the taste space

Carob Blueberry Energy Bars

Posted in Desserts by janet @ the taste space on May 31, 2011


I have been cycling a lot recently in preparation for cycling from Ottawa to Kingston and back in June. Rob and I have slowly increased our daily distances, and on Sunady we cycled 168km. Terrain around Toronto can be mostly flat, so we have been trying to incorporate hills into our routes. There will be some killer hills en route to Kingston.

Last year, The Toronto Star listed some scenic hills for cyclists and we have been exploring them one-by-one ever since. Two weeks ago, we conquered the brutal hill in Twyn Rivers and this week we tackled the steep and curvy hill at Appleby Line in Burlington. I have to zigzag up the hills because I can’t ride them straight – I just don’t have the gears to go that low nor are my legs that strong! We only have one more hill left on the list (Redway) but it has been fun to see different areas in Toronto.

I have been making tons of different energy bars for my cycling trips and will start by sharing these healthy snacks from the Thrive Diet (original recipe posted here, and video of Brendan making them is here).  I like the Thrive Diet because it highlights eating nutrient-dense foods. Brendan just came out with a new cookbook, Whole Foods to Thrive, which I am really excited to explore because the recipes seem much more creative and include a lot of recipes from established raw restaurants including Live Food Bar in Toronto, Gorilla Food in Vancouver and one of my new finds, Thrive Juice Bar in Waterloo (sadly, they didn’t share the recipe for their awesome pad thai).

These are definitely a healthy energy bar, filled with nuts, seeds, blueberries, lemon juice and carob powder. The texture is softer than what I usually expect from my cycling snacks, but Brendan is a big proponent of your mouth and stomach doing the least amount of work while fueling up during exercise. I found them too soft to transport a bunch of them with me while biking, but they are better at room temperature after a work-out or as a mid-day snack when the munchies come!

This is my submission to both Ricki and Kim’s vegan SOS challenge featuring carob.

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Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Dukkah

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by janet @ the taste space on May 30, 2011


While my cupboards continue to expand as I experiment with different ingredients, I also have picked up new kitchen gadgets along the way as well. Some a bit more isoteric (takoyaki pan, my $2 tagine from Morocco), but others have become integrated into my daily routine (food processor, citrus squeezer, garlic press, immersion blender, kitchen scale, etc). One of the more recent additions to my kitchen has been a coffee grinder that doubles as a spice grinder. In fact, it only grinds spices because I don’t drink coffee. ;)

Freshly ground spices are key for fresh tasting food. I don’t buy ground nutmeg anymore, and routinely grind my own allspice, cardamom and cumin. I have a mortar and pestle, which served its purpose.  For most things, it works quite well. My nemesis were coriander seeds, though, which I learned while making dukkah, a sweet-savoury Egyptian spice blend. Oh my! I never knew such small things could give you such a work-out. This is what prompted me to seek out an alternative for my forearms. The spice grinder has lived up to its potential, and I happily make room for it in my cupboards.

So why I am bringing up dukkah?


Well, as I try to eat my way through my fridge and pantries before I move, I discovered a small container harbouring some leftover dukkah in my fridge (right next to my rediscovered miso, no less!).  A sniff taste told me this was still fresh! Slightly unconventional, but incredibly delicious, this Egyptian spice mix is spiced with cumin, with a citrus overtone from coriander, with sweetness imparted from almonds and coconut.  Earlier, I found it scrumptious with a poached egg and toast, but I was eager to try it with roasted vegetables.

Inspired by Jaden at Steamy Kitchen, I opted to roast cauliflower along with chickpeas until they were both sweet, nutty and brown. Sprinkled with dukkah, with its earthy sweetness, this paired incredibly well. Gosh, I just love rediscovering old favourites. :)

How do you like to use dukkah?

