the taste space

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tamales

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on January 28, 2014

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tamales

A 13-hour post and then some.. with a lot of help from some friends.

Tamales are not hard to make. They are just a tad labour intensive.

After gathering a few friends for a tamalada (tamale making party), the hardest part did not occur while making the tamales. Frankly, the hardest part is now writing up the (very lengthy) recipe. Kidding aside, for the tamale execution, the hardest part was not overstuffing my steamer.  If I were still in Toronto, the hardest part would likely be locating dry corn husks.

I first made these tamales with Rob when we were still in Toronto. I originally thought about making tamales after we had bought a bunch of fresh corn and had all these corn husks. Ever the thrifty type, I reasoned they would be great for tamales. Let it be known that Ontario corn husks do not make for good tamale wraps: they are just too small and/or require too much precision to rip the husks off without making the pieces too small. In any case, the seed was planted and Rob eventually tracked down corn husks at Kensington Market.

We sat together in our new kitchen, made the sweet potatoes, the black beans and the corn dough… and even a red sauce (Rob definitely made the red sauce). And then delicately wrapped each tamale. I counted 50. After an hour of steaming, they were delicious but we worked late into the night. We vowed to make this a group effort next time.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tamales

Fast forward a few years later, where a Mexican Farmer’s Market is our supermarket of choice in Houston and we see corn husks all.over.the.place. For a fraction of the price of what we paid in Toronto, too. $2 bought us a big bag of corn husks (a pound, I checked). (Should I peddle corn husks across the border??). I knew it was time to resurrect the tamales!

Between 6 of us, it took no time to roll and wrap the tamales. I didn’t even wrap any! The whole ordeal was finished before I had cleaned up the kitchen. The corn husks were also probably larger as we only made around 25-30 this time.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tamales

A bit about the recipe. It is a mashup from a few cookbooks. Thankfully I found a few online sources to help me cobble together my notes from a few years ago: Tess’ corn fluff stuff from RHIW with the beans and sweet potatoes from Viva Vegan. Tamales are known to be quite heavy with a lot of oil (even Terry’s original recipe calls for a cup of shortening/margarine) but I cut the oil by incorporating the black beans directly into the masa dough.

The black bean mixture and sweet potatoes both added nice flavours and worked well with the corn fluff stuff. We didn’t bother with a red sauce this time and instead (happily) resorted  to Trader Joe’s corn and chile tomato-less salsa.

This was a fun experiment because we had a bit of trouble getting the tamales to cook all the way through in the steamer. The tamales we took out later were more cooked, whereas some of the earlier ones were still a bit mushy. Still edible and delicious, but not exactly what we were anticipating. I photographed leftover tamales and the last photo here is Robbie-style so you can see all the nooks and crannies in the tamale from the corn husk mold. Perhaps steaming them in smaller batches would be a better solution.

With still many corn husks remaining and even more masa harina, there will be another tamalada. Perhaps I will finally make those chocolate tamales after all. Have you ever made tamales before?

For those who blog: How long would you say it takes to make one post? When you factor in shopping for ingredients, cooking, photographing and editing in addition to the post, it certainly adds up!

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tamales

This is my submission for Meatless Mondays from A to Z for potatoes. (more…)

TVP Sloppy Joes Stuffed Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on January 29, 2013

One of the things I liked about Vegan For Life is that there are recommendations supported by science. Two servings of fruit are good and just 2 tsp of oil a day is a good idea. And that whacky TVP? It isn’t as scary as you may think. It may be a processed soy product, but it is basically defatted soy flour that is high in protein. A varied diet is more important. Everything in moderation is ok.

This may or may not have given me the nudge to use up the last of my TVP that had been languishing in my pantry. I bought it planning to make Cara’s Pumpkin Gingerbread Protein Bars, and then bookmarked Laura’s Squash Breakfast TVP and Maple TVP Oatmeal but happy I eventually settled on making these TVP Sloppy Joes.

Not that I grew up eating Sloppy Joe’s. I don’t think I have ever eaten the real thing, but I know this tasted good. A sweet tomato sauce accentuated with Worcestershire sauce, mustard and liquid smoke. A bit sweet for me with the added sweetener, so I suggest not adding it until the end to see if it needs it. The TVP confers a granular hamburger meat texture. I am thinking mashed lentils could be a good substitute next time.

