A Little bit of summer from the freezer

25 01 2012

Sometimes, in the cold of winter, you need a little pick me up. Something that, when you close your eyes reminds you of sitting in the backyard on a Sunday afternoon, lazing in the sun, and enjoying the best the season has to offer.

A berry vinaigrette served on baby spinach – it pairs well with pears, apples, and pecans or almonds.

Berry Vinaigrette

1/3 cup olive and/or flaxseed oil (I used Vega Oil and olive oil)
1/4 cup fresh or frozen berries (I used blueberries)
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp agave nectar or maple syrup
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 or 2 Tbsp water, for desired consistency

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

Can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.





My new favorite dressing

3 01 2012

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I had a box of mixed greens that were gagging for his dressing.

Gagging.

But when I opened the box of mixed greens, they had gone off.  Why is it that my salad greens ALWAYS go bad before I can eat them all?

Fortunately this dressing goes with so many things.  It’s not too sweet, not too salty, not too tangy – it’s just the right mix of flavours.

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Salad Dressing

1 green apple; cored, peeled, and chopped

1 tsp dijon mustard

1/3 cup oil (grapeseed or olive oil)

1/3 cup water

1/3 cup tamari or Braggs

1/3 cup rice wine vinegar

Blend apple, dijon mustard, oil, and water together until smooth.  In a separate container mix Braggs and vinegar together.

Once the apple, mustard, oil, and water have been blended until smooth, add to vinegar and Braggs mixture.

Store in the fridge in an airtight container.  Separation will occur but the dressing will keep for 2-ish weeks.

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Savory Tofu Spread

30 12 2011

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Have tofu, will make deliciousness.

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Have tofu deliciousness, will consume said deliciousness.

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Love, love, LOVE having great snacks to nosh on during weak moments when I need to munch on something but there are far too many bad things to munch on.

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Savory Tofu Spread

1/3 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic

3/4 cup vegetable stock

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp dried sage

1/4 tsp dried rosemary

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1 pkg medium tofu, cubed

2 Tbsp white miso paste

Sauté onion and garlic in a non-stick pan, then add vegetable stock and simmer until onion starts to turn translucent.  Add thyme, sage, rosemary, basil, oregano, pepper, and nutmeg.  Stir in tofu, cover and cook until liquid evaporates and onion and garlic are very soft and light brown – about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Poor cooked mixture into a food processor and add miso paste, blend until smooth.

Serve at room temperature or chilled.  Goes great on rice crackers, but is also really good with bread, fresh toast, or on your favorite crackers.

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Mushroon Miso Gravy… with terrible pictures

16 10 2011

After a few cocktails and a glass or three of wine, the pictures on my camera looked great.  The day after a few cocktails and glasses of wine, these pictures looked less good.

Fortunately, the gravy tastes good when it’s fresh or the day (or two days) after.

Like nut loaf, lentil loaf, mashed potatoes or mashed anything for that matter?  All of them taste great with this gravy.

Mushroom Miso Gravy

6 – 10 small mushrooms of your choice, chopped

1/4 cup onion, diced

1 tsp olice oil

2 Tbsp Braggs or soy sauce

cayenne pepper to taste

dried basil to taste

dried dill to taste

pepper to taste

1/3 – 1/4 cup flour

1 1/2 cups vegetable stock of water (I use water)

1 tsp miso paste

In a medium saucepan, sauté mushrooms and onions in oil on medium-high heat until onions are soft and mushrooms are fragrant (approx 5 mins).  Add the Braggs, cayenne, basil, dill, and pepper and stir together.

Remove from heat and slowly stir in the flour, mixing together so that all the flour is moist.  It will become pasty and dry, that’s normal.

Slowly start adding the stock a little at a time until everything becomes well mixed and lump free.

Return to heat and simmer on medium-low or low, stirring often, until sauce thickens to your liking.  At the last minute, stir in the miso and serve.

Trick: Put the miso paste in a jar or lidded container with a little bit of water and shake – this will make it easier to combine the gravy and the miso!





Mint Cilantro Chutney

18 07 2011

With piles of mint and cilantro kicking around, I made this chutney to make use of my bounty.  It’s tasty, real tasty.

Tastes great on burgers, with carrots or cucumber, as a sauce for fries.  Think of it like green ketchup.

Mint Cilantro Chutney

1/2 cup fresh mint

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

1/2 cup arugula

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp onion powder or 1 Tbsp diced onion

1 tsp Braggs or Tamari soy sauce*

1 tsp hot sauce*

water, as needed

Jam everything but the water into a food processor and blend.  Add water as necessary to achieve the desired consistency; however, use as little water as possible.

This chutney will keep in your fridge for about a week.

*If you use Braggs and substitute cayenne pepper or chili flakes for hot sauce, this recipe is raw.





BBQ Pizza

24 06 2011

I remember the smell of BBQ wafting through the neighbourhood on summer evenings, hoping, as I rode home from god-knows-where, that the smell was coming from my house.

Good BBQ food – the kind that makes you bike home faster – is not always easy to find for vegetarians.  Sure,  grilled vegetables are good, but sometimes I want something that makes all the parents in the neighbourhood wish they were having dinner at my house.

The solution: BBQ pizza.

A few years ago I had the best pizza, fresh from a wood fire oven; just thinking about it makes me pine for that crispy spelt crust covered in too-many mushrooms.  A few weeks after that pizza experience, I was home with my brother when we decided to host a BBQ pizza party at my parents house (because they have a BBQ).  Armed with some pizza dough and the sexiest toppings we could find, we made eight pizzas for 15 people.

Now that summer is here again, I feel the need to share the secret.  The secret is that it looks good, tastes awesome, and is almost easier to make than toast.  A couple of tricks to remember:

  1. Your BBQ can’t be too hot.
  2. You absolutely must prepare all your toppings in advance, especially if you want your veggies cooked.
  3. This is an informal kind of meal.  You will not have eight pizzas ready at one time… unless your BBQ is ridiculously large.
  4. You need tongs.
  5. You must have fun while doing this.

One last thing before I jump into the recipe: I did not make the pizza dough myself.  I could but this was a last minute decision and bread + yeast + last minute does not equal success.  I bought some dough in the bakery section of my grocery store.  There’s a bakery near me that sells spelt pizza dough… unfortunately they were closed when this cunning plan was hatched.

BBQ Pizza

appropriate quantity of pizza dough

cooking oil or non-stick spray

creative toppings:

zucchini, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, eggplant, artichoke hearts, pear, apple, beet

mint, basil, thyme, oregano, arugula, spicy peppers

truffle oil

tomatoes, caramelized onions, pesto

Daiya non-dairy cheese

You can prepare your toppings way in advance, if you’re having a party and making loads of pizza, or you can prepare them while the BBQ warms up.  In the event that you’re only making one pizza, start warming the BBQ up to medium heat – around 400ºF.

Prepare all of you toppings.  I find it helpful, when making more than one pizza to have bowls ready to hold my chopped up mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, spinach, and tofu and to keep them from getting all mixed up together.  This also allows me to do all the cutting before I start cooking any of my toppings.  (Hmmmm, caramelized onions, they are an awesome replacement for tomato sauce.)

When your toppings are ready and your BBQ is hot and ready, it’s time to roll out your pizza dough.  Because the cooking process is so fast, you want to roll the dough out as thin as possible.  Despite my best efforts, I can’t seem to get the crust really, really thin, but it’s still really, really good.

Now you need to get organized.  You need a way to get your pizza dough, non-stick spray, toppings, and some tongs out to your BBQ.  Now that you’re outside with everything, the fun begins.

  • Spray the BBQ with non-stick spray.
  • Place your pizza crust on the BBQ and close the lid for 20 – 40 seconds.  If you’re worried about burning, open the lid and take a peak to make sure your crust is cooking, instead of burning.
  • Spray the crust with non-stick spray.
  • Flip the crust over.

  • Place your toppings on the pizza.
  • Close the lid again.  We’re looking at about 2-3 minutes from the time you flipped the crust until the time pizza is done.  So, how long you keep the lid closed the second time will depend on how long it took you to get your toppings on.
  • Remove from BBQ.
  • Cut into pieces.
  • Enjoy like nobodies business!





Carrot Gnocchi with Fresh Pesto

15 05 2011

I love gnocchi.  My Ayurveda cookbook says that gnocchi can be served as a light meal.  If you follow portion guidelines and only serve 8 – 10 gnocchi per peson, then perhaps they make a light meal.  However, if you consume what your heart will tell you eat – the entire batch – it is anything but light; thankfully these are easy to make.

I paired these delicious little lumps with fresh vegan pesto and lightly sautéed spinach, garnishing the plate with chili flakes.

S.O. said these were delicious, but he’s been throwing that around a lot these days.  I needed an impartial opinion: the lovely lady who runs my gym kindly took some gnocchi and pesto off my hands, serving it to her family.  The result: even total strangers thought this was a success.  So, if you have too many carrots and some time on your hands, I’d totally recommend taking a stab at these bad-boys.

Pesto Sauce

3/4 cup spinach

3/4 cup basil

1/2 cup cilantro

1 green onion, chopped

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

salt and pepper taste

2 Tbsp walnut butter OR 1/4 cup chopped walnuts

2 – 3 Tbsp olive oil or EFA oil

In a food processor blend all ingredients – except the oil – until smooth.  Once your pesto is smooth, slowly add oil until you achieve the right consistency.  As I mentioned in the Alfredo-ish sauce recipe, I like my sauces thick and this pesto was no exception; that being said, I accept that you might like your sauce a little saucier.

Store in the fridge until ready to use, will keep for 3 – 4 days in the fridge.

Carrot Gnocchi

1 cup potato, cooked

1 cup carrots, cooked

1 Tbsp arrowroot flour

1 cup all purpose flour + 1/4 cup extra flour

1/2 cup spelt flour

Pass potatoes and carrots through a food mill or blend together in a food processor.  If you do not have either one of those kitchen gadgets, mash carrots and potatoes until quite smooth.

Mix carrot and potato mixture with 1 cup all purpose flour, the spelt flour, and arrowroot flour.  Continue to add flour until you have a sof dough that has some slight stickiness to it.

Bring a large pot of water to boil while you prepare the dough into gnocchi.  I used a measuring spoon (teaspoon) to evenly scoop out little balls of dough.  Once the balls were scooped, I rolled them down the back of a fork to make lines on one side.  What you can’t see in the image below is that there is a little finger indent on the back of the gnocchi – the fork marks do not go all the way around.

When the water comes to a full boil, drop 1/3 of the gnocchi into the pot and then stand by with a slotted spoon.  The gnocchi will rise to the top of the pot in a minute or two.  Once they’ve risen to the top, give them another 10 seconds, then gently remove.  I laid my gnocchi out on a sprayed cooling rack because they weren’t going to be eaten for a while and I wanted to make certain they had (1) cooled completely before refrigerating and (2) I didn’t want them to stick together.

If you have some gnocchi that don’t seem to be rising, give the pot a little stir, the gnocchi may have gotten distracted and forgotten to come up for air.  Repeat with the second batch.

With my gnocchi cooked and chilling in the fridge, I only had to sautée them lightly before dinner.  I like the crunch that is gained from a little bit of time in a non-stick pan.  Once they warmed through, I tossed the gnocchi with pesto sauce and dinner was ready!