Monday, April 30, 2007

Lemon Celery Soup, Tempeh Scallopini, Spinach and Swiss Chard and Cucumber Wakame Salad

I decided to share another photo from my cooking class at Conscious Gourmet. I've been having technical difficulties with my camera lately, and so I haven't been able to take photos the last couple of days. In any event, this meal was scrumptious, and I plan to make it this week. So, at least I have a photo to share from the class. The meal was Lemon Celery Soup, Tempeh Scallopini, Spinach with Swiss Chard, and Cucumber Wakame Salad with Carrot Ginger dressing. I had never had tempeh prepared like this before. It was marinated, then breaded in flour and lightly fried with fresh herbs and shitake mushrooms. It reminded me of France. I was an exchange student, and my host family would cook meat in this manner, with the same herbs. It never occurred to me that I could cook vegetarian dishes that way. In any event, it brought back memories from many years ago!
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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Pupusas with Curtido

I made coleslaw this week, and the leftover coleslaw and my leftover homemade black beans were the perfect excuse to make pupusas. I've posted a photo of pupusas in the past already, but this time I wanted to share my tips and a recipe I like better. Also I wanted to clarify for those of you who may not know that pupusas are a dish from El Salvador. I became familiar with them upon visiting the Adams Morgan area of Washington, DC, where there are several great pupuserias.

There are many recipes on the web, even videos on You Tube of the pupusa making process. But this recipe most closely resembles the process I use in making them. I will warn you though that the recipe will make a LOT of pupusas. So I make a half batch, and usually still get about ten of approximately 4 inch diameter. The corn masa that you need for this recipe is very important. I prefer Maseca Masa Harina, and I can find it at my local chain grocery stores as well as at Mexican specialty stores. Don't add all of the water at once when mixing the dough. Add the water little by little until the dough becomes the consistency as described in the recipe. As far as forming the pupusas, I don't pat out the dough with my hands. I have a tortilla press that I line with waxed paper, so it makes the process faster. Plus I like that it makes my dough quite thin. As far as the filling, you don't have to use the type of cheese that the recipe suggests, nor that quantity. I fill mine mainly with refried black beans, adding a dash of chopped cilantro and just a light sprinkle of shredded cheese. And you will notice that my pupusas are not nearly as yellow as most. That's because I don't fry them in oil. My cast iron skillet doesn't require much greasing, and I find that I still like them a lot without the extra added grease.

I have topped them with a mayonnaise-free coleslaw which is quite similar to curtido, a topping I find at the DC pupuserias. Sometimes they will also serve them with a mildly spicy tomato sauce.
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Friday, April 27, 2007

Millet-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

This recipe for Millet-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms appeared on page 79 of the February Vegetarian Times magazine. I made a few variations on the original recipe. I am writing the recipe the way I made it last night, as I found I liked the flavors better than the original recipe.

Millet-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms, Serves 4

  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped (I actually used the ones that are not packed in oil, and used about 1/4 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided (can use the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes if you used the oil-packed)
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced, or 1/4 cup minced white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small bell pepper, minced (I used yellow)
  • 1 grated carrot
  • 1 cup millet
  • 4 large portobello mushroom caps
  • grated cheese for topping (I used organic sharp cheddar)
  • 4 slices of tomato
  1. While the 3 cups of water are being heated to a boil in a separate pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until the onions are becoming transparent. Then add the garlic, pepper, carrot and sun-dried tomatoes and saute until the vegetables are soft, stirring constantly. Add millet and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  2. Add the boiling water to the millet mixture, cover and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for approximately 30 minutes, or until the water has evaporated and the millet is tender. Remove from heat.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  4. Rub the portobello mushroom caps with paper towel to clean. Then, remove the stems and scrape out the gills. Brush them with the rest of the olive oil and coat the baking pan with olive oil as well.
  5. Place the mushroom caps upside down on the baking pan. Divide the millet mixture between the four mushroom caps, filling in the bowls of the mushrooms, mounding slightly. (I mounded too high, so they spilled while cooking!)
  6. Sprinkle the tops with shredded cheese.
  7. Adorn each with a slice of tomato. I also added blanched asparagus spears for extra color, as I had cooked asparagus to go along with this dish.
  8. Bake for 20 or 25 minutes, or until the mushrooms are cooked and the cheese has melted and/or browned.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


For breakfast this morning, I made teff. Teff is a tiny grain that originated in Africa. You may better know it as the grain used in making injera, the big flat breads served in Ethiopian restaurants. I used brown teff. I put a half cup of teff into 1.5 cups boiling water w/a dash of sea salt. I lowered the heat to simmer and stirred occasionally to prevent sticking. I am sorry I didn't time how long it took to get to the consistency you see. Next time I make it, I'll set the clock to see! This is also good served drizzled with coconut milk, but today I drizzled on a sauce made from maple syrup and almond butter.

[Note added 5/4: teff needs to simmer approximately 15 minutes].

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Quinoa Pilaf, Black Beans and Cucumber Tomato Salad with Dill Vinaigrette

Above is the Quinoa Pilaf we made in one of my classes at Conscious Gourmet. It has organic quinoa, carrots, celery, peppers, shallots, and green peas. At home, I decided to add even more color to this already colorful dish by making half regular quinoa and half Inca Red quinoa. The other ingredients I used were the same. I served it with thick and creamy black beans and garnished both with chopped cilantro. In Yucatan, they would call the way I made the beans k'abax -they are half pureed and half whole. The salad has tomatoes and cucumbers with a vinaigrette containing fresh dill, lemon, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Curried Split Peas with Millet Bread

In a class at Conscious Gourmet we learned a recipe for Curried Split Pea Soup. But today I decided to make a thicker version, instead of a soup, as I love thick bean dishes. I basically used as little water to simmer the beans as I could. Then when everything was cooked and tender, I pureed in my blender a good portion of the batch. I topped my beans with slices of green onions and a few splashes of ume plum vinegar. And I toasted some millet bread to eat with it. This millet bread is really great. It's made at Deland Bakery in Florida, and I am able to buy it at my local natural foods markets. Here is the list of ingredients for the bread: organic millet flour, brown rice flour, water, sea salt. That's it!
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Monday, April 23, 2007

Berry Hill Muffins at the Conscious Gourmet

Well, you win some, you lose some. Above is pictured the Berry Hill muffins we made during our final class at Conscious Gourmet. They were fabulous, moist, chewy, with great texture and a wonderful flavor. I brought home a few that were leftover, and Pedro loved them too. So, over the weekend, we tried to make them. And here's how they turned out:

A pile of crumbs! Tasty crumbs, I should add. So, as long as we don't mind eating muffins with a spoon, we're all set! I don't even know where to begin explaining what we did wrong, as there were many things. One thing that we may have a hard time correcting in our next attempt is the sweetener. The recipe calls for maple sugar, and I can't find anywhere in my city that sells it. Probably I can get some online. Anyway, we used brown rice syrup as a substitute and used less of the liquid ingredients to try to compensate, but somehow, we may not have compensated correctly. Other things went wrong too though, from the coconut oil congealing, to the muffins sticking to the pans, etc. At least the flavor was still there! Ovo-vegetarian.
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Breakfast Burrito

For breakfast I used some of my leftover greens in scrambled eggs and made breakfast burritos. I used tortillas made from whole grain spelt flour. I heated some leftover mashed sweet potatoes as well. And, I topped everything with leftover spicy Thai satay sauce. This combination worked for me, as I love spicy food and can handle it some mornings. But it would have also made a nice lunch. We made similar use of leftovers in breakfast at Conscious Gourmet. Ovo-vegetarian.
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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Thai Tempeh Satay with Peanut Sauce, Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Greens

Last evening Pedro and I prepared sweet potatoes and greens using recipes I learned during classes at Conscious Gourmet. I used ginger, lemon and cinnamon in the sweet potatoes, and the mixed greens have kale, chard, onion, garlic, and ume plum vinegar. We had opened a can of coconut milk earlier in the week, and so we decided to use the rest of the coconut milk in a Thai peanut sauce and to serve it with marinated and roasted shitakes, zucchini and tempeh as a variation on the recipe from the March 2007 issue of Vegetarian Times, Thai Tofu Satay with Peanut Sauce. I was concerned that the meal was lacking in grains, even though there is brown rice in the tempeh, but we were satisfied and didn't get hungry for snacks after eating. We had eaten a whole grain-heavy breakfast plus grains with lunch. Vegan.

Below is the meal we prepared during our first class at Conscious Gourmet. It is Curried Split Pea Soup, Brown Rice with Parsley Garlic Sauce, Coleslaw with Plum-Mustard Dressing, Sweet Potato Mash, and Sauteed Greens with Mushrooms. Lacto-vegetarian due to use of butter.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Conscious Gourmet Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting and Raspberry Coulis

In the classes I took at Conscious Gourmet we learned how to make desserts without refined sugars that are also free of wheat, dairy and eggs and use only whole natural ingredients. This Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting and Raspberry Coulis is one of the desserts we made. It uses ingredients such as spelt flour, agar agar, kuzu, coconut oil, and maple syrup. It was delicious and satisfying and this small slice was more than enough for me. In the past, I would have eaten a much larger slice of cake, and the leftover cake in the fridge would have been calling my name all night long. One of the big lessons that I learned was that I was addicted to refined sugars. With my new knowledge I know how to make desserts that will be tasty and satisfying without relying on refined sugars or refined ingredients. And, I also know ways to alter my diet if I find I am craving sugar. So far, I have not been craving sugar at all.

Below was my attempt to make at home the dish I featured yesterday. Instead of making the croquettes we made in class, I made one of the variations of that recipe that we learned, which was to add red lentils to the Red Bhutanese and basmati rices and to eat it as a simple lentil and rice dish. I made the cilantro sauce as a garnish. Since I couldn't find arugula, I made my salad with mixed greens, oranges, red onion and the orange-based dressing we learned how to make.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Asparagus Soup, Croquettes with Smokey Black Beans and Arugula Red-Onion and Orange Salad

I haven't posted since last week, as I had been out-of-town at the most amazing vegetarian cooking class, the Conscious Gourmet Culinary Retreat. I learned so much! I will share bits and pieces of my experiences from my class. This is one of the meals we prepared and enjoyed. It was Cream of Asparagus Soup, Smokey Black Beans with Croquettes and Cilantro Sauce, and Arugula Red-Onion and Orange Salad. For dessert, we had Spiced Pears with Caramel Sauce and Almond Praline. It was outstanding. Everything we ate was delicious. Anyway, I'm very excited about what I learned, and I'll be sharing more photos in upcoming posts.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Cantonese Green Bean Stir-Fry

Here is the latest Vegetarian Times recipe I have tried, from page 30 of the April 2007 issue. It was a great success! Pedro keeps raving about it. The recipe calls for green beans, mushrooms, tempeh, a yellow bell pepper (I didn't have one, so I used a little bit of hot xkatik pepper), garlic, ginger, green onions and an easy-to-prepare marinade/sauce. Actually the pepper substitution was why the recipe was such a hit with Pedro, as xkatik chile is abundant in Yucatan. It's a pepper that Pedro loves, and we happened to find it at the farmer's market. I'm sorry but I do not know the name of the pepper in English or even in Spanish, only in Mayan. Makes for an interesting life here! Anyway, the tempeh absorbed the flavors of the marinade very well. Served on short grain brown rice. Vegetarian rather than vegan, due to content of honey in marinade.

Here is the chile I used. Maybe someone knows what it is. It's hot, much hotter than a banana pepper.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

It has been unseasonably cold and cloudy in Florida lately, which probably accounts for my sudden craving for hearty oatmeal with sauteed fruit and walnuts. Breakfast foods are generally very vegetarian-friendly. This version of oatmeal is vegan, as it is old fashioned oats cooked in soy milk, and the fruit is sauteed in vegan-friendly Earth Balance Buttery Sticks with turbinado sugar and cinnamon.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Visiting Farmer's Markets When Traveling

Just as I love to visit my local farmer's market, I make a point of visiting the local markets when I travel. Above is La Boqueria market in Barcelona, Spain which has some of the most enticing and attractive produce displays I've seen. Below is a much smaller market in Yucatan, Mexico, where one can buy beautiful, fresh produce for amazingly bargain prices.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Wet Burritos

I grew up eating wet burritos in Michigan thinking that they were true Mexican food. But, of course they aren't! Pedro had his first American-style burritos and his first wet burritos in Michigan too. In Florida restaurants, I don't often find burritos served the way I used to eat them in Michigan. So, I make my own. We both like them a lot. They are very versatile. Basically a wet burrito is a flour tortilla wrapped around your chosen filling, then lined up in a baking pan, covered with a tomato-based mildly spicy sauce, sprinkled with cheese (often cheddar or a mix including cheddar) and then baked in the oven.

