I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday weekends, be it celebrating July 1 or July 4.
I was telling my Mom about my low-key Canada Day plans….
Well, first we went grocery shopping…
WHAT?!, she exclaimed. All the grocery stores are closed here.
True, the big chain grocery stores were closed on Friday, but that didn’t stop Sunny’s (or Bestwin or even T&T) from being open. Sunny’s, my current favourite grocery store, is located in Flemingdon Park, the Toronto neighbourhood with the highest percentage of immigrants (67% of its residents, with 23% recent immigrants). Sunny’s advertises over 10 languages its staff can speak, and it truly offers a multicultural grocery experience. Due to its local clientele, the prices are great and the produce is fresh. And it was open on Canada Day. Hourray for me!
BBQs are in full swing now at our place, even though we are still living out of boxes. Rob has chosen to take full advantage of the barbecue, grilling up various kinds of meats for guests, whereas I typically reign in the salad department. I have revisited some of my old favourites, and of course, tried out a few new ones that will be shared shortly, including this lovely warm leek and white bean salad.
White beans are combined with caramelized leeks and smothered in a light mustard sauce. I was mostly inspired by the recipe from Waitrose since I adapted it quite a bit. I increased the amount of leeks, used dill instead of parsley, added in lemon pepper and simplified their mustard dressing. I like how creamy dressing can get with mustard alone!
You can bring your bean salad to the next level by cooking up your own beans with complementary flavours. Here, I opted to cook my own flageolet beans in vegetable broth and rosemary for additional flavour. Cook up more beans than you need, freeze the extra with the stock and you can whip up another tasty white bean salad in a heart beat. Tinned beans would work too, if you haven’t yet converted to cooking your own beans (I had a hard time locating dried flageolet beans in Toronto, let alone canned flageolets, though!).
While you could use any white bean (cannellini/white kidney, Great Northern, or even something smaller like navy or black eyed pea, etc), after delving into my heirloom bean collection, I have realized wonderful novelty beans can be! The first bean I tried was the green flageolet. I found it locally at Rube’s Rice in the St Lawrence Market, so thankfully I can easily replenish my pantry (instead of outsourcing my supply from the US!). Flageolets are smaller white beans, but deliciously smooth and creamy. They are commonly used in the French cassoulet, but here, they make this salad shine. I look forward to trying other ways of using these delicious beans over the summer.
June has been a busy month.
It started with a trip to Vancouver (where I was so happy to meet up with Ashley!).
Next, there was the bike ride of the century. Or 3.6 (metric) centuries.
Then, the following weekend, there was the move. From separate apartments to a single house. Combining of lives. Living out of boxes and boxes.
The weekend after the move also happened to be my birthday. Apparently, turning 30 is a big deal. Not just any birthday.
Thus, our new home, bricks and mortar only, housed my birthday bash. A small gathering of both immediate families.
My mom was the host, though. She transplanted most of the food, serving dishes and even flowers from her backyard in Ottawa, as we are still unpacking boxes. I can work in my kitchen, but it is not up to its full capacity just yet (where is my second set of measuring spoons?? Or the bicycle chain lube?- not that I need that in the kitchen, btw).
My mom came up with a delicious menu, catering to my “vegan on steroids” diet, as she puts it. I know she is cooking out of her own comfort zone, but she was easily able to combine my bean and grain dishes with meat and dairy-dishes for everyone else.
While Rob and I contributed baklava as a late Father’s day gift for the shindig, since it was for my Dad, I opted not to try a vegan recipe. I went with his favourite Turkish baklava recipe, complete with a pistachio-only filling.
I couldn’t back out of a birthday cake, though. I knew what I wanted: a vegan cheesecake. I have gushed over ones I have eaten at restaurants in town, but had yet to try making it at home. I picked out a recipe and my mom, thankfully, obliged. Her closest Loblaws actually carried all of the ingredients once she started to look (although they were more expensive than what I pay from natural food stores in Toronto, so I will have to hook her up next time). She made it the night before, froze it overnight, and brought it to Toronto in a cooler. Her only change to the recipe was using a 9″ springform pan, but that didn’t change how great it tasted!
Just as I had hoped, this was a delicious cake. Silky, creamy and smooth with a strong burst of raspberry in the cake. This doesn’t taste like cheesecake, but it has a similar consistency. It is not as heavy. Light and fruity. Smooth and creamy. A dreamcake. It needs its own name because it is a shame to even compare it to cheesecake. If you didn’t tell people it was vegan, all they would know is that they were eating a delicious cake. It took longer than half an hour to thaw, but we ate it chilled anyhow. Personally, I preferred it straight from the fridge, when it was more creamy. Thankfully the baklava was a hit, which meant there was more leftover birthday cake for me!!
The great thing about this cake? Once you have the ingredients, soak your cashews, you just whip everything in your food processor. No oven required. Freezer space necessary, though.