PS. Wondering why my cauliflower looks a bit purple? Let’s just say I roasted the cauliflower along with some beets. The beets leaked. On the cauliflower. But truly, I see no problem with purple-tinged cauliflower! :)


This is my submission to My Kitchen, My World for Egyptian travels and to E.A.T. World for Egypt.
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Edamame Miso Dip (Hummus, Asian-style!)

Posted in Appetizers, Favourites by janet @ the taste space on May 27, 2011


My mom thinks this vegan stuff is just a phase. Just as I go through other phases in my cooking, she tried to rationalize. She explained that first I was into cooking Japanese after my trip to Japan (all those soba noodles, Janet!), then Middle Eastern after visiting Turkey and Moroccan after my trip to Morocco. Each time, I venture into new cookbooks, find new spices, but truly, I incorporate everything I learn into all my meals. New ingredients, new flavours and new techniques.. it is all a learning process, as life should be. And yes, my pantry continues to gather new and exciting staples.

Granted, I can only eat so much, so I might tackle different cuisines in spurts. A little of Morocco here, a side trip to Brazil here, a quick jet to Egypt and then returning back to Japan. In these around-the-world culinary experiences, sometimes I forget how much I like certain ingredients. Case in point: miso. Last year, I bought miso for the first time to make baked eggplant with miso, which I adored at restos and could easily make at home. I also made miso-crusted black cod and a few other dishes which were great but then I went to Turkey… and forgot about miso.

Until, I made a Japanese winter stew with a miso-based broth. That kick-started it again. Loved it. It wasn’t the star of the meal, but it added an extra dimension. Then I made the orange-beet soup that had an extra twist from the miso. Followed up by the exquisitely delicious zesty orange cashew spread, I knew I had rediscovered an old favourite ingredient.

Plus, the great thing about miso is that I still had the same package from last year. It keeps forever in your fridge!! Discover it, forget about it, but let yourself rediscover it as you clean out your fridge. :)


Now about this dip from Radiant Health, Inner Wealth (recipe also posted here) – you already know it is going to be fabulous coming from that cookbook. ;)

I made this for Rob’s birthday, which had a Japanese-theme for his meal, and I loved it as an Asian spin on hummus. You use creamy edamame instead of chickpeas, but you still have lots of garlic and tahini for the prototypical hummus flavour. Instead of traditional lemon juice, lime juice is used. Throw in some spinach for some greenery, and you have a healthy, delicious dip.

It is not just a hummus made with edamame. I had the Trader Joe’s edamame hummus after eating this dip and was sorely disappointed – where was the miso?

It is creamy, smooth, salty with a bit of zip. Without knowing the ingredients, it is hard to place the flavours exactly, but you know it tastes great. Serve it with veggies, pita bread, or as a spread for a sandwich.


This is my submission to this month’s Veggie/Fruit A Month, featuring spinach and to this month’s Simple and in Season for May. (more…)

Mango BBQ Beans

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by janet @ the taste space on May 25, 2011


What’s in a label? Call something vegan and people assume it doesn’t taste any good. Somehow it will deprive them of something they “need”. (Me? Bitter? Much?)

This weekend, I was planning a menu since I was hosting guests. I initially thought my challenge was finding something I could make or reheat in a kitchen devoid of all my usual ingredients and utensils.

No, that was not my challenge.

“I don’t like vegan food,” said one guest.

Oh my gosh, what to do?!

I would obviously have to figure out a way to appeal to everyone’s palates with our limited kitchen possibilities.

If meat was somewhat prominent, perhaps a vegan dish could be stealthily incorporated into the menu.

In the end, we opted to use the barbecue for some quick meals with side dishes I made at home earlier.  We served barbecued wild boar sausages with a side of (vegan) coleslaw.  For dessert, we made mango shrikhand or simply unadorned Alphonso mangoes for those averse to yogurt.  The following day we went entirely vegan with mango BBQ beans, leftover coleslaw, cucumber slices wrapped inside a tortilla, or with a side of multigrain bread.

