Desperate times call for desperate measures. Our house is still in shambles a week after our move. With 3 days off work, I thought we’d be near completely unpacked but it is anything but. The kitchen appliances are working but my pantry is still dissembled, packed in quite a few boxes. I am thinking of sharing some of my simple meals, but until then, I’d like to talk about a new cookbook, Mastering the Art of Vegan Cooking.
This cookbook is about mastering the classic meals, vegan-style, while also attempting to teach you how to save money in the kitchen. Borne of a time when Annie and Dan Shannon were dealing with infertility and mounting costs, they have put together their favourite recipes while trying to keep their budget low. [Of note, nothing like buying a house to make you feel poor!]
The recipes are both creative yet classic. Instead of plain waffles, they share a recipe for banana churro waffles. Instead of classic tabbouli, there is a lemon-tahini fattoush inspired salad which mixes Middle Eastern flavours together. The Korean Kimchi BBQ burgers (see below) are also fusion cuisine in its finest.
I made the red lentil soup, which was homage to every red lentil soup they have eaten and tinkered with their slow cooker jambalaya to make it in the pressure cooker. They were very good, if not subdued in their spices. The red lentil soup reminded me of my Turkish Red Lentil Soup with Sizzling Mint, with a swap for fresh mint which changes the flavours.
I have chosen to share their vegan blueberry blintzes with you, instead.
Classic crepes are not vegan, with reliance on eggs for their supple texture. I have shared a few non-traditional crepe-like recipes before (raw chocolate banana crepes and raw grasshopper crepes). This is my family’s traditional recipe and while that one was with Nutella and kiwis, it was not uncommon for my family to fill them with cottage cheese, cream of wheat and eggs and top it with a blueberry compote and serve them as blintzes. We would eat them for dinner as they were mostly savoury despite the fruit.
Instead of cottage cheese and eggs, this recipe is more dessert-style. Or breakfast/brunch-style. The filling is sweeter with a base of vegan cream cheese and tofu and topped with fresh blueberries and a sprinkling of sugar.
It would have been nice to see a recipe that didn’t include vegan faux cheese, especially if one of the cookbook’s aims was to offer cheaper recipes. However, I can appreciate the shortcuts to help make delicious foods faster. The cookbook has plenty of recipes with pantry staples but a sizeable minority call for specialty ingredients. As an example, the Korean Kimchi BBQ Burger recipe calls for 2 cups of Lightlife Gimme Lean Burger or Match Vegan Meats Burger and store-bought kimchi. The cost was $2.68/burger and I wonder how much cheaper it would be to use plain (and uber cheap) TVP instead. Of note, that same recipe has a recipe for homemade Asian-style BBQ sauce which looks great.
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the US or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me how you like to save money in the kitchen. The winner will be selected at random on July 9, 2015. Good luck!
Other recipes from Mastering the Art of Vegan Cooking spotted elsewhere:
When I said our meals have become more simple, this is probably not what you had in mind. I had not planned on sharing this either, but the meal was delicious and I scooped together the little bits left unclaimed and snapped photos to share. I loved the meal, I loved these photos, and had to share.
In an honesty, Rob is a great cook. I merely helped to assemble the ingredients. Rob was making an off-the-cuff version of our tofu migas but as we ate it, we thought it reminded us of the chilaquiles we would devour from Radical Eats in Houston. Minus the deep-fried tortillas. Eerily enough, Erica shared her baked version of chilaquiles (recipe here with black beans and kale), which I read afterwards. Great minds think alike! We opted not to make it sopping in a tomato-broth, as we used sun-dried tomatoes to help keep the chips crispy.
In any case, while these were simple to make, it brought together a few components we already had. Namely, we made JL’s Lentil TVP Taco Filling earlier in the week (I changed the spices slightly) as our ground meat substitute. My cousin also gifted us some homemade tomatillo salsa. It was quite spicy but worked well when mixed directly with the other ingredients.