I made a vegetarian bean filling by sauteeing the following ingredients: 3 green onions, 1 zucchini, and 2 chopped tomatoes with cumin. Then I stirred in a can of refried pinto beans,1 steamed & cubed sweet potato, fresh lime juice, and cilantro. There is enough filling leftover to make many more wet burritos. When I assembled the burritos, I used whole wheat flour tortillas and folded them around steamed fresh spinach and my bean mixture.

Here is a recipe my family has traditionally used for

Wet Burrito Sauce:

  • 1 16oz can tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 12 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce or soy sauce

I didn't have a whole can of tomato paste, or a small can of tomatoes in my pantry. Plus I had some leftover chipolte chile in adobo sauce that I wanted to use before it got bad, so I made this variation: one 28oz can roasted tomatoes, 2 heaping tablespoons tomato paste, 2 cloves of garlic and my leftover chipolte chile in adobo sauce. It was spicier than normal, but we loved it. It could have been improved by putting it in the blender or food processor, but I didn't feel like getting extra dishes dirty.

Sunday, April 8, 2007


Here is another version of esquites. I have found that this is as good cold as hot, so I sometimes eat it as a salad.

Esquites a la Katalina

  • 2 or 3 ears of corn
  • 2 tablespoons dried epazote of a small handful of fresh
  • 1 zucchini, chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 pat of butter
  • cilantro
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1 lime
  • salt and pepper
  • Mexican cream
  1. Roast the garlic with skins still attached and a whole poblano pepper on medium high on a dry skillet or comal, turning to blacken evenly, until tender. Set aside to cool for easier handling.
  2. Heat 1 cup of water and add dried epazote, simmer to make a tea.
  3. Melt the butter in the olive oil. Add the onion and zucchini and saute and tender and golden.
  4. Remove the papery skins from the roasted garlic. Roughly chop or mash. Cut the poblano pepper into strips, removing the stem, core and seeds. Add to the onion mixture.
  5. Strain 1/2 to 1 cup of epazote tea into the mixture, if you can't find fresh epazote. If you are using fresh epazote, add several leaves and some water.
  6. Add the corn kernels and simmer until tender and all of the flavors are developed. Remove from heat. Remove the fresh epazote leaves if desired. Add the juice of the lime. Add a handful of chopped fresh cilantro. Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve drizzled with Mexican cream. (optional). Serve hot, at room temperature or cold.

Notes: To see how and why I make epazote tea, look at the photo album I made of how I make black beans. This is also great with roasted corn instead of simmering the corn. Sometimes in the summer I will roast everything, even the onion and then assemble it as a salad with a lime and olive oil vinaigrette. Lacto-vegetarian with the cream.

Pasta Salad

I made a few dishes that can be eaten cold to bring with us when traveling out-of-town over the long weekend. This pasta salad contains: whole wheat penne pasta, zucchini, sun dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, artichokes, red onion, capers, roasted garlic and olive oil.
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Friday, April 6, 2007

Truffled Wild Mushrooms over Whipped White Beans

This fabulous dish is featured on page 69 of the April 2007 Vegetarian Times. [Note added 4/10: Vegetarian Times just published this as their Recipe of the Week, click here to see the recipe.] I used shitake mushrooms and black truffle oil. Wow. It was so easy to make, but the flavors are surprisingly gourmet. I can't wait to try the truffle oil on other dishes. We found this is good with fresh bread.
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Thursday, April 5, 2007

Cocoa Pancakes

I am on the email list for the Recipe of the Week from the Vegetarian Times website. Anyone can subscribe to the free weekly newsletter with recipes. These pancakes were one of this week's features and you can see the recipe here. It first appeared in the May 2005 issue. We made it last night as a dessert, and that was a good call. I'm not sure that this is really breakfast food. We have made many decadent pancakes in our days, but this in our minds crosses over from being pancake to being more of a cake. The recipe calls for chocolate soy milk, something we never buy. So, we used regular soy milk, and they were still totally sinful. So, using the chocolate soy is not necessary, especially if you use real chocolate chips instead of carob. If you are eating these as dessert, why not also try white chocolate chips or peanut butter chips instead of the carob. That would be good too. Vegan using the original recipe.
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Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Spicy Vegetables with Quinoa

The vegetables are cooked in a low fat Indian-inspired spicy cream sauce and are served with Inca Red Quinoa. The ingredients in the vegetables are:

a small head of cauliflower, 1/2 pound of green beans, small container of mushrooms, a yellow onion, 1 red bell pepper, 1 green bell pepper, 15 oz can of garbanzo beans, 2 T tomato paste, 2 cups soy milk, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, paprika, turmeric, salt, pepper, cornstarch and cilantro.

