Monday, October 26, 2009

Soup for dinner (two ways)!

I am not able to take any credit for this recipe, but it is a fabulous example of a vegetarian soup that is so flavorful and hearty that you really cannot miss meat in the meal. The recipe is from Julie Sahni's Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking; this book is quite interesting as she goes beyond just recipes and expounds on a lot of the food-related culture along with menu suggestions. It was published in 1985, but good food never goes out of style in my opinion. The original recipe does call for light cream or milk, but I like to use fat free evaporated milk for the creaminess, just a little bit lighter. You could easily substitute plain soymilk or the like, as well as olive oil for the ghee, to make this lactose-intolerant or vegan-friendly. I love the flavor of ghee, but the curry lends so much flavor that you really would not miss the ghee here.

This soup is so simple to prepare and all you really need is a salad to go with, bread or other sides are optional. The first night we had some veggie samosas (from the freezer) and a green salad. Tonight we had leftovers over some rice - the soup thickens up a bit so it is more like a dal or stew - with a green salad.

Cream of Curried Vegetable and Split Pea Soup Recipe

Makes 6 servings

4 T ghee
1 T curry powder (My favorite is Penzeys Spices' Sweet Curry powder - not spicy at all but wonderful flavor)
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup carrots, finely chopped
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
1 cup water
3/4 cup fresh tomatoes, finely pureed (or 1/2 cup canned tomato puree)
3 cups cooked split peas
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tsp coarse salt, or to taste
1/2 cup fat free evaporated milk
  1. Heat the ghee in a 3 or 4 quart deep pot over medium-high heat. When it is very hot, add the curry powder and immediately add the onion, carrots, and celery. Saute the vegetables, stirring often to ensure that they brown evenly, for 5 minutes. Add 1 cup water, the tomatoes, split peas, pepper and salt. Cover and cook over low heat until the vegetables are tender (10 minutes). Add enough milk to mellow and velvetize the soup as well as thin it.

  2. Heat the soup thoroughly and serve garnished with chopped fresh coriander (cilantro), if desired.

Read more (and for nutrition info):

If you need some help on how to cook the split peas, check out
It really doesn't take too long, and you can always cook up a larger batch and throw some in the freezer for another day. Alternatively, cook up what you need for the soup a day in advance to make the prep even faster when you are ready to make the soup.
Check out Julie Sahni's book for many more delicious-sounding vegetarian recipes. She also has a number of other Indian cookbooks, both vegetarian and non.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Sadly it's been awhile, in large part to the relative lack of cooking that had been going on in our household. A couple of busy weeks led to too much eating out or quick throw-together meals that were fairly standard and unexciting (i.e. a lot of pasta). However, yesterday I finally got around to a couple of recipes I'd wanted to try in honor of Oktoberfest. Better late than never? Anyway, here goes!

Knefla Soup
About 6 servings.

Adapted from Knefla Soup I by Sue H. from Yummy potato soup with homemade noodles.

4 potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 onions, chopped
1 carrot, sliced
5 tsp chicken-flavored boullion
1 T dried parsley
7 cups water
Ground black pepper, to taste

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1 cup skim milk
1 (12 oz) can evaporated skim milk

6 tsp. Artificial "bacon" bits to garnish, optional

In a large stock pot combine potatoes, onion, carrot, celery, bouillon, parsley, water, and ground black pepper to taste. Simmer until vegetables become tender.

In a separate bowl mix 2 c flour, egg, salt and milk. Mix until dough is formed - adding flour as needed - and form into long strips by rolling into "snakes". Cut into bite-size pieces into soup pot. Let simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove from heat, add evaporated milk, stir and serve. Sprinkle on "bacon" bits, if desired.

Vegetarian Bierocks Recipe

Makes 20 servings (if you can eat just one)

German buns with vegetarian "beef" and cabbage filling.

If you're intimidated by the idea of making the dough, you can substitute 2 - 1lb loaves of frozen bread dough, and thaw them. Skip the dough prep up to dividing into pieces and rolling them out. Or, if you use old-fashioned yeast instead of Rapid Rise you should first dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand, then mix the other dough ingredients together using 1/2 the flour, add the yeast. When smooth add the remaining flour as usual. You'll need to let it rise 1 hour before forming buns, and rising time before baking might be longer.

cups warm water
ounce active dry yeast (Rapid Rise)
cup white sugar
cup butter, softened
teaspoons salt
cups all-purpose flour
cups white whole wheat flour
cup textured vegetable protein (tvp) flakes
beef flavored boullion cube
tablespoon olive oil
onion, diced
red bell pepper, diced
cloves garlic
head green cabbage, (medium size) shredded
tablespoons vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
tablespoons melted butter

  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown. Brush with remaining butter and serve warm.

    1. To prepare the dough: in bowl of a stand mixer combine 4 cups of all-purpose flour and the whole wheat flour, sugar, salt and rapid-rise yeast. Melt butter and combine with warm water and egg. Slowly add to bowl with mixer running. Add enough of remaining flour as need to form dough, without being too stiff or too sticky. Dough should pull away from sides of bowl nicely. At this point, cover and let rest for 10 + minutes.

