Veggin’ Cookbook Challenge: Fenugreek-Flavoured Potatoes

September 23, 2010 By: Megabeth Category: Cookbook Chronicle Challenge, Side Dishes

Almost a decade ago, a small Indian Spices & Appliances store in our neighborhood closed down to make way for a new condo building. They had a clearout sale where I picked up a couple of interesting cookbooks before they closed up shop. Although they promised to return to the new building, I am sad to report that, alas, they have not. Instead we have a tennis specialty store and a “Blinds by Tomorrow”. Boy…am I thrilled. At least I’m left with a couple cookbooks and the memory of a great locally owned store that still makes me smile.

Summer Cookery, by Rohini Singh, was originally published in 1996 in India. It features everything from “refreshing coolers”, pulses and rice, to sections called “vegetable platter” and “preserving summer”. This is an omnivore’s cookbook, but is pretty overflowing with the vegetable options.

The preface is a chatty homage to summer cooking. At the end of the preface, Rohini Singh reveals that her six-year-old daughter was her “testing ground.” She says that “a callous, unmindful-of-consequences “Yuk” was often the final verdict when I presented her with one of my new dishes.” She continues, “Most of the recipes featured in this book have passed this stringent test” after some modification so they they would be worthy of a second-helping from her harshest critic. So, if the recipe made it to the cookbook it must be good.

There are several pages of photos and nice long introductions about summer cooking the precede each section.

Each recipe features a little snippet of advice or a description of the dish. My favorite was for poppy-seed potatoes: “Designed to dope you into a deep slumber in hot summer afternoons, these potatoes are a specialty from Bengal.” The author also provides some recipe variations and leftover suggestions as well as what utensils are required. If you stay away from the meat section, everything in the rest of the book is vegetarian.

Flipping through the cookbook you can easily see that a wide variety of ingredients are used. Most are easy to find while others you may have to find an Indian specialty store or use a substitute.

The fenugreek-flavoured potatoes are introduced by the following, “These really get made in a jiffy and are perfect when last-minute guests drop in or for that matter, for any hot day when being too long in the kitchen is a bother.” That pretty much sums up this dish. On the next go round I might spice it up a bit with some red pepper to create more of a bite. Although it says “if you like”, add that lemon juice at the end. It adds a nice punch to these potatoes. And, finally, I halved this recipe and it still made a lot with plenty of leftovers.

Fenugreek-Flavoured Potatoes
Summer Cookery

6 largish potatoes, peeled, boiled, and cubed
2 tomatoes, chopped
2-3 tablespoons cooking oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons dried fenugreek
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt to taste

Utensil: a heavy-bottomed pan or karhai with a lid

1. Heat the oil. Add the cumin seeds. Don’t let them turn too dark.
2. Add the turmeric, fenugreek and salt. Fry from a few seconds.

3. Add the tomatoes and fry till the fat separates.

4. Add the potatoes, stir well, cover and keep on the fire for 7-10 minutes. Stir occasionally.

5. Sharpen with the lemon juice if you like, before serving.

Veggin’ Cookbook Chronicles: Stuffed Potatoes

August 14, 2010 By: Megabeth Category: Cookbook Chronicle Challenge, Main Dishes, Side Dishes

I’d like to take you on a little journey. A little journey through The “New Age Vegetarian Cookbook” printed in 1980 by The Rosicrucian Fellowship out of Oceanside, California. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride as this cookbook is an interesting treasure trove of recipes and surprises…

So, the first thing I need to do is find tell a little more about The Rosicrucian Fellowship. It was founded in 1911 in Oceanside, California by Max Heindel. His mission was to “”prepare mankind for the coming age of Universal Brotherhood, the Age of Aquarius.” The group continues on today using a study course to educate and disseminate the Rosicrucian philosophy and “to spread the gospel and heal the sick.”

When I came across this cookbook, I had never heard about the group. I wondered if all were vegetarian and lo and behold, their website answers my exact question:

The Rosicrucians do not teach that everyone should be a vegetarian AT ONCE. In fact they teach that the vegetarian diet generates an abundance of energy, much more than flesh foods. This energy is not only physical but spiritual, so that if a man leads a sedentary life and is of a material disposition, engaged, perhaps, in sordid business transactions or in other lines of strictly material endeavor, this spiritual energy can find no vent and is apt to cause systemic disturbances. Only those who live an active, outdoor life, where the abundance of energy generated by the vegetarian food can be thrown off, or who transmute that energy into spiritual endeavor, can thrive on the vegetarian diet. Besides, we recognize that the heredity of many generations has made man partly carnivorous, so that in the case of most people the change from a mixed diet to vegetables should be gradual. The diet which suits one man is not fitted for another, VIDE the old proverb that “one man’s meat is another man’s poison,” and no hard and fast rules can be laid down which will apply equally to all people. Therefore, everything that we eat as well as everything else connected with our personality should be determined by ourselves individually.

