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Make-Ahead Vegetarian Moroccan Stew — guest post

Continuing the series of non-vegans making vegan foods, here’s a post from my mom! She makes this stew whenever I visit and I love it. I also have a couple quarts of it squirreled away in my freezer in Seattle from when she stayed with me over the summer. Yum. This may be her first blog post ever, which makes me just as proud as her openness to my veganism.

By Jan St. Peter

Cooking, let’s say, has never been my forte. My two children will attest to this, and as kids, they always complained that whatever I cooked tasted like cardboard. I tried to cook like my mother, who based every meal around a piece of meat. The difference was that my mother was a great cook, and as a product of the depression, could make a piece of shoe leather taste delicious. I obviously did not inherit this talent, and as an adolescent did not take time away from memorizing the lyrics to all the popular ‘50s and ‘60s songs to learn from the master. Cooking was not cool.

It was hard to tell how well adjusted my children would grow-up with a mother who wasn’t comfortable in the kitchen.  I took some comfort in their growth rate, which was always in the 95 percentile, even though they were a bit on the thin side. Their size, however, was probably more closely linked to their 6’8”, 180 lb father (who also ate my cooking) than to anything I fed them.

It was when my daughter, Helen, became a vegetarian in college that I started to blame myself. The wisdom of the day was kids who become vegetarians might have an eating disorder. Not wanting to draw attention to her new way of eating, we humored her dietary change, thinking for sure it was just a phase she was going through like when she refused to wear jeans with spandex when all you could find were jeans with spandex. When she came home on school breaks, she mostly cooked for herself. While I could tell she appreciated my attempts at steamed vegetables and salad, it was pretty clear I didn’t “get it”. Several years later, Helen, became a vegan.  Imagine my guilt, my otherwise smart and sensible child had become a… vegan, no meat, no eggs, no dairy.  My close friends whispered, “how will she get protein?” So I asked her and she gave me well thought out if not somewhat militant answers.  She was definitely a vegan with a capitol V, but a well informed one! Over the past few years, while still a die-hard vegan, she has softened a bit in her approach to winning others over to her way of eating and living. She has become a source of information that includes not only recipes and dietary information, but also where to get a good vegan meal when you eat out.

Since it feels way better to be a proud mother than a guilty mother, I’m trying to understand and embrace this lifestyle choice. Besides learning lots form Helen’s blog Vegtastic! [awwwwww, thanks mom], I also search the internet for recipes that have been reviewed by hundreds of people. Below is one of my favorites recipes that has received rave reviews from even my non-vegetarian friends. It’s great as a make-a-head dish because the vegetables stay firm even at the second heating and tastes even better on the second and third day. It makes a ton so it’s perfect for parties. The recipe is from Allrecipes.com and can be made vegan by substituting agave for the honey.

Make-Ahead Vegetarian Moroccan Stew

Creamy Cauliflower and Potato Soup + Tofu Balls from The Giant Book of Tofu Cooking

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When I moved to Seattle, my boss, Len, and my friend/coworker Somaly each gave me a tofu cookbook.

I can’t remember which colleague the Giant Book of Tofu Cooking by K. Lee Evans & Chris Rankin came from, but it’s a great resource, with 350 recipes using tofu covering breakfasts to desserts to soups to everything in between across a wide variety of cultures.

Most are vegan, and the vegetarian recipes are easily veganizable, and is a great introduction to cooking with cultured soy. Unfortunately, I believe the book is now out of print, which is a shame.

The tofu seems gratuitous in a few of the recipes (like the lentil soup with tofu — I eat legumes when I don’t want to eat tofu) but meshes really well with others. I picked a couple of recipes to cook where the tofu was integral, not incidental (to misquote Miss Maude).

Creamy Cauliflower and Potato Soup

Since it’s cold right now and I’m feeling lazy motivated to work on other projects, I gravitated towards the Creamy Cauliflower and Potato Soup (p. 88). Yes, my last post was also on cauliflower. It has only a few ingredients (potatoes + onion + cauliflower + broth + silken tofu) and whips up quickly.

I tend to use pureed white beans in my creamed soups because I consume enough soy as it is, so I’d probably sub in a can of white beans for the silken tofu next time (which kinda runs counter to the idea of cooking from a tofu cookbook, I know), but the tofu added a nice creaminess. I used an immersion blender instead of putting it into my Vitamix as recommended (yeah, the book recommended a blender, not specifically a Vitamix, but I want you to know that I HAVE A VITAMIX) just because it’s easier and I rarely use my immersion blender — the joy of having too many toys.

