Super Easy Creamy Vegan Tomato Soup

(From Jamey Bennett to Daniel Larkin, via iMessage)

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So easy I’m going to text it to you.

    • One 28 oz can crushed tomatoes with basil,
    • one 14 oz. can of coconut cream (coconut milk would work too, but I like Trader Joe’s coconut cream, it’s thicker)
    • Oops
    • 14 oz. water (use the empty cream can),
    • 1 tbsp coconut palm sugar,
    • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning,
    • 1 tsp red pepper flakes,
    • about 3 or 4 cloves minced garlic.
    • And black pepper to taste.

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Combine all in a pot stirring at high heat until nearly boiling, then reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes. I served it with potato pancakes. Fantastic.

Should serve about 4 bowls.

Paleo Phở with Bonus Slow Cooker Bone Broth

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from: Jamey Bennett
to: Daniel Larkin

Dude,
I had a great idea tonight to try out a low carb and paleo pho. Last week I made some pastured organic chicken bone broth, and I was trying to figure out what to do with it, then it popped into my head to make some pho! I will definitely make this again. Also, while it kinda sounds like a lot of ingredients and a lot of steps, it’s quite simple.

Let me start with the broth. Of course, one could always buy a store-broth, but I like to have more control over that, and the health benefits are so much higher from a fresh homemade broth than the high sodium stuff you get in a can. I generally seek out grass-fed beef bones for broth, the omega-3:6 profile is so much better than with chicken, but this was a healthy chicken, so I feel good about it. Essentially, I just put a chicken in the slow cooker all day with a little bit of salt, strained out the meat at the end of the day and had that with dinner. I left the bones in, put in a few cups of water, and added the neck, carrots, celery, parsley, a bay leaf, and a handful of other brothy things, and let it go all night. Strained out the solid matter, and I had a delicious broth.

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I’ve never done pho at home before, so I did a lot of googling of what other people do for their pho and I devised my own from common themes. In no particular order, the ingredients I put together are:

  • 3 cups homemade bone broth
  • Shiritaki noodles (Miracle Noodle fettucini style, or if carbs are your thing, white rice noodles)
  • About 12 ounces thinly sliced sirloin or skirt steak
  • 1 portabella mushroom
  • Five Spice Seasoning Powder (several varieties should be available in the International Asian-ish section of most conventional grocers, just make sure it has at least anise and cinnamon)
  • 4 tablespoons Fish sauce (watch out for added sugars and either find one with little or no sugar, or just limit yourself to 2 tablespoons…four tastes so great, it’s a small sacrifice :P )
  • Two small to medium white or yellow onions
  • A heaping cup of bean sprouts
  • 1 radish
  • 1 small piece of fresh ginger, minced
  • Two jalapenos (I got green and red for color)
  • Salt and pepper (I used regular sea salt and charcoalized black sea salt from Hawaii, but use whatever)
  • 4 Scallions
  • Minced garlic to taste
  • Cilantro (basil works, too, for cilantro haters)
  • 1/2 lime, cut into four pieces
  • Optional: Sriracha

Prep the meat by poking with a fork or pounding it with a meat mallet to tenderize it. Sprinkle salt and pepper on each side of each piece, and set aside.

Slice the mushroom, onions, radish, jalapenos, scallions, and cilantro and set aside. Also mince the ginger and cut the lime.

Heat up a skillet, super hot, use whatever fat you want, lard, coconut oil, whatever…we’re going for smoke point here. Breaking some rules. It’s okay though. Just this once. Sear the thin beef, 10-15 seconds on each side, 30 seconds if you aren’t blazing hot. Take the pieces aside, and slice thin-ish strips against the grain.

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Oil that skillet back up with some lard or whatever, reduce the temperature to low to medium. Throw in the onions. Give them a minute or two head start. Add the sliced radish and mushroom. Eventually After 4 or 5 minutes, whatever, just make sure you like how the onions are looking, slowly add the garlic and ginger. This is one of those low heat is best treatments. When everything is looking good, slowly stir in the bone broth. Up the heat, bring to a boil, and then scale back to simmer.

