Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Strawberry Mango Cobbler

I saw this recipe on Vegan.Chicks.Rock. I said to myself, "self, you must make this dish." So I did. You should make it too.

Awesome Veggie Sub

Back in the day when I was in grad school I used to go to a sub place called Jimmy John's. Even before I was veggie I used to get the #15 gourmet veggie club. The creaminess of the mayo and avocado blends nicely with the acid of the tomato and the crunch of the cucumber and sprouts. This is just a rip off of that sub but with vegan ingredients. I am happy to say that I found a place in town that sells Vegenaise! Woot! Woot! It is really expensive, so we are conserving it like the Depression era, but felt we could spare some for these subs.

- vegan mozzarella of provolone
- thinly sliced tomato
- thinly sliced sweet onion
- sliced cucumber
- sliced avocado
- shredded lettuce
- alfalfa sprouts
- vegenaise

1. Layer it all on a sub bun and enjoy!

Sausage and Pepper Sub Sandwich

I am taking a few days off now that the semester has ended. Time to relax a bit before my summer research and writing program starts up. That means I have more time to make a nice hot lunch. I bought some sub buns and whipped up these sandwiches.

Makes two 12" sub sandwiches
- 2 12" submarine buns
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 vidalia onion, cut in half and sliced
- 8oz sliced cremini mushrooms
- 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
- 2 vegan sausages, sliced
- 2 tbsp tamarind date sauce, or BBQ sauce
- 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
- vegan mozzarella
- topping of your choice

1. Heat oil in a frying pan over med-hi heat. Saute onions for 5 mins, until soft and just beginning to brown. Add mushrooms and cook until they soften and release their water. Add sliced pepper and sausage and cook until pepper is softened but still firm. Add sauces and mix well.
2. Place slices of cheese on sub bun and top with sausage mixture. Top with whatever else suits your fancy, or eat as is.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Green Curry Tofu

Tonight's meal comes with thanks to Top Chef. If you have been following the season this year you will know that last week Dale and Richard had to make "green perplexed tofu." I was excited since Dale had won a quickfire challenge a few weeks ago with an explicitly vegan dish (see the sidebar). But then Richard got the idea to marinate the tofu in rendered beef fat, causing me to yell at the screen, "Richard! For the love of all that is holy, what the deuce are you doing?!" (or something to that effect). Anyway, the original recipe is on the Bravo website, so I thought I would make a beef fat free version. I made a few other changes as well. The original recipe says to char the green beans with garlic--I thought I would probably just burn them and ruin the whole dish. I also ended up scrapping the crispy eggplant because I was just making a huge greasy mess. And, while I thought the almond-cashew crusted tofu might be good, I did not have time to marinate the tofu, so I thought it would end up being very bland. And, since my boys love rice, I worked that in as well. The end result kind of looks like a Mayan temple. but it was very tasty.

- 1/3 cup loosely packed brown sugar
- 1 tbsp water
- 1/2 jar Thai kitchen green curry paste, or to taste
- 1/2 tsp yellow curry paste
- 2 small onion, chopped
- 1 stalk lemongrass, finely chopped
- 6 green cardamom pods, crushed open
- 2 tsp coriander
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 cup coarsely chopped spinach
- 2 cans coconut milk
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- salt ( if needed)
- freshly ground white pepper
- juice of 1 lime

- 1 pkg firm tofu, pressed, and cut into large cubes
- large handful of green beans
- heaping tbsp hoisin sauce
- chopped cilantro for garnish

Get 2 cups of rice cooking in a rice cooker.
1. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar and water and bring to bubbling. Add curry pastes and cook for 2 mins, stirring constantly. Add in onion, lemongrass, cardamom, coriander, cilantro, and spinach. Cook for about 5 mins, until onion softens and spinach has cooked down.
2. Add coconut milk and simmer, uncovered, for at least 30 mins.
3. Strain sauce and return to pan. Add soy sauce and lime juice, and season to taste.
4. While sauce is simmering, coat tofu cubes in cornstarch and deep fry in 350 degree oil for 3-4 mins.
5. And, while all that is going on, trim the green beans and steam for 4-5 mins, until tender but not flaccid. When done, toss in hoisin sauce.
6. If you like the pic above, press the cooked rice into a small bowl and place in the center of a shallow bowl. Ring the rice with green beans. Top rice with a piece of tofu. Spoon some curry sauce over top of it all and garnish with cilantro.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Potato Apple Casserole with Maple Sausage

This is one of those dishes that I made up in my head as I rode the bus home. It pretty much snowed all day here (boooourns!), so I wanted something more wintry. Potatoes. Carrots. That kind of thing. Plus, I wanted to work in some of the maple syrup I bought on the weekend. The end result was a mix between scalloped potatoes and a casserole. The boys loved it, I had thirds, and there was only a little bit left when dinner was done.