With that knowledge in hand, let’s dig into this cookbook…Sure, this isn’t a slick four-color photo filled book. In fact, there are no photos or illustrations whatsoever. We only see almost 500 pages of dense Times New Roman text.

We begin with the preface which speaks directly to the Dear Reader and ends with:

Many more recipes may be added but for lack of space. We have tried, however, to make of the book a reasonably representative selection, and trust that having it in your kitchen shelf will make you happy.

I kind of like that sentiment. They address the cooking, the eating and the health but most of all…they want you to be happy.

After the preface, we then launch into a nice section about “useful food facts” and a discussion of what various vitamins and minerals do for the body and where to find them. Then there are 64 pages of food values in a table that includes calories, protein, iron, calcium contents.

Next is a comprehensive menu listings that included school and business lunches as well as the full days of breakfast, lunch and dinner. They explain:

There should be variety from day to day to make meals appetizing, along with variation in texture and color. It is in the combination of hot and cold foods, soft and solid ones, the sweet and tart, too, that the flavor is enhanced, with the use of herbs having a share in the enjoyment of meals.

The menus are extensive. And, when one of the items listed is “New Age Cole Slaw” what’s not to like? Each menu day even lists beverages including:  “Upon arising a glass of cherry juice” or “Upon rising a glass of pineapple juice.”

After the menu section, this is where the cookbook ramps up. Page after page of simple recipes, advice, guidance and suggestions. For example, there is a sandwich section where there are 48 suggestions for various combinations – egg, cream cheese, peanut butter, vegetable and all kinds of variations in between. One such suggestion:

Take equal parts of chopped carrots and pecan nuts and pass trough food chopper, using coarse cutter. Mix with mayonnaise. Spread on dark rye bread, toasted.

All recipes are simple and the instructions given are very concise. Sometimes too concise and you have to go into the context clues to figure out what you need to do. So, if they say “4 baked potatoes” in the ingredients you know to bake the potato before beginning the rest of the recipe.

It was when I was doing the perusal of the recipes for this post, the mystical qualities of this cookbook reared it’s head. I’ve used this cookbook several times but this time as I flipped I had to stop as I suddenly came across this:

Yes, a four leaf clover! Oh joy! Someone, who knows how long ago, placed the clover in the book for safe keeping. I smiled, happy with my find, and then turned the page:

Joy of joys! Two more four leaf clovers preserved in the pages! Yes, the writers were correct, having this cookbook on my shelf did make me happy!

The cookbook wraps up with a list of herbs that “provide simple home remedies such as our grandmothers used for minor indispositions.” The extensive herb section begins thusly:

Herbs have come to us so bedimmed by time that we no longer know their origin. Their use has relieved many ailments, serving as an aid to better living.

This introduction is followed by pages upon pages of herbs and their benefits. Such as:

Celandine, wile (plant): ruled by the Sun. Effective in problems of bladder, dropsy, kidney, jaundice, liver, and also for ulcers.

Pumpkin Seeds: ruled by Moon. Beneficial in expelling tapeworm by eating quantity of shelled ones at night, followed next morning by brisk cathartic to expel worm.

I shall remember that around Halloween when I’m carving pumpkins and toasting the seeds. Be gone tapeworms!

After the herb discussion, we head into food equivalents and a quite comprehensive index that does a great job cross referencing and listing by ingredient rather than by recipe title.

Sadly I have to draw this journey to a close. But don’t fret, there is one more section in the book –  a list of books authored by Max Heindel that includes the following titles:

  • Occult Principles of Health and Healing
  • The Message of the Stars
  • Mysteries of the Great Operas
  • Gleanings of a Mystic
  • Simplified Scientific Astrology
  • Simplifies Scientific Ephemeries
  • The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception

To wrap things up, this is one of those cookbooks that you flip through and actually read when waiting for things to cook. It’s a collection of not only cooking advice and references but has some pretty durn good recipes to boot.

Now, on to the business at hand – a recipe from this mystical book. I let the four leaf clover be my guide and chose to make Stuffed Potatoes. I had yet another “happy moment” after getting to pound the living heck out of a bag of cashews and pecans. (I used a wooden crab mallet, laid the bag on the floor and began pulverizing them.) These stuffed potatoes were warm and nutty. I could have used a little more cream in the mixture as they came out a little dry. I noticed it when I was mashing up the stuffing but just didn’t think to add more milk to the mixture. We ate these as a main dish but they can certainly side alongside something else.

Stuffed Potatoes
New Age Vegetarian Cookbook

4 large baked potatoes
1/4 cup ground pecans and cashews
1/2 cup warm certified raw milk (Note: I used skim milk)
1/4 cup grated cheese (Note: I used cheddar)
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vegetable salt
2 tsp chopped parsley

Before After

Cut potatoes in half lengthwise; remove pulp and mash, adding other ingredients.

Beat until light.

Refill shells, leaving top rough.

Sprinkle with paprika and brown in 400 degree oven.