In short, we started by using almost stale corn tortilla chips by baking them in the oven. Rob sauteed some sweet onions (reserving some for the topping) and sprinkled them with garlic granules (too lazy to pull the real garlic from the fridge). Next, he added the Lentil-TVP taco filling, heating it up. Because we were out of plain tofu, he added 4 eggs along with some soy milk and the tomatillo salsa, scrambling all the ingredients together. Once fully cooked, he stirred in the baked tortilla chips, heating all the way through. A sprinkle of fresh lime juice and a side of tomato salsa solidified this as a perfect New Year’s Day brunch.
I am not sure if quasi-recipes like this help you. What do you think?
I almost thought about making my blog vacation all about chickpea flour. I have been experimenting with it a lot more and this was a fun venture into sweet pancakes.
I was drawn to Gena’s recipe because they were protein pancakes without protein powder. While I am no stranger to savoury chickpea flour pancakes (aka besan chilla), I liked how these were more traditional. Here, chickpea flour is combined with cashew flour and soy milk for a heartier base.
They did not fluff up like regular pancakes, but were good for a lazy weekend breakfast. I topped them with a quickie raspberry chia jam for a summer twist. Forget boiling the fruit as in my blueberry vanilla chia jam. I simply defrosted some frozen raspberries in the microwave, added some chia seeds and waited a few minutes. The jam was a nice sweet contrast when rolled inside the pancakes.
I am sharing this with Dead Easy Desserts.
Rob and I have been on a quest. A mission to find corn tortillas. Corn tortillas so light and pliable, you easily could think they were flour tortillas.
I don’t know if it is just me, but I always think of hard, crunchy El Paso taco shells when I hear corn tortillas. Nothing could be further from reality. We were treated to the fresh tortillas while in Mexico City and figured it was just a matter of research. They were bound to be found in Houston.
Because once you’ve tried them, you can’t go back.
I was not alone in my quest. The lovely folks on the Houston Chowhound boards already helped others satisfy their fresh corn tortilla needs. Our adventures to Mi Tienda proved to be a quick trip back to Mexico. They are a grocery store for all your Mexican needs, including corn tortillas. They are freshly made in-house and perfectly tender when consumed that same day. Since it is a bit far from home, we bought 80 tortillas. All for a whopping $2.
While we froze the majority of the tortillas, we have been enjoying tacos all times of the day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. No complaints from Rob. He LOVES tacos!
For our breakfast tacos, we were inspired by Dawn’s recipe to make “cheezy” scrambled eggs with chickpea flour and nutritional yeast.
WeRob routinely makes Indian chickpea flour pancakes and tofu scramble, so this kind of married the two. It was a fun mess, too. We served it with spinach and topped it with a creamy, cheezy mustard sauce.
Corn tortillas – what do you think?
I am a sucker for beans.
While I have a pantry filled with heirloom specialty beans from Rancho Gordo and Kalustyan’s, I still keep finding new-to-me beans. During a cycling trip last year, a few friends and I cycled up to Woodbridge, and wound up at an Italian grocer for lunch. I perused the aisles for my lunch. Even though it was Italian, I had a brown rice veggie avocado sushi roll and an apple but I also discovered a new bean: Tondini beans (also known as burrini beans or pea beans). A small white bean in a glass jar. Perfect for a traveller: no need for a can opener and the cap could be screwed back on if on the go. I brought it back home and a few months later, I decided to bust them out for a salad.
However, when I opened the jar, they were sitting in a funny gooey jelly. A lot of the beans had split open, likely releasing their starch and gelling the liquid. I didn’t think the road that THAT bumpy on our ride. I typically cook my own beans so I don’t normally run into this problem… so how to use mushy beans?
Scramble! A breakfast scramble… although more of a brunch or breakfast-for-dinner sort of meal. Perfect anytime, if you ask me. Definitely one of my favourite meals lately. The Tondini beans were nice and small, similar to flageolet beans, but more fragile, lending well to a scramble. The beans are simmered with onions and garlic, along with tomatoes and spinach as familiar breakfast omelette toppings. Similar to my chickpea and tofu-tahini scramble, but lighter and more cheezy from the nutritional yeast. Black salt added the eggy flavour.
Beans for breakfast, I could get used to this. :)
Have you ever had a problem with mushy beans?
If there is one thing that is predictable with my meals, it is my breakfast. Steel cut oatmeal with fruit and protein powder. Lately, I’ve been eating it with Vega, since I scored it at half price. Making a big batch each week is a time saver and doesn’t make me think too much each morning as I rush out the door.
