janet @ the taste space

Posts Tagged ‘appetizer’

Hempy Peach Salad with a Creamy Balsamic Hummus Dressing

In Appetizers, Favourites, Salads on August 9, 2013 at 6:34 AM

Peach and Hemp Salad with a Creamy Balsamic Hummus Dressing

Going to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches… Millions of peaches, peaches for me. {sing along here}

I swear, I wasn’t planning to share so many salads.

But to combat salad ennuis, I kept mixing up new dressings. I didn’t think it would be so spectacular, but I loved it. And then snapped away some quickie photos for you to enjoy the sights of my salad, too.

Fresh, flavourful ingredients are important for a salad; but like pasta is to sauce, salad can be a vector for dressing.

A simple go-to dressing. With hummus on hand, this is so easy to put together. Hummus, balsamic and mustard. I always taste-test the dressing, but this one was hard to read. As I said, I didn’t really think I’d like it; it seemed too tart. Drizzled next to the sweet peaches, though, it all balanced out.

And to finish off my meal? Carrots with the hummus that didn’t make it into the dressing. ;)

Peach and Hemp Salad with a Creamy Balsamic Hummus Dressing

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and this month’s No Croutons Required for seasonal.
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Lemon-Ginger Miso Soup (& My Favourite Recipe App for Android)

In Favourites, Soups on February 21, 2013 at 6:31 AM

Androidians, rejoice!

(Take note, Rob does not approve of said term. He prefers Android users. How boring.)

Since forever, I have been trying to find the perfect way to store my bookmarked recipes.

I have progressed from storing them in emails, then to pinterest and pocket. (I know others use Evernote). I use Eat Your Books primarily for my cookbook collections. Although I can upload other recipes, too, I prefer to have the directions along with the recipe list. :)

A lot of people have a hard time understanding pinterest. What is it for? How does it work? I try to explain it is a picturesque way to bookmark links. Pictures with links. It is used to inspire. My biggest pet peeve is the lack of searchability, which limits its use as a workable list of recipes. I can’t search for all the recipes with mango instance. Furthermore, it only links to a website which can later be modified or even vanish. Hence my migration to pocket, which I mainly use as an offline web reader now. Because you can’t search that one either.

I recently discovered a crazy wonderful app that I had to share: ChefTap. (Android only for now)

Designed specifically to store recipes, it does its job.

From the website: ChefTap is the only app on the market that uses an advanced artificial intelligence engine specifically designed to find recipes on any English language web page.

It stores recipes offline, completely searchable, so you always have access to them. It will pick out the recipe, picture, title, etc from any website, even if the recipe is buried under lots of text (like most blog posts). It will sync with epicurious, allrecipes, or your other favourite recipe sites. However, I was in awe that it could export all the recipes from pinterest. Plug in an album and it will crawl all your links and add them to the app. You can’t even export your pins any other way, as far as I know. How awesome is that?

So, I have just begun to use the app (you can change it so it won’t go to sleep on you while cooking, wahoo!) and I would say the miss rate is around 10% for picking up the wrong title, etc. It is easy to  fix things, though, as it has alternative title suggestions, or move things around like yields and ingredients. Another con is that this is a device-only app, but a complementary web site seems to be in the works.

I started with importing all my pins and will work towards my lengthy email folder filled with recipes. All I need to do is convert the emails into .txt files and they can be easily imported as well. How awesome is that??

I’ll tell you what’s more awesome: This app is free!!

(I bet you thought I was going to say it is only yours for $9.999 or something. I hate that, too! I have yet to be corrupted by commercial influence. Anything I recommend is because I honestly recommend it)

In case you are interested in some of my other favourite apps, here they are:

iAnnotate PDF: For highlighting, marking up pdfs for studying, etc. The Android app is not as smooth at the iPhone one, but the one for Android is free

Any.Do: Great to do app that syncs with google tasks

8tracks: I love the music selection here, but this app is notorious for crashing if I shut off my tablet. Feel free to listen to my playlist (from a few years ago)!

Songza: I haven’t been that wowed by the music selection, but it isn’t that bad

(I love pandora but I can’t get it in Canada, btw).

What are your favourite apps? How do you store recipes?
(I have been bugging Rob to make me a Taste Space app, but that’s likely never to happen…)

Now for today’s recipe!

I don’t know about you, but I am a big suck when I get sick. My energy gets drained and I usually just want to crawl into bed and sleep. The last thing I want to do is cook. The second to last thing I want to do is photograph said food. The third last thing I want to do is write about said food.

Which is why it has taken me so long to share this fabulous soup. I usually bust it out when I am sick. (And yes, I still get sick. My diet does not make me immune from viruses and the like. A flu shot helps, though).

