the taste space

Cucumber Hummus Dip (Hummus-Tzatziki Fusion)

Posted in Appetizers, Favourites by Janet M on September 10, 2013

Cucumber Hummus Dip (Hummus-Tzatziki Fusion)

I feel a bit guilty sharing this post.

1. It will be a quickie vacation gush over Portland.

2. More easy peasy food. I feel guilty sharing such a simple recipe but it was SO GOOD.

Oddly enough, despite travelling to Japan, Morocco, Iceland and Colombia throughout my blog tenure, I have yet to do any thorough vacation recaps. Mostly sharing the recipes they have inspired back in my kitchen or the treats I made to travel with me.

Those destinations seem so foreign and mostly inaccessible to the masses. But Portland, dude, that’s in America (and I know most of my readers hail from the US of A). I also made nada special to bring with me. I knew vegan heaven was only a plane ride away.

Despite visiting for only a short weekend, I feel like I connected with Portland and the rest of Oregon. The city, even downtown, is green. Green in the lots of trees sense, and in the save the environment sense. Cycling is a culture and definitely safer than where I have lived previously. Vegans rejoice, as there are truly innumerable options for fun meals. Lucky me, many a vegan already visited Portland earlier this year (mostly for Vida Vegan Con) so I already knew where to hit up.

In brief, food: Canteen (our favourite restaurant of our trip, the Portland bowl was fabulous as well as the maca shake); Prasad (lovely soul salad and chai latte); Rawdacious raw cheesecake (found at Canteen); Raw Pixie Re’treats (loved the mock BLT and lil pudding; found at Kure and Food Fight); Kure Juice Bar (breakfast acai bowls and matcha latte); Missionary Chocolates (found at Living Room Theaters); the infamous Portobello restaurant (Rob’s lasagna was better than my portobello steak but the decadent  ice cream sundae made up for it); vegan Mexican fare (with soy curls!) at Los Gorditos; Food Fight, an all vegan grocery store for some desert treats; Rob also had some Voodoo Doughnuts, but not the vegan ones (the Memphis Mafia was pretty epic, though [peanut butter, coconut and chocolate on top of a fritter as big as his head]) and lots of local brews for Rob
(more complete reviews can be found at Happy Cow)

In brief, non-food: Cyclepedia at the Portland Art Museum, Bike-A-Rama Bicycle Tour, watching indie films on a sofa at the Living Room Theater; Powell’s City of Books, early morning views of the city from Pittock Mansion and hiking in Forest Park (loved this!!). We also snuck in some shopping at REI and a downtown cycle store.

Who could guess we were only in Portland for less than 48 hours? Well, that’s the way we roll… bring on the awesomeness!

Cucumber Hummus Dip (Hummus-Tzatziki Fusion)

I have plans to recreate that delicious Portland bowl sauce but until then, I am sharing this delicious hummus-tzatziki fusion dip. We made it before we left and we made it when we returned. It is possibly our favourite non-classical hummus. Just like my strawberry-cucumber smoothie, cucumber adds an airy lightness to the dip which is countered by flax (trust me, you can’t taste it). Lots of garlic and bit of lemon juice makes this a great dip. Or spread. Or however you want to eat it. I won’t judge.

I still have many more places on my Portland hit-list, including Native Bowl, Natural Selection and Departure with their vegan menu, and that’s just the food list. Anything you recommend I see on my second trip to Portland? :)

PS. have you entered my giveaway for a copy of Moosewood Restaurant Favorites yet?

PPS. Hopefully we’ll have some photos up later this week.

Cucumber Hummus Dip (Hummus-Tzatziki Fusion)

This is my submission to this month’s My Legume Love Affair hosted by Swathi and to this month’s Credit Crunch Munch.

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Easy Cheezy Chickpeas and Kale

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on August 22, 2013

Easy Cheezy Chickpeas and Kale

I have already mentioned some of the delicious flora (ok, the fruit) in Texas (local oranges, grapefruits and avocados! We’ve even seen a papaya tree here!) but what about the fauna?

1. Mosquitoes. I am well acquainted with mosquitoes, thankyouverymuch, but they are simply merciless here. Worse of all, they target me (not Rob), and they leave large welts. In Canada, I would rarely be targetted and it was a mild reaction.  I had a lot of bites in Colombia, but still none were as large and bothersome. Judging by my co-workers (n=6), all new females have been scourged with the same problem. Thankfully, they have abated somewhat but sometimes they still catch me in my front yard. I blame all my sweating in this Texan heat.

