Monthly Archives: May 2011

Oh Canada, Our Home and Vegan Land

This Saturday we’re making a Canadian-themed brunch. We’re working diligently on it – we’ve already made homemade pickles for the sandwich – and I thought I’d post the menu we came up with.

POUTINE HASH

This option is gluten-free.
A thick, savoury gravy ladled on top of our custom combination of vegan cheeses and roasted potato wedges, with green onions, mixed wild mushrooms, and a touch of black truffle oil. Served with sides of coleslaw and mixed greens.

PIEROGIES

Cheese and bacon flavoured organic potato enveloped by thinly rolled fresh dough, pinched, boiled, and lightly fried, then topped with more housemade bacon bits, fried onions, and a dill cream sauce. Served with a side salad.

MONTREAL-STYLE SMOKED SEITAN SANDWICH

This option can be prepared soy-free upon request.
A slow-cooked seitan roast, simmered for 24 hours, thinly sliced and layered with sauerkraut and onions between crusty rye bread spread with cherry mustard and mayo. Served with a housemade dill pickle and coleslaw.

NANAIMO BARS

Available to eat in or for take-away for $3 each.

Vancouver Vegan Brunch Reviewed by Alicia Olive!

The lovely Alicia Olive, who visited is for brunch last week, posted a review of her breakfast – she had the French toast I’ve already posted a partial recipe for. Her review is really sweet (pun intended, as usual):

The french toast was to die for and (lucky for us) they’ve uploaded the cake recipe here. I’ve always been a fan of cake for breakfast, but this took it to a whole other level. The candied walnuts were so good we’ve vowed to make some ourselves soon, the moist cake was perfectly matched with the coconut batter, and the chocolate covered strawberry was the proverbial icing on the cake. They also served fantastic coffee so we left happy with both a caffeine and a sugar high!

Alicia Olive

Chocolate Zucchini Cake French Toast

For our End of the World brunch (held on the same day that Harold Camping predicted the Rapture would take good Christians to Heaven while the rest of us suffered rolling earthquakes, the plagues of the Apocalypse, and then death as the world ended after five months of literal Hell-on-Earth), we wanted to make deeply decadent foods befitting of transdimensional spiritual passengers leaving their earthly bodies behind. When our friend George suggested chocolate cake French toast, I was just blown away… what an idea! (Pun intended.)

In order to make it a touch healthier, I made chocolate zucchini loaves – but we still topped them with a sweet strawberry coulis, sweetened browned Earth Balance, and icing sugar.

chocolate zucchini cake french toast with strawberry coulis, brown butter, candied walnuts, and a chocolate dipped strawberry

I actually used this awesome VegWeb recipe submitted by user jessesmum. I screwed it up a bit by adding a bit more baking powder than I was supposed to, but it turned out beautifully. It was flavourful, moist, and cut well into slices. I altered her recipe, below, as I did when I prepared it.

Chocolate Zucchini Loaves – Makes 2 loaves

5 tablespoons ground flax + 10 tablespoons water
3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups cane sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups zucchini, grated
1 cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 9×5″ loaf pans. For flax eggs, microwave flax meal and water for 30 seconds, stir, microwave, 30 more seconds, and stir again. (Or use hot water, stir, and let sit til gummy.)

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Add vegetable oil, and use a fork to stir. It will be dry but stir as well as possible. Then add the flax mixture. Continue to mix.

Add milk and vanilla, and stir until well blended. Add zucchini and chocolate chips and blend them in. The mixture should be nice and smooth and moist looking.

Spoon into prepared loaf pans. Bake 55-60 minutes. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and it will keep for days (if your family doesn’t gobble it up).

oh hey sweetbird, i didn’t see you there

So, a couple of weeks ago we were contacted by a company called Sweetbird Syrups, who make certified-vegan and -vegetarian sweet flavoured syrups and smoothies. They sent us a couple of samples (because we are SO AWESOME, obviously) and we had a chance to try them out on our brunch crowd over the weekend.

