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.
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.
See below for the giveaway but I am super excited to tell you about Camilla’s latest cookbook, The Complete Coconut Cookbook. Do not let the title mislead you. Yes, this is a cookbook which includes recipes for all things coconut – coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut sugar, dried coconut and coconut flour. However, it is also entirely plant-based vegan, gluten-free, grain-free and nut-free. Because there are easy substitutes for the oil and sugar, this is a rather comprehensive vegan cookbook.
The recipes span breakfast (Banana Flapjacks, Coconut Yogurt), Beverages (Mango Carrot Coconut Smoothie, Coconut Nog), Breads and Muffins (Coconut Flax Tortillas, Vanilla Coconut Baked Doughnuts), Salads (Coconut Waldorf Salad, Shredded Beet, Coconut and Sesame Salad), Soups/Stews/Chilis (Cantaloupe Coconut Soup with Basil Syrup, Persian Coconut Soup with Split Peas, Chickpeas and Herbs), Main Dishes (Coconut Squash Pizza, Coconut Za’atar Kale, Tempeh and “Rice”), Side Dishes (Quick Sauteed Kale, Coconut Cauliflower Puree), Cookies/Cakes (Chocolate Avocado Cookies, No-Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies) and Pies/Puddings/Other Desserts (Coconut Cream Pie, Caribbean Sweet Potato Pie).
Woah, that is only a portion of the 200 recipes.
Although I am not entirely sure why someone would make a cookbook that was vegan, GF and nut-free, it certainly required Camilla to be quite innovative in the kitchen. For her baking recipes, a combination of coconut flour, psyllium, chickpea flour and potato starch are used. I tried the apple coconut cookies, although they tasted more like muffins but were delicious (soft and moist). I was hoping the chocolate cherry biscotti might be a bit more crispy, although unfortunately it softened in my air-tight container overnight. I see these as interesting starting points for those who are seeking non-traditional baked goods.
However, as I showcased here, there are plenty of delicious savoury options, too. I loved, loved, loved the cabbage soup with cilantro.
This was also a fun spin on a vegetable salad: cauliflower is riced and tossed with Moroccan spices, dates and cilantro. The savoury spices (cumin and cardamom – although I think cinnamon would have been better) worked well with the sweet dates. My only complaint was that I picked a big head of cauliflower, so I needed more dressing. No fault of the author, as I guess there are truly puny cauliflowers out there.
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 your favourite way to eat coconut. The winner will be selected at random on November 23, 2014. Good luck!
Other recipes spotted elsewhere:
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?
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.
Thank goodness I got my share of summer while I was still in Houston. Spending a month in Africa was sunny, but still a bit nippy, and definitely not that green. Our first week back in Canada was hot and humid, but that was an anomaly. Toronto didn’t get much of a summer this year, either.
However, while I am no farmer, I think one thing that has benefitted from the rainy days has been the blueberries. The wild blueberries were unbelievably big this year and the cultivated ones, even more massive. Rob tried to warn me when I loaded up with some cultivated blueberries: They don’t taste that great, he whispered to me. Turns out they were big and blueberry-delicious. And I didn’t have to share them with Rob. Score! :)
Without restraint, I added them to my morning oats and carefully crafted this salad courtesy of Terry’sFrom Salad Samurai. A multi-component, main dish salad with a spinach base, filled with cucumber and blueberries, beefed up with Ginger Beer tofu and topped with sticky, sweet & savoury almonds with Chinese 5-spice. I tried to stay true to the recipe, but only changes were to decrease the tamari because it was an ever-present ingredient in nearly all the components. I also did not want to turn on my oven for the tofu, so I pan-fried it in its marinade. It wasn’t as crispy as it would have been baked, but still good. The star of the salad, other than the big blueberries, were the Chinese 5-spiced glazed almonds which were perfectly balanced with the tamari, agave and the Chinese 5-spice imparted an interesting edge that I did not expect to taste so good.
This was not my first salad from the cookbook and it will certainly not be my last. Because the salads are huge ensembles of dressings, flavoured mains and interesting toppings, it can be hard to settle down and make an entire salad. Terry has some tips to master your art of making heavenly salads throughout the week. I have been picking and choosing each component separately, although, I really want to make everything: Thai Seitan Larb in Lettuce Cups, Lentil Pate Banh Mi Salad Rolls, East-West Roasted Corn Salad, Green Papaya Salad with Lemongrass Tofu, Miso Edamame Succotash Salad, Seitan Bacon Wedge Salad with Horseradish Dressing, Kimchi Black Rice with Asian Pear, Collards and Sweet Potato Crunch Bowl… ok, ok, I will stop. I basically want to make everything. The recipes are grouped by season and feature salads with loads of flavour from lots of fresh vegetables (no kidding) but also fresh herbs and spices. Terry also has a fun chapter for sweet salads, including a coconut carrot cake salad and overnight oats with Mexican chocolate creme that are calling out for salads for breakfast and dessert, too. Trust me, I am looking forward to cooking through this throughout the whole year.
Thankfully, the publisher is letting me share the recipe AND give a cookbook to one reader living anywhere in the world (since I will be shipping it). To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite salad. I will randomly select a winner on September 5, 2014. Good luck!
Other recipes from Salad Samurai shared elsewhere: