Monday, December 31, 2007

Swedish Tea Ring Update

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my mom made a Swedish Tea Ring for Christmas morning that was tender and light. While part of this is the mother's touch, I think the other part is the fact that she makes it the night before and lets it rest before baking it in the morning. This lets the gluten in the dough relax, makes the dough rise slowly, and gives the tea ring a better flavour. So, here is the deal: make the tea ring as I described, then cover and place in the fridge overnight. The next morning, uncover and place in a cold oven. Turn oven to 350 degrees and bake for 20-25 mins, or until golden brown.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Ultimate Fajitas!

I know I already posted a fajita recipe, but these were too good not to mention! My in-laws put these together for last night's family Christmas get-together (Fajitas for Christmas dinner? Now that is out-of-the-box thinking!). They were beyond delicious. It was like there was a party in my mouth and everyone was invited! The secret to the good taste, I think, was twofold. One, the veggies were prepped the day before and left to marinate overnight. Second, the veggies were cooked in a BBQ wok (by yours truly).

Quantity varies depending on how many fajitas you are making
- red, yellow, and green pepper, sliced
- sweet vidalia onion, sliced
- red onion, sliced
- portabella mushrooms, sliced
- olive oil
- chili powder
- balsamic vinegar

1. Toss peppers and onions in olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with good quality chili powder and toss again. Let marinate overnight, if possible.
2. Toss mushroom slices with olive oil, 1 tsp or so of balsamic vinegar, and chili powder. Let marinate overnight, if possible.
3. Heat BBQ to med-hi heat. First cook peppers and onions in a BBQ wok (or some other metal container with holes), stirring frequently. Cook until veggies are soft and slightly browned. Do not overcook. Remove pepper and onion and keep warm. Cook mushroom slices for about 5 mins, until softened.

Serve these with whatever suits your fancy. We had guacamole, chopped green onion, chopped tomato, and pan-fried Yves "Chicken" Tenders.

Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

Vegan Mother-in-Law made these from Vegan With A Vengeance for yesterday's family get-together. They were chewy and moist, and were delicate without crumbling or falling apart. I have never made them, but will have to whip up a batch when I get home.

Roasted Chestnuts

Really, I just wanted to share this photo with you (which I have compressed to accomodate for the dial-up connection). Roasted chestnuts are delightfully smoky, nutty, and sweet all at the same time. While I did not sing and yuletide carols whilst I ate these, they were good nonetheless.

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Cut/poke an "X" through the shell of each chestnut with a paring knife. Place on a cookie sheet.
3. Roast for 20-22 mins. The shells will peel back around the X. When cool, peel, sprinkle with sea salt (optional) and enjoy!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Greetings from the Land of Dial-up

My parents are still on dial-up Internet service. I don't think of myself as an impatient man, but dial-up is enough to make you want to throw your monitor out the window waiting for that bleedin' progress bar to inch its way across the screen. That means I can't post any photos right now.

I made the Cranberry Glazed Tofu for the members of family who were at my parent's house on Christmas Day. It was a smashing success. My grandmother looked at it warily, and said something to the effect of "what the heck is this?,"but gobbled it right down and enjoyed it. I made crispy tofu this time (instead of baking it) to save time and oven space, and it opened up a discussion about how close the texture was to those chicken balls they serve at Chinese restaurants. I will chalk this recipe up in the "win" column.

On Boxing Day the whole family was here and I made the Holiday Stew for the vegans among us. We ran out of chick peas so I used cubed extra firm tofu that had been thawed and frozen. It worked really well. The meat-eaters had roast beef, which, quite frankly, was disgusting. The smell of cooking flesh and fat was bad enough, but the sight of sliced, bloody meat affected me more than I thought it would. The stew was really tasty, though.

My Mom has been catering to our needs all week, and we love her for it. She made a vegan Swedish Tea Ring for Christmas morning, which turned out way more tender and tasty than mine. Ah, the mother's touch . . . . She also made Chickpea Pot Pie with a mashed sweet potato topping instead of crust, which is a great low-fat option.

Thanks to all for the D.C. restaurant recommendations! I will bring my camera and blog from the road.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Holidays from Vegan Dad

Vegan Family and I are going to be hither and yon until the New Year, visiting family and friends, giving and receiving loot, and spreading vegan holiday cheer wherever we go. That means I won't be posting much, if anything, until the New Year since I will be serving up the holiday stew, cranberry glazed tofu, and cookies that I worked on this month. I will largely be serving it to myself since my parents, who have made made many dietary changes since I became vegan (like eliminating dairy), still feel the need to haul out large slabs of meat every time the family gets together. Kudos to my Mom, though, who will no longer eat meat when we come after Son #1 burst into tears at the sight of the Thanksgiving turkey and told everyone to "let the turkeys live!" From the mouth of babes . . . .

I will also be in D.C. for a conference, so if anyone has recommendations on where to eat I am all ears.

Happy holidays to you all!

Friday, December 21, 2007


My grandparents were born in Pennsylvania's steel belt to Czechoslovakian immigrant parents. Childhood visits to see them were always filled with cabbage rolls and pierogies laden with fried bacon and sour cream. My grandmother showed her love with plates and plates of food, and we were only too happy to oblige. Needless to say, I have not had any pierogies since going vegan over 2 years ago. I noticed these frozen pierogies in the grocery store this week and was surprised to see they had no egg in the dough or cheese in the filling. I sauteed up some red and yellow onions in margarine and put them atop the pierogies. They are not even close to my grandma's, but it was fun to have something different for dinner. I am going to try to make a vegan pierogie next month, and dabble in cabbage rolls as well. Stay tuned!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

TuNori Sandwiches

If your house is as crazy as mine has been this past week you are looking for quick and easy meals. Our solution tonight: vegetable soup and sandwiches. It was a pretty easy decision since we still had the tasty bread I made last night. The question was: what to put on that bread to make sandwiches. I don't really miss tuna salad, but if you do then this is the recipe for you. I can't remember where I got this from--I think is was on a Vegan Lunch Box discussion forum about canned TuNo. It's a great way to enjoy nori and all its goodness without having to make sushi.

- 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and well drained
- 1/2 cup of vegenaise (or more, depending on what consistency you are going for)
- 1 sheet of toasted nori seaweed
- 1 tsp kelp granules (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Rip nori into smaller pieces and place in a food processor. Process until finely chopped.
2. Add in chickpeas and pulse until coarsely chopped (be sure to pulse--otherwise it will become a paste.
3. Place chickpeas in a bowl. Add in vegenaise, kelp, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep cold until ready to serve.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Country-Style (Raisin) Bread

I asked Son #1 what he wanted for his birthday dinner, fully expecting that we would be throwing back veggie dogs and french fries tonight. When he said he wanted Cauliflower and Roasted Garlic Soup I could not believe my ears. He really is growing up! I also made this bread to go with the soup. It is a soft, fluffy, country-style bread (as opposed to a chewy, crusty, cafe-style bread). I made one loaf plain, and made the other into a cinnamon raisin bread.

