have to tell someone who will understand, and who better than fellow animal lovers.)

Our beautiful (older) beagle girl Made' died in my arms Saturday morning. We are devastated.

Made' came to us by luck and by golly: Another dog guardian who had seen us in the park with our beagle Casey found us one day (stalking us on his bike, as he said) to say that he had to give up his lovely girl because they now had a baby in the household and did we know someone who might want a beagle so that he wouldn't have to blah blah blah. We said we would take her and did, and she was with us from the morning after that meeting for nearly six wonderful years.

Made' was 10 years 7 months and some days old. She was a dear sister to our now blind (SARDS, two years ago) beagle Casey, whom she protected so carefully and to whom she acted much in the role of a seeing-eye dog, and a loved companion of our cat Misha as well as being our darling dog-daughter.

She will be so missed.

Thanks for listening.

Love and hugs, River

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Spicy Beanburgers with Salad

Spicy Beanburgers with Salad [NOTE: Recipe edited to correct oversight re preparation of beans and a missing ingredient in the sauce!]

The thing about coming back from holidays (more about that later) is that one goes shopping (at least I do) without actually getting everything needed for eating ordinary meals. Using up what's left in the fridge the last few days before leaving means being out of everything on return, and of course shopping lists for recipes rather assume that you'll have basics, blah blah blah. Well, frankly, I blundered and, not feeling like going out again to shop, I hit the freezer and the few things I had in the fridge to make a quick meal.

Beans? Yes - but only just plain boiled in the freezer. Okay, let's work with that, I said (bored with the whole idea of cooking again after being away and having had the delight of eating other people's food!)

Ingredients (all is approximate and to taste - but you get the idea):

2 cups (you could use 1 can, rinsed and drained) beans (I used my own frozen pino beans)
3 cloves garlic
a large stick celery, chopped finely
half a carrot, finely chopped or grated (I used a handful of those 'baby' carrots)
2 slices onion, finely chopped
a few mushrooms, finely chopped (optional)
2 Tbsp ground coriander seeds, or to taste
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 Tbsp paprika, or to taste
1/4 tsp cayenne powder, or to taste
1 tsp ground cumin
dash or two of cinnamon (I love cinnamon in things)
a few drops of liquid smoke
salt and pepper
dried wholewheat (or other) crumbs
fresh cilantro - divided in two - a handful chopped and more to garnish

Thaw your beans and drain, or drain and rinse your canned beans - then set aside in a large bowl.
Saute the vegetables until just soft. Add the spices and flavourings and stir until the vegetables are well coated.

Mash or puree about two-thirds of the beans, so that you have a gooey texture plus some more-or-less whole beans to make it interesting.

Add the vegetable mix to the beans in the bowl, stir, and add enough crumbs to keep everything together.Add the chopped cilantro.

Shape into patties and refrigerate until ready to use.

Spray a pan with a tiny bit of oil and brown the patties nicely.

I added roughly chopped mushrooms to the pan - because I like mushrooms with almost everything.

The Sauce? Use your favourite topping sauce or salsa. I used a mix of lemon juice and equal parts plain horseradish and dijon mustard with a little low-sodium soy. (Mix this to taste.)

Serve with any kind of green or leafy salad. These would also go well as open-faced sandwiches.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Potato, Pea and Mushroom Curry


This recipe had its origins around 25 years or more ago with one by Charmaine Solomon. It has then of course been transmuted somewhat :)

3/4 lb small red potatoes (the kind that look the size of new potatoes)
3/4 lb mushrooms (button and cremini is what I use, mixed)
1 cup peas, shelled (ok to use frozen - but save them for the last ten minutes)
1 smallish onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic or to taste, finely chopped
1/3 cup or so chopped fresh coriander / cilantro leaves
1 Tbsp or to taste grated ginger root
1-1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp cayenne or to taste
3/4 cup of water
1/2 tsp sea salt or to taste
1-1/2 tsp garam masala (your own mix or a good commercial blend)

Scrub the potatoes and if there are any larger ones halve them to about the size of the button mushrooms. If you only have larger potatoes, that’s okay - just cut them lengthways a couple of times and then across to the same rough size as the button mushrooms.

Wipe the mushrooms and, if there are larger ones, halve them. But the dish requires a chunky look rather than a ‘chopped’ look.

Put the onions in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook in a little water (or, if you prefer, you can use a couple of tsp olive oil) until they start to go translucent. Add the garlic and the ginger and throw in the the coriander leaves and give it a stir around for one minute or two. Add the turmeric and cayenne. (If you’re not sure about how ‘hot’ this will be with the cayenne, you can add a quarter tsp and then, later, add the rest if you think it would be good.) (If you are using fresh peas add them now and stir these quickly with the other vegetables). Add the water and salt, if using, and cover, lowering heat to simmer, and cook for 15 minutes.

After that 15 minutes, add the garam masala and stir well and, if you have decided to use the frozen peas instead of the fresh ones, add these now. Add a little water if you think it needs it before covering the pan again for another 10 to 15 minutes. You want the potatoes to be just cooked, not broken or mushy.

When the potatoes are done, the liquid should be just about evaporated but the dish should be coated in a light sauce containing the spices. Taste for seasonings and adjust, stir well.

Garnish with more chopped coriander leaves.

You can serve with basmati rice or, like we do, with brown basmati rice - or of course your favourite Indian bread. Add a small ‘salad’ or two and you’re well away!

This one, which we decided to have today, was just tomatoes with chopped onion, a tiny dash of salt, lemon juice and a sprinkle of ground cardamom. The green leaves of course are coriander/cilantro :)


Monday, May 12, 2008

Red River Raw Borscht, Cauliflower Salad, Tomato Plate, Kale and Apple Salad

If you've been reading this blog at all, you know that my dh and I love beets - hot, cold, pickled, in soup, in salads, however they come and the redder the better. Recently I made a raw beet salad - and was absolutely amazed at how good it was. And I have tried a few raw soups with similar success. But raw borscht??? I didn't think so. I did, however find a recipe for a raw borscht with garlic and dill and a cup of soaked-overnight almonds (which would have 'creamed' it), and, of course, cabbage and beets in Brigitte Mars's Rawsome! and thought, well, it can be done. So I turned to my previous variations on conventional cooked borscht, thought of some amendements, and within minutes had a raw version chilling in the refrigerator. My dh pronounced it excellent, and I must say I enjoyed it thoroughly too.


3/4 pound red beets, peeled and chopped
1 large clove garlic
two large handfuls of fresh spinach (I'd have preferred beet greens, but it's early in the year for that)
1-1/4 cups cranberries (I used some I'd frozen earlier)
zest, juice and chopped flesh of 1 orange (blood orange, if you have it)
4 sundried tomatoes, soaked and chopped (soaking liquid reserved)
large handful dulse, lightly rinsed, chopped (other sea vegetable would be good, but I was keeping with red.)
1-1/2 tsp miso
2 or 3 dashes cayenne (optional, but it gives it a nice extra zip)
enough water to blend the ingredients and to reach the desired consistency

Set a few cranberries aside for garnish, if you wish, and put the rest of the ingredients with the soaking liquid from the dried tomatoes and a cup or more of water into a blender. Puree well, adding more water as needed. Add any extra water to bring to your preferred thickness. Taste for seasoning and adjust. Regrigerate until needed, for a cold soup, or serve at room temperature.

Garnish with cranberries and, if you like, fresh herbs, etc. Serve chilled with freshly ground black pepper.

And - oh yes, the name of the soup? My very first taste of borscht was in the late '40s and came from the kitchen of a lady who had migrated to Manitoba from the Ukraine. The soup was strong (not, I imagine, vegetarian!), chunky, full of many wonderful things, and was like no soup I'd ever eaten before. I loved it! This soup is named in honour of that long-ago hospitality. Thank you, Mrs B.

And now for some raw vegetable dishes we've been enjoying - nothing tricky, nothing fiddly, but all fresh and delicious!


This was pretty simple and almost embarrassingly easy, but it was good enough to pass on for a quick and easy dish to add to any array of salads or to have alone with some chunky French bread if you prefer. The addition of the sea vegetable adds a dimension I wouldn't have believed. Lovely :)

1 small head of cauliflower, cut into florets
2 or 3 green/spring onions, cut across into chunky rounds
handful of dulse, lightly rinsed and chopped into small pieces
a couple of handfuls of 'baby' carrots
1 or 2 tsp Bragg's Aminos / All-Purpose Soy Seasoning, or low-sodium soy (not strictly raw)
Zest and juice of one lime

Whisk the last two ingredients together and pour over the vegetables. Toss to lightly flavour all the vegetables with citrus and the soy. Serve with more lime wedges if you wish.

And sometimes the simplest methods sometimes escape me when I'm hassled for time. This is one of those. Tomatoes are great, just sliced and passed at the table, of course. When I'm thinking ahead even half an hour (an hour if I can), however, I like to increase the flavour a little this way (not a great photo or a very classy presentation, but you get the idea):


1 large tomato or as many as you wish to serve, thinly sliced
2 thin slices of onion, separated into rings or half-rings
sea salt
large handful cilantro, roughly chopped
1 lime
freshly ground black pepper
ground cummin to sprinkle to taste

At least half an hour before serving, sprinkle the tomatoes in a bowl with a little salt, layering with the onion and, if you wish, a little of the chopped cilantro. Squeeze a little lime juice over the lot.

Give the tomato mixture a couple of gentle turns in the bowl during the next half hour or so (being careful not to break up the tomato slices).

Arrange the slices of tomato and onion on a plate, add freshly ground black pepper and a sprinkle or two of ground cummin and the rest of the cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

Everyone knows how much I love eating kale. It's full of good things, including loads of calcium, but it's also so good in flavour. There are different kinds of kale, but this lovely green curly kale is what is available to me now. I'm always making salads from it these days, and I just vary the ingredients and the seasonings to make it a little different each time.


1 head of kale
1 or 2 slices of onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 sweet red apple
small handful of raisins
raw cider vinegar, to taste
tsp raw agave syrup
Squeeze of lemon or lime juice to taste
sprinkle of Braggs Aminos, to taste (optional) - or you could use low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
dash or two of cayenne (optional)
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Strip the leaves only from the kale stems, wash, and tear into small pieces and place in a large bowl. 'Massage' these with your hands, deliberately bruising and wilting the leaves for a few minutes, until they take up less volume in the bowl and have turned darker green (as if lightly cooked). Don't worry about overdoing this - this pseudo-cooked texture is nice - taste a little as you go along!

Chop the onion, garlic and add to the kale when it is ready. If you're not going to serve immediately, chop/slice the apple just before adding the dressing - to avoid having the cut apple go brown - or sprinkle it with a little lemon juice meanwhile while it waits. Add the raisins.

Mix together the cider vinegar, agave syrup, lemon or lime juice, Braggs or soy sauce with the cayenne, if using.

Pour this dressing over the rest of the ingredients and toss. Serve in your favourite salad bowl (if you're not already using it!) with other salads or as a first course.

You'd be amazed at how lively we feel with eating so much raw food (although we're not 100 per cent raw - and our condiments are not yet completely raw) - and it certainly saves a lot of time in the kitchen! Next acquisition will be a dehydrator - than watch out!!!!!