Friday, September 28, 2012


I don't think I need to point out how important hummus is to vegans. It's our cheese, our butter, our vegetable dip, our sandwich filling...I think some vegans bathe in it. There are some pretty good brands of hummus out there and there are a lot of them that don't even have a lot of gross preservatives in them. But there are several reasons to make your own: 1) Hummus can be pretty expensive and not only is it cheaper to make your own (especially if you cook your own chickpeas), but you get a huge amount of hummus from one batch. 2) You can put in any flavorings you want when you make your own hummus. 3) It's really satisfying to make hummus from scratch.

2 15 oz. cans or 3 cups cooked chick peas (Keep in mind Eden brand canned beans do not use BPA's in the linings of their cans)
Juice of 1-2 lemons (use more if you like it lemony, less if you don't)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. tahini
2-3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. paprika
3/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. corriander
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Water to thin
Other optional ingredients that work well are:
-sun dried tomatoes
-kalamata olives
-roasted garlic
-fresh herbs

1) Place all of the ingredients except for the water into a food processor (this is too thick for a blender) and process until it begins to smooth out.

2) With the motor running add water 1/4 c. at a time (at first) until the hummus reaches a consistency that you like. I usually end up using about 1/2 c.  Then add any optional ingredients and pulse to incorporate.

3) Transfer to a storage container or serving dish. This can be stored in the fridge for about 5 days.

This makes about 3 1/4 c. hummus.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Vegetable Barley Soup

Hulled barley is high in protein, iron, folate and fiber. This soup is so simple and I like to make it really peppery. It's quite similar to the Basic Vegetable Soup that I posted earlier but it tastes quite different. It cooks for a long time because of the barley but it's very easy to make. You can usually find hulled barley in the bulk section of any health food store. You could use vegetable stock to make this, but it's really unnecessary because you're essentially making your own stock as you boil this soup.

3/4 c. hulled barley, sorted, rinsed and drained (it would be better if you soaked the barley for a few hours first)
2 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 large zucchini, cut into matchsticks
2 large ribs of celery, cut into matchsticks (see a theme here?)
1 leek, halved, rinsed and cut into matchsticks
1/4 head of green cabbage, thinly sliced
8-10 c. water or vegetable stock (I like this soup better made with water, it is more delicate and by boiling these vegetables in water for so long you are essentially making a vegetable stock)
Several sprigs of flat leaf parsley and fresh thyme
2-3 bay leaves
Sea salt & black pepper to taste

1) Place everything together in a large soup pot except for the salt and pepper and bring to a boil.

2) Reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 40 minutes.

3) Add salt and pepper to taste and boil for 20 minutes longer. Adjust salt and pepper as needed.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Spicy Buffalo Tempeh Pizza

I never liked buffalo wings - the bones and the skin and the fat grizzle turned me off even when I was a chicken eater. But I sure do love that spicy, tangy sauce. So why not turn it into a pizza that doesn't have any bones or skin? You could put carrots and celery on this since they usually serve Buffalo wings with sticks of those. Personally, I don't like carrots and celery on pizza so I do red onions and cilantro instead. This is for people who like spicy food.

I was all out of cilantro this time.
1 8 oz. package of tempeh, sliced widthwise into thin strips
Louisiana hot sauce or Tobasco
Vegan cheese (such as Daiya cheddar style)
1/2 a small red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 c. cilantro leaves
1 pizza crust, home made or store bought

1) Heat a little oil in a saute pan and add the tempeh slices. Cook the first side until it starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Then flip and cook the second side for an additional 3-4 minutes until browned. Remove from the heat and let it cool for a bit. Once it has cooled add several dashes of hot sauce & toss gently to coat but avoid breaking up the tempeh.

2) Spread a thin layer of hot sauce on the crust you are using and then place the coated tempeh on top and spread it out evenly.

3) Add the cheese and then top with the onion slices and bake according to the package directions for the pizza you are using.

4) Once the pizza is finished baking sprinkle the cilantro on top (if desired) and serve.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ungreasy Spoon Spanish Style Breakfast Hash

This is my husband's favorite breakfast. It's a little spicy and full of vegetables. Melissa's brand soy chorizo (soyrizo) uses non-gmo soy and is very affordable. Trader Joe's also makes a good one.