2. Ants. Talking about bug bites, you have to be careful around ants here. I don’t know if they were fire ants or crazy ants (I did not make that up), but they are vicious and will bite and leave pus-filled lesions. Not nice. They caught me once as I was sitting on a sidewalk, helping to fix Rob’s flat tire. Hopefully it will be the last.

3. Frogs.  I also know what frogs are.. although I haven’t really hung out with them too much. While we don’t live near a swamp, after a rain, frogs have been known to hang out ALL NIGHT LONG, CROAKING. I haven’t seen them, but that is who I am blaming for my sleepless nights.

4. Lizards. This is a new one for me (I had to ask what it was – someone thought it was a gecko but we don’t think so. salamander? small iguana?) It is a small guy and there is one right outside our home. I hear they eat bugs, so I am not worried. Eat those mosquitoes, yo!

5. Armadillos. Apparently armadillos can be found in Texas, but I have yet to see any. Judging by the presence of a Houston Armadillo Removal service, they must be found locally. ;)

6. Snails. OK, we have snails in Toronto, too, but I rarely see them in my garden. I used to see them squashed on the bicycle trails, actually. I haven’t seen wild snails here either, though. Although, what I found most amusing is that I had snails in my kale from Rawfully Organic. Organic kale, indeed. My homegrown organic kale gets massacred by aphids in Toronto, but here, there are snails!

And every time I say snails in the kale, I think of bananas in pyjamas! For the record, pajamas is the American spelling. My blog is my spelling refuge. I add extra u’s as I see fit. ;)

This was my long-winded interlude to tell you all about a super simple dish: cheezy chickpeas and kale. A cooked version of my Easy Cheezy Chickpea Salad, this is nearly as simple, although it does require dirtying a skillet. The combination of coconut oil, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and garlic create a lovely nude sauce. The chickpeas soak it up but become nicely cheezy afterwards. I liked this warm, straight from the stovetop and they were very nice cold as leftovers the next day.

Do you have any fun local animals? I imagine raccoons could also be seen as weird creatures for the uninitiated. This fun video of a raccoon walking on a utility wire was shot very close to where I used to live in Toronto.

Easy Cheezy Chickpeas and Kale

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


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Peach, Basil and Hemp Salad with a Citrus Vinaigrette

Posted in Salads by Janet M on August 8, 2013

Peach, Basil and Hemp Salad with a Citrus Vinaigrette

Give me leafy greens and I will make salad.

Give me fruit and I will eat it.

Give me a CSA share and I will become creative. Or lazy, your choice.

Same salad, different fruit and new herb. Still as delicious.

I added fresh basil as a unique flavour hidden amongst the greens.

And those hemp seeds? They are really growing on me. They are my new salad topping, including fruit salads. ;) I picked up a few of my pantry staples online, and decided to splurge on these hemp seeds since they were on sale.

Peach, Basil and Hemp Salad with a Citrus Vinaigrette

I am used to a later peach season from Ontario (and they have finally arrived, too!), but local peaches were out in full force when we arrived in Texas. Sweet, juicy peaches. I have to remind myself that buying too many is often fool-hardy. Their peak ripeness has a short window. But once they are juicy: pounce. Peaches for breakfast, peaches as a snack and peaches for dinner. Peaches for a salad work so well because they make their own dressing, to boot. I still supplemented it with the nice citrus dressing from earlier in the week, though.

Peach, Basil and Hemp Salad with a Citrus Vinaigrette

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and this month’s Cooking with Herbs. (more…)

Strawberry & Avocado Salad with a Citrus Vinaigrette

Posted in Salads by Janet M on August 6, 2013

Strawberry & Avocado Salad with a Citrus Vinaigrette

I was hoping Rawfully Organic was going to provide me with local produce. I know they try when it is possible. Rob and I had been pining a few local treats before we even arrived.  The first one: avocado. Avocados are quite expensive in Canada, but upon our first week here we were greeted with a warm welcome. Avocados: 4 for $1.

Strawberry & Avocado Salad with a Citrus Vinaigrette

The nice thing about my Rawfully Organic share was that I wasn’t saddled with uncommon ingredients. With so many greens, I knew salads were in order, though. Luck would have it that I was tempted by Gena’s berry and avocado salad at the same time. Coincidentally, I had all the ingredients and then some. I tried it her way, with hemp seeds, then with almonds and when I finally got around to photographing it, I used pumpkin seeds. I used sweet strawberries, paired with creamy avocado and a sweet citrus dressing. Since the oranges we got in our share were “juicing oranges” (Valencia, aka sweet Texan oranges!!), I figured a dressing was a good way to capitalize on their sweet juiciness. Since, yes, I left my juicer at home. No homemade juice on the horizon yet.  It may seem fiddly to also add lemon juice, but it balanced the dressing nicely.