Instead of the standard bun, I piled the sloppiness overtop a roasted baked potato. Paired wonderfully.

What do you think of TVP?

Here are my other meals with TVP:

Pumpkin Chili
Brazilian Black Bean Stew with Portobello Mushrooms (Portobello Feijoada)
Beefy Portobello Mushroom and Cranberry Stew

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

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Raw Sweet Potato Mushroom Sliders

Posted in Appetizers, Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on March 16, 2012

Would you go to a steakhouse for an upscale vegan experience?

It seems so counter-intuitive, eh?

My buddies were eager to dine out during Winterlicious and when I checked the menus there was only one that had vegan options: Prime, the steakhouse at the Windsor Arms Hotel in Yorkville.

I was hesitant, though. Could a steakhouse really have great vegan food? It turns out that they recently hired Doug McNish, Raw Aura‘s former vegan chef that catapulted raw food into my dream books. He added a complete vegan menu at Prime, so I was confident that this would not be subpar vegan eats.

I priced out their Winterlicious menu. It turned out it was cheaper to pick from their standard vegan menu than to limit oneself to the vegan options on fixed price menu, especially since there was overlap between the options.

I opted to try the wild mushroom and pearl barley risotto with crispy sage and truffle oil as a starter. It was decadent and delicious. It was also rich and filling, so I decided to pace myself and take half of it home. Rob tried the nori rolls stuffed with a creamy ginger dill sunflower seed pate but we didn’t find them that exceptional.

For our mains, I happily munched on the herbed portobello mushroom and tempeh burger which was the highlight of the night. I have never had such a flavourful veggie burger. Unfortunately, the sweet potato fries were subpar, even after I asked for fresh ones since mine were cold. They also forgot to give me the sun-dried tomato aioli, but I am glad I reminded them because it was really good with the burger.

Rob had been pining over the cornmeal crusted tempeh steaks, spiced sweet potato coconut mash, steamed greens with caramelized onion and cherry tomato relish but we both found it lackluster. I suppose we’ve been spoiled by great vegan eats from Blossom Cafe, Candle 79 and Pure Food and Wine in NYC.

For dessert, I was salivating the vegan Mango Cheesecake with a Raspberry Coulis. When I packed my risotto earlier, I wanted to make room for this dessert. However, it was bad. It was uber sweet but in a dry icing sugar kind of way. Turns out, I can make a better version at home anyhow (remember those Mango Paradise Bars?)

So, the winning dish that night was the mushroom and tempeh burger and that is what inspired me to try my hand at Susan’s Raw Sweet Potato Mushroom “Sliders” for Rob’s birthday party.

I enjoy raw food because the flavours really pop. At Prime, although their meals are not raw, their tempeh burger had great flavours mingling together which is what captured me into the dish. Here, these mini burgers are flavoured with shiitake mushrooms, sage, rosemary, garlic with bulk from pumpkin seeds and sweet potato. They don’t require a long dehydration time since you want to maintain some moisture. Don’t have a dehydrator? I bet they could easily be baked for 15 minutes or so but I can’t say for sure.

I ate my sliders as mini sandwiches with a slice of tomato as the base, followed by a bed of alfalfa sprouts. The slider was then topped with a smear of avocado with a touch of salt. Delicious!

This is being submitted to this month’s Veggie/Fruit A Month featuring sweet potatoes, to this month’s Ingredient Challenge Monday for mushrooms and to this week’s Wellness Weekend.

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Martinique Sweet Potato Coconut Curry with Eggplant and Pineapple

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on February 3, 2012

I know the days are getting longer, but I go to work and it is dark. I come home from work and it is dark. As much as I love winter with its bright snow and clear icicles (not happening so much as I would like here in Toronto, btw), all I want is some sunshine. Some people head south for some sun and warmth. Me, I cook it up in my kitchen. For some reason, as soon as the weather turned cool, I turned to Caribbean dishes – bright with their flavourful ingredients, warmth from the spice and much cheaper than a trip down South.

This is a curry I spotted on Natalie’s lovely blog, Cook Eat Live Vegetarian, and again it passed my checklist for Rob: tamarind, coconut, curry, sweet potato (or squash) and pineapple. In fact, the ingredients look so similar to that delicious Butternut Squash, Coconut and Lentil Stew, but this is anything but similar yet equally as delicious.

