Isa Chandra’s dilly stew with dumplings

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I have never eaten stew with dumplings but when I saw the recipe and enticing photo in Isa Chandra’s cookbook Isa Does it, I had to make them. At first I wasn’t sure what to think of these little fluffy lumps of dough floating in a savoury stew but my tummy figured out pretty quickly that this was a great thing. Isa’s recipe takes about one hour from start to finish and is really very straightforward. I embellished a little by adding extra veggies, but essentially this is how Isa does it.

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For the stew

3 Tbsp vegan margarine

¼ cup flour

1 medium onion diced

3 cloves garlic minced

6 cups vegetable broth

1 tsp salt

A few grinds of black pepper

2 ribs celery

2 carrots cut into coins or half moons

1 ½ cups cooked navy beans (that’s a 15oz can drained and rinsed)

1 ½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes cut into chunks (2 medium potatoes)

½ cup frozen or fresh peas

½ cup cremini mushrooms chopped

1 tsp dried thyme (or 1 Tbsp fresh)

2 Tbsp fresh dill (or 2 tsp dried – but seriously try to get fresh for this one)

½ tsp paprika

1 Tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce

For the dumplings

1 ½ cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 tsp dried rosemary (or 1 Tbsp fresh finely chopped) OR 1 tsp poultry seasoning

¾ cup unsweetened plant milk (almond, soy etc)

2 Tbsp olive oil



Melt the margarine on medium heat in a large, wide pot that has a tightly fitting lid. Add the flour and heat through to make a soft roux – stir constantly for a couple minutes to cook out the raw flour taste but without burning the roux. Add the onions and garlic and sauté together for about 5 minutes.

Add the broth and stir constantly using a whisk so that the flour is incorporated evenly and lump free.

Add all the other ingredients and bring the pot to a boil. Once it’s boiling, reduce to a simmer and simmer for 25 minutes. Stir a few times during cooking. The stew is done when it’s nicely thickened and the potatoes and carrots are easily pierced with a fork.

While the stew is simmering, make the dumpling batter.

In a small bowl, sift in the dry ingredients. Okay, not going to sift? At least sift in the baking powder so you don’t end up with salty, crystalline lumps in your batter. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients. Stir everything to combine – you will have a rather ugly looking batter and that’s okay.



It’s not pretty, and I was very dubious about this whole dumpling thing at this point.


When the stew is done simmering, drop the batter by spoonfuls on top of the hot stew. I got 16 dumplings that completely covered the top of the stew.

Put the lid on the stew pot and let the pot simmer for another 14 minutes. No peeking! It’s the steam in the pot that cooks the dumplings. They will puff up and be nice and firm to the touch when they’re cooked, but will be cakelike on the inside.


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Here are the dumplings after steaming. At this point I was REALLY wondering what I had done. But ladle up a dumpling and some stew on top, dig in and it’s savoury heaven!


Ladle the stew and dumplings out in a bowl. This dish makes 4 very satisfying servings and will last up to 3 days in the fridge. It makes great, microwavable leftovers.


Dumpling stew

You end up with this, and this is DELICIOUS!


White bean pot pies – savoury, creamy, comfort


I have always loved pot pies but haven’t eaten one in years once I learned of all the nasty things that go into the crust and filling. But on this chilled winter weekend, I just had to have a pot pie.

In case you’re new to this blog, there a few things you need to know about me. I eat vegan food. I can’t roll things (nothing – not a rug, not a burrito) and I’m lazy. Well, I think of it as time and energy efficient.

So if I can make these pot pies, any one can! They are easy and no-fail and most of all comfort food at its finest. They’re also made with ingredients you likely already have in your fridge, freezer and pantry.

You can mix up the vegetables you use in these pot pies. I’ve included a very traditional blend, but I think sweet potatoes, parsnips, fennel or even cabbage could be interesting. You could even use a bag of mixed frozen vegetables.


