Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Festive Phyllo Triangles

As you can see by the paltry number of posts this month, December has been a pretty busy month in every sense but the culinary. I had all sorts of plans to do baking and post a bunch of ideas for the holiday season, but alas . . . . What is it they say about the best laid plans? I did make Peter Reinhart's stollen recipe (awesome), and I have finally figured out what to make for Christmas dinner. Since I will be feeding vegans and omnis alike, I wanted to make something that could be enjoyed for what it was, and not some imitation of a meat dish. Enter the phyllo! The filling is chickpeas with cranberries and spinach: tasty and also red and green for Christmas.

- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
- 1 19 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- 1 cup packed baby spinach
- 10 roasted chestnuts, chopped
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 tsp rubbed sage
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pkg phyllo dough
- melted margarine, or oil

Makes 16 Preheat oven to 375 degrees
1. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Saute onion, garlic, and celery for 5-7 mins, until soft and translucent.
2. While onions are cooking, pulse chickpeas, cranberries, and spinach in a food processor. Make sure not to process into a paste.
3. Place chickpea mixture in a bowl, then add onions. Add chestnuts, flour, and spices and mix well. Season to taste.
4. Place one sheet of phyllo on the counter and brush with melted margarine or oil. Place another sheet on top and brush with oil. Cut phyllo lengthwise into three long strips of equal width. Place a scant 1/4 cup of filling at the bottom of each strip. Fold like you see here. Brush folded triangle with oil or margarine. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
5. Repeat with remaining filling. Bake for 15-20 mins, until golden brown.

I served mine with roasted mushroom gravy. As you can see, I could not really figure out how to present the dish. On Christmas day I just plan to put them on the plate with all the other veggies and not worry about how it looks in a picture.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Green Potato Soup

I am a negligent blogger! Christmas is in nine days and I have nothing ready! Nada! I don't even know what the entree will be! Oh, stupid job getting in the way of the holidays! While I scramble around trying to make Christmas happen, here is an awesome soup to keep away the winter chill. The most amazing thing is that the kids ate it without a single whine. Put a pile of greens on their plate and the wailing can be heard for blocks, but put it in a soup and they bolt it down. Go figure.

- 2 tbsp oil
- 3 leeks, white and light green part, sliced
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 small bunch swiss chard, stalks removed, chopped
- 4 cups water (more if needed)
- 1.5 lbs diced red potatoes
- 1 cup plain soy milk
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 4 cups baby spinach
- salt to taste
- lots of freshly ground pepper

1. Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Saute leeks, celery, and garlic for 10 mins, until soft. Add chard and saute until wilted. Add water a blend with a hand blender until smooth.
2. Add potatoes. The liquid should almost cover the potatoes. Add more water, if needed. Bring to bubbling, cover, and simmer for 20 mins, or until potatoes are cooked.
3. Add soy milk and nutritional yeast and mix well. Season to taste. I made the soup rather peppery. Then add spinach a stir until wilted but still vibrant green. Serve.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Oyster Mushroom Scampi

Last week I got an email from a faithful reader wondering what to do with with some veggie-based shrimp she had picked up. At first, I was jealous about the shrimp. I had some once at a Chinese restaurant in Philly and it was great. If memory serves, it is actually a type of mushroom. It was with shrimp on my mind that I sat down to come up with a special meal for Vegan Mom and I (you really have to try and keep a date night when you have four kids!). I settled on Oyster Mushroom Scampi. The dish is lemony and garlicky, and the mushrooms are wonderfully delicate. I made a thin fettucine noodle (rolled out to number 6) but you could use linguine as well.

Serves 2 for a romantic dinner
- 1/2 pound fresh pasta (linguine or thin fettucine)
- 3 cups large oyster mushroom pieces
- 2 tbsp margarine, plus additional tbsp
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 shallots, small dice
- 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley

1. Prepare pasta. While waiting for the water to boil, rinse the mushrooms and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside.
2. Heat margarine and oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and saute for 5 mins, until soft and translucent. Add mushrooms to the pan and saute for another 5 mins, until soft.
3. Add wine and lemon juice to the pan with the additional tbsp of butter and parsley. Bring to bubbling, and when maragrine has melted, add cooked pasta to the pan. Stir well and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ethiopian Eggplant Stew

I'm not a big fan of eggplant. It can tasty a little bitter, and the texture sometimes makes me quiver (I have texture problems). But, since I did pick up some discount eggplants at the grocery store I needed to find a dish to use them up. The result was actually very good (and the kids didn't even realize they were eating eggplant!). I also thought I would try a new method for the onions that I have seen in several Ethiopian recipes--dry frying them for 30 mins until a deep golden colour. If you want to skip this step, just saute in oil for 8-10 mins.

- 2 large red onions, halved and sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1" piece of ginger, minced
- 1 tbsp allspice
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp berbere (or to taste)
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1/4 cup margarine
- 1 medium eggplant, diced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 1 tomato, small dice
- 1/4 cup red lentils
- 1 1/2 cup water (more, of needed)
- 2 cups chopped green beans
- salt, to taste

1. Heat a large non-stick pan (cast iron preferred) over medium heat. Add in onions and fry for 30 mins, stirring regularly, until a nice golden brown. When onions stick to much, deglaze the pan with a splash or two of water.
2. Add in garlic, ginger, and spices and mix well, until spices are fragrant. Add in margarine. When it melts, add carrots and eggplant. Fry for 5-7 mins, until eggplant begins to soften.
3. Add tomato, lentils, water, and beans and mix well. Bring to bubbling, then loosely cover and let simmer. The lentils will cook in 20 to 30 mins, but I cooked mine for about an hour, until the eggplant was really soft. Add water, if needed. Season to taste and serve with injera.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ethiopian Lentils

Have you seen that Hamburger Helper commercial that claims you can (with the Helper's help)
feed a family of four, with vegetables, for under ten bucks? The last shot before the commercial ends shows a serving bowl of Hamburger Helper, a small bowl of peas, and a glass of milk. Some meal. Lentils are super cheap, high in fibre, iron, folate and protein. Ten bucks of lentils could feed your family of four for about a month. This is a fantastic dish that gets a lot of flavour from cooking the lentils with a whole whack of onions. The vinegar may seem like a weird addition, but I assure you it completes the dish.

- 1 1/2 cup green lentils
- 3 cups water (more if needed)
- 2 large sweet onions, halved and sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 fresh green chile or jalapeno, seeded and minced
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp cardamom
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Rinse lentils then place in a large saucepan with water, onions, garlic, and chile. Bring to bubbling, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 45 mins, until lentils and soft and onions have more or less disintegrated. Stir periodically and add more water if needed.
2. From here, you can add in the remaining ingredients, cook for 10 mins, and serve. However, if you have the time, I like to add in the spices and cook, uncovered, for another 45-60 mins. Green lentils are durable enough to withstand a lot of cooking without falling apart. This way you can cook off some more of the water and slowly make a nice thick stew. Then, stir in vinegar and cook for 10 mins, season to taste, and serve.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ethiopian Sweet Potato Stew

I mentioned in my last post that I wanted to make more Ethiopian food, so when my in-laws were here for a visit I whipped up a small feast of 3 dishes that I will post over the next few days. My father in law must eat a very low salt diet so well-spiced food is always a great way to go. This dish is so flavourful that I didn't miss the salt, but feel free to season to your taste. An essential element to any Ethiopian meal is some good injera bread. The recipes I see online require a 3 day fermentation period, so I go with Jennifer's recipe in Vegan Lunch Box. It is quick, easy, and has great taste even with the much decreased fermentation time. We all love abandoning our forks and scooping up our food with chunks of spongy, soft injera.

- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 large sweet onion, diced
- 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 2" piece ginger, minced
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, diced (around 3-4 cups)
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp ground fenugreek
- 1 1/2 cups water (more as needed)
- 1 large tomato, small dice
- 1/2 cup red lentils
- 2 tbsp tomato paste (more as needed)
- 2 cups chopped green beans (fresh or frozen)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute onion, garlic, and ginger for 10 mins, until onion is a nice golden colour. Add sweet potatoes and red pepper and saute for 1 min.
2. Add spices and fry for 1 min. Don't worry about things sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add water to deglaze the pan, then add tomato, lentils, tomato paste, and beans. Mix well.
3. Bring to bubbling, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for at least 30 mins, until lentils and potatoes are soft. Stir occasionally. It is even better of you can let it cook on a low heat for an hour or two. Add more water if stew gets too thick.
4. Stir in parsley and season to taste. Adjust thickness of stew with more water or tomato paste--remember that you want to be able to scoop this up with injera.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Recipe Roundup

Busy, busy, busy! I am fully booked in both my personal and professional life, and that leaves little time to get creative in the kitchen. And, as you have noticed, it leaves little time to blog. So, tonight I thought I would give a roundup of stuff that I have been making lately to point you to gems from the past that you may have missed the first time around. The weather is getting cooler, but is still generally above zero and we have yet to get snow. Huzzah! As you can see from the pic above, soup has been a go to dish these days--packed full of a variety of veggies and perfect with a few slices of freshly baked baguette. This one is kind of like a minestrone, and I have found that I can add slices of kale or chard and the kids will still gobble it down (which is great, because a pile of kale or chard on the plate leads to wailing and gnashing of teeth). I also made Ethiopian stew one night (along with injera from Vegan Lunch Box) and was reminded about how awesome the flavours are. Must make more Ethiopian food, especially because the kids love eating without forks! I also made use of the last pumpkin kicking around the house to make Hearty Autumn Muffins--these are so awesome and full of fibre that you will be happily regular in no time! It was also a way to use up the 100 lbs (or so it seems) of apples I bought to make applesauce. OK, that's it for now, and I promise to be back soon with some new food.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thai Fried Rice

I can't remember how many times I tried to make fried rice back when I started cooking on my own before I learned that cold rice is the key to keep in from sticking together into one lump. It was a great day. Fried rice is a great way to use up extra rice, but I usually try to make a few extra cups so I can make fried rice on Asian night. This recipe has wonderful flavour, and the key is the coconut. Make sure you toast it but don't burn it.

- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 2/3 cup unsweetened coconut
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 tsp red curry paste (or more to taste)
- 4 cups cooked jasmine rice, cold
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 cup frozen French cut green beans, thawed
- 2 baby bok choy, thinly sliced
- 3 green onions, sliced
- 1 vegan omelet, rolled and sliced (optional)
- juice of 1 lime

1. Heat a wok over medium heat. Dry fry the cashews and coconut, stirring constantly, for a minute or so, until lightly golden and fragrant. Set aside.
2. Increase heat to med-hi and add oil. Stir fry garlic for 30 seconds, until lightly golden, then add in curry paste and rice and fry for a few mins, until heated through.
3. Add brown sugar, sauces, and vinegar and mix well. Add in beans and bok choy and fry until bok choy is wilted but still nice and green. Add in onions, coconut, and cashews and cook for a few mins more.
4. Mix in omelet slices and lime juice and serve.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Burgundy Stew

Hi kids! Sorry I have been gone for so long. Perhaps you caught my guest post on Crazy Sexy Life in the meantime. Things have been pretty interesting around here as of late. We are coming to the end of some pretty tense contact negotiations at work, and I was positive it was going to end in a strike. Well, a strike has been avoided but no contract has been ratified as of yet. The whole thing has been one big pile of stress. Of course, nothing relieves stress like some tasty comfort food. Say, a nice hearty stew.

- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 leek, white and light green part, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 15 whole pearl onions
- 3 turnips, cubed
- 2 parsnips, sliced
- 2 large carrots, sliced
- 2 large potatoes, cubed
- 2 cups red wine
- 2 cups veggie broth (more, if needed)
- 1 19oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 tbsp basil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 cups baby spinach
- 1/4 cup tomato paste

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute leeks and garlic for 5-7 mins, until softened and beginning to brown. Add onions, turnips, parsnips, potatoes and fry for 2 mins.
2. Add wine to deglaze the pan, then add veggie broth, beans, and basil. Season to taste, then bring to bubbling. Reduce heat, loosely cover, and simmer for about 20 mins, until veggies are cooked. Add more broth if stew gets too dry.
3. Mix tomato paste into the stew, adding more broth if needed to get a nice thick consistency. Add spinach to the pot and cook for a min or so, until spinach wilts but is still a vibrant green. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Spaghetti Squash with Slow Roasted Tomato Sauce

Now that summer is over we are back to the tasteless, anemic, tomatoes from the grocery store. Sigh. I wanted to make a tomato sauce to go with a recently purchased spaghetti squash, but knew that the tomatoes this time of year leave something to be desired. Enter slow roasting. I was amazed--this process brought out more flavour than I ever could have imagined. Combined with the vermouth, this sauce is bursting with tomatoy goodness and is the perfect complement to the flavour and texture of the squash. Obviously, this recipe needs a bit of planning. I roasted the tomatoes the day before and kept them in the fridge until I needed them.

- 1 spaghetti squash
- 6 large tomatoes, cut into wedges
- 8 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- olive oil
- seat salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 leek, light green and white part, thinly sliced
- 1 tomato, small dice
- 1 cup vermouth (plus a few generous splashes)
- 1 tsp basil
- salt and pepper taste

1. Slow Roasted Tomatoes: Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Gently toss tomato wedges and garlic cloves in a bit of olive oil and spread out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 3.5 to 4 hours, until well-roasted, wrinkly, but still with a moist centre. Peel the garlic and chop.
2. Roasted Spaghetti Squash: Cut a small hole in the squash to let steam escape. Roast at 375 degrees until soft to the touch. This will depend on how big you squash is, but generally about 1.5 to 2 hours. Cut open, let cool a bit, then remove squash strands with a fork. Toss in a bit of margarine and season with salt and pepper.
3. Sauce: Heat oil over medium heat. Add leeks and saute for a few mins, until softened. Add a generous splash of vermouth and cook for a few mins more, until nice and soft. Add more vermouth, if needed. Add roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic, diced fresh tomato, and 1 cup of vermouth. Let simmer for 10 mins or so, until sauce is thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over squash.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Polenta with White Beans, Braised Kale, and Roasted Pears

If you follow this blog at all you know that I usually don't mess around with fussy presentations or preparations. But, you also know that I like to watch Top Chef. The last episode featured Natalie Portman, a vegetarian, but I found the dishes presented to be pretty disappointing so I thought I would take a try at something more fancy. The dish started with wondering about how roasted pears would taste . . . .

Makes 10
Roasted Pears
- 6 Bartlett pears, cored, diced
- 1 tsp oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar


- 2 cups water
- 1 cup plain soy milk
- 1 cup polenta
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp parsley
- salt and pepper to taste

White Beans
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 leek, white and light green section, thinly sliced
- white wine
- 1 tomato, small dice
- 1 19oz can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- salt and pepper to taste

Braised Kale
- 6 large kale leaves
- white wine
- dash of salt

1. Pears: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss diced pears in oil and vinegar and spread out on a baling sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast for 30 mins, turning pears regularly. Keep warm.
2. Polenta: Grease 10 large muffin tins. Bring water and milk to boiling. Slowly whisk in polenta and reduce heat to med-lo, stirring frequently to keep from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cook for 15-20 mins, until soft and thick. Add spices and season to taste, then transfer into the muffin tins. Let cool, remove from tins, then keep warm.
3. Beans: While polenta is cooking, make the beans. Heat oil over medium heat in a frying pan. Fry leeks for 2-3 mins, until staring to go golden, then add a big splash of wine. Let cook dry, then repeat until leeks are softened (about 5 mins). Add tomatoes and another splash of wine and let reduce a bit. Add beans and a last splash of wine, then let cook for 5-7 mins until tomatoes have turned into a thick sauce. Season and keep warm.
4. Kale: Remove tough stalks from kale leaves, stack leaves, then roll up. Thinly slices rolled leaves. Heat a frying pan over med hi heat. Add kale, a generous splash of wine, and a dash of salt. Let cook for a min or two, until kale is soft but still bright green.
5. Place polenta on a plate, then top with beans, then kale, then pears.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Just a quick post to wish you all a Happy Halloween, and to remind to you sent your clocks back an hour. Instead of getting all fancy with the pumpkins this year, the boys designed their own jack-o-lanterns and I carved them up. Here they are from Sons 1 - 3.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Creamy Red Pepper Polenta with Roasted Mushrooms

The weather around here, in a word, has been crappy. And you can only eat so much soup before you get a hankering for something different but still warm and comforting. Creamy polenta fills the belly and has a hearty texture that satisfies. The dish is really easy to make, and it's amazing the depth of flavour you can get by chucking a few extra things into a blender.

- 4 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 3 cups water
- 1 large red pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
- 1 leek, white and light green section, sliced
- 1/2 cup plain soy milk, or creamer (more, if needed)
- 1 cup polenta
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp sage
- salt and pepper to taste
- parsley, fresh or dried

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
1. Toss sliced mushrooms and garlic in olive oil. Spread out on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 mins, turning a few times to keep from burning. Remove from oven, let cool, then peel and mince garlic.
2. While mushrooms roast, place water, red pepper, and leeks in food processor or blender and blend until relatively smooth. Bring to bubbling in a sauce pan, then whisk in polenta. Lower heat and stir in soy milk/creamer. Loosely cover and cook for about 15-20 mins, until thick and creamy and soft. Stir regularly to keep from cooking to the bottom, and add more soy milk if it gets too thick. Stir in spices and minced garlic, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Pour polenta into a large serving dish, then place mushrooms in the centre. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Thai Chickpea Cakes with Cucumber Relish

I am rediscovering my love of Thai food, now that I have more or less forgotten what fish sauce tastes like. I usually just end up chucking in a bunch of different sauces that I have in the fridge to get a more complex flavour: hoisin, vegetarian oyster, stir fry, soy, etc. This is a take on a fish cake--not so much a recreation of the texture and flavour, but more the spirit of the dish (whatever that means!). You can either fry or bake these. The baked version is a little dry, to be honest, by the relish moistens it right up.

Cucumber Relish
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tbsp minced ginger
- 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
- 2 cups diced cucumber

Chickpea Cakes
- 1 nori sheet
- 1 19oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 tbsp red curry paste, or to taste
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp oil
- juice of 1/2 lime
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/2 cup frozen french cut beans, thawed

1. Heat vinegar, sugar and water over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add garlic, ginger, and shallots. When cool, add cucumber and mix well. Let marinate for as long as possible.

Chickpea Cakes (makes 12)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
1. Rip up the nori sheet and place in a food processor with the blade attachment. Process on high speed until chopped into small pieces. Add chickpeas curry paste and pulse until chopped up but not like a paste (you're not making hummus here).
2. Dump chickpeas in a bowl, add sauces, oil, lime juice and mix well. Add cornstarch and mix well. Add beans and mix well.
3. Using wet hands, press mixture into a moistened 1/4 cup measure (don't fill it right up--more like 1/3 full. Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining mixture.
4. Spray cakes lightly with oil and bake for 15 mins, or until golden--don't over bake or they will be dry. Serve with relish.
5. You can also fry them for about 3 mins per side in 350 degree vegetable oil.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thai Stuffed Omelets

I hardly ever buy veggie ground round, but for some reason it called my name on this week's shopping trip. I also finally got around to making the omelets from Vegan Brunch, so it seemed to me that these two things could combine together to make a tasty dish. The result: Thai stuffed omelets. I revised Isa's recipe a bit to make the omelet a little more durable, but they are still delicate. The soft texture of the omelet contrasts nicely with the more chewy filling, and the combination of sweet and savoury makes for a delicious dish that can either be an entree or an appetizer.

Makes 6-8
- 1/4 cup instant tapioca
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 pound silken tofu (not Mori-Nu)
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1/2 tsp tumeric
- 1 tsp fine black salt
- 1/3 cup chickpea flour
- generous tbsp corn flour
- 1 tbsp cornstarch

- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pkg veggie ground round (I used Yves)
- 1 tbsp vegan oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 2 tbsp chopped cilantro

1. Place tapioca in a food processor and sprinkle water over top. Let sit for a few mins. Add tofu, nooch, oil, tumeric, and salt. Blend until very smooth. Add chickpea and corn flour, and cornstarch and blend until smooth.
2. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat (you may have to play around with the heat a bit to find the right temp where the omelets can cook without burning). Lightly grease and pour a generous 1/2 cup of batter into the pan. Spread out into an 8" circle with a spatula, then cook until mostly dry on top (a few mins). Flip and cook for another few mins. Remove and let cool for a min or two. I find the omelets are a bit more durable when they sit for a bit.
3. Place about 1/4 cup of filling in the middle of the omelet, then fold the opposite ends of omelet in to create a square. Place on a cookie sheet, cover with foil, and keep warm in the oven while you cook the other omelets.

1. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic for 5-7 mins, until soft. Add ground round, sauces, sugar, and tomato. Bring to bubbling and cook for 8-10 mins, until tomato cooks down into a thick sauce. Add cilantro and stir. Keep warm while you cook the omelets.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Apple Jelly

Apple jelly is a small bite of heaven. Subtle in flavour, delicate in texture, and deliciously sweet. Perfect on a piece of toast for breakfast. Like most jellies, apple jelly is more work than your standard fruit jam because the juice needs to first be extracted from the apple. This is an old style jelly that does not rely on commercial pectin to set, but the extra work is well worth the end result.

Makes four 500ml jars of jelly
Apple Juice
- 10 lbs cooking apples
- water

- 8 cups apple juice (from above)
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 6 cups sugar

1. Remove stem and blossom end from the apples, then quarter (no need to core). Place in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to bubbling, then loosely cover. Reduce heat and cook for about 20-30 mins, mashing the apples as they soften. Don't cook too long, just until the apples are soft and easily mash-able.
2. Line a large colander with a wet tea towel and place over a large pot or bowl. Dump cooked apples into the colander and let drain for at least 2 hours. The juice will be thick, clear, and slightly pink.
3. Measure out the juice to make sure you have 8 cups. Place in a large pot, add lemon juice and sugar. Bring to boiling over med-hi heat. Boil hard for about 25 mins, stirring regularly. The jelly should sheet off a cold metal spoon when it is ready. Quite frankly, I have never figured out exactly what this means. You will find that the jelly will begin to coat the spoon you are using to stir the jelly.
4. Skim off foam, pour jelly into sterilized and warm jars, screw on lids finger tight, then process in boiling water (making sure jars are fully submerged) for 10 mins. Remove from heat, remove lid, and let cool for 5 mins. Remove from water and let fully cool. Jelly will fully set as it cools.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pumpkin Rolls (and Bread)

Tonight's post is kind of two ideas in one. First, adding pumpkin to just about any kind of bread is a good idea. I peel and seed the pumpkin, chop it, and boil it in water for about 30 mins until it is soft. I then drain it and blend it in a food processor until very smooth. I have found that this puree can be subbed in for water in bread recipes, almost cup for cup. Start by simply replacing the water with the puree, then add in more as needed. It gives the bread a wonderful light orange/yellow colour and makes it tender and moist.

Second, I give you mini buns. Not really a ground-breaking idea, I know, but hear me out. This year the boys' school changed to something called the equal day. Instead of two recesses and a lunch break, the kids get two 40 min "nutritional breaks," one in the morning and one in the afternoon. This makes packing food a little more interesting, but I have had great luck with these mini buns. The recipe is Peter Reinhart's Italian bread recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice: the starter is made as per the book, but the final dough is made with whole wheat flour, and the water is replaced with pumpkin puree. Each bun weighs 50 grams, is brushed with soy milk after rising, and is baked at 400 degrees for 14 mins. The great thing about these is that there is no crust to leave behind, so the kids gobble them all up, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I make 40 of them at a time (double batch of dough), freeze them, and pull them out as I need them throughout the week.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Apple Juice

We have apples coming out of the wazoo! I guess it is too cold to grow apples up here (there are no local orchards that I know of), so my in-laws bring us a whole whack of apples from down south every fall. So, after making apple pie, apple crisp, and huge batch of apple sauce, we still had tons left. The obvious thing to do next was to try my hand at apple juice. OK, first just let me say that apple juice is A LOT of work. I don't know how they can sell huge cans of it for 99 cents. I started with a recipe in my canning cookbook that called for 24 lbs of apples to be chopped, cooked in 8 cups of water, then hung in a cheesecloth and left to drip for 2 hrs. That sounded like too much work, plus I doubted any cheesecloth could hold 24 lbs of cooked apples. Enter my Jack LaLanne power juicer! I figured the juicer would eliminate the initial cooking step and perhaps filter the juice a bit. Well, it didn't work exactly as planned since the juice still needed considerable straining to filter out all the sediment. Here is what I did to get a delicious juice with an amber colour and cidery taste. Son #1 set up the photo for tonight's post.

Makes about 6L of juice
- 24 lbs apples
- 1 juicer
- 2 clean tea towels, damp (they will get stained)
- two large pots/bowls
- kitchen thermometer
- 6 1L canning jars and lids

Sterilize your jars. Get a large pot of water boiling to process the jars of juice.
1. Use large rubber bands to affix the tea towels over the top of the pots/bowls. Don't make the towel tight over the bowl; rather, make sure it dips into the bowl so it can hold the juice.
2. Working in batches, chop the apples and process them through the juicer. Pour into the towel over one of the bowls and let drip through. You will find that the towel quickly gets gummed up with a pectiny residue, so I made this a pretty rough filtering. Once most of the juice passed through, I detached the towel and squeezed the remaining juice through. Then, I poured it through the other towel while I cleaned the first towel. I then passed it through the first towel once again.
3. Once all the juice has been filtered, heat to 190 degrees F and keep at that temperature for 5 mins. Pour into jars, top with lids, then screw the ring on finger tight. Place in pot of boiling water (making sure water covers lids), return to boiling, then boil for 10 mins with lid on. Remove from heat, remove lid, and let sit for 5 mins. Remove jars from water and let cool.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Thanksgiving Roundup

This post won't help my Canadian readers, but perhaps it will be of some use to all you Americans (and anyone else celebrating Thanksgiving some time soon). First, let me apologize for the lack of a picture (of food--this is from our fall hiking trip). I was all ready to snap a pic of the feast when I realized my battery was dead. Sigh. For the entree I made the Thanksgiving Mini Pot Pies than I blogged about a few days ago. I made a triple batch of the roasted mushroom gravy to pour over absolutely everything. Both the pot pies and the gravy went over very well with vegans and omnis alike. I was afraid that the pies would be a little redundant, but that really wasn't the case. The other problem was how to serve the pies since they were baked in a ramekin. I placed them off centre on the plate, then piled all the other dishes around the ramekin--it worked perfectly. The other dishes were pretty standard: mashed potatoes, baked yams, acorn squash, peas, carrots, and corn. I also made stuffing, though it I didn't stuff it anywhere. First, I made Peter Reinhart's Italian Bread recipe, subbing the water in the dough (not the starter) with pureed pumpkin. The result is a wonderfully soft and golden loaf. I cubed the bread and tossed it with onions and celery that had been sauteed in olive oil. I seasoned it all with sage, thyme, and salt and pepper, and added raisins and dried cranberries and baked at 350 in a greased pan for about 1 hr and 15 mins.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Happy 2nd Anniversary

I just realized I forgot to toot my own horn and celebrate the 2nd anniversary of the Vegan Dad blog on September 8. Go back and look at my first month of posting. Yikes.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Perfect Pumpkin Custard

When I posted a pumpkin custard recipe a week ago I said I didn't have time to refine it any further. Well, I lied. My in-laws have come to visit and so I took the recipe for another spin. Further research on the interwebs revealed a recipe by Bryanna that used corn flour to thicken the custard and give it colour. I gave this a try and I also revised the method to make the whole thing easier.
Makes 4 custard cups
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger

- 2 cups plain soy milk
- 1 tbsp agar agar flakes
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup coconut cream
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 tbsp arrowroot
- 1 tbsp corn flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Get a kettle of water boiling.
1. Grease 4 ramekins (with 1 cup capacity).
2. Place sugar in a saucepan over med-lo heat. While sugar is heating, mix soy milk and sugar in a saucepan and sprinkle agar overtop. Without stirring, heat sugar until it caramelizes (turns brown and liquefies). Shake pan to melt all the sugar. Add spices, quickly stir in, then quickly pour 1/4 of mixture into each ramekin to coat the bottom. Set ramekins aside.
3. Heat soy milk and sugar over medium heat. Bring to bubbling, stirring constantly, until agar is fully dissolved. Set aside. Whisk together coconut cream, pumpkin puree, arrowroot, corn flour, and vanilla. Whisk pumpkin mixture into the soy milk mixture until smooth. Pour into the four ramekins.
4. Place ramekins in a 9 x 13 pan, and fill pan with boiling water, no more than 1/3 the way up the ramekins. Bake in the oven for 40-45 mins, until top has browned and center has set.
5. Cool in the fridge until custard has fully set.

This recipe yields a more delicate custard than the first recipe. I found it tasted best at room temperature, but that it needed to fully cool (and get cold) to be able to hold its shape when inverted out of the ramekin. You may just want to skip the inverting part and serve it straight out of the ramekin itself.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Thanksgiving Mini Pot Pies with Roasted Mushroom Gravy

Canadian Thanksgiving is just around the corner so I took our holiday meal for a test run. I am not in the mood for seitan this year--for some reason it just does not appeal. Obviously, this recipe isn't breaking the mold but it really is tasty. After all, Thanksgiving dinner is really like a big plate of pot pie anyway. I suppose that means this entree might be a bit redundant, except that the roasted mushroom gravy takes it to another level. In fact, you might want to make extra gravy to pour over all those other fall veggies you will be serving.

Makes 8 individual pot pies
Roasted Mushroom Gravy
- 8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 4 shallots, unpeeled
- 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- 2 tbsp oil
- salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp margarine
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 cup plain soy milk
- 1 cup water
- splash of mushroom soy sauce (optional)
- sage and thyme to taste
- salt and pepper to taste

- 1/2 recipe puff pastry (sub margarine for butter)
- 6 small potatoes, thinly sliced
- 3 large carrots, thinly sliced
- 19 oz can white kidney beans
- 1 cup (or more) fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
1. Toss sliced mushrooms, shallots, and garlic in olive oil. Spread out on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 mins, turning a few times to keep from burning. Remove from oven, let cool, the peel and chop shallots and garlic.
2. Heat margarine in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir. Let flour darken slightly, then add chopped shallots and garlic. Slowly add soy milk, water, and mushrooms and bring to bubbling. Add soy sauce, if using. Season to taste with spices and salt and pepper (I like a really sagey gravy). Remove from heat and set aside.
3. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch potatoes for 1 min, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain. Repeat with carrots.
4. Lightly grease 8 ramekins (1 cup capacity). Spoon a layer of gravy on the bottom. Top with a layer of sliced potatoes, then carrots. Top that with another layer of gravy, then top with beans and cranberries. Top with more gravy, then a final layer of potatoes. Note: don't go too crazy on the gravy or your pies will bubble over and make a huge mess. It's OK to have some gravy left over.
5. Roll out puff pastry to about 1/2" thick and cut into circles to fit the top of the ramekin (use the leftovers to make turnovers). Top each pot pie with the pastry, then bake for 20-25 mins, or until pastry is golden and gravy is bubbling.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pumpkin Custard

The experimentation with year's batch of pumpkins has begun! Since Canadian Thanksgiving is next Monday, I am in the kitchen trying to plan out this year's meal. I wanted to make a baked custard with a caramel bottom, but the trick is trying to mimic the texture of an egg custard. I tried this recipe a few different ways, and this version is the best. It's not really like a "real" custard, but it is still really good. I'm also not sure if I am complicating the method a bit, but I have run out of time to refine the recipe further. In any event, the end result is still really good and is a great alternative for those who aren't crazy about pumpkin pie.

NOTE: I have revised this recipe here.

Makes 4 custard cups
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger

- 2 cups plain soy milk
- 1 tbsp agar agar flakes
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup coconut cream
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3 tbsp arrowroot

1. Grease 4 ramekins (with 1 cup capacity).
2. Place sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Without stirring, heat sugar until it caramelizes (turns brown and liquefies). Shake pan to melt all the sugar. Add spices, quickly stir in, then quickly pour 1/4 of mixture into each ramekin to coat the bottom. Set ramekins aside.
3. Whisk agar flakes into soy milk and sugar and heat in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to bubbling, stirring constantly, until agar is fully dissolved. Place in the fridge to cool and set (about 1 hr).
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Get a kettle of water boiling.
5. When soy milk mixture has set, place in a food processor with coconut cream, pumpkin, vanilla, and arrowroot. Process until very smooth. Pour into the four ramekins.
6. Place ramekins in a 9 x 13 pan, and fill pan with boiling water, no more than 1/3 the way up the ramekins. Bake in the oven for 45-50 mins, until top has browned and center has set.
7. Cool in the fridge until custard has fully set.

To serve, place ramekin back in hot water, or microwave for 10-15 seconds to reheat caramel. Either eat the custard in the ramekin, or run a sharp knife around the edge and invert into a shallow bowl. If some caramel is left behind, heat ramekin again and pour caramel over the custard.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Oyster Mushroom Sushi

Back when I posted my recipe for Grilled King Oyster Mushrooms, Shohga suggested grilling the mushrooms brushed with ponzu and then using them in sushi. I thought that sounded like a great idea, so I filed it away in my brain to try later. The other day I went on the hunt for some ponzu, but couldn't find any without bonito (a type of fish). So, I decided to use some mirin instead. Since my grill was out of propane, I tossed the shrooms into a pan over medium heat and kept splashing them with mirin until cooked. I put them in the sushi roll with some chopped bok choy that I briefly pan fried in a little light soy sauce. The shrooms were slightly sweet and the bok choy added a light crunch. Dipped in some soy and wasabi, it was some mighty good sushi.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Let There Be Pumpkins!

