Saturday, August 30, 2008

Meat-Free Lunches for the Kids

You no doubt have heard by now of the listeriosis outbreak in Canada which has killed 10 people to date. The source: Maple Leaf meat products. The company has now recalled dozens of its products, and with school to start soon, some are wondering what to pack in the kids' lunches. The logical choice would be peanut butter, but most schools (if not all) in Ontario have banned nuts due to allergy concerns. So, what's left? Your best resource is Vegan Lunch Box (also a great cookbook) which is teeming with great meat-free lunch ideas. And, even though this blog is mainly about dinner, I do have a few recipes as well:

1. Veggie Lunch Meat: Homemade is cheaper and tastier, I think.
2. Eggless Salad: my kids absolutely love it. They even request it!
3. Tunori: a great replacement for tuna salad.
4. Hearty Tomato Soup: crack out the Thermos for a rich soup.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

See You In September

I am swearing off the computer for the next week and am going to spend time with the boys before school starts again for us all. No email, no blogging. Just family time. See you all in September!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Veggies in a Clay Baker


Not really a recipe tonight, more of an idea/method. I love cooking stuff in cast iron pans on the BBQ, and in clay bakers like the one seen here. This particular pig is happy that no one is eating his body. Tonight I filled him up with cauliflower and broccoli, about an inch of water, and placed in on the grill for about 20 mins.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns

I ran out of white flour while making buns and improvised to make this whole wheat version. They are very tasty! Pictured here are the mini buns I make for vegan slyders, but you get the idea.

INGREDIENTS
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 3 tbsp vital wheat gluten
- 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup soy milk
- 1 tbsp active dry yeast
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil

METHOD
Use the method from this post.

Son #2 insisted I take a picture of his meal for the blog. He arranged his burger and veggies very nicely on the plate. Kind of look like PacMan.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Peach Ginger Tempeh and Chickpeas

Ontario peaches are ripe and ready. Of course, that means summer is almost over, but what a way to go out! I wanted to use peaches in the main dish tonight since they always seems to be relegated to dessert (not that I am complaining). If you dislike tempeh you could use tofu instead, or just stick with the beans. As it stands, this dish is a protein-fest so you could tone it down a bit. Also featured here: red quinoa! I saw it at the bulk food store and snapped it up. The only difference seems to be the colour, but perhaps there are secret health benefits too. I think green onions would have been good in this dish, but I was out.


INGREDIENTS
Makes 1 crapton (i.e. 2 metric buttloads)
- 1 pkg tempeh (or tofu, frozen and thawed), cut into small cubes
- 4 large peaches, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- large chunk of ginger, minced
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 sweet onion, halved and sliced
- 1 red pepper, small dice
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
- salt to taste
- 1/2 cup water (or more)
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced

METHOD
1. Place peaches, ginger, water, and sugar in a blender and process until very smooth. Heat 1/2 of the mixture in a non-stick frying pan over med-hi heat and bring to bubbling. Add tempeh and cook, stirring frequently, until sauce has been absorbed/has cooked down. Reduce heat and cook until tempeh becomes golden brown, stirring frequently. Remove from pan.
2. Wipe pan down and return to heat. Add oil and saute onion and pepper for 5-7 mins, until translucent. Add remaining peach mixture and return tempeh to the pan. Add chickpeas, hoisin sauce, and water and bring to bubbling. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 mins, adding more water if sauce gets too thick.
3. Stir in onions and remove from heat. Serve over quinoa or rice.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Farm-Style Whole Wheat Bread

After a little experimentation, I have come up with a whole wheat bread I like. OK, not 100% whole wheat, but let's not get picky. I call it "farm-style" because it more like the bread my mom used to make (not that we ever lived on a farm) than the artisan-style breads I usually bake. I have discovered a few things about bread along the way. 1. Make sure you have quality ingredients. Make sure your flour is fresh and your yeast is active. 2. Knead the bread thoroughly. Work that gluten, baby! 3. The oven is a great place to let dough rise. Turn it on for 1 min to slightly warm, then turn off and stick your dough in. And 4. Good bread takes a little time but it totally worth it. This is a nice tender loaf that stays fresh for a few days and is perfect for sandwiches. The boys love it and prefer it to the bread we sometimes buy from the bakery downtown. In your face, professional baker!


