Feel like you missed autumn? Summer went straight into winter? Time flies, and sometimes I feel like I missed the peak season for certain fruits and vegetables. I keep missing peach season although we had a few this year. I also missed prime tomato time, perhaps because I was distracted by summer exams. In any case, have no fear. Canned tomatoes are possibly the best way to make sure you have flavourful tomatoes.
Oddly enough, I first encountered Arrabiata sauce while travelling in South Africa. It was a premade sauce that I added to a can of lentils with delicious results. A bit spicy, a lot tomatoey, it worked well with the hearty lentils. However, by the time I returned to Canada, I figured a pasta sauce deserved some pasta.
I made a huge batch of Ricki’s Arrabiata sauce and used it in two non-traditional ways: paired with soba noodles and also paired with zucchini noodles with chickpeas and nutritional yeast. I liked both versions although the zucchini noodles remind me more of the summer than soba noodles.
Next time, I think I will puree the sauce and add a bunch of lentils. Topped with nutritional yeast, it was a great meal, too.
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?
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?
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.
You know Rob is a keeper when he doesn’t kill you when it is time to pack. And a) you have essentially doubled your cookbook collection while in Houston (although I limited myself to 10 books for my move) and Rob is now packing your heavy books; b) while you should be packing, instead you are cooking the last of the bits in the refrigerator, so I am still net loss worth for packing. And then there’s c) please don’t pack my cookbooks I still want to review! Eventually I had to give in…. and help pack. And thankful that most books I receive to review come in electronic form.
Especially after making my own e-cookbook, I have grown to appreciate digital books. They have their pros and cons. They are easier to search, but not as fun to read. I miss the ability to curl the pages and find new random recipes. Although they are definitely easier to move. They also allow me to write posts in the airport.
Afro Vegan is Terry Bryant’s new cookbook. A lover of good food, he has managed to fuse soul comfort food with gourmet twists. His muses vary from Caribbean soul cuisine, Southern US down home cooking and African menus. Pecan cornbread with dukkah? Sweet plantain and Fresh Corn Cakes? Peanut Pumpkin Fritters? Jamaican Patties Stuffed with Maque Choux? Spinach Peanut Sauce? Trust me, it all sounded good to me, I was sad I haven’t had enough time to explore it.
While a bit more complex than my weeknight meals, there are more simple and more elaborate dishes. Delicious and innovative all-round. I loved, loved, loved my version of his Southern black eyed peas, I shared it before the book was even released to the masses. Now I am sharing another great soup, which I simplified by skipping the dumplings. This black bean stew, inspired by the Brazilian feijoada, is more tomato-heavy than my previous versions, but still nice and hearty and simple enough for an easy meal.
Thankfully, the publisher is letting me share the recipe AND give a cookbook to one reader living anywhere (except maybe the moon). To be entered, please leave a comment here, any comment. I will randomly select a winner on July 30, 2014. Good luck!
Recipes from Afro-Vegan shared elsewhere:
Perhaps it is fitting that my last post from Houston should be a review for Vegan Finger Foods. It was in Houston, that I found and dived head-first into the “vegan potluck” community. Bounded by a common interest (delicious food), people came from various backgrounds. Some were vegan, others vegetarian, some omnivores, but all were included and encouraged to eat and enjoy the plentiful vegan food.
For me as a cook, it was (mostly) fun to try new recipes or share old favourites. I tend to gravitate to one-pot meals, but now I experimented with appetizers and desserts, knowing there would be plenty of Janet-friendly dishes to sample. As a person, it was comforting to meet others with similar interests, even if only within the realm of veganism. Although especially within the realm of veganism when I first moved to Texas.
Vegan Finger Foods is a fun cookbook, overflowing with ideas for your next gathering. Not only are the recipes suitable for vegan parties and potlucks, they can be mixed and matched for regular main meals at home. There are vegetable-centric bites (think “Bacon” Wrapped Water Chestnuts, Harissa Carrot Zucchini Cups), Finger Foods (think Brewpub Cauliflower Dip and Chips), Dips and Stuffed bites (like Baked Buffalo Tofu Bites with Pantry Raid Ranch and Pulled Jackfruit Mini Tacos), Bread-Based Bites (including Salsa Scuffins) and not forgetting bite-sized desserts (lots of cookies, cupcakes and even Goji Berry Cacao Bites and Tahini Caramel Popcorn).
I appreciate that each dish is a star in itself, even the veggie-centric dishes. I also liked that many dishes are hearty enough to be a main meal (ie, Sweet-and-Sour Sloppy Joes (with tempeh), baked lenteja taquitos (with lentils), baked frittata minis (with tofu) and even a few homemade seitan dishes, including these Kimchi-Stuffed Sausages. No need for company to eat well.
I tried a few dishes from the cookbook, but this one was my favourite and thankfully helped use up some odds-and-ends lingering in the kitchen. Reminiscent of my previous (vegan) cheese-stuffed sausage, these sausages are stuffed with kimchi. Kimchi is also incorporated into the batter making for a flavourful yet chewy sausage. I found it easier just to serve it with a side of even more kimchi, but I love suggestion to pan-fry it and then sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions. Pan-frying would accentuate the flavours even further.
Thankfully, the publisher is letting me share the recipe AND give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite dish to share at potlucks. I will randomly select a winner on July 30, 2014. Good luck!
Other recipes from Vegan Finger Foods shared elsewhere:
Spinach Swirls (with another giveaway, too)
Salsa Scuffins (with another giveaway, too)
Other dishes I shared at the vegan potluck this year:
Rob did some more investigating. He found a program that would figure out if I had any duplicate files irregardless of the name.
WOO! After three days, my program to find duplicate files on your external hard drive has completed. It has found at least 172 GB of duplicate files. We need to clean them up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
His emphasis, not mine.
So apparently, I come with baggage. Electronic baggage.
There used to be a time when I couldn’t fit everything on my hard drive, but once I had 1 Tb on my external hard drive, I haven’t thought much about my space usage.
Rob didn’t appreciate my old school way of culling my photos: copying them into a new folder. Sometimes I had 4-5 copies of the same photo with my disjointed backing up. Now we get to do some culling!
Rob is doing a great job tackling our leftover food stuffs. This was an absolutely, wonderfully delicious pea curry he made with the peas in the freezer and spices from the pantry. I am not saying that just because Rob made it and everything tastes better when someone else cooks for you, but honestly this was gourmet Indian and made me a pea-lover. I love beans but peas are not as high in my “love list” but this, guys, was incredible.
Creamy with a rich-tomato broth with bright green peas, this was a keeper. Sadly, this curry has a really long ingredient list, which seems almost disjointed and muddy, but have faith. This was delicious and completely worth the effort (and definitely Rob’s effort!).
Do you like peas?
PS. I am sharing this with Bookmarked Recipes.
Before you start to think this will be a smoked paprika free household, have no fear. I am pretty sure Rob will let me replenish prior to moving back to Canada.
It is a bit of a race, now. Rob has made it his own personal goal to munch through our food stocks…. so, if I wait too long, my food may disappear. Use those roasted red peppers in the pantry! The roasted corn in the freezer! The last of the soy curls! (I actually had planned to use some small flageolet beans I had frozen but could not get them to thaw out of the container fast enough….)
Reminiscent of my Sweet Pepper Coconut Corn Chowder, I loved how this one was virtually bursting with vegetables. Coconut milk would make this a thick and luscious soup. This version was inspired by one of my favourite cookbooks this year, Soup’s On!, since it is packed with quick and healthy meals. Mark’s inspiration was New Orleans’ Maque Choux, a Cajun-inspired corn soup.
I loved it. Simply delicious. I worked with what we had lying around and it made a light, summery bowl of vegetable soup.
Do you like soups in the summer as well?
PS. I am sharing this with Souper Sundays.
I have another great cookbook to share with you.
Quick, healthy, vegan meals. What’s not to like?
She promises simple, delicious meals in under 30 minutes. Provided you have cooked brown rice (which takes 45 minutes to cook), she’s right! Delicious vegan cuisine need not be elaborate nor time consuming.
Take this exotic-sounding vegetable bowl: Manchurian chickpea bowl.
