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Allysia

homemade veggie burger
mains, recipes

A Homemade Veggie Burger Recipe: Easy enough to memorize

This is my favorite homemade veggie burger, and the recipe really is easy enough to memorize. The portions are equal and the ingredient list is incredibly short.

These homemade veggie burgers came to exist one day when I was too lazy to follow a recipe. I’ve made so many veggie burgers in the past – bean-based, grain-or-starch-based, nut-based, etc, and the one thing most of them have in common is that they are so complicated. 

When I want a veggie burger, I am generally craving convenience, so I don’t want to spend an hour in the kitchen to make one. 

A long while ago I posted a recipe for sunflower seed burgers, which I used as my template ever since – sunflower seeds are cheap, nutritious, and add that delicious, fatty mouthfeel that a veggie burger needs, and often lacks, especially in bean-based ones. 

Homemade veggie burger criteria:

But this time, I wanted something even simpler, and it needed to meet this criteria:

-taste good (duh)
-have a sturdy, firm texture that is easy to cook (read: doesn’t fall apart)
-not dry
-super nutritious
-be so simple that the method and ingredients could be memorized upon reading once

I’m happy to announce that all of the above criteria were met, and here’s the recipe that you won’t need.  This recipe is easiest using leftover brown rice, and canned chickpeas.

The Easiest Homemade Veggie Burger
Serves 6
This is my favorite homemade veggie burger, partly because it's delicious, but also because it's so incredibly simple to make. And nutritious, too!
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup sunflower seeds
  2. 1 cup cooked brown rice
  3. 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  4. 1 cup grated carrot
  5. 1-2 teaspoons seasoning (Italian herbs work really well, like oregano and thyme)
  6. salt and pepper (around 1/2 teaspoon each)
Instructions
  1. Using a food processor, grind the sunflower seed into crumbs (some chunks are okay).  Add the brown rice, chickpeas, carrots, seasoning, salt and pepper, and process until a sticky dough is formed.  You'll need to scrape the bowl a few times, since this is a very stiff dough - an important component of it forming it into really sturdy patties.  You can make them as smooth or chunky as you prefer - I like a little bit of texture in mine.
  2. Form the dough into six patties - since it's sticky, damp hands work best.  Cook on a lightly oiled non-stick pan for 5-10 minutes per side on medium-low heat, to ensure it cooks through. Serve with all the fixins.
Oh Waffle http://www.ohwaffle.com/
 

This is a light-coloured patty, so I like to give it chicken-y flavors like thyme, oregano and rosemary.  Dried herbs work fine, but fresh would taste super lovely. 

Enjoy, friends, and happy belated Easter!

xo,
Allysia

Budgeting

Weekly Produce On a Budget

Hey guys, and happy belated Canadian Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving weekend is always busy for me, since my birthday usually falls on or around the holiday.  So now that the long weekend chaos has subsided, I wanted to show you my grocery trip from today – a fresh produce haul that will last us the week, in addition to our pantry staples.

This trip totaled $20.55, and our weekly produce budget is $25.  This is perfect, since we’ll need to buy more greens later in the week, as well as a can or two of tomatoes.  Starting from the top left and working clockwise, I’ll list what we bought, and the prices:

3 limes/$1.00
3 lb. carrots/$1.79
1 large pineapple/$2.00 (on sale)
4 large potatoes/$3.38
6 bananas/$1.74
1 huge head cabbage/$1.68 (this was on sale for $0.29/lb, which is a great deal)
1 large cauliflower/$2.50 (sale item)
3 lb. onions/$1.79
2 heads garlic/$1.06
1 large knob ginger/$0.34
1 bunch kale/$2.00
1 bunch cilantro/$1.29

Lately I’ve been keeping an eye on flyers to take advantage of sales and discounts, because the more veggies, the better.  We usually shop at a mid-priced grocery store (Loblaws) since it’s nearby – if we had a super cheap store nearby we’d probably go there instead.

