You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2009.

I imagine most people out there have a ever-growing mental list of recipes to try someday.  I used to bookmark every delicious thing that crossed my path while I read blogs, the collection getting to the hundreds and only barely did I look at it when it came time to actually satisfy hunger.  After a recent browser crash and wipe of everything I’d saved, I decided to keep the ideas in my head, with the reasoning that it’s those things that I really wanted to eat anyway!  So right now, that list involves things like homemade bagels, tibetan yak dumplings, mole sauce, and anything ethiopian… and until very recently – anything with phyllo pastry!  I finally tried using it, not without trepidation, in a recipe I’ve been itching to make since the moment I saw it (and did not forget it) – Jenny Wren’s fennel corn phyllo pockets of awesome!  (name-change mine)  

It took me a couple tries to get the hang of it, I will not lie.  But by the end I was folding up neat little dignified triangles with the best of them!  I ate the wonky first ones for lunch today with a tomato compote from the Artful Vegan, and felt pretty durn special, I can say that.  I’m pretty much on vacation for one whole week (wow) before I start summer classes again, so I’m up for any opportunity to get all indulgent in simple things, like tuesday’s mid-day meal.  Not that I wouldn’t anyway, but I broke out the giant white restaurant plate for this one. 

Hmm… and could not possibly resist making an apple-blackberry tart with local yellow delicious apples and BC golden syrup, nooooo…. not while the phyllo is just sitting there all defrosted and feathery and waiting for my apple-craving fingers to mash it into a crispy sugared square of fantastic with toasted walnuts on the bottom even !  It had to happen.  You know it did.  I’m glad it did.  I would have given my eye-teeth for ice cream or even soy milk alongside of this, but regardless it was light and perfect.  

Oh yeah – does anyone have experience with either/both of The Artful Vegan and Millenium cookbooks?  I’d like to get one, I think, but I’m not sure which!  
It’s taken me enough time, but I think I might pursue some serious explorations into raw food this summer.  It’s probably because of this festival in the woods that my friends organize each year… this year I’m a part of the kitchen crew, and that means providing raw options on top of the fully vegan menu.  Which I’m actually pretty excited about!  The way it’s set up we each get about one full day of leading the kitchen, and I have no clue what I’m going to make… but I am collecting ideas, and I figure I should start practicing my skills now.
I took out a book from the library – Nettie Cronish’s New Vegetarian Basics – and figured I would actually cook something from it instead of just flip pages.  Well… it’s a mint and tahini sauce up there and it seems like it would be great on paper (and I’m not exactly sure how one messes up tahini sauce!) but there was like, no flavour in it whatsoever, so I had to double the tahini and add some ume vinegar and then it was pretty good.  (I should mention that I like how she uses a lot of pumpkin seeds and seaweeds in creative ways in her book, though!)
To ease into Rawville I approached my blender with a lot of vigor and an open mind (and about 3 open recipe books!).  I think I did okay for a try… I would never ever EVER call those thin bits of celery “pasta”, but the tomato sauce was a sort of marinara and actually quite delicious!  I used both red wine and balsamic vinegar with some fresh basil and it definitely wasn’t salad-y, in fact surprisingly sweet and piquant and actually went pretty well with crispy celery.  The soup was hella fun!!  It involved…. (I wrote this down)….. 

a full stalk of broccoli

3″ of zucchini

1/2 cup of corn

1 kale leaf —- THE CULPRIT!!

knob of ginger

3 cloves garlic

lemon juice

apple c vinegar

olive oil

flax oil

juice of 2 grapes

tamari

regular soy sauce

sunflower seeds

1/2 a green apple

cumin, coriander, cayenne, paprika, salt, pepper

whole corn niblets

Good and good for you… but I read only afterwards that adding leafy greens to raw soups make them characteristically bitter, and this definitely needed those two grapes to balance things out.  I felt really energized afterwards, but next time I think I’ll keep my kale on the side.  I do love making food like this, though – I feel like a scientist, cutting off bits and bobs of things to create a harmonious liquid whole. 

Last and the sweetest!  Mocha chia pudding, as per Swell Vegan’s recipe, made with some probably unraw ingredients (cocoa, instant coffee certainly isn’t), but in principle sure.  Really quite good!  Like tapioca pudding with the texture of strawberry seeds and the flavour of chocolate, and intriguingly… gloopy.  In a good way!  Like you can stir it up and much as you like and it will reconstitute back together immediately, which I think is a huge bonus, not liking runny pudding all that much.  Plus this fills you up, so I hear, being hydroscopic and thus able to soak up all your drinking water… so it’s the dessert that could save your life in a desert, aha!  
apple sprout!
Every so often (in fact, very often), on those days I have left my apartment with a slog in my step or even just no specific inspiration for the day to come except possibly another coffee and another ride on the bus… I will check my little metal mailbox and see personal mail inside.  And instantly I’m five and it’s my birthday and I’m grinning cheekily and cracking open a pretty envelope and the day is, so to speak, saved.  Needless to say I was happy to see my copy of Swell Vegan’s cookzine last week!  It’s beautiful, first of all – the covers are home-silkscreened in a burnished gold on creamy green card – and inside are 15 absolutely enticing recipes.  I’ve already tested a spare few (the Maple Mustard Chili Tofu, Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers, and OH the Sweet Potato-Cranberry Scones with that gooey maple glaze!) and been really impressed each time.  The recipes are easy and vibrant, definitely on the healthy side and did I mention delicious?  The only thing I’ve made since getting my copy is Sarah’s Savory Baked Tofu, but of course that was perfect too, even when I just eyeballed the measurements to make a 1/3 recipe.  I actually really like the way A-K’s food tastes, there’s something really great about it.  
some past swell food…

Sweet Potato-Cranberry Scones – as WannabeVegan mentioned, these are worth the price of admission, I’m 100% serious about this.  Consider the price of a huge batch of the best scones you’ve ever eaten, then factor in being able to make them again and again each fall (or anytime), plus a few tempeh recipes and that just makes sense, doesn’t it?

Maple-Mustard-Chili Tofu – this recipe keeps wanting to be made and then I remember I don’t have maple syrup and then I am sad, because the maple flavour is vital and really delicious.  The salad underneath it was weird (artichokes and grapes, huh past self?  WEIRD!!) but that tofu was addictive.

And the first thing I tested were the Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers, which are a combination of some of my favourite things ever (almond butter, leeks, millet and sweet patats), in a more-ish kind of spicy burger.  You gotta eat these fresh, they crumble in the freezer (unless the recipe has changed, and A-K you can correct me if I’m steering anyone wrong here?), but they then turn into taco salad crumbles.  So not bad!

The latest dish!  Sarah’s Baked Tofu on some rice & millet, steamed vegetables, and a lemon-y sesame-thai dressing from the Millenium Cookbook that livened up broccoli like crazy. (It’s the dressing from the Chilled Soba Salad if anyone’s wondering).  Straightforward looking, but take a bite from this and it’s got zingy depth.  Serve it to omnis.  Mention whole grains and steamed veg and lean protein and then let them try it and giggle when they go all “ohhhh.  Wait, this is good!”  At least, that’s my secret plan.  Swell will be my secret recipe weapon, I’ve got the Mole Roasted Cauliflower on the mind to make next. 

Oh, and I made the Lemon Zucchini Bread and the batter was great and then the most disastrous thing happened ever.  My oven had the audacity that afternoon to turn into a dehydrator, resulting in the most depressing baked thing I’ve ever had the misfortune of creating.  It turned this beautiful lemony-sweet cake batter into a block of chewy (albeit tasty) crust with raw lukewarm uncooked battergoo inside.  I weep tears.  No, actually, I threw it out.  And I NEVER do that.  So um… word to the wise, before risking a lemon zucchini bread make sure your oven works, or else microwave yourself an end piece and put enough Earth Balance on it so you don’t notice you’re eating liquid cake… errr. yeah.
That’s a horrible way to end a supportive post!  But it happened.  It’s my funny story.  :)
PS: A-K you rock!

So I’ve been busy!  I have photos going back so far I don’t even remember the niceties of what went into the food!  Could be better this way, though… do a nice skim over with some sexy photoage and then I get to go RUN OUTSIDE AND PLAY!!!!  Because it’s so nice out.  It’s been hard to want to do anything else, besides run around the city on luscious errands (“Ummmm… I need a light bulb.  Let’s go on a 3-hour sun-drenched walk!”).  The markets nearby have been getting more fragrant by the day.  Mangoes are getting delicious again.  I’m listening to some pastoral Vashti Bunyan I picked up at a thrift store today and I’m having a hard time remembering the kind of cold that prompts lentil loaf, such as the one pictured above, but hey, it was needed at the time, and it WAS nostalgically yummy.  I’m not sure about the whole vegan Loaf Craze, I think it might be my second one ever, but this one turned out remarkably well.  It was even gluten-free, adapted from this recipe with some amaranth and rosemary added and some other changes I really don’t remember right now.  And it’s an excuse to eat ketchup, as if I wouldn’t eat it off a spoon, anyway. :)

I usually feel funny posting about salads, since it’s like, well, vegetables.  With oil and salt and things.  But this one was like a bomb of happy went off in my mouth, so here it is.  I think there was berries, daikon, carrot, goji, ume vinegar and mirin involved, maybe some tamari.  Good stuff!!  I think this is when I began to taste spring, a little bit.

And if I wasn’t careful, Satchmo was gonna taste my peanut butter banana oat muffins!!  These are soooo perfect if you don’t want anything even remotely evil in a baked good, and I really didn’t at the time.  It’s just every ingredient listed in the title, plus some baking powder, cinnamon, and raisins for sweetness and that’s it.  I mean, admittedly I added some salt and allspice, but that’s still earnest.  And they made perfect desserts for anything, since I made them mini I could celebrate putting my clothes in the dryer with a muffin if I wanted.  Oh yeah!  And gluten free, too!  Like the loaf, completely subconscious on my part, but neat.  Oh, and recipe is from aTxVegan!

Later I made some split pea soup because it’s probably my favourite, this time heavy on red peppers and with quinoa in it as well, which made it a lot lighter and smoother, and better for warmer times.  With my first sundried tomato pesto on rusks beside it.

And I ought to open Vegan Fire & Spice WAY more often, because it’s just crammed full of launching-pads for creative dinners.  I was way too lazy to cook up brown rice one night, so I riffed off the Persian Orange Rice with Pistachios, using couscous and walnuts instead.  Really good!!!  Totally orangey and warmly spiced and great with zataar-spiced vegetables to mix into it (especially zucchinis!)


CHOCOLATE !!

The best dark chocolate I’ve ever had?  Possibly… quite possibly.  My sister got it almost cheap because it broke into two pieces, thus affected the taste irrevocably and rendering it only fit for ruffians such as us to consume.  Ahhhhh broken chocolate… also calorie-free I hear!  And isn’t that aztec-y wheel printed on the back gorgeous?  The coffee beans in it are roasted near to a meltaway powder, and there’s tons of them, and you should go to the Chocomotive site and order some of this and maybe send some to me, or just definitely pick some up if you ever see it broken in a store near you.

Yay!  I am predictable like this, in that it’s a wrap sandwich, but check it out, this one’s special.  I had the stroke of genius to mix in a whole buttload of fine-chopped scallion into my usual roti and it worked.  SO.  Well.  The tofu mix wasn’t half-bad besides, and maybe I’ve just been craving dijon really madly lately, but this was really good.  If you haven’t tried green beans in a sandwich before, you’re missing out, too!  Lightly steamed, rinsed cold, loaded along with zukes, sweet pickled onions, more dijon and grated carrot = win!  I even remember what I did with this one …
French-ish Tofu Salad 
makes enough for 2 generous sammiches
1/2 lb. firm tofu – herbed is nice
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3-4 tbsp mayo
1 tsp coarse ground dijon mustard
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp tarragon
salt and fresh black pepper to taste
– in a bowl, mush up the tofu with your hands (squish squish) until it’s mushy like ricotta.  Mix in the remaining ingredients, adjusting to your own taste, then stuff into breadish things and nom.
Scallion Flatbread 
makes two 10″ breads
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 all-purpose flour
2 tsp hazelnut oil
a good pinch of salt
1/4 cup fine-chopped scallion
6-8 tbsp warm water (it will really depend)
– In a large bowl mix together the flours, oil, salt, and scallion.  Slowly splash in the water and mix until a dough is formed.  Knead it for a minute or two – it should be a wet dough, but if it gets too wet (and it might due to onion moisture), just add a bit more flour and keep going.  When it’s slightly elastic, pop it back into the bowl and cover it with a towel.  Let that sit for a few minutes while you heat up a heavy iron skillet over medium heat.  Take out the dough and divide in two balls, dip them in flour and roll them flat (I usually get a 10″ circle), then cook in the dry skillet about 2 minutes each side, until brown spots appear and it smells toasty.  Instant lunch!
It was an unexpected surprise, to hear my mom suggest driving up for the weekend along with my sister, carrying pantry reinforcements of cocoa powder, vanilla extract, organic beer, sprinkles, and BC golden syrup!  Easter obviously isn’t an epic day on my calendar, but it is gorgeous to celebrate anything with family, and so I made a ton of fresh summer rolls with two kinds of dipping sauce to remedy whatever fast food travesty they’d had to eat on the drive to my place.  Which totally worked!  And I made lime & poppyseed cupcakes, filled and topped with mango compote and swirled with vanilla frosting, and star sprinkles on top, because hey, it’s the time of year for excess sugar and pastel colours, I think.  So yummy!  I think they’re actually improving with age, too, flavours melding… I had one for breakfast today, shhhh! :D
We also hit that store with the crazy sales, whereupon we filled our recyclable plastic bags full of fresh udon packets and coconut cream powder and nori seaweed AND these beautiful little herbal tangerine candies I found.  All for a dollar!  I like the tin especially.
Brunch at Aux Vivres, which makes maybe only my third time there, ever.  The hot spot vegan spot of hot vegan dining, and I’ve barely gone —  I know!  Anyway, I got to see their take on a vegan brunch plate, which my sister ordered, piled high with melt-in-your-mouth tofu scramble (they use medium firm and load it with nooch), maple-y tempeh bacon strips, sweet potato fries, an excellent salad with dressing I forgot to identify, and cornbread with jalapeno in it.  Yum!  Not to mention pretty as a painting if anyone ever wanted their breakfast to cheer them up with sheer resemblance to flowers alone.

Mom ordered the chickpea masala on fresh chapati with apple chutney inside – this one I’ve had before and it is sweet slurpy savoury delicious, as well as MORE than enough food for two people, with a salad alongside.  If you’re ever so devoid of protein that only a total refuel will do, order this thing and you’ll be set like superman!

And I?  I was the lucky one.  At the bottom of the menu I spotted a new item, something special… a Montreal smoked meat seitan sandwich, piled all high up with mustard, mayo, pickles and creamy coleslaw on the side… OMG.  It was *crazily* like the roast beef sandwiches I used to eat sometimes, *utterly* delicious, *such* a treat.  The bread was soft and awesome, too.  I think the neatest thing was pulling the second half out of the fridge the next day and almost feeling like I was in my teens again, just eating any old thing I found around. :p

Witness the lovvvvve!!!  They done seitan right, they did…. really soft and spiced perfectly.

cake!  only slightly dented after a trip in a to-go tray 
And!  Should I mention some huge news?  If anyone remembers my old roommate and vegan chef extraordinaire P, well… she’s moved back to the city and become… the primary baker at Aux Vivres!  The whole pastry counter – that’s her!  So I had to sample a massive decadent slice of chocolate apple cake.  Don’t let the apple thing steer you wrong on this cake, either, it is dense and rich and iced with an epic ganache, studded with just enough apple to make the flavour nuanced, with a raspberry sauce served on the side… you should go for this.  Or for any of the desserts!  I am certainly going back to sample other things, I consider it my duty as a friend.   To eat… sugar and chocolate.  My duty!!  As a friend!!  WEll, it is.  :D

This is just the shot of the leftovers – stuff put into tupperware doesn’t win any beauty points.  But the point of this lunch was that it was a bento-ish kind of meal that randomly came together after I poo-pooed the idea of a peanut butter sandwich and started to boil potatoes.  Which I never do, and made me feel festive enough to remember the wasabi tube I had in the fridge, thus wasabi mashed potatoes.  So obviously then I had to try those panko & daikon stuffed mushrooms from the Veganomicon.  Except… I didn’t feel like firing up the oven for 6 mushrooms so I made them raw and used bulgur wheat instead of bread crumbs, and added some sweet peppers and Sambal Olek for fun.  

Clearly the asian tofu from Vcon was the third logical step!  Grill pans are great stuff.
It was special because I was taking it to an all-day drawing performance with rather zen-like properties, so it felt very appropriate (albeit not-even-slightly-traditional) to have a cute little themed lunch like this.

I even had one matcha & goji berry scone leftover from the night before!  Double cute.  Not to mention how it looks amazingly like an anatomical heart, which I only noticed after I uploaded the photo!
See?  Awwww.