the taste space

Balsamic-Maple Brussels Sprouts & Sweet Potato & Giveaway for But I Could Never Go Vegan!

Posted in Book Review, Favourites, Sides by janet @ the taste space on December 4, 2014

But I Could Never Go Vegan.Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

Rob is away this week for work. He likes to update me on his day-to-day life…. like what they serve for breakfast at work, especially when it is unusual like Brussels sprouts. I would be excited about that, too! I have had Brussels for breakfast once, when we used them in this curried dill tofu scramble. Turns out I had just made Brussels sprouts as a vegetable side and it was so good, I could possibly consider eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I mean it includes all good things: roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted sweet potato, both in a sticky tangy-sweet glaze courtesy of balsamic vinegar and maple syrup. I like how the nutritional yeast adds a tackiness to the marinade and thickens it up, helping it to coat all the vegetables. I opted to skip the dried cranberries and I excluded them purely on principle. I had a sneaking suspicion that fresh/frozen cranberries would be surreal in here. I included them in this Balsamic Curry Roasted Vegetable dish and their tart juiciness would have complemented the dish well.

Kristy's Balsamic-Maple Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes

The recipe is courtesy of Kristy’s new cookbook, But I Could Never Go Vegan!I have been a long-time reader of her blog, where Kristy creates the creative recipes and her husband, Chris Turner, takes the most gorgeous photos. (You totally know he gets the credit for the top photo).

Kristy’s book is a cute foray into vegan cuisine. She aims to convince you that will not be lacking anything while munching vegan-style. Each chapter was created with recipes targetted to bust vegan myths: All Those Special Ingredients are Way More Expensive; I Could Never Give Up Cheese!; Where Would I Get My Protein?; Tofu Doesn’t Taste Like Anything; Vegan Cooking is Too Hard; Where’s the Beef?; Just Thinking about Salad Makes Me Yawn; What About Brunch?; Fake “Foods” Freak Me Out; It’s All Rabbit Food; Not Soup Again!; I’d Miss Pizza; Can’t I Be Pescatarian Instead?; My Friends Won’t Want to Come Over for Dinner; No Way. I’m Italian (or Southern/German/Mexican/French); But I Hate (Insert Vegetable Here); I Don’t Want to be Left Out at Potlucks and Family Get-Togethers; You Can’t Bake Without Butter Or Eggs; Wait, Is Chocolate Vegan?; But I Scream for Ice Cream.

Yeah, she definitely covers her bases! Her recipes span the simple and easy (see below) but also mostly on the elaborate side: Potato Sauerkraut Soup with Sausage Crumbles, Buffalo Cauliflower Calzones with Cashew Blue Cheese, Pretzel Dumplings with Mushroom-Sauerkraut Gravy; Salisbury Seitan Phyllo Pouches with Rosemary Mashed Potatoes. I may be wrong but I only recognize a few recipes from her blog: Spinach Artichoke Soup, Chickpea Sloppy Joes and Jackfruit Tuna Salad Sandwich. There may be others, but those were the ones I recognized and previously bookmarked. These sprouts and sweets are similar (and likely improved) from her Cheesy Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Broccoli dish. I am certainly looking forward to cooking through these recipes. One can not help but to be inspired by the photography and recipes.

Recipes spotted elsewhere:

(Vegan) BBQ Bacon Burgers

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Kristy's Balsamic-Maple Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes

Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me about the hardest that prevents (or used to prevent you) from becoming vegan. The winner will be selected at random on December 15, 2014. Good luck!

I am sharing this with Shaheen’s Eat Your Greens and Virtual Vegan Potluck.

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Sweet Potato and Coconut Curry

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on November 18, 2014

Sweet Potato and Coconut Curry

And like that, winter arrived. The snow dropped in full force and actually stuck around a bit.

I had a few short weeks for biking. My broken leg meant I was not fit for biking earlier this fall but it was nice while it lasted.

And what is better during the cold weather than a warm bowl of curry?

To keep things simple in the kitchen, I have resorted to remaking some favourites and making twice as much.

Most of my favourites have already been shared  (Tamarind Lentils, Bengali Cauliflower Dal, Creamy Broccoli Dal, and Root Veggie Curry), so it does not surprise me to share yet another easy, delicious and healthy curry. This is one I first discovered while testing/eating through Gena’s fabulous cookbook and has become a staple ever since. Having blog worthy photos also helps keep me more speedy in the kitchen.

So, please, grab yourself a huge sweet potato and make a double batch. It freezes well should you want to save it until a colder day.

Sweet Potato and Coconut Curry

I am sharing this with Souper Sundays.

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Sweet Potato Vegan Shepherd’s Pie with Coconut Whipped Sweet Potatoes

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on November 6, 2014

Sweet Potato Vegan Shepherd's Pie with Coconut Whipped Sweet Potatoes

Even for me, this recipe seems a bit long and bothersome. However, I implore to try it out.

Let’s break this recipe down so it is not too daunting. Thankfully, even the sweet potato coconut mash topping could stand-alone on a Thanksgiving spread.

Sweet Potato Vegan Shepherd's Pie with Coconut Whipped Sweet Potatoes

First, start with roasting your sweet potatoes. I honestly would have double next time. I would not judge you if the potatoes never made it to the shepherd’s pie.

I started with my favourite recipe for Roasted Sweet Potatoes (Low and Slow) which coaxes and highlights their natural sweetness. I made them the night before so this recipe would work fabulously with leftover roasted sweet potatoes, too. Despite roasting 3 big potatoes, I wanted more volume. I ran out of drinkable non-dairy milks so I grabbed a can of lite coconut milk. Just a touch whipped into the spuds created a silky sweet puree. Inspired by Candle Cafe’s Paradise Casserole’s mash, I added some miso as well. You could stop right here with a delicious side.

Sweet Potato Vegan Shepherd's Pie with Coconut Whipped Sweet Potatoes

Let’s pretend you still want to make the whole shepherd’s pie, though. I used a mix of beans, which along with carrot, mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes had a nice texture. Balsamic vinegar and nutritional yeast added a nice depth and if you have red wine, that would work well here, too. I used a pressure cooker for my lentils, overcooking them slightly, but this was a great way to use them. I also slightly overcooked my butter beans (pressure cooker equilibration issues) but the butter beans were a fantastic counterfoil to the smaller bits. They don’t call them butter beans for nothing. Rancho Gordo’s Florida butter beans were silky smooth, almost like butter! :P

I tried to have a good sweet potato-mash to filling ratio, with a decent height with the mash. I chose a smaller but high casserole dish, as opposed to a 9×13″ pan. I think it worked out really well. The sweet potato mash makes this a less traditional shepherd’s pie but since it is vegan, can I really claim any authenticity?

Sweet Potato Vegan Shepherd's Pie with Coconut Whipped Sweet Potatoes

I am sharing this with Bookmarked Recipes and My Legume Love Affair.

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Abby’s Vegan Pumpkin Pie with a Pecan-Oat Crust

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by janet @ the taste space on September 30, 2014

Abby's Vegan Pumpkin Pie with a Pecan-Oat Crust

While it still feels like summer in Toronto, it is hard to believe Thanksgiving is quickly approaching. And as I was writing up my recipe for raw macadamia vanilla cream, I realized I never shared this fabulous recipe with you.

It still makes me smile that one of my co-workers, Abby, made a vegan and gluten-free pumpkin pie with me in mind for last year’s Thanksgiving.  Abby graciously let me take home all the leftovers which I enjoyed. Sadly, I was hoping to get better photos. I don’t think these do it any justice but figured I should still share the great recipe with you.

Abby's Vegan Pumpkin Pie with a Pecan-Oat Crust

Pumpkin pies are ubiquitous in the US around Thanksgiving but this pie was better than your traditional fare. A mixture of both pumpkin and sweet potato purees with a custard texture from tofu worked really well here. It was perfectly sweetened with a hint of savoury notes from the cinnamon and nutmeg. The recipe will make more filling than you need for one pie, which might work out nicely if you have a vegan friend who really wants all the leftovers. ;)

The crust was awesome, too, just a bit on the brown side, but with a spiced pecan background that worked well with the pumpkin pie.  As I pay more attention to the recipe, it looks like Abby took some inspiration for the crust from my pecan-shortbread crust I used with a lemon-cheesecake. You may not even need to pre-bake the crust like Abby did, so keep that in mind.

Are you ready for fall yet?

Abby's Vegan Pumpkin Pie with a Pecan-Oat Crust

I am sharing this with Simple and In Season and the Virtual Vegan Link-Up. (more…)

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tamales

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on January 28, 2014

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tamales

A 13-hour post and then some.. with a lot of help from some friends.

Tamales are not hard to make. They are just a tad labour intensive.

After gathering a few friends for a tamalada (tamale making party), the hardest part did not occur while making the tamales. Frankly, the hardest part is now writing up the (very lengthy) recipe. Kidding aside, for the tamale execution, the hardest part was not overstuffing my steamer.  If I were still in Toronto, the hardest part would likely be locating dry corn husks.

I first made these tamales with Rob when we were still in Toronto. I originally thought about making tamales after we had bought a bunch of fresh corn and had all these corn husks. Ever the thrifty type, I reasoned they would be great for tamales. Let it be known that Ontario corn husks do not make for good tamale wraps: they are just too small and/or require too much precision to rip the husks off without making the pieces too small. In any case, the seed was planted and Rob eventually tracked down corn husks at Kensington Market.

We sat together in our new kitchen, made the sweet potatoes, the black beans and the corn dough… and even a red sauce (Rob definitely made the red sauce). And then delicately wrapped each tamale. I counted 50. After an hour of steaming, they were delicious but we worked late into the night. We vowed to make this a group effort next time.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tamales

Fast forward a few years later, where a Mexican Farmer’s Market is our supermarket of choice in Houston and we see corn husks all.over.the.place. For a fraction of the price of what we paid in Toronto, too. $2 bought us a big bag of corn husks (a pound, I checked). (Should I peddle corn husks across the border??). I knew it was time to resurrect the tamales!

Between 6 of us, it took no time to roll and wrap the tamales. I didn’t even wrap any! The whole ordeal was finished before I had cleaned up the kitchen. The corn husks were also probably larger as we only made around 25-30 this time.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tamales

A bit about the recipe. It is a mashup from a few cookbooks. Thankfully I found a few online sources to help me cobble together my notes from a few years ago: Tess’ corn fluff stuff from RHIW with the beans and sweet potatoes from Viva Vegan. Tamales are known to be quite heavy with a lot of oil (even Terry’s original recipe calls for a cup of shortening/margarine) but I cut the oil by incorporating the black beans directly into the masa dough.

The black bean mixture and sweet potatoes both added nice flavours and worked well with the corn fluff stuff. We didn’t bother with a red sauce this time and instead (happily) resorted  to Trader Joe’s corn and chile tomato-less salsa.

This was a fun experiment because we had a bit of trouble getting the tamales to cook all the way through in the steamer. The tamales we took out later were more cooked, whereas some of the earlier ones were still a bit mushy. Still edible and delicious, but not exactly what we were anticipating. I photographed leftover tamales and the last photo here is Robbie-style so you can see all the nooks and crannies in the tamale from the corn husk mold. Perhaps steaming them in smaller batches would be a better solution.

With still many corn husks remaining and even more masa harina, there will be another tamalada. Perhaps I will finally make those chocolate tamales after all. Have you ever made tamales before?

For those who blog: How long would you say it takes to make one post? When you factor in shopping for ingredients, cooking, photographing and editing in addition to the post, it certainly adds up!

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tamales

This is my submission for Meatless Mondays from A to Z for potatoes. (more…)

Thai Sweet Potato and Kabocha Squash Stew

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on November 11, 2013

Thai Sweet Potato and Winter Squash Stew

I have mastered eating leftovers, which is the ultimate way to cook for one. I did not really think I would cook differently while Rob was away, but towards the end of nearly 5 weeks without Rob, I had little interest in making complete meals.

And then, suddenly, when I knew Rob would return (again), all I wanted to do was make something for him to enjoy.
(I just became disinterested in cooking while he was away; Rob had limited use of a kitchen while away)

Thai curry for Rob! With sweet potatoes! And Kabocha squash! AND PEAS! (Rob loves peas!) AND COCONUT! (he likes that, too)

Thai Sweet Potato and Winter Squash Stew

I have already shared with you the main ingredients (plus WHITE BEANS! yay!) so you can imagine the delicious taste of flavours.

The sweet potatoes and Kabocha squash are roasted separately to bring out their sweetness and keep their shape. I don’t like green peas as much as Rob, but I really liked them here, next to the creamy roots. The red curry paste was not overwhelming, and really, I should have added more for Rob’s palate, but I played it safe so I could savour it, too. Instead of using a flour to thicken it up, I simply simmered it longer until it was a nice creamy coconutty consistency.

Thai Sweet Potato and Winter Squash Stew

Joanne’s tantalizing original recipe was actually for a Thai-inspired potpie with a pumpkin biscuit topping, which I am sure would have been lovely… but hey, baby steps, here. This was a glorious curry, even without a topping.

Thai Sweet Potato and Winter Squash Stew
To return the favour of delicious food, I had to ask Rob to photograph the leftovers. If I thought the lack of daylight after work was bad before the daylight savings switch, there is now no way I can make it home before darkness now. So here, is Rob’s signature style photo… because as he puts it, he wants to SEE THE FOOD:

Thai Sweet Potato and Winter Squash Stew

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this month’s Four Seasons Food Challenge for one-pot wonders, to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes and to this month’s No Croutons Required for blogger inspiration.
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Black Bean and Sweet Potato Stew & Cookbook Giveaway!

Posted in Book Review, Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by janet @ the taste space on November 2, 2013

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Stew

Remember that time when I thought fall had arrived in Houston? The morning had a bit of a chill, despite daytime highs that were reminiscent of a typical Toronto summer’s day.

The extreme heat and humidity has somewhat abated, but without the change in the colour of the trees’ leaves, it still does not feel like fall. I continue to wear the same clothes I wore in the middle of the summer (aka short sleeves and shorts).