With a bit of extra time this long weekend, I decided to host a birthday/housewarming brunch today. A time to whip out all the vegan brunch options. I know, one meal that can be challenging for vegans has got to be brunch, typically filled with cheese, eggs and baked goods. Not here.
A recent visit to The Naked Sprout‘s Sunday brunch had me in a tizzy over their raw raspberry banana coconut pancakes with coconut ice cream. I thought it would be great to try my hand at it and I figured going raw for brunch would be an easy way to serve a crowd. The pancakes could be made in advance and then assembled once we were ready to eat. No need to slave over a stovetop, especially during this hot summer weather.
Of course, I had to do some research to make sure the recipe worked out before my guests arrived. Last week, while we still had strawberries, I did the first test run. This was the glorious result. Soft and chewy (not light and fluffy like SAD pancakes) pancakes with a hint of maca. Stacked, on top of berries and topped with banana soft-serve ice cream. I was definitely inspired by my meal at The Naked Sprout. This version was lighter and glorious in the melting ice cream. Make no mistake, their vanilla coconut ice cream was possibly the best I have ever had.
One problem: A few days later, my pancakes didn’t look the same. I stored a bunch in the refrigerator in anticipation of not dehydrating this weekend and they turned brown. The banana had probably oxidized or something. Still delicious, they just weren’t as um, photogenic. Well, at least to me, since I know they are supposed to be a light brown colour.
In any case, strawberries are out and cherries are in, so I’ve come up with an alternate breakfast plan. Stayed tuned!
While in NYC, I ventured to the Greenmarket Farmer’s Market at Union Square. As I drooled over the fresh produce (there were the most beautiful bundles of kale), I had to find my dinner. I ended up buying a farinata to go. The farmer told me it was one of his most popular items. Unlike my socca, which was a thin chickpea pancake with toppings, this was a thick slab of a crustless chickpea tart (almost an inch or more thick) with the toppings integrated right into the farinata itself. It wasn’t my best meal. In fact, it was my meal low-light since it was rather dry and crumbly. However, it inspired me to make something even better upon my return back home.
I bookmarked Ricki’s quizza (a chickpea flour-based quiche-pizza hybrid) this summer and it seemed to be exactly what I was looking for: a thick slab of pie, creamy instead of dry, filled with my favourite veggies. Rob continues to experiment with the Besan Chilla, the Indian Chickpea Pancakes, and throws all sorts of vegetables into the batter (baby bok choy, red pepper, carrot, etc) and even kimchi. Quiche is equally adaptable to a multitude of fillings.
I went with Mediterranean flavours when I adapted Ricki’s recipe: zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach spiced with garlic, rosemary, basil and oregano. Plus, with a nod to the Besan Chilla, I added black salt for an egg-like taste. Next time, I may add some olives or caramelized onions, too.
I love how versatile chickpea flour can be be. In the Besan Chilla, you have a pancake texture, with the socca it is more firm and here, you definitely have a creamy consistency. Definitely better than the farinata from the market. Plus, I can easily make this at home while cleaning out the vegetable odds and ends. Definitely a win-win situation. :)
Next up on my chickpea flour to-try list: Candle 79’s Chickpea Crepes.
This is being submitted to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Kiran, to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend, to this month’s Breakfast Club featuring eggy breakfasts and to this month’s Bookmarked Recipe.
I am having a hard time renaming some of my dishes.
Banana Scramble: I felt Banana Peanut Butter Chia Super Pancake was more accurate
Raw Vegan Raspberry Cheesecake: Better named the delicious birthday Raspberry Dreamcake (yes, I preferred Sarah’s name)
Lentil Mango Picadillo: Greek to me, so it was renamed Latin-Spiced Mango Lentil Salad (kind of boring, though?)
Lightened Up Protein Power Goddess Bowl: Rechristened as Warm Lentil, Bulgur and Vegetable Skillet with a Lemon-Tahini Sauce
I swear, vegan food does not need to be a recreation of something dairy or meat-laden. It can just be. Wonderful, in all its glory. Nameless.
