I don’t know how many of you were working last Friday. Friday, January 2nd. It was a weird sensation. Both a Monday feeling, with a mountain of work, combined with the excitement by the time it was 4:30pm and I realized the weekend was so close!
But yesterday was a brutal Monday. I missed my bus because I shovelled the snow that morning, all the time freezing in the cold gust of wintry air. Work was mostly back to usual and the gym, well, let’s say we nearly doubled our gym goers.. you know, from the regular 5 people to over 10. I had to learn to share.
Suffice it to say, I was a bit cranky by the time I returned home. Thank goodness I knew it would be a delicious week. This is another one of my new simple recipes. I figured I already have a ton of red lentil soups that I have shared, this time, I winged it with what I had in my kitchen.
I loved your encouragement to share the recipe inspirations. Unlike the last time, this time I have a recipe. Red lentils, carrot, tomatoes and kale were combined in a flavourful broth made with smoked paprika, Old Bay Seasoning and Worcestershire sauce. I don’t know what made it so flippin fantastic, but it was a nicely sweet soup (from the carrots??) that was balanced by the Worcestershire sauce and fresh garlic finish. It worked really, really well. And it was perfect to comfort me after my first day back.
Red lentil soups spotted here previously:
This holiday was too short.
Rob is still at home but definitely not loafing about. He has decided he can do more cleaning (aka throwing things out) when I am not around. Apparently, I make throwing things out difficult. Case in point: now that we have zero devices that can read CDs and DVDs (except the car which can read CDs), we want to get rid of all our CDs. I completely agree. However, after Rob nicely packed them up, I went through them and pulled out ones to give to my parents. How could they not like Delerium, Orbital and Bjork?
Anyways, yesterday Rob decided to try to sell them. I was impressed Rob got almost $80 from the closest music store for their top picks. He will try another store tomorrow.
Now, I also want to sell my DSLR. Does anyone want a Nikon D80? Let me know!
Anyways, still learning the ropes with my pressure cooker. I really like yellow split peas but I knew my stash was old… and I don’t like finicky beans that just won’t cook. Pressure cooker to the rescue! I took a standard recipe and put it in the pressure cooker for 15 minutes, a bit longer than JL’s recommended 6 minutes for her split pea soup and marginally longer than this recommended 10 minutes. Well, let’s just say the pressure cooker pulverized my split peas. The extra liquid sopped it up nicely. No immersion blender needed for such a silky soup.
Even without a pressure cooker, this soup would be easy to make. And highly recommended, too. The miso adds a nice umami and the hemp seeds added a bit more texture which was lost with the split pea explosion. I added a garnish of crushed walnuts, too.
Need other ideas for split peas:
I had all the best intentions of sharing a chocolate-based recipe this week. Sadly, not one but two recipes were a flop. How could that possibly be? One we had to throw out it was that bad but the other will still be happily eaten.
This will be a quick post to share another of my favourite repeater recipes from this year: Isa’s Coconut Chana Saag. I am still not sure why it looks like most of the curries I share, but this one is flippin fantastic. Perhaps the touch of fennel brought it to the next level? In any case, it is delicious and highly recommended.
While most people might be on holidays already (Rob is!!), I get 2 out of 3 statutory holidays off and otherwise working through the remainder of the days. Rob thinks I am working too much but I try to reassure him that this way I save my vacation for our honeymoon.
I may pop back in with a few quickie posts but if not, best wishes for the new year and happy holidays. :)
I am sharing this with Souper Sundays.
I had a good run of giveaways there. I was considering whether I could do an entire month of giveaways but quickly discounted that by writing this post. Although, to be fair, this was a recipe I discovered while previously reviewing a cookbook. This soup, in its original incarnation, belongs to Angela from within The Oh She Glows Cookbook. While I love the glo bar recipe I shared earlier, this is the soup I keep returning to, time and time again.
