Category Archives: stews/one pot meals

The Organic Box, Baby Turnips and Peter Berley: just in time for longer, warmer, and sunnier days.

Well, I did it.

I got my husband to eat turnip and swiss chard AND like it.

All thanks to Peter Berley’s fabulous recipe for Turnip and Leek Soup with Potatoes and Chard from his Fresh Food Fast cookbook.  Did I mention it is fabulously easy as well?

I got two bunches of sweet baby turnips in my Organic Box.  For those of you who don’t know, The Organic Box is a local organic produce service.  They source out local food producers when the season permits and when it doesn’t they source from small farms across the Americas.  Even though I get to pick every item that shows up in my box, it still feels like a surprise each time I get home and open up the box to check out the great mix of fruits and veggies!  They are not just produce though.  You can add on locally produced organic milk from Saxby Dairy Producers in the south end of Edmonton, and grains and pulses from Saskatchewan farms, not to mention their newest addition locally produced organic fruit wines and much much more.

Back to the turnips.

I have never seen or, in my memory, eaten baby turnips.  They were wonderful in the soup and I imagine they would be wonderful roasted as well.  They are about the size of radishes and tied together in that familiar bunch of green tops and creamy white roots.

And now back to the soup.

I have long since learned that Peter Berley’s simple list of ingredients and seasonings make the most wonderful dishes.  I neglected to check my spices before starting the soup and I had to sub in cumin seeds for the caraway, which worked out fine, but I am sure the caraway would have been much better.

I will admit that I used to think if the dish did not contain a long list of spices that it would taste bland or need spicing up, but the perfect blend of vegetables, butter, and salt and pepper make a soup that can make anyone, even my husband, learn to love cruciferous root vegetables and leafy greens.

Leek and Turnip Soup with Potatoes and Chard

3 Tablespoons butter (substitute oil to make it vegan)
2 medium leeks
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 pound small white turnips, quartered or cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1 pound of potatoes cut into 1 inch pieces (about 1 pound)
1 bunch swiss chard, stemmed, trimmed and chopped
Freshly ground pepper

  • In a 3 quart saucepan melt the butter over medium heat
  • Add the leeks and a dash or two of salt.  Saute for about 3-5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and caraway seeds and stir together.
  • Add 6 cups of water, turnips, potatoes, and bring to a boil.
  • Add 1 teaspoon salt and reduce the heat to medium and simmer, covered for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender
  • Add the chard and cook for about 3 minutes until tender.
  • Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Click to print

Moroccan Spicy Eggplant and Tomato Salad

EPC and I had been looking for a Moroccan cookbook for ages.  It seems that the majority of them place little focus on vegetarian options and lay heavy on the lamb.  I guess this make sense, but we were hopeful that something out of the ordinary would present itself.

One Saturday afternoon last month, as we were drooling over the Emile Henry Tagines on display at our neighbourhood kitchen supply store, my husband noticed a copy of Ghillie Basan’s Tagines and Couscous rounding out the display of crockery.  We flipped through it and in comparison to the other options we had, this cookbook had a fair selection of delicious-looking vegetarian tagines (8), couscous (3 out of 5 recipes), and side dishes (11).  We jumped at the chance and purchased it on the spot.

Tonight was the first chance I had to delve into the cookbook and I settled on two salad dishes, one with chickpeas and the other, the star of the show, a delicious roasted eggplant and tomato salad.

Sure, roasting (and then peeling) eggplant and tomatoes is kind of a pain, but if you do it early in the afternoon and leave it on the counter to cool, the salad is ready in no time. We served it with some whole wheat pita bread left over from New Year’s Eve, but serving it with the recommended crusty bread would be even better.  There is something about sopping up savoury dish with a thick hunk of bread that a triangle of pita bread just can’t compete with.

