Saturday, February 28, 2015

Deep Dish Vegan Sausage - Grilled Artichoke Pizza, Sweet Potato Fries, Fennel - Blood Orange Salad with Fleur de Sel (for Kiddo and Daddy)

My wife is traveling for a few days. My daughter wanted pizza tonight, and I had her help me to make what turned out to be a terrific deep dish pizza (I used a frozen deep dish cornmeal shell). I sauteed with no oil some chopped vegan Field Roast brand apple sage sausage, onion, and bell pepper, then mixed in to an eggplant marinara. We spread the marinara and added olive and grilled artichoke hearts, plus some vegan Daiya brand cheese.

I love a fennel - citrus salad with good fleur de sel salt and prepared a version with blood orange for a client last night. My daughter requested it with tonight's dinner, so I got her to help make it. Some prepared frozen waffle-cut sweet potato fries completed our tasty dinner.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Cauliflower with Blood Orange, Creamy Carrot-Kale-Lima Bean Soup, Seitan with Salsa (Almost No Added Fat)

I had a head of cauliflower to use and have enjoyed how tasty the cauliflower is in just a minute of pressure cooking. I thought I'd make a simple sauce by including tomato and bouillon cube, and add the spark of seasonal blood orange, which I found in the store yesterday. I also made a creamy carrot vegetable soup.  Here is what I did:

  • 1 head cauliflower cut into florets (approx. 5 cups)
  • 2/3 of a medium sweet (or other kind) onion cut into thick half moons approx. 1/4" x 1 1/4" (approx. 1 1/2 cups)
  • Medium tomato cut into 1/4" cubes (approx. a cup)
  • Blood orange (or other orange) peeled and segmented then sliced into 3/8" pieces
  • 1 vegan bouillon cube
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 t oregano
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 1/2 T garlic powder (or 2 cloves garlic finely minced)
  • 3/4 cup onion (of any kind) cut into 1/4" cubes
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1/8 t turmeric

  1. I put all of the ingredients except the garlic powder, cubed onion, peas, and turmeric, into my Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked on high pressure for just 1 minute.
  2. When I was ready to serve, I slowly let out remaining pressure slowly and opened the pot and stirred. It tasted fine but a bit bland, so I added the garlic powder, cubed onion, peas, and turmeric, and turned the pot on in saute mode to heat the peas (they were frozen), then served.
I also made the creamy carrot-ginger soup that I make not so irregularly (I list this dinner as almost being without added fat because of the few cashews in the soup), but added two kale leaves (stems and all), 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, and a half cup of frozen lima beans, while omitting onion (I wanted to whip up a sample for my client who doesn't eat onion). Just for our portion, I mixed in some onion at the end. I served some tasty seitan with salsa on the side.


My wife summed it up best when she said that dinner was good but I've made better cauliflower dishes. The cauliflower was a bit too bland and soft. It was good but could have used more flavor. The soup was also good but not as good as usual. No complaints, though - it was a filling, healthful, and reasonably tasty dinner.

Ideas for the future

I really need to try cooking cauliflower for a minute but under low and not high pressure. If I make a dish like this one again, I should cut the water back to maybe 1/4 cup as the dish was a little too liquidy.

I feel a bit bad that the blood orange, a bit expensive and not often available, didn't exert much of its presence in the meal. I do like the idea of cooking with blood oranges - a dish like this one would have, in hindsight, been better with the fresh uncooked orange pieces added at the end.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Black Beluga Lentil with Tomato, Three Kinds of Kale, and Bok Choy, served with Jade Pearl Rice with Carrot and Onion (No Added Fat)

I have some new clients for whom I provide personal chef services. They have been enjoying the food that I have prepared for them, but asked that I prepare something with less spice and no onion. I decided to try a dish with black beluga lentils. They are easy to cook with a 1:4 ratio lentils to water, pressure cooked for 10m. I made a big batch today of a dish that I thought would work well for them. Here is what I did:

  • 1 1/4 cups black beluga lentils
  • 5 cups (i.e., 4 times as much as lentils) water
  • 1 vegan bouillon cube
  • 1T miso
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely (approx. 1/8") chopped
  • 1 medium tomato cut into 3/8" cubes (approx. 1 1/2 cups); ideally, it should be a green unripe tomato, but the best I could find was one that was barely ripe and showing on maybe 30% of its surface green
  • 6 leaves kale (I used two leaves from each of red, green, and lacinato kale), stems left for compost, and leaves roughly hand torn into small approx. 1/2" squares (compressed, about 2 1/4 cups)
  • 4 stalks bok choy cut into 1/4" cubes (I could have used it all, but ate up the leafy portions to give a consistent white cube)
  • 2T fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 t turmeric
  • 1/2 t salt

  1. I put the lentils, water, bouillon cube, miso, garlic, tomato, and kale into the Instant Pot pressure cooker and cooked on high pressure for 10 minutes.
  2. When I was ready to serve, I slowly let out remaining pressure slowly and opened the pot.
  3. I added the bok choy, lemon juice, black pepper, turmeric, and salt, mixed, and served.
I also made some Jade pearl rice, cooked with onion and carrot.