Madison Market only had orange or purple cauliflower (I went orange), which made me think that making this with purple cauliflower and purple potatoes would look really, really cool. Or gross — remember Heinz’s purple ketchup?

Tofu Balls with Sweet and Sour Sauce

The tofu balls (p. 66) are great in theory, though not in execution. I really like the flavor and texture of the bell pepper, mushrooms, scallions and celery suspended in the mixture, and the sweet and sour sauce is phenomenal (though the recipe yielded much more than I needed, even halving the recipe).

However, the silken tofu called for makes the balls disconcertingly soft — I’ll use firm tofu next time, and maybe fry them as patties rather than bake them as balls.

Curried coconut lentil soup

This soup is based on one sold in Madison Market’s deli. It’s perfect for a rainy La Nina day when you want something warm, filling and somewhat healthy because you’re cold, hungry, and sad because your favorite Cri de Coeur boots have just fallen apart, which is pretty much the state I found myself in at Madison Market recently.

Curried coconut lentil soup

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups veggie broth
  • 1 can light coconut milk (or one small can regular)
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 bunch of kale, stems removed, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cup dried lentils

Instructions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a large pot. Simmer, covered, for 40 minutes or so until lentils are cooked.

Serve with crusty bread and maybe a vitamin D pill. Or straight whiskey. Something to pick you up.

Vegan sinigang

Madeline ordered a tamarind strawberry lemonade at Cactus after a MCDM social event; I commented that I liked tamarind, and had a container of tamarind concentrate in my fridge but was stumped as to what to do with it.

“Make sinigang!” She said.

daikon

Sinigang a popular dish in the Phillipines. Its sour broth is considered quite refreshing, though I can see how it might be off-putting to American palates — David didn’t finish the bowl I served him, though I rather enjoyed the mouth-puckering liquid.

I’ve never had actual sinigang, traditionally made with pork, so I don’t know how close my version is to the real thing — it’s based on Madeline’s suggestions and some recipes on the Internet. I guess I don’t even care how authentic is, since it’s addictively tart and delicious.

Madeline laughs at the concept of vegan Filipino food, since Filipino cuisine tends to be meaty. To compensate, I used a tasty assortment of veggies and a lot of deep-fried tofu — one website mentioned that you need oily richness to make up for fatty pig.

Folks who have been to/are from the Philippines or have eaten real sinigang — how close am I?

Vegan Sinigang

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8 oz.) container tamarind concentrate
  • 8 cups water
  • salt, to taste — I used a fair amount to balance the sweet tartness of the tamarind
  • 16 oz tofu, sliced 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick and fried
  • 2 dried chilis
  • 1 potato, skinned and cubed
  • 1/2 onion, sliced thinly
  • 3 small baby bok choi
  • 1 (6-8 inch) piece daikon, sliced thinly
  • 1 tomato, diced

Instructions:

  1. Bring water and tamarind paste to a boil in a large pot.
  2. Add potatoes and onions, and simmer until potatoes are edibly tender.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and cook a few minutes longer — you want the tofu and veggies to be heated through, but not cooked to oblivion (this is a Filipino dish, not an Irish one).

Serve with… well, I have no idea what this goes with. I would make karioka for dessert though, fo’ sho’.

Curry Lentil Cabbage Cumin Stew


Did you know that the first season of “Portlandia” is available on Netflix?

That’s pretty much how my over-celebrated self spent New Year’s Morning: sipping coconut water, eating cold vegan pizza, and watching everyone’s favorite satire of the crazy antics of Seattle’s wacky neighbor to the south.

Two of the characters are a pair of dumpster-diving freegans. Here’s their story — you should probably watch it for the rest of this post to make sense.

While I’m not going to use a metal tube as a sleeve or cuddle a dirty crochet doll, the curry lentil cabbage cumin stew they made for their dinner party from their finds actually sounded kinda… good.

So I made some — with ingredients entirely from the supermarket.

Here’s my version. Adorable miniature stuffed koala optional.

Curry lentil cabbage cumin stew

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/2 head cabbage, shredded/chopped
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 cup lentils, rinsed
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 TBS lemon juice

Instructions:

  1. Over medium heat, saute onion and garlic in oil until soft.
  2. Add cabbage, curry powder and ground cumin and cook for a few more minutes.
  3. Add lentils, broth and salt and pepper, to taste, cover, and simmer for 45-50 minutes or until lentils are soft.
  4. Stir in lemon juice.

