I told my friend in Houston that I had reached the height of my vegan eats here. There were no new restaurants I wanted to try. She assured me there were so.many.more to try and convinced me to try a nearby Thai restaurant. Oddly enough, Rob has spotted it earlier that week and was amused by its billboard that announced it was MANGO SEASON!
I was apprehensive but she assured me I would love it. She told me they had vegan ice cream. I was sold.
She did not lie. I loved it. So much so, that I quickly tried to figure out how to recreate the dishes.
This is a spin on Laotian larb. Of note, Rob tells me this is nothing like the original and in fact, if you pronounce the r in larb, that is wrong, too. Make no mistake about its simplicity, this salad wrap was GREAT!
A few fun points: This was the first time I have steamed tofu. I LOVED it. It made it nice and fluffy and once crumbled, it absorbed the flavours of the marinade incredibly well. Lime juice, cilantro, in a salty-hot-sweet background, it was nice, fresh and light. After an overnight soak, it was absolutely perfect and lasted for a few days of lovely leftovers for lunch.
I took inspiration from the restaurant to serve it next to a quarter of an iceberg. Its solid leaves make for excellent wraps, more sturdy than most lettuces and is rather mild on the green scale. Besides, it is always good to rotate your greens. :)
Do you have a favourite green wrap? I thought collards were my favourite but I was rather smitten by the iceberg lettuce. ;)
Spring cleaning isn’t just happening in our kitchen. Rob has decided it was time to clean up our hard-drives, over-drives and Monkey drives, too. Mostly spurred because, after trying to amalgamate his important files with my important files, it would not fit on our 1 terabyte of online back-up space.
Rob thought it was a bit nuts.
My files are mostly photos. Mostly food, but also from travel and of family/friends.
My shutter count on my six-year-old camera is 101,501. That’s only ~17k photos a year.
Apparently I take too many photos. And I keep them all. And then some.
I will let him tackle the computer while I tackle the kitchen, thank you.
We seem to have an excess of sesame seeds. Sadly, I bought a pack late in the year when I couldn’t find my original package…. I thought we were out. Instead, now we have twice as many sesame seeds. With our sesame seed surplus, I also made these fun crackers.
A simple cracker made with sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds and maple syrup. I remain a bit apprehensive of black sesame seeds since I don’t find them as flavourful as their whole counterparts, but they certainly make for a pretty cracker. The maple syrup bound it all together after baking. Maybe I don’t need brown rice syrup afterall? ;)
Have you checked? What is your shutter count?
PS. In my defence, I take much less photos than I used to….. and my camera has travelled to many fun places over the years)
PPS. To find your shutter count with a DSLR, you can find it embedded within the Exif information of a photo, and it can be easily unearthed through Picasa.
Desserts and salads, that’s just the way we’re rolling here these days.
There is just something so pretty about colourful vegetables, I had to share this fun twist on salad. Vegetable noodles, either created with a spiralizer, a shredder, or careful knife skills, can totally change your view on salad.
Rob cheers every time we finish something. I actually apologized when I finished the balsamic vinegar but Rob gave me a high five. I am a bit antsy about the lack of smoked paprika in the house, too, but pretty confident we’ll replenish it before we return to Canada (because: PENZEY’S!).
The tahini may be dwindling but I have lots of sesame seeds. I haven’t resorted to making my own homemade tahini yet, but it could be fun to try. Until then, my sesame seeds are usually garnishes.
This salad dressing is a fun twist on a creamy sauce, since it is made with tahini with accents from the rice vinegar, mustard and lemon pepper seasoning. As I said, the salad was fun to create, too: spiralized zucchini is tossed with shredded carrots, thinly sliced red cabbage and instead of edamame (which would be good, too), I added sweet sugar snap peas. A bit different but fun for a change. And nice when you do not feel like cooking.
Note: I am pleading fifth amendment about the coconut flour. Some things were just meant to return to Canada. ;)
PS. This is my submission to Definition Magazine Summer Salad Redux Recipe Contest, Souper Sundays, Extra Veg and Four Seasons Food.
My lovely friend, Dawn, recently asked me to share my tips for food blogging.
As you know, I have a demanding full-time job and this is my hobby. After a few years, I think I have a great balance between managing the blog and the rest of my life. Mainly, the blog does not take over my life.
Some people wonder how I make and share so many different recipes without losing my mind.
I try to keep things low-key. I only take photos once. New recipe, snap a photo. If I come back and the photos suck, oh well… I will still post the subpar photos if the recipe is good.
This also means that I may make a recipe one way but find a better use for it afterwards as leftovers. Then my photos might not look like my recipe!
That is how this recipe evolved. It started out as a Thai Kale Salad with Chickpeas and a Peanut Dressing. I made it, I ate it. However, the next day, I thought rice paper rolls would be better. So I wrapped them up… and decided I didn’t want to bother with new photographs and munched away. Of course, the wrap was better. There is something sensational when all the components of the dish hit your palate at the exact same time: the lemony kale, the sweet red pepper, the crunchy carrots and the chickpeas are not rolling around everywhere…. and how could I forget the delicious peanut sauce? It is light, thinned with vinegar but flavourful with the ginger and orange. Drizzled into the salad roll, it was delicious. So delicious, I gobbled up the rest of the salad before rethinking about a new photo shoot.
Want more advice on how to be an awesome food blogger? Check out Dawn’s round-up with tips from Joanne at Eats Well With Others, Alissa from Connoisseurus Veg, Susan Voisin from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen, Cara Lyons from Cara’s Cravings and Alyssa from Queen of Quinoa.
I love when it is going to be a delicious week.
I am too lazy/tired to cook during the week, so I make everything on the weekend. A new batch of oatmeal. I create 3-4 different dishes, with possibly some fresh rice mid-week. Rob helps with the rice. His rice always seems to taste better even if we use the same rice cooker.
Anyways. I digress.
I love delicious surprises in the kitchen.
I was wooed by Tess’ creamy cauliflower soup in her latest cookbook. However, I knew cauliflower and leeks, alone, would not be a filling meal. Beans. I need some beans. Where are the beans? I could have easily blended white beans into the soup, but I don’t like pureed soups.
Keeping things a bit more texturally complex, I ran with bacon-flavoured roasted chickpea croutons! Because I was going to use the oven to roast my chickpeas, I roasted my vegetables, too. It helped to free up a coveted soup pot and oven burner, too.
I guess I get surprised by some of my successes. Light and fluffy yet still filling, the soup was as easy as blending together roasted vegetables with some spices. The bacon chickpeas added a salty-savoury topping that contrasted the soup wonderfully.
And somewhat off-topic. Not soup-related, but related by all things delicious. You know what else we recently discovered that was glorious? Trader Joe’s Soy Creamy Cherry Chocolate Ice Cream. GAH! Annie clued me in early on that their coconut-based ice creams were delicious and they helped tame the Texan heat in the summer. Now that we’re cycling in the heat, this has become our new way to cool off.
What have you been enjoying lately?
Adult rice krispies and now adult rice pudding.
The difference is that I liked rice krispies as a kid but hated rice pudding. My brother loved it, but me, not so much.
However, spice it up with chai-infused flavours, sweeten it with apple, dried currants and a touch of maple syrup, bathe it in coconut milk and sprinkle it with pistachios along with leftover short-grain brown rice, and I am a happy camper.
This is no quick-fix rice pudding but it sure is delicious. My friend who tried it said it was the best rice pudding she had ever eaten.
