Category Archives: Photos

Thick-With-Greens Pasta Sauce

Sometimes I really want pasta, but I can’t justify eating a pile of boiled wheat shapes topped with tomato sauce. While a really good Italian-style tomato sauce is absolutely delicious, it’s not as nutritionally rounded as I like my meals to be. With Kaylie out of town (she’s in Alaska eating canned vegetables, ha-ha), I am finding it difficult to put the time and effort into creating meals that I’d like to; I usually tend to eat something really healthy and nutritious, but not very interesting or tasty. Luckily, I’ve managed to convince friends to come over every day or two so I can force myself to make something that’s healthy and delicious. I made this pasta sauce yesterday afternoon and it turned out really beautifully.

1/2 onion, red or white, diced
1 – 2 tbsp cooking oil
3 cloves garlic, roasted (I roast mine in the toaster oven for 10min)
2 cups greens – I used endive and arugula from the garden
Handful fresh oregano, or fresh or dried spices to taste (basil would be nice in place of oregano)
Handful sundried tomatoes
1/3 cup walnuts or other nuts/seeds
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 – 1 tsp each onion and garlic powder
1/2 cup water
1 can crushed tomatoes, or 8 roma or campari tomatoes, roasted 40min and crushed
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the oil, then add the onions and sauté until softened. While you’re doing that, combine all of the other ingredients in a food processor. If your food processor is smaller than huge, you may want to add the liquids slowly after your other ingredients have been processed a bit. Pulse until smooth. The colour should be a brownish-orange, from the combination of the greens and tomatoes.

Once the onions have softened, add the contents of your food processor to the saucepan and bring to a low boil. Turn the heat down and simmer. Prepare your pasta once your sauce is on simmer. The longer it simmers, the more delicious it will be. Feel free to augment by adding additional vegetables or other ingredients.

Vegan Cookoff – The Bean

Holy macaroni, the vegan cookoff blog has been updated again (thanks Jen, our holy archivist). If you haven’t heard of them, our monthly vegan cookoffs are pretty much the best thing ever. We set a theme and then show up at one member’s house with our entries on the pre-decided date. Everyone presents their dish to the attendees, one dish at a time, and afterward everyone votes on their favourite dish in each of five categories. There’s more to it than that, but that’s the general idea.

This month’s theme was “the bean”. We had eleven entries of delicious, creative, vegan bean dishes.


Luc’s entry for “the bean” – keepin’ it cas-o-real – Jen photo

My entry was a modified version of Chocolate Covered Katie’s Chocolate Chip Blondies made with chickpeas in place of flour. I served them with candied black beans and a black bean chocolate sauce. What a success! I surprised everyone enough that I ended up winning.


Chocolate Chip Blondies – photo by Jen

Brown Sugar Bars

I got this recipe from The Tolerant Vegan. These were great – like a fancy chocolate chip cookie, but a bar. I made them for our Saturday “picnic” brunch.

brown sugar bars

Recipe reprinted here for your benefit:

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread, softened, plus more for the pan
1 3/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup soy creamer
8 ounces vegan semisweet chocolate chips
Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
Line a baking pan with wax paper, and then coat the paper and the sides of the pan with Earth Balance and flour.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and sea salt.
In a separate bowl, mix together the Earth Balance, brown sugar, apple sauce and vanilla extract on low-medium speed until combined.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix.
Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick can be inserted and removed cleanly.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
In a small pan, bring the soy creamer to a boil.
As soon as it begins to boil, remove from heat and pour over the chocolate chips, stirring until all the chips are melted.
Let the ganache sit for 30 minutes so it can thicken.
Remove the brown sugar cake from the pan and cut in half.
Spread the ganache on one half of the cake, stopping about 1/4″ from the edges
Place the other half on top, making a ganache sandwich
Place your yummy creation in the refrigerator for two hours so the ganache can set.
Remove, cut into pieces, and you’re all done!

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

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

 

 

 

Fresh Baked Whole Wheat Bread and White Bean (Tuna?) Salad

So I’d been meaning to experiment with making a tuna-like salad with white beans for a while. I finally bought a can of beans and tried it out yesterday – and it didn’t exactly work, but it tasted wonderful anyway. I made a white bean salad sandwich on pieces of whole wheat bread that I made myself on Thursday and holy macaroni, it was delicious – and messy! Here are the recipes.

white bean salad on whole wheat bread with avocado tomato greens and mustard

White Bean Salad

1 can white beans (I used canneli-something), drained and rinsed
1/4 red onion, diced
1 – 2 tbsp vegan mayo
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp dried dill (I used fenugreek, as usual, but dill would be better)
1 tsp kelp powder (or not, since it didn’t taste like tuna salad anyway and this is for “fishiness”
Salt, to taste and pepper, lots

Mix together. Partially mash the beans so some are whole and some are mushed. The longer you let it sit the more flavourful it will be. Keeps in the fridge for a week or so.

I made this bread based on a recipe in La Dolce Vegan. I altered it a bit, though, so here it is.

Whole Wheat Baguette

1 packet active yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 tbsp sugar or other sweetener

Mix together vigorously in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.

Add:

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cup warm water
2.5 tsp salt

Mix together, and then add

3 more cups of flour

one at a time. I used one cup white flour and the rest whole wheat so my bread was about 75% whole wheat. Mix until incorporated, then roll it out on a lightly floured, dry surface and knead it til it’s smooth and elastic. Add more flour as needed to keep it from sticking to your hands.

Clean your bread bowl and put a little bit of oil in it. Roll the dough in the oil so it’s covered, then cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and place it in a non-drafty, warm spot for an hour and a half to rise.

Once it’s risen, preheat the oven to 450F. Remove the dough from the bowl and punch the air bubbles out of it. Dust the dough with flour, then shape into a baguette on a baking sheet. Cut four or five slashes across the top, then press sesame seeds into the top.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a knife or toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Let cool before cutting.

Green Arugula Potato Leek Soup!

Well, it’s March 17th, which means a) an excuse to celebrate and b) an excuse to make everything green. My first challenge of the day was to make arugula soup. It turned out pretty beautifully – and, of course, green.

green soup

Arugula Potato Leek Soup

1 red onion, diced
1 leek, white parts chopped
1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced
2 potatoes, chopped
1 tsp dried tarragon
1 cube vegetable bouillon
2 cups boiling water
Arugula – I had about 3/4 of a tub of it – use lots
Salt, to taste

Saute the onion, leek, and garlic in oil or margarine over medium-low heat in a large pot until soft and fragrant. Add potatoes, tarragon, and the bouillon cube; turn the heat up to medium; stir and let the potatoes cook in the oil. Stir them regularly, cooking for about 10 minutes.

Add water and arugula; if you didn’t add boiling water, turn the temp up to bring to a boil then turn down to simmer. Stir and put a top on the pot. Let the arugula wilt for 6 – 10 minutes. Test the potatoes to make sure they’re done – just press a knife into one; it should slice easily, like butter or something else similarly sexy.

Once all that’s done, use a hand blender to cream it up. Salt to taste.

I didn’t add nutritional yeast but I’m sure that would be delicious. Also, for extra decadence, you could make this really creamy by adding unsweetened, unflavoured almond/soy/whatever milk or even coconut milk. Just add it after the creaming stage, mix, and let the soup simmer for a bit.