Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tofu Mash Comfort....


For me not much beats tofu with fluffy mashed potatoes and gravy when you're in the mood for comfort food. Ran across this version of Herb Crusted Tofu here, and it originally stems from Veg Times. To get the crispy exterior you simply dredge wedges of tofu in a cornstarch/herb mixture, and then shallow fry it. It takes a little time to get it crispy all over, but well worth the effort. Paired with a potato & pea mash which was super easy to make.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Novice Gnocchi

This was quite the little experiment, having never made gnocchi from scratch before. Definitely worth a try if you've never made it. The dough was a few potatoes mashed, some herbs, flour and salt.

Made a few mistakes, like not mashing the potato well enough, and it took a while to conclude that making the perfect gnocchi shape really doesn't matter (thank you youtube gnocchi experts).

Once you get going, it's pretty quick. After boiling, sauteed with some creamy tomato sauce (regular tomato sauce with a little soy milk added for creaminess, garlic & herbs for a flavour boost).

Got the thumbs up from my young diners.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Are we there yet?

As in, is it spring yet? It hasn't even been a bad winter here, well...other than bucket loads of rain...but I have been feeling some serious winter blahs.

Things are looking up this week though. The sun made an appearance a few times, buds are popping out and things are starting to feel spring-like. I happen to be on a reading break from school this week and had big plans of catching up on a boat load of work projects, studying for midterms, and maybe just throwing the dusting cloth around this place. But in my true procrastinator fashion, I have spent much of the week cooking, reading, chilling and today, loafing around garden centres.

Got some great stuff though! And big garden plans this year - sun please cooperate. New to me this year the lemon cucumber and eight-ball zucchini.

Even though we have a little greenhouse in the backyard, I'm useless at raising seedlings out there, since you can't go a full day without watering. And guess what - I forget. So I bought these seed starter trays that fit your window ledge. I can't miss watering them if they're right in front of me (can I?). Seemed like a foolproof plan, and they were a reasonable price.

A little retail therapy to lift my mood! And speaking of things to lift your mood....this works too...

Mexi-Bowl Dinner...

It was a throw-something together kind of night....and a bunch of half-used ingredients were screaming Mexican at me.

Sauteed mushrooms, some frozen corn kernels with half a pack of Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo. Put that over some leftover brown rice, and what luck, I had some perfectly ripe avocados that needed to be used up so whipped up a quick guacamole. My daughter/kitchen helper (6 1/2) is always the guac maker, so that part was even easier from my perspective. Finished off with salsa and Tofutti sour cream. Delish!

I had been hanging onto that half used pack of the Soy Chorizo, waiting for just the right recipe or craving or some crazy sign (!) to use the rest. And that's because it's like vegan gold - I just can't find it where I live. And if I do happen to find it at Choices or Capers in city, it's ridiculously expensive. So a few times a year I make a trip across the border to Trader Joe's in Bellingham. It's really pretty quick from out in the valley, AND I didn't know (until my last voyage) that groceries aren't counted in your duty limit. So next time maybe it'll be 10 packs of Soy Chorizo (and so many many other things! Insert rant here about Canadian maple syrup being cheaper at TJ's than anywhere in Canada).

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Soup Muffins...and more carbs...

Maybe I've written about these before, I can't remember now, but they're worth mentioning again. I really love the Spicy Soup Muffins from HIAV. This latest batch was the best yet (and I followed the recipe to a T I might add).

A handy little pasta recipe, based on the one found here....enough pasta for two (I used brown rice spag), in a quick sauce made of sauteed onion, garlic, red pepper, curry powder, tofutti cream cheese and a touch of soy milk. Quick AND uses up whatever veg you need to.

And just when I decided to really cut down on wheat, I rebelled and made these "white" bolillo rolls...! I have to say, I was pretty impressed with myself (my baking ability as opposed to my will power).

Party Vegan

Another birthday "do" done....phew. Party Vegan book came in handy for a few things, wish I had remembered to take more photos. Tried the punch - very good and the children liked it and thankfully none of them asked me for pop! Also tried the corn muffin recipe. They were tasty with bits of cilantro, jalapeno and red pepper. Trouble is, they were really dense (not in a good there a good way?). They were heavy little things, I think the batter could have used some extra leavening help, maybe vinegar.

I'm becoming a fan of Alex Jamieson's recipes. For this party I made a double batch of Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili from her Detox Diet book. It's got lots of lime, a hint of cocoa and nice texture with the sweet potato (well, I used what we call yams).

Fantastic mint chocolate cupcakes from VCTOTW - I think they were a hit. Very minty, you better like that combo if you ever go for these. Argh, terrible photo. I suppose I'll just have to make them again to get a better shot.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Orange Carrot Cake with Chocolate Icing....

Orange, carrot, case you're wondering, yep, it works!

So my first recipe out of Party Vegan turned out to be cake, big surprise. In the book it is suggested as a Halloween treat, I made it last night as a mid-week birthday offering for the boys in the house. The icing is especially delicious and we all loved the hint of orange. Definitely one to file under the 'make often' category, it was quick and easy to boot.

Friday, January 21, 2011

New on the Shelf...

Party Vegan and VCTOTW! Yay, they finally arrived!

VCTOTW: I know it has been around for a while now, and I have been able to try at least 4 recipes from it in the last few years. Since those I tried were such huge successes I knew I wanted to try all 75 incredible looking treats in the book. It really needed a spot on my cookbook shelf, and looks great there I might add. I look forward to my non-veg*n friends & family marveling over how beautiful baking IS in the vegan world!

Another incentive, it's my son's 4th birthday next week - cupcakes are on the menu and I've promised a practice run tonight. Deciding what to make is really the issue now.

Party Vegan: The first Robin Robertson recipe I tried was her Belgian-style Seitan Stew, which I think I may have blogged about here last year. It is a fantastic recipe, and since then I've become a fan. Party Vegan is a very cool book, especially if you like to have people over for eats. It's laid out by the type of gathering, such as 'a picnic lunch', 'Halloween' and 'Potluck', and my favourite, 'curry for company'. But if you're just looking for soup recipes, you can flip to the index for a list. Another really handy feature is 'recipes by category', where recipes are listed by type along with a handy classification of being either 'make ahead' and/or 'quick and easy'. My one wee criticism would be that they could have included page numbers here to save having to flip to the index. But this is a super feature none the less.

First up, planning on the Party Punch for birthday celebrations next Sunday, maybe the corn muffins too. Once the birthday craziness has subsided, I think the Creamy Noodle & Vegetable Bake, from the potluck section will be next.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Visit to Karmavore

Lucky me, I got to visit Karmavore yesterday, in their new and much larger premises on Columbia Street in New Westminster. Really lovely shop, I love the layout and was surprised to see they have a take-away area with lovely vegan cakes and other delectables on offer. A great excuse to visit New West, check them out HERE.

Great timing, I was able to stock up on Daiya cheez. Their new retail pack was a great deal on special offer at $2.99. Did I buy enough? Now that IS the question.

So the simplest of pleasures today, I enjoyed a most delicious grilled cheez & tomato sandwich...

As 'faux' goes, Daiya is the bees knees.....and so is Karmavore.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

No Faux

When I first went veggie years ago, more years than I care to mention, there were very very few (if any) 'meat' substitutes out there, and I really didn't know what the h* to do with tofu or beans. I thought TVP was revolutionary. Back then I would have killed for some of the products that we have today!

I've come a long way baby - things are very much in reverse. 'Faux' products are very rarely in my shopping basket...with some soy ice cream (duh) and I like the Yves' and Tofurky's deli slices, some of the Gardein products and if I happen to get across the border, Trader Joe's soy chorizo crumbles are always declared back at Canadian customs.

New vegan products in the fridge or freezer cases stand out like beacons, I just have to try least once. That was the case the other day with Gardein's 'beefless tips'. Given that I've liked the 2 or 3 of their other products, I had pretty high hopes for these.

Sorry to say, they were a HUGE disappointment! None of us cared for them, tasted just like Yves burger-burgers to me. I really wish I would have stuck to good old tofu in our stir-fry tonight.

I'm wondering if it's just faux products in general that I'm liking less and less, or if it's just the 'beef' variety that really puts me off. We like Gardein's 'Crispy Tenders' now and again.

I stir fried the beefless tips, following a recipe on the gardein site, here.

Having said all of this, if you're someone who likes these ready-mades, you might like this latest one. And if you happen to like the flavour of Yves original burger-burger, then you probably will. Don't know till you try!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Phenomenal Cornbread Foccacia

I'm not the best baker in the world and definitely hit and miss with bread.

But this was a definite hit I can hardly wait to make it again! My picture really doesn't do it justice. A vegetarian version apparently comes from Southern Living magazine. I found it on posted by gailanng. It was easy to veganize by removing the parmesan....also used a half whole wheat combo.

Served with a black bean and yam chili, but the leftovers were great on their own. My daughter even took some to school which is saying a WHOLE lot!

r e c i p e

Cornbread Foccacia
2 1/4 tsp fast-rise yeast
1 cup warm water (100-110 degrees)
1 tablelspoon organic sugar
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup plain yellow cornmeal, I used whole grain
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, or crumble up the same amount dry
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 14 1/2 ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
sea salt

Combine yeast, warm water and sugar in a small bowl and let stand 5 minutes. Open the tomatoes, place in a colander/strainer and set aside.

