Friday, February 27, 2009

Chocolate Strawberry Pudding

vegan chocolate pudding

I have had massive chocolate cravings lately. And yet, when I eat a lot of sugar I get mopey and headachey, so I have to watch it with the sweets. Predictably, the chocolate-craving part of my brain doesn't really listen to the healthy and practical part of my brain when it comes time to decide what to have for a snack.

Celery with almond butter, says the practical side, or maybe some fruit.

Chocolate, says the other side. Cake! Cookies! Ice Cream!

Fortunately, there is pudding. Home made pudding in which I can put just a tiny bit of sugar so that I do not go insane. Pudding that can be made entirely with ingredients that I almost always have in the kitchen, like boxed silken tofu, frozen strawberries, and cocoa powder.

Voila! A dessert/snack that is not really unhealthy at all. It makes my brain happy.

frozen strawberries

Chocolate Strawberry Pudding

1 tetrapack of silken tofu (I like Mori Nu)
1 cup frozen strawberries
3 heaping tablespoons of cocoa powder
1 tablespoon of sugar or maple syrup
approximately 1/4 cup vanilla almond milk

Put all ingredients in your blender of food processor and blend.

Add as much almond milk as you need to make it blend smoothly. You may want to do this slowly so you don't end up with runny pudding. Yuck. 

Pour into cups and put in the fridge to set. Wait as long as you can, but then give into your cravings and eat multiple cups of pudding in one sitting. 

vegan chocolate pudding

Some Notes: 

- The strawberries can be replaced with any frozen fruit you fancy. Bananas would probably kick ass. 

- You can add more sugar or sweetener if you find it not sweet enough. I find, weirdly, that my American friends usually like sweeter stuff than my Canadian friends. Is there something weird that happens to taste buds on different sides of the border? Or am I just friends with brown-rice-healthfood nerds when I am at home and sugar fiends when abroad?

- If it were 1996 I would be covering this in Cool Whip and eating it with gusto. Now, at my boring and reasonable advanced age, I try to avoid edible oil products. However, if you are young and adventurous, Cool Whip it up! Why don't you add sprinkles while you're at it. 



Wednesday, February 18, 2009

It's a Vegan World: Italian

White Bean Stew

Vaishali, over at the Holy Cow vegan blog, has the genius idea of hosting an Italian food challenge this month. February is the perfect month for this challenge, at least for those of us who live where the weather is cold and inhospitable. What better way to deal with the last lingering days of cold than to stuff ourselves with rich flavours and satisfying carbs?

For my entry to the challenge I made this white bean and tomato stew, which is flavourful, healthy and satisfying. To make it a bit more decadent and, well, carby. I baked up some crusty bread to go along with it. The whole thing ended up being a lovely Friday night dinner for the Man of Science and I. A comforting way to end the week.

White Bean Tomato Stew

2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2/3 cup of mushrooms, chopped
2 bay leaves
4 medium sized ripe tomatoes, chopped
3/4 cup veggie soup stock
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp rosemary
1 tbsp basil
1 can's worth of white beans
1/2 cup baby spinach
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil over med-high heat and saute onions and garlic and bay leaves until onions are tender.

Add mushrooms and continue to cook, stirring frequently for a few minutes. Then add chopped tomatoes, soup stock, sugar, rosemary and basil.

Reduce heat to medium and let cook for five to seven minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add white beans and spinach, cover, and reduce heat to minimum. Let cook until spinach is wilted.

Remove bay leaves, season with salt and pepper and serve.


Some Notes:

-The bread recipe is from The Compassionate Cook, the first vegan cookbook I ever had. Every recipe I've ever made from it has turned out well. It is still a classic volume in my cookbook collection. A broken-spined, soup-stained classic.

-I used just regular button mushrooms, but I think any kind of mushrooms would work well.

-We also ate some appetizers that were portobella mushrooms de-stemmed and upended on a cookie sheet, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil and topped with a slice of tomato and a bit of Parmesan cheese. I put them under the broiler for five minutes and they turned all juicy and delicious. We ate them so fast I didn't take any photos.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Neko Case Helps Animals

Here's the link to download a new Neko Case song for free! And whenever anyone, like me, posts this on a blog, Ms. Case's record company will donate $5 to Best Friends Animal Society. Everybody wins.

And here's Neko Case and lots of equally good looking cats and dogs in her PSA for the organization.

And, as a bonus, here's the link to a great article about her in the New York Times Sunday Magazine where she talks about her unfortunate childhood and her gang of rescued pets.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Stuffed Tofu and Roasted Cauliflower

stuffed tofu

This meal was nearly impossible to photograph. Too much pale food at too many unphotogenic angles. But, dear readers, I bring this to you anyway because it was freakin' delicious.