This is my take on Tess Masters‘ version found in her gorgeous new cookbook The Blender Girl. Do not let the title mislead you too much. Yes, this is a cookbook where nearly every recipe uses a blender, but this does not mean only smoothies. The recipes are all gluten-free and vegan with only natural sweeteners. The recipes revolve around whole foods. Raw and cooked recipes are included. Tess has recipes for juices, smoothies, dips/spreads, soups, dressings, sauces and even desserts. She has entrees that use homemade sauces, including her penang curry and creamy mushroom stroganoff. Desserts include sugar-free no-pumpkin pie and chocolate-chile banana splits. Breakfast favourites including pancakes and crepes, with delicious toppings like ginger-apple-pear butter and instant raw raspberry jam. She even finds a way to use a blender for rice pudding.
She knows her stuff. It may dirty another container but I liked how a portion of the rice was pureed to thicken the rice pudding. It was rather ingenious.
She is a girl smitten by her high-speed blender. I can tell. I have one, too, and I find it hard to remember what my kitchen was like without it. Do you need an expensive high speed blender for this cookbook? Certainly not. However, you definitely need something with a blending capacity, may that be a regular blender, an immersion blender or a food processor. If you don’t have a blender, you could still gain inspiration from her creations. Your textures may be different but it would be fun to see what else you could make.
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe and giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States. To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me what you love to make with your blender (or blending instrument). The winner will be selected at random on April 20, 2014. Good luck!
Other recipes shared from The Blender Girl:
Creamy and Crunchy Spuds (with Raw Mayonnaise)
Watermelon Gazpacho is The Bomb
Fresh Spring Rolls with Orange-Almond Sauce
Creamy of Cauliflower Soup
Incredible Edible Edamame Dip
Creamy Mushroom Stroganoff
Pineapple Salsa Smoothie
Chock-Full Chocolate Surprise Smoothie
Raw Chocolate-Orange Torte
I may have been late to the Valentine’s Day dessert sharing by a week and truthfully, Pancake Tuesday was never on my radar.
Since there is a create-eat-blog lag, obviously, I need to be thinking about upcoming holidays months in advance. Red for Valentine’s Day? No. Green. Green is the new red, right? With what, St Patrick’s Day in March, right?
Joking aside, because I really don’t need an excuse to make a fun raw crepe inspired by one of my favourite childhood desserts: grasshopper crepes. My mom may chime whether this recipe is close to what she used to make: a marshmallow-cream filling spiked with creme de menthe is surrounded by a paper-thin chocolate crepe. YES! Of course, I haven’t had it in ages, but the classic flavours of chocolate and mint never fail.
I used an old favourite recipe for the chocolate banana crepes but switched up the filling by whipping together avocado, frozen banana and mint. I prefer the flavour from the mint extract instead of the mint leaves, but the mint leaves kind-of-sort-of made the filling green. I should have added a touch of spirulina to really make it sparkle!
Remember Valentine’s Day? I reneged on my promise to make dessert. Rob had no problem coming up with an alternative. In fact, he was happy when I said I didn’t have the time to make my dessert of choice. He had already planned the whole meal!
The week post-V-Day is always special for us because we celebrate Rob’s birthday and our anniversary, so I eventually made my planned dessert, too. Our stash of avocados were perfectly ripe and could I really ignore an excuse to try out a new coconut flour-based dessert?
I cobbled together a delicious dessert from a few places. The base is inspired by Emma’s Raw Brownies but I topped it with a chocolate avocado frosting, based on my chocolate avocado mousse. To get a firm frosting, I used juicy Medjool dates as the sweetener (with a dash of agave only because I ran out of dates) along with a touch of lemon juice to balance the flavours. Next time, I might try a spiced version with cinnamon and cardamom again (like in my mousse).
Because I smushed this into a springform pan, this is more like a brownie cake. The brownie was delicious and it was amazingly fudgy and moist for a raw/no-cook dessert. Unlike my walnut-based raw brownie, this was lighter in texture due to the coconut flour (but more fudgy than my raw chocolate zucchini muffin). Plus the frosting just sealed the deal: delicious decadence. I highly recommend this. Although make no mistake, this is a decadent and filling treat.
PS. Here’s a shout-out to my Mom who got me a small off-set spatula. Which I totally used to frost the brownies. :)
What will you make with it? What’s your plan?
It may seem like I have a plan for most of my purchases, but not this one. Reading through a new cookbook with coconut flour recipes, I envisioned running through my coconut flour fairly quickly. And while I have been pretty good with making a few recipes with coconut flour, the recipes only use a small amount.
I did the math. I
don’t think know I will not be able to finish all of my coconut flour before I leave Houston. That would be over a pound per week. No. Can. Do.
Instead, I am having a lot of fun experimenting. This dessert intrigued me as it asked for a lot of coconut flour compared to the nut flour. I wondered how it would bind together without dates or oil. I tried it out. And true enough, it did not stick together. It was dry as a bone. Natasha told me to have faith, it would clump if I pressed it really hard in my pie plate.
I pressed and pressed. And then gave up. Perhaps the secret was the refrigerator chilling. I opted to try remedy the recipe myself: I added more sweetener, some oil and lots of almond milk. Coconut flour is thirsty, give it some liquid! I added and added until I felt the batter come together. I pressed it into a 6″ springform pan (unpictured), topped it with the radacious raspberry puree and sprinkled more of the batter overtop.
With still some batter and puree leftover, I created these mini versions. Too cute not to photograph and share.
The larger pie pieces stayed together easily, but that could be because I left it in the fridge longer. These were inhaled within a few hours. Don’t wait too long to eat your dessert, though. The coconut flour will dry up (sucking it from your raspberries perhaps) and taste a bit chalky. However, with a crumbly base, it is akin to a linzertorte, the Austrian cake with a pastry base, a fruit jam topping and the classic lattice topping. Delicate lattices are for chumps when you can much easily make a delicious, delicate crumb topping. ;)
Do you have any recipes you love with coconut flour?
Vegan coconut flour recipes I love:
This is my submission to Raw Food Thursdays.
I tried a little bit harder with this dip.
You had great suggestions for sprucing up my Mexican Black Bean Dip. It was all about the garnishes: salsa, chopped tomatoes, cilantro, and tortillas were all great ideas.
This time I topped the dip with coconut bacon. (I will tell you about the delicious dip in a moment, but first: COCONUT BACON). This was not my first encounter with coconut bacon. I have tried it in many different iterations: lovingly inside a BLT at Aux Vivres, as a snack I brought to Burning Man courtesy of Phoney Baloney, and even a slippery, thick raw coconut bacon made from fresh coconut inside The Naked Sprout‘s BLT.
While I have made raw eggplant bacon before, coconut bacon had been on my hitlist for awhile. I even captured a picture of their ingredient list when I was at Aux Vivres. Definitely one of the benefits of them selling items to go. However, instead of using their ingredient list, I ran with Julie’s recommendation to add smoked paprika to the recipes floating around the web. It worked for the raw eggplant bacon so I was quickly sold on her smoked paprika pitch. It did not disappoint and I liked it better than anything else I had tried. The fact that it made so much is great because we are going to enjoy this for awhile.
But don’t let me distract you from this dip. A cheesy chickpea spread with smoky undertones, it was a fun salty snack I served at our tamalada. We had some delicious chips that needed a dip and this was a great choice. Everyone approved and Rob is adamant about bringing it back into our dip repertoire. I won’t stop him.. and to give him due credit, I only crafted the recipes, Rob executed them with finesse… and then I cobbled together some photographs. :)
With the Superbowl, Academy Awards and the Olympics on the horizon, this may be the dip-friendly part of the year. If you would like other delicious dips, consider these, too:
Hope everyone had a nice holiday. Back at work for me, already.
Rob and I returned to Canada, in all of its ice storm, power-deficient
stateprovince. Over half a million people lost power in the days leading up to Christmas and just before we scooted back to Houston, my brother lost his power, for the second time, on Boxing Day.
