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December 31, 2010

New Year's Stew

It was just last year that I learned of the southern tradition of eating black-eyed peas and greens on New Year's Day for good luck. Lucky or not, count me in for any tradition that involves eating these most adorable, delicious little beans!

This stew is hearty, with a rich beef flavored broth. The beans and greens meet in the pot with pearl onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms, turnips, and fresh herbs. You may sub chopped onion for the pearl onions, and potatoes for the turnips, if you prefer. My stew is inspired by the seitan based Beefless Stew on Vegan Good Things.

Much love, and a little luck, to you and yours in the New Year!

New Year's Stew
Serves 4 generously

2 tbsp vegetable oil
8 oz pearl onions, peeled (use pre-peeled frozen onions for super convenience)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
10 cremini or or white button mushrooms, quartered
2 ribs of celery, sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dried)
1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped (or 1/2 tsp dried, chopped)
2 tsp fresh sage leaves, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
3 tbsp flour
3 cups vegetarian beef broth (or vegetable broth)
1 cup dry red wine
4 medium turnips, peeled and chopped
2 tsp vegan worcestershire sauce 
2 cups cooked black-eyed peas (or 1 can, drained and rinsed)
5 collard green leaves, center rib removed, and chopped (or turnip greens, or kale)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large pot. Add onions, garlic, and mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes. Stir in celery, carrots, and herbs and saute for 3 more minutes. Sprinkle in the flour, and then slowly stir in the broth and red wine. Turn up heat to bring to a boil.

Add turnips and reduce heat to medium low. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the turnips and other veggies are tender to your liking. Stir in the black-eyed peas, greens, and worcestershire sauce and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with a side of brown rice.

Making this stew was a good excuse to try out a few of my new toys from Christmas. Check out this beauty that Steve gave me, my first piece of enameled cast iron cookware! *Swoon* This 6 quart dutch oven is made by Lodge, and is much more affordable than Le Creuset. You can even fool everyone if you buy the Le Creuset knob! Amazon recommends the Le Creuset knob as an accompanying purchase to the Lodge dutch oven, which made me laugh! No new knob for me, I am a proud Lodge owner.

To accompany my stew I made a pot of brown rice in my new rice cooker. What a handy fun little gadget! The rice turned out perfect.

I also got to play around with my favorite gift of all, a hand-me-down digital SLR from my little brother! He has moved on to bigger and better cameras, so he decided to give me his older Canon 30D. I have so much to learn about using the camera and editing the photos, but I am on my way! I am looking forward to some serious photography in the coming year!

Well, and some not so serious photography, too..

Am I a horrible person?
Signing out for 2010. I hope you have a very Happy New Year, and I'll catch you in 2011!

December 30, 2010

Cranberry Orange Tart with Walnuts and a Chocolate Crust

I love Christmas and I am in a bit of denial about it being over. Alas, the evidence is mounting, much like the massive pile of garbage that I put out on the curb this morning. The cookies are gone. All of the out-of-towners have returned home. The Christmas music on the radio and the Christmas movies on television have come to a halt. The Christmas sections at every store are marked down on clearance.

If you are like me, take comfort! Christmas will come again. In the meantime perhaps you have room for just one. more. dessert.

This tart is comprised of a rich chocolaty crust, brimming with fresh cranberries and toasted walnuts, bound by cheery orange flavors. Top this dessert off with a dusting of powdered sugar just before serving for an extra festive finish. I made five 4-inch tarts with this recipe as pictured above, and while the results were adorable, each tart was much too large for a single serving. This recipe would do best in a 10-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom.

Cranberry Orange Tart with Walnuts and a Chocolate Crust
Serves 10

(adapted from Bon App├ętit)

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons chilled earth balance, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons ice water

(adapted from Cooking Light)

1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (about 2 oranges)
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange marmalade
3 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted
1 tablespoon grated orange rind (about 2 oranges)
1 12-ounce package fresh cranberries

Spray 10-inch round tart pan with non-stick spray. Put the flour, sugar, cocoa, salt in processor, and pulse to combine. Add earth balance and pulse until a moist sandy texture forms. Add water and blend just until dough comes together. Press the dough evenly into the bottom and sides of the prepared pan, and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 and start preparing the filling. Whisk together orange juice and cornstarch in a large bowl. Mix in all remaining ingredients. Once the crust has chilled for 30 minutes, pour the filling in and place pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, and then reduce temperature to 350 and bake for an additional 35 minutes. The crust should be firm and the filling will be bubbly. Cool completely. Just before serving sift a couple of tablespoons of powdered sugar over the top of the tart, if desired.