....these next dough steps can be done very successfully in a stand mixer.....

Mix together the flour, cornmeal, rosemary and salt in a large bowl; stir in yeast mixture and 2 tablespoons oil until well blended. It will be a sticky dough. Let your mixer knead the dough - or turn it out onto a well-floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 3 to 5 minutes. Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let stand 15 minutes in a draft free spot.

Sprinkle cornmeal onto well greased baking sheet. Place dough on baking sheet and roll or press into a 12-inch square, sprinkling with flour as needed to prevent sticking (about 1 tablespoon). It doesn't rise a whole lot past this point, so however thin you roll it out is more or less how it will turn out. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in warm place draft free spot for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven 400 degrees. Brush dough gently with balsamic vinegar. Make a pattern of indents by gently pressing in the tip of a wooden spoon handle. Season the tomatoes with a little S&P if you wish and mix in the garlic. Dot the mixture onto the dough then drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Bake 400 degrees for 20 minutes, edges will have begun to brown. Cool 5 minutes and cut into squares.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Party Vegan! Draw!

Great chance to win a copy of this fabulous looking new book, click link to read all about it! Vegan Planet: La Befana and Party Vegan Giveaway!"

Greek Style Tofu Scramble

I LOVE a good tofu scramble, actually I've never had one I didn't like. Felt like making a slightly more complex version yesterday with loads of veggies and stumbled across the idea to marry Greek flavours with tofu scramble on My personal preference is to use medium firm water-packed tofu. So good, I wish I had some leftover to snack on now.

Greek Style Tofu Scramble
1 (350 g) package medium-firm tofu (or your preferred tofu)
1 lemon, juice of
1 teaspoon tahini
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons canola oil (or other neutral oil)
1 small onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced (abaout 5 or 6)
1 fresh tomato, diced
1/2 bell peppers (red or orange looks nice)
2 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped (a few good handfuls)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1 tablespoon tamari (or Braggs, soy etc)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil

Drain the tofu from it's packaging water. Place it in a bowl along with the lemon juice and break it up into chunks. Your hands make the best tools here. Set aside to marinate while you prepare the rest. You could also do this step ahead of time.

In a small bowl mix the tahini and water together -- it can be hard to mix tahini when it's cold, try using hot water and pressing the tahini against the edge of the bowl. Set aside.

Heat up 1 tbsp of the oil over medium heat, and add in the onion. Allow it to cook through, about 5 minutes. Mix in the garlic and mushrooms and leave for another 5 minutes or so. Next add the tomato, bell pepper and spinach. Allow that all to cook for another 3 minutes or so.

Push the veg mixture to the edge of you pan. Put the other tbsp of oil in the centre of the pan and when hot, add the turmeric and mustard powder to it. Allow those spices to sizzle in the oil for a minute then add in the tahini water, braggs or soy, nutritional yeast, mashed tofu, oregano and basil. Gently mix everything together well.

Adjust seasoning and allow it to cook until it thickens to your liking.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2010's Most Memorable Fixin's

My blogging career got off to a pretty lukewarm start....being as I haven't posted anything since last Feb. But, new year, new vigor.

Even though I haven't been posting, I have been cooking, often at a crazed pace. Some faves from recent memory...

Vegan Caesar Dressing, posted on by Cookgirl, who is a treasure trove of good ideas recipe here! It's not a real Caesar replica, but it can be used in the same way. I make this all the time now and have taken it to potlucks...people can't quite place "what" it is with the ground up almonds, but they all seem to enjoy it.

There is something about this 'Schmacon' recipe that keeps me coming back for more. Posted by Sharon123 here!, she's another great cook with loads of inspiration to draw from. My son can't get enough of this, although he is a bit of a salty fiend.

A favourite discovery in 2010 - Tempuna Salad Sandwiches! Mock tuna, mock chicken salad...whatever you want to call it, it's fantastic and finally got me enjoying tempeh - I really dig it now. Another one that Sharon123 from introduced me to, you can find it here!. I guess I'm going to have to make it again soon because I can't find my photo.

I don't get into Vancouver very often these days, but luckily made it over to Kits and what's a trip to Kits without eating at the Naam. The Dragon Stir Fry is still my favourite...

Figuring out "company-worthy" dishes that won't freak hardened omnivores can be a challenge. I'm glad I tried one of Dreena Burton's recipes, from Eat, Drink, & Be Vegan. These Moroccan Phyllo Rolls were great.