Category Archives: Lunch

Shakshuka and a Vegan Poached Egg

Yesterday was the Vegan Cookoff – the theme was Middle Eastern and North African food. I just had to make shakshuka, a pepper and tomato stew that originated in Tunisia and is popular across the MENA region. It’s often served for breakfast with poached eggs swimming in the thick, sweet sauce, and what a great opportunity to discover some new vegan egg tactics while using some of my old favourites.

shakshuka
Before tomatoes, after peppers and spices

SHAKSHUKA

I based this shakshuka recipe after Yotam Ottolenghi‘s, with a few elements from other shakshuka recipes I found online – I subbed out Yotam’s cayenne for fresh jalapeno, and had (surprise!) run out of saffron so I did not use that. I also didn’t have fresh cilantro/coriander on hand so went with dried. Ottolenghi didn’t use garlic, and I chose not to use thyme. The balance in my shakshuka was perfect, but you wouldn’t lose using his recipe either.

1/2 tsp cumin seeds
200mL extra virgin olive oil – use the good stuff because you will really taste it
2 yellow onions, sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 red bell peppers, seeded and sliced into 1cm wide strips
1 yellow and 1 orange bell pepper, prepared as above
2 jalapenos, roughly chopped
2 tbsp organic raw sugar
2 bay leaves
1.5 tbsp dried coriander
Handful fresh parsley (be generous)
4 large or 6 small tomatoes, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

In your largest, deepest cast iron frying pan (or use a saucepan if you don’t have a cast iron), dry toast the cumin seeds on high for about 2 min until they are brown in colour. Add the olive oil and turn the heat down to medium-high. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and cook for about 2 – 3 minutes until they start to soften, then add the garlic and cook for another 3 – 5 minutes until the whole mixture is looking dewy. Add all of your peppers, sugar, and spices and cook for 10 – 20 minutes, stirring regularly, until the peppers soften and the whole thing is taking on a red-orange colour. Add tomatoes and cook for another 10 min, then taste. Add salt and pepper and adjust everything else for spice if you need to; remove the bay leaves at this point as well, if you can find them.

If you’re adding the eggs, ensure your stew is nicely broken down first – it should have a thick consistency, a nice level of sweetness and a gentle heat.

Vegan Poached Eggs

1. WHITE

The recipe for the white is based off of one from Chel Rabbit which the author used in their shakshuka.

either 1/2 cup soaked raw cashews, pureed into a cream, or 1/4 cup vegenaise
1/4 lemon worth of zest
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp black salt aka kala namak (i get this at buy low in the indian spices section)
i also added 1/8 tsp asafoetida aka hing, another indian spice that i don’t expect anyone else to have – because i didn’t have onion powder
soft organic tofu – don’t use the vacuum packed kind!
Combine all ingredients except for tofu and blend til smooth.

2. YOLK

If you’re a Vegan Mischief follower, you’ll be familiar with this yolk recipe – I found it on a website called The Airy Way and adapted it here for Vegan Mischief.

1 tbsp vegenaise
1 tbsp carrot juice or v8 (this is just for colour)
4 tbsp vegetable broth
2 tbsp earth balance
2 tsp cornstarch

This recipe is designed to be “poached” in a stew. You could probably also use it in other contexts but you’d have to alter the preparation a little bit.

Make holes in your stew for your eggs – I made 5. Spoon in a tablespoonful of the creamy white mixture and smooth it into the hole. Scoop out a tablespoonful of soft tofu and place it on top. This is going to be the texture of the white, while the cream is the taste. Let your stew simmer with the white in it for 8-10 minutes so the flavours combine – don’t stir, of course, or you’ll wreck your eggs.

In the meantime, prepare your yolk. If you have a microwave, this is a bit easier, but I have done it on a stovetop before as well. Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl or small skillet and melt – in a microwave, zap for 20 seconds and then whisk. On a stovetop, melt and then whisk. Now, the key is to warm it and whisk it until it is a creamy bechamel or egg yolk consistency, and then IMMEDIATELY remove it from heat because if it gets past that point it will separate. If it separates, it still tastes good but it looks gross. In the microwave, zap for 5 second increments, whisk, and then put it back in if you still need to. On the stovetop, warm gently while whisking until it’s perfect.

