Spring cleaning isn’t just happening in our kitchen. Rob has decided it was time to clean up our hard-drives, over-drives and Monkey drives, too. Mostly spurred because, after trying to amalgamate his important files with my important files, it would not fit on our 1 terabyte of online back-up space.
Rob thought it was a bit nuts.
My files are mostly photos. Mostly food, but also from travel and of family/friends.
My shutter count on my six-year-old camera is 101,501. That’s only ~17k photos a year.
Apparently I take too many photos. And I keep them all. And then some.
I will let him tackle the computer while I tackle the kitchen, thank you.
We seem to have an excess of sesame seeds. Sadly, I bought a pack late in the year when I couldn’t find my original package…. I thought we were out. Instead, now we have twice as many sesame seeds. With our sesame seed surplus, I also made these fun crackers.
A simple cracker made with sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds and maple syrup. I remain a bit apprehensive of black sesame seeds since I don’t find them as flavourful as their whole counterparts, but they certainly make for a pretty cracker. The maple syrup bound it all together after baking. Maybe I don’t need brown rice syrup afterall? ;)
Have you checked? What is your shutter count?
PS. In my defence, I take much less photos than I used to….. and my camera has travelled to many fun places over the years)
PPS. To find your shutter count with a DSLR, you can find it embedded within the Exif information of a photo, and it can be easily unearthed through Picasa.
I don’t know any blogger that doesn’t relish receiving comments.
The food blog community is very supportive, leaving mostly positive comments about recipes and photographs.
I also love comments when I have questions or ones that are constructive. One of my very first posts, about our family’s rouladen, stemmed such interesting comments. Everyone thought we were rolling them backwards! As you can see, we roll the beef slices along their short axis, making long and thin rolls. However, in the comments, in seemed like everyone else was rolling them on the long axis, producing shorter, stumpy rolls.
I told my mom we were rolling them wrong. She told me that was how our grandmother always did it. There was nothing wrong.
We are just a backwards family…
To be honest, we wouldn’t want the short and stumpy rolls… the longer the roll, the more you get to savour the mustard, pickle and caramelized onions on the inside! (Not that I am eating rouladen any more, although a veganized dish is on my bucket list combining those 3 ingredients)
I didn’t really think twice about its validity, but it was really odd. The short comment slammed my style of recipes and specifically directed me to a “good” recipe. One that I have made before and really didn’t like.
I was really excited about the dish, too. Black beans, quinoa and broccoli in a raspberry chipotle sauce. From Isa, whose recipes I adore. I was so happy when I finally found chipotle in adobo at Sunny’s, that Rob went out to buy fresh raspberries specifically for this dish.
However, it was so bad that I was nauseous within thirty minutes. It was my first time using chipotles in adobo, so I started making the sauce with a limited amount of chile. I increased it as I tolerated it. But it didn’t taste that great, even after I added agave to sweeten the sauce. And then my stomach started to give me problems…. I called it quits.
But I hate wasting food. Especially the primo fresh raspberries. If I didn’t get nauseous, I probably would still have eaten it. But I just couldn’t swallow it!
Rob has an iron tummy and tongue already scorched by years of eating spicy food, so he offered to finish it. Even though it was definitely subpar and (not even that spicy).
But, before I burdened Rob with heaps of the dish, I snatched half of the base of the salad. The good parts: the black beans, the quinoa and the steamed broccoli.
I veered towards an alternative route, towards a mango, black bean and quinoa salad with a sesame orange dressing, that I ended up adapting from Eating Well. Bonus broccoli, of course.
After trying the first dish, this was a much better alternative. Light and fresh. Bright with the mango with subtle flavours from the fresh orange juice, toasted sesame oil and cilantro. I added toasted sesame seeds to highlight more of the sesame flavour.
Let me assure you, I won’t be trying chipotles in adobo again anytime soon.
What do you do when you make something that doesn’t taste good? Do you still eat it or try something new?
