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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.

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, sandwiches

BBQ “Pulled Pork” Sandwich

Ah, July!  The first time in a while where I am not rushing off to school early each morning to mold impressionable young minds.  As with many other seasonal jobs, with the end of the school year comes staff parties and potluck suppers.  I think everyone loves a good summer potluck: good food, good company, and above all else, good beer.  The only downside with most potlucks is that they tend to be entirely omnivorous, and by that, I mean that almost every dish tends to involve some kind of meat hidden within.  Baked beans with bacon, broccoli salad with bacon, roast potatoes with bacon… I mean, what is it with people and bacon!?  Allysia and I knew that we had to help rescue the carnivores from themselves.

We were actually incredibly stumped when it came to figuring out what we should bring to the party.  We literally spent an hour or two just sitting around trying to come up with ideas.  We had planned to bring one dish at first, but that quickly expanded out to two dishes, and then a third was finally tacked on at the end.  We would bring an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert.

The appetizer was fleshed out.  Cauliflower chunks, battered and baked in the oven.  Tossed with some buffalo sauce (what can I say, I have a weakness…), returned to the oven.  Perfecto.  The desert was going to be decadent.  Really decadent.  Chocolate brownies covered in a layer of cheesecake and drizzled with more chocolate.  The main course was the final invention.  We knew that the hosts were going to be providing pulled pork for everyone at the party (at least it’s not bacon, I guess?) so I decided to make something similar for Allysia and I: tofu “pulled pork” with barbecue sauce!

Tofu Pulled Pork Sandwiches
makes 6 sandwiches

Ingredients:

1/2 block pressed tofu (the really firm, pre-pressed stuff works the best)
1/2 cup barbecue sauce, store-bought or home-made*
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup sliced red bell pepper
1/2 cup sliced onion
2 cloves sliced garlic
1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Fresh buns, cut down the middle (we used sourdough)
Fixings (we used tomato, cucumber, kale, pickles, Vegenaise, and a little extra barbecue sauce)


*We used store-bought sauce, but a quick and easy barbecue sauce can be created with garlic powder, onion powder, apple cider vinegar, ketchup, and vegan Worcestershire.

Directions:

1. The tofu we used was a pre-pressed variety that we have found at a few health food stores.  It is significantly more dense than the extra-firm or super-firm tofu found at most grocery stores.  If you can find it, I highly recommend it.  If not, take some extra firm tofu and place it on your counter top in between two clean kitchen towels.  Place some weight on top (I find 20 pounds is a good amount) and let it sit for an hour to remove all moisture.  Once your tofu is ready, grate it on the coarse side of a box grater and mix it with the barbeque sauce and vinegar.

2. Heat the oil in a pan and slice your bell pepper, onion, and garlic.  Saute the veggies for about ten minutes, then add the tofu to the pan.  Continue sauteing for another ten minutes.

3.  To assemble the sandwiches, slice your buns and spread on some mayo, barbeque sauce, mustard, ketchup, or whatever else fits your fancy.  Layer on some greenery and fresh veggies before finishing with a portion of the tofu mixture.

The pressed tofu gives the sandwich an amazing, meaty feel.  I have used the pre-pressed tofu as well as pressed my own, but the pre-pressed definitely has the best texture.  Since we were taking our sandwiches to go, we let them cool off a little bit before wrapping to keep the buns from getting soggy.  We knew there was going to be at least one more herbivore at the party so we made sure to bring extra.

The party ended up being great fun.  There were even some actual salads present!  The sandwiches were a huge success among the vegans/vegetarians present, and the buffalo cauliflower was enjoyed by all.  We made a huge amount of cauliflower, but they were gobbled up none-the-less – people were mentioning them to us for days afterwards.  Unfortunately our pictures of the appetizer went missing, so you guys and gals will have to wait until we make them again to hear about the recipe.

When it comes to food experimentation there is always a risk of failure.  Our brownies fell victim to that risk.  While still delicious, they were more akin to a thick, chewy pudding than to any kind of baked treat.  If you see Allysia in your travels be sure to offer your condolences on the Brownies that Never Were.  Oh well, you win some, you lose some.  See ya!

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!

Brunch, recipes, sandwiches

Eggplant BLT: Vegan Sunday Brunch, Episode 44

Greetings!  We are here to bring you a slightly belated brunch post, but a brunch post nonetheless!  This week’s idea was based around the fact that Sunday marked the first day after the end of our super-healthy lifestyle trial, and as such, we could eat whatever we wanted.  I was most excited about the opportunity to sauté and brown things, so we came up with the idea to make some baked eggplant bacon.

We wanted to use our bacon on a nice, simple sandwich, and decided on the classic BLT, something we’ve never blogged before (for shame).  Our vegan BLT consisted of eggplant bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato (so I guess it was a BLAT), with some mustard and vegennaise spread on the toasted bread.  On the side we served a quick coleslaw and a super-simple tofu scramble with some melted Daiya.  All in all it was a pretty amazing brunch containing lots of the delicious treats that we gave up for the last thirty days.

Since we both had access to different ingredients (and Allysia doesn’t want to buy a bunch of stuff a month before coming home), we each made the eggplant bacon recipe a little differently, and the changes are noted below.  

Eggplant Bacon

1 large eggplant

1 dried chipotle, soaked in water for an hour
2 tablespoons tamari
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon liquid smoke (or omit and use smoked paprika instead)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 clove garlic, crushed
Pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Cut the ends off of an eggplant and slice lengthwise into quarter-inch slices (using a mandolin or a sharp knife).
2. Mix all remaining ingredients into the bottom of a long, flat dish and toss the eggplant in it. Let it sit for one hour, rotating the eggplant strips once. 
3. After the marinating time has elapsed, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the eggplant slices on it. Reserve the marinade liquid.
4. Bake the eggplant bacon for 30-40 minutes. At the 15 and 30 minute marks, baste the pieces with some of the remaing liquid.  After the final basting, keep an eye on the bacon, as it will go from nice and golden to charred black very quickly. Leave it in as long as you dare to help it become crisp, but do not overcook it.

Note from Allysia: The majority of eggplant slices turned out chewy, not crisp (with the exception of a few burnt pieces), so it might not be a good standalone bacon (our tofu bacon is better suited to that purpose).  However, the flavor is great and it went really well inside a sandwich.

Yeah, so I used kale instead of lettuce.  Kale is nice on a sandwich!  Also I recommend you guys pray to the phone gods for Michael, since he has lost the ability to upload pictures –  but I saw his meal via Skype and it looked awesome as always, you’ll just have to take my word for it this time.

Wishing you all a wonderful week!

recipes, sandwiches

Bean, Rice and Kale Burrito Recipe

You know what’s awesome? Weather that isn’t in the negative degrees! The past couple days, it’s been above zero here, which is starting to get me into that festive, it’s-almost-spring mood!

Logan had been bugging me to make burritos again, since they’re probably his favorite food. In fact, in an earlier discussion we had on what your last meal in life would be, he seriously considered burritos. As for me? I couldn’t even come anywhere close to narrowing it down!

Burritos are the epitome of fast, easy comfort food, at least to Logan and I. We eat burritos on a regular basis (often this black bean and sweet potato burrito), but today we were in the mood for a classic rice and bean burrito. And since we happened to have a stash of kale in the fridge, that naturally got thrown in the mix to make a happy, healthy and delicious burrito!
Bean, Rice and Kale Burrito Recipe


Ingredients:
Makes 6 servings


1 and 1/2 c. brown rice, uncooked
3 c. vegetable broth (or 3 c. water + 1 bouillon cube)
6 cloves garlic, pressed
2 16-oz cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained (or 4 c. cooked pinto beans)
1/4 c. water
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp red wine vinegar
3 packed c. kale, chopped
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1-2 tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice

For assembly:
6 large flour tortillas
1-2 avocados, peeled, pitted and mashed with a fork
Salsa
Hot sauce

Directions:
1. Combine the brown rice, vegetable broth and garlic in a covered pot and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer for the amount of time your brown rice package suggests, typically 45-55 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.

2. In a medium pot, mash the pinto beans with a potato masher, leaving some texture. Stir in the water, chili powder, soy sauce and red wine vinegar. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat until it develops a paste-like consistency, stirring frequently, about 10-15 minutes. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine the kale, oil and salt, and massage the kale with your hands to soften the leaves. Once it’s softer and reduced in size, add the lemon juice and mix. Set aside.

4. It’s assembly time! Start by layering about 1/3 c. of the rice across the bottom half of a flour tortilla.

Next, spread about 1/3 c. of the pinto bean mixture across the rice.

Add a layer of salsa, hot sauce and mashed avocado.

Top it all off with a handful of the kale mixture.

Now here’s how I wrap the whole shebang up, step by step. Start by folding in the sides and pull the burrito edge closest to you over the rice/bean/veggie mixture.

While keeping the sides tucked in, pull the lip of the tortilla shell over top of the mixture, keeping it packed as tightly as possible.

Continue rolling, keeping it nice and tight, until you reach the end of the tortilla. The finished product should look like this:

At this point, you can grab it with ease and devour the delicious burrito! With practice, you’ll get really good at sealing the sides so that you don’t have a supremely messy eating experience. Not that those aren’t fun.

You can also slice it on the diagonal, like so:

I wish it was meal time so I could eat this all over again! 🙂

See you later, and hope spring’s peeking out where you happen to live!

recipes, sandwiches

The Best Burritos

Today I’m posting the easiest recipe ever that Logan and I just fiend for. It’s amazing. It’s fast. It’s hearty. It’s perfect. It has been derived from this recipe, but we’ve made some modifications.

Sweet Potato and Bean Burritos

1 med onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, chopped (optional – you can leave them raw and serve as a side)
1-2 heads broccoli, chopped (optional, but adds a nice crunch!)
2 15oz cans of black beans, drained and roughly mashed*
1 tbsp chili powder, heaping
1 tbsp cumin, heaping
splash of red wine vinegar (or lemon juice, or lime juice..)
2 tbsp soy sauce
*we almost always cook beans from scratch and I never measure the amount out – 1 1/2 – 2 cups of dry beans, probably)
sweet potato, cooked (about 2 cups)
1 avocado, chopped
salsa
romaine lettuce
large whole wheat tortillas
Peel and chop the sweet potato, then boil until tender. Drain and mash. The amount of mashed sweet potato isn’t too particular – 1 large or 2 small should suffice (small sweet potatoes are much easier to chop!).
In a large pot (I use my non-stick soup pot), cook the onion in a little water until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, bell pepper and broccoli and cook several minutes, until the veggies have softened. Add the chili powder, cumin, red wine vinegar, soy sauce and mashed beans, and just a little water, enough to incorporate the chunky, mashed beans with the veggies. I usually use around 1/2 c water. You want the consistency to be fairly thick, so your burritos aren’t drippy. Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to medium low, and let the mixture simmer for about 10 minutes (often less) to cook off some water and get a nice consistency. Stir often, as you don’t want the beans to stick to the pot! Once it’s the consistency you want, taste to adjust seasonings. I’m a cumin fiend, so I tend to throw more of this in.
While the beans are doin’ their thing, you can get your table set so everyone can create their burritos buffet-style. Set out the mashed sweet potatoes, salsa, chopped romaine, optional bell peppers and tortilla shells. Peel and chop the avocado and set out.

*A note on avocados: black skin means it’s ripe. It should give to slight pressure, but not feel too soft. If you have a rock-hard green-skinned avocado, don’t use it until it’s ripened up! Let it sit on the counter for a few days. Avocados are amazing, so make sure you have a nice ripe one for this recipe! Cutting it is easy – slide a knife around the circumference of the avocado (there is a large pit in the middle). Twist it apart so you have two halves. From there, you can peel it, which is easy to do with your fingers if it’s soft – it might get a little messy though! Once you’ve got it peeled and pitted, cut it into long, thin slices.


When your beans are done, put them on the table with all the goodies. To assemble, put about 1/4 c of sweet potato on the bottom of the wrap, then add about 1/2 c of the bean mixture, then pour some salsa along it, then a few slices of avocado, and finally, a small amount of romaine. Roll it up burrito style and enjoy! This is not rocket science – layer how you like to layer. But seriously, this is delicious. If you make it, don’t be surprised if it suddenly appears in your regular meal rotation.
Also, sorry about the lack of picture. For whatever reason, this burrito was forgotten by the camera. Twice. But I’m sure you know what a burrito looks like 🙂