If I had to pick the best time to be in Ontario, it would be late summer.
The temperatures are warm and pleasant. The local produce is at its peak. Bursting with fresh tomatoes, zucchini, and corn. I love earlier fruits (strawberries, raspberries and blueberries) but fresh warm peaches are where I am focusing right now.
With the earlier tropical heat wave, I had a hankering for a good ginger-peach crumble with an almond-coconut topping. I didn’t want a soupy bottom, so I figured chia seeds would be the perfect antidote.
Sadly, by adding a mere 1 tbsp of grated ginger, I could not taste it at all. Next time, I would add more and have noted this below. So, it is a peach crumble.
Secondly, the chia seeds sopped up a lot of the released peach juice and this was more pronounced when I ate the leftovers. Different than a traditional crumble and worth a try. I also might try grinding my chia seeds in advance to avoid lumpy chia seeds.
Other crips/crumbles you may enjoy:
I am going to spice things up today. Literally and figuratively. While I have been to many restaurants, I don’t share my resto reviews here. (I save them for Happy Cow – follow my profile). But, what if I told you I could give you the recipes for all the dishes we tried? I figured that was worthy of a share on a recipe blog.
This was a marvellous meal Rob and I shared at Doug McNish’s Public Kitchen. He typically caters to take-away meals and Sunday eat-in brunch but occasionally there are pop-up specialty dinners. This was one such dinner titled “Vegan Everyday“, named after his latest cookbook. Known for his love of raw vegan foods and writing two raw cookbooks, Eat Raw, Eat Well and Raw, Quick and Delicious, this cookbook features his love of cooked vegan food. His recipes are all whole foods based (all homemade, no faux meat substitutes and gluten-free, too). Doug’s latest cookbook is based on his extensive experience in the kitchen and wanted to prove the awesomeness of the recipes. So much so that he made them from his own restaurant to share.
So, without further adieu, here was our meal:
AVOCADO TEMPURA – crisp quinoa battered avocado, spicy kimchi, sweet lemon tamari ginger reduction, nori dust, Chinese five spice. This was excellent. Crispy creamy avocado. I never would have thought to make this at home but it was so good, I may give it a go.
CHERMOULA TOFU – grilled spice rubbed chermoula tofu, braised jalapeños and collard greens, sweet potato quinoa hush puppies, crisp yucca strips, tangy almond cream sauce. Four recipes are from his cookbooks and I don’t think I would have ever thought to combine them together. Other than the sauce being a but heavy, I really liked this.
and from the other side:
TEMPEH CROQUETTES – crisp cornmeal and brown rice flour crust, roasted red pepper aioli, sweet potato puree, seasoned brown rice, sautéed herbed white wine garlic local veg. The croquettes were fragile but still delicious.
BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE – soft creamy cheesecake, blueberry compote, ginger crust, candied lemon zest. I was really excited to try this because I knew the recipe from the cookbook used white beans as a secret ingredient. However, this was more cake than cheesecake as bean-based baked goods are ought to do. I will likely not remake this one at home but it was a decent cake.
CHURROS – churros with spiced coconut sugar coating, warm cinnamon chocolate dipping sauce, candied orange. This was the recipe that I lured in Rob. He probably considers himself an expert at churros, eating them that is, especially after our stint in Houston.
Let’s just say that these were unlike any churro we have ever tried. Churros are naturally vegan but these are also gluten-free which may have been our problem (not sure). In any case, they tasted great and if anything, could have passed for a gourmet interpretation of churros with a hefty coating in cinnamon and coconut sugar with a delicious warm cinnamon chocolate dipping sauce.
As I said, all the recipes are from Doug’s latest cookbook. With 500 recipes, there is something here for everyone, from breakfast to dessert and everything in between. If you’ve been to his restaurants or ones where he’s helped shape their menu, you may recognize recipes like his Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Soup or his Sweet Potato Chili. Recipes are quick and easy (Black Bean Santa Fe Wraps) or more elaborate (Miso-Glazed Tofu with Crispy Sushi Cakes and Braised Bok Choy). Then there are recipes I really want to try like Indian-Spiced Date Squares. Or how about Maca Crunch Ice Cream? Honestly 500 recipes feels like a tomb of recipes when most cookbooks share only 100 or so at a time.
I have made a few recipes already and they are very good. He definitely knows how to ramp up the umami (bring on the nutritional yeast, tamari and mushrooms). So much so, that I tended to reign them in, worrying about exploding my palate. I will share a homemade recipe in the next few weeks but until then, here is the recipe and cookbook photo for the gluten-free, vegan churros. This is more what I think of when I think of churros, so I look forward to trying the recipe out myself one day.
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 what you generally try to eat every day. The winner will be selected at random on August 20, 2015. Good luck!
My lovely friends are true enablers.
I wanted to make cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes.
Even with my (somewhat) minimalist pantry and kitchen, I was mostly to my goal.
I had silicone muffin wrappers, but no muffin tin. I wasn’t sure whether I could simply bake the muffins without the tin, but my friend graciously lent me her muffin tray so I did not have to experiment. (Note: Please tell me if you have tried)
Next, I found the perfect recipe: a chocolate cupcake that only used chickpea flour as its base. No wheat flour, no funny grain flours, not even oat flour. Just chickpea flour. In fact, now I was rather intrigued. Chickpea flour cupcakes??
I was missing one ingredient, though: baking powder. I have baking soda (it also helps for cleaning), but no baking powder in my minimalist pantry. Oftentimes, especially if baking with chocolate, baking soda can be substitute with baking powder. So I tried that option first. Baking experiment fail #1: I forgot to look at the conversion and it isn’t a 1:1 substitution. My cupcakes rose beautifully but tasted kind of salty and somewhat metallic.
I vowed to try again with less baking soda but my friend spared me the trouble and slipped me a bag of white powder at work. Clearly labelled baking powder. The label may have been unnecessary because if she were smuggling cocaine, I would have inherited a fortune. ;)
In any case, I shared the cupcakes at work. I was up-front that I was sharing vegan, gluten-free and grain-free cupcakes. I told people that it was made with besan/chickpea flour because quite a few of my co-workers cook with it, too, and they were shocked it could be used in a sweet baking treat.
However, what I did not share (initially) was what I was hiding in my frosting. I ran with the bean-theme and used tofu as my base! It is similar but more firm than my chocolate mousse pie filling. I thought it was too sweet when I first tasted it but it mellowed out and firmed up considerably overnight in the fridge. Both the frosting and cupcakes were well received, so I consider it a success!
This recipe is courtesy of Vegan Beans From Around the World which shares 100 recipes of naturally vegan recipes from around the world. Kelsey simplified the recipes to keep the ingredients easy-to-find and did a marvelous job of curating a variety of vegan bean-centric dishes. Dutch Split Pea Soup to Nigerian Black Eyed Pea Stew to Argentine White Bean Salad, there are plenty of dishes I still want to try. Oh, and the Navy Bean Pie (aka Muslim bean pie) which is also in the dessert section. I have been spoiled by gorgeous cookbooks as of late, so I am missing the pretty photos. Although hopefully these photos will encourage you to try out this fun cupcakes.
Recipes from Vegan Beans From Around the World spotted elsewhere:
Thankfully, the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite recipe made with beans. I will randomly select a winner on June 13, 2014. Good luck!
Note: I was given a copy of the cookbook from the publisher. I was under no obligation to share a review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.
PS. Have no muffin tins? Try making this into a cake, as seen here.
PPS. Need other ideas for using chickpea flour? Look no further than Emma’s round-up post.
PPPS. I am sharing this to Credit Crunch Munch and We Should Cocoa for $2 cakes. I didn’t price out the cupcakes but without butter and eggs, vegan cakes are typically cheaper. Chickpea flour can be found at more economical prices at Indian grocers.
Breakfast Chocolate Mocha Pudding Cake.
Because all things with rolled oats are actually meant for breakfast. Add coffee to it, some chocolate for good measures, then there is no question: this is all good breakfast things. A perfect way to start your day.
Because that coffee at night, may keep you awake. Or maybe it was the chocolate.
This was how I rationalized eating this for breakfast.
Eaten fresh, this is basically a self-saucing cake. A chunky dense cake doused in a mocha-chocolate sauce. It was really good, although a bit gummy from the oat flour.
I apologize for the unappealing photographs, but the leftovers were what I had to work with… The leftovers firmed up a lot after the overnight rest, sopping up the sauce, leaving this with a texture more comparable to leftover oatmeal. I hope you still get the idea that this is saucy, though.
Just so you know, I debated remaking this to get a better photo, but decided to share it anyways. My motto is to keep things stress-free and I wanted to share this sooner rather than later.
