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Friday, December 26, 2008

"Chicken" Curry with Cashews

Ok, all I'm saying is that I DREAM about this dish ever since we made it.


* 1/4 cup earth balance
* 1 medium onion, finely chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
* 1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
* 3 tablespoons curry powder or curry paste
* 2 teaspoons salt
* 1 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
* 2-3 cups of diced seitan
* 1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes (we used Rotel with cilantro and then didn't add the fresh cilantro)
* 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
* 3/4 cup cashews
* 1 cup coconut milk (I used unsweetened vanilla Almond milk since Dave can't do the coconut)
* cooked basmati rice or jasmine rice, to accompany
* chopped fresh cilantro or mango chutney or raisins or cashews, to garnish

Heat earth balance in a 5- to 6-quart wide heavy pot over moderately low heat until foam subsides, then cook onions, garlic, and ginger, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add curry powder, salt, cumin, and cayenne and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.

Add seitan and cook, stirring to coat, 3 minutes.

Add tomatoes, including juice, and cilantro and bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes to allows the flavors to meld.

Just before serving: Pulse cashews in a food processor or electric coffee/spice grinder until very finely ground, then add to curry along with coconut milk and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring, until sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes.

Serve over rice with additional broken cashews and TRY not to moan out loud, I dare you!!!

I see a trend here, which only *I* have the power to change

I notice that when I go to post a recipe, it is usually a dessert and when I read the other postings, they're for a healthy, very veggie-focused dishes. = ) So, as I sat down to post yet another delicious dessert that I concocted for yesterday's Christmas feast, I decided to instead share the lovely Moroccan Stew that my friend Pam so generously made to accommodate her veggie-centric guests.


* 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
* 2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed zucchini
* 1 cup chopped onion
* 1/2 cup chopped carrot
* 1 cup cubed yams
* 1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic
* 1 cup veggie broth
* 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
* 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
* 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
* 2 (15 1/2-ounce) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
* 1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added stewed tomatoes, undrained

Heat oil in a large stew pot over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, onion, carrot, yams and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in broth and the remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until tender, stirring occasionally. Add more broth as needed for your desired consistency. Serve over cous cous.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Lemon Tahini Dressing

My friend, Jikan, currently the Tenzo at Great Vow Zen Monastery gave me the following recipe. This comes from Hollyhock Cooks, a wonderful cookbook from the Hollyhock Retreat Center in British Columbia, Canada.

This is a very nice dressing to top what Christie & I refer to as a 'Monk Bowl', as taken from a dish at Blossoming Lotus. Top your choice of grain (brown rice, qunioa, steamed barley...) with steamed or sauteed greens (yay, kale), some kind of legume (beans, tempeh, tofu would probably be good too), add other veggies if you want, and then a tasty dressing.

We've been playing with a few dressings. Our attempt to recreate the "Hollyhock", a nutritional yeast and tamari based dressing served at Great Vow hasn't been quite as successful, once I figure that out will post. Christie has made a great ginger one too, will see about getting that posted. Here's the lemon tahini batch that turned out very tasty.

Lemon Tahini Dressing
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/2 water
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juic
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (optional)

Whirl all of the above up in a blender until smooth and enjoy.

We found at first that the garlic was VERY strong in this. Might be a vote for using roasted garlic instead. Once the garlic mellowed in the fridge a few days it was much nicer.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Snow Day Soup

What is Snow Day Soup? It is the soup you come up with out of the ingredients you have on hand during a snow day.

Yesterday I cleaned out the fridge in order to determine what was truly edible in there. Yes, I could walk to a market if I had to, but it really is best to stay inside with the cat where it is warm. That meant when I was pondering lunch today, and the lone pack of tempeh in the fridge, I decided I should investigate the freezer to see if there was back-up tempeh for more snow days. That's when I rediscovered the bag of legumes.

A few weeks ago Christie and I decided to make some soup using the back of "17 bean and barley" dried mix she'd picked up from TJs. Having had this idea the day of said soup making, we put the whole 16 ounce bag through the "quick soak" method (bring to a boil, cook for 20 minutes, let stand covered for an hour). As we set to making the soup we realized that 16 ounces of dried legumes was going to cook up into more soup than the pot would hold. We took half of the pre-soaked beans put them into a Ziploc and tossed into the freezer.