Natalie explains that this curry originates from Martinique, an Eastern Caribbean island, that has elements from Africa, France, the Caribbean and South Asia in its cuisine. The distinctive flavours come from the Colombo spice mix that includes cumin, coriander, mustard, fenugreek, black peppercorns, cloves and turmeric. The curry gets its heft from starchy sweet potatoes, but butternut squash could equally be used. The eggplant melts into the coconut-curry broth, tangy from the tamarind and lime juice. As we are apt to do, we increased the tamarind.

Bring the warmth into your kitchen this winter, with a virtual trip down South. Although it will appear very real once you slurp up this delicious curry.


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

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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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Caramelized Onion and Cabbage Chowder with Sweet Potatoes and White Beans

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by Janet M on January 4, 2012

January. The New Year. Time for resolutions.

Or not.

Personally, I don’t need a special day to reflect on where I’d like to be. I try to continually re-assess where I am and where I’d like to be.

Why else do you think I started a quest to eat more cruciferous veggies in November? ;)

Cabbage is a cruciferous veggie that is routinely shafted as a diet food. Ever heard of the cabbage soup diet? Well, I think it has to do with eating a lot of cabbage…

Cabbage is filled with antioxidants and other nutrients, yet is low calorie. The NY Times dubbed it one of the top foods you aren’t eating (yet!).

Please don’t let the odd association with diets prevent you from trying delicious cabbage soup. I was positively smitten with the smokey Russian sauerkraut soup (Shchi) that I tested for Vegan Eats World. I really, really, want to share the recipe because it was that good!  But it is top-secret for now. (hint- veganize this soup and you are halfway there). Instead, I will share yet another cabbage soup that is equally delicious yet completely different. Surprisingly delicious in its simplicity.

This is a spoof on the typically cheese-laden French onion soup from Vegetarian Times (September 2011) with inspiration from Joanne. With my variations, though, you would have to look harder to find its original basis (especially since I omitted the cheese croutons) but it is tasty. Caramelized onions are beefed up with braised cabbage in this thick chowder spiced with apple cider and thyme. Like Joanne, I opted to add sweet potatoes, but also white beans to make it more of a meal-in-a-bowl soup.  Everything worked so well together, with the subtly sweet caramelized onions and apple cider with the sustenance from the sweet potatoes and beans.  Good the day it was made but even more delicious as leftovers. The thyme was a nice flavour but I can’t wait to try Joanne’s version because she used pomegranate juice and rosemary.

Here are some of my other favourite cabbage recipes:

Braised Cabbage with Chorizo Seitan Sausage
Chinese Sweet and Sour Cabbage with Tofu
Cabbage and Kohlrabi Salad
Mexican Cabbage Stirfry
Braised Cabbage with Onions and Carrots
Quinoa and Red Lentil Kitchari with Cabbage

This is my submission to Ivonne at Cream Puffs in Venice for this week’s Magazine Mondays, to Ricki’s Weekend Wellness and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

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Sweet Potato, Broccoli and Pomegranate Salad with a Peanut Dressing

Posted in Salads by Janet M on November 28, 2011

This is a superfood salad if I ever saw one. Pomegranate seeds. Sweet potatoes. Broccoli. All together in a peanut dressing. Even though it doesn’t have kale, many of these veggies top my superfood chart.

I took inspiration from a recipe in 1000 Vegan Recipes where I increased the veggies in the salad and seriously increased the pomegranate seeds. If you don’t have pomegranate, dried cranberries could be a reasonable substitute. While I typically prefer acidic dressings, I kept the peanut butter in the dressing but substituted vegetable broth for the oil. This allows the peanut flavour to permeate the salad without dripping in dressing. In fact, the peanut flavour wasn’t that dominant, sitting back to highlight the natural flavours of the vegetables. Next time, I might try this with a pomegranate-infused vinaigrette as a dressing, too.


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

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White Bean, Quinoa And Kale Stew with Fennel

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by Janet M on November 21, 2011

For once, my Mom could snicker that her grocery store was better than mine.

You see, I was on a mission to buy parsnips to make this stew. My trusty Sunny’s didn’t have any.

