Monthly Archives: September 2011

Cozy Adzuki Beans with Red Wine, Onions and Thyme

Adzuki Beans stewed with onions, garlic, red wine and thyme taste better than they look.

Today’s recipe is brought to you by the Keen Kitchen Pantry! Want to make something cheap and nutritious that practically cooks itself? Whip up a batch of dried adzuki beans! You don’t need to soak them. Just put them in a pot and let them do their thing while you get on with your life.

I make a big pot of adzukis from time to time and freeze portions in tupperware. Pulling out a container of “homemade” beans feels very… dare I say luxurious? Adzuki beans are pretty mild and go with lots of things. Also, they are apparently easier to digest than other beans and are little nutritional powerhouses. Plus, they are soooooo cute.

I hesitated to post this recipe as this dish is, let’s face it, kind of ugly. But it is really tasty and, once the beans are cooked, comes together in about 20 minutes. If your freezer is a treasure trove of frozen beans, you can have this on the table in the time it takes to watch The Big Bang Theory (oh, how I miss you)!

I serve this as the sort of “meat” part of a meal, alongside a green vegetable and rice. I think it would be good with polenta too.

Add some mushrooms to increase the meatiness and earthy flavour of this cozy feel-good bean dish.

Steamy beanies.

This time around, I decided to cook 3 cups of dried adzuki beans. Rinse the beans and place in a large pot with 3 cups of water for every cup of dried beans. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to minimum and cook until softened. I salted mine and added a sprinkle of dulse flakes for good measure. They took around an hour, but I wasn’t really pay attention. May have been an hour and a half.


3 cups cooked adzuki beans, drained

2 tbsp olive oil (or less if you’re anti-fat)

1 medium white onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp poultry seasoning (does not contain poultry. It is a mix of seasonings.)

1/4 cup red wine

1/4 cup broth or water

salt and pepper to taste


Heat olive oil on med-low. Cook onions until softened, around 10 minutes.

Add thyme and poultry seasoning and stir until fragrant.

Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add adzuki beans, red wine and broth. Lower heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

You say Fall? I say Beans!

Serves 4 as a side dish. 



Filed under Dinner, Salads and Sides

Vegan Cheesy Potato Bake

Vegan cheesy potato bake: Cheesy and... bean-y.

I’m still here. Sort of. I am not taking the change in weather gracefully.  Going from 30° and sunny to 14° and raining in a matter of a day does not a happy Maya make.

It’s not all doom and gloom here in the Keen Kitchen, I just haven’t really felt inspired to create. Or grocery shop. So I have been whipping up things like vegan mac n’ cheese and weird chickpea and brown rice combos. My culinary highlight of the past two weeks has definitely been Melissa from Swapmeat’s Cuban beans and rice. Make those and imagine yourself enjoying them on the beach with a frosty cuba libre in hand if you want a little sunshine in your life!

I probably should have made those again, but instead spent my day watching all six super-grisly episodes of The Walking Dead back to back, occasionally looking up to gaze sulkily at the raindrops hitting the indoor furniture still on our deck that we stubbornly have not brought in.

Even though I really should have had zero appetite after six hours of  intestine-relishing zombies, my grumbling stomach convinced me to poke around and see what was up in the kitchen. Potatoes were pretty much the only fresh thing. I rarely buy potatoes, as they are a no-no in our house, but today called for comfort food after a gruelling day on the couch. Hence the cheesy potato bake.

Unlike its chockfull-of-dairy counterpart, this vegan cheesy potato bake is low(er) in fat and high in fibre thanks to today’s secret ingredient: white beans. I was feeling guilty about making a dish that has nothing green in it, so I thickened my sauce with beans instead of oil and flour. Nutritional yeast, a vegan cheese sauce staple, adds vitamins and overall yumminess too.

Jack couldn’t stop raving about this. He’s a comfort food kind of guy. He proclaimed it “delicious,” “soooooo good” and the “best scalloped potatoes” he has ever had. Woah! Not bad for a vegan bean-filled potato dish!

I recommend putting some Daiya on this. The liquid dried up a lot during the cooking process and a little Daiya melted on top gave the dish some extra moisture. Hot sauce or ketchup works too!

Zombies HATE vegan cheese.


2 19-oz cans white beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups water

1 tbsp tamari

2 tsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp tahini

3 cloves garlic, minced

2/3 cup nutritional yeast

1 1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp paprika

freshly ground pepper to taste

4 large potatoes, thinly sliced in rounds

Daiya vegan cheese


Preheat oven to 450°.

Place all ingredients besides the potatoes in a blender and blend until smooth.

Grease a large baking dish (mine’s 13″ x 9″). Spread two potatoes-worth of rounds evenly in the dish. Ladle sauce until covered. Layer the remaining two potatoes. Pour remaining sauce on top.

Sprinkle with more paprika and freshly ground pepper.

Cover in tinfoil and bake 30 minutes.

Uncover and bake another 20 to 30 minutes, or until nicely browned on top.

Sprinkle some Daiya on top and put back in oven until melted.

Serve with something green and try not to think about zombies. Enjoy!

Serves 4. 


