Sunday, April 30, 2017

Cauliflower Pea Curry

 I recently took one of those ‘personality profile’ self-exams – you know the ones. After answering questions like “Would you rather chair a 20-person committee for the rededication of the town park or stuff envelopes in the back room?”,  you are given a score. That score places you on a personality spectrum, ranging from the daring extrovert to the quietest and most introverted church mouse.

Guess what? I am a quiet and introverted church mouse. SURPRISE! One of the qualifiers for my personality type is “likes to write poetry” and the very week I took the personality test, I had written a poem.

Another qualifier was the word ‘silent.’ Whoa. SILENT. That’s pretty quiet.
My co-workers all agreed with the results of my profile, saying stuff like, “Yes, Tracy, you are silent.” Again, whoa.  Am I so transparent?  

The world around me is chatty, and daring, and extroverted. Me? I’m happy sitting on the couch writing poetry 😊 .

Here’s a spicy recipe to excite even the quietest and most introverted of us. Take a plain cauliflower and give it some personality.

Here’s what you need:
2 lbs cauliflower, washed and broken in flowerets
3 T non-diary butter (Earth Balance is the best brand)
½ t dried ginger
½ t salt
½ t turmeric
½ t cayenne
½ t coriander
½ t dried mustard seeds
½ t cumin seeds
¼ t cinnamon
1 clove garlic, minced
½ C water
1 ½ C frozen peas
2 tomatoes, diced

Here’s what you do:
Melt the butter, add all the spices, and stir.  Add the cauliflower and water and stir until coated. Cover and allow the cauliflower to steam until medium tender. Add the peas and cilantro. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook only until they are warmed through.

I served this with Biryani Rice which has the exact flavor profile, so neither this delicious curry or the rice got the attention they deserved. Next time I make this, I’ll serve it with plain rice and perhaps some dahl. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017


The most delicious, flavorful, spice-warm rice you will ever eat. There are many recipes on the internet to choose from, but mine is pretty darn good, so don’t even bother to shop around. You could serve this with a huge salad and grilled mushrooms or tofu and it would be an impressive meal. I served mine with a cauliflower and pea curry which had the same flavor profile as the biryani, so I don’t think the rice  got its well-deserved acclaim. 

I found a recipe for bryani (a typo?)  in “The Vegetarian Epicure” by Anna Thomas, copyright 1972. 1972! The entire cookbook is quite a walk down ‘hippie’ lane, but there are some gems between the pages. I made some modifications and those are reflected below.

Here’s what you need:
¼ C non-dairy butter
1 ½ t cumin seeds
1 ½ t mustard seeds
¼ t cayenne pepper
½ t salt
1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
¼ t turmeric
¼ t ground ginger
½ t ground cinnamon
½ t ground coriander
1 large eggplant, peeled and diced
1 C sliced green onions
1 C blanched fresh wax beans (yellow beans), cut in 1 inch pieces
1 C chopped  jarred sweet red peppers
1 C chopped fresh tomatoes
4-5 C cooked rice, which has been prepared in vegetable broth
2/3 C roasted cashews, chopped in large pieces (or left whole for a better presentation)
½ C golden raisins

Here’s what you do:
Melt the butter and stir in the spices for a few minutes. Add the vegetables. Stir well and cook until veg is a bit soft. Add the cooked rice, cashews, and raisins. Stir well and pour in a buttered casserole. Cover tightly and bake at 350 degrees for about ½ hour. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Creamy Vegan Asparagus Soup

I hit it out of the asparagus ballpark with this one, folks. You know when asparagus season hits, it hits hard, so take note of this beautiful soup and add it to your pile of asparagus recipes. Not only was the flavor excellent, but the delicate green color was really pretty. Be sure to save the tips of the asparagus for a garnish.

