Monthly Archives

August 2013

recipes, smoothies and juice, Uncategorized

Gojiccino, the Magic Latte

Hi friends!

First – once upon a time I had a Twitter account, but couldn’t really see the point in it, and thus it got all dusty and unused for a couple years.  But I just discovered its purpose!  To be constantly entertained by hilarious celebrities (including the ones who aren’t trying to be hilarious).  Right?  Right?

In any case, I’m charmed by it and if any of you bloggers use Twitter, I’d love to follow you as they say – feel free to leave your handle in the comments.

So as you may or may not know, I have a tumultuous relationship with caffeine.  I love it – it hates me.  The taste (and oh, the smell!) of a freshly French-pressed black coffee is one of life’s best treasures, but every now and then it turns me into Jittery Monster Allysia, not to be messed around with.  Green tea, another love, does the same.  So does decaf.

It’s been months since I’ve been caffeinated, and it took my body a month of re-calibration (read: a month of being tired every morning) to finally feel normal without it.  And as tragic as life is without precious coffee, I’ve moved on.  As it stands, my favorite caffeine-free sippers are as follows:

1. Rooibos (every now and then I’ll get a rooibos latte at a coffee shop).  I prefer red to green, and I like it plain, though it’s great jazzed up with other herbs and fruits too.

2. Teeccino.  Their French-style blend is my favorite coffee-like drink, made from roasted barley and chicory and other good things – it tastes better than it sounds.  Not a coffee replica to be sure, but it’s dark, bitter and astringent so it calls coffee to mind.  Plus it’s great with a splash of milk.

3. Kukicha. I was introduced to this in the Macrobiotics portion of my schooling, and it’s easily my favorite daily drink.  It’s made from the twigs of tea plants, and it’s caffeine-free since all of the caffeine in tea is from the leaves.  The taste reminds me of a cross between oolong and black tea.

3. Gojiccino.  A magical treat!  So magical!  So complex!  Exclamation marks!  So magical, in fact, that we have to talk about it more in-depth.

There’s this company in Ontario that makes a product called Gojiccino, which I accidentally discovered at a restaurant called Fresh.  You use it as you would an espresso shot in a latte-type drink – a shot or two in some steamed milk.  It kind of blew my mind.  Naturally sweet but not sugary, it’s toasty and bitter, with strong caramel tones, and a magical somethin-somethin that I just can’t place, that piece of complexity that makes the drink intriguing and addictive.

And then I had to go home and make it myself.  The concept is simple enough – toast some goji berries, blend them into a thick liquid with a little hot water, strain, and voila.  It’s not quite as awesome as their product, but that’s because they use magic.  So for those of you who don’t have this drink available near you, rest assured you can do up a delicious home version before it becomes available across North America (here’s hoping!).

No recipe this time, just a general method.  Toast some goji berries on a dry skillet for 15 minutes or so, until they’re soft and dark (even burnt in places).

Toss ’em in a blender with a little water – just enough to get the machine running properly, not so much as to dilute the flavor.

When it’s blended, strain the mixture so it’s smooth (I use a nut milk strainer bag, but a fine mesh sieve should work in theory, it would just be more time-consuming).

That’s it!  Heat up some milk and add a spoonful of the goji mixture to it.  Enjoy immensely.  And support a great Canadian company!  It should be noted that I’m not affiliated with them in any way – this post comes from a pure love of gojiccino.

Happy Wednesday!

Brunch, recipes, sandwiches

Spicy Scrambled Tofu Sandwich: Vegan Sunday Brunch, Episode 55

Guys!  Wanna know something super fancy?

Michael and I are now officially set up to teach cooking classes in Toronto.  So far we’ve got four classes up on the main page, but we’ve got many more in the works – there’s been mad amounts of recipe testing around here.  Our fridge has been constantly happy!  The next goal is to tour with the band, while simultaneously touring cooking classes.  Loud rock music + vegan food = hell yeah, it’s gonna happen.

Onward!  I was craving sandwiches, and it’s Jolene‘s fault for making awesome sandwiches so often (it’s a good thing to be at fault for).  I wanted something savory and meaty and decadent, which Michael definitely accomplished here.  Yeah, I didn’t have any part in creating this one except to happily devour it.  Still counts, right?