Although, I know the seasons are changing. The days are getting shorter. I can no longer photograph my dinner, after I return from work. Some days I am home earlier, but most days, I arrive home fairly late, after sunset. The sun is setting earlier, and earlier.

So after Rob made this absolutely delicious black bean soup, I knew I wanted to share it… but I had to photograph it before we finished it off. Instead of depriving Rob of his next dinner, I asked him to photograph it before he devoured the last serving.  I mean, there are a few perks of working from home, and photographing meals during daylight is definitely one of them.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Stew

So… about this soup. Delicious! Loads of black beans and sweet potato chunks are simmered with cumin, oregano and allspice with a broth that is flavoured with red pepper paste (Rob’s creative substitute since we were all out of red bell peppers) and sun-dried tomatoes. Although the balsamic vinegar and lime juice make this special with the tang and acidity. The balsamic finish is definitely making a comeback in my kitchen, since it worked well with the white bean paprikash. Rob also opted to keep the black beans whole, instead of pureeing them. Thus, this was a bean stew instead of a bean soup.

While one might think I have a certain food photography style, it is truly a lazy affair. One camera and one lens. Photo from above and a few photos from the front. Easy, peasy and pretty fool-proof. As long as you can keep things in focus as you hover above the food. ;) Although the next photo shows you Rob’s signature in-your-face style:

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Stew

The inspiration for this soup came from Dreena’s latest ecookbook, Plant-Powered 15, filled with 15 whole-foods vegan recipes without any oil or gluten. I know I have a few readers who are no-oil vegans, so this would be perfect for you. Even if you are not eating oil-free (like me!), you will still enjoy the bright flavours. As I have said before, I really like Dreena’s recipes. In particular, we adore her Lemon Mediterranean Lentil SaladJerk ChickpeasThai Chickpea Almond CurryTomato Lentil Cumin and Dill Soup and Thai Coconut Corn Stew.

Dreena’s ebook spans breakfast, oil-free salad dressings, mains like vegan burgers and even a few desserts. With the help of Nicole, there are gorgeous photos of each recipe. Instead of misleading you, Dreena has allowed me to share Nicole’s photo of the soup:

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

Dreena has already shared the recipe for Umami Almond, Quinoa, and Sundried Tomato Burgers, her cashew-based Wonder Spread and Sticky Almond Blondies as teasers for the cookbook. However, even more exciting is that she is graciously offering a copy of her ecookbook to two of my readers! Because this is an electronic version, it is open to anyone is the world! (Woohoo!) To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite Dreena recipe. If you haven’t made anything by Dreena yet, have a look through the table of contents of Plant-Powered 15 (or another one of her books/blog) and tell me what you want to cook the most. I will randomly select a winner on November 15, 2013. Good luck!

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this month’s No Waste Challenge for root vegetables and to this month’s My Legume Love Affair hosted by Denny.

Note: I purchased my own copy of Dreena’s cookbook.  I was under no obligation to share a review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

PS. The winner of the Isa Does It! giveaway is Josiane. I will be in contact with you.

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Jackfruit and Kimchi Sweet Potato Poutine with Tofu

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on September 21, 2013

Jackfruit and Kimchi Sweet Potato Poutine with Tofu

Compared to most other fellows, I have it pretty good. Right now, I have very limited call and my hours are fairly regular. However, I still spend around 12 hours at the hospital each day, plus an hour for my commute. This is partly self-induced since my first few hours are spent at the hospital fitness center. It is quite impressive. I still marvel at their selection of classes that start prior to 7 am (4-5 different classes depending on the day).

In any case, it is no wonder that Rob, working from home, with regular hours and no commute, has more time on his hands. The best part is that it has transcended into the kitchen for some delicious meals. Epic meals, at that. Rob has been neglecting his blog, especially for recipes, so I’ve decided to blog his culinary creations. Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on this one.

One of our favourite restaurants in Toronto is Banh Mi Boys and we nearly always ordered their tofu-kimchi sweet potato poutine. It is a riff on traditional poutine, a Canadian delicacy of potato fries covered in gravy and cheese. Their Asian fusion version has crispy sweet potato fries (our request), covered with kimchi, marinaded tofu, sprinkled with green onions and the mayonnaise is on the side (as per our request). Hannah shared a lovely photo of it here. They also have a pulled pork version for carnivores.

We have been fantasizing about making our own version for awhile, after we discovered how wonderful beer transformed sweet potatoes into crispy fries. With the boon of (vegan) kimchi, it was only a matter of time. Beer-Soaked Sweet Potato Fries + BBQ Jackfruit meat + kimchi + baked tofu. Rob added mayo to his which is what he photographed. He took all the photos for this, including step-by-step documentation of the components.

Jackfruit and Kimchi Sweet Potato Poutine with Tofu

Jackfruit and Kimchi Sweet Potato Poutine with Tofu

Jackfruit and Kimchi Sweet Potato Poutine with Tofu

Jackfruit and Kimchi Sweet Potato Poutine with Tofu

Don San Foods vegan Kimchi

I didn’t want this to fade away into our memories, so here’s to a special recipe for you to try, too.

PS. For those interested, Rob shared the photos from our Portland, Oregon and Burning Man vacation here.

Jackfruit and Kimchi Sweet Potato Poutine with Tofu

This is my submission for this month’s Bake Fest, and to this month’s Four Seasons Food for Sliding into Autumn.

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Moosewood’s Caribbean Stew (& Cookbook Giveaway!)

Posted in Book Review, Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by janet @ the taste space on September 3, 2013

Moosewood's Caribbean Stew

You may not have noticed, but I snuck away last week. An absolutely epic road trip, starting at Portland, the vegan mecca, meandering through lakes and mountains, including Crater Lake, reaching our ultimate destination: Burning Man. I hope to summarize our adventures and if I don’t I’ll be sure to share if Rob posts anything on his website. He is much better at looking through photos afterwards. I have a hard enough time keeping track of my food photos. ;)

Before we left, I tried to cook through our pile of produce. Serendipitously, I had everything for this delicious Caribbean Stew. It is from Moosewood’s latest cookbook: Moosewood Restaurant Favorites. Through their collective, they run a restaurant in Ithica, New York, and have written many cookbooks over the past few decades. Most of my Moosewood cookbooks were bought/discovered at used book sales, although they are still keeping up with the times. Their latest cookbook, while not entirely vegan (they still use cheese, although less than before) and not even vegetarian (they have recipes for fish), includes updates from their restaurant favourites. Between their section dedicated to Soups (Thai Butternut Squash Soup, Texas Barbecue Bean Soup, Red Lentil Soup), to Main Dish Salads (Peruvian Quinoa and Vegetable Salad), to Curries and Stews (Lentil-Vegetable Sambar, Navajo Stew), a section dedicated to Beans (Basque Beans, Caribbean Red Beans, Creole Red Beans), and sides (Lentil Dhal), I was very pleased with their vegan recipes.

Moosewood's Caribbean Stew

And this Caribbean Stew? It did not disappoint. A delicious medley of sweet potato, red bell pepper, tomato, cabbage and kale in a flavourful (not too) spicy broth made with ginger and green chiles. The dash of nutmeg and lime finish kept this special. As part of their growing process, Moosewood recommends more fresh herbs than before (I learned that lesson, too!) and this included fresh ginger, thyme and cilantro. They also recommended freshly grated nutmeg which is definitely more potent than pre-bought powdered. I modified the original recipe slightly, noted below. I decreased the ginger, although I probably didn’t need to be scared of the bit of heat it would impart. I also found the directions to cook everything on low to be too slow, so I increased my heat to medium-low and eventually medium. In the end, though, it was a fabulous soup. Tons of veggies with a delicious broth. A bit lacking in the protein department, I served it with the suggested brown rice. I bet you could easily sneak in some beans or tofu in there, too.

I really want to share this cookbook with you. Thankfully the publisher is letting me give away a cookbook to one reader living in the US or Canada. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite Moosewood dish. If you haven’t made anything by Moosewood yet, have a look through the table of contents of Moosewood Restaurant Favorites on amazon (or my list below) and tell me what you want to cook the most. I will randomly select a winner on September 15, 2013. Good luck!

Other Moosewood recipes I have shared:

French Barley Salad
Bulgur Chili
Chinese Cabbage and Fermented Black Beans
Spanish Green Bean and Lime Bean Stew
Japanese Winter Stew
African Pineapple Kale Peanut Stew
Italian Stew with Winter Squash and Chickpeas
Thyme-Spiced Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Cranberries.

Moosewood's Caribbean Stew

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and to this month’s Flavours of Caribbean.

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Crispy Beer-Soaked Sweet Potato Fries

Posted in Favourites, Sides by janet @ the taste space on March 8, 2013

Beer-Soaked Crispy Sweet Potato Fries

If my weakness is beans and greens, Rob’s weakness is beer.

I may hoard and admire my (completely edible) bean collection. Likewise, Rob drinks through his beer collection. I will admit that I know very little about beer, other than I have yet to meet a beer I like. Rob has given up on getting me to sample his beers. I am pretty confident that whatever makes a beer a beer (hops?) is what I don’t like, which cannot be masked by hints of chocolate or lime or whatnot.

When we travelled to Quebec last summer, we made sure we stopped off at a beer store to stock up on beers that are not easily available in Toronto. We found a beer haven closeby, Veux-Tu Une Biere?, that had over 250 different microbrewed beers. Rob picked out beers that tasted like chocolate and raspberry, chocolate and espresso, espresso solo, coriander and orange, lime, pumpkin, juniper berries and orange peel, rye, scotch (yes, scotch beer), cognac (yes, cognac beer) and who knows what else. Without having to worry about customs, we returned with enough beer to last until our move to Houston.