Scoop a teaspoonful of yolk into the centre of each white. Turn the heat off and serve. Shakshuka is usually served straight out of the cast iron – bring it to the table with some fresh toasted flatbread and a big serving spoon and let your dining companions feast on it in the messiest way possible!

trini doubles, yum yum yum

Hello there, friends and vegans! It’s been a while since last I posted; I’ve been working full time AND going to school full time, so I hope you’ll forgive me.

Anyway, I wanted to post about my entry in the last vegan cookoff. Just to refresh your memory, the cookoff is a monthly event some friends and I have been doing for four (count em, FOUR) years solid. Everything has to be vegan, and these days, nut-free as well, and it suits the purposes of the aspiring winner to offer a gluten-free entry or option as well, as we have three gluten-free participants. The theme, date, and location is chosen the month before. Everyone brings the components of their dish, assembles on location, and serves small portions to all of the attendees. At the end, everyone who’s eaten votes in each of five categories, and a winner is crowned.


The photo of mine hasn’t been uploaded yet, so here’s one from Tried and True Favourite Recipes!

Our last competition was Caribbean-themed. I made Trini doubles – a street food dish from Trinidad involving chana masala (my favourite Indian dish made with island flavour) stuffed into deep-fried bread dough. It’s simple and it’s delicious. I chose to serve mine with a fresh salsa made of mango, cucumber, lime, jalapeno, and cilantro. The whole thing was quite hot, but so delicious!

Chana Masala for Doubles

Now, I’ve tried to make chana many times before and have never made an authentic-tasting one. This was my first success with a chana masala that tasted like I’ve had it in restaurants.

2 tbsp sunflower/canola/veg oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 tsp caraway or coriander seeds, whole
4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1.5 inches thick ginger or 2 inches thin, grated
2 tbsp+ masala mix or chana masala mix powder (NOT garam masala, NOT thai red curry, etc.)
2 cans chickpeas, or 3 cups cooked chickpeas
1 small can or 1/2 large can diced tomatoes (ensure you get ones without extra spices)
1 bay leaf

Heat a medium-sized pot on just under medium heat on a burner. Add oil and let it heat for a minute before adding the onions. They should sizzle slightly, but if they spit at all, turn the heat down. Stoves vary a lot, so it’s best to know whether your stove runs hot or cool. Mine runs hot, so I saute my onions on heat 2 or 3 (electric). Gas ranges often run hotter than electric because of the direct and instant heat.

Stir the onions to ensure they don’t get stuck or burnt. While your onions are cooking, in a small bowl, combine the minced garlic, grated ginger, and dry masala. Add a splash of water (I like to use warm) and mix it all together so it combines into a paste.

Once the onions are softened, add the caraway or coriander seeds. Ensure there’s enough hot oil in there to coat the seeds – stir it together and cook until they are toasted. Then, add your spice paste and stir it all together to toast the spices and cook the garlic and ginger.

While this is happening, drain and rinse your chickpeas. Add them to the pot next and stir to coat everything equally in the spices. Next, add the diced tomatoes. This provides some liquid to cook the chickpeas further til they’re soft. If it looks dry, add a little water. Add the bay leaf now and stir.

Bring it to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Put a lid on and let it go for at least 20 minutes, better at an hour or even more. Continue to stir it every so often and ensure there is enough liquid; you don’t want it to burn to the bottom but you also don’t want it to come out too liquidy at the end. You need to scoop it up with fry bread!

Note on curry powders

Holy mackerel are there a LOT of curry powders out there. There’s Japanese curry, Thai curry, Indian curry, Island curry, and so on, and within each type of cuisine there are a number of variations as far as spice combination goes. For a successful chana masala, you will want a MASALA MIX or a CHANA MASALA MIX. Look for a spice mix that contains coriander, clove, cinnamon, chili, turmeric, and ginger. Chana masala should be heavy on ginger, coriander, and – believe it or not – lemon! You don’t want any lime flavour, nor cumin. If you want to make your own spice mix, use those listed above. A little cardamom wouldn’t hurt either. The “pie spices” complement the chickpea and tomato in chana masala. If you want to vary the spiciness of your dish, making your own spice mix is a great idea. You can chop fresh chilies in with the garlic and ginger, or add chili powder or cayenne with the dry spices.

Fry Bread

This part is super easy. While your chana is simmering, make some bread dough. My bread yeast was dead, so I used instant pizza yeast and actually just made a pizza dough. You don’t have to spice it – just salt it. You don’t need much, either. When you fry the dough, it’ll puff up and bubble so you can cut it open and put chana inside it. YUM.

To deep fry, choose a deep pot with a small diameter. Fill it with about 2 inches of oil with a high smoke point (sunflower/canola/veg oil) and heat it on high. Ensure you have a plate next to the stove with paper towel on it to drain, as well as a metal or silicon (NOT PLASTIC) slotted spoon, tongs, etc. You’ll know it’s ready when you put a wooden spoon in, touching the bottom, and little bubbles immediately rise from the wood. BE VERY CAREFUL if you are new to deep-frying! Tear off little chunks of bread dough and toss them in – do no more than three at a time so the oil doesn’t lose too much temperature. Watch them turn golden, turning if necessary, and then pull out to drain. Serve hot.

Oh, and I won the cookoff with this dish.

Barbecue Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichoke)

Photo taken from http://tinyurl.com/7pyo3p5

Ingredients:

5 medium sized Sunchokes  (sliced)

1/2 Tsp Cumin

1/2 Tsp Caraway

Salt

Pepper

1/2 C Your choice of delicious bbq sauce

3 Tbsp Oil

– Heat oil over medium heat in a sauté pan and add sunchokes covering with a lid in order to steam them through.

– Add Cumin, Caraway, Salt and pepper and toss. Continue to cook and keep covered for approx 2 minutes.

– Add 1/4 c bbq sauce. Toss and keep covered for 5-8 mins. Toss constantly.

– Add the remainder of the bbq sauce and salt and turn up the heat. Toss and caramelize the sunchokes making sure they have nice brown edges. Remove from heat and serve.

 

Momo-style dumplings

tibetan-style ginger, green onion, garlic, tofu, broccoli, red pepper, mushroom momos with a citrus-soy-sesame dipping sauce

I can’t believe I haven’t posted the simple, glorious recipe for these little momos! Now, momo is maybe not the right word for what these are. There’s this really great Himalayan restaurant I love going to (Cafe Kathmandu on the Drive) and they have these delectable little dumplings called momos that you can order steamed or deep fried. They are just the best. Kaylie and I thought we’d give making them at home a go, and the worked pretty well.

We used wonton wrappers for these. I have heard that others have had a hard time finding egg-free wonton wrappers – I get mine at Superstore where the selection is large enough that you can find eggless ones. You might consider using rice wraps as well – that way they’re gluten free as well. To use the rice wraps, simply hydrate them for about twenty seconds in water. They are much bigger than wonton wrappers so maybe tear or cut them into pieces after they’re hydrated. If you over-hydrate them they will dissolve so be careful.

The vegetable/tofu mix can change according to your tastes. Feel free to play with it. Try diced carrots, bell peppers, or water chestnuts. We combined:

1/4 block firm tofu, crumbled
2 tbsp soya sauce, tamari, or Braggs
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
Sprinkle Chinese five-spice mix or coriander (use chopped fresh leaves if available)
3 stalks green onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 inch ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 – 1 cup mushrooms (measure before dicing – any type of mushroom you like)
1 tsp sesame oil or other oil

Pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and toss in a pan on medium-heat for about five minutes. Let the mixture cool.

Now, to wrap your momos, place a rounded teaspoon of filling in the centre of a wonton wrapper. Wet your fingers in a bowl of water and bring the corners of the wrapper up, then twist. Seal with more water.

