Sunday, August 28, 2011

Brazilian Black Bean Stew

Brazilian Black Bean Stew

There’s something so fascinating about Brazil.  I’m really curious about their cuisine and definitely want to explore more recipes.  This one comes from Color Me Vegan by Coleen Patrick-Goudreau and was one of the first recipes that caught my attention when flipping through the book.  This week, my friend Merry and I are cooking soups or stews every night for dinner and our little challenge provided me with the perfect opportunity to make this dish.

The colours and fragrance from the pot as it cooked were enticing and spicy.  I must admit to being a total novice cooking with hot peppers and this is actually the first time in recent memory I’ve cooked with a whole, fresh jalapeño.  Of course it squirted me directly in the eye while I was carefully chopping so I won’t soon forget the experience but I’m slowly starting to incorporate more recipes with a little heat.   I know my daughter won’t be thrilled with this offering but I hope to distract her with a pretty green edamame soup and maybe some cupcakes?

Okay, down to the nitty-gritty.  Instead of 2 cans of diced tomatoes I used one can of fire roasted tomatoes and 3 fresh.  I also forgot the mango but I figured the ginormous sweet potato would add enough sweetness to balance out the spice of the hot pepper.  I couldn't find Mexican spiced veggie sausage in our local market so I ended up using tofu beer sausages made by Tofurkey as an experiment.  The one and a half cups of water called for in the recipe was definitely not enough.  I added at least another full cup, if not more, of liquid after the beans went into the pot. 

This is a definite make again.  It’s colourful, balanced, slightly spicy, earthy from the black beans and sweet from the yams.  I love the tomato base and the fire-roasted tomatoes added a smoky flavour and aroma while it was cooking.  A bit of cilantro to top it all off and you have the perfect stew.  YUMMY!  I ate mine with a bit of rice and some fried ripe plantains.  

Before I go, I must note that that the light in my kitchen at night is really awful.  I'm submitting this blog post and photo (as dark and bad as it is) to Nicole S. Young's giveaway contest on Google+ for her new book titled Food Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots because I would love, love, love to learn more about food photography and photography in general.   I take all my food photos on this super basic, digital pocket camera and one day dream of having a proper camera.   

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Zucchini-Raspberry Jam Muffins

Zucchini-Raspberry Jam Muffins

The inspiration for this recipe came from a Williams Sonoma Muffin book that mysteriously appeared on the library hold-shelf under my name.  I don’t remember ordering it and it’s not the kind of thing I’m currently researching but, since I’d never pass up the chance to look at attractive baked goods, home it came. 

The original version had marmalade in it, not exactly my favourite thing, so I decided to try raspberry jam and veganized the recipe.  The batter was quite thick and I may mess around with the ingredients a bit more so it will yield at least a full dozen muffins but the flavour and texture is quite good.  The muffins look rather humble and homely but when you bite into them, the sweet, raspberry flavour is a wonderful surprise.  I actually didn’t intend on posting this recipe until I took my first bite and the muffins changed my mind.   

Zucchini-Raspberry Jam Muffins

Yield: 10 muffins


1 ½ cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup canola oil
¼ cup raspberry jam
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 small zucchini grated (4 ounces)
¼ cup pecans (optional)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray muffin tin lightly with oil or line with paper liners.

In a bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. 

In another bowl mix wet ingredients; oil, raspberry jam, vanilla and zucchini until well blended.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until evenly moistened.  Stir in the nuts if you are using.  The batter will be quite stiff.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups about ¾ full.  Bake for 17 to 20 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean. 

Let muffins cool in the tin, on a wire rack for five minutes and then unmold.  Enjoy!  

