the taste space

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Stew & Cookbook Giveaway!

Posted in Book Review, Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by Janet M on November 2, 2013

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Stew

Remember that time when I thought fall had arrived in Houston? The morning had a bit of a chill, despite daytime highs that were reminiscent of a typical Toronto summer’s day.

The extreme heat and humidity has somewhat abated, but without the change in the colour of the trees’ leaves, it still does not feel like fall. I continue to wear the same clothes I wore in the middle of the summer (aka short sleeves and shorts).

Although, I know the seasons are changing. The days are getting shorter. I can no longer photograph my dinner, after I return from work. Some days I am home earlier, but most days, I arrive home fairly late, after sunset. The sun is setting earlier, and earlier.

So after Rob made this absolutely delicious black bean soup, I knew I wanted to share it… but I had to photograph it before we finished it off. Instead of depriving Rob of his next dinner, I asked him to photograph it before he devoured the last serving.  I mean, there are a few perks of working from home, and photographing meals during daylight is definitely one of them.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Stew

So… about this soup. Delicious! Loads of black beans and sweet potato chunks are simmered with cumin, oregano and allspice with a broth that is flavoured with red pepper paste (Rob’s creative substitute since we were all out of red bell peppers) and sun-dried tomatoes. Although the balsamic vinegar and lime juice make this special with the tang and acidity. The balsamic finish is definitely making a comeback in my kitchen, since it worked well with the white bean paprikash. Rob also opted to keep the black beans whole, instead of pureeing them. Thus, this was a bean stew instead of a bean soup.

While one might think I have a certain food photography style, it is truly a lazy affair. One camera and one lens. Photo from above and a few photos from the front. Easy, peasy and pretty fool-proof. As long as you can keep things in focus as you hover above the food. ;) Although the next photo shows you Rob’s signature in-your-face style:

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Stew

The inspiration for this soup came from Dreena’s latest ecookbook, Plant-Powered 15, filled with 15 whole-foods vegan recipes without any oil or gluten. I know I have a few readers who are no-oil vegans, so this would be perfect for you. Even if you are not eating oil-free (like me!), you will still enjoy the bright flavours. As I have said before, I really like Dreena’s recipes. In particular, we adore her Lemon Mediterranean Lentil SaladJerk ChickpeasThai Chickpea Almond CurryTomato Lentil Cumin and Dill Soup and Thai Coconut Corn Stew.

Dreena’s ebook spans breakfast, oil-free salad dressings, mains like vegan burgers and even a few desserts. With the help of Nicole, there are gorgeous photos of each recipe. Instead of misleading you, Dreena has allowed me to share Nicole’s photo of the soup:

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

Dreena has already shared the recipe for Umami Almond, Quinoa, and Sundried Tomato Burgers, her cashew-based Wonder Spread and Sticky Almond Blondies as teasers for the cookbook. However, even more exciting is that she is graciously offering a copy of her ecookbook to two of my readers! Because this is an electronic version, it is open to anyone is the world! (Woohoo!) To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite Dreena recipe. If you haven’t made anything by Dreena yet, have a look through the table of contents of Plant-Powered 15 (or another one of her books/blog) and tell me what you want to cook the most. I will randomly select a winner on November 15, 2013. Good luck!

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this month’s No Waste Challenge for root vegetables and to this month’s My Legume Love Affair hosted by Denny.

Note: I purchased my own copy of Dreena’s cookbook.  I was under no obligation to share a review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

PS. The winner of the Isa Does It! giveaway is Josiane. I will be in contact with you.

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White Bean Paprikash with Soy Curls

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by Janet M on October 24, 2013

Bean Goulash with Soy Curls

I couldn’t let Rob be the only one having fun with soy curls. At first, I wasn’t sure what to make, but once Rob showed how easy it was to add to a dish, I kept thinking of new ways to use them. It is all about the play of textures, since any saucy dish will lend well to adding flavour to the soy curls.

While the original recipe called this goulash, I think it is more similar to paprikash. Paprikash and goulash are both Hungarian stews, but I have gathered that goulash usually includes more vegetables (carrots, parsnips, potato, peppers, etc). Of course, my favourite part of paprikash were the dumplings. I have no idea how to spell it, but we called them “nokola”. My google kung-fu has brought me to this recipe for Hungarian nokedli, which looks similar, although they are smaller. My “nokola” are basically oversized spaetzle.