December 15, 2010

Smoky Chipotle Split Pea and Barley Soup

Thank you all so much for your kind words regarding our engagement, Steve and I are very excited! I have been swept up in the excitement of wedding planning and the holidays, and have been neglecting the blog. That's not to say that I haven't been cooking! Most of my meals lately have been previously blogged recipes, such as Pumpkin Black Bean Chili, Butternut Rancheros, and White Chili with Tomatillos and Roasted Mushrooms, all worthy repeats I might add!

This weekend I made another old favorite, Split Pea and Barley Soup, but I decided to give the recipe a makeover. And what a makeover it was! Armed with ground chipotle and liquid smoke, I transformed my classic split pea into something totally new. If you are looking for a hearty, warming soup with a kick, this one is for you. Both standard stove top and pressure cooker methods provided below.

Smoky Chipotle Split Pea and Barley Soup
Serves 6

1-1/2 cups green split peas, rinsed and picked over
1/3 cup pearled barley
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large or 2 small carrots, peeled and sliced
2 ribs of celery, sliced
10 cups water
4 not chick'n bouillon (or sub your preferred bouillon)
2 tsp thyme
3/4 tsp ground chipotle pepper (or try canned, diced. Start with 1/2 a chipotle pepper and adjust)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
dash cayenne
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1 tbsp lime juice

Amazing Homemade Vegan Bacon
vegan sour cream

Stove top method: Heat 1/4 cup water in a large pot and saute onion and garlic until the onion is translucent.  Stir in thyme, chipotle pepper, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne, and bay leaf, and saute for 1 minute stirring constantly.

Add 10 cups of water, bouillon cubes, and peas. Turn up to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and partially cover. Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

After 1 hour of simmering the peas should be starting to break down a bit. Add in the barley, carrots, and celery and continue simmering (partially covered) for 45 minutes to an hour, until the peas have completely broken down. If the soup starts to thicken too much add extra water 1 cup at a time as needed, maintaining the thickness that you prefer.

Once the peas have completely broken down, and the barley, carrots, and celery are tender, remove from heat. Remove bay leaf and stir in liquid smoke and lime juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired. Serve hot, topped with a tablespoon of vegan sour cream and a slice of vegan bacon, fried and chopped.

Pressure cooker method: Put 6 cups of water, split peas, and barley into the pressure cooker. Cook at high pressure for 6 minutes and allow pressure to come down naturally.

While the pressure cooker is doing its thing, heat 1/4 cup water is a large pot. Saute onion and garlic until the onion is translucent. Stir in thyme, chipotle pepper, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne, and bay leaf, and saute for 1 minute stirring constantly. Add 4 cups of water, bouillon cubes, carrots, and celery and turn up heat to bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and partially cover. Simmer 30 minutes or until carrots and celery are tender. By this time the pressure cooker should be done releasing the pressure. Empty the contents of the pressure cooker into the other pot and stir to combine. Remove bay leaf, stir in liquid smoke, lime juice, and water if needed to reach the desired thickness. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired. Serve hot, topped with a tablespoon of vegan sour cream and a slice of vegan bacon, fried and chopped.

(A third option is to cook everything in the pressure cooker. The only downside is that the carrots and celery may be overcooked. To combat this slice them thicker. Start by sauteing the onion and garlic in the cooker for 5 minutes, then add all of the other ingredients less that liquid smoke and lime juice, and cook for 6 minutes at high pressure, and allow the pressure to come down naturally. Stir in the liquid smoke and lime juice at the end).

Other haps:

Check out my new ornaments!

A wee candy cane monster compliments of Panda With Cookie. This etsy shop offers monsters in all sizes, tofu pirates, adorable onesies, and more. This is not my first Panda original, you may remember the tofu pirate apron I nabbed earlier this year. Hooray for vegan crafters!

I am submitting the wee monster photo to the festive photo round of No Croutons Required. Entries accepted until Dec 20, voting opens the 21st at Tinned Tomatoes.

My other new ornament this year is one I bought in Tennessee the day that Steve proposed. I don't normally buy the clay personalized ornaments, but it seemed meant to be when I saw it!

My Christmas present to myself this year was a box of goodies from Pangea Vegan Store. I wanted to try several vegan products that I have not been able to find locally including vegan white chocolate chips, soy curls, parmazano, and dried soy creamer packets. I also decided to try out 2 gravy mixes, vegetable broth powder, and a few cheezly flavors (on sale $.99 each!). I was super impressed by how quickly my order arrived. I placed my order mid-morning, it shipped the same day and was on my doorstep 2 days later!

I am looking for suggestions of how to use these precious white chocolate chips and soy curls. What are you favorite uses?