Chocolate pudding cake has always been associated with the Good Friday Cooking Disaster of 2009, wherein I made a meatless feast with a black bean and pumpkin soup, penne alla vodka and finished it off with a brownie pudding cake. Of course, all were new recipes that I was dying to try out. If I recall correctly, everyone was mostly satisfied with my first two dishes (I remember the penne alla vodka turning out well but I had to simmer off a lot of liquid) but all heck broke loose when I shared dessert. My family did not like it and they told me very bluntly. (Too sweet! I can cook better than you!) That last part is true.
However, I think everyone would love this pudding cake, for dessert or breakfast. Or both. Rob highly approved. For both.
In addition of its association with the upcoming Easter holiday, I also wanted to share this because I received some lovely ingredients to try courtesy of Carrington Farms, ground flax seeds and coconut oil, both of which I used here. Because this is a pudding cake filled with all good things. Check out stores near you celebrating Carrington Farm’s All Good April campaign by passing deals to you, too. In Houston, you can find that at HEB and Fiesta Mart. They also have additional coupons on their website.
Disclosure: I wrote this review as part of the #CarringtonAllGoodApril campaign with Carrington Farms, through FitFluential LLC. I received the products described at no cost in order to complete the review. However, opinions are honest and my own.
Another bike ride and another treat!
Although this weekend was more about travelling to Austin for the Texas VegFest to meet the ever wonderful Tess Challis, instead of cycling. We had lofty plans for both, although the rainy weather foiled our plans.
We decided to play chicken with the weather. We wanted to cycle at least 100 km, if not more. Instead of going out for a long loop, we drove out to a more rural location and used it as our home base. I would have been very happy doing multiple laps along a straight and flat road but Rob thought that would be too boring. Instead, Rob drafted 30-35 km loops in a few directions. We pedalled through two loops before giving in to the wind and rain.
Us versus the weather? We lost. Our bikes? Super dirty. Our car won. It became clean.
The nice thing, though, was that I was able to take out these treats. I was really curious to try them out. Not only to see whether it would be better than my last puffed quinoa treat, but I was curious about using coconut sugar as a binder.
The good part? They tasted great. A chocolately goop to keep everything together. Not too sweet with a hint of almond. Since the quinoa was puffed and not crisp, they were easy to munch on. However, my intuition was correct about the coconut sugar: it did not hold up well as a binder. The only way I could keep these treats together was by chilling it in the freezer. Even then, perfectly cut squares were hard to craft. I resorted to breaking off nibbles when I wanted a treat. As such, these were not portable snacks but worked out well with our continuous looping back to the car. I wonder whether coconut nectar would work better as a binder, although I have never tried it.
The treats are from a fun new vegan cookbook called (wait for it) The Vegan Cookbook. It is a gorgeous cookbook with creative yet approachable recipes: breakfast tagine, kale & soba noodles with ginger-chilli sauce, curried chickpea patties with satay dipping sauce, chai-spiced banana muffins and chocolate banana wontons. Authored by Adele McConnell of Vegie Head, I must admit I had never heard of it before, but we have been enjoying many of her recipes, including the super fast chickpea curry and South African sweet potato stew (very similar to my previously shared recipe). The rasam soup was a bit too tart for me, but at least it wasn’t mind-blowing spicy. In any case, with a wide range of international whole food recipes, I have many more dishes I look forward to making.
Here’s to hoping the nice weather persists for this weekend. Not only for our cycling adventures but for all those partaking in the MS150 this weekend, too. :)
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe and giveaway the cookbook to a reader living anywhere in the world (YAYAYA!). To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me about your favourite vegan meal. The winner will be selected at random on April 21, 2014. Good luck!
PS. Recipes from The Vegan Cookbook elsewhere:
Moroccan Quinoa Soup (with a giveaway, too)
What is better than a potluck with delicious vegan food? A potluck with delicious vegan food, complete with recipes!
Recently, some new friends invited me over for a Ripe-themed supper. Stephanie, the mastermind behind Ripe Cuisine, serves vegan eats at a few farmer’s markets in Houston but also has a recipe blog. I have gushed about her homemade coconut-almond ice cream before and since I knew her recipe for brownies was good, I was excited to see how her other recipes fared.
Broccoli “cream” soup with polenta croutons, baked zucchini chips, tahini mustard carrots, and cauliflower piccata were on the menu. Veggie extraveganza! Everything was delicious. I really enjoyed the carrots and polenta croutons.
My small contribution to the menu that evening was this cheesecake. I say small due to its size, not its taste. For my birthday, Rob surprised me with a smaller 6″ springform pan. I left my larger one in Toronto and brought this one so I could make smaller versions of dessert.
I love raw/no-bake cheesecakes. I have made them with cashews as well as tofu, but this time, I used them together. And I baked it. Both for synergistic results.
