I have been searching for a hearty, meaty (yet vegan), filling stew.
I had early success with mushroom bourguignon, but wanted something lighter, with less oil and flour. I tried recipe after recipe, without avail. Beet bourguignon did not satisfy. Beans bourguignon from 1000 Vegan Recipes was ok but not quite up to my high standards. Seitan-less Burgundy Stew with Parsnips from Big Vegan was not my favourite either. I almost gave up…
And then this treat popped out of nowhere.
After my success with baked (fresh) cranberries in the stuffed carnival squashes and roasted balsamic curry fall vegetables, I began exploring other savoury ideas for fresh (or frozen) cranberries. I stumbled upon Bryanna’s Mushroom and Cranberry Stew and was immediately intrigued. I don’t normally cook with TVP but had picked up some large chunk TVP at some point. Might as well use it and clear out the pantry, I mused.
I hadn’t really thought this was a bourguignon. However, it has a lot of similar flavours: red wine and sherry, carrots, thyme, mushrooms. No tomatoes, though and no need to use a thickener. TVP was used as a meat mimicker, texture only. I think a large bean could substitute if you are averse to TVP. The real beefy flavour came from Marmite. A yeasty, salty spread that Kiwis adore. The lovely twist in this recipe came from the fresh cranberries. Pleasantly tart, not sweet, but complemented the beefy stew incredibly well.
I will happily curl up with a bowl of this over the winter months.
(sorry, this time you can actually post comments! Apparently I can’t figure out wordpress for Android)
For someone who doesn’t drink, I have a lot of alcohol. I used to have more booze attributed to my purchases than Rob, but that was before Rob visited Veux-Tu une Biere? in Montreal and stocked up like mad with artisanal beers.
I may not drink alcohol, but I will gladly cook with it. Over the years, I have gathered:
Vodka, from my Penne Alla Vodka days.
Raki, from my trip to Turkey. My Dad already drank half of it but I think I wanted it to make a poached-fish dish. Totally tabled for now.
Chambord, because I wanted to make a knock-off of a mixed berry Chambord-whipped cream French toast from a local resto, Coquine. Off my radar for now.
Amaretto, because who doesn’t like almonds?
Madeira, because I was lusting over Madeira-soaked mushroom ragouts.
I think I also have a small amount of Creme de Menthe because I wanted to make a Grasshopper dessert.
Rob has scotch, rum, Aguardiente (from our Colombian trip), ROOT liqueur (tastes like root beer and Rob highly recommends it!) and SNAP gingersnap liqueur (with blackstrap molasses, ginger and cloves! but Rob hasn’t opened it yet). Nevermind his stock-piled of beer.
While trying to decide what to do with a crate of figs, I decided to finally break out the Madeira. Fresh figs do not last long. Roasting them (or technically poaching them in this case), allowed me to extend their sweetness for another 2 weeks.
Madeira: Candy liqueur, as Rob put it, after he tasted it from the bottle. Using it to oven-poach figs resulted in a sweet yet savoury concoction spiked with lemon and sage. I tried a bunch of variations, but my favourite was with the lemon and sage, although you could leave them out, too. Thyme also worked well. I also tried a few cinnamon-orange variations but preferred the one with Madeira. The orange zest became a bit bitter through the roasting so consider omitting that if you want to try that variation.
Because my photos aren’t always that photogenic, I thought it would be neat to play around with some of the features on Picasa. I rarely do much photo post-processing other than “I Feel Lucky” but found this neat “Orton-ish” option in Picasa (see pic below). Not entirely sure who or what this Orton effect was all about, I learned it was named for Michael Orton who would combine 2 images: one in focus and the other out-of-focus to create an impressionistic effect. Brought me back to my black and white darkroom days!
How do you like the photo? I like the colour palate with the soft contours and warmer colours. More of an artsy shot now, instead of a food porn photo. But hey, it keeps me entertained!
There is nothing like a move to show you how much stuff you have. One thing I have plenty of are beans. Common beans like chickpeas and lentils but also a multitude of heirloom beans. I bought a bunch of beans during my first trip to NYC, but they seemed too pretty to eat. Now I am on a mission, though… eat through my beans throughout the year.