Scrambled Tofu Sandwiches
makes enough for 4 hearty sandwiches, with some leftovers for later

Ingredients:

1 package vegan chorizo-style veggie meat

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
1 block firm tofu, crumbled
1 cup unsalted veggie broth (or use regular broth and omit the smoked salt)
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons sliced green onion
1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked salt
1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
Black pepper, to taste
4 ciabatta buns, sliced in half
Vegan mayo, if desired
8 lettuce leaves
1 tomato, sliced
1 avocado, sliced
Daiya shredded cheese
Directions:

1. Heat a pan and cook the chorizo according to package instructions.  This usually means about 5 minutes.  When finished, set it aside in a small bowl.
2. Heat the olive oil in the same pan and sauté the onions and red pepper for 4 minutes.  Add the mushroom and garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes. Crumble in the tofu and sauté for 3 more minutes.
3. Add the broth, wine, green onion, and spices and reduce to concentrate flavour.
4. When the liquid is reduced, stir in the cooked chorizo.  Heat just long enough for everything to be hot.
5. Layer the sandwich ingredients on the buns and top with a touch of shredded vegan cheese.  You may wish to warm the buns a little to soften them a bit before piecing together the sandwiches.

And a messy-delicious interior shot.

So much yum.  I could eat sandwiches all day, every day.

A question for you bloggers – anyone else participating in Vegan MoFo this year?  I was a little apprehensive at first due to being busy, but then Michael talked me into it and as if by miracle, a theme came to me.  Well, not so much a theme as a concept, but you’ll see in a week when it all begins.  This will be my third year participating, and it’s always a blast, if not a challenge to publish a blog post every single day.  But I love challenges!

Hope you had a great weekend and, as of this writing, a great Monday.  Oodles and toodles.

mains, recipes

(The Best) Vegan Fried Rice (Ever)

Hi there and welcome to our second edition of “The Best, Ever”.  The first time around we brought you a truly delicious vegan lava cake.  For this edition we decided focus on a different kind of treat, a perfect blend of salty, sweet, and savory: Fried rice.

My mouth is salivating already!

Every Chinese restaurant can make delicious fried rice, but it always seems impossible to duplicate the results at home.  In some ways this is a good thing: homemade fried rice is almost always less greasy and less salty, and healthy fried rice recipes exist all around the internet.  The downside of these guilt-free versions is that you lose the true fried-rice experience.  That oil and salt is there for a reason!  This recipe focuses on a truly authentic experience, and forgoes any “homemade = healthy” pretensions (though it’s still healthier than most takeout).

Our fried rice adventure required us to pass three milestones: we needed the perfect meat alternative, we needed the perfect rice, and we needed the perfect stir-fry technique.  The part of “meat” in this production was played by our good friend Seitan.  A nice seitan loaf, seasoned properly, is meatier in texture than both tofu and seitan, which is why we’ve used it here as a stand-in for pork.  The rice is an interesting thing: most people think you need leftover rice for fried rice, but we’ve found the perfect way to make same-day fried rice that tastes completely authentic.  The stir-frying technique is fantastically simple, so with no further adieu, let’s go!


Part One: Sweet and Spicy Seitan

4 cups vegetable broth
4 cups water
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 inches ginger, sliced thin

1 cup wheat gluten
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 cup cold vegetable broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoons dried chili flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, grated
2 inches ginger root, grated

1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon chili flakes
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Directions:

1. Place the veggie broth, water, smashed garlic, and sliced ginger in a large pot and set the heat to high.

2. While the cooking broth heats up, mix the gluten and nutritional yeast together in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl combine the remaining seitan ingredients (veggie broth, soy sauce, lime juice, chili flakes, oil, garlic, and ginger).

3. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Once the liquid has been mostly absorbed remove the dough from the bowl and knead for about three minutes.  It will be very elastic and fairly tough.  Form it into a wide, flat log.

4. When the cooking liquid is boiling place the seitan log in the pot, partially cover, and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Cook the seitan for 45 minutes.  Remove the pot from the heat and cover completely.  Place the whole pot into the fridge and let the seitan sit in the broth overnight (see note below).