2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 package soy chorizo
2-3 c. diced potatoes, fresh or frozen
2 c. bell peppers (any color), diced
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 c. vegetable broth
1/2 c. cilantro, minced

1) Heat the oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron. Add the soy chorizo and break it up with your spoon a little and then add the onion and saute until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, potatoes, and all of the spices. Toss to coat and continue to saute to cook the potatoes, about 5 more minutes, stirring frequently. 

2) Add the peppers and saute for an additional 5 minutes.

3) Add the tomato paste and vegetable broth. Stir the tomato paste to dissolve it and deglaze the pan. Let it cook for just a couple of minutes to thicken the sauce a bit.

4) Turn off the heat and add the cilantro and toss to incorporate.

This serves about 4 and is good garnished with avocado slices or guacamole.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Simple Baked Tofu

Baked tofu is a good thing to know how to make because it's super easy and you can use it for so many different things. You can add slices of baked tofu to sandwiches, wraps or salads. You can put it in nori rolls with rice, carrots and cucumbers. You can add it to stirfry or noodle dishes. Or you can do like my kids do and eat chunks of baked tofu like you think they're chicken nuggets. You can marinade the tofu in whatever you want in order to get different flavors, complicated or simple. So take this recipe and use the method to make whatever flavor of baked tofu you want. When you bake tofu it takes on the flavor of whatever sauce you use and it also gets a firm and smooth texture.

1 lb. firm or extra firm tofu, cut into 1 inch chunks (I usually do rectangular cubes)
About 1/4 c. shoyu or tamari

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2) Rinse the tofu, pat it dry, and cut it into desired shapes - get crazy, go for triangles or diamonds if you want.

3) Pour the shoyu or tamari into a little bowl and proceed to dip each hunk of tofu into the shoyu making sure to coat each side. Place all of the coated tofu onto the baking sheet spaced evenly apart.

4) Bake the tofu for 25-30 minutes. That's all.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Savory Winter Squash Soup

I was never particularly fond of winter squash (other than their beauty) until I started using them in pureed soups, and now they're one of my favorite foods. There are so many varieties and you can do so many different things with them. This soup is rich and savory and kids love it because it's a pretty color and it has no chunks. I love it too. You can use any orange fleshed squash you desire in this recipe. I believe that I had either an orange hubbard or a kuri pumpkin (I'm not exactly sure because they kind of look alike and I got it out of a "variety squash" bin that didn't label each individual squash type).

4 - 4 1/2 lbs. orange fleshed winter squash, any kind
Extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 large carrots, sliced
2 ribs celery, chopped
Sea salt
6-8 c. vegetable broth (the less you add the thicker the soup will be)
1 1/2 Tbsp. cashew or almond butter
1 Tbsp. tahini (or more cashew or almond butter)
1/4 c. shoyu or tamari
Toasted pumpkin seeds to garnish (optional)

1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking dish with parchment paper. Wash the squash, cut off the stem, and then attempt to slice it in half and scrape out the seeds with a large spoon. If your cut is off center (like mine was), slice the larger half into halves.

2) Rub the squash with a little olive oil and then place them cut sides down in the prepared baking dish and bake for about 1 hour, until easily pierced with a knife.

3) In a large soup pot heat a little olive oil over medium heat and then add the diced onions, carrots and celery and a sprinkling of sea salt. Saute about 10-12 minutes until softened.

4) Meanwhile, when the squash is cool enough to handle scrape the flesh out with a spoon into a large bowl and set aside.

5) When the vegetables are soft add the broth and squash flesh and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

6) Place the cashew butter and tahini into a small bowl and ladle some of the hot soup liquid over them and dissolve them with a spoon. Then add the dissolved cashew butter & tahini and the shoyu to the pot and continue to simmer the soup for 10 more minutes and then remove it from the heat.

7) Once the soup has cooled a bit puree it with an immersion blender or in a blender. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds, if desired.

This recipe makes about 8 servings.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Caramelized Onion and Thyme Smashed Potatoes

This is not a low fat vegan dish. But if you're not eating a bunch of meat and dairy, who cares if you have some extra olive oil on your potatoes once in a while? These are a must for me at Thanksgiving and Christmas...and last night.

