Cranberry Chipotle Chutney

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This cranberry chutney is a twist on traditional recipes for cranberry sauce and is sure to become your favourite! It is sweet, but not too sweet, with a hot and smoky kick from the addition of red onions, chipotle chili peppers and fresh ginger. Cardamom is the unsuspected delight here – it gives the chutney its gorgeous fragrance and really brings the flavours together. Vegan or carnivore, everyone will love this cranberry chutney and it just happens to be suitable for vegans. 

From start to finish, you can make this chutney in under 20 minutes! Refrigerated, the chutney will keep well for about 3 months but it also freezes beautifully. By all means double or triple the recipe and make it ahead so that you will have a few extra jars to give to family and friends during the holidays. 

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Ingredients

  • 12 oz. fresh cranberries
  • 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup, scant
  • 1 tbsp. fresh ginger root, minced
  • 1 tsp. chipotle chili in adobo, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup red onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. cardamom
  • pinch salt 

Zest the orange and peel, discarding peel. Remove seeds and as much pith as possible. Cut orange into thin slices and then into 1/2-inch pieces. 

Combine the chopped oranges with the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and cook over a medium heat. Cranberries will begin to pop after 4-5 minutes. Continue cooking the cranberries  at a steady, soft-rolling boil for another 3-5 minutes. The mixture will start to thicken as the cranberries open. Do not let the mixture dry out. Remove from heat.

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Cool to at least room temperature and spoon chutney into sterilized jars. Refrigerate up to 3 months or store in the freezer up to 6 months.

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*Notes: 

The adobo sauce generally contains tomato puree and a variety of different spices, including a small amount of sugar and oil, usually soybean oil. If you are worried about the sugar and oil contained in the adobo sauce, try substituting dried ground chipotle peppers. Add just a little to start – abut 1/4 tsp and increase the amount as necessary until you reach the level of heat you want. 

Generally, I recommend buying whole cardamom pods and grinding the seeds contained within the pods for the freshest and most fragrant spice. However, I was able to get away with using the ground cardamom I had in my cupboard because it happened to be super fragrant. 

This recipe was inspired by a similar recipe at Epicurean Odyssey

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Cream-less Creamy Tomato Soup

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That’s right. No cream here – not even the non-dairy variety. This delicious comforting soup has that silky smooth texture without the addition of cream, soy, oil, nuts or seeds. And it is so easy to prepare. 

This recipe is similar to the one for an all raw creamy tomato soup that I blogged several months ago but uses canned tomatoes instead of fresh and requires fewer ingredients overall. Using canned tomatoes means that all is not lost at the end of tomato season!  This recipe is a little faster to throw together than the one posted earlier and can be eaten raw or heated up. 

Ingredients

  • 1 28 FL oz. (796 grams) can of no salt added tomatoes, in sauce
  • 1 large red or orange pepper
  • ¼ fresh avocado
  • ¼ cup water (up to ½ cup)
  • Juice from ½ fresh lemon (or lime)
  • 2 or 3 stems of fresh basil
  • 1 tsp. blackstrap molasses
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Fresh basil 
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Core and seed the pepper, and coarsely chop. Separate the leaves and stems from a couple of sprigs of basil. Reserve the leaves for garnishing the soup. Add basil stems to a blender with all of the other ingredients except the water. Puree until smooth. Strain the mixture into a saucepan using a fine-mesh sieve.

Gently heat the soup, adding ¼ cup of water to start, increasing the amount until you reach the desired thickness. Adjust the seasonings – if too acidic; add a little sweetener, etc. Season to taste with more salt and pepper.

Garnish with GF croutons, diced fresh avocado, fresh basil and serve.

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Classic Beef-less Stew

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There’s nothing more comforting on a cold night than a delicious hearty stew. This one is special. It is dark and rich, and more like a Beef Daube – the classic Provencal stew from the south of France. Hard to believe it contains no meat! This stew gets its flavour from the rich stock base, which includes red wine and oil-free roasted vegetables.  Whenever I make recipes like this I am reminded of just how little oil is needed in cooking.

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For the Roasted Vegetable Stock

Vegetables do not contain any gelatin, which is typically where meat-based stocks and stews get their body.  The body and sheen in this recipe come from the starch in the beans that are added to the stock. Although making the stock requires an extra step, it is hard to justify substituting any other stock as this one is key to the depth of flavour. 

Ingredients

  • 4 large carrots*
  • 3 large onions
  • 2-3 stalks celery
  • 2-3 large tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 fennel bulb (optional)
  • Salt
  • Fresh black pepper
  • 2 sprigs each – fresh sprigs of rosemary and thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 cup of dried, cooked pinto beans (or a 15-oz can of cannellini beans, drained and well-rinsed)
  • 1 package dried porcini mushrooms (about 1 oz.)
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 4 litres water

Preheat oven to 450°F.

This recipe yields a little more stock than needed for the stew. You could reduce the amount of water or wine, but I prefer to make a large batch and use any extra stock as a base in other vegetable sauces or gravies. The stock can be frozen so this just saves time later. 

Quarter the tomatoes. Coarsely chop the carrots and onions. Slice the celery and fennel and place all of the vegetables in a single layer in a large baking dish. (I used 2 enamel coated cast iron lasagne pans (le Crueset) because I don’t have one large enough to hold all of the vegetables).

Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the vegetables.

Place the pans in the oven and roast the vegetables for an hour, or until vegetables are soft and nicely charred. There should be a “fond” on the base of the pans. “Fond” is the culinary term for the browned bits that stick to the bottom of the pan during roasting. 

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When they are done, remove the vegetables to a large soup pot and add the fresh herbs, bay leaves, tomato paste, beans and dried mushrooms. 

Pour the wine into the baking pans and bring to a low simmer on top of the stove. You don’t want  to reduce the wine, you just want to loosen the “fond” from the bottom of the pans. This fond will give the stock an incredible depth of flavour and you definitely don’t want to discard it).  

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After you have scraped up as much of the fond as you can,  pour the contents of the pan into the soup pot. Add the water and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about an hour. 

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Remove the pot from the heat and discard the solids. Allow the stock to come to room temperature. The stock can be refrigerated or frozen at this point. 

For the Stew

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. (4 large) portabella mushrooms, diced into 1-inch pieces
  • 1½ large yellow onions, diced (or 10-12 pearl onions, peeled and left whole)
  • 4 medium-large carrots, coarsely chopped*
  • 1 large turnip, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • 1½ tablespoon finely chopped garlic (5 to 6 cloves)
  • 1 strip orange peel, 1-inch wide x 2-inches long
  • 5 cups roasted vegetable stock
  • 6 medium yellow potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, coarsely chopped*
  • 1 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1 cup frozen peas (thawed)
  • ½ cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • Ground black pepper to taste

Directions

Heat a tablespoon of water in a large pot on med-high heat. I use a 3L enameled cast iron dish (le Creuset, again) for this because it’s lovely for stewing or braising anything. But you can also cook the mushrooms in a non-stick frying pan. When the water is hot, add chopped mushrooms and stir gently until they begin to darken and shrink, adding a little more water as it evaporates. This keeps the mushrooms from sticking.

Add the onion, celery, turnips and carrot, and continue cooking the vegetables, until they begin to caramelize, stirring and adding a little water as needed to prevent sticking. Once the vegetables start to turn brown around the edges stir in the minced garlic and continue cooking for one minute – just until fragrant.

Add the potatoes, tomato paste and orange rind. Pour in the roasted vegetable stock and give everything a stir. Bring the stew to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the carrots and potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally (about 25 minutes).

To thicken, puree a bit of the stew using a hand-held immersion blender right in the pot. Only puree as much as you need to get the consistency you want. The puree doesn’t have to be completely smooth. Alternatively, remove about 1/3 of the stew (include some broth), and puree in a  blender. Then stir the puree back into the pot and repeat the process, if necessary, to reach the desired consistency.

Stir in the frozen peas. Let the stew rest, covered, on low heat for a minute or two to cook the peas. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve.

Makes 8 generous servings.

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Notes:

*Carrots and potatoes can be peeled or unpeeled. I generally do not peel them if they are organic.