This week we’ll post some of our meals using these ingredients.  I’m still not entirely sure what to do with that mammoth head of cabbage – perhaps a big batch of cabbage rolls are in our future.

See you guys soon!

Brunch, Budgeting, recipes

Banana Bread, and Other Eats

Good evening!

Today I wanted to share some more of our recent cheap eats with you (information on our budget goals being here), and so far so good!  I haven’t hit the point of feeling deprived yet, mainly because I still have a small stash of chocolate, and I scored some free kale this week… but also because we made some banana bread for sweet snacking, which came out great (more on that below).

First up is a cauliflower-chickpea curry with rice and lotsa seasoned and steamed kale.  Mike made the curry seat-of-the-pants style like he tends to do – he sauteed some onion, garlic and ginger with a bunch of spices (mustard seeds, curry powder, cumin, coriander, hing, salt), added a little water to the pan, and then threw in a head of chopped cauliflower.  That was cooked, covered, for 30-40 minutes until nice and tender, and then he added the pre-cooked chickpeas in the last few minutes of cooking time.  Once it was done cooking, a bunch of lemon was squeezed into it and we ate it with liberal amounts of Sriracha.

Since there were lots of curry leftovers, we enjoyed it on a rice bowl the next day.  Nutritional yeast was added as a garnish, and we enjoyed it with a generous helping of tahini sauce (tahini, lemon, garlic, salt) and some Sriracha for good measure.  We eat some variation of a tahini bowl about once a week, sometimes more – it’s our Old Faithful.

Another rice bowl we enjoyed was packed with black beans and pan-steamed cabbage, carrots and collards (I know you can’t see the rice and beans, but they’re definitely there), with a fantastic, cheesy sauce made from blending soaked sunflower seeds with a whole bunch of nutritional yeast, grainy mustard, lemon, garlic and onion powder, and salt and pepper.  We also ate this with plenty of Sriracha (are you noticing a theme?), as well as homemade ‘kraut.

I wanted a soup that was classy, super flavorful and brothy, so we made a white bean and greens soup with a LOT of garlic, minced but not too small, onion, and lemon zest/lemon juice stirred in at the end.  It was heavenly, and even better the next day as leftovers.  Plus, we used homemade veggie broth which was made from a giant bag of veggie scraps we accumulated over the week.

To accompany the soup, we had chapati, which is a super simple flatbread that can be thrown together in minutes and is made with flour (we used a mix of white and whole wheat), water, a little oil and salt.  It’s beautiful smeared with margarine, and is a nice alternative to bread if you’re too lazy for making that.

But dessert is the best part!  This banana bread exceeded my expectations, mainly because I “healthified” it – doesn’t taste health-foody though.  I’m just not a fan of quickbreads that are intensely sweet, and besides, overripe bananas are plenty sweet anyway.  Even with just 1/4 cup sugar, these are definitely sweet enough, and the banana flavor is very pleasant and almost floral.

Healthified Banana Bread
Makes 1 9×5 loaf

Ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup neutral oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 large overripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup non-dairy milk

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a 9×5 loaf pan.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder and soda, and salt.  In a separate smaller bowl, stir together the oil and brown sugar until combined, and then add the bananas and milk.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.  Scrape the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and even out the top.

3. Bake for 30-45 minutes – I know this is a big time frame, but I’ve noticed that I’ve been using a loaf pan that I thought was a normal size, but is probably larger than what most normal people use, so ours was done in 30 minutes.  Stick a toothpick in the loaf in order to see if it’s done.  Let it cool in the pan for 30 minutes or so before turning out on a cooling rack.

Since this loaf uses whole wheat flour, it’s best enjoyed within 24 hours, or up to 2 days, for maximum moistness.

Budgeting

Eating On $3 a Day

Hello friends!

Well I don’t know about you, but I am happy to greet October.  I love the fall weather, the food, Thanksgiving (as a Canadian), and my birthday.  And now that our place is painted, furnished and purty, life can resume.

Before we get into the blog stuff and just for fun, I’ll show you around the place a little bit.