I found parsley root, with beautiful parsley leaves attached to it. It looked almost identical to a parsnip, which to my eye, is a white carrot. However, they don’t taste the same. Good thing I didn’t buy it!

I had to venture to a “normal” grocery store. Or T&T, since they have parsnips. I bet the Farmer’s Market would have some, too.

While we’re at it, let’s push the boundaries some more (truthfully, parsnips are not that adventurist for me). I don’t like licorice but like tarragon. Why not try fennel? I am so happy I tried it, because I loved this stew, fennel and all!

Continuing with my white bean kick, and my abundance of kale, I modified Isa’s Quinoa, White Bean And Kale Stew from Appetite for Reduction. I thought it might be plain and boring, but it was anything but. It was sublime. A great, comforting stew with tons of mellow flavours without bogging you down.  I substituted the leek for onion and fennel, swapped the white potatoes for sweet potatoes, upped the carrots and parsnips and used up the last of my kale including the stems, which was only 1/2 lb.

Thankfully, this soup makes a ton. I will be slurping it up all week and then some!

I honestly had a hard time deciding which white bean and kale soup to make, and here are some other soups that caught my eye:

Turkey Sausage and Quinoa Pasta Soup (veganized of course) from Shape

White Bean, Roasted Garlic and Kale Soup from The Domestic Vegan

Tuscan White Bean Soup in Rebar

This is my submission to this month’s Simple and in Season, to this week’s Healthy Vegan Friday, to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend and to both Ricki and Kim’s vegan SOS challenge featuring parsnips.

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Candle Cafe’s Paradise Casserole with Black Beans, Millet and Cinnamon-Miso Sweet Potato Mash

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on November 2, 2011

The first time I cooked millet, it became clumpy as leftovers. This time, I followed Ashley’s advice for fluffy millet perfection, and fluffy millet was delivered! Except for this casserole, I wanted it to be slightly clumpy so that it would stick together. Ah well… at least I know how to make fluffy millet. Can I learn to make clumpy millet again? ;)

I finally broke out this casserole for Thanksgiving with Rob’s family. A multi-layered casserole: nutty millet at the bottom, with a middle layer of cumin-spiced black beans and onions, topped with a sweet potato mash flavoured with cinnamon and miso. Simple, familiar and homey. A complete meal. Perfect for a dish to share at Thanksgiving.

When Rob and I went to NYC last year, we ate at Candle Cafe. I had the Paradise Casserole and when I saw it was in their cookbook and also posted here, I knew I would be able to recreate the dish back home. This is what it looked like at the restaurant:

Their recipe is misleading, so I will redirect you. You will notice that my casserole is a bit bottom-heavy. As written, 1.5 cups of dry millet is WAY TOO MUCH. I spread it out over an 7×7, a 9×9 and 2 smaller ramekins. As such, the rest of my toppings were too thin. I kept on wanting more of the sweet, sweet sweet potato mash. The miso and cinnamon really pumped up its flavour. Before I added the black beans, I thought they were a bit bland with only cumin, so I added a teaspoon of garam masala.

For the beans, I wondered if a portion of the black beans should be mashed. This way if my layer of black beans was thicker, I wouldn’t have to worry about them falling all over the place. Looking back at the resto version, it looks like they have a trick for keeping that layer together as well.

And the millet… well, the trick to fluffy millet is to cook it with less water. I also toasted it in a bit of olive oil but the trick is the 1:2 millet:water ratio.  The millet was super fluffy. So fluffy that it would not stick together and made for a messy casserole. The two servings that I put in the ramekins turned out really well, though. My photos are simply subpar in the presentation aspect, though, but it tasted good.  Hopefully with my tips, you can make this even better than me. :)


This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes, Healing Foods featuring vegetarian Thanksgiving dishes, to Ricki’s Wellness Weekends, and to Cathy’s Healthy Thanksgiving Challenge.

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Spanish Green Bean and Lima Bean Stew

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


Rob and I just returned from a week-long vacation in Iceland. I hope to do a more complete post in a few weeks about the trip (wonderful! beautiful! stunning!), after I frantically try to put my life back into order with work and research commitments. My blog will go into autopilot until then.

I will tease you, though, and let you know how great the trip was and a week was certainly not long enough for the quaint island. Despite the stunning views and vistas, it was cold. While the daytime highs could be 8-20C, with winds beating us fiercely at 80 km/h, the windshield was brutal. It reminded me how it is truly fall.