Trust me, it wasn’t that I wasn’t eating my beans before. My white bean of choice this winter were the Yellow Eye Beans from Rancho Gordo (they held their shape wonderfully in two soups and were nice and creamy in the Moroccan phyllo triangles). I also tried out Marrow beans, which supposedly have a bacon taste but it was really subtle. They worked nice pureed in my High-protein Alfredo sauce as well as in soups.
As I said, I have a few pinto beans in my stash, so I was tickled pink when Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Pinto Bean Chili was my Random Recipe this month. I didn’t have many cookbooks to randomly pick at the beginning of the month due to the move, but since I already had River Cottage Veg Every Day! out, I picked that as my book. As it is a library book, I didn’t want it to be lost in the shuffle of the move! Once I selected a cookbook, the task was to cook the first or last recipe. I zoomed to the front of the cookbook. The first 2 recipes were not vegan (Aubergine Parmigiana, Chachouka), but the third recipe, and the first vegan one, was this Pinto Bean Chili. Once I finally made it to the grocery store, I was all set to try my heirloom pinto beans.
The heirloom pinto bean of choice: Appaloosa beans. Named after the colourfully dappled horse, these are incredibly pretty beans. At least before they have been cooked. Like the anasazi beans, they lost their vibrant colours after cooking. They keep their shape well and don’t have any strong flavours. They worked well in this summer chili with zucchini, red pepper and tomato. The red wine brought a robust depth of flavour and the summer flavours really shined through. I used Aleppo chile flakes as well as green chiles and this was perfectly spiced for me. A bit of spice that was cooled by the avocado. Want more heat? Add to taste… or use cayenne as written in the original recipe.
This is my submission to Random Recipes this month, to this month’s River Cottage Rocks Veggie Heaven, to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to Ricki’s Weekend Wellness, to this week’s Sunday Night Soup Night, and to Cookbooks Sundays.
After the early bedtime on Sunday, I thankfully got my mojo back in the kitchen! My brain and body got the rest they needed for me to become prolific in the kitchen once again.
The next day, after work, I tackled the rest of my week’s menu which included this smoky tempeh and chard stew, adapted from Appetite for Reduction. It came together seamlessly, as I prepped while things steamed, fried and simmered.
I obviously decided to make this stew last week, when we were in the midst of heavy, dreary rainy weather. It was a hearty stew, and after a few tweaks, filled with ingredients already in my kitchen when I didn’t want to head out to the grocery store. Unfortunately, by the time I made it (or fortunately, depending how you look at it), the weather turned around completely. This week we have been enjoying sunny, bright days with highs around 18C. Perfect, spring weather. More akin to spring salads, but this smoky tempeh stew still tastes great.
It is a lovely, hearty stew. It is filled with a tomato-based sauce with a smokiness coming from sweet smoked paprika. Carrots are added for additional flavour and you have a good nutritional punch from Swiss chard, or your favourite green. In fact, I liked using the stems from the Swiss chard for additional crunch (don’t discard the stems!). Tempeh is steamed, then fried to get a crispy coating, and added for an interesting texture and source of protein. While the original recipe called for frozen lima beans, I used frozen shelled edamame instead. Together, we have a winning combination of a hearty, healthy and filling stew. Perfect for the winter, or rainy days, but I am certainly not complaining about the wonderful spring weather that has finally arrived.
I had forgotten how much I love black beans. I used to make a tasty black bean and salsa soup in university. With canned black beans, it was a quick and easy meal. At that time, I tried to cook black beans from dry but it didn’t work out well. I recall hard beans in a black soup. So I hadn’t really ventured to try again. Until now.
As I was reading through Viva Vegan, I was inspired to try cooking my own black beans again. I still had the 3+ year old black beans from my last adventure, so, first, I opted to buy fresh beans.
Then I got to work creating this lovely black bean and portobello Brazilian-style stew. I say Brazilian-style since authentic feijoada involves lots of meat. Instead of meat, this vegan stew does not compromise in taste. It uses both portobello mushrooms and TVP (textured vegetable protein) for a meaty texture. TVP soaks up the broth nicely and like tofu, tastes like its surroundings. It is plump and juicy, and feels like ground meat. It is also probably one of the cheapest forms of protein (I bought mine at Essence of Life, and it is at Bulk Barn, but I am fairly confident you can find it in well-stocked grocery stores as well). I really liked the flavourful combination of mushrooms, black beans, cumin and thyme in the stew.