Any nut or seed would work for crunch – as I said, I have made this with almonds, hemp and the pumpkin seeds (a mix of almond and hemp was my favourite). Any berry would work well here. Pick your favourite.

With all these salads that I have been making, I am kind of sad I left my big plates and big bowls in Canada. I want more greens but don’t have a serving plate big enough!

Other fruity salads you may enjoy:

Strawberry, Avocado and Mint Salad with a Chocolate Vinaigrette

Strawberry and Roasted Chickpea Salad with a Cinnamon Vinaigrette

Strawberry, Asparagus and Basil Salad with Mosto Cotto

Blackberry, Avocado and Walnut Salad with a Ginger Lime Vinaigrette

Blueberry, Lentil and Walnut Spinach Salad with a Blueberry Tarragon Dressing

Strawberry & Avocado Salad with a Citrus Vinaigrette

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

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Tofu-Avocado Salad with Arepas

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads, Sides by Janet M on July 30, 2013

Tofu-Avocado Salad with Arepas

Thank you so much for the kind words from my last post. New friendships take a while to develop, at least for me.  I am definitely keeping my chin up… and moving forward. Or perhaps trying just to enjoy what is. It really was a stressful whirlwind last year and it might be nice to embrace the emptiness. Thank you, Anna, for pointing me to this lovely video.

One thing is for certain: I couldn’t do this without Rob. I could not imagine doing this year apart.

Since Rob works from home, and I labour in the hospital, it is funny how the roles have reversed slightly. I swear, Rob has been more adventurist in the kitchen than me. Rob is cooking up a storm, while I am relishing in my quickie salads, hehe.

Tofu-Avocado Salad with Arepas

And the best part? If we time it just right, I can come home to freshly cooked food. Some foods are just not meant to be eaten as leftovers, which is why they are such a treat.

Case in point: arepas. The moist and fluffy arepas with a crispy shell only happen when you make them fresh. We long learned not to make leftovers since they are very lacklustre. They are one of Rob’s specialties, although previously reserved for the weekend when we have more time for food prep.

They seem to fit with most any dish, at least in our fusion household. We like to make it with tofu scramble, but this time Rob went all out with the bean-quinoa chorizo crumbles from The Great Vegan Bean Book. I found them a bit spicy, so I threw together a spin on vegan egg salad: tofu-avocado salad. The avocado, tahini and Dijon make for a creamy dressing while chunky avocado and tofu are surprisingly reminiscent of eggs. The dill adds a nice spin, too. I used dried but I think fresh would be best.

bean-Quinoa Chorizo Crumbles with Arepas

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

Easy Cheezy Chickpea Salad (& How I Am Stocking My Pantry)

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by Janet M on July 25, 2013

Easy Cheezy Chickpea Salad

When I chat with friends from home, I field many similar questions. Have you finished unpacking? YES!!!! How am I finding the heat and humidity? Not that bad… Is Houston friendly for cyclists?  My route to work is actually pretty devoid of cars, so I can’t complain. How is the food… and the veggie selection?  One of my friend was interested in how I triaged the stocking of my fridge and pantry. What did I buy first? What were my perishable and non-perishable necessities?

Since we were without a kitchen for almost a week when we arrived, I continued with my travel-friendly eats: overnight oats with chia seeds and protein powder for breakfast, hummus with carrots and crackers for lunch and snack, and easy eats for dinner once I made my first grocery run. We hit up the closest grocers (Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Fiesta Mart) to scope out our new neighbourhood and begin our pantry. See below for what I commonly keep in my kitchen.

After the Zesty Lemon Cilantro Chickpea Salad, this was the next salad I made. This salad is almost too simple. Only four ingredients, or five if you include salt or pepper. Chickpeas, lemon juice, nutritional yeast and leafy greens. Definitely more than the sum of its parts. The lemon juice is tart and the nutritional yeast tames it into a creamy dressing. Marinade the chickpeas and use the extra sauce to toss with your favourite leafy greens. This is also a good travel-friendly meal if you stash nutritional yeast in your bag, of course, along with a knife to cut the lemon. Don’t we all travel this way? HAHA! :)

Without further ado, this is my culled pantry list:

Perishables

Produce: apples, bananas (for Rob), carrots, lemons/limes, green onion, onions, garlic, ginger (cilantro is a common staple, depending on my menu)
Bonus: tofu and tempeh.
Leafy greens if salads are on the menu

Non-perishables

Beans:
canned beans (chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans)
dried beans (chickpeas, black beans, lentils (red, green))

Grains:
Oats (rolled oats and steel cut oats)
Quinoa
Brown short-grain rice

Flours:
Chickpea flour (for Rob to make chilla)
Masarepa (for Rob to make arepas)

Seeds:
Chia seeds
Flax seeds
Sesame seeds
Tahini

Vinegars:
Balsamic vinegar
Apple cider vinegar
Rice vinegar

Oils:
Extra-virgin olive oil, for salads
Coconut oil, for cooking
Toasted sesame oil

Nuts:
Almonds
Raw cashews
Nut butter (peanut butter is Rob’s favourite)

Canned/other foods:
Salt
Bragg’s liquid aminos or low-sodium tamari
Nutritional yeast
Mustard (preferably Dijon)
Sweet chili sauce (for Rob)
Sriracha (for Rob)
Tamarind concentrate
Dried fruit (dates, raisins, coconut, cranberries)
Sun-dried tomatoes
Canned tomatoes (I usually only get whole tomatoes and less commonly crushed)
Tomato paste
Miso
Nondairy milk
Coconut milk
Agave or maple syrup
Tea/tisanes (coffee for Rob)
Baking soda (also for cleaning)
Protein powder

Herbs and spices (at least):

Cumin
Coriander
Cinnamon (sticks and ground)
Cardamom pods (green)
Aleppo chili flakes
Turmeric
Smoked paprika
Rosemary
Thyme (I don’t use this that often)
Basil (I don’t use this that often)
Oregano
Bay leaves
+ all the ingredients for my veg stock powder (parsley, dill, garlic granules, onion granules, etc)

I have had a much larger pantry in the past but I am trying to keep things limited to what I will consume in a year. What are things that I have missed that you cannot live without?

Easy Cheezy Chickpea Salad

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

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Zesty Lemon Cilantro Chickpea Salad

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by Janet M on July 16, 2013

Zesty Lemon Cilantro Chickpea Salad

I thought I had adequately prepared for a few days without a kitchen. I packed a paring knife, cutting board, can opener, garlic press and lemon press with me during our road trip. No pots meant I couldn’t cook up quinoa. No cups meant I couldn’t even boil water for tea. Never mind anything more fancy that needed a skillet.  Basically, it meant I could make salads.

Zesty Lemon Cilantro Chickpea Salad

This isn’t a boring salad, though. In between unpacking and snacking on hummus, I made this delicious chickpea salad when we first arrived in Texas. Of course, after I stocked up the fridge. Super simple: mix and marinate. It looks uninspiring but it was a nice balance between the tart lemon, fresh cilantro and sharp garlic. Lemon zest? Well, without my zester, I shaved off the lemon peel and chopped it with a knife instead. However, the zest in this salad is from the garlic, not the lemon zest. The garlic was stronger when I originally made it, but it tamed itself for leftovers, which made it perfect for lunch. It was also delicious overtop mixed greens for a more green salad.

Zesty Lemon Cilantro Chickpea Salad

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

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Raw Sour Cream & Onion Kale Chips

Posted in Appetizers, Favourites, Sides by Janet M on July 11, 2013

Raw Sour Cream & Onion Kale Chips

Of my blog readers, only a handful are from my family. Rob and my Mom are my biggest readers.

So, when I say something here, I am held accountable.

Raw Sour Cream & Onion Kale Chips

When we planned our move to Houston, I said we were going to try a minimalist lifestyle. I was going to leave my dehydrator behind. But then, I kept making more and more things in my dehydrator. I had forgotten how lovely it was to make things in the dehydrator.

I also forgot that I wasn’t going to let life pass me by, either. We are planning to camp in the desert (via Burning Man), continue the long distance cycling (via the MS 150, Houston to Austin) and hopefully squeeze in weekend trips (sadly, my vacation days have dwindled down to nothing). It is times like these that portable snacks work their magic.

Raw Sour Cream & Onion Kale Chips

So, as we packed, I kept reconsidering whether or not to bring my dehydrator. To be fair, it is a space hog, but it is light. It is mostly filled with air!

Rob was not pleased, though. You said on your blog, you weren’t going to bring it.. I have changed my mind! I kept saying things like, “If I had to choose between x and the dehydrator, I choose the dehydrator.” Example: “If I had to choose between pictures for the wall and my dehydrator, I’d pick the dehydrator… and I bet we could fit the pictures inside the dehydrator, too! HA!”

