This is how we roll.
Rob and I have been hosting non-stop gatherings this summer and we finally had a weekend to ourselves.
We continued our summer grilling. The only difference is that this time I took a photo of my plate of food before I dug in.
A plate of bountiful vegetables.
Mojito-inspired tofu skewers, sin rum. Perhaps better rechristened as lime-mint grilled tofu.
Mojito-inspired zucchini coins, sin rum as well.
Mesquite grilled plantains.
Mesquite grilled corn.
I really enjoyed everything. It seems a tad busy but they were all very good.
I liked the lime-mint marinade for the tofu. I used my newest favourite tofu (especially for grilling). However, since the package was only 350g, I supplemented with zucchini. They were grilled and then topped with the extra marinade for a bright minty lime flavour.
The plantains and corn also shared the same mesquite-spiked oil (Mesquite seasoning and melted coconut oil). Instead of making plantain coins for the skewers, Rob found it easier to grill slabs of the plantain instead. They were equally sweet and smoky as last time but we didn’t lose any into the insides of the barbecue.
Rob’s mom gifted us some incredibly sweet corn from Woodstock and we wanted to keep things simple. We returned to keeping the husk on the corn while grilling to help it keep its moisture. We’ve made it with rosemary and garlic before, but this time, we kept it simple with the mesquite seasoning.
A fabulous meal, indeed.
The mojito-inspired tofu comes from a fabulous cookbook, Vegan al Fresco. I have been working my way through it this summer and absolutely loving it. The theme of the cookbook is “happy and healthy recipes for picnics, barbecues and outdoor living” and it definitely delivers on its byline.
The cookbook is broken down into finger foods and appetizers, sauces/dips, sandwiches/spreads, salads, foods to grill, baking, desserts and drinks. Plus, it also has tips for packing picnics and hosting meals outdoors.
All recipes are vegan. Most are creative vegan spins on traditional American fare. Samosa spring rolls, caper and edamame dip, chipotle and peanut butter hummus, peanut butter adobo barbecue sauce, cilantro barbecue sauce, jalapeño and cherry jam, quinoa and avocado ‘slaw, peanut potato salad, lime and ginger tahini tofu skewers, strawberry and basil scones, chilled blueberry chocolate pie and vanilla ice cream with cherry pie filling. Also, let’s not forget drinks like ginger lemonade. Trust me, there are a ton of fun recipes here.
Just look at Tracey’s photography of the tofu!
I will be sharing a few of my favourites from the cookbook but wanted to share this one prior to Labour Day. Enjoy!
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 like to bring to a picnic or barbecue. The winner will be selected at random on September 4, 2015. Good luck!
Even a tofu salad
I’ve been missing my beans.. and then all of a sudden, I had a craving for a mixed bean salad.
My last mixed bean salad was Symphony in a Can aka My 5-Minute Symphonic Mixed Bean Salad which has a more classic flavour profile: lemon, mustard and onion for the mixed beans.
This time I went with a Southwestern inspired bean salad with a chile-lime dressing. Lots of vegetables including bell peppers and tomatoes along with fresh cilantro. I worked with a medley of beans and then added in extra red kidney beans. They are perfect for salads and I don’t use them nearly enough.
I think my chile powder has been losing its freshness/spiciness so my newest trend (you may have already spotted it) is adding some Sweet Mesquite Seasoning which has plenty of oomph. Either that or my palate is warming up… Probably the former.
In any case, this salad received a lot of praise during my last barbecue. I think you will like it, too. Enjoy!
Onwards with the BBQ experimenting.
My natural instinct when I hear BBQ is to buy portobello mushrooms. As I said, I love salads and dishes I can prepare in advance, and the Portobello Carpaccio in But I Could Never Go Vegan sounded perfect.
Similar, but not identical to my grilled balsamic portobellos, these portobello mushrooms are marinated and roasted in the oven. The marinade is Italian-inspired with dried herbs and a red wine vinaigrette. I suppose the barbecue could work, too, but the barbecue was for later in the day. Once the mushrooms were cool, you slice them super thin (and had I known what on a bias meant, I would have done more of a diagonal to the horizontal plane). Then I popped them in the fridge for a few hours prior to serving. A sprinkle of capers and rosemary finished this as a really fun appetizer, with portobello mushrooms masquerading as rare meat.