Here’s what you need:
2 bunches fresh asparagus, cut in 1 inch pieces, tips reserved
2 T butter
1 large sweet onion, diced
6 C vegetable broth (light in color if possible)
Lemon zest (nice as a garnish, or added in the soup)
Lemon juice from 1 lemon
½ C raw cashews

Here’s what you do:
Sautee the onions in the butter. Add the asparagus (reserve the tips) and the broth. Simmer until the veg is very soft.
Carefully transfer the asparagus mixture to a blender and whirl. You may need to strain it. 
Whirl the cashews in a high-speed blender with about 1 C water to create a cream. Add this to the soup along with the lemon juice.
Drop the asparagus tips in boiling water for a minute or two, just until tender. Use them as a garnish.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Herb and Lemon White Bean Hummus

Are there any original recipes out there at all anymore? What with the internet and the plethora of cookbooks, I can barely imagine an original *anything* any more.

Actually, that's not entirely the case, because I have invented plenty of memorable recipes, many of which appear here on this blog. I do follow many, many recipes to the letter, but sometimes I riff and create and go off in various ways.

Here is a basic white bean hummus from "Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan" by Dreena Burton. I did everything she said....except I added lots of lemon zest (reflected below).

 I kept mine a bit chunky and I think I added too much water at the end, but oh well! It's hummus, not rocket science.

Super delicious. Very light. Not too garlicky which is nice once in a while. Good as a dip or rolled in tortillas. Eat it with a spoon or with veg or crackers or tortilla chips.

Herb and Lemon White Bean Hummus
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 T fresh lemon juice or more to taste
lots of lemon zest
1 T tahini
1 clove garlic
1-2 T olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
1/2 t Dijon
1/2 t sea salt
black pepper to taste
water as needed to thin
fresh herbs: thyme and basil: to taste

Blend it all together. Thin with water. Add herbs.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Orange Black Bean Taquitos and Chickpea Avocado Salad (Forks Over Knives)

It’s hard to say when my eating preferences changed. It’s hard to say why they changed. As I have  mentioned before, I do know there were a few events all occurring at once, 4 ½ years ago, that motivated me to try eating a vegan diet. My daughter was living with a vegan at the time, and we were super curious about her food. She shared her recipe for potato tacos with roasted jalapeno crema, and we were in love.

Also, at that same time, some health issues arose in the family- some small, some large – but enough to be a wake-up call regarding our health. Less cholesterol and more green stuff.

Thirdly, my blog was in need of a boost, and participating in Vegan Month of Food (the VeganMoFo….which I loved then and still love to this day) seemed like the right amount of challenge. One month of vegan meals. What could happen?

Well, what happened was that I became vegan.

Along the way, I was inspired by books and podcasts and blogs and cookbooks and one movie in particular. It’s called “Forks Over Knives” and if you have not viewed it, I highly encourage you to check it out. It’s not a scary ‘animal rights’ film or a film that makes you feel guilty for eating cheese. It’s simply an explanation of why eating animal foods is harmful to our health. It changed my life….yes, a movie changed my life.

Here are two recipes from the Forks Over Knives website. I’m positive they won’t mind me sharing them with you.

Orange Black Bean Taquitos (original recipe HERE)
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 t cumin seeds, toasted and ground
2 chiptole peppers in adobo sauce, minced
Zest and juice of two oranges
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
Corn tortillas
Toppings (guacamole, salsa, spicy sour cream, etc. )

Sauté the onions in a tiny bit of water for a few minutes until they begin to soften and brown. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time to keep them from sticking. Add the garlic and continue to cook. Add the cumin, peppers, orange zest and juice, and the black beans.
Salt to taste and puree in a food processor. It doesn’t need to be completely smooth.
Soften the tortillas in a dry, hot, non-stick pan and spoon about 2-3 T of the bean mixture in each tortilla. Roll them up and brown them in a hot, non-stick pan until they are toasted.

Chickpea Avocado Salad (original recipe HERE)
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 small red onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced or passed through a press ( I usually omit raw garlic, as I do in this recipe)
Zest of 1 lime and juice of 4 limes
1 jalapeno pepper, seed and veins removed for less heat
½ C chopped cilantro
Salt to taste
1 avocado, coarsely chopped

Combine all the ingredients and mix well. Add the avocado carefully just before serving.