    2. Following directions for TVP, boil the correct amount of water and crumble in the boullion cube. Pour over TVP and allow to rehydrate. Heat a large skillet and add olive oil. Saute onion and garlic, when softening add red pepper, cabbage and rehydrated TVP. Cook until cabbage is softening and mix in worcestershire sauce. Allow to cool somewhat while forming buns.

    3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Uncover dough and punch down. Divide into 20 roughly even-sized piece. Roll out each piece into 4-6" circle. Place ~ 2 tablespoons of filling in center, and pinch edges together over filling (so you have a roughly round bun). Place pinched-side down on a greased baking sheet.
    4.  Once a sheet is filled, cover with a tea towel and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free area for 30 min - 1 hour. Test by lightly pressing two fingers into dough, if an indentation remains dough is properly risen.

    5. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown. Brush with remaining butter and serve warm.
    If you're interested in nutrition info, I added both of these to Calorie Count:

    Hubby Jon loved the soup, even without the "bacon" bits. I can't say I have had the original, authentic version of either of these, so if you have please let me know how these compare. Enjoy!

    Monday, September 21, 2009

    Getting groovy with grains

    Pardon the alliteration, I just couldn't resist. Check out this slideshow at FitSugar about some different grains that can be included in a healthy diet. I have experimented quite a bit with quinoa (and love it), and tried out millet and bulgar a few times. I will try to post some good recipes with these in the future. Quinoa in particular is GREAT for vegetarian meals; according to 1 cup of cooked quinoa has 222 calories, 8 g of protein, 5 g of dietary fiberand 15% daily value of iron. In addition, it is considered a "complete protein" meaning it provides all of the amino acids our bodies need.

    I have not yet done anything with farro, but I look forward to trying it out. I will share something yummy with you when I do! There has not been much cooking going on my kitchen recently because we had company for the Jewish holiday, Rosh Hashanah, and chose to go the easy route and get kosher catering. So it's been mostly heat-and-eat the last few days, a nice break! But more veg makeovers soon to come, I promise!

    Meanwhile, click over to Heidi at and check out her awesome sounding quinoa recipes. You can bet this one will be on my table in the near future! You can find more of her recipes using quinoa in various ways by scrolling down to the ingredient topics on the left, she has one dedicated to quinoa.

    Friday, September 18, 2009

    A recipe from Philly Daily News

    Kudos to Daily News on for talking about cutting down on meat consumption for environmental and health reasons. I haven't tried it yet, but the recipe sounds fabulous! Anything with portobello mushroom &/or avocado is a winner in my book. Let me know how you like it!
    Jill Wendholt Silva: Want to cut down on meat?

    Thursday, September 17, 2009

    "Faux Pho"

    My husband, Jon, gets credit for the name of this one, as well as the inspiration. He found the recipe we based this off of (as well as doing most of the cooking for it). We both love Asian food, and one of my favorite grocery stores is the local Asian market around the corner. There are a number of pho restaurants in the area near the market, but even though Jon eats meat he also keeps kosher so he can't just walk in there to get pho. So we decided to give it a try at home. 

    I have to double check the ingredients on the veg "oyster" sauce and packaged veg "beef", but I believe this recipe would also be vegan. It's a great comforting soup, and this could serve a good crowd. I look forward to making it again in the depths of winter to cheer me up (it makes the house smell great too). This recipe makes a large batch. I chose to go ahead and do the whole pot of broth and freeze about 2/3 of it for future meals. Since we are not using raw meat, it will be a pretty simple matter to make a couple of bowls of pho for a future meal. Or, if you don't feel like cooking for a crowd, just cut the amounts in half.

    I hope you enjoy this as much as we did. Let me know how it goes for you!

    Thanks to Andrea Nguyen for the original recipe: 

    My comments/changes are in red, the rest of the recipe is Andrea's work.