This cheesecake is a combination of a few recipes and both are knock-outs. The filling is courtesy of Ricki Heller‘s new cookbook, Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free. Since these recipes are all gluten-free and sugar-free, they employ ingredients I don’t have in my (mostly) minimalist pantry. I tried to stay mostly true to her recipe, though, even scoping out lemon extract. I realized that having a concentrated lemon flavour without the sourness would be a good way to reduce the amount of sweetener needed, without resorting to Meyer lemons.
This was a delicious cheesecake. Possibly our favourite vegan cheesecake of all time. Very rich in a non-heavy sense, which can happen with raw cheesecakes, relying on cashews and coconut oil. However, sadly, after chilling in the fridge, it was no longer a lemon cheesecake; it morphed into a creamy, rich, vanilla cheesecake. Equally as good, just a different flavour. The lemon flavour disappeared considerably. I really like the tang from lemon juice, so next time I would add more lemon juice in addition to more lemon extract. It was a very nice cheesecake, though. I also liked how I had the height to really get a good size piece on my fork with the smaller pan. You’ll understand when you look at my (much more flat) lemon cheesecake squares. Rob agreed, and we both thought this was the best, most “real” vegan cheesecake we have eaten (albeit a fluffier European-style cheesecake, which is our preference).
And the crust? A perfect foil for the rich, more mellow filling. A salty-sweet cinnamon pecan crust with oat flour that I snagged from Angela’s pumpkin pie adventures. She tasted a few crusts and proclaimed this the winner. Definitely one of my favourite crusts, too. I liked that it was sweet and salty (no dates) and the cinnamon spike brought it over the edge. I was worried the crust was a bit crumbly but it held together well when serving from the fridge.
I try to keep this blog real, and yes, this cheesecake was utterly delicious. However, it also cracked. This could be due to a few things, but next time, I will add a basin of water in the oven. I did that with the Meyer Lemon Cheesecake Squares, and it worked well. With some strategic slicing, you could hide the cracks. Or find a saucy topping. (Ricki suggested a blueberry compote which I think would have been divine!) But really, it doesn’t matter unless you are photographing it because it still tasted delicious. Do you have any other tricks for cracked cheesecakes? What is your favourite vegan cheesecake recipe?
Ricki has been travelling the interwebs with her blog tour and I have been enjoying seeing her recipes all over the place. With all the thoughtful Q&As, I feel like I am really getting to know Ricki, the chef/baker, but most importantly, the person behind her recipes. A trained chef with a former catering company, watching her on video is like a fun cooking class, with so many tips about ingredients and techniques. I also recommend these recipes from Ricki’s new cookbook:
Ricki’s recipes from Naturally Sweet & Gluten-Free shared elsewhere:
PS. Today is the last day to enter my giveaway for Isa Does It.
That has been my mantra lately.
Quick and easy.
Especially when it comes to desserts.
This is one of those OMG, are you for real? desserts.
I didn’t believe it either, until I tried it. However, the success of your dessert lies within your banana. Not overripe bananas. Just ripe bananas, with just a few spots.
I mean, is there anything bananas CAN NOT DO? One frozen whipped banana makes a delicious ice cream. For this creme brulee, you could go all fancy, and add coconut milk, creamer, avocado, tofu perhaps, but this is for those without a big pantry.
Blend banana, thin with a bit of nondairy milk, and flavour with vanilla. Top with a sprinkling of coconut sugar. Broil for 3 minutes or until the top is melted.
If your banana is overripe, it will taste like pureed banana. But if you catch it right as it turns ripe, you’re in for a treat. :)
This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.
Where have all the hazelnuts gone?
While Rob and I went all out for our Indian Easter feast, my parents were sleeping over which meant we also had plan for breakfast. Thankfully, oatmeal works for my Mom, Rob and me. Not so much for my Dad.
My Dad eats bagels and Nutella for breakfast. I had neither. Rob picked up some Montreal-style bagels from St Lawrence Market and I decided to work on the Nutella. Without actually buying Nutella.
I have been meaning to try making my own homemade nut butter for a while, so I was eager to try Katie’s Better than Nutella recipe. I just needed some hazelnuts. Last year, I discovered the grocers in Little India sell hazelnuts super cheap. Turns out all 3 grocers had no hazelnuts. Then I went to my go-to bulk store, and they were out, too. Apparently their supplier had been out for the last 6 weeks.
Where have all the hazelnuts gone?