INGREDIENTS
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp active dry yeast
- 2 cups soy milk (room temperature)
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup loose packed brown sugar
- 2 tbsp ground flax
- 1 tbsp sea salt (must be sea salt, or it will be too salty)
- 1/3 cup vital wheat gluten
- 2 cups white bread flour
- 3-4 cups all purpose whole wheat flour

METHOD
1. Mix sugar into water, then whisk in yeast until dissolved. Set aside to foam (if it doesn't, your yeast is no good.)
2. In a large mixing bowl (I use my KitchenAid bowl), mix together soy milk (zap quickly in microwave to bring to room temperature) and vinegar. Add sugar, flax, salt, yeast mixture, vital wheat gluten, and white bread flour. Mix well. I use the batter attachment of the KitchenAid and really beat it well, until gluten strings form and mixture is very smooth.
3. Add in enough whole wheat flour to make a soft and slightly tacky dough. How much depends on humidity, type of flour, etc. Generally 3.5 cups works for me. Knead for 10 mins. Although I am a big fan of hand-kneading, I let the KitchenAid do most of the work, then knead the last few mins by hand.
4. Place in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1.5 hours). Punch down dough, then gently stretch the ends of the dough outward. Then, fold in like a business letter. Turn dough 90 degrees and repeat. Try not to rip the dough. Re-form into a ball, cover, and let rise again until doubled (about 1 hr). Repeat above process, re-cover, and let rise for 30 mins.
5. Divide dough into two using a serrated knife and shape into loaves. Cover with a towel and let rise until about 1 inch over the top of the pan.
6. While bread is rising, preheat oven to 375 convection (400 regular). Slash tops and bake for 22-25 mins (30-35 regular). I like to remove the bread when it is just done and still a bit on the moist side. This makes for a nice loaf the next day--not too dry. I will admit I have only baked this in a convection oven so I am guessing a little on the times for the regular oven.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Mexican Jackfruit Filling

So I finally went on a jackfruit adventure. I was intrigued by said fruit when I saw the pulled jackfruit BBQ sandwich on Chow Vegan because it looked so much like actual meat. If you've hung around this blog for any length of time you know I have no problem with fake meat or trying to recreate meat dishes. I loved meat but gave it up for a variety of reasons I won't get into here. OK, back to the jackfruit. First off, when it comes out of the can it smells pretty bad--about as bad as one might expect from something called "young green jackfruit in brine." When cooked, it reminds me of artichokes. I wonder if they are related. Like Chow Vegan, I wasn't really crazy about the taste until the next day after it had been sitting in the fridge. So, my advice is to make this a day or two in advance and let the flavours soak in. So, in the final analysis, it was pretty good but did not blow me away. The look is spot on, and the taste and texture is pretty good. Of course, jackfruit has no protein, so serve it with refried beans or something.


INGREDIENTS
Serves 4-6
- 1 can young green jackfruit
- 1 onion, quartered
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp marjoram
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- water
- 1 cup salsa (or more)
- spices to taste

METHOD
1. Rinse jackfruit, squeeze dry, and place in a pot. Add in onion, garlic, spices, and orange juice, and enough water to almost cover the jackfruit. Bring to boiling, cover, then simmer until jackfruit is tender enough to shred with a fork--about 1.5 to 2 hours.
2. Remove jackfruit from pan and shred with two forks. Put in a frying pan and add in one cup of salsa. Bring to bubbling and simmer, stirring frequently, until salsa has reduced a bit. Add more salsa if you find the taste too weak, or of jackfruit is too dry. Cook until salsa has reduced and jackfruit is drier.
3. Season to taste and serve in burritos, tacos, etc.


