Monthly Archives: January 2012

Vegan French Onion Soup

Je m'appelle "Soupe." Enchantée.

Let’s talk about onions. How do you feel about them? Perhaps because of their pungency, they seem to incite strong feelings one way or another. In my case, our Facebook relationship status would be “It’s Complicated.” Remember when I told you how gross mayonnaise is? Well, I used to feel the same  way about onions. Hated them. Would not go near them. Would not eat anything they had even touched.

I have been daydreaming about French Onion Soup for like four days and have been writing this post in my head for three. I am obsessed. How did I get to this place, you ask? Well, I learned that onions can be cooked into oblivion. When slow-cooked, they dissolve and impart a delectably rich flavour to every dish they meet. Once I wrapped my head around this concept, I gradually started to actually like the little tear-jerkers.

Oh, and I grew up and quit being such a whiner.

This recipe isn’t particularly innovative: a quickle Google search will give you oodles of French Onion Soup recipes with similar methods and ingredients. I have actually never eaten the stuff until today, as I understand it is usually made with beef broth and I’ve been a pescatarian for nearly twenty years. Plus, the whole anti-onion thing made this soup my literal nightmare in a bowl.

Turns out the secret to making this soup is caramelizing the onions for about an hour. Uncovered! Think about what this makes your house smell like! Think about what slicing five big onions means for your eyes! It’s worth it though. If you’re a reformed onion-loather or a French Onion Soup-deprived vegan or vegetarian, this one’s for you.

I don’t know if this tastes anything like the classic beef-based version, but hot damn is it ever tasty! Super rich and flavourful, the Daiya and bread really take it to another place– onion heaven.

Oh, and apparently an onion a day keeps the doctor away.


La soupe, nue et sans pain et fromage.

I used Michael Smith’s recipe (mostly because his name is a combination of my parent’s names) as a base and easily veganized it.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)

splash water

5 white onions, halved and thinly sliced

1/2 cup brandy ( I imagine sherry or white wine would be nice too)

6 cups water (or vegetable stock– omit the bouillon cubes)

1 onion bouillon cube

1 mushroom bouillon cube

1 tsp dried thyme

2 tbsp Bragg’s or wheat-free tamari

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Daiya mozzarella

Wheat-free bread of choice (I used Quinoa Barley bread– NOT gluten-free!)

Directions:

Throw onions, vegan butter, splash of water, a pinch of salt, and oil into a large soup pot and turn heat to medium-high or high. Cover and let cook for around ten minutes, until the onions have softened and the water has evaporated.

Uncover and turn heat to low. Let the onions caramelize for around an hour, stirring every five minutes or so. As I write this, the onions have been doing their thing for 40 minutes. They are soft but not brown. They’d better get to browning!

Update: Onions have shrunk in size considerably. And I broke one of my lightbulbs while setting up the lightbox.

Not a golden colour at one hour. Turning up the heat to medium and watching carefully!

Cat has entered the lightbox. Does not bode well for the food that will soon be in there.

I don’t know why I am live blogging this. Sorry.

Screw it. Onions aren’t dark brown.

Add the brandy, bouillon cubes, water, Bragg’s and thyme. Add salt and pepper to taste, and simmer uncovered for fifteen minutes.

Turn on broiler and cut bread to fit your bowl. Toast it.

Ladle soup into oven-safe bowls and top with toast. Sprinkle with as much Daiya as your heart desires.

Broil until Daiya is melted.

Eat.

Melty, bread-y, oniony, kind of boozy. French? Je n'ai aucune idée.

Serves 4. While very tasty, I would not recommend this as a weekday soup, as it takes awhile to caramelize the onions. Make it on the weekend unless you like eating at 9:30 pm. 

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Carrot Yam Ginger aka Sneaky Bean Soup

Sunshine in a bowl! Enjoy with a mug of green tea. (Photo and food styling by Papa)

I have one of those faces that, when resting, prompts people to emphatically ask “What’s wrong?” So, sometimes I walk around smiling to prevent that.

Anyway. This has been an awkward introduction to a new soup recipe! What I’m trying to say is that sometimes when I am wandering around grinning stupidly, I am actually making up soups in my head. I thought about this one for a few days before I made it. I have read a lot of stuff about ‘super’ and anti-inflammatory foods and such, and I was trying to keep cancer-fighting and preventing ingredients in mind. Good things like garlic, ginger, onion and turmeric.

Now, I hesitate to quote stuff from the internet, so I looked to Dr. Andrew Weil’s website to make sure my hunches were true. He has written many books, after all, and he’s not some yahoo, like yours truly, that just tells you things are healthy without any evidence to back it up.

So, here’s a quote from oncologist Donald I. Abrams found in the “Cancer” section of the website: “I […] recommend seasoning food with ginger, garlic, onions, turmeric, [and] drinking green tea, all of which have anti-inflammatory effects.” The gospel truth right there for you.

This soup, a yummy and vitamin-packed vehicle for aforementioned cancer fighters, also makes good use of carrots, a yam, coconut milk and a sneaky can of white beans. Brightly coloured orange (and green) veggies pack a nutritional punch (ugh, what a cliché, sorry) and the beans add some bulk and much-needed fibre. And the coconut milk? Well, y’all know I add that shit to everything!

