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So I’m sitting here with my internet connection flicking ON and OFF and trying almost-and-mostly valiantly to resist running to make Vichyssoise at such an hour of the night that I should be working.  But then I remember that brownies (or Ginger-browdnies as they might better be called) require nothing like reliable wi-fi to enjoy at all.  They don’t even require that much to talk about.  So fire up the notepad I do, and here they are. 

*insert yumptuous picture of chocolate-drizzled “I procrastinated so hard with these I had time to make them look ultra-fine” squares*

I think I wrote down the recipe for these, but then I deleted it, so I’ll write this down now with the clear warning that A: this is from memory and based on something I made last Thursday.  and B: I wanted them to be brownies *after* I pulled them out of the oven, so in theory they could be fudgier by a loooong shot to legitimately be called brownies, but they definitely weren’t cake. 

RECIPEE!  for Gingerbrowdnies.

1 1/2 cups flour

3 tbsp cocoa powder

3/4 tsp ginger powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

pinch of clove

1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup sugar

2 tbsp molasses

1 tbsp Golden Syrup

1/3 cup oil

1/2 tsp vanilla

2/3 cup non-dairy milk

1 tbsp ground flaxseed

1. Sift together the dry ingredients in a large bowl

3. Whisk together the wet and add to the dry, stir just to mix, pour into pan and bake for 15-20 minutes.  Or maybe more.  I did not measure the time and everyone likes their browdnie a lil different.

OKAY UPON CLOSER INSPECTION THEY ARE CAKES.  LITTLE, SPICY CAKES.  Ah well, maybe next time I’ll remember in enough to time double the fat and sugar in the recipe and roll around maniacally in the lushness that ensues.  Until then, these are healthy enough to …. eat them upon waking for a lovely chocolatey zing next to coffee.  And then maybe another square with lunch.  And by that I mean no, they have like, negligible nutritional content but also nothing glaringly obese.  

Oh right, and if you melt some chocolate with a splosh of oil in the microwave and then drizzle it over in neat-o checker patterns they get way prettier and if you put them in the freezer to set the chocolate really quickly be careful about smushing the tops of them in the process and if you do *that* are you brave enough eat the messy ones in a heroic move thus preventing any innocent eyes from even suspecting that non-perfect Browdnies exist?   Wellll??  okay good.

Oh yeah, and in other news, I got a job as the weekend cook at an organic vegan cafe, with free reign of a tiny kitchen and some wild ideas for upcoming brunch specials.  Oh the freedom, oh the power, I’m not to touch the hummous recipe but my boss pretty much asked me to go wild with the rest of the menu.  Can you believe that?  And I get to make a couple baked things every day, too, anything I want.  

Seriously, I woke up in the middle of the night with my heart all a-flutter, realizing while I usually drunkenly lament while roaming the city at night is that there is no good vegan reuben anywhere in Montreal (travesty!) I could actually do something about that if I just remember to order rye bread before the next weekend.   O_O   Amazing.

Ah, remember the hearts? (now why can I never seem to keep from smiling at the thought of little cookie cutters?)

I made them to adorn a roasted eggplant & chestnut bisque (with blood orange and mint), but the trick is that I made them spicy!  It’s pretty simple to do, and I learned a new method for making polenta thanks to Mark Bittman – instead of boiling the water and then adding the cornmeal, you first whisk the cold water with the grain so there’s no lumps at all.  Granted, I’ve never had huge lump problems with polenta, but I do think this was easier.  It even accommodated my using a hand mixer attachment instead of a real whisk because, uh…. it was closer!  It’s SO almost the same thing.
Spicy Ras-el-Hanout Polenta Croutons

1 cup coarse cornmeal
3 cups water
1 tsp salt
2 tsp Ras el Hanout spice
1 tbsp olive oil
– In a medium saucepan, whisk together the cornmeal, salt, spices and water completely.  Then, jack up the heat to boil and as soon as it does boil, reduce the heat to a very low bubble and stir every minute or so until the grain is completely cooked through and the porridge is thick.  It’ll be about 12-15 minutes.  
– Then, whisk in the oil and spread the polenta on a baking sheet lined with greased plastic wrap and refridgerate for at least 2 hours to firm everything up.
– When it’s firm – cut it up!  Cookie cutterized, or into little crouton-cubes, either way.  
– Heat a heavy skillet over medium high heat and coat the bottom in olive oil.  Fry them up, about 5 minutes a side, until they’re nicely browned and slightly firm when you poke them.  Top onto salads or soups or just snack on them, they’re really nice.
Mmmm, speaking of cornmeal and how utterly delicious it is, I made some mini fluffy cornbreads from the Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas.  I’ve had this book since I was a little girl, or at least my mother always kept it’s dry-bound oft-used pages up on the bookshelf for as long as I can remember.  Granted it’s chock full of dairy and eggs, but what is viable for a vegan is really lovely, and the cornbread is no exception.

I replaced the egg with some flaxseed and added chopped thai chili and diced red onions, and they came out just barely sweet and nutty tasting!  This isn’t a big-ol sopping up chili with a hunk of hefty corncake kinda cornbread, but light and refined kind of puff of mais-muffin that’ got a crisp crust and is pretty low fat too.  Almost alarmingly charming.  ^.^

It’s a thing of beauty, isn’t it?  The “ice cream” is not the central player here, it is just frozen creamed banana with some almond butter.  No, no, the best part is the homemade waffle cone bowl.  Yes!  Homemade and still warm and about as thick as a crepe and snapping off into big crunchy pieces I could dip in the cold banana, dripping with bits of chocolate cherry sauce and toasted flaky almonds…. I love dinners like this (dinner indeed) and whatever inspires me to make them.  

I’m trying to remember what inspired me to make this….
Oh right!  It was watching Hubert Keller make a waffle cone something-or-other on Top Chef Masters (I think it was Keller, don’t quote me on that).  And the fact that every time I pass an ice cream shop I basically just stop and drool at the buttery cone smell.  Thankfully Gale Gand had a recipe that’s essentially vegan, so I whipped it up with a kind of MacGuyver-esque method of squishing the batter between a liberally lubed-up saucepan and a frypan.  ‘Cause I don’t have a waffle iron (yet).
Check it out!  Method of champions!  Ha ha, well, its an interesting progression nonetheless.  The first one was floppy-doppy, not hard or thin enough at all.  The second was after I broke out the second pan for squishing, and it was much better, much more crisp.  Things just improved down the line… none of them were quite as thin as I’d like (I might make a slightly thinner batter next time), and they were lacking the little waffle pattern that I bet contributes to a high shatter-factor, but they were otherwise the real deal!

Leading ultimately to this glorious bowl of sweet sweet goo………… gone in 5 minutes, probably. :)
I’d like to try the others with a real ice cream, though, and I have a few cups of slightly-sweetened coconut milk in my freezer waiting for just a purpose such as this… does anyone have a favourite recipe?  It doesn’t necessarily have to be coconut flavoured, but coconut-rum would be pretty cool.  

Vegan Vanilla Waffle Cones
(adapted from Gale Gand)
1 cup heavy soy cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of ground nutmeg
1 tbsp cornstarch
oil for the iron
In a bowl, briskly whip together the cream with the vanilla.  Sift together the dry ingredients, then add them to the wet and stir just to mix smooth the biggest lumps.  Let the batter sit for 30 minutes.
Heat up a waffle cone iron (I don’t know!  Maybe waffle irons come with attachments!) and brush with a little oil.  Pour in some batter and close to lid to bake and brown.  Open the iron and remove the browned batter and shape it while it’s still warm.  You can wrap it around a cone shape to make a classic cone, fold it over a ramekin to make a deep bowl, turn it into a taco – whatever possibility you like, as long as you’re fast and use oven mitts to protect your hands from burning!  
Let them cool, devour with ice cream.

My room-mate’s birthday came up unexpectedly!  I had to innovate… it helped that I could peek into her side of the pantry and note the favoured ingredients… and remember that she has a yen for spicy food and japanese (similar taste much!)

I essentially made her the cake I secretly hoped someone would make for me someday (but shh, it works here, too).

I made a half recipe of a cake I found online here, sliced it into 4 rectangles and sandwiched them with a full recipe of the Vegan Cupcakes take over the World chocolate mousse recipe, but with a bunch of wasabi and ginger added, yes!

Top it with some pretty kiwis and champagne grapes and white pearls and call it an ideal job.  Just about exactly what I was aiming for – it’s elegant and spicy and rich.  If I did it again I might add some cashew cream layers, or some strawberry jam, but really it’s perfect just the way it is right here.  Roomie even professed to get a wasabi high off the mousse!  Ha ha, couldn’t ask for more.

Black Sesame Cake

(from Alice Medrich’s Pure Dessert (veganized), via Dessert First)

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup soy yogurt

3 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup canola oil*

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup soymilk

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup toasted black sesame seeds

– Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease a cake tin and dust flour inside it.  Set aside.

– Add the vinegar to the soymilk and set aside to curdle.

– Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  

– In a large bowl, beat together the soygurt, sesame oil, vanilla, canola oil, and sugar until it’s smooth and caramell-y, about 2-3 minutes with a whisk.

– Add 1/3 of the flour to the liquid ingredients and stir to combine.  Add half the curdled soymilk and stir.  Add another 1/3 of the flour (stir), then the rest of the milk (stir), then the last of the flour (stir).  Make sure not to overwork the batter, but it should be smooth and pourable.

– Pour into the greased cake tin and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the top is glossy, firm and golden, and a toothpick/knife inserted comes out clean.  Let it cool for about 10 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack, then let it cool completely before frosting.

* the original recipe called for butter, and you would probably get spectacular results with Earth Balance, I just didn’t have enough this time.  Follow the recipe the same, but cream the margarine with the sugar with an electric mixer until it’s really white and fluffy, before adding the other liquid ingredients.


Wasabi Ginger Chocolate Mousse

(adapted from Vegan Cupcakes take over the World)

12 oz. package of medium firm tofu, drained

1/4 cup soy milk

2 tbsp maple syrup (optional)

1 tbsp wasabi paste (or more ;)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp ginger powder

8 oz. chocolate chips (or higher quality chocolate if you’d like)

pinch of salt

– Bring a pot of water to a boil, then gently add your tofu, lower the heat and let it simmer for about 4-5 minutes.  Drain carefully and let it cool.

– Once cooled, put the tofu, syrup, wasabi, vanilla and ginger in a blender and blend it until it’s completely smooth.

– Melt the chocolate carefully in the microwave then add it to the blender and whip everything together.  Add salt if you like salt (I do), then stash it in the fridge for at least an hour to become firm enough to work with.  Ice your cake!

(ps. sorry about the font in some parts of this post.  not sure why it went so wonky)

So if my blog tags are any indication at all (and amusingly, they often are), I’m more than a little mad for blueberries.  Dunno why exactly… it could be the bursting qualities… or the way they’re so purple and freeze perfectly and are also called starberries?  And when you stick them in things people go “oooooooh” without fail, it’s kind of funny!

When I saw this recipe for pea pancakes with blueberry basil dressing I knew knew KNEW I had to try it, it sounded the thing little fresh-showered elves would eat over tea and the latest forest news.  Lo and behold, it even looks like that sort of food, too!  Call me bowled over with technicolour, batman.  I wanna cook chromatically so much now!
Here’s the veganization of it all.  The pea pancakes are almost perfect (I’d consider leaving out the cornstarch to keep the flavour brighter perhaps?).  The blueberry dressing is also pretty good, but I could do better probably and another kind of vinegar would probably work nicer, I just haven’t figured out which one.  Still really good though!  (If you wanted lemon I’d never stop you, I just wanted to see if I could use something besides citrus.  Balsamic would probably be nice, too, come to think of it).  
Blueberry Basil Sauce

2/3 cup blueberries

1/4 cup water + 1 tbsp

1/2 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cornstarch

1 tsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar

1 tbsp fresh minced basil

cracked black pepper

– In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tbsp of water with the cornstarch, set aside.
– In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the blueberries, 1/4 cup of water, sugar and salt to a low boil until the berries start to pop and bleed their juice.  Remove from heat and stir in the cornstarch mixture, oil, vinegar, basil, and pepper.  Taste for salt and cover to keep warm.
Green Pea Pancakes (serves 2-3 as a snack or side)

4 oz. snap peas, strings removed

1/2 cup green peas

1/2 cup milk or cream

1 tsp melted buttery spread

1/2 tsp cornstarch

1/4 cup flour

1/4 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

– Bring a pot of lightly salted water to boil.  Blanche the snap peas for 30 seconds, then rinse in cold water.  Do the same with the green peas, until they’re tender (2-3 minutes maybe).

– In a blender, combine the cooled peas with the milk, butter, and cornstarch, and blend until pretty smooth.  Move to a mixing bowl.

– Sift in the dry ingredients and gently fold until totally incorporated (shouldn’t take much effort)

– Melt a bit of buttery spread in a nonstick and fry thin little 2″ pancakes until golden brown on both sides.  Serve warm with a bit of blueberry sauce and some basil leaves on top.

Right.  And.
AND.
It was Pomme’s birthday time this weekend, and that meant I was required to out-do myself again, inspired by love to fling culinary handrail-holding out the window and concoct some sort of artistic masterpiece that’ll never have a recipe written down (but I’ll always remember how to do).  In this case – a 2-layer Morrocan Mint cake with generous inches of Blueberry Mousse and a Pomegranate Glaze, topped with sugared pine nuts and mint leaves.  !!!!  For the record, I did a billion new things in the kitchen for this (well okay, I played with agar), and it turned out like some patisserie’s jazzed star, in shades of aubergine, gold and lavender, and I *wish* I had a slice shot, but it was enjoyed by candlelight in the company of lots of vegan restaurant coworkers, so I’ll just have to make another layer cake soon to make up for that! :p
Officially, the entire thing doesn’t have a recipe, but I’ll post the adaption I made to the matcha cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes because it made a damned fine joconde and the vegan world can always use another attempt at that, I think.  Pretty simple, actually… (it was the simple part)
Vegan Morrocan Mint Joconde

1/2 cup soygurt

2/3 cup strongly brewed green tea with 10-12 fresh mint leaves in it (strained, of course)

1/4 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup canola oil

1/2 tsp almond extract

3/4 cup flour

1/2 cup ground almonds

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

3 tsp matcha soymilk powder

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup sugar

– Preheat oven to 350 and line an 8″ cake tin with nonstick spray and parchment paper.

– In a large mixing bowl combine the soygurt, tea, extracts, and oil

– Sift together the dry ingredients, then slowly add it to the wet bowl in installments, gently folding with a whisk until it’s smooth.

– Pour into cake pan and bake for 35-42 minutes (my oven is really slow, so take these times as approximations).  A toothpick should come out clean, and the top should be glossy and flat.

– Let it cool almost completely before turning it onto a parchment lined cooling rack.  Once cool, cut it carefully into 2 layers, and soak each layer (as you construct your moussey cake) with Mint Syrup.


Mint Syrup


2/3 cups strong Morrocan mint tea (made the same as before)

1/3 cup sugar

some extra mint leaves if you want


– Bring everything to a boil in a tiny saucepan over medium heat and let it bubble until it’s reduced slightly and thicked.  Cool completely before spooning over your cake layers.


(it all tastes of exotic and meltaway sweet sand and herbs….. very very very – needless to say – delicious)

red white and umami all over

Happy July 1rst, that is to say – Canada Day!  It’s the nation’s birthday and I’m celebrating in Quebec, which means a certain amount of gusto is required to make any noise at all, what with everyone tired from St Jean Baptiste Day just about a week before.  It’s not quite the party that it is in Ontario, but by golly if I can’t make my lunch about as patriotic as a waving flag, at least in colour scheme anyway (and association to good old BBQ food… yes I SO do love the taste of char).
For lady Canuck’s 142nd, I dived into the sausage section of Vegan Brunch and couldn’t even approach deciding one recipe over another, so I made 2 batches at once – the Italian Feast and the Cherry Sage, done up into smaller links so they were hot dog sized.  And after discovering that the grocery store had no (NO) hot dog buns (and even if they did, they would probably be terrible because they usually are), I just had to make a little batch of my own.  Which I TOTALLY recommend, it makes a huge world of difference.  So much so that I’m gonna post the recipeeeee, taken from this blog, taken from King Arthur flour……
Hot Dog Buns
(chewy, wheaty, soft, dense in a good way, stands up to condiments – ie; perfect)
(makes 8)
1 tbsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 tsp salt
3 – 3 1/2 cups flour (I used 50% whole wheat, still came out fluffy and soft)

Directions:
– In a large bowl, combine water and sugar and let it sit for 5 minutes so the yeast gets foamy.
– Mix in the milk, oil, and salt, then add 3 cups of the flour and knead until it comes together into a dough ball.
– Turn onto a floured surface and knead for 6-8 minutes, until it becomes a bit like plasticine.  The dough isn’t as soft as in some recipes, and it shouldn’t be sticky (add up to 1/2 cup more flour as needed).  Move to an oiled bowl, cover and let it rise in a warm spot for 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size.
I’m just building anticipation for chewy perfect grilled bun-bite here :)

Once it’s risen, turn onto a lightly floured surface and cut into 8 equal pieces.  To shape a bun, make a piece into a rectangle, then starting at the end closest to you, roll it up tightly like you would roll a cigarette, folding in the ends on each side as you go.  Pinch the seam when you finish, then place it seam side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Repeat with the rest, then cover with a piece of plastic wrap sprayed with nonstick spray and let them rise for 30 minutes. 
– Preheat the oven to 400F
– Bake for 20 minutes, then move to a rack to cool

INNARDS !!!!

Unrelated to photo above, but that’s what scrolling is for ———— the beautiful red and white salad next to it all was from the Tropical Vegan Kitchen and ab-solutely scrumptious.  I’m going to post the recipe, too, because I just saw a great video concerning appropriation and culture (and breakbeats) and I figured heck why not, share the love, share the coconut dressing —

Thai-Style Romaine Salad with Creamy Coconut Tamari Dressing

(serves 4)
10 oz. of romaine leaves
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced and soaked in cold water for 10 minutes, drained well
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
2 tbsp basil, rolled up and thinly sliced
Coconut Tamari Dressing:

6 tbsp coconut milk (full fat works best here)
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp tamari
2 large cloves of garlic, minced fine
2 tsp palm sugar, or brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp red thai chile, seeded and minced superfine
Directions:

– Whisk, let it sit for at least 10 minutes.
– Toss 1/2 the dressing with the salad components, arrange prettily onto plates, then drizzle with the remaining dressing.  
So patriotic!  (if a little Thai ;)
Just a quick post and a recipe — I made the CUTEST little nuggets ever maybe a week ago, ’cause everything’s somehow tastier in nugget form.  It’s the option of dipping sauce, I think, and the wee little crunchy size, not to mention the childhood regression factor and how darned snacky they are.  But anyway, not to wax poetic about nuggs for too long… here’s the recipe.  It’s pretty straightforward (although I’m probably just saying that because I think my cooking is basic and it’s not, no not really), mostly an adaption of the Spicoli Burgers from ED&BV except with tahini because I was craving it mad-like at the time and I really wanted to know if tahini and ketchup and mustard could ever possibly navigate the same food-form and still be edible (they can).  And also it’s a half/half mixture of millet and brown rice because that’s what I had, but also because millet makes perfect nugget mash (turns into a binder!), and I changed the spices, yeah.  AND these taste really good and you should make them and plum sauce up there was not necessary, but the Maple-Balsamic-Mustard Coleslaw c/o Sarchan at Emo Potato was.
/long snackrant
Golden Snack Nuggets
makes about 17
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup shredded zucchini
2 cups cooked brown rice/millet mixture
1 1/2 tbsp ketchup
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp tamari
3 tbsp tahini
1 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp basil
1 tsp lemon zest
handful of toasted sunflower seeds
salt & fresh black pepper to taste
breadcrumbs
Heat the oil in a small pan over medium heat and cook the onion a few minutes, until slightly soft.  Add the garlic and zucchini, sprinkle a touch of salt and cook another 3-4 minutes.  
In a large bowl, combine the cooked vegetables with the rest of the ingredients (except the breadcrumbs) and mix well.  With your hands!  (That’s important so the millet gets mushed). Cover and chill for at least an hour, then take it out and make 2 tbsp-sized balls with it, gently squish into shape then roll in the bread bits.  
Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, flipping once, until both sides are golden and the texture is firm.  
OR these freeze like a dream!!!  I ate 4 right away and stashed the rest for later.

Pre-hot box.  Pretty adorable!

This might be the most delicious soup I’ve ever made.  I don’t even usually like creamy soups, but this one has ocean in every bite, and the tofu bits get all soaked with the richness and get buttery, and the veggies are… in giant chunks!  Which is fun!  I have to thank the Sexy Vegan in huge part for a lot of the tasty tricks involved (nori seaweed!  cashew cream!), but here’s my specific take on the method.  So so so so good.

Cashew Cream
1/3 cup cashews
1 cup water
– blend together in a blender until very very smooth and liquid-y creamy
Chowder!

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 large carrot, in 1/2″ pieces
1 large stalk celery, 1/2″ pieces
1 medium red potato, chunks
1/4 lb. extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/2″ cubes
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
fresh black pepper
enough water/broth to cover (4-5 cups?)
1/4 cup white wine
**Cashew Cream
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp margarine
1/2 cup corn niblets
1 sheet nori seaweed
dash of liquid smoke (optional but approximates bacon)
salt to taste
– okay!  Saute the onions over medium heat in a large soup pot until starting to soften, then add the carrot, celery and potato and cook another 5 minutes or so, just til things look golden.  Add the tofu, spices, broth, white wine and cashew cream and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer about 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are soft and beginning to break down, then add the vinegar, margarine, corn, nori seaweed, smoke flavour (if using), and adjust seasonings to taste.  Eat while hot, sprinkled with bacon bits and with crackers or biscuits on the side.  Magnifique!
For a technicolour moving-pictures version, with drunkennesss and tempeh and fancy mushrooms and robot voices——->

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!

I’m inspired again!! It happened very suddenly, I think a warm breeze passed through my kitchen and the walls turned sunny-orange in a way I hadn’t seen in months, prompting a small whirlwind of culinary tinkering, and I haven’t stopped since. I made raviolis, even, which I’ve always wanted to do! They’re roasted beet with rosemary and toasted walnuts, made with wonton skins, so they’re not pasta exactly, but I prefer the chewy dumplingness of the skins, actually. Because that way I’m allowed to eat them with my hands. They also coincided with a small disaster that resulted in something wonderful …….

— my fridge has sucked for years. It’s been replaced 3 or 4 times since I’ve lived here, and each one has been more small, old, fragile and smelly than the last. Have you ever seen a fridge where the freezer was INSIDE the box, and there was only one door? That was mine, until last week when it started to leak freon and smell rather horrifyingly chemical. I tried eating an apple from the crisper and my mouth started to tingle… I didn’t repeat that. O_o

The building quickly replaced it, as usual, except that this time – it’s a real fridge, white and sizeable, with a real freezer door! It makes a very satisfying sound, and my smoothies taste like ice cream now because the ice is so cold. Amazing! Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because while I rescuing things from the old icebox I pulled out a huge bag of peas and was like, “uh… I should eat these somehow”, which led to a most delicious puree to go with my raviolis. I just threw the peas in a blender with some garlic, basil, mint, balsamic, oil, tamari and pepper and it was shmancy-perfect-face-stuffingly-delicious. woo!

I also made some sandwich bread last week, to celebrate the white flour purchase. I’d never made sandwich bread before! It’s so useful, and tasty. This one was whole wheat rye, made with a bit of molasses and caraway and I had no trouble eating it up, especially shmeared with spicy homemade apple butter, yum! It inspired me to make a real salad. And it inspired me to have reubens for lunch all last week – holy batman that’s a good sammich!

For the ‘meat’ part I made lentil patties with pickle juice and gluten flour, breaded them in breadcrumbs and baked for 30 minutes, flipping once. Then loaded on the sauerkraut and homemade 1000-island and munched happily away!

These are testers for Terry’s new Vegan Latina book: black bean and plantain pupusas with a latin tomato sauce and a Salvadorean slaw, all delicioso.

And a great chard recipe with capers and raisins that’s a new favourite around here. Sweet and salty and complex!

Finally – to celebrate the spring equinox, and in anticipation of finding good things in life, I baked a lemon poppy seed bread yesterday, studded with little treasures. Rings, crystals, little coins, it was so much fun to bring this to a potluck, cover it with fresh berries, and slice off little hunks with surprises inside! The bread itself is moist and more-ish, too – super citrusy, with a sparkly sugary crust, and soaked in a lemon syrup = win!

Springtime Lemon Poppyseed Bread

1 tablespoon lemon zest
juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water (could use milk)
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

3 tablespoons raw sugar (for sprinkling on top)

optional: little metal trinkets

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 and grease a loaf pan.
2. Combine the wet ingredients in a large bowl, lemon zest through water.
3. Sift together the dry ingredients, then add that to the wet and stir just until combined.
4. Pour half the batter in the pan, dot the batter with metal trinkets (if using), then add the rest of the batter, sprinkle the top with raw sugar and bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a skewer comes out clean. Don’t take it out of the pan yet though! While it’s still warm, make….

Lemon Syrup

3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar

1. Mix lemon juice and sugar together in a bowl, microwave on high for about 45 seconds, stir to dissolve into a syrup.
2. Poke a bunch of holes in your lemon bread with a skewer or a toothpick, then pour the syrup over top and let it soak in for about 20 minutes. Then take it out of the pan and let it cool. Slice, warn people not to break their teeth on anything, and bask in the party game + dessert combined. :)