I first made this soup when I lived alone and it has become a sicky staple ever since. As long as my kitchen is reasonably well stocked, there is nothing easier than a bowl of miso soup.

You can go ultra-simple for a fix of miso soup – all you need is miso, hot water and perhaps some green onions. However, Tess’ recipe goes one step beyond: a Lemon-Ginger Miso Soup. Lemon and ginger are great as a pick-me-up when sick, comforting yet zingy. Best of all, though, this soup literally takes 5 minutes to make. Awesome on any given day, but really fabulous when you are under the weather and can’t stand to wait any longer. Just heat up the soup before it boils so that you still get the benefits from miso (heck I do that with my tea as well because I can’t drink boiling water). I really liked the combination of lemon, ginger and miso.

The recipe serves 2, so if a sweetie is cooking for you, they can enjoy it as well. Or if home alone, you can have it as a delicious breakfast the next day.

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Wellness, Virtual Vegan Potluck and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.
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Raw Vegan Smoked Salmon and Scallion Cashew Cheese Cucumber Rolls (Aux Vivres Végé-Lox)

In Appetizers on January 6, 2013 at 6:06 AM

I wasn’t going to join in…

But then I saw this article co-authored by one of my former classmates debunking Dr Oz. I may have done a little cheer and a happy dance. I couldn’t keep quiet. Please read it and tell me what you think.

It seems like the new year ushers in the applause for “healthy” fasts and diets. I condone a balanced diet but not starvation. I don’t believe in miracle foods. While I tried a sweetener-free challenge last month, I am back to eating fruits and chocolate. Fruits are filled with vitamins, anti-oxidants and fiber and too good to pass up.

I am certainly not doing a juice cleanse. I was gifted my grandmother’s juicer, but have only made juice a handful of times so far. I juice because I like the taste of fresh juice. Proponents of juice cleanses focus on the increased consumption of vegetables (more than one could eat in their raw form), lack of fibre and a way to detox your body and lose weight. If you are not one to eat vegetables and enjoy juice, then yes, this could be a way to consume more nutrients found in vegetables but it does not replace eating whole vegetables. If you are healthy, there is no evidence that your liver, kidney or stomach needs a rest to assist removal of toxins. The higher glycemic index of juice (without fibre) may actually cause one to gain weight.

There is evidence, though, that vegan diets (moreso than vegetarian diets) protect against cancer. A study in BMJ from earlier this summer suggests that low carb/high protein diets are associated with an increased risk of adverse cardiovascular events, mainly exacerbated by those consuming animal protein. I recently added a link to Vegan Health on my side bar which has a lot of good information about nutrition advice for vegans, including supplementation (gotta get the vitamin B12), especially if consuming a raw food diet.

In any case, for those of you with a leftover juice pulp otherwise destined for the compost, or those with an excess of carrots, or those who rave about Aux Vivres‘ raw smoked salmon, this dish is for you.

My last visit to Montreal had me visiting the vegan restaurant for a second time. I have recreated their delicious Macro Bowl with tempeh, greens and a miso-tahini sauce, but also wanted to recreate their raw smoked salmon, or végé-lox as they call it. Made with carrot pulp and seasoned with red onion, parsley, dulse and liquid smoke, it is a delicious spread combined with their tofu cream cheese and capers. I used shallots and dill and added capers directly into the spread for a different twist. Instead of tofu, I went all raw with a scallion cashew cheese rolled into a light cucumber roll.

If you want something more sweet for your carrot juice pulp, I highly recommend these raw carrot cupcakes. What is your take on juice fasts? On miracle weight-loss products?

Any favourite recipes for juice pulp?

This is my submission to this week’s Raw Foods Thursday.

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Rosemary Pistachio Hummus (and Tips for Travelling as a Vegan in Colombia)

In Appetizers, Favourites on August 3, 2012 at 6:15 AM

I know many people had their doubts, but yes, you can travel to Colombia as a vegan! Meat and fish abound on resto menus, but thankfully beans are a common vegan staple which were my savior. Fruits and fruit juices abound, and simple salads are also a common feature. Veggie sides are usually fried plantains, yuca or potatoes. Rice, although white rice, is a plenty.

Because I wanted to minimize the fried resto foods, and continue to eat vegan, Rob and I planned for a successful vegan-friendly trip to Colombia. I thought I’d share with you our strategies for vegan eating in Colombia (and no, Rob did not only eat vegan on the trip, too).

