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.

img_4546

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

NuVegan is Coming to RVA!

I am beyond excited to share this news with you all! One of my favorite vegan restaurant, NuVegan Cafe (formerly Woodlands Vegan Bistro) of Washington, D.C., is opening a restaurant in my hometown of Richmond, VA! I spend a lot of time bouncing around in the Midatlantic region but when I’m home, I am always eager to try new vegetarian options. This technically isn’t new to me – I’ve been enjoying NuVegan for at least 4 years – but I’ve always had to be in either D.C. or Maryland if I wanted their food. Having the restaurant so close to home is going to really have me spoiled!

Screenshot 2018-06-27 at 7.07.30 PM - Edited

The Richmond location will be opening on June 30, 2018. Part of me wants to attend the grand opening . . . The other part of me is pure introvert and would rather avoid any potential crowds! We’ll see how I’m feeling on June 30th and if I’m feeling up to it, I’ll make a special stop to check out the restaurant.

vegetables

Plant-based foods are awesome!

If you want more information about NuVegan Cafe in Richmond, VA, be sure to follow the NuVegan Cafe Richmond Twitter page @NuVeganRichmond.

Have any of you eaten at NuVegan yet? Let me know what you thought about it in the comments below!

food · travel

Review: Wiz Kid Restaurant

Happy, happy Monday, friends!

After the auction I attended a few days ago (you can read about it here and here), I was famished. I didn’t know how hungry I would be, but I think I underestimated how long my breakfast would stave off hunger (something about travel throws off my ability to correctly gauge when and how much I need to eat, but I digress). In any case, I figured I could probably grab something suitable close by. I looked up nearby restaurants and learned that a vegan restaurant was just around the corner from the auction house. So of course I had to check it out.

Screenshot 2018-05-17 at 11.16.00 PM - Edited

(from the Wiz Kid website)

I stepped into Wiz Kid and was instantly charmed by the intimate size and hits from bygone years playing in the background. The restaurant boasts a small but flavorful vegan menu. I was greeted by a friendly cashier as I looked over the menu. I decided to try the Yucatan chopped salad and rhubarb-ade.

My tasty Yucatan chopped salad

The salad was large and filling. This was a delicious vegan take on the southwestern-style salads that can be found at many popular restaurants. According to the website, the salad features, “black beans, grilled zucchini, pico, poblano, cauliflower, tortilla crumble, cilantro goddess”. I can confirm that all of those ingredients were in my salad, and it came together beautifully.

I really liked the crunch that came from the tortilla crumbles: that variance in texture went a long way in making this salad more interesting. The cilantro goddess dressing was creamy and delicious. I was really impressed with this hearty salad.

The rhubarb-ade was also a hit! Tart, sweet and unique: it was the kind of original take on lemonade that I’m always looking for when I go out. Rhubarb is such an unusual choice: I liked it a lot!

Photo taken from outside of Wiz Kid

Overall, I really enjoyed Wiz Kid. My only wish is that they expand the menu, but I can also appreciate the carefully curated selection. Why mess with a good thing, y’know? So, on that note, I must recommend Wiz Kid in Philadelphia, PA. It’s located at 124 S 19th Street. Make sure you check it out when you’re in the area!

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:

IMG_2828

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.

gardein_frz_A_BeeflessTips_USRGBSm-225x231

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

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.