We have a tiny dining area, so a while ago Michael decided to maximize the space by building a shelf around the table.

Looking good, eh?  Maybe a little lonely and empty, though.

Not lonely and empty anymore!

While we were painting, our place looked like this…

The horror.  Oh, the horror.

But it was worth it!

Why hello there, music corner.

Hallo, comfy Kijiji couch.

Being settled is a good thing, I’m liking it.  I’ve moved at least 10 times in the last 10 years, so I’m eager to just stay put a while.  We’ll see how that goes.

Onward!

As we all know, moving is expensive, especially when it’s across the country.  So in order to cut costs, Michael and I have decided to embark on a challenge this month – not eat at restaurants and spend only $200 CAD on groceries, which is $100 per person, which is about $3 per day, per person, so about $1 per meal.  Intense, eh?

So certain luxury foods are out, like storebought non-dairy milk, nuts, plant meats, plant cheeses, storebought bread, and so on.  What we did is budgeted about $100 for pantry staples, which will allow about $25 for fresh produce each week.

In case you’re curious about more details, we purchased about 7 quarts of dry beans and lentils, and about 15 quarts of dry grain (mostly brown rice and steel cut oats, but a few others for variety).  Other staples we purchased are yeast (haven’t adventured into sourdough yet), tahini, peanut butter, and sunflower, flax and pumpkin seeds.  All of those purchases came to about $85.  Since we already have stuff like apple cider vinegar, oil and tamari, we didn’t factor those in this month.  Same goes for vitamin D and B12 supplements, and a small calcium supplement since we won’t be consuming fortified milk this month (and we can’t afford to eat a crapload of greens).

We spent $20 on fresh groceries this week (who knows if they’ll last the week), which included 2 heads of cabbage (one for making ‘kraut), 3 pounds of carrots, some potatoes, bananas, parsley, lemons, ginger, cauliflower and two big bunches of collard greens.

Throughout the course of the month, we plan to experiment with things like bread baking, soy and rice milk making, and expanding our repertoire of bean/grain cooking.  Instead of thinking about this experiment like deprivation, I’m choosing to think of it like an opportunity to learn new skills.

The only exception to our frugality is Thanksgiving and my birthday – otherwise, we’ll be posting about our eats, trials and tribulations.  Hope it ends up being as educational for you as it will be for us.

See you soon!

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

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!

recipes, salad

Grilled Romaine Hearts with Roasted Red Pepper Dressing

Good evening, as they say.  Konbanwa (こんばんわ), as they say in Japanese.
Since today ended up being a sunny and event-free day (especially compared to the wild storminess of yesterday), Michael decided it would be a good day to fire up the bbq, which is a pretty rare event for us despite how everyone else in our neck of the woods gets all bbq-happy in warmer weather.  
But instead of just grilling some sort of veggie meat, we decided to try out an idea we’d been talking about for months – grilled romaine hearts, served as a salad.  

Grilled Romaine Hearts with Roasted Red Pepper Dressing
Makes four large side servings

For the Salad:

2 romaine hearts, cut in half lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dried parsley
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 slices of bread, any kind
For the Dressing:

1 red bell pepper, roasted and peeled (see directions below)
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon liquid sweetener (maple syrup, agave nectar, etc)
1 inch ginger root, peeled and chopped
1 small clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Directions:

1.  Start with the pepper.  Cut it in half and remove the pith/seeds.  Place it skin-side-up on a hot barbecue or an oven set to broil.  Roast the pepper for twenty to thirty minutes.  When done, the skin should be mostly charred.
2.  While the pepper is roasting, take the olive oil, parsley, and minced garlic and stir them together in a small bowl.  This will be used to brush the romaine hearts and the croutons. 
3.  When the pepper is finished, place it into a resealable plastic bag and let it sweat for fifteen minutes before peeling.  This will loosen the skin.  When it’s cool enough to handle, rub the skin off with your fingers.  Reserve the red pepper flesh for the dressing.
4.  While the pepper is sweating, take the herbed oil and baste about half of it on the romaine hearts. Cut the bread slices into 1/2″ strips and toss them in the remaining oil.  Place the romaine hearts cut-side-down onto a hot grill with the bread slices.  Cook the romaine for 60 seconds on each side, and cook the bread slices until toasted (about 5 minutes).
5.  To make the dressing, combine all dressing ingredients except thyme with the peeled red pepper in a blender and blend until smooth.  Stir in the thyme, and pulse in the blender a few times to break it up a bit.  .
6.  Slice the bread strips into square chunks.  Drizzle the romaine hearts with the dressing and top with croutons.

Eaten with a knife and a fork, this was a really fun and novel way to enjoy a romaine salad.  We’re definitely excited to try this concept with a Caesar dressing when we have access to our pantry again (we’re out of town right now).  Even though we couldn’t make the Caesar today, the roasted red pepper dressing paired very nicely with the grilled romaine, adding sweetness and zest to the salad, which was garlicky, fresh and a little smoky.

Grilling romaine is really quick and simple if you’ve got access to a bbq – we began by tossing the halved romaine hearts with a very simple garlic-herb-oil mixture.

Next, we threw ’em face-down on the bbq for about 1 minute, keeping the lid open (to avoid steaming the leaves and maintain crispness).

After a minute, flip them over and cook for about a minute more.  You should see some lovely grill marks on the lettuce halves.

When they’re done on the grill, serve ’em up with croutons and the roasted red pepper dressing (or Caesar dressing, or any dressing really), and enjoy a big side salad to your bbq’ed meal.  For a smaller portion, they could be cut in half again lengthwise and still hold together quite well.

Well guys, two weeks until we move to Toronto, and things have officially become crazy-busy.  You’ll probably see a little less of us in that time frame as we pack up our life in Saskatchewan, but hopefully we’ll still sneak in a brunch or two.  Take care!

mains, recipes

Korean BBQ Tacos

The final project for culinary school involved creating a menu and serving it to the public.  My biggest contribution to it was this Korean BBQ Taco recipe, which features everything homemade, like the corn tortillas, the tofu filling, and the kimchi.  Those are then served together along with a slice of avocado, some cilantro and toasted sesame seeds for a salty-rich-tangy-spicy affair that I adore.

When it comes to corn tortillas, there really is no comparison from storebought to homemade.  Homemade ones are soft and flexible, and only use three ingredients (water, corn flour, and salt), and they’re not hard to make if you’ve got plastic wrap, a rolling pin, and 10 minutes to spare.  Even if they don’t come out with a perfect round edge (as mine certainly didn’t), they still work just fine.

As for the homemade kimchi, I walked you through that whole thing in the last blog post.  Buying high-quality, unpasteurized, and vegan kimchi is not always easy, and if it is easy, it’s usually pricey.  But the cost of cabbage, ginger and garlic is dirt cheap, and really only requires 20-30 minutes of effort.

But the tofu, of course, is the star of the show!  I marinated it in a ham-like mixture (adapted from Taymer’s Holiday Ham), baked it, and then tossed it with a Korean-style BBQ-sauce.  Really nothing complicated, but it’s got tons of flavor.  I bet you could even skip the marinating step if you really wanted – it wouldn’t be quite as flavorful, but there’s enough going on in this recipe to more than compensate.

Korean BBQ Tacos

For the tofu marinade:

4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons pineapple juice (or whole pineapple, crushed)
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon tamari
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Black pepper, to taste

1 block firm tofu, pressed and shredded (use a box grater)

Combine all ingredients (except tofu) in a shallow pan and let marinate for 30 minutes -1 hour.  Heat the oven to 350 F, line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and spread the tofu mixture on it.  Bake until golden, about 45 minutes, flipping every 15 minutes or so.

For the Korean BBQ sauce:

1/4 cup tamari
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 tablespoon chili-garlic sauce (like sriracha)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
1/2 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

In a small saucepan, bring the tamari, maple syrup, chili-garlic sauce, garlic powder and rice wine vinegar to a boil.  In a separate bowl, combine the arrowroot with the water, and stir into the boiling sauce mixture.  Cook until thickened, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat and stir in the sesame oil.

For assembly:

Baked tofu (above)
Korean BBQ sauce (above)
10-12 corn tortillas, warmed
1 avocado, sliced
6 tablespoons kimchi
Small handful cilantro, roughly chopped
1 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Toss the baked tofu with the BBQ sauce.  Place a slice of avocado on the middle of a taco shell, followed by a spoonful of the tofu mixture, and roughly 1/2 tablespoon kimchi.  Garnish with chopped cilantro and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

These tacos are hearty and spicy, and yet somehow still fit into a summertime menu.  I love the pulled pork texture of the tofu (quite similar to the pulled pork buns we did a week ago), and adventurous omnivores approve as well.

Well guys, we might not be around for brunch this weekend since we’re out of town, but rest assured we will be eating lots of good stuff.  And I wish you all good eats as well!

appetizers, recipes

Sauerkraut “Kimchi”

Allysia’s Ukranian background often leads us to some incredibly delicious foods, but a short while ago she decided to embark on a little food adventure.  As any Ukranian knows, fermented cabbage is an essential component of life itself.  While we would certainly not argue with them, the world of fermented cabbage seems to be open to interpretation and experimentation.  We decided to make our first attempt at a fairly simple, modified sauerkraut based on one of my new-found-favourite condiments, Korean kimchi.

Kimchi-Style Sauerkraut

Makes approximately two cups of sauerkraut

Ingredients:

1 small head green cabbage, shredded

1 teaspoon salt*
1 inch ginger root, peeled and julienned
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1-2 tablespoons red pepper powder**
1 large outer leaf of cabbage

*I am not normally one to advocate the use of fancy salts, but this is a time when high-quality sea salt is an absolute necessity.  Cheaper salts are loaded with iodine that is harmless to humans (and technically an essential mineral), but strong enough to kill off the bacteria needed to ferment the cabbage.
**the red pepper powder should be some sort of pure pepper powder, not a blend, and certainly not American-style chili powder.  We used an Asian red pepper powder.  Be sure to taste the powder before use, as some of them can be extremely hot (like ours!).  


Directions:
1.  Once the cabbage is shredded, toss it into a bowl with the salt.  Massage the cabbage vigorously for ten minutes until it has released a lot of water.  The cabbage should now be soft and partially broken down.
2.  Add the ginger, garlic, and red pepper powder to the cabbage and mix until uniform.
3.  Sterilize a 2 cup mason jar by boiling it, with the lid, in a pot of water.  When the jar is ready, remove it from the pot with tongs and press the cabbage mixture in it.  Be sure to include the liquid from the cabbage!  Fill the mason jar and press the kraut mixture very firmly, trying to keep everything submerged under the liquid.  If you’ve made a mess on the rim of the jar, be sure to wipe it down.  Use the reserved cabbage leaf as a sort of packing material to hold down the kraut.  Screw the lid on tight.

4. The kraut needs to ferment somewhere between 3 and 7 days.  Every day you should open the jar and make sure that the large cabbage leaf is still holding the kraut underneath the liquid.  Adjust it if needed.  After three days you can start tasting your kraut to see if it is to your liking.  We left ours for five days and it was deliciously fermented.  Discard the large leaf when kraut is ready, and store in the fridge.  

Our kimchi-meets-kraut experiment certainly yielded delicious results.  The cabbage, ginger and garlic taste amazing when fermented together, and the red pepper powder gives it an incredibly strong kick.  Most red pepper powders work well for this – it won’t be as authentic if you don’t use Korean pepper powder, but it will still taste awesome.  As mentioned above, just be sure to avoid chili pepper blends (which have cumin and salt added to them), as well as red pepper flakes – they are not finely ground enough to tint the kimchi that classic orange hue.