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Thursday, October 19, 2006

SOUP WEATHER IS BACK! CREAM OF BARLEY SOUP WITH MUSHROOMS AND LEEKS

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BRYANNA'S VERSION OF DEBORAH MADISON'S CREAM OF BARLEY SOUP (WITH WHOLE BARLEY, LEEKS, AND MUSHROOMS)-- veganized, fat content lowered, and streamlined a bit!

This is from the lovely book "Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison's Kitchen" (Broadway Books, NY, 2006). I veganized it, using blended raw cashews and nondairy milk instead of sour cream; lowered the fat from 5 Tbs to 2 Tbs, and used some veggie broth instead of just water, for fuller flavor; and streamlined the recipe for busy cooks by doing some of the sauteeing and steaming in the microwave. I also used the whole leek, not just the white part, because I really like the green part, and it's so pretty!

It is a beautiful and delicious soup, full of fiber and different textures -- creamy from the blended barley, vegetables, and "cream", and chewy from the whole cooked barley, strips of leek, and sauteed mushrooms. It's also quite inexpensive.

The Soup:
1/3 cup barley (I used pot barley, but pearl is fine)
1 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 large leek, white part diced and rinsed (save green part for the "To Finish" part below)
1 large carrot, scrubbed and grated
1 large clove garlic, chopped
4 cups chicken-style vegetarian broth
2 cups water
3/4 tsp salt
freshly-ground black pepper to taste
The "Cream":
3/4 cup plain nondairy milk, heated
1/4 cup raw cashews
To Finish:
1/3 cup barley (I used pot barley, but pearl is fine)
the green part of the leek used above in the soup, trimmed, julienned, rinsed and drained
1 Tbs (3 tsp) Earth Balance
6 large mushrooms, thinly sliced (DB recommended fresh shiitakes, but I didn't have any, so I used large white mushrooms)

Cover the first 1/3 cup barley (for the soup) with boiling water and set aside while you prepare the vegetables.

Drizzle the olive oil in a microwave-safe casserole with a cover and add the onions and oregano, stirring lightly. Cover and microwave on high for 4 minutes. Add the diced leek (white part only), chopped garlic, and grated carrot. Cover and microwave 4 minutes more. (If you don't have a microwave, steam-fry the veggies in a non-stick skillet over high heat: just use a spray of oil from a pump-sprayer and keep the vegetables moving, adding a squirt of water every so often until tender but not brown—- just enough to keep the veggies from sticking, not enough to “stew” them.)

Drain the barley and add to a medium soup pot along with the cooked vegetables, salt, broth, and water. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes.

While the soup cooks, prepare the finishing ingredients:
Rinse the remaining 1/3 cup barley, drain and cover generously with water in a small covered saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes. When it is cooked, drain the barley in a small sieve, then return it to the pot, cover and set aside (off heat).

Place 1 tsp. Earth Balance in the microwave-safe covered casserole, which you have rinsed out, and add the slivered leek greens. Microwave covered at full power 2 minutes, then uncover, stir, and microwave 2 minutes more. Set aside.  (If you don't have a microwave, steam-fry the leek greens in a non-stick skillet over high heat: add the Earth Balance and keep the vegetables moving, adding a squirt of water every so often until tender but not brown— just enough to keep the veggies from sticking, not enough to “stew” them.)

Add the remaining 2 tsp. Earth Balance to a large nonstick skillet. When hot, add the sliced mushrooms and sprinkle with salt. Sauté at high heat, not leaving the stove, until the bottoms of the mushrooms start to brown. Add a splash of water now and then just to prevent dryness and keep the mushrooms moving, but not too much. Cook until the mushrooms are browned on both sides. Set aside.

Before serving:
Blend the "cream" ingredients in a blender until smooth. It helps to make the cashews creamy if the nondairy milk is hot when you blend it, but leave the removable center of the blender lid off and cover it with a folded tea towel while blending, to prevent the hot steam from causing an explosion!

When the soup has cooked for 30 minutes, puree the soup with the "cream" until very smooth. I used a hand immersion blender right in the pot. If you have to use a blender, follow the directions in the paragraph above, to avoid explosions of hot liquid, and you may have to do it in two batches.Taste for salt and add freshly-ground black pepper to taste.