I have a hard time explaining what the soup is. Angela called it a detox soup which makes me cringe, but it is filled with a nicely fragrant broth made from ginger, cumin with a touch of cinnamon and filled with loads and loads of vegetables. Mushrooms, broccoli and carrot. Sometimes I use kale or collards, sliced into thin strips, but this time I used a crunchy cruciferous mix of kale, cabbage and brussels sprouts for more variety. I also continued with the green theme and used frozen edamame as my protein of choice. It fits well with the uniquely Asian twist brought by the last minute addition of shredded nori.
Like the recent article in The Guardian addressed, You can’t detox your body. It’s a myth. So how do you get healthy? A healthy mix of vegetables with protein is indeed the way to go.
Looking for more good articles, these were good finds:
The secret to a long, happy marriage – So far, I think Rob and I are doing very well in this regard :)
Everything I thought about recovery is a lie – An excellent post about recovery from an eating disorder.
Why do pigs oink in English, boo boo in Japanese, and nöff-nöff in Swedish? – Rob has always wondered why Polish dogs say “hau hau”. But do you know what noises porcupines make? Very cute noises.
Floating feasts – Almost makes me want to go on a cruise. Almost… Anyways a great article about food on cruise ships
A Warning on Nutmeg – Beware of nutmeg overload!
Secret Lives of Passwords – What does your password say about yourself?
Anyways, it is a good time for vegan cookbooks and I have a few more to tell you about. I hope to finish my reviews before the holidays so it is like a mini present for the winners. :)
Thug Kitchen is probably the most controversial vegan cookbook. Penned by the authors of the similarly named blog, I never followed it because I did not find their language amusing. OK, sometimes it made me smile and I like how it tries to show how simple and easy homemade food can be, and yes, it is all vegan. I will admit that I was curious about their cookbook, but instead of tracking it down, I hunted for online recipes. This was the first I made and really liked it.
I am no stranger to pumpkin chili (previous version here). I don’t know why but pumpkin puree works seamlessly in chili to create a silky broth. Both version were great but I found this one lighter in flavour since it used canned tomatoes instead of tomato paste and this one had the perfect amount of heat. Furthermore, this one was a bean-centric chili and I cooked up some of Rancho Gordo’s bayo chocolate beans. I was really enticed to use them with a name like that! Turns out it is called chocolate based on their colour, not their flavour. When Rob bought them, he was told they had the consistency of fudge. Not so true, but they have a lovely firmness that lended well to this chili. Small red kidney beans would also work well here.
While I made the chili, Rob made the arepas. What a wonderful weekend meal. Enjoy!
PS. If you are interested in being way more amused with a recipe than when I write them, definitely check out the original version here. Possibly the funniest disclaimer ever: If you try to make this chili with pumpkin pie filling, don’t complain about how f*cked up it tastes. You did that dumb sh*t yourself.
Turns out our furnace problems were solved with a new thermostat. Thank goodness it was such an easy fix. It will be a bit warmer over the next few days which is perfect for us. It will melt the snow and allow us to rake all the leaves we had neglected earlier before winter resumes again later in the week.
Hearty winter fare is back into my kitchen for good and this was a delicious side, and could definitely work if you are looking for a something different for a holiday meal. Brussels sprouts are braised with chickpeas, kale and sun-dried tomatoes along with Italian-inspired seasonings. I thought this was excellent. Highly recommended.
What are you planning to serve for Thanksgiving?
Even for me, this recipe seems a bit long and bothersome. However, I implore to try it out.
Let’s break this recipe down so it is not too daunting. Thankfully, even the sweet potato coconut mash topping could stand-alone on a Thanksgiving spread.
First, start with roasting your sweet potatoes. I honestly would have double next time. I would not judge you if the potatoes never made it to the shepherd’s pie.
I started with my favourite recipe for Roasted Sweet Potatoes (Low and Slow) which coaxes and highlights their natural sweetness. I made them the night before so this recipe would work fabulously with leftover roasted sweet potatoes, too. Despite roasting 3 big potatoes, I wanted more volume. I ran out of drinkable non-dairy milks so I grabbed a can of lite coconut milk. Just a touch whipped into the spuds created a silky sweet puree. Inspired by Candle Cafe’s Paradise Casserole’s mash, I added some miso as well. You could stop right here with a delicious side.