These can be frozen and then steamed. Steam them until the wonton wrappers become translucent – about eight minutes from frozen.

Momo dipping sauce

Mix sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, and soya sauce together until they’re tasty. I’d say about one part sesame oil, 4 parts soya sauce, and 2 parts vinegar.

Pumpkin Soup

For Broth:
1 Carrot (Coarsely chopped)
1 Celery Sticks (Coarsely chopped)
2 medium Yellow Onions (Coarsely Chopped)
3 Garlic Cloves
2 Bay leaves
Peppercorns
Salt
3 Cups Water
– Simmer for one to two hours adding water if necessary.
– Strain and keep in pot.
1 /2 small Sugar pumpkin pureé (steamed, skinned, and mashed)
2 tablespoons tahini
1/2 juice of a lemon
1 Parsnip (peeled and chopped)
3 Cloves Garlic (sliced)
1 Cup Water
1/2 small yellow onion

-After the broth has simmered and is prepared, add the other ingredients and simmer for as long as you can. I would give it an hour or more.
– Add water if your soup is two thick, but allow it time to simmer so the flavours all come through and have a chance to seep into one another.
– After simmering transfer liquid into a blender or food processor and pureé until smooth. Re-heat until desired temperature is reached.
Garnish with chopped parsley, or crispy fried shallots. Enjoy!

Spicy Tofu, Swiss Chard, Mint Tacos (Kirby Tacos)

tofu mint chard tacos

Because I come from a land where tacos and burritos are available at every corner, I make tacos when I need a quick, fresh bite to eat.  I think I might name these Kirby Tacos, because our friend Kirby is a vegan that never cooks for herself, but as I was assembling these she came to mind because they are even easy enough for her to make.

1/2 tsp Cumin

1/2 tsp Paprika

1/2 tsp Cayenne

1 tsp Garlic powder

1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 small red onion

1 clove garlic (minced)

1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped

1/2 block Cubed extra firm tofu (cut into tiny squares)

3 large leaves Swiss chard, chopped

1/2 lime juiced

1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped

1 tbs Oil of your choice

6 Corn Tortillas

Handful of Pea shoots

In a medium sized skillet heat oil on medium heat and add tofu. The point here is to get the tofu golden brown with the spices. After the tofu has been in the heat for about 5 minutes stir and coat in all the spices. Keep the tofu browning for another five minutes then add the onions and garlic clove.

Make sure to keep the tofu on medium heat so you don’t burn it!

When the onion is soft add the chopped swiss chard, cilantro and lime and stir together. Swiss chard is like spinach and does not take long to cook so make sure to add it last!

Make sure to watch your taco mixture as you steam your 6 corn tortillas.

When the steaming is done the tacos are ready to be assembled. Top with pea shoots and fresh cilantro to completely complement the fresh flavours of the taco.

You can even add avocado, hot sauce, sliced lime wedges, fresh cilantro, and salsa to make these tacos even better.

This recipe is for all hard working Kirbys out there.

 

Avocado, toasted walnut, smoked tofu, arugula and beet Carpaccio sandwich on Sourdough topped with lemon garlic olive oil

beet, arugula, smoked tofu, walnut, and avocado sandwich with potato salad

Beets are a simple, delicious, and nutritious food, but after hearing the comments on this beet sandwich I realized that not many people know how to prepare beets the way I do. It’s really easy! Beets are not that intimidating. People think it is difficult to pair things with beets (Malloreigh doubted that this sandwich would be good, but it was in fact very delicious) but this was a really fantastic combination.

Beet Carpaccio

A “carpaccio” is officially thinly sliced raw beef or fish, but it’s just too good of a term for thinly sliced beets. It’s not really a carpaccio but we’ll call it that anyway.

Don’t peel the beets before you boil them – leaving the skin on helps to seal in the nutrients, which would otherwise be partially lost through boiling. If you’re using both red and golden beets, boil them separately to maintain the colour. As you may know, red beet juice will stain anything and everything it touches bright pink.

Separate the beets from the beet greens. Boil them whole in a pot filled with water over medium-high heat until a fork can easily pierce them – about 30 to 45 minutes, maybe longer.