Eventually, Rob had heard enough. After I made these kale chips, he definitely reconsidered his position. Thankfully, I did a mass kale harvest prior to our move. These were one of our favourite kale chip flavours. I thought they tasted like Sour Cream and Onion, with a touch of cheese, if you include the nutritional yeast. One of our friends agreed they were delicious but tasted more of the scallion undertone. Either way, it made a believer out of me for the power of kale chips. Hourrah!

The question will be whether I can keep up with the kale chip demand, though. We can plow through them so quickly!

Kale chips, here and elsewhere:

Kale Granola (Almond Coconut Kale Chips)

Maple Sesame Kale Chips from My New Roots (one of my favourites)

Chocolate Kale Chips from Cupcakes and Kale (Rob likes these more than me; I actually don’t like them)

Sweet and Zesty Kale Chips from Season 2 Season Eating

Sweet Onion Kale Chips from Flora Foodie

Salt & Vinegar Kale Chips from Branny Boils Over

Dill Pickle Kale Chips at Sondi Bruner

Spicy Curry Kale Chips from Choosing Raw

Banana Walnut Kale Chips from Choosing Raw

Raw Sour Cream & Onion Kale Chips

This is my submission to this month‘s Herbs on Saturday and to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays. (more…)

Chickpea and Apricot Salad with a Pineapple-Ginger-Cilantro Dressing

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads, Sides by Janet M on June 22, 2013

Chickpea and Apricot Salad with a Pineapple-Ginger-Cilantro Dressing

Announcement time!

(No, nothing on the relationship front..)

While I modestly shared the news of passing the.most.important.exam.of.my.life, I figure you guys may be more excited about this news: my photos are in a cookbook! In Tessnewest cookbook, no less. I am not sure what was more exciting: new Tess recipes or  being a published foodie photographer? :) (I choose the former, actually)

In Tess’ latest cookbook, Get Waisted, she has teamed up with Dr. Mary Clifton, to create 100 delicious, healthy recipes. She has included healthy modifications to older recipes and all-new favourites. Bean and rice coconut banana curry, Black bean and rice bowl with mango salsa, Japanese ume rice, Lemon lover’s red lentil spinach soup, Mexican polenta bowl, Pasta caulifredo, Rosemary polenta with mushrooms, Samosa wrap with cilantro chutney, Spicy Indian chickpea fritters.. ok, ok, I will stop the temptation. You can find all of the recipes on Vegansprout if you are curious. :) Suffice it to say, the recipes are creative and drool-worthy. And I photographed a handful of them.

One of the recipes Tess included is one of my favourites from her first book: Black Bean, Cilantro and Apricot Salad. I routinely make it, changing ingredients, matching what I have in my kitchen.

This time, I swapped the black beans for chickpeas; the mango juice for pineapple juice; swapped the corn for more carrots and scrapped the spinach altogether. Combined with the sweet dried apricots and cilantro-ginger spiked dressing, you have a delicious summer bean salad. Sweet, salty, spicy, crunchy.. It is really hard to mess it up.

The photos in the cookbook are true to the recipe, thus you won’t see this in there. Trust me, I tried. Tess, I just made your salad with pecans instead of walnuts.. can’t you just change your recipe?…. NO GO FROM TESS! You will see this salad, in its many incarnations this summer, though. Perfect for potlucks and summer gatherings. Especially if Houston’s weather is as hot and humid as I fear. Last I checked, there were highs of 35C, feels like 45C with a 50% humidity. This is no heat wave. This.Is.Houston. It will soon become my new reality. GAH! I am sweating just thinking about it. I may not be turning on my oven or stove very often, methinks. ;)

Have you tried any of Tess’ recipes yet? This cookbook would be a great place to start. You can buy it directly from Tess here (discounts if you buy more than one cookbook) or on Amazon (kindle and hard copy).

Chickpea and Apricot Salad with a Pineapple-Ginger-Cilantro Dressing

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and to this week’s Healthy Vegan Friday. (more…)

Lemony Cucumber and Chickpea Salad with Dukkah

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads, Sides by Janet M on June 11, 2013

Lemony Cucumber and Chickpea Salad with Dukkah

Rob and I have been good about eating through the freezer and pantry. While I no longer have a white board with the freezer inventory (it was such a good idea but we lost track), we generally pick up a container, look at the label, pick our favourite of the day and chow down.

Trust me, I am very diligent about labelling freezer meals.