We took a trip to the pumpkin patch on the weekend and loaded up with lots of orangey goodness. Here is Son #3 checking out the huge pile of pumpkins at the farm, scoping out the best one. So, while I figure out what to do with this year's batch, let's not forget about these great recipes from past years. First, start off your day with Hearty Autumn Muffins. For lunch, try my personal favourite: Pumpkin Soup. And, of course, what is soup without scones (or Rustic Pumpkin Bread)? For dinner, try Fresh Pumpkin Pasta with Sage Alfredo Sauce, or a stew with Savoury Pumpkin Biscuit Topping. If you have more time on your hands, the Roasted Pumpkin and Walnut Manicotti is superb. End it all with Chocolate Pumpkin Pudding Cake, or Pumpkin Spice Sweet Rolls.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fiery Red Thai Curry

If I were like my younger brother I would have titled this "Ring of Fire Thai Curry," but I have always been more couth than him. Back in my days in Kingston I used to frequent a Cambodian/Thai restaurant called Phnom Penh. I usually always got the #15, Pad Thai, but occasionally I would branch out and try different dishes. One night my housemate and I ordered a red curry with whole finger hot chiles in it (I really can't remember the name). He dared me to eat all of the chiles from both dishes, which I promptly did (and rather regretted later). This dish is based on the memory of that dish. The Thai chiles are from my own garden (see pic below)--the only peppers that actually grew in the garden this year. They provide the perfect burst of heat in the spicy sauce.

- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- stems from 1 bunch cilantro
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped ginger
- generous tbsp red curry paste (or to taste)
- 1 cup veggie broth
- 6 kaffir lime leaves
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tbsp vegan oyster sauce (or veggie stir fry sauce)
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 6 green Thai finger chiles, cut into 4 pieces
- 1 pkg extra firm tofu, cubed (baked or fired, if desired)
- 2 tbsp plain soy milk
- 4 green onion, cut into 2" pieces
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Place the first nine ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
2. Transfer to a wok or large pot and heat over med-hi heat. Cook for 10 mins, stirring regularly, until sauce has thickened and darkened in colour. Add broth, lime leaves, sugar, sauces, chiles, and tofu and bring to bubbling. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for at least 30 mins, allowing the chiles to cook and the curry to develop its flavour. Add more broth if too dry.
3. Add soy milk, green onions, and cilantro and cook for 5 mins, uncovered. Remove lime leaves, adjust seasoning to taste and serve over rice.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Italian Spinach

I know you are supposed enjoy your tomatoes in the hot and hazy days of late August, but up here in the North it takes until late September to finally get a good crop. It has been a long journey that started with planting seeds all the way back in February. I can't say that we are swimming in tomatoes since not that many ripen at one time. I had all sorts of dreams about canning my own pasta sauce this year but there is no way we have enough tomatoes to do that. Still, this year's crop is a vast improvement over last year's crop of exactly zero. So, with a few extra tomatoes on hand I whipped up this simple but tasty side dish. You could also easily turn this into a sauce to serve over pasta, as I have indicated below.

- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 small sweet onion, halved and sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- about 15 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 cup dry vermouth
- 1 bunch spinach, washed and drained
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large pan/pot. Saute onion and garlic for 5-7 mins, until softened and golden. Add cherry tomatoes and vermouth and bring to bubbling. Let simmer for about 10 mins, until tomatoes have reduced into a sauce.
2. Add spinach, cover pan, and cook for a min or so. Once spinach begins to wilt, remove lid and cook, stirring constantly to coat spinach with sauce. Cook for a few mins, until spinach is tender but not overdone. Season to taste and serve, draining off excess liquid if needed.
3. If you want to make a pasta sauce, add about 1 tbsp of tomato paste to thicken, then toss with pasta.
Here is one of our beefstake tomatoes. Mmmmm.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Creamy Chunky Cauliflower Chowder

Say it! Say "chow-dah!" I don't think this is actually a chowder (when does soup become chowder, anyway?), but I wanted to go with an alliterative title. The temperature dipped down to 2 degrees the other night which suddenly put me in the mood for soup. Of course, now it's about 22 degrees, so that mood has passed. If it is still warm where you are, file this recipe away for later. It is creamy and chunky and perfectly satisfying. The boys loved it as well, which is great because they often balk at soups (or any dish where they can't identify the individual components or separate them out). The chowder has a slightly cheesy taste from the nooch and miso that is well-balanced by the leeks and roasted pepper.

- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp margarine
- 1 sweet onion, halved and sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 leeks, white and light green part, thinly sliced
- 1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
- 2 medium red potatoes, skins on, diced
- 4 cups water
- 1 roasted yellow pepper, skinned, seeded, chopped
- 1 recipe cashew cream
- generous tbsp yellow miso
- generous tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil and margarine in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and leeks and saute for 12-15 mins, or until reduced down and golden.
2. Add cauliflower and potatoes and water (salt the water if you want). Bring to bubbling, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 15-20 mins, until cauliflower and is very tender.
3. Remove half of the veggies with a slotted spoon. Add the roasted yellow pepper to the remainder and blend with an immersion blender until smooth.
4. Add removed veggies back to the pot along with the cashew cream. Add miso, mustard, and nutritional yeast and mix well. Season to taste, heat until just bubbling, and serve.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Baked Beans

You can tell that school has started again because the frequency of posts has dropped off dramatically. The boys (two of them, anyway) have already been back for two weeks and I did my first lecture today. I'll be grading essays before I know it! I don't have a real recipe tonight because I think baked beans is one of those dishes you just chuck stuff into. No two batches should ever be the same. I made a huge pot of beans and packed them away in the freezer for the boys' lunches over the next month (just reheat (add sliced veggie dogs if you want) and pack away in a thermos). The basic ingredients I play around with are:
1. Dried navy beans (or northern beans)
2. Tomato juice
3. Ketchup
4. Molasses
5. Brown Sugar
6. Maple Syrup
I soak a large bag of beans overnight, then cook for about 60 mins, until soft but not mushy. Drain and set aside. If you have time you can saute onions and garlic, otherwise you can use onion and garlic powder. I then heat a large can of tomato juice to bubbling along with a few cups of kethcup, about 1 cup each of molasses and brown sugar, and 1/2 cup of maple syrup. Next, the spicing. I like to mess around with cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and mustard. Add the beans, season with salt and pepper, and bring back to bubbling. Transfer to a roasting pan and bake at 350 for about 2 hrs, stirring every 30 mins. Add more tomato juice if they get too dry.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tofu Makhani

Ah, Indian food . . . my first culinary love. I was a vegetarian for a few years starting in 1999 when Vegan Mom and I grew bored with the monotony of or diet. It wasn't until I cut out meat that I began to explore the depth and breadth of the culinary universe. Indian food quickly became a staple, and I was amazed at the number of spices I had never heard of before (reminds me of a Simpson's episode where Marge sees a spice rack and decides to check it out, convinced there must be some duplicates. Picking up a jar of oregano, she reads the label and wonders, "Ore-eh-gah-no? What the hell?") I have not made this dish in a while, but pulled out the recipe and tweaked it, much to the family's delight.