Let’s pretend you still want to make the whole shepherd’s pie, though. I used a mix of beans, which along with carrot, mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes had a nice texture. Balsamic vinegar and nutritional yeast added a nice depth and if you have red wine, that would work well here, too. I used a pressure cooker for my lentils, overcooking them slightly, but this was a great way to use them. I also slightly overcooked my butter beans (pressure cooker equilibration issues) but the butter beans were a fantastic counterfoil to the smaller bits. They don’t call them butter beans for nothing. Rancho Gordo’s Florida butter beans were silky smooth, almost like butter! :P
I tried to have a good sweet potato-mash to filling ratio, with a decent height with the mash. I chose a smaller but high casserole dish, as opposed to a 9×13″ pan. I think it worked out really well. The sweet potato mash makes this a less traditional shepherd’s pie but since it is vegan, can I really claim any authenticity?
I may not have promoted it here but I am a complete fan of Happy Cow. When travelling, I consult the reviews (and then leave my own) to find the best vegan eats around the world. Not only across Canada and the US, I chronicled my eats while travelling in Germany, Iceland, Mexico, Colombia and South Africa. Rightfully so, there are zero entries for Madagascar.
In any case, I was thrilled when I heard that Eric Brent and Glen Merzer were creating a cookbook featuring recipes from top-rated vegan restaurants, The Happy Cow Cookbook.
The neat part of this compilation was each restaurant’s profile, highlighting their popular and favourite dishes, important lessons as a restaurant owner/chef, and the future of plant-based food movement. Each restaurant shares one, two or more recipes, along with some photographs. As expected with a compilation, the recipes vary with respect to level of difficulty, recipe instructions and photographs. On the whole, the recipes seem solid. Millenium’s Pistachio-Crusted Eggplant Napoleon is way too complex for me to recreate, but makes me want to visit this San Francisco eatery. There is also a recipe for Coconut Tofu and Blackened Tempeh with Grapefruit Yuzu (courtesy of Green in Tempe, AZ) that definitely beyond my reach. However, Lettuce Love Cafe’s Tempeh Reuben looks easy to recreate at home, as well as Netherlands’ Veggies on Fire’s Lemon Cheesecake with Raspberry Sauce.
The book is ordered alphabetically, based on the name of the restaurants, which makes it difficult to find recipes. However, the breadth of recipes seems vast with little repeats (although you will certainly find many recipes for vegan cheese!). Recipes vary from Kimchi Nori Maki Rolls and Peruvian Leftovers Pie to Avocado Apple Tartare with Walnut Bonbons to Chicken Fried Tempeh and Carrot Cake with a Vegan Cream Cheese frosting. Sadly, what I was most disappointed, was the abundant use of vegan substitutes (ie vegan cream cheese, sour cream and Vegenaise), although that probably helps prep time for restaurants.
While I have never been to Peacefood Cafe, I was itching to make their “Award-Winning Chickpea Fries” which is basically an Indian-spiced baked fry made with chickpea flour. They were quite easy to make although I regret adding the bay leaf to the spice mixture. It became a predominant flavour and bothersome since I didn’t grind it to a fine powder. I didn’t make the Caesar Dipping Sauce as the recipe perplexed me. I was not sure why there was fermented bean curd in the sauce without directions to pulverize it with a blender. In any case, the recipe below is as seen in the book. Enjoy.
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe AND giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me what your favourite vegan-friendly restaurant is (and where). Bonus entry if you share your link to your review on HappyCow. The winner will be selected at random on November 7, 2014. Good luck!