Even before I left, I knew summer was slowly coming to an end at home. I was worried I would return to Canada to find fall, but instead, thankfully, it is still in the mid-20s.

However, there are other signs. The mornings are now dark when I get up and if I cook after work, it can be dark by the time I finish. Butternut squash, a surefire marker of fall, is making a come back!

After the cold winds of Iceland, I was hankering some warming stews and soups. Summer or fall, stews are great any time of the year. In fact, this stew doubles as a salad which is how I ate the leftovers. See how perfect this is for end-of-summer meals?

Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health (recipe posted here), this is a flavourful medley of vegetables (red bell pepper, green beans, tomatoes and butternut squash) with a light broth spiced with sweet paprika. Spurred by Cara’s recommendation, I used butternut squash instead of sweet potatoes but both would work well here.  This is great with the large, buttery lima beans, but feel free to use your favourite bean.

Moosewood recommended serving this with a romesco sauce on top, but I found I preferred the thickened leftover stew over top baby spinach with a sprinkle of toasted slivered almonds.   After throwing my sweet and sour lentils overtop arugula, I am learning that most bean dishes can be thrown overtop some greens for a lovely salad.


This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Graziana from Erbe in Cucina (Cooking with Herbs).

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Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Fresh’s Miso Gravy

Posted in Favourites, Sides by Janet M on August 22, 2011

I know you’ve heard me lament about resto food.

When I first moved to Toronto, one of my favourite restaurants was Fresh. A vegetarian restaurant serving nice salads and wraps.  I have since found their dishes hit or miss and usually a miss unless it is the grilled veggie and pesto burrito. Please do not try their soba noodles! A soggy mess that disgraces Japan. However, their sweet potato fries with the miso gravy never disappointed and have rightfully been voted the top sweet potato fries in Toronto.

For the BBQ, I made a variety of seasonings for the sweet potato fries. I tried a batch with garlic, lemon pepper and smoked paprika, adapted from a recipe from Radiant Health, Inner Wealth, a batch with a Moroccan spice blend including cinnamon and cumin (somehow my spices went too toasty for my liking [aka burnt], so I didn’t serve them), as well as a one with simple salt and pepper. Other then the Moroccan batch, both turned out great. I really liked the roasted bits of garlic with the sweet potato fries.

At Fresh, the sweet potato fries are lightly spiced with sea salt, basil, tarragon and rosemary, but the winner was the miso gravy. Creamy and salty, it is a perfect match for the sweet fries.

Thankfully, the folks at Fresh are happy to share their (not-so) secret recipe, with it appearing both in their cookbook and online in the Toronto Star. It took me a while to crack out the recipe, but I am delighted I finally did!  My guests discovered the miso gravy also worked well with the grilled chicken, pork tenderloin as well as the salad. What wouldn’t taste delicious with a miso gravy? :)


This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Rinku from Cooking in Westchester, to Ricki’s Summer Wellness Weekends and to this month‘s Bookmarked Recipes.

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Luscious Lentil and Basil Soup

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by Janet M on July 18, 2011

I had lofty gardening goals. My mom told me not to get disappointed if things didn’t work out as planned. I told her all I wanted was my kale to grow.

Let’s just say my garden is not as prolific as Angela’s.

I know the summer has only just begun, but the only thing I have harvested from my garden has been herbs. Since they are in pots, on my back porch, does it really count as my garden? ;) (Of course it is, but you know what I mean!)

I can grow mint and basil.

Last year, somehow, I used mint in so many recipes, that I picked my plant clean and it never bounced back. I thought it was a weed, a perennial at that, but it didn’t even come back for a second year (my garlic chives did, though!). Fair enough, my cousin, who also got a portion of the same plant from my mom, also did not get her mint to return a second year. So it isn’t just my black thumb. ;)

I used this as an opportunity to try different varieties of mint. Richters Herbs sells over 40 different kinds, ranging from the wacky like Marshmallow Mint and Cotton Candy Mint to Peppermint and Swiss Mint. We sampled each one before narrowing in on English Mint, Moroccan Mint and Chocolate Mint. My cousin replaced hers with Mojito Mint!

