Friday, December 21, 2012

Spicy Pepper and Black Bean Chile

The idea for this soup arose from a sale on "variety peppers" at the grocery store. Incidentally, Congress member Tim Walz was at the grocery store that day to meet and greet constituents and there was a line of at least 80 senior citizens snaked around the produce section in line to meet the Honorable Mr. Walz each clutching a list of intended talking points, which I think is excellent.


2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, minced or crushed
1 white or yellow onion, thinly sliced in whatever shape you desire
About 8-10 different varieties of hot peppers, seeds removed and sliced into thin rounds
2 tsp. chile powder
1/2 heaping tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt, divided
2 15 oz. cans of black beans, rinsed and drained (or 3-4 c. home cooked beans)
32 oz. can crushed tomatoes
4 c. water or vegetable broth
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, minced

1) Slice all of the vegetables, rinse and drain the beans, and measure out the spices and have them ready to use. To slice the peppers, cut off the stem side and then use a paring knife to scrape out the seeds before you slice them into thin rounds.

2) Heat the oil in a large soup pan over medium heat and then add the garlic. Saute the garlic for about 30 seconds.

3) Add the peppers, onion and 1/2 tsp. of sea salt, and toss to mix. Let the peppers and onions cook until soft, about 7-10 minutes, while stirring occasionally.

4) Once the onions and peppers have softened sprinkle the remaining salt and the additional spices over the vegetables and stir to coat the vegetables (this keeps the spices from clumping when you add the liquid).

5) Add the beans, tomatoes, and broth or water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let the soup simmer for 15 minutes.

6) Once the soup is done cooking add the cilantro.

This makes about 6 servings. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Spicy Fried Tofu

I love crispy and spicy tofu, and this recipe is good because it isn't deep fried. You can serve this tofu on a platter as an appetizer, add it to any stirfry, use it in spring rolls, eat it over cooked grains, or whatever else you can come up with. 


2 -3 Tbsp. canola or peanut oil
1 16 oz. brick of firm or extra firm tofu
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
3 Tbsp. shoyu or tamari
2 Tbsp. mirin (sweet rice cooking wine), optional
1-2 Tbsp. chile garlic paste (according to the heat level you like)
2 Tbsp. water
1/4 tsp. Korean chile powder or pure chile powder, optional
Drizzle of pure maple syrup, about 1 tsp. (or agave, etc.)
2-3 dashes brown rice vinegar or seasoned rice vinegar
1 scallion, white and green part, thinly sliced
1 tsp. arrowroot powder or corn starch dissolved in 2 tsp. water, optional

1) For the sauce, whisk together the toasted sesame oil, shoyu, mirin, chile garlic paste, water, chile powder, maple syrup, vinegar, and scallion and set aside.

The pretty measuring cup my friend, Josie, gave me.
2) Heat the canola or peanut oil over medium high heat (more high than medium) in a large non-stick saute pan and slice the tofu into desired shapes, I like big squares. Add the tofu to the heated oil and let it fry for about 5-7 minutes on the first side and  3-5 minutes on the second side (until both sides are browned). NOTE: If you don't use enough oil and don't turn the heat up high enough the tofu will stick to the pan and to each other and will break apart, so don't be meek.


3) Turn the heat down a bit and pour the sauce over the tofu (NOTE: if you want, you can carefully pour the oil out of the pan while holding the tofu in place with a spatula before you add the sauce). Let the sauce simmer and bubble for a few minutes until it thickens a bit. If you want a thicker sauce, add the optional arrowroot or corn starch dissolved with its water and cook for an additional minute.

This tofu makes about 6 appetizer servings or 2-3 main servings and is good dipped in sweet chile sauce as an appetizer, or over brown rice with sauteed enoki mushrooms like the photo to the right.




Monday, December 17, 2012

Three Sisters Stew

I don't know if I can call this my recipe or not. My sister-in-law, Kristel, made this when we were at her house once and told me it had cumin and cinnamon in it. I tried to recreate it at home later based upon my memory of what was in it. I don't know how close I've come to the original recipe, but it looks the same and tastes great. Of course the "three sisters" refers to the Native American gardening technique of the same name that involves planting squash, corn and beans together.


1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 yellow onion, diced
1/2 tsp. cinnamon, scant
1 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and cut into a 1/2" dice
1 1/2 to 2 c. vegetable stock
1 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes or 2 cups of fresh tomatoes, diced, with the liquid
1 15. oz can of butter beans, rinsed and drained
1 c. fresh or frozen corn kernels
Cilantro to garnish, if desired

1) Heat the olive oil in a soup pot and toast the cumin seeds in the oil until they become fragrant, about 45 seconds.

2) Add the onions and saute until soft, about 5-7 minutes, and ten add the squash and the other spices and saute for about 5 minutes.

3) Add the tomatoes and just enough vegetable stock to barely cover. Bring the stew to a boil, reduce to a simmer and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes until the squash is tender.

4) Add the corn and beans and simmer for about 5 more minutes. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.

This makes about 4-6 servings.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Healthy Cookies

These are called "healthy cookies" because that's what my daughters call them (even though they're more like muffins). This recipe is adapted from Dreena Burton's "Banana Oat Bundles" recipe which appears in her cookbook, Vive le Vegan! If you enjoy baked goods, she is by far the best vegan baker I have found. The things I've made from her cook books are better than anything I've ever gotten at a vegan bakery. Personally, I don't like sweets or baked goods but my kids do and they love these.

Most of the time baking has to be done with exact measurements, but this recipe is very forgiving. If you have huge bananas use a heaping cup of flour, if you have small bananas use a scant cup of flower. If you like cinnamon or vanilla, put more in. You can add the vegan chocolate chips, or carob, or dried fruit, or nuts, or leave it all out and make them plain. In the original recipe you're supposed to grind quick oats in a coffee grinder. I just use oat flour and it works perfectly fine.


1 c. oat flour
1 c. rolled oats or quick oats
1/4 c. brown sugar, packed (light or dark)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 c. vegan chocolate chips (or carob, dried fruit, toasted nuts, etc.), optional
2 bananas
3 Tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract, plus an extra dash for good measure

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or lightly oil them, and set aside.

2) Place the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl (except for the chocolate chips) and mix with a wire whisk to incorporate the baking powder well. Add the chocolate chips and mix again.


3) In a separate bowl break the bananas into pieces and puree them with an immersion blender. Or use a fork or potato masher, but make sure they are pureed.


4) Add the oil and vanilla extract to the pureed bananas and stir to mix.

5) Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to mix well (you know the drill - don't over mix it, just get the dry stuff wet).

6) Using a large soup spoon, plop blobs of the dough evenly onto the prepared baking trays. There's no need to be fancy about it, just make them all the same size.


7) Bake for 12-15 minutes until the bottoms are browned. Remove with a spatula and place on a wire rack to cool.

This makes 10-15 cookies depending on how big you make them, I almost always end up with 14. They keep in a sealed container on the counter for about 4-5 days or up to a week in the fridge. Eat them for breakfast or dessert or as a snack.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Korean Kim Chi Hot Pot with Tofu

This soup/stew uses a Korean hot chile powder. But if you don't have access to an Asian market you could try getting dried Asian chiles and turning them to powder in a blender, or you could use pure chile powder (not the kind with other spices in it - just read the ingredients). It should also have fermented Korean bean paste, but I did not have that so I used chile garlic paste instead.

This is spicy. Not Minnesota people spicy, it's Korean spicy. This is a great soup if you're sick because it's got lots of garlic and also ginger in the kim chi, plus the spice clears out your sinuses. I used the Kim Chi we fermented at home, but you can obviously substitute with a good store bought brand. Most large grocery stores (and probably every health food store) carry jars of kim chi in the produce section.

On a scale of 1-10, I give this soup a 10. The idea for this soup is based off of a soup I had in Seoul one night when we visited Korea in 2001. That soup is still the best soup I've ever had.




1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
6-8 oz. crimini or button mushrooms, cut into chunks
5 large shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1/2 a large white onion, thinly sliced
3-4 large cloves garlic, crushed
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
3 large leaves bok choi or other green (kale, collards, etc.), sliced with stem and leaves separated
3/4 c. Kim Chi (more or less to taste), minced along with its juice 
1 Tbsp. (more or less to taste) Korean chile powder or pure chile powder
1 Tbsp. (more or less to taste) Korean fermented bean paste or chile garlic paste
3 Tbsp. shoyu or tamari
1 Tbsp. mirin (sweet rice cooking wine), optional
2 lbs. firm or extra firm tofu, cubed
1/4 tsp. sea salt (add more later if necessary)
6 c. water
Cooked brown rice, optional

1) Prepare all of the vegetables and have them ready to go. You are going to cook the white parts of the scallions and the stems of the bok choi with the onions, but the greens are going to be added last.

