Did you catch Annie’s Nine Things Every Food Blogger Needs? Let’s just say I almost feel like an imposter blogger. I routinely use the same table, placemat and bowls for my photos. Mostly that’s just how I eat and I like the blog to maintain a reality of my kitchen. The reality of someone with a full-time job and still manages to cook healthy, creative food.
With that being said, I have a handful of decorative dishes and it was nice to unearth them after moving. I bought these plates as a souvenir in Japan, so it would seem fitting to use it to plate a Japanese dish.
Wandering Asian markets leads me to new ingredients and lotus root is no exception. I flipped through The Japanese Kitchen which is structured by learning about each ingredient separately. With many local Japanese ingredients I have not even come across, it makes me want to see what else I could find in Toronto should I look hard enough.
Lotus root is slightly bitter, especially when raw, and thus it is recommended to peel and soak the vegetable in water to prevent discolouration, similar to potatoes. However, unlike potatoes, its intricate lattice network is unfolded.
Here, in this recipe, its soft structure is retained with a saute in a sweet/salty sesame marinade with mirin, tamari and toasted sesame oil. Pretty, indeed. Enjoy!
See below for the worldwide (!!) giveaway.
I don’t pay attention to food trends, mostly because I have learned I am usually ahead of the pack! Quinoa before the masses. I was talking about amaranth in 2010! Kale and cauliflower, I have you covered… Although I am still waiting for the world to catch on to the love of beans.
Anyways, Bon Appetit top prediction for 2015 is gyros.
Vegans need not fret. I am presenting to you: jackfruit vegan gyros for 2015.
Gyros sound finicky and complex. They are probably confused mostly in their pronunciation (hint: it sounds more like euro).
And yes, I also think jackfruit is looking to be the next culinary trend (and humble-brag alert, I’ve been eating jackfruit since 2012).
This recipe is courtesy of Robin Robertson’s Vegan Without Borders. A very prolific author, this particular cookbook has focused on mostly authentic vegan recipes from around the world. The cookbook is divided into sections based on geography and highlights recipes from Europe (Italy, France, Spain and Portugal, Greece, Eastern Europe, British Isles), The Americas (United States, Mexico, The Caribbean, South America, Africa, The Middle East, India, and Asia (China, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Southeast Asia Islands).
The recipes, so far, have been solid. They are earmarked as gluten-free, soy-free, low oil/no oil and quick and easy. Because Robin has tried to maintain authenticity to the dishes, there are a bit more convenience foods as ingredients than I like (sour cream, cream cheese, etc) but you could definitely try substituting homemade versions, too.
These gyros, though, were fabulous. The jackfruit had an excellent texture, similar to pulled pork and the flavours were bright and fresh. Because I didn’t have yogurt or sour cream on hand, I made my own version of tzatziki which complemented the pita well. I opted for a tofu base since I thought the meal needed an extra hit of protein.
As leftovers, once I ran out of the pita, this was also excellent as a quinoa bowl, with the jackfruit and veggies piled high and a generous serving of the tzatziki overtop.
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living anywhere in the world. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me about your favourite cuisine (Thai, German, etc). The winner will be selected at random on February 1, 2015. Good luck!
We traded hills for wind this weekend.
Blustery wind. Gusty winds.
It was kind of humbling to cycle 100-km hilly routes outside Houston, and then find ourselves so pooped we could barely finish our rides.
Even though we’re aiming for 160 km, our odometers have been stuck at 100-km for a while. This weekend, we decided to shun the hills (and the 2-hour commute to get to them) and opt for distance. The wind was a pleasant (or unpleasant), unplanned surprise. A flat tire was also a surprise and likely cost us an hour of cycling time. We pushed through 127 km of city-riding on Saturday.
On Sunday, we aimed to add hills to our windy resistance. We did an “urban hill” loop where we tried to climb as many highway overpasses as possible. The wind was relentless. If we thought Saturday was windy, it was even windier on Sunday. Southeast winds of 30km/h with gusts over 50 km/h. Rob rerouted it to include a stopover at Mi Tienda #2, our favourite Mexican grocer. We weren’t going to skip out on our aguas fresca ritual! This week they had mamey, which was a hard choice over the guanabana.
Even though we were out and about on our bikes most of the weekend, we actually had more energy. I guess we’re better at tackling wind than hills.
