This is how we roll.
Rob and I have been hosting non-stop gatherings this summer and we finally had a weekend to ourselves.
We continued our summer grilling. The only difference is that this time I took a photo of my plate of food before I dug in.
A plate of bountiful vegetables.
Mojito-inspired tofu skewers, sin rum. Perhaps better rechristened as lime-mint grilled tofu.
Mojito-inspired zucchini coins, sin rum as well.
Mesquite grilled plantains.
Mesquite grilled corn.
I really enjoyed everything. It seems a tad busy but they were all very good.
I liked the lime-mint marinade for the tofu. I used my newest favourite tofu (especially for grilling). However, since the package was only 350g, I supplemented with zucchini. They were grilled and then topped with the extra marinade for a bright minty lime flavour.
The plantains and corn also shared the same mesquite-spiked oil (Mesquite seasoning and melted coconut oil). Instead of making plantain coins for the skewers, Rob found it easier to grill slabs of the plantain instead. They were equally sweet and smoky as last time but we didn’t lose any into the insides of the barbecue.
Rob’s mom gifted us some incredibly sweet corn from Woodstock and we wanted to keep things simple. We returned to keeping the husk on the corn while grilling to help it keep its moisture. We’ve made it with rosemary and garlic before, but this time, we kept it simple with the mesquite seasoning.
A fabulous meal, indeed.
The mojito-inspired tofu comes from a fabulous cookbook, Vegan al Fresco. I have been working my way through it this summer and absolutely loving it. The theme of the cookbook is “happy and healthy recipes for picnics, barbecues and outdoor living” and it definitely delivers on its byline.
The cookbook is broken down into finger foods and appetizers, sauces/dips, sandwiches/spreads, salads, foods to grill, baking, desserts and drinks. Plus, it also has tips for packing picnics and hosting meals outdoors.
All recipes are vegan. Most are creative vegan spins on traditional American fare. Samosa spring rolls, caper and edamame dip, chipotle and peanut butter hummus, peanut butter adobo barbecue sauce, cilantro barbecue sauce, jalapeño and cherry jam, quinoa and avocado ‘slaw, peanut potato salad, lime and ginger tahini tofu skewers, strawberry and basil scones, chilled blueberry chocolate pie and vanilla ice cream with cherry pie filling. Also, let’s not forget drinks like ginger lemonade. Trust me, there are a ton of fun recipes here.
Just look at Tracey’s photography of the tofu!
I will be sharing a few of my favourites from the cookbook but wanted to share this one prior to Labour Day. Enjoy!
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 like to bring to a picnic or barbecue. The winner will be selected at random on September 4, 2015. Good luck!
I am sharing this with Meat Free Mondays.
If I had to pick the best time to be in Ontario, it would be late summer.
The temperatures are warm and pleasant. The local produce is at its peak. Bursting with fresh tomatoes, zucchini, and corn. I love earlier fruits (strawberries, raspberries and blueberries) but fresh warm peaches are where I am focusing right now.
With the earlier tropical heat wave, I had a hankering for a good ginger-peach crumble with an almond-coconut topping. I didn’t want a soupy bottom, so I figured chia seeds would be the perfect antidote.
Sadly, by adding a mere 1 tbsp of grated ginger, I could not taste it at all. Next time, I would add more and have noted this below. So, it is a peach crumble.
Secondly, the chia seeds sopped up a lot of the released peach juice and this was more pronounced when I ate the leftovers. Different than a traditional crumble and worth a try. I also might try grinding my chia seeds in advance to avoid lumpy chia seeds.
Other crips/crumbles you may enjoy:
Kale grows fairly easily in North America. It rather amusing that kale, the superfood extraordinaire, could easily be grown in my backyard (see exhibits A, B and C) and even easier to find in the grocery store within the last few years, including heirloom varieties.
We had friends visiting from Hong Kong earlier this summer and of all things, they were craving kale. I guess it should not be surprising that kale might be difficult (or more expensive) across the globe. I wanted to surprise them with a kale salad. I already made my favourite kale salad this summer so I experimented with this delightful salad instead. And let me tell you, they loved it!
The salad reminds me a bit of this seasonal Peach and Hazelnut Kale Salad with a Maple Miso Vinaigrette. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it definitely has an Asian-fusion feel to it. Miso and garlic were the pronounced flavours balanced by the maple syrup and apple cider vinegar. The red cabbage contrasted beautifully next to the deep green kale. While miso is a novel flavour in North America, it was not new to these ex-pats who once lived in Japan.