I heard the sausages were nice, but there were resounding compliments for the mango BBQ beans. Red kidney beans are simmered in a tomato sauce spiced with coriander, allspice, liquid smoke and mango. Smoky, sweet, zippy and saucy. A perfect combination for barbecue flavours. Don’t be fooled by the mango, though. It adds sweetness as opposed to authentic mango flavour, although some of the frozen mango chunks were still present within the sauce. While the original recipe from Appetite for Reduction calls for red kidney beans, I think pinto beans would be better next time. This way, it would be more similar to baked beans. Or black beans since they pair so well with mango.

The great thing about these beans, though, is that they are easy to whip up in advance. After an overnight sit, they tasted even better. Just reheat prior to serving and you’ve got some smokin’ mango BBQ beans! :)

I bit my tongue as my guest said these were one of the best baked beans she’s eaten. They were vegan and she knew that, too. I just won’t label anything in advance to ward off any undue prejudice. ;)

This is my submission to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Smitha of Kannada Cuisine.

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Tropical Mango Pie

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by janet @ the taste space on May 23, 2011


As I said, Alphonso mango season is here. Rob and I have been devouring the Alphonsos, savouring each one, and we both thought this was a wonderful dessert to share. Any sweet mango will do, even frozen chunks. If you love mangoes as much as we do, you will swoon over this. So do not hesitate, go get yourself some mangoes!

I have been exploring more raw cuisine and have been smitten by the raspberry raw cheesecake at The Beet and the chocolate banana raw cheesecake at Rawlicious. The server at Rawlicious told me it was to-die-for, and she was right. However, since I know it is filled with cashews, it isn’t the most healthy dessert.

This is why I jumped at the chance to make this dessert, because it is healthy, flavourful and filled with some of my favourite ingredients. The star of the pie is a mango pudding with pureed sweet mangoes. The flavour really pops because it is combined with dried mango slices. The mango pudding is poured over a coconut-almond-date crust, and topped with your favourite fruit. We chose blackberries, but strawberries, kiwis, bananas, anything!, could be used. Together, everything works well. Tropical bliss.


I adapted the recipe from Radiant Health, Inner Wealth, by only making half the recipe and preparing individual servings in ramekins.  I thought this worked much better actually, because the crust is a bit crumbly. Since it was in a ramekin, you didn’t need to worry about scooping out each piece of pie. Oddly enough, although this served 3, Rob and I didn’t fight over the last piece. I let him win this battle without a whimper on my side. Because as much as I love mangoes, I know that Rob loves them even more.  ;)

I now have one Alphonso mango left. What should I do with it?? I was considering combining it with raspberries, but we’ll see what I create. :)

This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Wellness, to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays, to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Graziana from Erbe in Cucina (Cooking with Herbs).

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Mango Pistachio Steel Cut Oatmeal (aka Mango Shrikhand Oatmeal)

Posted in Breakfasts by janet @ the taste space on May 21, 2011

Alphonso mango season has arrived.

Last year, Rob and I devoured the Indian Alphonsos as soon as they arrived in Little India. Succulent, sweet, smooth and sweating with juice (sap? cider? to go with my alliterations..), this is one of the best mangoes out there (although, no, I have yet to try Pakistani or Filipino mangoes). Ataulfos are my second favourite.

Rob jumped at the chance to get a crate of mangoes last weekend and shared his bounty with me.  I mean, you could easily just eat the Alphonso plain, in all its glory, but I recounted all my favourite mango recipes from last year: Thai Sticky Rice with Mango, Mango Shrikhand and Coconut Rice Pudding with a Mango Puree.  I was brought to the tropics just thinking about it.

Mango Shrikhand, man that was good. A mango and cardamom-infused yogurt is topped with mango and pistachios. Sounds simple, but works so well.

