Turns out our furnace problems were solved with a new thermostat. Thank goodness it was such an easy fix. It will be a bit warmer over the next few days which is perfect for us. It will melt the snow and allow us to rake all the leaves we had neglected earlier before winter resumes again later in the week.
Hearty winter fare is back into my kitchen for good and this was a delicious side, and could definitely work if you are looking for a something different for a holiday meal. Brussels sprouts are braised with chickpeas, kale and sun-dried tomatoes along with Italian-inspired seasonings. I thought this was excellent. Highly recommended.
What are you planning to serve for Thanksgiving?
And like that, winter arrived. The snow dropped in full force and actually stuck around a bit.
I had a few short weeks for biking. My broken leg meant I was not fit for biking earlier this fall but it was nice while it lasted.
And what is better during the cold weather than a warm bowl of curry?
To keep things simple in the kitchen, I have resorted to remaking some favourites and making twice as much.
Most of my favourites have already been shared (Tamarind Lentils, Bengali Cauliflower Dal, Creamy Broccoli Dal, and Root Veggie Curry), so it does not surprise me to share yet another easy, delicious and healthy curry. This is one I first discovered while testing/eating through Gena’s fabulous cookbook and has become a staple ever since. Having blog worthy photos also helps keep me more speedy in the kitchen.
So, please, grab yourself a huge sweet potato and make a double batch. It freezes well should you want to save it until a colder day.
I am sharing this with Souper Sundays.
I see there are a lot of other coconut lovers. This quick and easy dessert is for you!
I have made raw macaroons before (raw chocolate macaroons previously, and non-traditional but lovely raw apple cinnamon macaroons), but they both used the dehydrator, which does not make them quick to make and makes them a tad unapproachable for the masses.
Thus, I was intrigued when I spotted this recipe for quick and easy raw macaroons… and also because they used tahini as the binder. Almond butter would also likely be fabulous but it was nice to switch things up a bit. The nut butter was thick enough that these macaroons held together nicely after a short chill in the fridge.
Simple and tasty, Rob declared that these could be used to woo him. Lucky for him, we’re already smitten with each other. (The wedding bells will be in a few short months!)
I am sharing this with No Waste Food Challenge.
Feel like you missed autumn? Summer went straight into winter? Time flies, and sometimes I feel like I missed the peak season for certain fruits and vegetables. I keep missing peach season although we had a few this year. I also missed prime tomato time, perhaps because I was distracted by summer exams. In any case, have no fear. Canned tomatoes are possibly the best way to make sure you have flavourful tomatoes.
Oddly enough, I first encountered Arrabiata sauce while travelling in South Africa. It was a premade sauce that I added to a can of lentils with delicious results. A bit spicy, a lot tomatoey, it worked well with the hearty lentils. However, by the time I returned to Canada, I figured a pasta sauce deserved some pasta.
I made a huge batch of Ricki’s Arrabiata sauce and used it in two non-traditional ways: paired with soba noodles and also paired with zucchini noodles with chickpeas and nutritional yeast. I liked both versions although the zucchini noodles remind me more of the summer than soba noodles.
Next time, I think I will puree the sauce and add a bunch of lentils. Topped with nutritional yeast, it was a great meal, too.
Even for me, this recipe seems a bit long and bothersome. However, I implore to try it out.
Let’s break this recipe down so it is not too daunting. Thankfully, even the sweet potato coconut mash topping could stand-alone on a Thanksgiving spread.
First, start with roasting your sweet potatoes. I honestly would have double next time. I would not judge you if the potatoes never made it to the shepherd’s pie.
I started with my favourite recipe for Roasted Sweet Potatoes (Low and Slow) which coaxes and highlights their natural sweetness. I made them the night before so this recipe would work fabulously with leftover roasted sweet potatoes, too. Despite roasting 3 big potatoes, I wanted more volume. I ran out of drinkable non-dairy milks so I grabbed a can of lite coconut milk. Just a touch whipped into the spuds created a silky sweet puree. Inspired by Candle Cafe’s Paradise Casserole’s mash, I added some miso as well. You could stop right here with a delicious side.
Let’s pretend you still want to make the whole shepherd’s pie, though. I used a mix of beans, which along with carrot, mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes had a nice texture. Balsamic vinegar and nutritional yeast added a nice depth and if you have red wine, that would work well here, too. I used a pressure cooker for my lentils, overcooking them slightly, but this was a great way to use them. I also slightly overcooked my butter beans (pressure cooker equilibration issues) but the butter beans were a fantastic counterfoil to the smaller bits. They don’t call them butter beans for nothing. Rancho Gordo’s Florida butter beans were silky smooth, almost like butter! :P
I tried to have a good sweet potato-mash to filling ratio, with a decent height with the mash. I chose a smaller but high casserole dish, as opposed to a 9×13″ pan. I think it worked out really well. The sweet potato mash makes this a less traditional shepherd’s pie but since it is vegan, can I really claim any authenticity?
