Archives For vegan

White bowl with red lentil soup and parsley

Red Lentil Soup with Pancetta

While I am finishing my studies in Chinese Medicine, I work part time in a gourmet grocery/deli. Some may think this a rather humble vocation, but out of all my bitsy casual jobs, and even career-driven jobs, this one is in the top two. I love it because I’m surrounded by awesome food all day long. I get to talk to customers about their food ideas and ways to use our products, whether it be solicited or unsolicited. And that’s how I got the idea for this soup. A woman came to the register with red lentils and some pancetta I had just sliced for her, so I asked if she was using them together. Sure enough, yes she was. The recipe is pretty simple, so simple she told me in a 30 second conversation at the register. I love red lentils and the texture they create, so I resolved then and there that I’m going to make it, adding my own flare.

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Mexican Mushroom Soup with Crispy Tortilla strips

When autumn rocks around, I always feel like mushrooms. They’re in season and I like to think this is because I’m a highly tuned into the environment individual. It’s more likely that I have fond memories of gumboots and rainy days, soggy ground and buckets-in-hand picking mushrooms with mum. Back then I hated mushrooms.

Right now, Autumn is when dryness dominates and the Lung and Large Intestine are prone to weakening by dryness. Both these organs need moisture (known in TCM terms as Yin fluids) to function properly. We know from the Five Elements that nature provides foods with the right properties to tone and strengthen organs that are prone to ill-health during their season.

So it’s no surprise then, that the humble button mushroom and it’s larger counterpart, the Portobello, nourishes the fluids of the Lung, and by default, the Large Intestine.

Lung Yin deficiency can manifest as frequent colds and flu, dry cough or with small amounts of sticky phlegm, weak or hoarse voice, tiredness, exhausted from speaking, night sweats.

Even if you don’t suffer with Lung Yin deficiency, mushrooms are a good staple to protect and strengthen the Lungs and their immunity boosting function. We’re seeing quite a few snuffles in clinic so cold and flu season has definitely hit!

It’s worthy to note that button mushrooms have a gorgeous sweet nature which helps to strengthen the earth element organs Spleen and Stomach, while also eradicating dirty congealed fluids (damp) stuck in the body. This humble fungi is really a super food.

No one will hate mushrooms with this adaption from a Thomasina Miers recipe. Already pretty good, I’ve just made it better with the addition of Byron Bay Chilli Co. Jalepeno sauce, and a stroke of pure genius: oven baked tortilla strips.


~ Mexican Mushroom Soup with Crispy Tortilla Strips ~

2 onions, peeled and quartered
3 large ripe tomatoes
5 cloves garlic, unpeeled
large knob of butter (Vegan subst. with olive oil)
600g Portobello mushrooms, sliced
1/4 tsp ground star anise
2 – 3 tsp Byron Bay Chilli Co. Jalepeno sauce
a good handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
1 Litre good quality unsalted vegetable stock. I use Maggie Beer or make my own
150 ml creme fraiche (Vegan subst. with tofutti or omit)
4 small white corn tortillas (or 2 large)
grated pecorino to serve (Vegan subst. with almesan or omit)

Directions

  1. Turn oven on to 200C
  2. In a hot fry pan (or cast iron pot) dry roast the whole tomatoes, garlic with skin on and onion for about 15 minutes (10 minutes for onion and garlic) until skins are starting to blacken and tomatoes soften. Turn from time to time so they’re evenly cooked. Remove the skin from the garlic once done.
  3. In a separate and larger frying pan, melt the butter and when it is sizzling hot, add the mushrooms, seasoning well with salt and pepper. Fry for about 10 minutes over medium-high until they have lost most of their juices and beginning to brown. Reduce heat and add the jalepeno sauce.
  4. Once tomatoes etc are finished, add the coriander (reserving a small amount for garnish) 250 mls of stock to the pot and  whiz with a stick blender.
  5. Add the mushrooms to the tomatoes, along with the rest of the stock, star anise. Check for seasoning and adjust to taste. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for at least 10 minutes until flavours melded.
  6. Meanwhile, cut the tortillas into thin strips and place on a oven tray. Bake in oven for about 10 minutes until crisp and lightly browned.
  7. Serve soup with a good dollop of creme fraiche, coriander leaves and tortilla strips.

♥ Gluten Free…♥ Vegetarian…♥ Vegan…♥ Paleo…♥ Damp…
♥ Yin deficiency…♥ Spleen Qi deficiency

If you have heat signs from deficiency or excess, omit:
♥ Black pepper
♥ Chilli

 

 

Zucchini ribbon salad with almesan shards

Zucchini ribbon salad with Almesan shards

I do miss my vegan days sometimes. Being vegan opened up my world to a heap more variety and dare I say it, culinary creativity…yet closed the door to a whole lot more food than I care to give up (marinated goats feta for example). I much prefer being flexitarian, or ecotarian, or some other label that I haven’t encountered, to describe someone who eats like a vegan, taking advantage of alternatives, and who also eats consciously, mindfully and wisely.

Which lead me to revisit an old favourite cookbook, Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Veganomnicon. Honest, you don’t even have to be vegan to appreciate some well-crafted recipes. So, despite having parmesan in the fridge, I made something different, something more, with a bit more creativity, loads of taste, and some health benefits thrown in. I made Almesan.

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