Wow, the lentils (and, as always, Jade pearl rice) were great! It was fun making this dish without onion - the garlic added enough flavor that onion was not needed. In fact, as we were eating, I asked my wife if anything could be changed, and she liked it just the way it was. The lemon added a really nice fresh flavor that reminded me of a Greek or Middle Eastern thick soup, more than of an Indian dish.

Ideas for the future

Maybe a bit of carrot would be good, but I also agree with my wife's assessment that the lentil dish was great as is. I had forgotten but could have used some ginger - that would have been a nice addition. I like the flavor of ginger and its healthfulness; perhaps adding just a bit, 1t or so, of ginger would be good to give a slight flavor. I generally prefer lentils more like a stew, but the liquid in this was just right to me.  A little bit of preserved lemon or lemon zest could be good.

It's easy cooking with black beluga lentils - 1:4, 10m high pressure, and that's it! I should use these lentils more often, perhaps in thicker preparations that are then served within, perhaps, a tortilla roll or atop an uttapam, for example. Yum!

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Waterless Baby Artichokes with Sweet and Red Potatoes, Vegan Apple Sage Sausage

I love baby artichokes and found them in the store last night. As I first described back in May 2006, it's easy preparing them. As I wrote then, "I removed the tough outer layers of leaves till I got to fairly tight and lighter colored ones, cut the bottoms and a little more of the tops off, then quartered them and placed them in lime juice to avoid discoloration." Now, I rarely use oil in cooking, so decided to prepare the artichokes waterlessly - i.e., put into a high quality stainless steel pan with a small vapor escape and cook, covered, on medium high till the vapor escape starts to jiggle, then reduce heat to low to stop the jiggling and cook for about 20m or more. I prepared something else for my Dad, who doesn't eat garlic, so was able to use some garlic in the cooking.

I also simply heated a vegan Field Roast brand apple sage sausage and served one sausage for my wife, one for me, and a half for my daughter. Each sausage has 10g of fat; I was tempted to list this meal as "almost no added fat", but 10g is significant, so I'll leave off added fat claims, though the rest of the meal is no added fat. Here is what I did:

  • Half of a  medium onion cut into approx. 1/4" x 1" half moons (approx. 1 cup)
  • 1 small purple (or other kind) sweet potato cut into 3/8" cubes (approximately one cup; if organic, keep skin on and otherwise, first peel)
  • 1 medium red (or Yukon gold) potato cut into 3/8" cubes (about 3/4 cup - same instructions on skin as above)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely (1/8" or so) diced
  • 10 baby artichokes prepared as described
  • Approx. 1/4 t salt
  • Approx. 1/8 t freshly ground black pepper
  • Approx. 1/8 t dried oregano
  1. I put all of the ingredients, in the order listed above, into a large Saladmaster stock pot.
  2. I covered the pan and heated on medium high until the vapor lock started rattling, then reduced heat to low so there was no rattle.
  3. I cooked for 20m (longer is fine to keep the food hot), stirred, and served along with the vegan sausage and heirloom tomato slice.

It was a good idea to cook the artichokes in this manner. The meal turned out well!

Ideas for the future

Neither my wife nor I could think of any additional ingredients that could improve the main course. Perhaps a little more garlic could have been nice, perhaps roasted garlic added at the end. I had considered creating a sauce, maybe white wine or miso based, for the main course, but it really didn't need it. I should do more waterless cooking with artichokes.

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Thick Moong Dhal with Sauteed Broccoli (No Added Fat)

I love attending a new (year-old) local institution on Monday nights, PopUp Chorus, and needed to put dinner together quickly today. I thought that I'd try making a dhal with vegetables like potato and bell pepper, really a lentil stew, and put some skinned and split mung beans into my Instant Pot pressure cooker earlier in the day and set a timer to be ready an hour or so before dinner, enough time for me to add some vegetables and run the pressure cooker a second time.

