Apple Cabbage Skryim Stew

Busy week? Too busy download the new Skyrim add-on Dragonborn? Well I totally understand! Between Vegan Eats World related activities, various food experiments, holiday shenanigans and meditating on what my next book is going to be, my next major video game fix is still on hold. But not so much that I can’t get my vicarious Skyrim-fix via cooking.

For those who don’t know, Skyrim characters can engage in in-game cooking. While it’s not essential for a “power gaming” experience, it’s a fascinating virtual pastime for real life cooks like me: find those ingredients (be it a village market or stolen from a musty dungeon), stir and tap a pot (in your thatched-roof hut, massive stone villa or a over a bandit’s campfire), and violá, you have a stew or soup or fondue that will fuel your trek through the woods and mountains. Or scarf it down while running away from frost trolls. As normally with a home cooked meal.

Apple cabbage stew is an actual Skyrim in-game staple, one of the first things my character cooked (ask me about my character in comments if you dare), and one of the few vegan offerings in this snowy, pixely land. The in-game the recipe is fairly bare bones and requires only 1 cabbage, 1 red apple, 1 salt pile. Mine is expanded and enriched, but with ingredients commonly found in Skyrim and things I’d imagine that a mythical, vaguely Nordic/European land to harbor: leeks, shallots, garlic, dill or thyme, and yummy caraway seeds. The resulting stew is soothing, mellow and slightly sweet; I love eating it with a hearty sourdough rye bread, perhaps paired with a tart cashew cheese spread or white bean dip for a complete meal.

This vegetable-fruity soup is light fare indeed; use the heartiest, richest vegetable broth you can find for the best flavor possible. If that’s something you make yourself good for you, but don’t be afraid to make a strong batch of Better Than Bouillon veggie broth. I’ve made it with either fresh dill or fresh thyme for variety and occasionally tossed in a diced unpeeled red potato or a handful of cooked white beans for heft, but I like the simplicity of the basic soup best. Top each serving with a dollop of plain vegan yogurt for cool, creamy contrast.

So put down that skanky roasted skeever tail, hang up your ebony shield, kick back by the fireplace and dig into a bowl of tasty good for ya stew tonight!

Apple Cabbage Stew

Serves 6 Wood Elves or 4 Nords or 2 Orcs or 1 Giant

The simplicity of this recipe requires the freshest cabbage, apples and leeks you can find, making this the ideal concoction to use up produce seen at the farmer’s market during the winter or from a winter CSA share.

  • About 1/2 pound green cabbage, core removed (4 generous cups roughly chopped green cabbage)
  • 2 firm, tart red cooking apples, unpeeled
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 large leek, cleaned and finely chopped
  • 2 shallots, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 6 cups rich vegetable broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon smoked sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill or 2 teaspoons dried dill OR 4-6 springs fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • Abundant freshly ground black pepper and smoked salt to taste
  • Plain soy yogurt, additional chopped fresh dill for garnish

1. Slice the cabbage in half, then slice lengthwise into thick strips. Slice the cabbage horizontally to make 1 inch wide pieces. Slice the apples into quarters, slice away the stem and seeds, then chop the apples into 1/2 inch cubes.

2. In a 2 quart soup pot preheat the oil over medium heat, then stir in the leek, shallots and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are softened, then stir in the caraway seeds. Fry for another 2 minutes, then add the broth, bay leaves, marjoram, salt and cabbage. If using dried dill, dried thyme, or fresh thyme sprigs, add these now too.

Increase the heat to high and bring to an active simmer for 3 minutes, then turn the heat down to medium-low. Partially cover and simmer the soup for 15 minutes or until cabbage is tender.

3. Stir in the apples, partially cover and simmer another 8 to 12 minutes or until the apples are tender (simmer less for firmer apples, more for very soft, tender pieces). Turn off the heat. If adding fresh dill, stir this in and cover. Rest the soup for about 10 minutes, uncover and taste the broth; adjust the seasonings with more black pepper and salt as needed.

4. Serve the soup hot ladled into wide bowls, and if desired top with a spoonful of plain soy yogurt and a sprinkle of chopped fresh dill.

Child’s play chia pudding

Soaked slippery chia seed foods are all the rage now, but I was slow…very, very slow to feel the chewy passion. Post Thanksgiving and pre-New Year’s Eve, these next few weeks can be rocky territory for those trying to eat healthy on those non-party days, including yours truly. But since craving a nutrient-dense breakfast alternative to start the day, I’ve slipped chia seed pudding into my life. Call me a convert, but I now love the stuff.

I should have loved slippery soaked chia all along; after all, I adore okra, the princess of vegetal-slime delights. But for the past two years with it showing up everywhere from drinks to sauces in brunch spreads, I just couldn’t get past its blobby amphibian-egg looks. Just picking up a bottle of Mama Chia kombucha drink felt like being watched by thousands of tiny eyes.

For a few years I’ve been blending teaspoons of raw chia into smoothies and baked goods, so what was my problem? This summer I finally caved and gave into drinking chia in fruity kombucha. I was ready to evolve. Like a picky child discovering for the first time olives, capers, or raisins (the three things you couldn’t get me near as a kid but today I can’t get enough of today), I was hooked on texture-loaded charms of soaked chia.

The following recipe is rather raw but not obsessively so. It also can be pantry friendly: chia, cashews, almonds, dates and the spices and nibs are all things you can buy in bulk and when properly stored (refrigerate in warm summer months) are ready when you are.

This is the way I like my chia pudding, slightly thick, a little sweet, and mildly nutty. This makes about 3/4 of a quart of creamy, nutty vanilla pudding flecked with cacao nibs. Or leave out the nibs and customize every serving with other toppings (berries, fruit, jam, shaved dark organic chocolate, nuts, etc.) for an entirely different pudding every time. One batch made Sunday gives me enough to snack on until Tuesday; the fiber rich chia and nourishing cacao nibs keep me full longer, so a small serving goes a long way.

Chocolate chip chia pudding

Makes about 3/4 quart

  • 1/4 cup unroasted, unsalted whole cashews
  • 1/4 cup raw whole almonds
  • 6 large Medjool dates, pits removed and torn into small pieces
  • 1 3/4 cup water (use 2 cups for a thinner pudding)
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons raw chia seeds
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped cacao nibs

1. In a glass or plastic mixing bowl combine the cashews, almonds, dates and water. Set aside to soak for 2 hours, then pour into a Blendtec/Vitamix or blender and pulse until very smooth; it should resemble a thick milkshake without any chunks.

2. Pour the nut-date mixture into a 1 quart glass or plastic container, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of chia and use a fork and vigorously whisk the seeds into the mixture; make sure they are free of clumps and completely coated. 1 tablespoon at a time, thoroughly whisk in the remaining seeds. Make sure to break up any clumps. Tightly cover the container and chill for 3 hours or until cold and very thick. Stir in the cacao nibs, or alternatively stir the pudding, distribute into serving cups and sprinkle with nibs. Chill leftover pudding and eat within 3 days.

 Other toppings to stir into individual servings:

-Thawed frozen organic blueberries, raspberries or blackberries

-A spoonful of organic jam

-Shave the edge of a dark chocolate or raw chocolate bar with a veggie peeler for chocolate shards

-Diced seasonal fruit: peaches, plums, strawberries, melons, apples or tropical banana or pineapple

-Gently warm and sprinkle with more cinnamon and a drizzle of maple syrup

A world of vegan Thanksgivings

I’m hesitant to suggest entire menus for Thanksgiving. They’re everywhere this time of year in magazine spreads and websites, promising to make this year’s feast special. But really, practically everyone I know who cooks on that day takes a patchwork approach toward menu planning: it’s a hodge-podge childhood favorites (from lasagna to spinach pie) and American tradition merged with contemporary trends (chipotle tequila cranberry sauce anyone?), not to mention catering to an assortment of dietary needs from gluten-free to sugar free to my favorite, vegan.

The most traditional Thanksgiving meal I’ve eaten wasn’t with family in the U.S., but in Paris with friends old and new, a few days before I presented a cooking demonstration at Vegan Paris Day in 2010. On a candle-lit boat docked on the Seine, we savored a dinner by The Gentle Gourmet vegan B&B (I believe currently transitioning to a full service restaurant). It was a comforting plate of nostalgia I never thought I had: seitan mushroom roast (drove in from Germany that morning), herbed cubed bread stuffing, stewed fruit compote and sage gravy followed by pumpkin cheesecake. All the Thanksgivings I’ve ever eaten (pre and post vegan) featured black beans, vegetarian sushi, empanadas, arepas, pierogi in addition to the usual suspects. I love that I had to travel to France to finally get a taste of real Americana, vegan-style.

So in the spirit of whatever traditions fill your holiday table, here are a few suggestions from the pages of Vegan Eats World. These are recipes that feel right at home for any meal from the 22nd of November until January 1st, and well into the new year. I surprise myself sometimes by how many recipes I cranks out inspired by fall flavors; apparently this is my favorite food season of the year. Browse through the index for the page numbers for these beauties:

This show stopper entree is a huge Moroccan savory pie wrapped in filo dough; mine is stuffed with chickpeas and cauliflower brimming with aromatic spices. I plan on baking up this beauty for Xmas myself. It’s best served warm and let guests carving out big warm chunks for themselves. It’s really a meal on its own, simply served with a kale or carrot salad dressed with lots of lemon and olive oil.

Seitan, Almond and Sesame Tagine
The rich and mellow Moroccan spices reminded so many of my recipe testers of fall. I love this hearty seitan dish loaded with dried fruits, almonds and toasted sesame seeds. Traditionally paired with couscous, it could saddle up beautifully next to a mellow whole wheat bread stuffing.

Rhubarb cranberry chutney
I originally made my first batch two springs ago upon finding a few stalks of rhubarb in my CSA box. Much to my delight another CSA member confessed to me that her Indian mom did exactly the same thing, “it’s sour, so of course she made chutney”. If you can find frozen rhubarb, this red zesty chutney will also make great sandwiches with that leftover nut roast.

Pumpkin Kibbe
This veggie spin on a Middle Eastern favorite is holiday ready! This rich and hearty pumpkin casserole with bulgur wheat and a rich walnut filling is a beautiful centerpiece that serves 6 really hungry folks, or 8 with lots of sides.

Sweet Autumn Toasted Pita and Kale Salad
Sometimes that holiday table looks so brown. Or beige. Lighten things up with a mound of fluffy emerald green kale salad dotted with roasted sweet potatoes and rubyl-like pomegranate arils!

Roasted Pumpkin Salad with Dukka
Dukka is a nutty, aromatic Egyptian spice dip. Typically served just with bread and oil, it’s sometimes sprinkled on mashed cooked veggies, like this dish featuring roasted mashed squash.

Pumpkin churros
Pumpkin pumpkin everywhere! These pretty Latin-style doughnuts are just that. Maybe not so much for the big dinner event, but perhaps a light brunch the next morning.

Tenacious Tart Tatin
Of course you’ve been eating nothing but pumpkin for months now, so sometimes it’s too easy to forget our other autumn dessert darling, pumpkins. Try this rustic French spin on pie, tart with a rich olive oil shortbread crust smothered with deeply caramelized apples.

But of course, if it’s traditional pumpkin pie you crave, you can’t go wrong with our tribute to the best recipe vegan pumpkin pie recipe ever from Vegan Pie in the Sky on The PPK blog right now.

Join me on G+ this Tuesday LIVE

Even if you have all your tofu turkeys in a row and cranberries counted, there’s no telling what can happen when you’re getting ready for a vegan thanksgiving.

If you’re hosting at your home, or just bringing along a butternut squash casserole to dinner, join me and special vegan food experts for a live Google on Air chat this Tuesday 7-9pm EST.

If you’re not familiar with Google Hangouts on Air chats, you can watch it live via my page (you’ll need to add me to your circles to enter the hangout)


COMING ATTRACTIONS: book signing, vegan Thanksgiving hotline, flan

Hey New Jersey! Join me this Thursday 7pm at B&N in Clifton, NJ for a talk and book signing all about my latest, Vegan Eats World.

Also, get ready for a super-exciting LIVE Google Hangout next week, just in time for all your meatless and plant-based Thanksgiving questions! Details delivered piping hot as soon as I get ‘em!

And just in case you missed it, there’s some Maple Pumpkin Flan waiting for you over at Powell’s, for a light and tasty final to any fall meal.