I re-evaluated my options:
a) Head elsewhere to buy hazelnuts (ie, The Big Carrot or the Bulk Barn)
b) Use hazelnut butter instead of hazelnuts
c) Substitute another nut (apparently Nutella used to be a mix of almonds and hazelnuts)
d) Make a chocolate-bean spread instead that didn’t require hazelnuts
Rob told me not to buy anything. We are trying to empty our pantries, not refill them. Option A and possibly option B were out. I really wanted to make a Nutella substitute, since this was for my Dad and he may not be as smitten with a chocolate bean spread as me. But you gotta do what you gotta do. I peered into our pantry and boo-yah, we had hazelnut butter! Option B it was!
I modified Ricki’s recipe slightly, but mainly with the sweetener only. After her warning that stevia-only sweetened chocolate could have a weird taste, I decided to substitute it with a portion of coconut sugar. Feel free to use your own sweetener of choice (agave, maple syrup, sugar, etc). Super simple to make, I threw everything into my Vitamix. As it heated up, the coconut oil melted making it a smooth, silky consistency (which is what I photographed). Leftovers were popped into the fridge where it firmed up considerably. It was still spreadable and melted as it was spread onto warm, toasted bagels. Spreading it onto cold bagels could be more difficult, though.
The verdict? According to me and Rob: Better than Nutella. Silky smooth, with a lovely cocoa flavour with a touch of sweetness. I found this a bit too sweet for my liking but Rob thought it was perfect, or possibly under sweetened. My Dad said it was ok. Perhaps it wasn’t sweet enough, but he wouldn’t elaborate. (For the record, while Rob and my Mom thought the banana naan were wonderful, my Dad thought they should have been more fluffy, despite acknowledging they were already more fluffy than the store-bought naan).We were planning on gifting the remainder of the Notella to my Dad when he left, but it was nearly demolished over the course of the weekend. There was just a little left.. and had my Dad stayed for breakfast #2, it would have been all gone. Not sure where else to put this homemade Nutella? How about my Nutella and kiwi crepes or Nutella-filled aebleskiver?
When you start baking desserts with non-traditional ingredients, you may start to doubt yourself. If you thought black bean cookies were weird, how about hemp seeds and stevia?! Coconut sugar? What the heck? How will they taste?
Ricki is the baker extraordinaire who creates all sorts of vegan treats with wholesome ingredients. However, I am usually daunted by her long ingredient lists… that usually have uncommon ingredients. I was immediately smitten by her two-bite hemp brownies, and after a trip to Ambrosia, I finally had hemp seeds, coconut sugar and stevia. These ingredients allow you to create a low-glycemic fudgy brownie with healthy fats from the almonds and hemp seeds. Yes, I said fudgy!
This was my first time using stevia, a plant-based zero calorie sweetener. It has a distinct aftertaste. That’s the only clue that these brownies are on the healthier side. A walk on the wild side.
This is my submission to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend.
If I thought the label vegan was stigmatizing, never mind what people think when you tell them you are eating raw food! I have had friends flat out refuse to go to a raw restaurant with me (where’s the meat? where’s the heat? they exclaimed).
Eating raw foods could be as simple a summer salad, or snacking on some fresh fruit, which are not too horrific in the slightest. For those eating only raw foods (not me, don’t worry), this would quickly become boring! This is when it becomes exciting, because the experimentation in raw foods has created some luscious treats, perfect during the hot summer when you don’t want to turn on your stove or oven.
Summer berries are at their prime right now and I know the virtues of eating berries, plain, unadorned, in all their glory.
Let me fill you in on a secret: there is food synergy at play. 1+1 does not equal 2. Combine your favourite summer berries and top with a nutty topping for a delicious crisp. No oven required.
This is the second secret: macerate your berries. Blend your berries. Use a portion of your berries to create a sweet juice, just as if you baked your crumble and it is oozing those lovely fruit juices. I cringed when I mashed my blackberries (my beautiful blackberries!), but it is what brings this dessert to the next level. It isn’t just berries and nuts.
I was inspired by the recipe in Radiant Health, Inner Wealth and Raw Food Made Easy to create my own Raw Mixed Berry Crisp. I used blackberries and raspberries, which were a wonderful combination, but choose your favourites (blackberry-peach? raspberry-mango? blueberry-pomegranate?). The cinnamon-almond-date topping would work with any fruit! If you don’t plan to eat everything at once, I suggest keeping the topping separate from the fruit. Sprinkle over top just prior to serving… because if you aren’t going to eat it for dessert, you may as well have it for breakfast! :)