the taste space

Pomegranate, Snap Pea and Barley Salad with Dill and Allspice

Posted in Salads by Janet M on February 29, 2012


If you thought roasted celeriac, lentils, hazelnuts and mint were an odd combination for a salad… a delicious salad, at that… what about this one?

With a such crazy combination of ingredients in this barley salad – pomegranate, dill, allspice – I’ll give you one guess as to where this recipe came from. Not to throw you off, I added the snap peas.

Your one guess….. Ottolenghi? You’d be right!

Ottolenghi has this way of mixing flavours in the most unusual combinations. I often wonder what kind of mania is happening in his head. Flight of ideas? At least the recipes are tested before they hit the press, though. Right? Right?

This is an unusual salad, which Ottolenghi wrote in Plenty (recipe posted here). It is a nice wholesome salad, with an extra dimension from the allspice and dill.  Ottolenghi advises to cook the barley in plenty of water, but I find this creates a more mushy consistency. Instead I prefer to boil it with a 2:1 ratio of vegetable broth. I also prefer to toast my barley to accentuate its nuttiness. My other adaptations were to decrease the dressing and scrap the parsley altogether. The salad is overflowing with pomegranate arils which offers a sweet crunch, countered by the nutty barley, and accentuated by the earthy allspice and bright dill. The sugar snap peas also add a nice sweet crunch and we can always use more veggies. :)


While I like to rotate my grains, I am particularly fond of quinoa and eager to try my hand at Kate’s version of this recipe with quinoa and balsamic vinegar.

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this week’s Weekend Wellness and to this month’s Simple and In Season.

(more…)

Raw Burrito (Collard Wrap filled with Jicama, Sprouts and a Nacho Cashew Spread)

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on February 27, 2012

Knowing my aversion to restos but Rob’s appreciation of them, Rob and I have been slowly visiting vegan-friendly restaurants in Toronto. Our favourite raw restaurant has now been usurped. Raw Aura serves delicious food, but we seem to leave the resto filled to capacity with their rich meals. It is probably our fault – there is no need to order a starter and a main, here. Let alone a juice or dessert*, delicious as they all are. The dishes are heavily based on nuts, seeds and oils, which is why we always are stuffed afterwards.

*desserts are not Raw Aura’s forte

Our new favourite raw resto is Belmonte Raw. Closer to home, to boot; although their hours are terrible, only open for lunch. They’ve only recently opened up shop as an eat-in eatery and we couldn’t have been more pleased with our meals. The cozy place is a bit confusing, though. You pick your meal from the refrigerator case from stacks of take-away containers. You bring it to the cash and they will literally transform it into a beautiful meal. I honestly marveled at how much food came out of such a small container.

In any case, I really enjoyed my raw burrito (and Rob, likewise, enjoyed his sunflower burger). My burrito was a huge collard wrap stuffed with jicama fries, sprouts with their nut meat (it may have been sunflower seed based but I forgot to ask). When I say stuffed, though, this was a great veggie-heavy wrap which is what I loved! The nut meat was a highlight, not the main part of the dish. Along with the wrap, there were dehydrated corn chips with salsa, guacamole and chipotle nut cheese. The nut cheese is uber smooth and scarily reminded me of cheeze whiz! Taste and colour.

After eating the burrito, more jicama fries and a smoothie, we were both positively stuffed but in a good way, knowing that we ate primarily veggies and not heavier nuts/seeds/fats. Somehow we still managed to eat their delightful raw chocolate desserts. So smooth, with either a raspberry or peanut butter filling.

Of course, I was itching to duplicate the meal at home. One of the main drawbacks of Belmonte Raw are the prices, which goes with a visit to most restos. I figured that if I spent the same amount of money on grocery produce, I could whip up quite a few burritos. This gave me enough incentive to close my eyes at the price when I bought some sprouts at Whole Foods. Thankfully the rest of the ingredients were much cheaper: my weekly raid through Sunny’s was where I picked up the bunch of collards ($1.59), lemon (4/$1), and jicama ($1.49/lb) – all at their regular prices. I have yet to see sprouts at Sunny’s and should really learn how to grow my own.