It all started when I basically made my own tahini with freshly roasted sesame seeds to go with sauteed spinach for Terry’s oshitashi recipe (Sesame Wow Greens). So good, yet so simple.
Then, I discovered tahini heaven. I had heard that tahini could taste so good that one could eat it straight from the jar. Not so with my previous brand. But now I am a tahini-convert after spreading my way through Prince’s tahini: smooth, rich and creamy with a deep sesame flavour. I love it! I want to eat it with everything! I honestly wonder if I should try out Deb’s Warm Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad again (I found it too bitter the first time) because my tahini was probably at fault.
This time, I went heavy with the tahini. I spotted this recipe in The 30-Minute Vegan’s Taste of the East (recipe here) and thought 1/3 cup of tahini would be great simmered with tempeh and green beans. I liked it but it wasn’t as sesame heavy as I was anticipating. The dressing, of course, also had lemon juice, broth, tamari and mirin, creating a more complex flavour palate. Nice and light, and quite soupy, too, and easy to put together. The tempeh was a bit more meaty and juicy because I pre-steamed it, dry-fried it to lock in the shape and then simmered in the sesame broth. The green beans were a perfect match. Serve with quinoa so that you can savour this down to the last drop of sauce. :)
Barring hummus, what is your favourite way to use tahini?
Here are some other tahini recipes I’ve had my eye on:
Miso Tahini Magic Sauce from Fresh Young Coconut
Smoky Red Pepper, Chickpea and Tahini Dressing from Choosing Raw
Miso Sesame Dressing from Choosing Raw
Low-Fat Tahini-Chickpea Dressing from Fat Free Vegan
Orange-Miso-Tahini Gravy from My New Roots
Carrot Ginger Tahini Soup from Kahakai Kitchen
Beet, Tahini and Pomegranate Dip (Mama Dall’ou’ah) from Taste of Beirut
Roasted Carrot Hummus from Enlightened Cooking
Tofu Tahini Scramble from Choosing Raw
Burnt Eggplant with Tahini and Pomegrante from Ottolenghi
Noodles with a Lemon-Miso-Tahini Sauce from ExtraVeganZa
Tangy Tahini Noodles with Tempeh and Vegetables from Julia’s Vegan Kitchen
Nearly Raw Tahini Noodles from Vegan Yum Yum
Creamy Kale Soup with Tahini from Vegan Yum Yum
Quinoa Pilaf with Spiced Miso Tahini Sauce from Sweet Potato Soul
Spinach, Chickpea and Tahini Soup from Soup Chick
Here we go, another salad with roasted beets!
I just can’t get enough of them.
This time I used red beets. There are a few differences between red and golden beets:
1) Golden beets are more mild and taste sweeter.
2) Red beets bleed. They make me look like I’ve been bleeding. Golden beets don’t bleed.
3) Red beets make my pee turn red. Golden beets do not.
Please don’t be alarmed at the red pee side effect of loving beets. In the summer, my pee turned red but I couldn’t recall eating any beets. I was worried something was wrong. Until I remembered that I had ordered an apple, ginger and beet juice at the restaurant. That was the culprit! Sure enough, by the next day, my pee was back to normal.
Beets work well with a lot of different flavours, but they definitely pair well with orange. I really enjoyed my chilled Orange and Beet Soup with miso, dill and carrots, and thought this rice-based salad sounded great. Adapted from Appetite for Reduction (original recipe posted here), beets and brown rice (wild rice would be good, too!) are coated in a zippy Asian-inspired orange sesame vinaigrette. Freshly squeezed orange juice is key to keeping this a light, flavourful dressing. The salad is spiked with currants for additional sweetness. Pile it overtop your favourite greens for a lovely meal-sized salad.
Keep all the components separate to maintain freshness… and keep the beets sequestered, else they will turn everything pink. Pink rice, ok, maybe do it just for kicks. :)
Coleslaw just sounds so 1980s.