5. When you are ready to make your fried rice, take the remaining five ingredients and mix them together in a bowl.  Cut about half of the seitan into small slices and toss it with the glaze.
6. Now comes the best part.  Place the seitan in a frying pan set to medium heat.  Dump in the remaining glaze.  The key to getting perfectly delicious seitan meat candy is to fry the seitan for a good, long time, stirring often.  Eventually the sugars will reduce and caramelize, coating the seitan bits in a sticky layer of sweet and spicy heaven.

Seitan bits, ready to be fried.

Note: During the boiling, the seitan loaf will expand and poof up.  This is entirely normal, but mildly alarming if it is your first time making it.  Cooling the seitan overnight will allow it to absorb a little more flavour, but the real reason is to firm it up.  It will originally be somewhat light and spongy, but 8 or more hours later it will be nice and dense – a perfect meat substitute.

Delicious seitan candy!

Part Two: Same-Day Rice

1 cup long grain white rice
2 tablespoons neutral oil (we used grapeseed oil)
2 cups water
Directions:

1. Start the rice in a dry, cool pot.  I know it sounds crazy, but trust me.  Add enough oil (about 2 tablespoons) to coat the rice and leave the bottom of the pot slick.  The rice at the bottom shouldn’t be swimming in oil.  Turn up the heat to medium.
2. Before cooking, the rice will be translucent.  Our goal is to make it opaque.  Stir the rice constantly for 10 – 15 minutes until it all looks solid and white.  My rice got a little brown, but that is what happens when you need to pause and take pictures every few minutes.  This is a technique called “parching” the rice.
3. When the rice is opaque, add the water and set it to high heat.  Do not cover!  Once the rice is at a full boil, give it a quick stir and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Let the rice continue cooking until almost all the liquid is gone.
4. Once the liquid is almost entirely boiled off you can give the rice another stir, remove it from the heat and cover.  The rice should be al dente – firm enough to stand up to a final frying, but not so hard as to be crunchy.
Close-up of dry, raw rice prior to parching.
Parched rice (note the more “solid” white colour of the rice).
This odd technique for cooking the rice may seem a little wild, but it really is the best way to get rice the perfect fried rice texture.  As my cousin said last night, the grains of rice have issues with their personal space: they stand alone, rather than cuddle up and mush together.  Sure, you can always use day-old rice like the restaurants use, but sometimes you need your junk-food fix right away.  This rice works perfectly in any recipe that calls for somewhat dried-out rice: Spanish carne asada, burritos, salads, the list goes on.
Part Three: The Final Fry

About 4 cups of assorted sliced/diced veggies (carrot, broccoli, and cabbage are all favourites)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon sugar
Drizzle toasted sesame oil

A beautiful mise en place, if I do say so myself.

Directions:

1. First things first: Fried rice is all about improvisation and last-minute decisions.  Don’t have any broccoli?  Sub in bok choy.  Ran out of carrot?  Omit it entirely.  The best way to decide what to put in your fried rice is to open the fridge and grab a little bit of everything.  Variety is the spice of life and all that.  For us, this meant that our meal involved cabbage, carrot, broccoli stalks and florets, leek, green onion, and zucchini.  Get all of your veggies cut up into nice bite-sized chunks.  Using a wok effectively is a very hands-on experience, so you won’t have time to cut things up during.
2. Grab a wok and add a small splash of high-heat oil.  Grape seed or unrefined sesame work great, but safflower or canola will do in a pinch.  Add a tablespoon to the wok and let it reach a screaming hot temperature.  Here is the secret to good wok cooking at home: that dial that I told you to set to “high”?  Leave it there and don’t touch it until you are done.  I set mine to max and left it.  You need high heat to actually stir fry something without just steaming it.  Trust us on this one.
3. Your ingredients need to be divided up based on how quickly they cook.  Things like broccoli stalks and carrots take the longest.  Drop them in the wok and stir/flip them around for a few minutes until slightly soft.  If you don’t stir constantly everything will burn, so be careful.  A stir-fried utopia will be the reward for your vigilance.
4. Next up is the softer items.  Onion, cabbage, and leeks would fall into this category.  Drop ’em in, stir ’em up, and let them cook for a minute or two.
5. At this point you could add some aromatics, which includes ginger, garlic, shallot, green onion, etc.  Toss everything for another minute.
6. Finally it is time to add the delicates.  Broccoli florets and zucchini count, as well as things like sweet corn and lighter greens.  Toss everything around yet again.
7. Before we can finally eat, we have to toss in the rice.  Add it to the wok and stir quickly, then pour in the soy sauce, dried ginger, sugar, and sesame oil.  Toss everything to coat and voila, your meal is ready.