Serve with crusty bread and a grating derision of the wasteful mainstream world.

Sweet Potato Chili

My coworker Josh made an incredible sweet potato chili for our company’s Halloween potluck. It simmered all morning in a crockpot, and filled the entire office with its Southwest-inspired aroma. We were salivating by lunchtime.

After much begging, pleading, and some threats on my part, Josh gave me the recipe. Which isn’t true at all — he very obligingly shared it. He’s a nice guy.

The recipe is actually his girlfriend Clara’s (she’s a very talented photographer), who got it from her mom, who got it from a friend, who may have thought it up herself or may have found it somewhere else. Like a tall tale, no one really knows the origins. Actually, the friend of the mother of the girlfriend of the coworker might — you’ll have to ask her.

My version is mostly the same, though because I thought I knew exactly what I was doing and recreated it from memory, what I present to you today differs slightly from the original crockpot-based recipe (doc) in a few ingredients and in that I made mine on the stove. You have options.

May I present to you Helen’s take on Josh’s girlfriend’s mom’s friend’s Sweet Potato Chili. The bonus of my version is that it’s super-duper rainbow colorful.

Fun sweet potato fact: both the sweet potatoes and yams sold on the American market are actually sweet potatoes. So, buy the white (like Josh and I did) or buy the yellow — it’s all good.

Sweet Potato Chili

Ingredients

  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • 1 each red and green bell pepper
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • olive oil, to saute onion and garlic
  • 1 can (28 oz) undrained diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup mild or medium green salsa
  • 2 medium peeled cubed sweet potatoes
  • 2 small or 1 large purple potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 (11 oz) can corn, drained
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 TBS molasses (secret ingredient)

Instructions

  1. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until brown and fragrant.
  2. Add all other ingredients and simmer until vegetables are cooked, about an hour.
  3. Serve with cashew cream and chips.

Curried butternut squash, sweet potato, carrot and kale soup

Soup, soup — sweet, simple soup.

This soup may exhibit the exotic flavors of coconut and curry, but it’s really just hearty fall peasant fare: a bunch of orange veggies blended together with some purple kale, which ends up looking sort of black when cooked, which would have made it perfect for Halloween, which has now passed.

Hindsight is 20/20.

Here’s to Halloween 2012!

Curried butternut squash, sweet potato, carrot and kale soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 jumbo clove garlic (or two regular-sized cloves), pressed
  • Olive oil
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 1 bunch small carrots (or a couple large ones), peeled and diced
  • 6 cups water + 1 TBS un-beef broth (or 6 cups broth)
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 bunch purple or green kale, chopped
  • cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until browned.
  2. Add sweet potato, squash, and carrots and saute for a few minutes.
  3. Add broth, coconut milk, curry powder and salt and pepper (to taste). Cook until veggies are soft.
  4. Puree about 3/4 of the mixture with an immersion blender or in a regular blender; return to pot, if using regular blender.
  5. Add kale and cook for a minute or two longer.
  6. Serve with chopped cilantro (optional)

Blood Red Borscht

Dexter is (with some shame) one of my favorite shows, but I also refuse to pay for cable.

So, having just finished season 5 on DVD, I must fulfill my desire for tawdry graphic sensation elsewhere, while the Dexter Facebook page taunts me with status updates concerning events in season 6. I miss the days when you could just “like” something on Facebook without it talking to you.

The solution: beets — much cheaper than Showtime, twice as delicious, and just as gory.

I adore beets, though they’re not for the hemophobic.

I also dearly love funny vegetables, like carrots spooning:

I hacked these adulterous carrots — red as murder on the outside, a sunny orange on the inside — to bits, along with innocent potatoes, sweet turnips, onions that barely deserved it, and violent beets; boiled them; blended the pieces of their lifeless bodies into a chunky pulp; and threw in some beans and chopped beet greens for good measure.

Borscht — not for the faint of heart.

Blood Red Borscht

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • olive oil, for sauteing
  • dill (fresh or dried) to taste
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 bunch beets, peeled and diced, greens reserved and chopped
  • 1 lb potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 turnip, peeled and diced
  • 1 bunch carrots, chopped
  • 1 (15 oz) can navy beans
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until brown. Add dill, to taste.
  2. Add beet, potato, turnip and carrot and saute for a few minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Pour in broth and simmer until vegetables are cooked through.
  4. Puree 1/2 – 3/4 of the soup in a blender or with an immersion blender.
  5. Add beans and cook for a few more minutes.
  6. Add beet greens and cook until greens are wilted, a minute or so.

