Hearty Ghanaian-Inspired Peanut Stew

Hearty Ghanaian-Inspired Peanut Stew

A lot of people have heard me talk about this stew. This was the first dish I made when I went vegan, and it helped me go from “I’m probably not going to stick with this life choice, realistically” to “Wow, maybe I can do this.” I wasn’t a chef yet- I was a music teacher and had no idea what I was doing in terms of vegan food.

Since that first time I made this nearly seven years ago, I’ve served it to all kinds of people. I made it to impress the parents of various partners (shoutout if you’re one of those parents or ex-partners) and I made it in my interview with the chef who ended up giving me the prep cook job that lead to be become a chef myself.  It’s always been a crowd pleaser, including among folks with very limited exposure to international foods (let alone West African foods.) It’s just so hearty and soulful and fresh, and it covers all your major food groups (except the tequila food group and the french fry food group), so it feels really filling and nourishing.

  • 2 large onions, diced
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 quart vegetable stock (or water + bouillon)
  • 2/3 cup brown rice
  • 1.5 lb sweet potato, peeled and diced (aprox. two medium sweet potatoes or one huge one)
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 bunch of kale, washed and torn
  1. Place the rice in a small , covered pot on high heat with one cup of the broth.  Once it’s boiling, reduce to low heat and simmer until the rice is about two thirds of the way done (about 25 minutes)
  2. Sauté your onions in a large pot on medium-high heat until they are deeply golden-brown and caramelized. Once the onions are about a minute from being done, add garlic and saute until just beginning to brown
  3. Add the remaining broth, sweet potatoes, chickpeas and par-cooked rice. Cover and cook on medium heat until the rice is fully cooked and the sweet potatoes are soft. It will take a while- about 20 minutes or longer- but this allows everything to really soak in the flavors.
  4. In a bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, soy sauce and peanut butter. Add it into the pot and add the kale in as well. You may need to add a bit more broth/water.
  5. Taste and adjust the levels of lemon juice, peanut butter and soy sauce to your liking
  6. Cook for another 3-5 minutes until the kale is wilted
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Maple-Sriracha Seared Tempeh over Cannelini Bean Puree with Braised Red Cabbage and Crispy Kale

Maple-Sriracha Seared Tempeh over Cannelini Bean Puree with Braised Red Cabbage and Crispy Kale

Y’all have been very patient with me as my catering and client work have gotten hectic, and I so appreciate your patience.

As you may have guessed from the title, we’re going all-out this week. Wanna impress the living daylights out of someone who’s vegan or gluten-free (or not at all vegan or gluten-free)? Make them this meal. Have someone in your life who’s worried about vegans getting enough protein? Make them this meal. If it sounds intimidating, don’t worry- you’ll see that each component is actually fairly simple and I’ll walk you through all of it.

This particular take on tempeh was the brainchild of Chef Matt Props, and he and I worked together when we owned Stay Fresh Veg to create this particular meal. Major props (PUN INTENDED) to Matt for being an incredible innovator as always.

tempeh 1

Cannelini Bean Puree:

  • 1 can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cube bouillon (or the amount of bouillon you’d use for one cup of water)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup water

Put all ingredients into a small saucepan on medium-high heat. Simmer for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, then blend into a puree

Braised Red Cabbage:

  • 1 small red cabbage, cut into thin strips
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1.5 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3-4 Tbsp spicy brown mustard

Heat a large pan or pot on medium-high. Add olive oil. Add cabbage, salt and vinegar and stir thoroughly. Once the cabbage has cooked down for about 6 minutes (stirring frequently), add the mustard and cook for another 3-4 minutes

Crispy Kale:

Just make any simple kale chip recipe. Kale ripped into pieces, some olive oil, some salt, and an oven preheated to 400 for a couple minutes and ya done.

Tempeh:

  • 2 8oz  blocks Tempeh
  • 2/3 cup corn starch
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup  Sriracha
  • 1/3 cup tamari or Soy Sauce
  • 4 Tbsp grapeseed, canola, or vegetable oil
  1. Cut tempeh into rectangular cutlets about 1cm in thickness (for most tempeh blocks, that means cutting them in half widthwise). If they are too thick, they will not cook thoroughly. If they are too thin, they will fall apart easily.
  2. Place cornstarch into a shallow bowl and dredge each tempeh cutlet so that it is fully covered in a thin layer of cornstarch. Gently pat off extra starch off tempeh and set aside
  3. In another bowl, whisk together maple syrup, siracha and tamari/soy sauce. Taste to adjust for desired levels of heat, sweetness and saltiness
  4. Heat a seasoned cast iron pan* on medium heat for approximately seven minutes or until hot. Once it is hot, reduce heat to medium and add oil and distribute evenly around pan. Allow oil to heat for an additional minute
  5. Once oil is hot enough to sizzle when tempeh is added to it, carefully place tempeh in pan. Allow it to cook undisturbed for approximately 6 minutes per side or until each side is golden-brown. If needed, add more oil as tempeh cooks. Once tempeh is cooked on both sides, turn the burner completely off
  6. Wipe out excess oil and starch from the pan with a paper towel
  7. Return tempeh to pan and pour sauce over it. Allow sauce to bubble, reduce, and coat the tempeh thoroughly as a thick glaze

*you can get away with a regular skillet, but cast iron works infinitely better here

Assemble: 

Spread some of the cannelini puree on a plate, then pile some of the red cabbage on top of it. Layer a couple pieces of tempeh on that and finally, top the tempeh with some crispy kale. If you have a little extra sauce from the tempeh, go ahead and drizzle that in some sort of fancy way. Look at you being impressive.

 

Pizzapalooza: Buffalo Jackfruit, BBQ and Margherita

Pizzapalooza: Buffalo Jackfruit, BBQ and Margherita

All photos by Samantha Bliss 

 

When was the last time you had pizza that was vegan, gluten-free and actually good? Yeah, me neither. I set out last week to change all that; I wanted some damn pizza, and I wanted it to be good. I mean lord, it was about time.

Of course, this pizza doesn’t have to be gluten-free; if you do well with gluten, please go ahead and make or buy a regular crust. But even the gluten-free version got rave reviews by my very non-vegan, non-gluten-free kickball team who volunteered to taste test.

Bear with me, there are multiple components to these three pizzas. It looks more intimidating than it is. For shortcuts, you can get pre-made versions of many of these components. You can get a good vegan cheese like Miyoko’s, Treeline or Kite Hill (maybe even Chao? Don’t quote me on that.) You can get BBQ sauce from a jar. This only has to be as scratch-made as you want it to be.

Buffalo Chkn (Jackfruit) Pizza

Blue Cheese Dressing

  • 1/2 cup vegan mayo
  • 2.5 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2.5 tsp mellow white miso
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp dill
  • 1-2 Tbsp aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas) or water
  • 1/4 cup soaked, drained and rinsed cashews (optional)

1. Blend all of the above together

Buffalo Sauce

  • 2/3 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance or other vegan butter
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (Kroger generic brand is vegan)
  • 1.5 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup, brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt, to taste
  1. Simmer all of the above in a small saucepan, stirring occasionally with a whisk

Jackfruit

  • 2 cans young/green (not ripe) jackfruit in water or brine (not syrup)
  • 1 tsp oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Drain jackfruit into a colander and with your hands, squeeze out as much excess water as you can
  3. Shred: each piece generally has a top part that’s stringy and easy to separate into shreds, and then a denser bottom part that you can shred with your (clean) fingernails or a knife and fork. There will be little seed pods here and there as well- those are edible and can also be shredded up
  4. Toss jackfruit with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper
  5. Spread jackfruit out onto a baking sheet lined in parchment paper- make sure it’s not too overcrowded
  6. Place baking sheet in pre-heated oven and bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until beginning to get golden and crispy at the edges

Stretchy Cashew Mozzarella– adapted from Carrots and Flowers

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for two hours or overnight
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • tbsp nutritional yeast
  • tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  1. Blend all ingredients together

  2. Cook in a saucepan over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly until it becomes a sticky ball in the center of the pan

Crust

Feel free to just buy a pre-made one from the store if you want (there are gluten-free  pre-made versions too.) If you want to make your crust from scratch and have no issues with gluten, this recipe is classic.

If you want to make gluten-free crust from scratch, this flatbread recipe is delicious and works beautifully, albeit it’s a pain to roll out. To make your life much easier, go ahead and roll each crust out directly onto a piece of parchment paper (as thinly as you can) so that you don’t have to transfer it from the table to the parchment and run the risk of it inevitably ripping. One recipe will give you three crusts.

Assemble and Bake:

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 Fahrenheit (yes that high)
  2. Mix the jackfruit in with the Buffalo sauce. If you have extra Buffalo sauce, drizzle some over your pizza at the end
  3. Spread a thick layer of blue cheese sauce onto your unbaked pizza crust, then sprinkle your Buffalo-sauce-smothered jackfruit on top, then finally spread that stretchy mozzarella on top of all that
  4. Place pizza on parchment paper on a baking sheet or pizza round
  5. Bake for about 7 minutes or until the crust is crispy and the cheese is a little golden on top
  6. Serve with some of the extra blue cheese dressing on the side for dipping

 

Barbecue Chkn (Jackfruit) Pizza

bbq

  • Crust (see above)
  • Cashew mozzarella (see above)
  • Roasted shredded jackfruit (see above)
  • BBQ sauce (store-bought OR recipe here)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sliced red onion, optional
  • Chopped curly parsley, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 450 Fahrenheit
  2. Toss jackfruit in BBQ sauce
  3. Brush or drizzle a little olive oil over the crust, then spread your BBQ-sauce-smothered jackfruit on top. Add your cheese, then some slices of red onion if you’re into that
  4. Place pizza on parchment paper on a baking sheet or pizza round
  5. Bake for about 7 minutes or until the crust is crispy and the cheese is a little golden on top
  6. Garnish with parsley if desired

Margherita Pizza

margherita

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pizza sauce (you can get it store-bought from a jar or make it from scratch)
  • Salt
  • Fresh basil
  • Cheese (see above)
  • Crust (see above)
  1. Preheat oven to 450 Fahrenheit
  2. Brush or drizzle a little olive oil over the unbaked crust, then spread a layer of pizza sauce over that
  3. Spread your cheese over the sauce
  4. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt and lightly press some basil leaves into the cheese
  5. Place pizza on parchment paper on a baking sheet or pizza round
  6. Bake for about 7 minutes or until the crust is crispy and the cheese is a little golden on top

 

 

Acknowledgements: Major shoutout to all the Buffalo natives and Rochester friends – particularly my friend Alexis Dent– who helped me understand crucial things like 1. buffalo chicken pizza does not have tomato sauce on it and 2. buffalo chicken pizza does not have ranch on it. I would almost definitely have made those mistakes otherwise.

 

Balsamic Marinated Black Bean Salad

Balsamic Marinated Black Bean Salad

Photo by Samantha Bliss of redfollowsbliss.com

This is so easy to make it’s almost embarrassing, but it’s been my favorite summer salad and one of my favorite all-year-round side dishes since I was a kid.

It’s perfect as a picnic side and even more perfect for when you have to throw something together at the last minute. It’s fresh, full-flavored and offers a decent amount of protein, and people always remark about how much they love it.

Yield: 8 Cups

  • 4 cups cooked black beans (or 2 cans, drained and thoroughly rinsed)
  • 2 cups corn (frozen is fine)
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • Optional: parsely or cilantro to garnish
  1. Mix all ingredients together, taste, and adjust by adding a little more salt, pepper, olive oil or balsamic vinegar if you like
  2. Let sit for 20 minutes to overnight
  3. Serve cold, garnished with parsley or cilantro if desired

That’s it. Enjoy!

 

Cooking Vegan with a Peanut/Tree Nut Allergy

Cooking Vegan with a Peanut/Tree Nut Allergy

I’ve had a number of people ask recently about plant-based cooking without peanuts and tree nuts. I typically rely heavily on soaked walnuts, cashews and almonds as whole, versatile means of adding meatiness and creaminess to dishes- not to mention as healthy sources of of fat and protein- and I use peanut butter and almond milk like there’s no tomorrow. So secretly, I used to get really stumped and panicky when I couldn’t use those tools. It turns out, though, that there are a lot of options when it comes to accommodating for these allergies. 

Of course, if you’re only allergic to one or a couple kinds of nuts, feegl free to rely on the ones you can eat (including unconventional kinds like brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, etc.)  But if you can’t have any at all, here’s a handy guide to the alternatives, with lots of links to great vegan and nut-free recipes.

Dressings/Sauces/Creamy Elements

Coconut milk (from a can)/coconut cream/coconut meat*– Great for sauces, puddings, soups, curries and desserts. It does carry a slight coconutty flavor, but not to an overpowering degree.

Avocado–  Great for dressings, puddings and to blend with cilantro, salt and lime and drizzle over tacos. Google “vegan avocado dressing” for delicious ideas. Just note that that avocado has a very short shelf life, so anything you use it in will need to be consumed within a few days.

Unsweetened soy or coconut yogurt– A versatile and creamy base for dressings, sauces, curries and desserts. You can make it yourself out of just two ingredients with this method.

Hemp seeds (aka hemp hearts)– So healthy and so good for blending into pesto, dressings and sauces.

Nutritional Yeast– This stuff is an amazing source of vitamin B-12 and lends a wonderful cheesy flavor to sauces and dressings.

Olive Oil– While not the healthiest option on the list, oil can add creaminess to sauces and even ice cream (vegan chef superstar and cookbook author Isa Chandra Moskowitz uses olive oil for her restaurants’ ice cream recipes.)

Tahini (sesame seed  paste)– Tahini is a little bitter but very creamy and otherwise fairly neutral-flavored. The bitterness can easily be cut with an acid like lemon juice and/or a little bit of sweetness, then combined with other flavors and ingredients. It’s great for thick, creamy sauces and dressings (and even baked goods!) Most affordably found at Trader Joe’s.

Sunbutter (like peanut butter but made from sunflower seeds)– This stuff is cheaper than almond butter and has a nice neutral flavor and creaminess that works very well in sauces (this one too) and baked goods.

Silken tofu– If your digestive system can get down with processed soy (no shame if that’s the case!), you can blend this into creamy sauces, dressings and baked goods (omit the almond extract on this last recipe obviously.) It works well as a binder and thickener. Just to make sure to use lots of seasonings and other ingredients to cover up its blandness.

Aquafaba (chickpea brine)– This is seriously just the liquid you strain from a can of chickpeas, and it’s shockingly great for puddings, mousses, meringues, dressings and sauces. It’s neutral-flavored and can add an element of thickness or an element of fluffiness when whipped.

Chao Cheese– This nut-free store-bought vegan cheese (most commonly found in slices) is convenient, and I always hear that it’s actually good.

Meaty Elements

Great for chili, tacos, stuffed veggies, burgers, pasta sauces, lasagna fillings, etc.

Soaked  raw sunflower seeds and/or soaked raw pumpkin seeds– these are pretty interchangeable except for the fact that you’ll need to soak the pumpkin seeds a little longer than the sunflower seeds. You can substitute either or both of these for just about any recipe that uses walnuts as a meaty element (typically in “ground beef” contexts.) Soak them for a few hours or overnight, rinse them, pulse them in a food processor, then season and use them however you like. Raw, paleo, protein-rich and hearty. Check out this sunflower seed cheese recipe!

Lentils– I typically use a combination of soaked walnuts and cooked green/brown lentils to grind up as a substitute for ground beef. However, it’s fine to either substitute the walnuts with sunflower or pumpkin seeds or just use lentils. Cook them up with some veggie broth, pulse them in the food processor once they’re cool, then season and use them however you like. Or make this fantastic, easy taco recipe.

Milks

Each of these has a different flavor and different ideal usage, so try out multiple if you can and see which work best for you

Coconut milk*– this comes in can form and carton form. The carton version is watered down and homogenized, making it better for things like pouring over cereal, adding into smoothies and drinking straight from the glass (or the carton, if you’re me at 3am.) Coconut milk in a can is thicker and creamier with all that good natural fat from the coconut cream (although there are ‘lite’ versions as well), so it’s best for curries, sauces and puddings.

Oat milk– Not easy to find in stores, but very easy and cheap to make at home. Here are some recipes.

Rice milk– Fairly thin and watery (though maybe the homemade versions aren’t?), but can be really nice for horchata, cereal and smoothies. Rice Dream is the popular commercial brand.

Soy milk– If your body doesn’t do well with processed soy this isn’t the option for you, but some people do just fine with it and love the flavor. It’s moderately thick and creamy despite not having a high fat content, so it’s especially good in coffee and espresso drinks. It’s also the most common non-dairy milk to find in stores.

Flax milk– Rich in omegas and also easy to make at home

Quinoa milk– Go figure, you can make a protein-rich non-dairy milk out of quinoa.

Hemp milk– This omega-3 powerhouse can actually be found in some stores, but you can make it at home too.

Sunflower milk– I didn’t even know this was a thing, but lo and behold, sunflower milk is packed with selenium, magnesium and vitamin E.

 

 

*Technically coconut is a tree nut, but it’s very rare that people with nut allergies are allergic to coconut as well

For more info, check out this article and/or comment with your questions!