- 6-7 Yukon gold potatoes, skins on, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 vidalia onion, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 carrots, thinly sliced
- 2 maple sausages, chopped into large chunks (see below)
- 1 1/2 cup canned white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 1/4 cup water
- 1 heaping tbsp cornstarch
- 1/4 cup soy creamer
- 1 tsp sage
- 1 tsp thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 large McIntosh apple, cored and thinly sliced

1. Boil potato slices in salted water for 1 min, until softened but still firm. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
2. Heat oil in a large frying pan over med-hi heat. Saute onion and celery for 4-5 mins, until onion is translucent. Reduce heat to medium and add garlic and carrots. Cook for 8-10 mins, until carrots soften. Add chopped sausage and beans to the pan.
3. Add maple syrup and 1 cup of the water. Bring to bubbling. Dissolve cornstarch in remaining 1/4 cup of water and add to pan. Bring to bubbling. Add soy creamer and spices, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
5. Grease a large casserole dish and place a layer of potatoes on the bottom. Top with 1/3 of the apple slices, and 1/3 of the sausage mixture. Top that with another layer of potatoes and apples, and 1/3 of the sausage mixture. Repeat, and top with a final layer of potatoes.
6. Lightly spray potatoes with oil and bake for 30-35 minutes, until casserole is bubbling and potatoes are golden brown.

A Note on Maple Sausage
- To make maple sausage, make the breakfast sausage recipe, but increase maple syrup by replacing 1/4 of the water with maple syrup. Also, add 1/2 tsp maple extract. Make four large sausages.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Easy Blueberry Sauce (with crepes)

Sunday brunch is fast becoming a tradition in our household. Today I added crepes into the mix. Son#1 has been asking for them every since I made dinner crepes and he was dismayed to see them not covered in some sweet fruit sauce. Now, I know I said that the dinner crepe recipe would not replace my sweet breakfast crepe recipe, but I lied. I upped the sugar to 1/4 cup, and cut the chickpea flour to a generous 1/3 cup. The end result is less delicate but far less finicky. Add this sauce for super tastiness.

- 2 cups frozen blueberries
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tbsp lemon juice

1. Bring blueberries, 3/4 cup of the water, and sugar to bubbling in a saucepan. Dissolve cornstarch in remaining 1/4 cup of water and add to pan. Stirring constantly, bring back to bubbling and let thicken. Stir in lemon juice and serve.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Maple Walnut Cupcakes

Today we went to a local maple syrup festival--plenty of maple candy, maple cotton candy, and litres and litres of maple syrup. Plus, there was plenty of small town fun to be had as well: horse drawn wagon rides, local music, Amish baking, and arts and crafts booths. We had a great time, stuffed ourselves with maple treats, and brought home several litres of syrup. Tonight we went to an end-of-year BBQ at a colleague's house and brought (what else?) these maple walnut cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. They are awesome.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Cookbook Tester Recipe: Crispy Chickenless Nuggets

I am testing recipes for an upcoming cookbook! The author is The Happy Herbivore, and she is churning out recipes faster than I can make them. These, as the name suggests, are a very crispy nugget--my boys pound them back with plenty of plum sauce. If you are interested in the upcoming cookbook (and the over 200 non-cookbook recipes already posted), check out The Happy Herbivore blog for updates.

Bean and Rice Burritos

I love this dish because it highlights cloves, which are usually hiding in the background in Mexican cooking. This is a simple dish but tasty which is made even better if you make your own tortillas (which makes it a less simple, of course). I used some store-bought tortillas that where more like pressed sawdust that wheat tortillas. Lesson learned.

Makes 10 large burritos
- 1 cup long grain rice
- 4 cups water
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
- 2 tsp ground cloves
- 2 tsp oregano
- 2 cup diced canned tomatoes, with juices
- 2 cups mixed beans (pinto, black, chickpeas) or finely chopped seitan
- 1/2 cup shredded vegan cheese (optional)
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- salt to taste
- 10 large wheat tortillas

1. Bring water to boil in a medium pot and add rice. Cook for 8 minutes then drain, rinse thoroughly in cold water, and rinse again. Set aside.
2. While rice is cooking, heat oil in a frying pan over med-hi heat. Saute onion, garlic, pepper, cloves, and oregano for 4-5 mins until onion softens. Add rice and mix well. Then, add in tomatoes and beans and cook over low heat until all the juice has absorbed and rice is cooked. Add a little water if it gets too dry, or rice is not cooking.
3. Get a cast iron pan heating over medium heat.
4. Add in cheese and sour cream and mix well. Season with salt, if needed.
5. Put 1/10 of the mixture in the middle of a tortilla. Fold over both sides, then bottom and top into a squarish package. Repeat. Place a few burritos, folded side down, in cast iron pan. Cook for a minute or two, until golden brown. Flip over and cook other side. Serve.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Irish Pizza

Irish Pizza? Yes! This is pizza re-imagined with traditional Irish sausage and potato pie ingredients (plus a few others). I have never had potatoes on pizza before, but it just seemed like a good idea. Turns out, it is a good idea. If you are looking for something a little different then give this pizza pie from the Emerald Isle a try.

White Sauce
- 3 tbsp margarine
- 1.5 tbsp flour
- 1 cup plain soy milk
- 3/4 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp sage
- salt and pepper to taste

- 8 oz sliced white mushrooms
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- dash of salt and pepper

- 2-3 small Yukon gold potatoes
- 2-3 breakfast sausages, sliced into 1/4" pieces
- 1 cup chopped baby spinach
- 1 12" pizza crust

I baked my pizza on the BBQ on a pizza stone atop 4 soup cans. I set the temperature to about 500 degrees. You can also bake it in an oven at the same temperature.
1. Make the white sauce: heat margarine in a small pot over medium heat. Add flour and whisk for 1 min. Whisk in soy milk, add spices, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to bubbling, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and put in the fridge to bring the sauce down to room temperature.
2. Toss mushrooms in olive oil, thyme, and salt. Transfer to a stoneware baking sheet and roast on the BBQ (atop the baking stone), or in the oven, for 15 mins, or until mushrooms are browned.
3. While mushroom are roasting, slice potatoes very thinly. Boil in salted water for 1 min, then drain and rinse with cold water to keep them from cooking any more. Drain and pat dry.
4. Remove white sauce from fridge and whisk smooth. Spread on top of pizza crust. Top with chopped spinach and sausage. Top that with mushrooms and potato slices. Lightly spray top with olive oil and bake for 10-12 mins, or until crust and potatoes are nicely browned.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Simple Roasted Red Pepper Salsa

If you have never made your own salsa then you are missing out on one of life's simple pleasures.

- 1 small onion, finely diced
- juice of one lime
- 1 roasted red pepper, cooled, seeded and skinned, and diced
- 3 tomatoes, seeded, and finely diced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
- 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
- salt and pepper (optional)

1. Put onion in a bowl and add lime juice. Let sit for a few mins. Add in red pepper, tomatoes (you can skin them if you want, but I never bother), jalapeno pepper, and cilantro. Mix well.
2. You can add a bit of salt, if you want, but it will draw the water out of the tomatoes and make the salsa more watery.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Potato Cheese Quesadillas

These are a tasty little appetizer for your next fiesta that both kids and adults will love. The potato and cheese provide a salty, starchy and gooey base that is accented by the scallions and hot sauce.

Makes 4 quesadillas, or 16 wedges
- 4 large wheat tortillas
- 3 medium yukon gold potatoes
- 3 scallions, finely chopped
- few dashes hot sauce
- 1/4 tsp salt
- dash of pepper
- 1 cup shredded vegan cheese

1. Boil potatoes, skins on, in a small pot for about 15 mins, until tender but still firm. Drain water and set aside to cool.
2. Grate cooled potatoes, skins and all, into a bowl. Add in scallions, hot sauce, and salt and pepper and mix well.
3. Assemble the quesadillas: put 1/4 of the potato mixture on half of a tortilla. Top with 1/4 of the cheese. Fold tortilla in half. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Cook quesadillas in a dry skillet over medium heat, flipping once, until tortilla is golden brown and cheese is melted. Cut in 4 wedges and serve immediately.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


I am blogging from the back porch! We have had spectacular weather the past few days: sunny and low 20s. It is amazing to think that last weekend we had a snow storm. You'd think it was summer around here with everyone doffing their winter clothes for shorts and T-shirts. The lawn is now raked, some seeds are in the garden, and Son #2 has a sun burn on the back of his neck. And, of course, I once again experimented with turning my BBQ into a tandoori oven to make naan. I have never had good luck with naan in the past, but this time was different. The high heat of the BBQ puffed the bread nicely and gave it a wonderful texture. Mission accomplished!

Makes 6 large, or 8 medium, naan
- 1/2 cup warm soy milk
- 4 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- 2 tbsp finely ground flax seed
- 6 tbsp water
- pinch of sugar
- 4-5 cups white bread flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1/4 cup plain soy yogurt
- 1/2 cup water

1. Using a whisk, dissolve yeast into warm soy milk with sugar. You may need to let the yeast sit in the milk a bit before it all dissolves in. Set aside for 10 mins.
2. Whisk flax into water. Set aside for a few mins.
3. Sift flour and salt together into a large bowl. Add in yeast mixture (by this time it should be a thick foam), oil, soy yogurt, water, and flax mixture (it should have thickened by now--whisk it a few times before adding). Add in enough of the flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 10 mins, until smooth and elastic.
4. Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel. Let rise for about 40-50 mins, until doubled in bulk.
5. Divide dough into 6 or 8 pieces and roll into an oval shape about 1/4 inch thick. Bake on a hot ceramic stone for 3-4 mins, until puffed and browned (see note below).

1. Place a square ceramic pizza stone on top of 4 soup cans on top of your BBQ grill. Make sure you can still close the BBQ lid. Cut cans down a bit with a hacksaw if need be (or get shorter cans).
2. Heat up grill on high for at least 15 mins to allow stone to heat up.
3. Bake naan on hot stone with lid closed so that the hot air can circulate.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Indian Potatoes and Peas

Not a very imaginative name, I know, but this is an easy and very tasty dish.

- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander (i.e. cilantro)
- 1" piece of ginger, minced
- 2 tsp tumeric
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 tomatoes, chopped
- 4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into large cubes
- 1 - 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 cups frozen peas

1. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onions, coriander, and ginger and fry for 5 mins. Add spices and salt and mix well. Add tomatoes and potatoes into the pan and cook for 5 mins. Add some water into the pan if mixture gets too dry.
2. Add 1 cup of water and bring to bubbling. Lower heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 mins, until potatoes are soft. Add peas to the pan and cook for 5 mins. Add more water if too dry.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sweet n' Sour Skewers

This is really just a variation on this recipe, but with a fancier presentation sure to wow your guests at the next BBQ (or, cookout, for you Americans). The pineapple provides the sweet, the citrus provides the sour, and the grilling just enhances the tastiness.

Amounts will vary on how many skewers you want to make.
- red pepper
- green pepper
- onion, quartered
- firm tofu, pressed and cubed
- pineapple
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- juice of 2 limes
- juice of 1 lemon
- juice of 1 orange
- splash of tequila (optional)
- 1-2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Cut veggies into large chunks and toss in oil, juices, and spices. Let marinate if you have the time.
2. Stick veggies tightly on skewers, and grill on a well-oiled grill over med-hi heat for about 15 mins (until veggies are done). Make sure to rotate the skewers to get the veggies cooked evenly, and to brush the veggies with the extra marinade at least twice.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Lemon Thyme Dinner Crepes

You'll have to excuse the picture here because it looks like the crepe is barfing out some spinach. These are very tasty and well worth the time it takes to make them. I have spent the last few days grading many, many essays, which always makes me cranky, so cooking has been my therapy. With my in-laws here to help with the kids I can spend a little more time in the kitchen. The crepes are a variation on Bryanna's recipe. They are perfect for this recipe, but they will not replace my sweet crepes for dessert or breakfast. This recipe makes 16 crepes, so do a half recipe if you don't have guests to feed.

Crepes (Makes 16)
- 3 cups plain soymilk
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 2 cups unbleached flour
- 1 cup firm tofu
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/2 cup chickpea flour
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder

1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until very smooth. Or, place all ingredients in a juice pitcher and blend with a hand mixer until very smooth. This way, you can easily pour out the batter into the pan when cooking the crepes. Add more water if the batter is too thick.
2. Heat an 8" non-stick crepe pan on medium heat. Lightly oil. Pour a 4 inch (or so) circle (about 1/3 cup) of batter on the pan, tilting and rotating quickly to spread the batter thinly into a circle. Cook until top is dry, carefully flip, then cook another 30-40 seconds. Repeat. If batter thickens as it sits, just stir in a little more water.

- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 stalk lemon grass, finely minced
- 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 oz mushrooms, chopped
- 3 cups seitan, cubed
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1/4 cup soy creamer
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tbsp water
- salt and white pepper to taste
- 3 cups coarsely chopped baby spinach

1. Heat frying pan over med heat. Add oil, then saute lemongrass and onions until soft and translucent. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook until mushrooms begin to release their water.
2. Add in seitan, lemon juice, and thyme. Mix well, and let lemon juice absorb into the seitan. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Add in creamer and mix. Mix cornstarch into water, then add to pan. Let sauce thicken. Remove from stove and let cool a bit.
4. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9 x 13 baking dishes.
5. Place a 2-3 spoonfuls of filling on a crepe and roll. You don't want to overfill them. Place in baking dish. Repeat with remaining crepes.
6. Spread a thin layer of margarine over the tops of crepes. Bake for 15-20 mins, until tops are slightly golden. Remove and serve.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Red Potato Salad with Cilantro

My in laws are here for a visit, so of course I had to share the awesomeness of vegan sausages. I did make a wee change by blending 3/4 cup of firm tofu with the water, instead of using mashed beans. I think it made for a more tender sausage. Here they are getting grilled. I also served this warm potato salad that was very tasty, but did not photograph well.

- 6-7 large red potatoes
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 green onion, trimmed, very thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
- about 2 cups vegenaise, mixed with 2-3 tbsp Dijon mustard
- salt and pepper to taste

1. Boil potatoes, with skins on, until tender but not mushy.
2. Remove potatoes from water and cube. Let cool a bit before placing into a large bowl.
3. Add garlic, green onion, and cilantro. Mix Dijon (to taste) into vegenaise and add to potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Serve

Note: if you are like me and venegaise is nowhere to be found in your town, or if it is so expensive you can' t bear parting with 2 cups, you can make your own for this dish. I blended 1 pkg firm silken tofu with 2 tbsp white wine vinegar, 2 tbsp oil, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp salt. I then thinned the mixture a bit with soy creamer. You want it to be thinner than regular venegaise as the heat from the potatoes thickens it up a bit.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Canada to Kill 150 000 Pigs

According to this story, the Canadian government is going to pay pork producers $50 million dollars (read: my tax dollars) to kill 150 000 pigs in order to save the industry by artificially raising prices. Unbelievable. One of my objections to the meat industry is that it treats sentient animals like cogs in a machine, and values profit over humanity. This is exactly what we see here. On the other hand, I am glad to hear that the pork industry is on the brink of collapse.

Spring Panzanella

I think spring is finally here to stay. It's getting warmer, though I would not say it is warm yet. I have been looking for a particularly "springy" dish to make, and this one really fit the bill. Panzanella is essentially a salad (in this case with asparagus, green beans, and cannelini beans) with a lemon dressing and crispy croutons. The recipe comes from Smitten Kitchen, a food blog with amazing pictures and detailed recipes. It is by no means vegan (in fact, once recipe actually adds sausage to an explicitly vegetarian dish!), but it is well worth a look for those interested in the art of food. I pretty much followed the recipe as is, except I cut back on the oil and upped the lemon juice, used thick sliced whole wheat bread for the croutons (nothing fancier to be had in the house today), and used nutritional yeast instead of Parmesan cheese. Oh, I also did not have any leeks, so I used green beans as was recommended. Really, this recipe is modifiable in many way. Go check it out!

Fusili With Fire Roasted Sauce

I love roasted red peppers, and when blended with roasted tomatoes and garlic they make for a fantastic sauce that is a great alternative to marinara. I put thinly sliced zucchini into the sauce for some extra flavour and colour contrast. And, when paired with this focaccia . . . well, things just don't get much better.

- 4 red peppers
- 2 large tomatoes
- 1 head of garlic
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 small zucchini, thinly sliced
- cooked fusili pasta (about 6 cups)

1. Roast red peppers, tomato, and head of garlic on BBQ, or under a broiler. When skins are blackened, put peppers in a bowl and cover with a plate. Let steam for 15 mins, then skin and de-seed. Skin and de-seed tomatoes, and peel garlic.
2. Blend everything in a food processor, or in a container with hand blender, until very smooth. Heat in a saucepan over medium heat and season with salt and pepper.
3. While sauce is heating (and pasta is cooking), saute zucchini slices in oil in a frying pan over medium heat for 10-15 mins, until zucchini is golden brown. Add to sauce.
4. When pasta is cooked, drain and return to pot. Add sauce and mix well. Serve

Monday, April 14, 2008

Thank you Cupcakes

Remember how last week a colleague of mine moved in up the street and I brought Ethiopian food and cupcakes? Well, yesterday she returned all the food containers and baked us these thank you cupcakes. How awesome is that? It looks like vegan cupcakes truly are taking over the world.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pudding Cake

If chocolate makes you happy, then this dessert will make you very happy indeed. I made this earlier in the week, but I should have made it again today because I was pretty bummed out. Check out this pic of today's weather. Gah! The only thing to say is, "what the deuce?!" Anyway, this is a variation of the lemon pudding cake that relies on chocolate chips to make a smooth and rich pudding that you can spoon over the tender cake.

- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup soy milk
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup unpacked brown sugar
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 cup boiling water
- 1 tbsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Get a few cups of water boiling in your kettle.
1. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk together milk and oil. Add to flour and mix with a spoon. Stir in chocolate chips, then spread into a 8x8 pan.
2. Whisk together white and brown sugar with cocoa powder and sprinkle evenly over batter. Gently pour boiling water over top (do not mix) and then add vanilla.
3. Bake for 40-45 mins, until top is dry and firm. Let cool a bit before serving. Cut into pieces and spoon pudding over top.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies

Another tasty treat from Veganomicon. The special thing about these cookies is that my boys made them for me while I was at work. How great to come home and have the house smelling like chocolate!

Vegan Bacon (and Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich)

Tonight's self-imposed mission was to make vegan bacon (for a BLT) that tasted good but also had the chewy texture of "real" bacon. I have made tempeh bacon before from Vegan With a Vengeance, which was quite good, but I had no tempeh. Plus, while tempeh has a firm texture, it does not have a chewy texture. I thought seitan would fit the bill. I am not sure what I thought of the end result, but the kids loved it. As you can see, the colour is all wrong--these look more like chicken strips. The taste, however, was quite good. The jury is still out on the texture--it was chewy and crisp, but maybe a bit too chewy. I am going to post the recipe for those who want to play around with it, as I will be doing.

- 1/2 cup of chickpeas
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tbsp Bragg's soy seasoning
- 1 tbsp HP Sauce (or BBQ sauce)
- 1 tsp liquid smoke
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp sage
- few drops of browning sauce
- 1 cup vital wheat gluten

1. Finely mash chickpeas with a fork in a bowl. Add everything else in but the wheat gluten and mix well. Add in wheat gluten and mix with a fork, then knead by hand for a few mins.
2. Heat a thin layer of oil in a frying pan over med-lo heat. While pan is heating, flatten dough out with the heel of your hand on a cutting board. Get as flat as possible.
3. Cut dough into thin strips resembling bacon (only thinner). Flatten each strip even more before placing in the pan. The thinner the better. Place in pan and cook for about 4-5 mins per side, until crispy and no longer "squishy." Add a little more oil to the pan, if necessary, when flipping bacon strips.

Making a Difference

You will all recall yesterday's whiny post about trying to get vegan food at an upscale restaurant. The comments and commiseration starting coming almost immediately, but I was really challenged by Natjenn's observation that "I don't think improvement can happen if we don't speak up." Natjenn was right, of course. Although a good cry fest about about veganophobia certainly is cathartic, it does not create change. So, I emailed the restaurant asking for the addition of a vegan entree to the menu, and providing some links to recipes on my blog. The owner responded today saying, and I quote, "I think it is time that we make room on our menu for at least one fantastic vegan dish." And, in the short term, if I give them a bit of notice that I am coming, they will "come up with a creative vegan dish" just for me. This is great news!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tofu Lo Mein

This is a version of lo mein that is rather tasty, but I make no guarantees about its authenticity. I used what I had in the fridge and was pleased with the end result. I would have liked some green onions, so I have added them to the recipe.

- 8 oz angel hair pasta
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 inch piece ginger, minced
- 8 oz sliced cremini mushrooms
- 3-4 baby bok choy, sliced (or half a bunch of swiss chard)
- 2 green onions, sliced

For the Tofu
- 1 pkg firm tofu, diced
- 1 tbsp cooking sherry
- 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- few drops of sesame oil

For the Sauce
- 2 tbsp cooking sherry
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 4 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 3/4 to 1 cup water

1. Cook pasta. When done, rinse with cold water and drain. Set aside.
2. While pasta is cooking, make the tofu. Heat a quality non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add tofu to pan and cook for 10-15 mins, flipping regularly, until tofu is golden. Mix together sherry, sauces, and oil and add to pan. Cook until liquid has absorbed.
3. Heat a wok over med-hi heat. Put a small amount of oil in the wok and fry the garlic and ginger for 30 seconds. Add in mushrooms and cook for 5 mins, until mushrooms soften enough to your liking. Add some water to the wok if necessary to keep the mushrooms from sticking. Add in bok choy and cook until wilted.
4. Add sauce ingredients and tofu to the wok. Bring to bubbling then remove from heat. Add in pasta and green onions and mix well. Add more water if you want more sauce. Serve.

Why Fine Dining Both Sucks and Blows

I was out last night for a university-related "business" dinner at one of this city's finer dining establishments. I had eaten there once before, and so I knew there was one thing on the menu I could order: the Pad Thai (yes, I checked to see if it had fish sauce in it). The original dish comes with chicken and pork and shrimp, but they were able to make it for me with tofu. No such luck this time. With that option out of the way there was literally nothing else on the menu I could order. I told the waitress to have the chef make me something without any animal products in it. Sometimes this strategy has worked for me. Once, at a sports bar and grill no less, it resulted in a grilled and thinly sliced portabello mushroom fanned out over roasted potatoes with a side of asparagus and carrots. Last night it resulted in one of the most uninspired and awful dishes I have eaten in a while. The chef threw together artichokes, asparagus, red and yellow pepper, broccoli, and zucchini with rice noodles and what appeared to be 1/2 cup of oil. That's right. No seasonings, no sauce, no garnishes, no real taste. Just an incoherent mess of greasy and slowly congealing food. It was awful. I hate to think what they charged for that "dish." The experience actually highlights a larger problem, namely, the fact that many chefs have no idea what to do if a large chunk of animal flesh is not the centerpiece of a dish. In fact, the meat dishes served last night were pretty much to exact inverse of the food guide with vegetables playing a very minor role. And yet this is considered normal eating.

UPDATE: After writing this rather whiny post, I decided that I would actually do something about the situation. I wrote an email to the restaurant asking them to add a vegan entree to the menu, and that such an entree would have broad appeal to those interested in a low-fat diet. I gave a few links to recipes from my blog to show that vegan food is easy, tasty, and photographs well. We will see what comes of it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Red Rice Tacos with Citrus Tofu

The past few days have been warm and sunny, and we have even eaten dinner out on the back porch twice! This beautiful weather, combined with reading about Urban Vegan's trip to Mexico, made tacos the logical choice for tonight (well, if sun+warm=tacos makes logical sense to you). I did not have any salsa or any sour cream, so I wanted to make a flavourful taco that did not rely on these ingredients. I'm not sure that rice is a traditional taco ingredient, but it works here. The tofu portion of the dish is a no (added) fat version of the tequila chili lime tofu I made a while back. The rest of the toppings are up to you, but the ones I used here worked really well. The avocado brings creaminess, the mesclun brings earthiness, and the hot sauce gives some bite.

- 1 cup long grain white rice
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp salt
- pinch of cayenne
- 1 pkg firm tofu, cubed
- 1/4 cup tequila
- juice of 1 orange
- juice of 1 lemon
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp salt
- small wheat tortillas
- diced tomato
- minced sweet onion
- diced avocado
- finely sliced mesclun (or some other dark leafy green)
- shredded vegan cheese
- Louisiana hot sauce (not Mexican, I know, but tasty!)

1. Rinse rice and place in a pot with water, chili powder, paprika, oregano, salt, and cayenne. Bring to a boil, stirring to keep rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15-20 mins, until rice is cooked.
2. While rice is cooking, make the tofu. This method only works if you have a good non-stick pan. Heat pan over medium heat and add in tofu cubes. Cook for about 15 mins, flipping the tofu often, until all sides are golden and tofu has released its water. This makes for a nice chewy texture.
3. Add tequila to the pan and cook until all tequila is cooked off/absorbed into tofu. Add juices and do the same thing. Remove from pan and serve.
4. Assemble tacos: start with rice in a tortilla, top with tofu, then all the other stuff. Finish off with a few dashes of hot sauce and enjoy!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Hot Dog Casserole

If you don't have kids, or are over the age of 7, you may want to just ignore this post. I was in meetings pretty much all day, and Vegan Mom had a meeting at 6:00 this evening, which left little time for making dinner. No real recipe tonight, just an idea that you can modify however you want. Or, not even make at all. But seriously, the kids loved it.

- cooked macaroni
- 1 onion, diced
- frozen mixed vegetables
- white sauce, or cheese sauce
- sliced hot dogs
- bread crumb topping
1. Saute onion, add veggies, sauce, and hot dogs. Add to macaroni and mix well. Put in a casserole dish, top with bread crumbs, and bake at 350 until bubbling and top is browned.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Atar Allecha

A colleague of mine moved in up the street yesterday, so tonight I brought over dinner to help her and her husband out. I mulled over what to bring for quite some time. In situations like this I always feel like veganism is on trial and that this is my chance to present a convincing case to the jury. At first I was going to make something with wheat gluten sausage--perhaps a gumbo or jambalaya. In the end I decided against fake meat and went with Ethiopian since it is already essentially vegan. This way they could enjoy the spices and flavours without having to compare the dish to "real" meat. I made Yetakelt We't and Misr Allecha, injera (from Vegan Lunchbox), and this dish.

- 2 cups yellow split peas
- 6 cups water
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp niter kebbeh
- 1 tsp tumeric
- 1-2 green chiles, seeded and minced
- 2 cups water (plus more as needed)
- cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves to taste
- salt to taste

1. Rinse split peas, remove stones and debris. Put into a large pot and cover with 6 cups of water. Soak for at least an hour.
2. Bring water to boiling, reduce heat, cover, and simmer peas for 30-40 mins, until softened but not mushy (i.e. until they still hold their shape, but are soft enough to bite). Drain, rinse, and drain again. Remove from pot.
3. Dry pot and put back on the stove over med-lo heat. Add onions and garlic and dry fry for a few mins, stirring constantly. Add in nitter kebbeh and saute onion for a few more mins, until translucent. Add in peas, tumeric, chili, some salt, and water. Bring to bubbling then simmer, uncovered, until peas break down into a chunky paste, adding more water if needed.
4. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve. I always like to add some more cinnamon and similar spices to bring out more of the nitter kebbeh's flavour.

I also made banana split cupcakes. Best. cupcakes. ever. Check out this cupcake carrier that my sister-in-law gave us. If you want to spread the vegan cupcake love, then you need one of these. It has three removable trays that each hold 9 cupcakes. Here are the cupcakes, all ready to go. We all cried. Why didn't I make 2 dozen?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Grilled Citrus Tofu and Pineapple

Spring is coming to the frozen north! Today was sunny and warm and the snow and ice was melting away like mad. All the snow is now gone from the back porch, so BBQ was the only way to go for tonight's meal. If you have not had grilled pineapple you must try it. I am not the biggest pineapple fan, but this was fantastic. Grilling really brings out the pineapple's sweetness. And, inspired by the Happy Herbivore's quest to "put the veg back in vegan," I supplemented the tofu and pineapple with steamed carrots, kale, corn, roasted red potatoes, and mesclun salad with tomatoes and cucumbers.

- 1 pkg firm tofu, pressed and cut into 8 pieces
- 1/2 can frozen orange juice, thawed
- juice 1/2 lemon
- juice 1 lime
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp oil
- salt and pepper

1. Mix together juices, vinegar, oil, and salt and pepper. Marinate tofu slices for an hour or so.
2. Grill on a lightly oiled BBQ over med-hi heat, basting with marinade, for 10-15 mins.

