Monthly Archives

October 2012

recipes, salad

Ethiopian Feast Wrap-Up: Stewed Greens

Originally I wasn’t even going to post this recipe (if you could call it that), since cooking greens is pretty self-explanatory.  But then the feast wouldn’t be complete – green foodstuffs are a great balance to all the heftier stuff on an Ethiopian platter, and just as deserving of a mention as everything else.

In a similar fashion to the other Ethiopian dishes (the red lentil stew, cabbage and carrots, and split pea stew), this one started out with a hefty glug of olive oil, which generous amounts of onion, garlic and ginger were sauteed in.  Then you add two bunches of chopped greens (I used chard and kale since it was handy), a cup of veggie broth, cover and cook, stirring every now and then.  The longer it cooks, the more tender the greens get – I cooked mine for close to 30 minutes and they were perfect – still had plenty of bite, which I like.

The only thing my platter was missing was a boring tossed salad – think iceburg, tomato and cucumber tossed in a simple vinaigrette.  Boring, yes, but it’s a perfect palate cleaner between bites!  Next time.  And believe me, there will be a next time.

Today’s my day off, and I was determined to carve out at least a couple hours of pure, straight-up, no-pressure fun.  Haven’t been doing enough of that relaxing thing lately!  Happily I was able to spend some time reading this afternoon, which is my idea of a party, no kidding.  What I’m really craving is a trip to the library for some good, dense non-fiction – comfort food for my brain.  Maybe tomorrow!

Take care, cats!

recipes, Soups and Stews

Ethiopian Mild Split Pea Stew

Hey there!

This next stew is a continuation of my Ethiopian feast, which has so far included a cabbage and carrot dish and a red lentil stew.  Woo hoo!

This was everyone’s favorite, and also the one that I totally improvised.  Don’t you love it when that happens?  It’s simple as can be, too – the ingredient list is short and the whole thing is very non-fussy.  The biggest challenge is waiting for the split peas to cook down into a soft, stewy texture.  But it only takes about an hour, so no biggie.

Ethiopian Mild Split Pea Stew
Makes about 6 small servings

Ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, peeled and grated
Thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 cups water
1 cup yellow split peas, rinsed
Salt, to taste (I used about 1 teaspoon)

Directions:

1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, ginger and turmeric and cook for a few more minutes until very fragrant.  Add the water and split peas, bring to a boil, and then cover and simmer for about an hour, until an awesome stewy texture is achieved.  Stir the mixture occasionally, especially toward the end of the cooking time.  Add salt to taste and enjoy!

Well I’m gonna keep this post short and sweet today since I’ve got work and a performance to prepare for.  Happy Wednesday, folks!

recipes, Soups and Stews

Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew (Misir Wat)

Another recipe I cooked up for my Ethiopian feast, in addition to yesterday’s Cabbage and Carrots, was the obligatory red lentil stew, also known as misir wat.  Regina’s Ethiopian restaurant always has some of this goodness at their lunch buffets, and I knew the feast wouldn’t be complete without it.

The recipe is another one courtesy the newest Food and Wine magazine, and can be found online here.  Like the cabbage and carrots recipe, I cut this one in half and it was still plenty bountiful.  The same lessons as before apply – be generous with the oil, salt and aromatics (garlic, onion, ginger).  The only real change I made to this was to sub an equal amount of ground thyme for the ground nigella seeds (couldn’t find ’em) – worked like a dream.

Berbere is a red Ethiopian spice blend that contains stuff like chili peppers, fenugreek, ginger and cardamom.  It is very fragrant and varies in spiciness depending on the brand.  The type I use is from the store and is quite spicy, though a homemade version would be as easy as this.  Berbere makes a great addition to soups and stews if you’re looking to switch up your same-old curry powder routine!

In other news, this is what my balcony view looked like today…

(Who’s driving on the grass?!)

Yup, that there is the first snowfall of the season.  Too bad it didn’t hold off until after Halloween!  Though I really can’t complain, because Alberta and northern Saskatchewan got pummeled with crazy snowstorms and this is really just a polite sprinkling of the stuff.  Ahh, it won’t be long until I’m brushing off heaps of snow from my car and working my arm muscles to scrape off thick layers of ice from the windows.  Good ol’ winter.

In other OTHER news, and significantly more exciting, check out what arrived in the mail today!

Yup.  Yup x 1000.  

My band’s CD!  You can check out our page – the CD is available for download (or free streaming!) there.  It won’t be long until we exist on iTunes, too!  I’ll keep you posted on that front.

How awesome is that?  Look how badass we are!  We gonna mess stuff up!  If you’re interested in having a hard copy of the album, drop me a line and we can work something out.

Happy Tuesday, all!  I’m pretty confident mine can’t get much better. 🙂

mains, recipes

Ethiopian Cabbage and Carrots

Over the weekend, I posted a picture of my homemade Ethiopian feast plate, with its 4 different stews and weirdo injera.  The first recipe I want to share with you is the cabbage and carrot one, which I discovered in the most recent issue of Food and Wine magazine.  I found the recipe from the magazine online, so check it out – it’s a gooder.

Now for some notes on the recipe.  First things first:

-I cut this recipe in half and it still makes a lot.  We got 6-8 servings out of it, but keep in mind that it was served in small portions since there was lots of other food.

-Never in my life have I cooked with so much turmeric before.  1 tablespoon for the halved recipe!  I was all edgy and nervous and wondered if it was going to be edible, and interestingly enough, the turmeric gave it a great flavor.  A little sweet, a little earthy.  Who knew?  Not me – I used to think turmeric was the crazy bitter thing.

-Salt and oil are crucial, for realz.  I probably used a teaspoon salt total for this recipe.  The other equally important flavor contributions come from the onion, garlic and ginger – don’t skimp on those either.

Next time I do up an Ethiopian-style feast, I won’t hesitate to make this again.  Not only does this dish contribute some vegetables to the meal, it just tastes so damn nice.  Mild and sweet and silky.  Plus, cabbage and carrots are among the cheapest foods ever, so how’s that for awesome budget food?

Tomorrow we’ll talk about the red lentil stew (misir wat), which was also featured in the Food and Wine magazine.  Take care!

dessert, recipes

Raw Blueberry Date Cheesecake

So sometimes I dream about food.  In my most recent dream, I was road trippin’ across Canada and I stopped in Lethbridge, Alberta, since I had friends there (I don’t), and they had a crazy awesome vegan restaurant (they don’t).  At this restaurant, I tried to convince my friends to make me waffles with vanilla ice cream, but it was too late in the evening.  Instead, I had to settle for cheesecake in a cup. 

Since I had to test a cheesecake recipe for a raw food class I’m teaching next month, I figured I might as well make my dream come true.  Yay!

A few things:

-The texture won’t be silky smooth if you don’t use an awesome food processor.  A blender would equate with a better texture in this instance, but the wide food processor bowl makes it much, much easier to process.

-I used dates in the cheesecake, but if you want the filling white and more authentic looking, use clear agave.

-I’ve made raw cheesecakes with and without soy lecithin, and it does improve the texture but you don’t have to use it.

Raw Blueberry Date Cheesecake
Makes 4-6 small cheesecake cups

For the crust:

1 heaping cup pecans
2-3 medjool dates
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the filling:

1 1/2 cups cashews, soaked for 2 hours and drained
1/3 cup dates (or agave)
2 tablespoons water (omit if using agave)
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons soy lecithin powder (optional)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the topping:

1 cup frozen blueberries, thawed

Directions:

1. For the crust: In a food processor, process the pecans, dates and salt until crumbly and the mixture just holds together.  Scoop into the bottom of serving cups and set aside.

2. For the filling: In a small blender, blend the dates and water until smooth (omit this step if using agave).  Add to the food processor along with the cashews and coconut and process until smooth, then add the lemon juice, lecithin powder and vanilla and process once more until everything is smooth.  Scoop the mixture into the serving cups and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

3. Top the cheesecake cups with thawed berries – using frozen berries is important here so they get nice and juicy.  Enjoy!

These cups make rather large servings, perfect for sharing with someone.  This is a decadent and slightly pricey treat to make (like every cheesecake ever), but worth it for special occasions…like when you dream about cheesecake.

I’m very excited about tomorrow’s blog post – I’m going on an Ethiopian cooking adventure!  I’ve never made injera before so it could be a grand disaster, but I’m feeling good about it.  Can’t wait to share!

mains, recipes

Zucchini Spaghetti and “Meat”balls

Howdy everyone!  As part of my commitment to keeping Allysia sane throughout this Mofo, here is another blog post brought to you by me, Mike.  Maybe if I do this enough I’ll eventually think of a not-awkward way to introduce myself.

Today I got to have an extra-long lunch break, so I decided that I would make the two of us a delicious and fairly healthy lunch.  The idea came from a meal that Allysia and I made a few months back, but I’m not sure we ever posted it.  If we did, we certainly didn’t post a recipe for the things that we made!

The spaghetti noodles were made from a few small zucchini put through a spiralizer.  I’m sure that spiralizers are nothing crazy, and that most people have seen/used them before, but I was completely amazed the first time I saw that thing in action.  Entire veggies turned into beautiful, curly noodles right before my very eyes.  For this recipe we salted and pressed the noodles to get rid of some of their water.

The sauce was made the way I make a lot of my sauces: buy something pre-made, then jazz it up with a bunch of fresh, delicious ingredients!  We had half a jar of some generic tomato sauce left in the fridge to which I added half of an onion, sauteed until translucent, a few cloves of garlic, lots of pepper, and a few roughly chopped tomatoes.  The tomatoes just add more heft while simultaneously diluting the saltiness of the pre-made sauce.

Now onto the main event!  The meatballs involved a few too many ingredients to describe in paragraph style, so I’ll just list everything below.

1 package veggie ground round
1/2 onion (chopped)
1 clove garlic (minced)
8 soda crackers (crushed)
3 tablespoons soft tofu (blended)
1/2 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
sizable squirt Sriracha
pinch of salt
lots of pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and start to heat a small drizzle of oil in an oven-safe saute pan on the stove top.  Take all the ingredients and combine them in a mixing bowl.  Make sure to get messy and mix the ingredients with your hands!  Form the mixture into small balls and carefully set in the hot pan.  Once all the meatballs are made and in the pan, put the pan in the oven.  After ten minutes you can carefully turn the meatballs and return them to the oven for another 10 minutes.  The balls will be fragile and slightly crumbly until cooked, but they will hold together better afterwards.  These aren’t the craziest, most complicated vegan meatballs I can think of, but they are tasty, easy, and definitely not dry.

Immediately before serving I chopped up a bunch of fresh basil and mixed it into the zucchini noodles.  The plating was pretty simple, but I added some olives and Daiya on top of the sauce to give it an extra boost of flavor.

All things considered, this was a beautiful meal that satisfied the stomach and the soul.  Nothing like a blast of healthy comfort food to get you through the rest of a work day.  The only thing I would change?  If I could I would go back and make this meal at supper instead.  That way it could be served with a nice glass of wine.

Cheers!

Brunch, decadent treat food, recipes

Vegan Sunday Brunch, Episode 17: Sweet vs. Savory Crepe Showdown!

Hey folks!

Some of you might remember episode 8 of our brunch series when Mike and I had a crepe duel.  It was a good time – we laughed, we cried – and we always knew in our hearts that it would happen again.  Except this time, the circumstances are a bit different.

Chopped/Vegan!

For those of you who don’t know, the vegan cookbook author Isa Chandra Moskowitz occasionally hosts a cooking competition a la Chopped (the TV show), where the contestants are given a theme (dessert, entree, etc) and several ingredients they must use to create the dish.  Well the theme was brunch, which meant we absolutely had to participate – you know how we are about our brunches.  As for the ingredients?