This was a fun, delicious paprikash stew. Smoked paprika with total tomato goodness (canned tomatoes, paste AND sun-dried tomatoes) create a luscious base. I had no red wine, and I thought Marmite would have been a good substitute since I loved it in my Beefy Mushroom and Cranberry Stew. However, with no Marmite here, I devised a fun substitute: miso and nutritional yeast. I figured it was that umami we were after and it worked! A touch of balsamic vinegar added a sweet-sour-acid thing. The soy curls were akin to thicker meat strands, but there were also white beans and thicker slabs of red pepper. This really brought me back to eating paprikash and dumplings as a child.

I found my inspiration for this dish from Mouthwatering Vegan. Lets just say the original recipe seemed a tad too complex. Unnecessarily complex, for my liking. Have I become a cantankerous kitchen curmudgeon? I don’t think so… I kept this as a one burner, one pot dish (along with something to soak the soy curls). Miriam says it is quick and easy to prepare, but I cut out the hour baking time. I am sure sauteeing the red peppers separately would be nice, too, but I streamlined that step, too. I imagine one could even rehydrate the soy curls in the stew, but I am not as familiar with them to know how that would work.

Are you one to make changes to speed up making your meals, too? And do I have any European dumpling experts that know what I am talking about??

Bean Goulash with Soy Curls

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and to this month’s VegCookBook Club for Mouthwatering Vegan. Next month’s VegCookBook Club is all about Isa Does It. Feel free to share your eats from the cookbook and enter here for your chance to win your own copy of Isa Does It! (more…)

Nepalese Toor Dal Curry

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on August 1, 2013

Nepalese Toor Dal Curry

In our minimalism, we have made it difficult to host big parties. Unless it is standing room only or BYOC (bring your own chair). For now, we’re maxed out at 4. You see, we only have 2 kitchen chairs. When we move our table next to the couch, we can fit another 2 people. It actually worked pretty well for curry and games last weekend.

We have a large curry repertoire, but decided to play it safe and serve our favourite: Dal Bhat. Like most curries, this one tastes even better as leftovers, giving us the perfect excuse to make a big batch in advance and keep leftovers for the rest of the week.

I still haven’t figured out what makes our Dal Bhat a Nepalese specialty. When our friend travelled to Nepal and hiked up to Everest base camp, she told us our dal was superior to anything she ate there.  Dal bhat translates into lentils and rice, and it could be spiced in any matter. Random vegetables are also added.

Before I left Toronto, I spotted this curry: a Nepalese curry with toor dal. I wanted to use up the last of my toor dal before the move and it looked perfect. I really enjoy the creaminess of toor dal and this curry had many of my favourite spices also found in our version of dal bhat, including cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and garlic. Is that what makes it Nepalese? No cumin or coriander, but this one includes tomatoes which I added to the tarka and cilantro as an (optional) garnish. How could this not taste good? Trust me, it was spot on delicious.

Have no toor dal? Red lentils or split peas would be good substitutes. Have toor dal and need more ideas? Here are other curries with toor dal:

Cumin-Scented Pigeon Peas with Mango from 660 Curries

Plantain, Cabbage and Coconut Curry with Split Pigeon Peas (Indian Cabbage and Plantain Kootu) from 660 Curries

Butternut Squash, Coconut and Lentil Stew (Aarti’s Indian Summer Stew)

Mixed Lentil Stew from Flatbreads & Flavors

Nepalese Toor Dal Curry

This is my submission to this month’s My Legume Love Affair hosted by Siri.

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Good Mother Stallard Beans (& Great Vegan Bean Book Review & Giveaway)

Posted in Book Review, Favourites, Sides by Janet M on June 4, 2013

Good Mother Stallard Beans

Guys, I am thrilled to tell you about my latest favourite cookbook. It has a lot of my favourites things: all vegan, lots of beans, mostly plant-based with options for those that need their meals to be gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free or oil-free. I am a big proponent of beans (cheap, tasty and healthy protein) and was wondering who would be the smart cookie to make the first vegan bean cookbook.

Kathy Hester is the genius behind this and honestly, I am blown away by the cookbook. I want to make the majority of the recipes but I cannot decide where to start. They span the gamut from breakfast beans to beany desserts and everything in between. The dishes run the spectrum from Indian to Jamaican and Mexican to French and Moroccan, focusing on traditionally vegan meals along with creative uses for beans (fudgesicles!). Since the meals typically call for cooked beans, they are mostly easy, quick dishes, too. Here are the chapters and a few sample dishes (a complete recipe list can be found here):

  • The Beautiful Bean: Basics, How-Tos and Recipes To Keep Your Food Budget in Check
    -Baked Crispy Chickpea Seitan Patties, Bean Chorizo Crumbles, Sweet Red Bean Paste
  • Morning Beans: Beany Breakfast and Brunch Dishes
    -Almost-a-Meal Black Bean Tamale Muffins, Sausage-Spiced Savoury Pancakes, Roasted Root Veggie and Kidney Bean Hash, Red Bean-Filled Baked Donuts
  • Noshy Beans: Appetizers, Dips, and Spreads
    -Creamy Spinach Artichoke White Bean Dip, Pepita Black Bean Dip, Beany Eggplant Bruschetta Spread
  • Nutritious Soups: Easy and Delicious One-Bowl Meals
    -Hutterite Soup, Thai Coconut Tongue of Fire Soup, Salsa Fresca White Bean Gazpacho, Triple Lentil Soup with Wheat Berries
  • Cool Beans: Legume-Centric Salads
    -Salsa Quinoa Salad, Lentil Beet Salad, Chickpea Greek Salad with Tofu Feta
  • Portable Beans: Sandwiches, Patties and More
    -Mango Curry Chickpea Salad, Don’t be Crabby Cakes, Butternut Squash Frijoles, Baked Arugula and Bean Flautas
  • Sultry Stews and Hearty Chilies: Quintessential Bean Dishes
    -Chickpea Veggie Tagine, Indian Cauliflower Lentil Stew, Solstice Beans with Pumpkin and Greens, Margarita Chili Beans, Apple Baked Beans, Hard Cider-Sauced Beans, Tomato Rosemary White Beans
  • Casseroles, Pastas, and More: One Dish Meals
    -Flageolet Cassoulet, Lentil Quinoa Bolognese Sauce, Chickpea and Vegetable Lo Mein, Creamy Healthified Vodka Sauce, Oven Chickpea and Seasonal Veggie Biryani
  • Bean-a-licious Sweet Treats: Desserts that Love Beans
    -Black Eyed Pea-nut Butter Pie, Ginger Red Bean Popsicles, Black Bean Fudgesicles, Cherry Basil Crumble Bars, Chocolate Summer Squash Cake

Kathy explains the basics of the standard beans, along with variations for specialty heirloom beans. Until you buy pretty, specialty beans, you may not understand the lure to not cook with them. They are just so pretty and recipes never suggest using Tongues of Fire beans, or Hutterite soup beans, or Good Mother Stallard beans. Here, Kathy breaks down the anxiety. She describes which beans are in each family and therefore can be easily exchanged, while still not alienating those without access to specialty beans.

Good Mother Stallard beans are in a league of their own, though. They are in the “interesting shapes” category along with ayocote negro and Goat’s Eye beans. Kathy explains Good Mother Stallard beans are football-shaped and create a “perfect pot liquor”. She suggests using them as a fancy bean substitute in certain dishes that call for chickpeas and kidney beans, or using them plainly as in this dish to experience they real, naked taste.

I decided to dust off my pretty Good Mother Stallard beans and put them to the test. A simple pot of beans spiced with rosemary, bay leaves and carrots. Steve from Rancho Gordo suggests these may be his favourite bean and after a simple simmer, I can see why. Delicious mouth feel. The beans have a thicker skin which keeps the bean’s shape while the inside is creamy and sweet. There is a lot more going on with this bean than one would expect and thankfully these beans retain their colourful markings even after being cooked. Kathy suggested eating the beans as-is, with bread or a grain.

I bought my Good Mother Stallard beans from Rancho Gordo, but Kathy has as extensive list of other retailers, too. I normally retype all the recipes I share, but Kathy’s publisher has given me permission to share this recipe. Looking at it below will give you an idea about the attention to detail in this book: flexible bean substitutes, optional slow cooker directions as well as complete nutritional information.