However, I am not eating yogurt right now, so I figured I would try to merry those similar flavours together for breakfast. With my morning oats, no less. This was how Mango Pistachio Steel Cut Oatmeal (aka Mango Shrikhand Oatmeal) was born.

Unlike my previous Mango Oatmeal, spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, I did not cook the mangoes in the oatmeal. I consider the Alphonso mango too precious to let it disintegrate. If I had an Ataulfo, then I’d certainly throw that in the pot, though. ;) I let the mango shine overtop the oatmeal, sprinkled with pistachios. With the creamy base with cardamom and saffron, this was a delicious breakfast.

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Chickpea and Edamame Beans with Watercress and Shiitake Mushrooms

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on May 20, 2011


Sometimes greens go on sale, so when T&T had 2 bunches of watercress on sale for 88 cents, I figured I had nothing to lose by trying a new green. I didn’t even know what I wanted to make, but I knew it would come to me.

Of course, greens can easily be interchanged. Baby spinach may be sweeter, but Swiss chard could work as well. Want something with more bite? Add arugula. Want something with an even stronger peppery snap? Try watercress!

I love Japanese food because it highlights simplicity while balancing all the major tastes (bitter, sour, sweet, hot, salty, and delicate). While most of the Japanese dishes I make play more on the sweet side, I loved the change of pace with this more earthy stir-fry.

Adapted from ExtraVeganZa, I fooled around with the veggies, but the essence of the dish was the same. I swapped watercress for the spinach, used more shiitake mushrooms and edamame beans, and added in snow peas. The primary flavours were ginger as well as the earthy-flavour from the dulse (a kind of seaweed).

My only initial complaint was from the cornstarch, because I don’t really like it. It was more noticeable when the dish was eaten fresh, less so as leftovers. I found it important to deglaze the pan, although next time I would omit it and deglaze with less liquid. Otherwise, it was fine as leftovers. :)

Not sure watercress will make it into my backyard garden, though, as it doesn’t seem to be suitable without lots of water!

This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Lynne from Cafe Lynnylu.

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Gingery Enoki Mushrooms with Carrots and Silken Tofu

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on May 18, 2011


My mom has been reading my blog from the beginning. My dad, not so much. Last summer, he saw the picture of Silken Tofu Topped with Enoki Mushrooms and told me it looked awful. Maybe he said it looked gross. I can’t remember. To me, the picture reminded me how great the dish was. I saw the taste that I remembered, that I enjoyed, so I didn’t think it looked “gross”. Granted, enoki mushrooms are odd-looking things to the uninitiated. My mom still raves about one of my first photos of enoki mushrooms, and how alien-like they look. Attack of the mushrooms!!

Personally, I love enoki mushrooms and they are definitely one of my favourite mushrooms. They have a delicate flavour so the rest of the dish is what matters most. It is a shame they haven’t hit mainstream grocers just yet.  I usually pick them up at T&T when they go on sale, but yes, my new favourite grocery store, Sunny Supermarket, also sells them. On sale to boot- 2 packages for $2!

I wanted to try something that highlighted the mushroom, instead of adding them to a stew.  I spotted a great recipe in Kansha, the new vegetarian cookbook by Andoh, who also provided the original recipe for Silken Tofu Topped with Enoki Mushrooms in Washoku. The original recipe was a vegetable side but I decided to beef it up by doubling the vegetable portion and serving it overtop chunks of silken tofu as a main dish.

The prep was quite labour intensive if you follow Andoh’s suggestion of making thin matchsticks of carrots and ginger. I did it all by hand since I don’t have a spiralizer (yet). It made for a nice texture that complemented the enoki mushrooms really well, but since everything was stir-fried, I feel that simply shredding the carrots would be equally as good and way easier to do. But the taste, the taste was great. Andoh’s recipes are more subtle, not in your face, which is what I love. It was simple, tasty and completely Japanese. The zip from the ginger was great with the silky background of the delicate enoki mushrooms and silken tofu.


This is my submission to E.A.T. World for Japan.

