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Archive for June, 2011

Gazpacho

Gazpacho is the only thing I want to eat when the temperature soars past 30 degrees Celsius. There’s something about the chilled soup that is so refreshing and light; even though it feels like a hearty meal. It helps that you don’t need to turn on any appliances to make it and it comes together lightning fast. And the colour! All those delicious, bright-coloured veggies peeking out through the tomato “broth” make me sooo happy!

My recipe is a little different from most gazpacho recipes I’ve seen. Most call for breadcrumbs to be blended with the tomatoes and veggies to give you a thick, smooth soup. Granted, I’ve never tried it this way so it may be even more delicious; however, I just can’t get on-board with the idea of wet breadcrumbs. It reminds me of a childhood friend that liked to tear pieces of Wonderbread and put them in their Campbell’s tomato soup and then they would fish those soggy chunks out and eat them and it disturbed me greatly. I know, I’m crazy…hahaha.

Anyway, if you would like a refreshing and light chilled soup to enjoy while the temperatures are so high, give this soup a try! Husband and I will be living off of vats of it for the next 2.5 months.

Gazpacho

-6 cups tomato juice

-2 large tomatoes, chopped

-1 cucumber, chopped

-1 green pepper, chopped

-2 stalks celery, chopped

-1/4 of a small red onion, peeled and diced

-2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

-1 jalapeno, seeded and minced

-1/4 cup each chopped fresh parsley and cilantro

-1/2 tsp. cumin

-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

-the juice of each a lemon and a lime

-2 tablespoons dill pickle brine/juice (it might sound awful; but this is my “secret” ingredient and it adds something really wonderful to the dish)

Combine all the ingredients together in a large pot. Cover and chill at least 12 hours to allow the flavours to develop. Husband and I find it best the second or third day.

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Pie Love

I know I just made a pie post last week; but, I couldn’t help myself from making another. That pie up there is just too delicious not to spread the word. I found a recipe years ago on vegweb.com for a chocolate pie using avocados in the creamy filling and after trying it, I was a total convert. Not that I needed any help converting to a lover of all things chocolate or avocado…nonetheless, the pie was life-changing.

A single 9″ pie will feed a small army; it’s so rich and decadent that a tiny sliver is enough to satiate even the most die-hard chocolate fans. That being said, it’s a surprisingly “healthy” pie: even if it tastes like the chocolate was bathed in soy cream for a week before being massaged with Earth Balance…seriously…so rich…almost truffle-y.

Another bonus to this chocolate gem is how quickly it comes together. The hardest part of course is pre-baking the shell; but, you could simply use a store-bought crust if you want to save yourself a few extra minutes. I happened to have some whole wheat pastry in the freezer so I went with that option. It’s equally delicious with a graham crust; but, vegan graham crackers/crumbs/pie shells are pretty difficult to come by in my little neck-of-the-woods. If you can find one or feel like making one, feel free! You won’t be disappointed.

Chocolate Avocado Pie

-1 9″ pie shell, baked and cooled completely

-3 medium avocados

-1 tsp. lemon juice

-1 tablespoon vanilla extract

-1.5 cups vegan chocolate chips

In a double boiler or microwave, carefully melt the chocolate until smooth and glossy.

Meanwhile, blend the avocado, lemon juice, and vanilla together in a food processor or blender until smooth.

Blend the chocolate into the avocado mixture until completely incorporated. Pour the filling into the cooled pie shell. Smooth the top with a spatula and chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

Don’t stop there! Think of all the delicious little surprises that could be hiding under that chocolate layer: raspberries, thinly sliced peaches, chopped nuts, candied orange slices…or maybe a little mint in the filling? The options are unlimited; that’s one of the most appealing facts about this pie. And, really, could there be a better treat to go along with your iced coffee on the deck/balcony?!

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I’ll be the first to admit it, I’m a summer addict. I love the heat, humidity, sun, sand, all of it. Naturally, one of the best parts about summer is the food. I get so excited to see the seasonal produce arrive in all its multi-coloured glory; I relish my first peach, strawberry, tomato, basil leaf, and zucchini. I also look forward to the first sighting of the summer produce, the best clue as to the wonderful things to come!

A few days ago, my sister-in-law told me the rhubarb in her garden was ready for harvesting. (We have an understanding that I can have as much of it as I want as long as I share the goodies with her.) Yay! Rhubarb means summer is almost here! In a few short weeks, we will begin our crawl down the hill to shorter days and then to cooler temperatures. I feel that’s why rhubarb has such an alarming taste…it’s a wake-up call telling us that the good weather is here so get out and enjoy it because it’s gone all too quickly again (at least for those of us up in Northern Ontario).

And what’s the easiest way to enjoy summer? With a slice of pie, of course! After collecting my pie’s worth of rhubarb, I bought some lovely fresh strawberries and settled on this recipe. Anna is a girl after my own heart with her passion for sweets and baking so I knew that I wouldn’t be disappointed. After trying a bite, Husband declared it the best pie he’d ever eaten: a strong comment from a man whose favourite dessert is pie! Of course, I made a few changes to veganize the recipe and I felt the crumble topping would benefit from the use of whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour so I made that change, as well. Having devoured two slices last night, I can assure you that Husband’s assessment was not wrong; this pie is perfect. My veganized version is below:

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Pie

Crust:

-1.25 cups flour

-pinch salt

-1/4 cup each cold, cubed vegan margarine and vegan non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening (I use Earth Balance)

-2 tsp. apple cider vinegar

-1/4 cup cold water

Filling:

-4 cups chopped rhubarb

-2 cups hulled and sliced strawberries

-1 cup sugar

-3 tablespoons cornstarch

-3/4 tsp. cinnamon

-1/4 tsp. ground ginger

Crumble:

-2/3 cup whole wheat flour

-1/2 cup sugar

-1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg

-pinch salt

-1/4 cup vegan margarine, melted

To make the pastry, combine flour with salt. Cut in the margarine and shortening with a pastry blender or two forks until it is the consistency of pebble-sized crumbs. Add the vinegar and water and blend till it just comes together. Shape it into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a 1/4″ thick circle, large enough to fit into a 9″ pie plate. Trim and cinch the edges.

Toss the fruit with the remaining filling ingredients. Scoop it carefully into the pie shell.

Stir together all the crumble ingredients and sprinkle the mixture over the fruit. Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 45 minutes more, or until the filling bubbles.

Let cool completely before slicing.

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An Apology and Update

Hello there, dear readers. I must tell you how sorry I am that I disappeared without a word a couple of months ago. Without going into particulars, something traumatic happened to me (and Husband) a little while back. Once the physical pain subsided, the emotional pain set in nice and deep and I’ve spent the last six weeks or so just being a zombie…trying not to do anything, see anybody, or even get out of bed. I’m a firm believer in listening to your body when you’re grieving and healing and my body has basically been saying “F@*k it!” to the whole world.

I’m starting to feel like me again, slowly but surely. I have a long way to go, I know, but at least now I can see that there is a time in the not-so-distant future when I will not feel so utterly lost and broken.

*phew*

With that out-of-the-way, I wanted to tell you that I started cooking again this week! My sister bought us a stove top grill/griddle pan (the kind that fits over your burners) and can I get a HELLSYEAH!!! for the awesome power of the stove top grill!?! Naturally, the first thing I made was pancakes…you know me…can’t resist breakfast food or carbs of any kind! I just used my old stand-by recipe but stirred in some chocolate chips and toasted coconut (for colour, of course!) How nice it was to cook all the pancakes we needed on one pan, all at once! And how evenly they browned! We also tested the grill side out, grilling agave- and Dijon-marinated tempeh steaks one night and sweet chili lime tofu steaks the next. I have a confession…I think I like the grill side better. Blasphemy, I know; but, the grill marks! And the sizzle!

Yesterday, I made Black Bean Burgers from Hot Damn and Hell Yeah. The flavour was great but they didn’t hold together as well as I would’ve liked. I think in the future, I’ll purée the beans, veggies, and rice together before forming the patties and see if that helps. To go with those burgers, I made my very first batch of homemade hamburger buns. They were a flop. I didn’t like the recipe I used at all. They didn’t rise very well and they didn’t brown very much. The interior of the buns was surprisingly light and airy, though, and the sesame seeds scattered on the tops were a nice touch.

I’m sorry I have no photos…I have hardly touched my camera in the last two months. I’m hoping next week will be the week when inspiration takes over and I am a helpless slave to my 50mm. Keep your fingers crossed for me! And until then, thanks for your patience and understanding, dear readers. I’ve missed you.

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