About this blog

Friday, March 28, 2014

Coconut Creamed Kale

Because alliteration is adorable.

Creamed spinach is a thing.  So is creamed corn.  I'm not sure if I've ever had either of them, but they've been on my mind lately.  I can't explain why, that's just how my brain works.  But I got to thinking, if you can cream spinach and corn, can you cream other veggies?  Peas?  That's a thing, too.  What else?  How about kale?  Specifically, the half bunch of kale left in my fridge from last week's recipe?

Of course, I couldn't just go and follow someone else's recipe for this sort of thing.  It had to be creative, otherwise I wouldn't have anything to blog about!  I've had a can of lite coconut milk in the cupboard for a while, and I liked the name "coconut creamed kale" so much that I figured I just had to make this happen! 

Traditional creamed spinach starts with a roux (butter and flour) but I decided that the coconut milk had plenty of fat without the added butter [besides, I'm trying to watch my girlish figure these days].  So I used cornstarch as a thickener.  And instead of traditional nutmeg, I added a dash of Chinese 5 spice.  Best. Idea. Ever.  Seriously, don't skip this ingredient- it totally makes the flavor of this dish.

So again, this is a side dish, I would guess it yields about 4 servings.  (Hard to say since I eat all of my meals solo these days and I have no sense of portion control.)  So I served mine with pan-fried tempeh, which I was originally going to include in this post as well but honestly, it wasn't that great.  I ended up smothering it with BBQ sauce.  Oh well, any excuse to eat BBQ sauce is good enough for me.

15 oz can regular or lite coconut milk
2 Tbsp cornstarch
Dash Chinese 5-spice
Salt and pepper
1 cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic
4 cups kale, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped or torn

In a high-speed blender or food processor, combine coconut milk, cornstarch, and 5-spice.  Blend on high for a couple of minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.
In a large soup pot, saute onion and garlic on medium heat with about 1/4 cup of water.  Cook for 5-7 min until onions are soft, adding more water 1 Tbsp at a time if veggies start to stick.  Add the coconut milk mixture and increase heat to allow sauce to bubble and thicken, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to medium low and cook another minute or two, adding a little more salt and pepper as desired.  Toss in the kale and stir to completely cover with sauce.  Cook on medium heat for 6-8 min, stirring frequently, until kale is wilted and heated through.  Serve hot.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Beer-Braised Potatoes and Kale

Because beer is better!  (No, that's not right.  Vodka is better, but that has nothing to do with this post.)

Want to hear a secret?  I hate holidays.  Yep, I do.  Pretty much all of them.  I hate the contrived way they make you feel obligated to celebrate meaningless occasions, like President's Day or Flag Day.  And I get that most holidays started out with meaning and purpose, to celebrate the life and accomplishments of some person or another.  But why do I have to wear green on March 17?  Why is everyone drinking so much beer?  Why don't these people admit to being Irish on any other day???

My family has a teensy-weensy bit of Irish in our ancestry, but I don't really identify with it.  I really don't care for Celtic music, I'm not a red-head (although I do have some pretty adorable freckles), I don't know a whole lot about Irish culture, except that their "cuisine" leaves much to be desired, and I'm not a big fan of beer (although I do like drinking and I have quite the temper).  This is all a round-about way of me saying that I wasn't originally going to make a wannabe Irish dish for St. Patrick's day, but as it turns out, I had half a bag of potatoes and a good idea.  So here it is.

This is my first attempt at braising, a technique of cooking ingredients (in this case, potatoes) in simmering liquid.  And I'm pretty sure I did it wrong, but whatever.  It was still delicious.  You could probably use any kind of beer you prefer, I just picked up some Guinness for "authenticity" [NOT VEGAN!!! Check comments below.].  And I chose kale over cabbage because I wanted that bright green color.   You know, for the simplicity of this recipe, it was really pretty amazing.  It's a side dish, not a main course, so I would say it yields about 4-5 servings.  I had mine with Tofurkey beer brats.  Aw yeah, those are the whip.

1 Tbsp non-dairy butter
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 lbs red-skinned potatoes, quartered (or cut smaller if the potatoes are kind of big)
1/2 cup vegan stout, or beer of choice
2 2/1 cups veg broth
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves roughly torn
Salt and pepper

In a large soup pot, melt butter over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and saute for about 5 min, until the onions are soft.  Add the potatoes and arrange them so that they are in one layer and most of them are touching the bottom of the pan, cut side sown.

  Cook for about 5 min without stirring.  Pour in the beer and the veg broth, and stir in the brown sugar.  Increase heat to bring liquid to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let simmer, covered, for 10 min.  (Be sure to keep the heat on low and not low-ish.  I was trying to multi-task and had the heat up too high, resulting in mushy potatoes.  Don't let this happen to you!)
After 10 min, add the kale, stirring to cover the leave with the liquid in the pot.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook covered for about 5 min or until leaves are bright green and potatoes are cooked through.
Using a slotted spoon, remove potatoes and veggies from pan and place in a serving dish.  Cover to keep warm.  *With the remaining liquid, you have two choices for a sauce:  You can allow it to boil down, making sort of a glaze to drizzle over the potatoes, or you can add a thickener, such as flour or cornstarch, to make like a gravy.  I opted to reduce the liquid, and it went a little something like this...

