Saturday, December 29, 2012

Lentil Stew

This is an Alton Brown Lentil Soup recipe.  I've made one change in order to make it vegan. Instead of using chicken stock, or any stock for that matter, I just add water in it's place. Onion, celery and carrot are the basic ingredients in a vegetable broth.  Since those ingredients are already added to the pot the stock just doesn't seem necessary to me.  I am especially opposed to using can or packaged stocks of any sort, because they contain ingredients like added salt and preservatives.  Also, since vegetable stock is so simple to make why not make your own from fresh ingredients.

Also, I add the cumin, coriander and grains of paradise to the sautéed onions, carrots and celery and let the spices cook into the vegetables before adding the tomatoes and water.  I just think that this step enhances the flavors of the veggies and spices.

Grains of paradise add a unique taste to this soup.  If you are not familiar with these flavorful grains there is a photo below.  They look like a much smaller peppercorn, though there flavor is unique and not at all like a pepper.  I bought a pepper mill just for these grains and grind them fresh whenever needed.

Just before serving I drizzle with olive oil for added richness.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 pound lentils, picked and rinsed
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped tomatoes
  • 2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground toasted cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground grains of paradise


Place the olive oil into a large 6-quart Dutch oven and set over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, carrot, celery and salt and sweat until the onions are translucent, approximately 6 to 7 minutes. Add the lentils, tomatoes, broth, coriander, cumin and grains of paradise and stir to combine. Increase the heat to high and bring just to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook at a low simmer until the lentils are tender, approximately 35 to 40 minutes. Using a stick blender, puree to your preferred consistency. Serve immediately.
SERVES: 6; Calories: 372; Total Fat: 8 grams; Saturated Fat: 1 grams; Protein: 24 grams; Total carbohydrates: 55 grams; Sugar: 5 grams Fiber: 13 grams; Cholesterol: 0 milligrams; Sodium: 762 milligrams

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Vegan Potato Pancakes

Vegan Potato Pancakes

This is a recipe that I received in an email from  These are the best potato pancakes that I have ever eaten.  They cooked up crispy on the outside, tender and packed with flavor on the inside.  Topped with Tofutti better than sour cream, they were amazing.  The recipe also suggest apple sauce as a topping.  I did not try them with apple sauce, but I can imagine the sweetness of the sauce with the slight saltiness of the pancakes would be very tasty.  
This dish would be great served for brunch, and with New Years just around the corner this would be a great addition to your holiday menu.  

Thanks Veg News for sharing this recipe!  

Serves 6
What You Need:
1-1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and grated
1 small yellow onion, grated
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Safflower oil, for frying
Applesauce, optional
Vegan sour cream, optional
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What You Do:

1. Place potatoes in a colander and set over a large bowl. Using your hands, squeeze out excess liquid. Pour off liquid and place potatoes in bowl. Add onion, parsley, flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper, and mix well.

2. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat a thin layer of oil. Take a heaping tablespoon of batter and flatten it before gently placing in hot oil. Make three or four more potato pancakes this way, and add to skillet without crowding pan. Fry until golden brown on both sides, turning once, about 8 minutes total.

3. Repeat with remaining potato mixture, adding more oil as necessary. Place cooked potato pancakes on paper towels to drain, then transfer to an ovenproof platter and keep warm in oven until all pancakes are cooked. Serve with applesauce or vegan sour cream.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Whipped Sweet Potatoes, Bananas and Honey

This recipe is one that I discovered while watching Tyler Florence on the Food Network. This was before I decided to follow a vegan diet.  I prepared it for my family's Thanksgiving meal, and did not spare the butter or the honey.  It was delicious and became a favorite among my family members.

Now that I've decided to eliminate animal products from my diet I am on a mission to convert my favorite recipes to vegan.  A task that is easier said than done!

Last Thanksgiving I made this dish with earth balance buttery spread and brown rice syrup. My family liked it, but I found that the brown rice syrup gave it a different flavor, and was not quite as sweet.  In hind sight I think that agave might have been a better choice, to suit my tastebuds.  The rich buttery taste of the Earth Balance needed to be balanced by more sweetness.  Perhaps I should have increased the amount of syrup from 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup.

So, upon the request of my family I prepared this dish again for our Christmas dinner.  This time I made it with earth balance and honey.  I know, some vegans do not include honey in their cooking because it comes from bees.  I am still undecided about that one, and on occasion will put honey in my tea.  So, I decided to use it in this dish.  It was delicious!

Here is the recipe - try it with brown rice syrup, honey, or agave and decide which one works best for you.

You can roast the potatoes and bananas ahead of time, then put it all together just before serving. Then heat it up in the oven.


  • 5 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed
  • 4 bananas, unpeeled
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork, put them in a roasting pan and roast for 30 minutes. Toss the bananas into the pan and continue roasting for 10 to 15 minutes, until both the bananas and potatoes are very soft. Remove the pan from the oven but don't turn the oven off.
When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh into a large mixing bowl. Peel the bananas and add them to the bowl along with 1 stick of the butter, and the honey. Season with salt and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until everything's well combined and the mixture is fluffy. Spoon into an oven-proof serving bowl and smooth the top.
In a separate mixing bowl, use your fingers to rub together the remaining stick of butter, the brown sugar, flour, and pecans until the mixture is the consistency of coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the sweet potatoes and return to the oven. Cook for about 20 minutes, until the crumbs are golden. Serve hot.