Once the beets are boiled, let them cool – drain them into a colander and run cold water over them to speed this process. The skin should slough off easily, but if it doesn’t, use a paring knife or sharp vegetable peeler.

Now, your beets are ready to slice. Use a mandolin slicer to slice them thinly or use a sharp non-serrated knife.

Sliced beets will keep in the fridge for at least a week if you put them in a resealable container, but they are also pretty easy to eat in one sitting.

Beet Carpaccio Sandwich

This beet sandwich was simple and delicious. Sliced avocado, lightly toasted whole organic walnuts, thinly sliced smoked tofu, fresh arugula, and sliced beets were dashed with fresh ground pepper. The sourdough bread I used was drizzled with lemon and garlic infused olive oil. It was served with a side of potato salad.

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

A Little Thing about Lemons

lemons

As I said in an earlier post, my brother just so happens to have a lemon tree outside of his bedroom window. Oh the opportunity!

When life gives you lemons… use them!  Malloreigh and I were sitting under the lemon tree eating dinner last night and we were discussing the first time we were subject to the juice of an actual lemon.  Both of our experiences were different, but equally as eye-opening. Can you imagine being a teenager and actually realizing that lemon juice didn’t come from a bottle?  Most people still haven’t come to this realization because of the convenience our consumer culture has afforded us. So I say, put down the fake plastic lemon and start squeezing the juice of the sweet fruit that is so versatile it can transform into the sweet, tart, and savoury.

Things I frequently make with lemons:

– Lemon Garlic Sauce (for Pasta)

– Lemon Dill Shallot Sauce (for Pasta)

– Vegan Hot Tottys (Whiskey, 1/2 lemon, 1 tbs agave, hot water)

– Lemon Almond Banana Bread

These are just four things I’ve made in the last week.

Don’t forget that you can use the whole lemon! You can always dry the lemon zest and save it for another dish tomorrow.

Lemons always add a positive twist to life, that’s why I try to eat as many as possible.

Lemon Shallot Dill Vinaigrette:

2 lemons (juiced)

1/2 bunch fresh dill (finely diced)

1 large shallot (finely diced)

salt

Equal ratio of vinegar to oil 1:1

1/2 C Olive oil

1/2 C White Wine Vinegar

I use this as a marinade for portobello mushrooms to grill, tofu scram or a quick addition to a salad.

Simple, easy, lemons.

 

 

Going Back to Basics

Yesterday my brother and I decided to spend a little time making lunch before heading off to work for the evening. After a day of rock-climbing and reading pasta was exactly what we needed. Although this recipe is nothing special the fact that my brother has a beautiful lemon tree outside of his window makes any kind of lemony sauce a success. Fresh, in my mind, will always bring out the best, most natural flavours.

Since I haven’t had full reign over my usual kitchen (a kicthen with every spice imaginable) I’ve had to get back to basics. I ‘ve had to create flavourful dishes using the natural essence of fresh, local produce.  I find that when you understand the basics you can build off of those in any culinary (or life) endeavour you meet.

 

sage

Photo by Ryan Barfield

 

Since being here in San Francisco I have constantly had to question my cooking and myself, because this is in fact an extremely foodie city. I’ve already worked in two separate restaurants that have completely different approaches to menu creation. One has a farm a few miles outside of the city that uses their own produce. This restaurant believes in the completely natural appearance and taste of it’s food right down to leaving the stems on the carrots and radishes. I know! What a concept!

The other restaurant is in my opinion “phony” and uses way too many meat (fake) centric dishes to promote “health”, as they would put it. This is only my opinion! I just can’t get behind putting chinatown bought fake meats, deep frying them, putting them inside a bun and calling it healthy or even flavorful because it is vegetarian or vegan. I have to say though, sometimes it’s sooo good to paticipate in a meat eaters world.

We all have different opinions on what is good food and what is not. I personally am trying to simplify flavours in order to move forward as a chef. In order to move forward sometimes we must move back. How did we even get to this point? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkkD21cdG0Q