the taste space

Peacefood Cafe’s Chickpea Fries & HappyCow Cookbook Giveaway

Posted in Appetizers, Book Review, Sides by janet @ the taste space on October 21, 2014

Peacefood Cafe Chickpea Fries Recipe

I may not have promoted it here but I am a complete fan of Happy Cow. When travelling, I consult the reviews (and then leave my own) to find the best vegan eats around the world. Not only across Canada and the US, I chronicled my eats while travelling in Germany, Iceland, Mexico, Colombia and South Africa. Rightfully so, there are zero entries for Madagascar.

In any case, I was thrilled when I heard that Eric Brent and Glen Merzer were creating a cookbook featuring recipes from top-rated vegan restaurants, The Happy Cow Cookbook.

Peacefood Cafe Chickpea Fries Recipe

The neat part of this compilation was each restaurant’s profile, highlighting their popular and favourite dishes, important lessons as a restaurant owner/chef, and the future of plant-based food movement. Each restaurant shares one, two or more recipes, along with some photographs. As expected with a compilation, the recipes vary with respect to level of difficulty, recipe instructions and photographs. On the whole, the recipes seem solid. Millenium’s Pistachio-Crusted Eggplant Napoleon is way too complex for me to recreate, but makes me want to visit this San Francisco eatery.  There is also a recipe for Coconut Tofu and Blackened Tempeh with Grapefruit Yuzu (courtesy of Green in Tempe, AZ) that definitely beyond my reach. However, Lettuce Love Cafe’s Tempeh Reuben looks easy to recreate at home, as well as Netherlands’ Veggies on Fire’s Lemon Cheesecake with Raspberry Sauce.

The book is ordered alphabetically, based on the name of the restaurants, which makes it difficult to find recipes. However, the breadth of recipes seems vast with little repeats (although you will certainly find many recipes for vegan cheese!). Recipes vary from Kimchi Nori Maki Rolls and Peruvian Leftovers Pie to Avocado Apple Tartare with Walnut Bonbons to Chicken Fried Tempeh and Carrot Cake with a Vegan Cream Cheese frosting. Sadly, what I was most disappointed, was the abundant use of vegan substitutes (ie vegan cream cheese, sour cream and Vegenaise), although that probably helps prep time for restaurants.

While I have never been to Peacefood Cafe, I was itching to make their “Award-Winning Chickpea Fries” which is basically an Indian-spiced baked fry made with chickpea flour. They were quite easy to make although I regret adding the bay leaf to the spice mixture. It became a predominant flavour and bothersome since I didn’t grind it to a fine powder. I didn’t make the Caesar Dipping Sauce as the recipe perplexed me. I was not sure why there was fermented bean curd in the sauce without directions to pulverize it with a blender. In any case, the recipe below is as seen in the book. Enjoy.

Peacefood Cafe Chickpea Fries Recipe

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 what your favourite vegan-friendly restaurant is (and where). Bonus entry if you share your link to your review on HappyCow. The winner will be selected at random on November 7, 2014. Good luck!

PS. HappyCow Cookbook recipes spotted elsewhere:

Beet Salad with Shallot-Thyme Dressing (from Blackbird Pizzeria in Philadelphia, PA)
Cherry Royal (from Veggie Grill in Hollywood, CA)
Granada Chai
(from El Piano in Malaga, Spain)
Kimchi Nori Maki Roll (from Real Food Daily in West Hollywood, CA)
Moroccan Tajine (from SunCafe Organic in Studio City, CA)
Nutloaf (from Wayward Cafe in Seattle, WA)
Pasta with Pumpkin Curry Sauce (from Counter Culture in Austin, TX)
Pickled Beets (from Zen Kitchen in Ottawa, ON)
Pistachio-Crusted Eggplant Napoleon (from Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco, CA)
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon-Brown Sugar Cream (from True Bistro in Boston, MA)
Quinoa Tabbouleh
(from Chaco Canyon in Seattle, WA)
Raw Lime Parfait (from Plant in Asheville, NC)
Roasted Spaghetti Squash, Cauliflower, Garlic and Mashed Potatoes with Porcini Mushroom Gravy (from Peacefood Cafe in New York, NY)
Skillet Cornbread (from Cornbread Cafe in Eugene, OR)
Spicy Cha Cha (from The Loving Hut in Houston, TX)
Swiss Bircher Muesli (from Luna’s Living Kitchen in Charlotte, NC)

Other recipes from restaurants I have made:

Candle Cafe’s Paradise Casserole with Black Beans, Millet and Cinnamon-Miso Sweet Potato Mash
Fresh’s All-Star Salad
Fresh’s Miso Gravy
Gorilla Food’s Strawberry Bliss Up Shake
Live Organic Cafe’s Raw Pad Thai
Peacefood Cafe’s Raw Key Lime Pie

I am sharing this with the Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck.