Return pot to stove and increase heat to high to allow liquid to boil.  Continue boiling until liquid has reduced and thickened.  This took me almost 10 min.  I added pepper to the pot, but not salt, since reducing the liquid really concentrates the flavor of whatever you had put in there originally.  Since there was already plenty of salt from the veg broth, I didn't add any more.  When liquid has thickened, you can use it to drizzle over individual servings of potatoes.

Yield 4-5 servings.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Parsley Potato Soup

Because sometimes you buy an entire bunch of parsley for a recipe and then completely forget to add it to the dish you bought it for.

Yeah, so I had bunch of parsley left over from last week's gumbo.  [I also forgot to add the jalapeno I picked up, but I'll put that in something else later this week.  Burritos or chili, we'll see.]  I hate to waste food, so there was no way I was going to let this green bouquet of herbs wilt in my fridge.  But what exactly does one do with a bunch of flat-leaf parsley???

My first thought was oven-roasted parslied-potates.  Mmmm, roasted potatoes.  But there was no way I could  throw that much parsley in without overwhelming the dish.  So, you know, when all else fails... throw it all in a soup pot!  A huge soup pot, to be specific.  I used the same ingredient ideas I had for the roasted potatoes but made it soup instead.  [It's like magic!]  Besides all of the chopping, this comes together quickly.  And makes a LOT of soup.  So maybe share it with a friend... or five.

I like this soup, I really do.  It's more of a soupy soup than what I usually prefer (does that even make any sense???), but it's light and delicately flavored and quite delicious, if I do say so myself.  It's not super filling by itself (I had two big bowls) but would be a perfect starter course or served with a salad or a sandwich.  Or... whatever, how about I stop telling you how to plan your meals and just post the recipe?

Quick note about the wine: I used pinot grigio, mostly because the label on the bottle told me that it had "aromas of pear and Meyer lemon" and I thought that would compliment the parsley.  I don't normally drink white wine, but I'm sipping on a glass as I type this and it is fantastic!  However, since you'll only be using about 1/3 of a cup of wine altogether, I would recommend using a white wine you enjoy drinking, since you'll have quite a bit left.  Hey, that wine isn't going to drink itself, you know...   *wink*

1 1/2 pounds red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed and chopped
5 cups water
1 bunch of parsley, thick stems cut off and remaining stems and leaves chopped (I got about 4 cups)
6 Tbsp white wine, divided
1 large onion, diced
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrots
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups vegetable broth
15 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper

In a large soup pot, toss in chopped potatoes and 5 cups of water, and add a dash of salt and put a lid on it.  Heat on high to bring water to a boil.  Set timer for 10 min.  Turn off the heat when the timer goes off. 
In a large saute pan, heat parsley and 2 Tbsp wine on medium heat, stirring frequently.  Cook for about 5 min until leaves are bright green and just getting wilty.  Add the parsley to the potatoes.  In the same pan, saute onion, celery, carrots, garlic, and 2 Tbsp wine on medium-high heat.  Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until veggies are soft.  Add these guys to the potato pot and turn the heat back on to medium-high.
Stir in vegetable broth, beans, 2 Tbsp wine, and lemon juice, and simmer for about 8-10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014


Because there should be vegan versions of everything!

Last Sunday, the roomie and I volunteered at a gumbo cook-off event benefiting Ministry with Community, a daytime drop-in shelter located in downtown Kalamazoo.  I have been volunteering at MwC on and off for about two years and I absolutely love the place.  Everyone there- the staff, volunteers, members (the people they serve)- are all just fantastic.  This is the third gumbo cook-off I've volunteered at and it was better than ever!  Live music, over 30 restaurants participating in the gumbo contest, and lots of people (including several of my volunteer friends!), we had a blast.  But there was a serious lack of vegetarian gumbo!  So that got me thinking- why not make my own?

I had never made gumbo before.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I've never even eaten gumbo.  I know that it's a Southern dish that usually has seafood in it (blech), okra (not even sure if I like okra), and... other stuff???  Yeah, so I looked it up on Wikipedia.  [The Internet has all the answers.]  So gumbo is like a stew that is traditionally served over rice.  It can be thickened with file powder (dried sassafras leaves), okra, or a roux, but I guess not all three?  OK, well, I don't really like to follow the rules so I used all three anyway.  Oh yeah, I'm a rebel.

So I really just made a veggie stew, but you know what?  It was really frickin' awesome.  The store was all out of fresh okra so I bought pickled okra, chopped it, and used it as a garnish.  And it's amazing.  I'm not sure how I got this far in life without ever tasting pickled okra but man am I glad I know about it now!

Anyhow, I don't know how "authentic" this gumbo is, but I can say that it's delicious, easy to make, and will be happening again in the future!

3 Tbsp non-dairy butter
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 large bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup water
15 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp file powder
Hot sauce, to taste
Pickled okra, chopped, for garnish
Cooked rice

In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat and stir in the flour until well combined.  Add onion, celery, pepper, and garlic  and saute for 5-7 minutes or until onions are soft.  Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, veg broth and water.   Toss in the kidney beans, then stir in the file powder and hot sauce.  I didn't measure how much hot sauce I put in.  It may have been two teaspoons, but I definitely added more to my own individual servings because it really enhanced the flavor.  In fact, I never even added salt and pepper.  Of course, you can, if you find it necessary.  I'm just saying I didn't need it.
Anyhow, once everything is in the pot, continue to let it cook over medium heat for 10 min or so, until all ingredients are heated through.  Serve hot over rice, top with chopped pickled okra if desired, and enjoy!