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Archive for the ‘veganmofo 2009’ Category

Lentil Stew

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lentil stewSince the big move is coming up, I’ve been trying to clear out my fridge as much as possible. I had a little bit of a whole bunch of different veggies and herbs today and figured I’d throw together a stew to use them up and to help keep away the chill that’s starting to really creep into my flesh. I came up with this little gem on the fly and Husband and I were really happy eating it, especially with some dense, chewy bread I baked while it was simmering.

Lentil Stew:

-3 shallots, peeled and chopped

-2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

-T. olive oil

-2 stalks celery, chopped

-2 small carrots, peeled and chopped

-1 small zucchini, chopped

-2 cups vegetable stock

-1 cup crushed tomatoes

-1.5 cups pumpkin purée

-3/4 cup dry green lentils

-1 bay leaf

-1 cup fresh spinach, chopped

-1 T. each fresh mint and parsley, chopped

-salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the oil over medium heat in a medium-sized pot. Sauté the shallots for 2 minutes, just till clear. Add the garlic and sauté another minute. Add the celery, carrots and zucchini and stir well. Cook till the veggies just start to get tender.

Add the stock, tomatoes, pumpkin, lentils, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil; then reduce heat to medium low. Cover and simmer for 35-45 minutes, just till veggies are tender and lentils are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Add the spinach and herbs and stir until just wilted. Remove from heat and serve with warm bread.

This stew was just the thing to keep the late-autumn chill out this evening…and I’m betting the left-overs will do an even better job of it tomorrow!

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gnocchiTonight, I managed to finish the gnocchi recipe that I had started yesterday. It was the Yellow Finn Potato Gnocchi with Beet-Merlot Reduction, Roasted Beets, and Walnuts from The Artful Vegan. It was unbelievably delicious, even if my gnocchi didn’t hold together at all.

I couldn’t find Yellow Finn potatoes anywhere; so, I substituted Yukon Gold. I’m not sure if that’s the reason my gnocchi didn’t hold together…maybe Yellow Finns are starchier than Yukon Golds? Either way, the gnocchi “mash” that I was left with was so wonderfully seasoned and worked so well with the other elements of the dish that I didn’t mind the little set-back.

The beets were simply seasoned with a little oil, stock, allspice, and clove and then roasted until slightly caramelized. The beet-merlot reduction was flavoured with shallots and dried porcinis and simmered until it developed a slightly syrupy texture. The recipe said to stir in dried cherries at that point; I didn’t have any and used dried currants instead. The dish was finished with toasted walnuts, brined green peppercorns, fresh parsley, and a drizzle of tarragon oil.

It came together superbly! The flavours worked so well together…the roasted beets had enough of a firmness to them to play up the smooth, creamy texture of the gnocchi. The peppercorns added a great sharp bite and the toasted walnuts added richness and crunch.

I had been eyeing this recipe since I bought The Artful Vegan and am so glad I finally made it. I can’t wait to make it again. Hopefully, my gnocchi will hold together a little better next time around!

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I’ve been really slacking in the cooking department the past few days, what with our move out of the city creeping up on us (only 8 more sleeps to go) we’ve been packing for hours every day and subsisting mostly on Husband’s idea of perfect food….veggie dogs wrapped in biscuits and baked French fries. Let me tell ya, I’m missing colour on my plate!!

I attempted to rectify that today and started to make the Yellow Finn gnocchi recipe from The Artful Vegan; but, alas, I missed a key note in the recipe that states that the dough needs to be frozen for at least an hour before I cook the gnocchi. That means it absolutely will not be ready by the time I have to leave for work and therefore will not be posted about until tomorrow. *sigh*

Husband did remind me of something I could post about: the wonderful meal we had at Maggie’s Restaurant a couple days ago. Maggie’s is on Charles Street East in downtown Toronto (Yonge and Bloor). I was really intrigued when we first walked by the little all-day breakfast place because they had a sign stating they had a “Rich Vegan Menu”. It isn’t a veg. restaurant but, seeing as I eat out normally with omnis, I was excited at the prospect of finding a new place that could please any guests I had with me and still allow me to get a good meal.

Maggie’s is a little joint that’s only open until early afternoon. It has a really cute patio and the small interior of the restaurant is cheery and bright. The service has always been fantastic…we’ve only ever had the one waitress serve us but she’s always helpful, sweet, and really friendly.

And now on to the really important part…the food! I’ve had most things on their vegan menu and have never been disappointed. The only flaw I noticed was that the Mushroom Tofu and the Organic Tofu were the same dish, albeit delicious! The amount of food that comes out is pure insanity…a heaping platter piled high with fresh food. All the vegan dishes are served with fresh pita, homemade hummus and tabouleh, and a side salad of dark leafy greens and crisp, flavourful veggies.

My top two dishes are the Mushroom Tofu/Organic Tofu and the Garlic Potato Frittata. The tofu is very lightly breaded and fried till crisp and golden and then topped with sauteed mushrooms and toasted sunflower seeds…it’s simple but really yummy. The frittata is so great. It has a wonderful texture to it. I think they might use whole wheat flour to help bind the potatoes together…it has that wholesome taste I usually associate with whole wheat flour. The wonderful patties are golden and have a great crust on them and the insides are soft and just a little chewy. The garlic is roasted and served on top of the patties. Mmmmm…so highly recommended.

I didn’t get any pics while I was there the other day. We were dining with a friend and her toddler and I really didn’t want to take out a camera with those curious little hands grabbing at everyone’s plates. Trust me when I say that you will leave Maggie’s completely stuffed on beautiful, fresh food. If you happen to be in Toronto and are near Yonge and Bloor, definitely check out Maggie’s vegan menu…you won’t be disappointed!

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Brunch for Two

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brunchI know I just posted breakfast for dinner on Friday; but, that little brunch up there was just too good not to post. I woke up before Husband a couple days ago and wanted to surprise him with a colourful, delicious brunch. I was craving tofu and knew I’d make a scramble of some sorts but had no idea what to make as our side dish.

When I got to the store, they had these gorgeous little ruby red jewels on sale and they smelled wonderful so I based the entire side dish on a container of raspberries. Just look how gorgeous that fruit salad is!

I went super-simple with the salad…the only ingredients were raspberries, bananas, oranges, toasted pecans, and fresh mint. It was just perfect! I’m still so in awe of how incredible whole foods can be: rich in flavour with no manipulation or additions, stunning to the eye, and explosive to the taste buds.

The humble scramble in the background was also very delicious…if a little less photogenic. The omelette from the other night’s dinner was so tasty that I borrowed a lot of the same flavours for the scramble, sautéing onions and cremini mushrooms beforehand, then adding the tofu, tonnes of fresh parsley, some left-over tofu marinade I found in the fridge (couldn’t tell you what was in it now but it was really tasty), and a squirt of liquid smoke. The liquid smoke was a surprisingly great addition.

Husband’s Baba used to make him these huge breakfasts when he stayed with her…I’m talking 6 eggs, half a pound of bacon, most of a loaf of bread in buttered toast….HUGE!! He told me how she used to fry the bacon first, then cook the eggs in the bacon fat. He also told me it was delicious; I couldn’t believe that…I kept picturing his arteries clogging as he chewed and I just couldn’t get on-board with the idea of it being a good culinary pairing.

I figured that I’d try to do something similar for him with that scramble…see if I couldn’t remind him of those breakfasts he had years ago. Clearly the tofu scramble wasn’t as greasy as those eggs must have been and I’m happy about that; but, the liquid smoke added such an interesting depth to the scramble and the aroma was just incredible…it really did remind me of the smell of diner breakfasts. Husband seemed satisfied with the meal, too.

Oh, breakfast food, how I love you…

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omeletteOn nights when I don’t get home from work until after 10PM, I usually rely on Husband to have dinner ready. Normally, he makes pasta or something else equally quick and easy. Last night, I was in the mood for breakfast. I had been fantasizing about a warm, fluffy omelette all day at work and just had to have one when I got home.

I use a recipe I found online a couple years ago as the base; it’s your basic flour, nutritional yeast, and soymilk batter with a little baking powder and oil to hold it all together. I just stir in flavourings and what I have in the fridge as filler.

For the one above, I sautéed some cremini mushrooms and onions and then added them to the omelette batter with some fresh chopped parsley, vegan “parm”, and some left-over white beans and fried the whole thing up until it was fluffy and golden brown. And it was just what I wanted last night: warm, fluffy, delicious, filling and best of all, really quick to put together.

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eclairs 2I did it! I did it! I did it! My second try at vegan éclairs was a success! I’m so excited about the results! Okay, so they don’t look that wonderful….they tasted aammaaazzing, though! And if I practise more, I’m sure I’ll get them looking pastry-case worthy in no time.