For basil, I know the problem of the flowering basil and thus am really pleased with my Pesto Perpetuo basil that won’t flower.  Just luscious leaves! We also planted some Lesbos basil which has a savoury note and not as pungent as the traditional Genovese basil. My favourite, though, purely by how I acquired it, is my prolific Genovese basil. Remember the 300g of basil I bought when I made the delicious Asparagus, Strawberry and Basil Salad with Mosto Cotto? Since the bunch of basil included the roots, I planted a bunch of the plants into my pot and they have flourished!

Most of my herbs are doing well! The oregano, thyme (English and French varieties), rosemary, Vietnamese coriander, lemon verbena, parsley and cilantro… Even the lemongrass looks bushy! The Thai basil isn’t looking too hot, though, but I didn’t really have any culinary masterpieces picked out for it since I don’t like its anise flavour.

We have some green tomatoes and a few snow peas are beginning to show up, too, but my kale is still tiny. So is my rainbow Swiss chard. I swear my kale is still 6 inches tall and has seemed to have hit a slump in growth. Stuck at 6 inches for the last month. While baby Red Russian kale would be delicious, I only have 4 leaves on each plant! ;)  Hopefully as the summer progresses, they will be revived. ;)


In an effort to use my bountiful basil crop, without resorting to the typical pesto (yet), I found this delicious lentil soup with veggies and basil in The Natural Vegan Kitchen. It is slightly different than the recipe posted online here and my adapted recipe is below.

I seem to have an affinity for lentils and carrots, and this soup did not disappoint even though it was a minor component. I don’t often cook typical Italian, but the hint Italian flavours of basil, oregano and thyme were lovely in this soup beefed up with sweet potato and cabbage. Of course, the full cup of fresh basil is what brings this soup out of the standard Italian fare.  Scrap soup, I mean stew, even after adding another 2 cups of water. I like my soups hearty, though, so no complaints from my end. :)

What are your favourite recipes with basil? This is what I have enjoyed previously:

Blueberry Mango Quinoa Salad with a Lemon Basil Dressing
Asparagus, Strawberry and Basil Salad with Mosto Cotto
Creamy Zucchini and Basil Soup
Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad with Lemon Basil Almond Pesto
Saffron Marinated Paneer Cheese with Fresh Basil, Cashews and Pomegranate Seeds
(not vegan, substitute paneer with tofu)
Spanish Lentil and Mushroom Stew
Asparagus and Chickpea Stir-Fry with Hoisin Sauce


This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this month’s Veggie/Fruit A Month with carrots, to this month’s Simple and in Season and to Ricki’s new Summer Wellness Weekends.

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Spicy Indonesian Yam and Peanut Soup

Posted in Soups by Janet M on June 22, 2011

My friends recently hosted an international-themed potluck. Everyone brought a dish from another country. A real melange of flavours.

While most of my cooking comes from an international menu, I used this opportunity to try a cuisine I knew next to nothing about: Indonesia. While I have cooked with tempeh, fermented tofu originating from Indonesia, I didn’t really know much else.

While browsing through Love Soup, I spotted this curious soup: it featured a host of vegetables including carrots, parsnips and yams (yes, I had a monster yam that weighed 900g and even another that weighed 1100g!), flavoured with earthy tones from cumin and garam masala, spiced with garlic, ginger and chili flakes, lightened with sourness from both tamarind and fresh lemon juice, and coming together with a hint of lusciousness from the peanut butter. My mouth is watering as I write this… :)

At first, I wasn’t sure how this would be a spicy soup: I substituted garam masala for the curry powder and was only using a small amount of chili flakes for such a large amount of soup. Have no fear, this is a zingy soup with all the right amount of zing. The culprit? The savior? Half a cup of grated ginger, tempered by the peanut butter. Boo-yah! Joanne pointed out I was on a ginger kick, and yes, I am loving it!

This soup has a great mix of flavours – warm yet spicy, creamy yet light, zingy and sour.  Soups get the shaft in the summer, but I think they are great any time. Share this with friends, because it makes a lot of soup. It also freezes well.

This is my submission to My Kitchen, My World for Indonesian travels, to this month’s No Croutons Required for blended soups, to E.A.T. World for Indonesia, and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

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Carrot and Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Posted in Appetizers, Favourites, Soups by Janet M on June 8, 2011


I love soups.  Mostly one-bowl complete meal kind of soups, but I have ventured out into some lighter soups as well. Thick soups, thin soups, chunky soups, pureed soups – what is there not to like?

