tempeh bourgignon

November 19, 2011

In my pre-vegan days I gravitated to the sublimely saucy French fare like Beef Bourgignon, Coq Au Vin, and Bisque de Langouste. The base of most of these stews is, of course, meat, chicken, and fish so adieu, adieu to yieu and yieu and yieu. I was thrilled when I tripped over this recipe for Tempeh Bourgignon in the Moosewood Cookbook. They hit the nail on the head when they say that not only is tempeh low in fat and high in fiber and protein, it also has the wonderful ability to soak up flavours. You mean like mushrooms, red wine, garlic, and thyme? I say bring on the tempeh in this bourgignon classic.

3 tbsps olive oil

1 1/2 cups onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 bay leaves

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup celery, chopped

1 cup carrots, chopped

4 cups mushrooms, coarsely chopped

8 oz tempeh, cut into cubes

1/2 cup red wine

15-ozs of stewed tomatoes

1 tbsp dijon mustard

2 tbsps minced fresh thyme

sea salt and pepper to taste

chopped parsley for garnish

In a saucepan on medium heat, warm the olive oil and cook the onions until tender and browning. Add the garlic, bay leaves, and salt and saute until the garlic is fragrant, about another 5 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, fennel, and mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms being to release their juices, about 10 minutes.

Deglaze with the red wine. Let simmer until the wine reduces slightly. Add the tomatoes and tempeh and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the dijon, thyme, additional sea salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer for another 5 minutes or so. When the stew is done, stir in chopped parsley and serve over garlic smashed potatoes, with a crisp kale salad on the side.

sweet potato chili

November 3, 2011

Last week I saw 3 or 4 different recipes for sweet potato chili in different places. Weird but wonderful. I decided to shamelessly follow the trend and post my own. Sweet potatoes go over big in our house, and as we head into the depths of fall, it’s always good to have a recipe on hand that can warm the heart and brighten up even the darkest of November nights. And don’t be jealous of my authentic vintage red Dansk dish, this chili looks good in any pot especially with a healthy garnish of cilantro and green onion.

2 tbsps olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 red peppers, chopped

1 full bulb garlic (about 8 cloves), minced

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp dried oregano

1 1/2 cups corn (fresh or canned)

1 cup kidney beans, cooked

1 cup black or funky heritage beans, cooked

4 cups stewed tomatoes

some slow-roasted tomatoes if you have them

1 sweet potato, chopped

sea salt and pepper

cilantro, chopped

green onion, chopped

Heat the oil in a heavy pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and peppers and saute for about 8 minutes until they turn soft and brown. Stir in the garlic and spices. Reduce the heat and cook until everything turns fragrant, about 2 or 3 minutes but be careful not to burn the spices. Stir in the corn, beans, stewed tomatoes, sl0w-roasted tomatoes (if you have them, if not don’t worry), and sweet potatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for about 30 minutes until flavours meld and the liquid boils down a bit. Add sea salt and pepper to taste. Serve alone or alongside some rice. Garnish liberally with chopped cilantro and chopped green onion.

Ratatouille is a traditional French Provençal stewed vegetable dish, originating in Nice. Polenta is known to have been eaten by the Roman legions; known as pulmentum they would eat it in either a porridge or in a hard cake like form. A happy Mediterranean marriage, this recipe brings the two together in a meal that harkens to the good-ole-days when vegetables were fresh, food was simple, and everyone enjoyed the comforts and pleasure of the table with good friends and the gifts of the gods.


4 large tomatoes

8 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 cup chopped fresh parsley

20 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 lb eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 1/4 teaspoons sea salt

2 large onions, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise

3 red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces

4 medium zucchini, cut into chunks

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Cut an X in bottom of each tomato with a sharp paring knife and blanch together in a 4-quart pot of boiling water 1 minute. Transfer tomatoes with a slotted spoon to a cutting board and, when cool enough to handle, peel off skin, beginning from scored end, with paring knife.

Coarsely chop tomatoes and transfer to a 5-quart heavy pot with garlic, parsley, basil, and 1/3 cup oil. Simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes break down and sauce is slightly thickened, about 30 minutes.

While sauce is simmering, toss eggplant with 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large colander and let stand in sink 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook onions in 3 tablespoons oil with 1/4 teaspoon salt in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer onions with a slotted spoon to a large bowl, then add 3 tablespoons oil to skillet and cook bell peppers with 1/4 teaspoon salt over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Transfer peppers with slotted spoon to bowl with onions. Add 3 tablespoons oil to skillet and cook zucchini with 1/4 teaspoon salt over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer zucchini with slotted spoon to bowl with other vegetables.

While zucchini are cooking, pat eggplant dry with paper towels. Add remaining oil (about 1/4 cup) to skillet and cook eggplant over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 10 to 12 minutes.

Add vegetables, remaining teaspoon salt, and black pepper to tomato sauce and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender, about 1 hour. Cool, uncovered, and serve warm or at room temperature.


6 cups water

1 tsp sea salt

2 cups organic corn grits

In a large, deep pan over high heat bring water and sea salt to boil, gradually stir in the polenta. Reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring frequently to prevent sticking until the mixture is very thick (about 30 minutes). Stir in more salt if needed. Oil a square medium-sized pan or loaf pan, spoon in polenta, and let set for 10 minutes. Invert onto a flat plate. The polenta will unmold and hold its shape.

Cut polenta into thick slices and serve hot, smothered in ratatouille and chopped rosemary.


October 16, 2011

I’m a little confused about what farinata actually is. If you google it, most links lead you to the conclusion that it’s a chickpea flatbread like socca. Yet my new cookbook on Tuscan cooking has it as a stew from Pistoia, a region of Tuscany just west and north of Florence. It doesn’t really matter as recipes are regional by their very nature, and adaptable, and transformable, and personal. So my farinata is a polenta stew – the epitome of peasant, homegrown, comfort food. Picture a little stone house in a Tuscan valley with a small kitchen garden outside full of fall bounty like carrots, cabbage, celery, tomatoes, and herbs. Now add a little wine, a few beans, some polenta and you’ve got a meal that will warm the bellies of the whole family. Cheap. Easy. Filling. Tasty. With leftovers for lunch in the field the next day.

1 1/2 cups dried borlotti beans (or another kind of dried bean), soaked overnight in water to cover, and drained

2 cloves garlic, peeled

2 sage leaves

1 bay leaf

3 1/2 oz cavolo nero cabbage

4 tbsps olive oil

1 carrot, chopped

1/2 celery stalk, chopped

1/2 onion, thinly sliced

2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup white wine

1 cup dried polenta

chopped herbs including thyme, rosemary, oregano

sea salt and pepper

4 tbsps grated pecorino cheese, optional

Place beans in a large pot with plenty of water, one garlic clove, sage leaves, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and cook beans until tender, seasoning with salt towards the end of the cooking time (this is important – if you add salt too early your beans won’t cook).

Meanwhile, bring a pot of lightly salted water to boil. Add the cabbage and simmer for about 5 minutes until cabbage is tender. Drain and chop.

Heat olive oil in a heavy dutch oven or large pot and add the onions. Cook until tender. Add carrot, celery, and garlic. Saute until tender. Add tomatoes and chopped herbs. Let simmer for about 3 minutes. Add white wine and let it reduce by about 1/2.

Drain the beans, discard the sage and bay leaves, reserving the cooking liquid. Place half the whole beans in the dutch oven with the other other vegetables. Mash half the beans and garlic clove with a potato masher until they turn into a paste. Add them to the dutch oven along with the cabbage and 2 cups of reserved cooking liquid from the beans.Let simmer for about 20 minutes.

Pour 4 1/2 cups of the rest of the remaining cooking liquid into the dutch oven. Season with salt and pepper and then sprinkle in the polenta. Cook, stirring regularly and adding more cooking liquid or water if necessary, for 40 minutes, until thickened and cooked through.

If you want to make this farinata true Tuscan style, stir in 4 tbsps grated pecorino cheese. Either way, ladle into bowls and serve with crunchy artisanal toast and a glass of wine from the region.

Viva la Mexico! We were in Tulum last week and got bitten by the Mexican foodie bug – guacamole, pico de gallo, black beans and blackened rice. I’m having a hard time coming back to the snow and cold as I dream of blue water and white beaches so to nurse my holiday hangover we are having a weekend of Mexican food. First on the menu is Black Bean Stew with Chipotle and Tomatoes. A little Blackened Rice on the side with a dollop of salsa and you’re transported to the Mayan Riviera. I can smell the ocean.

1 1/2 cups black beans, sorted and rinsed

2 tsps fresh epazote  (a Mexican herb which I don’t have on hand so I just skipped this ingredient)

1 onion, quartered

1/2 tsp dried oregano


1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely diced

1/2 tsp ground chipotle chili

1 cup chopped tomatoes (or I used slow-roasted tomatoes)

4 cilantro sprigs


Drain the beans, cover them wiht 6 cups fresh water, and boil them hard for 10 minutes, skimming of any foam that collects on the surface. Add the epazote, onion, and oregano. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the beans are partially tender, about 45 minutes. Add about 1 tsp salt and continue cooking until completely tender, 15 to 30 minutes more.