2) Rinse the tofu, pat it dry and cut it into large cubes.

3) Heat the toasted sesame oil over medium-high heat (more high than medium) in a large soup pot. Add the onions, white bok choi stems, the white portion of the scallions, and the mushrooms. Saute for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, and then add the garlic. Saute for another minute or two, but don't let the garlic burn.

4) Add the Korean chile powder, the fermented bean paste or chile garlic paste, and the kim chi and stir to mix with the vegetables.

5) Gently place the tofu on top of the vegetables and then add the shoyu or tamari and the mirin and place the cover on the pot. Let it steam for about 4-5 minutes.

6) Add the water and gently mix the pot being careful not to break up the tofu. Let it cook at a very high simmer, partially covered, for about 25 minutes.

7) Taste the broth adding more shoyu, sea salt or toasted sesame oil if necessary. Then add the green part of the scallions and the chopped bok choi leaves. Cook for another 5 minutes.

This makes about 6 servings and can be served as a soup alone or poured over cooked brown rice (in which case it would probably serve more).


Monday, December 10, 2012

Vegan Sausage and Vegetable Pot Pie

I did not grow up eating pot pies, I don't think I'd ever had it until I was in my 30's. So it's kind of an exotic food to me. I thought that the Field Roast brand applewood sage sausages would be perfect for a pot pie on a chilly day, but any other vegan sausage would work as well. Tofurkey makes a good polish style vegan sausage.


A little extra virgin olive oil
1 package (4 links) of vegan sausage (Field Roast Applewood Sage or Tofurkey Polish Sausage are both good)
3 Tbsp. Earth Balance Buttery Spread or other non-hydrogenated vegan margerine
1 large onion, diced
1 huge carrot (or 2 medium), diced
1 large celery stalk, diced
8 oz. crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, diced
8 oz. button mushrooms, diced
1 c. cauliflower cut into bite sized pieces
1 medium russet potato, diced
3/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flower (or experiment with other types)
2 1/2 c. vegetable broth
Scant 1 1/2 c. soy milk
1/4 c. marsala cooking wine or sherry viegar
3/4 c. frozen peas
Large handful of Italian (flat leaf) parsley, minced
4-5 leaves fresh sage, minced, or 1/4 tsp. dried
5-6 sprigs fresh thyme, minced, or 3/4 tsp. dried
2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
More olive oil to brush the top of the pastry

1) Heat a little oil in a saute pan over medium heat and slice your vegan sausages into round slices. Brown the sausages for about 3 minutes on each side and then remove them from the pan and cut them into smaller pieces (if desired) and set them aside.


2) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, lightly oil a 9 X 13 inch baking dish and set it aside, and take out your puff pastry to thaw according to the package directions. Chop your vegetables and measure out all of the other ingredients so that you have them ready to use.

3) In a large soup pot melt the Earth Balance (or other non-hydrogenated vegan buttery spread or olive oil) and add the onions. Let the onions cook 2-3 minutes until they start to soften then add the carrots, celery, mushrooms, cauliflower and potato. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4) Add the flour and cook for 1 minuted while stirring.


5) Stir in the broth and the non dairy milk and let it simmer for 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking at the bottom of the pot.

6) Add the vegan sausage, peas, herbs, marsala or sherry, and the salt and pepper, and stir to incorporate.


7) Transfer the mixture to your lightly oiled 9 X 13 inch baking dish and spread it out evenly.

8) Lightly flour the counter and roll out the puff pastry shell to match the size of your baking dish and then poke holes in the pastry with a fork. Gently lay the pastry over the filling and crimp in the edges to fit in the pan. Brush the pastry with a little olive oil and cover with foil.

9) Bake, covered, for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes (40 minutes total) until the crust is nicely browned. Let it sit for about 10 minutes before serving to let the filling get a little solid.

