Sunday, July 31, 2011
Blargh. I don't know what it is about this kind of weather (Humidity? Thunder? Heat?) that renders all my careful migraine-control-techniques useless, but I don't like it. At all. This was supposed to be a super-fun weekend (It includes my birthday! And my one-year wedding anniversary!) but in between bouts of super-fun have come bouts of stupid headachey, low blood sugar crappiness. I have spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself while watching cooking shows from my place on the couch, thinking about what I would cook if I had the energy.
Pity me now! I command you!
Okay, you don't really have to pity me. I did get a few things done in the kitchen. First, in an effort to have some food put away for the coming week, I cooked a big pot of white kidney beans. Or should I say I overcooked a big pot of white kidney beans. I had them going on the stove and got distracted by Something Very Important*. They are edible, but a bit mushy. They worked very well in a pureed carrot soup. And then I thought about dessert.
I've seen a million recipes for black bean brownies, and I figured white bean blondies would be even better, what with white beans having a more mellow and disguiseable taste than black ones. I threw together a batter that I thought would work and voila! A strangely high protein dessert treat. I was a bit worried about them being rubbery in texture but that didn't happen at all. They are certainly dense, though. Not fluffy or cakey at all, which is fine because they're not cake. I think they'd be really delicious with a bit of vanilla coconut milk ice cream, or maybe some vegan whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Unfortunately our fridge/freezer is not keeping things cold enough and needs to be repaired so I can't have any ice cream around right now (Pity me, again! More! More!) but I will certainly be making these again when ice cream is once again a possibility.
White Bean Blondies
4 tbsp vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance)
3 tbsp unrefined sugar
3/4 cup white beans, pureed until very smooth
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp agave nectar
1 tbsp ground flax seed mixed with 3 tbsp warn water
pinch of salt
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup spelt flour
1/3 cup chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Lightly grease an 8 by 8 baking pan. (My mom just gave me a nice Pyrex one with a plastic lid for post-baking storage. Thanks, Mom!)
Over low heat, melt the margarine with the sugar and set aside to cool slightly.
Puree the beans. Mix the flax with the water.
In a large bowl, combine margarine mixture with beans, flax mixture, vanilla, and agave.
Add flours, mixing only to combine. Fold in chocolate chips.
Spread batter evenly in pan and bake for approximately half an hour, or until the edges brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
*this may or may not have been a particularly gripping episode of "Masterchef Australia".
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Shortly after our lunch at Rawliciious, we happened by Bunner's Bake Shop which is, by it's own declaration, Toronto's only vegan, gluten-free bakery. Since I've got no beef with gluten (that's vegan humour) and I can bake my own vegan cupcakes, I didn't feel the need to stock up on goodies. However, there was one lonely cinnamon donut calling my name.
It was a baked donut and, despite being gluten-free, it tasted almost identical to the baked donuts I make at home. That is to say, very good.
I would certainly go again if I lived in Toronto. It is so nice to just be able to grab something sweet from a cute bake shop whenever you want. Hooray for vegan bakers.
The place is obviously very popular because a big portion of the goods had been sold by the time we got there in the late afternoon. Torontonians, you are lucky.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Seeing as an extended summer vacation is not in the cards for me this year, I decided to take a quick trip to Toronto this past weekend for a bit of a relaxing change of pace. Part of the trip was spent in the company of my friends Nicole and Alex and their rather amazing 2 year old son, Jacob. I got to check out their brand new apartment, discuss farm animals and the sounds they make with Jake, and eat lots of good food. Not bad at all.
Nicole, who is always good at making sure I am adequately fed when I visit, had mentioned Rawlicious when I was first planning the trip. I'd never actually been to a raw food restaurant, so I was excited to try it.
Nicole and Alex and I decided to check it out for lunch one afternoon when Jake was off being admired by a different adult. It was boiling, weather wise, so the first things we ordered were the drinks you can see up there in the first picture. Nicole's was chocolate almond milk, mine was a chocolate mint smoothie, and Alex's was a blueberry iced tea. My smoothie was so minty I was initially kind of startled by it, but the taste grew on me quickly. It was certainly refreshing. I forgot to ask how everyone else liked their drinks, but all cups were emptied quickly, so that's a good sign.
For my lunch I ordered the "zuchetti" with basil pesto. The portion seemed huge when it arrived. I was slightly daunted by the idea of eating that much raw zucchini. But I cleaned my plate. It was tasty and fresh and light. The nice thing about raw food is that it never makes me feel uncomfortably full. It actually makes me feel kind of like a mega-healthy, clear-headed superhero, but don't tell anyone that or they'll think I'm a bit bonkers.
