Monday, March 19, 2007


Best Blog Tips

Vegan Irish Stew and Colcannon
With a name like Grogan, you've probably guessed that my husband is Irish (well, half-Irish, and half-Scottish). His request this year was my vegan Irish stew with dark Irish ale or stout in it. (see below about vegan beers, stouts, and ales.) The recipe from my book "The Almost No-Fat Holiday Cookbook" (Update: you can get the recipe here). This time I had an organic turnip, so I used that in the stew (you can use parsnips instead, if you like), along with mushrooms and carrots, and I used textured soy protein (TVP) chunks for the "meat" (but you could use seitan chunks instead). I served it with Colcannon (recipe below), a traditional dish of mashed potatoes with cabbage or kale added (I only had savoy cabbage in the house, so that's what I used, along with some green onion). My version is almost fat-free and very delicious with the gravy from the stew.

For dessert
, we had an Irish Apple Bread Pudding (also from my Holiday cookbook and also low-fat-- RECIPE HERE)...

with Brown Sugar/Whiskey Sauce and my vegan Poured Custard (see recipe below). (You can leave out the whiskey, but it's traditional. I only had about 1 1/2 Tbs. left in one of those mini-bottles, but that was enough to spark up the sauce!)


Printable Recipe
Adapted from a recipe in my book, "The Almost No-Fat Holiday Cookbook".

There are many variations of traditional Irish Colcannon. Besides the cabbage or kale suggested here, mashed parsnips, onions or green onions are used in some parts of Ireland. It's delicious, especially when served with the gravy from vegetarian stew, instead of the usual melted butter. (The nutritional analysis was done without the optional Earth Balance)

3 lbs russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
2 lbs kale, or green cabbage or Savoy cabbage
2 cups vegetarian "chicken-style" broth
1 Tbs Earth Balance or olive oil (optional)
2 cups minced leeks or green onions
3/4 cup non-dairy milk
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the potatoes into chunks and boil in water to cover until tender, but not mushy.

Meanwhile, wash and trim the kale or cabbage, discarding any tough stems. Chop it and braise it in the broth for 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain it and gently squeeze out the liquid by pressing with the back of a large spoon. At the same time, in a nonstick skillet sprayed with oil from a pump-sprayer, steam-fry the leeks until softened, adding drops of water as needed to keep from sticking, OR saute in the Earth Balance.

Drain the potatoes well and mash with a potato masher. Beat in the soymilk; then the cooked kale or cabbage, and leeks or green onions. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve hot with vegan stew or gravy.

Servings: 8

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving):
188.1 calories; 2% calories from fat; 0.5g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 44.2mg sodium; 934.0mg potassium; 42.9g carbohydrates; 6.4g fiber; 6.7g sugar; 36.5g net carbs; 5.6g protein; 3.0 points.

Printable Recipe

Servings: 6
Yield: 3 cups

This is a rich-tasting custard. You can serve it chilled in pudding dishes for dessert, topped with fruit, or use it as a hot sauce poured over bread pudding or cake.

6.15 ounces (1/2 a 12.3 ounce box) extra-firm SILKEN tofu (reduced-fat, if you like)
2 cups water
4 3/4 tablespoons plain custard powder, plain (see below recipe for where to purchase),
OR cornstarch plus a pinch of Spanish saffron
1/2 cup organic sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix all the ingredients except the vanilla in a blender until smooth.

Pour into a medium nonstick saucepan and stir over high heat until thickened. Whisk in the vanilla.
OR microwave:
at full power in a microwavable bowl for 3 minutes. Whisk the mixture. Microwave 2 minutes more. Whisk well. Whisk in the vanilla.

If serving cold, pour into 6 custard dishes, cover and chill. Or, pour the mixture hot over cakes or bread puddings.

NOTE: You can also purchase custard powder in gourmet food stores that sell international foods.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per 1/2 cup serving):
110.7 calories; 3% calories from fat; 0.4g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 137.4mg sodium; 33.7mg potassium; 23.0g carbohydrates; 0.1g fiber; 16.9g sugar; 23.0g net carbs; 4.1g protein; 2.2 points.



Two people have written to me saying that they saw nutrition information about Bird's custard powder that indicated that it contained milk.

The powder does not contain milk or milk proteins. The CUSTARD someone makes from it might contain milk products, if it's stirred into dairy milk to make the custard, but you can use soymilk or nut milk (and trust me, rice milk does not work!). I think the nutrition info they saw was for the cooked custard made with milk.

The following is from

"Allergen Information

Does Not Contain:
Nut, Gluten, Wheat, Egg, Fish, Lactose, Sesame, Peanut, Celery, Mustard, Soya, Shellfish, Milk, Sulphites, Phenylalanine, Oats

Cornflour, Salt, Colour (Annatto), Flavouring."

And that is exactly what it says on the can of it I have in my cupboard. You have to add milk-- dairy or non-dairy-- and sweetener. It's not like a cocoa powder mix where you just add water.

If you don't believe me, here's an article on it from a British newspaper:

"...So what happened to Bird's? The answer is nothing. It's still there on the supermarket shelf, boasting the 'original homemade taste". This is nothing special – the complete list of ingredients is "Cornflour, Salt, Colour (annatto), Flavouring'. Sampled for the first time in maybe 40 years, it was unobjectionable, two-dimensional, unchanged."


In the book mentioned above, I call for Guinness Stout in the stew. I later learned that Guinness is not vegan. UPDATE: And, hooray! Guinness is vegan now!)

Why isn’t alcohol necessarily vegan?

Wine is clarified, or cleared, after fermentation. Some of the ingredients used include:
- edible gelatins (made from bones)
- isinglass (made from the swim bladders of fish)
- casein and potassium caseinate (milk proteins)
- animal albumin (egg albumin and dried blood powder)
In the UK beer (bitter) is also commonly fined using isinglass. Many bottled bitters and most lagers are vegan. Guinness is not suitable for vegans. Most spirits are vegan except for Campari (contains cochineal) and some Vodkas (passed through bone charcoal).

The best resource for finding vegan wines, beers and other alcoholic beverages is

From the UK Vegan Society: links to how different alcoholic beverages are made and vegan brands

Australian site with a very comprehensive list of alcoholic beverages, marking those suitable for vegans



Anonymous said...

Thanks Bryanna! We also had Irish Stew, made with Seitan. It was really good. Also, Irish soda bread made with some soy milk "fermented" I guess you'd say with vinegar to make buttermilk. Made chunky mashed potatoes, but I always tell people, for bread-spreading or table use I much prefer the taste of Smart Balance Light Spread. It really tastes delicious, but watch out the non-Light version is not vegan.

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

I've heard good things about Smart Balance light-- alas, we can't get it in Canada!

Unknown said...

Wow! The photo looks really delicious. I love colcannon. The Irish make another dish (champ) that's similar, but it's not nearly as good nutritionally (although I've read recipes that call for dulse in champ which is kind of interesting).

The Yves beef chunks are also fun for that kind of stew. Their beef skewers might also provide an interesting alternative to the TVP.

Anyhow, I usually make mine with wilted kale instead of the cabbage (everyone I cook for prefers kale to cabbage, but I like the cabbage variation). If I'm feeling really energetic, I'll bake it in ramekins with nutritional yeast (so, more like bubble and squeak).

Maybe next St. Pat's I'll make colcannon with some purple fingerlings and kale for the colour.

Twisted Cinderella said...

Looks wonderful I have never had colcannon but it sounds like something I would love. Prince charming loves all things Scottish and Irish, so that would be a hit with him too! I have saved both recipes, thanks so much!

Sheree' said...

Your Irish meal looks fantastic! My daughter and I were just talking about bread pudding. She is going to be happy about your recipe!

KleoPatra said...

Bryanna, great great stuff. Such an enlightening post. And the food... SO GOOD!!