As it turned out, the lentils tasted great when they were done and I went with them as-was without vegetables. I also made a simple broccoli sauté. Here is what I did (incidentally, tonight's chorus was particularly exciting; the chorus director proposed to his girlfriend via a song that he had written!):

  • 1 cup skinned and split mung bean lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/8 t turmeric
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/8 t ground cumin
  • 2t fresh squeezed lemon juice


  1. I rinsed the lentils then cooked them in the Instant Pot pressure cooker, with all the ingredients except for the lemon juice, for 10m.
  2. I slowly released pressure and opened the pot, then mixed in the lemon juice.
  3. I thought it would take 12-13m and was going to add some vegetables and then cook again for 2m more, but I was delighted with the creamy flavor of the lentils, so - that's it!
I also made a simple broccoli and onion sauté on a cast iron pan.


The dhal was excellent! I like this thick style of dhal. It's so easy and nutritious! The broccoli was also good.

Ideas for the future

I had forgotten, but some ginger would have been great in this dish, too. I could have served with some raw onion but chose not to as the dish was so full of flavor. The liquid was just right for this thick dhal; any less water and the pot would have had a bit of sticking. I'd like to make a thick dhal with vegetables as I had originally intended, using a 1 : 3 1/2 ratio to allow for slightly longer cooking, adding 3/8" cubes of sweet potato or Yukon gold potato, maybe a half cup of 1/4" cubed onion, and maybe a quarter cup of 3/8" cubed bell pepper.

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Waterless Yukon Gold Potato with Bok Choy and Baby Lima Bean, Jade Pearl Rice with Spinach (No Added Fat)

I made a simple waterless dinner tonight. I put into my large Saladmaster stock pan (in this order):
  1. A medium red onion cut into 1/4" half moon slices
  2. 3 large bok choy stalks cut into 3/4" slices
  3. 2 medium carrots cut into 1/2" slices
  4. 5 small Yukon gold potatoes cut into 3/4" cubes
  5. Leafs hand-torn and roughly torn into approx. 3/4" pieces from stems of 4 kale leaves
  6. A cup of frozen baby lima beans
  7. A teaspoon of frozen chopped basil
I covered, brought to medium heat, and waited for the vapor release valve to start vibrating. I then reduced the heat to low and cooked, with no valve vibrating, for at least 20m.

I also made some Jade pearl rice by first sautéing a medium shallot cut into 1/4" thick half moons and about 1/4 cup of bell pepper cut into 1/2" slices in a pan with no oil. Then I added about 1/2 cup of Jade pearl rice and 1 1/2 times (i.e., 3/4 cup) water, plus maybe a dozen spinach leaves and a vegan bouillon cube, and brought to a boil. I simmered, covered, on low heat for 20m.

Dinner was good. I was thinking of making a miso sauce to serve atop the vegetables. The vegetables were good but the sauce would have enhanced them.

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Mushroom Barley Vegetable Soup, Multigrain English Muffin with Caponata, Baby Arugula with Pecan (Almost No Added Fat)

We are going through a cold winter spell, so barley soup sounded good. Hulled barley is supposed to cook in a 1:3 ratio of grain to water in 25m under pressure. Here is what I did:

  • Approx. 1 3/4 cup onion cut into approx. 1/4" x 3/4" half moons; I, alternately, used a very large shallot that ended up being almost 2 cups
  • 2 medium carrots cut into 3/8" slices (approx. 1 3/4 cup)
  • Medium bell pepper cut into 3/8" cubes (approx. 1 3/4 cup)
  • 2 medium Yukon gold potatoes cut into 3/4" cubes (approx. 2 cups)
  • 2 cups mushroom (white or crimini, but oyster mushrooms would be a nice alternative) cut into 3/8" slices (about 6 ounces)
  • (Optional) 3/4 cup thinly (1/4") sliced celery
  • 3/4 cup hulled barley
  • (Optional) 1/8 cup French lentil. The only reason that this is in the ingredient list is that I had this small 1/8 cup of lentils that I wanted to use up, and I didn't think they'd substantially change the texture or taste, while contributing to the nutrition, of the soup. I otherwise wouldn't use lentils.
  • 1 vegan bouillon cube
  • 1 1/2 T miso
  • 1/2 t dried oregano
  • 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups water
  • 2t fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/8 t salt or to taste

  1. I put all of the ingredients except the salt and lemon juice into my Instant Pot and cooked on high pressure for 25m. (Hulled barley usually cooks in a 1:3 ratio for 25m, but I used extra water to have a soup.)
  2. When the Instant Pot was done, I slowly released pressure, added the lemon juice, and tried the soup, adding salt as needed. I think that I actually used 1/4 t salt.
I also heated a multigrain English muffin and put a little caponata on top. I served baby arugula with golden raisins and just a little bit of pecan. Each half pecan is about a gram of fat; I used about 3 halves per dinner plate, so, with the little bit of caponata, I describe this meal as an almost no added fat one.