Other kale salads you may enjoy:
I wish I wrote down what Rob said when he first tried these grilled peaches. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to photograph them since it was a crazy (simple) concoction I put together. However, they were pretty with their grill marks and I left Rob with a peach half as I photographed the others.
It may have been something like: “OH MY GOD. THESE ARE THE MOST DELICIOUS THINGS I HAVE EVER EATEN.” I am paraphrasing but Rob never controls his positive adjectives. If he had his way, this recipe would be “Magical Incredible Grilled Peaches”.
In any case, these were delicious peaches. I was lusting grilled peaches after seeing this beautiful post and pulled out my latest (not-so-secret) weapon in the kitchen. A mix of melted coconut oil, Sweet Mesquite Seasoning and a touch of coconut sugar was slathered on firm yet ripe peaches and then grilled to perfection. Spicy, salty, sweet and juicy. It is a bit reminiscent of fresh mango spears with chile and salt and I could see this working well with pineapple, too, once local peach season subsides.
Looking for another grilled peach idea? How about this fun spin on Grilled Peach Melba aka Grilled Peaches with a Sweet Raspberry Sauce. Happy End of Summer!
Rob and I have been fine tuning our hosting skills this summer. Rob tends to the grill and I make the sides and dessert. If I am lucky, I also try to make an appetizer. Sometimes we don’t realize how long it will take to grill everything and we don’t want hangry guests, so we always try to have something to nibble on.
Hummus and carrots usually work very well. Complete honesty here, we have been purchasing hummus this summer even though it only takes 5 minutes to whip up delicious dips like our favourite hummus, this Hummus-Tzatziki Fusion or this Spinach Miso Dip.
Bite-size veg filled treats for the win. Although a bit labour intensive, these rice paper rolls are perfect as a light appetizer. They keep well although should not be made too far in advance (the rice paper will get gummy).
I liked this version with just cooked carrots with ginger-sesame flavours and combined with fresh and colourful vegetables and cilantro. The Thai inspired flavours paired well with the peanut sauce spiked with orange zest, garlic and ginger.
I hope to share some delicious desserts next. :)
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!
Even a tofu salad
I’ve been missing my beans.. and then all of a sudden, I had a craving for a mixed bean salad.
My last mixed bean salad was Symphony in a Can aka My 5-Minute Symphonic Mixed Bean Salad which has a more classic flavour profile: lemon, mustard and onion for the mixed beans.
This time I went with a Southwestern inspired bean salad with a chile-lime dressing. Lots of vegetables including bell peppers and tomatoes along with fresh cilantro. I worked with a medley of beans and then added in extra red kidney beans. They are perfect for salads and I don’t use them nearly enough.
I think my chile powder has been losing its freshness/spiciness so my newest trend (you may have already spotted it) is adding some Sweet Mesquite Seasoning which has plenty of oomph. Either that or my palate is warming up… Probably the former.
In any case, this salad received a lot of praise during my last barbecue. I think you will like it, too. Enjoy!
I am going to spice things up today. Literally and figuratively. While I have been to many restaurants, I don’t share my resto reviews here. (I save them for Happy Cow – follow my profile). But, what if I told you I could give you the recipes for all the dishes we tried? I figured that was worthy of a share on a recipe blog.
This was a marvellous meal Rob and I shared at Doug McNish’s Public Kitchen. He typically caters to take-away meals and Sunday eat-in brunch but occasionally there are pop-up specialty dinners. This was one such dinner titled “Vegan Everyday“, named after his latest cookbook. Known for his love of raw vegan foods and writing two raw cookbooks, Eat Raw, Eat Well and Raw, Quick and Delicious, this cookbook features his love of cooked vegan food. His recipes are all whole foods based (all homemade, no faux meat substitutes and gluten-free, too). Doug’s latest cookbook is based on his extensive experience in the kitchen and wanted to prove the awesomeness of the recipes. So much so that he made them from his own restaurant to share.
So, without further adieu, here was our meal:
AVOCADO TEMPURA – crisp quinoa battered avocado, spicy kimchi, sweet lemon tamari ginger reduction, nori dust, Chinese five spice. This was excellent. Crispy creamy avocado. I never would have thought to make this at home but it was so good, I may give it a go.
CHERMOULA TOFU – grilled spice rubbed chermoula tofu, braised jalapeños and collard greens, sweet potato quinoa hush puppies, crisp yucca strips, tangy almond cream sauce. Four recipes are from his cookbooks and I don’t think I would have ever thought to combine them together. Other than the sauce being a but heavy, I really liked this.
and from the other side:
TEMPEH CROQUETTES – crisp cornmeal and brown rice flour crust, roasted red pepper aioli, sweet potato puree, seasoned brown rice, sautéed herbed white wine garlic local veg. The croquettes were fragile but still delicious.
BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE – soft creamy cheesecake, blueberry compote, ginger crust, candied lemon zest. I was really excited to try this because I knew the recipe from the cookbook used white beans as a secret ingredient. However, this was more cake than cheesecake as bean-based baked goods are ought to do. I will likely not remake this one at home but it was a decent cake.
CHURROS – churros with spiced coconut sugar coating, warm cinnamon chocolate dipping sauce, candied orange. This was the recipe that I lured in Rob. He probably considers himself an expert at churros, eating them that is, especially after our stint in Houston.
Let’s just say that these were unlike any churro we have ever tried. Churros are naturally vegan but these are also gluten-free which may have been our problem (not sure). In any case, they tasted great and if anything, could have passed for a gourmet interpretation of churros with a hefty coating in cinnamon and coconut sugar with a delicious warm cinnamon chocolate dipping sauce.
As I said, all the recipes are from Doug’s latest cookbook. With 500 recipes, there is something here for everyone, from breakfast to dessert and everything in between. If you’ve been to his restaurants or ones where he’s helped shape their menu, you may recognize recipes like his Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Soup or his Sweet Potato Chili. Recipes are quick and easy (Black Bean Santa Fe Wraps) or more elaborate (Miso-Glazed Tofu with Crispy Sushi Cakes and Braised Bok Choy). Then there are recipes I really want to try like Indian-Spiced Date Squares. Or how about Maca Crunch Ice Cream? Honestly 500 recipes feels like a tomb of recipes when most cookbooks share only 100 or so at a time.
I have made a few recipes already and they are very good. He definitely knows how to ramp up the umami (bring on the nutritional yeast, tamari and mushrooms). So much so, that I tended to reign them in, worrying about exploding my palate. I will share a homemade recipe in the next few weeks but until then, here is the recipe and cookbook photo for the gluten-free, vegan churros. This is more what I think of when I think of churros, so I look forward to trying the recipe out myself one day.
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 generally try to eat every day. The winner will be selected at random on August 20, 2015. Good luck!
Toronto had a wicked storm this past weekend.
Yeah, that one. (Sorry for the rain tease for those in California!)
The next one is a video:
#impendingdoom… #toronto #downtown #city #cityscape #skyline #blackandwhite #bnw #bnw_magazine #bnw_of_our_world #bnw_life #bnw_planet #bnw_umbria #video #timelapse #lightning #thunderstorm #streetsoftoronto #totescanadian #thankyoutoronto #lovetoronto #torontoclicks #narcitytoronto #postcardsfromthe6 #trumptoronto #imagesoftoronto #utilizemedia #way2ill #toronto_insta @itsakich
If you saw a plane trying to land at the Island Airport at that time (I didn’t see us in the video), I was there. We circled back and forth between Toronto and St Catharines as we waited for a clearing to land. The landing was probably the most rocky I had endured and it was only afterwards, gawking at the photos in the comfort of my own home, did I realize what we had missed.
(Hopefully they got some awesome wedding pictures)
Anyways, Rob and I had a very quick weekend trip over the long weekend out to New Hampshire for some relaxation and hiking in the White Mountain National Forest. Rob was in Boston for a conference but when I flew down, we opted to head outside the city instead. If you like outdoors, this is a great place to visit. We stayed with a host through AirBnB and it was almost like our own piece of heaven.
I had been talking about making Bourbon-spoked barbecue sauce for a while, but we had no Bourbon nor whiskey. Our trip to duty-free solved that and I quickly followed through with my promise of homemade barbecue sauce. Earlier this year, I made Miyoko’s zippy barbecue sauce (fabulous, by the way) and found it oh, so easy and was equally delighted with this concoction.
Smoky. Apple-infused although I couldn’t really taste the apple. And the Bourbon was in there, too. The Bourbon is more of an aftertaste after the alcohol is simmered away, adding depth to the sauce. A bit on the spicier side but I loved it. So, even if you do not like whiskey (hello, me!) and even if you do (hello, Rob!), you will love this. I imagine this will be gone by the end of the weekend. Veggie burgers really do better with something saucy slathered overtop.
Enjoy! Please let me know how you like it. Do you have a favourite barbecue sauce recipe?
We finally branched out from our standard veggie burger and grilled vegetable routine.
A delicious routine but still a new routine.
Except, I still grilled some vegetables. They were on a skewer, though.. which makes it somewhat different, right? In this case, they were smothered in a jerk-inspired (but not too spicy) spice rub. I also slathered it on top of some extra-firm tofu.
I used sweet red peppers and a sweet plantain which contrasted with the spice rub incredibly well along with some zucchini, because zucchini grills so very well. In fact, I dare say the plantain was the highlight of the meal. I picked a very black plantain and figured I had nothing to lose, as I wasn’t sure how it would grill, but it was wonderfully sweet and smoky. The only problem? I cut the pieces a bit too small and they were more fragile than the other vegetables. I think Rob lost a few while grilling. I suspect fresh pineapple would be a fabulous substitute for the plantain.
I served this to guests and they raved about it. I hope you like it, too.
Other Jamaican Jerk inspired recipes shared previously:
Remember that time I had a mustard tasting party? Only 18 months ago, or so… I don’t think I have bought a new mustard since and we are down to the bare minimum, guys. Depending on what I find first (mustard or mustard seeds), I may try my hand at homemade mustard. I want to try Miyoko’s recipe for Ale and Brown Sugar Mustard but don’t want it to taste like beer. If you make it (or can recommend other homemade mustard recipes), please let me know. I will await your assessment in 4 weeks. ;)
In the meantime, onwards with the potato salads. A perfect side for your summer meals.
Another winner of potato salads, this is for serious mustard fans. Rob preferred the Creamy Lemon-Dill Roasted Potato Salad but I really can’t pick a favourite, especially considering the Smoked Paprika Roasted Potato Salad. This salad is definitely heavy on the mustard, so pick a good one. The vibrant yellow is courtesy of a dash of turmeric and the dressing is more complex with the addition of Old Bay. A fun twist for yet another non-mayo potato salad. Enjoy!
PS. I am sharing this with Bookmarked Recipes.
As the hot summer persists, let us marry the perfect summer eats. BBQ and salads. And for those without a BBQ, have no fear, this one is for you.
No BBQ needed, the BBQ flavour is completely from the roasted chickpeas. A bit more complex than my bacon-flavoured chickpea croutons, but definitely not any harder than pulling out a few more bottles, these roasted chickpeas are awesome. Smoky, savoury and delicious. You could just eat them with your hand (totally guilty) or add them to a salad for a more complete meal. Here I paired it with salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, purple cabbage, shredded carrots and avocado with a splash of lemon juice. Mix it all together for a fabulous meal.
The smoky roasted chickpeas comes from Somer McCowan’s new cookbook, The Abundance Diet. Somer blogs at Vedged Out and is the originator behind the vegan extra sharp cheese ball and fresh vegan moxarella (a revised version of the mock mozzarella is in her book). The cookbook was borne out of her previous Green Smoothie Challenge.
I am always anxious of leafing through cookbooks marked with words such as ‘diet’, ‘detox’, or the like, but I have no reservations about this cookbook. Somer’s recipes are all gluten-free, plant-based vegan recipes and also, to the astute eye, also free of oil and refined sugars. (The tip-off are the lack of oil in the soups and stews, as I am accustomed to sautéing my onions in oil). Otherwise, the recipes are filled with an abundance of vegetables for creative meals that are relatively easy to make, too.
The recipes span the entire day (breakfast to lunch to dinner including snacks) because there are meal plans that span 28-days (they can be found here if you want a preview). She includes recipes for 26 salads and dressing. The Lentil taco salad was fabulous (even without the roasted red pepper dressing) and her Ultimate Lentil Salad reminds me of my own 11-Spice Lentil Salad with Capers and Currants (and always a hit). Her soups are equally enticing, with meal-type soups like Quinoa Minestrone and her Smoky Split Pea Soup. Others are more vegetable-based which are more suitable as appetizer.
