the taste space

Raw Cauliflower Nigiri Sushi

Posted in Appetizers by janet @ the taste space on October 25, 2014

Raw Cauliflower Nigiri Sushi

I was going to write a post for Thursday but somehow after the shootings on Wednesday, I didn’t feel like blogging. Thankfully everyone I know is fine and it is mostly back to business.

These are a cute appetizer if I ever saw one. Displaying cauliflower’s prowess in the kitchen, it lends as a fun rice substitute for these mock sushi nigiri. I like parsnip’s sweet undertones for sushi (see here and here) so I used a ripe mango to offset the dish with more sweetness. Although the biggest trick for these is definitely how to keep it all together.

Raw Cauliflower Nigiri Sushi

The secret is psyllium. There was a time when I made microwave chocolate psyllium cakes fairly regularly (pun unintended) but mostly because they were easy and single-serve. These are a bit more labour intensive (but too cute), so I understand if you turn them into regular sushi rolls, too. I can see myself adding psyllium to raw sushi rolls next time, simply to help them keep their shape better, especially after cutting.

Are you tired of cauliflower yet? I have a lot more recipes to share. :)

Raw Cauliflower Nigiri Sushi I am sharing this with Vegan Linky Potluck. (more…)

Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Fried Capers and Pickled Currants

Posted in Favourites, Salads by janet @ the taste space on October 16, 2014

Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Fried Capers and Pickled Currants

Welcome to my latest obsession: fried capers.

If you have yet to try them yet, try to imagine how they would taste. Crunchy, salty little nibbles. It surprised me how much they taste like popcorn, I kid you not. Combined with the pickled currants (tart and sweet), and the avocado (creamy!), this salad was perfectly balanced. I know I say that a lot here, but this salad rises above its peers. It could possibly be my best salad of the year. I thought my Cali-Coco BLT Salad was the best so far, but this week I switched allegiances. It could possibly usurp the former champion, crowned in 2011: The New Best Salad Ever aka Roasted Garlic Tofu Salad with Cilantro Rice, Black Beans and a Mango Salsa.

I am no stranger to quick pickled dried fruits, but the benefit of pickling dried currants instead of raisins, is that you don’t get the goopy juicy raisins that don’t particularly appeal to me.

My inspiration for this fascinating combination was the ever-fabulous Deb of Smitten Kitchen, although I changed many things, including adding the much maligned leafy greens. I also chose to roast my cauliflower and added the fantastically creamy avocado. I look forward to trying her riced fresh cauliflower in the warmer months. The fried capers? Completely her idea. Her poetic prose made me stock up on capers pronto:

Crispy fried capers are one of my favorite garnishes, ever. They are way more interesting than bacon bits — yes, I said it. When you drop capers (that you’ve patted out on paper towels as best as possible) in a little puddle of oil, magical things happen — their layers curl out and crisp, like the world’s tiniest blooming onion. Like all fried, crunchy things, they don’t keep long under the weight of dressing; I recommend adding them only right before serving. I usually use brined capers for this, but both brined and salt-packed will work.

Um yeah, totally try them out. Please.

Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Fried Capers and Pickled Currants

I am sharing this with Souper Sundays and Simple and In Season.

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Roasted Creole Cauliflower

Posted in Favourites, Sides by janet @ the taste space on August 7, 2014

Roasted Creole Cauliflower

I spoke too soon.

You know when you plan for something, know you won’t be having internet for a while and schedule a post about what life will be like (because you planned for it to be as so)?

Well, let’s just say I planned to have a semi-functioning household. En route to our new home in Toronto, packed to the brim with loaner things (you know, all the necessities: an inflatable bed, sheets, cutlery, pot, frypan, containers and all that food you made for the following week so you wouldn’t actually have to cook..), an hour and half into our trip from Ottawa, my car breaks down. We pulled off to the side of the 401 as my dashboard went bonkers and the engine stopped working.

Roasted Creole Cauliflower

I pulled out my cell phone. Three days earlier I had finally signed up for service. Although, looking down, my phone told me I had no service. (Bad WIND!) Not good.

Thank goodness Rob’s phone still worked, despite roaming and despite me previously draining the battery surfing the internet.

Roasted Creole Cauliflower

Frantic phone calls eventually got my brother and pregnant sister-in-law to my side who had the rational idea to tow the car back to Ottawa and they would drive Rob and I along with a few essentials.

We called CAA/AAA with my brother’s charged phone, despite being on hold and having dropped calls, only to find out our membership expired last month (GAH!). Membership offices are closed because it is a holiday.

We contact my Mom, who has a CAA membership and she offered to come down and help out. We knew it would be at least 90 minutes for her to arrive.

Roasted Creole Cauliflower

We start rearranging luggage on the side of the highway. Non-essentials in the dead car. Essentials in my brother’s. I had to make quick decisions: clothes and underwear keep, inflatable bed keep (but forgot the pump and sheets!) and also realized there was no room for all of the packed food and the container with all the helpful bits (pot, pan, knives, etc).

An OPP police officer pulls over and asks us what was going on. It must be such a sight with all of us scurrying around, including a pregnant woman and someone with crutches. He calls a tow truck to remove us from harm’s way and told us to be careful (turns out someone had died earlier that day after exiting their car).

Not too long afterwards, the tow truck arrives. The car is loaded onto the flatbed truck and brought to the closest safe location as we patiently wait for my mother to arrive.

Eventually, my Mom is able to call CAA for us and she returns with the car back to Ottawa. My brother drops us off in our new empty home. (Kind soul, he actually waited with us for 30 minutes as we waited for our landlord to give us the keys). We forgot we have no microwave.

Once we’re somewhat settled, Rob runs off to the grocery store since we have zero food. And no tokens for the bus to get to work tomorrow. He comes back loaded with groceries. We quickly eat the ready-made salads and hummus.

I ask for his can opener for the beans. (Because salsa+beans=meal).  It is in the bag that went back to Ottawa. GAH.

I subsequently call up a friend and we cobble together some kitchen necessities to borrow: cutlery, can opener, bowls and plates. And a pot!

We collapse on the inflatable bed. Exhausted but at the same time basking in the love and support from family and friends. Ready for me to start my first day at work.*

*With my vacation clothes I packed for Africa.

*

If you are here for the lovely recipe instead of the dramatic life of Janet (I can’t make this up!), this was made while I still lived in Houston. This was our go-to roasted cauliflower recipe. A tomato base with a savoury spice blend. The original recipe was for a raw version, using the dehydrator, but we have been using tomato paste and the oven since it is both delicious and simple. A great side with lots of flavour.

Perhaps in a week or so I will be back to normal. Have you ever felt like the universe was pushing against you?

Roasted Creole Cauliflower

I am sharing this with Bookmarked Recipes and Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck. (more…)

Manchurian Chickpea Bowl & More Quick-Fix Vegan Review + Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on May 3, 2014

Manchurian Chickpea Bowl

I have another great cookbook to share with you.

Quick, healthy, vegan meals. What’s not to like?

Like The Oh She Glows Cookbook, I have been madly cooking out of Robin Robertson’s latest cookbook: More Quick-Fix Vegan.

She promises simple, delicious meals in under 30 minutes. Provided you have cooked brown rice (which takes 45 minutes to cook), she’s right!  Delicious vegan cuisine need not be elaborate nor time consuming.

Manchurian Chickpea Bowl

Take this exotic-sounding vegetable bowl: Manchurian chickpea bowl.

Manchurian cuisine is a subtype of Chinese cooking that heralds from the North-East region of China. While I am not sure how authentic it is, Gobi Manchurian may be a well-known dish. A spicy tomato sauce infused with ginger and garlic typically smother deep-fried cauliflower. In this inspired dish, cauliflower (roasted, not fried, in my case) is joined by potatoes, peas and chickpeas. I was worried the chickpeas would seem out-of-place, but they were actually very good. It seems more Indo-Chinese (or Hakka-inspired) rather than Manchurian. In any case, I can whole heartedly recommend it. Delicious. Even without choice leftovers (hello leftover roasted cauliflower), this could be pulled together within a half-hour.

Manchurian Chickpea Bowl

I have been slowly cooking my way through the cookbook and again, had the same difficult: which recipe to share. My full reviews can be seen here, but I also highly recommend the uncanningly simple “Roasted brussels sprouts and chickpeas” which reminds me of my Easy Cheezy Chickpeas and Kale. The cookbook includes many one-dish meals including soups/stews. bowls, stir-fries, pasta, sandwiches, pantry-friendly, oven-cooked meals and even quickie desserts. I appreciate that most meals are based on whole foods and not vegan substitutes (mostly. dessert section exempted). Robin does supply recipes for some of the convenience foods including a cashew-based vegan cream cheese and tofu-based vegan mayonnaise. Having these staples pre-made expedite getting dinner to the table.  Of note, Robin calls for ketchup a few times (like in this recipe), although I substituted my own convenience food: mild Turkish red pepper paste. Booyah!

Manchurian Chickpea Bowl

Recipes from More Quick Fix Vegan shared elsewhere:

Chipotle-Sweet Potato Bisque
Chickpeas Nicoise
Kale and Black-Eyed Peas With Smoky Grits
Three-Bean Pantry Chili
Sweet Potato Barbecue Bowls
Veracruz Tacos

Banh Mi Inspired Noodles
Banh Mi Bowls
Avocado Mousse with Raspberries
Date-Pecan Bars
Mango Fried Rice Pudding
Peanut Butter and Banana Ice Cream
Blueberry Chocolate Trail Mix Bark

Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe and giveaway the cookbook to a reader living anywhere in the world (YAYAYA!). To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me about your quickest and/or easiest vegan meal. The winner will be selected at random on May 16, 2014. Good luck!

Note: I was given a copy of the cookbook from the publisher.  I was under no obligation to share a review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

PS. I am sharing this with My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Sowmya.

PPS. Do you like my purple slippers in the last photo?  They were so colourful I had to keep them in. Can you tell I just blindly lift my camera to take shots from overhead? Sometimes I am way off-target. ;)

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Rob’s Tamarind-Sweet Chile Vegetables with Soy Curls

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on April 26, 2014

Rob's tamarind-sweet chile veg stir fry

After nearly 10 months in Houston, you’d think we have settled in.

I (only slightly) notice when people say “y’all”. The humidity is slowly building up past my Toronto summer thresholds. All in a regular Texan day.

And then, a few months ago, we spotted a new-to-us animal. Half-turkey, half-duck, we had no way to ask locals about it other than “Have you seen the turkey duck?”.

I have a feeling I am getting the same look from you right now. Turkey duck??

Rob snapped this photo. Tell me you do not agree:

turkey duck, muscovy duck

The crazy Canadian Canucks following the ducks.

My googling suggests these are Muscovy Ducks and are rather invasive, almost pest-like. Probably similar to Canadian geese. I don’t get excited about them, either, but I am sure tourists love feeding them.

Rob's tamarind-sweet chile veg stir fry

Rob and I are also starting our purging of the pantry/fridge/freezer.

Rob is better at experimenting but he ran with my crazy idea. He wanted a veggie-centric stir-fry and I helped him with the sauce.

He wanted tamarind, obviously.

And for some reason, it hit me. What better pair for sour than a sweet chili sauce for a spicy-sweet kick? YES! Rob added lemon pepper seasoning, too.

Even though this was a crazy-fun kitchen experiment, I obviously wouldn’t be telling you unless it was a crazy-good experiment. The sauce ingredients are a guesstimate of what Rob added so feel free to adjust it along with your own tastes. We always go heavy on the tamarind compared to most people. :)

Rob's tamarind-sweet chile veg stir fry

Have you seen a Muscovy duck before? Do you have any exotic pests where you live?

 

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Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup with Vegan Bacon Chickpea Croutons

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Sides, Soups by janet @ the taste space on April 22, 2014

Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup with Vegan Bacon Chickpea Croutons

I love when it is going to be a delicious week.

I am too lazy/tired to cook during the week, so I make everything on the weekend. A new batch of oatmeal. I create 3-4 different dishes, with possibly some fresh rice mid-week. Rob helps with the rice. His rice always seems to taste better even if we use the same rice cooker.

Anyways. I digress.

I love delicious surprises in the kitchen.

Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup with Vegan Bacon Chickpea Croutons

I was wooed by Tess’ creamy cauliflower soup in her latest cookbook. However, I knew cauliflower and leeks, alone, would not be a filling meal. Beans. I need some beans. Where are the beans? I could have easily blended white beans into the soup, but I don’t like pureed soups.

Keeping things a bit more texturally complex, I ran with bacon-flavoured roasted chickpea croutons! Because I was going to use the oven to roast my chickpeas, I roasted my vegetables, too. It helped to free up a coveted soup pot and oven burner, too.

Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup with Vegan Bacon Chickpea Croutons

I guess I get surprised by some of my successes. Light and fluffy yet still filling, the soup was as easy as blending together roasted vegetables with some spices. The bacon chickpeas added a salty-savoury topping that contrasted the soup wonderfully.

And somewhat off-topic. Not soup-related, but related by all things delicious. You know what else we recently discovered that was glorious? Trader Joe’s Soy Creamy Cherry Chocolate Ice Cream. GAH! Annie clued me in early on that their coconut-based ice creams were delicious and they helped tame the Texan heat in the summer. Now that we’re cycling in the heat, this has become our new way to cool off.

What have you been enjoying lately?

Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup with Vegan Bacon Chickpea Croutons

I am sharing this with Souper Sundays.

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Roasted Cauliflower and Mustard-Hummus Rice Bowl with Garlicky Spinach & A Vegan Mustard Tasting Party

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on April 5, 2014

Roasted Cauliflower, Garlicky Spinach and Mustard-Hummus Rice Bowl (& A Vegan Mustard Tasting Party)

One of the main things I will miss when I leave Houston will definitely be the people: my friends, my co-workers and the awfully friendly strangers. If it weren’t for connecting so well with my co-workers, I don’t think I would have enjoyed Houston as much. And you know how I know we met special people?

They were not only amused but also excited about our idea for a mustard tasting party.

This idea had been brewing for nearly as long as our idea for a tamale party. Somehow, I managed to convince Rob, that yes, I wanted the mustard variety pack at Trader Joe’s, and yes, I knew we only had 6 months left. Oh and yes, we already had another 3-4 other mustard varieties.

We proposed the idea: help us eat our mustards, let’s have a mustard tasting party. We figured we had enough mustard to sample, but everyone also brought their own favourite mustard as well. Collectively, we had 12 mustards. Everything from a Mango Diablo mustard, to a honey and whiskey mustard, to a creole mustard and nearly the entire gamut of Trader Joe’s mustards. ;)

Vegan Mustard Tasting Party

The question, of course, was what to serve at a (vegan-friendly) mustard tasting party.

I loved the suggestion for small boiled potatoes for tasting the mustards individually. I also made plain roasted cauliflower and Rob cut up some pita bread to serve with fresh hummus. Our guests provided some chips, pretzels, sausages and beer [including ginger beer].

The small potatoes were a resounding success. I was impressed that they all looked different when sampling, too.

Vegan Mustard Tasting Party

For those curious: I think we all really liked Trader Joe’s Basil Mustard. The El Diablo Hot & Spicy mustard also earned high praise, but I didn’t try it since I was warned it was uber spicy. I also highly recommend Stadium Mustard that our friend brought us from Cleveland, which sadly did not make an appearance because we ate it all before the party (you can see it pictured here with my vegan cheese-stuffed sausage and sauerkraut, though).

We had a bit of odds-and-ends leftovers after the party and they combined fabulously. So fabulously, I just had to share it. Knowing that hummus+mustard worked well in my vegan deviled eggs, I worked with a mummus sauce (mustard + hummus). Worried my rice bowl may be too beige, I added the leftover roasted cauliflower and hummus to freshly sauteed garlicky spinach. I was thinking Terry’s Sesame Wow Greens would have been great, but I went with something more simple: spinach and garlic finished with toasted sesame oil. It complemented the hummus really well. (Of note, I just made a single serving but increased the amount to serve 4 in the recipe below).

Leftovers need not be boring and I may never have had the forethought (or energy) to make such an involved recipe. But I highly encourage you to try it out. :)

Not that I need new mustards right now, but which one is your favourite? Have you ever made homemade mustard?

Roasted Cauliflower, Garlicky Spinach and Mustard-Hummus Rice Bowl (& A Vegan Mustard Tasting Party)

This is my submission to this month’s No Waste Food Challenge.
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Raw Dolmas with a Cilantro-Tahini Sauce

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on March 18, 2014


Did you know March is
National Nutrition Month? While I celebrate proper nutrition every day (ok, 3 times a week here), I was encouraged by Erika to join Houston’s VegOut! challenge to eat 30 different vegetables in 30 days.

Thirty different vegetables in thirty days? Even as a veggie-loving gal, that’s a pretty huge feat. Look at my sidebar. I have favourites. Barring onions, my top ten are: garlic (227 recipes, and I don’t even tag all my garlic), tomato (139 recipes), ginger (121 recipes), carrot (110 recipes), red bell pepper (82 recipes), spinach (64 recipes), mushroom (50 recipes), kale (44 recipes), zucchini (44 recipes) and broccoli (36 recipes).


Erika
 may have won the first challenge with her black bean and veggie burgers (with 15 vegetables!) but I thought I’d try my best with their second challenge: my best jicama dish.

No stranger to jicama, I have enjoyed mostly in Mexican-inspired dishes: a raw burrito and as a cranberry-jicama salsa. This time, I decided to switch avenues and was inspired by Middle Eastern flavours. Packed with vegetables (7 if you include olives, but I think they are technically fruits), these are a fun twist on dolmas, stuffed grape leaves.


Instead of cooked rice, the jicama is riced into small pieces. Jicama is quite moist, so it needs a thorough drying before being incorporated with the cucumber, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes. If you don’t have jicama, cauliflower would work, too. Dill and mint were used for the filling and cilantro for the green tahini dipping sauce. With all the fresh ingredients, the flavours really popped.

This was also the first time I tried grape leaves raw. I mean, without steaming them first. Steaming makes them more tender and less salty, but this was a quick and easy way to enjoy them.

Do you think you could eat 30 different vegetables in 30 days? How do you like to eat jicama?


PS. This is my submission to Raw Food Thursdays and to VegOut Jicama: #vegoutjicama #vegoutrfs

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Roasted Cocoa Cauliflower

Posted in Sides by janet @ the taste space on March 1, 2014

Roasted Cocoa Cauliflower

Will you forgive me for another simple cauliflower recipe?

Because I have a problem: I will eat the whole head of cauliflower in one sitting.

If Rob is around, I might share it. If he is not, I will definitely eat the whole head.

Even to me, it sounds like a lot of cauliflower. But I swear, it starts off as a lot and after I roast it, it shrivels to a manageable and enjoyable feat.

I started by buying 1 cauliflower a week. Then it was two. I rationalized that to last the whole week, I should start buying at least 5 heads of cauliflower. Matt thought that was crazy. He dissuaded me from increasing my cauliflower purchases.

Then I let him taste my roasted cocoa cauliflower.

Roasted Cocoa Cauliflower

I would be lying if I insinuated he then agreed with my fanciful cauliflower plans. But he understood.

It is a simple recipe which surprises you. Cocoa is normally associated with sweet recipes, but instead the cocoa is paired with a hefty dose of smoked paprika. The cocoa provides a fun depth to the smoky paprika which is accentuated by the lemon pepper seasoning. (Why do I use lemon pepper seasoning? Well, I am too lazy to break out the spice grinder for simply 2 peppercorns. Plus the lemon bits add a fun twist, too).

I know it sounds crazy but after a few others had success, I had to try it out, too. And I was so happy I did.

PS. I have long been smitten by the prettiness of roasting a whole head of cauliflower, but I have yet to be convinced it tastes much better. In fact, I would think the core would not cook through entirely which is why I break up my florets first.

Roasted Cocoa Cauliflower

PPS. This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes, Extra Veg, and Laura’s Strange but Good Link-Up.

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Indian-Inspired Roasted Cauliflower with Almonds and Lemon

Posted in Sides by janet @ the taste space on February 27, 2014

Indian-Inspired Roasted Cauliflower with Almonds and Lemon
Do you pay attention to the predicted food trends? Vaishali’s post about  tapping into google trends sent my head spinning.

I pay more attention to the trends in my own kitchen. 2011 was year of the bean, but we all know that never stopped. 2012 was probably the year of curry, and that hasn’t let up, either. 2013 definitely focused on quick and easy meals and potluck-friendly foods. If I had to pick an ingredient of choice from last year, it was probably kimchi. It lends to quick and easy meals by offering a lot of flavour!

I can not claim that any of these are mainstream trends. Nor do I really care. One trend I am enjoying, though, is the “Cauliflower is the New Kale” bandwagon. Cauliflower is very versatile and I feel like I am being inundated with all.things.cauliflower (so many pins!).

Continuing with my simple recipes (2013 trend), Indian-spiced (2012 curry trend) with this year’s cauliflower love, I present to you a fun cauliflower side dish. It actually reminds me of the dish I learned to love cauliflower (and convinced my parents as well!): Roasted Cauliflower with Dukkah. However, this recipe is a bit different in that you pre-cook your cauliflower (steam it, boil it, your choice), and sear it with freshly toasted cumin and coriander with almonds. Only then do you roast it. Because you have partially cooked it already, you don’t have to worry about burning your spices. The final cauliflower is a mix of textures from the crumbly almonds and coarsely ground spices. Finish it with a squirt of lemon juice and you have a well-balanced vegetable side. Just be careful not to eat the whole recipe at once.

What do you think about food trends? Happy to see cauliflower in the spotlight?

Indian-Inspired Roasted Cauliflower with Almonds and Lemon

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

PS. The winner for No Meat Athlete is Dilek.

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Tomato Red Lentil Soup with Dill

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by janet @ the taste space on January 23, 2014

I love it when Houston behaves itself.

Rob and I had another Canadian visitor recently. In between Polar Vortex 1 and Polar Vortex 2, Houstonians enjoyed balmy (normal) summery weather at its finest. You know, summer how it is meant to be: around 25ºC. None of that feels like 38ºC with 90% humidity forecast. None of that below freezing business (that’s tonight, by the way).

Together, we did more touristy things than we had ever done before: hiking next to alligators, admiring the Museum of Fine Art’s impressive gold collection, watching Americana in our backyard via the Martin Luther King Jr Parade. However, I still skipped out on the stereotypical NASA Space Center visit. We still shared our favourite haunts but explored new restaurants as well. Nearly every meal was pre-planned. My friend had so many restaurants she wanted to try!

After the whirlwind of a visit (if you knew my friend, you would know this is no overstatement), both Rob and my friend parted for Canada. One to Toronto and the other to Winnipeg. Both returned to temperatures around -20ºC (-4F). Yesterday, my friend in Winnipeg told me it was -40ºC with the windshield. For those that need a conversion to Fahrenheit, at -40, both Celsius and Fahrenheit scales collide. Collide and freeze. They are the same. Both, really, really cold.

With the imminent cold weather, I am sharing another warming soup. Red lentils are a perfect blank canvas for a hearty meal. Pureed tomatoes and red lentils are combined with cauliflower and brown rice in a broth spiced with cumin, mustard and dill. I never would have thought to combine those flavours together but the dill really brightened the dish. This is an excellent soup!

How have you been keeping warm lately?

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

PS. The winner of Balanced Raw is Marquis. Congratulations! (more…)

Lentil & Cauliflower Tacos with Fresh Tomato Oregano Salsa

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on January 2, 2014

Lentil & Cauliflower Tacos with Fresh Tomato Oregano Salsa

Or rather, How I Spent My New Year’s Eve.

I loved your comments after I admitted I likely would not be able to stay up to see New Year’s Eve fireworks. You guys are the best.

What did I end up doing?

1. Working late. Not by choice, I swear. I usually take 2 weeks off for holidays, but hospitals can be super busy during the holidays. I don’t know whether this is worse in American, as people are eager to use the most of their insurance dollars before they need to pay their next deductible. At a cancer hospital, I would hope that finances would not keep people away from seeking treatment, but I try not to jump into those kinds of politics. PS. Did you catch last year’s article in the Times about American medical bills?

2. Chatting with my neighbour. Let it be known that Texans are super friendly. Since my neighbour is also a Canadian transplant, I appreciate his perspectives. He told me not to be alarmed that night. If I tuned in closely, I may hear gunshots at midnight (celebratory gunfire), to ring in the new year. Not that my neighbours would be shooting their guns (according to him, 3 of my other neighbours harbour guns), rather the noise may echo from outside Houston. While I originally planned to go to bed like normal, that convinced me to try to stay awake until midnight.

3. Travelled through chocolate.  With the best intentions of staying awake, Rob and I feasted on some chocolate. Our friend gifted us a chocolate passport, which small bars of dark chocolate from around the world. We travelled to Ecuador that night, and it was delicious.

4. Cozied up to Netflix. After stumbling upon a list of movies soon-to-be discontinued on Netflix, I jumped at the last chance to watch a long-time bookmarked but never-watched Requiem for a Dream. Excellent. (And true to the list, no longer available on Netflix). But it wasn’t midnight yet. Bringing out the kids in us, we watched Pingu episodes. They were hilarious, especially Pingu’s Lavatory Story (watch it! it is only 5 minutes!). Sadly, while it was only 10:30pm, my eyes were heavy and I could not stay awake.

So, I missed my chance to hear possible celebratory gunfire (still illegal in Texas, mind you).. and I need corroboratory evidence from my local readers. Is it true? My neighbour said he heard 4-5 shots at midnight.

Despite my lack of collard greens for my New Year’s Day black eyed peas, I ended up eating tacos on New Year’s Day. Not these ones, mind you (cleaning out the blog backlog!), but I will tell you more about that in due time. Ever since going to Mexico City, I have been smitten by tacos. The fresh corn tortillas blew my mind and I am working on finding a suitable replacement. Until then, fresh collards will have to suffice. A bit non-traditional, these lentil-based tacos were delicious. I had been meaning to make them for a while, especially after Johanna had success with them, too. Cauliflower is riced and added to up the hidden veggie content.  Leanne cautions against baking mashed beans and cauliflower, but this was delicious. It is all about the spices. With a nod to my delicious Ancho lentil tacos, I added copious amounts of Ancho chile powder. I topped it with a simple tomato-oregano salsa, a variation from the cilantro-based tomato salsa from my raw tacos.

I know I promised the top reader recipes from 2013 today, but stayed for it tomorrow, instead.

How did you enjoy your New Year’s Eve/Day festivities?

Lentil & Cauliflower Tacos with Fresh Tomato Oregano Salsa

This is my submission to this month’s Cooking with Herbs, this month’s Extra Veg and to this month’s Feel Good Food for Tasty and Inexpensive.

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Red Thai Curry with Asparagus, Zucchini and Tofu (Heidi’s Weeknight Curry)

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on October 27, 2013

Red Thai Curry with Asparagus, Zucchini and Tofu (Heidi's Weeknight Curry)

I have written before about our Mixed Diet Relationship. Granted, while Rob is mostly vegan at home, there are still some other ingredients that have been earmarked for Rob. Slowly, they have been coming my way, though.

There was a time, I did not like curry. Until we started experimenting at home and fell in love with dal bhat.

Then there was kimchi, normally too spicy for me until I found a brand and recipe I really liked.

Now, I can add Thai red curry paste to that list. In Toronto, Rob bought a (non-vegan) Thai curry paste and would constantly tell me how spicy it was. When we moved to Houston, we scoped out a vegan brand (Thai Kitchen). And let me tell you: it is not spicy at all. At all. Some may even consider it bland. However, for me, a world of opportunities has been re-awakened for my kitchen!

Red Thai Curry with Asparagus, Zucchini and Tofu (Heidi's Weeknight Curry)

This was actually my gateway curry.

A quick Thai curry.

So easy, it is Heidi’s weeknight curry.

Red thai curry paste infuses a coconut milk-based broth which is simmered with vegetables and tofu. Sadly, the vegetables look a tad plain; a tad monochromatic in the white/green shades; but they worked really well together. The cauliflower was firm, the asparagus tender crisp, the zucchini meltingly tender and soft cubes of tofu.

I can’t wait to try it in other dishes. Do you have any favourite red curry recipes?

Red Thai Curry with Asparagus, Zucchini and Tofu (Heidi's Weeknight Curry)

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

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Pan-Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Tomatoes and Capers (& Eating Cauliflower Greens)

Posted in Sides by janet @ the taste space on October 22, 2013

Pan-Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Tomatoes and Capers

Lest you think this blog is only made up of Asian and Southeast Asian/Indian, or ridiculously easy treats, sometimes it is nice to branch out a bit. Branch out into fancy foods, even if Rob is away.

The joke is on you. This may look impressive, but it is still very easy to make.

Cauliflower is one of those vegetables that is finally getting its time in the limelight. Is cauliflower the new kale? Roasted, riced, pureed, mashed, curried, I have done it all. The last one on my hit-list was to make cauliflower steaks.

Basically, you roast or bake thick slabs of cauliflower and season them in any combination of flavours. I think it was Denis Cotter, in For The Love of Food, who admitted he could only ever get 2 steaks from one head of cauliflower.  He is correct. Try carefully cutting cauliflower and you will still end up with cauliflower carnage. But at least I procured two cauliflower steaks along with some bigger chunks.

Pan-Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Tomatoes and Capers

For this version of cauliflower steaks, I opted to pan-roast the cauliflower, creating a lovely layer of caramelization. It is flavoured simply, with tomatoes, capers, garlic, chile flakes and salt and pepper (do not skimp on the seasoning). And the neatest part of this recipe? I used the whole head of cauliflower, leaves and all. (I used the leftover cauliflower crumbles in the raw caramel apple). Gosh only knows why I always used to discard cauliflower leaves, but it is an edible green. Like bok choy, the stems are thick and crunchy and the bitty leaves are like baby greens. It all went into the dish.

In truth, I served this with a healthy blob of hummus on the side. After which, I reminded myself of Susan’s hummus-crusted cauliflower steak recipe I had bookmarked. Next time, for sure. :)

Have you ever eaten cauliflower greens?

Pan-Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Tomatoes and Capers

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Graziana, and Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck.

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Raw Caramel Apple (without any apple!)

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by janet @ the taste space on October 17, 2013

Raw Caramel Apple (without any apple!)

I know I said I don’t like to play food guessing games with others. However, Rob is fair game. He gets it all.the.time. More along the lines of How does this taste? Sometimes, What do you think I should add to this? And then the infamous, What does this taste like? Guess what is in it!

You could probably guess just by looking at these photos, but I gave Rob smaller bits to sample. In fact, this was a two-step taste-test. Sauce alone and then after dehydrating it onto the bits.

First of all, this was a real simple recipe. Just whiz the ingredients together for the caramel sauce, stir it onto your “apple” bits and dehydrate for 12 hours.

Even before dehydrating the sauce, I thought it tasted great. Rob agreed. I asked him to guess the ingredients: cinnamon, almonds, and apple. Close: cinnamon, yes; almond butter, yes; but no apple, I informed him. That sweet taste was from dates.

Raw Caramel Apple (without any apple!)

I proceeded with the recipe, and then tried the now dehydrated sauce: oh my gosh, it tasted like sticky, wonderful caramel. Not too sweet, well balanced by the cinnamon. It had coated the “apple bits”. They were soft and sweet. Rob tried it and loved it. He still thought it reminded him of apple. Even though there was still no apple, Rob reminded me I had just created raw caramelized apple. He knew it before I did!

And that secret non-apple? Cauliflower! It really is a textural issue. Crisp yet soft (hard to explain). Sweet. With smaller pieces drenched in the sauce, you would never believe it was cauliflower. Bigger pieces had a more pronounced cauliflower flavour (and a telltale shape), but had a nice crunch.

Dehydrating is a magical thing. Definitely more than the sum of its parts. Looking at the recipe, there is a lot of water. You need it to be able to blend it smoothly, but after dehydrating it away you, the dates are more sweet and caramelized. Eating this straight from the dehydrator, still warm, was a treat. I only wish I had made more, because this did not last long at all.

Trust me, I have nothing against apple. I love apples. I eat a minimum of half dozen a week. I also love dehydrating apples into chips but usually save that when apples are ridiculously cheap in the fall.  I make a small internal sob every time I shell out more than $1/lb for apples, which is the usual in Texas. (Although I nearly flipped out when I saw Honeycrisp apples for only $1.29/lb a few weeks ago.. those are ungoldy expensive in Toronto).

Thus, the question still remains: how would this caramel sauce taste on real apples (in the dehydrator)? I don’t think they would be as crisp, but definitely more sweet. I would be afraid they would collapse more into mush, but if you try it out, please let me know! :)

PS. The winner of The Ayurvedic Vegan Kitchen giveaway is Gloria. Congratulations!

PPS. I noticed my typo for ungoldy. It was meant to be ungodly, but I like my new word. It fits. :)

Raw Caramel Apple (without any apple!)

This is my submission to this week’s Vegan Potluck LinkyRaw Food Thursdays and to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

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