Heat oil in a roomy skillet or saucepan over fairly high heat. Add the onion and saute for 4 to 5 minutes to soften. Add the beans, chile, tomatoes, and cilantro, lower the heat, and simmer for 15 to 30 minutes. If the beans are dry, add a bit more water. Taste them for salt, then turn the beans into a dish and garnish with more cilantro.

Adapted from Deborah Madison, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

I’m not sure why but this morning I woke up with a restless desire to a) buy a tagine and b) make a Moroccan tagine in the tagine. So after work I set out to accomplish both and big success! I bought a nice red Le Creuset tagine at a little independent store called The Cook’s Place. I think I’m in love.

So what’s different? Why not just use a dutch oven or heavy pot? Well, let me tell you. “The unique shape of the tagine allows air to circulate above the food without escaping. There’s a steam hole to make sure pressure doesn’t grow too much, but it also keeps in most of the moisture. This allows your tagine to slowly steam and roast the food from above, while simultaneously broiling from the heat at the bottom. This combination of cooking-methods allows the food to slow-cook from all directions to make a perfect, fragrant casserole.” This from squidoo.

And what did I make in the tagine? A Moroccan Chickpea Tagine that we drenched in Charmoula, but more on that in a sec. First, here’s the tagine recipe from The Vegan Cook’s Bible.

4 cups chickpeas, rinsed and drained, or 2 cans chickpeas with liquid

2 cups of veggie stock (use 1 1/4 cups if using canned chickpeas and their liquid)

juice of 1 lemon

2 cups diced sweet potato

1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed

1 onion, chopped

1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped

1/4 cup currants

4 sun-dried tomato halves, thinly sliced

2 slices fresh ginger, finely chopped

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp hot pepper flakes

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the base of tagine, combine chickpeas, stock, lemon juice, sweet potatoes, quinoa, onion, apricots, currants, sun-dried tomatoes, ginger, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and hot pepper flakes. Bake in preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours or until sweet potato is tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with Charmoula. It really couldn’t be easier or faster.


So what’s charmoula? I asked the same question. I found the recipe in Bonnie Stern’s Friday Night Dinners and, it sounded good, but I had never heard of it. Turns out wiki, of course, has the answer: “Chermoula or charmoula is a marinade used in Algerian, Moroccan  and Tunisian  cooking. It is usually used to flavor fish or seafood, but it can be used on other meats or vegetables. Chermoula is often made of a mixture of herbs, oil, lemon juice, pickled lemons, garlic, cumin, and salt. It may also include onion, fresh coriander, ground chili peppers, black pepper, or saffron.” Bonnie Stern’s includes mayonnaise, for which I substituted veganaise. Tasty. It actually totally satisfied my longing for aioli which I do love but have put on the no-no list for obvious eggy reasons.

1 cup veganaise

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp hot red pepper sauce

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 tbsp paprika (preferably smoked)

2 tbsps finely chopped fresh cilantro

In a bowl, combine veganaise, garlic, lemon juice, hot pepper sauce, cumin, paprika, and cilantro.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

coconut red lentil soup

March 28, 2010

I guess technically this is a soup but we served it last night in wide bowls over a pile of quinoa and it’s as soupy as some of our stews. Or is it as stewy as some of our soups? Whatever its label it’s really good. Complex flavours. Gorgeous colour. The raisins (I used currants) give you a hit of sweetness. This soup, while heavy and warm, gets “uplifted” by the light, refreshing addition of green onions. It’s from a blog I like, 101 cookbooks. This soup will help brighten any cold night with its colour – “the color I see when I close my eyes and turn my face toward the sun” as Heidi notes – and pungent warming taste. Yum.

1 cup / 7 oz / 200g yellow split peas

1 cup 7 oz / 200g red split lentils (masoor dal)

7 cups / 1.6 liters water

1 medium carrot, cut into 1/2-inch dice

2 tablespoons fresh peeled and minced ginger

2 tablespoons curry powder

2 tablespoons olive oil

8 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced

1/3 cup / 1.5 oz / 45g golden raisins (I used currants)

1/3 / 80 ml cup tomato paste

1 14-ounce can coconut milk

2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt

one small handful cilantro, chopped

cooked brown rice, farro, or quinoa for serving (optional)

Give the split peas and lentils a good rinse – until they no longer put off murky water. Place them in an extra-large soup pot, cover with the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the carrot and 1/4 of the ginger. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the split peas are soft.

In the meantime, in a small dry skillet or saucepan over low heat, toast the curry powder until it is quite fragrant. Be careful though, you don’t want to burn the curry powder, just toast it. Set aside. Place the olive oil in a pan over medium heat, add half of the green onions, the remaining ginger, and raisins. Saute for two minutes stirring constantly, then add the tomato paste and saute for another minute or two more.