1. Plan Ahead – Book accommodations with refrigerators and kitchens

For general Colombian travel advice, definitely plan ahead. All of our accommodations had fridges available and the majority gave me access to a kitchen, as well. Staying in private rooms in hostels is a great way to get the perks of a hostel (kitchen, fridge, social events) as well as the privacy you want from a hotel room. Our hostel‘s kitchen in Salento was so well-stocked it even had a blender and sandwich press! Definitely the marker of a great hostel. :)

2. Bring snacks and protein powder

I brought a few meals and snacks with me to tide me over on the plane and after our arrival. See my new favourite non-traditional hummus recipe, below! I also brought some protein powder as an emergency if I needed a meal replacement, but also to add to whatever breakfast may be. Thankfully I was never without a vegan meal so I just used it with breakfast, as per usual.

3. Bring some cooking essentials

Planning on eating leftovers? Bring some containers to hold them. I was really impressed with my collapsible containers which were leak-proof, sturdy and collapsed easily when empty. I also cannot travel without a small paring knife that I protect with a knife case (obviously needs to go in checked baggage). Ziploc bags are also essential for oodles of things. Just make sure you know which bags had your sunscreen and which were holding food. Do not mix. :P

4. Figure out where you can eat

First, you need to know how to ask for vegan eats which you can find at most restaurants. Happy Cow was also great for locating vegan-friendlier restaurants and health food stores, even if limited in number. Sol del la India was a favourite of ours in Cartagena. I also consulted a few other blogs with vegetarian reviews from Colombian restaurants. Definitely scope out local fruit and vegetable markets as well as grocery stores for other purchases if cooking yourself. The typical Colombian breakfast is coffee/tea/juice, toast, eggs in some form (omelet or scrambled), sometimes an arepa, and fruit. Our B&B in Bogota was kind enough to make oatmeal specifically for me. We ended up cooking our own oatmeal at places that didn’t supply an adequate breakfast.

5. Do a cooking class

We started off our trip in Bogota and as you know, I was really excited about the cooking class. While we needed a Spanish translator (Juan was a vegan, to boot!), we were able to cook with a native Bogotan, in her humble abode that even had fruit trees within her courtyard. This was Dona Elsa’s first vegan cooking class and she was receptive to my requests to make a surplus of food for me to take home with me as leftovers. I was excited to try some new-to-me vegetables prepared ala Colombiano. We ended up making the traditional Colombian salad with avocado, a huge amount of vegetable soup (sancocho without chicken, filled with fava beans, green peas, green beans, squash/pumpkin (auyama), green plantains, carrot, corn, spinach and cilantro), frijoles (Colombian beans), yucca frita (fried yucca), patacones (refried plantains), papa fritas (fried criolle potatoes), fresh lulo juice along with a dessert that I forgot to write down. I was antsy about eating the fried foods but they were great. In fact, these were one of the best meals of the entire trip. The patacones and yucca fritas could not be duplicated elsewhere, in ay resto or when I made them myself in a hostel (I went for a non-stick, low-oil option). Sadly, I know the secret: frying in lots of oil. Twice. ;) Not only was I armed with leftovers, I was now more familiar with the local ingredients and how to prepare them.

Here for the hummus recipe, instead? I don’t blame you… ;)

I don’t know why, but I don’t make hummus on a regular basis. I break it out for parties and when I am travelling. This is currently my favourite non-traditional hummus. It takes a bit more work than your standard hummus, but the results are great. First, you need to saute some shallots (or onion) with rosemary to infuse a small amount of oil for your hummus. Ground pistachios and a touch of tahini are the base for this version that is also spiced with maple syrup and cinnamon. I didn’t think rosemary would pair so well with this, but it was a phenomenal hummus. Sweet, yet savoury. Lighter with the additional water, it isn’t as creamy as a decadent hummus, but you could add more tahini or oil to taste. In short, perfect for me. Enjoy!

Other hummus flavours:

Creamy Low-Fat Hummus

Ginger-Lime-Wasabi Edamame Hummus

Pomegranate Red Pepper Hummus

Bombay Hummus

This is my submission to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Susan, to this month’s Herbs on Saturdays and to this week’s Weekend Wellness.

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Raw King Oyster “Calamari” (or Baked)

In Appetizers, Favourites, Sides on July 26, 2012 at 5:23 AM

Amongst my closer friends and family, I am the only vegan. Quite a few of my friends are vegetarian, but my closest vegan buddy is in Vancouver. That’s across one big country. One of my co-workers is a former vegan, choosing to eat fish as an omega supplement mostly. ;) I have yet to know anyone who has tried raw cuisine without my influence. Most of my friends are adventurist eaters, so I can share my kitchen successes and failures. While I eat vegan mainly for health and environmental reasons, sometimes I wonder about connecting with other like-minded souls.

A few months ago, I travelled with Rob to meet some of his friends from Burning Man. While mostly everyone was vegetarian, it was exciting to meet someone else who also dabbled in raw cuisine. She encouraged me to try banana chips in the dehydrator and told me about one of her raw successes: King Oyster Calamari from Living Raw Food by Sarma Melngailis. Sarma’s restaurant, Pure Food and Wine in NYC, is my favourite raw resto to date, so I was eager to try the dish when I got home. King oyster mushrooms were on sale, too, to boot. I didn’t have the cookbook, but a quick google search led me to Emily’s site which had the recipe.

The recipe was simple: marinate king oyster mushrooms, bread them with spiced ground flaxseeds (works as both the breading and egg-substitute!) and then dehydrate. My new-found friend also gave me a few other tips.

While the recipe says to dehydrate for 2-3 hours, she suggested dehydrating up to 5 hours for them to become really crispy. She also warned me that the whole recipe made a ton of food, so I halved it. (I also quartered the cocktail sauce below, since I ended up thinning it and had an overabundance of sauce leftover). I tinkered with the recipe since I don’t have an Italian spice blend, and instead added whatever looked like an Italian spice from my spice drawer: basil, thyme, marjoram, oregano, sage, parsley. I threw in some dried onion and garlic granules as well as lemon pepper seasoning instead of the black pepper. Even though I used chili powder, too, I dipped my finger in and thought something was missing. I added black salt. Now we were set. (Note to self: next time I may try this with nutritional yeast and smoked paprika, since I liked that with my Asiago-crusted baked zucchini sticks). I had a bit of leftover crumbs, so you could probably increase the number of mushrooms with this mixture – or pack it in more than I did.

Now, if you don’t have a dehydrator, do not fear. You can still make vegan calamari! I made these both ways: raw in the dehydrator for 3 hours and a separate batch for 10 minutes in the oven. I don’t care too much about the raw philosophy of not cooking over 115F, but I love the inventive recipes… so to hurry things up, I stuck some in the oven, too. Both were good great. They honestly tasted like calamari. No hidden mushrooms here (Rob thinks he could taste mushrooms but only because he knew they were in there). Between the two versions, though, I preferred the raw dehydrated ones. They were more crispy and the breading stayed on (some of it stuck to my silpat in my oven version). The oven-baked version had more of a slippery calamari feel to it, though. In any case (or in both cases), Rob said he liked them better than regular calamari since it has a cleaner taste. I also preferred this version instead of the typical deep-fried options you find at restos.  Bright and fresh, healthy food, what’s not to like?

Speaking of connecting with other like-minded souls, I was wondering if I have any readers in the GTA that would like get connected? I was really sad I missed Sarah’s potluck in the park, especially since it looked like it was a lot of fun!

This is being submitted to this month’s Monthly Mingle featuring yellow foods and to this weeks Raw Foods Thursdays.

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Smoked Salmon Sushi Pizza

In Mains (Fish), Appetizers on June 8, 2012 at 6:03 AM

It is true. I am in a Mixed Diet Relationship.

I often get questions how Rob and I duke it out in the kitchen.

In my corner, I am the whole-foods vegan devoid of white flours and sugars.

At the opposite end, we have Rob, who will eat anything.

Thankfully, we actually don’t have segregated corners.

Before I met Rob, he was eating vegetarian at home. Actually, when Rob met me, I was eating a flexitarian diet (mainly vegetarian with occasional fish but I still ate meat, too). Rob had no clue what he was getting himself into, haha!

One of my friends who is vegan won’t allow any meat into his home.  I am definitely not like that but I could see how dietary choices could definitely divide relationships. Thankfully both Rob and I are more accommodating, as well as our friends and families.

At home, Rob and I eat mostly the same stuff. Mostly vegan, although sometimes Rob eats yogurt and adds butter to his granola. There are some Rob-only ingredients, like the red and green curry pastes in the fridge (they include shrimp, so a definite no-go for me). There are some Janet-only foods, too, because Rob doesn’t really care for them- like my Amazing Grass for breakfast. For breakfast fruit, Rob gets the bananas and mangoes while I relish in berries. Rob loves spicy foods, so if cooking for himself, he usually increases the chilies. If cooking for both of us, they fall more into my own comfort zone (1/2 tsp Aleppo max!). Rob also has a sweet tooth and is pretty content to munch through the rare dessert that I make.

I think we’ve got things worked out pretty well in the kitchen, actually.

Rob eats out way more often than I do, which is where he gets his occasional fix of meat. If we Rob cooks meat at home, it is for our guests.  Rob’s last birthday party kind of had me in a tizzy because I didn’t want to cook meat. Rob couldn’t use the barbecue so grilling was out. Thankfully the slow cooker came to the rescue.

I still contend that while I don’t crave it, I probably miss fish the most. Here I am sharing a smoked salmon sushi pizza that I made for a party with mixed company. While traditional sushi can be finicky to make for a large crowd, making a casserole of sushi pizza is much quicker and easier.

I used the seasoned sushi rice from Yo Sushi and the sushi pizza recipe was modified from Bonnie Stern’s HeartSmart Cooking for Family and Friends. I ended up doubling the recipe to fit a 9″x13″ pan but I probably didn’t have to double it. It made a ton of food. My pieces were a bit big which necessitated using a knife and fork to eat, so next time I would opt for smaller bite-sized pieces, with overlapping cucumber slices.

I am still too shy to try a nontraditional raw take on this for a crowd. If I test-run it first, I may have more courage to try Ricki’s vegan sushi pizza next time.

This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Terry.

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Indian Chickpea and Collard Roulade with a Tomato-Mustard Sauce

In Mains (Vegetarian), Appetizers, Favourites on May 11, 2012 at 8:00 AM

It may be a good thing that Sunny and I live further apart.

I won’t get into as much trouble with my grocery shopping.

You see, we needed to get more chickpea flour and tamarind. No better excuse to head out to Sunny’s one last time. I scope out my weekly meals based on the produce that is on sale. I knew oyster mushrooms were on sale, so I planned to make mushroom dal. Green beans were also on sale, so I had planned a meal for that, too.  I still meander through the produce section to see what else is available, though.. and that’s when I get into trouble.

Unadvertised specials: Two bunches of broccoli for $1. Huge collards for 79c/bunch. Hard-to-find green mangoes were spotted. So. Hard. To. Resist. I am weak against fresh, cheap veggies. I succumbed.  I contained myself, though, when I saw a huge amount of mixed baby greens on sale for $3 (it must have been a bag of 20 lbs, I kid you not), though. My weekend menu gets turned upside down. Now I am not entirely sure what I want to make.

In the end, I made the sushi roll edamame collard wraps earlier in the week with the collard greens. By the end of the week, I wanted to try something cooked instead. Continuing on my current Indian kick, I turned to 660 Curries and I was shocked to find a recipe using collards: Roulade of Collard Leaves with a Tomato-Mustard Sauce!  Collard leaves are used to envelope a savoury chickpea flour batter, drizzled with a tomato-mustard sauce. The authentic Indian version uses taro leaves but Iyer insists that collards are a nice, if somewhat chewier substitute. My curiosity was piqued instantly.

My Indian repertoire consists mainly of bean-based curries, so it was nice to try something completely different. This is an appetizer, but it is hearty enough to be a main meal if you eat enough. Here, you make a delectably savoury filling based on chickpea flour spiced with coriander, cumin, chile flakes, ginger and tamarind. Please stop to taste the filling, it is very good. Just don’t eat too much of it because it is then thinly spread overtop collard leaves. With around one tablespoon of batter per leaf, I had my doubts whether this would all stick together in the end. You stack 4 collard leaves on top of each other and tightly roll it together and secure it with a toothpick (or string). Next, your collard roll is steamed until tender and the chickpea batter is cooked. After a bit of cooling, you slice them, then pan-fry them until brown with mustard and cumin seeds and then briefly stew them with some tomato and cilantro to create a quasi-sauce. Dust with some coconut and you have some seriously flavourful collard bites. The collards are meltingly tender, the chickpea filling so tasty and the nibbles are eerily creamy. The extra flavour from the tempered spices make this sing. My tomato-mustard sauce never really delivered, as I may not have had a big enough tomato, but the little smattering of tomato-cilantro was nice in moderation.

I know it seems so complex, but it is fairly simple to make. I’d bust this out for my next Indian fest, though, as it is best when fresh and very impressive, while still pretty easy to make. Iyer says these can be prepared in advance and frozen, which would be a delicious treat to have stored for a rainy day.

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

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Moroccan Vegetable Phyllo Rolls with Balsamic Maple Sauce

In Appetizers, Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) on February 17, 2012 at 6:30 AM

My Mom doesn’t think I should post recipes that I don’t eat myself. I have to trust others to tell me how it tastes but I can tell you how easy it was to make.  Although even Rob and I can disagree on whether we like a dish, considering both Rob and my parents liked the Tel Kadayif, the Turkish shredded phyllo dough dessert, I deemed that a quorum for a good recipe. And with its stupid-easy simplicity, definitely blog-worthy.