Dinner was great! The soup came out better than I had expected. The barley was cooked but more chewy than I would have liked it. The lentils were hidden - I couldn't detect their presence.

Ideas for the future

My Dad is visiting and he doesn't eat garlic. When I tried the soup after I opened the cooker, I thought it was good but could use a bit more flavor. I served him and then added 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped. It would be better cooked into the soup, so I put the Instant Pot in medium sauté mode and cooked for 2 or 3 minutes. The garlic was good, but needed to be more pronounced, so I also added maybe 1/4 t garlic powder.

The consistency was good and closer to a stew than soup. I decided to cook the leftovers for 5 more minutes to cook the barley a bit more, and first added another 3/4 cup or so of water. The barley was still a little chewy - maybe 35m next time? The other vegetables might get too soft. I'd try maybe 32m.

I think that a little bit of red wine cooked into the soup would be good. My daughter had a great suggestion, that of adding lemon zest. So, this is what I would do next time to take a great soup and make it even better:

  • For more of a soup, I'd use 2  or 2 1/2 cups of water, and also add 1/4 or 1/2 cup of red wine
  • I'd add 3 or 4 cloves of finely diced garlic in at the beginning
  • I'd cook for 32m instead of 25m
  • I might add 1/4 t or so of lemon zest just before serving

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Seitan Caponata, Creamy Carrot (Ginger) Soup, Corn

I had a nice imported bottle of Sicilian caponata and thought it might be nice to grill some seitan on a cast iron pan, then put the seitan, along with some onion, into a Saladmaster stock pan and heat with the caponata. I also made the creamy carrot soup that I often make but I only used carrot, water, vegan bouillon cube, salt, and onion (and garlic after serving my Dad, and jerk seasoning after serving my daughter), and forgot ginger. Dinner was excellent!

I think that I will label this an "almost no added fat" meal. The caponata lists olive oil, but I don't think there's more than 10g or so of fat in the whole bottle.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Navy Bean with Potato, Madagascar Pink Rice with Spinach (No Added Fat)

I never used Navy beans in my cooking before I started pressure cooking last year. I was amazed at how creamy these beans come out, such as this past September. They take 25-30 minutes to cook in the Instant Pot if they haven't been soaked and 20-25 minutes if they have been; I soaked and ended up cooking for 26 minutes.

A little over a week ago, I prepared a tasty Navy Bean with Fennel and Brown Rices dish. I thought that I would take the recommendation to use potato with navy beans. Instead of using small pieces of potato, I went with larger 3/4" cubes and cooked for the entire time that the beans cooked. I also doubled the amount of onion, skipped the rice, modified some of the spices, and used beet stem and bell pepper. Here is what I did:

  • A little over a cup of Navy beans soaked overnight in ample water
  • 4 medium Yukon gold potatoes cut into 3/4" cubes (approx. 3 cups)
  • 1T minced ginger
  • 1/4 t ground cumin
  • 1/8 t turmeric
  • 1t black sesame seed
  • 1 vegan bouillon cube
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup onion chopped into 1/4" cubes
  • Medium bell pepper cut into 1/4" cubes (approx. 1 cup)
  • Stems of 4 beet roots cut into 1/4" lengths (a bit over a cup)
  • 1/4 t salt or to taste
  • 2t fresh squeezed lemon juice


  1. I soaked the beans overnight for over 12 hours in ample (room temperature) water
  2. When I was ready to cook, I drained the beans, rinsed, and added to the Instant Pot.
  3. I added the potato, ginger, cumin, turmeric, black sesame seed, bouillon cube, and 1 cup of water, and cooked for 25m under pressure.
  4. I slowly released pressure and opened the pot.
  5. I added the onion, bell pepper, beet root, an salt, and cooked for another minute under high pressure.
  6. I slowly released the pressure, added the lemon juice, and served.
I also made some Madagascar pink rice (1 part rice to 1 3/4 part water plus a vegan bouillon cube) with baby spinach leaves and salt.