- 1/3 cup warm water
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 3/4 tsp sugar
- 2 cups warm water
- 1/3 cup sugar
- scant 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp ground flax seed, whisked into 3 tbsp of water
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 6-7 cup white bread flour

1. Stir 3/4 tsp of sugar into 1/3 cup of water. Mix in yeast and set aside until foamy.
2. Mix together 2 cups water, sugar, salt, vinegar, flax mixture, and oil in a large bowl. Mix in yeast mixture and 2 cups of flour (I do this with the batter attachment of a Kitchen Aid counter top mixer). Beat until smooth.
3. Add in 2 more cups of flour and mix until smooth. Add in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough (either by hand or with the dough hook attachment). Knead until smooth.
4. Place dough in a well-greased (i.e. margarined) bowl, turning to grease all sides. Cover with a towel and let rise for at least an hour, until doubled in size. If making a raisin bread loaf, divide dough in 2 equal pieces after kneading. Knead 1 cup of raisins into one of the dough balls. Let rise like the other dough ball.
5. Punch down risen dough and knead for a minute or so to get out the air bubbles. Roll out into a rectangle (width depends on the size of your loaf pan). Roll up tightly along the shorter end, seal seam and sides, and place in loaf pan. Let rise for 45 minutes, uncovered. If making raisin bread, roll out dough and sprinkle with 1/3 cup of brown sugar mixed with 1 tsp of cinnamon. Roll tightly and seal seam and sides. Let rise, uncovered, for 45 mins.
6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place loaves in oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, until loaves are nicely browned and sound hollow when you knock on the bottom.
7. Let cool on racks, but make sure you eat a slice while still warm.

Candy Cane Cupcakes

Today is Son #1's 7th birthday. Hard to believe, but true. He wanted to bring in cupcakes for his class (increasing his popularity exponentially), and wanted them to be Christmas cupcakes. I had some mints leftover from the gingerbread house, as well as a few candy canes. I know I saw this idea on some other blog, but I can't remember which one. I ground up 2 large candy canes in my coffee grinder (about 1 cup), folded it into the buttercream frosting from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, spread it over the basic chocolate cupcakes, and topped with a mint. I think these would be great for holiday parties.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Coconut Curry Chickpeas

I love the creaminess of coconut milk and thought I would pair it with tomato and warm spices like cinnamon. The result was rather tasty. If my Mom had made Indian food when I was a kid, this might qualify as comfort food.

On a separate note: the boys all had a pediatric checkup and they are doing great! We have a new doctor since moving back to Canada, so I was afraid we were going to get some anti-vegan "where will they get their protein you crazy hippies?" speech. But, the boys are healthy and hearty and full of energy.

- 2 tsbp oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1" piece of ginger, minced
- 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 heaping tbsp tomato paste
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion and ginger for 12-15 mins, until onion is a deep golden brown. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute.
2. Add chickpeas and spices and fry for 2 mins. Add tomato paste and coconut milk and bring to simmering. Adjust spices to your liking. Garnish with cilantro and serve over rice.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Tandoori Rotis

We have not had Indian food in a while, and nothing warms you up like a spicy curry. If you have been reading this blog for the past few months you know that I always make dhal. I also made curried chickpeas, which I will post tomorrow. Tonight's experiment was tandoori rotis. This may surprise you, but I don't have a tandoor oven. Neither do any of my friends. So, I thought I would try to mimic a clay oven by using the BBQ and a baking stone. So, out came the shovel and I tunnelled my way out to the BBQ--my neighbours must think I am nuts.

Makes 8 rotis
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 - 1 1/4 cups water
- melted butter

1. Sift flour and salt into a large bowl. Add in enough water to make a soft dough. Knead in a countertop mixer, or on a lightly floured surface for about 3 mins until smooth. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for an hour (helps the gluten relax).
2. Place a baking stone on top of 4 soup cans on top of the BBQ grill. Light BBQ and let heat on med-hi heat. You want the temp to be about 600 degrees.
3. Divide dough into 8 pieces. Shape into a ball and press down by hand into a circle. Let rest, under plastic wrap, for 10 mins.
4. Roll out each dough ball into a 6 inch circle. Sprinkle a little cornmeal on the baking stone. Place 4 rotis on the stone and close the lid. Bake for 5-7 mins, until rotis are puffed up and lightly browned. Repeat until all rotis are baked. Brush with melted margarine and serve.
5. Alternately, bake in an oven on cookie sheets for 8-10 mins at 450 degrees.

Hot Chocolate

I will probably say this a lot over the next few months: it's cold outside! Yesterday we achieved booger-freezing cold--that special temperature where one sniff and your nose is frozen shut. There is no better way to warm up after shovelling the driveway than this creamy hot chocolate.

Makes 2 big honkin' cups, like those pictured here

- 4 cups chocolate soy milk
- 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
- 2 tsp vanilla
- sugar to taste
- pinch of salt

1. Combine all ingredients in a pot an whisk over high heat until steamy and frothy.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Breakfast Burritos with Homemade Tortillas

I was perusing the What do Vegans Eat blog and saw this post for breakfast tacos. It instilled a deep desire to make my own tortillas and fill them with a host of good things. First, I made scrambled tofu, and added in a half cup of salsa at the end. Then, I made fried potatoes and spiced them Mexican-style (microwave 6-8 small potatoes for about 5 mins, until softish. Cut into small cubes and fry in 2 tbsp of oil over med-hi heat for 10 mins, stirring often. Season with 1/2 tsp each cinnamon, chili power, salt.) Put tofu, potatoes, diced tomatoes, avocado slices, lettuce, tofu sour cream, and salsa (or whatever else suits your fancy) in tortilla, roll, and eat.

What really makes the meal awesome is the home-made tortillas. This recipe makes 5 large, 0r about 10 small, tortillas.

- 10 oz all purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 oz vegetable shortening
- 5-6 fluid oz warm water (about 2/3 cup)

1. Mix flour and salt together in a large bowl. Rub in shortening with your fingers until mixture look like bread crumbs. Add in enough water to make a soft dough.
2. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface for 2-3 mins, until smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and let sit for at least 15 mins.
3. Heat a cast iron pan on med to med-hi heat. Pinch off a piece of dough, and roll as thin as possible on a floured surface. Plan on pan and cook for 20-30 seconds on each side. The trick is to adjust the heat so the tortillas get a nice speckled brown look, but do not burn. Do not overcook.
4. After each tortilla is cooked, place in a stack wrapped in a kitchen towel. Keep the tortillas wrapped up until ready to use, otherwise they will harden.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Vegan Gingerbread House

Many, many hours later the vegan gingerbread house is done! I learned a lot about gingerbread, house building, and icing. I am not sure I am cut out for gingerbread house making--I am an anal retentive perfectionist when it comes to food and gingerbread houses are messy and sticky with goopy icing and nary a straight line anywhere. But, the kids thought it was the best gingerbread house ever, and they had fun "helping," so that is all that matters.

The gingerbread recipe comes from the Vegan Lunchbox blog. It is awesome--durable, pliable, and reliable.
- 1/3 cup non-hydrogenated margarine, at room temperature
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 cup sweet unsulphured molasses
- ¾ cup water
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- ¾ tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- ½ tsp. cloves
- ½ tsp. allspice
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the margarine, brown sugar, molasses, and ½ cup of water.
2. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and allspice. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, adding just enough of the water to incorporate all the flour and form a dough that holds together well.
3. Turn the dough out of the bowl and form into four equal balls. Wrap each ball well with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
4. Preheat the oven to 350ยบ. Line some baking sheets with parchment and spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.
5. Working with one ball at a time, roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin. Roll the dough about ¼-inch thick and cut into desired shapes.
6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the surface is firm. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Some sagely advice: make the supporting walls thickish, but make the roof pieces thinner. Any tricky pieces, like dormers, should be cracker thin.

The icing comes from
- 1 lb. confectioners' sugar
- 1/4 cup powdered soy milk
- 6 tbsp soy milk
- 6 tbsp light corn syrup

In a mixing bowl, mix the sugar and soy milk powder, then add most, but not all, of the soy milk. Add corn syrup just until combined. Add remaining soy milk if the icing consistency is not smooth enough, but be careful not to add so much that it will be too runny or fail to harden.

1. Go small. Don't try to be a hero and try to make a scale version of your own house.
2. Make sure the afternoon is free. This is going to take a while.
3. Make the icing is as thick as possible. You really can't replace egg whites in royal icing, as it turns out, and gravity is not your friend.
4. Thin is good for gingerbread. Things can get unruly if the pieces are too thick.
5. Be patient. Let base pieces set and dry before you start building up.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Gingerbread House Update

Well, I have almost done everything thing I said I would do on the blog this month to prep for Christmas. The chestnut stew was tasty, as were the vegan cookies, and the cranberry glazed tofu made me enjoy cranberries more than I ever have before. So, that only leaves the gingerbread house--the plan is to make a model of our house. I completed my cardboard model, which I posted here, have found the perfect gingerbread recipe and a vegan royal icing recipe. Son #2 and I hit the bulk food store yesterday and loaded up on vegan candy. Tomorrow is construction day. If all goes well, I will have pics for tomorrow's entry.

Snobby Joes: Veganomicon Rocks the Lentil

Today was a busy day with Vegan Mom volunteering at the school's Christmas bazaar and me looking after the kids and then taking them to said bazaar (for which we baked chocolate cupcakes). So, tonight we cracked open Veganomicon again and joined forces to make these Snobby Joes. We all loved them, and it is a great way to get the kids to unknowingly chug back lentils. I like a Sloppy Joe with a bit more bite than this recipe provides, so I squirted in a few tbsp of ketchup and a tbsp of red wine vinegar. If I had some I would have added a dash of Tabasco sauce.

The recipe is posted on the PPK site.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Rigatoni with Roasted Garlic White Sauce

Vegan Mom and I used to make a cream-based white sauce and served it over tortellini. It used to be a standard, actually. For some reason I was thinking it about it today, and decided to create something like it for tonight's dinner. We didn't have any tortellini (I'm pretty sure tortellini dough has egg in it anyway), so I went with what we did have: rigatoni. The sauce turned out rather well--smooth, creamy, and full of that smoky roasted garlic flavour.

- 1 head of garlic
- 1/4 cup margarine
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 red onion, diced
- 1 green pepper, seeded and diced
- 4 generous tbsp flour
- 1 pkg firm silken tofu, dabbed dry
- 4 cups plain soy milk
- 3/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- freshly ground white pepper, to taste
- salt, to taste

1. Separate cloves of garlic from the head, but do not peel. Dry roast in a small pan over medium heat for about 10-12 mins, turning regularly to keep from burning, until soft. Cool and peel.
2. While garlic is roasting, melt margarine in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute onions for 5 mins. Add green pepper and saute for 10 mins.
3. Place garlic gloves, tofu, and soy milk in a juice pitcher. Blend until very smooth with an immersion blender.
4. Add flour to onions and peppers, and mix well. Slowly pour in tofu mixture, stirring constantly. Bring to bubbling.
5. Stir in nutritional yeast, add nutmeg, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
6. Serve over hot cooked rigatoni.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Brooklyn vs. Boston Creme Cupcakes

Tonight the boys and I made cupcakes. (Mom, if you are reading this, we are holiday baking/class party mode. We usually don't make this many desserts) I have wanted to make these cupcakes since I got Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World but have never been able to find the agar powder the recipe calls for. And the chances of finding it here in northern Ontario are pretty much nil. So, I improvised. I substituted 1 tbsp of cornstarch for the agar (and still kept the arrowroot powder), and used firm tofu. I blended everything in a saucepan with an immersion blender, then whisked it over medium heat until it thickened. Once cooled, I piped it into the cupcakes as directed. I am not sure what the real version is supposed to be like, but this was pretty tasty.

Mexican Roasted Veggies

Tonight was leftover chimichangas from last night. I thought I would try to spice it up by creating a new side dish. The result was pretty tasty. Nothing special, but tasty.

- 1 yellow onion, cut in quarters
- 1 red onion, cut in quarters
- 3 tomatoes, cut in quarters
- 3 potatoes, diced
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1/2 tsp each cumin, chili powder, oregano, cinnamon, salt
- oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
1. Place veggies in a bowl, toss with oil and spices. Place in an 8 1/2 x 11 stoneware baking dish.
2. Roast veggies for about 45 mins, turning every 15 mins, until veggies are golden and tomato is reduced to a paste.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Russian Tea Balls

This recipe started out as "Christmas Cookies with Walnuts," a recipe I found in my Mexican cookbook. I thought they would be a nice way to finish off our chimichanga dinner (see the other post for today). The recipe called for lard, which I thought could be easily replaced with vegetable shortening. I also replaced the walnuts with pecans (Vegan Mom is not a big walnut fan). The picture in the cookbook showed fairly flat cookies, but mine stayed as balls (maybe the lack of lard?). In fact, the end result tasted just like a cookie my Mom makes for Christmas called Russian Tea Balls. So, by my mistake I veganized yet another childhood favourite.

- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
- 1/4 cup icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup finely chopped pecans (I pulsed whole pecans in a coffee grinder)
- icing sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350
1. Beat shortening in a bowl until fluffy. Slowly beat in icing sugar, then vanilla, and beat well.
2. Add in flour by hand, gently working it in until mixture resembles rough bread crumbs. Gently mix in pecans by hand.
3. Form/press mixture into 24 balls by hand (about the size of ping pong balls). Bake 12-15 mins, until very lightly golden. Cool on baking racks.
4. When cooled, roll cookies in icing sugar to coat. Enjoy!

Baked Chimichangas

Let's face it, chimichangas taste best when they are deep fried. But, let's also face it, deep frying is not a healthy choice. Quite frankly, I was starting to feel guilty about the number of times I made crispy tofu in the past month or so, and with many readers praising the "healthy meals" I was making for my family guilt was turning to paranoia. Surely some Skinny Bitch fan was going to call me out on the carpet . . . . Anyway, baking the chimis really works well--they are still crispy and don't make your house smell like the school cafeteria.

Feel free to stuff these with whatever you want. This is what I did.
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 tsp ground anise
- 1 tsp oregano
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup TVP
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 10 large wheat tortillas
- 1 can refried beans
- salsa
- oil for brushing

Preheat oven to 450 degrees
1. Heat oil in frying pan and saute onion over medium heat until golden brown. Add spices and TVP and mix well. Add water and cook for 5 mins. Set aside to cool.
2. Slather a thick line of refried beans in the middle of the tortilla. Top with 1/10 of the TVP mixture and a generous tbsp of salsa. Fold tortillas chimichanga style (i.e. close both ends). Brush with canola oil and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or a non-stick sheet).
3. Bake for 20-25 mins. Serve with tofu sour cream, chopped tomatoes, lettuce, and salsa.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Tofu with Sweet Cranberry Glaze, with Stuffing and Glazed Potatoes and Gravy

Tonight's goal was to create a Christmas-style meal in 1 hour. Mission accomplished! I am not the biggest fan of cranberries, but this glaze was perfect and worked well with the other flavours of the meal. I broiled the tofu on a stoneware baking sheet (this way you don't have to use oil-- well-seasoned stoneware is non-stick). I have texture issues and like a firm and chewy tofu. If you don't have texture issues you can skip this step and save some time.

Tofu with Sweet Cranberry Glaze
- 1 pkg firm tofu, cut into 8 triangles
- 2 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- pinch of allspice

Preheat broiler
1. Slice tofu and dab with a paper towel to absorb excess moisture. Place on a stoneware baking sheet and broil about 5 mins per side, until golden brown. Be careful not to burn.
2. Meanwhile, make the glaze. Place cranberries and water in a saucepan. Bring to boil, cover, and cook for about 15 mins, until cranberries are soft, Blend with a hand blender until smooth. remove from heat and stir in sugar and spices.
3. Turn oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Place tofu on sheet, leaving ample room between. Spoon cranberry glaze over tofu, making sure to coat the sides. Bake for 15 mins. Turn over, coat again, and bake 15 more mins. Turn over, coat one last time, and bake 15 more mins.

Not all the glaze will be used. I boiled Yukon Gold fingerling potatoes, and tossed them with the remainder of the glaze.

- 1/4 cup margarine
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 rib of celery, diced
- 8 slices of thick sliced whole wheat bread, cubed (I used Wonder Texas toast)
- 2 tsp sage
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp salt

1. Melt margarine in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute onions and celery until soft. Add spices. Pour over bread cubes and toss well.
2. Press bread into a stoneware loaf pan, cover with foil, and bake for 45 mins (i.e. while tofu is baking).
Easy Gravy
- 2 tbsp oil
- generous tbsp flour
- 2 cups plain soy milk
- 2 tsp sage
- salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat oil in small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour. Whisk in soy milk and bring to bubbling. Stir in sage and salt and pepper.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Chewy Noels

Here is another veganized favourite from my childhood. I debated about how to replace the eggs in this one. Tofu did not seem like a good candidate since it would not provide enough moisture. Bananas are generally good for baking, but only if you like the taste of bananas, and I don't equate bananas with Christmas. Ground flax was really the only option left (I don't have egg replacer, but find it kind of chalky anyway). I was worried that the taste from the flax seeds would be too strong, but figured the walnuts and sugar would win in the end. I was right. The end result was a little more dense than the non-vegan version, but still really tasty and delightfully chewy.

- 2 tbsp non-hydrogenated margarine
- 2 tbsp ground golden flax seed
- 6 tbsp water
- 1/3 cup flour, sifted
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 tsp vanilla
- icing sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. Melt margarine on low heat in a square baking pan (8x8) on the stove top.
2. Whisk flax seed into water in a small bowl. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, sugar and nuts. Stir in
vanilla and flax mixture. Be patient and let the moisture work its way through the dry stuff.
4. Spoon batter into the pan, carefully spreading to the sides, but being careful not to mix into the melted margarine.
5. Bake for 22-25 mins, until top is deep golden brown. The batter will be bubbling and gooey. Let completely cool--everything will solidify. Cut into small squares, and remove from pan, placing on serving tray bottom side up. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Swedish Tea Ring

I have no idea if this particular tea ring actually has any affiliation with Sweden, but it sure is tasty. This is a recipe my Mom always made for very special occasions like Christmas morning, so it brings back a lot of warm and fuzzy memories. I have never actually eaten it with tea . . . . You will certainly be a vegan baking hero if you make this for your family, and it is sure to impress your friends at all the Christmas parties this holiday season.
- 3 1/2 to 4 cups sifted flour
- 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 cup plain soy milk
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup non-hydrogenated shortening
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup firm silken tofu
- 2 tbsp melted margarine
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans

1. Mix 1 1/2 cups of the flour with yeast in a large bowl.
2. Heat milk, 1/4 cup of sugar, shortening, and salt in a saucepan with high sides on med-lo heat until shortening melts. Add in tofu and blend with a hand blender until very smooth. Alternately, stick it in a blender and blend away. Add to flour.
3. Beat dough with a hand mixer/beater on low for 1 min. Then beat on high for 3 mins until smooth. Add in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead in a counter top mixer with a dough hook, or by hand on a floured surface, until smooth.
4. Place in a clean bowl well greased with margarine, turning dough to coat in margarine. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for an hour and a half, or until doubled in size.
5. Punch dough down and roll into a 10" x 14" rectangle. Brush with melted butter. Combine 1/2 cup sugar, cinnamon, and pecans and sprinkle evenly over dough. Roll up like a jelly roll along the long side and seal the seam. Bring the two ends together and seal the seam (i.e. make a ring). Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
6. Use a serrated knife to cut slices in the dough about 1 inch apart, and about half of the way through the ring (start by the seam and work your way around). Turn each 1" section a bit so they are on a bit of an angle. Cover with a towel and let rise for 45 mins
7. Bake at 350 for 20-25 mins, until outside is a deep golden brown.
8. When cooled but still a bit warm, drizzle with glaze: 1 cup icing sugar mixed with 2 tbsp soymilk and 1/2 tsp vanilla.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Holiday Stew

I have been tossing around this dish in my head for a few days. How to make something that tastes like Christmas is coming? Do you serve with rice? Noodles? Do you bake it? Roast it? Fry it? I finally settled on a stew--warm and hearty. The thyme and sage remind me of stuffing, and the roasted chestnuts and chickpeas work really well together. Cranberries add a nice splash of tart flavour to finish everything off.

- 30 chestnuts
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 3 tsp sage
- 1/2 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
- 2 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup apple juice
- 2 large (or 4 small) Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and diced
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- 3 cups of water
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 3 generous tbsp flour
- 1/3 cup plain soy milk
- 1/4 cup vegan "chicken" broth powder
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- salt and pepper to taste

1. First, roast the chestnuts. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Use a sharp paring knife to cut/punch an X through the shell of each chestnut (lets the steam escape). Place nuts, X side up, on a baking sheet and roast for about 20 mins, until shell splits and peels back around the X. Set aside to cool.
2. Heat oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Saute onions and celery until browned. Add chickpeas and spices and saute an additional two minutes. (While onions are cooking, slice chestnuts in half and peel).
3. Add in apple juice to deglaze pot. Add in potatoes, cranberries, water, and soy sauce. Bring to bubbling. Lower heat, cover, and simmer for 15 mins, or until potatoes are softened.
4. Mix flour into soy milk (I put both in a small container with a lid and shake). Add to pot and mix well. Add in broth powder. Bring to bubbling and let thicken.
5. Add in dried cranberries and chestnuts and cook for 5 mins. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Cashew and Tofu Stirfry

The delivery of our "new" fridge and stove was delayed by a snow storm, but they are now up and running. The extra capacity of the new fridge is amplified by the fact that we still have not gone grocery shopping. That made dinner a bit of a challenge. This is a variation of a recipe my Mom sent me a while ago which fit perfectly with the few things we had.
- 1 pkg tofu, cubed
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 head of broccoli, chopped into florets
- 1 pepper (green or red), large dice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1" piece of ginger, minced
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- juice of 1 lime
- few drops of sesame oil
- 1/2 cup raw cashews

1. Prep the tofu. I made crispy tofu, but you could also press and cube the tofu for a lower fat version.
2. Mix soy sauce, hoisin sauce, water, cornstarch, lime juice, and sesame oil in a small bowl.
3. Heat oil in a wok on med-hi. Stir fry broccoli for 3 mins, add pepper and fry for 2 mins. Add garlic and ginger and (and tofu if you are not using crispy tofu) fry for 1 minute.
4. Add in sauce mixture. Bring to bubbling and cook for about 2 mins, until broccoli is softened but still crunchy.
5. Stir in tofu (if you are using crispy tofu) and cashews and heat through. Serve over rice.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Thank You, Visitors from Far and Wide

One month ago today I put a hit counter on this blog to see how many hits it was getting, and where my visitors were coming from. In that month almost 6000 people clicked over to Vegan Dad from a wide variety of places: Singapore, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the UK, France, Spain, Australia, Ecuador, Chile, the U.S. and Canada. Most came from the PPK blog (thanks, Isa), some through other food blogs, and some from Google looking for vegan chicken pot pie, tofu recipes, and "hot older dads" (I am sure that person was pretty disappointed to find only food porn).

So, thanks to everyone who has visited. It is encouraging to see such an interest in vegan cooking and I enjoy the chance to network with vegans all over the world. I'll keep blogging away as much as I can.

Vegan Dad

Monday, December 3, 2007

Roasted Pepper Pizza

We are getting a new (read: used, but new to us) fridge tomorrow, so we have not been stocking the old one. Basically we have soy milk, carrots, tofu, and a bunch of peppers we bought on sale. So, what to make for dinner? Pizza, of course! Vegan Mom made the dough while I was at work helping my students prep for their upcoming midterm (insert Imperial March music here). I can't remember if I sang the praises of the pizza dough recipe from Vegan With a Vengeance already, so let me sing its praises now. If you like a New York style crust, the this is the dough for you. It is light and crispy and pretty easy to make.

Anyway, on to the pizza. I love roasted peppers, and it is really easy to roast them on the BBQ. Never mind that we just had a few feet of snow and that it was -10 degrees outside, I shovelled my way to the BBQ on the back porch and fired it up on high.

On the Bottom Rack:
- 1 green pepper
- 1 red pepper
- 1 yellow pepper
On the Top Rack:
- 1 yellow onion, skin on
- 1 red onion, skin on
- 1/2 clove or garlic, skin on, wrapped in aluminum foil
Turn peppers every 2 mins or so, until skins are blackened and blistered (about 10-15 mins). Turn onions and garlic as well to keep from burning. When done, place everything in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let steam for 10 mins. The skins should then peel of easily. Skin and seed pepper, then slice. Peel garlic and onions and roughly chop.

I also made the Tofu-Basil Ricotta from VWAV. Isa posted the recipe on the PPK website. The pizza went down like this: thick layer of tomato sauce, layer of tofu ricotta, veggies on top, then cooked at 450 on a pizza stone for about 15 mins.

I should point out that the kids did not eat this pizza. We made them their own small pizzas with veggie meat and Tofutti mozzarella (blech--kids will eat anything).

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Spaghetti and Bean Balls

Veganomicon strikes again! I spent the day putting insulation in the attic, so Vegan Mom and Vegan Mom-in-Law swung into action and made tonight's tasty meal. It was a grand success, and everyone (especially the kids) bolted it down like it was their last meal. The bean balls were tender but still held their shape (though we decided (as an autonomous collective) to keep them out of the sauce until right before they were served, lest they sog), and the marinara was the perfect. Thanks, Isa!

I know some people hate to see pics of food with no recipes, but hopefully this will encourage you to support vegan chefs and the cookbooks they write.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Perfect Burger

OK, maybe not perfect, but as good as it's going to get. I realized from my Veganomicon chickpea cutlet and black bean burger experience that I was being a weenie with the high gluten flour in my previous attempts. 2 tbsp? Not even close! So, I upped the flour, added bread crumbs and some chickpeas, and changed the method a bit. The result? A pretty darn tasty burger that has a nice firm texture. These burgers in the pic were made without soy sauce since my father in law must have a no salt diet, so the patties do not have that "burger look" they had when I tried to make burgers before. Even without the salt they were good.

Makes 8 thin, or 6 thick, patties
- 4 tbsp oil
- 1 onion, small dice
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tsp ground fennel seed
- 1 tsp sage
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp parsley
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup TVP
- 2 tbsp instant tapioca
- 1 cup water
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp HP sauce (optional)
- 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas, finely mashed
- 1/2 cup high gluten flour
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs

1. Heat oil over medium heat in a frying pan. Saute onions and garlic until onions are translucent, about 5 mins.
2. Add in spices and fry for 1 min. Add in TVP and tapioca and mix well.
3. Add in water, soy sauce, and HP sauce (if using). Stir until all water is absorbed and TVP is soft. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl, and let cool. (I put mine in the freezer and stirred it every few mins to speed up the process).
4. Once TVP mixture is cooled, mix in chickpeas, then flour and bread crumbs. Knead for a few mins until it all comes together.
5. Form into patties (I like to press it into a metal ring for perfect burgers) and fry in a small amount of oil over medium heat for 5 mins per side.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Creamy Zucchini Soup

Don't let the crappy photo fool you--this soup is awesome. While I love to cook, I really don't know a thing about photography. Basically, I put my dishes on the ironing board and take pics with a flash and tripod. I still have yet to figure out a good way to photograph soup.

- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp non-hydrogenated margarine
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 6 zucchini, sliced (or 2 lbs)
- 2 tsp oregano
- 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 cup plain soy milk, or soy creamer
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil and margarine in a stockpot over medium heat. Cook onions and garlic for about 5 mins, until onions are translucent.
2. Add in sliced zucchini and oregano. Cook for 5 mins, or until zucchini begins to soften.
3. Pour in stock and bring to a boil. Partially cover, lower heat, and simmer for 20 mins, or until zucchini is cooked through.
4. Remove from heat and blend with a hand blender until very smooth. Stir in nutritional yeast and soy milk/creamer. Season with salt and pepper. Reheat if necessary. Serve.

The End of Vegan Mofo
Unfortunately, Vegan Mofo ended on more of a whimper than a bang in my house. First, I had planned to make a delicious risotto to go with the soup, only to find that I forgot to buy arborio rice at the bulk food store. (snort) I also decided that I would try the chickpea cutlets again, with a nice white wine/garlic/lemon sauce to go on top. I took my own advice and pulsed the chickpeas, which worked beautifully. I also decided to bake them this time. Everything was going great, but I miscalculated cooking times and ended up finishing the cutlets before the soup. I decided I could keep them warm in the oven while everything else finished up. Well, that was a big mistake. I ended up baking the cutlets into chickpea briquettes. To top it off, no one liked my white wine/garlic/lemon sauce. *sigh* I don't take failure in the kitchen very well. If only a case of beer was in the grocery budget . . . .

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cornbread Chili, and Tortilla Chips with Nacho Sauce

Tonight's main dish is inspired by Jennifer Schmoo of Vegan Lunchbox fame, namely her recipe for vegan Tennessee Corn Pone. I have no idea what pone is, exactly, but I liked the idea of a cornbread topping over chili. So, I whipped up my own chili and topped it with her pone recipe. I also made her nacho cheese sauce which is absolutely delicious drizzled over tortilla chips laced with salsa.

Note: I was cooking for 7 tonight (my in laws are up for a visit). Feel free to half the recipe.

Cornbread Chili
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 small red onion, large dice
- 1 green pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 red pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 orange pepper, seeded and diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups cooked red kidney beans
- 2 tbsp chili powder (or more)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp cocoa powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 large can plum tomatoes (with juice), roughly chopped

- 2 1/4 cups plain soymilk
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup ground flax seed
- 1 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
1. Saute onions, peppers, and garlic in oil over med-hi heat until onions are translucent. Add in beans and spices and mix thoroughly. Add in tomatoes and heat to bubbling. (You want a drier chili than normal so the cornbread topping will cook properly)
2. Whisk soymilk, flax, and vinegar in a medium bowl. Mix cornmeal, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Add in wet ingredients and mix until moistened.
3. Put chili in a lightly oiled cast iron pan (a big one--at least 12 inches). Top with cornbread batter. Bake for 30-35 mins, or until cornbread is firm and cooked through.
Nacho Cheese Sauce
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 cup raw cashews
- 4 oz jar of pimentos, drained
- 1 cup nutritional yeast
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tsp, salt
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin

1. Blend all ingredients until very smooth. Whisk in a saucepan over medium heat until thickened and bubbling.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Maple Roasted Tofu and Veggies

Well, winter has come to the north in full force. Freezing cold, snow, parkas, touques, and big clumpy boots. It makes me want to roast things in the oven, if for no other reason than it heats the house up a few more degrees.

- 2 yukon gold potatoes, diced
- 2 large red potatoes, diced
- 1 yellow onion, cut into eighths
- 1 red onion, cut into eighths
- 1 small rutabaga, peeled and diced
- 3 carrots, cut into chunks
- 4 cloves of garlic, cut into chunks
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas
- 1 pkg firm tofu, pressed and diced
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tsp dried sage
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees
1. Place all veggies in a large bowl. Mix oil, vinegar, syrup, water, and spices in a small bowl. Pour over veggies and toss well. Place on a stoneware baking sheet. Put tofu on veggies and gently toss to coat in sauce.
2. Roast veggies in oven for 60-70 mins, stirring veggies after 30, 45, and 60 mins to keep the sauce from burning. Toss in an extra bit of maple syrup before you serve if you want an extra bit of sweetness.

I served this dish up with pumpkin scones.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Note to Isa: No Dissing Intended!

If you have been checking out the PPK blog you will have noticed that Isa posted her answers to the Vegan MoFo Survey. I almost fell out of my chair when I read her reponse to the question 23, "Food blog you read the most." She writes, and I quote, "Right now I’ve been liking Vegan Dad (even though he kinda disses me)."

It was a moment of great elation, followed by shame/remorse, then elation/shame. Let me say now that no dissing was intended. I am a professional historian and professor, so I guess criticism runs in my blood (especially when it comes to reviewing books!). I just wanted to provide helpful and honest (albeit personal) assessments of your recipes for those out in vegan bloggerdom (for whatever that is worth).

On a personal note, Vegan With A Vengeance is the cookbook that helped me transition to veganism. Its well worn pages and cover attest to its importance. Thank you for everything you have done for vegan cooking, and how you have helped me and my family.

Vegan Dad

Tofu with a Cranberry Balsamic Glaze, with Scalloped Potatoes

Tonight I had a real hankering for scalloped potatoes--must be the cold weather and snow (it's going down to -17 degrees Celsius tonight (that's about 1 degree Fahrenheit for those outside the Commonwealth)). This recipe is modelled after a Betty Crocker recipe I used to make in my pre-vegan days, and they are, in my humble opinion, the best vegan scalloped potatoes I have ever had. The key is slicing the potatoes really thin, so you must use a food processor. The smooth creaminess of the potatoes is nicely complimented by the crispy and tangy tofu.

Scalloped Potatoes
- 1/3 cup non-hydrogenated margarine (Earth Balance)
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 generous tbsp flour
- 5 cups plain soy milk
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- salt and pepper to taste
- 8 yukon gold potatoes, very thinly sliced (use a food processor)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large Corningware dish (9x14)
1. Melt margarine in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook onions for 10 min, until translucent.
2. Add in flour 1 tbsp at a time, stirring constantly. Slowly add in soymilk. Add in nutritional yeast and season to taste with salt and pepper (I would suggest making it slightly saltier than usual since potatoes seem to suck up salt). Bring to bubbling, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
3. Slice potatoes (if you do this too far in advance they will brown). Put a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of the prepared pan. Top with a layer of potatoes. Top with a layer of sauce, then more potatoes. Repeat until all potatoes slices are gone, and top with the last of the sauce.
4. Cover dish and bake for 1 hr. Uncover and bake for 30 mins, until top is golden brown. Remove from oven and let sit for at least 15 mins before serving.

NOTE: You can play with some of the quantities here. If you like more "liquidy" scalloped potatoes, make the sauce as is. If you like them a little drier, add in an extra tbsp of flour for a thicker sauce. No matter how you like them, make sure you use thin layers of sauce between the potatoes. Depending on the size of the potatoes you use, you may need to slice more than I indicate here.

Tofu with a Cranberry Balsamic Glaze
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 cup cranberry juice
- 2 tbsp non-hydrogenated margarine
- 1 pkg firm tofu, cut into 16 triangles
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp dried parsley
- 2 tsp dried tarragon, crushed
- 1 tsp salt
- oil for frying

1. Combine vinegar, sugar, juice, and margarine in a saucepan. Bring to bubbling, reduce heat, and simmer for about 20 mins until reduced to a thin glaze.
2. While glaze is simmering, heat oil on med-hi heat in a frying pan. Combine cornstarch and spices in a bowl, dredge tofu triangles, and fry on both sides until golden brown.
3. Toss tofu in the glaze and serve immediately.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Black Bean Burgers with Roasted Corn Guacamole and Sweet Potato Fries

Tonight I made the black bean burgers from Veganomicon. The recipe isn't really much different from other black bean burgers recipes I have seen, except that it uses high gluten flour to bind everything together. This makes me think that these burgers will hold up well on the grill (but I did not test that theory tonight.) The burgers are pretty good on their own, but when topped with tomato, red onion, chopped romaine, salsa, and roasted corn guacamole they are absolutely fantastic!

Roasted Corn Guacamole
- 3 large avocados
- juice of 1 lime
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp chili powder
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat a cast iron skillet on medium heat. Meanwhile, scoop avocados out of skins and coarsely mash with fork. Mix in lime juice and cilantro.
2. Add corn and onion to skillet. Dry roast for about 15-20 mins, stirring frequently, until corn and onions are a deep golden brown.
3. Let corn cool slightly, then add to avocados along with spices. Serve.

Sweet Potato Fries
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Peel and thinly slice 3-4 sweet potatoes. Toss in 1 tbsp of oil.
3. Bake for 20-25 mins on a cookie sheet, flipping every 5 mins or so to prevent sticking.
4. When fries are crisp and cooked, sprinkle 1 tsp of cinnamon, 1/2 tsp of chili powder, and salt to taste over top and mix well. Serve.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Maple Hemp Granola Bars

We are still scarfing back leftovers from yesterday's party, so I thought I would say a few words about lunch. If you don't already know, the Vegan Lunchbox cookbook is the best thing to happen to lunchtime since . . . well, sliced bread, I guess. The recipes are tasty, creative, and kid-friendly. When I was a kid I took PB&J most of the time--I still love it, actually. But, due to peanut allergies, peanut butter has been banned from the kids' school. So, the kids take hummus and veggies, vegetable soup, veggie meat and crackers, that kind of thing.

I have been working on a granola bar recipe to give the kids an extra nutrition boost at school. The trick is making a vegan granola bar that sticks together without honey, corn syrup, or peanut butter. These have maple syrup and flax to bind them together, sunflower seeds for calcium, pepitas for iron, and hemp for protein.

- 4 cups quick cooking oats
- 1/3-1/2 cup canola oil (you can get away with 1/3 cup if you want a lower fat recipe--the bars will be a bit drier)
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 cup each hemp seeds, hemp powder, raisins, sunflower seeds, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), ground flax seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. Spread oats out on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 mins, stirring twice to prevent burning.
2. Mix all other ingredients in a large bowl. Add in warm oats and mix well.
3. Press mixture into a lightly oiled 9x13 pan, using a piece of waxed paper. They key here is to press really hard and compact the mixture as much as possible.
4. Bake for 25-30 mins, until golden brown. Cool completely and cut into bars.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Carrot Cashew Curry Coconut Soup

We finally had that fall party we tried to throw last month but was stymied by our kids getting sick. I revived the same menu, despite the fact that about 15 centimetres of snow fell today. Even though it looked like winter, the fall-inspired dishes still worked. The hot cider smelled wonderful, as did the roasted apple chutney. I added this Carrot Cashew Curry Coconut Soup (from the Chez Piggy Cookbook)--a wonderful balance between creamy coconut milk and spicy curry (not that this picture does it any justice).

- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 onions, diced
- 2 celery stalks, sliced
- 3 cloves of garlic, diced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh ginger
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp tumeric
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 cups raw cashews
- 1 1/2 lbs carrots, grated
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- 1 can coconut milk
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in a stockpot and saute onion, celery, garlic and ginger for 15 mins, until onions are golden brown. Add in spices and cashews and cook for another minute.
2. Add carrots and mix thoroughly. Add stock and bring to bubbling. Lower heat, cover, and cook until carrots are soft. Really, the longer you can cook this the better--it lets the flavours develop.
3. Blend with a hand blender until smooth. Stir in coconut milk and heat (but don't boil). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Vegan Braciole

My brother gave me The Sopranos Family Cookbook for my 30th birthday. A few months later I became a vegan and the book started to collect dust. This summer I started thumbing through the book to see what recipes I could veganize with tofu or seitan. My best success was with this recipe, a veganized version of stuffed beef rolls. If you subscribe to Bryanna Clark Grogan's Vegan Feast Newsletter, you may recognize this from the readers' submission section. The recipe takes a little time, but it is perfect for a special Friday night candle light dinner with that special someone.

Feel free to half the recipe if you aren't feeding a whole family
- 8 beefy seitan steaks, made as thin as possible, cooled
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 6 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley
- 4 tbsp nutritional yeast
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 8 slices vegan ham
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
- 2 cups dry red wine
- 8 cups tomato puree
- 8 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
- 1 lb ziti or penne, cooked and still hot

1. Lay seitan steaks flat on countertop. Sprinkle with chopped garlic, parsley, nutritional yeast, and salt and pepper. Place slice of vegan ham on each. Roll up and tie with kitchen string.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick sauce pan on medium heat. Add the braciole and garlic. Brown the braciole, turning until deep golden brown on all sides. Remove braciole from pan and put on a plate.
3. Add wine to the pan and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove and discard garlic. Stir in tomato puree and basil.
4. Put braciole into the sauce. Cover and cook over low heat for 30 to 40 mins.
5. Serve sauce over hot cooked ziti with the braciole. Or, if you are a purist, serve the ziti and sauce as a first course, followed by the braciole.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Leek and Bean Cassoulet: A Veganomicon Review

First, let me wish a Happy (and turkey-free) Thanksgiving to my American readers. I hope your day was filled with family and/or friends and tasty, tasty, food. So, while you bolted down Tofurkey, we tried another Veganomicon recipe. Temperatures are plunging here (-7 degrees Celsius as today's high), so this seemed like the perfect dish. White beans, leeks, potatoes, and flaky biscuits sounded like a nice culinary hug on a chilly day.

Taste-wise, the recipe was a success. The textures also worked well--smooth sauce, soft veggies, and firm yet flaky biscuits. The spicing is nothing exceptional, but it works well to create a dish with comfort food appeal.

My only criticism is that the recipe/method is over complicated. I will do things differently next time. For example, the recipe calls to boil the potatoes until tender, but to saute the carrots in the pan until "very soft." This actually takes a long time, so it makes more sense to me to boil the carrots and potatoes together to save some time. Finally, while the dish tastes good, I am not sure it is worth all the prep time (for a dad of three who is pinched for time). When in the mood for comfort food during the week I might be inclined to make Chickpea Pot Pie or Cheesy Chickpea Shepherd's Pie and save this cassoulet for the weekends when I have more time.

The final analysis: 8.5/10

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Vegan Carnitas

From what I understand, carnitas ("little meats") are chunks of pork cooked in lard for a few hours. Now, you don't need to be a vegan to think that sounds a bit gross, not to mention unhealthy. So, this is my take on the carnita--vegan and low fat. I paired this dish with Mexican rice--delicious!

- 4-5 cups of beefy seitan, cut into chunks
- 2 bay leaves, crumbled
- 2 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp marjoram
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp oil
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 orange, cut into 8 slices
- 1 onion, cut into quarters
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- chopped cilantro, for garnish

1. Heat oil in a large non-stick pan on medium high heat. Mix bay leaves, thyme, marjoram, and salt into the chunks of seitan. Fry seitan for 5 mins, stirring frequently.
2. Add garlic, orange slices, onion, and orange juice to the pan. Bring to bubbling, lower heat, cover, and cook for about 1 hr. Orange juice will be absorbed into the seitan, so check periodically and add more orange juice if needed.
3. Remove garlic, onion, and orange slices from the pan and discard. Garnish seitan with cilantro and serve with warm tortillas, chopped tomato, and salsa.

Mexican Rice
- 1 1/2 cups long grain rice
- boiling water
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 small tomatoes, diced
- 3 1/2 cup vegetable stock
- 1 cup frozen peas
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Put rice in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 10 mins, then drain.
2. Heat oil in a pan on medium heat, then add rice and fry for about 5 mins. Add onions, garlic and tomatoes and cook for another minute.
3. Add in stock, stir well, and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and let simmer for 20 mins, or until liquid is absorbed.
4. Stir in peas, and let sit for 5 mins. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

Finally, today is Vegan Mom's birthday, so I made the Fauxstess Cupcakes from Vegan With a Vengeance. These tasty creme filled treats are one of the first desserts I made after becoming a vegan, and they let me know everything was going to be OK.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Seitan Fajitas

One of my favourite Family Guy moments is when Peter wins the lottery and orders 6000 chicken fajitas, pronouncing them "fah-jite-ahs." Heh heh (you had to be there). Anyway, we were pinched for time tonight, and these are easy to make and incredibly tasty. The citrus zest, the bite of the salsa, the coolness of the sour cream, the warmness of the tortillas . . . I love Mexican food!

- 3 cups thinly sliced beefy seitan
- zest and juice of one lime
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 2 tsp oregano
- pinch of cayenne
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 onions, halved and sliced
- 1 red, 1 yellow, 1 green pepper, seeded, halved, and sliced

1. Mix together lime juice and zest, orange juice, oregano, cayenne, and cinnamon, and salt. Pour over seitan and mix. Saute in oil on med-hi heat for 10 mins, until seitan is browned and crispy. Remove from pan.
2. Add more oil to pan, if necessary. Saute onions and peppers for 10 mins, until onions are golden, but peppers still have some crispiness. Add seitan back into the pan to re-heat.
3. Serve with salsa, guacamole, and soy sour cream in warm tortillas.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Chickpea Cutlets: A Veganomicon Review

My copy of Veganomicon finally arrived in the mail a few days ago. For some reason it was released later in Canada than in the States, and what with Canada Post . . . . Anyway, the good news is it is finally here! Things have been so busy here, though, that I have not had any time to sit down and look through the recipes in any great detail. I like to read a new cookbook from cover to cover first, so I can get a good sense of what it is all about, and so I can piece together meal plans in my head. Maybe this weekend . . . .

So, on to the cutlets! I read about them on a few blogs, so I looked them up. They seemed perfect--a seitan-like texture without the hours and hours of simmering. What's not to like?

Here is my take: First, the texture is not bad but is a bit on the chewy/stringy side. I could feel the cutlet sitting there in my stomach afterward like a lump. But, I have been known to bolt down dinner with minimal chewing. Second, the recipe calls to pan fry the cutlet for 6-7 mins per side. This is a little tricky. It's hard to find the right temperature: too hot and you burn the outside before the inside is cooked, too cool and you get raw cutlet. Blech. I think next time I will bake it, as is also suggested. I just did not have the time tonight. Lastly, a note on prep. The recipe calls to mash a can of chickpeas with a fork until no whole chickpeas remain. This takes forever, especially since I doubled the recipe. I think next time I will pulse them in a food processor for a smoother texture.

So, the final verdict? I am going to give the dish a 7.5/10. The boys loved them (Son #1 ate two cutlets with great relish), so that is a big plus. I also think the recipe has great potential--I will experiment next time with some different spices since the cutlet as is is kind of neutral. I also made a mushroom gravy to pour over top, which made it less plain.

Mushroom Gravy
1. Saute an 80z pkg of sliced cremini mushroom in 4 tbsp of oil for 10 mins, until golden brown.
2. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of flour over top and stir until well mixed.
3. Slowly pour in 1 cup of plain soy milk, stirring constantly. Bring to bubbling and let thicken.
4. Stir in 1 tbsp mushroom soy sauce, 1 tsp of sage, and salt and pepper to taste.

You can make this thinner or thicker, depending on what you like. If you need more gravy, add in more soy milk and some dissolved cornstarch to thicken.