Butternut squash.  Rosemary.  Apricot jam.  Popcorn.

It’s on!

The Savory Crepe – Curried Lentil and Squash Crepes with Apricot-Rosemary Chutney


Last time we had a crepetition, I created the sweet version and Mike did the savory.  To keep things interesting, we switched roles for this battle.  For my savory crepe I went in a curry direction because, well, I like curry.  Let thy stomach be thy guide.  Here’s the what’s what:

The crepe batter used was the Vegan Brunch recipe, replacing about 1/2 cup of the flour with finely ground popcorn.  This turned out quite well – the batter was still a dream to work with and had a bit more flavor.

For the filling, I peeled, seeded and cubed a butternut squash, tossed it with some olive oil and curry powder and baked it for about 45 minutes at 400 F.  To sauce things up I made a red lentil dahl – just saute some onions, garlic and ginger, cook 1 cup of red lentils in 3 cups liquid until a stewy texture manifests, and flavor it with garam masala, turmeric, ground coriander, cumin and hot sauce.  I quickly steamed a bunch of spinach for freshness and color to complete the filling.

For the chutney, I mixed 3 tablespoons of apricot preserves with 1 teaspoon fresh minced rosemary.  Served alongside the crepes, the rosemary flavor was surprisingly pronounced and gave the whole meal a fresh taste.  Win!

The Sweet Crepes – Candied Rosemary Squash and Grand Marnier Poached Peaches with Apricot Cream


Long time, no see!  For my crepe competition entry I decided to try a new take on the classic “peaches and cream”.  I really wanted to highlight the required mystery ingredients while adding just enough others to keep it interesting.  I used the same popcorn crepe batter that Allysia did, so lets start talk about the filling!

I started by prepping the butternut squash (peel, slice into small cubes), mixing it with 3 or 4 large sprigs of chopped rosemary, and roasting it for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees.  After the initial roast I tossed the squash with a tablespoon of brown sugar and two tablespoons of apricot jelly.  I returned the squash to the oven and let it roast for another 20 minutes at 450 degrees.  When it was finished it was sticky and sweet, with just enough bite to it.  The rosemary taste was heavenly.

The peaches were halved and sprinkled with sugar before being placed in a hot, oiled pan for 10 minutes.  The pan was then tossed in the oven.  After ten minutes I flipped the peaches over and returned them to the oven for five more minutes.  To finish them off I poured an ounce of Grand Marnier into the hot pan and let it evaporate.  The booze added a nice little edge to the peaches.

Finally, we come to the cream topping.  A quick cashew cream mixed with a few tablespoons of apricot jelly supplied a nice counterbalance to the sweetness of the crepe filling.

Of course, a crepetition wouldn’t be complete without a boozy brunch beverage…

Sparkling Rosemary Limeade

This right here might be my favorite of the boozy brunch concoctions.  The spicy rosemary and sharp citrus flavors came together to make a beautifully bright drink that would be perfect for a warm summer morning.  The weather-gods must have seen this and thought so as well, today was the warmest day we’ve had around here for a while!

The bulk of this drink’s flavor comes from a sweet/sour syrup involving lime juice, lemon juice, rosemary, and white sugar.  I used 3/4 cup of lime juice (about four limes), 1/2 cup lemon juice (about two lemons), 1 scant tablespoon sugar, and two 6-inch sprigs of rosemary (just the leaves, not the woody stalks).  Toss all those ingredients together in a small pot and heat until the sugar is dissolved.  Continue to simmer for 5-10 minutes or, if you have far more forethought than I do, chill in the fridge overnight.  Strain the syrup just before putting the drinks together.

As for the last step, add 5 or 6 ice cubes to a glass and pour in 2 ounces of vodka and 2 ounces of your syrup.  Top with soda water and garnish with something pretty.

Well, I think that’s all for now, hopefully you enjoyed the finale of the crepe battle, and make sure to check out some of the other awesome entries in the Vegan Chopped brunch competition!