Good Mother Stallard Beans

I really want to share this cookbook with you. Thankfully the publisher is letting me giveaway a cookbook to one reader living in the US or Canada. To be entered, please leave a message here, telling me about your favourite bean dish. I will randomly select a winner on June 30. For more chances to win, check out the other bloggers that are featuring Kathy’s cookbook this month as part of her blog tour. You can follow along on Kathy’s website here. Good luck!

This is my submission to Healthy Vegan Fridays and to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by One Hot Stove.

Note: I was given a complimentary copy of this book to review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own. (more…)

Red Lentil Dal with Zucchini

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on November 27, 2012

I was really tempted this weekend. My parents were over and my Dad surprised me with berries for dessert. He was equally surprised when I shared that I wasn’t eating fruit right now. Have no fear, this will likely be temporary.. unless I enjoy it too much. Think all desserts have to be sweetened? Not true! Gabby shared these delicious carob almond butter cups with me and you would never know they were sweetener-free.

Savoury Indian dishes have fuelled me during my sweetener-free challenge. While I have cooked up quite a few Indian dishes, I still feel like a novice to Indian cooking. Pangal, aviyal, dhokla, they are still foreign to me.  I probably don’t even pronounce them properly. Leafing through 660 Curries and 1000 Indian Recipes, I know there are tons of curries and likely 1000s more beyond the pages of these cookbooks.

Thankfully I don’t think I will ever tire of the holy vegan trinity of beans+grains+greens. I eat it every day. These are staples throughout the world. I still have my favourite repeater curries, but like to mix things up with seasonal produce.

Here, this simple savoury red lentil and zucchini curry from World Vegetarian reminds me of Nepalese Dal Bhat and the Split Pea Dal with Ginger and Lime combined with hefty chunks of zucchini. Jaffrey says this dish is typically made with green bottle gourd, instead of zucchini, but the latter is easier to find.

I am a sucker for creamy red lentils and while it didn’t have the zip that dal bhat delivers, it was a great curry. I find that most curries are a bit too watery for my liking, especially if eaten fresh. So, I have suggested starting with less water. You can always add more to thin it out, but it is kind of a pain to boil that extra water away. It will thicken a bit as leftovers as well. I also ended up using less oil, salt and chili and adding more lime.  Definitely season to taste, as I probably could have added more heat with the chile flakes.

This is my submission to Dom for this month’s Random Recipe (lucky number 25!), to this month’s Pantry Party and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

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Kasha Salad with Roasted Beets and Green Beans in a Lemon-Dill Vinaigrette

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by Janet M on September 14, 2012

This weekend boasts both the Polish Festival and the Ukrainian festival.

For those keeping score. Rob = Polish. Me = Ukrainian and German.

As a bonus, both sets of our parents will be coming to Toronto to check out the festivals. I mean, they are coming to see us.

How will we manage? Which one to attend? They are reasonably close to each other, so we’ll likely hit up both festivals. The question is who will win the pierogi contest? OK, forget pierogi, I am more interested in kasha these days.

Nothing says more Eastern European than beets and dill, especially with kasha!

Kasha is buckwheat that has been hulled and roasted. As such, it is a darker brown than raw buckwheat. Kasha can be tricky to cook as it can absorb lots of water and turn into mush. Here, I opted to toast it in the oven first, and then cooked it in a 1:2 ratio with water. While the kernels still seemed to explode slightly, they reminded me of coarse bulgur in this salad.

Kasha has a slightly nuttier, stronger flavour but pairs well with beets and dill. I combined some garden-fresh green beans and roasted beets with a lemony dill vinaigrette for a bright early fall salad. Or late summer salad?

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to Simple and In Season and to this month’s Herbs on Saturday.

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Five-Spice Pickled Cherries

Posted in Salads, Sides by Janet M on August 15, 2012

Am I the only one who gets into trouble during the summer? Trouble in my kitchen, I mean…

So many fruits and veggies to eat at their peak, sometimes I can’t decide what to eat first!

