Warming Armenian Lentil Soup

Sally Butcher’s book Veggiestan (or Vegestan here in Finland) is a vegetarian Middle Eastern cook book. It’s not vegan, many recipes include eggs/dairy, but in my opinion it was worth buying. Many recipes are suitable for vegans, or can be easily veganized (use margarine instead of butter etc.). The recipes have a short explanation about the origins of the dish, which are fun to read. This soup is called Vospapur in Armenia, and the book says it tastes best eaten around camp fire. It was great around the dining table too.


Armenian Lentil Soup with Spinach and Garlic

300 g green lentils
50 g margarine
1 big onion, chopped
7-8 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp dried dill
1 l water
salt and black pepper
300 g fresh or frozen spinach
4-5 tomatoes, chopped
100 g ground walnuts

Melt some margarine in a pot and sauté the onion until it starts to get brown. Chop half of the garlic and add them to the pot. Add spices, dill and finally lentils stirring constantly. Add water and bring to boil. Simmer 40 minutes or until the lentils are soft. Season with salt and pepper. Add a little water if the soup is too thick. Add spinach, tomatoes and most of the walnuts. Simmer 5 more minutes.

Slice the remaining garlic cloves and lightly fry them with remaining walnuts. Ladle the soup to bowls and garnish with garlic and walnuts. Serve with fresh bread.


The Last Basils From The Balcony

We didn’t grow any herbs in the community garden, but we did grow them at home. Finnish summer is usually too chilly for basil, so we grow it indoors. I planted quite a few seeds in the spring and few weeks later we had so many small basils that they didn’t fit on our windowsills. I decided to plant the rest on hanging flower pots in a shady corner of the balcony and see if they grow there. All the good sunny parts were already taken by dill, parsley, mint, lettuce, rocket, catnip and other plants.

Here’s some herbs on May 31st. Basil in the small pots in front and Parsley and marjoram in the big pot.

This summer was much hotter than normal and the basils didn’t even mind the lack of sunlight. Here they are on August 10th.

Now it’s autumn and nights are getting cold. Indoors basils are still growing well, but it was time to harvest the ones from the balcony. I baked some bread whirls, but I used too much garlic. I didn’t know such thing as “too much garlic” even existed, but here the taste of the garlic was so strong that you barely tasted the basil. I reduced the amount in the recipe, and next time I’ll use only 2 cloves myself too.

Garlic And Basil Whirls

2,5 dl lukewarm water
25g yeast
0,5 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 dl rye flour
1 dl graham flour
5 dl wheat flour
2 tbsp oil

4 tbsp margarine
2 garlic cloves, minced or finely grated
2 dl chopped fresh basil
pinch of salt and pepper
3-4 tbsp sunflower seeds

Combine water, yeast, sugar and salt in a bowl and stir until dissolved. Add rye and graham flour and most of the wheat flour and start kneading. Add the oil and more wheat flour and knead more. Cover with a towel and allow to rise until doubled. Punch down and make a 30cm x 40 cm rectangle.

Mix margarine, garlic and basil in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Spread on the dough rectangle and sprinkle with sunflower seeds. Roll the dough from the wider side and cut in 2 cm slices. Put the slices in muffin cups or on a baking sheet and bake in 225 Celsius degrees about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

I recommend using the muffin cups, because if you bake the whirls on baking sheet, they will be loose like this.

Excuse Me, There’s Tofu in My Tortilla

We usually have bean filling in our tortillas, but for variety’s sake we decided to experiment with tofu based filling. One of the best things about tofu is its bland natural flavour and the ability to absorb almost any taste possible. We also happened to have broccoli available and it seemed like a nice idea to combine these two to make a filling. The results were a splendid experience. The spices are a rather traditional tex mex blend, but it’s pretty easy to experiment with them and craft the filling to suit your personal preferences.

Tofu And Broccoli

4 tbsp oil
1,5 tsp cumin
0,5 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp smoked paprika
some chili, fresh or dried
4 big garlic cloves
1 onion
500g tofu
florets from 1 big broccoli
250g passata

Chop the onion and mince the garlic. Heat the oil in a large pot or pan. Fry cumin, coriander, paprika, smoked paprika and chili about 30 seconds. Add onion and garlic and fry until onion starts to become soft. Add cubed tofu, coat well with spices and fry at least five minutes stirring often. If you want to get the dinner ready quicker, you can boil the broccoli florets about 3 minutes. Add the broccoli and passata to the pot and simmer until broccoli is al dente. Serve with cooked grains or wrap inside tortilla with salsa and fresh vegetables such as cucumber, bell pepper and onion

Home Made Bread

I should bake breads more often. Hot, fresh bread is so delicious and it’s much cheaper than store bought bread. Bread making is easy, but it takes a while, because you have to let the dough rise. But it’s worth waiting. Here’s a recipe for carrot and garlic buns I made yesterday.

Carrot and Garlic Buns

3 big carrots
25g yeast
5 dl water
1 tbsp molasses (or sugar or honey)
4 (big) garlic cloves
1 tbsp dried parsley
1,5 dl rolled oats
4 dl whole wheat flour
8 dl wheat flour
2 tbsp oil

Grate the carrots and mince the garlic cloves. Mix them with water, molasses, yeast and parsley in a big bowl. Add rolled oats and whole wheat flour and stir. Add about half of the wheat flour, start to knead and add more flour while you knead. In the end of kneading add the oil. When the dough is kneaded, cover the bowl with a towel and let the dough rise until it’s about doubled in size. Punch down and make 18 buns. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper, put the buns on them and cover with towel. Let the buns rise 10-15 minutes and bake in 225 Celsius degrees about 15 minutes.

Seitan With Garlic And Ginger

The seitan recipes seem to be most popular recipes in our blog, so here’s one more. First I wrote a recipe for basic seitan that can be used for things like stit fries, stroganoff or stews. The second recipe uses only half of the basic seitan, so if you don’t want to eat more seitan in near future, you can freeze the rest or half the recipe. We had the seitan with rutabaga casserole and beet salad.


4 dl vital wheat gluten
2 dl gram flour
0,5 tsp smoked paprika
0,5 tsp regular paprika
1 tsp black pepper
0,5 tsp white pepper

2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp minced garlic

about 2 l water
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 bay leaf
1 tsp whole pepper corns
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp red wine vinegar

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Combine soy sauce, vinegar, oil and garlic in another bowl and add water until you have 2,5 dl wet mixture. Pour the wet mixture to the dry mixture, stirr and knead couple of minutes. Make four balls.

Bring the broth to boil and cook the seitan balls in it for half an hour. You can leave the balls to the broth for another half an hour or longer to absorb flavour, but it’s not necessary.

Seitan with Garlic and Ginger

2-3 tbsp oil
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp minced ginger
0,5-1 tsp paprika
1 onion
2 seitan balls
3,5 dl seitan cooking broth
1 tbsp wheat flour

Cut the onion to half moons, cut the seitan to cubes or strips. Heat the oil in a frying pan, add garlic, ginger and paprika, stirr and add onion. Sauté a minute and add seitan. Fry, stirring now and then, until seitan is nice and brown on each side. Add 3 dl cooking broth to the pan and bring to boil. Mix the flour with the remaining 0,5 dl broth and add to the pan. Cook on low heat for 5 minutes.

Getting To Know The Jerusalem Artichoke

Friends of ours gave us a big bag of Jerusalem artichokes, because they had more than they could eat.  I had never cooked Jerusalem artichokes, but after doing some research I was sure they would be great if I baked them with cream and potatoes. So yesterday’s dinner included creamy potatoes & Jerusalem artichokes, pea & sweet potato loaf and cabbage & carrot salad.


Creamy Potatoes And Jerusalem Artichokes

500g potaotes
500g Jerusalem artichokes
6 garlic cloves, or to taste
2-3 tbsp oil
2dl oat cream
salt and pepper
margarine or oil for greasing the dish

Fill a bowl with cold water. Peel the Jerusalem artichokes and put the peeled ones to the cold water, so they won’t get dark and ugly while you peel the rest of them. Peel the potatoes and garlic cloves. Heat the oil in a large pan. Cut the Jerusalem artichokes, potatoes and garlic cloves to thin slices and fry them in the oil 5-10 minutes or until they start to get soft. (If you don’t have a big enough pan, you can do it in two batches.) Add the cream and season with salt and pepper. Heat throughly and transfer into a greased oven proof dish. Cover with a lid, oven prood plate or aluminium foil and bake in 200 celsius degrees for 45 minutes. You can remove the lid for last 10-15 minutes to get a brown surface.