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Archive for July, 2010

Husband and I have a bit of a sandwich obsession; I think it may even have been one of the prerequisites set out in our marriage vows! Often times, when we want a snack or quick meal, we turn to two pieces of bread surrounding something tasty. With the summer heat has come the strong desire to grill everything. When we combine those two things, the end result is a delicious grilled sandwich that we happily eat while catching up on the day’s happenings at dinner.

When I made this sandwich the first time around, I thought it was nothing special and didn’t bother taking a photo before I served it. Then we took a bite! Oh, man….it was so good! Husband said it was some of the best tempeh he’d ever eaten. I would have to agree with him. The agave-garlic marinade I created for it had a little heat from the horseradish; the agave caramelized so nicely on the surface of the tempeh and the garlic was a pronounced flavour while still being relatively mellow. The day after making it the first time, I went out for more tempeh and ciabatta rolls to make it again, this time “for the blog…to get a picture”.

Served on fresh ciabatta rolls with nothing more than a light smear of Vegenaise and some crunchy cucumber slices, this sandwich was perfection! The nuttiness of the tempeh really took centre stage while the individual flavourings in the marinade rounded out the chorus, so to speak. The textures in each bite were wonderfully balanced: crunchy-cool cucumber, soft, chewy bread,  and firm tempeh…such a pleasing combination.

Agave-Garlic Grilled Tempeh Sandwiches

-1 pkg. tempeh, cut in half horizontally and vertically to end up with four rectangles

-3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

-2 T. olive oil

-1 T. tamari

-2 T. agave nectar

-1 T. grainy mustard

-1 T. prepared horseradish (check ingredients, a lot of these contain dairy)

-1/2 cup water

-4 fresh ciabatta rolls

-Vegenaise, to taste

-approx. 16 slices field cucumber

Combine the garlic, oil, tamari, agave, mustard, horseradish, and water in a shallow dish. Lay the slabs of tempeh in the marinade. Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours, turning half way. Grill the tempeh for approximately 4 minutes per side. Meanwhile, prepare the sandwiches. Slice the buns and lightly spread Vegenaise on one side. Lay some cucumber slices on top of the mayo. When the tempeh finishes, lay one slab of tempeh on each sandwich.

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What better when the temperature rises than a delicious, simple chilled soup for dinner. Normally, Husband and I go for a classic gazpacho when we want a chilled soup…however, tomato season is still a little ways off. Plus, I was feeling like a soup with substance, you know? Something hearty and filling. Enter the humble potato! I am a very firm believer that there is nothing in this world that can’t be fixed by a good potato. I picked up some really great (very local!) white potatoes on my last grocery shop and haven’t done much with them because of the (overly)aforementioned heat. It is time to let those potatoes really shine.

Vichychoisse, for those who haven’t had the pleasure of eating it before, is a potato and leek soup, often served chilled. My version is a little less leek-y than more traditional recipes, and I suppose my inclusion of celery makes it even less authentic but I really like that little punch the celery gives to the palate. The best thing about this soup is that it really can stand alone as a meal. I didn’t even have salad or a crust of bread with mine. And, if you’re worried about heating up your house making soup, I just make it early in the morning before the sun is high in the sky. It only takes about a half hour to make and then it has all day to chill before being served for dinner.

The flavour of this soup is just so…lovely. The simplest ingredients can create the most pleasing meals, can’t they? It has a thick, velvety texture…it feels really luxurious on the tongue. It has a creaminess without having any extra fat and it keeps very well.

Vichychoisse

-2 leeks

-1 onion

-3 stalks celery, preferably from the inner part of the celery

-T. olive oil

-2 cups vegetable stock

-2 cups water

4 small white potatoes, peeled and chopped

-salt and pepper, to taste

Thinly slice the whites of the leeks and wash very well, making sure to separate each leaf to get all the dirt. Save the greens for making soup stock. Drain the leeks and set aside. Chop the celery and set aside.

Preheat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Chop the onion and sauté until the onion turns translucent but doesn’t brown. Add the leeks and celery and sauté till the veggies start to soften, about 5 minutes.

Add the stock and water and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes; bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, as desired.

Let cool to room temperature. Purée the soup with an immersion blender (or by batches in a regular blender) and then chill for at least 4 hours.

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That colourful gem of a sammich up there was dinner a couple of nights ago. It has been soooo warm in our apartment that the idea of turning on the stove has become absolutely unbearable, as has the idea of warm food. The baked beans from the other night may very well be the last warm meal I eat until September! At the same time, Husband and I have to eat something…we need all our energy for all the swimming we’ve been doing!

We wanted something fresh tasting and really hearty. Enter grilled tofu and pumpernickel bread! I let thick slices of tofu marinate in an Italian-style marinade all day long and when Husband got home, I quickly grilled them…really just to get char-marks! While the tofu was grilling, I attacked our basil planter on the porch and trimmed off two different kinds of basil to finely chop and stir into a bowl of vegan mayo. The only other additions to the sandwich were thinly sliced field cucumbers and a few generous handfuls of fresh baby spinach.

I have to say, I wish I could accurately convey to you the aroma of the fresh basil and pumpernickel bread mingling in the humid air. I was salivating while I took a photo of the masterpiece! And it tasted fabulous, too! The chewy-crunchy tofu, the crisp and cool cucumbers, the velvety mayo, the soft bread…sometimes it’s the simplest combination of things that works the best.

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Ugh! It’s been a while, huh?! Sorry for the delay…I’m back! And I brought along one of my all-time favourite dishes: baked beans! Why did I decide to slowly bake beans for 3 hours in my little hotbox apartment when it’s over 35 degrees Celsius outside? Because that’s just how I roll…to be honest, I didn’t notice the heat until I stepped outside and realized it was actually cooler in the glaring afternoon sun than it was in my kitchen. No matter…our dinner was absolutely delicious, and that’s what is most important to me.

Besides, there is nothing like the smell of smoky-sweet beans baking, is there? I like mine to have a thick sauce, rich with tomato flavour and just a little heat…not too much, just a little something that lingers in your mouth. I served these beans with some very simple balsamic grilled green and yellow zucchini and some corn on the cob with fresh cilantro “butter”. It was such a summer feast! The BBQ-style beans, the fresh herbs, the summer squash…mmmmm….served with an ice-cold beer, the meal was summer to me.

Smoky Baked Beans

-2 cups tomato puree

2 cups cooked beans, I used navy

-half an onion, chopped

-1 lg. clove garlic, minced

-1 red bell pepper, chopped

-1 tsp. chipotle pepper sauce

-3 tsp. liquid smoke

-2 T. brown sugar

-1 T. molasses

-1 T. tomato paste

-1/2 cup water

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Combine all the ingredients in a 9×9 baking dish, stirring well.

Bake for 2.5 hours, until veggies have softened and the top starts to caramelize.

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