We were super impressed! These syrups are fully sweet and more flavourful, I think, than the kind you get at regular coffee shops, but they’re TOTALLY vegan. None of that bone-char-refined sugar or other crap. We have the full fat ones, but they also have sugar free ones, so if you’re worried about your calorie count and are trying to replace (totally NOT vegan) Splenda in your diet, Sweetbird can probably help you out.

oh hey sweetbird

I used their vanilla syrup in my coffee this morning and I was pretty pleased at the taste. They also have fruit syrups, so I bet you could make some totally vegan, totally delicious Italian sodas – that used to be my favourite as a teen before I had a taste for caffeine. Just mix with soda water and voila, a delicious drink.

The smoothies are actually concentrates that are meant to be mixed with ice and water or soy milk. We mixed them with vodka because we are lushes like that and they performed really well. Plus, they are real fruit, which is better than most of the gross crap people mix with vodka.

enlightened tart
The Enlightened Tart (better name choices encouraged)

Enlightened Tart

In a tumbler, combine:
Ice
1 shot vodka
1/2 shot Sweetbird mango & passionfruit smoothie
and top up with water

Hilarity and Legumes

My new favourite blog of the moment is The Snarky Chickpea! Blog author Meg has a lot in common with me: we are both hilarious and both love cooking Indian food even though we are not Indian (though I have never spoken to Meg, much less asked if she has Indian heritage, so I could be wrong). Anyway, she has some great recipes full of snarky hilarity on her blog. Check it out.


The Snarky Chickpea photo

Spinach Parathas

These are the easiest thing EVER. My friend Satjeet made cauliflower ones for the Indian brunch we had, and I was amazed by how easy they were. Parathas are stuffed Indian flatbreads – like roti, but with vegetables and spices and yumminess. Inspired by Satjeet, I made some of my own. I used Manjula’s video to help with the process, so maybe you want to, too!

spinach parathas

This is a really unglamourous photo, but I was drinking wine while I made them, so I hope you will forgive me. My whole world was blurry, in fact, not just this photo.

Spinach Parathas

1 cup flour (white, whole wheat, or a mix)
1/2 cup water

For the filling:
1 bunch fresh spinach
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
1/2 white onion, sliced into thin rounds
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp ground cumin
Salt, to taste

Oil, for brushing

Mix the flour and water together until it forms a soft dough. Knead the dough on a lightly oiled or floured surface; oil your hands so the dough doesn’t stick. Knead it until it’s soft and pliable – a few minutes. Return to the bowl and cover with a cloth; let it rest for ten minutes.

Shred the spinach and cilantro, and mix with the rest of the filling ingredients. You can get creative here – add whatever you want – or keep it simple. You could add mashed potato, cauliflower, ginger, whatever. Be liberal with your salt. Throw it all in a frying pan on medium-low heat; your goal is to cook as much of the water out of the spinach as possible. Wilt it and let it steam a bit, then remove it into a metal strainer or colander with small holes and use the back of a wooden spoon to press all the liquid out. Be merciless! The more water you press out of the filling, the better your parathas will be.

Now, you should have roughly similar volumes of dough and filling. Split the dough into 6 evenly sized balls; it works best to split it in half, then in three. Roll each chunk of dough into a ball on a floured surface.

Now, flouring your surface as you go, take one of the dough balls and roll it out so it’s a bit bigger than the palm of your hand (assuming you have average-sized hands). Spoon about a sixth of the filling in – again, it should be roughly the same volume as your dough ball. Pull the sides of the dough up and pinch it closed like a dumpling, or, like, a handkerchief in which you have enclosed marbles. Make sure it’s sealed and set aside.

Repeat for all 6 dough balls. It’s best if the balls sit for a few minutes.

Heat a non-stick frying pan up on medium-high. You want the pan to be hot before you use it. Roll one of the filled balls out until it’s as flat as you are prepared to make it – if filling spills out the edges, it was probably a bit wet, but no loss. Dry-fry it until the edges start to change colour, then flip it. Brush the cooked side with oil, and when the bottom is done, flip again, let it cook a bit with the oil on, then remove to a plate covered in paper towel or non-paper towel.

Repeat this with all 6 parathas. You can roll the next one out while the first one is cooking, and so on. It’s a very fast process once you get going.

These are best eaten hot, spread with Earth Balance or dipped in chutney or homous. We used them as “buns” for some masala veggie burgers we got at TJ’s in San Francisco – super delicious.

masala burgers on spinach parathas with watercress and cilantro chutney marinated onions and butter mushrooms - and curry fries