Now it’s time to work on the noodles. If you go rice noodle, just follow directions on the package. But I prefer my shirataki noodles, and here’s a brief primer on preparing them. The ones I buy come in a bag, wet, with a solution that smells fishy at first. So what I like to do is rinse them in a collander for about fifteen seconds, and I like to take kitchen scissors and put a few cuts in the middle to make the noodles a bit shorter. Boil them for one minute in water, strain them again in a collander, then throw them back in an empty pan for about thirty seconds to sort of dry them. Set aside.

Now you’ve had five or ten minutes go by with the simmering vegetables and broth. Throw in the jalapenos (deseed them if you want a milder pho), stir in a teaspoon of the seasoning powder, a little bit of salt, and four tablespoons of fish sauce. Taste the broth. Tweak as necessary, but it should be tasting pretty darn good now. Give it a few or five minutes. Add the beef. Give that a couple minutes. Add the bean sprouts.

After about a total of twenty minutes (from the time you added the broth), you should be good. Separate the noodles between bowls (this amount is about four bowls of pho), and spoon out the goods. Garnish generously with scallions and cilantro (or basil), squeeze a lime on top, and if you need an extra kick, add some sriracha.

If you’re willing to accept the challenge, this could be our first paleo-vegetarian challenge. You could easily up the mushrooms and axe the meat, but finding a fish sauce and vegetable broth sub might be more difficult.

Let me know! And enjoy.

PS. If I had it to do over, I’d do more broth, and would have to adjust the seasoning and fish sauce.

Sent from my iPad

from: Daniel Larkin
to: Jamey Bennett

When the hell did Sriracha become optional?

I did a little research, and it looks like veggie fish sauce does exist, so I’m going to try this. If I can’t find any packaged vegan fish sauce, I’ll try to make it. (That may be a blog post in it’s own right.) I’ve been wanting to figure out a way to crust up tofu like a good seared steak. This may be the time to do it, although I may have to use the tofu as a topping rather than cooking it in the sauce for the last few minutes.

Who knows? I can plan all I want, but I know it’ll all be made up as I go along on the day of.

from: Jamey Bennett
to: Daniel Larkin 

Yeah, I think a couple of the recipes I read said to just mix the beef in at the end, and I think I even saw one that said to serve the beef raw. I just wanted to make sure the beef was served warm!

Choose Your Own Adventure Pickles

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From: Daniel Larkin
To: Jamey Bennett

Are you doing a garden in Florida? I hope so, because you’ve got the weather for it. Fall is right around the corner in Tennessee, and this is the first year I’ve actively tried to harvest as much as I could from my garden before the cold sets in and it all just withers and rots on the vine. (Pesto email coming soon)

The biggest producer we had this year was our lone banana pepper plant, which I’m sure is trying its hardest to keep growing in the chill night air as I type this. Yesterday I collected everything could from the plant, and added it to a bag of peppers I had collected about two weeks ago. The bounty was too much to waste, so I decided to pickle them with the last of my cucumbers and all the dill that hadn’t gone to flower. I also ran to the store and bought some jalapeños and garlic for good measure.

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If you haven’t made pickles before, shame on you. Pickles are one of those wonderful items that are not only cheaper to make on your own, but are way better tasting than store-bought. And the effort is nearly nil. I don’t own a canner, a pressure cooker, or any other fancy equipment. In fact, the only “canning equipment” I use are Ball jars and a jar grabber.

The caveat here, though, is that I make small batches that I know won’t last longer than a month or two. Canning can get sketchy as a long-term investment, so what I’m suggesting here is a small batch arrangement for short term use.

With any canning, cleanliness is key, so sterilize your jars and lids by boiling them in a large stock pot filled with enough water to cover the jars halfway. Fill the jars, cover with a lid, and boil for 10 minutes. Then set the aside on a towel to cool.

(Good practice here dictates that I say that most people recommend putting your filled jars back pot of into the pot and boiling the contents for another 10 minutes. I don’t do that, but again, I eat my pickles pretty fresh, I’m not squirreling them away for Armageddon. Plus, not boiling the filled jars also keeps the pickles crisp!)

So that’s the cleanliness aspect, but what about the ingredients?  The first question people ask when talking about pickles isn’t, “What vegetables do you pickle?”  It’s, “What do you soak them in?” Now what I’m about to unload on you isn’t a recipe, but an easy to remember formula. Making pickles is like making beer, just learn the formula, and then go balls deep into the great unknown. The only ingredients you need to know are these:

  • 1-cup water to 1-cup white vinegar, add one tablespoon of pickling salt. (Just remember one-to-one-to-one) Mix as much of this solution as you need, and bring it to a boil.