Moroccan Spicy Eggplant and Tomato Salad

2 large eggplants
4 large tomatoes
1/2 cup of olive oil, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon of harissa paste*
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds, ground (I used a motar and pestle)

  • Preheat oven to 400°F
  • Put the eggplants on a baking sheet
  • Put the whole tomatoes in a casserole dish and cover with 1/4 of olive oil
  • Bake both for 30 minutes and then cool on the counter
  • When then have cooled (about 45 minutes), halve the eggplant and scoop out the inside and discard the skin.  Chop the eggplant into a pulp.
  • Peel the tomatoes, discard the seeds and chop into a pulp
  • Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a cast iron pan and saute the garlic until it begins to turn colour.
  • Add the tomatoes and harissa and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes.
  • Add the eggplant, cilantro and parsley and cook for about 5 minutes until the eggplant is heated through.
  • Add the lemon juice, cumin seeds, and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature with the remaining olive oil drizzled on top and don’t forget the bread!

* You can pick harissa up at a speciality store or follow Ghillie Basan’s  simple recipe:

8 dried chilies, seeded and then soaked in warm water for 1 hour
3 garlic cloves finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds, ground
1 teaspoon of coriander seeds, ground
4 tablespoons of olive oil.

  • Drain the chilies and combine in a food processor with garlic and salt until a thick paste.  Mine never got to a thick paste, but c’est la vie.
  • Add the cumin, coriander, and olive oil and blend well.
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for about 1 month

Click to print

Delicious and delightfully different: Mollie Katzen’s Polenta Pie

This was a fantastic meal. EPC and I both loved it.

A crunchy cornmeal crust topped with vegetables, tofu and cheese.  It is a lot like pizza, only different.

With a cornmeal crust how could it not be different, but different in a very, very good way.

It is nice to have few celiac-friendly recipes under your belt and knowing that I have at least a couple of readers who need gluten-free meal ideas, I try to pick out at least one interesting option each month.

This particular recipe is adapted from Mollie Katzen’s The New Moosewood Cookbook and surprising enough this is one cookbook I do not own. A friend from work lent it to me last week. She figured I would enjoy it and she was right. I love flipping through her cookbook and seeing all the stains and marks on the pages where her favourite recipes are.  Apparently the hummus is exceptional!

Mollie is certainly a big name in vegetarian cooking and the first edition of this book came out in 1977! I was first introduced to this cookbook almost 20 years ago and back then I remember not being too impressed by it. Of course at the time I was not as crazy about cookbooks as I am now and to be quite frank the version that I perused back then was the original edition. She made a considerable amount of changes to the cookbook since then and added some new recipes, making this cookbook a very impressive collection of vegetarian recipes.

I will definitely be making this recipe again and I can’t wait to try a few more before I return this cookbook to my friend.  In fact, I may have to pick up a copy for myself.

Polenta Pie

1 1/2 cups of cornmeal (I used medium)
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups of cold water
2 cups boiling water

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
5 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Freshly grated black pepper
salt to taste
1/2 block of firm tofu, grated (optional)

2 cups of grated provolone cheese
1 medium tomato, sliced, seeded and diced

First get the crust started:

  • Preheat the oven to 375°C
  • Add cornmeal, cold water and salt to a small bowl and stir to mix.
  • Have the boiling water in a pot on the stove and add the cornmeal mix while whisking to avoid any lumps.  You need to stir almost steady for about 10 minutes until the polenta is nice and thick.  Remove from heat and cool.
  • Oil a 9 x 13 casserole dish and add the polenta.  Smooth the polenta over the bottom of the pan and up the sides.
  • Brush or spray the crust with oil and bake at 375°C for 45 minutes.

While the crust bakes make the topping:

  • Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and saute the onions for about 10 minutes until soft.
  • Add the bell pepper and zucchini and saute for 3 minutes more.
  • Add the garlic, basil and oregano and saute for a few more minutes.
  • Then add the grated tofu (if using) and stir to coat.
  • Remove from heat and wait for the crust to finish baking.
  • When the crust is ready remove from the oven and turn the oven on broil.
  • Sprinkle 1 cup of cheese on the crust and top with the diced and seeded tomatoes. Slather the vegetable topping on top of the crust and top with the remaining cheese.
  • Broil for about 5 minutes until brown and bubbling

Click to Print

Gimme some soul: Cajun-Spiced Tempeh and Creamy Grits

Thank you Bryant Terry for your fantastic cookbook Vegan Soul Kitchen!