Vegetarian Giro d’Italia: Dutch Stamppot Boerenkool with Sausage (Mashed Potatoes with Kale)

May 08, 2010 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes

 Vegetarian Giro d'Italia: Stamppot with Sausage (Mashed potatoes with vegetables)

The Giro d’Italia begins today with an exciting burst of energy and lands us first in The Netherlands. That’s ok…shake it off.  It’s a bit confusing because I know you were expecting an Italian recipe. However, the time trial stage is set in beautiful Amsterdam so sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Besides, we’ll get to Italy soon enough. In the meantime, we’ll just have to dive in head first in the Land of Cheese! Cheese! Glorious cheese! In fact, we’re klopt by cheese!

But one can’t live on cheese alone. Can they? Well, if one were to search for traditional Dutch foods you nearly get slammed in the face by a dish called “stamppot”. In short, stamppot is a farmers meal of mashed potatoes with vegetables mushed into veritable and absolute comfort food. Oh, yes, there is cheese in it but it doesn’t overwhelm the dish. It’s a versatile recipe using what you have on hand, so if you’ve got some potatoes and some vegetables hanging around you’ve got stamppot. This dish is served with a nice vegetarian sausage that you can quickly sear on the already hot griddle so it can be considered a one bowl meal.

Stamppot Boerenkool with Vegetarian Sausage


4 large red potatoes, peeled and chopped into even sized chunks
1 small red bell pepper
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 cup chopped kale
cubed cheese, about a handful (Note: I used a nice Dutch Yodeling Goat Gouda)
1/2 cup (or more if you like) milk
3-4 T. butter
1 tsp coarse spicy mustard
salt, pepper, cayenne, nutmeg

Bring a pot of salted water to boil.

Meanwhile heat a griddle pan. Throw on the bell pepper and flip until charred pretty well on all sides.

Core and dice it. Set aside in a small bowl.

When the water comes to a boil, add the potatoes and cook until tender. Drain the water. (Note: The original recipe did not say when to stir in the kale. I stirred the kale in after this step so some of the steam from the potatoes could soften it a bit.)

Saute the onions in some butter or oil until browned and caramelized. (You can use the same griddle pan that  you roasted the bell pepper on.) This is a good time to throw the vegetarian sausages on that same griddle pan again. Just move the onions over with the chopped up bell peppers.

Heat the milk, butter and mustard in the microwave until steaming.

Pour it into the drained potatoes, along with the seasonings.

Mash to desired consistency.

Stir in the charred bell peppers and caramelized onions.

Stir in the cheese cubes and divide into serving bowls. Serve each bowl with a grilled sausage.

St. Patrick’s Day – Vegetarian Style!

March 17, 2010 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes, Side Dishes

vegetarian bangers and mash

Inspired by St. Patrick’s Day, I dug into my archives to find this Guinness Bangers and Cheesy Onion Mash recipe. Just don’t forget to leave some Guinness to toast with. Oh, wait, I remember who I’m talking to…you’ll have plenty on hand, right? Enjoy!

Originally published April 8, 2009:

I was inspired by a “Dinner: Impossible” episode on the Food Network to make this banger and mash recipe.  All I had to do was convert the original recipe by using vegetarian sausage.  I also took advantage of a bumper crop of parsley in my Aerogarden to throw some fresh herbs into my mash.

Preparation couldn’t have been easier, but cook time is a little long. But, you don’t have to monitor it that much. So, this was definitely a “sit on the stove and let simmer while folding the laundry” dinner. Served with a little light coleslaw, this meal was quite unique and satisfying. And, it would be easy to make large quantities of if serving a large crowd.

Guinness Bangers and Cheesy Onion Mash
(a.k.a. Vegetarian Sausage and Potatoes)

Serves 2
By: Megabeth
Inspired by Dinner: Impossible

Vegetarian Guinness Sausages
2 t olive oil
1 12 oz package vegetarian Italian-style sausage (4 sausages)
1 pint, 6 oz bottle of Guinness Extra Stout
1/2 white onion, diced

Cheesy Onion Mash
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1/4 white onion, diced
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup asagio cheese, shredded (or use white cheddar)
1 1/2 T butter (I used Smart Balance instead)
2 T flat leaf parsley, minced
sea salt, to taste

In a saute pan, heat olive oil on medium high heat. Add vegetarian sausage and brown on all sides.

vegetarian bangers and mash

Add Guinness and onions and turn heat to low.

vegetarian bangers and mash

Cover and braise for 50 minutes.

vegetarian bangers and mash

In large pot, place potatoes and onions and pot and bring to boil.

vegetarian bangers and mash

Continue to boil until potatoes and onions soften. Drain and place in large bowl.

vegetarian bangers and mash

Add cheese, butter and heavy cream. With potato masher, mash potatoes until smooth.

vegetarian bangers and mash

Add parsley and stir to combine into potatoes. If you desire creamier potatoes, use a hand mixer after hand mashing.

vegetarian bangers and mash

Remove sausage from pan and serve with mashed potatoes. Feel free to use some of the sauce from the pan to drizzle over the potatoes and sausage.

vegetarian bangers and mash

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