The dish was delicious! I loved the bean and potato combination. The liquid was just right - slightly moist but firm.

Ideas for the future

My Dad is visiting, so I've been skipping garlic, since he doesn't eat it. This dish would go nicely with garlic. The potato pieces were cooked, it seemed, to perfection; I should experiment with other potato dishes with other combinations of vegetables. The beet stems in this dish didn't contribute anything, really, except, of course, its healthful properties. The flavor wasn't objectionable but not so harmonious, either. I'd skip the beet stem, but wonder what beet root would be like here. I like using black sesame seed as it's a good calcium source, but I didn't like the texture it added in this dish. On the other hand, the simple 1-minute cooking of the bell pepper was great to create a pepper that was easy to eat but still a bit crispy.

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Brussels Sprouts with Fennel and Carrot (waterless), served with Smoky Tempeh and Tricolor Strozzapreti (No Added Fat)

I had a little bit of tricolor (with spinach and tomato) strozzapreti pasta that cooked in 14-18 minutes, and my wife reminded me that we had some Brussels sprouts that should be used. I didn't have enough pasta for all of us, so decided to add some almost-immediately cooking Maifun brown rice noodles in the final minute of cooking the pasta and serve it with marinara sauce.

I also sautéed in no oil on a cast iron pan some smoky tempeh. Incidentally, I was excited to find online the once-discontinued but now apparently available wild rice tempeh, which used to be my favorite.

I made a waterless main course. Here is what I did:

  • Medium red onion (yellow would work, too) cut into 3/8" half moon slices
  • 4 carrots cut into 3/8" slices
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts (a bit over 2 dozen sprouts), halved
  • (Optional) 1 small fennel stem cut into 1/4" slices
  • Salt (I used about 1/4 t) and dried oregano (I used about 1/2 t for a strong accent) to taste

  1. I put, in order, the onion, carrot, Brussels sprouts, and fennel into my high quality Saladmaster large stock pot that I had gently warmed on medium heat for a few minutes.
  2. I put the lid on the pot and continued heating on medium heat till the vapor release valve started rattling, then I reduced the heat to low till the rattling went away and cooked for at least 20m.
  3. When I was ready to serve, I removed the lid and mixed, along with the seasonings.


I loved the vegetables! I should cook waterlessly more often - it's so easy and the food comes out tasting so rich. We all enjoyed the dish, but my wife wanted more than just the smoky tempeh for a crispy accompaniment. The pasta was good, as was the tempeh.

Ideas for the future

I had considered making a miso-based sauce for the vegetables. That may have been tasty, but I thought that the salt and oregano were just right to make the main course luscious. I wonder what a crispy vegetable like bok choy, maybe added just in the final minute or two of waterless cooking, would do for a dish like the main course.

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's Day 21-bean Soup with Jade Pearl Rice (No Added Fat)

I found a mixture of 21 dried beans mixed together and suggested for soup at Whole Foods in their bulk bin recently. I think that it may be the same mixture as one that I found online which contains anasazi, black turtle, French navy, Swedish brown, baby butter lima, mayacoba/canary, Jacob's cattle/trout, tongues of fire, pink, great northern, Stueben yellow eye, cranberry, light red kidney, red calypso, cannellini, flageolet, European soldier, pinto, and lupini beans, as well as blackeye peas and chickpeas.

I thought I'd give it a go to make such a soup tonight for Valentine's Day and, though it's not vegetarian, used a 13-bean soup recipe from the Instant Pot pressure cooker website as a base to create a recipe for tonight. Here is what I did:

  • Approx. 1 1/2 cups 21-bean soup mix (21 different beans all sold together)
  • Ample boiling water - I used about 3 or 4 cups
  • Water to just cover beans - approx. 1 cup
  • (Optional) 4 1" squares of kombu
  • (Optional) Approx. 1T of ginger roughly cut into 4 pieces (I used this to cook the beans and then discarded just to get some flavor; I added more ginger that I left in for the second part of the cooking)
  • 2 1/2 cups water (I used boiling water to speed things up, but tap water would be fine)
  • Vegan bouillon cube
  • Medium yellow (or other) onion, chopped into 3/8" cubes (my onion yielded about 2 cups)
  • 3 medium carrots cut into approx. 3/8" slices and then larger diameter slices quartered and the rest halved (approx. 1 1/2 cups)
  • (Optional) Dozen stems of bottom 1" of kale (i.e., 12 1" pieces of kale stems) cut into 1/4" lengths
  • 15 ounces of crushed canned tomatoes (I had a 28 ounce can and used a bit over half)
  • 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 t dried oregano
  • 1 t salt