This makes 6 large servings or 8 smaller servings.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Indian Pizza with Mango Chutney BBQ Sauce

I have to admit, this is different. But I like it. It tastes best if you put a lot of the barbeque sauce on, otherwise that flavor gets lost under the spiced cauliflower mixture. I found that when I made the cauliflower puree I had some leftover and I was able to use that kind of like hummus to put into pita sandwiches with lettuce and tomatoes, so this is kind of like two recipes in one.


1 pizza crust, store bought or home made
3/4 c. Mango Chutney Barbeque Sauce
1 recipe Cauliflower Subji
1 c. cooked chick peas
3 Tbsp. tahini
1/2 a small red onion, sliced into thin rings
Cilantro to garnish

1) Place the Cauliflower Subji, chickpeas, tahini and water in a food processor and process until smooth, adding water to thin it out until it reaches the consistency of hummus.


2) Spread a thick layer of the Mango Chutney Barbeque sauce on the crust. Then add the cauliflower mixture by using a large spoon to dollop it on top of the sauce and spread it out with the back of the spoon, a spatula or your fingers.

3) Add the onion slices and bake according to the directions for the crust you are using.

4) When the pizza is done baking sprinkle the fresh cilantro on top.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Brussels Sprouts Stirfry with Sourkraut

A German Asian stirfry fusion. WHAT!? I guess I've never seen a restaurant that combines German and Asian food, but I have to say this stirfry is pretty good.


15-20 brussles sprouts, halved or quartered
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
About 10 button or crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 c. grated daikon radish
1 c. cooked beans such as black, adzuki or pinto
2-3 c. cooked brown rice
3-4 Tbsp. shoyu or tamari
2 Tbsp. mirin
1 Tbsp. brown rice vinegar or seasoned rice wine vinegar
Asian hot sauce (such as sriracha) to taste
1 c. wild fermented sour kraut, or a good store bought brand

1) Heat the oil in a wok or large saute pan over high heat. Add the brussles sprouts and try to arrange them so that a flat side is down. Leave them alone for about 5 minutes so that they can start to brown.

2) Once the brussles sprouts have started to brown, give them a toss and add the onions and a pinch of sea salt. Once the onions have softened add the mushrooms and daikon and toss to incorporate.

3) Once the mushrooms have softened add the beans, rice, shoyu, mirin, vinegar and hot sauce. Toss to combine well.

4) Remove the pan from the heat and add the sourkraut and toss to combine.

This makes about 4 servings.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Monastic Soup

Sometimes I get in a contemplative mood and want to eat very simply and frugally in order to allow my mind to be more focused on things other than food. When I do, I make soups like this and imagine that I'm living in a small rustic cabin somewhere being really mystic. I once took a class on the Desert Fathers (the monks who lived out in the desert), and around this time of year I like to revisit their writings (along with the writings of the early Mothers). Maybe it's me being all opposite like usual and seeking frugality and simplicity in a time of hyper consumption and over eating. So this is my contemplative soup.


1/2 c. dried lentils (I like black in here, but any kind will work)
1/2 c. dried split peas
1/2 c. dried mung beans
1 large carrot, diced very small
1 leek, thinly diced very small
1 onion, diced very small
1 stalk celery, diced very small
1-2 root vegetables, diced very small (potato, parsnip, celeric, turnip, etc., I like the combination of a russet potato and celeric)
1 bay leaf
8 c. vegetable broth and/or water (plus more as needed)
2 c. thinly sliced green cabbage
3 Tbsp. red or white wine vinegar
Sea salt and pepper to taste

1)  Sort and rinse the legumes and then add them to the pot with 8 c. of vegetable broth or water and place the pot over high heat to bring to a boil.

2) As the liquid comes to a boil, dice the vegetables and then add everything except for the cabbage, vinegar and salt & pepper to the soup.

3) Once the soup comes to a boil turn the heat to medium so that it stays at a high simmer and let it cook, uncovered for 30 minutes. Make sure to stir it occasionally to keep the split peas from sticking to the bottom of the pot as they often like to do. Add more broth or water if the liquid evaporates too much (you want the legumes to be submerged in liquid so they can cook).

4) After 30 minutes add the cabbage and salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally and adding more liquid if it evaporates too much, for an additional hour or until all of the legumes are fully cooked and soft.

5) Add the vinegar and stir to incorporate.

This makes about 4-6 servings and is excellent with a slice of dense, rustic bread.When reheating leftovers of this soup you may want to add a little water to thin it out if it seems too thick.