With a few short days in the GTA, we explored Toronto as tourists: fast and furious. We met up with many friends and family, reminding ourselves why we love Toronto so much. Despite the cold, the warmth comes from our social network. We cooked, we ate at both new and old (favourite) restaurants and relished in multiple Christmas feasts.
As I said, I didn’t have enough forethought to bring any treats with me from Houston. Nothing lost, as I was oftentimes filled to the brim with good food, and had no desire to cook. However, while in Woodstock, I spotted a few pantry staples that could easily be whipped into a shockingly simple dessert. I could not resist. I am shocked I am sharing another dessert with you all, but in case you are looking for a fun party dessert, this could be your treat.
I threw together almonds, coconut and dates for a simple raw pie crust. The salt and vanilla accentuate the sweet maple syrup and dates. You could replace the coconut with additional nuts, but I enjoyed the textural foil next to the rich smooth filling. The filling was super simple: a bag of melted chocolate chips mixed with canned coconut milk and lots of peanut butter. At first I thought the peanut butter was a bit odd, but when you consider that the majority of raw cheesecakes are made with an abundance of cashews whipped into a butter, the leguminous peanut butter made sense. Combined with chocolate, you have a winning treat. It is rich and filling without being cloyingly sweet. And I even used semi-sweet chocolate.
Are you back at work, too? This is my shortest Christmas holiday yet.
This is my submission to this month’s We Should Cocoa.
Yesterday, we had a potluck at work. Non-denominational for the holidays, there was an Italian theme. In addition, the organizer reminded us of some food restrictions in our department: nut allergies, no eggs, gluten-free and vegetarian.
My original plan was to bring the vegan cheese log, but figured the vegans would appreciate it more. Indeed, they loved it possibly more than me! Instead of bringing vegetables for the non-vegans, I shared a treat that did not even seem vegan: the very best chocolate truffles! Also, because it met all of the listed dietary restrictions! It is nut-free, egg-free, dairy-free as well as free of artificial sweeteners and flours. It is also (almost) raw. Not quite raw because I use non-raw cocoa powder. I think a few people were scratching their head wondering exactly what was in my truffles since I had such a long list of what was not in them. All yummy, though!
(Of note, I discovered the truffles are super soft after being at room temperature for 3 hours… and I think the best remedy for this would be coat them in a magic shell!!)
I am a bit behind on my potlucks, though. At our last work potluck, celebrating Thanksgiving, I did represent the veggies with this salad. We have made this holiday-inspired ruby red dressing a few times after Emma suggested it. It adds a gorgeous colour to your salad and the delicious sweet-tart cranberries in the dressing is balanced by orange juice and maple syrup.
Pictures here with lettuce, dried cranberries, pecans and pumpkin seeds, I find it pairs amazing with brown rice or curried chickpeas to make a complete meal. Apples and cucumbers make a nice contrast, too.
I asked Rob to take photos and he told me he wanted to highlight the pretty red dressing by drizzling it in fun patterns overtop the salad. It was a bit challenging with a spoon. He may have picked up on my hint that squeeze bottles would make a nice gift (and under $5!). In actuality, he told me we already had squeeze bottles: I just need to finish the agave nectar. Not too hard after I made 3 batches of the best truffles ever within the past week. ;)
Would you have gone with the salad or chocolate?? (Or both?)
Thanksgiving is over. December is here.
It is all about the holidays now, no?
Well, you know me, I kind of beat to the tune of my own drum. My forthcoming recipes may not necessarily be holiday-driven, but they will definitely be highly recommended. For yourself and others. And if that is not holiday-themed, I do not know what is.
This is a black bean soup I shared with my parents while they were in town. I had some lofty meals planned, but ended up working late and being on call, so things did not work as originally scheduled. I turned to this soup from The 30 Minute Vegan’s latest cookbook: Soup’s On! This is my favourite book of his so far, possibly because I love soups.
