Brussels Sprout Bisque


I recently watched a tutorial in which Gordon Ramsay demonstrates how to make broccoli soup. Unlike many other soup or bisque recipes, this one did not involve “15, 20 ingredients…chicken stock…shallots sweating down for 20 minutes [or] half a liter of white wine”, but rather “it’s just got broccoli and water”.




Sure enough, most of the broccoli bisque or blended brussels sprout soup recipes do call for chicken stock, white wine, butter, potatoes, onions, bay leaf, half and half and/or flour. So basically, to make broccoli bisque or blended brussels sprout soup the assumption is that one must create a roux and spend hours in the kitchen. No no no this is so illogical it hurts. And Gordon Ramsay, celebrity chef mastermind whose recipes are not typically hashtagged vegan, frugal, or basic seems to agree. As stated in the video, “The most important thing now, is keeping that water. That’s where all the goodness is. It’s got all the flavor of the broccoli in there”.

I planned to emphasize the importance of keeping the vegetable water, but now I don’t have to.

Chef Ramsay then said “We don’t need a chicken stock or vegetable stock. How can you make a broccoli soup with a chicken stock for god’s sake?”

My thoughts exactly.

Then he said “…this thing is great for vegetarians as well, bless ’em.”

Aha there it is…the vegetarian joke, to remind us all that the culinary world at large doesn’t take us seriously. It’s the sort of thing I expect to hear during a holiday dinner, and take with a grain of salt and/or see the humor in. It’s a rendition of what I hear at every holiday, with the exception of last Xmas (when I arrived after dinner) and the year before when I couldn’t make it due to car trouble, so I went to Chinese food with friends and ordered steamed vegetables (which is my favorite food anyway, although most people don’t believe me) or the Xmas four years ago when I had to work.




I’ve made blended soups using only 1 type of vegetable i.e. broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini for years, but never thought to share the recipe(s) on my blog because they seemed so simplistic and obvious. After watching Chef Ramsay demonstrate the recipe and explain each step in precise detail, I realized that single-ingredient blended vegetable soup can be more than a just a simple, frugal, no-frills meal or a means of utilizing the overgrowth of zucchini in the garden. With a bit of finesse, this basic soup becomes something of 5-star quality.

When I make this soup with broccoli, I boil the stalks along with the florets. I don’t see any logic in discarding them, especially in the case of a pureed soup. Also, with brussels sprouts, I typically don’t follow the convention of cutting them in half. I think the flavor improves when boiled whole, like in this recipe.

Seasoned with nothing other than bit of salt, this simple (but not simplistic) version is a ten-minute recipe that exemplifies just how easy it is to prepare healthy, crowd-pleasing meals for vegans and non-vegans alike.




You will need a pot with lid for cooking, a colander, a second pot for saving the water when drained from the cooked sprouts, and a blender.

Brussels Sprout Bisque

Ingredients

2 cups brussels sprouts, trimmed
4 cups water
salt

Bring a pot of salted water to a rapid boil. Cover, and boil for 5 minutes. Run a knife through one of the sprouts; if it slices through easily, turn off heat. Carefully pour brussels sprouts with water into a colander over a large empty soup pot. Immediately add sprouts to the blender, and add enough broth to half-cover them. Puree until velvety smooth and thin enough to drink from a mug or a jar, yet thick enough to enjoy in a bowl with a spoon. If the result is more of a puree than a liquid, add more broth in 1/2 cup increments until desired consistency is reached. Add salt to taste and blend again, if desired. Serve immediately.

brussels sprouts soup pre blend
brussels sprout bisque
brussels sprouts bisque square

Share on YummlyPin on PinterestShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Spicy Green Bean Tamale Hummus

spicy green bean tamale hummusThis recipe utilizes the 6 key ingredients used for cooking tamale meat: peppercorns, ancho chilies, guajillo chilies, bay leaf, pumpkin seed and sesame seeds. Traditionally, the meat (usually shredded pork) is stewed in these spices and seeds. As with most things involving meat, the overall quality of the dish comes from the spices and seasonings that give it flavor. Case in point: if not for steak marinades and sauces, it seems safe to assume that more of us would go veg.
Continue reading

Share on YummlyPin on PinterestShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Cooking Smart: Brussels Sprouts + Greens

brussels sprouts green kale

One thing you can do to significantly reduce your bill = cook smart. Whether your stove is gas or electric, or if you’re in a tent in the woods with only one match: here’s how you do it.

Object Lesson A: Brussel sprouts and greens
<--more-->
Let’s say you have brussels sprouts and some greens that have wilted slightly and/or would taste much more satisfying cooked. You have a pot to cook in with a lid, and a knife of some sort.