Other than fresh veggies, my creativity lied with the cashew nacho cheese. I spiced it with red pepper paste, miso, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, sweet smoked paprika, garlic and onion for maximum flavour. (Chipotles in adobo sauce still scare me). It does not disappoint. Use it as a fabulous dip, or spread into a “raw burrito” such as this one filled with julienned lemon-spiked jicama slices and mounds of sprouts (I used alfalfa and sunflower sprouts). My burrito was not as big as the one at Belmonte Raw. They needed a string to keep everything in place! I made smaller ones and used a sliver from the collard stem to keep them together for the photo.  I would skip that entirely if eating right away – it was quite a tricky thing to tie!


This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Marta, to this week’s Healthy Vegan Friday, to this week’s potluck party for raw foods and to this week’s Weekend Wellness.

(more…)

Foodie Gift Ideas, Part 2 (aka My Favourite Ingredients in the Kitchen)

Posted in Favourites by Janet M on February 25, 2012

I started writing this before Christmas after I wrote my Gift Guide with my Favourite Kitchen Gadgets but never got around to finishing it. I have had quite a few people ask me where to buy Aleppo chili flakes recently, so I thought it would be nice to highlight some of my favourite ingredients in the kitchen.

One of my favourite things to give or receive are new ingredients.  I enjoy having a cupboard filled with isoteric ingredients, although it sucks when you will be moving as often as myself. For gifts, though, I have one main caveat: they must be non-perishable (at least until opened) because fridge space is prime real estate in my kitchen. Furthermore, for all those ingredients, I have to know what to do with it!  Part of my pleasure is a massive search to find the new best recipe, but if you are sharing an ingredient that you already love, gift it along with your favourite recipe. (more…)

Guest Post: What Would I Feed a Vegan?

Posted in Favourites by Janet M on February 24, 2012

I am thrilled to have a guest post at Sometimes I “Veg” where Miriam wants to know what you would feed a vegan.

This is her scenario:

Your favorite cousin is coming to visit after a long absence.  She’s been living in a foreign country and you can’t wait to see her and her new fiancé.  As you plan to have her over to dinner, she mentions that her fiancé is a lifelong vegan.  You love your cousin and want to impress her prince charming.

What do you serve them?

Check out my post to see what I would pick to dazzle everyone at the dinner table.

Tagged with:

Cinnamon Flax Crackers

Posted in Appetizers, Desserts, Sides by Janet M on February 24, 2012

Did you know you can revitalize stale chips and crackers with a dehydrator? We were skeptical, but when Rob and I unearthed some stale chips we had forgotten about, we put the dehydrator to the test. After an hour at 145F, we had fresh chips once again! I guess it just goes to show you that it is the moisture that sucks the life out of stale goods.

I don’t think my mom really approved of Rob buying me a dehydrator for Christmas. Figured it would be a passing phase and end up being a dust collector.

Never fear, it is still being used for many different things, even though I haven’t shared them on the blog. I’ve become pretty adept at making apple chips, although dehydrated pineapple is quite good, too (very chewy!). My naked and maple-sweetened cranberries didn’t work out so well, unfortunately. Kale chips have also been great. Rob and I enjoying the polar opposite kinds. He loved the chocolate kale chips, whereas I preferred the Sarah’s maple sesame version. I’ve made raw chocolate macaroons and raw chocolate mint brownies with delicious results. Zucchini wraps, too.

Next up: Crackers.

Looking for a healthy dessert alternative, I decided to make cinnamon flax crackers after spotting them at Vegan Culinary Crusade. I increased the cinnamon for a bigger burst of flavour but otherwise followed her recipe. I mixed together the soaked flax seeds, water and dates in the food processor to create a thick gooey dough. Spread as thinly as possible for a crispy cracker.

Even with 1/2 cup of dates, this wasn’t a sweet cracker. But it was sweet enough to release its prowess with me. I gobbled these crackers up so quickly with their warming hug of cinnamon. I used brown flax seeds but will try golden flax seeds next time since they have a milder taste. In any case, while I originally planned to eat these for dessert, I found they paired beautifully with a butternut squash soup.

This is my submission to Cook Eat Delicious Desserts featuring herbs and spices, to this month’s Sweet Luv and to this week’s Weekend Wellness.

(more…)

Strawberry-Mango-Carrot Smoothie

Posted in Drinks by Janet M on February 23, 2012

I have to update you on the Vitamix!

It is alive and well!!

Turns out it has an automatic shut off if the motor is overheating, which can happen when using low speeds.

The next morning, I tried it again… and it is all working fine and dandy!

I was really worried actually… Sorry for being such a downer for the past few posts. :(

Perfect timing to whip up this fabulous smoothie. The carrot tempers the sweetness from the mango and pineapple juice. It also adds a bit of bulk which I countered with some more water.

Enjoy!

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Wellness and to this month’s Berries event featuring strawberries.

(more…)

Raw Mango Paradise Bars

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by Janet M on February 22, 2012

Just when I thought my week in the kitchen couldn’t get much worse, I broke it. Broke the unbreakable.

The indestructible blender stopped working. My Vitamix became silent.

Thank goodness they have a 7-year warranty. We’ll see how the repair process goes.

Pray tell, what the heck was I doing that broke my blender?

A Valentine’s Day dessert for Rob.

Innocent mangoes in paradise.

I was whipping up Mango Paradise Bars from Radiance 4 Life. I originally planned on making Tess’ Raspberry Star Bars, in the shape of hearts, pink for the cheesy day, but I didn’t have enough strawberries. Switching to mango bars was probably more in keeping with Rob’s tastes, so it all worked out ok.

After an overnight soak for the cashews, I decided to mix everything else together in my food processor. Since I wasn’t sure I could fit everything into my food processor, I transferred it to my Vitamix. Everything was going well….. the cashews and juice were a creamy pulp. I added everything else – agave,  melted coconut butter and the frozen mango. My blender was pretty full, so I turned down the speed, and used the plastic stick to help mix in the mango. It was mostly blended, but then it suddenly stopped working. I checked the plug. I checked the socket. The on/off was not working. Gah. Back into the food processor (two batches) for the final whipping.

I layered it into a large tupperware container and set it to freeze while I went to work. While they still needed to be frozen, I already knew the recipe had turned as I did a very thorough cleaning job (aka licking both blenders clean!).

After work, it had hardened into a delightful creamy bar. Basically a rich but still light-tasting cashew cheesecake, sans nut crust. For best results, let it thaw just slightly before devouring.

And you know what, it was better than the vegan Mango Cheesecake with a Raspberry Coulis from Prime.

Maybe my lackluster cooking streak has taken a turn for the better? If anything can turn your cooking into a positive experience, it is a Tess recipe!

(And thank you so much for all the encouragement, guys! It really means a lot to me!)


This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Fragovila and to this week’s Weekend Wellness.

(more…)

Roasted Garlic and White Bean Soup with Greens

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by Janet M on February 20, 2012


Thanks for all the encouragement guys after my last post.  The comment didn’t phase me too much as I know when my recipes turn out well… I love being able to share that same joy I experience, hence the blog and hence hosting meals with friends.

Sometimes I feel like I am on a roll in the kitchen. A week filled with great dishes, each one working out perfectly.

And then, it dries up.

Last week, I did the unfathomable for me. I threw away food.

Over the Christmas holidays, I made homemade sauerkraut. I scoped out pickling salt after my grandmother’s insistence and followed the recipe to a T. 5 pounds of cabbage with 3 tbsp of salt. Nothing fancy. No seasonings. After its first night, it needed a bit more liquid to completely cover the cabbage, so I added some more salt water. I used a (very heavy) car battery [long story how I have that...] to really pack the cabbage down. And then I waited.