That’s it. The veggies and spices are all yours to mix. Take your cooled, sanitized jars, stuff them to the gills with whatever veggies (or fruits) and herbs you want, and top it off with the boiling water/vinegar mix. Seal the jars, set them in the fridge for two weeks, and you’re done. It takes me less than an hour, start to finish, to make a half dozen jars, but I sometimes like to make them one or two jars at a time, just to have around.  It’s that easy.

There is no limit to what awesome pickles you can make. Spicy pickles with squash and jalapeño, curry pickles with carrots, lemon and rosemary pickles (I learned the hard way to go easy on the rosemary). You can seriously get Bubba Gump Shrimp about it. I personally like the spicy pickles with a loaf of homemade sourdough baguette and a slice of Camembert cheese. Great goofily moogily.

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Gourmet Hot-Pockets; or German Pretzel Calzones

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From: Daniel Larkin
To: Jamey Bennett

I know you’re not a bread man, but I also know you’ve agreed to eat my sourdough the next time you’re in my kitchen. So maybe you can find someway to make this happen in your house in the meantime.

Have you ever made pretzels? I hadn’t, but seeing as how this is the first Oktoberfest since I’ve really (half) mastered the art of the dough, I thought I would give it a shot. I wanted to make pretzels, but I also wanted to do something a little more exciting, so I came up with the idea of stuffed pretzels. And what better German foods to stuff into pretzel dough than pork and cabbage? I’m sure I’m not the first person to do something this, but this recipe was 100% Daniel.

Since reading The Butcher’s Guide to Well Raised Meat, I’ve been obsessed with pork, and not just pork, but overlooked cuts of the pig. And at the Three Rivers Co-op in Knoxville, there’s usually a few packages of local country-style pork ribs from Jem Farm. Country pork ribs are a cheap, fatty cut that more resembles tiny, super fatty ribeye steaks than the traditional image of pork ribs. Cheap + fatty = YES!

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My idea was simple; roast some pork and cabbage, stuff it into pretzel dough, cook it on my stone. The only adaptation I had to add was to boil the pocketed mess before baking. (Boiling is apparently the key to good pretzels and bagels.)

So here we go:

Filling:
About a pound of country style pork ribs.
Onion (I used 4 chipolline onions – think a hybrid yellow onion and shallot)
About 1/4 head cabbage
2 tbs Dijon mustard. I use Lusty Monk Original Sin
6 Juniper berries dried
1 tsp caraway seeds
Broth (I used homemade chiclet broth)
High heat oil
Salt and pepper to taste

This is easy peasy. It’ll save dishes if you use an all metal pan, which you can use on the stove and in the oven.

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1) Preheat oven to 225º.

2) Salt and pepper room temperature ribs, and sear on high heat for 30 seconds each side, or until brown. Remove from pan.

3) Sautee the onions in the remaining fat and oil until clear.

4) Deglaze the pan with a few tablespoons of broth, and add the cabbage to the onion mix. Add enough extra broth to simmer, but no smother, the cabbage. Simmer for 5 minutes.

5) Stack the pork ribs in the pan, placing some of the cabbage and onion mix above the ribs and some below it. Cover tightly with tin foil and place it in the oven for at least three hours.

6) When done, set aside to cool, preferably in the fridge, where the fat will congeal. When it’s cool, find and remove the juniper berries.

Dough:

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1) Preheat oven to 450º, with a pizza stone if you have one.

2) Look up a pretzel recipe, and do that. (I used my regular sourdough pizza dough recipe, and it worked great.)

3) Instead of rolling your dough into neat little tubes and making pretzels, roll it into an even number of flat square (or circles, just make sure they’re roughly the same size). Given this recipe, you can expect to make 4 good sized pockets, which means you’ll need 8 dough plates.

4) Stack your meat into the center of the dough, and over with a matching piece of dough.

5) Brush the edges with egg wash (Egg wash wlll be in your pretzel recipe, I guarantee it.) and place a second piece of dough on top. Press the edges together with a fork. (You can see from my pictures that I went with the single-piece/fold method, but that created a few thick dough pockets that would be avoided by using the ravioli method.)