I checked this great cookbook out of the library last week and decided to go with a dish from Terry’s “top-ten” chapter entitled “Top Six Good Eats: You Gotta’ Rewind Me” and I am glad I did!

Although, in retrospect, I am sure that any of the delicious-sounding recipes from his book would have been as good (stay tuned, I have one in mind for next weekend!), his recipe for Cajun-Spiced Tempeh and Creamy Grits was out of this world.

It was out my world too, my cooking world, that is.  I have been searching the internet to try to find an African vegetarian cookbook, one that tackles cuisine from the whole continent – not just the northern coast and haven’t had much luck. Vegan Soul Kitchen kept popping up, and although it is not exactly what I had in mind, as it is African-American, it is exceptional and does introducing some different flavours to our table.  In the end, different flavour combinations was what I was after, so Vegan Soul Kitchen did the trick!

In case you decide to try his recipe I will mention a couple of things.  One of the adaptations that I made “de-veganized” the creamy grits, so if you want it vegan just sub in unsweetened soy milk for the skim milk and cashew cream (1 cup of cashews soaked overnight and drained with 1/2 cup of water and blend until smooth) and 1/2 cup of water for the cream.  Also, it is very spicy, so if you want to tone it down cut back on the cayenne and crushed chiles;  I did not think that all the spice mix would adhere to the tempeh pieces, but it did.

It will stick to your taste buds too!  The flavour of Terry’s amazing spice mixture lingered pleasantly in my mouth for the entire evening.

And, of course, there were leftovers for lunch the next day!

Cajun-Spiced Tempeh with Creamy Grits

1 8 ounce package of tempeh (if required, check the ingredients to make sure it is gluten-free)
4 cups of vegetable broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 cup olive oil for frying

1 pint of cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium-sized leek, sliced thinly into half moons (about 1 cup)
3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 cups water
1 cup of vegetable stock
1 cup of stone ground grits (polenta)
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup of half and half cream

2 green onions finely sliced for garnish

Get the tempeh started:

  • Cut the tempeh into 1/2 inch fingers and then slice them in half lengthwise and then in half widthwise.
  • In a medium-sized saucepan bring the vegetable stock to boil and then add the tempeh pieces. Reduce to medium low and simmer for 25 minutes.
  • Drain the tempeh in a colander and reserve the stock for use in the grits.
  • Let the tempeh dry in the colander for about 30 minutes while you are making the grits
  • In a paper bag mix the spice mixture together (salt, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, chili powder, chile flakes, cayenne, thyme, oregano, and white pepper) and set aside
  • Heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the tempeh pieces. Fry them for 2-3 minutes on each until browned (my cast iron pan worked great for this!)
  • Transfer the tempeh to the paper bag using a fork or a slotted spoon.
  • close up the bag and shake until all the tempeh is well coated with the spice mix

Then the tomatoes and leeks:

  • While you are simmering the tempeh, chop the tomatoes into quarters, add the lemon juice and salt, give it a stir, cover and put in the fridge.
  • In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute the leeks and garlic until browned.
  • Transfer to a medium-sized bowl (the tomatoes and tempeh will get added later)

The grits:

  • To make the grits, bring the water and stock to a boil. Slowly whisk the grits into the liquid and then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes until most of the water is absorbed.
  • Add the skim milk and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently until the milk is absorbed.
  • Then add the cream and stir frequently for about 30 minutes.
  • Combine the tomatoes and tempeh with the leeks and mix well.
  • Top the grits with tempeh mixture and garnish with green onions.