You may have noticed my recipes becoming simpler. I am spending less time in the kitchen. Life is busy.
Case in point: A few weeks ago, I was so excited to leave work before it was dark. (This was before the time change). I routinely leave work pretty late.
I texted Rob the good news: I would beat him home.
I plotted what I would do with my extra time. Plotted what I would cook up for dinner. Perhaps an easy tofu scramble.
However, as I walked onto our street, I slipped my hand into my bag looking for my keys. A second time. After a frantic search, I realized I must have forgotten them inside our home. (Of note, we have a very weird lock on our door – it locks automatically as soon as the door closes). I texted Rob that I was heading to the neighbourhood resto, for a warm supper, and to keep myself warm as I waited for him to return home. Sure enough, once I made it home, a couple hours later, my keys were right next to the front door. And it was now positively dark outside.
One reason I am not stressing about my meals is that I know I have a stash of treats in the freezer. These are everything you could possibly want in a snack: quick and easy, tasty and healthy. Furthermore, the simplicity of the recipe lets you taste the finished product by the ingredient list alone. Roasted almond butter mixed with a touch of coconut oil (it gives it a nice mouth feel) along with a touch of maple syrup for sweetness and cinnamon. Because, cinnamon is in all good things. Place the mixture into the freezer and take each one out whenever you have a hankering for a snackering.
Of course, the race is to see whether there will be enough snacks left by the weekend to take photos. Although, I would not be sad to make another batch.
I am sharing this with Random Recipes and Dead Easy Desserts.
As I write this, it is snowing outside.
Not that it will last and stay on the ground, but it definitely marks the beginning of fall. The leaves and temperatures have both fallen.
I walked to the Saturday farmer’s market this morning and they had finally moved it indoors. With everyone crammed into a smaller place, it was cramped and crowded but I still walked away with my stash of apples. Earlier, Rob and I tried to go apple picking where we had gone a few years ago. Turns out that the farm was subsequently sold and the DIY apple picking was no more. Since the farmer’s market is so close to our home, we didn’t pursue it further this year.
While we typically eat the apples as snacks and in our morning oats, this time, I added it to a savoury autumn salad. Roasted cauliflower is combined with quinoa with Indian-inspired flavours such as roasted coconut with a touch of sweetness from the apple and raisins. I then drizzled my favourite curried maple tahini dressing, which I usually reserved for my chickpea and carrot salad with excellent results. I needed to double the dressing since this salad was so voluminous.
Did you see snow, too?
I am no stranger to Heather Crosby’s fabulous recipes (seen here previously: Peruvian Bean Bowl with Fried Plantains, Blueberry Tarragon Dressing and more recently the Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream), I was excited to be able to review her first solo cookbook creation, YumUniverse as part of the #YUBlogTour and #YUHealthyHalloween Blog Tour.
However, it is more than a cookbook. It is a fabulously complete introduction (and then some) to eating plant-based whole foods. Her book is built in three parts: why, how and do (let’s eat). First, why eat plant-based? Heather details numerous reasons to eat your vegetables. Her second part, teaches the reader the ins-and-outs of how to cook plant-based. She addresses protein and calcium needs and how to craft a week’s worth of eats. There are tables of how to properly store fresh and pantry ingredients (fruits/vegetables, oils, nuts, spices, flours, etc; whether they go in the fridge/freezer). She explains soaking and sprouting with times for common nuts and seeds. She explains different cooking methods and even how to correct oversalting. Once you have mastered feeding yourself, she has tips for social situations. She really has left no gaps. She even explains how to get rid of pesky fruit flies.
Next, the recipes. With adventurist recipes including Mung Bean and Eggplant Curry, Jerk Lentil and Avocado Wrap, Beet, Apple and Onion Gratin and Skillet Crusted Sweet Potato Gnocchi, there are boundless possibilities. That was just in the lunch/dinner section. Heather also includes breakfasts, dressings, dips/spreads, breads, beverages, snacks and other desserts and treats.
In short, this is the cookbook I wish I had when I first began my journey becoming a vegan.