6) Boiling will also be in your pretzel recipe, along with a recommended ration of water to baking soda. I recommend not skipping this step, since it really gives the chewy consistency you want. Sooooo…..boil your hot pocket for 30 seconds, flipping it once in the middle.

7) Remove the pocket from the water, let it sit for a minute to cool, and then brush it with egg wash and sprinkle it with kosher salt.

8) Bake it until the crust is a deep, even brown.

9) Let that shit cool for a while! Maybe drink an Ayinger Oktoberfest will you wait.

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Dude, this is pure American indulgence, but the flavor is strictly German. The pork mix is good enough to just eat by itself, but when it’s wrapped in a brown, chewy pretzel, it just makes you want to listen to oomph music and get hammered. I served it with a heaping scoop of Lusty Monk mustard on the side, which just fueled the need for more beer. It was a heavenly cycle of burn and belly bomb.

As you can see, I also made some straight-up pretzels for Jenny. Her reaction was, and this is an exact quote; “What the hell, Daniel?! You can make pretzels?”

Korean Shrimp Tacos

Hey Dude,
I made some fantastic Korean tacos tonight for friends visiting from California, and the flavor balance was perfect.

About 1 pound shrimp
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 cloves minced garlic
Crushed red peper
A little ginger powder
A few grinds of fresh black pepper
A few shakes of Adobo seasoning

Combine all of these ingredients in a tupperware container, shake, and set aside to marinate.

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You will also need:
Cilantro, tortillas (preferably corn), red onion, Sriracha, pepper jack cheese, and prepared kimchi (easy to get at an Asian grocer, or make yourself).

Meanwhile, prepare any sides (I did spanish rice and refried beans with organic salsa), cook your tortillas, chop up a good deal of cilantro and fresh red onion (I guess you’d want to sautee these, but I like them raw), and chop up some of the kimchi so it’s not in such big pieces. Shred the cheese.

Cook the shrimp in a skillet, stirring and sifting from time to time. When most of the liquid cooks out, you should be done.

Combining the ingredients is simple: tortilla, shrimp, cheese, kimchi, onion, cilantro, and a single line of Sriracha. These are really good, simple, tacos. And my friend said she DOES NOT like kimchi, but she thought it was great in these tacos.

That’s it! I’ll send a photo over.

Chorizo, Bacon, and Eggs Rutabaga Hash

from: Jamey W. Bennett
to: Daniel Larkin
date: Mon, Jan 13, 2014 at 8:19 PM

Hey Dude,
I know it’s been awhile since I’ve written an email with a legitimate winning “recipe.” So I’m going to give it a shot here. I was inspired for this recipe by this cauliflower bacon hash here, thanks to a Facebook ad today. But I deviated quite a bit, so I won’t bother explaining the differences.

I love breakfast hash, but I almost never order it, because Hash House A Go Go in San Diego has ruined all other hashes for me. Until now, because now I have a legitimate hash of my own. (BTW – they have a Hash House A Go Go in Orlando now, may be worth checking out, and they have vegetarian options.)

So this is basically a SUPER EASY Mexican-food-inspired, high-fat, low-carb (or maybe lowER-carb), Paleo feast. Mine majored on animal fat, since I used chorizo and bacon and incorporated ALL of the fat, but I wanted to make sure it was sharable and adaptable for a vegetarian. To make up for the fat, I’d say use coconut oil (it will change the character quite a bit), or olive oil. And then use meat substitutes for the chorizo (like Upton’s Natural Seitan, though a gluten product, it’s the best tasting and least processed vegetarian chorizo I’ve had) and bacon (maybe omit the bacon, because veggie bacon makes me sad).

Okay, enough of the mouth running. Let’s get down to business. I’m just going to bold the ingredients through the description.

Somewhere along the way you need to fry enough eggs for however many servings you’re going to have. I split this two ways, and did two sets of three eggs. These will go on top of the hash.

First, cook 10 oz. beef or pork chorizo in a skillet while cooking 5 or 6 pieces of bacon in a second skillet. When just about ready, remove the chorizo and bacon and set aside, and combine the fat of the two meats into one skillet.

Add a handful of diced onion bits to the fat, and cook over medium heat or so. After a couple minutes, and a teaspoon of minced garlic (a clove or two) and a 4 ounce drained can of sliced mushrooms. Cook for another couple minutes, but don’t burn anything.

Add 3/4 lb diced rutabagas from the frozen section of the grocer, and stir in until the frozen bits have all fallen off, then add 1/2 tsp. of paprika and salt and pepper to taste. Stir until you feel like everything is coming along nicely. Sip some wine. Drink some beer. I don’t know.

What follows (and the spices), I mostly lifted from the other recipe. Well, until the end. You’ll see.

Add three or four Tbs. water and cover for a few minutes.

Return the meat to the hash, along with the juice of a whole lemon (they use half).

After a couple of minutes dish it into to four bowls (this is a hearty meal for two), cover with the fried eggs, pour a few teaspoons of El Pato Jalapeno Salsa (from the Mexican section of the grocer, sub a superior salsa if you wish) on top of the eggs, and garnish with a few sprigs of cilantro.

That’s it. Everything was pretty much packaged in some way (even the lemon in its rind) or could be (frozen diced onions). The whole thing took about twenty or twenty five minutes from start to finish.

The finished product was every bit as satisfying as white potato hash—maybe even more—and I think the starchy carbs were reduced to about 1/5 of potatoes.

Enjoy!

from: Jamey W. Bennett 
to: Daniel Larkin
date: Tue, Jan 14, 2014 at 12:01 AM

Oh, I forgot a crucial ingredient that makes it a little more south of the Border and less of a rip-off! I used a 10oz can of diced tomatoes and green chilies (medium heat) when I added the lemon. They warmed up in the couple of minutes left in the cook. I can get the Ro*Tel brand for $1 at Dollar Tree or Target. They were a wonderful component, and I didn’t want to cook the life out of the tomatoes, so I thought adding them at the end would be like two minute hops in homebrew. ;)

from: Daniel Larkin
to: “Jamey W. Bennett” 
date: Tue, Jan 14, 2014 at 9:08 AM
subject: Re: Chorizo, Bacon, and Eggs Rutabaga Hash

I saw a Cauliflower Hash recipe on Facebook, and I’ve actually been planning it in my head ever since. My plan was to go with tempeh pre-boiled in a mix of water, soy sauce, vegan Worcestershire, and liquid smoke. I’ll go with your spices and tomato/chili mix for sure. This has Brinner written all over it.

from: Jamey W. Bennett
to: Daniel Larkin
date: Tue, Jan 14, 2014 at 4:00 PM

Wow, that’s quite a different direction, and sounds delicious.

[Note: Pictures were taken of this, but seem to be lost to the author. Apologies.]

Hawaiian Poke with Bragg Liquid Aminos

from: Jamey W. Bennett
to: Daniel Larkin

DOOD.

Have you ever had poke? Do you even like sushi and such? I don’t know if we’ve ever had this conversation.

I’ve loved sushi rolls for years, but when I lived in Hawaii, I was turned onto a much broader world of sushi. In particular, I fell in love with sashimi and a distinctly Hawaiian dish known as poke. There was a grocery deli Kona side I used to go to that had about 8 or 9 types of poke, stretching the definition a bit from one to another, but not stretching the amazing flavor.

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Essentially, poke is a bowl of raw fish, onions, soy sauce, and spices, and often includes sea weed and other items. It’s probably more of a sub-class of ceviche, but the flavors and spices are on the Asian spectrum, rather than the Hispanic spectrum like ceviche.

While poke is usually done with fresh ahi tuna, I had some mahi mahi filets on hand and decided to give it a shot. And sure enough, it was great.

I didn’t measure anything, so I’ll just tell you in paragraph form. In a bowl, combine diced onion (I used white), minced garlic, ginger powder (or even better with fresh grated ginger), crushed red pepper flakes, sea salt, a splash of sesame oil, a generous helping of Bragg Liquid Aminos (soy sauce is more traditional), and two scoops of chili-garlic sauce (Huy Fong, same brand as “rooster” sriracha). Stir this up.

Chop your raw fish filets into small cubes. Toss with the goodies in the bowl. Let it rest for awhile for the flavors to meld. Serve as an appetizer or main course, and eat it with chop sticks, of course!

One nice optional touch. I keep furikake on hand, a Japanese condiment for rice—also something I discovered in Hawaii—which contains sesame seeds, sea weed, etc. A few shakes on top of the fish adds a really nice touch.

Enjoy!


jamey w. bennett