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Savoury Oatmeal with Soy Sauce and Nutritional Yeast

Posted in Breakfasts by janet @ the taste space on May 16, 2011

My mom recently forwarded an article to me.

“Study finds vegetarians have smaller brains” screamed the headline with a link to this article in Neurology from 2008.

Gosh, do I need to bemoan how media misconstrues academic research? The article had nothing to do with vegetarian diets, rather it investigated the effect of vitamin B12 levels in the elderly and its association with brain volume.  Vitamin B12 deficiency is common in the elderly due to many reasons, and can be a reversible cause of dementia.

However, I understand my mom’s concern. Vegans need to understand which nutrients are harder to come by without consuming meat and dairy. There are actually a few, but vitamin B12 deficiency can become problematic since you can only acquire it from meat and dairy, unless you obtain it from a fortified food.

A good source of vitamin B12 for vegans is nutritional yeast, which is fortified with vitamin B12.   While I first used nutritional yeast to make a creamy zucchini and basil soup, I hadn’t really discovered its prowess until recently.

Nutritional yeast is not nearly as scary as it sounds. Its name is true though: it is a nutritional boon for B vitamins and it is an inactive yeast, harvested from beetroot and molasses. Known as a vegan source of vitamin B12, it is also a great source of protein and fiber. It has a distinctive cheesy flavour, that I have grown to love, although you may need to warm up to it. It has that kind of ‘health food’ flavour for the uninitiated but if paired well with other ingredients, it can really shine. You should be able to find it easily in any health food store.

While I love my breakfasts to feature all kinds of fruit, I have recently been smitten by savoury oats for breakfast. Playing around with different combinations with my big batch of weekly oats, this has been my recent favourite: steel-cut oats with soy sauce and nutritional yeast. Simple, quick, healthy and a nice change of pace for breakfast.


This is my submission to this month’s Breakfast Club, featuring savoury vegetarian breakfasts.

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Asparagus, Strawberry and Basil Salad with Mosto Cotto

Posted in Favourites, Salads by janet @ the taste space on May 14, 2011


I held out for Ontario asparagus. It also announced its entry by being on sale (wahoo!).

I did not hold out for Ontario strawberries. The Californian ones were on sale, too, and perfectly ripe after I left them on my counter for a few days.

Right now, after chowing down on this salad, I don’t care that I didn’t eat local. This was springtime in a bowl, with a dash of summer from the strawberries.

I was inspired by Joanne after I saw her Goat Cheese, Strawberry and Basil Salad. I trotted off to buy some cheap asparagus to go with my ripe strawberries, and was pleased how everything came into place at the grocery store (my new favourite grocery store, better than Bestwin!).


Ontario asparagus was $1.99 a pound, and wasn’t even advertised. I picked the bunch with the thinnest stalks. I had mint at home, so I had planned to forgo basil. However, they had the biggest bunches of basil that I ever did see. Complete with roots, they were that fresh. It tipped my scales at 290g for $1.50 (again, not advertised).  I scored a 1-lb clamshell of baby spring mix for $1.99. They have random containers marked down, but it looked fresh and with an expiry date a week away, I saw no reason not to buy it. I had my juicy strawberries already, so I was all set!

At home, I quickly assembled my salad for one. Steamed my asparagus, quickly blanched some edamame (frozen beans are great for small amounts), thrown overtop the baby greens and basil and drizzled it with mosto cotto. Yes, I christened my Eatalian mosto cotto with this salad. It was divine. Simplicity at its finest.


Mosto cotto (also known as saba), is a a condensed balsamic vinegar made with reduced Concord grapes and then aged for at least 12 years. I was introduced to mosto cotto when Chef Gentile from Buca was at Tastes of Tomorrow. He used it as a finish for a red wine, cinnamon, clove-marinated beef heart salad with grilled radicchio di Treviso, balsamic braised chipling onions, Tallegio cheese, crispy sage, dandelion greens and pickled fig, lightly drizzled with olive oil and mosto cotto.  It was delicious.