The first few batches of veggies sizzling, steaming, and popping away.
There are a lot of steps to this fried rice, but it’s not as complicated or time-consuming as it may seem – plus, the reward is an amazing meal (or side dish).  Plate up some of the rice/veggies and spoon on some of the seitan candy.  Top it all with some sesame seeds and maybe a dash of sriracha.  It may not be the healthiest meal, but it is certainly the best fried rice I have had in a long, long time.

A little piece of heaven.

Brunch, recipes

Parfait Pancakes: Vegan Sunday Brunch, Episode 54

Hey there!

It’s been way too long since we’ve made pancakes.  They’re one of those brunchy items I love to rotate, since they’re so easy, and just take a little bit of doctoring to make super classy – like the beet heart pancakes or chocolate orange pancakes, plus countless others (I’ve made a lot of pancakes).  Today we decided on full-throttle sugar rush – pancakes that would be right at home for dessert, because sometimes you’ve just gotta.

So the base is a regular whole wheat pancake, topped with a hefty dollop of coconut whip, drizzled with two different sauces – a raw chocolate sauce, and a raw caramel sauce.  We chopped up some toasted peanuts as a crunchy and flavorful garnish.  The final result?  These pancakes were just as decadent and heavenly as they sound.  Only one thing would’ve have made this pancake even more awesome – ice cream instead of whipped cream.  Yeah, you know it.

Parfait Pancakes
Serves 2

For the pancakes:

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
Pinch salt
1 1/4 cups non-dairy milk
2 teaspoons neutral oil
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the coconut whip:

1 can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated at least 24 hours (I use Thai Kitchen brand)
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the raw chocolate sauce:

2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted to liquid
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the raw caramel sauce:

15 soft medjool dates, pitted
1 cup raw non-dairy milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

For the pancakes: In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Add the milk, oil, syrup and vanilla and stir until just combined – don’t over-mix.  Heat an awesome non-stick pan over medium low heat, and add a little oil.  Ladle roughly 1/2 cup batter into the pan (will make 4 large pancakes), cook until the underside is golden, flip, and cook for a few more minutes until both sides are golden.  Continue with all the batter.

For the coconut whip: Spoon out the solidified coconut cream into a large bowl, add the syrup and vanilla, and beat with electric beaters until fluffy.  Place in the fridge to keep it cold.

For the chocolate sauce: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir.  If your maple syrup is cold it might cause the coconut oil to re-solidify, in which case set the chocolate sauce in a sunbeam, or heat it in a saucepan over low heat until it’s melted.

For the caramel sauce: Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  We made a larger batch of this so it would fit in our blender, but feel free to cut it in half if you have a smaller blender.

Notes: Using the milk gives this caramel a pale color, so I might try just blending it in water next time for a deeper color, though it is deliciously rich with the non-dairy milk.  I’d also like to give a shout-out to Gabby at the Veggie Nook, whose raw chocolate I used as a launching pad for the chocolate sauce.

It’s also important to assemble these pancakes right before serving, since the warm pancake will melt the cold coconut whip if you leave it too long.  Same goes if you’re using ice cream (which you know you wanna).

The whipped cream gets all melty if it sits on the pancakes for too long – but it’s still a delicious mess.  Oh, if I could go back in time and eat this again, I would.

Well hope you all had a great weekend full of delicious eats, and we’ll catch you next time with a recipe we’re really excited to share!

recipes, Soups and Stews

Homemade Vegan Chili

Now that Allysia and I are starting to get settled into our new Toronto life (Allysia: And we have a place to live now…yusss!), we are finally able to start spending some time being creative in the kitchen again.  There have been a few dals, lots of soups, some sammiches, and lots of delicious greens.  We have been eating a lot of what you could call ‘ethnic foods’, but this time I wanted something from my past.  Something comforting,  something really hearty.  I wanted to make chili.