This is another dish I made for others at a party, with no intention of eating myself. In fact, I had planned to use half of the stuffing for the phyllo rolls, and just eat the remainder of the filling myself, without the phyllo dough. Somehow, though, I just kept wrapping the phyllo rolls and by the time I looked down, there was no more filling left. Plus, we were already late for the party, so we brought half the rolls with us and left the other half at home to bake later.

These Moroccan phyllo rolls were so good that I ended up eating them for a few meals.

The filling was very nice, filled with roasted vegetables (zucchini, red pepper, onion and fennel) and spiced with all my favourite savoury Moroccan flavours – ginger, paprika, cinnamon and cumin. I have become scared of roasting veggies with spices, so I added the spices to the veggies right after they were finished roasting. The dried apricots added a touch of sweetness and weren’t overpowering in the slightest. The fresh basil added a nice twist, as well. While the original recipe from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan suggests serving these more like a strudel, because this was for a party, I made them into little appetizer phyllo triangles.

These are nice as is, but let me tell how you awesome these rolls are with the Balsamic Maple Sauce. The sauce was so simple to put together, yet filled with flavour. It didn’t even seem like a lot of dressing but a little bit goes a long way. Actually, refrain yourself, because too much sauce could easily overshadow the subtleties of the rolls.

I still have some sauce leftover and wondering what else I could use it with… Dreena suggests drizzling it over steamed veggies, baked sweet potato or using it for anything that needs to be dipped. Sounds like a good plan!

This is being submitted to this month’s Sweet Heat Challenge, featuring Game Night treats and to this week’s Weekend Wellness.

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Raw Kale and Sweet Potato Salad with a Lemon-Dill Dressing

In Appetizers, Salads on November 4, 2011 at 6:21 AM

This is the story of the kale I never had.

We had lofty garden plans. We can grow herbs and hot peppers very well, but some of the veggies never materialized. Some just died like the zucchini, cucumber and rhubarb. I harvested some Swiss chard but not enough to make a whole salad. And the only thing I really wanted to grow from the garden was the kale. I planted different kinds of kale- dinosaur or lacinato, Red Russian, and Vates blue curled kale. The vates blue curled kale grew the best, but even then, it wasn’t much. A handful of leaves, tops.

Imagine my surprise when we went to Rob’s parents place over the (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend and they had this monster of a beauty in their backyard:

A HUGE lacinato kale plant (Rob took this photo AFTER I removed the bottom leaves for this salad)! Rob’s Mom had to stop his Dad  from cutting it down – they had saved the kale for me!

Lacinato or dinosaur kale is an heirloom variety of kale that is dark green with textured leaves. It is more tender and sweet than your standard curly kale, and works really well in salads.  Armed with oodles of kale and a couple hours before the Thanksgiving feast, I quickly made myself at home in their kitchen and got to work making a salad.  It sure is fun to cook in a well-stocked kitchen and garden! Lacinato leaves are more narrow, as well, but they can easily be removed with gentle traction (as seen in this video). I rolled all the leaves together and then cut them into thin slices, akin to a thick chiffonade.  I grabbed some dill from their backyard and added it to a simple lemony vinaigrette, inspired by Ricki. Topped with grated carrots, julienned raw sweet potato and toasted pumpkin seeds, there was a nice orange visual with a serious satisfying crunch. The lemon-dill dressing complemented the salad without being overpowering.

I will likely be known as the kale salad girl by Rob’s family. Two holidays, two raw kale salads. For Easter, I brought the raw kale salad with beets, raisins and almonds. Thanksgiving, was this raw kale salad. Personally, I have no qualms sharing my joy of kale.

They urged me to take home the rest of the kale. I didn’t want it to go to waste, so I left them the leaves at top so the plant would continue to grow. Kale apparently tastes better after the first frost, so I have hope there is still more kale to come!

This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Haalo from Cook (almost) Anything.

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Pomegranate Red Pepper Hummus

In Appetizers, Favourites, Sides on October 25, 2011 at 6:31 AM

While Rob snacked on the local Icelandic delicacies including sweet rye bread, fish and lamb (not the fermented shark meat!), he still thought his best meal was at Glo. I went nearly every day and sometimes he would join in for a meal. His favourite meal was a totally non-Icelandic Moroccan vegetable tagine with couscous. I am still impressed at how wonderful Glo was, considering Iceland has a total of 300,000 people living on the whole island and nearly all produce needs to be imported.

I was warned that I may only find tomatoes and cucumbers in the grocery stores, but trust me, there was much than that available. There were lots of (although at times underripe) fruit at my breakfast buffet in Rekjavik, and the veggies were unparalleled at Glo. In the rural areas, the food was a bit more slim picking, but I had stocked up while in the city. Glo even sells day bags, where you can buy 3 raw meals encompassing breakfast, lunch and dinner with juice and snacks. All for the same price as a fancy dinner Rob would enjoy.