To serve:
Ladle the soup into attractive bowls. Top each bowl with a couple of tablespoons of the cooked barley, a few golden mushrooms, and a little pile of the leek greens. Serve with a pepper grinder on the side.

Servings: 5

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 260.9 calories; 31% calories from fat; 9.4g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 360.2mg sodium; 537.7mg potassium; 39.7g carbohydrates; 7.4g fiber; 7.4g sugar; 32.3g net carbs; 7.7g protein; 5.2 points.

Enjoy!
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Sunday, October 15, 2006

EATING SPREE IN VANCOUVER

Best Blog Tips We've just returned from four days in Vancouver. We went to see Bob Dylan in concert Wednesday night, which was great! I expected the audience to be all "old fogies" like us, but there were plenty of teenagers there!

We were also visiting with lots of family, including my youngest daughter and youngest grandchild, who we haven't seen since April. He's 2 1/2, and he's getting so big, and talking and counting! He's such a happy little guy!

I forgot my digital camera on this trip! What a dummy! So, I couldn't take pictures of all the food! But, I gathered some photos that look pretty much like some of the dishes we ate.

Of course, we ate way too much, since we stayed with my cousin Chris and his partner Roxanne who live near Commercial Drive. "The Drive", as it's called, is a hotbed of ethnic restaurants and markets!

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"The Drive"

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Chris and Roxanne's beautiful house (taken before the garden was put in!)

The first day we had a fantastic and cheap lunch at a little Syrian felafel joint-- wonderful felafel on pita with lots of veggies, tahini sauce and hot sauce, dolma, tabbouleh (with tons of parsley), and hommous.

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Dolma (rice-stuffed grape leaves)

We ate Japanese before the concert-- veggie gyoza and a tofu-soba noodle soup with "green roll" sushi (asparagus rolls wrapped in paper-thin avocado) for me; gyoza and veggie yaki-soba (sort a a stir-fried noodle dish) for Brian.

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Gyoza or Potstickers

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"green roll" sushi

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Yakisoba

We were downtown on Thursday. My cousin treated us to the movie "Mystic India" at the IMAX theatre, and also a 3-D movie about ocean creatures-- pretty astounding..made me seasick, though! Afterwards, we were standing on a corner trying to decide where to eat lunch. Contrary to the popular opinion that city people aren't helpful, an elegantly dressed Chinese woman stopped to ask if we needed help and then proceeded to tell us where some good eateries were. While this was happening, another young woman in business clothes stopped and asked, "Are you all right?" and then she and the elegant lady discussed restaurants for us some more!

We took their advice and went to a little Greek place-- really busy and cute. I had a wonderful, chunky vegetable minestrone soup. Everyhing was kind of spicy-- I think because the cooks were Indian!

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We ate in that night at my cousin's house, hosting his daughter Myriah and her partner James, and my daughter Justine and her son. Roxanne and Brian went down to Olivieri's market on The Drive and got fresh crusty bread, fresh spaghetti and marinara sauce, wonderful olives, pestos, marinated eggplant, and tapenade. (And Brian got me a few boxes of my favorite Star Brand Italian porcini mushroom bouillon cubes). With the pasta, Roxanne made a great salad of organic baby greens, pears, pecans and poppy seeds.

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Tapenade (olive spread)

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Marinated eggplant

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The pasta looked just like this!

Friday morning I didn't think I'd ever be be hungry again, and I had tea and toast for breakfast. But, that night we had a family meal at the Bo Kong, a Chinese Buddhist vegetarian restaurant on Main and 14th that we love (and so do all the omnis in our group!). It's huge and has a huge menu, too. There were 12 of us, I think, there. My peruvian cousin, Charo, came, and Justine, George and the little guy, three of my cousins on my mother's side, and some cousins of those cousins, who are good friends. Unfortunately, my sister Karin and her family couldn't make it. They have big round tables there where we can all fit, and Chinese families are just as noisy as we are, so we don't have to whisper! We had a wonderful, noisy meal of: (these were all vegan dishes, BTW)

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Spring Rolls

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Wonton Soup

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Spicy Green Beans

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Mock orange "Chicken" Cutlets

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Deep Fried Oyster Mushrooms with pepper and chili in the batter

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Chinese broccoli (gailan)

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Beancurd skin rolls (yuba) in black bean sauce

We also had a wonderful dish called "Spinach Noodles with Pan-Fried Vegetables".