I know it was probably a disservice to rename the Raw Pad Thai as Coleslaw with a Spicy Almond Dressing. I mean, coleslaw? How lame…
How about cabbage salad? The word coleslaw originates from the Dutch word koolsla which means cabbage (kool) salad (sla). Same thing, then! :)
But why am I raving about a cabbage slaw, you may be wondering…
Well, for some reason I have been craving fresh cabbage. A sweet, crunch salad with a hint of cabbage-y tartness.
So I made this and ate it throughout the day… lunch, snack and dinner….
The nice thing about this salad is the dressing, which I adapted from My New Roots. Not mayo-laden like typical coleslaws. Rather, tahini is used as a creamy base and the sesame is highlighted by toasted sesame oil and freshly toasted sesame seeds. The fresh twist comes from the orange zest and fresh lemon juice. Cilantro perks up the salad with further crunch from sunflower seeds.
The next day, I was sad I had none left and craved it once again… and so the cycle repeats itself!
This is my submission to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays, to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to Simple and In Season, to this week’s Healthy Vegan Fridays, to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend and to this month’s citrus love blog hop.
I have become hard to please at restaurants. I’ve already lambasted Fresh for their limpy soba noodles and hit-or-miss salads, but now that I am armed with their miso gravy, I can conquer the world! Or at least make sure their recipes are a hit when I make it myself.
On their menu is their Dragon Bowl: brown rice or soba noodles topped by grilled tomato, zucchini & tofu steaks with rich miso gravy, sesame seeds, cilantro & green onions.
But now I can make Fresh’s Dragon Bowl, My Way.
Forget the brown rice, or their gummy soba noodles, I want my grilled vegetables overtop quinoa! Marinate some tofu in soy sauce and sesame oil and pan-fry it to perfection. Pick your favourite vegetables (zucchini, bell pepper, eggplant and broccoli are what I had on hand), douse them in a bit of olive oil and chopped garlic, grill them on your barbecue (or broil in your oven), smother in miso gravy and then sprinkle sesame seeds and green onions overtop.
This miso gravy makes everything taste great!
Why this is called a dragon bowl, I have no clue. All I know it tastes great.
Sometimes my friends know me better than myself.
What did I want for my birthday, I was asked.
Nothing! Your company is all that I ask for… honestly!
My friends rarely listen to me, though.
They are some spicy shoots, let me tell you! Pea shoots are sweet and mild, but these are feisty. They taste like radish, which to me, is spicy. While you could throw them into any salad, I somehow stumbled upon a recipe that highlighted their spiciness in all the right ways.
Found in Plenty, I modified Ottolenghi’s Soba Noodles with Wakame, to try out kelp noodles. While it is brimming with a long ingredient list, including such isoteric items like wakame (and now kelp noodles), the pack-rat that I am, I had everything I needed. Except a second cucumber because two cucumbers seemed like a bit of cucumber overload. However, after the cucumber rested, wilted, and lost its moisture, it condensed to a small mass. I compensated by adding shredded kohlrabi. The mint and cilantro were courtesy of my garden.
Just as Rob became cranky as he prepared The New Best Salad Ever, I gradually became cranky as I made this… because I had to destem my wakame! This was such a tedious process, and since I used the entire bag of alaria (a common wakame substitute), I had a lot of destemming to do! Part of my uneasiness was that I was using such uncommon, wacky ingredients that I had no clue how this would turn out. Was it worth the half hour of wakame destemming?
By golly geeze, a resounding yes! This salad had me giggling all night with its sheer deliciousness. It was light and bright from the lime, sweet but now overpoweringly so, sea-like with saltiness from the wakame, yet with an undertone of spiciness from the chili flakes and radish shoots. The cucumber and kohlrabi meld well with the slightly crunchy kelp noodles to highlight the sauce.
Sometimes I wonder if my palate is changing, definitely less mainstream meat and potatoes, but this recipe from Ottolenghi is a keeper. Soba noodles would be wonderful here as well, as he originally suggested.
This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to Ricki’s Wellness Weekends, to this week’s Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by Tandy of Lavender & Lime and to this month’s Monthly Mingle featuring Scintillating Salads.