Truth be told, I’m not entirely sure I have ever made homemade chili before now, which seems sort of odd.  Luckily I don’t think whipping up a batch of homemade chili really requires a recipe, so what follows is my seat-of-the-pants last-minute chili creation – feel free to modify it to your hearts’ content.

Homemade Vegan Chili
makes four servings

Ingredients:

3/4 cup dried kidney beans (or 1 1/2 cups canned)
3/4 cup dried white beans (or 1 1/2 cups canned)
1 1/2 cups dried TVP chunks
3 cups veggie broth or lightly salted water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium zucchini, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon brown sugar
28 oz can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground thyme
1/2 tablespoon ground chipotle
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons lemon juice (or lime)
Directions:

1. If using dried beans, soak them overnight separately.  After the soaking, boil them until tender. Different beans have different cooking times so use separate pots.
2. Bring the veggie broth or salted water to a boil and add the TVP to rehydrate.  Remove from heat and let stand for about 20 minutes.
3. In a large pot, heat the olive oil and stir in the onion.  Sauté for about seven minutes, then add the garlic and zucchini.  Sauté for two more minutes before stirring in the brown sugar.
4. Add the can of tomatoes (including the liquid from the can) and reduce, partially covered, for 30 or so minutes.
5. Add the cooked beans, TVP, and all spices (except lemon juice).  Stir and continue cooking for another 10-20 minutes for the flavours to combine.
6. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.  Serve with vegan sour cream, cheese, and diced chives.

For the most part the recipe was just created on-the-go.  A little of this, a little of that.  I looked at the spice rack and tried to figure out what sounded good.  I love the smoky heat of chipotle peppers and a little extra cumin never hurt anyone.  The mix of beans worked well, but really you could use any beans you like.  Obviously the TVP is optional, but I do feel like the extra meaty-ness does help the recipe.  You could easily sub it out for some tofu, chickpeas, or anything, really.
Life has been pretty busy here around the Real Meal headquarters, but with a little luck everything should start to “slow down” and become “less crazy” soon.  Ha.  Yeah right.
Later.

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Brunch, recipes

Mushroom and Sage Frittata, Take 1: Vegan Sunday Brunch, Episode 53

Guys!

So some very exciting things happened this week.  Namely:

-Wrote my harmony exam (through the Royal Conservatory) – it’s a classical piano thing.  And it was grueling, but I’m sure I passed and now it’s over.

-Finally created a Facebook page!  Which I’m very, very excited about, so you should come hang out.  Especially because I just rhymed for the occasion.

-Updated the “About” section of this blog, as well as the general sidebar – there’s now a photo of us.  And there’s a whole bunch of new photos in the ‘about’ section, including a really stupid embarrassing funny one.  What can I say, our photographer brought wine.

-I continued living in Toronto this week.  Yes, it counts as an exciting thing.  But I didn’t really take pictures, because we’re busy trying to avoid homelessness.  Adventure photos really only come about when there’s no stress involved.  But take my word for it, I’ve been eating at some great restaurants, even if there are no pictures to show for it!

I could get into the more minor exciting things, like finding local Ontario produce in grocery stores (yellow plums!), having an awesome cat to hang out with (for a couple more weeks, anyway), and finding a potential awesome space to teach cooking classes at (score!), but then this’ll just turn into a big ramble and what we’re really here for is brunch!

Frittatas aren’t new to this blog – we’ve made a Denver frittata before, and little ramekin frittatas.  But what I really wanted to accomplish this week was to make a more wholesome version that didn’t require an actual recipe, because it’s much more fun that way.

Let’s say it was an 80% success.  The 80% includes the flavor, which was spot-on – a mix of shiitake, button and oyster mushrooms were sauteed with onion and then tossed with some minced sage, which was then combined with the ‘egg’ base – a couple cartons of firm silken tofu blended with about 1/2 cup of chickpea flour, with a teaspoon each of mustard and salt, and half a teaspoon turmeric.  The texture was excellent, if a bit overcooked (baked at 350 F for 40 minutes, and then broiled for a couple more).