I made her Chocolate & Cherry Hemp Bars which are a spiffied rice krispy treat. Like Ange’s Glo Bars, brown rice syrup is the binder of choice but the bars are not that sweet. Calling them hemp bars is a bit of a superfood marketing ploy: they are barely detectable amidst the sunflower seeds, rolled oats and flaked coconut. Furthermore the chocolate chips melted seamlessly into the sweet binder, so the major flavour was from the tart cherries with a faint chocolate background. Below is the photo you would actually find in the cookbook. Enjoy!
YumUniverse recipes spotted elsewhere:
Buckwheat Noodle Pad Thai
Dark Chocolate, Sweet Potato & Black Bean Brownies
Orange and Pepita Granola
Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mash
Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Bisque
Salted Caramel Sauce
Shredded Brussels Sprouts & Kale with Miso Dijon Sauce
Toasted Super Seedy Power Bread
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe AND giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me your favourite meal (no recipe required). The winner will be selected at random on November 7, 2014. Good luck!
Welcome to my latest obsession: fried capers.
If you have yet to try them yet, try to imagine how they would taste. Crunchy, salty little nibbles. It surprised me how much they taste like popcorn, I kid you not. Combined with the pickled currants (tart and sweet), and the avocado (creamy!), this salad was perfectly balanced. I know I say that a lot here, but this salad rises above its peers. It could possibly be my best salad of the year. I thought my Cali-Coco BLT Salad was the best so far, but this week I switched allegiances. It could possibly usurp the former champion, crowned in 2011: The New Best Salad Ever aka Roasted Garlic Tofu Salad with Cilantro Rice, Black Beans and a Mango Salsa.
I am no stranger to quick pickled dried fruits, but the benefit of pickling dried currants instead of raisins, is that you don’t get the goopy juicy raisins that don’t particularly appeal to me.
My inspiration for this fascinating combination was the ever-fabulous Deb of Smitten Kitchen, although I changed many things, including adding the much maligned leafy greens. I also chose to roast my cauliflower and added the fantastically creamy avocado. I look forward to trying her riced fresh cauliflower in the warmer months. The fried capers? Completely her idea. Her poetic prose made me stock up on capers pronto:
Crispy fried capers are one of my favorite garnishes, ever. They are way more interesting than bacon bits — yes, I said it. When you drop capers (that you’ve patted out on paper towels as best as possible) in a little puddle of oil, magical things happen — their layers curl out and crisp, like the world’s tiniest blooming onion. Like all fried, crunchy things, they don’t keep long under the weight of dressing; I recommend adding them only right before serving. I usually use brined capers for this, but both brined and salt-packed will work.
Um yeah, totally try them out. Please.
I hope all my Canadian readers enjoyed their long Thanksgiving weekend. My small contribution to this year’s Thanksgiving spread was my silky smooth braised cabbage. Mostly because it is so easy to make. Also because I remade it last year and it wasn’t as good as I remembered it, so I wanted to try it again. This time, I read the recipe more carefully. I have to cook it for at least 2 hours and 15 minutes. I think I missed a whole hour last time, but this time, 2.5 hours later, we had glorious braised cabbage. Vindicated.
Although while searching for my cabbage recipe, I came across Ottolenghi’s new recipe for miso-braised cabbage. With half a head of cabbage leftover, I vowed to make his version when I returned home. Although, I fell victim to not reading the recipe. Or became confused. I mistakenly cooked it at 400F for 20 minutes and then 200F for another 3.5 hours. As such, my cabbage wasn’t as crispy golden as my other recipe for braised cabbage, but still silky tender, without a drop of oil. I probably could have roasted it for a final 15 minutes at 400F for a crispy exterior but I was quickly running out of time. I kept the original temperature in the directions below for your next attempt.
I often have troubles when I halve or double recipes, so I always make sure to write down the math for every ingredient, but this time the C and F conversion tripped me up. Too much information! How do you usually mess up recipes?
Despite what you make believe, I haven’t eaten any winter squash recently. I bought a colourful carnival squash but haven’t made anything with it yet. I have this recipe I made while in Houston. The giveaway? The frozen roasted corn. I can’t say I have seen that since returning to Toronto.
This is a perfect end-of-summer, beginning of fall soup, as the last of the local corn arrives and the first winter squashes arrive. Or perfect for the dead of winter, too, using frozen corn kernels.
The Three Sisters, referring to the dietary staples of the Mesoamerican diet: corn, beans and squash. They often grow together, each plant benefitted from the others. The lankly corn husks provided a structure for the beans to latch onto. The squash covers the ground, preventing pesky weeds from appearing. And like all beans, they return nitrogen to the soil to help nearby plants. It makes sense that meals would also center around such foods, equally creating a balanced meal. This meal is simple but elevated by choice herbs and spices (cilantro, chiles, smoked paprika, garlic) with a heavy hand of lime juice. I used the full amount in the recipe and even I, the lover of all things tart, found it off-putting. Please start with less and taste as you go.
