Sunday, March 10, 2013

Hawaiian Portuguese Bean soup - Mainland edition

Here is the almost real Portuguese bean soup. Why almost? It's missing the Portuguese sausage. Actually I deliberately do this, even I can pick up the sausage from United Noodles. This was the way I made it when the ingredient was not readily available in the Upper Midwest. Chorizo has been a great substitution. By adding 1 tsp of 5 spice, you get that Island flavor we so miss. I am using a cured chorizo here, it's a little smokier. You can find fresh  chorizo in the store and they are very similar to Portuguese sausage in texture. If you can get Portuguese sausage, just skip the 5 spice powder!

Another base ingredient here is ham hock, great flavor. However I am not a fan when it gets too smokey. I found a great meaty ham shank at Whole foods, it's not too smokey and without sodium nitrite. There is something magical with beans and ham hock. With such a great "marriage", I can't use canned beans in here. I know it takes a little time to cook with dried beans, this is well worth it. The beans are not going to be mushy and the meat on the ham shank is cooked thoroughly and tender. Worth every minute and energy!

Hawaiian Portuguese Bean Soup, Mainland style
1 package Chorizo - cured or fresh, or 1 Portuguese sausage if available. Sliced into 1" pieces.
1 tsp 5-spice powder - (not necessary is you are using Portuguese sausage)
1 ham shank or hock
3 cup mix dried dark red kidney beans and garbanzo beans (about 50/50)
1 large onion - chopped ( about 1/2" pieces)
2 carrots - cleaned, peeled and chopped (about 1/2" pieces)
2 stalk celery, cleaned and chopped (about 1/2" pieces)
2-3 tbsp chili powder (to taste)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 can 20 oz diced tomatoes
6 cups chicken stock
1 bunch of cilantro - excess stem removed and chopped.
3 bay leaves
1 cup macaroni
1/2 head cabbage, cleaned, core removed and cut into 1" pieces
Fill a medium size pot  with water to about 1/2 full. Bring to boil. Add washed beans. Stir and let it sit for about an hour.
Place chorizo pieces in a dry fry pan, render the sausage over medium heat till the sausage starts to brown. Remove the meat from the pan. Leave 1 tbsp of the grease in the pan and remove the rest
Saute the carrot, celery and onion with the sausage fat.
Add 1 tsp 5 spice powder and toast the spice lightly with the vegetable till the vegetable soften.
Transfer the vegetable to a large dutch oven, add the bean and the liquid, fried sausage pieces and the ham shank.
Add chicken stock
Add tomatoes
Add tomato paste
Then chili powder
Add bay leaves, Bring the soup to a full boil, then lower heat to simmer. Cover and let it cook for about 2-3 hours till the beans are tender
Once the beans are tender, Remove the ham shank from the soup. Separate the meat and the shank bone. Cut up the piece into bite size piece.
Add cabbage and 1/2 the chopped cilantro to the soup
Return the ham meat to the soup
Add more stock or water as needed. Need to make sure there is enough liquid for the noodle to cook.
Add 1 cup of macaroni. Bring to a boil. Cover lower heat to simmer and let it cook for additional 30 mins. Please remember to stir the soup every now and then to make sure the noodle is not sticking to the bottom
When the noodle is tender, add remaining cilantro before serving. Safe a pinch-ful for garnish.
Serve 10-12 minimum. The soup freezes very well. Separate into smaller container. When reheating, you may need to add water, check seasoning.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Vegan Hawaiian Portuguese Bean Soup

I know this may sound a little odd, how can Portuguese bean soup be vegan. Well, with a little creativity and a little trail and error, we can get have the comfort, the taste and and texture of the classic stew without meat.

Portuguese bean - (I love this article about the soup)  is a classic all in one bowl comfort food in Hawai'i.  Just like chili, everyone has their own secret spice and recipe. If you are not familiar with this thick soup, I would describe it as a hybrid of  Minestrone and chili. Just like everything else in Hawai'i, there is a little of different cultures in the soup.  It is usually a meat base soup, made with ham hock and Portuguese sausage. It is difficult to get Portuguese sausage on the mainland. I used to call it "contra-ban" and brought back the "goods" frozen from the Islands every year. We are very lucky that United Noodles carries it now. These is no vegetarian version of Portuguese sausage yet, I have to come up with a substitution. Once in awhile I would make a batch of Portuguese spice. I am using the spice mix I made in the soup here, however Chinese 5-spice is a great substitute. Actually some of the spices in Portuguese sausage is very similar to Chinese 5-spice.

As with the meat, I found a great soy chorizo at Trader Joe's, with the added spice, it tasted pretty close to the classic soup! I usually do not put cabbage in mine. As I mentioned every family/person has their version, experiment and make it your own!

Vegetarian Hawaiian Portuguese Bean Soup
1 package soy chorizo (casing removed as per direction)
1 med onion- chopped
2 carrots - cleaned, peeled and chopped
2 stalk celery - cleaned and chopped
1 15 oz can red kidney beans - drained
1 15 oz can garbanzo beans - drained
1 15 oz can diced tomato
4 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp 5 spice powder
1-2 tbsp chili powder (to taste)
1 tbsp tomato paste
2-3 bay leaves.
1 cup elbow macaroni
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup (about 1/3 of a bunch) cilantro - chopped
In a med size fry pan, heat a couple tbsp olive oil. Brown the soy chorizo
Add 5 spice powder, mix well
Add onion, carrot and celery, saute for 3-4 mins till the vegetable begin to soften. Transfer the vegetable mix to a 6 qt dutch oven or pot.
Add Kidney beans
Garbanzo beans
diced tomato
Then stock
Chili powder to your taste ( I like it spicier, as it is vegetarian)
1 Tbsp tomato paste.
Add macaroni
Finally bay leaves, bring the soup to a full boil, lower the heat to simmer, and let it cook for about 30-45 mins. Check and stir to make sure the noodle is not sticking to the bottom.
When the soup is ready, add chopped cilantro. It's ready to serve!

Serve 6-8.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Not quite grandma's Vegan Banana Cream Pie

Many of you asked me what I did with the food I made. If it is a meat dish, it usually ended up at Mr Wonderful. If it is vegetarian, I would share it with my vegetarian friends. Mr Wonderful once told me he had never eaten so much fruit and vegetable in his life. However I could not get him to eat a vegan pie. He loves pie. In his opinion a pie without butter, dairy and all, is not worth eating.  His Grandma, mother and sisters were all bakers. They used to run a family diner in Northern MN and they made pies from scratch everyday. He once told me he "knew" pies.

I did a terrible thing this week. I mislead poor Mr Wonderful to eat a piece of my Vegan Banana Cream Pie. I didn't tell him it was vegan, with no butter, no dairy, no eggs. I asked how the pie was, he said: " Taste just like Grandma's". Well - that's a BIG win!! He didn't know what he ate and he asked for second!!! Shhhhh... let's not tell him  :)

I didn't make the pie to challenge the poor man, I was actually asked by my friend Moni for a Vegan banana cream pie on National Banana Cream Pie day. I wanted to come up with something that she could enjoy with her husband, Steve. I was told that Steve loved Banana Cream Pie. I want to make sure I can preserve the taste and richness of the pie without the  dairy and eggs. 3 of the key item I used: Coconut milk beverage, English Bird's custard powder and Rich Whip.
The coconut milk here is not a traditional coconut I usually use for cooking, it is an non-dairy alternative. I love the product. It has a hint of coconut. the same consistency of milk. It cooks very well.
No many realize there is no egg in the custard powder, it is actually corn starch with some coloring.
As with Rich Whip, it was the 1st non-dairy topping in the food industry!! Rich Whip is the only topping without any milk product. Many of the whipped topping do contain milk solids.

Vegan Banana Cream Pie

The crust:
1 1/2 cup cinnamon graham cracker crumb, you can grind you own, it's about 1 inner package of crackers.
1/3 cup sugar
6 tbsp coconut oil, melted
2 tbsp Bird's custard powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup non-sweeterned coconut milk beverage
1 tsp vanilla
2 med size banana, sliced
1 8oz frozen carton liquid Rich Whip
1/4 cup powder sugar.
Lightly spray a 8" pie pan with Pam or other non-stick baking coating.
In a med size bowl, mix cracker crumb and sugar. Add melted coconut oil. 
 Mix well.
 pour the crust mix into a prepared pie pan, evenly press the mix down to make the crust. Set a side
To make the filling
Warm 1 cup of coconut milk in a small sauce pan till hot, but not boiling.
In a separate medium size bowl, mix sugar together
 Slowly whisk in the remaining 1/4 cup of coconut milk
Mix well and make sure there is no big lumps and the mixture is smooth
Add the hot coconut milk to the custard mix.
 Return the custard mixture to the pan over med low heat
Keep whisking and cook the custard till thickened and coat the whisk or back of a spoon.
 The custard should be pudding like, return the mix back to the bowl again
 Mix in 1 tsp vanilla
 Fold in 1/2 of the banana. Let the mixture cool in the fridge for about 30 min. It would appear to be very thick.
In a med bowl, whip Rich Whip till stiff.

Fold in add 1/4 cup of power sugar.
Remove the custard from the fridge, fold in 1 cup of the whipped topping
 Mix with the beater for about 1 min to break up the banana
Reserve a few pieces of the banana for garnish, evenly space the remaining banana in the pie crust.
Top with the custard
Even the top
 Pile the remaining topping on the pie. If you choose, you can pipe the topping on the pie.
Chill and let the pie set in the fridge for 2 hours till set. Garnish with banana slices

You can substitute Cool Whip or other whipped topping if you do not need the pie to be vegan.