I enjoyed her Moroccan Lentil Soup even though I substituted a handful of fresh dill for the parsley/cilantro. She also has a main dish section with recipes I have been eyeing, such as Chiles Rellenos Casserole Bake with Smoky Chipotle Enchilada Sauce and Homestyle Mexican Casserole. Green smoothies, juices, snacks, dips and desserts round out the cookbook to keep you full throughout the day.
I remember when cookbooks were mostly text, but it is so nice to see excellent photography. Ann Oliverio photographed most of the recipes and they are a treat throughout the cookbook. Just look at the delicious cover photography highlighting the Funeral Potatoes. A funeral for your fat?
Of note, while this is a diet based on vegan abundance, Somer’s narrative highlights the potential ways to expedite weight loss. Some people may not like this tone and I suggest simply enjoying the recipes. Not a fan of stevia? (Me, neither). Simply substitute dates instead for the smoothies or all coconut sugar in other desserts. Or in my case, add some beans to the vegetable-centric meals. In all, the recipes look great and only on closer inspection do they jump out as diet food.
Want your own copy?
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the US. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me what you like to eat in abundance. The winner will be selected at random on August 7, 2015. Good luck!
Recipes from The Abundance Diet spotted elsewhere:
When we first moved in our new home, I was a little sad about the natural light situation. It did not take me long to figure out that the south-facing part of our home was in the shade after I returned home from work. For the last 3 years, in 3 different homes, the south-facing window was the source of my foodie photographs.
While I am still trying to perfect my new photography zone, the backyard shade has a different utility: shade for our backyard patio. A welcome respite from the blazing summer sun, it almost behooves us to only invite people over for evening BBQs. And eat our dinner outside, as well.
Totally working on that.
This weekend was especially hot and totally ice cream weather. I wanted ice cream and I wanted it now, so I finally made Gena’s lovely blueberry ginger ice cream. I love blueberries and I love ginger, and never would have thought to combine them. It was marvellous. The classic banana soft-serve ice cream is even creamier with cashew cream and a gorgeous purple hue from frozen blueberries (wild blueberries for the best flavour). I made this in my vitamix and was too impatient to wait for the cashews to be completely blended so they added little bits to the creamy base. Fresh blueberries were a good textural foil. In any case, this is highly recommended. Soak the cashews if you have enough forethought for a creamier base.
I have been pinning many homemade vegan ice creams for the summer months, especially Sondi’s Vegan Dulce de Leche (she has a new ice cream flavour every Friday), Alissa’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Covered Pretzel Banana Ice Cream and Sofia’s Chocolate Amaretto Ice Cream with Cherry Sauce. I just need to work on a bigger freezer. ;)
Any fabulous treats you recommend for beating the summer heat?
I am sharing this with Simple and In Season.
Even though we have had the BBQ on in full force since it arrived, it is (mostly) limited to the weekends. However, I love bulk cooking on the weekends, so we’re trying to keep things simple mid-week.
Here I multipurposed leftover portobello carpaccio (just as good with a longer marinade) into a glorious summer salad with strawberries, fresh (not grilled) tofu, all over a bed of baby spinach, doused with a balsamic dressing.
Jessica asked about mosto cotto in my previous posts. It is a sweet balsamic reduction and a simple 1-ingredient dressing. A balsamic vinaigrette could easily be substituted, so I decided to make my own and use it all week. I made a glorious full cup to share with Rob.
Except the world was against me, and I tipped 75% of my dressing. Onto my shorts, onto my slippers and behind my stove. I am not sure if bird poop or balsamic vinegar makes a worse stain, but I quickly disrobed and cleaned my shorts and next my slippers. My black shorts fared better than my slippers which may now look a bit more brown than white. Oops….
Anyways, the salad was fabulous. I hadn’t planned to share it but the mushrooms added a wonderful earthy contrast next to the sweet strawberries and savoury balsamic vinaigrette. Delicious. Enjoy!
I am sharing this with Meat Free Mondays.
This may very well turn out to be the summer of potatoes and mushrooms. While not everyone likes the mayo-heavy potato salads, everyone seems to like the non-mayo salads from this summer so far.
Rob said this was his favourite potato salad yet.
His Polish roots may be particularly partial to fresh dill.
The dressing is a creamy, but not heavy, lemon-tahini sauce with a touch of mustard which I tossed with salt-and-pepper roasted potatoes and fresh dill. The recipe makes a lot of dressing, which was great throughout the week to dress up some of the leftover grilled vegetables. The dressing was also great when I added in some extra chickpeas.
What is your favourite recipe for potato salad?