Zucchini-Raspberry Jam Muffins

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Vegan Sloppy Joe Love

Vegan Sloppy Joes

I know it’s the middle of summer but apart from gorging myself on peaches I pretty much eat like I always do.  After not being shunned last week when I admitted to not being a salad person, I now feel comfortable coming out about my favourite type of comfort food.   The keywords are saucy and warm.  Last night before bed, I was craving sloppy joes and when I got up this morning I just had to make them for breakfast.  In the last few months I’ve enjoyed two recipes - one from Veganomicon using lentils and another featuring tofu from La Dolce Vegan.   I had a fairly lazy cooking week and definitely wanted to try a new recipe.  In the interests of time and my grumbling tummy, I decided on a recipe from another Sarah Kramer book - How it all Vegan and substituted tofu for the tvp.  It was really satisfying (read saucy) and for me, it had the perfect blend of spices.  And the best part is that no-one else in my little family of three likes sloppy joes so I only had to give up the heart-shaped toast to my daughter and the rest of the pot was mine!  I guess nobody else in the family appreciates the slop like I do.  Maybe it’s the dill pickle?    

The recipe consists of two parts; first blending all of the sauce ingredients – tomatoes, tomato paste, olive oil, garlic, onion and spices together and then frying up the green pepper, onion, tofu, dill pickle, spices etc in pan.  Add the two parts together and simmer for as long as you can hold off.  I served this with whole grain toast instead of the traditional bun but you can do whatever you like.  I stuffed myself.   

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Super Easy Cucumber Salad

Cucumber Salad
Okay, you may have noticed that I'm not a huge salad person by the lack of salad talk here on my blog.  I actually had to create a new label just for this post. ;-)  But, there is one simple vegetable salad that I do love to make and eat.  I was first introduced to this dish by an Austrian friend while backpacking around Europe over twenty years ago.  I stayed with her and her family for a couple of weeks in Vienna and let's just say that most meals were comprised of meat, with a side of meat, and the day she introduced me to this light, summery and refreshing cucumber treat my gut thought it had won the lottery.  She showed me how to prepare it and I have been making it off and on ever since.  It's basically just thinly sliced cucumber and onion in a vinaigrette dressing.  There are countless versions and variations of this recipe all over the place so feel free to play around with the dressing.  I don't usually measure but today, for the purpose of sharing, I made it as follows.


1 English cucumber thinly sliced
1 small red onion thinly sliced
juice from half a lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons agave nectar (or sweetener of your choice)
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
freshly ground black pepper


Thinly slice the cucumber and place in medium sized bowl. (I don't like it too thin or it goes soggy after a day in the fridge) Squeeze lemon juice over the cucumber and toss. Add thinly sliced onion. (The onion I do slice as thin as possible because it's raw.)

Whisk together remaining ingredients, taste for seasoning and pour over the cucumber and onion.  Toss to mix and refrigerate.  I like to eat it right away but many recipes suggest leaving it to cool.  It's up to you!   The salad should keep in the fridge, tightly covered for a day or two.  

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Peach Pie

Peach Pie

It's peach season and that makes me very happy!  I picked up two baskets of fresh, local peaches from the market and in honour of my husband's birthday, I made a pie. Simple, down home, slightly goopy, peach pie.  I altered the recipe somewhat from the original by cutting the sugar, adding cinnamon and using Earth Balance in place of butter.

This was not a sophisticated or difficult pie to make but it sure was yummy.  I'm not a pastry person, cakes and cookies are the usual dessert suspects around here. Pastry mastery is on the to-do list (kinda far down) but for the time being, using a pie shell from the market was fine.  The filling was a warm peachy mess and we could barely keep our hands and forks away while it cooled.  But oh, it was awesome.  Tender, juicy, peach goodness with a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg.  This pie would be even more incredible with some vanilla ice-cream and if I knew how to make decent pastry, it would be out of this world.  Here is a link to the original recipe on All Recipes and you'll find my adaptation below.  

Peach Pie

1/2 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance (vegan butter), softened
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
6 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
1 - 9-inch single pie crust


Cream together the sugar and Earth Balance.  Add the cinnamon, nutmeg and flour and mix until small crumbs form.  Add half the mixture to the bottom of your pie shell.

Mix the sliced peaches with the remainder of the crumbs and add on top of the bottom layer.  Or, you can layer in your peaches and add the remaining crumb mixture on top.  (I made it the first way)

Pop into the oven for 10 minutes at 450 degrees.  After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 and bake for 40 more minutes or until the top is lightly browned.