Because mushrooms alone do not make a meal, and I had used up most of my culinary energies, we opted for something so simple, I was worried it might not work.
I had seen Tiffany’s post about tofu cheeseburgers where she simply grilled slabs of tofu and called it a burger. She isn’t even vegan and loved it. I was intrigued so we tried something similar.
We cut up a package of super firm tofu into four slices, cut longitudinally, and grilled it. Nothing added, not even salt and pepper. Rob said it stuck a bit on the grill but otherwise it was perfect. Slightly smoky and a blank canvas to work nicely against the vibrant portobello carpaccio.
Next time, we might try oiling the grills or brushing the tofu with some oil before placing it on the grill.
What do you think? Have you grilled plain tofu before?
I am sharing this with Meat Free Mondays.
Whups, I was hoping to get back to sharing three recipes a week but plans changed. At the last minute, Rob abandoned his plan to bike to Niagara Falls (I was planning to stay at home and relax) but instead, we both headed out to a friend’s cottage for the weekend. It was a doozy of a stressful week and it was wonderful to relax amongst the water, forest and a touch of biking the hills.
Unseasoned cottage goers, we were stuck in Sunday traffic and forgot that grocery stores close early (at least our favourites close to home) so we had to make do with limited produce and a lonely mango. Soba noodles to the rescue! Tossed with a pleasantly sweet lime dressing, this is a summer pasta salad sure to please the masses.
I recently finished reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Rob put it on hold at the library in December and we finally made it to the front of the list. Just in the knick of time, too, as we start to pack our house again for our (hopefully) last move ever. Have any of you read it and started tidying? I have seen a few reviews around the blogosphere (example), so I knew the premise to declutter was to only keep things that brought you joy. I am waiting for Rob to finish reading it (at least the first part on purging) prior to beginning to tidy. It will be easier if we are on the same page (said the one that has been slow to adopt the minimalism).
Rob has already packed my cookbooks, and I wouldn’t want to undo his efforts, so we’ll keep them all for now (HA!). Honestly though, one of my favourite cookbooks (definitely one I would keep) is Isa Does It (see my review here). Quick and simple, creative recipes that deliver loads on flavour. This is one such example. This was definitely more than the sum of its parts. Mushrooms and corn are pan-fried with soy curls and then spiced with chilies, lime and cilantro. Isa uses seitan but I think chickpeas could work well, too. She also recommends black beans which would fit with the Mexican theme.
So, please tell me, which cookbook brings you the most joy?
Long time no write!
My longest blog hiatus is definitely worthy of a wedding and honeymoon. I know a few were interested in photos and here are a few teasers from our fabulous photographer, Gabe McClintock.
After a partial whirlwind through Honduras and Guatemala following our wedding, we returned to Toronto earlier this week. I was hoping to bring a bit of spring and summer back with me, but Toronto is still fairly cold with (freezing) rain this week. Channeling my continuance of all things avocado (albeit of the Mexican variety), I could not resist them at the grocer. I still managed to stock up with lots of vegetables and then threw together this quick and easy salad.
Consider it a chunky avocado dressing, or an avocado scramble salad, the flavours are bright and flexible. The different veggies conferred different textures while enveloped by the creamy lime avocado mash with a hint of cheeziness from the nooch. The black beans help to make this a filling complete meal salad. It was excellent and I recommend eating it at once as the leftovers were not as vibrant. Alternatively, sprinkle with a touch more lime juice when reserving. While not necessary, I added the salad on top of leafy greens. I have a bad habit of being leafy greens and then not eating them. Here’s to eating more greens. And warmer weather.
What are you wishing for lately?
As I told you earlier, this weekend Rob and I completed the pool portion of our PADI scuba certification. Amidst Toronto’s cold, donning bathing suits in an 86F pool (and all the scuba gear) was a pleasant adventure, as we each described our plans for wanting to learn how to scuba dive. Some of the participants were going to head to Grenada for an ecological mission, others to Indonesia and Thailand but the majority, like us, were preparing for Caribbean destinations in a few short weeks.