The 20% non-success is mostly related to this incident:

Ah, the underside, stubbornly clinging to our old pan.  I’m not sure if this is a problem of our pan, or what – all I can conclude is that more experimenting is necessary.  At least when we flipped the frittata right-side up, it looked like this:

(Mostly) unscathed, with its unflattering bottom tucked away for no one to see (sorry frittata, I’m aware of how insulting that sounds).  And when we sliced it up, and served it with some roasted kabocha squash and fresh salad, you couldn’t even tell that such a disaster had occurred.

Now I know what you’re thinking – “Mushrooms, sage and roasted squash?  Those be autumn thangs”.  You’re right, of course.  But I do what I want.  And also, it’s been unseasonably cool the last couple weeks, with highs of 22 C – it’s starting to feel like September already.  Here’s hoping for a warm snap before it’s September for real.

Happy weekend, all!

Brunch, recipes, sandwiches

Open-Faced Tuna Melt: Vegan Sunday Brunch, Episode 52

Hi guys!

Long time no see, eh?  We kind of disappeared off the map the last couple weeks, seeing as we just moved across the country.  But after a 30-hour drive and ample time to recuperate, we’re back with some brunch, which ended up being a meal I had a random and passionate craving for mid-week: a tuna melt.

Tuna melts always sound like greasy diner food to me, so I wanted to clean it up a bit – something hearty and flavorful with minimum processed ingredients.  We accomplished this by using mashed chickpeas as the tuna base, homemade cashew mayo, and a vegetable-based cheese sauce with just a bit of cheddar Daiya for gooeyness.  Instead of frying fries, we baked ’em instead, and served it all with a side salad to green things up a bit.

Open-Faced Tuna Melt
Makes about 8 toasts

For the chickpea salad:

1/2 cup cashews
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons hot mustard
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons neutral oil

2 generous cups cooked chickpeas, lightly mashed
1/2 cup diced dill pickles
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup finely chopped dill

In a blender, combine the cashews, lemon juice, sugar, soy sauce, mustard, onion powder, garlic powder and water and blend until smooth.  With the blender still running, slowly drizzle in the oil until emulsified.  Since we have a very large blender, we made a double batch of the mayo sauce, and it turned out just fine.

In a large bowl, combine the mashed chickpeas, pickles, celery, onion and dill and stir.  Stir in the blended cashew mixture.

For the vegetable cheese sauce:

Follow my old recipe here.  The only changes I make to it after all this time is to use fresh mustard instead of powdered, and to sometimes use more salt.  It also tastes good with some nooch too, though it works just as well without it.

For assembly:

6-8 slices of bread
1 large tomato, slices
Tuna mixture
Cheese sauce mixture
Daiya cheddar cheese

First, toast the bread and preheat the oven to broil.  Place all the toasts on the baking sheet.  Add a tomato slice (or two) to each piece of toast, and then spoon on as much tuna mixture as you like, about 1/4 cup per slice of bread.  Drizzle on a generous amount of cheese sauce to each toast (about 2 tablespoons), and top with a sprinkle of cheddar Daiya (or a few thinly sliced cheddar pieces).  Place in the oven underneath the broiler for 3-5 minutes, rotating the pan if necessary, until everything is warm and gooey and the cheese has melted and browned slightly.  Serve toasts with baked fries and a side salad.  Enjoy!

For the baked sesame fries:

2 medium russet potatoes, washed
2 tablespoons neutral oil
1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Dash salt and pepper

Julienne the potatoes into fry shapes and rinse them.  In a large bowl, soak the fries in warm water for 20 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 425 F.  Drain the potatoes and dry with a clean rag, toss with the neutral oil, and bake on a baking sheet for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and turn the fries, adding a little more oil if necessary, and bake another 15 minutes, turning them every 5 minutes.  When they’re done, place ’em in a medium bowl and toss with the sesame oil, sesame seeds, salt and pepper.  Enjoy!

 These fries were among the best baked fries we’ve made to date, and they really are worth trying with the addition of toasted sesame oil and seeds – they add a little savory somethin’ somethin’.  Of course, I can’t wrap up this blog post without one more comment on the tuna melt – it was gooey and decadent without being overly greasy or salty, which was exactly what I was in the mood for this morning.  Brunch win!