We ended up (ok, just me) stockpiling veggies when we finally ended up at an Asian market for our weekly grocery run. We put them to great use in this vegan spin on bahn mi sandwiches. Banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich, which I associate with the pickled vegetables and cilantro. Here, tofu and mushrooms are scrambled as the base. The veggies, with Terry’s spin of adding star anise, make this a nice and bright wrap.
Rob thought it was his best sandwich ever. I thought it nice, too, and opted to eat it in a collard wrap.
Maybe everything tastes better after biking 180 km?
This week I have been addicted to peanut butter.
I made this peanut butter banana smoothie until we ran out of ingredients. First I ran out of frozen bananas, and found out that ice + fresh bananas are truly sub-par substitutes. Next, I ran out of peanut butter, too. I considered making my own homemade peanut butter, but gosh, I am out of peanuts, too. That’s when my addiction stopped. I had to stop cold turkey. It was probably for the better of us both.
Thankfully, I made this salad earlier in the week and have been enjoying it ever since.
Sweet mangoes and sugar snap peas are paired with a tangy, acidic (in a good way) peanut dressing, spiced with green onions and tossed overtop peppery Asian baby greens (bring on the mizuna!). I also added kelp noodles, to add a bit more bulk. They are great additions to salads since they don’t slurp up the extra dressing. I liked that the vinegar in the dressing made this quite a light peanut dressing. I normally pair coconut milk with my peanut dressings, so this was a nice change. Light and refreshing, yet still substantial. Perfect to eat during this hot summer.
My Mom doesn’t think I should post recipes that I don’t eat myself. I have to trust others to tell me how it tastes but I can tell you how easy it was to make. Although even Rob and I can disagree on whether we like a dish, considering both Rob and my parents liked the Tel Kadayif, the Turkish shredded phyllo dough dessert, I deemed that a quorum for a good recipe. And with its stupid-easy simplicity, definitely blog-worthy.
This is another dish I made for others at a party, with no intention of eating myself. In fact, I had planned to use half of the stuffing for the phyllo rolls, and just eat the remainder of the filling myself, without the phyllo dough. Somehow, though, I just kept wrapping the phyllo rolls and by the time I looked down, there was no more filling left. Plus, we were already late for the party, so we brought half the rolls with us and left the other half at home to bake later.
These Moroccan phyllo rolls were so good that I ended up eating them for a few meals.
The filling was very nice, filled with roasted vegetables (zucchini, red pepper, onion and fennel) and spiced with all my favourite savoury Moroccan flavours – ginger, paprika, cinnamon and cumin. I have become scared of roasting veggies with spices, so I added the spices to the veggies right after they were finished roasting. The dried apricots added a touch of sweetness and weren’t overpowering in the slightest. The fresh basil added a nice twist, as well. While the original recipe from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan suggests serving these more like a strudel, because this was for a party, I made them into little appetizer phyllo triangles.
These are nice as is, but let me tell how you awesome these rolls are with the Balsamic Maple Sauce. The sauce was so simple to put together, yet filled with flavour. It didn’t even seem like a lot of dressing but a little bit goes a long way. Actually, refrain yourself, because too much sauce could easily overshadow the subtleties of the rolls.
I still have some sauce leftover and wondering what else I could use it with… Dreena suggests drizzling it over steamed veggies, baked sweet potato or using it for anything that needs to be dipped. Sounds like a good plan!
Rob is the King of pad thai. The recipe has been perfected. The secret ingredient has always been love…. and tamarind concentrate! It is Rob’s go-to signature dish whenever we have company. He continues to make it with eggs and rice noodles for guests, but I have tried it sans egg with quinoa or zucchini noodles. Not the same, but good for me. I think kelp noodles will be the real winner, although we haven’t tried it yet.
Go to a raw restaurant and I guarantee you there will be a version of raw pad thai on their menu. But it is not anything like the real version. I prefer Thrive‘s version the most but just because it tastes good. Usually one gets a medley of shredded veggies with or without kelp noodles with a spicy nut-based dressing. It marries the sweet-sour-hot-spicy thing but doesn’t have the magical touch from tamarind.
I actually made this dish with Rob in the summer, life before the spiralizer. It was a raw weekend, because we also made the raw Tropical Mango Pie. After spending the morning finely chopping all the veggies, I think that’s when Rob thought the spiralizer would be a great gift.
So why post this now?
How many of you have random photos from your hard drive pop up as your screensaver? I do. Recently, photos of this dish came up and I remembered how good it was even if it wasn’t real pad thai. With a focus on cruciferous vegetables this month, I really had no excuses not to share this pretty and delicious dish, loaded with 3 cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli!).
Raw cuisine (as opposed to raw food) is all about showcasing something different from “ordinary” vegetables. A play of textures without cooking your foods.
Here, you chop, grate, julienne and otherwise manually spiralize a host of veggies. Pick your favourites but some are more sturdy than others: carrot, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, bell pepper, etc. I opted to buy some broccoli slaw to assist with spiralizing my broccoli for me. ;)
Then you coat them in a spicy-sweet almond sauce: ginger and chili flakes give you some heat, dates and agave confer sweetness, balanced by the sour lemon juice and saltiness from soy sauce. And of course, this all lusciously bathes within creamy almond butter. Add enough water to make a dressing and throw it on your salad. A spicy coleslaw. I didn’t want to mislead you by calling this pad thai. ;)
I have become hard to please at restaurants. I’ve already lambasted Fresh for their limpy soba noodles and hit-or-miss salads, but now that I am armed with their miso gravy, I can conquer the world! Or at least make sure their recipes are a hit when I make it myself.
On their menu is their Dragon Bowl: brown rice or soba noodles topped by grilled tomato, zucchini & tofu steaks with rich miso gravy, sesame seeds, cilantro & green onions.
But now I can make Fresh’s Dragon Bowl, My Way.
Forget the brown rice, or their gummy soba noodles, I want my grilled vegetables overtop quinoa! Marinate some tofu in soy sauce and sesame oil and pan-fry it to perfection. Pick your favourite vegetables (zucchini, bell pepper, eggplant and broccoli are what I had on hand), douse them in a bit of olive oil and chopped garlic, grill them on your barbecue (or broil in your oven), smother in miso gravy and then sprinkle sesame seeds and green onions overtop.
This miso gravy makes everything taste great!
Why this is called a dragon bowl, I have no clue. All I know it tastes great.
What does a vegan eat?
I bet most people think of tofu and veggies. Replace your typical meat with tofu and you’re vegan, right?
So here I go, with something that seems so traditional old-school vegan. Delicious Tofu. Matthew’s Delicious Tofu. Who is Matthew? I don’t know.. but he likes tofu! This recipe is pretty old school, because Ashley posted the recipe in 2007, from The Garden of Vegan published in 2002! She kept mentioning it as one of her favourite tofu dishes, so I had bookmarked it a few times.
When I made the braised daikon, I knew I needed a protein source and serendipitously decided to finally make Matthew’s Delicious Tofu. I didn’t really know what to expect, other than some delicious tofu. Turns out this is an awesome sweet and sour, hot and spicy fried tofu dish with just the right amount of spice from the garlic and ginger. Maple syrup, soy sauce and lemon juice create the succulent sauce.
This was deceivingly addictive. No, really. I had to stop myself from eating the whole thing. The tofu had great texture and the sauce was marvelous. I served it with a simple side of steamed broccoli and the braised daikon. I thought about making more sauce to go overtop the broccoli, but I liked the contrast of the sweet and zippy tofu with the plain broccoli. It may have been sauce overload otherwise.
Old school recipes need not be so scary. The classics are worth searching out, too. :)
I know I’ve briefly mentioned it before, but I tend to do the majority of my cooking on the weekends and eat leftovers all week. Vegan cuisine, especially soups, curries and bean salads, lend well to leftovers because they only taste better after they have marinaded.
Sometimes I crave a nice, fresh hot meal, too. It can be difficult to make a complete meal if you are famished after a long day at work…. unless, you have the forethought of making all the components ahead of time!
I found this delicious salad at Post Punk Kitchen. I know it looks like another crazy multi–component salad: roasted beets, smoky tempeh croutons, a warm maple mustard dressing. Trust me, the best dishes get you to bring out the best of each component. Work on the weekend for each component, then bring it all together mid-week.
First, you need to roast your beets. Glorious roasted golden beets. Next, steam your tempeh, then get it marinading. Tempeh has a bad leftover track-record, which is why I planned on making this salad fresh during the week. I left the tempeh in the marinade until I took out a portion to freshly panfry for the salad. For my last salad, the tempeh had been marinading for 5 days. The maple mustard dressing is a snap to put together as well.
So, when you come home from work, and it is late, and you don’t want to think, now you have all the components for a wonderful salad. Take out your nonstick frypan and fry your tempeh. Meanwhile, get out your beets. Toss them into the frypan with the tempeh if you’d like (or not). Pull out your greens and get chopping. Using Swiss chard or kale instead of Romaine? Finely chop the stems and throw it in with the tempeh, too (or not). Warm the dressing in the microwave (or not). Add to your leafy greens. Add your beets if they aren’t in your frypan. By this time, the tempeh should be almost done…. when it is, plop it on top of your greens.
Ten minutes, tops. I promise.
Sit back and enjoy your fresh salad.. every day of the week. :)
My mom was mad at me the other day.
Because of me, she was buying expensive things in the grocery store.
I know I buy some pricy ingredients, but a little goes a long way. I try not to eat out too often, and find it hard to rationalize the high prices. I could buy so much fresh (expensive) produce, tempeh, and spices for the price of a meal in a restaurant. It can be hard to justify sometimes.
Anyways, back to the mangoes. When I was home last weekend for the Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour (aka the ultimate cycle), my mom had picked up some mangoes for breakfast. Rob and I stole some of the extras to fuel us later in the week.
After really enjoying the Chickpea Salad with Mexican Mango Dressing earlier, I wanted to try a variation of the mango dressing with ginger. Earlier, I had bookmarked this tantalizing Thai lettuce wrap with sesame-soy baked tempeh and a zippy mango ginger sauce in The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of the East (recipe here).
I adapted the recipe slightly, causing it to take more than 30 minutes to make, but I think that steaming tempeh is important. Since steaming in the microwave is so simple, I try not to forget that step.
Initially I was a bit disappointed, because the sauce was really zippy. Almost overpowering, but I was so pleased with the leftovers. Finally, a tempeh dish, a salad at that, that tastes great as leftovers!
First the sauce: fresh mango was pureed with freshly grated ginger, along with lime juice and soy sauce. I also added a touch of chili flakes, but add to taste since the ginger is fairly zingy. I found this mellowed out much better the next day. It still had a kick but not as pungent. Just whirl in your blender and you have a fabulous sauce.
Next, the tempeh is marinaded in a simple sesame oil and soy sauce marinade, and feel free to marinade it as long as possible. I was only able to marinade it for 5 minutes, but longer is always better. After baking, the marinade was completely absorbed. The steaming helped to keep the tempeh pieces moist, even as leftovers. Because the mango sauce is the main star of the wrap, the loss of sauce around the tempeh is not detrimental to the dish (which had been our problem previously).
Those are the main ingredients to the wrap. Next find yourself some large Romaine lettuce leaves, top with cucumber, sliced tomatoes, some chopped mint, add your tempeh, slather with the mango sauce, wrap, roll and eat! For the wrap in the photo, my eyes were bigger than my mouth, and I had to split it into two wraps for all that filling! :P
I also like the idea of tossing the dressing with zucchini noodles, as in this Mint and Mango Marinated Zucchini Spaghetti. This dressing would need to be thinned out a bit with water if you wanted to use it overtop a traditional lettuce salad.
My mom recently forwarded an article to me.
“Study finds vegetarians have smaller brains” screamed the headline with a link to this article in Neurology from 2008.
Gosh, do I need to bemoan how media misconstrues academic research? The article had nothing to do with vegetarian diets, rather it investigated the effect of vitamin B12 levels in the elderly and its association with brain volume. Vitamin B12 deficiency is common in the elderly due to many reasons, and can be a reversible cause of dementia.
However, I understand my mom’s concern. Vegans need to understand which nutrients are harder to come by without consuming meat and dairy. There are actually a few, but vitamin B12 deficiency can become problematic since you can only acquire it from meat and dairy, unless you obtain it from a fortified food.
A good source of vitamin B12 for vegans is nutritional yeast, which is fortified with vitamin B12. While I first used nutritional yeast to make a creamy zucchini and basil soup, I hadn’t really discovered its prowess until recently.
Nutritional yeast is not nearly as scary as it sounds. Its name is true though: it is a nutritional boon for B vitamins and it is an inactive yeast, harvested from beetroot and molasses. Known as a vegan source of vitamin B12, it is also a great source of protein and fiber. It has a distinctive cheesy flavour, that I have grown to love, although you may need to warm up to it. It has that kind of ‘health food’ flavour for the uninitiated but if paired well with other ingredients, it can really shine. You should be able to find it easily in any health food store.
