food · international

Trying My Hand At Portuguese Food – Vegan Caldo Verde

I’m still studying the Portuguese language (more on that in a future post) but I know that part of learning about a culture includes exploring the cuisine. And, as a self-proclaimed foodie, I find that immersing myself into the culinary aspects of a culture does wonders for my overall excitement. So, I tried my hand at preparing a traditional Portuguese dish. Here’s my story about it.

I looked through various online sources to find out what makes up the bulk of the typical Portuguese diet. What I found was a lot of seafood and vegetable dishes, and a wide array of pastries. Fortunately, I love ALL of these, so I was excited. I wanted to start with something simple, so I decided to try making caldo verde, a traditional Portuguese soup that gets its signature green color from its sole green ingredient, kale.

Only one problem with caldo verde – it normally contains chourico (chorizo), a type of pork sausage. I don’t eat any pork, so I had to adjust the recipe. I tried making it twice, and both times turned out well, though my second attempt (using a combinations of Trader Joe’s soy chorizo and Field Roast Italian Sausage, though next time I’ll replace the Italian sausage with Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Sausage) was more of a success.

First try: caldo verde with Field Roast Italian Sausage only

I also used a blender, as opposed to mashing the potatoes by hand. It’s much easier for me to get the consistency I desire by using the blender. It also made the food prep portion easier – I could chop the potatoes and onions coarsely because the blender would take care of the rest of the work for me.

The soup is luscious, filling and very easy to make. It’s also pretty inexpensive: it contains a lot of common ingredients and can easily be tweaked for your taste. I’m going to share my recipe below, as well as the recipes I reviewed while coming up with my own version of caldo verde.

Second try – even tastier since I added the Trader Joe’s soy chorizo along with the Field Roast Italian Sausage slices

Caldo Verde (serves 6)

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped into large pieces
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (approximately 2-3 cloves)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 gold potatoes, chopped into large pieces
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups veggie broth
  • 4 cups kale, chopped into bite-sized or smaller pieces
  • 1/2 pack Trader Joe’s soy chorizo, sliced to the size that you prefer (it’ll crumble up so the sizing doesn’t matter)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 pack Field Roast Sausage of your choice
  • salt and pepper
  • Add oil to a large pot, and warm over a medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and stir. Cook until translucent (about 4-6 minutes).
  1. Add potatoes, water and veggie broth to the pot. Stir to combine, cook until potatoes are soft (about 15-20 minutes).
  2. Turn off heat, and scoop out potatoes and onions, using a slotted spoon or straining spoon. Place potatoes and onions into a blender, along with some of the broth. Blend until smooth.
  3. Return blended ingredients to the pot, and stir well with the remaining broth. Add chopped kale, and cook over a low heat. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes, or until kale softens. Season with salt and pepper
  4. Add chopped sausage, and stir well. Warm for an additional 5 – 10 minutes (make sure the the sausage is heated thoroughly).
  5. Serve while hot.

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Close up of the finished product, second time around

I used AllRecipes, Olivia’s Cuisine and Leite’s Culinaria to create my recipe. Many thanks to them for such clear directions! I couldn’t have done it without their recipes as templates. Muito obrigada!

 

food

Recipe: Easy Naan Pizza

Sometimes, when I work from home, I have lunch delivered to me. One of my favorite cuisines to eat is Indian food (but based on my Anokha review, that shouldn’t surprise you!). At the end of my meal, I always find that I have a lot of naan (Indian flatbread) left over.

I adore naan, but I usually can’t eat rice, naan and pappadam (lentil wafers) in one setting: it’s too many carbs and I feel physically uncomfortable after overindulging. Trust me, I’ve done this enough to know the routine. I have to limit it to one carb serving per meal: 1 pappadam and half the rice serving; half the rice and half a piece of naan, or the full serving of rice.

That being said, I hate waste, so I wanted to find a new way to enjoy my naan.

Enter naan pizza.

As it turns out, naan makes an excellent pizza crust. It’s buttery, perfectly suited for pairing with sauces, and reheats beautifully. I sprinkle the leftover naan with a little water (so that it doesn’t dry out during the reheating process) then I make my pizza: I add sauce, cheese and toppings.

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Plain piece of naan bread, cut in half. This is perfectly sized for making two slice of pizza.

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Usually I spread one tablespoon of pizza sauce on half of a piece of naan.

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I then add about 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese (I LOVE cheese!) and a little bit of parmesan mixed in.

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Next, I add the toppings (in this case, mushrooms). I always sprinkle some extra herbs for additional flavor (my Sicilian Bread Dipping blend). Yum!

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I toast the pizza in my toaster oven for 6-8 minutes at 375 degrees, until the cheese is melted in the center. I make sure that the oven was preheated.

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Here is the finished product, with some sprout salad on the side. So tasty!

 

Have any of you ever used naan to make pizzas? Let me know in the comments below!

food

Easy Faux Beef Tips Recipe

It’s been a while since I did a recipe post. To be truthful with you all, my winter cuisine tends to be boring and predictable. I order a lot more food (mostly Indian, Ethiopian and Thai dishes) and, when I do prepare my food at home, it’s a simple situation (soups, sandwiches, and casseroles).

But today, I’m sharing one of my favorite recipes. I cook it at least once every couple of weeks during the cold months, but I almost never use precise measurements. That is, until today! I made this and took my time writing down the amounts of everything that I included. At the end, this is what the finished dish looks like:

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My easy faux beef (beef-less) tips

My father tried this and he couldn’t believe that it is vegan! Since I make enough of this to last a few days (or to share), my portions are generally large, But don’t worry: this recipe is for 4 people (cut in half for a smaller amount). Enjoy!