There were some traditional Icelandic products that I enjoyed. They have some fabulous homegrown herbal teas and I brought some home. We also spotted some new Yogi teas, including a delicious Aztec Sweet Chili and Mayan Cocoa Spice that we’ve already finished (eek!). Sadly, I don’t think they even sell them in Canada. :(

In anticipation of not finding much to eat, I made another batch of hummus for the trip.

In retrospect, it was so obvious. Rob preferred the Indian-flavoured Bombay hummus, whereas I preferred this Middle Eastern-spin on hummus that I spotted on Anissa’s blog.

A creamy tahini-based hummus is given the royal treatment with red pepper and pomegranate molasses. Muhammara meets hummus.

While I am happy to have found a new recipe for my red pepper paste, substitute a roasted red pepper for the red pepper paste. The paste is just so much easier since it comes out of a jar.

And yes, pomegranate molasses makes the world so much tastier. :)

This is my submission to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend.

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Creamy Low-Fat Hummus

In Appetizers on October 19, 2011 at 6:25 AM

Hummus, hummus, hummus….

So many different recipes, why even bother following one?

That’s how Rob thinks… and my Mom…

Me, I like to follow recipes.. This way I know I have reproducible results. Not a one-hit wonder.

In fact, my Mom made this first, following the low-fat recipe from Radiant Health, Inner Wealth. My family devoured it. My Dad said he’d gladly eat it any time.

The next time my Mom made hummus, she ad-libbed it. It wasn’t the same.

The hummus looked the same, but it wasn’t as bright and flavourful. It wasn’t as creamy. It just wasn’t as good.

And to be honest, this photo doesn’t match my recipe (it is still hummus, though!). I didn’t even photograph the party hummus, because why would I blog yet another hummus recipe? Well, let’s just say there was no hummus left by the end of the party and I had a few recipe requests. That doesn’t happen very often for traditional hummus. Healthy, lower fat hummus, at that.


This is my submission to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Suma, and to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend.

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Asparagus and Carrot Salad with a Miso-Walnut Dressing

In Appetizers, Favourites, Salads, Sides on July 19, 2011 at 5:52 AM

Not all nuts are created equal. I have a particular fondness for almonds, pistachios and even hazelnuts on a good day. I adore cashews as well, although they have saturated fats. Walnuts, I do not like as much. Pecans, neither.

But I still use walnuts in my meals. All those omega-3s are good for me, right? Beyond their health benefits, I find they can whip up to be nice and creamy, and have worked well in my energy balls and create a nice base for muhammara, the delicious Middle Eastern roasted red pepper and walnut dip. However, I find that baklava is brought to the next level when you substitute the (traditional) walnuts for pistachios.

With my recent adoration of all things miso, I decided to forge ahead and combine miso with walnuts in this warm asparagus and carrot salad.  Adapted from  Color Me Vegan, you create a lovely miso-walnut dip with mirin, tamari and rice vinegar. It was sweet and creamy and spread nicely over the warm vegetables. Thankfully in Southwestern Ontario, local asparagus can still be found!  It paired well with the asparagus and carrots, but do not let that stop you from trying other vegetables.

I also loved this as a cold dip with freshly-cut vegetables as well (again, carrots worked well!). However, then you’ll need to make a lot more of the dip, because it will disappear quickly!

This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Chriesi from Almond Corner.

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Edamame Miso Dip (Hummus, Asian-style!)

In Appetizers, Favourites on May 27, 2011 at 6:52 AM

My mom thinks this vegan stuff is just a phase. Just as I go through other phases in my cooking, she tried to rationalize. She explained that first I was into cooking Japanese after my trip to Japan (all those soba noodles, Janet!), then Middle Eastern after visiting Turkey and Moroccan after my trip to Morocco. Each time, I venture into new cookbooks, find new spices, but truly, I incorporate everything I learn into all my meals. New ingredients, new flavours and new techniques.. it is all a learning process, as life should be. And yes, my pantry continues to gather new and exciting staples.

Granted, I can only eat so much, so I might tackle different cuisines in spurts. A little of Morocco here, a side trip to Brazil here, a quick jet to Egypt and then returning back to Japan. In these around-the-world culinary experiences, sometimes I forget how much I like certain ingredients. Case in point: miso. Last year, I bought miso for the first time to make baked eggplant with miso, which I adored at restos and could easily make at home. I also made miso-crusted black cod and a few other dishes which were great but then I went to Turkey… and forgot about miso.