  1. I should have soaked the beans overnight but, since I didn't, I rinsed several times then soaked for 3 or 3 1/2 hours in boiling water.
  2. I drained, rinsed, and added just enough water to cover the beans.
  3. I added the kombu and coarse pieces of ginger, and cooked on "Bean" setting for 30m (i.e., high pressure for 30m).
  4. When the beans were done, I slowly released pressure and opened the pot. The beans tasted good and could have been enjoyed as a side dish.
  5. I discarded the kombu and coarse ginger, and drained and rinsed the beans several times.
  6. I added the rest of the ingredients (water, bouillon cube, onion, carrot, kale stem, crushed tomato, black pepper, and oregano) except the salt, and cooked on high pressure for another 20m.
  7. When I was ready to serve, I let out remaining pressure slowly, opened the pot, and added the salt.
I also made some Jade pearl rice, cooked with onion and fennel.


Wow, the soup was excellent! We all loved it. It had good flavor and was fun eating, knowing it was chock full of fiber and so tasty. I need to keep this mix in stock and create different dishes from it.

Ideas for the future

Here are some thoughts:

  • Garlic, of course, would be great in this dish, but my Dad is visiting and doesn't eat garlic. I did add some garlic powder (and crushed red pepper) to my wife and my bowls.
  • My wife doesn't like canned food and says she can taste perhaps a tinny flavor when I use items like canned tomatoes. I like the versatility and taste of stewed and other canned tomatoes, but can try using fresh tomatoes.
  • I didn't have broccoli but would have enjoyed some broccoli stalk to build up the stock.
  • I should experiment with other uses of such bean mixtures. Yesterday, for example, we visited a nice family who served lunch, including a tasty shepherd's pie with a lentil burger and smoky tempeh topped with mashed potatoes. I've not made, but should try, shepherd's pie. I'll bet a similar dish of a thickened stew compressed into patties and topped with mashed potato and baked would be good.
  • Speaking of stew, I like how thick this dish was. It was still a soup, though I could understand somebody calling it a stew. I would keep the same liquid content. If I wanted less tomato and more stock flavor, making this with no tomato and more vegetables would be worthwhile.
Bean mixtures are real winners!

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Pizza dinner for Kiddo and Daddy

My wife had a potluck dinner meeting, so I made a simple pizza dinner for my daughter and me (and an Indian bread - bean - salad dinner for my Dad). I used a nice prepared crust topped with marinara, tomato paste, basil, several vegetables, and Daiya vegan "cheese", plus served baby arugula and onion rings. It was a tasty Friday evening meal!


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Cranberry Beans with Cauliflower and Maifun Brown Rice Noodles (No Added Fat)

It's been about a month since I cooked with cranberry beans. Before going to bed last night, I decided to soak about a cup of the beans and make something in the Instant Pot pressure cooker. This evening, my wife recommended that I use cauliflower tonight. I was thinking, on my daughter's request, of using Jade pearl rice, but instead thought I'd create a main dish with thin maifun rice noodles as the noodles help tie dishes together and soak up excess moisture. Here is what I did:

  • 1 cup cranberry beans soaked overnight (I soaked for about 19 hours but could have soaked for less) and rinsed a few times during the day
  • Enough water to just cover beans (approx. 1 1/2 cups)
  • Vegan bouillon cube
  • Approx. 2 1/2 cups cauliflower florets (approx. a bit less than half of a medium head of cauliflower)
  • Medium tomato cut into 3/4" cubes (approx. 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper slices approx. 1/4" x 3/4"
  • 1/2 t salt (I used kala namak - black salt)
  • 1/4 t black sesame seeds
  • 1/4 t dried tarragon
  • 1/2 cup red (or other) onion cut into approx. 3/8" cubes (approx. half a medium onion)
  • 2 ounces thin Maifun brown rice noodles
  1. I drained and rinsed the beans, put them in the Instant Pot pressure cooker, covered with water, added the bouillon cube, and then cooked on high pressure for 30m (easy via the "Beans" button).
  2. While the beans were cooking, I put the noodles in a large bowl and covered with boiling water.
  3. When I was ready to continue, I slowly let out any remaining pressure and added the cauliflower, tomato, bell pepper, and seasonings, and cooked for 1 minute on high pressure.
  4. When I was ready to serve, I let out remaining pressure slowly, drained the noodles, and added them, plus the onion, to the other ingredients, and served.