    "Beef Pho Noodle Soup"  Recipe (Pho bo)
    Makes 8 satisfying (American-sized) bowls
    For the broth:
    2 medium yellow onions (about 1 pound total)
    vegetarian "beef" boullion-style cubes (the appropriate amount for 6 quarts of water
    4-inch piece ginger (about 4 ounces)
    5 star anise (40 star points total)
    6 whole cloves
    3-inch cinnamon stick
    (Note: if you don't have all the spices on hand, or are just feeling lazy, I found a Pho spice mix at the Asian market in the spice aisle. It combines the above 3 ingredients, plus a couple, into something resembling a large tea bag. This makes it very easy to pull all the spices out before serving.)
    salt to taste - most boullion cubes are pretty salty, so be sure you taste before adding any!
    4 tablespoons vegetarian mushroom "oyster" sauce (this replaces the fish sauce, as I have yet to find a veg version of fish sauce)
    1 ounce (1-inch chunk) yellow rock sugar (duong phen; see Note)
    For the bowls:
    1  1/2-2 pounds small (1/8-inch wide) dried or fresh banh pho noodles ("rice sticks'' or Thai chantaboon)
    1 package soy vegetarian "beef" (I used Nature's Soy Vegetarian Beef, also from the Asian market)
    1 medium yellow onion, sliced paper-thin, left to soak for 30 minutes in a bowl of cold water
    3 or 4 scallions, green part only, cut into thin rings
    1/3 cup chopped cilantro (ngo)
    Ground black pepper
    Optional garnishes arranged on a plate and placed at the table:
    Sprigs of spearmint (hung lui) and Asian/Thai basil (hung que)
    Leaves of thorny cilantro (ngo gai)
    Bean sprouts (about 1/2 pound)
    Red hot chiles (such as Thai bird or dragon), thinly sliced
    Lime wedges
    Prepare the pho broth:
    Char onion and ginger. Use an open flame on grill or gas stove. Place onions and ginger on cooking grate and let skin burn. (If using stove, turn on exhaust fan and open a window.) After about 15 minutes, they will soften and become sweetly fragrant. Use tongs to occasionally rotate them and to grab and discard any flyaway onion skin. You do not have to blacken entire surface, just enough to slightly cook onion and ginger.
    Let cool. Under warm water, remove charred onion skin; trim and discard blackened parts of root or stem ends. If ginger skin is puckered and blistered, smash ginger with flat side of knife to loosen flesh from skin. Otherwise, use sharp paring knife to remove skin, running ginger under warm water to wash off blackened bits.
    Start the broth: Add 6 quarts water to pot, bring to boil over high heat, then lower flame to gently simmer.  Add broth ingredients and simmer for 30-1 hour. (The original recipe says much longer, but you really just need to get it very hot and give the spices a chance to do their work. Once it has all that wonderful flavor there's no real need to simmer longer.)
    Strain the pho broth through fine strainer (if you used the separate spices and not the packet). Discard solids.
    Taste and adjust flavor with additional salt, vegetarian "oyster" sauce and yellow rock sugar. The pho broth should taste slightly too strong because the noodles and other ingredients are not salted. (If you've gone too far, add water to dilute.)
    Assemble pho bowls:
    For food safety, I preferred to lightly saute/heat the vegetarian "beef" we used. This probably is not entirely necessary as it is not actually a raw meat product, so it is really up to you. If you just brought it to room temp and added boiling broth over, it would likely be sufficient.
    Heat the pho broth and ready the noodles. To ensure good timing, reheat broth over medium flame as you're assembling bowls. If you're using dried noodles, cover with hot tap water and soak 15-20 minutes, until softened and opaque white. Drain in colander. For fresh rice noodles, just untangle and briefly rinse in a colander with cold water.
    Blanch noodles. Fill 3- or 4-quart saucepan with water and bring to boil. For each bowl, use long-handle strainer to blanch a portion of noodles. As soon as noodles have collapsed and lost their stiffness (10-20 seconds), pull strainer from water, letting water drain back into saucepan. Empty noodles into bowls. Noodles should occupy 1/4 to 1/3 of bowl; the latter is for noodle lovers, while the former is for those who prize broth.
    If desired, after blanching noodles, blanch bean sprouts for 30 seconds in same saucepan. They should slightly wilt but retain some crunch. Drain and add to the garnish plate.
    Add other ingredients. Place slices of "meat" atop noodles. Garnish with onion, scallion and chopped cilantro. Finish with black pepper.
    Ladle in broth and serve. Bring broth to rolling boil. Check seasoning. Ladle broth into each bowl, distributing hot liquid evenly so as to warm ingredients. Serve your pho with with the garnish plate.

    Note: Yellow rock sugar (a.k.a. lump sugar) is sold in one-pound boxes at Chinese and Southeast Asian markets. Break up large chunks with hammer. (I found this right next to the other sugars in the Asian market, and it was called Yellow Rock Candy. Exactly what it looks like.)

    It begins

    After lots of input from my hubby and friend there is finally a blog title for this idea that has been percolating for awhile - Grub Gone Veg. Thanks to my friend for the cute and clever title!

    The goal here is to chronicle some of my adventures - and possibly some misadventures - in making over foods that traditionally contain meat into tasty, vegetarian verions. My meat-loving husband subsists mostly on these dishes, so maybe he will offer up his comments on these to share with anyone who is on the fence about the whole idea of meatless meals. I still use and eat dairy products like butter, as well as eggs and honey so these recipes are not intended to be vegan. The idea is that anyone could enjoy these, even non-vegetarians just wanting to have a meatless meal. I love cooking and eating and like to change things up, so hopefully I will have lots of fun stuff to share!

    In the spirit of credit where credit is due, I am inspired by many cookbooks as well as cooking blogs. I will try to profile a few of my favorite vegetarian/veg-friendly cookbooks along the way. Chief among the food-related blogs I enjoy are 101Cookbooks (which is vegetarian), Vanilla Garlic (which wonderfully combines snark with food commentary/recipes, though not all vegetarian), and Wasted Food. The last is a good inspiration and reminder about how precious a resource food is, and that we should be conscious of our purchasing and use habits and do everything we can to reduce the waste. Maybe I'll discuss more on that some other time (like with a clean-out-the-fridge recipe). The first recipe post will follow shortly, I promise!