Sorry for the bad photo, I was too hungry to try to get a better shot.
4 lbs. potatoes (Yukon gold work best for this)
2 tsp. sea salt, divided
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. Earth Balance Buttery Spread (or more olive oil)
2 huge yellow onions, sliced thinly and caramelized
5-6 large cloves of garlic, crushed in a garlic press or made into a paste with your knife
3-4 Tbsp. fresh thyme, roughly chopped
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Plain soy or nut milk (about 1/2 to 3/4 c.)

1) Chop the potatoes into 1" chunks and place them in a large pot. Cover them with water & bring to a boil. Once they are boiling add 1 tsp. sea salt. Let them boil for about 12 minutes, until easily pierced with a fork.

2) As you wait for the potatoes to come up to a boil, heat the olive oil (and Earth Balance, if using) in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onions and the other 1 tsp. of sea salt and toss the onions to coat with the oil.

3) As the potatoes cook let the onions saute without messing with them until they start to brown, this should take 10-12 minutes. Once they begin to brown give them a toss and leave them alone for another 5 minutes or so. Once they start to become evenly browned make sure to stir frequently to avoid burning, maybe even turn the heat down a little bit if they start going too fast. Once the onions are fully caramelized add the crushed garlic & stir to incorporate with the onions & let it cook for one or two more minutes.

4) When the potatoes are done cooking, drain the water and add the onion, oil, garlic mixture to the pot along with the chopped thyme and black pepper. Add about 1/2 c. of soy or nut milk and begin to smash the potatoes with a potato masher. If they seem dry add a little bit more soy milk until they reach a nice, creamy (but not wet) consistency. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust if necessary.

This makes a big old pot of potatoes, probably enough for 6-8 people if there's a lot of other food being served.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Lentil and Vegetable Soup

This is a hearty soup. When I make it I puree a little bit of it for my kids and they love it that way (even the super picky one kinda likes it). For grown ups I keep it chunky. This is comfort food, like vegan chicken soup. Oh yeah, and it's fat free.

1 c. dried lentils, sorted and rinsed
1 c. water
8 c. vegetable broth, separated
2 tsp. sea salt, separated
3 bay leaves
1/4 c. tomato paste
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. fine black pepper
1 yellow or white onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 small leeks (white parts only), sliced or 1/4 a small green cabbage, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced

1) In a large soup pot add the lentils, 1 c. water, 4 c. vegetable broth, 1 tsp. sea salt and 3 bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

3) Add the remaining ingredients, return to a simmer and continue to simmer, covered, for an additional 30 minutes.

This makes a big pot of soup, about 8 (or so) servings

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Macro Plate

Everything about this meal is nourishing, balancing and delicious. The amounts for this recipe serve one so if you're serving more than 1, obviously, kick each of the ingredients up 1 notch for each serving. I like to use grated daikon radish as a garnish for this because it's said to break up fat deposits and help flush the fat out of our bodies (cool!). This is a great use for the bean recipes I posted earlier: Pinto Beans or Black Beans.

Toasted sesame oil
3 leaves bok choi, sliced with the leaves and stems divided
1/2 a small onion, sliced thinly
1 c. cooked brown rice or brown rice cooked with other grains (buckwheat groats, hulled barley, spelt, wild rice, etc.)
2 Tbsp. Umeboshi Vinaigrette, divided
Sea salt
Cooked beans such as pinto or black (or baked tofu)
Grated daikon radish (optional)
1/8 tsp. shoyu or tamari (optional)
Black sesame seeds to garnish (optional)

1) Heat a little toasted sesame oil over medium heat in a saute pan (cast iron, if possible) and add the onion and the white bok choi stems and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted (5-7 minutes). If it starts to dry out add a Tbsp. or two of water.

2) As the bok choi and onion cook, place 1 c. of cooked grain into a bowl and mix together with 1 Tbsp. Umeboshi Vinaigrette. Then plate the rice.

That big white thing is the daikon radish.

3) Grate the daikon radish (I like to use about 2-3 Tbsp. of radish), place it on the plate with the grains and sprinkle with 1/8 tsp. tamari or shoyu and place about 1/4 to 1/2 c. cooked tofu or beans next to the daikon radish.

4) Once the onions and bok choi stems are cooked, add the chopped green portion of the bok choi and a sprinkling of sea salt and continue to cook for a additional 1-2 minutes.

5) Add the cooked greens and onions to the plate and drizzle with the second Tbsp. of Umeboshi Vinaigrette. Garnish with black sesame seeds if desired.

Umeboshi Vinaigrette

Umeboshi plums are a dried Japanese plum pickled with shisho leaves. They are very purifying and alkalizing for the blood and are said to promote good digestion. Umeboshi vinegar and umeboshi paste are byproducts from the pickling process and while they are not as health promoting as the plums themselves they are still very good for you and tasty too. I like to use this to drizzle over cooked grains or cooked greens. It is the main seasoning in my Macro Plate recipe. This vinaigrette is very strongly flavored so you don't need to use much for seasoning.

Mixing Umeboshi Vinaigrette into rice.
2 Tbsp. ume plum vinegar
1 tsp. shoyu or tamari
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. mirin
1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp. tahini
1/4 tsp. toasted sesame seeds or gomasio

1) Place all of the ingredients in a small jar and shake vigorously or whisk together in a bowl. That's it.

This makes about 3 1/2 Tbsp.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Hawthorne Chowder

Nathanial Hawthorne is amongst my top 10 favorite authors. I'm in the middle of reading his complete works and I started to wonder...what did Nathanial Hawthorne eat, and could a vegan dish be made to match the types of food eaten in the first half of the 19th century in America?

In my extensive research via google and wikipedia (along with a few other New England history related sites) I discovered what I probably already knew. People back then ate a lot of sea food, wild game, and eggs. They also preserved a lot of fresh vegetables via pickling and kept many vegetables cool in their root cellars. Many of the vegetables cultivated then were the same as that which is now available except that things were pretty much local and seasonal. Root vegetables and squashes would have been consumed through the colder months for as long as they lasted, corn was very popular, and hot peppers were introduced via the Native Americans around this time. Finally, as it is today, chowder was a popular style of soup in the New England of Hawthorne's time.

Therefore, my second question is answered: of course a vegan dish can be created using the foods that would traditionally have graced the maw of Nathanial Hawthorne. And here is what I came up with to go along with an evening of reading, "The House of the Seven Gables."

1 Tbsp. non-hydrogenated vegan margarine or extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow or white onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1 small parsnip, diced
1 root of celery (celeric), diced (if you can't find celeric use an extra parsnip or potato)
2 ribs celery, diced
2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
7 c. vegetable broth
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. chipotle chile powder
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 c. corn, fresh off the cob or frozen
1 c. soy milk

1) Melt the margarine, such as Earth Balance Buttery Spread, or heat the oil in a large soup pot and add the onion, celery, celery root, carrots and parsnip. Saute until soft, about 10 minutes.

2) Add the potato, broth, salt, pepper and chipotle chile powder, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

3) Remove the soup from the heat and puree with an immersion blender.

4) Add the corn and soy milk and bring back to a simmer to heat through.

This makes about 6 servings.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Miso Soup for Two

This is my favorite breakfast in the fall and winter. Even the smell of it is calming and gentle. Miso paste is a Japanese fermented paste usually made out of soy beans or barley, but it could be made from other grains or beans. It is high in protein and minerals and has the good bacteria for your intestinal flora (as long as you don't purchase a brand that is pasteurized and/or contains MSG or preservatives - read the label!). Another lovely thing about miso soup is that it takes under 10 minutes to make it.

Miso soup is also the perfect medium for sea vegetables. If you are into groovy health foods you probably already know all about sea vegetables. If not, I encourage you to try these nutritional powerhouses. Sea vegetables are extremely high in calcium and also have high levels of iodine, protein and tons of other minerals. They have also been shown to fight against tumors, alkalize our blood, remove radio active particles from the body, lower blood pressure, and much more. Most of us are all familiar with nori from sushi rolls, but there are many other wonderful sea vegetables to try. My two favorites are wakame, which is used in this soup, and kombu which I often use when I cook beans (it's said to enhance their flavor and reduce gassiness). Hijiki is another good one that is often used in fritters, but it has a stronger flavor so if you aren't sure if you will like this "seaweed" stuff, start with a milder flavored one like wakame.

Rehydrating wakame.
Most sea vegetables come dried and usually need to be rehydrated in warm water and then sliced or torn before using - for instance wakame looks like tiny little beads, but after you soak it they unfurl into larger fronds. Very cool. If you can't find sea vegetables in your town they are quite affordable online and can easily be found through Amazon or through various Macrobiotic sites such as Gold Mine.

