Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I Finally Try Daiya

So I am about a year late to all the foofarah over Daiya cheese, but better late than never, I suppose. On my recent trip to New York I purchased some Daiya and tried it out the other night. If you care, here are my thoughts. First, it is the best vegan cheese I have had. That being said, I am starting to wonder if I really care about vegan cheese anymore. Let's face it, it's not really cheese and even though it does have some stretchiness, it more goopy than stretchy. As you can see from the pic, I totally overdid it with the cheese. I should have just sprinkled it on sparingly rather than drowning the fresh zucchini, cherry tomatoes, onions, and basil from the garden. Still, if I could get it on a regular basis I would probably use it now and then, and I think it would go over well with non-vegan guests. My guess is that it would be pretty good in a lasagna, but that theory remains untested. I also have no delusions (as per the package) that this is some healthy cheese choice. Healthier than dairy cheese, I suppose, but it's still just salty fat. But, sometime I really like salty fat . . . .

Friday, July 23, 2010

Bahn Mi

I love all kinds of street food because it is clean, simple, and unpretentious. Ethnic food is pretty hard to come by here in the North, but you can get by. Although you can't get a tomatillo anywhere in the city, canned or fresh, the selection of Asian groceries is not too bad. I have never dabbled in Vietnamese food at all, but this recipe in Vegetarian Times looked simple enough and I had the ingredients on hand (though I did not make it very spicy for the kids). I like the idea of a pickle or slaw to ratchet up a sandwich a couple of notches and will have to explore this concept more in the future.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Potato Rosemary Bread: Baking Through the Bread Baker's Apprentice

This is one of my favourite new breads from The Bread Baker's Apprentice. Potatoes make for a wonderfully soft bread with a chewy crust. The loaf has a beautiful golden colour (probably because I used Yukon Gold), and the rosemary is a nice addition because it is not overdone. In other words: perfection.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Strawberry Syrup

I guess I am a little late with this post since strawberry season is over here, but I don't see why this recipe would not work with frozen (and then thawed) berries. We have been enjoying this syrup in endless glasses of lemonade, or with some simple syrup and club soda on ice. It is fairly potent and not too sweet. If you want it a bit thicker, just cook it for a little longer (but not too long or you will get jelly).
I just used my raspberry syrup recipe, subbing in crushed strawberries for the raspberries. It put the hot syrup in mason jars and sealed lots away for later.

Speaking of raspberries, we have a ton here in the backyard.
And even some wild blueberries! We have had some awesome pancake breakfasts lately.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Happy 4th Birthday, Son # 3

Today is my youngest son's 4th birthday. We watched some old family videos of when he was a baby and I got a little teary seeing how fast he is growing up. He will be off to school in September and has developed so much since he was a tiny 5 lb preemie 4 years ago. Sniff. Here is the cake he wanted (you can get cake pans at the library), decorated in the colours he wanted. Not my finest work (and the cake pans kind of stifle creativity), but he did not care. Whilst on the phone to his grandparents he said, "my Dad is making my castle cake and I love it!" I love you too, little buddy.

Monday, July 12, 2010

More Baking on the BBQ

Well, the heat wave is over here, but before it ended I did more baking on the BBQ. I used the set up described here and made kaiser rolls and whole wheat bread in loaf pans. Everything turned out awesome, just as good as in the oven. They key is making sure your temperature is consistent, which is easily done by putting an oven thermometer in the BBQ. Also, I also put some water in the steam pan, even for bread in loaf pans, because the BBQ is a pretty dry heat.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Thai Mushroom Soup

I made this soup a while ago (i.e. before the heat wave) but never got around to blogging it. It is actually quite good at room temp, so it is a good summer soup. It is based on a seafood soup recipe in a cookbook I have and I had every intention of using oyster mushrooms but there were none at the store. Turns out, plain ol' white mushrooms work really well, too. I also threw in some lobster mushrooms for colour and texture, but they are totally optional. So, once the heat breaks wherever you are, give this recipe a try.

- 2 1/2 cups veggie stock, or water
- 1" piece fresh ginger, cut into thin slices
- 3 limes leaves, sliced if fresh, crumbled if dried
- 2 stalks lemon grass, chopped
- 5 stalks cilantro
- 1 tbsp oil
- 4 shallots, chopped
- 16 oz mushrooms, chopped (white, oyster, etc., or a mix)
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- green curry paste, to taste
- 1 14 oz can light coconut milk
- juice of 1/3 lime
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Put stock, ginger, lemon grass, and lime leaves into a pot. Strip leaves from cilantro and add the stalks as well. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on a low heat for 20 mins. Strain and set aside.
2. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat, the saute shallots for 5-7 mins, until lightly browned. Add mushrooms and saute until the mushrooms are just releasing their water. Add strained stock to the pot, then add soy sauce and curry paste.
3. Add coconut milk and lime juice and mix well. Season to taste. Chop cilantro leaves and mix in. You can heat this up as much as you want before serving.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Baking Bread on the BBQ

I know this will amuse my southern readers, but it is really hot here. By hot I mean 32 degrees celsius (90 F) and humid. We have no air conditioning, so it got pretty stuffy and hot inside. By keeping the windows shut we were able to keep the house at a balmy 26 degrees. That meant bread baking was out of the question even though we were down to our last slice. Then I thought, why can't I just bake it on the BBQ? Why not, indeed. It worked splendidly.

First, I removed the grill and placed a cast iron pan underneath for steam.
I then replaced the grill and put a clay dish on top to raise the baking stone off the grill a bit. This way the stone does not get too hot and burns the bottom of the bread before the loaf is done. You could also use metal cans or something else fireproof. Just make sure not to raise the stone too much--you need room for the bread to rise.
On top of the dish went the baking stone and a thermometer to get an accurate idea of the temp.
I made Reinhart's Italian Bread recipe then preheated the BBQ for about 15 mins to get the stone hot and to make sure I had a consistent temp around 450 degrees. I put the loaves on the stone and poured a cup of hot water into the pan below. I did not bother with spritzing the inside with water 3 times as I do with oven baking since I figured I would lose too much heat. Instead, I baked at 450 for 10 mins, rotated the loaves, then baked for another 12(ish). I kept an eye on the temp but tried not to fiddle too much (or lift the lid too much). The end result was perfect.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dad.

Today I turned 35. Son # 1 made these cupcakes for me. What a sweetie.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Canada Day Donuts

Just a quick post after a day of Canada Day festivities. I had a lot of fun in the sun with the kids today, and it was great to just hang out on various porches up and down the street. I made these maple leaf shaped donuts to serve to all who stopped by, and to take when we visited other people. I used this recipe I posted before, and then made this glaze with soy milk and some red dye. I used a maple leaf shaped cookie cutter, then punched a hole in the centre. I am not sure if that was necessary, but I thought it would make them cook more evenly. The shape morphed a bit during rising and cooking, but it still looks pretty good.
Speaking of feeding the neighbourhood vegan goodies, I made these cupcakes for a recent block party.