It said it would take 4-6 weeks.

After 2 weeks, it started to grow mold on the surface (also known as scum or bloom). Which I removed. Apparently it is normal?

Another 2 weeks went by, more scum. The cabbage tasted like cabbage. Not even that salty.

After another 2 weeks, the scum was making the house smell. I knew sauerkraut could make a house smell, but I figured it would smell like sauerkraut.

The cabbage still didn’t taste like anything more than cabbage in a muted salty broth. Six weeks in, no change and lots of mold. That’s enough.

So it got tossed.

I am a sauerkraut failure.

Oh well, I will have to shell out the big bucks for the really delicious Bubbie’s sauerkraut instead.

What else has been going on in my kitchen?

Sadly, my lackluster results were mostly the meals I had picked to share with friends. I hate it when that happens. Although I know I am my harshest critic when serving others.

I made the White Bean Farro Soup with Chickpea Parmigiano from Terry’s new cookbook. The soup itself was pleasant and my guests really enjoyed it (moreso than myself). It became more special when you added the chickpea flour parmigiano which added a lemony tang to the soup. The soup ended up improving as leftovers and Rob adored it atop his weekend besan chilla.

A few days later, I made this soup, a Roasted Garlic and White Bean Soup that I modified from Jessica.  Like the last soup, this one didn’t wow me either. I always have high expectations when people say this was the “best dish ever”. I don’t think I seasoned it properly but it was still good. Just not GREAT. I liked the chunky yet creamy roasted garlic and white beans (I used marrow beans from Whole Foods). I omitted the nutritional yeast since my go-to vegetable broth powder includes nutritional yeast (I use Tess‘ delightful Chicky Baby Seasoning, by the way). I think kale would be better, but I substituted collard greens since they needed to be used.

And lastly, I made Sarah’s Split Pea Sunshine and Saffron Soup. I didn’t even photograph it because it turned an ugly murky green after being pureed thanks to the (unpeeled) kabocha squash. The soup had such promise- split peas, kabocha squash, carrots, leeks and a host of savoury spices including saffron. I even made the cute (but labour intensive) sunshine carrot cut-outs!

I used red split peas for the first time (courtesy of Whole Foods in Mississauga) and it took over 4 hours before they softened for my liking. It was gorgeous before I threw my handheld blender in there. That’s when the flecks of green were pretty. It was also pretty tasty in the little spoonfuls I tried. But the blender muddled the soup – in looks and taste, unfortunately.

Hopefully your cooking adventures have been better! :)

Any tips for homemade sauerkraut??

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

(more…)

Mango, Black Bean and Quinoa Salad

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by Janet M on February 18, 2012

I don’t know any blogger that doesn’t relish receiving comments.

The food blog community is very supportive, leaving mostly positive comments about recipes and photographs.

I also love comments when I have questions or ones that are constructive. One of my very first posts, about our family’s rouladen, stemmed such interesting comments. Everyone thought we were rolling them backwards! As you can see, we roll the beef slices along their short axis, making long and thin rolls. However, in the comments, in seemed like everyone else was rolling them on the long axis, producing shorter, stumpy rolls.

I told my mom we were rolling them wrong. She told me that was how our grandmother always did it. There was nothing wrong.

We are just a backwards family…

To be honest, we wouldn’t want the short and stumpy rolls… the longer the roll, the more you get to savour the mustard, pickle and caramelized onions on the inside! (Not that I am eating rouladen any more, although a veganized dish is on my bucket list combining those 3 ingredients)

And then the other day, I received the most odd comment. I honestly thought it was spam, but there was no link to a website. So, I hit accept and posted a reply.

I didn’t really think twice about its validity, but it was really odd. The short comment slammed my style of recipes and specifically directed me to a “good” recipe. One that I have made before and really didn’t like.

I was really excited about the dish, too. Black beans, quinoa and broccoli in a raspberry chipotle sauce. From Isa, whose recipes I adore. I was so happy when I finally found chipotle in adobo at Sunny’s, that Rob went out to buy fresh raspberries specifically for this dish.