Serve with cashew cream or vegan sour cream and chopped chives or dill.

Southwestern corn chowder

The next time you visit the farmers market, talk to the vendors.

Pay attention to what they have to say on the differences between certain varieties of potatoes, which hot peppers are sweet (in addition to being spicy) and which are not, and what kinds of apples go best in a pie and which ones should be consumed raw. Tell them what you’re cooking, and ask for recommendations.

You’ll probably try some new foods, and learn more about how to prepare what you’re already eating. You’ll also get to know some of the people who produce your food, which is really one of the best reasons to shop at farmers markets in the first place.

This soup is made entirely from the produce available at farmer’s markets in mid-September in Western Washington, inspired by conversations with the people selling the veggies. One red jalapeño makes this soup very spicy, so look for a milder pepper if you’re adverse to heat.

Corn is naturally creamy, and this soup is even more so due to the addition of pureed white beans and nutritional yeast. Serve with crusty bread.

While I wasn’t trying to copy, my corn chowder ended up being somewhat similar to The Spicy Vegan’s Mexican Corn Chowder, which looks delicious!

Southwestern corn chowder

serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 (15 oz.) can white beans (navy or cannelloni), drained
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 3 cups corn (4 ears, kernels removed from cob)
  • 1 small zucchini, grated
  • 2 medium red peppers, roasted* and chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 red jalapeño, diced (don’t touch!)
  • salt, to taste (≈1 tsp works for me)
  • black pepper to taste
  • a bit of olive oil, to saute onion and pepper

Instructions

  1. In a strong blender, puree the beans and nutritional yeast with about a cup of broth; set aside.
  2. Saute onion and jalapeño in just enough oil to keep from sticking to the pan until onion is browned.
  3. Pour in remaining broth; stir in bean/nooch mixture.
  4. Add potatoes, corn, zucchini, salt and pepper, bring to a boil, and simmer for ≈10 minutes. Add roasted red peppers, and continue to simmer until potatoes are fully cooked.

*Heat oven to 500 degrees. De-seed and halve peppers, and place on a cookie sheet sprayed with oil. Spray peppers with oil, and roast for 10-12 minutes, flipping once.

Potato leek soup + broiled asparagus + lemony greens

This is what a day off looks like.

A chance to recharge the brain.

An opportunity to answer to no one– I do what I want!

A day with just me + the cats + the TV + chai tea and a donut with Jessica + a leisurely trip to the food co-op + a massage + a homemade margarita.

And a nice sit-down lunch: potato leek soup + broiled asparagus + lemony greens + applewood-smoked olives marinated in chardonnay.

Mmhmmm. Good.

Potato leek soup

  • 3 leeks
  • 3 medium yellow-skinned potatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • olive oil
  • 6 cups light-colored vegetable both (I used faux-beef this time around and it made the soup dark)
  • salt and pepper, to taste (best with LOTS of pepper)
  • dried parsley
  • 1 can cannelloni beans, drained
  1. Wash leeks. Chop off white part, rinsing under cold water to remove any additional dirt, and discard green stem. Slice while part into strips.
  2. Wash and finely dice potatoes– peeling optional.
  3. Saute leeks and garlic in olive oil until fragrant in a soup pot. Add broth, salt and pepper, and parsley. Simmer until potatoes are cooked through.
  4. Remove all or most of the contents of the soup pot to a blender (I elect to leave a bit behind for a chunkier texture) and add the beans. Puree until smooth.
  5. Return contents of the blender to the pot and cook a few minutes more.

Broiled Asparagus for one

  • 1/2 bunch asparagus
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Set toaster oven to broil. Let heat up.
  2. Spray pan with olive oil. Pus asparagus on it. Spray with more olive oil and add salt and pepper.
  3. Broil 10 minutes, turning once of you want. Or don’t turn.

Lemony greens for one

  • A handful or two of mixed greens (kale, chard, collards)
  • olive oil, to taste
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add garlic and saute a few minutes.
  2. Add greens, salt and pepper and cook until starting to wilt. Add a few dashes of lemon juice and cook until completely done.


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