Jamaican vibes and arroz con leche

We’ve been in our new house for about 6 months now and I finally feel like my kitchen groove is coming back.  You know when you move and there’s a period where you don’t have your bearings about you — which drawer is your favourite ladle in?  Where is your 1/2 cup dry measure?  AGH.  But I’m comin’ back, baby.  Today we went out to get some groceries today we ended up at our favourite international shop.  They have EVERYTHING.  And among that everything was callaloo!  We had callaloo in Jamaica and really liked it.  Well, I like any greens, really…but I found the preparation of callaloo in Ital style to be super delicious.  So of course we had to get it and make it, and we made curried TVP to go with it because it’s such a staple at all the Ital/Rasta places we’ve eaten at.  And brown rice.

Vegan Caribbean Food

I made the callaloo per the instructions here and here’s what we did for the TVP:

  • 3 cups dried TVP chunks
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/4 scotch bonnet pepper, deseeded and finely diced (or leave out if you’re heat averse!)
  • 2 stalks green onion, sliced
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 can coconut milk
  • 1 tsp gravy browning
  • 2 tbsp Jamaican curry powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

Put some water to a boil, get your TVP in a large bowl and pour boiling water over the TVP until well covered.  Let sit for 10 minutes, or until TVP is softened.  Drain and set aside.

Heat the coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add your garlic first, get it to a nice blonde colour (30 seconds), then add your onions and carrots.  Stir to coat in the oil, and cook for 5 minutes (add a splash of water as necessary to deglaze if things are sticking).  Add in your soaked TVP, green onion, water, coconut milk, scotch bonnet, browning, thyme, curry powder and salt.  Stir everything up, pop the lid on, and let it cook down to a nice thick sauce, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Season to taste and serve with brown rice and callaloo on the side.

I also had a hankering for some arroz con leche which is just a Mexican rice pudding with cinnamon.  I made it in my rice cooker using this recipe and replaced the milk with soy milk.

Vegan Arroz con Leche

Now I’m stuffed, sleepy, and happy I’m getting my culinary groove back.

Watch this space.

African Peanut Stew

Piping hot with a good dose of extra Sriracha hot sauce on top.

Okay, so this isn’t authentically African, but I like to call it that because when I think of luscious, spicy, peanutty stew I think of what little I know of Pan-African cuisine.

This recipe came to me from a PPK member.  I can’t remember who and I’m pretty sure it’s long gone anyway.  So, if it’s yours, good work!  And let me know so I can give you credit, since this is your piece and your instructions.  This one is too good not to share.

Infact, it’s more of a method than a recipe.  It’s pretty hard to screw up, though, so even if you’re a novice cook, give it a go.  You’ll have yummy, filling leftovers for days!  We’ve made this so many times with great success each time.

Peanut Stew

Olive oil (~2 tbsp)
1 small onion
Any or all of the following: carrot, potato, sweet potato
A few cloves of garlic (3-5 work well)
2 cups vegetable broth
1 28oz can stewed tomatoes (any kind – even with basil works!)
A few large handfuls of chopped greens (spinach, kale, collard greens, beet greens – whatever you’ve got!)
Red pepper flakes or hot sauce
A splash of soy sauce
A splash of vinegar (apple cider, sherry, or red wine work the best)
A big spoonful of something sweet (some sugar, stevia, maple syrup – I’ve even used apricot jam)
A big heaping 1/4 cup or so of peanut butter

Start by sautéeing the onion and garlic in some oil at the bottom of a large pot.  Once they onion has softened and the garlic has become nice and aromatic, add in the chopped root vegetables.  Sautée them for a few minutes until they get a nice little bit of crispiness.  Then add in both the vegetable broth and the canned tomatoes.  Let simmer, covered, until the vegetables are soft (I think it ends up being about 10-20 minutes, depending on how small the chop of the veggies is.)  Once the vegetables are soft, and the soup has thickened a little, throw in your big bunches of greens and stir.  Then add your splashes of soy sauce and vinegar, your hot element, your sweet element and your peanut butter.  Taste and adjust flavorings until it’s completely delicious to you!

It ends up being nice and thick, almost like a curry.  It’s great, filling and nutritious on it’s own, but could also be served over rice, or with bread.  It’s great with some more seasonings, too – cumin, coriander, chili powder, cayenne.  And you can literally add almost any veggies to this – I’ve thrown in frozen peas (at the end), green beans, cauliflower.  This is just such an easy, and intuitive recipe – and it lasts forever, and is a complete meal in a bowl!

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And look!  A new patch on my apron!  Chicks do dig vegans.

– Crystal