The interesting thing about PADI certification, is that while yes, you learn how to scuba dive, the majority of the training is how to work your way through different challenges and how not to inflict harm on yourself. Lung overexpansion injuries, decompression syndrome, and contaminated air, it was actually kind of neat and definitely not anything we learned in medical school. If anything, Rob and I will probably be very happy spending more time in shallow waters than using more air in deeper depths. But we’ll see what it is like when we get there.
If you are at all interested in water ecology and environments, I highly recommend this excellent article all about jellyfish. Fascinating look at how they are taking over the waters.
However, I am willing to bet you are here for some good food. This is a basically a noodle topped with stir-fried veggies (broccoli, mushrooms, and even some edamame) and fried tofu then doused in a miso-ginger sauce. I used kelp noodles here but soba would work equally well. I also think this would work great with a quinoa or brown rice base, too, but it is nice to mix things up. Enjoy!
How are you keeping warm during this blast of cold? My thoughts are still with those digging out in Atlantic Canada (see the impressive photos here).
This is my submission to this month’s Pasta Please.
Howdy! I don’t have much to say today… other than to highly suggest making this soup. Bonus points if you make it and you don’t have snow outside. It will still taste delicious.
The coconut-infused broth is silky smooth with spicy hints of sriracha and ginger, balanced by the lime juice and cilantro and packed with good-for-you veggies like sweet potato and cabbage. Oh, and there are red lentils in there to make this a complete meal. The cabbage was fun because they were inadvertently like noodles with their long strands.
Full disclosure: In the fall, I had a full-blown case of cooking ennui. It probably evolved from a combination of immobility from my fracture, beginning my new job and the stress of starting to plan for our wedding.
I ended up buying a lot more prepared foods than ever before. At the farmer’s market close to our house, they would sell flavoured tofu and would easily at least 2 packets per week. My favourite was the miso-flavoured tofu. They also have a sweet and sour one, but miso was the best. When I tried this recipe for “sweet and sour marinaded tofu” is was a close approximation to the miso tofu (and not sweet and sour). Go figure. A bit more salty but you only notice it if you eat it cold from the fridge. Added to a bowl of vegetables and some quinoa, you have a seriously delicious and balanced meal.
This recipe is courtesy of Aine Carlin’s new cookbook Keep It Vegan. Another blogger that I have been following for a while, it is my pleasure to share her recipes with you. She blogs at Pea Soup Eats and her British influence is obvious throughout her book of comfort vegan foods: Morning Oat Jacks, Shepherdess Pie with Sweet Potato Topping, Chana Masala, Mexican-Style Lasagna, Red Lentil and Spinach Lasagna, Braised Red Cabbage with Apple, Chocolate Chestnut Pie, Summer (Bread) Pudding, and Banana Peanut Butter and Chocolate Sauce Sundae. Her recipes are approachable without too many esoteric ingredients (beyond what is normally found in a vegan pantry) but she also includes unusual and creative ideas like Bloody Mary Bruschetta, Breakfast Brownie with a Strawberry Bottom, Rosemary-and-Pear-Stuffed-French Toast and even Sweet Potato and Kiwi Soup.
Rob made the Hole Mole Black Bean Chili which was excellent, although we skipped the chocolate part. And we snuck in some leftover tamarind chickpea curry from Vegan Without Borders. But is was still excellent.
But these tofu bites were spectacular. A strong-flavoured miso-based marinade infused the tofu for a few hours and then they were lightly pan-fried for a delicious crispy crust. It reminded me of old-school vegan eats (aka this classic tofu dish dubbed Sweet and Sour, Hot and Spicy Tofu) and I added it to a bowl of almost roasted red peppers, sliced avocado, quinoa, arugula/spinach and hemp seeds. Basically, another version of a Dragon Bowl with the vegetable remnants from my fridge. Astute readers might realize a lot of the ingredients were leftovers from the Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Hemp and Orange. :) If you have extra marinade, it could be used to drizzle overtop but I let mine soak into the leftover tofu.
