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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 ;)
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Liz Holding Food Gallery: entry #27 – BROWNIE-STYLE
I tried T’ai Chi today for the first time!  That’s got nothing to do with chocolate, sure, but I feel really good right now!  Like a natural chocolate high.  Or a, uh… non-sugar induced high, yes.  Seriously though, I feel like a dancer, I bounced all the way home in my high tops, and then  threw together the roasted vegetables I’d made that morning into some whole wheat penne and home-soaked chickpeas for a really attractive dinner.  It needed something parmesan-y, but I have leftovers to subject to ground almond & lemon zest, there is always tomorrow.
So back to cupcakes!
I made the Brooklyn Brownie cupcakes for a friend’s 25th birthday in the park.  We played duck duck goose, Stella Ella Ola, a fun game called Sheep… I love being a nonkid, it’s so natural to be.  And the cuppers were a big hit!  These are dense dark weighty cakes with a huge woodsy whiskeyness that probably needs refreshing milk around for maximum enjoyment, but definitely brownie-ish and definitely good.  Super moist, too.  I think I like the regular chocolate VCtotW recipe better, but hey, I got to bake with whiskey, and I’ve been wanting to do that for, like, ever!  
Then something a little more virtuous… I made the Mole Roasted Cauliflower from the Swell cookzine that involved – of course! – cocoa powder.  REALLY good preparation for cauliflower, I had to resist buying another whole head and roasting it up the exact same way, which says something, that I would repeat a recipe so soon.  Not that it was hard to eat a whole giant head of this, it’s pretty addictive like better than popcorn good.  It was the star of the plate next to the mango slices, and some creamy mint & basil polenta I made, but actually the whole combo worked really well and I recommend it – mango with dinner I mean.  (what?  mango with everything!!  of course!)

Oh yes yes, I made some luncheon meat, via Vegan Dad’s recipe.  It is a bit dry as he says, but the flavour and texture is eerily spot on and I made some really satisfying sandwiches and I froze most of it into little single-servings for later.  Next time I thaw out a packet I’ll be sure to have some cheap yellow mustard around, because it would just work with this stuff, mmmm yeah.
What else?  Tofu nuggets!  I saw the Tofu Skewers with Espresso BBQ Sauce on Vegan Appetite and knew exactly what to do with the half pound of tofu I had in the fridge.  I’d not skewered food before, and you know, it actually does make a difference to the flavour!  The leftover tofu-bobs I cooked sans-impalement were less succulent and fun.  Like, you couldn’t gnaw on them at all, boo, I like skewers now.  Oh, and the sauce was great!  I added cayenne cause I can’t leave well enough alone and insist on mouth burning when it comes to anything BBQ.

Right, and finally, this is definitely the result of my new love affair with my wonderful freezer.  Never could have concocted something so specific without being able to freeze tiny bits of things throughout my cooking.  The whole door is filled with single cookies, 1/4 cups of icing, cake shavings, and other fun detritous I collect, mwahaha.  For this little cake that I made for a dinner on friday, I started with a disc of leftover Brooklyn Brownie cupcake (the recipe really does make a LOT of extra batter).  Then I made a base cheesecake cream in the blender, divided that into two and stuffed one with melted chocolate and the other with peanut butter.  I layered and baked that at 350 for 45 minutes, then I made a quick chocolate agar-gel for the top and was really really pleased with myself for rocking agar finally.  And then!  Crushed-up peanut butter cookies for the sides.  You know the awesome kind that are essentially just peanut butter and sugar?  Yeah, those kind.  And I almost forgot – star dollops of leftover chocolate cupcake frosting!  PIMPED.  OUT.  

Now I just need to get myself a cheesecake tin that’s bigger than 5″ across. ^_^;
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

It all started… with an ill-conceived attempt at a tofu loafy roulade thingy, with squash inside. I mean, it was pretty damn edible, except that it was u.g.l.y., it didn’t taste a lot like bird, and the wax paper I used to roll it up stuck like glue to the bottom and really did turn the whole first layer into an exercise in chewing crayons.

Much better cookie luck, I made freestyle coffee-chocolate chip oatmeal cookies and P made cakey ginger clouds. But enough of this playing…

Girls gotta bake. Girls gotta prep cook. (okay, I prep-cooked, P went to work)

I made almond-sesame nutty crackers from Extraveganza, with added sesame oil.

Fluffy lemony cupcakes with maple cranberries from More Great Good Desserts, with a lemon-cinnamon drizzle on top.

Caramel popcorn! Spicy-brown sugar pumpkin seeds! Oh, it’s those crackers again!

Pumpkin pie, the quality of which was indeed assured by the Satchmo-cat. I wonder if I make another pumpkin pie if I get a free tattoo or something? And I still keep loving them, making them… hiding the leftovers from everyone. Hee.

Allright, and then P’s folks showed up so we went to the Jean-talon market on the most crispest yet warm of gently-sunned fall days. Picked up some rambunctiously coloured food, asparagus by the bucket, beans, mushrooms, apples (real/perfect/nectar-of-the-heavens-sweet quebec apples), a bunch more of other wonderful things.

They had two among them who couldn’t do gluten, which was a fun challenge, even if I wish I had known sooner… I would have made more that they could eat… but anyway, did you know that brown rice bread is actually delicious and tastes like bread?

Then my posse popped up, with the usual pancake-breakfast request (this is an understanding that I think benefits all of us nicely). Maple syrup was off limits as an ingredient, so I boiled up a quick apple syrup that almost got drank up by my sister, and at least got the pancakes called “the best syrup delivery devices you’ve ever made”. Bro asked for the recipe. (Bro is becoming quite the little burdgeoning foodie – and you better believe I’m supporting that tendency! :P)

And then, and then! After finishing breakfast I was kitchen-maven all day with my sister, then we passed the invisible baton to P and her sister, and between us all we created this glittering harvest spread.

Amidst the hubub and wine-drinking and guitar-jamming and all the fake russian accents, my camera was only found halfway through the meal, hence the half-eaten shot – but I think it still looks great. Clockwise from the bottom is mushroom gravy, nutty crackers, broccoli rabe and carrots with pine nuts and herbs, brown rice pasta salad with peppers and heirloom tomatoes, fresh market beans, hungarian rye stuffing with apples, cranberries and walnuts, cranberry sauce, apple-sage seitan sausages, curry carrot dip, squash stuffed with wild and brown rice mushroom-almond-raisin stuffing, dragonfruit, smoky maple tempeh, and loads of garlicky mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes.

phew.

Nom. Shall I say nom? And nom, and wow. I think we did okay?

And then there was too much dessert, and oh yeah, did I mention I made cookies too? Oh man… I mean, I know it wasn’t “turkey dinner” or something… but maybe made up for it in sheer tapestry-tasting complexity and connection to what is actually being harvested right now? I mean, I’ve been to thanksgivings where the vegetables are given the saddest passing effort, and aren’t they really the point? Ha ha, anyway… and next year you’re all invited to my tiny tiny place. For some reason it didn’t burst, and it kinda grew to fit us all (18+ at one point??). And you can help us with the leftover apple crisp!!!!

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