Vegan Brazilian Feijoada, quickly

On a cold and rainy day, there's nothing quite as comforting as a big warm pot of feijoada. Since Brussels is often cold and rainy, I first learned about this miracle cure when I lived above a group of Brazilian guys in Belgium. Every Saturday, a smokey, rich cooking smell would drift up to my apartment during the morning, and continue all day. In the late afternoon, I would hear them playing guitars and singing in Portuguese, clearly having an awesome party while I shivered in my apartment. Finally, I got invited one day, when I happened to be walking by the open door. I learned that the all-day dish was feijoada, Brazil's national dish. Its a combination of slow simmered black beans, various types of meat, bay leaves and other spices, with wine or beer. The vegan way, of course, involves some substitutions, but its still incredibly rich, comforting and delicious, especially with sides of orange rice, braised kale, and roasted plantains, the traditional accoutrements to the rich stew.

The real, "from scratch" recipe takes several hours, given that you use dried beans to get a luscious broth. But sometimes I do a short-cut recipe for weeknights that captures most of the appeal of the original without the many hours of stirring. I definitely recommend trying the traditional recipe, however- both Viva Vegan and Color Me Vegan offer awesome versions (and you can't get that perfectly thick bean broth with canned beans, alas.) However, once you've mastered those, you may find yourself craving the dish on non-special occasions, such as a particularly gross rainy day. In that case, I think my version holds up fairly decently, and my feijoada-obsessed boyfriend agrees.

Brazilliant Feijoada serves 4

2 16 oz cans black (turtle) beans, drained and rinsed
2 medium onions, diced
6 cloves garlic, diced
2 cups mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 cup deuhydrated soy curls or similar (I use "soja schnetzel")
1 cup red wine
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs. soy sauce
4 cups vegetable broth (or water + veg bouillon)
1 sprig fresh thyme, or 1 tsp. dried
1 bay leaf
1 and 1/2 Tbs. cumin
1and 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

1.) Reconstitute soy curls by pouring boiling veg broth (about 2 cups) over them (enough to cover) and soaking for about 5 minutes. Then drain, squeezing against colander gently to release excess water, and set aside.
2.) In a large, sturdy pot, heat a few good glugs of oil over medium low heat. When hot, add in onions and stir to coat. After 1-2 minutes, add in garlic. When garlic and onions are soft, season well with salt and pepper and pour in red wine to deglaze, cooking a few minutes more.
3.) Add in mushrooms and cook for 5 more minutes, then add in soy curls, beans, remaining two cups veg broth, and remaining ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat to low. Let stew simmer for 30 minutes, stirring ocassionally. Meanwhile, prepare accoutrements (ie, roasted plantains, greens of your choosing, orange rice.)
4.) After stew has boiled down and sauce has become thick, taste and adjust seasonings. (I usually add a bit more soy sauce and balsamic at this point.) Let cook a bit longer until plenty thick, and serve hot with plenty of rice and hot sauce. Leftovers are even better the next day.

For more on roasting plantains, see here. For more on cooking dried beans, which I fully encourage despite the above recipe, see here.

Song of the Day: Aguas de Marco- Cibo Matto


Cold Comfort

Winter time, and the living is easy.

The weather is extremely mild (for Berlin), I've got a little money for once, and I have lots of fun parties and meet-ups to attend before heading back to the USA for the holidays. With all of this good luck, I've been cooking up a storm of comfort food.

Above are potato and spinach enchiladas with a side of avocado. Enchiladas are really just the greatest. Once you've got a standard recipe, you can substitute whatever you have on hand to make a simple dinner. I used my normal recipe for Chipotle Plantain enchiladas, but subbed the filling out for a simple mash of boiled potatoes and spinach (with a bit of salt and pepper and soymilk) With frozen spinach anbd potatoes it doesn't get much cheaper than this recipe. I also subbed out the chipotle in the sauce, getting the heat instead from a tablespoon of cayenne pepper. Spicy and delicious.
Next I made the Mac and Cheeze from the archives of the mysteriously disappeared Veganyumyum. Its a great recipe because if you have a decently stocked vegan cupboard, you likely have most of the ingredients on hand. (Tahini, miso, soy sauce, nooch, lemon juice, ect.) The dish itself is extremely satisfying and even somewhat cheeselike. Hmmm, maybe I should whip up another batch today...

Last but not least, we have a boring (read: easy and delicious) curry with potatoes, carrots, zucchini, tofu, and tons of garlic and ginger. The curry is coconut based with tomatoes thrown in too. Topped with a little sriracha, its the kind of thing I like to make a big batch of then eat all week for lunch.

Ah, winter... if you keep behaving, you can stay a little longer.

Song of the day: Spandau Ballet- True