Manchurian cuisine is a subtype of Chinese cooking that heralds from the North-East region of China. While I am not sure how authentic it is, Gobi Manchurian may be a well-known dish. A spicy tomato sauce infused with ginger and garlic typically smother deep-fried cauliflower. In this inspired dish, cauliflower (roasted, not fried, in my case) is joined by potatoes, peas and chickpeas. I was worried the chickpeas would seem out-of-place, but they were actually very good. It seems more Indo-Chinese (or Hakka-inspired) rather than Manchurian. In any case, I can whole heartedly recommend it. Delicious. Even without choice leftovers (hello leftover roasted cauliflower), this could be pulled together within a half-hour.
I have been slowly cooking my way through the cookbook and again, had the same difficult: which recipe to share. My full reviews can be seen here, but I also highly recommend the uncanningly simple “Roasted brussels sprouts and chickpeas” which reminds me of my Easy Cheezy Chickpeas and Kale. The cookbook includes many one-dish meals including soups/stews. bowls, stir-fries, pasta, sandwiches, pantry-friendly, oven-cooked meals and even quickie desserts. I appreciate that most meals are based on whole foods and not vegan substitutes (mostly. dessert section exempted). Robin does supply recipes for some of the convenience foods including a cashew-based vegan cream cheese and tofu-based vegan mayonnaise. Having these staples pre-made expedite getting dinner to the table. Of note, Robin calls for ketchup a few times (like in this recipe), although I substituted my own convenience food: mild Turkish red pepper paste. Booyah!
Recipes from More Quick Fix Vegan shared elsewhere:
Chipotle-Sweet Potato Bisque
Kale and Black-Eyed Peas With Smoky Grits
Three-Bean Pantry Chili
Sweet Potato Barbecue Bowls
Banh Mi Inspired Noodles
Banh Mi Bowls
Avocado Mousse with Raspberries
Mango Fried Rice Pudding
Peanut Butter and Banana Ice Cream
Blueberry Chocolate Trail Mix Bark
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe and giveaway the cookbook to a reader living anywhere in the world (YAYAYA!). To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me about your quickest and/or easiest vegan meal. The winner will be selected at random on May 16, 2014. Good luck!
Note: I was given a copy of the cookbook from the publisher. I was under no obligation to share a review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.
PPS. Do you like my purple slippers in the last photo? They were so colourful I had to keep them in. Can you tell I just blindly lift my camera to take shots from overhead? Sometimes I am way off-target. ;)
There is long-distance cycling and then there’s long-distance cycling over hills.
We’ve heard the cycling routes around Austin are hilly but not entirely sure how it compares to Ontario. Houston, is fairly flat, so I haven’t been doing many hills, unless it is an overpass over a highway. I stumbled upon Lori’s recap of last year’s Shiner GASP. She wrote:
This course was going to be challenging because of the sheer number of inclines and hills (Esmeralda said she stopped counting at 23 last year), and the wind that it was famous for. I had hoped that with the front it would be a tail wind, but at mile 30 the wind shifted and was either a head wind or cross wind. Oh well, it was nice to dream.
With a month away from our own hilly 100-mile adventure, it instilled a fear of hills. So, this weekend, we sought out something to climb.
Earlier this year, we were planning to do the “Bike Through the Forest and Hills” 80-km ride in Coldspring, Texas. We had already registered and picked up our packages (the first ones, at that, bib numbers 1 and 2). It was scheduled right after I sprained both knees, so understandably, we didn’t go. However, with such a descriptive name, we figured it would be a hilly ride. Rob saved the course maps, though. He ended up modifying the route so that we had a 50 km loop. The original ride had you return in the opposite direction, but we just repeated the same loop once we were familiar with the course.
The 100-km ride wasn’t the hard part. It was the hills! After 8 minutes, I wasn’t sure I was up for this many hills. Rob clocked an incline that lasted 3 km. The worst part, though, was the wind. Wind + hills = a definite challenge. A strong wind with a loopy course meant the wind was, sadly, only helping us 25% of the time. In any case, we were positively pooped after our “short” 100-km ride.
We ended up stopping off at our favourite Mexican grocer on the way home: Mi Tienda. It reminds us of our trip to Mexico City, with lots of fun food, loud music and random decor. We treated ourselves to fresh guanabana juice and a mix of celery-pineapple-cactus juices. If you have never tried guanabana, I highly recommend it. We fell in love with it in Colombia. We also had some fresh (and warm- this is KEY) churros. After our bellies were content, I scurried back in for our weekly grocery expedition.
I try am trying to balance emptying my pantry along with trying everything that I can while in Texas/America. This time, I bought some cactus (aka nopales). You can find it fresh as a giant paddle or pre-chopped with the spikes removed. I gather you can also find it brined in jars or cans. In any case, I first tried it while in Mexico City. Cooked simply, it was a vegetable side or topping. One of the dishes I had it with was as tlacoyo from a street vendor: a blue corn masa dough that she stuffed with refried beans and topped with a nopales salsa. was I really liked it: the texture of a bell pepper with the taste of a green bean.
In truth, Rob and I were too zonked to do any cooking when we returned post-ride and post-Mi Tienda. We went out for tacos. The following day, we did another cycling jaunt. Not too long, and all flat, we were still battling the wind and the possibility of rain. However, the shorter ride meant I had enough energy to tend to errands and do some cooking.
I simply ran with the idea of tlacoyo. It is more like a cheese-less quesadilla. We had fresh corn tortillas so I used that instead of the masa dough. I already have a favourite (unfried) refried bean recipe. The problem was the cactus. I wasn’t entirely sure how to cook it, but I eventually decided to boil it first, then saute it with some leftover roasted onions. It may not have been authentic at all, but we enjoyed it nonetheless.
Have you ever tried nopales/cactus? What are your favourite recipes?
It is the most wonderful time of the year….
Not because the spring weather in Houston is positively happiness (it is!) or it is the beginning of a cycling season (it is!)…. but it is the beginning of mango season and now we live closer to the mangoes!
Nearly every year, Rob will hunt down Alphonso mangoes. The fancy mangoes flown in from India. I am not sure whether they will be coming to Houston, but it does not matter. There are cheap and plentiful Mexican Ataulfos to be found. Last week, we picked up a whole case for $5. (We split it with a friend to keep our eating crop fresh. I know we’ll be replenishing a few times, no worries)
We tend to keep the mangoes plain and unadorned (at least I do, Rob adds it to his breakfast granola) but used some frozen mangoes for this fun twist on chana masala. It kind of a combination of my Mango BBQ Beans combined with Indian flavours. While I have used amchoor powder (raw mango powder) to make a nice chana masala, this was a fun twist since it was hot and sweet, too. The heat came from our newest infatuation: roasted hatch chiles. The flavours complemented each other nicely, especially with the tang from the tomatoes and the earthy tones from the cumin, mustard seeds and garam masala, too. Not too overly spiced.
Rob actually made a double batch of this and we shared it with friends. We told them to give an honest opinion of the dish. It was the first time we tried it, so we could handle their feedback. Like us, they loved it! And I hope you do, too.
Here’s to a prosperous mango season!
I am sorry but not sorry, Canada.
I am sorry that this was one really long and cold winter. But I am not sorry I missed it.
Last week, I returned to Canada. In Montreal, I was greeted by mountains of snow banks that still had to melt away. However, by the end of my stay, a fresh blanket of snow covered the city in near white-out conditions. My flight home was cancelled but Air Canada thoughtfully put us on a later flight, skirting the worst of the storm.
(People poo-poo Air Canada but I like flying with them, especially compared to any airline based in the US. I can catch up on my movie watching (no additional charge!) and sometimes they even give me pretzels (HA!)).
Knowing full well that warm meals are still in season (even Houston’s weather has tamed somewhat), I am unashamedly sharing yet another winter squash recipe. In March. Because, yes, they are still on my counter and based on my last post with kabocha squash, still in your kitchens, too. Plus, this dish was too good to hide until next year.
It is a deceivingly simple recipe: spaghetti squash, kale, chickpeas, sun-dried tomatoes, smoked paprika and curry powder. In fact, it sounded downright weird. However, after I tasted it, it made sense. A lot of curries are tomato-based and while I don’t use tomato, sun-dried tomatoes deliver intense bursts of tomato flavour without sauciness. Smoked paprika adds a different twist so this isn’t a boring, bland curry. Chickpeas add protein and bulk. The kale is more earthy but a barely noticeable way to eat some greenery. The spaghetti squash is merely a backdrop but sops up the flavours deliciously. This dish made fabulous leftovers, allowing the flavours to meld even further.
Did you get walloped with more snow this weekend, too?
Recently, Rob and I have been flip-flopping. One weekend Rob is home alone. The next, I am home alone as Rob is out. Travelling separately. Although I probably received the brunt of the solo travels as I ventured to the cold Canadian winter alone. Rob, however, is travelling without me but visiting and meeting friends throughout the US.
This weekend, he also left me without a car. My bike gets me to and from work but on the weekends, the car brings me to groceries. Our loot is too big to bring home on a bike. Oftentimes, Rob will also pick up random missing ingredients throughout the week… so I lost that convenience, too. Although, we planned for this: a double grocery haul last weekend. This week, I get to eat through the fridge and pantry. And tackle my languishing winter squashes.
I am sure I am not the only one with winter squashes on my counter (right?). It happens every year to me. Houston-time, included.
Winter squash may not still be on your radar but with the last winter blast, a warming stew is hard to turn down. (I am not playing with you, Houston does get cold. I had pants on last week).
I finally decided to tackle Hannah’s Chickpea and Pumpkin Lemongrass Curry. Unlike most curries, this one has NO CUMIN. Blasted! A bit more sweet with the kabocha squash which worked well with the aromatics like cardamom and coriander, but still tempered by ginger, mustard and chile with a luscious coconut-infused broth spiked with lemongrass.
Do you still have winter squashes looming around? Heck, it is still winter, right? I shouldn’t feel too guilty, right? :)
I have resorted to this blog to help settle a question. Between these two words, which do you recognize? One? Both? None?
Full disclosure: Rob’s word was ablution. I had never heard of it before. Me, I use ambulate all the time. Rob swears it is medical jargon.
The best part? We both agreed on one word: ablation. Mainly because there is a medical/biological use as well as a nerdy space definition.
As your ponder your newest words, this will be a short post with a short recipe.
This is an Indian spin on creamed greens. Beefed up with some tofu, you pan-fry it first, then simmer it along with coconut milk and collard greens. Easy peasy. Serve with some brown rice if desired. Kind of a hybrid of my Spicy Coconut Braised Collards and Indian-Spiced Chickpeas and Kale. All delicious.
Looking for other reading to keep your brain working? I try not to disappoint and will steer you elsewhere.
Other recommended links:
Why the Olympics Are a Lot Like ‘The Hunger Games’
The Power of Protein Timing
Sweet nothing: The real science behind sugar
All About The Filter Bubble (make sure to watch the associated TED talk)
This is my submission to Speedy Suppers.
Tomorrow is also the day to sign up for Cycle Oregon. After mulling over our options, we decided to scrap the Houston-Austin MS 150. Instead, Rob and I will be training for the 1-day 100 mile Shiner GASP (Great Austin to Shiner Pedal) ride this spring. For many reasons, we switched allegiances. I always prefer the first day of the long cycling rides and this will allow us to enjoy some time in Austin afterwards. (Free beer from the Spoetzle Brewery once we finish doesn’t hurt, either). And yes, it is only a stepping stone. Our master plan (provided we snag a porter) is to do Cycle Oregon this fall.
Cycle Oregon is not for the faint of heart: 2200 cyclists. 7 days. The route changes every year and this year it is over 400 miles and over 30,000 ft in incline. The hilly route mimics a portion of our beautiful roadtrip from Portland to Burning Man. This time, it will be by bike instead of by car.
Having a goal is a great way to stay on track. Even though we haven’t started training in earnest yet (blasted knees!), reading Gena’s snippet in No Meat Athlete about raw foods, reminded me why it is good to incorporate a variety of foods into your diet. Cooked or raw. And raw definitely does not need to be a salad. In the winter (even Houston’s winter), it can be hard for me to eat salads.
Filled with veggies, this is a fun twist on chili, done raw-style. A hybrid of my raw chili dip and chili salad wraps, this is a fun high-raw hearty chili. Red peppers and sun-dried tomatoes spiced with chili powder, tamarind and cocoa powder (YES!) create a smooth sauce that coats more veggies and beans. I used cooked pinto beans to make this a filling dish (and in my experience, easier to digest than using sprouted beans).
Is anyone else planning to do Cycle Oregon? We hope to have a small Cobra* contingent.
*Cobras are the name of our biker gang. We are a very inclusive bunch. Join us!
PS. This is my submission to Anyone Can Cook Vegetarian Food for tomatoes.