Here is the jackfruit after being shredded. Freaky.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Seitan Stuffed Cannelloni

So Vegan Mom and I finally celebrated our 10th anniversary (as you can see, we got out the fine china for the first time in about 10 years). Of course, the fates conspired against us making sure that disaster struck in the kitchen and that 1 boy would refuse to go to sleep. *sigh* Now, I am usually in total control in the kitchen--so much so that when things go awry I don't take it too well. Disaster one: I blended the seitan sausages for the filling while they were still warm. Big mistake. Instead of becoming like finely ground meat, they turned into a paste. Fortunately, I had only put half of the sausage in so I had some back up. Disaster two: the dessert. In my mind I envisioned something like mini black forest cakes. The cream filling was to be this recipe. The other time I made it it was thick and rich. This time: thin and runny. Certainly no good for cake filling. I rushed to make a quick buttercream, but only had a wee bit of margarine. In all the rush to make frosting (and a good 10 mins of mumbling/cursing under my breath) I did not have time to make the cherry sauce. I contemplated coating the cakes with a thin ganache but just didn't have the energy (remember that one kid is still coming down the stairs claiming he can't sleep). We just ate the half-made cakes with ice cream and called it a night.


INGREDIENTS
Makes 6 cannelloni
- 6 cannelloni shells, prepared according to directions on the box
- 1/2 recipe seitan sausage, cold
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 jar spaghetti sauce

METHOD
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. Finely chop sausage, or pulse in a blender. Mix with garlic and parsley. Stuff filling into shells.
2. Cover the bottom of a baking dish with spaghetti sauce and place cannelloni on top. Cover with remaining sauce.
3. Cover and bake for 35-40 mins, until bubbling. Uncover and bake for 10 mins.
Here is the half-made dessert. Someday I will revisit this someday and make it into something. The cake is Isa and Terry's basic chocolate cupcake recipe baked in a greased and floured 9 x 13 pan, then cut with a biscuit cutter. Tasted great.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Salubrious Beet Salad

If you are an avid reader of Calvin and Hobbes like myself, you will get the name of today's dish. Beets certainly are salubrious, and these particular ones came from the Locavore's tent down at the farmers' market. We also enjoyed the beet tops, washed and fried in a pan with a little salt and pepper. Vegan Mom and I were smacking our lips enjoying the mellow and earthy taste of the beets, a sure sign we have become old fogeys.


INGREDIENTS
- 2 golden beets
- 2 red beets
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 2 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- salt and pepper

METHOD
1. Trim tops off beets and steam until tender, about 30 mins. Rinse under cold water and peel off outer skin with your fingers. Trim off stem.
2. Thinly slice beets and arrange in a serving dish. Whisk together remaining ingredients and pour over beets. Let sit at room temperature for 20-30 mins before serving.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mocha Chocolate Shell Topping

Did you ever buy that Magic Shell ice cream topping? Well, you can't anymore because it has milk in it. But don't worry, I have you covered. This is a slightly more grown-up version of this classic ice cream topping with the addition of coffee. Keep in mind that it is the fat that makes this liquid at room temperature and harden on your ice cream, so please enjoy responsibly.


INGREDIENTS
- 1/4 cup soy creamer
- 2 tbsp instant coffee
- 1 1/2 cups vegan chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup canola oil

METHOD
1. Bring soy creamer to bubbling in a small saucepan over med-hi heat. Stir in instant coffee and remove from heat.
2. Stir in chocolate chips and stir until smooth. Then add oil and stir until smooth.

This will keep in the fridge for a long time. Store it in a glass jar and microwave for a few seconds to warm it up before drizzling over ice cream.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Smoked Tofu

I tried my hand at smoked tofu once before, but the results weren't as good as I would have liked. This time I changed the method to allow for a longer smoking time and a better flavour.