Trim brussels sprouts of any soiled leaves. If you have a knife, chop off the base of the sprouts (which can tend to be dirty).

Boil sprouts in enough water to cover them. Cover with lid to bring water to a boil more quickly. Once the water begins to boil, lift the lid and add a few shakes of salt if you have it. This will help tenderize the sprouts and reduce overall cooking time. Boil covered for 6-12 minutes. If you like them a bit softer, err on the side of 12.




Turn off heat and remove sprouts with a spoon or strainer, leaving the vegetable water in the pot. Immediately throw your greens into the pot. Cover with lid, allowing the heat from the water/vapor to cook the greens. The salt in the water will also tenderize the greens, allowing them to cook quickly and serve while the brussels sprouts are still warm. Serve with the broth/leftover water to warm your insides and to maximize nutrient intake. The brussels sprouts and broth taste taste delicious as is, but also when lightly seasoned with lemon juice and black pepper.

brussels sprouts greens brussels sprouts and kale brussels sprouts and greens

More Cooking Smart recipes to follow…

Share on YummlyPin on PinterestShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Petits Pois A La Francaise

green pea lettuce kale salad

I can hardly believe I’m actually attempting this recipe. Typically made with butter and chicken broth, petits pois a la francaise was never been on my list of things to veganize…until today. Continue reading

Share on YummlyPin on PinterestShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Green Bean Salad with Crushed Red Pepper


This recipe is inspired by something I found online when I Googled “green bean salads”. I found one that had a spicy and citrus-y flavor profile, with crushed walnuts. I’m allergic to walnuts, so I used pumpkin seeds instead. Since walnuts taste semi-sweet and pumpkin seeds do not, I added 1/16 tsp stevia extract to compensate. Also, in place of red pepper-infused olive oil I topped the salad with crushed red pepper flakes (the kind generally used as a pizza topping). Unlike the recipe that was its inspiration, this one is oil-free and calls for only 5 ingredients. Continue reading

Share on YummlyPin on PinterestShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

5 Salad Dressing Recipes ≤ 5 ingredients

perfect salad
I’ve traveled a lot, in many situations where access to a blender was nil. Whether it was a motel room with a mini fridge, or a hospedaje with bars on the widows; a hostel dorm with a shared kitchen, a tent, or my car, I’ve managed to make every salad dressing on this list with as little as a pocket knife and a mason jar. That’s not to say they’re simplistic. These recipes can transform something as basic as shredded cabbage into a flavorful and satisfying meal.
Continue reading

Share on YummlyPin on PinterestShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Lunch in a Jar w/ Fire Roasted Peppers

jar lunch vegan 2

Mason jars work like a charm, in many situations i.e. brown-bagging it to work (unless of course you have to go through a security scanner or your employer bans glass containers). Plastic gladware or tupperware containers fail miserably in comparison, in terms of functionality and sustainability…but if an anti-glassware policy is your office-environment predicament, this recipe can adapt to plastic.

Lunch in a Jar w/ Fire Roasted Peppers

Ingredients

1 7oz can whole fire roasted green chile peppers
4 roma tomatoes
1 cup diced onion
1/4 cup cooked black beans
salt to taste, optional



method

In a cast-iron skillet, cook the tomatoes in 1/4 cup water. Add more water if necessary, making sure not to burn the tomatoes but allowing them to brown a little. Add the onions, and use a wooden spoon or spatula to create a paste. The mixture should resemble a thick sauce, but not a purée. This salsa/sauce is one of my favorite foods in the world, and I can’t take credit for the recipe. I tried it for the first time in San Marcos La Laguna, a village on the western shore of Lago Atitlán in the Sololá Department of Guatemala. The copy-cat version featured here pales in comparison I’m sure, but it’s my best attempt thus far.

Transfer the cooked tomato and onion mixture to a bowl. Add a bit more water to the skillet and begin to heat the roasted chiles. If the beans are not warmed yet, or if you are using a can, have them ready to heat after the chiles. Remove the heated chile peppers from the skillet, and place in a separate bowl or on a plate. Heat the beans if applicable. In a jar, layer the tomato sauce and chiles with a thin layer of beans.

jar lunch vegan

Share on YummlyPin on PinterestShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Jerk Tofu with Cranberry-Pepper Relish

DSC_0506

Originated from the Quechua ch’arki, the term “jerk” refers to dried protein. In the Andes aka the highlands of Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador, the protein in question was alpaca or cuy (guinea pig) meat.