Beer-Soaked Crispy Sweet Potato Fries

Rob let me pick him one to try. He has non-mainstream tastes. His favourite beer last year was a Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout. Let’s just say my father and brother didn’t appreciate it as much as him.  So while at the beer store, I tried to get Rob to buy spruce beer. Turns out you can find that one in Toronto and one of our friends thought it tasted like a forest. A no go. I ended up picking one with a demon on the front. I have classy tastes. (It also said it won a beer award). Turns out my choice was a winner (except I can’t remember what it was). Too bad Rob only bought one. He bought two of the other beers. However, not all beers were as fabulous. Which is lucky for me, because normally Rob says his beers are too good for me to use in the kitchen. They say you shouldn’t cook with a wine you won’t drink, but this is what you do with beer you don’t like. Any beer will do because you cannot taste it.

I cook with wine but don’t cook with beer because I am afraid of that “beer” taste lingering. I bookmarked this highly-praised recipe for beer-soaked fries but it wasn’t until Ellen tried it and reassured me: a) the fries were fantastic “Not sure what the beer does for the outside of the fries, but there is some marvelous alchemy going on…”, and b) you could not taste the beer, did we venture to try our hands at beer-soaked fries. Rob picked out one of his not-so-fabulous beers (a lime pale lager) and whipped up these fabulous fries.

I am not joking. These were resto-quality, crispy (baked) fries. We used a mix of white and sweet potato but I was partial to the sweet potato fries. All you do is marinade the fries for 15 minutes in the beer, then toss with garlic, oil, salt and pepper, and wait a painful 30-45 minutes as they bake. Next time, I may throw other spices on it like I have done before.

Apparently you can reheat the leftovers. I will admit, there was nothing left over. Demolished. All of it. Now to find more yucky beers.

Do you cook or bake with beer? Or just drink it?

Savoury beer uses, here and elsewhere:

Dill and Cheddar Beer Bread

Beer-Baked White Beans at The Bitten Word

Beer-Stewed Pinto Beans (Frijoles Borrachos) by Nava Atlas

Beer Hummus at Sprint 2 the Table

Smoky Chipotle Vegetarian (Beer) Chili with Parmesan-Black Pepper Beer Bread at Joanne Eats Well With Others

Belgium Beer-Bathed Seitan Stew from Vegan Eats World or Vegan Planet

Seitan Goulash with Kraut over Parsleyed Noodles from American Vegan Kitchen

Tempeh Sauerkraut Brew Stew from Vegan Appetite

Vegan Chocolate Guinness Cake from Keep It Simple Foods

Beer-Soaked Crispy Sweet Potato Fries

This is my submission and to this month’s Simple and in Season, this month’s No Food Waste Challenge for alcohol and to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

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Cinnamon-Roasted Beet and Sweet Potato Spelt Berry Salad

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by janet @ the taste space on February 12, 2013

First of all, thank you so much for your kind words about my refrigerator woes, and an immense amount of gratitude goes to my friends and family for offering to help store our food over the weekend. You’d think there would be an emergency fridge delivery service, eh? Or maybe our landlord just opted for the “deliver it on Monday” option. Suffice it to say we had three days without fridge stuff.

How did we manage? Oatmeal. Twice a day. I am only partly joking. If I going to make a single serving of any food, it better be quick. Hence, the oats. I jazzed them up as a dessert pudding with chocolate protein powder, which is also how I ate them for breakfast, too. Still tasty.

Rob and I also unearthened some of our favourite foods from the freezer. It is amazing what I had forgotten that been stashed away. I had the forethought to freeze meals in single servings (or 2), so it was perfect. Freezer meals don’t have to be shabby. We had memories of summer produce by munching through Greek Stewed Swiss Chard With Tomatoes, Mint and Lima Beans, Peruvian Mayocoba Bean Bowl with a Roasted Pepper Sauce, Iraqi-Inspired Eggplant and Seitan Stew and even older but (still) goodie Cauliflower, Spinach and Chickpea Balti. Score!

I also experimented with frozen oats and frozen stir fries. Meals that I had made before the fridge died but then stashed outside, in the winter chill, to freeze. It works! Turns out I am not the first person to have figured out you can freeze steel-cut oatmeal (Trader Joe’s even sells it). You can rest assured I will be sharing those recipes eventually (the stir-fry, not how to freeze oats). :)

In the meantime, I am sharing a cinnamon-spiced beet and sweet potato salad with spelt berries and kale. Ashley raved about Kath’s salad, so I had been meaning to try it out for a while. Plus, Valentine’s Day is all about the red foods, eh? Bring on the beets! :)

I’ve gone the savoury cinnamon route before (Strawberry and Roasted Chickpea Salad with a Cinnamon VinaigretteMoroccan Barley and Pea Shoot Salad, Cherry Collard Dolmas) and this was pretty good, too. I won’t gush its praises but it was fit for a weeknight meal (maybe not for anti-kale guests). It may seem like an involved salad but you just need to prepare each component separately – the cinnamon-roasted beets and sweets, the spelt berries, the sauteed kale and finally, the dressing.