Grilled Pineapple: Brush fresh pineapple slices with some of the marinade and grill for about 10 mins. Make sure pineapple browns but does not burn.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Pumpkin Crumb Cake with Pecan Struesel

Veganomicon strikes again! Tonight's Friday night treat was this subtly spiced and delightfully moist cake with a sweet and crunchy struesel topping. Delicious! I drizzled a thin icing over top to make it a wee bit more photogenic. Besides wanting a tasty treat after finishing my final history lecture for the academic year, I had another motive for baking tonight. In my quest to make veganism more visible and more palatable, I am going to man a vegan baking table at our sons school's annual spring fair. All proceeds will go to the school, and I will include a card with a link to my blog with every cupcake, loaf of bread, slice of cake, etc. I think vegan cupcakes will indeed take over the world.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Polenta Lasagna with Roasted Vegetables

I know it says polenta in the title, but I actually just used cornmeal. While I like the heartier texture of polenta, I never did like having to cook it for 20 minutes. Cornmeal cooks in a jiffy and has pretty much the same taste. Tomatoes and polenta go very well together, and roasting the other veggies adds a wonderfully smoky and sweet flavour to the whole dish.

- 6 cups water
- 3 cups cornmeal
- 1-2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp basil
- 1 tsp parsley
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup margarine
- 6 cloves garlic, roasted, chopped
- 2 cups frozen corn
- 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 8 oz thickly sliced mushrooms
- 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
- 1/2 jar pasta sauce, plus 1/2 cup
- 1 yellow pepper, roasted, sliced
- 1 red pepper, roasted, sliced
- olive oil for brushing
- vegan mozzarella cheese

1. Bring water to boiling in a large pot. Add salt and spices to the water, then whisk in cornmeal. When cornmeal has thickened, remove from heat and mix in margarine and nutritional yeast with a spoon. Working quickly, spread cornmeal mixture as thinly as possible on 2 cookie sheets (or one large sheet). Set aside to cool. When cool, slice into 9 strips.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees
2. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. When hot, dry roast corn until it beings to lightly brown. Add in cherry tomatoes and mushroom, stirring constantly, until mushrooms begin to brown and soften. If veggies are sticking, add a few tbsp of water. Add in tomatoes and pasta sauce and bring to bubbling. Add in roasted pepper slices.
3. Spread extra 1/2 cup of pasta sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. Place 3 strips of polenta over the sauce, and top with 1/2 of the tomato mixture. Repeat with 3 more strips and the other half of the sauce. Top with 3 more polenta strips, and brush lightly with olive oil. Top with vegan cheese.
4. Bake for 35-45 mins, or until bubbling and the cheese has melted.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Mandarin Chickpeas and Asparagus Sushi

It must be spring elsewhere because we are finally getting a better selection of produce in the grocery store. This week, it meant cheap mandarin oranges and asparagus. I steamed the asparagus and rolled it with tofu, rice, and a splash of hoisin sauce in a sheet of nori. The hoisin makes the sushi more palatable for the boys who still whine about eating seaweed. The plan for the mandarin oranges was to pair them with chickpeas, almonds, and a sweet and salty sauce. But, I did not have almonds, so I went with cashews. Actually, now that I think about it, this dish is very closely related to the cashew chickpea dish I made in January. That dish was tasty, and so is this one.

- 2 tbsp oil
- a few drops of sesame oil
- 1 onion, cut in half, and sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 inch piece of ginger, minced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 3/4 cup raw cashews
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 4 mini bok choy, thinly sliced
- 1-2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2-3 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 1 tsp chili garlic sauce
- 6 mandarin oranges, peeled and sectioned
1. Heat oils in a wok over med-hi heat. Stir fry onion, garlic, and ginger for a few mins, until onions start to soften. Add in red pepper and cashews and stir fry for 2 mins.
2. Add in chickpeas and mix well. Add in bok choy and stir fry until it begins to wilt. Add in sauces and adjust to taste.
3. Remove from heat and stir in mandarin orange sections. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Spicy White Bean Soup

Today started all spring-like at 8 degrees above zero (46 F) and raining, but as the day wore on rain turned to snow and the temperature sank to -8 (18 F). It's enough to make you want to cry, especially when other bloggers have already have harvested radishes from their gardens! Check out tonight's view from my back porch. Anyway, this hearty soup hit the spot tonight, and it comes courtesy of Vegan Mom. The white beans and potatoes provide texture and a mellow undertone, while the pepperoni gives the broth a smoky flavour and bursts of spice.

Soup like this is all about chucking a bunch of stuff in a pot, so the amount of each ingredient you use is totally up to you.
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 ribs celery, sliced
- potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
- dried macaroni
- pepperoni, cut into chunks
- water, or veggie broth
- frozen peas
- frozen corn

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute onion and celery for about 5 mins, until onion is translucent. Add in potatoes, beans, macaroni, pepperoni, and water. Bring to bubbling, reduce heat and simmer until veggies are tender and pasta is cooked.
2. Add in peas and corn and heat through. Serve with crusty bread.