In the Caribbean and in Afro-Caribbean culture, the term “jerk” generally refers to a spice blend used to season protein. On the Caribbean coasts of Costa Rica and Belize, you can sometimes find jerk tofu on the menu at local restaurants. From personal experience I can vouch for the existence of jerk-seasoned tofu cooked by locals as opposed to vegan expats in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica and in Punta Gorda, Belize.

jerk tofu2

Etymology of jerk:
jerk (v.2) as a method of preserving meat, 1707, American English, from American Spanish carquear, from charqui (see jerky). Related: Jerked.

jerky (n.) 1850, American English, from American Spanish charqui “jerked meat,” from Quechua (Inca) ch’arki “dried flesh.”

Spanish spellings include charque and charqui, from which the English word jerky derives.



Jerk Tofu with Cranberry-Pepper Relish

Ingredients

1 x 16oz package vacuum packed super-firm or extra-firm tofu *I used Nasoya, but in the past I’ve used Wildwood (I recommend using one of these brands for this recipe, if possible. I don’t have experience with other brands of vacuum-packed tofu). Tofu packed in water, or in any other sort of packaging other than vacuum-sealed, even when the label reads ‘super’ or ‘extra’ firm, has an entirely different texture and will not work for this recipe.
½ tsp curry powder (I used Trader Joe’s brand; ingredients: cumin, turmeric, coriander, chile pepper, mustard, cardamom, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, red pepper, cinnamon, black pepper, and saffron)
½ tsp garam masala (I used Whole Foods’ brand; ingredients: black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, coriander)
½ tsp caraway seed
1 tsp garlic, minced
3 drops stevia liquid or 1/16 tsp pure stevia powder
2 Tbsp lime juice
1/8 tsp salt (I used sea salt, but if I’d had it on hand I would have used pink Himalayan salt; that said, regular table salt would work just fine).
½ cup water

for the cranberry-pepper relish
½ cup dried cranberries
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 tsp orange zest
2 tsp red pepper flakes



Method

In a jar, combine all ingredients except for the tofu. Seal the jar, and shake to combine. Set aside.

Slice tofu into slabs of approximately 1cm thickness. Spread evenly onto a cookie sheet. Shake the jar before pouring 1/2 the marinade over the tofu cutlets. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Turn on the broiler to low, and proceed to cook the tofu. After 5-7 minutes, remove the tofu from the oven, flip, and evenly disperse the remaining marinade. Return tofu to the oven for 5-7 more minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the tofu to absorb the residual heat for 5 minutes.

Serve immediately, or let cool for no less than 10 minutes before storing in the refrigerator. In a tightly-sealed container, these jerk tofu cutlets will last 1 week approx.

jerk tofu

Share on YummlyPin on PinterestShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Skinny Vegetable Tagine

moroccan vegetable tagineEnjoy the flavors of this traditional Moroccan dish, minus the fat and carbs. This paleovegan version utilizes zucchini and yellow squash instead of potatoes, cutting out a total of 250 calories (that’s 130 calories from fat and 20 carbs) per serving.

Let’s face it: the usefulness of water and a cast-iron or non-stick skillet make the need for cooking in oil entirely obsolete. Second of all, and I’m sure I’m not the first to say this: potatoes are boring. They add nothing interesting to any dish, and other less carb-laden vegetables function just as well if not more effectively in most dishes.

This recipe could also be made in a crock-pot aka slow cooker. If I still had one, I would have tried that first.
vegan vegetable tagine



Moroccan-Style Vegetable Tagine

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 eggplant
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
1 carrot
½ cup onion, chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder (I used Trader Joe’s Spices of the World brand, the ingredients of which are cumin, turmeric, coriander, chile pepper, mustard, cardamom, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, red pepper, cinnamon, black pepper, saffron).

Method

In a skillet (I used cast-iron, but I assume a non-stick would work even better considering the oil-free nature of this recipe) begin by sautéing the onion in 2 tablespoons water. Add more water in 1 Tbsp increments as needed. When onions begin to brown, sprinkle in ½ teaspoon curry powder. Add the chopped eggplant and stir. Continue to stir for 1 minute, adding water as needed. Fold in the chopped carrot, and continue to stir for 1 minute. Again, add water when necessary. Fold in the chopped zucchini and yellow squash. After about 1 minute, sprinkle in the second ½ tablespoon curry powder. Vegetables should be very tender but not “mushy”.




Serve atop a bed of kale, accompanied by lime slices, red pepper flakes, fresh mint, and salt if desired to add according to taste.

Nutritional Info

125 calories, 9g carbs, 0g total fat, 12g dietary fiber, 8g sugar, 5g protein, 1089mg potassium, 4% iron, 40% Vitamin C*, 20% Vitamin B6, 8% Calcium, 25mg sodium**

*Vitamin C content increases according to the amount of lime juice added
**Sodium increases if salt is added

Share on YummlyPin on PinterestShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone