Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Best Blog Tips

Soup is the ultimate comfort food in most cultures. In Peru it is part of the their  culinary history and tradition, eaten at home as main dish, and even for breakfast. (I am partial to soup for breakfast, I must confess.)

It is estimated that there are around 2000 different soups in Peru. This amazing number reflects the three main geographical zones of Peru (the coast, the Andean highland and the jungle) and the fusion of influences from different times and immigrant cultures-- the indigenous people, the Inca Empire, the Spanish,  Africans, Italians, Chinese, and Japanese.

As many of you know, my late father, Alejandro Jaime Urbina, was Peruvian.

Peruvians love their soups, and he was no exception.  I've been veganizing Peruvian recipes for a few years now-- slowly, I grant you.  This soup, very common in Peru, with many versions, is my latest.  I see Italian influences here-- the pasta and the fact that it is sometimes served with Parmesan cheese.  (Italians are the 2nd largest European population in Peru-- my paternal grandmother was Italian-Peruvian.)  Sopa de Frijoles is usually made with pork, but there is no need for meat to make a delicious stew-like soup in the Peruvian spirit.

Printable Recipe

6 servings
Peruvian yellow beans are also known as Peruano beans, and they are the same as Mexican yellow beans ( canary/canario beans or mayocoba beans). Their cousin, the pinto bean, makes a good substitute.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp dark sesame oil
2 cups  cubed seitan, OR reconstituted Soy Curls OR textured soy protein chunks (See Tips below for reconstituting)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2 Tbsp dried oregano leaves
1 tsp ground cumin
3 cups  cooked or canned Peruvian or Mexican yellow beans, or pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup diced peeled raw orange winter squash (or orange sweet potato, if you have no winter squash)
4 cups  boiling water
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
2 tsp flavorful vegan "chicken-style" broth powder or paste (or equivalent cubes for 2 cups) (my favorite in Better Than Bouillon No-Chicken Broth Paste)
2 tsp flavorful vegan vegetable or "Beefy" broth powder or paste (or equivalent cubes for 2 cups) (my favorite in Better Than Bouillon Vegetable or No-Beef Broth Paste)
2 tsp Sriracha hot sauce
2 tsp dark sesame oil
1 tsp liquid smoke
1  tsp salt
4 oz dry tubular pasta-- penne is the preferred variety

In a large pot, heat the olive oil and sesame oil.  Add the seitan or alternate and sauté quickly until browned a bit. Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon.

Add the chopped onion, garlic, tomato, oregano and cumin.  Sauté over medium-high heat for several minutes, adding a bit of water as necessary to keep from sticking, until the onion has softened a bit.

Add the drained beans and the squash cubes, and all of the Broth Ingredients.  Stir well.  Bring to a boil, then turn down, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

While the soup simmers, cook the pasta in boiling water for about 8 minutes, or until al dente.  Drain and set aside.

After the 30 minutes are up, add the drained, cooked pasta to the soup. Taste for seasoning and serve with chopped fresh parsley or cilantro.  Some people serve some parmesan on the side. I didn't bother, but, if I did, I would use Go Veggie! Soy Parmesan sub.

NOTE: This is traditionally served with boiled yucca or yellow potato chunks, and/or cooked plantain and sweet potato, but the soup is so hearty that I didn't think it needed any accompaniment.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 331 calories, 64 calories from fat, 7.2g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 973.1mg sodium, 652.9mg potassium, 48.7g carbohydrates, 10.4g fiber, 4.7g sugar, 20.7g protein.


For 1 1/2 cups dry textured soy protein chunks (the amount you need for this recipe), bring to a boil in a medium saucepan:

3 cups water
3 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp ketchup or tomato paste
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
Add the soy protein chunks and turn dow to a simmer.  Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes, or til tender.  Drain.

For 1 1/2 cups dry Soy Curls:
Use the same broth as above, but you will need only half the amount.  You need only pour the boiling broth over the Soy Curls and let them soak for 5 minutes, then drain.
NOTE: You can reconstitute 3 cups of Soy Curls with the whole recipe fro the broth above and then freeze half of the drained, reconstituted Soy Curls for another meal.

¡Buen Provecho!

Monday, September 14, 2015


Best Blog Tips

This weekend I had to use up some ripe pears and plums that came our way, but I didn't want to make anything too rich and laden with fat and sugar.  

With the prune plums I had, I decided to make one of our favorite treats, which I mentioned on this blog before-- plum focaccia.  It does have sugar in it, but very little-- just a bit sprinkled on top of the fruit to bring out the juices as it bakes.

I made a HUGE focaccia one this time-- in  a 17" x 12" rimmed baking sheet.  I usually make fruit focaccia with my Crusty Artisan Bread dough from my book "World Vegan Feast", but I decided to try making a no-knead dough out of the Apulian Potato Focaccia recipe from that same book. This amounted to simply adding 1 1/3 cups more water to the dough, letting it rise for a few hours on the kitchen counter, then refrigerating it for a few more hours before using.

I spread the mass of dough over the oiled baking sheet to fit and then preheated the oven to 475 degrees F while I pitted and quartered the plums and arranged them in rows over the dough.  So the dough only rose for about 20 minutes before going into the hot oven.  I sprinkled organic unbleached granulated sugar liberally over the plums and baked it for about 30 minutes. 

Unfortunately, I think there was too much dough for the pan-- it rose well, but I found the focaccia too thick and not crispy enough around the edges.  I probably should have just made the kneaded version, or I could have divided the dough into two thinner focaccia in two smaller baking sheets. (Mind you, we have had no problem eating this delicious treat, even if it isn't perfection!)

In any case, if you want to try this, I have made it many times before using various no-knead pizza doughs and crusty bread doughs.  Next time, I am going to make it with one of my whole-grain flatbread doughs (see this post  [3/4 whole wheat] and this one [100% whole wheat])-- both make great pizza, so focaccia should be no problem! 


With the ripe pears that needed to be used, I decided on a light sorbet, but it had to be a simple one because I didn't have any liqueur or cider, or even wine, in the house, which I like to add to fruit sorbets.

I used less sugar than I normally do because the pears were quite sweet, and I added some orange juice that I had in the freezer as part of the liquid.  The resulting sorbet has a clean, simple taste that we enjoyed, and I hope you will, too.

Printable Recipe

Servings: 10
Yield: 5 cups
This so easy and it's the perfect way to use up excess ripe pears without lots of calories and fat!
NOTE: You could use 3/4 cup sugar instead of 1/2 cup if you prefer sweeter, and you can achieve a more pronounced orange flavor if you use the optional orange zest and/or orange liqueur.

3 cups peeled, cored, diced ripe pears
1 cup orange juice
1 cup water
1/2 cup light organic granulated sugar
3 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp guar or xanthan gum
1 Tbs grated orange zest
1 Tbs orange or pear liqueur

Puree all of the ingredients in a blender until very smooth. Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it according to directions for your machine.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per 1/2 cup serving):
 80 calories, less than 1 calorie from fat,less than1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 1.3mg sodium, 115.7mg potassium, 20.8g carbohydrates, 1.7g fiber, 17g sugar, less than 1g protein.


Saturday, September 5, 2015


Best Blog Tips

So, just in case you haven't heard, that pantry standby for many classic dishes,  standard Worcestershire Sauce (audio pronunciation: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b9/En-Worcester_sauce.ogg ), such as French's and Lea&Perrin's is NOT vegan or vegetarian-- it contains anchovies.

Garum was a fermented fish sauce (lots of umami!)which was both a staple of Greco-Roman cuisine and important to the Mediterranean economy of the Roman Empire. The fourth/fifth-century Roman culinary text Apicius includes garum in its recipes. The use of similar fermented anchovy sauces in Europe, including the British Isles, can be traced back as recently as the 17th century. The Lea & Perrins brand was commercialized in 1837 and is still the leading global brand of Worcestershire sauce.

Worcestershire Sauce can enhance, brighten, and round out flavors in many a dish that is good, but "missing something".  It's especially good in "meaty" vegan dishes like stews, gravies, chili, shepherd's pie, veggie burgers and meatless loaves, seitan pot roast, etc., and, of course in barbecue sauces, V-8 juice or anything else tomato-ey, and Bloody Mary's, if that's your thing.

There are vegan brands-- Annie's Naturals, EarthFare Organic, The Wizard's Organic Saucery, Biona,  Edward & Sons, and maybe more that I don't know about-- but I can't find any of these in my area.  So, many years ago, I devised this recipe.  I hope you'll give it a try-- it only takes a few minutes of your time and contains simple, inexpensive ingredients that most of us have around. (BTW, I purposely left out tamarind paste because I know that it's hard for some folks to find.)

Printable Recipe
Makes about 1 2/3 cups
Simple, quick, easy, delicious and complex.  This recipe is from my very first cookbook, "The Almost No-Fat Cookbook".

1 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup dark molasses
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1/2 tablespoon dry mustard powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and bring it to a boil. Remove from the heat and pour it into a sterilized pint jar or a clean 375 ml/12.7 oz. beer or cider bottle with a tight lid or cap. Store in the refrigerator.  Shake before using. It will keep for a long time!