Monthly Archives

June 2013

recipes, sandwiches

Brussels Sprout and Apple Grilled Cheese

Today at work I decided to take a little break and run around the internet for a while.  Looking at various food pictures from around the world is always a lot of fun, but today I found more than entertainment: I found inspiration. Brussels sprouts, apples, and cheese.  An interesting combination, but nothing too far out there.  I wanted to make myself a vegan version of this for supper.  Of course, with sandwich must come soup.

I wanted to change a few of the attributes of the sandwich.  I’ve never been a fan of sweet apples, so I will only use granny smith.  Honey is obviously out, but maple syrup is better anyway.  Daiya will substitute well for the cheese, though I feel like I want a stronger flavor than even Daiya can provide.  Some kind of pungent homemade cheese would probably be ideal, but oh well.

Brussels and Apple Grilled Cheese
For two sandwiches

1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups Brussels sprouts, sliced über-thin
1/8 cup red onion, also sliced über-thin
1/2 cup granny smith apple, again, über-thin

4 slices of bread (I used sourdough, because it is the best of the breads)
Margarine for the bread
As much Daiya (or other, most-likely-sub-par vegan cheese) as you like
Tomato slices

Directions:

1. Mix the olive oil, syrup, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes together in a bowl.  Toss the Brussels, apple, and onion in the sauce.

2. Heat up a frying pan and toss in the veggies for a minute or two to brown/shrink.  Remove them from the pan and set aside.

3. Assemble your sandwiches using the buttered bread, cheese, and some of the veggie mix.  Fry in the pan (no need to wash in between) until golden and gooey.

The sandwich definitely turned into one of the better grilled cheeses that I have made.  The sweet sauce combined with the slightly bitter Brussels and tart apples were a great combination.  The soup that I decided to make was a delicious blend of roasted broccoli, potato, and zucchini, but you will have to wait until later for that recipe  See you next time!

recipes, smoothies and juice

Watermelon Slushie: Vegan Sunday Brunch, Episode 47

Guys, one week until I have my life back.

I mean obviously I’ve made some amazing friends in Austin and have had a wonderful time at culinary school and etc, but it’s seriously time for a vacation.  I can’t wait to have the inspiration to blog regularly again and chat with you folks – when I get home from cooking all day, the last thing I want to do is be creative, and so tahini sauce or marinara gets smothered on 95% of all of my meals.

And so I’m really happy this brunch series exists, because it forces me to stop watching Doctor Who long enough to keep practicing kitchen skills, and to keep thinking of new ideas, which really is the thing about food that’s the most fun.  It’s always, always, always worth it.  Even when the recipe that I come up with is super simple, like this one.

Did anyone know it’s hot in Texas in June?  Go figure.  I used to scoff at people who said that heat kills their appetite, thinking my appetite was all buff and invincible to the elements.  Turns out I haven’t been exposed to warm enough elements.  My voracious desire for hearty breakfasts has become a simple thirst – all I want now is water, fresh juice, and more water.  And when I come home from school I just want a supper of cold soba noodles and cucumbers.  And lately I’ve been spending a lot of time fantasizing about watermelon (something I don’t think I’ve ever done), which leads me to today’s recipe.

Frozen watermelon is blended up with coconut water, lime and mint.  That’s it.  A shot of tequila would make this beverage even more awesome if you’re into that.  Frozen watermelon blends into a delicious slush-like beverage which is probably the single most refreshing thing ever in the summer when paired with coconut water.  I know this would be amazing if it were more hearty like a smoothie (subbing milk for the coconut water, and perhaps adding a frozen banana), but I am totally content with it just as it is, as a light and refreshing brunch bevvie.

Watermelon Slushie
Makes 1 large or 2 small servings

Ingredients:

2 cups cubed, frozen watermelon
1 cup coconut water
1 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon mint leaves (I used peppermint and it was excellent)

Directions:

1.  Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth.  Enjoy!

I served this alongside some typical brunch stuff – tofu scramble with salsa, and some cacao nib cherry pancakes (using my standard pancake recipe).  It was fresh and summery, and has once again healed my boring weeknight meals ailment.

Take care, guys – I’ll be gearing up for my last week of school, where we get to plan and design a catering event for the public.  Time is gonna fly!