He highlighted that certain ingredients are worth their weight in gold. Mosto cotto is an expensive balasmic vinegar, but still considered a poor man’s balsamic vinegar. Compared to the traditional balsamic vinegar it doesn’t compare: it is a thicker syrup with a deep, complex and sweet flavour. I have been wooed to the dark side and recommend searching it out (Amazon.com sells it, and should be found in specialty Italian grocers – I bought mine at Eataly while in New York City).  In this recipe, you could substitute a balsamic syrup by boiling down some balsamic vinegar, or just use a good quality balsamic vinegar.


This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this week’s Healthy Vegan Friday, to this week’s Ingredient Challenge Monday for strawberries, to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Smitha of Kannada Cuisine, this month’s No Croutons Required featuring asparagus and to this month’s Simple and in Season for May.

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Chocolate Maca Raspberry Smoothie

Posted in Breakfasts, Desserts, Drinks by janet @ the taste space on May 13, 2011


I have been a recent convert to breakfast smoothies.

I never quite understood why I would want to drink my breakfast. However, chilled smoothies filled with fruit and seasonings have been perfect before and after my bicycle rides.

I am currently testing recipes for Tess Challis‘ upcoming superfoods cookbook and have been loving her smoothies! Her “Maca My Day” smoothie is what got me hooked, and it is wonderful with frozen bananas and the malty goodness from maca. She has a few delicious smoothies planned for the cookbook, and I took some liberty to create my own variation.

Perfect for breakfast, a delicious treat for dessert, enjoy this smoothie guilt-free as it is packed with frozen banana, raspberries, chia seeds, toasted carob and vanilla.

Chocolate and raspberry pair well together. Except I didn’t use chocolate. I used toasted carob powder, which has a flavour similar to chocolate without the caffeine.  Carob is a bit sweeter than cocoa, and definitely sweeter than raw cacao, so I didn’t feel like this smoothie needed any additional sweetener, but add to taste.  Maca is also wonderful in it, but completely optional.



This is my submission to both Ricki and Kim’s vegan SOS challenge featuring carob and to this month’s Breakfast Club featuring fairtrade ingredients.

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Smoky Tempeh and Chard Stew

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on May 12, 2011


After the early bedtime on Sunday, I thankfully got my mojo back in the kitchen! My brain and body got the rest they needed for me to become prolific in the kitchen once again. ;)

The next day, after work, I tackled the rest of my week’s menu which included this smoky tempeh and chard stew, adapted from Appetite for Reduction.  It came together seamlessly, as I prepped while things steamed, fried and simmered.

I obviously decided to make this stew last week, when we were in the midst of heavy, dreary rainy weather. It was a hearty stew, and after a few tweaks, filled with ingredients already in my kitchen when I didn’t want to head out to the grocery store. Unfortunately, by the time I made it (or fortunately, depending how you look at it), the weather turned around completely. This week we have been enjoying sunny, bright days with highs around 18C. Perfect, spring weather. More akin to spring salads, but this smoky tempeh stew still tastes great.

It is a lovely, hearty stew. It is filled with a tomato-based sauce with a smokiness coming from sweet smoked paprika. Carrots are added for additional flavour and you have a good nutritional punch from Swiss chard, or your favourite green. In fact, I liked using the stems from the Swiss chard for additional crunch (don’t discard the stems!). Tempeh is steamed, then fried to get a crispy coating, and added for an interesting texture and source of protein. While the original recipe called for frozen lima beans, I used frozen shelled edamame instead. Together, we have a winning combination of a hearty, healthy and filling stew. Perfect for the winter, or rainy days, but I am certainly not complaining about the wonderful spring weather that has finally arrived. :)

This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Simona from Briciole.