Easy Beef(less) Tips (serves 2)

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1.5 tbsp oil (you can use butter substitute, olive oil or vegetable oil)
  • 1/2 bag Gardein Beefless Tips
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup carrots
  • 1 large potato, cubed into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp Sicilian bread dipping mix (more info after the instructions)

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add onions and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally (this takes anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes). Make sure to stir to prevent the onions from sticking to the pot.

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Gardein’s Beefless Tips are great for this recipe

Next, add broth, water, carrots and potatoes to the pot. Stir until well combined. Reduce heat to low-to-medium heat. Cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Add beefless tips and all seasonings. Stir well until seasoning is well distributed. Cover and allow to cook until all vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally (totaling 15 to 20 minutes). Serve hot.

I usually enjoy this with a glass of red wine (preferably a Malbec, my favorite).

As far as the bread dipping seasoning, I use one that I got from a discount store (I can’t remember which – probably the Dollar Tree – but I can’t guarantee that it is readily available everywhere). The closest thing I found is an organic Sicilian Bread Dipping Mix on Amazon. You can easily whip up your own version by using a standard Italian seasoning and adding a little salt and a few red pepper flakes.

Do you have any beefless tip recipes to share? Please share them in the comments below!

food · relaxation

Grown-Up Hot Chocolate

After having a long and draining work week, I was ready to kick off my weekend and enjoy the holiday. To celebrate, I made one of my favorite treats, a cup of hot chocolate.

But, I don’t make any old hot chocolate. I dress mine up considerably, so that it’s the kind of sumptuous treat that I savor slowly as I forget whatever stresses me. It’s perfect for unwinding at the end of a demanding week (like I mentioned) or for cuddling by the fireplace on a snowy evening. It’s an exquisite way to end your day, no matter the occasion.

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Here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

Bronzed Butterfly’s Grown-Up Hot Chocolate

  • 1 pack Swiss Miss regular hot chocolate with marshmallows
  • 1/4 (3 mini bars) Hershey Chocolate Bar (my preferred one is the Special Dark, but the milk chocolate works fine, too)
  • 1/4 teaspoon butter flavored extract
  • 2 Rolo candies
  • 6-8 oz hot water (almost boiling)
  • (optional) 1 oz rum or vodka (I used Smirnoff vanilla vodka in mine)

CombineĀ  hot chocolate powder, butter extract, and 1 crumbled mini Hershey’s bar in a cup. Add 1/3 hot water and stir until all solid ingredients are mixed. Add Rolo candies and the remaining crumbled mini Hershey’s bars and add 1/3 more hot water, and stir until all ingredients are melted. Add remaining hot water and stir again. If adding optional ingredient, stir in last.

food · relaxation

Vegan Pea Soup Recipe

As the seasons change, I find myself reaching for more comfort: less light and airy experiences, more warm, full-bodied pleasures. This desire for comfort comes in all forms, from clothing I wear, to conversations with friends, to foods I choose to eat.

It occurred to me that I was reaching my “comfort” period when I stumbled across a bag of frozen peas and decided to whip up a batch of pea soup. I love how light yet filling this soup is: it really is a perfect meal for the fall. I ate it with garlic knots and a small glass of white wine on the side. To me, the lightness of peas – a summer vegetable – contrasts well with the heartier feel of this soup. Some people add mint to their version but I choose to omit mint: that herb feels very “summery” to me, and that wasn’t the feel I was going for.

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I don’t frequently post recipes, but I think this one is worth the share. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Pea Soup Recipe

  • 1 bag of frozen peas
  • Top of one leek, washed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable spread (I use Earth Balance)
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt, pepper and dried chives to taste
  • Vegan sour cream (as garnish)

Melt vegetable spread in a medium pot, then add leek tops and onions. Saute for five minutes until translucent and fragrant. Add vegetable broth and water, and bring to a boil. Add bag of peas, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Turn off heat and allow soup to cool for at least 15 – 20 minutes.

Pour cooked peas and broth into a blender, and blend on low until smooth. If the soup has cooled down too much, return to pot and reheat over low heat. Pour soup into serving bowls and sprinkle black pepper, salt and dried chives onto each serving. If desired, put a dollop of vegan sour cream on top of each bowl.

Serves 4

food

Luscious Vegan Broccoli Soup

I eat a primarily vegan diet (I only deviate when I’m trying international dishes, like the sumptuous nyama choma [Kenyan beef stew] I tried last week). But I enjoy creating delicious vegan dishes whenever the inspiration strikes.

This is a recipe I created a few months ago, when the weather was still chilly and I wanted a creamy, cheesy soup sans dairy. I wish I had taken a photo, since I won’t be making this tasty dish again until late fall/winter.

I hope you enjoy!

Vegan Broccoli & Cheese Soup

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 medium Russet potato, peeled and chopped
2 cups of broccoli, washed and chopped
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons shredded vegan cheddar cheese (along with shreds for garnish)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
salt, pepper and onion powder (to taste)
Chopped green onions (for garnish)

Rinse onion and potatoes well, then add to a medium sized pot, with enough water to cover. Cook over medium-high heat until boiling. Boil together until the onion and potatoes are soft. Reserve 1 cup of boiled water. Let onion and potatoes cool.

Once cool, add onion, potatoes, nutritional yeast, almond milk, and shredded vegan cheddar cheese to a blender. Blend until smooth.

Return blended vegetables to pot, along with reserved water. Stir together well, and add broccoli. Heat on low until just before reaching the boiling point. Check that the broccoli is soft before removing from heat. Add salt, pepper, and onion powder to taste. Garnish with chopped green onions and a few vegan cheese shreds.