Dinner was good. I knew some hot spice would be good, and my wife and I added hot sauce at the table. My Dad didn't eat with us today - I should have added garlic, which would have been welcome with this dish.

Ideas for the future

Garlic and jalapeno or other hot pepper would go well, as would ginger. The cauliflower, even at 1 minute of pressure cooking, was somewhat soft; I should try cooking cauliflower for 1 minute under low pressure.

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Friday, February 06, 2015

Navy Bean with Fennel and Brown Rices (No Added Fat)

I love Navy beans and how creamy they are.  Based on cooking them this past September, I thought that I'd make a similar dish. They take 25-30 minutes to cook in the Instant Pot if they haven't been soaked and 20-25 minutes if they have been; I soaked but still thought I'd cook for 30m (as we say in our FFL classes, there's no such thing as al dente beans). I rarely pressure cook rice, though this past October and May had good results, and decided to try cooking the beans with brown rice. Here is what I did:

  • 2 1/4 cups Navy beans
  • Ample water to soak beans (maybe 5 cups)
  • 3/4 cup brown rice (I used 1/4 cup Jasmine brown and 1/2 cup long-grained brown)
  • 1T minced ginger
  • 1/4 t ground cumin
  • 1/8 t turmeric
  • 1t black sesame seed
  • 1 vegan bouillon cube
  • 2 cups water - 25m
  • Another 1/4 cup water
  • 1T miso (or 1/4 t salt)
  • Small shallot finely (1/8" - 1/4") diced (few tablespoons)
  • Between 1/8 and 1/4 cup fennel bulb chopped to 3/8" cubes
  • 2 small carrots cut into 1/4" slices with larger diameter slices also quartered (approximately 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup onion chopped into 1/4" cubes
  • 2T nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 t (or to taste) of each of salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 t dried oregano
  • 2t fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 small baby bell peppers or 1/2 small bell pepper cut into small strips approx. 1/4" x 3/4" (about a quarter cup)


  1. I soaked the beans overnight for about 17 hours in ample (room temperature) water, several times, as convenient, rinsing and replacing fresh water.
  2. When I was ready to cook, I drained the beans, rinsed, and added to the Instant Pot.
  3. I added the rice, ginger, cumin, turmeric, black sesame seed, bouillon cube, and 2 cups of water, and cooked for 25m under pressure.
  4. I slowly released pressure and opened the pot.
  5. The rice and beans were good! They did need seasoning but, of course, more was coming. It was nicely cooked and tasted good. The water was just about fully absorbed, so I decided to include another 1/4 cup of water in the recipe.
  6. I added that 1/4 cup of water, along with the miso, shallot, fennel, and carrot, and cooked for another 3m under pressure..
  7. I let the pot sit for a while and then slowly let out remaining pressure so I could open it.
  8. I added the onion, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, oregano, and lemon juice, as well.
  9. I sampled and it was good but needed a bit more of a texture, I thought, so I added the bell pepper.


The beans, predictably, came out well. I was pleasantly surprised how easy it is to cook rice and beans together.

Ideas for the future

My Dad is visiting, so I've been skipping garlic, since he doesn't eat it. This dish would go nicely with garlic. Adding some 3/8" or even 1/2" chunks of potatoes would also be nice, as might a bit of wine cooked into the dish.

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Thursday, February 05, 2015

Simple Herbed Tofu and Vegetables with Jade Pearl Rice (No Added Fat)

I teach most Thursday nights (and, right now, for a Wednesday night series for six weeks) and often eat out after class. Tonight, I came home and made a simple dinner for myself. On a cast iron pan with no added oil, I sautéed some herbed tofu, onion, cremini mushroom, and bell pepper, and served with Jade pearl rice.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Baby Golden Beets over Butternut Squash, Grilled Artichoke Hearts with Seitan and Garlic (No Added Fat)

I'm excited by the idea of easily cooking squash under pressure that I described on Sunday. I thought I'd do that with a butternut squash that I purchased today.

Last May, I found that pressure cooked baby beet cut into 1/2" pieces cooked well in 4m. That sounded like a good beginning to a filling for the squash. Here is what I did:


  • 3 baby beets (I used golden, but red would have resulted in a nicer color to contrast with the butternut squash), peeled, and cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 4 leaves kale, stems excepted, roughly hand cut into approximately 3/4" or smaller squares
  • (Optional) I had a little bit, about 1/4 cup, of cooked butternut squash leftover from yesterday, and cut it into 3/4" squares
  • Vegan bouillon cube
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup onion cut into thin 1/8" x 3/4" slices
  • 1/4 t (or to taste) salt
  • 1/4 t (or to taste) fresh ground black pepper

  • I put all of the ingredients except the onion, salt, and pepper into my Instant Pot  pressure cooker and cooked for 4 minutes.
  • When I was ready to serve, I slowly let out remaining pressure and mixed in the onion, salt, and pepper.
I had pressure cooked an intact butternut squash by putting it on a trivet over a cup of water in the Instant Pot and cooked under pressure steam for 8m. When I was ready to serve, I cut it in half and filled with the beet mixture. I had also made a simple sauté of grilled artichokes, seitan strips, onion, and garlic.

Dinner was good! My wife thought that the butternut squash was well cooked, but I thought it could have been a bit softer. Nevertheless, we all thought it was a tasty and interesting meal. The garlic added a nice "punch" to the seitan and artichoke dish.

Ideas for the future
Next time that I try steam pressure cooking intact squash, I'll try for a 9 or 10 minute cycle. Color would have been nicer with red vs. golden beets, but I don't like red beets as much. I should experiment with a sauce, perhaps miso-based, for squash cooked with a topping like I tried today.

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Monday, February 02, 2015

Red Chard with Yukon Gold Potato and Carrot, Uttapam

I was intrigued a day or so ago to find red chard in the grocery store. I wish that I had taken time to photograph the chard - I've cooked with chard in the past, certainly, such as a rainbow chard dish from this past May, but this red chard had much more delicate stems and a lovely red color. I don't think that I've seen red chard before. I made a simple dinner that turned out pretty and tasty.


  • Approx. 1/2 cup onion cut into 3/8" cubes (I used about a third of a medium onion)
  • 2 plantains cut into 1/2" slices and then quartered
  • 2 small carrots cut into 3/8" slices
  • 2t chopped basil (I used frozen cubes)
  • Medium Yukon gold potato cut into 3/8" squares
  • Red chard, stems excepted, roughly hand torn into approximately 3/4" squares
  • 1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 t (or to taste) salt
  • (Optional) Hot sauce to taste
  • I put into a large Saladmaster stock pan, in this order, the onion, plantain, carrot, basil, and potato.
  • I cooked, covered, on medium high for a few minutes till the vapor release started jiggling, then cooked on low heat (low enough to stop the jiggling) for about 20m.
  • I quickly opened the pan, added chard, and covered again for just a minute, then I turned the heat off, stirred in the salt and pepper, and served, adding hot sauce at the table.
My wife fermented some uttapam (South Indian crepe made from lentils and rice) batter last night. I made uttapams, with onion and ginger, by cooking on a cast iron pan with no added oil.


The main dish was better than I expected, and I loved the red color. Uttapam is usually good, though I wish that I had some chutney to serve with it.

Ideas for the future
I should more often cook with chard. I really liked the more tender red chard that I used today.

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Sunday, February 01, 2015

Acorn Squash with Seitan and Leftover Eggplant-Cabbage served on Tortilla, Grilled Asparagus (No Added Fat)

My friend Lani Muelrath described how acorn or butternut squash, either of which I find a bit challenging to cut in half or, worse, pieces, can easily be cooked, intact, with steam under pressure in 8 minutes in an Instant Pot pressure cooker. I had some of the eggplant cabbage dish from last week left, and decided to make a simple dinner, using up these leftovers and making some squash.

I put a trivet and cup of water into the Instant Pot pot, verified that the water was below the trivet level, and put an uncut acorn squash on the trivet. I closed the pot and hit three buttons ("Steam", which sets up a 10m pressure steaming, and the negative button twice to set the time to 8m) and let the machine do its thing.

After the eight minutes were up, I slowly let out remaining pressure and opened the pot. The squash was now soft and easy to cut! However, I found the flesh a little undercooked, so I put the two halves, after seeding, back into the Instant Pot on the trivet and cooked in high pressure (but not steam mode) for 2 minutes. The squash was now done!

I heated the leftovers, and mixed in about 4 ounces of seitan, a few tablespoons of marinara sauce, a little hot sauce, and a little more than half of the squash, cut into maybe 1 1/2" or so cubes. I also grilled some asparagus spears with no added fat on a cast iron skillet along with some onion, and served with a bit of lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

As I was about to serve, I thought to heat a whole wheat tortilla and serve the main course in it. I didn't have lettuce and my wife claims not to like Mexican-style dishes, but I used the tortilla anyway.

It all came out well! My wife and I loved the main course.

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