Add the toasted curry powder to the tomato paste mixture, mix well, and then add this to the simmering soup along with the coconut milk and salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so. The texture should thicken up, but you can play around with the consistency if you like by adding more water, a bit at a time, if you like. Or simmer longer for a thicker consistency.

Sprinkle each bowl generously with cilantro and the remaining green onions.

smoky spicy split peas

February 14, 2010

This is a new recipe I discovered from Tom Philpott in Grist Magazine. It is thick, and smokey, and really good when you’ve got a chill in the bone and need something that will stick to the ribs. If you eat it with rice (or another grain) you’ve got a complete protein in combination with the split peas. I never liked split peas but with this new discovery I’m quite a fan. Buy some really good smoked Spanish paprika and the recipe will hum. The first thing you need to do is get your mise en place – a french cooking term that essentially means, “get your shit together.” My friend Emily thinks it’s a great term and I now hear her regularly say “I’ve got to go and get my mise en place!”

1 1/2 cups split peas, rinsed and picked through for rocks

1 large onion

1 large carrot

1 large celery stalk, chopped

2 – 4 cloves garlic, minced

4 1/2 cups water or homemade stock

some decent extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons of Spanish smoked paprika

a wedge of lemon or some wine vinegar

sea salt and pepper

flat-leaf parsley or arugula, chopped

a little crushed red chile pepper, optional but really nice

Cover bottom of a medium heavy-bottom pot with your everyday olive oil. Turn heat to a gentle medium. After a minute, add the onion, carrot and celery. Cook, stirring often, for ten or so minutes, until veggies are soft but not browned. If they threaten to turn brown, turn heat down a little.

Add the garlic and the paprika. Cook, stirring, until garlic perfumes the air, a minute or so. Add the peas, stir to mix with the veggies. Add the water or stock; bring to boil; cover; turn heat to low; let simmer.

As the peas cook, check them every few minutes. If they seem on the verge of drying out, add some hot water or stock. While they’re cooking, chop about half a bunch of parsley or several arugula leaves for garnish. The peas should be done in about an hour, maybe a little less. They are ready when they are very soft.

When they are done, add a vigorous twist or three of black pepper, and taste. Stir in a teaspoon of salt. Now add a small amount of acid—a teaspoon or so lemon juice or vinegar. You don’t want it to taste lemony or vinegary; you just want the acid to balance the flavors. Taste again and adjust for salt, pepper, and acid. More smoked paprika could be added at this stage if you want.

To serve, ladle into warm bowls over brown rice or toasted crusty bread. Drizzle with the best olive oil you have—this dish will showcase its flavor—add a dash of crushed chile flakes, and a good sprinkle of chopped greens.

coconut curried vegetables

February 2, 2010

This is a mainstay in our family. LOVE this recipe. It’s from the amazing Vij in Vancouver and goes with almost anything. Make double or triple as it keeps well (and even freezes well).

1/2 cup olive oil

25 to 30 fresh curry leaves

1 tbsp black mustard seeds

1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions

1 tbsp + 1 tsp chopped garlic

2 cups chopped tomatoes (2 large)

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tbsp salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 12 ounce can coconut milk, stirred

1 lb zucchini, chopped into 1-1/2 inch pieces

1 lb cauliflower, cut into 1-1/2 inch florets

2 red and yellow bell peppers, seeded and chopped into 1 inch pieces

3/4 cup cilantro, chopped

In a large pot, heat oil on medium heat. Keeping your head at a distance from the pot, add the curry leaves and mustard seeds and allow them to sizzle for about one minute or until a few seeds pop.

Immediately add onions and sauté until golden brown, about 8 minutes

Add tomatoes and remaining spices and sauté for 8 minutes or until oil glistens on top.

Stir in coconut milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low. Add zucchini. Cover and simmer to five minutes. Add cauliflower and bell peppers, cover and simmer for another five minutes. Stir in cilantro.

Serve over basmati rice.

winter portobello stew

January 31, 2010

This is incredibly delicious. It’s so hearty it’s almost like a beef stew. We love this on a cold, snowy, wintry night in January.

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large onion, diced

2 teaspoons chopped rosemary

salt and pepper, to taste

2 pinches red pepper flakes

1/2 pound portobella mushrooms, sliced 3/8-inch thick

1 pound large white mushrooms, thickly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 tbsps tomato paste

1 1/2 cups quick mushroom stock or water

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped parsley or tarragon

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and rosemary and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and remove to a bowl. Return pan to medium heat and add half remaining oil. When pan is hot, add portobella mushrooms and saute until nicely browned, about 5 minutes. Add them to bowl with onions, and repeat with remaining oil and white mushrooms. Return everything to pan and add garlic, tomato paste, stock and vinegar. Simmer gently 12 to 15 minutes. Add parsley and taste for salt and pepper. Makes 4 servings.

– Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison