Slow Food Sunday: Bean Stew

You have a bunch of beans and some extra time to wait for the food to cook – it’s bean stew time. Bean stews are wonderful slowfoods, being easily varied into different cuisines by just playing around with the ingredients and some spices.

Few weeks ago Nomad was talking about a creamy bean stew, and couple of days later I made a stew using beans, potatoes, carrots, tomato passata and oat cream. It was good, but we felt it could be better. And here’s the improved version of the creamy bean stew: no potatoes this time, but bell pepper and celery instead.


Creamy Bean Stew

3 tbsp oil
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garam masala
1 onion
2 celery stalks
1 big bell pepper
2-3 garlic cloves
4 carrots
1 can tomato passata
4 dl white beans
4 dl fava beans or kidney beans
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp thyme
salt, pepper
2 dl oat cream

rice, barley or other grains for serving

Chop the onion and garlic. Cut the bell pepper in bite size chunks. Slice celery and carrots. If you have a pot that can be used both on stove top and in oven use it, use a sauce pan or any pot. Heat the oil in your pot and fry cumin, garam masala and paprika about 20 seconds. Add onions and fry couple of minutes. Add celery, bell pepper, carrot and garlic and continue frying for few minutes. Add tomato, beans, basil, thyme and enough water to barely cover everything. Put your pot into oven (or transfer the mixture into an oven proof dish) and bake 2-3 hours in 175 Celsius degrees. Add more water during the baking if needed. Add cream and season with salt and pepper. Bake while you cook the rice.


Waldorf Salad

Apple harvest in Finland is great this year, and many people have more apples than they can eat.

Apple pie and jam are of course delicious, but if you’re already getting bored of them, try this salad. Celery, walnuts and raisins are combined with apples and the salad is finished with vegan mayo dressing. Yum!


Waldorf Salad

6 celery stalks
3 apples (4-5 if they’re small)
2 dl raisins
3 dl walnuts (about 100g)

1 dl vegan mayo
2 dl plain soy yogurt
2 tsp mustard
2 tbsp lemon juice
pinch of salt and pepper

Slice or dice the celery, save some leaves for garnishing. Dice the apples. You should have approximately same amount of celery and apples. Coarsely chop the walnuts. Mix all the salad ingredients in a bowl. Mix the dressing ingredients in another bowl and combine with the salad. Garnish the salad with celery leaves. Preferably refrigerate a while before serving.

Trinidad Corn Soup

Soup is often served as a starter, but in Finland it’s usually the main course. According to what I’ve read recently, in Trinidad soup is served as a main course too. Trinidad Corn Soup is filled with peas and vegetables, and you won’t miss a main dish after eating this. I read many recipes and made my version based on them. They all included corn, split peas, corn dumplings, chili pepper and carrots. Potatoes and coconut milk also seem to be popular ingredients. Sweet potatoes and chickpeas can be used too.

The soup is usually made with sliced corn ears, but barbecue season is over and whole corns weren’t available anymore, so we used canned baby corn instead. If you have fresh corn ears, slice them and add to the pot at the same time with dumplings.


Trinidad Corn Soup

2,5 dl split peas
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
1 celery stalk
1 tbsp oil
1 bell pepper
1 carrot
2-3 dl pumpkin cubes
1 scotch bonnet or other hot chili pepper
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp lovage
1,5 dl frozen corn
1 can baby corn

0,75 dl cornmeal
0,5 dl water

Soak the split peas overnight. Rinse.
Peel and chop the onion and garlic, chop celery. Heat the oil in pot and sauté onion, garlic and celery until onion is soft. Add 1,5 l water and bring to boil. Meanwhile peel and dice the carrot, and chop both peppers. When water is boiling, add peas, chopped vegetables and herbs. Simmer about an hour or until peas are soft. Use a handheld blender to puree the soup. You can puree it completely smooth or leave it chunky.

Make the dumplings: Mix cornmeal and water together to get a thick dough. Add bit more either ingredient if needed. Form into small balls. Season the soup with salt and pepper and add dumplings. Simmer 10-15 minutes and add both corns. Simmer 10 more minutes, adjust seasoning and enjoy.


Lentil loaf

This is our take on another childhood favourite. Or at least I really liked meatloaf as a kid, my grand-aunt made possibly the best meatloaf ever, but sadly she passed away 15 years ago, so I’ll possibly never learn the secret ingredients she used. Anyway, there are as many variations to meatloaf as there are cuisines, this is based on the Finnish version which is essentially meatballs in the shape of a loaf and no stuffing.

But of course our version is made from lentils. We gave other alternatives (tofu, seitan) a thought, but decided it would possibly be easiest to get the sort of consistency required by using legumes.


Lentil Loaf

2.5 dl lentils
water for boiling
1 dl dry bread crumbs
1 dl quick oats
2 dl soy or oat milk
1 red onion
2 celery stalks
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
1,5 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp strong mustard
0,5 dl wheat flour

Boil the lentils until they’re soft (about 30 minutes), drain. Mash with a potato masher or fork. Soak bread crumbs and oats in soy milk while the lentils are cooking. Chop the onion and celery stalks. Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté until onions are soft. Mix all the ingredients together. Grease a dish with margarine or oil and form a loaf in it with wet hands. Bake 15 minutes in 200 Celsius degrees, add about 1 dl water and continue baking for 25-30 minutes. You can also cook vegetables in the same dish. Harder veggies like carrots or potatoes cook in the same time as the loaf, softer like zucchini and tomatoes require shorter cooking time, so add them with the water of even later.

For a truly Finnish experience, side this with boiled or mashed potatoes and serve with brown sauce.

Agrarian bean soup

We were rather busy Thursday, and needed a quick and easy food, which would basically make itself on the background, allowing us to concentrate on other things. Kokbok to rescue! Here’s a soup from brown beans, if I had to pick one word to describe it, I’d use agrarian. It’s basic, doesn’t look too special on its own, but is actually quite good and filling.

Puréd soup from brown beans

0,5l cooked brown beans
1-2 celery stalks
1 onion
2 tbsp vegan margarine
2 tbsp wheat flour
1,5l vegetable broth

Fry margarine and flour quickly in a pot, then add rest of the ingredients. Let simmer for 10 minutes or until onion and celery are soft. Puree with blender. Optionally enjoy with bread crumbs.

Slow Food Sunday

A while ago I bragged about our new cast iron pot and we’ve made some slowly simmered stews in it lately. Usually we’ve made them on Sunday and since the cooking time is long we’ve been calling those days Slow Food Sundays. The cast iron pot is really a magic pot: you can put nearly anything in it, simmer it few hours and it always tasted delicious.

On Friday our friends gave us couple of black cardamom pods. We had never used them before, so we decided to try it in our Slow Food Sunday stew. We also put fava beans, carrots and crushed tomatoes in it. The stew was served with vegetable couscous (=couscous, celery, corn and cashews).

Fava Bean Stew

3 tbsp oil
3 big garlic cloves
1 black cardamom pod
1 tsp caraway seeds
3 big carrots (or 4-5 smaller)
1 can crushed tomatoes
1,5 dl red wine
700 g cooked fava beans
1 tsp lovage
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp green pepper corns

Chop the garlic cloves coarsely and crush the cardamom. Peel the carrots and cut in 1-1,5 cm slices. Heat the oil in a pot. Sauté cardamom, caraway seeds and garlic couple of minutes. Add the carrots and sauté few more minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and enough water to cover everything. Put the lid on, put the pot into oven and bake at least couple of hours in 175 Celsius degrees.

Something Simple

If I don’t feel like cooking I often just throw some noodles and other things to a pot and boil them few minutes. Today was one of those days. I will add a picture later if the camera and computer start co-operating. And here’s the picture!

Noodles with Mushrooms and Vegetables

1 l water + bouillon cube (mushroom or other)
2 handfuls of dried funnel chanterelles
some dried chard stalks
1 big carrot
half bell pepper
1 celery stalk
2 handfuls of frozen green beans
1 handful frozen kohlrabi
100g whole wheat noodles
1 onion
soy sauce for serving

Cut carrot, bell pepper and celery into strips. Bring the water to boil and dissolve bouillon cube in it. Add funnel chanterelles, chard, carrot, bell pepper and celery, and boil 2-3 minutes. Throw in frozen veggies and noodles and boil 3 more minutes. Cut the onion in thin half moons and stir it in before serving. Nom nom.

Tagliatelle and Walnuts

I think I should eat more nuts and I’m trying to find new ways to use them. We had couple of pears at home and I got an idea of pasta with walnuts and pears. The combination was good, but the nuts could have been nicer if they had been partially crushed. I sprinkled almesan (from Veganomicon) on top, but the meal would have been good without it too.

Walnut Pasta

180g tagliatelle (6 balls)
water and salt for cooking

2 small pears
1 dl white wine
2 tbsp oil
2 shallots
2 garlic cloves
2 celery ribs
3 dl walnuts
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp basil
0,5 tsp parsley
salt and pepper

Cook the tagliatelle according to instructions on package.

Peel the pears and cut in bite size chunks. Put them and white wine into a small pot and simmer 10 minutes. Peel the shallots, cut them half and slice. Mince the garlic and slice the celery. Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the shallots and garlic about a minute. Add celery and sauté another minute or two. Add the walnuts and keep sautéing until the shallots and celery are soft. Add the pears and wine, herbs and lemon juice. Season with salt an pepper. Combine with cooked pasta and serve.

Non-fried Spring Rolls

Spring rolls are usually fried, but non-fried are good too. And they’re easier to make. The filling of the non-fried rolls can be either raw or sautéed, I prefer sautéed. We had some last year’s plums in our freezer and I used them to make dip for the rolls. It needs improving, so I’m not posting a recipe for that. You can use store bought sweet chili sauce as dip too.

Spring Rolls

10 rice papers
1 carrot
1 celery rib
3 dl shredded cabbage
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp dried mint
1 tbsp soy sauce
stalks of 1 onion, chopped
3-4 dl mung bean sprouts

Grate the carrot and slice the celery. Heat the oil in a pan and fry carrot, celery and cabbage couple of minutes. Add soy sauce and mint and simmer until the vegetables are tender but crispy. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in bean sprouts and onion stalks.  Take a dish that is bigger than the rice papers and fill it with water. Put one rice paper to the water and let it soak until it’s soft. Put it on the table and put the second rice paper to the water. Put some filling on the wet rice paper and wrap. I like to do that on a towel, so the table won’t be flooding when I’m finished. If you need instructions for wrapping, check this tutorial. Serve the rolls with a sweet chili sauce or other dip.

Easy Weekday Dinner

An easy and fairly quick dinner we made one evening after work and school. We had sprouted and cooked chickpeas, but canned could be used too.

Chickpea Curry

3 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp mustard seeds
1,5 tsp good curry powder
2 shallots
2 garlic cloves
3 medium potatoes
2 celery ribs
4 dl cooked or canned chickpeas
5 dl water
50g creamed coconut
salt to taste

Chop the shallots and mince the garlic. Wash the potatos well (or peel) and cube. Slice the celery ribs. Heat the oil and fry cumin, mustard seeds and curry powder for a minute. Add shallots and garlic and fry until shallots are soft and translucent. Add potato cubes and simmer 5 minutes. Add celery and chickpeas and simmer few more minutes. Add water, bring to boil and add creamed coconut. Simmer until potatoes and celery are soft. Add more water if your curry looks dry or boil on higher heat if it has too much liquid. Add salt to taste and serve with cooked barley, rice or other grains.