Click to print

Nigerian Kidney Bean Stew with Peanut Sauce

If you have been reading my posts for a while you know that EPC has a lot of favourite meals and generally loves the recipes I post here.  In fact, the meal often has to pass the “husband taste test” before it is deemed blog-worthy.

I have been making Nigerian Kidney Bean Stew for a couple of years and it has certainly become top on EPC’s list.  It is high up on my list too, because it is easy to make and is delicious and satisfying served over brown rice

I am feeling far too relaxed today to do much writing today, so I will keep it short and leave you with this wonderful recipe adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian.

Happy cooking and have a good week.

Nigerian Kidney Bean Stew with Peanut Sauce

2 cans of  red kidney beans, rinsed well and drained
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 medium onion,  finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 green pepper, diced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 398 ml can of tomato sauce
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 generous tablespoons peanut butter
1/3-2/3 teaspoon of salt to taste

  • Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and green pepper and saute until the onion is translucent.
  • Add the cumin and stir to coat the onion mixture
  • Add the tomato sauce, cayenne, lemon juice and 1/2 cup water
  • Stir well and simmer for 15 minutes
  • Remove about 1/2 cup of liquid from the pot and reserve. Add the peanut butter to the reserved liquid and stir to mix. Return to the pot.
  • Add the kidney beans and cook until heated through – about 10 minutes.

Click to print

Crochet-topped kitchen towels and Jack Bishop’s Polenta with Lentils in Tomato Sauce

I am back.

EPC and I were away on holidays and then we both caught a cold.  Not by choice, of course, so perhaps it is more accurate to say the cold caught up with us!  Anyway, there is nothing worse than a summer cold.  So,  although we returned home last week, I didn’t get around to cooking anything blog-worthy until this past weekend.

We had a good time on our holiday. We went to Saskatoon, the “Paris of the Prairies”, and spent our time hanging out with friends and relaxing. I went to the Saskatoon Farmer’s Market where I was able to pick up some handmade crochet-topped kitchen towels and a couple of beautiful aprons. We also cooked up some fresh asparagus that evening on the BBQ – delicious!

If any of you plan on heading to Saskatoon this summer, aside from visiting the farmer’s market, I suggest stopping in at Museo – the coffee shop adjacent to the Medel Art Gallery and Conservatory.  They have wonderful lattes and serve almond butter with their toasted bagels!  The gallery is located along the South Saskatchewan River and is adjacent to the wonderful Meewasin Trail system.   It you keep walking along the trail towards downtown you will come to the Victoria Street Bridge.  Just across this bridge from downtown is Las Palapas restaurant.  Here I had some wonderful pozole soup. The great thing about Las Palapas, other than the food, is that it is located right next to Homestead Ice Cream. They have traditional flavours and some unique ones like Avocado, Roses and Honey, and Dill Pickle (can you believe it?). I stuck with the slightly more traditional Butter Brickle and Dad’s Oatmeal Cookie on top of my cone.

Of course I can’t forget Christie’s Bakery on Saskatoon’s west side (they are opening a second location on Broadway this summer). We picked up a delicious Saskatoon berry pie, some wonderful lemon tarts, and a monstrous loaf of potato bread.

Yes, I certainly ate a lot on our trip! Which in why we stuck to simple hearty meals when we returned.

Now that I got our trip to Saskatoon out my system, onto the Jack Bishop part of the post.

I found out about Jack Bishop from a blog that I love to read: Cook and the Books. In one of her posts she recommended that readers check out his Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen cookbook, which I did, and then I promptly checked out his Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook from the library as well. It was hard to pick a recipe, but I settled on Polenta with Lentils and Tomato Sauce.  It was fantastic, simple to make and very flavourful. As I am sure you can tell by the photo, it is also an impressive meal to serve guests.

Because it was so warm out this past weekend, I broiled the polenta in our toaster oven, which took a little longer than it would have in the oven, but delicious all the same. I think if you were in a rush you could get away with canned lentils and store-bought polenta, but make the recipe as is if you can.

