the taste space

Indian Chickpea and Collard Roulade with a Tomato-Mustard Sauce

Posted in Appetizers, Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on May 11, 2012

It may be a good thing that Sunny and I live further apart.

I won’t get into as much trouble with my grocery shopping.

You see, we needed to get more chickpea flour and tamarind. No better excuse to head out to Sunny’s one last time. I scope out my weekly meals based on the produce that is on sale. I knew oyster mushrooms were on sale, so I planned to make mushroom dal. Green beans were also on sale, so I had planned a meal for that, too.  I still meander through the produce section to see what else is available, though.. and that’s when I get into trouble.

Unadvertised specials: Two bunches of broccoli for $1. Huge collards for 79c/bunch. Hard-to-find green mangoes were spotted. So. Hard. To. Resist. I am weak against fresh, cheap veggies. I succumbed.  I contained myself, though, when I saw a huge amount of mixed baby greens on sale for $3 (it must have been a bag of 20 lbs, I kid you not), though. My weekend menu gets turned upside down. Now I am not entirely sure what I want to make.

In the end, I made the sushi roll edamame collard wraps earlier in the week with the collard greens. By the end of the week, I wanted to try something cooked instead. Continuing on my current Indian kick, I turned to 660 Curries and I was shocked to find a recipe using collards: Roulade of Collard Leaves with a Tomato-Mustard Sauce!  Collard leaves are used to envelope a savoury chickpea flour batter, drizzled with a tomato-mustard sauce. The authentic Indian version uses taro leaves but Iyer insists that collards are a nice, if somewhat chewier substitute. My curiosity was piqued instantly.

My Indian repertoire consists mainly of bean-based curries, so it was nice to try something completely different. This is an appetizer, but it is hearty enough to be a main meal if you eat enough. Here, you make a delectably savoury filling based on chickpea flour spiced with coriander, cumin, chile flakes, ginger and tamarind. Please stop to taste the filling, it is very good. Just don’t eat too much of it because it is then thinly spread overtop collard leaves. With around one tablespoon of batter per leaf, I had my doubts whether this would all stick together in the end. You stack 4 collard leaves on top of each other and tightly roll it together and secure it with a toothpick (or string). Next, your collard roll is steamed until tender and the chickpea batter is cooked. After a bit of cooling, you slice them, then pan-fry them until brown with mustard and cumin seeds and then briefly stew them with some tomato and cilantro to create a quasi-sauce. Dust with some coconut and you have some seriously flavourful collard bites. The collards are meltingly tender, the chickpea filling so tasty and the nibbles are eerily creamy. The extra flavour from the tempered spices make this sing. My tomato-mustard sauce never really delivered, as I may not have had a big enough tomato, but the little smattering of tomato-cilantro was nice in moderation.

I know it seems so complex, but it is fairly simple to make. I’d bust this out for my next Indian fest, though, as it is best when fresh and very impressive, while still pretty easy to make. Iyer says these can be prepared in advance and frozen, which would be a delicious treat to have stored for a rainy day.

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Cinzia.

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Cumin-Scented Pigeon Peas with Mango (Mango Curry with Toor Dal)

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on April 21, 2012

Have you heard?

They’re here!!!

Rob stalks grocery stores once a year for it. Now they’ve arrived.

It is mango season. Not just any mango, though.

Alphonso mangoes have touched down from India. Thankfully, before our move away from Little India.

We picked up a case of nice Ataulfo mangoes last week because we weren’t sure when the Alphonsos would arrive. Lucky for us, it wasn’t long before they began popping up in Little India. On Thursday, they had a new shipment. By the end of the day, there were only 2 cases left. They are flying like hotcakes!

For the last two years, Rob and I have trekked out to buy these sweet and creamy mangoes. This is the first year it isn’t such a trek to locate them. We’ve made many mango dishes, both sweet and savoury, and now we’ve added another favourite to the list: this fabulous mango curry from 660 Curries which Iyer titled Cumin-Scented Pigeon Peas with Mango.

This curry follows the key steps of toasting and grinding spices, simmering the dal with different flavours and tempering another set of spices in oil that are added in at the end. But first, you need to make your own garam masala. Trust me on this. I know you have garam masala already lurking in your spice rack. This garam masala is different: it has sesame seeds, peanuts and coconut. We decreased the chilis and it was fragrant and savoury without unnecessary heat. For those who don’t want more spice blends, the recipe below is exactly for one recipe, but you will want to make more once you get a whiff of the final blend. We wished we had made more, so don’t follow in our footsteps. ;)

While I just harped on this being Alphonso mango season, this mango curry does not need to be made with fancy mangoes. We used Ataulfos because we picked them up for cheap, but Tommy Atkins will work just fine, and frozen chunks, too. If Alphonso mangoes weren’t $2 each we’d gladly use them, though. Like the Mango BBQ Beans, the mango in this curry melts into oblivion leaving its sweet remains behind. Distinct mango flavour is camouflaged among the curry leaves, coconut and peanut. Everything works so well together. Sweet, spicy, savoury…

This is a delicious curry that you won’t be disappointed it. We’ve been eating at a few Indian restos recently and I still think the best Indian cooking happens in our kitchen. With this dish, there is no contest.

This is my submission to this month‘s Simple and in Season, to this week’s Sunday Night Soup Night, to this week’s Weekend Wellness and to Cookbooks Sundays.

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Plantain, Cabbage and Coconut Curry with Split Pigeon Peas (Indian Cabbage and Plantain Kootu)

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on March 5, 2012

OK, things have turned around in my kitchen. My cooking rut is over!

5/5, baby!

I even have witnesses. :)

My own alfalfa sprouts grew, too!

It has been quite busy in the kitchen lately. In the span of a week, we celebrated Valentine’s Day, Rob’s birthday and our (2 year!) anniversary from our first date.

Rob has been a sweetie, picking recipes from my Top Recipes from 2011 post so he could make me dinner on V-Day and braved the elements on our anniversary for a special barbecue delight. However, I was positively cooking up a storm for his birthday party. I forged ahead with new recipes, and I can’t wait to share them all with you!

But first, let me share with you this delicious curry. I had bookmarked “Plantains and Cabbage with Split Pigeon Peas”  after Rob had success with a Caribbean black eyed pea and plantain curry, when I first tried cooked plantains. Rob went a bit heavier on the curry powder, so the dish didn’t thrill me entirely but the plantains were neat. A starchy, sweet banana. This curry from 660 Curries had many of our favourite ingredients like coconut and cabbage, with new-to-me ripe plantains, and it had been a while since I had cooked with creamy toor dal. Plus, I was drawn to Iyer’s recipe blurb where he wrote: You will be eloquent in your praise and use highfalutin words like “yum”. Highfalutin! Yum! And no, he does not lie. This was delicious and possibly one of my favourite curries to date.

Did you know you can buy frozen coconut? It is a common ingredient found in Asian grocers – check it out! While you could substitute reconstituted dried coconut, I think that the frozen coconut played a key element of the success of this recipe.

In the summer, Rob and I had a fun time (literally) cracking open a fresh coconut. I used a big knife to shave off the outer skin, and then scored a circle to open it. I tried to smack it open with the heel of my knife but it didn’t work. Rob then took said coconut to the front porch and smashed it against the front step to crack it open. We then took turns sipping the coconut water through a straw. Bliss. I ended up using the coconut flesh for an Indonesian black eyed pea salad with a tamarind dressing.

But I like to plan for success. So in case we couldn’t open the coconut, I bought frozen coconut as a back up. Suffice it to say, it has been in my freezer since the summer. Since we have a move looming in the next few months, I have been trying to clean out the freezer. I finally busted it out for this recipe and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the results.

This is a delicious curry, and as I made it, I couldn’t help but remember Aarti’s butternut squash, coconut and lentil stew that Rob made in the fall. I consider Iyer’s recipes quite authentic, so I was wondering whether Aarti’s was an Americanized version of the dish since it seemed so similar. Nope, the recipes are similar but quite different in their own merits. However, if you loved Aarti’s stew, then you’ll adore this version. Likewise, if you like this stew, definitely give Aarti’s stew a try, too.

Here, in this curry, you have a creamy broth from the toor dal. Cabbage and ripe plantains add bulk. Coriander, mustard and curry leaves offer multiple levels of flavour. And that frozen coconut? It reaches out and gives you a tropical hug. I went a bit tame with the chile as Iyer suggests using 2 red Thai chiles or cayenne chiles. This wasn’t spicy, so go nuts chile heads! This is a pretty labour intensive curry, dirtying up a few pots, your food processor and in my case also the mortar and pestle, but once you taste it, you’ll forget all about that… and start using highfalutin words like yum. :)

As I type out the ingredients, I realize that they seem so isoteric. For those in Toronto, a trip to Sunny’s (or your favourite Asian grocer) is all you need*. I can’t remember if I’ve seen Aleppo at Sunny’s, but any chile pepper will do. You may have to wait for your plantain to turn a macabre black, but trust me, this will propel anyone out from their cooking rut.

*While you are at it, pick up some canned young jackfruit in brine for my next (super awesome) recipe from Rob’s party!!

For all the raw foodies out there, do you know if the frozen coconut can be used for all the raw desserts that call for fresh coconut?


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

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Indian Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes with Chickpeas (Baingan Bharta with Chickpeas)

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on January 30, 2012


I have started to cook more Indian dishes… and I really enjoy them. I have yet to share them with any of my Indian friends, though. While Rob may consider himself an Indian connoisseur, he doesn’t count. Indian food is typically spicy, and sometimes I wonder if I am eating bastardized dishes since mine are not super spicy. I mean, is it still authentic Indian food? ;)

I recently went to my friend’s baby shower where they had catered oodles of Indian food for the event. My poor friends tried the chaat appetizer and lost the majority of their taste buds instantly; it was that spicy. For the main meals, my friends taste-tested the dishes and let me know which I could tolerate. There was one slightly mild dish: a tomato-eggplant dish, they told me. Although it was drenched in oil, the dish was superb with roasted tomatoes and eggplant. I later asked what the “real” name of the dish was: bharta. I remembered Julia raving about her bharta and now I knew why. This is some great stuff!

When Julia described her experience as “so good it made me want to cry“, I knew I wanted some tears here, too.
(And not from chopping the onions, that doesn’t count)

One of the big differences I noticed in Julia’s recipe and the bharta component of the Indian Eggplant and Lentil Curry was that Julia roasted her tomatoes. Ingenious! Roasted eggplant AND tomatoes.  Now that flame-roasting my eggplants are out of the question, I did it the safer way: in the oven. Doubling it up with the tomatoes was simple.

I ended up using more eggplant and tomatoes than Julia’s recipe, and because I didn’t care to make a dal concurrently, I threw in chickpeas towards the end of the dish.

While I didn’t cry, this is definitely one of my favourite meals. Smokey, sultry tomatoes and eggplant comes together in savoury spices with a hint of heat. A smidgen of coconut provides some sweetness. The cilantro and lemon liven it up. It tastes lush and rich but is actually a healthy meal.  The chickpeas give it some bulk and sustenance. If I wanted to go the traditional route, I think I might try my hand at these bean-based dosa next time.

Not to toot my own horn, but this dish tasted better than the one at my friend’s party. And likely a whole lot healthier. :)


This is my submission to this month’s Sweet Heat Challenge, featuring Indian cuisine, to Lisa’s Celebration of Indian Food, to this week’s Wellness Weekend and to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.
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Raw Chocolate Macaroons

Posted in Desserts by Janet M on December 16, 2011

Rob and I were recently in New York City and bought a few raw treats while visiting Whole Foods. Namely some chai spice and mint chip raw macaroons from Emmy’s Organics. They weren’t as decadent as the macaroons from Rawlicious; they were a bit more crumbly, too, but I definitely enjoyed the flavours. One package managed to sneak its way back to Toronto.

Rob was out one night, and I decided to open the last packet: 3 mint chip macaroons. I ate one, then quickly followed it up with #2. I definitely had to leave the last one for Rob, right?

I emailed Rob to let him know I was struggling with leaving him the last one…. and then told him I was leaving.

To go to the bulk food store (aka our other pantry) to buy coconut and cocoa to make my own macaroons.

(Now that I have a dehydrator, I have no excuses!)

I used Happy Foody’s recipe as my main guide- I halved the recipe, used agave instead of maple syrup and melted my coconut oil. I stuck one macaroon  in the freezer for more immediate gratification, but placed the remainder in my dehydrator.

Over twenty four hours later, I had my macaroons. This was no instant gratification. But darn, they were great. The freezer version was too firm and sweet for my liking, but the dehydrated treats were perfection. Not as cloyingly sweet with a chewy middle but a crispy exterior.

In retrospect, making 16 more macaroons was probably not the best antidote to not eating the last macaroon. :P

Although, I definitely spread the macaroon lovin’. My brother and sister-in-law had us over for dinner, and I surprised them with a handful of macaroons for dessert (they are, thankfully, not afraid of raw foods).  They were as equally surprised as my mom that I was making sweets. Anyhow, Rob and I are happily munching through the rest.. :)

This is my submission to this month’s Healing Foods featuring Healthy Food Gifts, to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend and to this month’s Cookie Blog Hop.

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Coleslaw with a Spicy Almond Dressing (aka Raw “Pad Thai”)

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by Janet M on December 9, 2011

Rob is the King of pad thai. The recipe has been perfected. The secret ingredient has always been love…. and tamarind concentrate!  It is Rob’s go-to signature dish whenever we have company. He continues to make it with eggs and rice noodles for guests, but I have tried it sans egg with quinoa or zucchini noodles. Not the same, but good for me. I think kelp noodles will be the real winner, although we haven’t tried it yet.

Go to a raw restaurant and I guarantee you there will be a version of raw pad thai on their menu. But it is not anything like the real version. I prefer Thrive‘s version the most but just because it tastes good. Usually one gets a medley of shredded veggies with or without kelp noodles with a spicy nut-based dressing. It marries the sweet-sour-hot-spicy thing but doesn’t have the magical touch from tamarind.

I actually made this dish with Rob in the summer, life before the spiralizer. It was a raw weekend, because we also made the raw Tropical Mango Pie. After spending the morning finely chopping all the veggies, I think that’s when Rob thought the spiralizer would be a great gift.

So why post this now?

How many of you have random photos from your hard drive pop up as your screensaver? I do. Recently, photos of this dish came up and I remembered how good it was even if it wasn’t real pad thai. With a focus on cruciferous vegetables this month, I really had no excuses not to share this pretty and delicious dish, loaded with 3 cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli!).

While I haven’t had the raw pad thai yet from Live Organic Café here in Toronto, I spotted their recipe on Ricki’s website.

Raw cuisine (as opposed to raw food) is all about showcasing something different from “ordinary” vegetables. A play of textures without cooking your foods.

Here, you chop, grate, julienne and otherwise manually spiralize a host of veggies. Pick your favourites but some are more sturdy than others: carrot, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, bell pepper, etc. I opted to buy some broccoli slaw to assist with spiralizing my broccoli for me. ;)

Then you coat them in a spicy-sweet almond sauce: ginger and chili flakes give you some heat, dates and agave confer sweetness, balanced by the sour lemon juice and saltiness from soy sauce. And of course, this all lusciously bathes within creamy almond butter. Add enough water to make a dressing and throw it on your salad. A spicy coleslaw. I didn’t want to mislead you by calling this pad thai. ;)

Devour.


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

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Pan-Seared King Oyster Mushrooms and Baby Bok Choy in a Coconut Tamarind Sauce with a Caramelized Leek and Wasabi Millet Mash

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by Janet M on December 7, 2011


Sorry about the lack of diversity in my month of cruciferous vegetables. I know what it must look like to you: lots of broccoli, some kale with a bit of daikon and baby bok choy. Actually it looked like this: kale, daikon, broccoli, kale, broccoli, broccoli, kale, broccoli, baby bok choy and broccoli, and broccoli with a side of Napa cabbage. I’ll be honest: broccoli was on sale. A few weeks in a row. ;) I’ll try to make my next few posts with different cruciferous veggies.

Pop quiz:

Which cruciferous vegetables are in this meal? Check all that apply.
a. broccoli
b. baby bok choy
c. cauliflower
d. king oyster mushroom
e. leek
f. tamarind
g. potato
h. wasabi

Have a headache yet? Flashback to an undergrad midterm? SORRY!

I just want you to know your cruciferous veggies..

Don’t be fooled. The answers are baby bok choy, cauliflower and WASABI! Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable but not in this recipe (sad, I know). King oyster mushrooms, leeks and tamarind are not cruciferous vegetables, but still good! While there is a mash here, there are no potatoes in this recipe!

Did you know that wasabi is a cruciferous vegetable? Thought it only came in powder form? Well, wasabi is actually a root vegetable. When I visited Japan, I visited the Daiõ Wasabi Farm outside Hotaka, which is the largest wasabi farm in the world. Not only were there fields upon fields of growing wasabi (pic above), they also had the roots for sale along with other wasabi treats like wasabi soup, wasabi soba noodles, wasabi wine, wasabi lollipops and my favourite: wasabi ice cream! I was a spice novice at that time, and still loved it: the spicy wasabi was off-set by lots of sweetness. The ice cream had a mild background of wasabi and vanilla perhaps, but lovely at the same time.


Sadly, wasabi is difficult to grow and thus expensive. Outside Japan, wasabi is commonly substituted with (cheaper) horseradish, mustard and green food colouring. Have no fear, Eden sells genuine wasabi powder. And yes, Sunny’s sells it for half the price of The Big Carrot.

This meal, which is actually 2 recipes, must have the longest name of anything on this blog so far. These long descriptive names are what have me drooling at restaurants, so I love to point of all the nuances of my dishes, too. The longer the name, the longer the ingredient list, and thus probably the longer it took me to make this. Denis Cotter loves to make multi-component meals, and this is no exception. Adapted from his recipe in For the Love of Food, I increased the vegetables, especially the baby bok choy and decreased the coconut milk. Meaty king oyster mushrooms were pan-fried in coconut oil then stir-fried with ginger and the baby bok choy. A light tangy broth with tamarind and coconut milk rounded out the sauce and offered a nice contrast in flavours.

As an Irishman, Cotter adores potatoes and served this with mashed potatoes spiced with caramelized leeks and wasabi.

I opted to try a different a kind of mash: the monster mash.

I mean, the millet mash. With cauliflower. And caramelized leeks and wasabi, as per Cotter.

The cauliflower millet mash is courtesy of Sarah, and while it doesn’t taste like mashed potatoes, it has a creaminess akin to mashed potatoes. As a blank slate, it can take any flavours you throw at it, including the subtly sweet caramelized leeks and the spicy wasabi. Juxtaposed next to the tangy coconut broth with the vegetables, you have a crazy concoction of cruciferous vegetables.


This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Marta from Viaggiare è un po’ come mangiare.

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Butternut Squash, Coconut, and Lentil Stew (Aarti’s Indian Summer Stew)

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by Janet M on October 14, 2011

Rob finds blogging to be a chore, at times. Me, I will gladly use it as a form of procrastination. Writing personal statements, now that is a chore!

This was another recipe I pawned off suggested to Rob when I had leftover butternut squash. Aarti‘s Indian Summer Stew. Indian, check. Coconut, check. Butternut squash, totally up my alley… and a new kind of bean to try: toor dal or split pigeon peas. I actually originally bookmarked this recipe when I saw Anja using split yellow peas (my latest craze), but I’ve bought a few new split beans to facilitate more cooking from 660 Curries, Rob’s go-to cookbook. So toor dal, it was!

As expected, Rob adored this soup. Creamy and savoury. The toor dal melts into a thickened soup spiced with warming spices and thick chunks of dried coconut. There was a zippy undertone that was tempered by the cilantro. He promptly took photos and linked it up on Facebook, sharing his culinary success.

But as we ate the soup, we argued a bit. Freshly made, I thought the soup was a bit too hot for me (not Rob). Was it the mustard seeds or the Aleppo? Half a teaspoon is usually my max for the Aleppo chili flakes, and Rob swore he didn’t add anything extra or sneak in any of our garden chilis. Were my chili flakes more potent? We had finally returned to using my stash of chili flakes from Turkey, as opposed to the Aleppo from Kensington Market. Rob then described how he cooked the chili flakes, in the tempering oil. Oh yes, that must be why – the flavour oil explosion!

Turns out that the stew mellowed as leftovers, so it was now safe for me. Life got busy, though, and Rob lost his enthusiasm for sharing the recipe. I still wanted to share the meal, so here I am with Rob’s dish. Because while I used to only share food that I made, I can’t deprive you all of tasty dishes that Rob cooks up!

This is my submission to this month’s Simple and in Season, to this month’s Healing Foods featuring coconut, to this month’s Veggie/Fruit a Month featuring coconut, to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend, to Healthy Vegan Fridays, to this month’s Ingredient Challenge Monday for coconut and to this month’s No Croutons Required featuring squash.

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Thai Coconut Corn Stew

Posted in Favourites, Soups by Janet M on September 16, 2011

How do you bookmark your recipes? Every day I am inundated by oodles of recipes I want to make from other bloggers, from my cookbooks, or just something I whip up in my head (and belly).

I know there are applications and websites to help you figure this out, but they have been too cumbersome for me. I am old school. I email myself the recipes and stick them in a searchable folder. The rest, my brain has to take care of, as it remembers what I don’t put into emails.

When I can’t find a suitable recipe in my email treasure trove or rack my brain as to what’s in my cookbooks, I will often consult my favourite bloggers. My favourite way to tackle this is through Google Reader, which is a quick and easy way to narrow my search to my blogs of interest.

So when Rob and I picked up a dozen ears of corn, I had to scour everywhere for corn recipes. I usually don’t like corn – of the frozen or canned variety. I will actively remove it from recipes (celery gets removed even more quickly) so it was a challenge to do the opposite. Find me some corn delicacies!

Hopefully the last few corny posts have shown you how great corn can be, from the simple grilled ears, to pan-toasting the kernels for a salad, or boiling the corn to put in a quinoa salad, or as a savoury filling for a cornmeal pancake.

Corn soups are another way to enjoy corn. Trust me, I have bookmarked so many corn soup recipes that I had a difficult time narrowing it down to which I wanted to try. In the end, I thought this Thai Coconut Corn Stew, which Ashley made last year from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan hit it right (recipe also posted here). A soup that could come together quickly despite its long ingredient list.  In addition to the coconut milk as the backdrop for the chowder, red bell pepper is added for sweetness. The soup is flavoured with lemongrass, lime, ginger, cilantro and a hint of spice from chili flakes, creating a very complex soup without too much fuss. It is nice and creamy from the coconut milk and pureed corn, but also surprisingly light at the same time. Seriously yummy, this recipe is a keeper!

In all honesty, I didn’t use cilantro for the salad. I used Vietnamese coriander. While researching what to plant, we found out cilantro tends to bolt in the summer. Ours bolted during the heat wave. But we had a back-up! Vietnamese coriander! It continues to give us nice leaves that taste similar to cilantro with a bright, lemony accent. Thankfully it is a perennial, so we should have some of it next year, too. :) I also grew lemongrass but the stalks don’t look anything like what I buy in the grocery store.. so who knows what I am to do with the leaves only. Sunny’s to the rescue with 6 lemongrass stalks for a $1. :)

Here are some other corn soups that I had spotted elsewhere:

Roasted Tomato and Grilled Corn Soup from The Edible Perspective
Summer Sweet Corn Soup with Basil Oil from Julia’s Vegan Kitchen
Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Corn and Cilantro from Oui, Chef
Tomato, Corn and Basil Soup from New England Soup Factory Cookbook
Sweet Pepper Coconut Corn Chowder from ExtraVeganZa
Summer Corn and Coconut Soup from Choosing Raw
Corn and Squash Soup with Roasted Red Pepper Purée from CIA Chef
Japanese Corn Cream Soup from The Well-Seasoned Cook

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this month’s Simple and in Season, to this month’s My Kitchen, My World destination Thailand, to Ricki’s Wellness Weekends, to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes, to this month’s Ingredient Challenge Monday for coconut, and to this month’s No Croutons Required featuring home-grown produce.

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Raw Mixed Berry Crisp

Posted in Breakfasts, Desserts by Janet M on July 25, 2011


If I thought the label vegan was stigmatizing, never mind what people think when you tell them you are eating raw food! I have had friends flat out refuse to go to a raw restaurant with me (where’s the meat? where’s the heat? they exclaimed).

Eating raw foods could be as simple a summer salad, or snacking on some fresh fruit, which are not too horrific in the slightest. For those eating only raw foods (not me, don’t worry), this would quickly become boring! This is when it becomes exciting, because the experimentation in raw foods has created some luscious treats, perfect during the hot summer when you don’t want to turn on your stove or oven.

Summer berries are at their prime right now and I know the virtues of eating berries, plain, unadorned, in all their glory.

Let me fill you in on a secret: there is food synergy at play. 1+1 does not equal 2. Combine your favourite summer berries and top with a nutty topping for a delicious crisp. No oven required.

If it were that simple, it wouldn’t as phenomenal.

This is the second secret: macerate your berries. Blend your berries. Use a portion of your berries to create a sweet juice, just as if you baked your crumble and it is oozing those lovely fruit juices. I cringed when I mashed my blackberries (my beautiful blackberries!), but it is what brings this dessert to the next level. It isn’t just berries and nuts.

I was inspired by the recipe in Radiant Health, Inner Wealth and Raw Food Made Easy to create my own Raw Mixed Berry Crisp. I used blackberries and raspberries, which were a wonderful combination, but choose your favourites (blackberry-peach? raspberry-mango? blueberry-pomegranate?). The cinnamon-almond-date topping would work with any fruit!  If you don’t plan to eat everything at once, I suggest keeping the topping separate from the fruit. Sprinkle over top just prior to serving… because if you aren’t going to eat it for dessert, you may as well have it for breakfast! :)
This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Wellness, this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Anh from A Food Lover’s Journey.

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Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Dukkah

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by Janet M on May 30, 2011


While my cupboards continue to expand as I experiment with different ingredients, I also have picked up new kitchen gadgets along the way as well. Some a bit more isoteric (takoyaki pan, my $2 tagine from Morocco), but others have become integrated into my daily routine (food processor, citrus squeezer, garlic press, immersion blender, kitchen scale, etc). One of the more recent additions to my kitchen has been a coffee grinder that doubles as a spice grinder. In fact, it only grinds spices because I don’t drink coffee. ;)

Freshly ground spices are key for fresh tasting food. I don’t buy ground nutmeg anymore, and routinely grind my own allspice, cardamom and cumin. I have a mortar and pestle, which served its purpose.  For most things, it works quite well. My nemesis were coriander seeds, though, which I learned while making dukkah, a sweet-savoury Egyptian spice blend. Oh my! I never knew such small things could give you such a work-out. This is what prompted me to seek out an alternative for my forearms. The spice grinder has lived up to its potential, and I happily make room for it in my cupboards.

So why I am bringing up dukkah?


Well, as I try to eat my way through my fridge and pantries before I move, I discovered a small container harbouring some leftover dukkah in my fridge (right next to my rediscovered miso, no less!).  A sniff taste told me this was still fresh! Slightly unconventional, but incredibly delicious, this Egyptian spice mix is spiced with cumin, with a citrus overtone from coriander, with sweetness imparted from almonds and coconut.  Earlier, I found it scrumptious with a poached egg and toast, but I was eager to try it with roasted vegetables.

Inspired by Jaden at Steamy Kitchen, I opted to roast cauliflower along with chickpeas until they were both sweet, nutty and brown. Sprinkled with dukkah, with its earthy sweetness, this paired incredibly well. Gosh, I just love rediscovering old favourites. :)

How do you like to use dukkah?

PS. Wondering why my cauliflower looks a bit purple? Let’s just say I roasted the cauliflower along with some beets. The beets leaked. On the cauliflower. But truly, I see no problem with purple-tinged cauliflower! :)


This is my submission to My Kitchen, My World for Egyptian travels and to E.A.T. World for Egypt.
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Tropical Mango Pie

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by Janet M on May 23, 2011


As I said, Alphonso mango season is here. Rob and I have been devouring the Alphonsos, savouring each one, and we both thought this was a wonderful dessert to share. Any sweet mango will do, even frozen chunks. If you love mangoes as much as we do, you will swoon over this. So do not hesitate, go get yourself some mangoes!

I have been exploring more raw cuisine and have been smitten by the raspberry raw cheesecake at The Beet and the chocolate banana raw cheesecake at Rawlicious. The server at Rawlicious told me it was to-die-for, and she was right. However, since I know it is filled with cashews, it isn’t the most healthy dessert.

This is why I jumped at the chance to make this dessert, because it is healthy, flavourful and filled with some of my favourite ingredients. The star of the pie is a mango pudding with pureed sweet mangoes. The flavour really pops because it is combined with dried mango slices. The mango pudding is poured over a coconut-almond-date crust, and topped with your favourite fruit. We chose blackberries, but strawberries, kiwis, bananas, anything!, could be used. Together, everything works well. Tropical bliss.


I adapted the recipe from Radiant Health, Inner Wealth, by only making half the recipe and preparing individual servings in ramekins.  I thought this worked much better actually, because the crust is a bit crumbly. Since it was in a ramekin, you didn’t need to worry about scooping out each piece of pie. Oddly enough, although this served 3, Rob and I didn’t fight over the last piece. I let him win this battle without a whimper on my side. Because as much as I love mangoes, I know that Rob loves them even more.  ;)

I now have one Alphonso mango left. What should I do with it?? I was considering combining it with raspberries, but we’ll see what I create. :)

This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Wellness, to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays, to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Graziana from Erbe in Cucina (Cooking with Herbs).

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Hawaiian-style Sweet-and-Sour Roasted Pineapple and Bell Peppers with Tofu

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on May 9, 2011


Bell peppers come in a variety of colours – green, yellow, orange and red. How are the multicoloured peppers different?

I am not as fond of of green peppers since they are more bitter.  I will, however, tolerate them if hidden in a larger dish.

Green peppers are harvested before they are completely ripe and will never become sweet, like its older colourful siblings. Yellow and orange peppers are more mature than green, but the most mature of all are the red peppers.

With maturity comes hidden specialties, right? Of course! After researching a bit, I found out yellow peppers have 3% of the recommended intake of vitamin A, versus 105% in red peppers. Vitamin C was nearly the same between yellow and red (although green peppers had half as much). But red peppers have 841 mcg of beta-carotene versus 110 mcg in yellow peppers. They say to eat a rainbow, but I think it just makes sense to eat red peppers! Thankfully my taste buds agree and my blog can attest with its multitude of recipes for bell pepper.

The real question is whether to plant bell peppers in the garden. Our friends (and landlords) had difficulties with bell peppers last year, and other gardeners in Toronto have told me they never fully ripened to become red. The scourge of a short summer. The quandaries… perhaps we won’t be planting bell peppers if they stay green. Who would eat them? Only if they were hidden inside this delicious dish!

Yes, I really liked this Hawaiian Roasted Pineapple with Red Peppers and Tofu.  It wasn’t one of those ooky-sweet sweet-and-sour sauces. It was light, tasty and fresh, without any cornstarch which plagues most recipes. Originally a vegetable side dish, this recipe was adapted from Supermarket Vegan (also posted on Vegetarian Times) to make a main course by adding in tofu and quinoa. I added in 1 lb of extra-firm tofu and marinaded it in the sesame oil, canola oil and agave nectar. I prepped the rest of my vegetables as it marinaded, although if I had more forethought I would have marinaded it longer. I threw the veggies and tofu together to bake for ~75 minutes, then tossed with a sprinkle of fine coconut and lime juice and sprinkled chopped cashews overtop. Perfect!  This recipe definitely warrants fresh pineapple, though (I used half a pineapple). The canned stuff won’t make this meal shine.

This is my submission to E.A.T. World for Hawaii.

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Thai Tropical Fruit and Tofu Salad

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by Janet M on April 8, 2011


It is always good to eat more fruits and veggies. Personally, I don’t have a problem eating fruit, but always looking for ways to eat more vegetables.

Fruit is a perfect snack food. Take an apple: Wash and eat. It satisfies a need for something crisp, quenching with a touch of sweetness. It is also a lot more filling then processed snacks. There are so many different kinds of apples, you can mix up the texture and flavour each time. Lately, I have been happily exploring new apple varieties: Cameo, Pinata (also called Pinova), Jonagold, Fuji and Braeburn apples, which have all been great for snacking.

The apple is my standard fruit. I usually eat one or two a day and have yet to grow tired of it.

Berries and tropical fruit make me giddy, though. If they weren’t so expensive, I’d be eating them all day long (score for when they are all on sale at the same time!). Most often, like apples, they are great untouched. They are so sweet, you don’t need enhance their unblemished taste at all. Certainly you don’t need to do anything, but yes, it can get better. I dare you to make this salad.

Adapted from my favourite cookbook Radiant Health, Inner Wealth, this is a Thai salad with a multitude of tropical fruit (I used pineapple, mango, kiwi) with lime-tamari tofu. It is tossed with a sweet and zingy sesame-lime dressing. Served overtop of a bed of baby spinach and topped with a sprinkling of dried coconut and crushed cashews, this is a very tasty main-course salad. You do not need dessert with a main dish as succulent as this. :)


This is my submission to this month’s Veggie/Fruit a Month, featuring mango, to Healing Foods featuring pineapple, to E.A.T. World for Thailand, to this month’s Ingredient Challenge Monday for pineapple and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

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Avocado Overnight Oats

Posted in Breakfasts, Desserts by rszumlak on February 15, 2011

Avocado Overnight Oats

Hi! It’s Rob again for one last item in my short series of posts here on the taste space.

After crafting the delicious avocado chutney last week, I was left with a couple of leftover avocados. I was perplexed. What should I do with them? I didn’t want to make guacamole. I wasn’t prepared to produce a salad with them. In Australia I learned how amazing avocado is in sandwiches or hamburgers, but that wasn’t the direction I wanted to go either.

I KNOW! I would devise a new variation of everyone’s beloved overnight oats! I was very excited. Overnight oats are great, but wouldn’t they be better if they were filled with tropical fruits?

I’ll be honest with you. I hold tropical fruits in very high regard. As such, I pine to travel to the tropical regions where these fruits are cheap, fresh, and plentiful. I’ve been to a few of these places, but my yearning to go to more is unceasing…

I still think fondly of the Cook Islands where I enjoyed the best papaya I ever had, topped with grated coconut and lime juice.

I still remember the glee I felt when I arrived in Fiji at the height of mango season. They were so ripe that they fell from the trees and landed at my feet, begging to be devoured.

I still recall the wonder I felt while roaming the streets of Bangkok and marvelling at the carts of the street vendors showcasing pineapples, artfully cut and ready to take away with little packets of salt and chili.

At this time, however, I had no papaya, mango, or pineapple. Instead, I used an avocado, coconut flakes, and a banana. It all came together very well. What a fantastic breakfast!

This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Graziana from Erbe in Cucina (Cooking with Herbs). (more…)