I decided to forego the pastry cream completely this time around and instead made a wonderful pumpkin mousse. (Husband and I were having them for our Thanksgiving dessert; so, I wanted them to have a festive filling.) The mousse was my favourite part; I ate the leftovers the next morning for breakfast…from the blender…with a giant spoon… It has a wonderful lightness to it from the silken tofu, stellar pumpkin flavour, and just a hint of sweetness and depth from the brown sugar and vanilla. The glaze is a really basic cinnamon glaze and it worked out incredibly with the pumpkin filling.

Éclairs with Pumpkin Mousse and Cinnamon Glaze

Éclairs:

-3/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour

-1/4 c. cornstarch

-1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

-pinch of salt

-5 “eggs” (I used 5 tsp. replacer powder with a scant 1/2 c. water)

-c. soymilk

-3 tsp. sugar

-2 T. margarine (I used Earth Balance)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Stir together the flour, cornstarch, cream of tartar, and salt.

Prep the eggs by beating vigorously until well incorporated and very smooth.

Mix the soymilk, sugar, and margarine together in a large saucepan. Bring to a rolling bubble over medium-high heat.

Reduce the heat to low and add the flour mixture all at once to the soymilk mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon. The mixture should come together quickly, pull away from the sides of the pan, and then clump.

Add the eggs, about a 1/3 at a time, while stirring. Each addition of egg should bring the pastry back together a little more. By the final addition, the pastry should be one smooth and glossy ball.

Carefully pipe the dough into logs on a baking sheet. Dab the tops with soymilk. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Then reduce heat to 350 degrees F. and continue to bake for 10 minutes more. Turn off the oven and open the door a crack and let cool for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely on a rack.

Pumpkin Mousse:

-1/2 c. pumpkin

-1/2 pkg. vacuum-sealed silken tofu

-1/4 c. loose-packed dark brown sugar

-1/2 tsp. vanilla

-pinch of salt

-pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth. Chill for at least 2 hours before using.

Cinnamon Glaze:

-c. sifted icing sugar

-2 tsp. cinnamon

-1-2 T. soymilk

Stir all the ingredients together till smooth. Start with 1 T. soymilk and add more as necessary to get glaze to dipping consistency.

Assembly:

Slice the cooled éclairs in half lengthwise. Scoop generous portions of pumpkin mousse into the centres of each éclair. I scooped out a little from the base of each éclair to have more room for filling. Dip the tops in the glaze to coat entirely. Place the tops back on the éclairs and allow to set for a few minutes before serving.

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thanksgivingOne of the best parts of a big Thanksgiving feast is the leftovers. I’m one of those people who goes into “phases” with food. I’ll have a toast phase or a tempeh phase or a green grape phase where I’ll only want to eat that one food for weeks on end. So, leftovers are like winning the lottery for me…I sit back and the delicious food just keeps filling me up!

Husband and I had our little feast a tad late but it was worth the wait, for sure! And even more worth it to eat heaping plates of Thanksgiving fare again this evening!

I tried all new recipes this year instead of going with my standard holiday feast of vegan turkey (Bryanna Clark Grogan’s recipe has never failed me), roasted garlic mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, and steamed green beans. On the menu: caramelized onion-butternut roast with chestnuts, herb-scalloped potatoes (both from the Veganomicon), sautéed apples, fennel, and radicchio with Calvados, cranberry-pear relish (both from Fields of Greens), and some simple roasted brussels sprouts. Oh so delicious!

The butternut roast was spectacular…creamy and rich with a sage-kissed crumb topping that browned perfectly in the oven. And can I just say…am I the only person left in the world that never thought of caramelizing onions in the oven?! Genius, Isa and Terry, pure genius! The potatoes were some of the nicest scalloped potatoes I’ve had. The only thing I’d change next time is to layer the herb mix with the potatoes as well as scattered on the top; I love tonnes of herbs saturating everything.

The apple and fennel sauté was a dish I could eat every day! Fennel was tossed with bitter radicchio and sweet-tart Granny Smith apples until the radicchio wilted and the fennel was crisp tender. They were then glazed with reduced apple juice (I left out the Calvados) and a smidge of Earth Balance. It truly was a decadent side-dish! The cranberry-pear relish was also very nice. The cranberry sauce I normally make is similar in that they are both flavoured with orange juice and zest; the addition of pear into the cranberries was welcomed with open arms. It offered a nice texture contrast and wonderful flavour.

Just thinking about it again is making me salivate. I wish I had more leftovers!

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