As Rob and I hone our BBQ hosting skills, we have divvied up the work. Rob tends to the BBQ and I work on the sides. I have never liked the stress of cooking while guests are over so I have gravitated to the make-ahead salads. And guys, this potato salad is wicked awesome. Seriously.
I took some small potatoes and roasted them with paprika (the regular stuff works – I was all out of the smoked variety) along with dried tarragon, onion and garlic granules. When they came out of the oven, Rob and I had to peel ourselves from the pan. We could have eaten the whole batch together before our guests had arrived.
In the back of my mind, I was worried about ruining the most perfect roasted potatoes by adding more dressing, but I continued with the potato salad recipe which called for a white balsamic dressing with a touch of fresh dill and marjoram. Only a touch because my plants were just seedlings. I tasted again. A bit hesitant. Fabulous. No need to worry, I stashed it in the fridge to marinade even longer. We all loved it.
This gem of a recipe comes from Joni and Celine’s latest cookbook, Complete Guide to Even More Vegan Food Substitutions. I don’t have the first of the series, Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions, but this is a fabulous resource for people who want to create their own spins on vegan foods. Joni and Celine explain (with examples) how to replace meat and dairy from other recipes with the latest advances in vegan cuisine with an emphasis on whole foods based ingredients (barring aquafaba).
At the heart of the book are recipes for kitchen staples. Milk substitutes and vegan butter (different than Miyoko’s homemade vegan butter). There are countless recipes for different kinds of cheese (American Cheese, Cheese Balls, Chia Seed Cream Cheese) and even how to replace eggs in different scenarios
They explain how to replace eggs while in baking versus in a dish such as shakshouka, where the eggs are prime and centre, as well as in baking. Meat substitutes, including chicken broth powder, are included.
However, in addition to the staples, there are applications of the recipes. There are examples of how to veganized a recipe, comprehensive lists with substitutions but also recipes that have taken the guess work out of it for you. Personally, I prefer recipes that do not try to mimic dairy/meat recipes which is why I gravitated to this potato salad. Mayo-free, it is perfect just the way it is, without any substitutes at all.
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the US or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me what you find the hardest to make vegan. The winner will be selected at random on July 20, 2015. Good luck!
Recipes from Complete Guide to Even More Vegan Food Substitutions spotted elsewhere:
Turns out our furnace problems were solved with a new thermostat. Thank goodness it was such an easy fix. It will be a bit warmer over the next few days which is perfect for us. It will melt the snow and allow us to rake all the leaves we had neglected earlier before winter resumes again later in the week.
Hearty winter fare is back into my kitchen for good and this was a delicious side, and could definitely work if you are looking for a something different for a holiday meal. Brussels sprouts are braised with chickpeas, kale and sun-dried tomatoes along with Italian-inspired seasonings. I thought this was excellent. Highly recommended.
What are you planning to serve for Thanksgiving?
Vegan propaganda: I try not to spread too much of it.
If you read my blog, I think you’ve already accepted that vegetables are good for you and are ok with the lack of meat and dairy in my meals.
But I will share this fun video anyways, because I thought it was flipping awesome. I’ve watched a few documentaries about veganism and I am usually left with a bitter taste in my mouth, wondering about the accuracy of the science and experiences presented. The prolonged juice fast in Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead creeped me out. The main study in Forks over Knives, The China Study, was not convincing for me. Vegucated was cute, following 3 people on a vegan challenge for 6 weeks, though.
But this video? I loved it! Made by Dr Michael Gregor, the physician behind NutritionFacts.Org, he presents how a vegan diet affects the top 15 causes of mortality in a very engaging way. I know the clip is almost an hour long, but it is an hour well spent. If you watch it, please let me know what you think. For me, it reinforced continuing with a plant-based diet for health reasons. :)
In the spirit of nutritarianism (coined by Dr Fuhrman, describing those who consume foods based on their higher micronutrients and shun refined oils, sugars and salt), I decided to make The World’s Healthiest Tomato Sauce, as proclaimed by Amber.
This was a chunky tomato sauce like no other. Filled to the brim with vegetables. All sorts of veggies, it was a lovely clean-out-my-fridge kind of sauce. I am probably the only person with a random vegetables, like a solo leek, beets, carrots, broccoli stems and mushrooms, hanging around for no good reason. Granted, this is a very flexible sauce so work with what you have. Amber suggests not omitting the olives, though. They add both the salty and fatty components from a whole food (instead of a refined oil product). The tempeh is eerily similar to chunks of meat. The nutritional yeast adds a cheesy hint, as if you had already stirred in Parmesan cheese. But the funniest part of the sauce is that it was more a fluorescent-red, courtesy of the pureed beet.
You might think this sauce would take forever to prep, with so many veggies. However, the food processor does that majority of the work. The directions look lengthy, but you’ll see a theme: chop veggies in food processor, add to the pot and stir. :)
I actually really liked this sauce. It tastes healthy yet hearty while still feeling light. Would I serve it to omnis I wanted to impress? Probably not. They would probably think I was pulling a joke on them. But if someone made this for me, I’d be thrilled. I’d also have a lot of sauce to last for many meals. Freeze some for later, or relish in eating it a few times a day. :)
I believe that moderate amounts of oil, sweeteners and salt are good for you. Fats are definitely important, especially to absorb nutrients from other foods, but they can also come from avocados, nuts and seeds (and soy). I plan to incorporate more of these “healthy fats” into my foods.
What do you think about nutritarianism? Oils vs healthy fats?
There should be some limits.
I shouldn’t be able to buy anything I can’t lift at the grocery store.
Technically, I could lift the crate of tomatoes. Into the shopping cart, into the car, and into the house. And then onto the scale to see how many tomatoes I got for $10!
53 lbs of tomato goodness
It is a lot more tomatoes than you think
For this recipe, I used 5 cups of tomatoes. That seems like a lot on any normal day in my kitchen. It didn’t even make a dent.
I ended up roasting, dehydrating and cooking up half of the tomatoes last weekend. Round two starts tomorrow! Please share with me your favourite recipes. Bonus for any water-cannable recipes…. my freezer is becoming uber full.
Back to this recipe at hand, which combines seemingly polarized end of summer produce: tomatoes and peaches. Both become sweet through roasting in the oven, which is augmented with Ancho chili powder, and then tamed by balsamic vinegar. Fresh tarragon and cinnamon confer a lovely, unexpected depth to the sauce. Hot, sweet, sour… we’ve got you covered. Chickpeas are added for protein and this was delicious served overtop zucchini spaghetti.
Rob and I like to
name rename things. People. Animals. You name it, and we’ll rename it.
The previous tenant in the basement had a cat. A big, fluffy black cat that would watch us whenever we were in the backyard. It took us a while to figure out his name. By that time we had christened him with a new name: Muffin.
A dog followed us for a few days while on our jungle trek in Colombia. Rob named him Danger Dog.
After our recent Colombian adventures, our new home also has been christened with a Spanish name: Casa Tarragona.
Thankfully a late summer purchase was a new tarragon plant.
I first tried tarragon last year and since discovered it is an easy-to-grow perennial. Tarragon has a subtle anise flavour that I like, even though I don’t like licorice. Here, I pair it with blueberries in a delicious dressing sweetened by dates. Coconut-sauteed onions make this a luscious dressing with a hint of citrus from the lemon.
Wanting a hearty main-course salad, I paired it with French du Puy lentils and spinach. Toasted walnuts add a satisfactory crunch and fresh blueberries provide bursts of sweetness.
Definitely one of my favourite salads, to date, I feel like this is definitely the summer of salads!
What are your favourite ways to use tarragon?
The week before the party, I made this delicious salad.
The super quick sauce was courtesy of The Breakaway Cook (recipe here). Deep, rich flavours from pureed sun-dried tomatoes, pomegranate molasses and fresh tarragon. I substitute a dried apricot and agave for the apricot jam and decreased the oil without any problems. The pomegranate molasses added a subtle taste but really added that extra dimension and it worked wonderfully with the tarragon.
I was so happy to love the sauce, because it made a ton!
Eric suggested serving it with orzo, but instead I went with barley. Wanting a more complete meal, I also added white beans and chopped Swiss chard. A cup of baby rainbow Swiss chard, because that was all I could harvest from my garden. ;) I only needed half of the sauce.
