Monthly Archives: January 2010

Parsnip-Carrot Ginger Soup

I had a whole bag of parsnips leftover from the 1/2 cup that I needed to make Root Vegetable Risotto.  Initially I thought it was unfortunate that I came home with a whole bag of them when I would only need, at most, one.  However, when I went searching through the index of my new Totally Vegetarian cookbook this past weekend I found a delicious way to make use of my excess  parsnips.

I will confess that parsnips are out of my vegetable radar.  I like them, but for whatever reason they get left behind.  I always reach for carrots, yams and beets when I have a need for root vegetables.   Parsnips, never.  It is not surprising that when I have them in excess I am at a loss of what to do.

On a similar note, soup is not one of the meals that a regularly cook.  Oh, I make soup, but not as often as I should.  I really have no explanation for this either.  Perhaps it is because EPC will often ask  “is soup enough for dinner?”  I know what he means, but coupled with a slice of bread and a hunk of  favourite cheese (or in our case leftover beans and tortillas), soup is a comforting meal and an even better lunch the next day after the flavours have intensified.

And intensify they will!  With a three-inch hunk of ginger this soup should be called Ginger Carrot Parsnip Soup.  I was worried that the soup might be too “gingery”, but I was quickly informed as the bowl of soup was slurped down that the ginger was, in fact, the best part!

Soup is easy to make.  In fact, one of the best things about soup is that you can come home from work, chop and sauté your veggies, add the broth and then put your feet up, leaving it to simmer.  So, if any one else has a similar  problem with bringing parsnips and/or soup to the forefront, this quick and easy soup will cure you, once and for all!

Parsnip-Carrot Ginger Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
6 scallions, coarsely chopped
4-5 parsnips (~1lb), sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium carrots, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Heat oil over medium heat.
  • Add the ginger and sauté for a minute or two
  • Add the scallions, the parsnips, carrots, and stock.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until parsnips and carrots are tender. 
  • Transfer the soup to a blender and blend until smooth.  Return to heat and season with salt and pepper.

Click to print

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup and Tortillas in Bean Sauce

After our sun-soaked Christmas holiday in Cancun, Mexico, I decided that I needed to start cooking Mexican cuisine when we got home. This was music to EPC’s ears, who had thoroughly enjoyed refried beans, tortillas, guacamole, salsa, enchiladas, and even a Margarita right alongside me!  Of course I whip up the odd Tex-Mex dish, or more correctly Edmonton-Mex dish, but I wanted to get to crux of it and delve into a cuisine that I had little experience with.

One could argue that being a vegetarian makes it impossible to delve into Mexican cuisine, since even the beans, something all vegetarians hold dear, are traditionally made with pork fat; even Rick Bayless includes lard in his recipes.  I had a tough time searching out a vegetarian Mexican cookbook that I thought would be authentic, or as close to authentic as a vegetarian could get.  I came across an older cookbook – published in 1996- by Kippy Nigh who owns a vegetarian restaurant and bakery in San Cristobal de las Casas.  I thought to myself, if the woman who wrote the cookbook owns a vegetarian Mexican restaurant in Mexico, you can’t get more authentic than that!  In addition, I spent a few days in San Cristobal de las Casas about 20 years ago, so I figured why not try it for nostalgia’s sake alone.

As I mentioned in my last post I had to take a trip to one of the city’s Mexican grocery stores to find my ingredients.  Now I am set!

EPC loved the soup and had two helpings.  I was a little less enthusiastic, but the soup was good, just not as good as I expected.

I thought that the soup would be a little spicier from the addition of the dried chile.   Next time I would definitely add 2 chiles.  Adding one cube of vegetable broth to the 5 cups water would also be a good idea and help to round out the flavour. The soup itself tasted like your basic tomato soup, but once you had the crispy tortilla strips, avocado and cheese it was transformed.  As for the Tortillas in Bean Sauce, they were delicious.  Sadly, I forgot to warm the tortillas before dipping them into the bean sauce.  The dipping went well, but when I folded them over they cracked.

Tortilla Soup

3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium onion sliced
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1/2 pound of tomatoes seeded and chopped ( I used a 19 ounce can of diced tomatoes)
1 or 2 guajillo chiles
5 cups of water (or vegetable broth, or 2 1/2 cups of each)
1 sprig of fresh epazote (I used a dry sprig)
6 corn tortillas, cut in strips
1/4 pound of jack cheese, grated
1 large ripe avacado, cut in slices
3 green onions, chopped
  • In a large saucepan heat the oil and sauté the garlic and onions
  • Add the tomatoes and chile, and sauté until the tomato dissolved.
  • Blend and strain through a medium mesh strainer (I blended the soup, but did not strain)
  • Add 5 cups of water and the epazote, and simmer for 25 minutes
  • Spray the tortilla strips, or bruch lightly,  with olive oil and bake them at 350°C until crispy
  • Place the tortilla strips in bowls and top with cheese and avocado.
  • Ladle the hot broth into the bowls and serve

Serves 4

Click to print

Tortillas in Bean Sauce

1 cup of refried beans (I used canned)
1/2 cup of water
8 tortillas
1 cup of grated Jack cheese

Mix the beans and water and heat over medium heat.

  • Soften the tortillas one by one on a heated skillet.
  • Dip each tortilla in the bean sauce, then place on a plate.
  • Add some cheese to half of the tortilla and fold the other half over.
  • Keep them warm in the oven at low heat so they don’t get cold before serving.

Serves 4

Click to print

Cookies, Cookbooks and Printable Recipes!

Oh joy!

What a great week for receiving packages of cookbooks in the mail.

On Wednesday EPC and I received our much-anticipated “Christmas Chapter’s gift card” cookbooks. Then on Saturday I went to the courier’s and picked up a package of review cookbooks from Lorna Sass.

Needless to say I am very behind in my reading.

Although I have not had a chance to comb through the new additions to my cookbook shelf, I do have a few cursory ideas.  After noticing that Totally Vegetarian has about 3 vegetable burger recipes and reFresh has one, I thought I should do a veggie burger cook-off and see if I can find a few top burger recipes for you all to try.  Furthermore, I received a veggie burger recipe from a friend a few years ago and cut one out of the newspaper just last week, so it is time I put these recipes to the test!

EPC and I love eating veggie burgers with roasted root vegetables or a side salad, but have avoided them as of late, because we have gotten quite tired of store-bought. In that case, the burger cook-off will be appreciated at my house. What a better way to get reacquainted with our favorite quick meal by trying out some homemade concoctions.

I plan on revisiting Mexico quite often, if only in taste, by trying out some recipes in A Taste of Mexico by Kippy Nigh.  I can only hope the flavours will bring the warm weather and sunshine north!

In order to make the recipes I selected for this week I needed to take a trip to the Mexican grocery.  Here I was able to pick up  dried guajillo chilies and dried epazote, a popular Mexican herb.  I recalled that a few of the other recipes called for smoked dried chipotle peppers , so I picked up a bag of those for another day.  In fact, I don’t think I will have any trouble finding items from Kippy’s ingredient list here in Edmonton.

Since Lorna Sass was kind enough to send me two of her great cookbooks: Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure and Short-Cut Vegan, I thought why not dedicate a month, perhaps February or March, to Lorna Sass, featuring her cookbooks and recipes. According to the reviews I have read so far this will be a real treat.

The excitement doesn’t end there!  Lorna Sass is an expert on pressure cooking and if I manage to secure a pressure cooker for my birthday I will be learning how to cook yummy vegetarian meals quickly.  Quicker than you or I could imagine.  The cover on her cookbook promises “two-hour taste in ten minutes”!

Finally, I have figured out how to include printable copies of the great recipes that I post on Cookbook Cooks, so you can look forward to that when I get to the cookie part of this post.  Thanks to Closet Cooking! I know from experience that a recipe is more likely to be tried if one can print it off and have it handy while cooking!

As you may have guessed I baked some cookies today.  They are wholesome little egg-free snacks made with whole wheat flour and honey.  I found the recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks Uprisings: The Whole Grain Bakers’ Book.

Jammies – you can look forward to about 24 cookies

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (I used regular whole wheat flour)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt (I did not add salt, because I used salted butter)
Your favorite jam (I used tart chokecherry spread)

  • Preheat oven to 350°C
  • In a large bowl, whip the butter with a blender
  • Add the vegetable oil, honey and vanilla extract and beat until mixed
  • In a separate bowl mix the flour, cinnamon and salt.
  • Add the flour to the oil and honey mixture and mix well.  The dough may be quite crumbly, but it will stick together just fine.
  • Roll the dough into small balls and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
  • Make a dent in the top of each cookie with your fingertip and fill with 1/2 teaspoon of jam.
  • Bake at 350°C for 12-15 minutes until lightly brown and the jam bubbles a little

Click for printable version

Tomatillo-Sauced Enchiladas courtesy of Rick Bayless

EPC is one year older today.

For two weeks every year my husband  is numerically 1 year older than me.  Then, in 14 days, I catch up and he no longer has a younger wife.