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Orange Beet Soup

Posted in Appetizers, Drinks, Soups by janet @ the taste space on May 11, 2011

I should judge the difficulty of recipes on my ability to make them after a bike ride (yam and black bean stew, I’ve got my eyes on you!). To be honest, I don’t think any of my recipes are hard to make (heck, even I can make it!) but I know some can be lengthy, especially if dried beans are involved.

Last weekend, I cycled to Kitchener with a friend. We opted to take a shorter route home, cycling to the Aldershot GO Station in Burlington and training the rest of the way home. I cycled 209km that weekend, and with the shorter distance on Sunday, it meant I was home by 3:30pm and able to do some weekend chores.

Um, no. Utter fail.

I got as far as: a) blending myself a recovery smoothie with banana and maca; b) during the post-ride euphoria, calling Rob to tell him I arrived alive; c) taking a nice warm bath; d) throwing all my cycling clothes in the washing machine to get washed;  e) making this soup; f) unexpectedly catching up with an old friend over the phone for an hour…. Giving my mom a well-deserved (brain-supported) phone call, unfortunately was not in the cards (=biggest failure). :(

Thank goodness I still had some delicious leftover raw pad thai for dinner that I picked up from Thrive Juice Bar in Waterloo (which travelled incredibly well over 80km on my bike!). (Their big green juice with maca was also exactly what I needed when I finally arrived in Waterloo).

Anyways, I had a few recipes on my week’s menu, but was only able to muster enough energy to make this Orange Beet Soup, adapted from The 30-Minute Vegan. I figured it would be a simple thing to throw together and should take under 30 minutes, right?

Obviously, in my post-cycle haze, my coordination (hand and mental) decrease. It took me more like 45 minutes and I didn’t even grate my vegetables by hand (thank you food processor!) plus another 15 minutes to clean (curse you food processor!) . I peeled my beets which took up a lot of time, and probably unnecessary in retrospect.

Also problematic: juicing my oranges. 1.5 cups of freshly squeezed orange juice. By me armed with my lemon squisher. 4 oranges later and many more minutes later, I had it all. Reinfeld may suggest 1-2 oranges, but that is impossible! Unless you get so much more juice with a juicer? Or pick an incredibly juicy one from a tree in Florida? Because I use all the pre-juicing tricks: microwave for 20 seconds, smash it and roll it around on the counter. And it took me just over 3 oranges. ;)

Anyways, I will see if my kitchen speed increases if I were to make this at any other time.

Because this is a great soup and should get repeated. Like when I have a garden filled with beets (oh yes!).

Simple ingredients layer to create a nice, light, flavourful soup. Beet is at its core, but it is sweet from the layers of  orange and carrots. The dill add another dimension with a nod to the Eastern European pairing of beet and dill, and the red miso creates that subtle complexity.

This soup is great warm and chilled. Chilled, it is a refreshing and bright starter and if I had a high-powered blender, this would make this the ultimate savoury summer drink (my immersion blender left a bit of pulp, which is fine for something labelled as soup).

After hanging up with my friend, it was 7pm, and I was positively pooped. I didn’t even photograph the soup. Yet. (It was photographed as leftovers the next day, which is also when my mom got the brain-active phone call she deserved!). ;)

I cleaned up my kitchen and called it a night and fell asleep around 8pm, before the sun had even gone to bed.


This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

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Hawaiian-style Sweet-and-Sour Roasted Pineapple and Bell Peppers with Tofu

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on May 9, 2011


Bell peppers come in a variety of colours – green, yellow, orange and red. How are the multicoloured peppers different?

I am not as fond of of green peppers since they are more bitter.  I will, however, tolerate them if hidden in a larger dish.

Green peppers are harvested before they are completely ripe and will never become sweet, like its older colourful siblings. Yellow and orange peppers are more mature than green, but the most mature of all are the red peppers.