While I love my breakfasts to feature all kinds of fruit, I have recently been smitten by savoury oats for breakfast. Playing around with different combinations with my big batch of weekly oats, this has been my recent favourite: steel-cut oats with soy sauce and nutritional yeast. Simple, quick, healthy and a nice change of pace for breakfast.
Since I decided to cut out refined sugars and flours, I have found it quite easy to add more fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains into my meals. That’s because I cook for myself. I stopped eating the free meals at work and try not to eat out at restaurants. The quandary came, though, when I went away on vacation,where I wasn’t particularly interested in immersing myself in local cuisine. I found some vegan TexMex options (spinach citrus ensaladas and guacamole) but really took refuge at a vegetarian restaurant just outside the heart of downtown San Antonio. I went back a few times!
I didn’t know I would find such a delightful resto, so I planned for not finding many vegan-friendly options. In addition to making a bean salad and portable overnight oats, I made some snacks as well.
I spotted this simple snack in Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health (also posted here). It was easy to put together, tasty with the savoury flavours and healthy, to boot (provided you don’t eat too much!). Here, pumpkin seeds (pepitas) are roasted with soy sauce and thyme until nice and golden, then they are tossed with sweet dried cranberries. The sweet-savoury combination works well together. Stored in resealable plastic bags, it is also easy to bring with you for an emergency fix if you have a hard time finding something to eat.
I find most food bloggers have very positive opinions about their food. They generally always love it.
Personally, I try to share recipes that I have loved, as well as normal, and the not-as-great ones. It helps to gauge how great I think the great recipes are. I also keep a list of my favourites for easy identification. I got a bit of flack for calling my Turkish bulgur salad with pomegranate and almonds the best salad ever, but truth be told, it was also called the best salad ever from the blog that I found it on. It also deserves the title. :)
I like to try other food bloggers’ favourite recipes. A while back, Ashley listed her favourite tofu dishes, and I was eager to try her Lemon Miso Tofu and Eggplant, adapted from the Rebar cookbook. With a lemon, miso and wasabi dressing (I substituted Aleppo chili flakes), I knew it would be tasty. The key is to press your tofu so it can absorb a lot of the marinade. As Ashley suggested, I made this with an overnight marinade for the tofu. I used the same dressing for the eggplant the following day, and in no time, it was ready to be baked for a quick meal. I preferred the tofu with the marinade the most, but it also worked well with the eggplant. Feel free to use your favourite vegetable. A good, tasty tofu recipe.
I was waiting patiently all summer. My heirloom tomato plants were late bloomers, you see. I ate a few tomatoes here and there when I noticed them earlier in the season, but nothing that I could harvest as a meal. Now my plants have a lot of tomatoes for the picking.
This is fusion cuisine at its best, where the classic Italian flavours from the caprese salad (tomato, mozzarella, basil and balsamic vinegar) are infused with Japanese flair.
First, a portion of small cherry tomatoes are poached, lightly cooked and skinned. The remainder remain raw and are halved. The textural contrast, with the skinned poached tomatoes and the raw crisp tomatoes was wonderful. Heirloom tomatoes, with their varying colours and tastes work really well with the mix (my green zebra tomatoes were the most sweet of all!).
Next, the traditional buffalo mozzarella is replaced with silken tofu. I realize this is sacrilegious to the purists. My brother ate caprese salad every day throughout this honeymoon in Italy, it was that good. Buffalo mozzarella can be a difficult find, and to be honest, I really liked the silken tofu as it sopped up the extra dressing. It was light, tasty and incredibly filling. This was a main meal salad, especially when I added the baby arugula.
The typical basil is replaced with shiso, which is a Japanese herb that tastes similar to mint. I decided to pluck basil from my balcony instead of searching out shiso.
The dressing was changed from a heavier balsamic to a light sherry vinaigrette with deep tones from the sesame oil and soy sauce. Now I knew this was a definitely a Japanese interpretation.
This is a tad more work than a standard salad, but trust me when I say the poaching of the tomatoes are worth it. The variety of both flavours and textures are remarkable. Together, we have a delicious salad.
This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to My Kitchen, My World, featuring Japanese dishes this month, to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Dil Se, and to Ricki and Kim’s vegan SOS challenge featuring sesame.