Today, Snow Day Number 3 in Portland (Snowmageddon 2008), I decided those legumes were just what I needed. Yes, a big o'pot of hearty soup is what every snow day needs. Today's batch, given the ingredients on hand, had something of a "Southwestern" flavor to it on account of the cumin, fire roasted corn & tomatoes, and smoked paprika. The only thing that would have improved it is a loaf of crusty, whole-grain bread. Since having that would have meant at least a 30 minute walk, one-way to Whole Foods (closest market), I had some toasted Nature Bake instead.

Snow Day Soup

  • 8 ounces dried legumes (could be a mix or just one kind of legumes), pre-soaked
  • 6 carrots, peeled and sliced (good use for those ones that are getting a little limp)
  • 5 stalks, plus heart of celery, sliced (ditto on the limp produce)
  • celery greens from heart, sliced fine and set aside
  • 1 medium onion, diced small
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced fine
  • 14.5 ounce can crushed tomatoes (diced would be fine, in fact what I'd usually use, but this is what I found, Muir Glen fire roasted kind)
  • 1 cup steamed barley (this is already cooked)
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn (there was the fire roasted kind from TJs in the freezer)
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano*
  • 1/2 teaspoon "21 seasoning salute" (a salt-free savory blend from TJs)*
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast*
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin*
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked, sweet paprika*
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper*
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt*
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

* seasoning measurements are estimates

Add olive oil to a large pot. When oil is heated saute onions and garlic until they being to brown slightly. Add chopped carrots and celery (do not add celery leaves at this time) and continue to cook for 5-10 minutes longer. Pour in water and pre-soaked legumes. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables and legumes are tender. Add crushed tomatoes, barley, frozen corn, celery leaves, and seasonings. Let simmer an additional 20 minutes to let flavors combine before serving.

Makes approximately 7 quarts.

No, I don't really have a knack for making soup in small batches. I do try to put the extra into 2 quart mason jars and either eat or freeze right away.

Friday, December 19, 2008


This is a riff on the old Taco Hell "meat & potato burrito", only better, because it won't give you Creutzfeldt–Jakob Disease. It can be very easily veganized.

For each burrito, you'll need roughly 7-10 seasoned tater-tots. I have the magic of a convection toaster-oven to get them deep-fried crisp from frozen in about 12-15 min. Also, don't try this with a 12" tortilla; they're just too small for the amount of stuff you're putting in there.

My go-to subs of full-on critter products are indicated with *'s.


* 18"-24" restaurant-sized flour tortilias
* Bag o' Classic frozen tater-tots
* Taco spice
* Taco meat or meat-like substance (I luuuv me some El Burrito SoyTaco*)
* Refried beans
* Diced onion
* Green onion
* Fire-roasted frozen corn (optional)**
* Shredded cheese or cheese-like substance***
* Shredded letuice
* Guaccamole
* Sour Cream or sour cream-like substance****
* Salsa Picante OR can of diced tomatoes -drained ("salsa fresca"-w green chilies is goodness). I don't use really wet salsa in a burrito due to leakage.
* Sliced black olives (optional)
* Sliced pickeled jalapeño (optional, but if you opt out, you're a wuss. Go make yourself some farina).


1) Toast up your tots. If you want good, crispy tots in a regular oven, ignore the bag destructions, use an air-bake pan, preheat to 350f, and bake them longer. Or, use the broiler at the last minute. You want crisp, because they're going into a skooshie burrito. We're looking for contraste, mis hermanos y hermanas!

2) While tots are a'toastin', prep all your other fillings. I tend to make my refried beans more restaurant-style by adding extra water or veggie broth to thin them, then heating in the nuke-box. If you've ever slung taco for a living, you know what I mean about thin frijoles, and you know its utility to good burrito assembly.

3) Heat your meat filling in the microwave. If I'm doing the frozen corn, I typically add it into this step.

4) When the tots are done, spritz lightly with spray oil, then toss in a bowl with taco seasoning.

5) Microwave or moist-towel oven-steam your tortillas. Soft tortillas are key to proper and safe burrito structural integrity!

6) Lay out your tortilla on a large clean flat work-surface. Get your mise uhhh... in place.

7) Stripe the side nearest you with a nice line of refried beans. Then a line of taco filling. Sprinkle shredded cheese on the beany-meat to encourage melty-goodness.

8) Place your seasoned tots on and near the melty-line.

9) Add the rest of the optional components in rough lines throughout the rest of the field of play, making sure to leave at least 1/3 of the tortilla empty. To this last 1/3, place a very thin later of refried again, but leaving about 1"-2' of the outer tortilla lip empty. The scant extra frijoles will help bind the universe together.

10) Lastly, sprinkle a layer of shredded lettuce. This is a capillary safety-net that keeps the good goos in the burrito, and not ooozing out on to your plate to languish in a shameful puddle of fail and lack of burrito-making mojo. You're better than that!

11) Start by rolling the bean/meat edge up first. When you get to the tot demarcation line, pleat and tuck your ends in. Keep rolling and gathering in as you go, until you have a burrito.

Eat, be happy and thank me later...

* =
**= Trader Joe's carries frozen fire-roasted corn. It's a staple to me. If you don't have a TJ's by you, it must really suck...
***= I really like Lisanatti-brand Soy-Sation shredded cheese sub in all it's flavors, but for you vegans, it ain't (magical melty casein in every bite...)
****= Tofuti's Sour Supreme - Non-hydrogenated is all I'll eat...

Monday, December 15, 2008

An Appreciation of Sprouts

Up until 2007 I thought Brussels Sprouts were nasty, smelly and not worth eating. When they were made in my family they were boiled until the smelled badly, were a uniform ugly greenish color, and mushy. Even when an effort was made to pick up a stalk of them fresh at a farm market the end result was the same. Occasionally I'd be coaxed to eat a few raw, but that was it.

Last year, after reading a recipe in Farmer John's "Real Dirt on Vegetables" cookbook and much encouragement from many people I talked with, I bought a stalk at the Pumpkin Patch and decided to try them out. The result was so amazingly delicious! I'm not sure why I didn't have any more last year, but during the summer I thought about them, looked forward to seeing them return to the farmer's markets.

The past several weeks there have been multiple meals with sprouts on a similar theme, braised until tender. Each time the result is eaten quickly, any lingering ones in the pan popped into our mouths as we cleaned up.

Here's my suggestions for enjoying these delicious and nutritious vegetables in season until early spring. Trim the ends of the sprouts and clean off a few of the outer leaves, revealing the bright green underneath. Cut the sprouts in half. Heat a pan with some olive oil and when the oil is hot place the largest sprouts first, cut-side down into the oil. Put as many of the sprouts cut-side down into the pan and let them saute, covered, until the start to sear and caramelize slightly.

Here's where you can go simple or more complex. After the sprouts have sauteed a bit, add some liquid to braise, covered, until they are just tender. Serve and enjoy! I have tried the following for my braising liquid with great results:

  • Molasses, balsamic vinegar and a little water
  • Just water & sea salt
  • Water & sweet chili sauce (the kind you dip spring rolls into)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Pumpkin Quinoa

File under, "I love quinoa!"

This is so simple I hate to call it a recipe, but so yummy I wanted to share it! It really came out of some of the leftover stuffed pumpkin from Thanksgiving and my need for a quick-to-make lunch to take with me to yoga teacher training.

1 cup qunioa
2 cups broth
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 cup cooked, diced pumpkin (or other winter squash)

Bring broth to boil and add quinoa and lemon pepper. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is mostly absorbed, about 20 minutes. Add pumpkin, mix well into quinoa and continue to simmer until any remaining liquid is absorbed.

Serve immediately as a hot, nutritious side dish or chill then mix with chopped veggies, legumes and dressing for a protein-rich salad.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Quinoa & Carrot Salad

This salad has no pictures because I just threw this together out of what I found in the house one afternoon while foraging for lunch between conference calls. We had a bag of grated carrots from Trader Joe's that had been picked up for the veggie sushi and needed to be used up! I was kind of wanting a macaroni salad, but really wanted something with more protein. With those two things in mind I came up with something that was tasty, heartier than many salads as it uses high-protein quinoa in addition to legumes, and Andy & Devon both raved about how good it was as a wrap with some lettuce.

1 cup quinoa
2 cups broth
12 oz grated (large grate or julienned) carrots
1 15 oz. can red kidney beans
1 15 oz. can white kidney beans (cannellini)
1/2 sweet onion, small dice
2 large stalks celery, small dice
1 Tablespoon whole grain mustard
3 Tablespoons Vegenaise
2 Tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

Cook quinoa in broth and set aside to cool while dicing vegetables. Drain and rinse kidney beans. Toss vegetables, beans, and quinoa with mustard, Vegenaise, and vinegar.

Sambar Pudi

A pudi, or "Powder" in Hindi, is part spice blend and part thickener used in many Indian dishes, especially soups or stews. Rather than breaking down all the spices, grains and legumes at the time of cooking a dish, like sambar, they are mixed together in a fine powder that can then be added when needed to a dish.

This particular pudi is used to thicken and richly flavor sambar, a lentil stew.

2 teaspoons chana dal
1 teaspoon red lentils
1 teaspoon brown lentils or yellow split peas
1/4 teaspoon peppercorns
2 Tablespoons coriander seeds
1 Tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 Tablespoon long-grain rice, raw
2-inches cinnamon stick
20 fresh kari leaves (or 1 teaspoon crushed, dried)
3 dried red chilies (stemmed, seeded, broken into pieces)

Preheat a large skillet, add all ingredients and toast over a medium heat until the mixture is very aromatic and the rice has toasted brown.

Cool mixture and grind into a fine powder*

Sambar pudi will keep in the refrigerator for up to 6 months in an airtight, glass jar. 3 months if kept unrefrigerated.

*I have found that a small, electric coffee grinder works nicely. Run a tablespoon or two of raw, white rice through first to clear out coffee residue. After grinding pudi run more raw rice to clean again.

Diwali Happiness 2 - Sambar

Still, no pictures. Really, I will get better about this. I also realize that it is December and Diwali is many weeks past now, but I am at least going to get my recipe for sambar posted!

Sambar, a lentil stew very popular in India, is one of my favorite dishes. Over the past few years I've been learning to make some of the foods I most enjoy. I try to read many recipes and if it is a dish I eat at a restaurant, I try to pay close attention to what I enjoy (or sometimes dislike) about the dish. After aloo gobi (potatoes and cauliflower, Indian style), sambar is high on my list of favorite Indian dishes.

The third part of my recipe, the oil and spices added at the end, is derived from the one in the Laxmi's Vegetarian Kitchen cookbook. I really find this flavor to be so nice that I haven't varied it much. In looking at other recipes this does seem to be pretty standard, a few differences here and there (more chilies, some other spices).

DO make the effort to get toor dal and fresh kari leaves (I like shopping for Desi items at India-4-U)! These particular details are part of what will make this dish taste like Indian home cooking. There are many steps to this dish and one step involves hot oil (very exciting), it is entirely worth the effort. I am very pleased to share that my sambar leaves my co-workers from Chennai smiling and happy!

This makes a huge amount of sambar -- I often make it for office potlucks (like the one for Diwali this year). It freezes quite nicely too!

makes 4 quarts

Step One -- The Toor Dal
  • 2 cups toor dal
  • 5 cups water
Wash lentils and put into pot with water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until lentils are soft. The lentils will begin to break apart. If you are using a pressure cooker, the toor dal cook in 8 minutes.

The lentils are pre-cooked; half will be used immediately in the stew and will thicken it. The other half will be added at the end for more texture.

Step Two -- The Stew Base
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 cup carrot in 1/4" rounds
  • 3 cup chopped cauliflower (Romanesco broccoli is also nice)
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped, fresh tomatoes (yes, canned is OK, but if you have fresh, use them, it is worth the effort)
  • 1 cup green beans, snapped into 1" pieces
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
  • 2 teaspoon sea salt (more or less, to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon cane sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Sambar Pudi
  • 2 Tablespoons tamarind paste (e.g. Tamco Tamarind)
Add water and chopped vegetables to large stock pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat, add half the toor dal, half the fresh coriander, salt, sugar, sambar pudi, tamarind, and stir well. Simmer, covered until vegetables are tender.

Step Three -- The Exciting Part!
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 4 dried, red chilies - stemmed, seeded and broken into 1" pieces (more or less of these to change the heat level of the stew)
  • 30 fresh kari leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
Heat oil in pan, add seeds and chilies and fry until spices are fragrant (mustard seeds may begin to pop). Add in turmeric and quickly incorporate. Add kari leaves in last (these will make quite a lot of noise as they fry in the hot oil, a splatter shield is useful). After leaves are frying scrape all spices into the pot of vegetables and lentils (again, there will be quite a lot of noise as the hot oil hits the stew).

Simmer the sambar for at least 15 minutes more to allow the spices, lentils and vegetables come together. Stir in the remaining toor dal & fresh coriander and allow to simmer again for 5 minutes before serving.

Garnish with additional fresh coriander. Serve with rice, cream of wheat pilafs, and pappadum.