I have had problems with burned spices when added to roasted vegetables, but this worked out. The sweetener from the dressing helps to accentuate the earthiness of the cinnamon. I imagine adding maple syrup to the veggies while roasting would be delicious as well.

How are you celebrating Valentine’s Day? Red food? Chocolate? Or nothing at all, since every day is an awesome celebration of love? I vote for the latter, but I know Rob is planning a special home-cooked meal for me later this week. He has leaked that it will involve frozen bananas. (Exciting! Nothing more sexy than your man in an apron, no?) :)

This is my submission for this month’s No Croutons Required for potatoes and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

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TVP Sloppy Joes Stuffed Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on January 29, 2013

One of the things I liked about Vegan For Life is that there are recommendations supported by science. Two servings of fruit are good and just 2 tsp of oil a day is a good idea. And that whacky TVP? It isn’t as scary as you may think. It may be a processed soy product, but it is basically defatted soy flour that is high in protein. A varied diet is more important. Everything in moderation is ok.

This may or may not have given me the nudge to use up the last of my TVP that had been languishing in my pantry. I bought it planning to make Cara’s Pumpkin Gingerbread Protein Bars, and then bookmarked Laura’s Squash Breakfast TVP and Maple TVP Oatmeal but happy I eventually settled on making these TVP Sloppy Joes.

Not that I grew up eating Sloppy Joe’s. I don’t think I have ever eaten the real thing, but I know this tasted good. A sweet tomato sauce accentuated with Worcestershire sauce, mustard and liquid smoke. A bit sweet for me with the added sweetener, so I suggest not adding it until the end to see if it needs it. The TVP confers a granular hamburger meat texture. I am thinking mashed lentils could be a good substitute next time.

Instead of the standard bun, I piled the sloppiness overtop a roasted baked potato. Paired wonderfully.

What do you think of TVP?

Here are my other meals with TVP:

Pumpkin Chili
Brazilian Black Bean Stew with Portobello Mushrooms (Portobello Feijoada)
Beefy Portobello Mushroom and Cranberry Stew

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

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Carrot Ginger Lime Soup with Sweet Potato Hummus (& What to do with leftover roasted sweet potatoes)

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Sides, Soups by janet @ the taste space on January 15, 2013

Carrot Ginger Lime Soup

Some people hate leftovers. (hi Mom!)

Personally, I love them. I enjoy freshly cooked food, but I love not cooking after work even more.

This is how to re-purpose leftovers into something new. The best of both worlds?

Pre-roasted sweet potatoes can be integrated into different meals.

They can easily be added to your salad of the week, but for something a bit more different, add them into a curry-flavoured sweet potato hummus for a filling dip or sandwich spread. Even though I added lemon juice to Gena’s recipe, I found it lacking the tang and bite I associate with traditional hummus. In retrospect I probably should have added some garlic, too. Still a nice dip for crackers and veggies and it travelled well while snowshoeing.

Tired of hummus leftovers? Run out of crackers and veggies? Already added it to your sandwich/wrap?  Trust me, there was a time when I couldn’t finish a batch of hummus within a week, so I understand. But now, I make a batch nearly every week. Carrots and hummus were my dessert of choice on my sweetener-free challenge.

In a land of plenty (and deficiency), you become creative. We had run out of roasted sweet potatoes but still wanted to make this carrot ginger lime soup. Of course, the reason we ran out of sweet potatoes is because I put them in the sweet potato hummus. So why not use the sweet potato hummus instead of the sweet potato? My only qualms about Tess’ original recipe for the soup is that it isn’t a meal-in-a-bowl. I prefer filling soups. Hummus, with the additional beans and tahini, adds the much needed protein and fat. A few crumbled Mary’s crackers and I had a delicious meal. One I wanted to remake hummus just to slurp the soup again when I returned home. Because it was that good and I wanted a photo to share, too.

Either way you make it, this is a simple soup. Boil nondairy milk with carrots until they are soft. Bake your sweet potato or go all out and make some sweet potato hummus. Then combine it along with ginger and lime in your blender. The cilantro topping is completely optional. Creamy, flavourful. A new way to enjoy hummus. Boo-yah! :)

Here are some other carrot soups that I’ve had my eye on:

Roasted Carrot and Lentil Soup with Harissa and Mint
Carrot and Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Miso and Thyme
Moroccan Carrot Soup
Carrot Soup with Ginger and Lemon
Carrot Soup with Miso and Sesame at Smitten Kitchen
Carrot Soup with Tahini and Crisped Chickpeas at Smitten Kitchen
Carrot and Tahini Soup at Joanne Eats Well With Others
Carrot Ginger Soup with Tahini at Cara’s Cravings
Creamy Orange Sunshine Soup (Carrot/Orange/Ginger/Cashew) at Oh She Glows
Curried Carrot Parsnip Soup at Eating Appalachia

Carrot Ginger Lime Soup

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this week’s Weekend Wellness, to this month’s Credit Crunch Munch hosted by Helen and Camilla, to this month’s No Croutons Required with soups/salads featuring leftovers and to this month’s Herbs on Saturday.

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The Best Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Adzuki Bean and Quinoa Kale Salad

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads, Sides by janet @ the taste space on October 3, 2012

While tackling my list of bookmarked recipes, I knew not everything would be a winner.

My criteria for my eats? First of all, it must be whole foods oriented (nothing white- flour, rice, etc) with limited oil and salt. A lover of most international cuisines, I try not to discriminate but it must be filled with ingredients I love. Beans! Quinoa! Greens! Squash! Lemon!  I also like to see a few reviews of the recipe. N=30 is better than n=1 for liking a dish.

I may try to incorporate a new-to-me food or one I haven’t previously enjoyed. I won’t even try to like celery, though. I have given up on green pepper. And now I have sworn off parsley, too.

I have a few parsley recipes here, although usually it is just a flavour accent. I should have known better, and even thoguh I reduced the parsley in this salad, it was still too prominent for me. My parsley came from a friend, so perhaps this local, organic homebrew was more potent?

In any case, this recipe is a knock-off of Fresh‘s All-Star Tabbouleh Salad with adzuki beans and quinoa. It made its rounds earlier this summer, first posted by Angela and subsequently Kass. Sadly, I give very few stars to the salad.

But, all is not lost because extra stars go to the absolute best roasted sweet potatoes ever. I know, a very ballsy statement. I have a witness. Rob agreed with me. So, you have n=2 from us. Lots of positive reviews from Kath’s post, which I bookmarked many moons ago.

Suffice it to say, it may take a while, but the roasted sweet potatoes have a nice skin on the outside while being pillowy soft on the inside. After a little rub of olive oil, salt and pepper, you roast them at 350F for 30 minutes, then 400F for 20 minutes. A simple flick of the knob makes for the most glorious sweet potatoes.

Please try it out and let me know whether you like it, too! Perfect for an upcoming Thanksgiving feast. :)

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

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Quinoa Wraps with Sweet Potato, Tofu Feta and a Sweet Tahini Dipping Sauce

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on September 28, 2012

This is the story of a picnic that didn’t happen, twice.

We had full intentions of getting together with friends, having a picnic together on the island.  However, after a weather forecast of 100% rain, the plans were abandoned. Rob and I stayed at home and relished in a relaxing afternoon together.

Together, we still continued with our picnic menu: Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potatoes and Dried Iranian Limes. I figured a grain salad would travel well but may not be too picnic-friendly (who was going to bring plates?) so I thought it would be neat to stuff it into a wrap. Rice paper rolls for company and kale wraps for me! I figured a tahini dipping sauce would bring this over the edge, so we plunged forward with our ornate plans.

Ottolenghi called this a quinoa salad, but really it is a quinoa-basmati-wild rice salad. The mix of grains tickles the tongue with the contrasting textures. They are paired with roasted sweet potatoes in a savoury dressing with sauteed sage and oregano and fresh mint. Oh, and dried Iranian lime. A hard to find ingredient that I picked up while in NYC at Kalustyan’s (although it is available locally). You can stop right here and have yourself a delicious salad. Perfectly balanced, it was a nice salad. Definitely Thanksgiving friendly, I might add.

However, I took the next step: tofu feta. Tofu marinaded in lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, garlic and miso, coupled with a creamy cashew sauce. I will admit that this does not taste at all like feta. It did, however, have a nice burst of lemony tartness and miso greatness. The cashew sauce added to the silkiness that was wonderful once we wrapped them up. I am definitely no stranger to wrapping up salads, having everything hit your palate at the same time.

So after the wrap, we took it one step further. A sweet tahini dipping sauce with garlic.

We had hit it: Gastronomic bliss.

By this time, though, it had started raining and we couldn’t do our own picnic, either. So we went upstairs and picnicked on the windowsill, watching it rain in all its glory. We do a little cheer every time it rains since it means we don’t have to water the garden. ;)

We also found out that these were very messy rolls… and best to eat with a plate underneath. ;)

This is my submission to this month’s Herbs on Saturday, to this week’s Weekend Wellness, Healthy Vegan Fridays  and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays,.

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