Monday, June 22, 2009

African Peanut Soup with Red Beans

Around the Show Me casa, we eat hot soup all year long. Even in the midst of an Excessive Heat Warning (temps in the upper 90's with heat indices over 110 degrees). So I guess we're pretty serious soup lovers.

This vegan bowl of goodness (adapted from Mark Bittman's West African Peanut Soup with Chicken) will be filed amongst our favorites. The rich peanut butter and sweet potatoes complement each other so well. And with kale too, this soup has nearly all of our preferred ingredients. Substitute red beans for chicken and this hearty soup will have you going Vegan Before 6 and After 6 too!

Don't forget the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale, including a St. Louis location at the Tower Grove Park Farmers' Market this Saturday before noon.

African Peanut Soup with Red Beans
Serves 6

3/4 cup dry roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped and divided
2 Tablespoons peanut oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
cayenne, salt, and pepper to taste
6 cups vegetable stock
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 15 ounce cans red beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 pound kale, stems discarded and leaves sliced
1/4 cup peanut butter

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute the onion, garlic, and ginger for about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the peanuts, cayenne, salt, and pepper and saute for about 30 seconds. Add the vegetable stock, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and red beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Add kale and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are done. Add peanut butter and stir until combined. Garnish each serving with a sprinkle of the remaining peanuts.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Curried Red Lentil Soup with Baby Spinach

This thick and fragrant lentil soup features red lentils, garbanzos, baby spinach, and carrots. The curry powder and fenugreek smell amazing, and the plentiful leftovers will tide you over during a busy week. Uncooked red lentils are a pretty pink-orange color, but become yellow when cooked. The use of red lentils as opposed to other types allows this soup to cook up quickly.

Curried Red Lentil Soup with Baby Spinach
Serves 6-8

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
heaping 1/2 cup sliced carrots
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
3 cups vegetable broth
3 cups water
1 pound red lentils
15 ounces garbanzos, rinsed and drained
3 1/2 packed cups baby spinach
kosher salt to taste, optional

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute the onion and carrots for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, curry powder, fenugreek, and cayenne, and saute for about 30 seconds. Add the broth and water and increase heat to high. Bring to a boil. Add lentils and garbanzos and reduce heat to medium. Cover the pot with a lid and simmer for about 8 minutes. Stir a few times while simmering. Add spinach and cook for 2 minutes more, or until wilted. Season with salt if desired.

Adapted from Epicurious

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Of Animals: Photographs by Frank Noelker

This photo is not by Frank Noelker. It's a shot of Scoutster checking out the sprinkler in our backyard (see it hiding behind the pot?) because I can't give you a post without a photo. And because I think our delight and compassion for our beloved dogs and cats should extend to other animals, the subject of this quick post.

An interesting Riverfront Times review alerted me to a photography exhibit that locals might like to check out - Of Animals: Photographs by Frank Noelker at the Sheldon Art Gallery. Photographs include images of animals housed in zoos across the world and the "noble faces" of chimpanzees retired from research, the entertainment industry, and the pet trade. The chimps now reside in sanctuaries. The exhibit should be moving, thought provoking, and inspiring. There is an opening reception Friday June 12th and a free gallery talk by the artist Saturday June 13th, details here.

Hug your animal buddy (or consider adopting one if you don't have one) and have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Terrene's Happy Hour

One of my favorite ways to kick off the weekend after a long work week is winding down and catching up over cocktails and small plates at Terrene's bar. There's an urban yet comfy vibe, with a bartender who is warm and gregarious without being intrusive. And these aren't just any bar eats; more on the food in a minute. To top it off, cocktails and small plates are discounted in the bar weekdays, 5-7pm. What's not to love?

We typically order the veggie sausage flatbread, pictured above, which can be requested vegan-style by omitting the cheese. The "sausage" and sundried tomato topping is boldly flavored so you won't miss the cheese except as a substance to hold the delicious crumbs together. Not to worry, you and your honey can quibble over who gets the stray bits and pieces.

We also loved the Tofu on a Stick. Don't let the name deceive you, a favorite for vegans and non-vegans alike, this crispy breaded tofu dipped in Asian-style cashew sauce on a little bed of slaw was irresistable. And who doesn't like vegan food on a stick? Not available currently, the replacement is Chipotle Tofu Tacos.

These tacos had some big shoes to fill after Tofu on a Stick, and they rose to the occasion. Tiny tofu cubes seasoned with chipotle are nestled under pico de gallo and lettuce with a green salsa on the side. The corn tortillas are a little smoky from grilling, I suppose. Mmm!

Of course, if you want to be bad, and you know you do, the frites are the best in town. I'm talking a gigantoid plate of crispy, perfect frites. Just order double dippers of horseradish ketchup, and hold the mayo typically served on the side, until they start offering Vegenaise.

Terrene offers a tofu entree as well, which can be ordered in the bar or the dining area, if you are not interested in small plates (and entrees would not be part of the Happy Hour discount). There is a lovely patio where we've enjoyed many a dinner to impress out of town friends.

But I keep coming back for the bar vibe. I just love the cozy feeling of sharing dishes perched at a little bistro table or at the bar. Terrene staff generally know what "vegan" means and will accomodate your requests and provide helpful information. I typically have a pleasant dining experience that does not feel alienating and restrictive, in contrast to some other establishments in St. Louis.

If you also have a favorite way to kick off the weekend, I'd love to hear it! And have a great one, by the way. Um, I guess it's Tuesday. Is it too early to think about the weekend?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Panang Tofu Curry

Sunday's supper was one of our favorite meals, coconut curry with tofu and vegetables. No one likes to see the weekend wind down, but a special meal on Sunday night extends the fun for a little longer. We like to try various takes on the curry concept, and this version of Panang Tofu Curry is delicious. The beautiful color comes from turmeric, and peanut butter combines with light coconut milk for a thick broth. I made a few substitutions (onions for shallots, green beans for carrots, and green pepper for red pepper). Serve over jasmine rice with Sriracha sauce.

For another colorful recipe, local readers can pick up the current Sauce magazine to check out my article, "Color Yourself on Vacation", including a recipe for Costa Rican-style Arroz sin Pollo. This issue of Sauce has all kind of vegan goodness, also raving about the vegan chocolate chip cookies at Local Harvest Cafe and spot-lighting Patrice Mari, owner of the vegan-friendly Shangri-La Diner.

And finally, you might have noticed the blog's new header, created by my friend Anne Mitchell. Having a friend who is also a talented artist is pretty cool. She even included Scout in the drawing. I love the result. Thank you Anne!


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