A few pointers for next time, don’t start cooking the stew until your beans are at least 1.5-2 hours through their cooking time. I had a bit of a mismatch on my timing so I didn’t add them as early as I would have liked. As well, the leftover stew became thicker, so feel free to leave it more soupy, or add water to thin when reheating.
I also wanted to highlight how wonderful the black beans were cooked from dry. They really were better than canned, as they held their shape, had a smooth consistency and tasted better. Next time, I will cook up more black beans than I need so I can make this in no time. If you don’t want to cook up your own beans, feel free to substitute 2 cans of black beans instead for a meal with considerably less prep time.
Continuing with the nut theme after muhammara, here is scrumptious nut, roasted pepper, tomato-based sauce teamed with chickpeas. Romesco sauce is a popular Spanish sauce from the Catalan Tarragona province and the variations are endless depending on whether the sauce is served as a dip, with vegetables, meatballs, fish, etc. The New Spanish Table, an enticing, Spanish cookbook, has 4 different recipes of the romesco sauce as each is tweaked to its accompaniment.
The sauce reminds me a bit of muhammara as the main flavours are roasted red peppers and nuts. The Romesco sauce has a heavier comforting tomato presence and the use of almonds is a bit more creamy than walnuts. As I prefer cooking vegetarian at home, I was excited to try it with chickpeas when I saw Joanne posted it on Eats Well With Others, who had adapted it from Veganomicon.
I wasn’t disappointed because the Romesco sauce worked wonderfully with the inherent nuttiness of chickpeas. This comforting dish is great year-round as canned tomatoes were easy to use before the juicy, ripe ones are available locally. I roasted my own peppers which added some time, but it was a fabulous, easy meal served alongside rice.
One mention about portion sizes, as I am still working my way through leftovers (which are really tasty, too). The original recipe says serves 4-6 but it really makes a lot of food. I’d gather around 8 servings. It could be due to the bigger cans of chickpeas in Canada (19 oz compared to the 15 oz in the recipe) and I also threw in an extra red pepper. Although this is not the first time I have run into discrepant portion sizes. I blame it on the bigger “super-sized” American meals! Has anyone else noticed this? As much as I loved it, I might half the recipe next time unless I am feeding a crowd.
One of the things I loved about Turkish cuisine was that despite the typically bland names of the dishes, they would be exquisitely delicious. Eggplant in tomato sauce (patlican soslu)? It wasn’t boring at all! It probably only had a few simple ingredients, but it tickled my palate and make me want to eat more. Divine!
While not Turkish, this is one of those incredibly delicious and flavourful meals where simple ingredients make something special. But the name of the dish is completely lackluster and almost puts me to sleep. Eggs poached in tomato sauce? Um, yeah, no thanks…. I am so glad I tried it, though, because it is easy, healthy and delicious. Of course, the reason I tried it was based on its high praise from the Smitten Kitchen, who was inspired from the Martha Show.
I tinkered with Deb’s recipe a bit because I couldn’t find cans of tomato puree and simply chopped up canned whole tomatoes and added in a tablespoon of tomato paste to thicken it a bit. I originally served it as breakfast, and think it is a fabulous meal for brunch. It would also be appropriate for lunch or dinner with a side of vegetables. I certainly won’t complain if I eat this all day.
“Perception is a powerful thing. Your best meal could be an elaborate 16-course affair, or a hot dog shared with someone special on a mountaintop. The best meals are more about the moment than they are about the food.”
- “I Viaggio Di Vetri: A Culinary Journey” by Marc Vetri
I love that quote. While I often eat alone, food is definitely a way to share with others. To share time, to share conversation and food comes second. The love that was put into a meal says a lot to me. I love cooking, but sometimes find it stressful when cooking for others on a timeline. I have to remind myself it is the company that matters most, not necessarily the meal. Even if I get picked on for lousy cooking (Good Friday 2009 will never be forgotten! arg!).
I wanted to highlight this dish as the finale of my spotlight on eating for 1 (even if the photo doesn’t do it nearly the justice it deserves). I cooked it for 4, though, when I had friends over for dinner. Perhaps it was the company that made it special, but this dish was truly phenomenal. Coupled with great friends, games, laughs and good food, you can’t go wrong.
I don’t cook much meat, and was really eager to try mushroom bourguignon when I saw it on Smitten Kitchen. She had high praise for the dish – not as much prep as a typical beef bourguignon but all the flavour courtesy of 2 pounds of portobello mushrooms. No need for a bottle of red wine either. I could serve the rest of the red wine to my guests. This dish did not disappoint in the slightest. It was easy and incredibly delicious and rich. Dare I suggest it will convert mushroom haters? I think so although I have yet to try.
I served it with spaetzle, which is a German egg dumpling. My mom makes the most fabulous spaetzle and I automatically figured she had a family recipe in her armamentarium. Nope, it turns out it is from The Joy of Cooking. It can be a bit challenging to make spaetzle to get the proper shape without the proper tools. There are presses specifically to make spaetzle, which is what I use, but you could also use a colander with large holes. You basically force the dough through the holes to make short strands of dough. You could also cut off small pieces of dough from a cutting board, which I have also done in my pre-spaetzle maker era. The mushroom bourguignon would be delicious with a side of egg noodles, too.
This is my submission to Tobias’ 13th Mediterranean Cooking Event, featuring dishes from France.
One thing I liked about my cooking class, was that I experimented with recipes and ingredients I likely would not have tackled alone. I even cooked with celery (only after peeling it) but this post is all about red wine. Before my mom showed me, I didn’t know that red wine was a magic ingredient in the succulent braised beef rolls (rouladen). It wasn’t soon after that we made braised steak with red wine during cooking class, and I declared anything braised in red wine must be good! Little did I know that my least favourite dish from the class would be coq au vin, also cooked with red wine. Our chef instructor explained that chicken doesn’t always pair well with red wine and coq au vin is supposed to be made with rooster, which therefore must taste better.
I have cooked with red wine once before, making a sinfully delicious mushroom bourguignon with spaetzle, and what I loved about the vegetarian dish is that the mushrooms didn’t need that much red wine for the braising. With only 1 cup of red wine for the mushroom bourguignon, the rest of the bottle was enjoyed by others at the dinner table. Whereas the more authentic boeuf bourguignon required the whole bottle to braise the meat.
This brought me to this recipe with kidney beans stewed in red wine with tomatoes (erm, tomato paste) and fresh herbs, adapted slightly from Cooking Books who adapted it from Peter Berley’s The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen. The simplicity of the dish appealed to me, with a list of fresh and healthy ingredients leading to a delicious stew of red beans. I had to wait for the weekend to be able to afford so much oven and stove time for the beans, though. It didn’t take much effort, but I needed to be around during those hours. It was a nice way to warm up my apartment with delicious smells and the subsequent beans tasted great. Served with a crusty bread, it was a filling meal. The leftovers weren’t as good, but not much lasted that long.
I was thankful to be able to visit my family over the Thanksgiving weekend. Any weekend we can come together as a family is a time to celebrate, but an extra day to stay certainly helps. My mom asks what we want to eat, and there is usually no hesitation because I always ask for the same dish: Rouladen. Rouladen is a traditional southern German dish that is usually served at special occasions at our household (by request!). Succulent pieces of beef filled with only the tastiest of ingredients: pickles, onions, bacon and mustard. The roll is then smothered in a red wine sauce. It is no wonder this is such a popular dish.
I wasn’t expecting to do much cooking this weekend, as some people don’t really like to share their kitchen (ah, the horrors of strudel making on Christmas Day), but we were invited to learn the art of making rouladen. There is nothing better at bringing the family together than passing culinary secrets from one generation to another.
My mom took us under her wings, and we had to watch intently, as she was also not going to supply an accompanying recipe. This is my adaptation of the traditional dish. It is best served with spaetzle, as it sops up the gravy nicely