Saturday, January 26, 2008

Algerian Chili - Crockpot Style

Here is my crockpot version of Algerian Chili which can be found several places on the net - eg. and others, such as:

It was recently offered to a group I own on Yahoo! and was immediately popular. Perhaps it was the name 'Chili' attached to an Algerian dish rather than Mexidan, although it is good to remind that 'chili' in both names refers to the spice itself, not to the whole recipe. What it is, of course, is a white bean stew with lots of wonderful flavour and 'heat' - depending on how much of the latter you like.

What I did, apart from omitting oil and salt from the recipe, was to put the whole lot at once into a crockpot, with the exception of half of the herbs (and I used half cilantro and half parsley). The rest I added right near the very end of cooking. I also used canned tomatoes, but that would make little difference, I think - except that next time I'd hold back from putting them in until after the beans had had a chance to become soft LOL - I forgot myself in my hurry, so the beans took forever to cook! Other changes were minor.

Here it is all dished up ready to go on the table with a bowl of couscous. We had started with a salad, so apart from a little fruit to follow this was our main meal.

While the dish does resemble Mexican-style 'Chili', the differences here are sufficient to recommend it be tried by anyone who loves spicy food - although you can adjust that to suit yourself, obviously.

There was far too much for two little people, so I divided it up and froze some. It reheats nicely too! Just add more parsley, cilantro, whatever you have to give it a nice fresh taste ;)

Definitely a winner. We'll be making this again!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Catching Up . . .

I always seem to be behind with things here. This last couple of weeks my older beagle Made' has been ill - the poor little dear has never been a well dog since we adopted her some (nearly) six years ago. Fortunately we have an excellent vet who is very near to us, and right now this little girl has been in a cage for three days at the animal hospital being tested, x-rayed and ultra-sounded, treated for pain and fever, rehydrated, starved and whatever else it takes to diagnose and get her out of a serious and sudden collapse from what turns out to be acute pancreatitis. They're trying her on a little food today and with luck we might be able to bring her home today or tomorrow. We miss her and our other little beagle and our cat are at a complete loose end with her out of the house. Well, so are we.

Meanwhile, we must eat. I've been robbing the freezer of already-made yummies, and making a few already tried dishes. Wanna see some of them? You might as well! LOL

Pasta With Ratatouille This was the result of making too much ratatouille (and you all know what this is - I needn't elaborate) - so after eating it twice (very nice) I turned the leftovers into something to toss with pasta - with the aid of a little this and that, ya know how it is - right? LOL

This next one is a variation on a recipe offered from a member of a group I'm on - it is very good and can easily be adapted to taste.

It's an Orange Quinoa Salad - made here with some leftover red quinoa and more oranges than called for plus some shredded ginger root. Lovely!

Having a lot of mushrooms - we love mushrooms, but you must be on top of your game and not get distracted or the blamed things seem to almost multiply in the fridge and one day you just have to cook 'em or lose 'em. Here's what I did with one lot of portabello mushrooms:

Portabellos Over Spinach. Spinach cooked with onion, garlic and nutmeg makes a bed for the sliced mushrooms 'sauteed' in a little stock with sherry and low-sodium soy and loads of minced garlic. I thickened the sauce a little, as you see. Very nice with some black pepper!

We had the other mushrooms the next day as

Rotini With Mushrooms - cooked in much the same way, but with nutritional yeast added to make them a little different - as well as some dried chili flakes :) ('Not too much, but just enough!')

I also made a mushroom stroganoff, but that's something which I'll add here another day - with the recipe, if I can find it!

One day when I had eggplant overabundantly in my fridge, I also tried a lentil variant of a one of our favourites:

Moussaka! It was very good, as always. I begin to think you can't go wrong with this dish :)

And now back to virtual nail-biting and waiting by the phone. Take care, everyone, and if you have little puppers, give them a scritch from me!

Saturday, January 5, 2008


This is a veggie haggis - all baked and ready to be enjoyed by those who, for reasons known only to ourselves, feel that something particular to our heritage (or part of it) should be consumed at some time during the year. Sound familiar? :) The haggis (in its distinctly non-veg version) is traditional on Burns Night, 25 January, in honour of the Scottish poet. In our household, we like that too - but my husband also asks for it for New Year. Why not! so I make enough to do for both and freeze half!


I’ve made this a couple of times now - it is a work in progress, evolving, etc. There are soooo many recipes for this dish that you really can’t go too far wrong. Here’s my latest version:


1-1/2 cups cooked kidney beans (homemade or from a can, drained)
3 oz (by weight) green lentils
2 oz (by weight) pot barley
2 bay leaves
2 oz (by weight) steel-cut oats
1/4 cup regular rolled oats
1/4 cup dried TVP granules
4 oz carrot (by weight), minced
6 oz onion (by weight), minced
4 oz mushrooms (by weight), minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp Marmite (optional)
1 Tbsp low-sodium soysauce
1/3 cup Scotch
1/4 tsp sage
1/4 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried parsley
grating of fresh nutmeg
1/4 tsp or so of cumin
1/4 tsp tumeric
sprinkle of cinnamon
salt and black pepper - to taste
dash of cayenne or two - to taste (optional - I’ve made it with the cayenne and without it)
You’ll also need water or stock to rehydrate the tvp and to soak the oats as well as to ‘saute’ the vegetables (if you don’t use oil) .


Pre heat oven 375F

Put the oats and the tvp together in a bowl and add enough stock or water to come up to about 3/4 of the contents. Leave until the mix has absorbed all the liquid and is dryish. This can take about 45 mins or so - but it all happens quietly while the lentils and barley are cooking.

Cook the lentils and barley with bay leaves. When done, remove leaves, drain pan very well, and set aside.

Puree most of the Kidney beans except for about 1/3 cup to add whole.

‘Saute’ the onions, garlic, mushrooms and carrots in a little water (or stock if you have it) until they go a bit soft - 5 to seven minutes should more than do it.

Add the lemon juice, Marmite, soy sauce, scotch, spices and stir well. Add the pureed kidney beans, the whole kidney beans, the oat and tvp mixture, and the lentil and barley mixture. Stir well and taste for seasoning.

Add more water or stock if it looks a bit dry, but you won’t want it soupy.

Put into an lightly oil-sprayed ovenproof casserole and cover. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes. If you would like a crispy top (it’s nice :) ) you should remove the cover for the last 10 minutes.

While the haggis is in the oven, now's the time to cook the potatoes and turnips that go with it! I add all kinds of things to mashed potatoes - and that includes nutritional yeast, turmeric, and goodness knows what else. You please yourself. The turnips I like pretty well plain.

Glamorous it is not, but it certainly was good to eat! My husband was delighted - and that's what it was all about! ;)

You could use just one kind of oats - I chose two for added visual interest and texture. Barley is a nice touch, but many recipes don’t have it. Other beans? I think you need the darker colour of the red kidney beans for this kind of dish. Use brown lentils rather than green if you prefer, but I wouldn’t advise using red lentils - too soft. Save some scotch for a toast.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Variations On A Theme: Baked Pasta With Spinach, Gluten And Mushrooms

[Edited because I mistakenly added in part of another recipe - would ya believe!!!! Time for a rest!]

A little while ago I posted a pic and recipe (sort of) for something I whipped up on a slow day in the kitchen (or was it a frantic day? Point is, I made it from what I had on hand - AND I was feeling relatively lazy!). It was a Mushroom Pasta Bake and it was GOOD :)

Shortly thereafter I did a variation on that one. Feeling that I needed to use up some things in the freezer (in this case, some seitan/gluten I had made) and the refrigerator (in this case mushrooms - I always have mushrooms and use any excuse to use them up!), I decided to do another 'bake'. Tofu I usually have in because I buy some of those shelf-stable aseptic packs of silken tofu that I use whenever I run out of the regular tofu. Besides, silken is great for sauces and such - so there!

So here's my 'Variation On A Theme':


Following the previous recipe, more or less (see above) I assembled the following:

3 or 4 ounces quinoa macaroni, boiled just short of al dente and drained (or use whatever small pasta you prefer)
4 or 5 ounces mushrooms, chopped small
1 10-oz pkg frozen spinach, thawed and drained very very well
A few ounces (about 1 cup measure) of my own homemade gluten roast (seasoned as if for roast b**f), minced
Liquid from cooking the gluten roast (half a cup or so you could substitute a good strong veg stock)
1/2 pkg low-fat tofu (you might want to use more so that you have extra sauce to pass at the table)*
soymilk and/or stock - enough to thin out the tofu to a cream consistency*
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp vegan worcestershire sauce (optional but we like it most of the time)
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 - 2 Tbsp lemon juice
black pepper
1 Tbsp white miso
herbs according to taste
salt and pepper throughout to taste
Nutmeg for the spinach
crumbs or vegan parmezan cheez for topping (I used my own mix that I keep on hand)

I cooked the pasta and while it was doing its thing I sauteed the mushrooms in a little stock and low-sodium soy. My spinach wasn't completely thawed, so I put it on a low heat at the back of the stove to finish defrosting. I had previously chopped the wedge of gluten roast (you could use some kind of commercial seitan - depending on flavour) very finely - to make it seem like soy crumbles.

When the mushrooms are shrunk to half their size and looking good :) add the gluten/seitan and its cooking liquid or stock. At this point you might need to add a little wholewheat flour to thicken this mixture (stir quickly so it doesn't glom) and add more stock, a bit at a time, until you have a good consistency for a gravy. Let this cook a little to take away the raw taste of the flour. Everything tasting good? (Need salt and pepper? More stock?) A nice rich 'gravy' is ideal here. Okay, set it aside.

For the tofu topping:
Mix the tofu with the remaining ingredients (except for the nutmeg and crumbs) until it tastes the way you want it to. This is a subjective matter and I even change my mind from day to day what I like to have in this kind of dish. You decide. You will want this to be nice and creamy - sort of like a thickish yoghurt.

* Alternately, you could simply whisk a some silken tofu with whatever you like of the same ingredients for an easier topping.


Pre-heat oven to 375

Spoon the spinach into the bottom of a lightly oil-sprayed casserole, grate on a little nutmeg.

Add the macaroni-mushroom-gluten mix in a nice even layer over the top of the spinach.

Next comes the tofu sauce.

As you see, I kinda dump it in spoonfuls over the top then spread it with the back of a spoon to more or less cover. If there's more than you need, fine - it makes a good sauce to pass at the table. If not, then don't sweat it.

Finally top with crumbs, a mix of nuts and nutritional yeast or vegan parmezan cheez - whatever your heart desires :)

And here it is

- all ready to go in the oven for (how long did I say?) 20 minutes, lightly covered with foil, then remove the foil for a last few minutes to brown a little. The timing will depend a little on the heat of your oven (they all differ a bit) and the size and shape of your baking dish.

This had a rich 'meaty' taste - and the spinach was a pleasant complement to the rest of the dish. I'll do it this way in future.

NOTE: I tend to make things a little on the dry side by some people's standards, because we don't care for 'soupy' dishes - unless we're having soup! LOL You may want to add more liquid to everything, more sauce, depending on your taste. Just note as you go along whether or not it looks right to you, okay?