Saturday, May 16, 2015


I might be an anomaly. I’m a vegetarian who seeks out meat recipes. Selectively, yes.. but why?

It’s all about taste. I am lured by the seductive taste and smell - not of the meat (or chicken or seafood) itself, but the techniques of cooking and the fabulous sauces I discover. However I get there, I want to share the tagines, curries, and chilis, the foods of every continent and cuisine. I want to do it without the lamb, chicken or beef.

It’s all about nutrition. We eat to live, we live to eat, and both must be considered. Sometimes all I have to do is take out the meat, and there’s still a meal in the works. I like to look at the balance of everything that goes with the meal so that all the parts leave me well fed.

It’s all about satisfaction. More than a full feeling, I love to have the pleasure of the aftertaste.  I like my house to hold on to the scent of spices, or the chemistry of the sauce in a frying pan or oven. Sometimes, there’s the satisfaction that I have been able to recreate a recipe to my own needs and still retain the clarity and purpose of the original.

Some of my favorites from The Perfect Pantry are the ones I’ve redirected for my vegetarian meals: Southwestern Beef Brisket and Nasi Goreng are two that I enjoy with only a little shift of ingredients. Then there’s Floribean Chicken Chili: first I omitted the chicken, since both beans and (vegetarian) sausage were enough for me. I wanted to taste those Florida-Caribbean flavors! Delicious, but I kept experimenting… if you’d like to see how it is now, here’s the adapted, still evolving, recipe.


Broth: Put ½ onion and 1 carrot (cut in rough chunks), 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp  ground cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp chili powder, 4 black peppercorns in a pot with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Strain into a container, pressing out as much liquid as you can.

Saute: Cut into ½” dice 1 sweet pepper (red or green or a combination), ½ onion, 1 medium sweet potato; 1-2 carrots sliced diagonally, ½”. In your soup pot, saute vegetables in 1 Tb neutral oil (like sunflower or canola) until they start to soften. Stir in ½ tsp crushed chiles, ¼ tsp chipotle powder (or 1 chile in adobo), 2 tsp ground cumin, 2 tsp ground coriander, 2 tsp chili powder, 1-2 spicy vegetarian sausages cut in ½” pieces. Stir for 1-2 minutes to release the fragrance.

Chili:  Add to the pot the strained broth, 14 oz crushed tomatoes, 1 T red wine vinegar, 1 T kecap manis, 1 ½ cup cooked pinto or black beans (or 1 15 oz can). Simmer ½ hour.

Thicken: Sprinkle 1-2 T Goya Masa Rica (or cornstarch dissolved in some of the liquid).  Simmer 5 minutes. If not thick enough for you, you can increase the amount or evaporate some of the liquid.

Finish: Stir in juice of ½ lime, sprinkle with ¼ cup chopped cilantro.
The original recipe on The Perfect Pantry suggests wonderful garnishes - sour cream, chopped mango, diced tomatoes, grated cheese.

Makes about 2 quarts

Written as a guest post for 

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