With maturity comes hidden specialties, right? Of course! After researching a bit, I found out yellow peppers have 3% of the recommended intake of vitamin A, versus 105% in red peppers. Vitamin C was nearly the same between yellow and red (although green peppers had half as much). But red peppers have 841 mcg of beta-carotene versus 110 mcg in yellow peppers. They say to eat a rainbow, but I think it just makes sense to eat red peppers! Thankfully my taste buds agree and my blog can attest with its multitude of recipes for bell pepper.

The real question is whether to plant bell peppers in the garden. Our friends (and landlords) had difficulties with bell peppers last year, and other gardeners in Toronto have told me they never fully ripened to become red. The scourge of a short summer. The quandaries… perhaps we won’t be planting bell peppers if they stay green. Who would eat them? Only if they were hidden inside this delicious dish!

Yes, I really liked this Hawaiian Roasted Pineapple with Red Peppers and Tofu.  It wasn’t one of those ooky-sweet sweet-and-sour sauces. It was light, tasty and fresh, without any cornstarch which plagues most recipes. Originally a vegetable side dish, this recipe was adapted from Supermarket Vegan (also posted on Vegetarian Times) to make a main course by adding in tofu and quinoa. I added in 1 lb of extra-firm tofu and marinaded it in the sesame oil, canola oil and agave nectar. I prepped the rest of my vegetables as it marinaded, although if I had more forethought I would have marinaded it longer. I threw the veggies and tofu together to bake for ~75 minutes, then tossed with a sprinkle of fine coconut and lime juice and sprinkled chopped cashews overtop. Perfect!  This recipe definitely warrants fresh pineapple, though (I used half a pineapple). The canned stuff won’t make this meal shine.

This is my submission to E.A.T. World for Hawaii.

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Yam and Black Bean Stew with Orange and Cilantro

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by janet @ the taste space on May 7, 2011


So what kind of meal would you make if you were hosting a dinner party after cycling 100km?

Without going to the grocery store, to boot.

While I prefer not to try new recipes on unsuspecting guests, I warned my brother and sister-in-law that this was a new recipe… AND that I would likely be pooped post-bike ride. They were fine with the menu.

The most important part of having them over is not about the food, you see, it was about catching up. How their plans for puppy parenthood are progressing, moving plans on both ends, and since my apartment is now on the market to be rented, it has never looked cleaner. Oh, and games. Fun was had by all as we introduced them to Bananagrams and Dominion.

I still get a bit stressed when choosing a menu for guests. My tastes have changed and I would like to showcase how great the food tastes. A bit harder to do without rehearsing a recipe, but I trusted the complementary flavours within this soup stew. Yam, black beans, orange, cilantro – what’s not to like?

I adapted this recipe from Appetite for Reduction to create a heartier soup, I mean stew.  I decreased the amount of yam, increased the black beans, used canned tomatoes instead of fresh and, of course, used Aleppo chili flakes instead of the serrano peppers.

The yams, partially mashed, created a creamy consistency which meshed well with the extra black beans. I squeezed 2 Navel oranges to acquire 1 cup of fresh orange juice. This added more of a lightness to the soup, rather than an intense orange flavour. The sweet cilantro and orange paired well with the slight zing from the Aleppo pepper.

Let me tell you how perfect this stew was:

1) It is a very easy recipe easy. I had no problems whipping this up after the bike ride, since it came together quite seamlessly.

2) It serves 8, so there was plenty of food for seconds. And (souper) leftovers for me!

3) It tasted very good. No complaints from my guests. Not a typical meal for company, but it would suit me well if I visited someone. :)

4) For recovery meals after endurance-based exercise, this was ideal with a high carb content. As is, this has a 1:5 protein:carb ratio, but enjoy it with a glass of soy milk for an overall 1:3.5 ratio. Apparently, liquid-based meals are easiest to digest while in recovery so a soup is perfect.

Sounds like a winning meal for everyone.


This is my submission to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Smitha of Kannada Cuisine.

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