I am not sure why I don’t do the same with my fridge foods. I don’t store too many things in the fridge but sometimes I forget about salad dressings or marinades pushed to the back. My rationale is probably: Well, this is fresh food. I’ll remember what it is before it grows mold.

Not true.

Some fridge finds are still happy in my fridge for months. Possibly years, although I can’t say for sure. Since now I can’t remember what it was and when I made it.

Mystery ingredients.

My mystery concoction looked like roasted and ground nuts. Likely with some spices. It passed the sniff test. Not entirely sure what it is, I have two options: almonzano (unlikely because it doesn’t taste similar) or dukkah. Or something I just don’t remember making, which is also a possibility. Dukkah is an Egyptian nut and spice mix with cumin, coriander and sesame seeds but there are many variations. The New York Times recently shared recipes for dukkah with peanuts, pumpkin seeds, chickpea flour and even an herbal variation with mint and fennel. While I have included a link to my favourite dukkah recipe that includes coconut, I am fairly confident this was a different variation. I *think* this is the hazelnut dukkah from Vegan Eats World, which is more nut-heavy than spice-heavy. I prefer more spices than nuts, so that the flavours really pop, but the lack of spices did not hold back here.

This salad started off a bit ho-hum, with a simple favour profile: cucumbers, chickpeas, quinoa, lemon and balsamic. It was nice, but not something to rave about… I wanted to add some chopped almonds but instead sprinkled the mystery nut blend overtop and it definitely brought this to a wow dish. The lemon really accents and highlights the spices. It tastes great and yet I still cannot confirm what is in this mix. :)

So for now, let’s assume it is dukkah and enjoy it for all it is worth. :)

How do you keep track of your food? Do you subscribe to “if I can’t remember what I made, then I probably shouldn’t be eating it?” rule?

Here are other recipes with dukkah:

Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Dukkah
Maple and Dukkah Roasted Sweet Potatoes from Olive Magazine
Roasted Carrot Soup with Dukkah from Bon Appetit
Bulgur Bowl With Spinach, Mushrooms and Middle Eastern Nut and Spice Seasoning from New York Times
Dukkah-Spiced Green Beans and Mushrooms from Anja’s Food For Thought
Roasted Squash with Tahini and Dukkah at Lisa’s Kitchen

Lemony Cucumber and Chickpea Salad with Dukkah

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays. (more…)

Quinoa Pilaf with Lemon and Thyme

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on June 8, 2013

Quinoa Pilaf with Lemon and Thyme

Is it harder to get kids or adults to try new foods?

I am not a parent yet, but I know I was a pretty picky eater as a child. I was definitely better at eating my fruits and veggies than my brother, but we both drove our Mom crazy.

Now the roles are reversed. I am the one eating so many different foods and sharing them with my parents.

Quinoa, possibly my favourite (pseudo)grain, has been a hard sell for my parents. To be fair, in Ottawa, the quinoa never seemed to cook properly. It was mushy and water-logged. I don’t know what was so different but it was a recurring theme. I recommended my standard technique: using less liquid (broth is more flavourful) and then let it sit, lid closed, to steam and help fluff it up. Another option (albeit more fussy) is to partially cook it, drain it and then steam the quinoa.

I thought my Mom had given up on quinoa altogether. I was surprised when I spotted quinoa in her pantry.

Quinoa Pilaf with Lemon and Thyme

Turns out she had finally found a recipe she liked after my sister-in-law served it. Lucky for me, my Mom decided to treat me to her new favourite quinoa recipe.

The main flavours were classic: lemon and thyme. The difference was in the quinoa. First it was rinsed, dried, toasted, cooked in a minimal amount of broth and then steamed with a towel. I typically use a 1.75:1 broth:quinoa ratio but this was much closer to 1:1. This results in no-mush quinoa. The kernels are separate and flavourful. Due to the limited liquid, you might notice they do not become as big and not as voluminous. They are also not water-logged.

I like to include a lot of vegetables in my meals, so instead of adding them directly to the quinoa pilaf, I served mine with grilled asparagus and grilled balsamic mushrooms. My Dad, very generously, donated cut-up asparagus as pupils and a uni-nostril to complete my happy meal. He is not a fan of asparagus, so I gladly ate his offering. Maybe we are all picky kids at heart? :)

Did you have any rough starts with some foods in your kitchen?

