Need a great idea for a gift? How about a pressure cooker along with a new cookbook.
Pressure cookers are not so scary. In fact, they are pretty awesome.
I have mentioned it only in passing, but Rob gifted me a pressure cooker for my birthday and I have been experimenting with it over the past few months. At first, I was experimenting with cooking different beans and grains. It felt awesome to think “I want some cooked chickpeas” and an hour later, after adding the dried beans to the pressure cooker, I had myself some chickpeas. The no-soak required beans has alleviated my freezer congestion (I oftentimes freeze leftover beans) and made me more creative in the kitchen.
First of all, let me not mislead you: Pressure cookers need time to come up to pressure. In my machine, it takes 20 minutes. So while it may seem incredible that you only need to cook black eyed peas for 6-8 minutes, that is in addition to a 20 minute warm up and more minutes cool down (unless you release the pressure manually). I have an electric machine, so that benefit is that it does not need a burner on the oven and you can safely walk away while it does its thing. The downside is that it does not come up to as high a pressure as the stovetop ones, which is what most cookbooks cater to. Also, any recipes that all for sauteing need a separate skillet. There are pros and cons of each, as JL points out in her fabulous new cookbook, Vegan Pressure Cooking (available online now! it arrived early!).
In addition to her approachable FAQ on how to begin pressure cooking, she also has a host of recipes to start you on your new pressure cooking journey. She answers your looming fear: How can I avoid blowing up my pressure cooker? as well as Why do cooking times vary? Which pressure cooker should I buy? and How does an electric pressure cooker differ from a stove top pressure cooker? She has reference tables for pressure cooking vegan staples (vegetables, beans and grains) and her recipes are categorized similarly.
In her Beans and Grains chapter, she includes basic recipes like Italian lentils but also (slightly) more involved recipes like Dill Long-Grain White Rice; Oat, Amaranth and Carrot Porridge and Cinnamon-Curried Chickpeas. In her Soups and Stews chapter, her recipes span Chik’n Lentil Noodle Soup, very Veggie Split Pea Soup and Tofu Chickpea Artichoke and Potato Soup. Personally, those looked like one-pot meals to me, but JL has even more one-pot meals in chapter four including Gingered Adzuki Beans, Greens and Grains; Vegan “Bacon” and Cabbage and Soy Curl Mac ‘n Cheese. If you thought this was all beans and grains (yes, all the beans are dear to my heart), she also has a chapter for meal helpers and veggie sides which highlights recipes like steamed kabocha squash, savoury root vegetable mash, rosemary and thyme Brussels sprouts, and jackfruit and sweet potato enchiladas. Chapter six is for sauces and dips, and JL has a trick for her pressure cooker hummus and other savoury options like dal dip and ginger-cinnamon white bean gravy. And when you thought there was nothing more to make in the pressure cooker, the last chapter is for dessert! JL uses beans in a coconut-gingered black bean brownie but also includes recipes that rely more on the pressure cooker such as easy applesauce and peachy butter.
I think you know may understand why I may want another pressure cooker. I want to make all the things. Thankfully, I have had the cookbook for a while and managed to squeeze out a new recipe each weekend. In theory a pressure cooker may help me cook more often, but old habits die hard and I like my weekend batch cooking. Thankfully, I was able to share my favourite recipe thus far: JL’ Black-Eyed Pea and Collard Green Chili. Only after I got the photos, did I realize it was from her cover. Good choice, JL, good choice. Also it is a good thing I am not your photographer. ;)
In any case, I even added JL’s suggested 2 cups of celery and as a confessed celery hater, it was still very good. I still really liked it. The tomato sauce was deliciously savoury and worked well with the black eyed peas. This recipe, like nearly everything in the cookbook, could easily be adapted to use without a pressure cooker. You would just need to wait a bit longer. With that being said, I really think this is a good, solid vegan cookbook, pressure or no pressure cooker. I love its focus on quick and easy cooking featuring whole foods.
Recipes from Vegan Pressure Cooking found elsewhere:
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me whether you have a pressure cooker (and if so, your favourite thing to make in it). A bonus entry for a second comment telling me about your favourite recipe by JL. The winner will be selected at random on December 22, 2014. Good luck!
PS. I am sharing this with this week’s Virtual Vegan Potluck.
I told you it was a good time for vegan cookbooks. Here is the latest cute offering, The Lusty Vegan. It is a cookbook focusing on relationships. Being vegan in a relationship can be a little tricky at times and there are approachable tips and delicious recipes to satisfy the most un-vegan. Trust me, there is almost nothing as sexy than a man that can cook and these recipes span the gamut of simple to complex, such that you might actually want to work together in the kitchen.
Heart of Palm Lobster Rolls, anyone? Tempeh Fries with Dill Avocado Dip? Miso-Vermouth Braised Drunken Bok Choy? Habanero Jackfruit Fajitas? Cherry Cobbler with Cocoa Nibs? These recipes are unique but I will admit, mostly on the elaborate side. They are matched by the stage of the relationship – trying to impress your partner, trying to impress the parents, classic vegan dishes and even desserts if you ever break up.
They make me want to try new dishes but let’s be honest, right now I try to keep things stress-free in the kitchen and I think that helps both Rob and I. Of course, it is natural to want to impress your partner, but it isn’t sustainable. Does that mean we’ve become a boring couple? I certainly hope not. Life just doesn’t always revolve around food. :)
So now, a little about these tostadas. Instead of pinto beans, mung beans substitute in the refried beans. I was curious to try them in something new, although they were a bit mealy for my liking. Although after I covered it with toppings, I barely noticed. I added cooked quinoa, cabbage and carrots, as an ode to my Lime-Spiked Black Bean and Quinoa Kale Wrap. Feel free to add whatever you have lurking in your fridge.
Recipes from The Lusty Vegan spotted elsewhere:
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me whether you have found your food preferences have caused difficulties in your relationships. The winner will be selected at random on December 17, 2014. Good luck!
I am sharing this with My Legume Love Affair.
Thug Kitchen is probably the most controversial vegan cookbook. Penned by the authors of the similarly named blog, I never followed it because I did not find their language amusing. OK, sometimes it made me smile and I like how it tries to show how simple and easy homemade food can be, and yes, it is all vegan. I will admit that I was curious about their cookbook, but instead of tracking it down, I hunted for online recipes. This was the first I made and really liked it.
I am no stranger to pumpkin chili (previous version here). I don’t know why but pumpkin puree works seamlessly in chili to create a silky broth. Both version were great but I found this one lighter in flavour since it used canned tomatoes instead of tomato paste and this one had the perfect amount of heat. Furthermore, this one was a bean-centric chili and I cooked up some of Rancho Gordo’s bayo chocolate beans. I was really enticed to use them with a name like that! Turns out it is called chocolate based on their colour, not their flavour. When Rob bought them, he was told they had the consistency of fudge. Not so true, but they have a lovely firmness that lended well to this chili. Small red kidney beans would also work well here.
While I made the chili, Rob made the arepas. What a wonderful weekend meal. Enjoy!
PS. If you are interested in being way more amused with a recipe than when I write them, definitely check out the original version here. Possibly the funniest disclaimer ever: If you try to make this chili with pumpkin pie filling, don’t complain about how f*cked up it tastes. You did that dumb sh*t yourself.
Sorry for the all the unanswered comments over the last month…. but thank you for hanging in there!
Usually I have this “do not mention you are going on vacation” mentality so that people come to rob my place. Although, for this special time, we had no home to rob. (Our stuff is still in a shipping cube somewhere, so please do not steal it). As we moved back to Canada, we had a very long detour. Rob and I set out for a month-long vacation in Madagascar and South Africa. We have both done extensive travelling (Rob more so than I) but we both agreed that travelling through Madagascar was the hardest we have ever travelled.
As I regroup for a daunting August (in which I start independent practice, write some exams, celebrate the arrivals of niblings (one is an expected niece, the other TBD) and somehow fit in training for Cycle Oregon. Oh, and unpack all our stuff, because it will meet us a week late), I will likely keep a slower pace for my posts.
Until then, I am thankful that Kathy has shared with me this fabulous photo and recipe from her upcoming cookbook OATrageous Oatmeals. I also reviewed Kathy’s Great Vegan Bean Book, which I really like, so I am thrilled to share her creativity with oats.
Do not be fooled, this book is way more than oatmeal. Yes, she has oatmeal recipes designed for each part of the year, including cooling summer overnight oats (Blueberry Earl Grey Overnight Refrigerator Oats ) and warming bakes for the winter like Pumpkin Oat Breakfast Cake. She also has a chapter for snacks like Peanut Butter Banana Granola Bars and later a dessert section with treats like Mini Raspberry Cakes and Chai-Spiced Oatmeal Tart with Warm Coconut-Vanilla Sauce.
However, I am most excited about experimenting with her savoury options. She has an entire chapter for soups (Scottish-Inspired Mushroom Lentil Stew, Fragrant Yellow Split Pea and Rolled Oat Dal) and another for savory options like Cauliflower Oat Pizza Crust, Indian Oats Upma, Oat Dosa, Not-from-a-Box Mac and Oat Chez and Oats-bury Steaks. And even beyond the kitchen, she has recipes for Soothing Lavender Oat Bath Soak and Oatmeal Cookie Scrub.
How do you like to use oats?
To celebrate her new cookbook, Kathy is offering a pre-order giveaway from OXO along with a copy of her cookbook. Click here to enter (open until August 4). After you pre-order the book, submit your receipt to Kathy for special recipes, coupons and your chance to win a different OXO prize.
Recipes from OATrageous Oatmeals spotted elsewhere:
Tomorrow is also the day to sign up for Cycle Oregon. After mulling over our options, we decided to scrap the Houston-Austin MS 150. Instead, Rob and I will be training for the 1-day 100 mile Shiner GASP (Great Austin to Shiner Pedal) ride this spring. For many reasons, we switched allegiances. I always prefer the first day of the long cycling rides and this will allow us to enjoy some time in Austin afterwards. (Free beer from the Spoetzle Brewery once we finish doesn’t hurt, either). And yes, it is only a stepping stone. Our master plan (provided we snag a porter) is to do Cycle Oregon this fall.
Cycle Oregon is not for the faint of heart: 2200 cyclists. 7 days. The route changes every year and this year it is over 400 miles and over 30,000 ft in incline. The hilly route mimics a portion of our beautiful roadtrip from Portland to Burning Man. This time, it will be by bike instead of by car.
Having a goal is a great way to stay on track. Even though we haven’t started training in earnest yet (blasted knees!), reading Gena’s snippet in No Meat Athlete about raw foods, reminded me why it is good to incorporate a variety of foods into your diet. Cooked or raw. And raw definitely does not need to be a salad. In the winter (even Houston’s winter), it can be hard for me to eat salads.
Filled with veggies, this is a fun twist on chili, done raw-style. A hybrid of my raw chili dip and chili salad wraps, this is a fun high-raw hearty chili. Red peppers and sun-dried tomatoes spiced with chili powder, tamarind and cocoa powder (YES!) create a smooth sauce that coats more veggies and beans. I used cooked pinto beans to make this a filling dish (and in my experience, easier to digest than using sprouted beans).
Is anyone else planning to do Cycle Oregon? We hope to have a small Cobra* contingent.
*Cobras are the name of our biker gang. We are a very inclusive bunch. Join us!
PS. This is my submission to Anyone Can Cook Vegetarian Food for tomatoes.
As the lone Canadian at work, I feel like an Ambassador.
I am constantly learning about Texas, and likewise I try to explain where I am coming from as well.
Yes, Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving two months before Americans. Toronto is colder than Houston, but not nearly as cold as Ottawa, let alone Edmonton. My friend who recently joined us in Houston came from Edmonton, where she explained she could take a cup of boiling water out in the water, and splash it out of her cup. By the time it would hit the ground, it would have frozen solid. Toronto is not that cold, although Hannah told me Toronto has already received its first snowfall of the year (which subsequently melted away).
Then there’s the upcoming Hallowe’en celebrations. Yes, Canadians celebrate Hallowe’en much the same as Americans: youngsters (young and old) get dressed up in costumes and in the evening, go door-to-door asking for candies. We just have to wear more clothes in Canada to keep warm.
Truth be told, I was a bit more curious whether trick-or-treating still took place in Houston. Houston seems quite unique to me, because at least in my neighbourhood, everyone has gates and fences around the front of their houses. It seems a tad intimidating and uninviting. Never mind the “Trespassers will be shot; Survivors will be shot again” sign our neighbours sport. Right next to a “Peace” sign, to boot.
In anticipation of Hallowe’en, this past weekend, Rob and I with a new friend cycled around our neighbourhood which is nicely decked out with Hallowe’en decorations. It really was a great bike ride, with good company. It was nice to have Rob back home!
And while this is no Hallowe’en treat I am sharing, it is a Hallowe’en coloured treat courtesy of the fall’s fine produce: the pumpkin. A spin on refried beans, in this dip, pumpkin is mashed with pinto beans and tomatoes and spiced with marjoram, smoked paprika, chili powder and lime juice. The pumpkin lent a nice sweetness to the dip which was countered by the lime. Not at all spicy so increase to your heat level. I ate this dip with crackers, corn chips and vegetables. Kathy also suggests using this as a nice burrito filling, too, but it didn’t last long enough for me to test it out. ;)
So, for those outside North America, how do you celebrate Hallowe’en?
Nothing like a delicious raw vegan potluck to reignite an interest in raw cuisine.
Lately my meals have been fairly simple, including my foray into raw foods. I have made more elaborate raw dishes in the past (like this nut-free raw lasagna), but currently enjoying the freedom of a simple kitchen.
This is a dish I had been meaning to try ever since Ellen recommended it to me: Matthew Kenney’s Raw Chili. I changed the ingredients slightly (no celery please! does that even go in chili?) and omitted the nuts entirely. Cooked chilis are nice but raw chilis are great because the vegetables are fresh along with strong flavours from the spices. Some vegetables are chopped, others riced, creating a melange of textures. Because I omitted the nuts, this was a delicious veg-heavy dip instead of a meal per se. Unless you eat the whole thing in one go, which is what I ended up doing.
Yes, that was the sad part. I spent all this time and energy making a delicious dip. And then I ate it all in one go. It just seemed too time consuming….. moral of the story: make a big batch. Double or triple this if you want it for a few meals. Or if you are not particular about keeping things completely raw, add some cooked beans (or sprouted beans, if you like them).
Want another quickie no cook chili? I liked this one as well.
This is my submission to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays.
You know how bloggers tend to post holiday dishes before the actual holiday? Do you think they make the same dish for the real holiday? Or make something new?
Me: a little from column A and a little from column B. Cooking for me, column B the majority of the time. For guests, perhaps some from column A.
For Cinco de Mayo, I shared my Mexican Chili Salad Wraps the week before. Rob celebrated Cinco de Mayo with a lovely corn and avocado salsa and oodles of other Mexican treats. No salad wraps. Except that was on May 4. On May 5, Rob and I actually went out for Thai food to celebrate a friend’s birthday (they actually had a few vegan options -youpee!).
But then, after seeing others share their Mexican eats, I had a craving for more Mexican. Post-Cinco.
Flipping through Bittman’s latest cookbook, VB6: Vegan Before 6:00 (good review of the cookbook here), I knew exactly what I was drawn to: black bean tacos with a tangy cabbage slaw. I had my mango “taco” wraps ready to go. I love all things “tangy” especially if it means lots of citrus juice (lime!). And well, beans, oh yes. I have used black beans in many Mexican dishes, but I was intrigued by Bittman’s suggestion to mash them, spice them (lots of garlic!), and then roast them.
It worked really well. While the beans crisped up in the oven, I made the beautiful cabbage slaw. It came together seamlessly. Call them tostadas with crispy flatbreads or roll them into tacos. My mango wraps were crispy but if you let the beans sit on top of the wraps for a while, the wraps absorb some of the moistness and became pliable again. Because they were very thin, they were very delicate and made a big delicious mess. A beautiful delicious mess. I can’t remember the last time I bought red cabbage, but gosh, isn’t it gorgeous?
So, for all you seasoned bloggers and foodies out there, do you remake your pre-holiday dishes? Or try something new again? :)
It is hard to believe that just two years ago, in preparation for cycling to/from Ottawa and Kingston, I was already training by cycling to/from Toronto and Kitchener-Waterloo. Our friend was hosting their annual Cinco De Mayo party so I packed my pannier and cycled over. That’s 120km one-way. This year, due to snow and rain, the long cycles haven’t progressed as well. Thus, the trip has been modified to be 70km one way from the train station.
While the party is happening again this year, and I have signed up for Rideau Lakes, I am trying to balance my time between cycling and studying. Studying is winning. Cycling can wait. Passing my exams cannot. Two years ago, I cycled with my buddy, Sue, while Rob stayed at home to study. This year, Rob is cycling with Sue, and I am staying home to study.
Cinco de Mayo was still on my mind, though, as I made these Mexican-inspired almost raw chili salad wraps. I could easily whip these up in Kitchener, had I decided to cycle over myself.
One of the things I love about raw cuisine is that the flavours (usually) pop. Just think of garlic – raw garlic is potent, cooked garlic is muted and slow-roasted garlic is even more mellow.
With a higher emphasis on proteins lately, one thing raw meals lack are good sources of protein. Sure, you could sprout grains and beans, but I don’t really like them as much as their cooked counterparts. That’s probably why I don’t see many recipes for sprouted legumes. “High protein” raw meals usually mean lots of nuts and seeds, which also come with more fat than protein.
In any case, I thought to myself: lets combine the best of both worlds.Beans and flavourful sauces for a high-protein fix. I actually got the idea after Gena posted Brendan’s recipe for a cold chili. Basically all the foundations from a regular chili are combined to make a satisfying dip. It is quite versatile: heat it up to make a regular chili, serve it with chips as a dip, place overtop your favourite green as a salad or place inside Romaine lettuces as a chili salad wrap.
In my study gusto, I appreciate super quick meals. Open a can of cooked beans (I used a canned bean medley), empty out a can of tomato paste, chop up some tomato and green onions and season with chili powder, cumin and lime. Of course, the raw garlic pops out for you, too. It tastes best after a marinade, which means leftovers are just as good, if not better. :)
I have not yet read the book The 5 Love Languages, but I like the concept of different ways to communicate your affection. How do you express your love? Through words of affirmation, acts of service, giving/receiving gifts, quality time or physical touch? Knowing how you express and perceive love, along with your partner, helps you communicate with the same language.
This also holds true for family and friends, especially around holidays. Everyone is scurrying from party to party, thinking of ideal gifts and making travel plans to spend with loved ones. What is most important to you and others?
I will be sharing my time this weekend with Rob’s family and next weekend with my parents. I definitely subscribe to my presence is my present – HA! Can you tell giving/receiving gifts is so low on my priority list? But truthfully, gift giving continually becomes harder and harder. There are cute and practical gift giving guides, but on my wishlist this year: A textbook. I know, not even a cookbook. I am also eagerly awaiting my grandmother’s old juicer and pressure cooker. I don’t really need much else. The most important thing is the company. I really am all set. (I am also UBER stoked for Rob’s early Christmas present: a raw “cooking” class with Doug McNish on Sunday! I have no idea how we will tackle all the recipes!)
While some of my most well-used kitchen tools were gifts that I never thought I needed (see last year’s gift guide), random foodie purchases have entertained me as of late. I know I am supposed to be culling my pantry, but when I see something like baby quinoa (kaniwa), I have a hard time not wanting to try it out. A new, healthy food.. let’s see what it is like!
PS. Spotted at Essence of Life and Lady York.
First off, it looks like little kernels of quinoa. While it isn’t quinoa in its young state, it is in the same family as quinoa. It has a higher protein content and possesses less of the bitter saponins that plague quinoa. I still rinsed it though I may try toasting it next time. It cooks up nearly exactly like quinoa with a scanty 2:1 ratio of liquid. Due to its small nature, the texture is quite different. It reminded me of the pebbly nature of amaranth without its gluey consistency. I ended up tossing it in a festive bowl with a simple cranberry jicama salsa and a chili-spiked butternut squash gravy/sauce. The seemingly odd combination of ingredients worked really well… and awfully pretty, too, I may add.
So, the moral of the story… for the hard to shop foodies, perhaps all you need to do is head to a grocery store? :) Or only for practical foodies like me. Only I would swoon over a new bean to try… or appreciate radish sprouts. ;) Need other ideas for foodie gifting? Check out my favourite wacky ingredients including pomegranate molasses, red pepper paste and miso, along with recipes to woo you over.
After I ate the last serving of this salad, I was sad. Sad I had no more salad left. It was that good.
Rob cocked his head and asked, So is this a repeater recipe?
But we have no more corn! And no more spinach or lettuce! And I think my Appaloosa beans are finished, too.
That can easily be remedied, Janet.
Besides, I just bought 53 lbs of tomatoes (yes, I did it!)
I think I should focus on those!
So this one will just go down in the vault as a wickedly delicious salad. And contrary to my sorry excuses, this is a very forgiving salad. Use your favourite salad toppers. Just don’t skip on the tomatoes. And the dressing.
This salad all began with the creation of the raw eggplant bacon. I picked up a super cheap monster eggplant and earmarked it for the dehydrator. The salty and sweet marinade (tamari, maple syrup, vinegar, chili powder, smoked paprika and liquid smoke) was delicious and I couldn’t wait for them to dry out. Twelve hours felt like a life-time. I was blown away by the texture of the eggplant, airy yet crispy but sadly, with a fraction of the flavour from the salivating marinade. Since I used low-sodium tamari there wasn’t the uber saltiness associated with bacon but it was pretty nice, regardless. Does it taste like bacon? Not at all, but I don’t consider that a bad thing. ;)
I also used some of the extra marinade to make zucchini chips. Since I sliced them cross-wise, they looked like chips and tasted like bacon chips, too. However, those went into my belly. The eggplant bacon went into this salad. (For the record, I prefer the eggplant version!)
Obviously, this salad pushes monumental levels when you use fresh, ripe ingredients. Fresh heirloom tomatoes, check. Local, fresh corn on the cob, check. Cute heirloom pinto beans, I’ve got that covered. Your greenery of choice (or whatever is in your fridge): baby spinach. I added oomph to the original dressing by mirroring the bacon marinade, throwing in smoked paprika and chili powder. Lime juice makes this a bright dressing. And while I was worried I wouldn’t have enough dressing with only the juice from 2 non-juicy limes, after I placed everything in jars for the week, the tomatoes macerated, adding tomato juicy goodness to the dressing, too. Now it was perfect.
For another variation on the corn + tomato + bean salad, try this one with a balsamic dressing, toasted in a skillet.
This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes, to Healthy Vegan Fridays, to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays, to this week’s Weekend Wellness, to this week’s favourite summer recipes, and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.
Have spices, will travel.
I used to do a ton of meal planning before I visited Rob’s family. My master plan was to make food that Rob’s family would adore and want to make themselves. To do that, I would try to find a recipe that was a bit more mainstream in flavours, with ingredients that were already in their kitchen.
I don’t do that anymore. As selfish as it may seem, I no longer cater my meals to others. It is my meal, so I cater it to what I want to eat. I have realized that at Rob’s family gatherings, my meal is never the main dish and people just nibble at it because they want to try it. If they like it, so be it. If not, that is ok, too. However, I know that with my different tastes, I use different ingredients. I am not just talking about eating vegetables like kale, rather that I use a wide range of spices and condiments that not everyone has.
But now I come prepared. I bring my own spices. My containers are small and portable, so it is no big deal. During my last trip to Woodstock, I decided to make a few dishes. I brought my favourite curry powder to make the Raw Thai Pineapple Rice Salad which received high praise. It was my only repeater recipe but I knew it tasted great and was easy to make. I also brought chili powder (not stale!) to make these grilled vegetable fajitas. Yes, I wanted to capitalize on using the barbecue!
A bounty of vegetables (Portobello mushrooms, zucchini and bell pepper) was marinaded in a chili-lime dressing in the morning. Lentils simmered on the stove before guests arrived for the barbecue. While I originally had elaborate plans to make a flavourful Ancho chile-spiked lentil taco meat, I erred on the side of simplicity and tossed the unadorned lentils with the roasted vegetables. The smoky vegetables with a bit of zip from the chili marinade worked really well together.
I scored the leftovers and at home, I served them in a collard wrap, topped with some fresh avocado. Sprouts are a delicious, gorgeous garnish.
Have no grill? Roasting the vegetables would likely work just as well. Pick your favourite vegetables, but try not to skip the Portobellos. They were my favourite, with a slightly meaty taste. Enjoy!
Amongst my closer friends and family, I am the only vegan. Quite a few of my friends are vegetarian, but my closest vegan buddy is in Vancouver. That’s across one big country. One of my co-workers is a former vegan, choosing to eat fish as an omega supplement mostly. ;) I have yet to know anyone who has tried raw cuisine without my influence. Most of my friends are adventurist eaters, so I can share my kitchen successes and failures. While I eat vegan mainly for health and environmental reasons, sometimes I wonder about connecting with other like-minded souls.
A few months ago, I travelled with Rob to meet some of his friends from Burning Man. While mostly everyone was vegetarian, it was exciting to meet someone else who also dabbled in raw cuisine. She encouraged me to try banana chips in the dehydrator and told me about one of her raw successes: King Oyster Calamari from Living Raw Food by Sarma Melngailis. Sarma’s restaurant, Pure Food and Wine in NYC, is my favourite raw resto to date, so I was eager to try the dish when I got home. King oyster mushrooms were on sale, too, to boot. I didn’t have the cookbook, but a quick google search led me to Emily’s site which had the recipe.
The recipe was simple: marinate king oyster mushrooms, bread them with spiced ground flaxseeds (works as both the breading and egg-substitute!) and then dehydrate. My new-found friend also gave me a few other tips.
While the recipe says to dehydrate for 2-3 hours, she suggested dehydrating up to 5 hours for them to become really crispy. She also warned me that the whole recipe made a ton of food, so I halved it. (I also quartered the cocktail sauce below, since I ended up thinning it and had an overabundance of sauce leftover). I tinkered with the recipe since I don’t have an Italian spice blend, and instead added whatever looked like an Italian spice from my spice drawer: basil, thyme, marjoram, oregano, sage, parsley. I threw in some dried onion and garlic granules as well as lemon pepper seasoning instead of the black pepper. Even though I used chili powder, too, I dipped my finger in and thought something was missing. I added black salt. Now we were set. (Note to self: next time I may try this with nutritional yeast and smoked paprika, since I liked that with my Asiago-crusted baked zucchini sticks). I had a bit of leftover crumbs, so you could probably increase the number of mushrooms with this mixture – or pack it in more than I did.
Now, if you don’t have a dehydrator, do not fear. You can still make vegan calamari! I made these both ways: raw in the dehydrator for 3 hours and a separate batch for 10 minutes in the oven. I don’t care too much about the raw philosophy of not cooking over 115F, but I love the inventive recipes… so to hurry things up, I stuck some in the oven, too. Both were
good great. They honestly tasted like calamari. No hidden mushrooms here (Rob thinks he could taste mushrooms but only because he knew they were in there). Between the two versions, though, I preferred the raw dehydrated ones. They were more crispy and the breading stayed on (some of it stuck to my silpat in my oven version). The oven-baked version had more of a slippery calamari feel to it, though. In any case (or in both cases), Rob said he liked them better than regular calamari since it has a cleaner taste. I also preferred this version instead of the typical deep-fried options you find at restos. Bright and fresh, healthy food, what’s not to like?
Speaking of connecting with other like-minded souls, I was wondering if I have any readers in the GTA that would like get connected? I was really sad I missed Sarah’s potluck in the park, especially since it looked like it was a lot of fun!
I’ve been making a lot more simple meals lately (I promise to keep sharing the dressing recipes!), so by the complexity of this dish, you probably can guess that I made this for guests. Technically, my guests ate a Mexican Tortilla Lasagna and I made myself a Mexican Zucchini Lasagna!
The only difference between the two were the noodles. Instead of lasagna pasta, the tortilla lasagna used 9″ whole wheat flour tortillas and my version used zucchini instead of noodles.
Inspired by Susan, this is actually a relatively simple dish to make if you already have refried beans and enchilada sauce. I didn’t. So I turned to Radiant Health, Inner Wealth for a simple unfried refried bean recipe and Veganomicon for an enchilada sauce.
Basically, you create layers with refried beans, a chili-flavoured bell pepper and onion mixture, black beans, and salsa each separated by zucchini slices. Because I wasn’t using tortillas, to make sure my lasagna wasn’t a soupy mess, I lightly salted the zucchini and baked them for a few minutes to dry them out. As with most multi-component recipes, each part is as important as the next. Pick a flavourful salsa. Use a zippy chili powder. Savour the zesty refried beans, lime-spiked in all their glory. Repeat the layers a few times, then smother it in enchilada sauce. I found the original enchilada sauce recipe way too spicy for me (3 roasted green chiles, oh my!), so I ended up diluting it with more tomatoes and almond milk. Combined with the rest of the components, it worked well to balance the flavours.
I actually wasn’t even sure I would share this recipe… it was hard to keep photogenic when fresh. Once chilled as leftovers, it was easier to cut out a slice without it capsizing. Regardless, it still tasted good! :)
Let me get this off my chest: I really liked this meal.
It was quick, healthy and tasty.
The main component to the tacos is a seemingly simple black bean saute with oyster mushrooms and red pepper. I don’t know what it is, but the oyster mushrooms were fabulous here. They kept their shape, they had a sweet but subtle mushroom flavour but it complemented the red peppers and beans especially well. The Ancho chile-based chili powder made this spicy enough with great flavour.
Don’t stop there, just yet. Cut up a sweet mango, toss with some cilantro and red onion and you have a quick salsa that pairs so nicely. Since I used Alphonso mangoes, there was no need to add more sweetener, but adjust to your tastes and available fruits.
Now wrap it all up. With a nod to my raw tacos, I decided to serve this in a Swiss chard leaf. Pick your poison: leafy green, flour tortilla or hard taco shell.
With each bite, you will have sweet, spicy, and savoury. Juicy mushrooms and black beans. Simple sweet mango salsa – how could it not be good? Thankfully, it is easier to make then our New Best Salad Ever (aka Roasted Garlic Tofu Salad with Cilantro Rice, Black Beans and a Mango Salsa). This was best eaten fresh, with the warmed beans and saucy mushrooms contrasting the cool salsa.
For some reason, I tend to gravitate to black beans when I cook Mexican. Probably because I really like black beans. I am working through my heirloom bean stash, though. However, my collection of beans are predominantly Southwestern or pinto bean hybrids (Rio Zape, Bolita, Anasazi, Rattlesnake, Appaloosa, etc). Not sure what to make with them. What are your favourite recipes for pinto beans?