Tuesday, May 24, 2016


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On May 12th I gave a vegan Peruvian cooking class for 14 people in Nanaimo, BC, which is about an hour south of where I live (Denman Island), but on the "Big island" (Vancouver Island).  Kelli Etheridge, of Stir Cooking School in Lantzville, BC, organized the class, and it was her friend Kimberley Plumley who suggested me-- so thank you, Kelli and Kimberley!  The class was held in the lovely mezzanine teaching kitchen at Lucky's Liquor Store in Nanaimo and I couldn't have done it without the help of the ebullient and tireless Jodie Robertshaw, Lucky's event and marketing coordinator (who also did all the dishes!!!).

I made a 4-course vegan Peruvian summer meal.  Only 3 of the participants were vegan, but everyone seemed to enjoy the vegan food.  The fresh Peruvian flavors certainly won them over! Jodie served her choices of craft beer and ale, each chosen to complement one of the courses.  I was impressed by her choices!

The first course was Causa:
a unique and delicious Peruvian cold salad that can be described as sort of cold terrine, with layers of savory, chili-laced vegetable filling and potatoes mashed in a garlicky lemon dressing. I like to use different colors of potatoes, if I can, but it wasn't the right time of the year for purple or blue potatoes. The recipe is in my book "World Vegan Feast".  Here is one of the terrines I made that night, and below that is a compilation of other Causa I have made in the past:

The second course was Salpicón De Tofu con Col (Peruvian-Style Crispy Marinated Tofu Slices and Cabbage Salad).  Below is the recipe, with a description and photos:

Printable Recipe

Serves 4
This unusual cabbage salad (pronounced sal-pee-kohn day tofu kohn kohl) is not only delicious, filling and refreshing-- it's inexpensive and beautiful. Crispy fingers of pan-fried tofu cover a lemony wilted cabbage salad surrounded by colorful chunks of corn and sweet potatoes. It’s hard to describe just how terrific this salad is—suffice it to say that there’s never any left when I serve it. To keep the sodium down level down, I blanch the cabbage rather than the traditional method of wilting it with salt. We make this often for guests (this recipe is easily doubled). This recipe is a slight variation on the one in my book "World Vegan Feast".

12 Crispy Marinated Tofu Slices (I call this "Breast of Tofu"; recipe here)
1/4 cup aquafaba or Fat-Free Oil Substitute for Salad Dressings
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 small clove garlic, crushed
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
3 cups thinly-sliced or shredded Savoy cabbage
1 medium red bell pepper, in matchsticks
1 small carrot, peeled, in matchsticks
1 small sweet or red onion, peeled and thinly sliced (if you only have ordinary yellow cooking onions, see the Tip below) 
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill  (or 1 teaspoon dried dill weed) 
1 small steamed or baked orange sweet potato, peeled and sliced into 4 pieces (cold or at room temperature) 
12  Kalamata olives or Peruvian Alfonso olives
1 ripe Hass avocado, pitted, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes, tossed in 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Chunks of cooked corn on the cob

Whisk the Dressing ingredients together in a small bowl with a whisk. Set aside. Blanch the cabbage for about 1 minute in a large pot of boiling water-- just until wilted. Transfer it to a colander and rinse well under cold running water. Drain well.

Mix the cabbage, onion, bell pepper, carrot, dill and Dressing well. Mound on a platter and surround with Garnishes. Cut the Crispy Marinated Tofu Slices into matchsticks and arrange on top of the salad. Serve cold or at room temperature.
#1) If You Have No Sweet Onion or Red Onion: Use an ordinary yellow cooking onion, but peel and slice it paper-thin. Transfer it to a bowl and cover it with boiling water. Let it sit for about 5 minutes, then drain and rinse it, then drain again. This removes the sharp raw onion flavor.

The third course-- the main course-- was my vegan version of Anticuchos, which are spicy West-African influenced Peruvian kebabs, served at every big gathering and purchased from street vendors to be consumed right on the sidewalk. Homemade seitan chunks make a wonderful animal-friendly substitute for these kebabs-- it's the spicy marinade and sauce that really makes the dish. Traditionally, these are served with chunks of cooked sweet potato and corn on the cob. The recipe is in my book "World Vegan Feast".  Here's a photo that Kelli took of one skewer of Anticuchos atop a mound of Salpicon:

The fourth course-- dessert-- was vegan Lucuma Ice Cream.  Lucuma is a Peruvian fruit that has a rather dry texture and is not really eaten as a fruit, but it has a "butterscotch-y" flavor and makes terrific ice cream. It's used in shakes, too.  I remember having the ice cream often while visiting Peru as a child.  It is now easy to find dried powdered lucuma in health food stores, as it is now used as natural sugar substitute by some folks.  The powder works well in ice cream-- fortunately, because it's hard to find either the fruit or frozen pulp where I live. You can find my recipe here: http://veganfeastkitchen.blogspot.ca/2012/08/take-3-of-vegan-peruvian-lucuma-ice.html  Here is a compilation of photos of various versions of this recipe as I was developing it:

My father was Alejandro Jaime Urbina. Here's a photo of his family in Lima, Peru, when we were visiting from the USA in 1954.  My sister and I are seated in the front center, on either side of a young cousin. (I'm on the left and my sister, Karin on the right.  My Abuelita (grandmother), Clotilde Urbina de Roncagliolo,  is right behind me, and my mother is behind the young cousin.  My father is standing behind my mother. (Click on the picture if you want to see a larger version.)

Here are some photos from the class and also pics of the food from a couple of days later at home, when we had the leftovers for dinner with a friend:


Sunday, May 8, 2016


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I haven't made Jambalaya for ages and I had a craving for it today, so, guess what we had for dinner?  I wanted to make a spicy Cajun jambalaya that doesn't contain the tomatoes used in the Creole version. I had all of the major ingredients for a vegan version at hand. In Cajun jambalaya, protein and vegetables are cooked separately from the rice, which is cooked in a savory stock. The rice is added to the protein and vegetables before serving. It's called a  "white jambalaya." (We could call this one a "brown Jambalaya", since it's made with brown rice.)  This version works best with brown rice, in my opinion, because the brown rice needs a longer cooking time and if you cook everything together, it might get a bit soggy.

In any case, it worked well, we loved it, devoured it, and were very happy that there is enough left for lunch tomorrow.

NOTE: This dish is easy and fast to put together just before you eat if you treat it  as you would a Chinese stir-fry-- which means, have all of the ingredients prepped and ready before you start cooking. For convenience, you can cook the rice the day before or earlier in the day, if you wish.

Printable Recipe

Servings: 5
NOTE: If you can't find Cajun Spice Mix/Seasoning, there are many recipes online for making your own.

1 1/2 cups long grain brown rice (preferably Basmati or jasmine)
2 1/4 cups vegan chicken-style broth (I like Better than Bouillon No-Chicken Vegan Broth base)
1  Tbsp dark sesame oil
1 vegan chorizo-style sausage (such as Field Roast Chipotle), crumbled
1 mildly spicy vegan sausage (such as Tofurky Andouille or Italian, or Field Roast Italian), thinly sliced
1/2 cup vegan "ham", diced small
2 medium onions, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped (or use 1/2 a green pepper and 1/2 a red bell pepper)
1/2 cup celery, chopped, with leaves
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. Cajun Seasoning/Spice Mix
3/4 cup vegan chicken-style broth (I like Better than Bouillon No-Chicken Vegan Broth base)
1 cup shredded or thinly-sliced vegan chicken substitute, such as reconstituted Butler Soy Curls, or vegan chicken-style strips, or vegan "chikn brest"
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried thyme
4 green onions, whites and tops, chopped

Bring the brown rice and 2 1/4 cups broth to a boil in a medium pot.  Turn down to Low, cover and cook for 45 minutes. OR, to cook the rice in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot, cook on high pressure for 22 minutes and use natural pressure release.  Set aside. PS: You can make the rice earlier in the day, if it's more convenient.

Prepare all of the other ingredients before you start assembling the dish.

In a large heavy skillet, or flat-bottomed wok/stir-fry pan, heat the sesame oil over medium-high heat.  Add the crumbled "chorizo" sausage and stir-fry for a few minutes.

Add the vegan "ham", chopped onions, green pepper, celery, garlic and Cajun or Creole seasoning.  Stir-fry until the onion has softened a bit, raising the heat as needed, adding a squirt or two of water if necessary to loosen any stuck bits, and keeping the mixture moving.

Add the cooked rice, the remaining 3/4 cup broth, shredded chicken sub, bay leaf, and thyme. Stir well to mix. Turn the heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, stir in the green onions.  Serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 467 calories, 91 calories from fat, 10.2g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 1153.9mg sodium, 596.6mg potassium, 59.9g carbohydrates, 7.6g fiber, 6g sugar, 36.3g protein, 12.7 points.