Until, I made a Japanese winter stew with a miso-based broth. That kick-started it again. Loved it. It wasn’t the star of the meal, but it added an extra dimension. Then I made the orange-beet soup that had an extra twist from the miso. Followed up by the exquisitely delicious zesty orange cashew spread, I knew I had rediscovered an old favourite ingredient.

Plus, the great thing about miso is that I still had the same package from last year. It keeps forever in your fridge!! Discover it, forget about it, but let yourself rediscover it as you clean out your fridge. :)

Now about this dip from Radiant Health, Inner Wealth (recipe also posted here) – you already know it is going to be fabulous coming from that cookbook. ;)

I made this for Rob’s birthday, which had a Japanese-theme for his meal, and I loved it as an Asian spin on hummus. You use creamy edamame instead of chickpeas, but you still have lots of garlic and tahini for the prototypical hummus flavour. Instead of traditional lemon juice, lime juice is used. Throw in some spinach for some greenery, and you have a healthy, delicious dip.

It is not just a hummus made with edamame. I had the Trader Joe’s edamame hummus after eating this dip and was sorely disappointed – where was the miso?

It is creamy, smooth, salty with a bit of zip. Without knowing the ingredients, it is hard to place the flavours exactly, but you know it tastes great. Serve it with veggies, pita bread, or as a spread for a sandwich.

Edamame Miso Dip (Hummus, Asian-style!)
This is my submission to this month’s Veggie/Fruit A Month, featuring spinach and to this month’s Simple and in Season for May. Read the rest of this entry »

Zesty Orange Cashew Spread

In Appetizers, Favourites on April 27, 2011 at 6:36 AM

A few months ago, I stumbled upon a gem of a restaurant called Rawlicious. I try not to go out to eat very often, but if I do, I try to go somewhere that is different than what I might make at home. While I may not agree with the philosophy of raw purists, I see no harm in eating more raw foods, nor in exploring the techniques that goes into raw cooking.

Raw cooking – is that an oxymoron?

I digress.

While I have already been smitten by raw kale salads, it was at Rawlicious that I discovered spiralized zucchini noodles (oh yes, I want a spiralizer! especially if I grow zucchinis in my backyard!) and raw cheesecake (tastes more like a mousse than a cheesecake but I was impressed by the versatility of cashews!).

I know that some vegans can have a hard time giving up certain meat or dairy products, and there seems to be a plethora of vegan alternatives for sale. However, talk about processed food! I can’t say I am really interested in soy yogurt or processed meat alternatives. I am still searching for a good sour cream alternative, if only to make a Hungarian Chickpea recipe I have had my eye on (anyone care to share their favourite recipe?).

I have seen a few cashew cheese recipes, and was intrigued. Especially when I saw Gena’s Zesty Orange Cashew Cheese since it included fresh orange juice.

You will note that I changed the name of this from cashew cheese to cashew spread, because I’ll be honest that this didn’t taste at all like cheese. But it was DELICIOUS! A sweet, creamy dip with full orange flavour with a complexity coming from the miso.

There are many ways to use this addictive spread, other than eating it straight from a spoon (that is great, too!). Mix it with some salad greens, spread it onto bread or crackers, or add it to your favourite sandwich/wrap.

This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Min at Honest Vanilla, to this week’s Raw Thursdays well as to April in the Raw.

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Thyme-Infused Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Cranberries

In Appetizers on March 25, 2011 at 6:50 AM

Thyme-Infused Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Cranberries

Since I decided to cut out refined sugars and flours, I have found it quite easy to add more fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains into my meals. That’s because I cook for myself. I stopped eating the free meals at work and try not to eat out at restaurants. The quandary came, though, when I went away on vacation,where I wasn’t particularly interested in immersing myself in local cuisine. I found some vegan TexMex options (spinach citrus ensaladas and guacamole) but really took refuge at a vegetarian restaurant just outside the heart of downtown San Antonio. I went back a few times!

I didn’t know I would find such a delightful resto, so I planned for not finding many vegan-friendly options. In addition to making a bean salad and portable overnight oats, I made some snacks as well.

I spotted this simple snack in Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health (also posted here). It was easy to put together, tasty with the savoury flavours and healthy, to boot (provided you don’t eat too much!). Here, pumpkin seeds (pepitas) are roasted with soy sauce and thyme until nice and golden, then they are tossed with sweet dried cranberries. The sweet-savoury combination works well together. Stored in resealable plastic bags, it is also easy to bring with you for an emergency fix if you have a hard time finding something to eat.

For other ideas when travelling, some of my favourite food bloggers have recently shared their tips when travelling as a vegan here and here.

Thyme-Infused Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Cranberries

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

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