However, it was so bad that I was nauseous within thirty minutes. It was my first time using chipotles in adobo, so I started making the sauce with a limited amount of chile. I increased it as I tolerated it. But it didn’t taste that great, even after I added agave to sweeten the sauce. And then my stomach started to give me problems…. I called it quits.

But I hate wasting food. Especially the primo fresh raspberries.  If I didn’t get nauseous, I probably would still have eaten it. But I just couldn’t swallow it!

Rob has an iron tummy and tongue already scorched by years of eating spicy food, so he offered to finish it. Even though it was definitely subpar and (not even that spicy).

But, before I burdened Rob with heaps of the dish, I snatched half of the base of the salad. The good parts: the black beans, the quinoa and the steamed broccoli.

I veered towards an alternative route, towards a mango, black bean and quinoa salad with a sesame orange dressing, that I ended up adapting from Eating Well. Bonus broccoli, of course.

After trying the first dish, this was a much better alternative. Light and fresh. Bright with the mango with subtle flavours from the fresh orange juice, toasted sesame oil and cilantro. I added toasted sesame seeds to highlight more of the sesame flavour.

Let me assure you, I won’t be trying chipotles in adobo again anytime soon.

What do you do when you make something that doesn’t taste good? Do you still eat it or try something new?


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

(more…)

Moroccan Vegetable Phyllo Rolls with Balsamic Maple Sauce

Posted in Appetizers, Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on February 17, 2012

My Mom doesn’t think I should post recipes that I don’t eat myself. I have to trust others to tell me how it tastes but I can tell you how easy it was to make.  Although even Rob and I can disagree on whether we like a dish, considering both Rob and my parents liked the Tel Kadayif, the Turkish shredded phyllo dough dessert, I deemed that a quorum for a good recipe. And with its stupid-easy simplicity, definitely blog-worthy.

This is another dish I made for others at a party, with no intention of eating myself. In fact, I had planned to use half of the stuffing for the phyllo rolls, and just eat the remainder of the filling myself, without the phyllo dough. Somehow, though, I just kept wrapping the phyllo rolls and by the time I looked down, there was no more filling left. Plus, we were already late for the party, so we brought half the rolls with us and left the other half at home to bake later.

These Moroccan phyllo rolls were so good that I ended up eating them for a few meals.

The filling was very nice, filled with roasted vegetables (zucchini, red pepper, onion and fennel) and spiced with all my favourite savoury Moroccan flavours – ginger, paprika, cinnamon and cumin. I have become scared of roasting veggies with spices, so I added the spices to the veggies right after they were finished roasting. The dried apricots added a touch of sweetness and weren’t overpowering in the slightest. The fresh basil added a nice twist, as well. While the original recipe from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan suggests serving these more like a strudel, because this was for a party, I made them into little appetizer phyllo triangles.

These are nice as is, but let me tell how you awesome these rolls are with the Balsamic Maple Sauce. The sauce was so simple to put together, yet filled with flavour. It didn’t even seem like a lot of dressing but a little bit goes a long way. Actually, refrain yourself, because too much sauce could easily overshadow the subtleties of the rolls.

I still have some sauce leftover and wondering what else I could use it with… Dreena suggests drizzling it over steamed veggies, baked sweet potato or using it for anything that needs to be dipped. Sounds like a good plan!


This is being submitted to this month’s Sweet Heat Challenge, featuring Game Night treats and to this week’s Weekend Wellness.

(more…)

Toasted Sesame Orange Teriyaki Vegetable and Quinoa Bowl

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on February 15, 2012

While I didn’t make any resolutions for the New Year, one thing I am trying to improve in the kitchen is to become more flexible. Rob is good about perfecting a few key recipes or whipping up impromptu stir-fries whereas I prefer to keep trying something new. I realize this isn’t the most sustainable practice when life gets busy, so I am looking more into sauces that make the dish along with an assortment of vegetables with a grain or bean.

In this case, the sauce is a toasted sesame orange teriyaki sauce from Radiant Health, Inner Wealth. It was easy to put together, and with freshly squeezed orange juice, the orange flavour was light, not dominant or ooky sweet. It can’t really compete with my salmon teriyaki, but it is nice in its own regard.

Tess suggests serving the sauce with a stir fry of veggies including garlic-infused shiitake mushrooms, broccoli, cabbage and carrot along with tamari-marinated baked tofu and rice. I added in some cauliflower to make up for my lack of broccoli and substituted quinoa for the rice (see, I am becoming flexible…). A sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds seals the deal for this simple weeknight meal. Use any combination of vegetables with your favourite grain, top with this teriyaki sauce and you have a fool-proof dinner. You could also stir-fry your veggies with the teriyaki sauce but I preferred its bright flavours as a sauce.

I know this looks like a daunting recipe, but once you make the components – a big batch of quinoa (or your favourite grain), the teriyaki sauce, the baked tofu, and chopped veggies, you can easily whip up a quick weeknight dinner.

This is being submitted to this week’s Healthy Vegan Friday, and to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Lynne.

(more…)

Pickle Soup

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by Janet M on February 13, 2012

You’d think something was up. While I have long given up cheesy bliss, meat-laden meals and sweet desserts*, I have been having a lot of random food cravings. Cabbage. Tahini. And now pickles. When I told Rob I drank the pickle juice after I ate the last pickle, he was concerned. That’s what pregnant people do! No worries on that front. :P But what’s up with the cravings?

*Full disclosure: December was filled with chocolate cravings (gosh, those cookies were so good!). I also learned that Clif and Luna bars are deadly addictive. They may be vegan, but they are junk. I have been cut-off.

In any case, I don’t feel that guilty obliging my pickle cravings. Yes, they can be a bit salty, but they can be so satisfying with their crunch and vinegary bite.

After eating more than a few unadorned, I decided to branch out and make Pickle Soup that I had bookmarked from Love Soup eons ago.

Truly, pickle soup is a misnomer. Yes, there are pickles in it but it is not a dominant flavour. Just like vinegar and lemon juice are added to enhance the balance of a soup’s flavour, pickles do the exact same thing here. They add that salty and acidic touch.

So if this isn’t a pickle soup, it is a soup filled to the brim with veggies! It has an Eastern European flavour profile with dill and cabbage but it also has a hint of thyme. The veggies are bountiful, making this a huge pot of soup – leek, delicate oyster mushrooms, celeriac, carrot, turnip, Swiss chard, cabbage, red bell pepper – as well as barley.

While the flavours don’t scream out in any sense, they mingle well together. The pickles add that extra dimension that makes you think about the soup. Use dill pickles, Polish if possible, for the nice tang. Even pickle haters could enjoy the soup since the pickles are hidden amongst the plentiful veggies.

Even though I added in even more veggies than the original recipe, substituting a few ingredients as well (celeriac, baby!), I didn’t tire of this soup.  I usually shun recipes that feed 8 people, but not this time. I relished in it. Sometimes I ate this soup twice a day!

Thankfully I think my pickle cravings subsided after a round of the soup.

What have you been craving recently?

This is my submission to this week’s Healthy Vegan Friday, to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this week’s Wellness Weekend, to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes and to this month’s No Croutons Required featuring fresh herbs.

(more…)

Iraqi Pomegranate Stew (Shorbat Rumman)

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by Janet M on February 10, 2012

I will admit that when I mentioned my pee turns red after consuming red beets, I thought I was in the majority.

When asking someone about their bloody urine as a doctor, the first thing is to rule out causes that are not bloody (like eating beets).

It happens to me on occasion (red urine from beets) and as such, I thought it was pretty common.

Then I decided to do a very quick literature search.

Not that I delved into the primary studies, but apparently beeturia (what you call red urine from beets) is only present in 10-15% of people. It is caused by the increased absorption and then excretion of betalaine, the reddish pigment found in red beets.