It was luscious and glorious. I knew I wanted to share the salad because it was that good.
Sadly, the sauce was sopped up by the barley when I ate it as leftovers. Still good but not as sinfully saucy as the first night
Half the sauce remained. The party was the following weekend.
With two beans salads, I knew I had my grain salad picked out.
I just couldn’t make it in advance.
Because I already had a bean-centric salad menu, I opted to forego the white beans, and well, I didn’t have any more Swiss chard, so it was just barley for the party. With the glorious sauce, no one knew what they were missing.
As far as I know, my Dad is still alive. You see, he threw a surprise party for my mom.
This was a real surprise for her because well, it wasn’t her birthday. No date in the calendar that would tip her off that 35 of her closest family and friends would gather in Ottawa for her.
In fact, she thought she was going to to be driving down to Toronto for the weekend. Did I have any plans? she asked. Of course not! I knew that while I wouldn’t meet her in my kitchen, I would be sharing breakfast with her that weekend. In Ottawa, instead of Toronto.
For months, my Dad had plotted and schemed.
He kind of needed that long because he was down to one working hand. After a broken wrist, and slicing through a handful of fingers, my Dad had to be a master to make chicken skewers without my Mom figuring things out… nevermind the 3 cakes and couscous salad he also made.
My brother and sister-in-law were in charge of appetizers, whereas I was the Salad and Dip Queen.
I tried to follow my mom’s salad party suggestions: 1 leafy green salad and 1 bean or grain salad. However, since we were feeding 35 people, my Dad asked me to diversify with more salads rather than fewer salads.
I mixed up both new and old recipes, and all but one was a hit, so I thought I would share them this week since I had a few requests for the recipes.
For the leafy green salad, I kind of went along with what my Dad had lying around at home… Romaine was thrown together with strawberries, almonds and a maple-based vinaigrette. It was gone before I even made it to the buffet line. Someone had actually already removed the bowl before I was there, it was finito.
For the heartier salads, I had a no-brainer up my sleeve: the 11-Spice Lentil Salad with Capers and Currants. I have made it so often, and now that my family has tried it, I can’t think of anyone who has not sampled it. It will have to be retired for a bit… at least until potluck season picks up again next summer.
Since Sarah’s lentil salad was such a hit, I thought it would be great to try another one of her salads for the party. She had a lovely tarragon string bean salad that caught my eye. I hesitated about bringing another bean salad to the party, especially with tarragon, but once I tasted it I knew it would be alright. Green beans aren’t so scary, are they?
This salad was simple. Lightly steamed green beans were paired with Great Northern white beans in a light tarragon vinaigrette. Like most of Sarah’s recipes, I decreased the oil, and in the hubbub of the party, I forgot to add the toasted hazelnuts. No worries, though, because the salad was gobbled up.
While in Iceland, I must admit that I didn’t try many traditional Icelandic meals. My Icelandic finds mainly consisted of Icelandic herbal teas, whereas Rob tried the beer-boiled Icelandic hotdog and other traditional fish- and lamb-based dishes. He also discovered chocolate-covered licorice, an Icelandic candy! Licorice is actually a popular flavour for Icelandic candy. Yucko I say!
I have a few food aversions. Celery. Coffee. And yes, licorice.
And what do I buy from Sunny’s on a whim when I return?
A new-to-me herb.
You know what’s coming up…. It tastes like licorice! Like anise! Oh no! But I decided to forge ahead.. otherwise I would have wasted a $1. :P
I spotted this simple soup with tomato and tarragon in Rebar for my first taste of tarragon. It was a wonderful introduction to the herby epitome of French cuisine. It has a regal taste, in that it is not so harsh as licorice. The light flavour is delicious. It pairs great with tomato in this soup which is zippy from the garlic and chili flakes. I also wanted to add further creaminess and bulk, so I added in white beans prior to pureeing it.
People love CSAs because they are introduced to new veggies and are forced to use them in creative ways. I get the same trippy feeling whenever I go to Sunny’s and scour their bargain section. I have no a clue what I will come home with… and this time, tarragon was a winner. :)