1 ½ cups white beans (navy or great northern beans). That’s one 15 ounce can drained and rinsed

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 carrot sliced (I think a small sweet potato peeled and cubed would make a great substitution)

1 rib celery finely sliced

1 onion diced

2 cloves garlic minced

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1/3 cup frozen green peas

¼ cup flour (you will need a little extra too for rolling out your dough)

3 cups vegetable broth

1/3 cup white wine (optional)

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried mustard

1 tsp salt

½ teaspoon ground pepper

1 bay leaf

1 Tbsp A-1 Sauce (a/k/a brown sauce) or vegan Worcestershire sauce

Pie crust – see note


Note: I used plain, store brand, no-name, pre-made, frozen pie crusts – enough for 2 bottom crusts. I let the shells thaw for about 15 minutes and then manually wadded them into a dough ball. Using a rolling pin dusted with flour, I rolled the dough out onto a floured surface until I had a ¼ inch thick square. I measured out the pie crust lids by using the bowls I baked the pot pies in as a form of cookie cutter. I inverted the bowls onto the dough and cut out the circle size I needed to make the pie crust lid.

Here’s an excellent recipe and instructions on making pie crust, if you’re inclined to bake right from scratch. It really isn’t hard at all and only takes a few extra minutes!

I used 4 ceramic bowls, but you could also use ramekins or make one big pie or mix it up however you feel.

To make the filling

Preheat your oven to 400F.

Pour the olive oil into a medium sized Dutch oven or sauce pan. Add the onion, garlic, celery and carrots and sauté for about 5 minutes on medium heat, until the onions are getting translucent. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté for another minute or two.

Add the flour and stir until the vegetables are all covered and the flour cooks slightly – about 1 minute. Add the wine, if using, and the broth and all the seasonings. Stir well to make sure you have a smooth broth and bring to a boil. Once the filling boils, reduce the heat and let the broth simmer for about 10 minutes. Fish out the bay leaf.

Line a large cookie sheet with foil and place your baking dishes on the foil lined cookie sheet. You don’t have to do this, but it makes it MUCH easier to put your small pot pies in the oven and take them out again. The foil means you don’t have to clean the cookie sheet.

Fill each bowl equally with the pot pie filling. Top with a piece of pie crust cut to size. If your pie crust goes right to the edges of the dish, cut a slit in the crust to let steam escape.

Bake for 35 -40 minutes.

These pies will keep for 3 days in the fridge. You can reheat them in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes OR microwave.

You can freeze these pies once cooked. To reheat them, let them defrost in the fridge first.

Chickpea mini muffins with lemon tahini sauce


These little cuties are savoury and satisfying. I love them served on a bed of millet with lemon tahini sauce and a big side salad.

The original recipe is from Esther’s Kitchen (Esther being the Wonder Pig). I have made a few alterations and embellishments to the original recipe to amp up the flavour because that’s how I like it. Feel free to leave out any of the seasonings –the herbs, garlic, shallot/green onion or salt as you prefer…. But why? Why?

You can eat these muffins hot or cold, they’re portable so they make a great snack or breakfast on the go, and they’re easy and affordable. What’s not to love?

Ingredients for the muffins

Makes 12 mini muffins

2 cups of chickpea flour – also called besan or gram flour

2 cloves garlic minced

2 shallots diced OR 3 green onions chopped

1 Tbsp fresh parsley chopped

1 Tbsp fresh dill chopped

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp baking powder

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

1 cup water


Heat the oven to 400F. Grease a mini muffin tin.

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until everything is incorporated and moist. Spoon into the muffin tin. Bake for 20 minutes. The muffins should be golden on top when they’re done.

Ingredients for the lemon tahini sauce

1/3 cup hot water

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 Tbsp maple syrup

Juice of ½ lemon

¼ cup tahini


Mix everything together in a small glass or bowl. Whisk until well blended and spoon over the muffins.


Mushroom barley soup


soup close.jpgI get a cheap thrill fooling non-vegans into thinking they’re eating meat.

This soup is as savoury and dark as any beef broth. However, in this case the beef is still very much alive enjoying his or her life happy in a field somewhere.