Menus

Happy Belated (Canadian) Thanksgiving!

‘sup all!

As mentioned in my last post on Saturday, I was heading out to the boonies (aka the family cabin) to celebrate Thanksgiving.  Games were played, walks were walked, and good food was ate.  Of course, over half of the dozen of us who spent time together ended up getting sick (including Mike and I) – Thanksgiving is a time of sharing, no? Hence my absence from the interwebz, though tonight I’ll try to catch up with you all.  I was sad to miss a few days of MoFo!

And without further ado, here are a few photos from the lake:

Ahh yes, we went with a Tofurky as a main.  We just ended up running out of time to make something, and hey, Tofurkys are damn tasty if I do say so myself.  Plus we made awesome homemade mushroom gravy to go with everything – without veggie broth!  Just took an onion, some garlic and mushrooms, diced ’em up and cooked them in a good amount of vegan butter (probably 3 tablespoons) until nicely browned.  Then we added a tablespoon of flour, cooked it for a minute, then slowly added enough water for a good gravy consistency.  Salt, pepper and poultry seasoning was added at the end for flava, and that was that.

Well I’m gonna peace out and rest more – did you guys know iPads are the best ever?  Mike has one and it’s enabled me to do pretty much everything in bed the last few days.  TV?  Movies? Web comics?  So freaking handy when you’re incapacitated.

Tomorrow’s my birthday, so maybe I’ll be postin’ about that action.  I’m crossing my fingers for perfect health and, perhaps more importantly, I pray that food tastes good tomorrow.  Thanks for your patience dudes, and I’ll catch up with you soon!

decadent treat food, mains, recipes

Tofuffalo Wings and Sweet Potato Fries

Happy Friday, all!

A couple weeks ago, Mike decided to be a genius and make Tofuffalo wings.  He took super-firm, pressed tofu, sliced ’em into chunks, breaded and fried them, and served them up with a ranch and buffalo sauce mix.  If heaven had a taste and texture, this would be it.

But then, we didn’t blog about it.  The reasons are vague – at best I can say it was because it was dark out and the photos didn’t fully convey their awesomeness.  Otherwise, I would have set aside everything and shared the recipe with you sooner than today.

This is the kind of meal you share with friends and family, the not-super-healthy-but-damn-tasty kind of food that isn’t too weird, even though there’s tofu involved.  For real!

And I have to make a comment on the ranch dressing.  I’ve made a zillion different vegan ranches in my day, some using cashews as the base, others mayo, and others soft ‘fu.  This time, we opted for the most authentic ranch experience possible – the seasoning powder stuff you add to mayo and milk.  I love me some home-spun vegan ranch dressings, but this is the way to go if you want something that tastes exactly like ranch.

So that’s the sauce – 1/4 cup plain non-dairy milk, 1/2 cup Vegenaise, and a couple teaspoons of a ranch flavor packet (not all of them are vegan, so read labels).  For the sake of convenience, we mix that with about 1/2 cup buffalo sauce.  It’ll be fairly salty and tangy, which is good because the tofuffalo wings don’t have a lot of flavor themselves.

For the sweet potato fries, you want to bring a bit pot of water to a boil.  Chop up a decent-sized sweet potato into fry shapes (we made ours fairly thick) and cook them in the boiling water for about 10 minutes.  Heat the oven to 350 F, spray a baking pan with cooking oil, and bake the boiled sweet potato fries for about 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat 3 inches of vegetable oil in a large pot to about 375 F.  When the sweet potatoes are done in the oven, fry them in a couple of batches (about 1 person’s portion per batch) for 3-4 minutes, until beautiful.

Keep in mind, too, that the smaller the batches are, the better the fries tend to turn out.  When they’re done frying, let them drain on paper towels.  Insert om nom here!

The tofu breading is a typical concoction – about a cup of flour, a tablespoon of cornstarch, a teaspoon of baking soda, and 1/3 to 1/2 cup of non-dairy milk.  It should be a thick breading, so start with less milk and add more as needed.  To give the breading a bit of flavor, we used a teaspoon of garlic salt, a teaspoon of paprika and a generous portion of black pepper.