Delving into its chemistry, it turns out that because betalaine will be protected by reducing agents like oxalates, consuming foods high in oxalates like spinach and rhubarb will enhance beeturia.  Furthermore, it is decolorized by ferric ions, colonic bacteria and stomach acids (hydrochloric acid). As such, if you don’t consume enough iron, you may get beeturia. Same thing if your stomach acid is out of whack, say from pernicious anemia.

Anyways, I thought 10-15% of people was pretty low. I decided to do an informal poll. Beeturia sufferers=4. No beeturia=2. Do not consume beets=4. Both of my no beeturia friends mentioned they get red poo, though (although I didn’t ask my other friends).

I kind of want to do a scientific study, actually. Give a specific amount of beets to a bunch of people and ask them for their urine to see if it is red (hmm, maybe I would need a pre-beet control urine sample, too). It sounds gross, I know, but my curiosity is piqued.

Not everyone enjoys beets, but let me share with you yet another great beet recipe. I am totally biased, since I love all colour of beets, in many different forms. But really, this is a great soup. And it isn’t borscht.

I originally spotted this Iraqi Pomegranate Stew on Julia’s blog. I am always thrilled to find new ways to add pomegranate molasses to my meals, and I was tickled pink when I saw it had many of my other favourite ingredients- beets, spinach, split peas, lime juice, cinnamon, cilantro and even mint! (Aside, can you see how different my tastes are from Rob’s coconut-tamarind-chile love trifecta? Although I love tamarind, too).

The flavours of stew combine the salty, sweet, and savoury perfectly. It helped that I followed Julia’s recommendation of adding more split peas and rice, and removing the sugar altogether. The pomegranate molasses gives this a nice sweet tang all by its lonesome.

This also produces a glorious red soup, speckled with the green spinach and herbs. What better way to say you love someone, then by making them a gloriously delicious healthy red soup. Except, it might make you pee red, too.

So tell me, if you dare, do you get beeturia?

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes, to this week’s Wellness Weekend, to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Vanessa and to My Kitchen, My World for Iraq.

(more…)

Roasted Celeriac and Lentils with Hazelnuts and Mint

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on February 8, 2012

I loved hearing how you decide to share your blog with your friends and co-workers after my last post. As Joanne said, sometimes there are clues that a blog may be lurking in the background, or at least a true love of cooking. Rarely repeated lunches, guilty as charged. Beyond that, I try not to share my profound love of beans with just anyone.  I don’t want to be perceived as preachy once I start talking about my food choices (no meat, dairy, fish, refined flours, refined sugars, white rice and potatoes, etc). You know you are my friend when I discuss the virtues of lentils over chickpeas. Although walking into my kitchen, with its rows of dried beans are a quick giveaway. If you make it up into my study, then my collection of cookbooks is a dead giveaway that I love to cook.

I have a lot of cookbooks. A lot. Recently, I won a subscription to Eat Your Books, a website that indexes cookbook recipes for easier searching. Sadly, my most loved cookbooks (namely my vegan faves) have not yet been indexed (the scourge of Tess’ cookbooks being not-so-mainstream). However, this allows me to check out some of my other cookbooks, that I would not have pulled off the shelf simply because they are not vegan. The best recipes are those that are accidentally vegan. They aren’t trying to be something meaty.

I recently made a delicious celeriac and white bean puree from Terry’s new cookbook. I know her cookbook will get lambasted for using the most isoteric ingredients, but I love it because my kitchen is stocked with all things isoteric and I have bought even more pantry items! I also push myself to try new vegetables. Despite hating celery, I scoped out celeriac, also known as celery root. Sunny’s for the win, after the St Lawrence Market was out that week. And yes, it is now my newest favourite root vegetable. An underdog if you ever looked at it; it is a white/grey/dirty thing all gnarled up in roots. But as a non-starchy vegetable root (not part of the cruciferous gang, sadly), it tastes like a cross between a potato and has the nice parts of celery: a sweet, yet subtle earthy celery taste. It tastes a bit nutty with hints of lemon, too.

So, when I was left with half a celeriac, I turned to Eat Your Books. I found an intriguing celeriac schnitzel in my German cookbook (here‘s Bittman’s version), lots of mashes, a lot of soups, some slaws and salads. I will have to get more celeriac to try all the recipes! However, this time I was drawn to a vegan-friendly lentil salad with celeriac from Ottlenghi’s Plenty (similar recipe here).

Of course, I adapted the recipe. Instead of boiling the celeriac, I opted to roast it. I also decreased the dressing, making it less oily and I tried to play up the hazelnut flavour by pairing the hazelnut oil with a mild rice vinegar (it would be interesting to try this with a balsamic, me thinks). However, the majority of the hazelnut taste came from the roasted hazelnuts, instead. I liked the juxtaposition of warming hazelnut with the roasted celeriac, earthy lentils and bright mint. It is a nice, unassuming salad and a great way to introduce someone to celeriac.

This is being submitted to this month’s Monthly Mingle featuring Heart Healthy Meals.

(more…)

Spiced Red Lentil Pancakes

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by Janet M on February 6, 2012

Most food bloggers have non-foodie day jobs. Tell me, do you share your blog with your co-workers, with your supervisors? Would you include it on your CV?

I work in the medical field. I am a doctor, although still in training during my residency.

Suffice it to say, I work in a very conservative field.

I recently applied for a fellowship after I graduate. In about 16 months. My applications went in 21 months before the position started (I think it is just as ludicrous as you). I polished off my CV, highlighting my clinical and research experience. Thankfully I didn’t have to follow a resume template, so I debated whether to include my “other interests”. One of my mentors told me casual hobbies/interests like “cooking”, “cycling”, etc should be excluded unless you earn medals. Telling me you love to cook, tells me you love to eat, he said. And what is special about that?

In the end, I decided to highlight extracurricular achievements. I highlighted that my recipes had been included in Canadian Living; I currently maintain this blog promoting healthy recipes; and I listed the supported cycling trips that I have done over 300 km.

While I tend to keep my blog on the down-low from my supervisors, I have shared it with other residents.

Including this information wouldn’t hurt me as an applicant (right?) and if anything it would give them something to talk about, other than my very interesting research.

At one hospital, I was interviewed consecutively by 10 people. As you are probably thinking, this could be pretty intimidating! However, the group was really approachable and open, and they relished talking about my research and non-research interests. More than one had my blog on their computer screen!

Sharing your blog with co-workers can be such a nerve-wracking experience. I absolutely adore the food blogging community I have joined, but I know that my food preferences are in the minority. Especially in Texas. In fact, being someone who blogs about said food seems even more ludicrous, eh? I would have thought the same thing three years ago, but really, don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.

Food blogging is something special. A place for me to express myself, both through writing, photography and culinary creativity. It also exposes my vulnerability, hence my shyness with co-workers.

But please do share with me how you share your blog.

And… so about these pancakes. I bookmarked them after seeing them on Joanne’s blog, but she kindly she reminded me of them after I posted about Besan Chilla.

Sometimes I find vegetable-based dishes that scream “I need some protein!”. Instead of adding a bean or grain to the dish, this time I opted for a side of beans in pancake form. ;)

These pancakes have a similar texture to the potato pancakes I ate as a child due to the shredded carrot. However, the flavour is anything but bland as they are spiced with ginger, garlic, onion and garam masala. Other than veganizing the recipe by substituting the chia for egg, I also decreased the garam masala from Joanne’s original recipe and found them great as-is. They could be eaten as a simple pancake with a side of chutney, or a nice salad, or with a mild curry.

Rob and I ate them with the Sweet Potato Coconut Curry with Eggplant and Pineapple to beef up the meal. We found that when we smothered them with the curry sauce, it almost tasted like schnitzel. Texture-wise. I know, so weird, but true.


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

(more…)