It is my pleasure to announce I am hosting Weekend Herb Blogging this week.
If you would like to join this culinary feast this week, please email me your name, name of dish, post url, location and photo at saveur11 AT yahoo DOT ca, by Sunday February 6 at 5pm EST.
I look forward to seeing what winter feasts we will enjoy this week.
When I visited Japan two years ago, I swooned after I ate my first takoyaki. I describe them as octopus balls: a piece of octopus is coated in a savoury batter and cooked. Smothered with a Japanese barbecue sauce, mayonnaise and sprinkled with bonito flakes – it is nothing I ever thought would taste so good. When I visit restos, I prefer to order things I can’t make at home, so my go-to dish at Guu and Kenzo’s is takoyaki.
Once I came back to Canada, I wished I could recreate it at home, but you need a special pan with round grooves to make the round balls. The restos were the only way to get my takoyaki-fix. Until now! One of my Christmas gifts this year was a takoyaki/aebleskiver pan! Not soon after Christmas, I whipped the pan out for its inaugural use. Not for takoyaki, though. I had no octopus, you see.
Instead, I made Danish stuffed pancakes, also known as ebelskiver, ebleskiver, aebleskiver, or æbleskiver. These are light, fluffy, round, buttermilk-based pancakes stuffed with your favourite filling. My tip is not to overstuff the pancakes because leaking quickly leads to a dirty pan that is hard to clean!
I adapted Williams-Sonoma’s recipe to experiment with different fillings. We started with blueberries, which were probably my favourite filling. Frozen blueberries can be used but are best when they have thawed. Otherwise, they change the temperature of the batter and it doesn’t cook as well.
Next, we tried mulberry jam as a filling. It was delicious, too, although much sweeter. The only trick is to make sure it doesn’t leak while flipping because it is a bugger to get the jam off the pan.
For the ebleskiver, I employed the two-flip method, but for more round ebelskivers, you can do it in three or four turns. I was so eager to use my pan, I didn’t research how to make proper ebleskiver. I’ll try it next time.
This is my submission to this month’s My Kitchen, My World, featuring dishes from Denmark and to this month’s Breakfast Club for Sweet Treats. Also props to Rob, for the action shots since I can’t cook and photograph at the same time.
One of my friends has a sulphite allergy. In short, she could have an anaphylaxis reaction (ie, really bad difficulties breathing) if she consumes sulphites. Sulphites are a commonly used preservative and found in a whole host of foods (processed food, beer, wine, dried fruit, etc). Canada is very good at making food producers label their products with any sulphites used, so I always check labels when I know my friend will be over.
In reality, though, I don’t make many things from processed foods, so I should be ok, right? Well, as it turns out, I have been cooking with a few sulphite-laden ingredients – vegetable broth (not homemade), coconut milk and even dried fruit were among the many culprits I have found in my recent dishes.
So when we needed an emergency girls night in, and when it was -28C outside (with the wind), I scoured for recipes I could make without venturing to the grocery store AND that had no sulphites AND that would taste best the next day as leftovers (since I wasn’t going to cook after work). A pretty onerous task, if I may say so myself!
I narrowed my choices to two options: The New Spanish Table‘s Lentil and Pumpkin Stew with Roasted Garlic OR the Chili Fest Chili from Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health. The chili was rife with savoury flavours like cinnamon, cloves, cumin, coriander, paprika and oregano. Oh, and molasses! Considering it was so cold outside, the chili won out instantly.
I modified the original recipe by increasing the onions, red bell peppers and carrots while omitting the celery. I used the sweet paprika and Aleppo chili flakes for the heat (and omitted the chipotles in adobo sauce). I mixed up the bean variety by using both red kidney beans and black beans. But, the best addition, the secret ingredient, was bulgur! (I realize that my title gave it away….)
The result was a hearty chili with the mix of savoury flavours. Not my favourite chili, as something was a bit off and I prefer my chili with a bit more robust tomato flavour. Next time I might add some tomato paste. The bulgur, though, was excellent and a healthy way to get the mouth-feel of ground meat, without any meat at all. Other grains – millet, spelt, etc – could also be used. TVP is also an option. In any case, this is a nice way to warm up during the winter. Pair it with a leafy salad, some crusty bread, or just eat the chili plain. The original recipe called for a yogurt-cilantro topping to help with the heat. Personally, mine wasn’t a spicy chili but that’s because I didn’t put in the chipotle peppers!
I will have to find some more red peppers to make that lentil and squash stew, though…
It was my pleasure to host Magazine Mondays this week! Magazine Mondays is an informal blogging event to encourage you to tackle those recipes you have clipped from magazines – new and old. Unfortunately, I have been enthralled by some new cookbooks so I wasn’t able to participate myself this week. However, let’s look at what other people made:
If you’d like to participate another time, email Ivonne with the details about your post that includes a recipe from a magazine. It is as simple as that!
Everyone has a favourite granola recipe. Personally, I have tried many recipes, and love to try new ones for variety. Adapted from The Stop‘s cookbook Good Food For All, I was drawn to Joshna Maharaj‘s healthy granola recipe because it was filled with my favourite fixins – almonds, coconut, cranberries and date with less oil. It also used a lot of wheat germ and All Bran buds.
A few years ago, I used to eat All Bran buds all the time with yogurt. It was a quick satisfying snack or dessert. I once chatted with a surgeon who was a strong proponent of All Bran buds and psyllium (the main fiber source on All Bran buds). He was a colorectal surgeon and saw people with constipation and colorectal cancer. He was adamant that we could add All-Bran buds to ANYTHING – even pizza! While I am willing to try many thing, I am not THAT adventurous. However, adding All Bran buds to granola just makes sense for a healthy, filling breakfast.
A note about this granola: it is not incredibly sweet. It does not clump well. But it is tasty and best combined with some fresh fruit and yogurt as a lovely breakfast parfait.
This week, Magazine Mondays is travelling to the Taste Space!
It is an informal weekly blogging event, which rounds-up recipes from magazines you have dusted off. Ivonne at Cream Puffs in Venice usually hosts it, but this week I am glad to help out. To participate, all you need to do is email me (saveur11 AT yahoo DOT ca) with the following information: your name, blog name and blog url, the url of the link to your Magazine Mondays post, the title of the recipe and the magazine the recipe is from. I’ll accept all emails until Sunday January 23.
I look forward to seeing which recipes have inspired you!
Sometimes you are destined to make a recipe. Everything was leading me towards this soup:
1) I got a lemon squeezer for Christmas! Perfect for squeezing small oranges as well.
2) My mom gave me her second garlic press (I never thought I needed one, but it is great for salads)
3) My mom offloaded a case of oranges/clementines onto me before her vacation
4) I had 2 yams in my fridge that needed to be used PRONTO
5) Baby spinach was on sale
6) I borrowed ExtraVeganZa from the library and was reading it over the holidays
7) Have I mentioned how much I love soup?
Even though I wasn’t expecting much, I am so glad I followed all the clues.
The stars were aligned properly, though: this soup was phenomenal. I was blown away by its taste. Healthy food does not need to be bland!
This soup was both incredibly delicious, healthy and a snap to put together. I adapted the original recipe from ExtraVeganZa only slightly, with less oil and likely more yam. This soup was silky smooth from the pureed yams. I rarely go to the trouble of squeezing my own orange juice, but with an overabundance of citrus and a new lemon squeezer, I had no excuses. The freshly squeezed juice is paramount for this recipe. The delicate splash of citrus made this a light-tasting soup, and the extra dimension came from the dill and ginger. They really brought the soup to the next level with the curiosity it raised with each spoonful. The soup would likely be great without the spinach, but the extra bulk made this a soup with texture. A perfect play from winter’s finest characters. It brought a smile to my face with its first bite.
Here are other soups with orange that have piqued my curiosity:
Black Bean Soup with Orange Zest at Recipe Trezor
Carrot and Orange Soup with Ginger and Thyme at She’s in the Kitchen
Honeyed Carrot and Orange Soup at Tasty Kitchen
Balkh Brown Lentil Soup at Vegan Feast Kitchen
Caspian Butternut Squash Soup with Bulgur at Vegan Eats and Treats
If you ever want to try to make your own recipes, soups and salads are a great place to start. I don’t think you could muck it up too badly.
I was inspired by Chocolate & Zucchini’s Apple and Cumin Lentil Salad. I knew I wanted to keep the base flavours the same with the apple, lentils and cumin, but change things around as well.
To keep this a filling hearty meal, I added wild rice which had a nutty flavour that complemented the rest of the salad ingredients. The tofu was removed. I added in chopped carrot for crunch and kept the dressing ingredients fresh (Clotilde cooked hers a tad). The dressing was increased because of the larger volume of the salad, but it is not heavy at all. It was fresh, yet hearty at the same time. Sweet and savoury with the apple and cumin. Play around with this theme and see what you can create!
In this electronic age, word of mouth can spread fast. Online feedback is immortalized. While I like to consult reviews, too, I didn’t know authors like to gauge their own success through these reviews. I was surprised (but I guess I shouldn’t have been) when I saw Dreena Burton, author of Eat Drink and Be Vegan, really upset by a recent review on amazon. The primary complaint was that her recipes were criticized for using too many unusual ingredients (tempeh, artichoke hearts, pine nuts, lemongrass, agave nectar, etc).
I am so glad my blog doesn’t get judged as harshly – the blogging community is actually VERY supportive. Heck, we actively encourage our readers to try new and unusual ingredients that we have discovered ourselves. I certainly do not purport to be solely cooking from kitchen staples. When I went home over the holidays, I had to figure out what I could still cook in my parents’ kitchen without having to run to the grocery store too often. I know that my armamentarium of ingredients has ballooned since I’ve moved to Toronto and discovered ethnic grocery stores. My favourite ingredients right now include pomegranate molasses, bulgur, lentils du Puy, cardamom, tamarind, and tempeh. Personally, I love it when I find new recipes that use these unique ingredients!
I remember flipping through Veganomicon before I moved to Toronto and the recipes didn’t really appeal to me. I agree, all the new ingredients can be intimidating. However, when I returned to it recently, my curiosity was caught by many recipes. My favourites so far have been the chickpeas romesco and the tamarind lentils.
I recently bought Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, a Veganomicon co-author. When I saw a recipe for tempeh and sweet potatoes marinaded in a tamarind-based barbecue sauce, I knew I had to try it first. I also had all the ingredients.
The recipe is also posted here and I modified it by decreasing the tempeh. Who wants to use one and half packages of tempeh for a recipe? The recipe didn’t mention it, but I used Terry’s tip in Viva Vegan to steam the tempeh with half a cup of water in the microwave. Apparently it removes its bitter taste. However, whenever Rob has prepared tempeh, I have not noticed a bitter taste.
I cut the tempeh into small triangles and used around 600 g of sweet potatoes with the same amount of marinade. I started making this dish in the morning, allowing everything to marinade until I threw it into the oven for an easy, late lunch.
I was skeptical the sauce would thicken but it was perfect right out of the oven. It was a smokey barbecue sauce with a strong tangy tamarind flavour. It worked well with the meaty, chewy tempeh and the sweet potatoes. My only complaint, and we’ve had this problem before with tempeh, is that it slurps up the marinade once cooled as leftovers. It still tasted fine for leftovers, but the sauciness was lost. Therefore, it was best the day it was prepared, but still conferred reasonable leftovers. Next time, I may throw in a leafy green like kale, as Susan did here.
(Don’t worry, this time I actually used rosemary!)
Sometimes all I want is a nice, big bowl of soup. Something fresh and light yet filling enough for a meal. My belly screams for something simple and nourishing.
Enter this delightful soup adapted from Orangette. It is a tomato soup at its core, light-tasting with the sprinkle of sugar mellowing the acid from the tomatoes. I used less vegetable broth than Molly, but it was the right consistency for me (even still a bit thin for me). The rosemary adds an interesting twist, but is not an overpowering flavour. And then you add in chickpeas, which is why this is such a deceivingly hearty soup. Half are pureed, creating bulk for the soup. The other half are left intact for mouth feel. Delicious.
Sometimes simple is all you need.
I was apprehensive about making this recipe on a weeknight. However, when I told Rob about my top three options for dinner, he encouraged me to try the Rosemary Lentils over Polenta from Supermarket Vegan.
You see, I have made polenta before – a creamy, smooth, polenta with a roasted red pepper coulis – and it was delicious. However, it took me (well, technically, my brother who was over that day) 45 minutes to get the polenta to the right consistency. I didn’t really feel like stirring polenta over the stovetop after I came home from work. But I decided to forge ahead anyhow…
Low and behold, instead of grabbing the coarse cornmeal, I took out the fine cornmeal. And if there ever was instant polenta, this would be it! Within minutes, it had firmed up and was ready to set. Granted, this polenta was not nearly as creamy as last time (that recipe had used milk and a smidgen of cheese, but I am sure the coarse cornmeal had something to do with it). But in this case, I didn’t really mind. The firm, garlicky polenta contrasted nicely with the soupy herb-infused lentils. Just like the texture contrast in the Spanish Lentil and Mushroom Stew, the play of textures worked very well together. It wasn’t mush on mush, it was soup on firm.
However, there was one casualty when I cooked mid-week. I thought I was making Rosemary Lentils. A few days later, I realized I had made Thyme Lentils, instead, as I grabbed the wrong herb and my brain didn’t say ‘stop! this isn’t rosemary!’. This also might explain why the flavour was a lot more subtle than I had anticipated. However, it was exactly what I wanted. This was not a flavour explosion; sometimes I need the quiet, too.
This meal is great post-holiday indulgences. The lentils are light and fresh and the polenta is hearty and offers a nice balance. The leftovers were great with a little zap in the microwave, although the lentil stew was less soupy.
I went home for the holidays, which among many other things, means I was able to cook a lot! I can try a lot of new recipes when I am feeding 4 people, instead of just me. But before I get to my tasty holiday dishes, allow me to introduce you one from the quasi-archives.
This recipe hails back to last May. I spotted the recipe for Tamarind Lentils in Veganomicon, when I borrowed it from the library. I returned the cookbook, but kept the recipe in anticipation of making it soon.
However, this recipe was filled with ingredients that I find in my pantry, so I never had a burning desire to make it. Summer came, with its bountiful produce, and it was pushed to the side.
I eventually made another recipe from Veganomicon, Chickpeas Romesco, filled with roasted red peppers, tomatoes and almonds. As I was googling to see if anyone had typed up the recipe before me, I spotted it on Google Books. Low and behold, the Tamarind Lentils and Chickpeas Romesco were on the same page! I giggled to myself, as I still had the rice cooker, months later. And while I made rice for the Chickpeas Romesco, I hadn’t yet made the Tamarind Lentils. I shared the irony with Rob, the rice cooker-lender.
Rob loves tamarind, declared the recipe to be fit for his own kitchen, and stole the rice cooker back! Thankfully, he invited me over to share in the loot – and it was delicious. Tangy tamarind with warm and savoury spices coated lentils in a soupy sauce. It was so good, he offered to make it for a potluck I was hosting at my place the following weekend. Because he wanted to serve freshly cooked rice, he brought the rice cooker back to my place. And there it remained for another few months.
Trust me, Rob knew he could have his rice cooker back at any time. After I lent him 660 Curries, he decided enough was enough. Curries demand rice. And lots of rice demands a rice cooker. He wanted his rice cooker back!
And of course, when I returned from Morocco in December, with a kitchen nearly completely devoid of produce (although lovingly stocked with some leftover soup courtesy of Rob), the first dish I made was tamarind lentils. Without a rice cooker. And while the tamarind lentils were as delicious as I remembered, the rice was not! A bit too soupy/sticky, but palatable nonetheless.
Thankfully, Rob has agreed to come over to cook my rice next time.
Although, I am still (not so secretly) pining a 3-in-1 rice cooker/pressure cooker/slow cooker.
This is my submission Ricki and Kim’s vegan SOS challenge featuring coconut oil, and to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Simona. Rob also gets props for taking a better photo (top photo) of the tamarind lentils.
I thought it would be fun to share some of my most memorable dishes from the previous year. Primarily, I picked them based on taste, but ease of prep was also important. I love looking through the archives of food blogs, and this helps focus on recipes that get my two thumbs up. I had a hard time narrowing down the list to my top 10, so I included a few worthy runners-up. In no particular order, here are my picks. Here’s to a healthy and delicious 2011. Enjoy!
If you have been reading my blog since the summer, I know you have heard of this salad. I still call it “The Best Salad Ever’. Plump, creamy bulgur is the base of this meal-salad, that is stuffed with oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, chickpeas and pomegranate arils, seasoned with toasted almonds, mint and lemon.