My recipe is based on an ancient Moosewood cookbook, but with my own riff to make it more flavourful and less laborious.


300 g sliced mushrooms (about ¾ of a pound)

2/3 cup dried mushrooms – any kind. I buy them in a huge bag for very cheap at a Chinese grocery and use them for making stocks

3 cups water

3 cups vegetable broth

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 onions diced

3 cloves garlic minced

2 ribs celery diced

2 medium carrots diced

2/3 cup dried barley

1 Tbsp tomato paste (you can freeze leftover tomato paste in 1 Tbsp portions and keep it in a freezer bag so you always have tomato paste for recipes like this)

1 bay leaf

1 tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

1 tsp dried thyme

¼ cup soy sauce

¼ cup cheap red wine or sherry or port (I always keep cheap port – so cheap it comes in a plastic bottle! – for cooking and marinating)

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In a large pot bring the vegetable broth and the water to a boil. Break up your dried mushrooms into fingertip sized pieces and place in the boiling stock/water. Simmer for 15 minutes and remove the pot from the heat.

In the meantime in a stock pot, dice up and slice your other veggies. Saute the onion, garlic, celery and carrots until the onions are translucent – about 5 minutes.

Add the sliced mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms release their juices. I like to cook this right down so some of the mushrooms start to brown a bit. Add the dried mushrooms/stock/water mixture and an additional 1 cup of water and all the other ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for 40 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and enjoy!

A vegan shepherd’s pie to die for… except no one actually does


I have always loved shepherd’s pie. It’s a gorgeous, classic comfort food. Now here’s a version that’s just as delicious as the original AND vegan.

While the ingredients list and steps may seem long, I promise this is a simple recipe that will make you feel like a gourmet when it’s done.

My next door neighbour, a venerable German lady and an excellent cook, came by to sample the dish and declared it to be buttery and sinful. I couldn’t ask for higher praise.


For the mashed potatoes

4-5 potatoes. I use Yukon Gold or any white fleshed potato. Scrub them well, remove any eyes, all or some of the skin and then dice.

1 white turnip peeled and diced. Trust me on this – the turnip gives the buttery flavour to the potatoes.

3 Tbsp vegan margarine

1/3 to ½ cup unsweetened soy or almond milk

Salt and pepper to taste

For the filling

½ cup beluga (black) lentils or any kind of lentils except red lentils, which get mushy.

3 stalks celery sliced

1 small onion diced

2 carrots sliced

1 parsnip sliced (if you don’t like parsnips, then just go with 3 carrots)

2 cups mushrooms sliced (I used cremini)

½ cup green peas (I used frozen)

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 ½ cups vegetable broth

2 Tbsp tomato paste

1 Tsp fresh thyme (or go w/ dried if that is what you have, but use only ½ teaspoon)

1 Tsp fresh sage (or go w/ dried if that is what you have, but use only ½ teaspoon)

1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (make sure your brand is vegan. I used Lea and Perrins)

A splash of red wine (about ¼ cup)

I Tbsp flour or arrowroot (for thickening the sauce)

1 tsp salt

Black pepper to taste


Boil the cubed potatoes and turnip together until they are soft. This takes about 15-20 minutes. Drain off the water. Add the margarine and milk and mash everything together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Put the lentils in a small pot with one cup of water. Put a lid on the pot and bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes. Set aside.

In a large skillet or large pot (you want a wide based vessel), sauté the onion, celery, carrot and parsnip in the olive oil. Sauté on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Then add the mushrooms and sauté some more until the mushrooms have released their liquid.

Add the tomato paste, flour, wine and half the broth. Stir well so the flour and tomato paste are blended well in the broth. Add the remaining broth, thyme, sage, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, cooked lentils and peas and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let simmer uncovered until the liquid has reduced by about half. This will take about 15 minutes.

When the filling is ready, pour it into a very large pie dish or other casserole dish. Top with the mashed potatoes and place under the broiler for 10 minutes until the potatoes are golden.

Dig in and enjoy!