Quinoa Pilaf with Lemon and Thyme

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

PS, I think I may need new glasses. These photos look fuzzy. Oh well, too lazy to fix that! :)

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Steamed Indian Chickpea Cakes (Microwave Khaman Dhokla)

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by Janet M on June 1, 2013

By the way, I loved everyone’s thoughts on how you pronounce (or not) besan. Richa suggested it was more like bay-sun, for anyone not wanting to sound like an Indian noob. I love how this flour which is more familiar in Indian cuisine has become more common.

Yes, I use a wealth of wacky ingredients but besan is peanuts compared to this next ingredient.

If I am lucky, I am able to find my wacky ingredients at one my favourite grocers.  If you want to buy this ingredient at a grocery store, it needs to be an Indian grocer, methinks (I have spotted it in Little India: $2.50 for 100g). Or at a pharmacy.

But that’s because I was looking for Eno. Yes, Eno, the antacid. Eno kept popping up as I perused recipes for dhokla, also known as Steamed Chickpea Cakes, a type of Indian snack.

My only experience with dhokla has been at home (with this recipe), but there are many recipes. Some use a combination of beans and rice and others just use chickpea flour or besan (known as khaman dhokla). Most use eno as the rising ingredient although you could substitute baking powder (it may not be as fluffy, though).

Despite both Rob and my dhokla virginity, we decided to tackle the dhokla experiment. Rather, we tackled the microwave khaman dhokla experiment! Dassana shared a beautiful post with an uber simple recipe. You microwave the batter for 2.5-3 minutes and then add the tempered spices overtop.

Rob tackled this, as he is a fan of uber simple Indian recipes, and we were blown away. Flavourful from the mustard-curry leaf tarka but the actual dhokla, the steamed cakes, were spongy, airy and delicious. Rob microwaved ours for 2 minutes but the middle wasn’t fully set, so just zap it a bit longer if need be. The strength of your microwave will change the times, slightly, so experiment to see what works. If you over microwave it, it may be hard and dry, though. Alternatively, you could try the standard way with steaming, too.

How do you feel about using your microwave to bake? I also like this non-traditional chocolate protein cake that I bake in the microwave.

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


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Nut-Free Raw Carrot Cupcakes with Apple-Cashew Frosting

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by Janet M on May 28, 2013

Enlightened Raw Carrot Cupcakes with Apple-Cashew Frosting

The carrot craze continues…

I am a proponent of eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and raw cuisine intrigues me. Dining at a raw resto can leave me beguiled: how did they do that? This goes beyond salads. Silky smooth lasagnas, luscious chocolate hazelnut cakes and brownies. This does not taste remotely like raw foods. Then I immediately want to try to make it myself. New techniques to bring you different flavours…

If you need any introduction to raw foods, raw desserts are definitely the way to go. No stranger to decadent raw desserts (Raw Key Lime Pie, Better Than Nutella Cheesecake, Raspberry Cashew Dreamcake), sometimes they go thump with the richness from nuts and coconut. It hasn’t stopped me from wanting to explore more desserts, though. Even better when they are lighter.

Last summer, I was a recipe tester for Amber’s cookbook Practically Raw Desserts and while the recipes are very flexible (I love her multiple variations!), one ingredient she was adamant about not substituting was coconut flour. It is unlike any other flour or shredded coconut.

I was dying to try was her Enlightened Carrot Cake. Nut-free, the base is made from carrots, apples and dates. Oh, and coconut flour. However, by the time I tracked down coconut flour and had the gusto to make this recipe, the book had already been shipped to the publisher (oops!). Thank goodness, this was one of the first recipes she shared online because it finally prompted me to try it.

Amber made this as a cute double-decker cake with a small springform pan. Since I don’t have one, I looked for an easier option. Cupcakes worked well with my last raw carrot cake (very good, too), and even though I had no muffin wrappers, I decided to try it out. After a bit of warm water pouring over the back of the muffin tray, the frozen cupcakes popped right out. It worked!

Enlightened Raw Carrot Cupcakes with Apple-Cashew Frosting

And yes, they were delicious. Because they are made with coconut flour, they are light. Coconut flour is defatted coconut meat, so it is a lower-fat coconut-based option for desserts. Most importantly, it is an ingredient creating a fluffier texture.  As such, these cupcakes are so different than any other raw dessert I have made. The sweetness is not over-pronounced and it was a delicious dessert with a hint of coconut and cinnamon. Satisfying and surprisingly filling for a low-fat dessert.