While exploring our new neighbourhood, Rob and I discovered new ethnic grocery stores, including a few that carried black salt or kala namak. More pink than black, this salt has been infused with sulfur, rendering an egg-like taste when used in cooking.
We immediately made Besan Chilla (also known as cheela or pudla), which technically is an Indian chickpea-based crepe or pancake. However, I first spotted the recipe on Julia’s blog where she called it a chickpea flour omelette. Omelet or pancake? Rob and I disagreed. The only thing we agreed on was that it was delicious.
Analogies work well when trying to convey a new concept, and for me, these reminded me of a savoury pancake. Too thick for a crepe, too pancake-like to be an omelet. We stuffed the chickpea flour-based pancakes with savoury spices (ginger, garlic, onion, turmeric, chili flakes) as well as vegetables including tomato and spinach. Broccoli stems work great, too! Really, pick your favourite veggies ad run with it. The addition of black salt conferred an egg-like taste, which is why this could be described as something similar to an omelet.
Rob can whip up a mean omelet. An egg-based one, though. He did not feel that this version warranted being christened as a vegan omelet, as is. He has vowed to tinker with the recipe, to make it more akin to a traditional omelet.
Until then, I couldn’t wait to share the recipe with you because it was really tasty just the way it is. Whatever name you want to attach to it. Besan Chilla, it is for now, with the wonderful black salt. Wonderful for breakfast, or as a light lunch. Mix things up with your favourite spices and vegetables. Serve as is, with chutney on the side, or as a side to a more complete meal with Indian dishes.
I never quite understood why I would want to drink my breakfast. However, chilled smoothies filled with fruit and seasonings have been perfect before and after my bicycle rides.
I am currently testing recipes for Tess Challis‘ upcoming superfoods cookbook and have been loving her smoothies! Her “Maca My Day” smoothie is what got me hooked, and it is wonderful with frozen bananas and the malty goodness from maca. She has a few delicious smoothies planned for the cookbook, and I took some liberty to create my own variation.
Perfect for breakfast, a delicious treat for dessert, enjoy this smoothie guilt-free as it is packed with frozen banana, raspberries, chia seeds, toasted carob and vanilla.
Chocolate and raspberry pair well together. Except I didn’t use chocolate. I used toasted carob powder, which has a flavour similar to chocolate without the caffeine. Carob is a bit sweeter than cocoa, and definitely sweeter than raw cacao, so I didn’t feel like this smoothie needed any additional sweetener, but add to taste. Maca is also wonderful in it, but completely optional.
I eat apricots a lot. Apricots are a funny fruit, though, because I don’t tend to eat them raw. In the summer, I have a habit of buying fresh apricots, but eating them fresh tends to be lackluster.
Instead, I find dried apricots more flavourful and have incorporated them into many salads, granola and energy bars. I have even added them to savoury dishes. When I do find myself with fresh apricots, baking is the best way to fully bring out its sweetness (remember those Moroccan Apricot Parcels? yum!)
As you know, I have a habit of trying out interesting, healthy breakfast ideas. I spotted an oatmeal breakfast clafoutis at Chocolate & Zucchini, and knew that I wanted to try it. The fruit, nuts and other add-ins are completely up to you, but incorporating freshly baked apricots is a royal treat.
But what the heck is an oatmeal breakfast clafoutis? To me, a clafoutis has always meant a custard-like cake speckled with fruit. Here, it means a creamy baked oatmeal filled with fruit.
I have made baked oatmeal before (with rhubarb and apple/banana) but this one was definitely the creamiest of them all. But the great thing is that they kept their shape well, so for anyone who likes to munch on the go, this is perfect for you. According to Clotilde they freeze easily, so you could stack your freezer with individual portions, reheat them and grab them to run.
This is my submission to this month’s Breakfast Club featuring Breakfasts To Go!
When I visited Japan two years ago, I swooned after I ate my first takoyaki. I describe them as octopus balls: a piece of octopus is coated in a savoury batter and cooked. Smothered with a Japanese barbecue sauce, mayonnaise and sprinkled with bonito flakes – it is nothing I ever thought would taste so good. When I visit restos, I prefer to order things I can’t make at home, so my go-to dish at Guu and Kenzo’s is takoyaki.
Once I came back to Canada, I wished I could recreate it at home, but you need a special pan with round grooves to make the round balls. The restos were the only way to get my takoyaki-fix. Until now! One of my Christmas gifts this year was a takoyaki/aebleskiver pan! Not soon after Christmas, I whipped the pan out for its inaugural use. Not for takoyaki, though. I had no octopus, you see.
Instead, I made Danish stuffed pancakes, also known as ebelskiver, ebleskiver, aebleskiver, or æbleskiver. These are light, fluffy, round, buttermilk-based pancakes stuffed with your favourite filling. My tip is not to overstuff the pancakes because leaking quickly leads to a dirty pan that is hard to clean!
I adapted Williams-Sonoma’s recipe to experiment with different fillings. We started with blueberries, which were probably my favourite filling. Frozen blueberries can be used but are best when they have thawed. Otherwise, they change the temperature of the batter and it doesn’t cook as well.
Next, we tried mulberry jam as a filling. It was delicious, too, although much sweeter. The only trick is to make sure it doesn’t leak while flipping because it is a bugger to get the jam off the pan.
For the ebleskiver, I employed the two-flip method, but for more round ebelskivers, you can do it in three or four turns. I was so eager to use my pan, I didn’t research how to make proper ebleskiver. I’ll try it next time. :)
This is my submission to this month’s My Kitchen, My World, featuring dishes from Denmark and to this month’s Breakfast Club for Sweet Treats. Also props to Rob, for the action shots since I can’t cook and photograph at the same time.
Everyone has a favourite granola recipe. Personally, I have tried many recipes, and love to try new ones for variety. Adapted from The Stop‘s cookbook Good Food For All, I was drawn to Joshna Maharaj‘s healthy granola recipe because it was filled with my favourite fixins – almonds, coconut, cranberries and date with less oil. It also used a lot of wheat germ and All Bran buds.
A few years ago, I used to eat All Bran buds all the time with yogurt. It was a quick satisfying snack or dessert. I once chatted with a surgeon who was a strong proponent of All Bran buds and psyllium (the main fiber source on All Bran buds). He was a colorectal surgeon and saw people with constipation and colorectal cancer. He was adamant that we could add All-Bran buds to ANYTHING – even pizza! While I am willing to try many thing, I am not THAT adventurous. However, adding All Bran buds to granola just makes sense for a healthy, filling breakfast.
A note about this granola: it is not incredibly sweet. It does not clump well. But it is tasty and best combined with some fresh fruit and yogurt as a lovely breakfast parfait.
I don’t like late brunches because I have to eat something right away in the morning. Something about hypoglycemia if I wait too long.
But there are a few times when breakfast doesn’t sit well with me.
And that’s when I am nervous.
Nervous about writing an exam that morning, or tripping on my bridesmaid dress while I help my (now) sister-in-law walk around the altar 3 times, or you know, the butterflies before cycling to/from Woodstock (a possible 300km round-trip, but we ended up taking the go-train for a portion of the trip once the total downpour started so our total was 250km). Those butterflies don’t let much sit well in my stomach even if I know this is the most important time to be eating.
But I think I have found my favourite pre-jitters breakfast: Baked Blueberry Oatmeal Breakfast Pudding.
Adapted from Diet, Dessert n Dogs, this is a healthy breakfast creamy pudding (sans creme) with oats and nuts, speckled with juicy, succulent blueberries. And it glides down so easily. A small portion is surprisingly filling and the fresh blueberries really make this a knock-out morning treat. Who says lunch and dinner should have all the fun? Bake this once and have a delicious breakfast all week. Personally, I preferred it cold, but it is also good warmed up.
Here are other variations that have sparked my interest:
“An explosion of flavours.” I put that in quotations because my dad said it, completely unprompted, after a bite of these eggs. And this is from someone who usually says things are just “pretty good”, or “needs more spice”. You know how dads can be. ;) He claims he didn’t know I had a blog. Now he is starring in it! ;)
My parents seem to have become the wonderful victims of baked eggs when they come to visit over breakfast. I do make some elaborate breakfasts, but if I make a lot, I want to have tasty leftovers. Baked oatmeal is great for that. Baked eggs, not so much. This is why I break out these recipes when my parents come over.