Have you ever roasted cauliflower before? I hadn't. But I had a dormant longing for it, all because of the food court at the Cornwall Mall. Stay with me here. Sometimes, I have to drive to Cornwall for work and, since it is a few hours away, I get to put in an expense claim for my lunch. The problem is, Cornwall is not the kind of place where one can easily dig up a vegetarian meal. After a few visits culminated in greasy veggie burgers at the Harvey's next to the Walmart, a coworker tipped me off to a Lebanese place in the food court at the mall. They have a "vegetarian platter" (read: styrofoam plate) piled high with veggies, hummus, falafel, salad, pita bread, and the most delicious roasted cauliflower I have ever eaten in my life. Cauliflower! Who knew?

It is a pretty dire time for vegetables here in Ontario. At the grocery store even local winter standbys like squash and parsnips seem to be imported these days. If I want a local meal I'm pretty much eating mushrooms and garlic exclusively. And even the imported vegetables aren't looking so hot. Greens are wilty, tomatoes are pale, peppers are wrinkled. I was in the vegetable aisle feeling forlorn the other day and I spotted a passable head of cauliflower. When I got it home I roasted it using a modified recipe from Foodland Ontario (how I love you, Foodland Ontario!) and it became the perfect side dish for some stuffed tofu. It was just as delicious as the food court version and, thankfully, could be eaten without a trip to Cornwall.


Roasted Cauliflower

1 medium sized cauliflower
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp dried rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Chop/break cauliflower into relatively bite-sized pieces and place in a bowl.

Add other ingredients and toss to coat.

Spread cauliflower pieces on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about half an hour or until they start to brown.

Stuffed Tofu

1 block of medium firm tofu
1 bunch of chard or other greens, chopped up small
1 medium sized onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Press water out of tofu by sandwiching it between two plates and putting something heavy on top. When I was in university I always used my Riverside Shakespeare text for this purpose. In this case, a glass jar full of rice worked just as well.

While tofu is pressing, saute greens, onion, and garlic in 1 tbsp of the olive oil. When greens have wilted and darkened, add lemon juice and salt and pepper.

Cut pressed tofu into rectangles and cut these in half lengthwise, almost all the way. Leave one side un-cut.

Fill middles of tofu rectangles with chard mixture. Stuff as much as you can in there without breaking it.

Heat remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil and sesame oil over medium high heat in a frying pan. Pan fry stuffed tofu rectangles until each side has browned. I'd do this one rectangle at a time, unless you're fancy.

Some Notes

-I sprinkled some tamari on the tofu after I finished pan frying it. This tofu is not marinated like I would normally make it, but the chard and cauliflower were both really flavourful so it balanced out. 

-If I was on Top Chef they'd tell me I should have added something crunchy to balance out the soft texture of the rest of my foods.

-Since you brought it up... I am so glad that Leah was ousted from Top Chef this week. She bugged me more than any of the others with her whining and moping. She just never seemed enthusiastic about cooking at all. I'd like Carla to win, just because I like her attitude, but I think Stefan will probably take it.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Vegetable Love: Valentine's Tofu and Noodles


Yum! I am just under the wire with this post, which is my contribution to the Vegetable Love phenomenon that is sweeping the vegan nation. I was very busy this evening, you see, watching Project Runway Canada with my whole neighbourhood. So I didn't get to post this any earlier because I was watching Iman woodenly deliver horrible dialogue to a variety of crazy Canadian fashion types. Totally worth it.

Nothing says loooooove to me like tofu and noodles, it is supreme comfort food. So, happy Vegany Valentine's Day everyone! And while we're getting all lovey, don't you think "sugar snap pea" is a pretty good nauseating pet name for your loved one? 

Valentine's Tofu and Noodles

tofu hearts

Tofu hearts!

1 block of firm tofu
1/2 cup tamari
juice of one lime
2 tbsp of sesame oil
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 clove of garlic
tsp of hot chili sauce (or more if you're feelin' hot! Hot! Hot!)

You can be all sassy like me and cut your tofu into hearts. Then you marinate those hearts in a mixture of the rest of those ingredients.

I just spooned some marinade over each tofu heart and kept about half of it for the noodle sauce.
After twenty minutes (or longer if you're blessed with patience) fry the hearts over high heat. Set aside until your noodles are done.


Bits of tofu that were left over when you cut out the hearts! (probably about 1/2 a block)
A pot full of somen noodles (I used three of the little bundles)
One cup of sugar snap peas
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
2 green onions, chopped into little round pieces
1/2 cup toasted peanuts, chopped
3/4 cup low fat coconut milk
reserved marinade from the tofu hearts

Fry the tofu pieces over high heat until they are dark and tasty.

Cook your noodles, drain them, and let them cool a bit.

Mix the coconut milk with the remaining marinade, and dump over noodles, toss to coat.

Add tofu and snap peas, toss again.

Top with chopped cilantro, onions, and peanuts. Eat your heart out. (Snort!)

To be shared with a loved one, right Shy Dog?