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Ottolenghi’s Miso-Braised Cabbage

Posted in Sides by janet @ the taste space on October 14, 2014

Ottolenghi's Miso-Braised Cabbage

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?

Ottolenghi's Miso-Braised Cabbage

I am sharing this with Bookmarked Recipes, Credit Crunch Munch, Healthy Vegan Fridays and ExtraVeg.

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Vegan Deviled “Eggs” & Cookbook Giveaway

Posted in Appetizers, Book Review by janet @ the taste space on March 27, 2014

Vegan Deviled "Eggs"

Onwards with the 30 vegetable challenge. Instead of using an abundance of vegetables in a single dish, I am focusing on possibly the most popular vegetable. A vegetable that I rarely eat at that: the humble white potato.

White potato has its critics.  A high glycemic starchy vegetable that is typically consumed deep-fried or slathered in oil. I actually don’t like the taste of white potatoes, either, preferring its colourful cousin, the sweet potato. In any case, not all white potatoes are created equal and it was most apparent while we travelled in Colombia and enjoyed their local favourite: papas criollas. A small, creamy potato, perfect to eat after a simple boil, although it was also common spotted after a toss in an oiled skillet. Other small potatoes can be reasonable substitutes. I spotted these at our favourite (Mexican-flavoured) farmer’s market and brought them home to make a vegan twist on devilled eggs.

Vegan Deviled "Eggs"

No eggs, no problem. The creamy potatoes are a fun twist for the cooked egg white base and a creamy mustard-hummus filling with a touch of black salt is very reminiscent of the real deal. Sprinkled with a touch of smoke paprika and you have an easy, pretty appetizer. If you have some mad piping skills, you could make this even more fancy.

Vegan Deviled "Eggs"

This recipe is from the latest in the Happy Herbivore cookbook series, Happy Herbivore Light & Lean. For some reason, I have never really warmed up to Lindsay’s earlier cookbooks but this one was different. First of all the photos are gorgeous. Secondly, the recipes appeal to me more.

Her recipes, even if from previous cookbooks, have been lightened up and spruced up with bolder flavours. She has a bigger emphasis on vegetables and less reliance on ketchup and mayonnaise. More complete meals, instead of sides. All her recipes are oil-free and low-fat which I don’t necessarily advocate but did not mind trying out temporarily. Her recipes prove you do not need oil to make food flavourful but I like a bit more fat for satiety. Even if for no other reason, yes, you need some fat to absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.

The third part of the book includes an introduction to basic strength exercises. She includes good photographs and descriptions of each move with modifications for beginners and those who want a challenge. I like that she included another aspect of healthy lifestyles, beyond nutritious food.

Vegan Deviled "Eggs"

First and foremost, I enjoy sharing delicious food and this cookbook delivers. These deviled eggs are only one recipe but I also recommend the garden vegetable chili, cheater pad thai noodle bowl, breakfast tacos and scrambled tofu.

Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe (with one of the gorgeous food photos by Jackie Sobon from Vegan Yack Attack, too) 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 what you think about no-oil meals. The winner will be selected at random on April 7, 2014. Good luck!

Happy Herbivore Vegan Devilled Eggs

Recipes from Happy Herbivore Light & Lean elsewhere:

Thai Crunch Salad
Caribbean Bowl
Meatloaf Bites
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Pumpkin Pancakes
Blueberry Yogurt Muffins
Breakfast Tacos
Lentil Joes (with a video)
Spinach Love Wrap
Soba Peanut Noodles
Deviled “Eggs”
Microwave Peach Cobbler

PS. This is my submission to this month’s Anyone Can Cook Fabulous Vegetarian Food.

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Roasted Cocoa Cauliflower

Posted in Sides by janet @ the taste space on March 1, 2014

Roasted Cocoa Cauliflower

Will you forgive me for another simple cauliflower recipe?

Because I have a problem: I will eat the whole head of cauliflower in one sitting.

If Rob is around, I might share it. If he is not, I will definitely eat the whole head.

Even to me, it sounds like a lot of cauliflower. But I swear, it starts off as a lot and after I roast it, it shrivels to a manageable and enjoyable feat.

I started by buying 1 cauliflower a week. Then it was two. I rationalized that to last the whole week, I should start buying at least 5 heads of cauliflower. Matt thought that was crazy. He dissuaded me from increasing my cauliflower purchases.

Then I let him taste my roasted cocoa cauliflower.

Roasted Cocoa Cauliflower

I would be lying if I insinuated he then agreed with my fanciful cauliflower plans. But he understood.

It is a simple recipe which surprises you. Cocoa is normally associated with sweet recipes, but instead the cocoa is paired with a hefty dose of smoked paprika. The cocoa provides a fun depth to the smoky paprika which is accentuated by the lemon pepper seasoning. (Why do I use lemon pepper seasoning? Well, I am too lazy to break out the spice grinder for simply 2 peppercorns. Plus the lemon bits add a fun twist, too).

I know it sounds crazy but after a few others had success, I had to try it out, too. And I was so happy I did.

PS. I have long been smitten by the prettiness of roasting a whole head of cauliflower, but I have yet to be convinced it tastes much better. In fact, I would think the core would not cook through entirely which is why I break up my florets first.

Roasted Cocoa Cauliflower

PPS. This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes, Extra Veg, and Laura’s Strange but Good Link-Up.

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Indian-Inspired Roasted Cauliflower with Almonds and Lemon

Posted in Sides by janet @ the taste space on February 27, 2014

Indian-Inspired Roasted Cauliflower with Almonds and Lemon
Do you pay attention to the predicted food trends? Vaishali’s post about  tapping into google trends sent my head spinning.

I pay more attention to the trends in my own kitchen. 2011 was year of the bean, but we all know that never stopped. 2012 was probably the year of curry, and that hasn’t let up, either. 2013 definitely focused on quick and easy meals and potluck-friendly foods. If I had to pick an ingredient of choice from last year, it was probably kimchi. It lends to quick and easy meals by offering a lot of flavour!

I can not claim that any of these are mainstream trends. Nor do I really care. One trend I am enjoying, though, is the “Cauliflower is the New Kale” bandwagon. Cauliflower is very versatile and I feel like I am being inundated with all.things.cauliflower (so many pins!).

Continuing with my simple recipes (2013 trend), Indian-spiced (2012 curry trend) with this year’s cauliflower love, I present to you a fun cauliflower side dish. It actually reminds me of the dish I learned to love cauliflower (and convinced my parents as well!): Roasted Cauliflower with Dukkah. However, this recipe is a bit different in that you pre-cook your cauliflower (steam it, boil it, your choice), and sear it with freshly toasted cumin and coriander with almonds. Only then do you roast it. Because you have partially cooked it already, you don’t have to worry about burning your spices. The final cauliflower is a mix of textures from the crumbly almonds and coarsely ground spices. Finish it with a squirt of lemon juice and you have a well-balanced vegetable side. Just be careful not to eat the whole recipe at once.

What do you think about food trends? Happy to see cauliflower in the spotlight?

Indian-Inspired Roasted Cauliflower with Almonds and Lemon

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

PS. The winner for No Meat Athlete is Dilek.

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Roasted Onion Flowers (Easy!)

Posted in Sides by janet @ the taste space on November 28, 2013

Roasted Onion Flowers

Happy Thanksgiving for those celebrating it today.

Part of the reason I have not fallen victim to “what will I make for Thanksgiving?” thinking is that Rob and I are travelling for the weekend. I have been invited to no less than 3 separate Thanksgiving feasts, but instead we’re leaving America.

Roasted Onion Flowers

And yes, I realize today is Thanksgiving, which may be a bit late to share such a fun dish for Thanksgiving… although, I implore you to consider it for your next fancy dinner. It is ridiculously easy. Have some onions? Oil? Balsamic vinegar? Salt? I thought so!

I have been meaning to make these ever since Natalie shared them last year, but really they are roasted onions, cut whole and roasted such that they open like flowers. The pink ones are more pretty but I tried it with Peruvian sweet onions as well.

Roasted Onion Flowers

I packed them into a pan/skillet and roasted away. I actually forgot to remove the tin foil for the last 10 minutes, so they should be a bit more charred should you actually follow the directions. ;)

One onion obviously makes a lot of onion. So feel free to split them in half (or more) when serving. Although, I love onions, especially roasted onions, so I could easily eat the whole onion in one go.

What were your favourite dishes for Thanksgiving this year?

Roasted Onion Flowers

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

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Japanese Umeboshi Rice Balls (Onigiri) with Vegan Ponzu Sauce

Posted in Sides by janet @ the taste space on June 15, 2013


I thought life would be less busy after my exam.

Instead, I was immersed back into work and fun at a break-neck pace.

It wasn’t entirely conscious, but I definitely kept myself well distracted as I waited for my results.

I had to ramp up for that big bike ride. (And I so want to give that bike ride a post it deserves)

We saw friends we hadn’t seen since I went into exam hibernation. Rob and I had dates that included musicals and concerts.

On the errands that are still fun, Rob and I mapped out our road trip; booking our accommodations and figuring out which cities have Trader Joe’s (HA!).

The list of things to do for our move never ceases. Book movers and pods, obtain visas, social security numbers. Get a US dollar bank account, flip cash into American funds, change addresses, suspend gym memberships. Make sure we both have benefits. Become officially common-law. Get everything ready to import our car.

Oh, and pack.

Nothing that is too difficult on its own, simply time consuming.

Death by a thousand paper cuts, as Rob puts it.

I haven’t been cooking too much, either. Pulling out freezer meals and eating out a bit more. Cooking up simple grains and tossing with a random assortment of veggies. Discovering fun sauces in the fridge.

This was a fun snack/side I made with some leftover rice. Basically it is a ball of sushi rice, seasoned with rice vinegar and filled with a touch of umeboshi paste, a Japanese spread from pickled plums. I squished the rice into a hard ball with the help of plastic wrap and kept it wrapped until I ate them for lunch. For your viewing pleasure, I played around with strips of nori to make fun faces, although the rest of my balls used wider strips of nori more practically, to keep my hands clean. Use a simple soy dipping sauce, or go all out with a homemade ponzu sauce which has citrus notes to the salty base.

Happy faces, all around, I must say.

I can now add 5 more letters to the end of my name: FRCPC.
(Fellow of The Royal College of Physicians of Canada)

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Quinoa Pilaf with Lemon and Thyme

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space 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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Good Mother Stallard Beans (& Great Vegan Bean Book Review & Giveaway)

Posted in Book Review, Favourites, Sides by janet @ the taste space on June 4, 2013

Good Mother Stallard Beans

Guys, I am thrilled to tell you about my latest favourite cookbook. It has a lot of my favourites things: all vegan, lots of beans, mostly plant-based with options for those that need their meals to be gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free or oil-free. I am a big proponent of beans (cheap, tasty and healthy protein) and was wondering who would be the smart cookie to make the first vegan bean cookbook.

Kathy Hester is the genius behind this and honestly, I am blown away by the cookbook. I want to make the majority of the recipes but I cannot decide where to start. They span the gamut from breakfast beans to beany desserts and everything in between. The dishes run the spectrum from Indian to Jamaican and Mexican to French and Moroccan, focusing on traditionally vegan meals along with creative uses for beans (fudgesicles!). Since the meals typically call for cooked beans, they are mostly easy, quick dishes, too. Here are the chapters and a few sample dishes (a complete recipe list can be found here):

  • The Beautiful Bean: Basics, How-Tos and Recipes To Keep Your Food Budget in Check
    -Baked Crispy Chickpea Seitan Patties, Bean Chorizo Crumbles, Sweet Red Bean Paste
  • Morning Beans: Beany Breakfast and Brunch Dishes
    -Almost-a-Meal Black Bean Tamale Muffins, Sausage-Spiced Savoury Pancakes, Roasted Root Veggie and Kidney Bean Hash, Red Bean-Filled Baked Donuts
  • Noshy Beans: Appetizers, Dips, and Spreads
    -Creamy Spinach Artichoke White Bean Dip, Pepita Black Bean Dip, Beany Eggplant Bruschetta Spread
  • Nutritious Soups: Easy and Delicious One-Bowl Meals
    -Hutterite Soup, Thai Coconut Tongue of Fire Soup, Salsa Fresca White Bean Gazpacho, Triple Lentil Soup with Wheat Berries
  • Cool Beans: Legume-Centric Salads
    -Salsa Quinoa Salad, Lentil Beet Salad, Chickpea Greek Salad with Tofu Feta
  • Portable Beans: Sandwiches, Patties and More
    -Mango Curry Chickpea Salad, Don’t be Crabby Cakes, Butternut Squash Frijoles, Baked Arugula and Bean Flautas
  • Sultry Stews and Hearty Chilies: Quintessential Bean Dishes
    -Chickpea Veggie Tagine, Indian Cauliflower Lentil Stew, Solstice Beans with Pumpkin and Greens, Margarita Chili Beans, Apple Baked Beans, Hard Cider-Sauced Beans, Tomato Rosemary White Beans
  • Casseroles, Pastas, and More: One Dish Meals
    -Flageolet Cassoulet, Lentil Quinoa Bolognese Sauce, Chickpea and Vegetable Lo Mein, Creamy Healthified Vodka Sauce, Oven Chickpea and Seasonal Veggie Biryani
  • Bean-a-licious Sweet Treats: Desserts that Love Beans
    -Black Eyed Pea-nut Butter Pie, Ginger Red Bean Popsicles, Black Bean Fudgesicles, Cherry Basil Crumble Bars, Chocolate Summer Squash Cake

Kathy explains the basics of the standard beans, along with variations for specialty heirloom beans. Until you buy pretty, specialty beans, you may not understand the lure to not cook with them. They are just so pretty and recipes never suggest using Tongues of Fire beans, or Hutterite soup beans, or Good Mother Stallard beans. Here, Kathy breaks down the anxiety. She describes which beans are in each family and therefore can be easily exchanged, while still not alienating those without access to specialty beans.

Good Mother Stallard beans are in a league of their own, though. They are in the “interesting shapes” category along with ayocote negro and Goat’s Eye beans. Kathy explains Good Mother Stallard beans are football-shaped and create a “perfect pot liquor”. She suggests using them as a fancy bean substitute in certain dishes that call for chickpeas and kidney beans, or using them plainly as in this dish to experience they real, naked taste.

I decided to dust off my pretty Good Mother Stallard beans and put them to the test. A simple pot of beans spiced with rosemary, bay leaves and carrots. Steve from Rancho Gordo suggests these may be his favourite bean and after a simple simmer, I can see why. Delicious mouth feel. The beans have a thicker skin which keeps the bean’s shape while the inside is creamy and sweet. There is a lot more going on with this bean than one would expect and thankfully these beans retain their colourful markings even after being cooked. Kathy suggested eating the beans as-is, with bread or a grain.

I bought my Good Mother Stallard beans from Rancho Gordo, but Kathy has as extensive list of other retailers, too. I normally retype all the recipes I share, but Kathy’s publisher has given me permission to share this recipe. Looking at it below will give you an idea about the attention to detail in this book: flexible bean substitutes, optional slow cooker directions as well as complete nutritional information.

Good Mother Stallard Beans

I really want to share this cookbook with you. Thankfully the publisher is letting me giveaway a cookbook to one reader living in the US or Canada. To be entered, please leave a message here, telling me about your favourite bean dish. I will randomly select a winner on June 30. For more chances to win, check out the other bloggers that are featuring Kathy’s cookbook this month as part of her blog tour. You can follow along on Kathy’s website here. Good luck!

This is my submission to Healthy Vegan Fridays and to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by One Hot Stove.

Note: I was given a complimentary copy of this book to review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own. (more…)

Rosemary Mushroom Risotto

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by janet @ the taste space on March 24, 2013

Do you ever reminisce about the glory days?

Back when I could juggle everything. Back when I didn’t have to crack down on studying?

I never seem to have enough time these days. I can’t study the way I used to. It is harder now.

I feel more liberated in the kitchen, though, with help from Rob and a wealth of favourite recipes. A choice of dressing and 1 or 2 other dishes makes my weekly cooking complete.

While I have moved my herbs indoors over the winter (and most of them died, boo), I never really felt like I had enough thyme this summer, either. My grilled portobello mushrooms with garlic and thyme were a common sighting at barbecues and many of my dishes use thyme (lemon-kissed tomato barley risotto, tomato-pomegranate vinaigrette, etc). My piddly thyme plant was nearly always being scavenged.

I thought I planned for success in the rosemary department, because I have 3 plants. But I never seem to have enough rosemary, either! One batch of Rosemary Pistachio Hummus, and my plants are wiped clean.   A month later, I may try again. Thankfully this week, I had enough to make this rosemary mushroom risotto. Another great dish from Tess.

An uber simple dish, this is a creamy brown rice side speckled with oyster mushrooms focusing on a strong garlic-rosemary flavour. How easy is this? Toss everything into a pot. Don’t worry about the mushrooms if they aren’t pre-sliced, add them in 10 minutes later, no problem. While the rice is boiling, pluck your rosemary and have it ready for when the rice is finished. {Or if you are like me, you can make a whole other quickie-meal while waiting for the brown rice to cook!}

Cooking the rice in almond milk makes this creamy but using the seasoning makes this still taste like it was boiled in a flavourful vegetable broth. I didn’t feel like it needed more than 1 tbsp of oil, but Tess suggests adding more. This isn’t your typical risotto, as the rice still had a bit of bite (which I enjoyed for texture), but certainly a heck of a lot easier and a lot healthier without any cheese or butter.

This is my submission to this month‘s Herbs on Saturday.

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Szechuan Green Beans and Red Pepper

Posted in Sides by janet @ the taste space on January 31, 2013

I feel like I am still in an exploratory phase. An exploratory phase of cooking. I am not sure if it will ever end, but it seems to me like there are constantly new things I’d like to try eating. Beyond new grains like kasha and kaniwa, or new heirloom beans, I will always scour new recipes. As I learned in Colombia, there are a host of new fruits and vegetables to explore, too.

While I may not be entirely thrilled with my closest ethnic grocer, it is still an ethnic grocer with produce I have yet to try eating.  I once had a goal of trying all the new-to-me veggies at Bestwin and Sunny’s, but I can only tackle so many new ingredients at once. As I am unsure of the ethnic produce available in Texas (people keep trying to convince me that there is a dearth of vegetables there, but I protest!), I should capitalize on trying new veggies. In honour of the upcoming Chinese New Year, I popped some Chinese long beans into my cart. Only later did I figure out what I wanted to do…

I found this quick and easy Chinese veggie dish, with flavourful spices while still being able to highlight the long beans. I really liked the play between the Szechuan peppercorns and star anise with the garlicky vegetables. The peanuts added a great crunch and texture.

So, the long beans? Not my favourite. If I had to choose, the thin French green beans (haricot verts) are definitely my preferred green bean. The long beans are more chewy pod, less beany and not as flavourful as the French variety. I’d prefer the standard green beans, too, and would likely use them when making this again.

But hey, at least now I know. I will never go about thinking “I never tried the Chinese long beans.. maybe they are better than the rest?”.  Even if the long beans are more authentic in this dish, the regular green beans would do just fine, as well.

Do you like discovering new veggies?

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

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Kasha with Sauteed Mushrooms and Dill

Posted in Salads, Sides by janet @ the taste space on December 27, 2012

In a typical day, I try to eat a combination of vegetables, beans and whole grains. While steel cut oats are my typical breakfast, I will often add whole grains to some of my other meals.

There are many whole grains: brown rice, wheat berries, spelt berries, bulgur, oats, rye, barley, millet, kamut, and teff, oh my! Despite what the name may imply, buckwheat is in the same family as sorrel and rhubarb. It is not even a wheat. Buckwheat, quinoa (my favourite), amaranth and wild rice are considered pseudograins because they are seeds (not grains). They also happen to contain more protein than grains and are all gluten-free.

They all taste different. Not all of them will appeal to everyone.

Of all the grains/pseudograins, I think kasha gets the most haters. Kasha is simply toasted buckwheat, but seems to have an acquired taste.

When I first cooked it, I hated it too. I added too much water (1:3 ratio) and it became a literal soggy mess. It took me two years to try again. I tried a different strategy. Next, I baked it first, and cooked it in a 1:2 ratio which was 100x better. The cooked kernels were soft but some partially opened. When I included it in a multigrain oatmeal with quinoa, I liked it, too. So when Rob’s Mom offered me some kasha for breakfast, I didn’t hesitate. I hesitated when I saw what she was doing though. Instead of boiling kasha in water, she pulled out a funny-looking instant boil-in-a-bag Polish package. It made the most glorious kasha, though. Plump, yet firm, the kasha had a nice nutty flavour with a perfect texture. Rob’s mom gave us some to take home with us but when we stopped off at the Polish store on the way home, I found out it actually wasn’t any more expensive than when I buy it in bulk. I don’t know what that bag does, but it is magical.

When people say they don’t like an ingredient, I always think maybe they just haven’t met the right version yet. (I will even concede while I detest celery, you can get me to eat raw celery if you remove the strings and I will eat a soup with celery in the mirepoix; while I hate the flavour of coffee, I will eat something with mocha if it is a faint wisp within a chocolate dessert; and I like tarragon and fennel, when I don’t like licorice).

So, if you don’t think you like kasha, try this first. Amuse me. Then tell me what you think.

However, I will need to walk you through it… unless you know Polish. Without Rob, I knew I had to boil it for 15-20 minutes. Rob helped by telling me I had to salt the water and keep the pot covered as it simmered. After 15-20 minutes, you open the package and have lovely, fluffy kasha. Rinse in cold water before you open the package.

To flavour this dish, I adapted the recipe in Appetite for Reduction for Sauteed Kasha and Mushrooms with Dill, a pasta-less version of Kasha Varnishkes. The fluffy kasha is combined with sauteed mushrooms and onions. Lots of black pepper and dill make this dish flavourful, despite it looking so bland on paper.

The tricky part will be locating the boil-in-a-bag kasha. Go to your European grocer. For those in Toronto, you can find it at Euromax in Milton, Starsky’s in Mississauga and possibly Benna’s on Roncesvalles (I haven’t checked the latter myself). In Woodstock, you can buy it from this European Meat and Deli.

Does anyone have a way to make kasha taste like this without the package? Did I miss the cooking kasha 101 memo?

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and to this month’s Herbs on Saturday.

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Roasted Balsamic Curry Fall Vegetables and Cranberries with Kamut

Posted in Favourites, Salads, Sides by janet @ the taste space on November 20, 2012

Earlier this year, my cousin’s wife was trying to track down kamut, an ancient wheat. She explained to me that kamut contained less gluten, perfect for her gluten-free adventures.  She searched high and low and could not find whole grain kamut. Kamut flakes and puffed kamut, yes, but not regular old kamut.  Since she was hoping to get rid of gluten, I suggested not trying to track down such a hard-to-find ingredient, especially since it still contains gluten, even if it is a smaller amount.

A few days later, when I decided to reorganize my whole grains, I discovered I had kamut. Turns out I had forgotten all about it. I bought a small amount while in Calgary, since I had never seen it before. Unfortunately, while Community Natural Foods has an online store, I don’t see kamut for sale.  With my curiosity piqued, I decided it was time to try out the kamut.

Nothing fancy, I opted to add it to a bowlful of roasted fall vegetables. More veggies, less grain, please.

The verdict?

First, the kamut. I will admit that it was nice. Similar to wheat berries, they were pleasantly plump yet their shape made it more akin to orzo. A plumpy, chewy orzo. Milder than wheat berries, I rather enjoyed them.  If I had easy access to kamut, I would likely choose it over wheat berries, but since I don’t know where to replenish it in Toronto, I will just have to finish my spelt berries first. Although, I am already on a whittling of the pantry plan, where nothing is being replenished except for my easy-to-find favourites: quinoa, red lentils and chickpeas.

Next, the veggies. Delicious right from the oven, I had a hard time holding back from gobbling everything down. I loved combining the different roasted vegetables for different complementary flavours. The Brussels sprouts were earthy and crispy, contrasting the soft and sweet squash, next to the tart and juicy cranberries. The balsamic-curry dressing was not overpowering, and allowed the natural flavours to shine.

Don’t have kamut? No worries. Simply omit it or add your favourite whole grain or bean. I am thinking chickpeas or white beans would be great here.

If you do have kamut, and live in the GTA, please tell me where you found it. :)

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

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African-Style Spinach and Zucchini Sauté with Pineapple and Pumpkin Seeds

Posted in Sides by janet @ the taste space on August 19, 2012

Sunday isn’t even over and I feel like this was such a productive weekend.