I know some people don’t like pureed soups. It reminds them of baby food.

Recently, I was visiting an old friend for dinner, where she made a nice carrot, sweet potato and orange soup which she also fed to her 1-year-old son. Suffice it to say, this kid had no taste! The hooting and screeching was incredible once he tried the soup, which my friend attributed to his aversion to garlic and onion. He was much happier with a macaroni salad, instead.

Not that I remember what baby food tastes like from my childhood, but simple ingredients can lead to a delicious soup. An old recipe of mine from university used 4 ingredients for a decadent butternut squash and roasted red pepper soup. I wonder if Baby T would like that soup (onion but no garlic!). :)

Sometimes, though, I want something a bit more edgy, a bit more complex.

Welcome this Carrot and Roasted Red Pepper Soup that I adapted from Color Me Vegan (original recipe also posted here). The name sounds similar to my old stand-by, and with roasted red pepper as a main ingredient, I knew I would like it. I just didn’t know I would love it. Thankfully, while the ingredient list is longer, it is just as easy to make once you’ve got everything assembled. This is an adult soup, though.

I modified the original recipe slightly, choosing to roast my own red peppers (easy and tastes better) while I chopped and cooked the first couple of ingredients. I substituted a large sweet potato for the potato and only used 1 cup of soy milk to get my desired consistency. I also omitted the cayenne, but a dash of red pepper flakes would have been a great addition.

The result was a complex, but still light and creamy soup. The sweetness from the roasted red peppers works well with the carrots, and the pureed sweet potato adds a creamy sweetness as well.  I found the sherry to be a welcome flavour, and a great way to cook the vegetables without any oil. But the secret ingredient was the miso. It really added a depth of flavour that had you begging for more. Baby T may not want it, but if you are older, you will.


This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this month’s No Croutons Required featuring roasted vegetables, and to this month’s Simple and in Season for June.

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Yam and Black Bean Stew with Orange and Cilantro

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by Janet M on May 7, 2011


So what kind of meal would you make if you were hosting a dinner party after cycling 100km?

Without going to the grocery store, to boot.

While I prefer not to try new recipes on unsuspecting guests, I warned my brother and sister-in-law that this was a new recipe… AND that I would likely be pooped post-bike ride. They were fine with the menu.

The most important part of having them over is not about the food, you see, it was about catching up. How their plans for puppy parenthood are progressing, moving plans on both ends, and since my apartment is now on the market to be rented, it has never looked cleaner. Oh, and games. Fun was had by all as we introduced them to Bananagrams and Dominion.

I still get a bit stressed when choosing a menu for guests. My tastes have changed and I would like to showcase how great the food tastes. A bit harder to do without rehearsing a recipe, but I trusted the complementary flavours within this soup stew. Yam, black beans, orange, cilantro – what’s not to like?

I adapted this recipe from Appetite for Reduction to create a heartier soup, I mean stew.  I decreased the amount of yam, increased the black beans, used canned tomatoes instead of fresh and, of course, used Aleppo chili flakes instead of the serrano peppers.

The yams, partially mashed, created a creamy consistency which meshed well with the extra black beans. I squeezed 2 Navel oranges to acquire 1 cup of fresh orange juice. This added more of a lightness to the soup, rather than an intense orange flavour. The sweet cilantro and orange paired well with the slight zing from the Aleppo pepper.

Let me tell you how perfect this stew was:

1) It is a very easy recipe easy. I had no problems whipping this up after the bike ride, since it came together quite seamlessly.

2) It serves 8, so there was plenty of food for seconds. And (souper) leftovers for me!

3) It tasted very good. No complaints from my guests. Not a typical meal for company, but it would suit me well if I visited someone. :)

4) For recovery meals after endurance-based exercise, this was ideal with a high carb content. As is, this has a 1:5 protein:carb ratio, but enjoy it with a glass of soy milk for an overall 1:3.5 ratio. Apparently, liquid-based meals are easiest to digest while in recovery so a soup is perfect.

Sounds like a winning meal for everyone.


This is my submission to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Smitha of Kannada Cuisine.

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