PS. HappyCow Cookbook recipes spotted elsewhere:
Beet Salad with Shallot-Thyme Dressing (from Blackbird Pizzeria in Philadelphia, PA)
Cherry Royal (from Veggie Grill in Hollywood, CA)
Granada Chai (from El Piano in Malaga, Spain)
Kimchi Nori Maki Roll (from Real Food Daily in West Hollywood, CA)
Moroccan Tajine (from SunCafe Organic in Studio City, CA)
Nutloaf (from Wayward Cafe in Seattle, WA)
Pasta with Pumpkin Curry Sauce (from Counter Culture in Austin, TX)
Pickled Beets (from Zen Kitchen in Ottawa, ON)
Pistachio-Crusted Eggplant Napoleon (from Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco, CA)
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon-Brown Sugar Cream (from True Bistro in Boston, MA)
Quinoa Tabbouleh (from Chaco Canyon in Seattle, WA)
Raw Lime Parfait (from Plant in Asheville, NC)
Roasted Spaghetti Squash, Cauliflower, Garlic and Mashed Potatoes with Porcini Mushroom Gravy (from Peacefood Cafe in New York, NY)
Skillet Cornbread (from Cornbread Cafe in Eugene, OR)
Spicy Cha Cha (from The Loving Hut in Houston, TX)
Swiss Bircher Muesli (from Luna’s Living Kitchen in Charlotte, NC)
Other recipes from restaurants I have made:
Candle Cafe’s Paradise Casserole with Black Beans, Millet and Cinnamon-Miso Sweet Potato Mash
Fresh’s All-Star Salad
Fresh’s Miso Gravy
Gorilla Food’s Strawberry Bliss Up Shake
Live Organic Cafe’s Raw Pad Thai
Peacefood Cafe’s Raw Key Lime Pie
I am sharing this with the Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck.
Despite what you make believe, I haven’t eaten any winter squash recently. I bought a colourful carnival squash but haven’t made anything with it yet. I have this recipe I made while in Houston. The giveaway? The frozen roasted corn. I can’t say I have seen that since returning to Toronto.
This is a perfect end-of-summer, beginning of fall soup, as the last of the local corn arrives and the first winter squashes arrive. Or perfect for the dead of winter, too, using frozen corn kernels.
The Three Sisters, referring to the dietary staples of the Mesoamerican diet: corn, beans and squash. They often grow together, each plant benefitted from the others. The lankly corn husks provided a structure for the beans to latch onto. The squash covers the ground, preventing pesky weeds from appearing. And like all beans, they return nitrogen to the soil to help nearby plants. It makes sense that meals would also center around such foods, equally creating a balanced meal. This meal is simple but elevated by choice herbs and spices (cilantro, chiles, smoked paprika, garlic) with a heavy hand of lime juice. I used the full amount in the recipe and even I, the lover of all things tart, found it off-putting. Please start with less and taste as you go.
The recipe comes from a cookbook I have been meaning to write about for a while, Extraordinary Vegan. I can see Allan is a partial kindred spirit in the kitchen as he realizes a few choice ingredients can elevate meals to become extraordinary. Like I have said, some of my favourite, albeit unusual ingredients, are Aleppo chile flakes, pomegranate molasses, smoked paprika and miso. These are a few of the ingredients Allan uses to create his meals. I had a few of these in my Houston kitchen, but still piecing together my larger pantry here, and now looking forward to trying other recipes. Many recipes are simple but a few use a few hard to find ingredients. Here are a few other recipes I have spotted around the web from Extraordinary Vegan.
Are the squashes out in full force in your kitchen yet?
Sorry for the blurry photo. Temperatures are dropping and the days are getting longer. We seemed to have misplaced my tripod in our whirlwind of a maze home still being unpacked so I am working with what I can.
This was a delicious bowl of goodness. Brown rice at its base, with a side of lemony chickpea spread and a hefty helping of lemon-miso braised Swiss chard.
The dressing is more puckering than my typical hummus and uses lots of lemon juice instead of balsamic vinegar (which I used in my previous hummus dressing). I was almost worried it was too lemon-heavy but it was nicely balanced when added to the brown rice.
I was channeling my mustard-hummus rice bowl with roasted cauliflower and truthfully, I was not really thinking of macrobiotics originally. However with the touch of nori in the Swiss chard, it reminded me more of my previous macro bowl with the miso-tahini sauce.
I also ended up adding peanuts for a nice crunch, so feel free to add something similar.
The miso-braised greens was adapted from Plant-Powered for Life, quite an gem of a cookbook. The original recipe was Miso-Braised Collard Greens with Cashews, and you can tell I adapted it by swapping chard for collards and peanuts for the cashews. The cookbook is filled with healthy plant-based recipes, each attached to a healthy eating tip. This recipe was found under tip 7: Aim for at least six servings of veggies every day. The tips range from Make variety your motto to Remember fresh isn’t always best and Pay attention to heritage foods. With such variety of the tips, the resulting haphazardness of the order of the recipes is the unfortunate result and make this an unwieldly cookbook unless you sport an electronic copy. Otherwise, you have a good novella to skim through, picking up small tips to help eat a bit better.
Recipes from Plant-Powered for Life spotted elsewhere:
I just might need a very pretty picture to knock me out of a bloggers block. A simple recipe, I really only gave directions for the salsa baked tofu and told you what else I included in my salad. No measuring, just plating and eating.
I tried a bit harder to make this salad pretty.
WOAH! Stop the presses. Where have you been all my life?
I always thought barbecue sauces were tomato-based. This barbecue sauce has no tomato in sight. Instead, the base is from mustard and vinegar. It is amazing what a little blackstrap molasses can do to herald a sauce into the barbecue family.
The ultimate barbecue sauce is probably a very touchy/personal topic for many, especially in the US, with each region having their own spin on their special sauce for grilling. While in Texas, I didn’t go for barbecue, but I seem to be homesick for my time in Houston and bringing the barbecue back to Toronto.
However, this is not Texas-style barbecue sauce, it hails from South Carolina. Mustard-loving Germans added a barbecue twist to their local sauce and it is wonderful. Not too sweet, a heavy hand with the vinegar and a perfect punch from the savoury spices. A perfect mix for me and my love of all things mustard.
I haven’t quite decided what to do with this sauce yet. I was originally going to toss it with some tofu and veggies and then bake it, but now all I want to do is keep it. Why use that all in one go?
What is your favourite barbecue sauce and what do you like to do with it?
Do you remember the soba noodle debacle? The time I bought oodles of soba noodles and then proceeded to leave them in the pantry and slowly, slowly eat through them. Yeah, I still have soba noodles and still eating through them. A true hoarder.
However, when the cooking rut continues, I get less picky in the kitchen. I have little energy to refuse the noodles. Plus, they are quick and easy to make. I added the cold leftover sauce to warm noodles and it melted right in. A little green garnish might be nice, too. Consider adding fresh chives, as recommended in the original recipe. Because you know, I would never suggest eating parsley. Yucko.
Allow me to be honest with you. I may have lost my cooking mojo.
I haven’t really been too interested in cooking lately. My life has slowed down a lot (physically, mainly) and my heart no no longer sings in the kitchen. One must still eat, so I am still cooking… although finding it a challenge to continue to blog consistently.
And then I made this hummus. I knew I had to share it right away.
I am no stranger to strange hummus concoctions but this one was really good. Spiced with sriracha with a depthness from red peppers, I really liked it. It wasn’t too spicy (for me!) so feel free to add more sriracha for your palate. I found this had a taste reminiscent of cheese but without any nooch, I think it was from the red pepper paste. This was nice and silky straight from the food processor. Sadly, it stiffened slightly as leftovers so either eat it all at once or add some more liquid as needed.
Easing back into cooking in Toronto, I tried to highlight local, seasonal vegetables. We arrived too late to grow our own garden but we had a little help from family.
These cucumbers were courtesy of Rob’s mother’s garden and the tomatoes came from my sister-in-law’s parents’ garden. The dressing was a simple lemon-tahini-garlic combination that pretty much never fails. Although the twist was adding some olives. I don’t use them very often but it was an unusual and nice accent to the creamy dressing.
What are you growing this year?