19 October 2008

Not really that much, eh?

In my latest episode of the Alternative Vegan podcast, I describe how to make a roasted vegetable soup. I'll repost the rough ratio of ingredients here:

The final roasting took 2 bouts of 45 minutes. After the first 45 minutes, I was able to remove the garlic and onions and most of the carrots. After the second bout, everything was tender, and I allowed it to brown under the broiler for a bit. I deglazed the bottom with a bit of red wine, and kept that aside as a sauce for if Steve wants the veg just by themselves with a deep ruby red sauce.

In the end, I have the following:

Simmered veg:
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
2 TB fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 large head of cabbage, chopped
1 bunch rappini (broccoli rabe), chopped roughly
1 coconut, grated
1 cup coconut milk

Roasted veg:
2 heads garlic (added to the soup at the end)
3 medium onions (added to soup at the end after roughly chopping)
1 lb carrots (mashed, and added to soup)
5 medium beets
3 large turnips
2 large sweet potatoes

You can definitely scale back if you need to, or scale up. If you’re roasting everything on a baking sheet or in a casserole dish, this will take you much less time than it did in my large roasting dish. The soup is VERY garlicky, which I like a lot, but it’s a creamy sort of garlic punch.

I finished the soup with a bit of Hungarian hot paprika, and fresh chopped herbs (I used cilantro, feel free to use your favourites).
Suffice it to say that the entire HOUSE was smelling fantastic, and the warmth from the soup just filled you right up. Steve really loves eating his vegetables (especially when tastefully presented). After we managed to power through half the pot of soup before very long, I decided to tweak the final leftovers before putting them away. Steve neatly finished off all the turnips, most of the beets, and half the sweet potatoes. This is on top of the rice and soup he also ate. (When I say that I married a healthy eater, I want you to know that I'm not joking!) 

The leftover carrots, sweet potato, and rice (there was about 1.5 cups left) all got pitched into the food processor for a quick whiz. It only took a few pulses to make a sort of shredded thing that I added back into the soup. All of a sudden, what started off as a hearty stew became a thick, hearty and rich stew! Definitely a trick I'll be trying again in the future.

A few other tricks to thicken up your soup:

- mashed potatoes, stirred in and cooked
- hummus, stirred in at the table
- well mashed rice
- other starchy, cooked, mashed vegetables
- addition of a roux (check cookbook for recipe)
- boil it longer (so that more water evaporates) 

There's many many more, and I'll probably cover them in a later podcast episode. Go make soup! 

14 October 2008

Smelling awesome

This is going to be a quick and dirty sort of recipe.

I started with 2 cups of dry black eyed peas. I soaked them in lots of cold water over night. The next morning, I set them to simmer for about two hours. I think there were about 4 cups of beans (after they expanded over night) and about 10 cups of water, give or take. Basically, you start with the beans in a pot, and add cold water. Then, set it on the stove. Once the water comes to a full, rolling boil, you want to close the lid of the pot, and turn down the heat to as low as it'll go. Let it simmer away like that till it's tender. On my stove that took a little over an hour and small change, but it might be different on yours.

Once the beans are about 3/4 of the way cooked (in the simmery pot), I started chopping onions, garlic, ginger, and tomatoes. For my pot of beans, I used something to the tune of 2 lbs of tomatoes (I like my beans VERY tomatoey), 1 very large onion, and 1/3 cup of grated ginger (freshly grated, of course). I also used about one head of garlic, minced up.

I started a new pot on the stove, over screaming high heat. I added vegetable oil (just enough to coat the bottom) and popped mustard seeds and coriander seeds in the hot fat. I added some cumin seeds and fennel seeds, and popped those as well. When the spices were crackling and popping (and making a mess), I added the onions, and sauteed them over very high heat. Once the onions were a dark brown, I added some turmeric (about 1/2 a teaspoon, I think), and cooked it with the onions for about 30 seconds or so.

Then, when the turmeric was done cooking, I added in the chopped tomatoes. If you have tinned crushed tomatoes, this will work just fine. I cooked the tomatoes on high for about five minutes, then dropped down the heat to low to let them simmer. While the tomates simmered, I grated up the ginger, and minced the garlic. I pitched it into the pot when I was done.