Polenta with Lentils and Tomato Sauce

1 cup cornmeal
2/3 cup green lentils, rinsed and drained
1 bay leaf
4 medium garlic cloves,  (2 whole and 2 minced)
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 celery stalk, peeled and finely diced
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons of parsley, minced
Freshly grated Parmesan for garnish

  • Bring 8 cups of water to boil in a medium saucepan and add the lentils, bay leaf and 2 whole cloves of garlic.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender – about 25 minutes
  • While the lentils are simmering you can prepare the polenta – see below
  • When the lentils are tender drain and discard the bay leaf and garlic cloves.
  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan and saute the onion, carrot and celery until tender – about 10 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Add the lentils and cook for 2 minutes until the sauce is heated and the flavours have mingled.
  • Stir in the parsley and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  • Spoon the lentils over 3 polenta triangles, garnish with cheese and serve.

    Polenta:

    • Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan.
    • When the water comes to a boil, add 1 teaspoon of salt and  lower the heat to medium
    • Slowly whisk the cornmeal into the pot in a steady stream.  This should take about 1 minute.  If you add the cornmeal to quickly it will form lumps.
    • Whisk the cornmeal continuously to prevents lumps and simmer until the polenta starts to thicken – about 1 to 2 minutes.
    • Reduce the heat to low and cook very slowly, stirring frequently for 15 minutes.
    • Pour into a lightly oiled 8 x 12 pan, smooth the top and let cool.
    • You can make this the day before and keep in the fridge covered in plastic wrap.
    • When the polenta has cooled and is firm (about 30 minutes), turn the polenta onto a cutting board and cut into 8 squares.  Cut each square in half to form a triangle.
    • Place on a baking sheet and spray each triangle lightly with oil and broil until lightly browned.  Turn and broil the second side.

    Click to Print

    Fennel and White Wine Risotto with a knob of butter

    One good thing about having a cool spring is that I was able to make risotto one last time before the summer heat overtakes our condo. Since our condo faces west, the early evening sun heats up the place and makes the task of stirring hot broth into rice an unpleasant one to say the least.

    That reminds me, risotto apparently works quite well in a pressure cooker. Perhaps the warm weather will make me break with tradition and opt for the quick no-stir method. Time will tell.

    This risotto recipe was passed along to me by a co-worker.  One day, I was politely eyeing her lunch (this happens quite often), so she sent me the link.  The recipe is courtesy of Waitrose, a UK grocery store.

    She and her husband hail from the UK, so we always have fun pointing out the different words used for things there and here. For example, jumper and sweater, garden and backyard, and football and soccer, to name a few.  I think my favourite one is flapjacks.  In Canada flapjacks, without a doubt, refers to pancakes.  In the UK it refers to a crunchy oatmeal-based cookie akin to a sweet granola bar. Wow! I couldn’t believe it. We both speak English, but sometimes it is like another language.  She made a batch of UK flapjacks for us to try, which we all agreed was a nice way to learn about a “different language” and a little easier to share at lunchtime than a plate of Canadian flapjacks.

    The risotto recipe had a couple of firsts in it for me too: the first time I had cooked with fennel (hard to believe, I know) and the first time I had made risotto with white wine. The fennel was great (except that I did not chop it fine enough – easily remedied), but the white wine, not so much. I really dislike white wine and figured I would get past it in a risotto, but I couldn’t. Next time I make this dish, or another risotto that calls for white wine, I will leave it out and use extra stock.

    The other thing that worked against me was that the power went out for 30 minutes right in the middle of cooking the risotto. Sigh. The texture was certainly a bit off and I had to add a few extra ladles of stock to get the dish back on track, but it survived.  At least the risotto was saved and we didn’t have to garbage it and go out to eat.

    I used the recipe as is, so click here to take a look.

    Oh, if you are wondering, a knob of butter translates to 2 tablespoon here in Canada.