I guess that’s what happens when Rob and I aren’t zooming from wedding to wedding…

We still did some zooming this weekend, though… On our bikes, we zoomed over to our closest farmer’s market and caught up with a friend while dining at Live for brunch. Sadly, my tofu scramble was terrible (burnt combined with tasteless) but the delicious Black Forest Cherry Chocolate Cheesecake almost made up for it. I did some grocery shopping and cooked up a few meals for the week in the afternoon. For dinner, Rob and I had a picnic in a nearby park. Just because we could. By the end of the night, we also managed to finish watching the last season of Dexter. Can anyone recommend a show as awesome as this one? Otherwise we will have to wait for the new season to start up in September.

This morning, Rob and I did a 3-hour bike ride through to Port Credit for brunch (again!) at Raw Aura, where Doug McNish was hosting a special 3-course brunch menu. I will just tickle your taste buds with our selections:

Drink:

Fresh Pear Lemon and Ginger Kombucha Mocktail with Passion Fruit

Starter:

Grape fruit and Goji Berry Timbale with Marinated Fig, Fermented Macadamia Gouda, Fresh Mint, Hemp Seeds, Baby Arugula, Coconut Water Date Jam, Sprouted Buckwheat Toast Points

Main: Rob and  I both split the following

The BLT (Thick Cut Sundried Tomato Sesame Zucchini Bread, Creamy Hemp Aioli, Crisp Smoked Eggplant Strips, Heirloom Tomatoes, Dill Pickle Spears)

 and

 Herbed Broccoli Cashew Cheddar Quiche with Marinated Mushrooms, Eggplant Bacon, Baby Spinach, Roasted Red Pepper, Flax Almond Crust, Local Tomato Crisps, Basil Pesto

Side:

Caesar Salad Using Local Greens in a Creamy Sunflower Dressing

Third/Dessert:

Banana Cinnamon Crepes, Walnut Crumble, Local Berry Compote, Caramelized Peach, Young Thai Coconut Vanilla Whipped Cream, Chocolate Fondue

Everything was very good, and it was nice to eat different kinds of raw meals! The only thing left on my agenda for the rest of the day is to study. Which is probably why I am blogging instead. ;)

In any case, this is my Random Recipe for the month. A random recipe from a random cookbook brought me to Donna Klein’s African-Style Spinach and Zucchini Sauté with Pumpkin Seeds and Dried Pineapple from The Tropical Vegan Kitchen. I never would have thought to combine the greens with the sweetness from the pineapple but it worked nicely together. It was quick to come together and was nice, cold, as leftovers with a side of quinoa. Next time, though, I’d add my toasted pumpkin seeds at the end so they stay crunchy.

This is my submission to this month’s Random Recipes, to this week’s Healthy Vegan Fridays, and to this week’s Weekend Wellness. (more…)

Thai Coconut Vegetables (Yum Tavoy)

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by janet @ the taste space on August 10, 2012

How does my summer slip away so fast? I feel like all my weekends have all been pre-booked with very little downtime this summer. Between 5 weddings (3 out-of-town), cycling to Niagara Falls, travelling for a conference and a music festival (more about that one later!), Rob and I have barely spent much time relaxing over the weekends. Always on the go. Plus, my new rotation this month has a 1-hour cycling commute each way. I come home a tired puppy.

As such, I haven’t really been doing my “cook for the week” thing on the weekends. Instead, I am cooking up quick weekday meals. Almost like a normal person. However, I still eat leftovers for dinner as soon as I come home from work. The new meal is for tomorrow’s leftover dinner!

I am still on my Thai-kick and decided to combine two of my recipes into one stellar quickie dinner. Instead of a complex coconut-based salad dressing from my Thai Noodle Salad with Mango and Lima Beans, use the coconut milk as a base for simmering vegetables with Thai flavours. You could go all decadent and use full-fat coconut milk from a can, but I used the stuff from a carton again after it worked well with the coconut-braised collards. This is a very flexible recipe, so work with what you have to make this a quick dinner.

Go all out with Thai ingredients like shallots, Kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass, or use onion, lime zest and skip the lemongrass instead. I used sweet basil but Thai basil would be more authentic, although with that terrible licorice flavour. :P Use whatever vegetables you have, and feel free to add tofu or tempeh, too. I used broccoli and carrots with great results and served it overtop some cooked quinoa to sop up the delicious sauce. Using the beverage coconut milk makes this a lighter sauce that is still packed with flavour from the aromatics. It balances the sour, sweet and hot nicely while served on top of crisp vegetables. Authentic or not, it definitely tastes great. Enjoy!

This is my submission to this month’s Herbs on Saturdays.

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