Brunch, decadent treat food, recipes

Danishes! Vegan Sunday Brunch, Episode 46

At last the day has arrived for us to reveal our super-secret brunch creation! (Well, technically last Sunday would have been that day, but hey, things come up). For those of you who may not have seen our last brunch blog, we made reference to a secret desired recipe that was thwarted by the lack of a single ingredient… And today we have that ingredient!
The ingredient which I speak of is puff pastry.  Not that uncommon to be sure, but as it turns out vegan versions can be difficult to locate in fancy grocery stores where people are obsessed with real butter and whole milk.  Sure, puff pastry can be made from scratch, but there are times when you don’t want to/can’t be bothered to spend and hour plus mixing, folding, and rolling dough.  Plus, this way we can save that experience for a future post!

The recipe of the day today is for vegan Danish pastries.  Now a quick google search will tell you that a number of pastries fall into this category, but we will recreate that standard Danish as North American audiences know it.  Our Danishes involve a mostly-traditional nut-based filling,  as well as a sweet and sour lemon curd.  It seemed like a daunting task before we began, but the process turned out to be easier than anticipated, and everyone loves when that happens!


Vegan Danishes
Makes 9 small danishes

For the lemon curd:

Makes 1 generous cup – more than enough for 9 danishes

1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 juicy lemons)
1/2 cup non-dairy cream or milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
Pinch turmeric
2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon margarine

(Semi) traditional nut filling:
Enough for about 6 danishes

1 tablespoon non-dairy margarine
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans (or both)
1 tablespoon maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For assembly:

1 sheet of puff pastry (if frozen, thaw in the fridge overnight)
2 tablespoons non-dairy milk

Directions:

1. For the lemon curd: Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, cream, sugar, salt and turmeric in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Once the sugar has dissolved, slowly stir in the cornstarch mixture and stir constantly until mixture has thickened (about eight minutes for cornstarch, and five for arrowroot).  Stir in the margarine until combined, then remove from heat.  To help it set faster, place it in a bowl in the fridge.

2. For the nut filling: Over medium heat, melt the margarine in a small saucepan.  Stir in the nuts, maple syrup, chia and vanilla and cook for a couple minutes, stirring frequently.

3. With your fillings made, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Remove dough from the fridge and roll out into a 12″ by 12″ square on a well floured countertop.  Cut the dough into 9 equal-sized squares.
4. Place a blob of filling (nut filling, lemon filling, or something else!) into the centre of a pastry square (one heaping tablespoon seems to be the correct amount).  Grab the corners of the dough and stretch them slightly, careful not to rip the pastry. Fold the corners in diagonally so that most of the filling is covered (don’t worry about leaving a little exposed at the corners).
5. Continue filling and folding the other squares. When each pastry is ready, gently but firmly push down the centre of each Danish, stretching the dough outwards as you do.  Place the Danishes on an oiled cookie sheet, brush with a little milk, and place into the oven.  Allow them to bake for 20-25 minutes, checking the bottoms frequently to make sure they don’t burn.  A note: about halfway through the baking time I looked at my pastries and they looked like tiny little pyramids with big poofy centres. I took a spoon and pushed down the middles before returning them to the oven.

Once the Danishes are finished, remove them from the oven and let them cool.  Once they are cooled, top them as you see fit.  We used a combination of the lemon curd and a simple icing made from a few tablespoons of icing sugar mixed with a small splash of milk.

Roll out the dough nice and thin on a floured surface, and cut the sheet into 9 squares.  Proceed to scatter the squares haphazardly across the counter.

Start with a generous dollop of nut filling, or chilled lemon filling.

Stretch out the edges of the dough.

Fold in the corners toward the center (they don’t need to overlap as much as pictured here, some open areas of the danish end up looking nice).

Place on an oiled baking pan and indent the centers, and bake for about 20 minutes, until golden.

Let it cool and try to resist the temptation to eat it immediately.

Top with icing sugar and enjoy!  Add a dollop of lemon curd to the centers of some if you’d like, for extra lemony goodness. 

Obviously we cannot take credit for it, but the puff pastry turned out brilliantly.  It was flaky and soft, with a slightly crisp exterior.  Even with storebought pastry dough these were some of the best Danishes I have ever had.  I think my favourite part was the nutty filling. It was not too sweet but the walnuts and pecans were deliciously soft.  I would be interested to see the effects of adding some kind of spice to the filling, maybe nutmeg or cinnamon.  Oh well, that is why there must be a ‘next time’!