Most Miso comes in paste form (don't get powdered, please) in a plastic tub. Typically you will find mild white miso and stronger red miso at regular grocery stores (usually by the tofu). Give either one a try, or both. If you happen to live near an Asian specialty grocery store (lucky you!) you will find many different types to choose from - barley miso is said to be the best for health. Miso has a sort of meaty, salty yet mello flavor that is very pleasent. It can also be used in dips and spreads.

You never want to boil miso paste because that kills all of the good living enzymes that are in there, so be sure to keep an eye on your soup and keep it at a low simmer.

4 c. filtered water
1 tsp. shoyu or tamari 
3 tsp. miso paste, any kind (just make sure it's naturally fermented)
About 8 little dried pieces of wakame, rehydrated and sliced
(Other optional ingredients: thinly sliced onion (white or green), 4 Tbsp. cubed silken tofu, grated daikon radish, umeboshi plum paste or 1/2 a diced umeboshi plum)

1) Place the water and shoyu or tamari in a soup pan over medium high heat.

2) As the water is coming up to a simmer soak the wakame in warm water and slice it into bitesized pieces once it opens up into flat leaves. Also place 3 tsp. of miso paste in a bowl and set aside.

3) Once the water starts to show little bubbles at the bottom of the pan, ladle some of the hot water from the soup over the miso paste and use a spoon to help dissolve the paste in the water.

4) Add the wakame, the dissolved miso paste, and any other optional ingredients to the pan and turn the heat to a level so that it will be at a very low simmer. Let it cook for about 4 miutes and then serve.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Chipotle Corn Skillet

One of my favorite flavors with corn is chipotle chile - smokey and sweet together. Chipotle chile powder is pretty spicy, so if you don't like that kind of heat you can use smoked paprika instead - the idea is to get that smokey flavor mixed with the corn.

Chipotle Corn served with an open faced garden burger.
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, quartered & sliced into thin half moons
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
1 lb. of corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1/2 to 1 tsp. chipotle chile powder (or smoked paprika)
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

1) Heat the oil in a large saute pan and fry the onion until it's just beginning to brown, 7-10 minutes, then add the garlic (if using) and saute for a minute more.

2) Add the remaining ingredients and toss to mix, saute for an additional 3-5 minutes until the corn is heated through.

This makes about 4 servings.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tomato Soup with Fennel and Parsnips

This soup is so savory and delicious and perfect for dipping freshly baked bread or homemade garlic bread into. It's a pureed soup, so if you want to make it a little heartier you could add cooked white beans or chickpeas and cook for an additional 15 minutes after the soup is pureed.

2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. diced shallot, about 3 large
1/2 lb. parsnips, peeled and diced
1 large bulb fennel, cored and diced
1 lbs. fresh tomatoes pureed in a blender or 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
4 c. vegetable broth
About 10 leaves of fresh basil, roughly chopped
1/4 tsp. dried tarragon or 2 tsp. fresh tarragon
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Black pepper to taste

1) Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat and then add the shallot parsnips and fennel. Sprinkle with a little sea salt to draw out the liquid and saute for about 10-12 minutes until softened and just starting to brown.

2) Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook for 30 minutes, covered.

3) Remove from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes and then puree with an immersion blender or in a blender.

4) If you want to add beans add the beans after the soup is pureed and simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes.

This soup serves 4.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pinto Bean Enchiladas

This recipe has tons of vegetables and a smokey seasoning. For some reason pinto beans go really well with the other ingredients in these. I love this topped with my Guacamole, but top yours with whatever you want.

1 recipe Pinto Beans Straight Up or 2 15 oz. cans of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and diced
2 poblano peppers, seeded and diced
4 jalapeno peppers, sliced into thin rounds (or green bell pepper if you don't like heat)
8 oz. crimini or button mushrooms, diced
2 tomatoes diced with their juice
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. chipotle chile powder (or more regular chili powder)
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground corriander
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. black pepper
3 Tbsp. chipotle hot sauce or chipotle flavored salsa
Juice of 1 fresh lime
A handful of fresh cilantro, minced
10-12 whole wheat tortillas (it just depends on how full you stuff them)
28 oz. enchilada sauce, home made or purchased (my favorite vegan store bought brand is Carlito's)

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat a little oil in a large skillet or pot and saute the onion, peppers, zucchini and mushrooms for about 10 minutes, until softened. Add the tomatoes, chipotle hot sauce or salsa and all of the herbs and spices and toss to coat. Turn the heat off and add the lime juice and cilantro and toss to incorporate.