We always make jokes about this.

In a few years he will test-drive 40 for me.  If he doesn’t like it, I may take the cue and stay 39 forever.

He always gets very excited about his birthday and likes me to make fuss over him.  On his birthday proper I prepare a special meal for him and then, on the following weekend, I take him out to the restaurant of his choice. Of course, there are also gifts and a cake.  This year he opted out of the cake and wanted me take him out to Marble Slab for ice cream instead.

Ice cream is his favorite dessert.

When I asked him what he wanted me to make for his birthday dinner, he replied “something Mexican”.  When we did the week’s grocery shopping I was not yet in possession of my new vegetarian Mexican cookbook, but luckily I had a library copy of Rick Bayless’s Mexican Everyday lying around.  I browsed through it and, although the cookbook is meaty, he does include some vegetarian recipes and vegetarian adaptions on some of his meat-based recipes, so I was able to find something suitable quite quickly.  I love tomatillos, so I thought the Tomatillo-Sauced Enchiladas would taste fantastic.  Rick Bayless has quite a reputation as a Mexican chef, rivaled only by Diana Kennedy.

Sadly, I could not find fresh tomatillos.  He allows for this, by including instructions if you have to resort to bottled tomatillo salsa.  I played it safe and went with Herdez tomatillo salsa.  I am sure the dish would be much finer with fresh homemade salsa, but I will save that for next time.  In fact, if you can find tomatillos and have the inclination, do yourself a favour and make the sauce from scratch.  Finally, a warning about using store-bought salsa: you will not need to add extra salt to the recipe, as the salsa adds enough. I also found the salsa too mild for my taste, so I added a few dashes of cayenne pepper to liven it up.

I should also mention that I do not eat mushrooms.


Perhaps it is because  I work with fungi all day and the thought of eating some when I get home just doesn’t sit well.  However, I will include the original recipe for those of you who eat mushrooms and the modifications for those of you who don’t.

Tomatillo-Sauced Enchiladas with Spinach and Mushrooms
Serves 4

Tomatillo sauce:
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled
Fresh hot green chilies, stemmed and quartered – 1 jalapeño or 1-2 Serrano peppers
1 1/2 pounds tomatillos (10-12 husked, rinsed and cut into quarters)
3/4 cup of rough chopped cilantro, save a few for the garnish
2 cups vegetable broth

*If using store-bought salsa you will need between 3 and 4 cups

1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 ounces of mushrooms, stemmed and sliced (I substituted 1/2 block of firm tofu (175 g), diced and 1 diced zucchini. Add after the onion)
1 large red onion, thinly sliced (reserve 1/4 of the onion for garnish)
10 cups of spinach, stems removed (I used 4 cups of spinach)
12 corn tortillas
3 tablespoons of Mexican crema, sour cream, heavy cream, or crèam fraîche (I used sour cream)
1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1 cup of crumbled Mexican queso fresco or other fresh cheese such as feta or goat (I used feta)

Preheat the oven to 350°C

To make tomatillo sauce:
• Drop the garlic and chilies into a running food processor one piece at a time until each piece in finely chopped.
• Add the tomatillos and cilantro, processing until smooth
• Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium saucepan and cook stirring frequently until the mixture is almost the consistency of tomato sauce (~7 minutes)
• Add the vegetable broth and simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes
*If using store-bought sauce, bring to a boil in a medium saucepan and then let simmer

To make enchiladas:
• heat 1 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a large 12-inch skillet/
• Add the mushrooms and sauté for a couple of minutes until the mushrooms begin to brown (if omitting mushrooms, start with the onions)
• Add 3/4 of the onions and cook until the onion is translucent
• Add the tofu, if using, and sauté until it browns and then add zucchini and cook for 3 minutes.
• Add the spinach and cook while stirring until the spinach wilts.
• Lay the tortillas in a single layer on a baking sheet and spray or brush each side lightly with oil. Place in the oven for 3 minutes until the tortillas soften.
• Remove the tortillas from the oven and stack in a single pile, covering with a tea towel to keep them warm

Enchilada assembly:
• Stir the crema into the sauce (bottled or homemade) and adjust the seasoning with salt, or sugar if too tangy.
• Holding a tortilla by one edge, dip and coat with sauce.
• Lay the tortilla on the plate and spoon 2 generous tablespoons of filling in the centre, roll up and lay the filled tortilla seam side down on the plate. Prepare 3 tortillas per plate.
• Pour 1/4 cup of sauce over each plate of enchiladas
• Garnish with remaining onion,  1/4 of the cheese, and some cilantro springs.