The photo below is the one from the cookbook. Feel free to cut the tofu into bigger slabs and serve with the green bean salad, as suggested.
Recipes from Keep It Vegan spotted elsewhere:
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me about your favourite vegan comfort food. The winner will be selected at random on February 12, 2015. Good luck!
I have been blogging for over 5 years and one thing I have learned to keep this a sustainable hobby is: don’t sweat the small stuff. This recipe has been sitting in my draft folder for a while and I keep on hesitating to share it with its lackluster photos. However, the recipe is stellar and for some reason, once the snow hits, I am all about the tropical eats.
I used canned beans here. One can of red kidney beans (they never seem to get too much love in my kitchen) along with mixed beans (who remembers my Symphonic Mixed Bean Salad? With Mr Goudas’ 9th Symphony Bean Mix? YAH!). It still cracks me up: Eat and music will follow. Get ready to listen. I swear, it is written on the label. it almost sounds like Trader Joe’s would love.
In any case, the beans are mixed with a lime infused tomato broth spiked with pineapple and spiced with oregano and a hint of chile flakes. Serve with your favourite grainy side to sop of the juices.
I promise to return with some prettier photos (along with a giveaway) next week. :)
Curious here, guys: Do you listen to podcasts?
I ask because I couldn’t fathom any time to actually have the time to listen to anything with pure intent. I don’t drive, and even if I did, I would be focusing on the road. I certainly don’t listen to anything when cycling (and definitely not cycling right now). And at work, well, I work, and pretty happy I can play any music I want in my office.
But this weekend, I figured out the perfect time to listen to podcasts: when you are sick.
Sick in bed, possibly from influenza, or whatever virus/bacteria/etc has me bedridden, with itchy eyes that I don’t even want to open and pretty darn sleepy from the sleepless nights and possibly the nyquil side effects.
This is how I listened to the much hyped Serial podcast season one in one day. Somehow I lost my weekend.. but I gained a podcast.
Rob was great trying to keep me full of tea and soup (making my favourite Lemon Ginger Miso Soup with some added parsnips which he associates with healing soups) and eventually the flu subsided. But guys, it was a doozy. Tis a shame the vaccine didn’t work this year. I get the vaccine every year but it reminded exactly what I was trying to avoid each and every year.
If you listen to podcasts, which do you like? Did you like Serial, too?
I am sharing this with Souper Sundays.
There is a special kind of familiarity to the Indian curries Rob and I cook up each week. Certainly, we have our favourites on a constant rotation, but most of our curries involve simmering some beans with garlic, ginger and turmeric with some tomatoes, perhaps some greens with a finishing tarka with cumin and a spritz from lemon or lime juice and a cilantro garnish.
This curry hits on nearly all those points. It did not disappoint.
As the weather remains cold, I am honestly considering making a curry each week. Definitely comfort food. My how things have changed. There was a time I would not have touched Indian food but over the years, Rob has shown me the way.
Other lentil-like curries spotted here:
Woosh! Can you see the steam? One perk of the black background, although it also picks up the dust, too! HA!
Hope you are keeping yourself warm during this recent freeze. It was -30C/-22F overnight with wind chill. It is times like this that you can remind yourself: only a few short months until our wedding/honeymoon in the Caribbean. And then you remind yourself: WHAT ELSE DO I NEED TO DO???? Thankfully my Mom keeps reminding me of all things I don’t know: making the veil, finding something borrowed, etc. While Rob and I take care of the very hard decisions: garifuna dancers vs firedancer (we chose both!!) and where to go for photos (beach vs jungle… vs where are cliffs.. we want cliffs).
In any case, here is another bowl of a warm, vibrant soup/stew. Jamaican jerk inspired with allspice and thyme (and also cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg) with colourful red bell peppers, yellow plantains and chickpeas with a sprinkle of green onions swimming in a fragrant coconut broth. This is not a hot and spicy soup (like most things jerk), so add as much heat as you like.
Are you already longing for the summer?
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 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.