Saturday, February 7, 2009

Vegan Tacos and Spiced Potatoes


Yes, more breakfast. More potatoes, more tofu, more, more more! Perhaps I should just give up and be a breakfast blog. Do you want to know why so many breakfast posts? It's no great mystery. The answer is light. It is winter, don't you know, and by the time I get around to cooking dinner, the kitchen is dark, dark, dark. Which makes for crappy photos. And also? Unambitious cooking. I have been doing a whole lot of vegetable A + vegetable B + rice + tofu = dinner. Delicious and nutritious, but not at all exciting to photograph and write about. To be truthful, I can hardly remember what I ate this week. I know there was vegan chili and grilled avocado and cheese sandwiches one night. And there was stir fry and spring rolls another night. But most of it was just a blur. A dark, enough-of-winter-already blur.

When the fun cooking gets done is on Saturday mornings. When the natural light is good and the living is easy. The House of Science wakes up and the dogs play outside in the snow and I listen to Camera Obscura playlists and make us a good breakfast.

These potatoes were conceived because the Man of Science loves those spicy fries that are all weird and curly. He liked these potatoes because they were kind of like those potatoes. I liked these potatoes in spite of the fact that I do not like those potatoes. So everybody wins. These were just spicy enough to leave a bit of a "zing!" in my mouth, but not painfully spicy. The Man of Science dumped hot sauce all over his, as is his wont. The tacos were just delightful, though right now I am delighted by anything involving avocados.

spiced oil for potatoes

Vegan Tacos and Spiced Potatoes

Potatoes first!

5 medium sized white potatoes, cubed
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon of sunflower oil
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of chili powder
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of paprika
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Mix together oil and garlic and spices.

Pour over cubed potatoes and toss to coat. Let the whole mess sit there for a minute or two.

Bake, flipping over occasionally, until the insides of the potato pieces are tender and the outsides are crispy. Probably half an hour to forty minutes.

Now! The tacos!

Prepare some scrambled tofu according to the recipe of your choice. Or the recipe of my choice.

Make some guacamole like this:

Smush up three ripe avocados.

Mix in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, one clove of garlic (crushed), and salt and pepper to taste.

Heat some corn tortillas until they are slightly warm. Not too long or they'll get crispy and brittle.

Top tortillas with tofu mixture, guacamole, salsa, and cilantro. Fold them up and eat them. With a napkin. They are messy.

spicy potatoes

Some Notes:

-I used to avoid cayenne and other hot things like the plague because I don't like extremely spicy food. When the Man of Science and I go for rotis, he gets his so hot that it makes him cry. Profusely. Me, I don't like my food to hurt me. However, I have recently started to understand the advantages of adding a bit of heat to my cooking. I'm still not going to make anything ridiculously spicy, but I like the way the heat gives a bit of warmth to the overall flavours.

-As with any Mexican food prepared in Ottawa, these are a sad replacement for the kind of Mexican food cooked somewhere that has an actual Mexican population. I am going to California in March (yippee!) and you can bet I am going to eat a lot of Mexican food.

-Top Chef update: Oh my God, Top Chef! Stop kicking off all the ladies I like! If Carla goes this week I will be sad, sad, sad.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Pasta With Swiss Chard and Vegan Sausage

chard and pasta

The Man of Science does not dig the fake meat. Me, I usually just forget it exists because it is sometimes creepy and always expensive. However, I had been thinking lately about Tofurky Italian Sausages* and how tasty they can be in a pasta dish with greens and garlic. Yum. So earlier this week when the MoS had to work late for Federal Budget-type reasons, I brought some sausages to the House of Science and fended off three very curious dogs long enough to cook them into this following dish. The sausages. Not the dogs.

Pasta With Swiss Chard and Vegan Sausage

whole wheat bowtie pasta (enough for two people)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 bunch of swiss chard, chopped with stems removed
salt and pepper to taste
two Tofurky Italian Sausages (or other sausagey fake meat of your choosing) sliced into bite sized pieces 
1/4 cup of nutritional yeast


Boil pasta until it is al dente. 

In a skillet or large frying pan, heat olive oil over med/high heat.

Add onions and garlic and saute until tender.

Add chopped up sausages and cook, while stirring, for two or three minutes or until they are starting to brown slightly.

Add soup stock and cooked pasta, then place the chard on top of everything, reduce head to med/low, and cover. 

When chard has wilted (after about five minutes) add nutritional yeast and stir to combine all ingredients. 

Turn off the heat, let it sit for a minute or two, then eat up! 

Some notes:

-I used white chard instead of red because I didn't want the pasta to turn pink. Something about that is really unappetizing to me. 

-Again with the Top Chef: in the "Down on the Farm" episode this season I distinctly heard the dashingly reasonable Tom Colicchio say, of chard, "I could have used some more stems." Really? Really, Tom Colicchio? Because I don't really like the stems. What do you know about chard stems that I do not?

-We all know that it's better to use whole wheat pasta, right? Because it gives you a full protein when eaten with soy? And it fills you up for longer and gives you more nutritional benefits? Just wanted to be sure. 


*No, I'm not shilling for Tofurky. Though I'm sure they'd love to sponsor a blog that gets an average of 16 hits a day! It's the big time!