Filed under Dinner, Salads and Sides

Vegan Spaghetti Puttanesca

Feed your inner saucy minx with this scandalously delicious puttanesca, sans anchovies.

According to the dictionary on my MacBook (a highly reliable source that has gotten me through many a paper), puttanesca sauce was developed by Italian prostitutes who needed a quick and tasty meal in between clients. Thank you, working gals of Italy! I have no idea if this is actually true, but believing it may add a little mystique to your dinner, so why not?

Savvy Italian prostitutes may not have whipped up this speedy and flavourful sauce, but you certainly should! It is one of the fastest and easiest tomato sauce recipes I know and it packs a punch, thanks to briny olives and capers along with the usual suspects of garlic, basil, tomatoes, onions and wine. I used to make it with anchovies and a wee bit of gorgonzola, but I honestly think it is every bit as good without.

This recipe is another one I honed during my stint living with my Italian second family. It is one of those recipes that isn’t measured and everyone’s version tastes just a bit different. I love how every cook’s food somehow has a distinct flavour, even if the ingredients are the same.

Today, I measured the ingredients as I went but usually I just eyeball it. So please use this as a blueprint and let your inner Italian prostitute guide you.

Vegan puttanesca sauce over brown rice spaghetti. Food styling and photography by Jack.

This sauce doesn’t take much longer to cook than the time it takes to boil your pasta, making it a great weeknight dinner.


2 tbsp olive oil (or less if you’re watching your fat intake)

1 white onion, diced

1/2 a jalapeño, seeded if it is a hot one

1/4 cup red wine

3/4 cup canned sliced black olives, drained

1/4 cup capers, drained

2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped (optional)

4 cloves garlic, minced

680 mL can Hunt’s plain tomato sauce

28 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained

Brown rice spaghetti (I use Tinkyada brand)


Heat olive oil on medium-low. Add onion and jalapeño. Fry, stirring, for 15 minutes until softened. Lower the heat if the onions are browning. This should be a gentle process.

When onions are softened, turn heat to high. Add the red wine and stir constantly until the liquid has reduced and the alcohol has evaporated. Turn the heat back to medium-low.

Add the capers, olives and fresh basil. Fry for 5 minutes.

Put your pasta water on and boil the noodles while you do the following steps.

Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add Hunt’s and diced tomatoes. Cover and simmer while your noodles are boiling.

Taste for salt. I did not need to add any, thanks to the saltiness of the capers and olives.

Serve over brown rice pasta and sprinkle with a little nutritional yeast (a delightful and vitamin-packed alternative to parmesan).

Buon Appetito!

Serves 6. Or 2 with leftovers. 


Filed under Condiments and Sauces, Dinner, Pasta

Karina’s Gluten-Free Vegan Plum Cake

Perfect vegan and gluten-free plum cake with cinnamon sugar topping.

The weather has turned and there is the slight scent of fall in the air. Goody, this means more baking in the Keen Kitchen!

I love plum cake. My Oma frequently serves a delightful version: Dense white cake topped with tart-sweet black plums and served  with a dollop of vanilla flavoured whipped cream. Yum. Well, after Jack picked a bunch of plums off the tree in our yard, I immediately envisioned cakes, cakes, and more cakes. And maybe a crumble for good measure.

Cake-bound plums

A lesson learned: when you start craving any sort of baked good, but need to veganize it and make it gluten-free, turn to Karina, the Gluten-Free Goddess. I know I have said this before, but it is worth repeating. The woman is a magician in the kitchen. So, I decided to not do my usual mucking around ingredient-switching thing and stuck pretty much religiously to her recipe for Gluten-free Peach Cake, using plums instead. As for the whipped cream, I served this with So Delicious Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice Cream instead. It was also pretty spectacular served unadorned. It is the super moist, dense, sweet but not overly so, cake that I desired and it suited the tart plums perfectly. I will definitely be making a few more of these with the many plums I have left over.

Anyone want to come over for coffee and a slice or two of plum cake?

So cakey and plummy.

As previously mentioned, I followed Karina’s recipe almost to a T. As such, I do not really feel comfortable rewriting her recipe. Please refer to her amazing recipe here.

Here’s what I did differently:

  • I used plums instead of peaches.
  • I mixed brown and white organic cane sugar because I didn’t have light brown sugar.
  • I used tapioca starch instead of potato starch.
  • I used virgin coconut oil instead of olive oil or shortening. I realize that coconut oil is high in saturated fat, but I love the butter-like texture and light coconut flavour it gives baked goods.
  • I used millet flour instead of buckwheat flour because I didn’t want a grainy cake.
  • I used light soy milk instead of peach juice.
  • I omitted the nutmeg because I don’t have any and am still not certain if those with nut allergies can have it. Can anyone help me with this?
  • I used apple cider vinegar for the “light tasting” vinegar.
I highly recommend this recipe. You would never know this cake is vegan and gluten-free. And thanks to the higher-fibre flours, it’s a little healthier than its wheaty counterpart.


A perfect vegan and gluten-free plum cake, fresh out of the oven. Recipe courtesy of Karina.


Filed under Desserts