I have been cycling a lot recently in preparation for cycling from Ottawa to Kingston and back in June. Rob and I have slowly increased our daily distances, and on Sunady we cycled 168km. Terrain around Toronto can be mostly flat, so we have been trying to incorporate hills into our routes. There will be some killer hills en route to Kingston.
Last year, The Toronto Star listed some scenic hills for cyclists and we have been exploring them one-by-one ever since. Two weeks ago, we conquered the brutal hill in Twyn Rivers and this week we tackled the steep and curvy hill at Appleby Line in Burlington. I have to zigzag up the hills because I can’t ride them straight – I just don’t have the gears to go that low nor are my legs that strong! We only have one more hill left on the list (Redway) but it has been fun to see different areas in Toronto.
I have been making tons of different energy bars for my cycling trips and will start by sharing these healthy snacks from the Thrive Diet (original recipe posted here, and video of Brendan making them is here). I like the Thrive Diet because it highlights eating nutrient-dense foods. Brendan just came out with a new cookbook, Whole Foods to Thrive, which I am really excited to explore because the recipes seem much more creative and include a lot of recipes from established raw restaurants including Live Food Bar in Toronto, Gorilla Food in Vancouver and one of my new finds, Thrive Juice Bar in Waterloo (sadly, they didn’t share the recipe for their awesome pad thai).
These are definitely a healthy energy bar, filled with nuts, seeds, blueberries, lemon juice and carob powder. The texture is softer than what I usually expect from my cycling snacks, but Brendan is a big proponent of your mouth and stomach doing the least amount of work while fueling up during exercise. I found them too soft to transport a bunch of them with me while biking, but they are better at room temperature after a work-out or as a mid-day snack when the munchies come!
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! :)
I can and it tastes like this salad. It is light, fresh and filled with green vegetables bursting with flavour.
It may have been snowing this week, but I felt the the need to bring spring back into my cooking.
Unfortunately, my own pea shoots are still too small to harvest, so I went back to T&T to pick up some more pea shoots for an instant boost of spring.
Inspired by Gourmet (June 1994), the base of this salad comes from pea shoots, which are sweet like peas with a nice body from the stems and delicate leaves. I topped it with fresh sweet sugar snap peas, edamame and carrots and coated it in a subtle sesame dressing. The star of this dish are the veggies, not the dressing.
The thing I love about this salad, though, besides its mouthful of spring, is that it is a very satisfying salad. Deceivingly so, it fills you up. The edamame really helps to increase the fat and protein levels. While each serving of this salad has only 180 calories, it also boasts 11g of protein, 22g of carbohydrates (7g fiber) and 7g of fat. That is something everyone could use from a salad!
This is my submission to Ivonne at Cream Puffs in Venice for this week’s Magazine Mondays, to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, as well as to April in the Raw (substituting some of the toasted elements, and not cooking the edamame).
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.
I don’t think I have devoured any cookbook this quickly, nor this ferociously.
I borrowed Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean by Ana Sortun from the library and I literally was drooling as I read it from cover-to-cover. As the title would suggest, it focuses on the spices of the Eastern Mediterranean, based on recipes from Sortun’s restaurant Oleana in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is organized by spice group, as opposed to course or meal. I was stopped cold in the first chapter, all about the three C’s: Cumin, Coriander and Cardamom.
I don’t like curry and still trying to figure out which spice harbours that earthy tone that makes me lose my appetite. For a while I thought it was coriander, so I had been avoiding it. However, Sortun’s description of coriander had me wooed. She described it as bright, citrusy, acidic and perfumey. I knew I had shunned coriander unfairly.
I set off investigating dukkah (DOO-kah, say that just for kicks!), an Egyptian spice mix with nuts. There are countless recipes for dukkah, some with hazelnuts, pistachios, and/or almonds, different proportions of sesame seeds to coriander and cumin, with optional add-ins like mint, lemon zest and chili flakes. My curiosity was piqued by Sortun’s recipe since it included almonds with coconut. I knew I would love the sweetness, so I flexed my forearms, armed and ready with my mortar and pestle.
Once I had roasted the nuts and spices, ground them together, I snuck a quick taste. I wasn’t immediately enamored. I decided to hold judgement until I had finished assembling my meal.
Inside Artichoke to Za’atar by Greg and Lucy Malouf, there was a recipe for deep-fried soft-boiled eggs covered with dukkah and served with a side of toast. They also mentioned that a plain soft-boiled egg could work easily as well. Anyone who knows me well will know that I don’t like to fry my foods, so I was eager to try the easy, soft-boiled eggs with the dukkah. I toasted some bread, topped it with butter, added the egg and smothered it with dukkah. Only then did I listen to my taste buds. By the end, I was licking my plate as I didn’t want to waste any of the dukkah, it was that good.
They were simple sides, a toasted, buttered sourdough bread with a soft-boiled egg, but it made all the difference with the dukkah. Dukkah is a warm, sweet, salty, and slightly earthy spice mix that mixed best with the butter from the bread and the silky egg.
Traditionally, dukkah is served with fresh Turkish bread with olive oil for dipping. Ana paired hers with a carrot puree that I would like to try next time. Dukkah is very versatile, so I look forward to trying it with other meals.
Until then, I will be content to eat eggs and toast with dukkah for any meal of the day. :)
This is my submission to the 11th Mediterranean Cooking Event, featuring Egypt this month.
O mango, how sweet you are!
I must admit that I was a late bloomer when it came to mango loving. I will blame it on the lack of decent mangoes where I used to live. However, once I moved to Toronto I scoured Chinatown last year and devoured the Ataulfos. This year, I was on a mission to find the even sweeter Indian Alphonso mango. While I escaped Turkey unscathed from the erupting volcano, the Alphonso mangoes did not share the same fate. Their shipment had been delayed and I initially couldn’t find any at the Gerrard India Bazaar (aka Little India). Luckily, when I came back last weekend, I scooped up a case, split them with a friend and have been enjoying them all week. Arguably the best mango. :)
I used to wonder why mess with mangoes when they taste so good all by themselves? I love pretty much all (heat tolerable) dishes with mangoes, but when I have delicious fresh mangoes, I just want to eat them the way they are. I find it hard to incorporate the mangoes into a dish that may mask their flavour. No worries with Mango and Sticky Rice, because mango and coconut are simply meant to be together. They are definitely better than the sum of their parts alone. The sweet coconut creaminess envelopes the juicy Alphonso mangoes on a bed of creamy, yet sticky, coconut-flavoured rice. The benefit of making this dish at home, is that you can make the dish as sweet as you want. Not much sugar was needed to be added when the mangoes are brimming with taste. There are many recipes for Mango Sticky Rice, but I adapted my version from Taste Buddies.
Alas, I was getting ready to write my post about my love of Alphonso mangoes, but figured I should shed my winter meals first before jumping headfirst into spring and summer dishes. With a balmy 15C this morning on my way to work on my bike, I am happy as a peach.. sweet as a mango?
One of my favourite things to eat in the winter is butternut squash. Or buttercup squash. Any squash, really. When roasted, they are incredibly sweet and work well with many sweet and savoury flavours.
For this dish, adapted from Lou Seibert Pappas’ A Harvest of Pumpkin and Squash, the savoury side of a butternut squash is combined with cinnamon- and sesame-laced quinoa mixed with cranberries and pear. This is laid on a bed of welcoming spinach and topped with a balsamic vinaigrette.
It was a weird and interesting combination of flavours. If I were to remake it, I think I would omit the soy sauce and sesame oil, to keep the flavour palate more simple, highlighting the cinnamon and allspice. Otherwise, the flavours are my typical fall favourites: cranberry, squash and cinnamon. Not that it will stop you from making it during other seasons…. although I agree you may get distracted by the mangoes. :)
This is my submission to Ricki and Kim’s SOS Kitchen Challenge, featuring sweet or savoury natural vegan cooking highlighting spinach this month.