All that was a long-winded way of saying that I tried to cram a lot of anti-inflammatory veggies, fibre, and healthy fat into one good-tasting soup that would be easy to eat. Mission accomplished.

But don’t take my word for it! Here is mi padre:

A big pot of this soup has made dark days spent rattling around an existential wilderness remarkably bearable. This cancer has stolen my appetite. We all have our own special relationships with food. For me the most perfect comfort foods are soups and stews.

This week’s soup recipe is pure liquid sunshine, flavourfully loaded, and just textured enough to reveal in a subtly honest manner the nature of its health giving materials. Very yummy!

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 large white onion, diced

5 carrots, diced

1 largish yam, peeled and cubed

A 2″ piece of ginger, grated (I sort of wish I had added more)

2 very large (or 4 normal) cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp turmeric

1 tbsp Herbamare (or regular salt)

8 cups water

1 19 oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed

1 can full-fat coconut milk

Directions:

Heat oil in a large pot over medium to medium-low heat. Add onions and cook until slightly softened.

Add carrots, yam, ginger, turmeric and garlic. Cook until veggies have softened a bit, around fifteen minutes.

Add water, salt and beans. Cover and bring to a boil.

Lower heat and simmer until all the vegetables are completely soft.

Take pot off the heat and blend soup with a hand blender until completely smooth. Warning: I stained my dad’s partner’s white blender doing this. Sorry, Tracy. Turmeric is crazy yellow!

Taste for salt. I added quite a lot more, but didn’t measure.

Stir in coconut milk.

Bask in the deliciousness.

Makes a large pot of soup.

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Lentil Soup and New Beginnings

I would have called this 'Lentil Slop,' but who would want to eat that? Me, that's who.

I’ve been alluding to new beginnings for a couple posts now, and I’ll make good on it, I swear!

I made this lentil soup because I thought it would be healing. My father has been diagnosed with cancer and my first instinct was to cook. I find it therapeutic most of the time (ie. when I’m not under pressure to get dinner on the table!) and as soon as I found out, I started frying up some onions and envisioning healthy, hearty and anti-inflammatory things. I do believe that food can heal, or at least help keep one strong along the journey. It’s a practical way to cope with the curveball that’s been thrown at us. The unfortunate thing is that almost everyone is thrown this same unwelcome curveball at some point.

The result is this savoury mush. It’s meant to be a lentil soup, really. Something I thought would be easy and palatable. Something I could cook and share with Papa. Something that would heal.

With that in mind, I am planning to use this space to create cancer fighting and immune system boosting recipes that will benefit everyone, really. Who couldn’t use a little more kale and beets in their life? And in their smoothies. Yes.

And, with that, here’s something from my dad:

Hello dear readers. My name is Michael. My daughter Maya is the brilliance behind this delectable online resource, The Keen Kitchen. The blog began as a way to share unique, delicious and nutritional recipes for those of us who face or have loved ones who face health challenges. I spent my career as a communicator with writing as a core tool in my bag of tricks. I tried to counsel my kids to run away from anything that even had the faintest whiff of writing about it.  Oh why didn’t they just listen and take on a satisfying career as a medical diagnostician? (I know, right?) You know the drill… Good money, flexible hours, travel the world one clinic at a time.

Well here we are now. You must agree that Maya is a first-class communicator and the medium she has chosen, healthy recipes for those who need to be a bit more creative with their ingredients, is of universal value.

Last week I was diagnosed with cancer. Not good.  It looks like I’m on a faster track to enlightenment than I had imagined a week ago. I’m about to be medicalized. My natural default is optimism so I’m going to nurture that. I’ve also been advised to try to stay as physically strong as possible. That’s where this little venture comes in to play. Maya will add immune boosting recipes into the mix here at The Keen Kitchen. Food is love! I hear there will be a kale smoothie in my future? (Yep. There will.) Let’s spread a lot of that good stuff around to those, who may like me, be facing health challenges.

So stay tuned. Check out Maya’s recipe for lentil soup. I’ve always loved lentil soup in all of its permutations. This one is particularly tasty. It’s substantial, bursting with textures, exudes an oddly meaty meatlessness. Try it at home and you’ll find that it fills in the gaps in the gut in a most pleasant way.

Another gratuitous mush shot. Delicious mush.

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 large white onion, diced

3 tsp cumin

2 tsp salt

1/2 tbsp vegetable bouillon powder

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups dried green lentils, rinsed

9 cups water (or more if you want a thinner consistency. Start with 9.)

2 cups cooked brown rice

1/2 a head cauliflower, cut into florets

2 tbsp tahini

juice of 1 lemon

Freshly ground pepper

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium or medium-low heat.

Fry onion for about 15 minutes until softened.

Add salt, bouillon powder and cumin and stir until fragrant.

Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add lentils and fry, stirring, for 5 minutes.

Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat low and simmer for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook a pot of brown rice.

After 45 minutes of simmering, use an immersion blender and blend slightly to add a little creaminess.