Slice some extra-firm, pressed tofu into thick sticks – 1 very small block of tofu gave us 6 sticks.  Generously coat the tofu in the breading mixture and fry in the same hot oil used for the fries.  You can fry 6 tofu sticks at a time for about 4 minutes, until the breading is golden.

Beautiful, crispy heaven.  Toss the tofuffalo sticks with the ranch-buffalo sauce, serve with fries and greenery, and enjoy!’

See you folks on the weekend. 🙂

mains, recipes

Thursday Sushi Party!

Hi!

Thursday is a good day.  It’s no Friday, granted, but Friday is usually a day jam-packed with socializing, or in my case, jam-packed with jamming.  On Thursday, though, it’s close enough to the weekend to inspire the feel-good party vibe without actually having to do anything.

Except make sushi!

Mike and I have talked about having a sushi party for months, but we’ve lamed out until now.  No more laming!  And a sushi party is not complete without delicious, delicious sake.

A sake bonus is that it’s very good served warm, and seeing as today it was about 2 degrees Celsius in my hometown, warm = good.

Clink!

What I really should have taken a picture of is Mike’s face drinking the sake.  He tries to like it, I’ll give him that.  I happen to think it’s a delicious nectar of the gods.  And sake and sushi are total BFF, especially when you add a warm cup of miso soup to go along with it all.

Sake sentiments aside, I should talk about the sushi.  We set out to make 4 different kinds of rolls…

-a maki roll (cucumber!)
-an avocado roll
-a California roll (with an improvised crab sub)
-a deluxe veggie roll of awesomeness

For those who haven’t made sushi before, you really must – it’s hella easy.  All you need to do is cook some white sticky rice, then spread the mixture out (I use a pyrex dish) and add a splash of rice wine vinegar, a bit of sugar, and a sprinkle of salt.  Spreading it out helps the cooked rice cool faster so you don’t have to wait as long to stuff sushi in your face.  Putting it in the fridge also expedites this process.

Then there’s the filling assembly.  The veggies need to be very thinly julienned, and in the case of things like carrots and beets, shredding them with a box grater is easiest.  I like to prep everything in advance and lay the ingredients out all pretty-like.

Sushi rolls taste good with something yummy spread on the rice too, like mayo or a spicy miso sauce or whatever you want, really.  I tend to take the minimum effort approach – nothing beats Vegenaise mixed up with Sriracha and toasted sesame oil.

And last but not least, the toppings!  No sushi party is complete without sake pickled ginger, wasabi and a little dish of Japanese-style soy sauce.

I’m not going to get into the details of how to roll sushi in this post, but it’s nothing a quick Google search couldn’t fix.  Don’t be intimidated!  Sushi rolling is easy, and very forgiving!  I used to think it was a sweat-inducing, terrifying endeavor like crepe making, but it’s really not.  And an awesome sushi feast can easily be made in under an hour – the part that takes the longest is waiting for the rice to cook.

So the cucumber and avocado rolls are really straight-forward – we made them little and cute by only using half a nori sheet.  For the California roll, we made a tofu-style crab by using pressed firm tofu mixed up with half a lemon, a small handful of minced chives, about 4 tablespoons of vegan mayo, a couple teaspoons of pickled ginger brine, and some salt and peppa.  Sliced avocado completed the roll’s awesomeness.

The deluxe veggie roll of awesomeness was made with shredded carrot, beet, cucumber, avocado, asparagus, chives and the delicious Vegenaise-Sriracha-toasted sesame oil mixture I spoke of earlier.

And now that the sushi party has been partied, I am off to spend the rest of my Thursday doing little else but enjoying the warmth of the indoors with a happy belly.  Take care, folks!

(As a sidenote, we were listening to the old Mumford and Sons album tonight, which reminded me – has anyone heard their new album yet?  I haven’t, but I’m really eager to.  It’ll be hard for them to top their previous album!)