Mark’s latest book proves that complex soups do not need to take hours over the stove. With tricks like foregoing a slow saute for onions and prepping your vegetables as you cook your soup, a proficient cook should be able to make most of these soups quickly. Separated into chapters for basic broths, vegetable-dominant soups, heartier soups with whole grains, legumes and pasta, creamy blended soups, raw soups and desserts soups (plus garnishes and sides), this a comprehensive vegan soup compendium. His recipes highlight whole foods: vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts and flavourful herbs. In addition to being entirely vegan, this cookbook caters to many special requests: no/low-oil, gluten-free (almost all), and mostly soy-free, too, and every recipe has variations to help you craft your best brew.
This black bean soup was no exception: lots of colourful vegetables superimposed on top of jet black black beans (Rancho Gordo’s Negro de Arbol beans). Bell pepper, carrots and corn with a dash of orange juice, cloves and liquid smoke for a Brazilian flare. The original soup was no-oil, but I opted for the oil-sautéed onion variation. I made the soup first and waited until dinnertime to make the plantain chips. The nuances of the maple-orange-cinnamon marinade for the baked plantain chips may have been lost on us, though. They also took twice as long to bake, but after Hannah’s recent gush of love for oven-baked plantain chips, I figured they may take longer.
With the plantain chips (unpictured), this would have been a stretch for a 30-minute meal, but it was quick. And the soup was delicious. Mark said it would serve 6-8, but the four of us devoured it in one sitting. (Sadly no leftovers for me). I was actually impressed that my Dad thought I had served this to him before. I assured him that this was a new recipe but two years ago, yes, I shared a (different) Brazilian soup with him. It was more stew-like with sweet potato and kale amidst the vegetable choice. I think I liked this one more. RG’s black beans were a hit: a bit smaller than your typical black bean while keeping their shape nicely.
I have been easily cooking my way through this delicious cookbook and can also recommend the Jamaican Jerk Plantain Soup, Holy Moley Soup, Himalayan Dal with Curried Chickpeas, Fire-Roasted Tomato and Rice Soup with Spinach, and Polish Vegan Sausage and Sauerkraut Stew. There are plenty more I will be trying out later.
I really want to share this cookbook with you and thankfully the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite recipe by The 30 Minute Vegan. If you haven’t made anything by Mark yet, have a look through the table of contents of The 30 Minute Vegan Soup’s On! on amazon (or my list above or below) and tell me what you want to cook the most. I will randomly select a winner on December 20, 2013. Good luck!
PS. Other recipes from Soup’s On:
PPS. Other recipes I have shared by Mark Reinfeld:
PPPS. There is still time to enter my giveaway for 365 Vegan Smoothies here.
I consider my blog to be a public food journal. And as I share my favourite recipes, I may unearth some trends.
Right now, I seem to be all about pecans.
(As evidenced by my maple pecan shortbread cookies, vegan cheesecake with a pecan shortbread crust, baked caramelized banana & pecan oatmeal and even a savoury brussels sprouts slaw with pecans and cranberries)
I say pee-cans, but recently, I can catch myself with a Southern drawl muttering pe-cahns, too.
Pecans are a taste of the Southern United States, and I am trying to relish in all good things here.
Take this pumpkin pecan butter frosting.
I originally made this as a way to tame our consumption of nut butters… and cookie butters. Did I mention how fast my parents devoured the cookie butter? Three days, three people, finito.
Rob declared this spread tasting like a hug. With the warming cinnamon with a pumpkin backdrop, I could see why. This was not as rich as our regular nut butters (obviously!), but it worked remarkably well as a frosting. Thanks to Gaby and Max, we used it to frost Sinfull Bakery’s monster vegan cinnamon bun for a fall-inspired treat.
Now it is your turn: How do you pronounce pecan?