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.
The dust has settled… the boxes have been unpacked and we’re settling into a new routine.
As life becomes less chaotic, I am feeling a bit more lonely.
Friends and family seem so far away. It doesn’t help that Rob is sometimes working out-of-town.
At least I interact with my co-workers. I don’t know how Rob copes with mostly working from home. Not too much real people interaction except from the coffee shop down the road. Limited integration with other Texans.
So, be it resolved… our next goal has to become more social.
Baby steps. This weekend, we have cycling plans and curry+games plans [BANANAGRAMS!]. It feels good to get back into my social groove.
And these chili lime crackers? They bring me back to good times in Toronto.
Just before we left, I visited Superfoods Eateries, a quaint resto with take-away raw foods. Between Rob and I (and a few free samples), we tried a variety of dishes. Luc, one of the owners, was incredibly enthusiastic about explaining the menu. My two favourite dishes were the cheesecake and corn nachos. They also had a lovely sandwich at one point but I don’t see it listed on their website menu. Their selection varies from day-to-day, especially after each item sells out. (I really, really wanted to try their chocolate cake but it was not available until after I left). The coconut-based cheesecake was not as heavy as other raw cheesecakes and unique because it had a slightly fermented/cheezy zing to it! It was definitely special.
But those corn nachos, oh my. Delicious. They are corn and flax based but thin and crispy with an exotic twist from the orange juice and cilantro. Rightfully addictive and perfect with a dollop of guacamole. Now that I am miles away, I figured I would try my own hand at the nachos. I will admit that mine are not as good as the original, but they are still good in their own regard. I tried to add as much veg-powered nacho-like flavours to the chips. The chili and lime flavours were the highlight. The nuts and seeds make for a filling cracker, although a bit thick. As such these are more akin to crackers and weren’t as crispy as chips.. but still complex and delicious.
Anyways, here’s to a fun-filled weekend!
How do you combat loneliness?
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.
When I go travelling, I love to take cooking classes. When I went to Morocco, I took a lovely private cooking class in Marrakesh, with the chef from a near riad. We made a sampling of traditional Moroccan mezes (tomato jam, stuffed zucchini and zaalouk), two entrees (apricot and lamb tagine and chicken bastilla) and milk bastilla for dessert (photos from Casa and Marrakesh here, from the desert and Fes/Meknes).
We toured around Morocco, and when we arrived in Fes, it was rainy. Since most of our activities were outdoors, I contemplated doing yet another cooking class at a local restaurant. Instead, we opted to eat lunch there and I bought their cookbook, Clock Book, to take home.
A few months later, I went vegan. You wouldn’t think it, but Morocco was quite meat-heavy. With so many flavourful vegetarian options on the web, you’d think they would be easy to find in Morocco. Not so.
Of the dishes from the cooking class, the mezes were vegan-friendly. I can’t seem to remember where I put my recipe for tomato jam, but it is unlike any jam you might think you know. Slowly simmered tomatoes are infused with cinnamon, sweetener and topped with sesame seeds.
However, this leads me to this month’s Random Recipe which was to randomly pick a tea time treat. I have a few cookbooks, but none with a section for tea treats, so I randomly flipped through cookbooks until I found a tea-appropriate treat. That’s when I pulled out Clock Book and it fell open to this Tomato and Chili Chutney, very reminiscent of tomato jam, although definitely more of a chutney with the vinegar. The cookbook paired it with fried crispy squid but like tomato jam, I figured it would be nice with a simple bread or cracker. I am a sucker for cinnamon, and paired with tomato and a sharp vinegary bite with a touch of heat from the red chiles, this was a unique chutney.
While I halved the recipe, it still made a lot (around 2 cups), so we will see how it combines with Indian snacks, too.
There is nothing like a move to show you how much stuff you have. One thing I have plenty of are beans. Common beans like chickpeas and lentils but also a multitude of heirloom beans. I bought a bunch of beans during my first trip to NYC, but they seemed too pretty to eat. Now I am on a mission, though… eat through my beans throughout the year.
Trust me, it wasn’t that I wasn’t eating my beans before. My white bean of choice this winter were the Yellow Eye Beans from Rancho Gordo (they held their shape wonderfully in two soups and were nice and creamy in the Moroccan phyllo triangles). I also tried out Marrow beans, which supposedly have a bacon taste but it was really subtle. They worked nice pureed in my High-protein Alfredo sauce as well as in soups.
As I said, I have a few pinto beans in my stash, so I was tickled pink when Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Pinto Bean Chili was my Random Recipe this month. I didn’t have many cookbooks to randomly pick at the beginning of the month due to the move, but since I already had River Cottage Veg Every Day! out, I picked that as my book. As it is a library book, I didn’t want it to be lost in the shuffle of the move! Once I selected a cookbook, the task was to cook the first or last recipe. I zoomed to the front of the cookbook. The first 2 recipes were not vegan (Aubergine Parmigiana, Chachouka), but the third recipe, and the first vegan one, was this Pinto Bean Chili. Once I finally made it to the grocery store, I was all set to try my heirloom pinto beans.
The heirloom pinto bean of choice: Appaloosa beans. Named after the colourfully dappled horse, these are incredibly pretty beans. At least before they have been cooked. Like the anasazi beans, they lost their vibrant colours after cooking. They keep their shape well and don’t have any strong flavours. They worked well in this summer chili with zucchini, red pepper and tomato. The red wine brought a robust depth of flavour and the summer flavours really shined through. I used Aleppo chile flakes as well as green chiles and this was perfectly spiced for me. A bit of spice that was cooled by the avocado. Want more heat? Add to taste… or use cayenne as written in the original recipe.
This is my submission to Random Recipes this month, to this month’s River Cottage Rocks Veggie Heaven, to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to Ricki’s Weekend Wellness, to this week’s Sunday Night Soup Night, and to Cookbooks Sundays.
When I suggested recipes for my Mom to make over Christmas, she was a bit shocked when she found out a few were new recipes. One of the cardinal rules of cooking for guests is to never try a new recipe on unsuspecting guests. I have long abandoned that rule, though.
Truth be told, sometimes it can be difficult to munch on a dish you’ve already made yourself but made by someone else. Sometimes, it will taste the same. We repeatedly return to our favourite hummus recipe (this one, too) because it is so reliable. But in the flash of a pan, a dish can taste different.
Therefore, I figured I would give my Mom all of the glory from a few fabulous new dishes.
The Chickpea Piccata, was a definite hit. I didn’t want to share any of the leftovers!
The second hit was this Pumpkin Chili. I originally spotted it on Isobelle’s site, but the recipe came from Ashlae. While I have made other chilis before, this is definitely my favourite so far. A savoury saucy chili, filled with beans and vegetables. Flavourful, not spicy despite using jalapeno peppers. The pumpkin puree adds a touch of sweetness but doesn’t leave you with a pumpkin flavour. The TVP plumps up to look just like ground meat, it is almost confusing. What isn’t confusing is how great it tastes: delicious.
When we trying to decide what to do with the leftover chili, I suggested my Mom freeze it and save it for the next time I visit. This way, there would be a surefire Janet-friendly meal already waiting for me.
However, after I went home, I called to make sure I had the right recipe for the tantalizing chili. Only minor changes using canned tomatoes and beans. She even used jalapeno peppers! However, my Mom had bad news. There was no more chili left: my Dad had polished it all off! Vegan chili so good it could fool the unsuspecting omnivore: I consider that a success. My Mom makes a tasty chili and I can’t wait to have it again.
One of my friends has a sulphite allergy. In short, she could have an anaphylaxis reaction (ie, really bad difficulties breathing) if she consumes sulphites. Sulphites are a commonly used preservative and found in a whole host of foods (processed food, beer, wine, dried fruit, etc). Canada is very good at making food producers label their products with any sulphites used, so I always check labels when I know my friend will be over.
In reality, though, I don’t make many things from processed foods, so I should be ok, right? Well, as it turns out, I have been cooking with a few sulphite-laden ingredients – vegetable broth (not homemade), coconut milk and even dried fruit were among the many culprits I have found in my recent dishes.
So when we needed an emergency girls night in, and when it was -28C outside (with the wind), I scoured for recipes I could make without venturing to the grocery store AND that had no sulphites AND that would taste best the next day as leftovers (since I wasn’t going to cook after work). A pretty onerous task, if I may say so myself!
I narrowed my choices to two options: The New Spanish Table‘s Lentil and Pumpkin Stew with Roasted Garlic OR the Chili Fest Chili from Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health. The chili was rife with savoury flavours like cinnamon, cloves, cumin, coriander, paprika and oregano. Oh, and molasses! Considering it was so cold outside, the chili won out instantly.
I modified the original recipe by increasing the onions, red bell peppers and carrots while omitting the celery. I used the sweet paprika and Aleppo chili flakes for the heat (and omitted the chipotles in adobo sauce). I mixed up the bean variety by using both red kidney beans and black beans. But, the best addition, the secret ingredient, was bulgur! (I realize that my title gave it away….)
The result was a hearty chili with the mix of savoury flavours. Not my favourite chili, as something was a bit off and I prefer my chili with a bit more robust tomato flavour. Next time I might add some tomato paste. The bulgur, though, was excellent and a healthy way to get the mouth-feel of ground meat, without any meat at all. Other grains – millet, spelt, etc – could also be used. TVP is also an option. In any case, this is a nice way to warm up during the winter. Pair it with a leafy salad, some crusty bread, or just eat the chili plain. The original recipe called for a yogurt-cilantro topping to help with the heat. Personally, mine wasn’t a spicy chili but that’s because I didn’t put in the chipotle peppers!
I will have to find some more red peppers to make that lentil and squash stew, though…
I have a mighty fine selection of spices, if I may say so myself. A huge thank you goes to my last trip to Penzeys, and also to Bestwin which has a multitude of cheap ethnic spices. Fresh spices make a huge difference when cooking. Spices don’t keep long, which is why I only buy the spices I need. I make my own garam masala and now I will show you how to make your own chili powder. For the spice-sissies like me, this is yet another way to flavour the heat levels to your own liking.
There are many recipes for chili powder, but I went with a flavourful blend with smoked paprika, cumin, coriander, oregano and garlic powder. You can add as much real chili your taste buds will desire, but I stayed with my flavourful (not hot) Aleppo chili flakes from the base recipe. The deconstructed recipe has been incorporated into the chili recipe below. Definitely play with the flavours until you get something you like.
This is a Hallowe’en themed chili, filled with all things black and orange, adapted from Party Vegan (recipe also posted here). Of course, I couldn’t just do a simple, traditional chili. This one is filled with butternut squash and the secret oomph comes from the apple juice. Its sweetness allows you to dial up the heat higher than you might otherwise. Personally, I thought it was great. Different than the ordinary, and the squash worked well with the black beans.