To make the dish, saute the seeds (approx 1/2 teaspoon each of coriander, mustard and cumin seeds) in a small amount of vegetable oil until fragrant. Then add onion and bell peppers and saute until crisp-tender. Then add the rest of the vegetables and a can of rinsed garbanzo beans, saute a bit. Then whisk 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric and a couple of teaspoons of paprika (if it's mild) into approximately 2 cups of lowfat milk or soy milk. Pour the milk mixture into the vegetables. Simmer covered until the vegetables are tender to your preference. Then dissolve 1 or 2 teaspoons of cornstarch or thickener into a tablespoon of water and mix well into the simmering vegetables. Simmer until the sauce has thickened. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped cilantro. (Note: if you use milk instead of soy milk, you may find that it needs a bit of sweetener to balance the spiciness).

The quinoa was cooked separately in vegetable broth until tender, see package directions for ratio of quinoa to liquid. Vegan if use soy milk.
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Tuesday, April 3, 2007


This is one of the first dishes that my mother-in-law (mi suegra) taught me how to make. It is a versatile dish, one that can use various salsas, cheeses or protein sources. For example, sometimes they have scrambled eggs in them or a green salsa, or will have cream, etc. There is a recipe in the April 2007 Vegetarian Times on page 35 that looks delicious, but I haven't tried it yet. Their method of making it is quite different from the method I normally use. Here is the method used for the pictured dish:

Pedro and I made this together. While I was making some chiltomate (also known as salsa de jitomate), Pedro lightly fried strips of freshly made corn tortillas in about 2 tablespoons of oil. (We are so happy that there is now a tortilleria where we live and we can get freshly made tortillas). He fried them until they were starting to get crunchy, but still were pliable. Then he added the Quorn and chiltomate and sauted until the Quorn was defrosted and the flavors were absorbed. Then he topped the dish with shredded cheese. Lacto-ovo vegetarian.
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Monday, April 2, 2007

Sikil Pak

Sikil Pak is a Yucatecan salsa or dip made with roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds). It is a a dish that the Mayans have been eating for a very long time. You can find pepitas in Mexican grocery markets or natural food stores. I was craving it yesterday, and it was a great way to make use of my ripe tomatoes. Recipe below:

Sikil Pak

  • 3 tomatoes, roasted
  • 1 cup of pepitas, roasted
  • 1/2 a large white onion, roasted
  • 1 roasted habanero chile, seeded
  • a handful of fresh cilantro leaves
  • salt to taste

1. I roasted my tomatoes, onion and habanero chile on one comal (griddle). On the other, I roasted the pepitas. I stirred/turned to allow everything to toast or brown on all sides.

2.After everything is roasted, I put the all of the pepitas pictured in a food processor and processed well until the seeds were ground into a paste.

3. Then I added to the food processor the three roasted tomatoes, the half of the onion, one of the habaneros (seeded) and a nice handful of fresh cilantro. Pulsed in the food processor until well blended. Salted to taste.

The rest of the ingredients seen were used to make salsa de jitomate. Vegan.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Merienda with Hot Chocolate

Merienda is a late afternoon snack enjoyed in many Spanish influenced countries. In Yucatan, it is commonly eaten around 4pm and is often comprised of hot chocolate and bread or a pastry. Since we were eating a late dinner at a Spanish restaurant last night, yesterday afternoon we decided to partake in Merienda. We had hot chocolate with banana brownies , sweetened with some agave nectar instead of sugar, organic whole wheat flour, and natural yogurt instead of buttermilk. Lacto-ovo vegetarian.

This is the method we often use in making the hot chocolate. We heat soy milk until very hot, but not boiling, sometimes with a cinnamon stick. We put it in the blender (removing cinnamon stick first) with two squares of unsweetened South American chocolate. We add a few teaspoons of sweetener, this time turbinado sugar, and blend it in the blender. A twist we sometimes enjoy is to pour a shot of espresso into our cups of hot chocolate. Vegan.
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