- 1/3 cup non-hydrogenated margarine
- 2 medium onions, halved and sliced
- 2/3 cup plain non-dairy yogurt
- 1/2 cup ground almonds
- 2 tsp mild chili powder
- 1/2 tsp tumeric
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 4 green cardamom pods, cracked open
- 1" piece fresh ginger, minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 cup water, or veggie broth
- 2 finely chopped fresh medium tomatoes
- salt to taste
- 1 pkg tofu, cubed (I baked mine first, but you could add it as is, or fry in a bit of oil)
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/2 cup coconut milk, or cashew cream

1. If you are baking the tofu, get baking.
2. Heat margarine over medium heat in a large saucepan. Fry onions for 5-7 mins, until soft but not browned.
3. Add yogurt, almonds, spices, ginger, garlic, water, and tomatoes and mix well. Bring to bubbling, then reduce heat and let simmer for 15 mins, stirring regularly. The colour should deepen and the tomatoes should cook down. Add more water or broth if the sauce thickens too much.
4. Add tofu and 1/2 of the cilantro and cook for 5 mins. Season to taste.
5. Mix in coconut milk (or cashew cream), adjust seasonings, top with remaining cilantro and serve over rice.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

It's Almost Like Having an Asian Market

I have a habit of whining about the lack of ethnic food here in northern Ontario, but things just got a little better. For those of you who live in the Bay, TW Foods on Main Street has a respectable Asian food section. They must have expanded it recently because I remember going in there last year and not being too impressed. I thought I would share my finds with you all. Let's go right to left.

Kasoori Methi
Also known as sun dried fenugreek leaves. I could smell their pungent odour right through the packaging and found the claim that they were "hygienic, flavourful, and tasty" to be rather hilarious. I sprinkled some over some dal to boost the dish's flavour. Amazing.

Vegetable Ghee
I thought this was worth a try, but basically it is corn oil. It didn't add much to the dish I made, but the can did assure me it was fine to use for religious observances.

Sweet Soy Bean Paste

Less sweet that hoisin sauce and with a more complex flavour than soy sauce. A great way to thicken a stir fry sauce while adding some flavour.

Tamarind Concentrate

This takes all the work out of soaking dried tamarind (which you can see in the very front, left). Throw some into a Thai dish for a nice tangy flavour.

AROY-D Curry Pastes

These are actually pretty good for pre-fab pastes. I bought red, green and yellow and am happy with all three. The bonus is that they do not have and fish sauce in them. Besides chiles, they are made with galangal, garlic, shallots, kaffir lime peel, and lemongrass.

Black Glutinous Rice
I have yet to use this, but I do have a recipe for Thai rice pudding that I think would be easy to veganize.

Annatto Seeds
These are used in Caribbean dishes, I believe. I remember seeing them in a recipe somehwere, so I bought them on a whim.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bagels Aplenty

In a last hurrah before the kids go back to school, Vegan Mom and I packed up the kids and headed to Ottawa. We booked a suite in a downtown hotel equipped with a kitchen so we could cook our own meals. I am sure Ottawa has some great vegan restaurants, but we wanted to keep costs down and had no desire to cart four kids to an eating establishment and become "that family" that everyone wishes would just leave. To prep for the trip I made a ton of bagels--perfect for lunches, breakfasts, and snacks.

The basic recipe is from Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice, but made a few changes. Let's go from right to left:

Multi-Grain Mixed Berry Bagels:
I made the sponge out of 5 oz oat bran, 2 oz steel cut oats, 2 oz 12 grain cereal, and 9 oz white flour (plus the yeast and water the recipe calls for). I let it soak for an extra hour. In the final dough I replaced 4 oz of the white flour with vital wheat gluten. In the final minutes of kneading I added 1 1/2 cups of dried berries (I used blueberries, cranberries, and cherries).

Whole Wheat Bagels: Replace white flour with whole wheat flour, but replace 2 oz with vital wheat gluten. I find that bagels need good gluten content to remain that dense and chewy consistency.

New York Bagels: as per the recipe.

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels: as per the note on p. 122.
Here is a pic of the centre block of Parliament that Son#1 took. You can see the Peace Tower, obviously, and down on the lawn are about 100 people doing yoga. Yes, Canada is a hippie paradise.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ultimate Vegan Hot Wingz

Seitan is back, baby! I have to give props to my father in law for the idea of putting mushrooms into seitan to make it more tender. I have revised the method, but this recipe is still as easy as the original and is less "bouncy" and chewy. I also revised the coating to make it a little more durable and more able to absorb the sauce. While they won't fool anyone into thinking they are actually chicken, I think they will go over well with vegans and omnis alike.

Makes about 30
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1 small onion, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp poultry spice
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup vital wheat gluten

- 1/2 cup fine corn flake crumbs
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp salt
- fresh ground pepper
- 2 tsp oil
- 1 cup soy milk
- 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Sauce (heat these ingredients in a saucepan)
- 1/2 cup margarine
- 1/2 cup hot sauce
- 1 tbsp vinegar
- 1 tbsp ketchup

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sided cookie sheet with foil and lightly oil.
1. Place mushrooms, onion, and garlic in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add oil, spice, salt and water and process into a smooth paste. Add gluten and process into a smooth dough.
2. Remove dough from food processor and roll into a cylinder about 14" long. Slice into 1" pieces and roll them into a smaller cylinders. Slice that in half if they are too long, then flatten slightly.
3. Mix together ground corn flakes, flour, paprika, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Combine soy milk and vinegar in a separate bowl.
4. Toss seitan in 2 tsp of oil. Toss seitan in corn flake mixture.
5. Dip seitan soy milk mixture, then toss in cornflake mixture again. Place on prepared cookie sheet.
6. Bake for 10 mins, turn over, then bake for another 10 mins.
7. Coat wingz with all but 1/4 cup of the sauce. Bake for 5 mins, then use a spoon to scoop up excess sauce and recoat the wingz. Bake for another 3-5 mins, until bubbling. Remove from oven and let cool 5 mins. Toss in remaining sauce and serve.

UPDATE: Some people have commented that their dough is too wet and the end product too soft. I made these again to make sure the measurements were right and they came out perfectly. So here is my advice: 1. Make sure you use a small onion so the liquid measurement is not thrown off (about 1/3 cup). 2. Save the water for the end. Process the onions, shrooms, spices, and oil, then add the gluten and process. Add enough water to get a soft but still durable dough.

Tofu Ceviche on Top Chef

Veganism makes its mark again on Top Chef with Hector winning high praise (but not the win) for his Tofu Ceviche. Here is a link to the recipe--it is really complicated (with methods I have never seen before) but I would like to give it a whirl some day. Anyone else want to give it a try?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Millions of Peaches, Peaches for Me

Ontario peaches are ripe and ready for eating. I have made 20 jars of jam so far and thought I would try my hand at canning peaches as well this year. It's a bit time consuming but I think it will be worth it in the dead of winter when we enjoy fresh-like peaches. I am sure they will taste way better than canned peaches from the store, and the great thing about making your own is you can control how much sugar goes into the canning syrup. I will report back in the winter on how they taste.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Curried Potato Salad

Perhaps its my partial Irish ancestry but I love potatoes. I also love potato salad, but it can be a bit bland and boring after a few picnics. Curry powder and some peas spice up this version, and you can leave the mayo behind of you like. It tastes great both warm and cold.

- 6-8 small potatoes
- 1/2 small onion, minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tbsp oil (or use some vegan mayo)
- 1 tsp curry powder (or to taste)
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup thawed frozen peas, or cooked fresh peas
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1. Boil potatoes until tender. Rinse under cold water for a few mins, then cut into chunks. While still warm, toss in the rest of the ingredients. Serve warm or cold.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tomato and Tofu Salad

I wish I could come up with a more imaginative name for this dish because it is way tastier than the title suggests. We are finally getting ripe cherry tomatoes out of the garden and this simple salad is a perfect way to enjoy their sweet flavour.

- 1/2 block extra firm tofu, cut into small cubes and dabbed dry
- 1 shallot, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 15 cherry tomatoes (or so), halved or quartered
- 2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
- 1 tsp basil (or some chopped fresh basil)
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Place tofu in a bowl with shallots, then add oil, lemon juice, and vinegar. Let marinate for 30 min or so. Add tomatoes and herbs, and season to taste. Mix well and serve.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Grilled Oyster Mushrooms

When Isa posted about grilled oyster mushrooms from her trip to NYC I figured I would take a stab at them. Oyster mushrooms have a delicate texture but are still tough enough to stand up on the grill. At first I wasn't sure how to season the shrooms, but eventually settled on a garlic and herb infused oil. This was a good call. These are absolutely delicious with plenty of BBQ flavour with subtle flavours from the oil. I also like them because they can be enjoyed for what they are instead of trying to masquerade as a vegan version of a meat dish.

Garlic and Herb Infused Oil
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 6 large cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 tbsp dried basil
- 6 sun dried tomatoes (in oil), chopped
- oyster mushrooms (get the large bunches, like you see here); as many as you want to grill
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and reduce heat to med-lo. Add basil and tomatoes and let simmer for 20 mins. Strain thought a fine sieve into a glass container. Obviously, this makes more than you will need here, so just keep the extra for another time.
2. Cut the mushroom bunched in half both vertically and horizontally (so the bunch is not too thick and as much of the mushroom can touch the grill as possible). Brush generously on all sides with the oil, then season with salt and pepper.
3. Heat grill on high. Grill mushrooms 4-5 mins per side. Resist the urge to flip over--just let them sit there and get some good grill marks.
4. Serve. You can trim off the tough end, or just cut off the more tender parts as you eat.

On Food Blogs and Photography

Several people have recently posted comments asking how I take my pictures, advice for a good food blog, etc. So, I thought I would write a wee post addressing just that. First off (you will be disappointed to know), I know absolutely nothing about photography. The only reason my pics are passable is because I invested in a 50mm f 1.4 macro lens for my Canon Digital Rebel camera. In fact, I bought it for a research trip to Philly so I could take snaps of historical documents in low light conditions (they don't allow flashes or tripods at the Historical Society). I like to think I have an eye for what is a good photo, but I have no idea about f-stops, apertures, etc. I try to take pics outdoors so I can get good light, but this gets tricky in the winter when it is dark by the time supper comes around. My style is to get as much food in the frame as possible and to worry less about the surroundings. Occasionally I will tinker with light and saturation in Photoshop, but more often than not I just crop the pic and post it. I have learned a lot over the past (almost) two years. Look back at my first posts--the pics are dreadful. If you want to actually learn about food photography, go to Bittersweet, or Vegan YumYum.

As for food blogging, I think good photos are essential. You may have the tastiest recipe but if it looks dingy and tan in the pic, then people are less likely to try your food. A good photo will draw people into your blog. After that, the content needs to be good as well. Food blogs are free, and sometimes you get what you pay for. Make sure to edit your posts and that the directions are easy to follow. Be honest about how good your food is. Lastly, make your blog personal. Although I have kept my kids' faces and names out of my blog, I do try to work in anecdotes and such into each post. Establish a rapport with your readers. Make sure your blog has a point.

OK, that's it from me. More food coming soon!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Baked Thai Corn Fritters

This is a lower fat version of this recipe (there is a better pic here). They are not as crispy as the original, and are a little more like a corn cake, or corn bread, but they are tasty nonetheless. Serve with Thai dipping sauce as a great appetizer. The boys loved them and gobbled them right down. Next time I will have to make a double batch (and remember to have cilantro on hand so I can do the recipe right).

Makes 8
- 2 cups frozen corn, thawed
- red curry paste, to taste
- 1/2 cup chickpea flour
- 1 Ener-G egg
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
- salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
1. Put thawed corn in a bowl. Mix in curry paste. Add in flour, Ener-G egg, garlic, cilantro, oil, and cilantro sauce and mix well. Season to taste.
2. Dip a 1/4 cup measure in water, then scoop out a scant 1/4 cup of batter onto the prepared baking sheet.
3. Bake for 12-15 mins, until golden brown on top.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Somen Noodles in Broth

I love noodles. I make a quick noodle dish at least once a week for lunch. It's a nice break from sandwiches.

Serves 4-6
- 3 bundles somen noodles, cooked according to the directions, rinsed in cold water
- 1 recipe golden baked tofu
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 small onion, halved and sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 head broccoli, cut into florets
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 3 cups veggie broth
- 1 tsp coriander
- 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 1 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce
- salt, to taste
- 2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
- bean sprouts

1. Cook noodles and bake tofu.
2. Heat oil in a wok or large pot over medium-hi heat. Fry onions and garlic for 5 min, until soft. Add broccoli and carrots and fry 2 mins.
3. Add broth, coriander, and sauce and season to taste. Bring to bubbling, then simmer for about 15 mins, until veggies are cooked. Add in tofu stir through.
4. Put a handful of noodles in a bowl, then ladle broth and veggies/tofu over top. Add a few tomato wedges and a handful if sprouts. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Vegan Tortellini with Roasted Pepper Cream Sauce

Vegan Mom and I recently celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary and I wanted to commemorate the occasion with a great meal. Way back when we used to make a tortellini dish with green peppers, mushrooms, and a simple cream sauce. I thought I would re-imagine the dish by making it a little more refined with roasted peppers and a less chunky sauce. The sauce turned out really well, but you need to patience of freakin' Job to make tortellini by hand. They are awesome, of course, but I think I will have to save them for special occasions. Or, maybe I need to make them a lot so I get faster.

- 1 recipe tofu ricotta
- 1 recipe fresh pasta dough

Roasted Pepper Cream Sauce
- 1 red pepper
- 1 orange pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp margarine
- 1 onion
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp basil
- 1 recipe cashew cream (remainder from making the ricotta)
- 1/2 cup veggie broth
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Make tofu ricotta, then make the tortellini like you see in this video. I found it very helpful to put the tofu ricotta in a piping bag--it really sped up the filling process. Let dry a bit before cooking.
2. Make the sauce: roast peppers, then skin, core, seed, and chop. Heat oil and margarine over medium heat in a saucepan. Saute onion and garlic for 7-10 mins, until soft and translucent. Add in chopped pepper, basil, cashew cream, and broth. Blend until smooth with an immersion blender, then season to taste. Heat, but don't boil, and then serve over cooked tortellini.
NOTE: these freeze and cook really well (as do the ravioli). Once dried, place in a bad in the freezer. Drop as many as you want in boiling water and cook until they all float.