I made a simple but tasty tomato sauce with poached eggs last time they were over for breakfast, but I keep collecting more recipes to try. Shakshuka, eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce and topped with feta cheese, has been on my hit list for a while, but I can’t bring myself to use pantry items during the summer. Red peppers and tomatoes are at their peak right now and how can I deny their cries?
I am so glad I listened to them, because as my dad put it, this was explosive. It is hard to compare directly with the eggs poached in a tomato sauce, as they vary in their length of preparation and one is purely tomato-based. Personally, I preferred these baked eggs with the flavours from the red peppers, tomatoes, sweet onions and garlic dancing beautifully together with a slightly runny baked egg atop. Due to the long cooking, the red peppers become sweet as if they had been roasted. The tomato and sweet braised onions add a comforting accent. I used ACE Bakery’s multigrain batard, which has a delicious hearty, yet light flavour which complemented the fruity ragout. Topped with the soft baked egg, this was brunch heaven. And it was all healthy. No cream. No butter. Just a few tablespoons of olive oil.
While I made this for a group, the ragout could easily be prepared ahead of time and reheated prior to baking the egg overtop. For those who eat solo, this is perfect. For those who don’t want half an hour of prep in the morning, this is also perfect.
This recipe was barely adapted from The New Spanish Table by Anya von Bremzen. She explained that typically the red pepper ragout, called piperrada, is served with eggs scrambled into it. This way, it is served in individual ramekins, and is a very elegant breakfast, indeed.
Other breakfast egg dishes on my hit list:
Shakshuka from Smitten Kitchen
Tomato and Feta Baked Eggs from Closet Cooking
Baked Eggs with Creamed Spinach from Taste and Tell
Baked Eggs with Spinach and Mushrooms from Gourmet
Baked Eggs Florentine from Oh Taste N See
Eggs in Purgatory from Apricosa
Panera Bread’s Spinach Artichoke Baked Egg Souffle posted by ABC News
Two Ingredient Maple Souffle by Sugarlaws
Cheddar Egg Nests by Sugarlaws
And many more found on this page with 100 ways to use eggs!
People eat not only with their mouth, but also with their eyes. If something looks hideous, will it taste any good? Of course! I have faith in the power of the underdog, but I know that all our senses go into how food tastes. The perfect meal includes fresh, great-tasting ingredients cooked just slightly to let their colour and flavours shine through. This is coupled with the food perched in perfect balance, as the presentation and warm plate go a long way. And, obviously, the most important part of the meal is who you are sharing it with, with the fantastic flutter of your heart, while enjoying your quiet environment and quaint ambiance.
That is the perfect meal and I rarely go all out for the consumption of food. I try to master part 1 and 2, with fresh ingredients and cooking them nicely. Sometimes I utterly fail in the presentation department and oftentimes I eat in front of my computer by myself (fail, yet again). This brings me to this dish, which I swear is utterly unphotogenic but tastes great. I think scrambled eggs are hard to photograph on the best of days, but theses light and fluffy eggs are scrambled with allspice, which turns their typical golden yellow an unappealing brown. The rhubarb pierces through, though, as little red jewels. Topped with dried mint, this savoury dish is a feast for the tastebuds, but not a masterpiece for the eyes.
I am hoping the allure of soft rhubarb with the homeliness of allspice within fluffy eggs will entice you to try this lovely Jewish Syrian dish, courtesy of Aromas of Aleppo by Poopa Dweck. The photos are not likely to win me any new friends. :P Due to its savoury nature, I thought this was great as a vegetarian main, but the scrambled eggs has me screaming breakfast and brunch. Another fabulous cookbook, Olive Trees and Honey, explains this breakfast or lunch meal is typically served alone, with toast or rice, along with Syrian white cheese and apricot jam. Enjoy!
This is the last of my savoury rhubarb recipes (my others were tofu in a zesty rhubarb sauce, a lentil and rhubarb stew with Indian spices and a raw rhubarb, cucumber and mint salad) and I was incredibly surprised at rhubarb’s versatility. I can’t wait for next year’s crop to provide me with more inspiration. This is my submission to this month’s Breakfast Club featuring eggs.