I recently was in Montreal and stopped at the Jean Talon farmer’s market. It was a good thing we didn’t use our bikes that day, because we came home with tons of fresh fruits and veggies. 5L of uber sweet wild blueberries from Lac Saint Jean. Rob and I demolished them within a week just eating them fresh. I also picked up 10 lbs of beets, peaches and carrots. We decided to stop before we bought some freshly picked corn, too. I like to think I have limits, but our list of purchases may suggest otherwise!

At home, I still had some cherries but wanted to focus on the blueberries. So what to do with the cherries? I really enjoyed them marinaded in balsamic vinegar, used both as a sandwich topper but also as a dressing (and topping) for quick salads.

This got me thinking about pickling my own cherries.

I found a few recipes but settled on a savoury pickling spice, filled with all the components of Chinese five spice (Szechuan peppercorns, cinnamon, star anise, cloves and fennel) along with bay leaves. I consulted with my Mom because I wanted to decrease the sugar and swap it for another sweetener, and she recommended not tinkering with the recipe because sugars and salts really help keep the proper preservation. So I didn’t… to be able to keep these pickled cherries for a while in my fridge once my fruit obsession has waned. However, if you want to consume the cherries within a week or so, I see no reason why you couldn’t omit the sugar or swap it for agave or maple syrup just like my simple balsamic marinaded cherries.

Since my cans are not sealed, I snuck in a taste and loved the cherries! A bit sweet, but with a nice savoury backdrop from the Chinese five spice. I plan on using them for salads, but I will let you know if I find other tasty ways to use them!

Next pickling project: Beets, I am looking at you! Anyone have good recipes for pickled beets without too much sugar?

This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Lynne.

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Colombian-Style Red Beans with Plantains

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by Janet M on July 31, 2012

I have been patiently waiting for Rob to post our Colombia photos. I wanted to be able to share some of my photos and tips from the trip. The full albums from Bogota and Salento are here and the Lost City and Cartagena are here. I have included a few of my favourite photos, though.

We were in both hot and cold places, with big banana leaves and small mushrooms… and enjoyed a wonderful cooking class in Bogota.

We saw lots of beautiful scenery, especially in Salento, where we rode horses in the valley and I was able to play with our guide’s machete!

With tons of hiking! In and around Bogota, Salento and the biggest of hikes- to the Lost City which is patrolled by the Colombian army.

This is my first Colombian meal I have prepared in my own kitchen- red beans with plantains. Although I will admit that I never came across this dish while in Colombia. Red beans, yes. Plantains, yes. Never together which is why I was intrigued to try out this recipe from Viva Vegan.

Who would have thought there would be even more beans that I do not yet have. I had to restrain myself from bringing home too many new beans from Colombia. I figured they may be more easily found once we move to the southern US, so I don’t have many Colombian bean souvenirs. The standard Colombian bean (that is not the coffee bean), is the bola roja. Another standard is the Cranberry bean (also known as Borlotti or Cargamanto), which I have cooked before. They are a bigger creamy bean although a bit dry. However, within my Rancho Gordo stash, I had Sangre de Toro beans which I used instead. Dense and almost chewy, they are Mexican beans that can be substituted for any recipe calling for red beans.

Here, the red beans are cooked with a sofrito of onions and red pepper, then spiced with smoked paprika, cumin and Mexican oregano. The plantain adds a hit of sweetness along with the red pepper sofrito. This recipe was more complex than what I learned at my cooking class, but I think I will also be revisiting my bona fide Colombian bean recipe, since it was so good. Next time, I will break out the bola roja beans! :)


This is my submission to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Simona, and to this week’s Weekend Wellness.

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Fragrant Lentil Rice Soup with Spinach and Caramelized Onions (aka Dal Bhat Meets Mujaddara)

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by Janet M on June 11, 2012

Sentences. Finally.

I mean, I can finally express myself in sentences!

Sorry for the blog auto-pilot for the last 3 weeks… After 2 glorious weeks in Colombia, it was back to the grind, off to work, sifting through oodles of emails, comments and catching up with my favourite blogs.

My second language is French and let’s just say three weeks ago, I knew zero Spanish.

We made sure we had the basics though:

Vegetariana estricta               Vegan

But that might not mean anything, so we had to explain:

Sin carne   

Without meat

Sin pollo

Without chicken

Sin pescado

Without fish

Sin huevos

Without eggs (Really?)

