Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Recipe: Pumpkin pudding

(Painting by Bierstadt Albert)

It's not technically the fall for a few more days, but if you live in Canada (and not on the balmy west coast) then you know that the real first day of fall is September 1st. This recipe is a celebration of the beginning of fall. It's like pumpkin pie filling, minus the crust and with some extra protein thrown in.

A few of my fellow grad students at my new campus invited me to join their "lunch club". I told them that I'd love to... but I'm vegan. To my surprise and great delight, they decided that we would have a vegan lunch club! On a rotating basis each of us will prepare lunch for everybody else in the lunch club. Today was my first day being the cook for our lunch club. I brought delicious thai-inspired sweet potato burgers and this pumpkin pudding. I think they were both a hit!

Recipe: Pumpkin pudding
Serves 8

1 can of pure pumpkin puree (796 ml)
1 package of soft tofu (350 g)
1/3 cup maple syrup, or to taste
1/4 cup coconut oil
3 tbs orange juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cardamom

1. Put the coconut oil in the microwave for a few seconds to melt it. Alternatively, you could make a hot water bath to melt the coconut oil.

2. Place all the ingredients in a blender. Blend until very smooth.

3. Serve immediately or allow to chill in the refrigerator before serving. The cooler its temperature, the thicker the pudding will be. Enjoy!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Easy recipe: Grilled refried bean sandwich

Back when I was vegetarian instead of vegan, I used to love grilled cheese sandwiches. The oily crunchiness of the fried bread and the gooey cheese just provide so much satisfaction. I liked dipping my grilled cheese in ketchup, with the contrast of the hot salty sandwich and the cool sweet ketchup. There's a grilled cheese sandwich restaurant near my new place. That's right -- a restaurant that sells only grilled cheese sandwiches. I would say that it's cruelly taunting me, except that I know a secret. Shhhh, come close and I'll whisper it to you: you can make a grilled anything sandwich. It doesn't need to be cheese. There are plenty of other things that taste just as amazing in a grilled sandwich. And plenty of other things that don't. Trust me, I've done a lot of grilled sandwich experimenting. So far, I've hit on three different grilled sandwiches that I keep coming back to. (1) Avocado, (2) peanut butter, and (3) refried beans. The last one on that list is the one I want to tell you about today.

Grilled refried bean sandwiches are every bit as good, in my opinion, as grilled cheese sandwiches. They satisfy all the same needs, emotional, nutritional, and spiritual. They feature oily crunchy bread, soft satisfying insides, and are very dipable in ketchup. They would be served in every diner worth mentioning if we lived in a world where every diner was vegan.

Recipe: Grilled refried bean sandwich
Yields 1 sandwich -- multiply recipe as needed

 2 slices of bread
1/4 cup refried beans (homemade or from a can)
1 tbs salsa
1/2 tbs margarine or butter
1/2 tbs vegenaise or mayonaise (optional)

1. Butter one side of both slices of bread.

2. On the unbuttered side of one of the slices of bread, spread the mayonaise (if using). On top of this, spread the refried beans. Finally, spread the salsa on top of the beans.

3. Close the sandwich such that both buttered sides of the bread are facing outwards.

4. Fry the sandwich lightly, about 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown.

5. Enjoy served with ketchup or more salsa as well as a side of pickles!

Monday, 1 September 2014

Recipe: Salade Vincent

Here's a classic from the Turney Family Cookbook. My grandpa puts out a new addition every few years for the whole family to enjoy. A couple years ago I was touched when he produced a special vegan edition just for me: Shaun's Choice Edition. I use this cookbook more than any other cookbook in my collection. One of my favourite salads in the cookbook is Salade Vincent. It's a cucumber salad named after Vincent Van Gogh for macabre reasons -- the way the cucumbers are sliced makes them look like severed ears! Gross, but it tastes refreshing and delicious. My partner and I had a ridiculous amount of cucumbers in our fridge and I immediately knew what we should do with them. Here I've modified the recipe to better suit what I happened to have in my fridge, but I make note of how to make the original recipe.

That's a lot of cucumbers for two people!Thankfully, a triple batch of Salade Vincent used up half of them in a delicious way.

A perfect summer meal with some adorable little potatoes and a field roast veggie dog.

Serves 4

1 large english cucumber
1/4 fresh chopped mint (original recipe calls for dill, not mint)
1/2 cup sprouted lentils (optional -- see this post about sprouting for instructions)
4 leaves of bib lettuce

1/4 tsp salt
1bst Dijon mustard
2 tbsp wine vinegar
3/4 cup virgin olive oil

1. Peel the cucumber and slice it in half lengthwise. Scoop and scrape the seeds out with a spoon. Eat the seeds as you scoop them out if you're like me, or discard them if you're a normal person. Slice the halves into thin crosswise slices (the "ears").

2. Mix together the vinaigrette ingredients with a fork.

3. Assemble the salad: toss together the cucumber, sprouts, mint, and dressing. Serve on a bed of bib lettuce. Enjoy!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Cooking with Dr. Mom: Sweet and sour pineapple tofu

Mmmmmm.... this looks good. Thanks, mum!

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This recipe was inspired by an Eating Well Pineapple Tofu stir-fry recipe.  This recipe lends itself to whatever assortment of veggies you have available. Perfect for the over supply of zucchinis and peppers this time of year. The recipe for the sauce makes enough to cover 4-6 cups of chopped veggies.  This would be good topped with roasted cashews or almond slivers.

Makes 4 servings

1 cup chopped fresh pineapple (or 1 tin pineapple tidbits drained - reserve the juice)
6 tbsp pineapple juice (or tropical juice blend if using fresh pineapple)
4 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp sirachi hot sauce
1 package extra firm tofu, cut into 1cm cubes
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp Canola or sesame oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely minced
2 tbsp fresh lemon grass, finely minced
1 1/2 cups fresh snow peas
1 small zucchini, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 large sweet red pepper, chopped

Make the sauce by combining the juice, vinegar, soy sauce, ketchup, brown sugar and sirachi sauce.
Place the chopped tofu in a shallow container and toss with 1/4 cup of the sauce.  Allow the tofu to marinate for at least 15 minutes.
Add cornstarch to the remaining sauce and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large fry pan or wok.  Lift the tofu out of the marinade with a slotted spoon and fry in the hot oil. (Return any remaining marinade to the sauce you set aside) Cook the tofu, stirring occasionally, until the cubes are golden brown and a bit caramelized on most sides (about 10 minutes).  Transfer the tofu cubes to a plate.
If the fry pan is now too dry, add another 1-2 tsp of oil.  Add the garlic, ginger and lemongrass and fry until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the veggies to the fry pan and stir fry until they are tender crisp.  Pour the sauce into the veggies and stir until thickened slightly, 30-60 seconds.  Add the pineapple chunks and tofu to the veggies and toss until heated through, 1-2 minutes.

Serve on a bed of rice or noodles.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Cooking with Dr. Mom: Wakame cucumber salad

Here's a simple and refreshing salad from my mom:

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Wakame is a type of seaweed that can be purchased chopped and dried in Asian grocery stores.  It resembles loose leaf green tea when dry and it increases by about 8-10 times its size after being soaked in water for 20 min.  Wakame has a very subtle flavour, slightly salty, that pairs very well with cucumber.
This salad could be turned into a vegan salad meal by adding cubed tofu and cooked, cooled transparent vermicelli noodles (mung bean noodles).

This is dried wakame seaweed. It can be found in many Asian grocery stores.

 Check out these before and after photos of soaking the wakame! After only 20 minutes, the wakame completely absorbs the water.

Recipe: Cucumber and wakame salad

1 large field cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped
1 sweet red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup dried chopped wakame

Japanese style dressing
1/4 cup soya sauce
2 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tsp sesame oil

Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Soak the dried wakame in 3 cups cold water for 20-30 minutes.  Drain the soaked wakame to remove any excess water.  Toss together the cucumbers, red pepper and wakame.

Mix together the dressing ingredients then pour over the cucumber mixture and toss. Allow to sit for 15-30 minutes before serving.  Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

Serves 6 as a side dish.


Thursday, 21 August 2014

Recipe: Black bean and sweet potato tacos

I love the combination of black beans and sweet potatoes. I think their textures go great together. I made some black bean and sweet potato tacos that were really delicious and satisfyingly filling. I've been meaning to share this recipe for a while. This would be a great dish for a party or for picky eaters because everyone can just put whatever they like in their tortilla. Feel free to mix up the toppings however you like. I always have the problem that I put way too much stuff in my tortilla and then I make a mess. A delicious mess that I don't regret one bit.

As you can see, this tortilla is never going to close! I got over-excited about the toppings.

Me, excited to eat a taco.

About 6-8 tacos

-Two medium-sized sweet potatoes
-1 can of black beans, drained
-1 large onion, chopped
-2 cloves garlic
-2 tbs vegetable oil

-1 tbs chili powder
-1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
-1/4 tsp dried oregano
-1/4 tsp paprika
-1-1/2 tsp cumin
-1 tsp sea salt
-1 tsp black pepper

-2 avocados
-1/4 cup fresh lime juice

-8 flour or corn tortillas
-Toppings: salsa, diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, diced sweet peppers, shredded cheese, sour cream, hot sauce, etc.

1. Wash and peel the sweet potatoes. Boil them until they are soft, about 10-15 minutes. Drain and mash the potatoes with a potato masher until smooth, although a few chunks can remain.

2. Heat the olive oil and add the chopped onion. Saute for 5 minutes. Add 1 clove of garlic, minced, along with the seasonings. Saute on low heat until the onion is translucent. Mix in the black beans with 1/4 cup of water. Continue to cook until the liquid is absorbed. Transfer the bean mixture to a bowl and mash with a potato masher until the bean mixture sticks to itself.

3. To prepare guacamole, cut the avocados in half and remove the pits. Scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Add 1 clove of grated garlic and the lime juice. Mash and mix the ingredients together with a fork, leaving a few chunks of avocado. Add salt to taste. 

4. Heat the tortillas briefly in the oven, if desired. To prepare the tacos, spread a layer of sweet potato, a layer of black bean mixture, and a layer of guacamole down the centre of the tortilla. On top of these, add any additional toppings, as desired. Fold or roll the tortilla and eat!

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Cooking with Dr. Mom: Soba noodles with eggplant and mango

Another delicious-sounding recipe from my awesome mom.

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Yotam Ottolenghi wrote the wonderful vegetarian cookbook "Plenty".  The recipes are inspired by his time spent living in both Europe and the Middle East. He credits this recipe to his mother. He describes it as her "ultimate cook-to-impress fare" and a favorite among the readers of his Guardian recipe column.  I followed his recipe except that I broiled the eggplant instead of deep frying it as he suggests and I added mushrooms.
The recipe is best if it is made a few hours before eating to allow time for the flavors to meld. It would be a good choice for a pot luck party.
If this is to be a main course, simply add cubed fried/grilled tofu to the salad.

Soba Noodles with eggplant and mango

1/2 cup rice vinegar
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1/2 tsp sirachi hot sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
grated zest and juice of one lime

1 Italian eggplant or 3-4 Asian eggplants, cut into 2cm cubes and tossed with vegetable oil
8 oz soba noodles
1 large ripe mango, cut into 1cm cubes
1 1/2 cups Thai basil leaves, julienned
2 cups cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 sweet (vidalia) onion, very thinly sliced
1 pkg sliced mushrooms (8 oz)

roasted sesame seeds for garnish

In a small pot, heat the rice vinegar, sugar and salt over moderate heat to dissolve  the sugar in the vinegar. Remove from heat and add the rest of the dressing ingredients to the pot.  Allow to cool before tossing on the salad.

Lay the eggplant in a single layer on a foil covered cookie sheet and broil about 3 inches from the element.  Turn to cook the other side once browned and sizzling.  The eggplant should be soft, cooked through, with darkened crispy skin.
Fry onions in 1 tsp oil until cooked.  Cool. 

Cook the soba noodles in lots of boiling lightly salted water until cooked al dente - about 6-8 minutes.  Drain well and rinse under cold running water.  Shake the water off and allow to drip dry or lay on a clean dish towel to thoroughly dry before tossing with dressing and salad ingredients.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the dressing, mango, mushrooms, eggplant, cooked cold soba noodles, half the basil and half the cilantro and the onion.  Allow to sit for 1-2 hours.  When ready to serve, add the other half of the basil and cilantro to the salad and toss well.

Serves 6.