During the day today, we had gone shopping at my friends Kiriakis and Paula's big Greek and Middle Eastern market, The Parthenon. I stocked up on gigantes (giant lima beans), orange flower water and a few other things. We had a quick light lunch at "Green Ginger", a little hole-in-the-wall place (but very nicely decorated) on Broadway specializing in fair trade, organic foods and spices, mostly vegan. I had a really nice jerk tofu rice bowl, and Brian had an Indonesian rice bowl with peanut sauce (both with organic brown rice), and then we shared a vegan cashew-apple bar. Coincidentally (since we just happened on the place), it was run by the son of one of our neighbors on Denman Island!

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I was groaning one morning to my cousin about eating too much, and he said, "That's what you do on these visits-- see family and eat!" And he's right!

Cheers!
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Sunday, October 8, 2006

BAKING FOR CANADIAN THANKSGIVING

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Sheaf of Wheat Bread

NOTE: I'll be away from my computer until Sunday the 14th!

This is a quick one-- I'm stealing time from my cooking (we're having our family meal today at my son's house) to blog! The photo above is a bread I usually make but did not get around to this year! I'm slipping!

The photo below is of my two vegan pumpkin pies and an apple pie made with some freshly-picked tart apples that a friend gave me. I made them last night for today's dinner.

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL MY CANADIAN FRIENDS! I'll post more pictures tommorrow!

PICTURES BELOW ADDED CANADIAN THANKSGIVING DAY, OCT. 9, 2006:

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Tofu Pot Pie and vegan bread stuffing

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Slice of my vegan Pumpkin Pie (no tofu involved!)

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Stuffing patties with vegan Rich Brown Gravy and Orange Cranberry Sauce for breakfast this morning!

SOME PHOTOS FROM OUR EARLIER PERUVIAN-STYLE VEGAN THANKSGIVING DINNER WITH FRIENDS (a test run for Vegan Feast newsletter recipes coming up in the next issue!):

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The dinner, minus the Peruvian-style rice and dessert-- clockwise from top left: Salpicon, a lemony cabbage salad with Breast of Tofu; the causa (see below); the "turkey" (see below); the Port Gravy; and the Peruvian red onion and chili relish in the center.

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The "turkey" roulade with the Peruvian-style spicy-fruity-"meaty" stuffing

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The Causa, a Peruvian cold potato terrine, this time with an artichoke stuffing and a top layer of purple potatoes

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Good friend and taster Jerry ready to go to work on the dinner!

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The Dessert: Chocolate-Hazelnut Praline Lava Cakes!

Enjoy!
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Tuesday, October 3, 2006

PASTA AL POMODORO CRUDO (PASTA WITH RAW TOMATO SAUCE)

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Can't let summer or early autumn go by without making this dish with some fresh tomatoes and basil! We has this for a quick lunch yesterday. I didn't have any plum tomatoes, so just used what I had, straight from the garden. As you can see, I used whole wheat farfale, or bowtie pasta. (You need a pasta with some surfaces to catch the juices.)

BRYANNA'S PASTA AL POMODORO CRUDO (PASTA WITH RAW TOMATO SAUCE)
Serves 4-6
From my book "Nonna's Italian Kitchen".

This is one of the fastest and most delicious recipes in the book (sort of an Italian salsa cruda), but you must have good, ripe tomatoes (preferably Italian plum tomatoes) and fresh basil-- save this for late summer meals.

1 lb. rotelle, fusilli, rigati, farfale, rigatone, or radiatore pasta
(regular or whole wheat)
6 cloves garlic, peeled
6 T. chopped fresh basil
2 lb. ripe tomatoes (preferably plum-type), chunked
2-4 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
12 pitted black calamata olives

While the pasta cooks in a large pot of boiling, salted water, make the sauce. Place the garlic and basil in a food processor and pulse until chopped fine. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse quickly.

Drain the pasta and immediately toss with the uncooked sauce. Serve right away, with salad and maybe some crusty bread to mop up the juices. (Traditionally, this not eaten with any kind of cheese on it.)

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...Enjoy!
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