Sin leche

Without milk (I usually had a funny look at this point)

Sin mantequilla

Without butter

We usually stopped there, but I also knew how to say:

Sin pan

Without bread

We got better at explaining what I wanted:

Frutas (fruit!), verdura (vegetables), beans (frijoles), papas (potatoes) and arroz (rice).

other than baños (bathroom), another useful word was aqui (here)

As we learned more about Colombia (Que?), we became a bit more sophisticated and tried to make actual sentences.

Cuánto cuesta? How much does it cost?

Quero jugos naturales en agua sin azucar: I want freshly squeezed juice in water without added sugar!

By the end of our trip, a guide was teaching us the difference between Mucho bueno and Muy bien depending on the context of the sentence. And to greet other friendly men with Compa! and friendly women with Coma!

In any case, I loved my culinary adventures in Colombia, and we planned it so that I could stay vegan throughout the trip.  I had to make a few compromises, and that was by eating white rice (brown rice and quinoa are essentially non-existent in Colombia) and I had more fried foods than I had in the last 3 years (fried plantains and yucca mainly if nothing else was available). But it was ok. That’s what vacations are for.

Now that I am back in my own kitchen, I can return to normal. Pull out some freezer meals. Forge ahead with some comforting pantry-friendly meals.  Rob repeats recipes and sometimes I do, too. This is one of those dishes. Uber comforting.  While I describe this as Dal Bhat meets Mujaddara, this would likely scare off a bunch of people… Too many foreign words thrown in there… But if I call it Fragrant Lentil Rice Soup with Spinach and Crispy Onions, it is much more approachable, and still true to its name.

This comforting dish comes from Melissa Clark’s cookbook, Cook This Now. Savoury spices like cinnamon, cumin, allspice and ginger are combined with creamy red lentils and brown rice (aka dal bhat). Since the spices are aromatized at the beginning of the soup, they don’t pop with as much oomph as dal  bhat, instead they are more mellow. This is a thick soup, with both lentils and rice simmered together, creating an utterly creamy consistency. In mujaddara, the rice and (green) lentils absorb all the water so they are dry, but still fragrant depending on the spices you use. However, the crowning glory of mujaddara are the caramelized onions. Here, onions are caramelized in parallel so that after an hour, you have dark and deeply sweet onions to go with your just finished lentil rice soup. Thus, simple fusion at its finest. Familiar, yet just a subtle twist to both recipes to keep you interested and excited… and a dish I know I can eat again and again.

And it is just so nice to be able to tell you all this in complete sentences. Freedom! :)

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays , to Ricki’s Weekend Wellness and to Cookbooks Sundays.

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Mexican Spicy Citrus Black Beans with Spinach

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by Janet M on April 2, 2012

Good news! Rob and I will not be homeless come May 1!

Having been thoroughly spoiled in our current home, we tried to balance what we wanted with our new place. Turns out we were wooed by suburbia. We are currently living at the East end of the city of Toronto, and will be moving all the way to the Western-most outskirts of the city of Toronto. My daily cycling commute will change to 9 km, which will probably be around 35 minutes but I have yet to try it out (still faster than transit). While we aren’t exactly thrilled with living in a cookie-cutter community, what we do appreciate is living in a 10-year old home that has been well-kept by the current owners (never before a rental!), a space for me to hibernate for studying purposes and the real bonus was a garage for us to keep our bikes. No more storing the bikes in the dining room! The kitchen is also pretty nice, roomy and complete with a gas stove (and a dishwasher!). Don’t laugh, we contemplated living in a few places without a dishwasher- it is more common than you might think.