The recipe comes from a cookbook I have been meaning to write about for a while, Extraordinary Vegan. I can see Allan is a partial kindred spirit in the kitchen as he realizes a few choice ingredients can elevate meals to become extraordinary. Like I have said, some of my favourite, albeit unusual ingredients, are Aleppo chile flakes, pomegranate molasses, smoked paprika and miso. These are a few of the ingredients Allan uses to create his meals. I had a few of these in my Houston kitchen, but still piecing together my larger pantry here, and now looking forward to trying other recipes. Many recipes are simple but a few use a few hard to find ingredients. Here are a few other recipes I have spotted around the web from Extraordinary Vegan.
Are the squashes out in full force in your kitchen yet?
You are too nice. I ran into the same low-light problem when photographing this salad after work. I wanted my standard front view and top view, but it was too blurry and grainy to work. I suppose that is when fun filters hide photographer faults? ;)
In any case, I decided the salad was too sweet not to share. Who knows how long my avocados will keep!
My inspiration came from a meal I shared with Gabby at a hipster restaurant with a few vegan-friendly options. They veganized their Cali-Coco BLT sandwich which had a thick layer of sliced avocado, coconut bacon, tomato, arugula and vegan mayonnaise on a ciabatta bun. Apparently, avocado + BLT = a California BLT. I also had a side of dal frites (yes a curry and fries poutine!), which was positively too much food.
I was still excited about recreating this at home, though. Unsweetened coconut chips were tricky to locate but my Mom helped locate these wonderfully shaped coconut slices. I am used to smaller coconut chips, so this was great. While I used mine with a salad, I think these bigger pieces would work better in sandwiches, too.
I used my previous recipe for coconut bacon, added half an avocado, a handful of cherry tomatoes, a mound of arugula and then fortified it with cooked quinoa and smoked tofu. Rob thinks the smoked tofu looks like cheese, but I swear it is not. Mash up the avocado with each bite but I will admit I scooped a bit of garlic-infused mayo aioli with each bite as a quasi dressing. Delicious!
I just might need a very pretty picture to knock me out of a bloggers block. A simple recipe, I really only gave directions for the salsa baked tofu and told you what else I included in my salad. No measuring, just plating and eating.
I tried a bit harder to make this salad pretty.
While it still feels like summer in Toronto, it is hard to believe Thanksgiving is quickly approaching. And as I was writing up my recipe for raw macadamia vanilla cream, I realized I never shared this fabulous recipe with you.
It still makes me smile that one of my co-workers, Abby, made a vegan and gluten-free pumpkin pie with me in mind for last year’s Thanksgiving. Abby graciously let me take home all the leftovers which I enjoyed. Sadly, I was hoping to get better photos. I don’t think these do it any justice but figured I should still share the great recipe with you.
Pumpkin pies are ubiquitous in the US around Thanksgiving but this pie was better than your traditional fare. A mixture of both pumpkin and sweet potato purees with a custard texture from tofu worked really well here. It was perfectly sweetened with a hint of savoury notes from the cinnamon and nutmeg. The recipe will make more filling than you need for one pie, which might work out nicely if you have a vegan friend who really wants all the leftovers. ;)
The crust was awesome, too, just a bit on the brown side, but with a spiced pecan background that worked well with the pumpkin pie. As I pay more attention to the recipe, it looks like Abby took some inspiration for the crust from my pecan-shortbread crust I used with a lemon-cheesecake. You may not even need to pre-bake the crust like Abby did, so keep that in mind.
Are you ready for fall yet?
Nothing like a blog tour from a fabulous cookbook, to get me moving in the kitchen again. It also helped that the recipes are super easy and still delicious. I already told you all about OATrageous Oatmeals earlier but I am back for Kathy’s blog tour. This time sharing her recipe for Mushroom Ginger Congee.
Traditionally congee is made with rice to make a porridge-like consistency and flavoured and garnished with as much or as little as you want. I noticed Kate Lewis’ photo in the book had additional mushrooms and green onions as garnishes, so I added that to mine. Not merely photogenic, it added a nice depth of flavour, too. I think a bit of toasted sesame oil would be lovely, too. I was never super convinced oats could hold savoury flavours so well, but this was delicious. I used Bob’s Red Mill Extra Thick Rolled Oats because I knew I wanted them to have a bit more texture. They were delicious here.
Thankfully, the publisher is letting me share the recipe AND give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me what you like to do with oats. I will randomly select a winner on September 28, 2014. Good luck!