By this point, the beans were tender all the way through. I added them (along with the water; if you want yours to be thicker and richer, drain the beans first, then add them to the pot) to my tomato pot, and let the whole mess simmer for about 20 minutes. At the last five minutes, I added a good sprinkle of salt, black pepper, chili powder, and garam masala (garam masala doesn't need to be cooked too much), and lots of cilantro.

If you don't have mustard seeds, omit them. If you don't like cilantro, use basil and oregnao (either one, or both combined), with some parsley to amp up the flavour. If you prefer more fiery beans, feel free to use lots of fresh chopped jalapeƱos or thai bird peppers at the last few minutes of cooking. If you have some left over baked potatoes or yams, or whatever, feel free to pitch it in as well, to make it more hearty. Try it with a good crusty bread, or some brown rice for a complete meal. It's quite delicious.

09 October 2008

Other people ...

Suffice it to say that I rant about other people all the time. In fact, there are few days that pass when I'm not annoyed at people. I feel that I'd better clarify before my friends start thinking me a misanthrope.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Underneath it all, people annoy me because they disappoint me, more than anything else. I really do love people, and enjoy interacting with them. I like to see the good in everyone. I genuinely have to believe (for my own well being) that people only try their best to do what they feel is the most good on this earth. To think otherwise would be accepting that those few (whose intentions are malicious) that ruin it for everyone else are the ones that are really the majority. I can't do that.

We really are in this journey together.

Come to think of it, something is nowhere near as much fun when I do it on my own as when I share it. What use is all the cooking, dancing, singing, or any skill, when I'm the only one to enjoy it? Why would I bother sharing my skills with others, if the only purpose in life was to look out for myself, and put everyone else's needs behind mine?

I'm not saying that I want to lose myself. Nor am I saying that I feel like lazy people should be rewarded. What I am saying is that I don't buy the whole "everyone should look out for himself" mentality. It just does not hold water for me. We evolved to where we are, because we realised that everyone has something to contribute, and that we're only as good as the weakest amongst us. This did not mean "go out and kill the weakest amongst you." It meant "do your best that everyone is taken care of, and that we all work together towards that common goal of everyone being happy.

I know it's optimistic, but I don't care. That's what I base my life on: that it's GOOD to share, and that I am only important in that I am important to others. So when I rant about stupid people, or rude people, or people that made me annoyed, it's because they really disappointed me, which is far worse than just hurting my feelings.

07 October 2008


It's that horrible time of year again, when the weather gets nasty outside, and you sincerely question your decision to leave your bed. The best way to combat the not so great outdoors is to make soup. It's cheap, filling, and easy to do. I'm doing a multi part series on soup on the podcast, so if you haven't listened yet, I urge you to go out and so so.

I was googling around for a decent recipe for Rasam, and frankly, the ones on the internets all suck. Rasam shouldn't have onions or garlic, or much of anything else. In fact, your most basic rasam recipe even omits the split yellow peas, so that you're left with (essentially) black pepper with a few spices thrown into a tomato stock. This version is a modified version of what I have in the cookbook. Basically, it's meant to be a soup that you have whether you're feeling well or feeling ill.

Rasam powder
5-6 dry red chilies
1/2 Tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon peppercorns
Roast all the spices in a small pan, and grind in a coffee

1 cup dry yellow split peas or toor daal
1 Tablespoon oil
1 Tablespoon black mustard seeds
tiny dash asafetida
1 lb tomatoes, chopped
salt to taste
1 Tablespoon ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons tamarind paste
1 gallon water
1 cup cilantro, minced for garnish

Boil the split peas or daal in a separate pot for 20 minutes. Heat oil in a pot, add mustard seeds,
and allow to pop. Add a dash of asafetida. Add the tomatoes, and sprinkle on salt. Cook for about five minutes. Add the black pepper, the rasam powder, and the tamarind paste. Add the water and cooked, drained split peas. Bring to a full boil, and keep it boiling for 15 minutes. When cooked, sprinkle on cilantro for garnish. Serve over mushy rice.