What we’ve sacrificed for this gem of a house is basically location. Not only are we an extra 2km from downtown, but the subway is 2km away, necessitating a bus or street-car ride on rainy days. While I have located my new health store for my tempeh and dino kale fixes, sadly Sunny’s and Better Bulk are now quite a hike. Travelling East/West in midtown Toronto is definitely not very efficient, so I think I will have to plan for grocery shopping primarily at No Frills instead (cucumbers, carrots and tomatoes, anyone?). I am actually looking at this as an opportunity to force myself to eat through my pantry. Eat all my beans before we trek out to Texas. I can replenish my stash from Rancho Gordo once we settle there, hehe. ;)

To celebrate our impending moves, I decided to make a Mexican bean dish. This time simply spicy, citrus black beans. I changed Elise’s spicy citrus black bean recipe slightly, but the nontraditional Janet-ism was adding the spinach because I wanted some greens. Omit it for normal Mexican beany uses. My other changes were taming the spices, using only Aleppo chile flakes and smoked paprika, but feel free to add chipotles in adobo or whatever floats your boat. I also increased the lime juice and added in orange zest for more pronounced citrus flavours. The citrus paired incredibly well with the heat from the beans. This is definitely one of my favourite solo bean recipes to date.

This is my submission to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Susan, to this week’s Weekend Wellness, and to this month’s My Kitchen, My World for Mexico.

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Jamaican Tofu Chowder with Collards

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on January 20, 2012

There are very few purchased spice blends in our house.

I made my own dukkah and za’atar. Rob made panch phoran to quickly whip up this Cauliflower Dal.

I used to make my own garam masala until I discovered Arvinda’s garam masala, which is what Rob had in his kitchen. It tastes really good so we’ve stuck with it until our stash runs out.

Just as I have been averse to dishes named curry, I have been avoiding dishes calling for “curry powder”. I will typically substitute garam masala.

But this time was different. I forged ahead and tried some higher quality Madras curry powder. I knew that even if I hated it, there was a good chance Rob would adore this – a coconut curry is definitely up his alley! Of course, I wouldn’t be sharing the recipe here if I didn’t love it as well. ;)

While there is definitely an Indian influence to this curry, this is a Jamaican curry that I spotted in Big Vegan. Lime-marinaded tofu chunks, sweet potatoes and carrots are combined with collards in a coconut-curry sauce spiced with thyme.  Caribbean dishes can be quite spicy, but I still used 1 tbsp of curry powder. The coconut milk helps to tame the heat. However, I omitted the Serrano pepper in lieu of my favoured Aleppo chili flakes.

Even though this wasn’t from Terry’s new cookbook we’re testing, we’ve started to rate all our meals as “love”, “really like”, “like”, “just ok”, “not good” as per our cookbook testing guidelines. As Rob put it: On the love-like scale, I give this a love. I gave it a really like, and let Rob polish off the rest of the leftovers. There are bigger battles to win! ;)

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this week’s Weekend Wellness, to this month’s citrus love blog hop and to My Kitchen, My World for Jamaica.

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Smoky Split Pea Soup with Roasted Garlic and Sage

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by Janet M on January 18, 2012

Split pea soup is underrated. Oftentimes, vegan authors are almost apologetic for including split pea soups in their cookbooks.

If you have a bland split pea soup in your cookbook, then, yes, you should feel ashamed. The folks at Rebar need not be worried, because their split pea soup is fantastic. In my notes next to the recipe, I wrote “silly good” and a few of my adjustments (smoked paprika for the chipotle puree, and yellow instead of green split peas). Do you write in your cookbooks? I feel kind of dirty doing it, but it is the best place to keep your notes!

Like most beans dishes, the spices and seasonings are integral to the final dish. Paired with the sweet peas, you add roasted garlic, smoked paprika and liquid smoke. Carrot, too. And while I added 1/4 cup of fresh sage, it wasn’t a dominant flavour. All the flavours mingle so well together, it creates a soup with different levels. This is definitely a soup I will warm up to again this winter.


This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Simona.

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Christmas Eve Borscht (or Barszcz)

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by Janet M on December 23, 2011

I may be half-Ukrainian but darned if I know how to speak it. My vocabulary is limited to Я тебе люблю (Ja tebe liubliu). Some kids learn swear words, but I was only told how to love (it means ‘I love you’).

Rob is slowly introducing me to Polish words. As they pop up, obviously. The key to my heart lies in the kitchen, right? ;) First, I learned how to say borscht. While borscht originates from Ukraine, many other countries have their own variations. In Poland, the soup is called barszcz. Notice the ah sound… and the lack of the t at the end. ;)

Polish barszcz has numerous variations, but the vegetarian version is commonly reserved for Christmas Eve. With the bloody blazing red beets you have a very festive soup with the dilly green accent. This version, tinkered from Rebar, makes a huge pot of soup filled with vegetables – beets, cabbage, carrots and tomatoes – and white beans for good measure. Lemon juice and balsamic vinegar add that necessary tang, a key feature in Polish barszcz. Traditionally, the soup was aged to get that acidic tang. Sounds like a project to tackle in the new year. ;)

Due to its association with Christmas, I decided to make it for the pre-Christmas dinner. Rob told me it was very similar to his family’s barszcz. I really enjoyed this soup. So did everyone else (well, except for those who shun beets and cabbage and didn’t even try it!). I found the vegetables complemented each other nicely and the Polish dried mushrooms added a deeper, complex flavour. Perfect for Christmas Eve, or any time of the year. I’ll be enjoying it a few weeks from now because I packed the leftovers in the freezer to enjoy later. This makes a ton of soup!

Happy holidays, everyone!

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend.

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Brazilian Black Bean and Vegetable Stew

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by Janet M on November 14, 2011

Be prepared for some serious veggies this month. Last month was beans. This month will feature loads of greens. A spotlight on the various ways of eating delicious cruciferous vegetables, which include veggies as seemingly varied as kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and daikon (white radish). Each one loaded with vitamins and many of them top my superfood chart. Trust me, they do not need to be boring. Anything but!

Here we go, case in point here. A party in my mouth.

Brazilian food tends to do that for me.

Just like Moroccan food, Brazilian cuisine is known to be meat-heavy. However, there are endless recipes for delicious vegan alternatives.  In my own kitchen, I can create quite the flavour fiesta.

While selecting a random recipe for this month’s No Croutons Required, I was thrilled when this Brazilian Black Bean and Vegetable Stew from The Tropical Vegan Kitchen was an option. It marries two other dishes I have made: a hearty feijoada with black beans and mushrooms as well as a a black bean soup spiced with cinnamon and mango. The results could not have been better – both in the flavour department and in the colour department!

This stew is filled to the max with colourful veggies (sweet potato, red pepper, green pepper, tomato, kale) on a background of black beans. Garlic, cumin and thyme flavour the broth. While I cooked the stew, it was also spiced with orange zest.  I was worried it would be overpowering. It wasn’t until I added the final hit of lime juice that I was seriously satisfied with my beautiful and delicious stew.

This is my submission to this month’s Simple and in Season, to this month’s Sweet Heat featuring chilis in soups, to Ricki’s Wellness Weekends, to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and to this month’s No Croutons Required (co-hosted by Jacqui and Dom) featuring random cookbook recipes.

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Tomato Tarragon Soup

Posted in Appetizers, Soups by Janet M on October 3, 2011

While in Iceland, I must admit that I didn’t try many traditional Icelandic meals. My Icelandic finds mainly consisted of Icelandic herbal teas, whereas Rob tried the beer-boiled Icelandic hotdog and other traditional fish- and lamb-based dishes. He also discovered chocolate-covered licorice, an Icelandic candy! Licorice is actually a popular flavour for Icelandic candy. Yucko I say!

I have a few food aversions. Celery. Coffee. And yes, licorice.

And what do I buy from Sunny’s on a whim when I return?

Tarragon.

A new-to-me herb.

I had no idea what it even tasted like when I bought it, but I knew I had seen it in a few recipes recently. A big bunch was a $1 so I snapped it up.

You know what’s coming up….  It tastes like licorice! Like anise! Oh no! But I decided to forge ahead.. otherwise I would have wasted a $1. :P

I spotted this simple soup with tomato and tarragon in Rebar for my first taste of tarragon. It was a wonderful introduction to the herby epitome of French cuisine. It has a regal taste, in that it is not so harsh as licorice. The light flavour is delicious. It pairs great with tomato in this soup which is zippy from the garlic and chili flakes. I also wanted to add further creaminess and bulk, so I added in white beans prior to pureeing it.

People love CSAs because they are introduced to new veggies and are forced to use them in creative ways.  I get the same trippy feeling whenever I go to Sunny’s and scour their bargain section. I have no a clue what I will come home with… and this time, tarragon was a winner. :)


This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this month’s Food Palette series featuring the rainbow, and to this week’s Wellness Weekends.

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