2) Place 1/3 of the enchilada sauce at the bottom of an 8x12 or 9x13 inch baking dish and create an assembly line with the pinto beans, vegetable filling and tortillas.

3) Place several tablespoons of the beans in the center of a tortilla and top with several spoons of the vegetable mixture. Then roll the tortilla up and place it seam side down in the prepared baking dish. Repeat until the baking dish is filled. (Note: if you have extra beans and vegetables you can mix them together and make a breakfast hash with them the next morning or eat them over brown rice or millet for lunch).

4) Spoon the remaining enchilada sauce over the top of the enchiladas making sure to cover the tortillas completely so they won't dry out, and then cover the dish with foil and place in the oven for 25 minutes. Spray the foil with a little oil to keep it from sticking if you want.

5) Remove the foil, add vegan cheese if you are using any, and bake, uncovered, for an additional 5-10 minutes until lightly browned and bubbling at the edges.

Serve topped with guacamole, salsa, vegan cheese or sour cream, or whatever else you like. This makes about 6-8 servings.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Pinto Beans Straight Up

This is the same technique I used for the black bean recipe I posted earlier. The main difference is that I do not prefer to use epazote/Mexican oregano with pinto beans because it obscures their more delicate flavor too much. I love the texture these beans get when they're cooked this way.

1 lb. dried pinto beans, sorted and rinsed and soaked in filtered water for 4-6 hours
1-2 large white onions, halved and thinly sliced
3-4 bay leaves
1 Tbsp. sea salt

1) Spread the beans out on a dark colored kitchen towel (something not similar to the color of the beans so that you can see them better) and sort through them for broken or malformed beans and foreign matter.

2) Place the beans in a colander and run them under cold water as you rub them together to wash. Then place them in a large glass bowl and cover them with 2-3 inches of water and let them soak for 4-6 hours, adding more water if they absorb it all.

3) Place the beans back into the colander to drain them and then rinse them off again. Place them in a large dutch oven or pot and cover them with 2-3 inches of fresh water along with the sliced onions and bay leaves and bring to a boil

4) Once the liquid has come to a boil, reduce the heat to a level where it remains at a low boil (more than a simmer). Let them cook this way for about an hour while stirring occasionally and adding more water if they start to dry out.

5) After an hour test a couple of beans and if they are mostly soft add 1 Tbsp. of salt (if not let them go for another 1/2 hour and test again). Continue to cook for an additional hour, adding more water when necessary and stirring occasionally to ensure they don't stick and burn.

6) Once the beans are completely soft, quit adding water and let the liquid evaporate (stirring more frequently  at this point) until they are in a thick sauce.

Serve with cooked grains and a little salsa, in tacos or burritos, or use them to make a batch of Pinto Bean Enchiladas.

This makes a lot of beans.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Ungreasy Spoon Mexican Breakfast Hash

In college I loved to frequent greasy spoon cafes (Jim's? any Minneapolis peeps from the 1990's?) for breakfast on the weekends. I'd always get hash browns and drown them in ketchup. I know, gross. But I am still a fan of the savory breakfast featuring potatoes, just not the oily gut rot that goes with a greasy spoon breakfast.

2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 onion (any kind), diced
3-4 c. diced potatoes, fresh or frozen (if you use frozen, try not to get a brand with preservatives)
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 tsp. paprika or smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 c. diced peppers (any combination of sweet, poblano, ancho, jalapeno, etc.)
1 15 oz. can beans - black, pinto, or kidney, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 c. vegetable broth
1/2 c. salsa (any kind)
1/2 c. fresh cilantro, minced
Avocado to garnish 

1) Heat the oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron. Add the onion and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, potatoes, and all of the dried herbs and spices. Toss to coat and continue to saute to cook the potatoes, about 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently. 

2) Add the peppers and saute for an additional 5 minutes.

3) Add the beans, tomato paste, and vegetable broth. Stir the tomato paste to dissolve it and deglaze the pan.

4) Turn off the heat and add the salsa and cilantro and toss to incorporate.

This serves about 4 and is good garnished with avocado slices or guacamole.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Huge Pot of Vegan Chili

To me autumn is the ultimate season, and nothing caps off a perfect fall day like a Green Bay Packers victory accompanied by a steaming bowl of chili and a stein of beer. When you make this chili you should get a 6 pack of a good pale ale and use 2 bottles for the recipe and drink the other 4 (amongst several people, not all yourself) while you watch the Packers trounce the Bears. Get out your can opener because this recipe has a lot of cans. (And keep in mind Eden brand does not have BPAs in the lining of their cans!).

Photo courtesy of Sally Grayson Merkle
4 cloves of garlic, crushed (not minced)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
16 oz. can of tomato sauce
2 cans or bottles of beer (24 oz.)
1 15 oz. can (rinsed and drained) each of:
-red or adzuki beans
-black beans
-pinto beans
-kidney beans
3-5 Tbsp. chile powder
1 tsp. each of:
-dried oregano or dried Mexican oregano
-sea salt
-paprika, sweet or smoked
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne
1 Tbsp. yellow mustard
1/2 c. bulgar wheat (optional)
1 white or yellow onion, diced
1 green or yellow bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 large or 2 small zucchini, diced

1) Preheat the olive oil in a large soup pot and add the garlic to saute for 1 minute and infuse the oil.

2) Add all of the ingredients except for the vegetables and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 15 minutes.

3) As the chili simmers chop the vegetables and add to the chili after 15 minutes. Cook for an additional 20 minutes.

This makes about 10 cups of chili. It's delicious served with diced avocados or a big dollop of Guacamole.
NOTE: I recently made this recipe and used about a cup of well rinsed quinoa in place of the bulgar wheat and it was really good. 

Photo courtesy of Sally Grayson Merkle

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Moroccan Stew

Morocco is on my list of the top 10 places I'd like to visit. Meat is a large part of Moroccan cuisine, but the flavors are easily translated into vegan dishes using the spices, vegetables, chickpeas and couscous. Any food that combines North African and Middle Eastern cuisine has got to be good.

Note: When I use canned beans or tomatoes I highly recommend getting Eden Organic brand because they do not have BPA's in the lining of their cans - Eden Foods and BPA. I think it's worth the extra cents to avoid ingesting toxins.

For the Sauce:
2 lbs. fresh tomatoes, pureed in a blender or 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
3-4 roasted red peppers, home made or 12 oz. from a jar, diced
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp. paprika
3/4 tsp. cinnamon 
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. corriander
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper (scant)
1 c. vegetable broth
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 c. plain soy milk

For the Stew:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 white or brown onion, diced
1 large carrot, sliced into 1/2" rounds
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1" chunks
1 green or yellow bell pepper, cut into 1" chunks
1 large zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2" semi-circles
2 c. cooked chickpeas (home made or 1 15 oz. can)
1/4 c. golden raisins (optional)
10-12 kalamata olives, sliced (optional)

1) To prepare the sauce, place all of the ingredients except for the soy milk into a sauce pan, bring to a boil, reduce to a high simmer and cook for about 20 minutes. Let it cool a bit and then puree with an immersion blender or in a blender. (Note: if you are using fresh tomatoes rather than canned, just puree the roasted peppers with the tomatoes before cooking and you won't have to blend it after cooking). Once the sauce has been pureed add the soy milk and stir to incorporate.

2) Heat a little olive oil in a soup pot and add the onion and carrots. Saute until the onions begin to soften, about 7 minutes and then add the bell peppers and zucchini. Saute for another 5 minutes.

3) Add the chickpeas and the pureed sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. If using the raisins and/or olives add them for the last 3-5 minutes of cooking.

Serve over whole wheat couscous, quinoa, or millet. This makes about 4 servings.

Note: It can be yummy to add additional ingredients to your couscous as it steams - diced kalamata olives (if you didn't add them to the stew), dried oregano and/or thyme, dried mint, etc.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fermented Jalapenos

I love pickled jalapenos but if you look at the ingredient list on most jars there can be some pretty funky things in there. Fermenting them renders preservatives unnecessary. This is another one of those recipes that doesn't really have any exact amounts, ferment as many jalapenos as you want, but I will give you the measurements for what I used. You will need a glass jar (or jars) big enough to fit all of the peppers you want to ferment. They will also need to be weighted down so that they remain submerged in the brine. I usually use a baggie filled with water.

Here I had to use 3 small jars because I didn't have a big jar available.

1 1/2 lbs. Jalapenos, cut into rounds (you know, like the ones you get at the store)
6 cloves garlic, quartered lengthwise
1 1/2 tsp. whole black pepper corns, coarsely crushed
1 scant tsp. corriander seeds, coarsely crushed
1 scant tsp. cumin seeds, coarsely crushed
4 allspice berries, coarsely crushed
Filtered tap water
Sea salt

1) Slice the jalapenos and garlic and crush the spices (I used a moarter and pestile) and toss it all together in a large bowl.

2) To mix your brine you will use a 5% salt to water ratio. This turns out to be 3 Tbsp. of sea salt for every quart of water (1 quart = 4 cups or 32 oz.). Make sure you dissolve the salt into the water completely.

Large Jar
3) Fill your jar with the jalapenos and then pour in the brine solution until there is enough to cover the jalapenos.

4) Once the jar is filled weight the jalapenos down with a baggie filled with water. It's best to do this in the sink as some of the liquid will be pushed out of the jar when you add the baggie. You want to keep all of the jalapenos submerged in the liquid so that they ferment rather than mold.

5) Let the jalapenos ferment at room temperature for 3-7 days and then transfer to the fridge.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Savory Kim Chi Pancakes

In certain parts of China savory pancakes are a popular dish. What I like about these pancakes is that making them with a dough rather than a batter makes them dense, crispy, and perfect for dipping. I think scallions are the most popular flavor for these kinds of pancakes in China, but they are the perfect vessel for spicy kim chi. Kim Chi is available in the Asian food refrigerated section of most large grocery stores these days, or you can make your own Kim Chi.

I use arrowroot powder to thicken the dipping sauce but you could replace it with corn starch if you want to. I learned about arrowroot powder when I dabbled with Macrobiotic food and I do prefer it to corn starch because it's said to be more easily digested and less acidic in the bloodstream than corn starch, it also makes a glossy rather than cloudy sauce.

For the Pancakes:
1 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 c. unbleached allpurpose flour
1 1/4 c. minced kim chi
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. finely ground black pepper
3/4 c. boiling water with 1/2 tsp. sea salt dissolved in it
1 Tbsp. kim chi juice (added only if the dough is too dry to stick together)

For the Sauce:
1/2 c. shoyu, tamari or soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime (about 2 Tbsp.)
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp. arrowroot powder (or corn starch) dissolved in 2 Tbsp. water

1) In a medium bowl whisk together the flours, the pepper and 1/2 tsp. of sea salt and mix to combine.

2) In a small sauce pan bring the water and 1/2 tsp. of sea salt to a boil.

3) Pour the salted water into the bowl, add the minced kim chi and mix with a wooden spoon until a ball is formed. If the dough will not stick together add some kim chi juice or more water 1 Tbsp. at a time (you want the dough to be a little on the dry side rather than sticky and wet). Then, being careful of the heat, form a dough ball with your hands. Place a cloth over the dough in the bowl and let it rest for 30-40 minutes.

4) Once the dough has been allowed to rest, spray a little cooking spray on the counter and roll the dough out into a large oval shape with a rolling pin. Slice the large oval into two halves and roll them out a little more to make them closely resemble 2 large circles.

5) Heat about 2 tsp. of high heat oil (such as canola) in a frying pan over high heat. Add one of the large pancakes to the pan. Fry for about 5-7 minutes on the first side until it is browned and just starting to blacken. Flip it to the second side with a large spatula and fry the second side for about 3-5 minutes until browned and cooked through. Repeat with the second pancake.

6) Once you put the second of pancake in the pan, start to cook all of the ingredients of the sauce, except for the arrowroot and water, in a small sauce pan over medium heat. In a small bowl whisk together the arrowroot and water and add to the sauce once it comes up to a bubble. Let the sauce bubble while whisking constantly for 1 more minute after adding the arrowroot and then transfer to a serving bowl.

7) Slice the pancakes into smaller shapes, and you can either dip the pancakes in the sauce or drizzle it over the pancakes.

This makes 2 large pancakes, about 4 servings when sliced.