INGREDIENTS
- 1 pkg firm tofu, cut into 8 slices
- 3 tbsp HP or A1 steak sauce
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- few drops sesame oil
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp water
- 4 cups (or so) smoking wood chips
METHOD
1. Soak wood chips in water for 30 mins. While chips are smoking, mix ingredients together and marinate tofu.
2. Drain wood chips and wrap in a rectangular foil package. Poke a bunch of holes in the top with a knife. Go crazy--you want that smoke to get out of the package. Remove the grill from one half of the BBQ and place foil package on the coals. Replace grill and light BBQ on the side with the foil package and heat on high until package begins to smoke. Reduce heat to med-lo.
3. Place tofu on the unlit side of the BBQ as far from the heat as possible. Close lid and cook/smoke for about 40 mins, turning the tofu once halfway through. Tofu should be a nice golden brown when done.
4. Serve with a nice BBQ sauce.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Whole Wheat Bread in the Works

I am trying to make a lighter whole wheat bread that the kids can take on their lunches (and one that is easy to make). Here is the thing with little kids: whole grains can fill their stomachs before they get adequate nutrition. In other words, dense breads can fill them up before they can eat the rest of their lunch. I want them to have a whole grain bread, but one with a lighter texture. This was a pretty good loaf, but not perfect. Stay posted.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Happy 5th Birthday, Son #2

Just a short post tonight showcasing the vegan fare from Son #2's 5th birthday. He requested a Buzz Lightyear cake, and I obliged. Not my finest work, but not too bad. We also had vegan slyders, which were a hit with all the guests, vegan and otherwise.

Today is also my and Vegan Mom's 10th anniversary, which we no longer celebrate on the actual day because of birthday duties. I will post the food I make as soon as we find some time to have to ourselves . . . .

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Quick and Easy Fried Noodles and Tofu

I always feel like a culinary failure when I use stuff out of a bottle. But this dish is tasty enough that I don't care.


INGREDIENTS
- boiling water
- 1/2 pkg rice noodles
- 1 pkg tofu, sliced thin
- cornstarch
- oil for frying
- 1 bottle VH Teriyaki sauce
- juice of 1 lime
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp chili garlic sauce
- cilantro for garnish

METHOD
1. Place noodles in a large bowl. Cover with boiling water. Stir regularly to keep noodles from sticking together and set aside for at least 20 mins.
2. Toss tofu in cornstarch and fry in batches in oil over med-hi heat until deep golden brown. Drain and set aside.
3. Drain noodles and rinse in cold water.
4. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a wok over med-hi heat. Add noodles and stir fry for about 2 mins, until noodles begins to get translucent and a bit "gummy." Add in sauce, lime, sugar, and chili garlic sauce. Bring to bubbling and reduce heat. Simmer for a few mins, until noodles are cooked. Stir in tofu. Garnish and serve.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Seitan and Mushrooms in Oyster Sauce

Do you know how I keep whining that there isn't an Asian market around here? Well, there still isn't one. Boo. But, I did find a place that has a pretty good selection of Asian food. For those in the area, the Food Basics on Cassells St. and Hwy. 11 has some good stuff. Two things that caught my eye were the green jackfruit (been looking for it ever since I saw these), and vegetarian oyster sauce. Another great find this week: a pack of mixed mushrooms. That led to this dish.

INGREDIENTS
- 1 recipe beef seitan (make sure to fry them, as per the recipe)
- 1 tbsp oil
- 3/4 cup chopped green beans
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1" piece ginger, minced
- 2 cups oyster and shiitake mushrooms, cut into large chunks
- 2 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce
- 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 2 tbsp water
- 4 green onions, cut into 2 inch pieces

METHOD
1. Heat oil in a wok over med-hi heat. Add beans and fry for 1 min. Add garlic and ginger and fry for about 30 seconds.
2. Add mushrooms and cook until they begin to soften (about 2 mins). Add seitan to the wok along with the sauces. Mix well and cook for 3-4 mins. The seitan will absorb some liquid (this makes it tender), so add more if it gets too dry.
3. Add green onions and cook for a min or so, until they darken. Serve.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Homemade Vegan Mayo

I know I have mentioned before that Vegenaise is really expensive here ($6.33 for the small jar!). Needless to say, we mete the stuff out like the white gold that it is. While that is OK for a burger every now and then, or a veggie sandwich, when it comes to things like potato salad you can see your life savings being eaten away at the summer picnic. This is a cheaper version that comes together quite nicely. If you want it a bit firmer, you can add in extra firm silken tofu. Or, if you want it lower fat you can sub in some tofu for the oil. This is more zingy like Miracle Whip, so cut down on the vinegar and sugar if you want it more like mayo. The recipe is based on one I have had crammed in my cooking binder for a while so I am not sure where it is originally from.


INGREDIENTS
- 1/2 cup plain soy milk
- 1 1/4 cup safflower oil
- 2 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp superfine sugar
- pinch of paprika
- 1/2 tsp mustard powder
- 1 1/2 tsp salt

METHOD
1. Put soy milk in a food processor and start processing. Slowly drizzle oil in while blade is running. When all oil is incorporated, stop blade and scrape down sides. Add remaining ingredients and process briefly to mix through.

New Wendy's Commercial

Have you seen the new ad for Wendy's Baconator (830 calories, 51g fat, 190 mg cholesterol, 1760 mg sodium)? I can't find the video online, but essentially this guy turns down a bite of salad from his fellow female diner, proclaiming himself a "meatetarian." When she looks at him in disbelief, he explains that he only eats beef and bacon. He says something about it being a tough diet, and that one really has to commit. While I dislike Wendy's not-so-subtle implication that real men eat meat (leave the salad-nibbling to the chicks, right?), I can't believe they are celebrating the combination of beef and bacon. Have fun when the coronary hits, you jackass.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Thick and Hearty Tomato Bean Soup

We have been going through a bit of a cool spell here--highs around 20 C and lows around 10 C. So I was in the mood for some soup. This is really easy to make for nights when you are pinched for time.


INGREDIENTS
- 1 48 oz can tomato juice
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp dill
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp mild chili powder
- salt to taste
- 1 can mixed beans
- 3/4 alphabet pasta (or some other small pasta)
- 1/2 cup vegan sour cream

METHOD
1. Put juice, spices, and beans in a large pot and bring to bubbling. Add pasta and simmer until done. Be sure sure to stir often to keep the pasts from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
2. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream. If you want, add a dollop of sour cream to the centre of each bowl before serving.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Stuff so Old I Forgot How I Made It

I have to admit that I rarely write down what I do in the kitchen. Since I blog everyday the recipes are still fresh in my mind and then I send them out over the internets. Somehow these two dishes slipped through the cracks.

First up: some kind of clean out the fridge pasta dish. I think I sauteed the mushrooms with garlic and then cooked them in white wine. Of course there is some broccoli in there and toasted pine nuts.
Second: looks like cannellini beans and asparagus in a garlic white sauce wrapped in phyllo.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Blueberry Shortcake

Soy ice cream was on sale this week, along with blueberries, so shortcake was in order (yes, I know I just made mini shortcakes last week). This is shortcake, straight up, like my mom used to make (without the butter, of course). You can serve it with whatever berry or fruit is in season. I can't wait for peaches!

INGREDIENTS
- 1 3/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 5 tbsp cold Earth Balance margarine
- generous 3/4 cup soy creamer (or soy milk)

METHOD
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Cut in cold margarine (or use your fingers). Mix in soy creamer with a wooden spoon. Add a splash more creamer if dough is too stiff.
2. Spread batter in a 9" non-stick round pan (or, grease and flour a pan if you don;t have anon-stick one) with a silicone spatula.
3. Bake for 15-17 mins, until lightly brown on top. Let cool for a 5 mins, then remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.
4. Cut into wedges and top with berries and soy ice cream.

We also had out first Ontario corn of the season, bought from a roadside stand. It was pretty good. Ah, summer . . . .

Friday, August 8, 2008

BBQ Tempeh Ribz with BBQ'ed Potatoes

A caveat: this recipe is not an attempt to make a vegan rib that has the texture of a meat rib. Instead, this is a combination my love of a) cooking on the BBQ; b) tempeh; c) cast iron pans; and d) BBQ sauce. This is a great dish to make on a hot summer day because it is almost all done on the BBQ.

INGREDIENTS
Serves 4
- 1.5 recipes sweet and sticky BBQ sauce, made with 2x the water
- 2 pkgs tempeh, sliced

METHOD
1. Make the BBQ sauce. Transfer 2/3rds of the sauce to a large cast iron skillet and add sliced tempeh. Place on a BBQ on medium heat (about 500 degrees) and bring to bubbling. Cook for 15-20 mins, or until sauce has thickened and mostly reduced. Baste regularly.
2. Remove pan from BBQ and place tempeh on the grill. Grill 5 mins per side, then return to pan. Put pan back on the BBQ.
3. Add remaining sauce to pan and cook until sauce is thick. Serve.
BBQ'ed Potatoes
Microwave 4 large Yukon Gold potatoes for 4-5 mins. They should be partially cooked--firm but beginning to soften. Thickly slice, let cool, and toss with olive oil. Grill 5 mins per side, until golden.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

White Bean Ranch Hummus

First, just let me say that I made rotini in a creamy basil tomato sauce for a main dish and all three kids had THREE servings each! If you have kids, make this dish. I am pretty sure they will love it. I also wanted to make hummus but had no chickpeas or lemon juice. So, I made this tasty dip which is a mix between hummus and ranch dip. It tastes best when refrigerated a bit.


INGREDIENTS
- 4 cloves garlic, skins on
- 1 can cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp tarragon
- 1 tsp parsley
- 1 tsp dill
- 1/2 tsp salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- water or oil, as needed

METHOD
1. Dry roast garlic in a small pan over medium heat for about 10 mins, until soft. Remove skins.
2. Put all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add in some water or oil if needed to get it to all blend.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Quick and Easy Tofu Etouffee

This started out as a Cajun-esque tofu scramble, but ended up becoming an etouffee as I kept adding things into the pan. You can serve this with rice, or by itself for a brunch.

INGREDIENTS
Serves 4
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 medium onion, halved and sliced
- 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
- 1 green pepper, small dice
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 bay leaf, finely crushed
- pinch of cayenne (or more)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pkg extra firm tofu, diced
- 1 andouille sausage, cut into chunks
- 1/4 cup vegan sour cream
- 1/4 cup soy milk (or more)
- 2 green onions, sliced
-chopped parsley for garnish
METHOD
1. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Saute onions, celery, and pepper for about 8 mins, until beginning to soften. Add spices and fry for 2 mins.
2. Add tofu and sausage to the pan and fry for 5 mins, until they begin to brown a bit.
3. Mix in sour cream. Thin down with soy milk--you may want to use more than 1/4 cup. Stir in green onions. Season to taste, garnish with parsley, and serve.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Vegan Express and Cooking at the Cottage

We got back yesterday from a few days of relaxation at the cottage. I tried to spend as much time as possible in the Muskoka chairs you see pictured above, and as little time as possible in the kitchen. I decided that I would crack open Nava Atlas' Vegan Express, which she sent in recognition of my Veg Bloggy Award (because she is cool like that). You may remember that Susan V of Fat Free Vegan did the photos for the book. The whole concept is vegan meals in under 30 mins. Sounded good to me.

First up: Seitan and Polenta Skillet with Fresh Greens. I loved the pairing of seitan and polenta, and it was a good way to get some dark leafy greens.
For dessert: Choclately Banana Pizza. I'm sure you don't need a degree from a culinary school to figure out how to make this. I made Isa's pizza crust from Vegan With a Vengeance, but used 1/4 cup brown sugar and 3 tbsp of butter, melted, for a thin, crispy, and sweet crust. I was able to get 4 smaller pizzas out of a single recipe, and I pre-baked the crust for a few mins (which made it puff up like a pita, actually). The next night we went crazy and added raspberries and peaches.
Day Two was my all-time favourite cottage meal: BBQ roasted veggies and grilled tofu (not from Vegan Express). Toss baby potatoes in oil and wrap tightly in heavy duty foil. Roast on a med-hi BBQ for about 30 mins, turning regularly. This can also be done in the embers of fire if you are camping. Do the same with carrots and roast for 20 mins. As for the tofu, this time I went with a non-pressed firm tofu and grilled it on med-hi for about 20 mins, until it was crispy and chewy. The softer tofu dehydrates and makes for a nice texture, but is more finicky than a firmer tofu. I then tossed it in BBQ sauce.
Day Three: BBQ-Flavoured Roasted Tempeh and Vegetables. This dish is supposed to be oven-roasted, but I just grilled everything and tossed it in BBQ sauce. I even threw in the extra seitan I had. Tasty!I also made burgers and sausages ahead of time and kept them in the fridge. They grilled up perfectly for quick lunches. You just need to remember that a) you need a bit of oil to keep them from sticking; and b) they are already cooked, you just need to warm them up. Keep the heat lower and the cooking time shorter than actual meat.

Cookbook Update

Yes, I am still working on the cookbook. I have 60 pages completed so far, and have designed a potential cover. Someone suggested it was a little heavy in the fake meat department and should feature more veggies (and colour). I guess it does look a little tan. But, hey, it's a draft. Then again, fake meat seems to have become my thing lately. I also enjoy the "recipes from the award winning blog" line because I have won one single award. Perhaps I enjoy my own sense of humour too much.

The Fleeting Nature of Fame

So, after declaring my blog one of the best of the web, Veg News magazine has not seen fit to put me in the running for the 2008 Veggie Awards. In a rush of snivelling self-importance I wrote in my blog and voted for myself. (whimper, whine)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Happy Simcoe Day!

Yes, today is a civic holiday here in Ontario, dubbed Simcoe Day in the Toronto area for John Graves Simcoe (1752-1806), first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada (southern Ontario, more or less), founder of Toronto, and abolisher of slavery in Ontario (take that, Lincoln!). I am staying out of the kitchen and staying on the beach down by the lake. Oh, how I love you, statuatory holiday!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Blueberry Lemon Puff Pastry Pockets

I really have to stop making puff pastry before I turn into a fat, greasy, blob. Ha! It will have been worth it! I wanted to see if non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening could be used in place of Earth Balance margarine, since store-bought versions use shortening instead of butter. The main motivation for this is the fact that Earth Balance costs $5.33 here, while an equal weight of shortening costs about $1.00. The answer is yes, it works just as well and makes for a very tender and flaky pastry.


INGREDIENTS
Makes 6
- 1/2 recipe puff pastry
- 1 1/2 cups frozen wild blueberries
- 1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1/4 cup sugar

Icing:
1. Heat 1 tbsp of lemon juice in a small saucepan over med-lo heat. Add in a scant 3/4 cup of icing sugar and stir to dissolve.

METHOD
1. Mix frozen berries, lemon zest, lemon juice, flour and sugar in a saucepan. Cook over medium high heat until bubbling and thickened. Remove from heat and place in fridge to cool down. Filling must be cold before it can be placed on the pastry.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Roll pastry into a 12" x 16" rectangle. Slice into twelve 4" squares. Place a heaping spoonful on filling on the centre of 6 squares.
4. Lightly moisten dough around the filling. Place remaining pastry squares over top of filling and press down firmly around the edges to seal. Use a fork to further seal the edges, then trim with a pastry wheel. Cut two slits in the top.
5. Bake for 20-25 mins, until golden brown.
6. Let cool for a few mins, then drizzle icing over top.
As you can see, the shortening makes a very nice pastry dough. It is a bit softer, but cooks up flakier. Make sure you chill the shortening before using it in the recipe.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Salisbury Steak

I can remember buying and eating a Salisbury steak TV dinner once when I was a teenager (I had no standards, apparently) and thinking, "hey, this isn't steak, it's just flat meatloaf!" I thought a "meat" and gravy meal would go over well with the kids, so I experimented with a tempeh burger/vegan sausage hybrid to get a little more meatiness in the so-called steak. I think the results were pretty good (even though the pic is very, very brown).


INGREDIENTS
Serves 6
- 1/2 pkg tempeh, boiled in water for 10 mins, cooled, and grated
- 1 cup vital wheat gluten
- 1 tsp each onion and garlic powder
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp sage
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp dill
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp HP/A1/BBQ sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 3/4 to 1 cup water

METHOD
Get water boiling in your steamer.
1. Mix grated tempeh, wheat gluten, and spices together in a bowl. Add sauces and enough water to make a wet but firm dough and mix with a fork. Knead for a min to mix well. The dough should be the same consistency as the vegan sausage dough. Divide into 6 pieces and shape each into a "steak." Wrap each in foil and steam for 30-35 mins (rotating halfway through), until steaks have swelled against the foil.
2. Heat a thin layer of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Fry steaks for a few mins on each side, to firm them up a bit and get a bit of a crispy outer layer. Top with gravy and serve.

A NOTE ON GRAVY
If you have a favourite brown gravy, use it here. I would have made a roasted mushroom gravy but I knew there would be a bunch of whining from the boys. So, I made a plain gravy with some of the spices from the steaks. I heated 1 tbsp of olive oil and whisked in 1 tbsp of flour. I then whisked in 1 cup of soy milk and 2 tsp soy sauce. I then seasoned with salt, pepper, coriander, sage, paprika, garlic and onion powder.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Roasted Garlic and Sausage Ravioli

The boys finished their first block of swimming lessons today at the YMCA and graduated up to the next level. Son #1 is now a Seal (up from Otter), and Son #2 is now a Floater. I can think of at least two things wrong with that name. Now, on to the food! I know this is going to sound insane coming from the guy who makes his own phyllo dough and puff pastry, but I don't think I have the patience for ravioli. It was so time consuming and finicky that it drove me to the brink of insanity. In fact, I kept making bigger and bigger ravioli just so I could use up the filling faster. That being said, the filling itself was really, really, good, and I plan to use it for homemade cannelloni in the very near future.


INGREDIENTS
Makes about 24 ravioli
- 6 cloves garlic, skins on
- 1/2 recipe vegan sausage, shaped into one mother sausage (I went crazy with the spices this time--oregano, parsley, marjoram, basil, fennel, rosemary, etc. If it sounded good, I put it in)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- salt and pepper
- marinara sauce

METHOD
1. Make sausage and cool. Slice into chunks and place in a blender. Pulse until sausage is resembles ground meat.
2. Meanwhile, dry roast the garlic in a small pan over medium heat. Turn regularly to keep from burning. Cook for about 15 mins, until soft. Remove from pan. When cool, squeeze garlic out of skins and mash into a paste.
3. In a bowl, mix together garlic, ground seitan, and fresh parsley.
4. Get a large pot of salted water boiling. Start heating your sauce.
5. Roll out a chunk of pasta with your pasta roller, according to the directions. My roller has 8 settings and I stopped at number 7. Place rolled pasta on a lightly floured surface. Mark a line that bisects the pasta lengthwise. Place about 1 tsp of filling between that line and the edge about every 1 1/2" (you should get at least 6 ravioli per pasta sheet). Brush all around the filling with water.
5. Fold pasta lengthwise over the filling. Press out any air caught between the pasta and press down around the filling. Slice in between the filling lumps to make separate ravioli, and seal all edges with a fork. Place on a floured towel while you make the rest.
6. It does not take long to cook these. Place into the boiling water. When water returns to boil and ravioli are floating, they are done. Drain immediately.
7. Place a large spoonful of sauce in the bottom of a pasta bowl. Top with ravioli, and then more sauce. Garnish with parsley and serve.