Add cauliflower and simmer another 15-20 minutes.

Stir in tahini, lemon juice and cooked rice.

Add freshly ground pepper.

Eat and be merry!

Makes a large pot of soup. Serve with a slice of lemon if you like. Add more water if you want a soupier soup!

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Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip

Vegan spinach artichoke dip and friends (rice crackers and a really yummy beet dip)

In my last post, I claimed that my recipes were going to be healthier, with more of a focus on whole grains, fruits ands vegetables. Still true, I swear! This is a recipe I meant to post a couple weeks ago but never got around to.

I never used to like spinach dip very much because I’ve always had an aversion to mayonnaise. When I was kid, I’d freak out if someone left an open jar on the counter because the smell made me queasy. Yep, it was a pretty intense hatred. As I got older, I slowly started to tolerate mayo in the form of aioli. For some reason, if it was flavoured and not thick and white, I would eat it in small doses.

So, needless to say, I absolutely hated spinach dip with its gobs of the nasty white stuff. Over the Christmas holidays I got a weird craving for spinach dip and decided to make a double batch of it. I took it to a couple holiday gatherings to be sure I’d have something to eat. It ain’t health food, but it certainly is lighter than its mayo-ridden counterpart, thanks to a good dose of white beans!

Without further ado, here’s my vegan take on the ubiquitous potluck hit.

This would be gross if there was mayo in it.

 

Put into a food processor and process until very smooth:

1 19 oz can white beans, drained and rinsed (I used kidney)

1 tub Tofutti vegan cream cheese

juice of one lemon

2 garlic cloves, sliced

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cayenne

a few dashes of Tobasco (I added maybe 6? I like a kick.)

a generous amount of freshly ground pepper

Add in and pulse until combined:

1 227g can sliced water chestnuts, drained

2 green onions, sliced

1 box frozen spinach, thawed and water squeezed out

1 14 oz can whole artichokes, drained

That’s it, that’s all! Serve with accoutrement of choice.

 

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Vegan Gluten-Free Eggnog Cupcakes

Better late than never?

 

I do apologize for the tardiness of this post, fellow Keeners, as the holiday season is drawing to a close and I’m not sure people still have the need for an eggnog cupcake post. But, gosh, these were tasty little morsels of holiday cheer, so I’m posting the recipe anyway!

Christmas was the usual whirlwind and I’ll spare the gory details but, suffice it to say, I spent Boxing Day curled up on the couch in my pyjamas with my kitty cat, officially christmassed out.

I’d like to think of this post as a last hurrah, as it is New Year’s Day and the usual No more sugar! No more flour! thoughts are swirling in my head. I’m feeling inspired by this post on FatFree Vegan Kitchen. The meal plan Susan proposes kind of resembles how I used to eat and I remember how good it felt to eat a diet of mostly fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans. So, just putting it out there that there may be a few changes afoot. Nothing crazy, just maybe less baked goods.

With that said, let’s talk about cupcakes! I used Karina’s vanilla cupcake as a base for these because, as I can’t stop saying, she is the vegan and  gluten-free baking goddess. I eggnog-ized them by adding nutmeg, cinnamon and soy nog. I decided a cream cheese icing would be best (when isn’t it the best, really?) and made it eggnoggy with the aforementioned spices.

These cupcakes were enjoyed on Christmas Eve with coffee and brandy and good company.

Happy New Year, everyone!

A spiced eggnog cake adorned with cream cheese icing: a delicious last hurrah

* Recipe taken from Gluten-Free Goddess and tweaked slightly. Makes 12 cupcakes.

Dry Ingredients:

1/2 cup sorghum flour

1/2 cup brown rice flour

1 cup tapioca starch

1 cup organic cane sugar

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

Wet Ingredients:

1 cup soy nog

2 eggs worth of vegan egg replacer (or 2 eggs) (Follow package directions for egg replacer to water ratio)

3 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp lemon juice

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and line a 12-cup muffin tin with cute paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients.

In a large measuring cup, whisk together all wet ingredients, except for the egg replacer. Whisk the egg replacer in a separate bowl or measuring cup, then mix it in with the rest of the wet ingredients.

Add wet to dry and beat with an electric mixer until smooth, being careful not to over mix.

Evenly divide batter into the muffin tin and bake for 15 to 22 minutes, testing after 15 with a toothpick.

Let cool in tin for a few minutes, then transfer cupcakes to a wire rack.

Cool completely before icing.

Icing Ingredients:

4 oz (half a tub)  Tofutti cream cheese (vegan)

1/4 cup vegan margarine

1 tsp vanilla

splash soy nog

2 cups icing sugar (not sure if this is officially vegan, guys)

2 dashes cinnamon

2 dashes nutmeg

Directions:

Cream together margarine and cream cheese with an electric mixer. Add vanilla, soy nog, cinnamon and nutmeg, mixing until combined.

Beat in icing sugar, 1 cup at a time.

Taste for spice and add more cinnamon and nutmeg as desired.

Frost cupcakes and sprinkle with a little more cinnamon.

Yum.

 

 

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