Amber has two recipes as suggested frostings. I chose neither, although her fermented cashew frosting is still on my hit-list. My last cashew-date frosting was a bit dense and definitely not white, so I wanted to substitute the dates.  Instead, I made an apple-cashew frosting. It was simple: apple + soaked cashews + ume plum vinegar (another acid and salt could work) + water. I liked how the fresh apple added bulk and sweetness. The consistency was just perfect after a chill in the refrigerator. Smooth and creamy.

Of course, now I am excited to make more recipes with coconut flour. Have you tried it yet?

Many of the recipes in Practically Raw Desserts use coconut flour, so I am excited to try more of Amber’s creations. I promise to do a better review of the cookbook when I finally get my copy. Here are other recipes that use coconut flour:

Maple Streusel Coffee Cake Squares in Practically Raw Desserts
Pecan Chai Spice Bars in Practically Raw Desserts (I made these as a tester but found the flavours a bit muted and the frosting too soft)
Pecan Shortbread in Practically Raw Desserts
Cake Batter Protein Balls from Chef Amber Shea (I have made these already. They are very good for something so simple)
Raw Apricot Jam Bars with Flakey Crust by Bonzai Aphrodite
Cardamom Chocolate Chip Cookies from Purely Twins
Peppermint Protein Bars from Purely Twins
Coconut Lemon Meltaways from The Hearty Herbivore
Raw Avocado Brownie from Bite-Sized Thoughts
Chocolate Avocado Cookies from Sprint 2 The Table

Enlightened Raw Carrot Cupcakes with Apple-Cashew Frosting

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Raw Carrot Falafels and Cauliflower Couscous Wrap with a Hummus Dressing

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by Janet M on May 26, 2013

The dehydrator and juicer are now out in full force.

Carrots for juice and then the pulp was made into these lovely raw falafels.

I know, I said I don’t like raw Mediterranean eats. While I like Middle Eastern foods, I don’t like falafels.

However, I loved these raw carrot falafels.

Probably because they don’t taste like real falafels. And they don’t use raw chickpeas, either.

In any case, they taste great.

Carrots (or carrot pulp) is combined with sesame seeds along with lemon juice, garlic, cilantro and green onions for a flavour punch. Dehydrate them for 4 hours and you’ve got some soft and moist falafels without the heaviness from typical deep-dried falafel balls.

I combined the falafels with my favourite Middle Eastern-tahini dressing to date. Hummus-style with additional lemon juice, tamari and tahini. I originally used it in my Chickpea and Tofu Tahini Scramble but found the flavours mellowed after cooking on the stovetop. However, I stuck my finger in first to see how it tasted. I knew it would be a great dressing/dip and it did not disappoint.

I originally served the falafels and dressing as a salad overtop greens, but they also went really well in a green wrap with a bed of raw cauliflower couscous.

Don’t have a dehydrator? These could also be baked, according to Gena. Want to try your hand at another lovely baked quinoa falafel? Try these!

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and to this week’s Raw Food Thursday.

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Indian Mung Beans with Fresh Mango Chutney

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on May 25, 2013

Indian Mung Beans with Fresh Mango Chutney

I am currently on a mung bean kick.

Lets just say they’ve been in my pantry for awhile. Two years, perhaps more. I made one meal with them initially that was a bit lackluster, so it has been difficult to give them another try. But, in my pantry clearing gusto, I tried them again. And again. And again. Yes, I have made them 3 times in the past 2 weeks. Now, I’m hooked. You see, I just needed the right recipe.

Mung beans should be on your hitlist because they don’t need any soaking and cook up quickly, around 30-45 minutes. Even beans that are two years old. :) My trick is to slightly overcook them. Here, I cooked them until they were creamy-soft, nearly exploding. Some of my earlier tries were more intact than this batch, but still cooked beyond a firm bean. If you keep it more firm, it has a very pronounced “bean” flavour. It mellows as it cooks further, which I prefer.

So where did I get my mung bean recipe success? From Tess, of course. I made the Easy Indian Mung Beans from Radiant Health, Inner Wealth. Then I made her Mung Beans with a fabulous cilantro chutney from Get Waisted (more to share about that, in due time).

For my third time, I put my own spin on it: I decided to use her base recipe for the mung beans and add a simple fresh mango chutney. The mung beans were simmered with cumin and coriander until all the water is absorbed, then doused in fresh lemon juice. Mung beans are ok with just the spices, but much better with fresh citrus juice. Instead of a tarka, I wanted to highlight the mango chutney so I kept the beans simple. The chutney was simply a mix of mango, ginger, cumin and apple cider vinegar, but next to the mung beans, they were great.

Have you tried mung beans? Any favourite recipes?

Indian Mung Beans with Fresh Mango Chutney

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