Nicole had the raw taco wrap. I was considering ordering this instead of my pesto, so I was glad she ordered it so I could at least get a look at it. Truthfully, I wasn't sure how I'd feel about raw collards. Nicole liked it, but she said the almond cheese was a bit sharp tasting. She also commented that this would not be a meal to present to a meat eater who was trying vegan food for the first time. "Because this tastes good, but it is definitely not what I'd think of when I think of a taco." Agreed. Adventurous eaters only.
Alex had the "Rawitch" which was served on onion bread. He said the bread surprised him with its sweetness, but seemed to like the food regardless. I am a hater of sprouts, so I would never have ordered this, but if you like that sort of thing, I'm sure it would be delicious.
Since I was technically on vacation and attempting to experience my slightly unfamiliar surroundings to the fullest, I did not hesitate to order dessert. Without too much dithering I chose a strawberry custard tart. With three forks.
Holy, this was amazing. The nut crust had a great texture, the strawberries were fresh and bright, and the custardy cream was better than any raw cream I've ever made at home. And I've tried quite a few raw creams. Because, as I said to a coworker drinking some kind of mocha-choco-latte-thingy at my office the other day, "Whipped cream is the best reason not to be vegan."
Nicole and Alex had been unenthusiastic about dessert, but once they made use of those two extra forks the tart was gone in no time. We were all delighted by it. I spent the rest of the day thinking about it. I wonder how they make that custard. Someone find out and e-mail me, please.
Oh, and did I mention the restaurant is adorable? Cosy and bright and cute. If I lived in the neighbourhood I'd stop in as often as possible. Especially for dessert.
Monday, July 18, 2011
So, it's hot. Not much more to say about that. I don't really mind the heat, but it sure doesn't make me want to cook much. I had "bake something" on my weekend to-do list, but I crossed it off with impunity as soon as the humidity kicked in. Turn the oven on? No thank you.
Also there was a wildly destructive storm here last night. This meant we had two out of three dogs freaking out with thunder fear and so neither the Man of Science or I got a very good sleep.
All this meant that when I got home from work tonight I was hot and tired. Which led to not wanting to cook anything too complicated. Luckily, I'd picked up a package of slider buns on a whim last week. Enter some fun and easy homemade burgers.
I'm a big fan of recipes that involve just throwing everything in a food processor. This is one of those recipes. If you don't have a food processor I'm pretty sure you could still make these work, but be prepared to do a whole lot of chopping. Also, your burgers might not have the smooth texture of these ones that I made.
I should note that the Man of Science loved these. He likened them to his white whale of veggie burgers: the Manx Pub tofu burger that was removed from their menu several years ago. When he made that comparison I knew these had been a special hit. I've heard him rhapsodize about that Manx burger more times that I can count. I'm guessing this recipe is going to be one that gets repeated often.
Tofu Pecan Sliders
1/2 cup pecans
1 small onion
1/2 pound of firm tofu
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup cold water
1 cup bread crumbs
2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
flour for dusting on patties
olive oil for pan frying
In a food processor, process pecans until they are ground fairly fine.
Quarter the onion and cube the tofu, then process them as well, until the mixture is crumbly and uniform.
Add all other ingredients (except the olive oil and flour) and process until well mixed.
Grab a hunk of mixture (approximately 2 tbsp worth) and roll it into a ball. Flatten the ball and dust with flour until it is no longer sticky.
Repeat until you've used up all the mixture. I got 12 little patties out of it. You can do bigger patties if you'd rather.
Heat a non-stick or cast iron pan over medium heat. Add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan.
Working in batches of six, pan fry the patties for four minutes on the first side and about three minutes on the second side. They should turn a nice medium brown colour.
I poked the middle of each patty with a chopstick while they were frying. In my experience this helps things cook better.
When the burgers are cooked, place them on a couple sheets of paper towel to draw out excess oil.
Serve with vegan mayo, lettuce, tomato, and- if you're my husband- Dijon mustard, horseradish, and chili garlic sauce.
Yum. Now I'm going to bed.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Sorry friends. My computer died on Sunday so I didn't have my usual time to sit and prepare a longer post. Don't worry, I'd backed everything up (thank you Man of Science for buying me an external hard drive and also for gently informing me that yes, I did need to buy a new computer even if spending all that money made me want to throw up a little) and nothing of import was lost. But I can't quite figure out the new version of iPhoto. So all you get this week is this adorable photo of my red casserole dish.
Also, I had a really long day and I need to go lie on the floor and listen to Sleater Kinney now. Be back soon.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
The Man of Science requested tapas for his birthday dinner and I was excited to oblige. Even though I got cranky towards the end of the cooking marathon because the kitchen was too hot and I was tired. FYI, it is bad form to get irritable when you're doing something nice for someone else. It made me feel like a bit of a jackass. Next time I'll keep myself in check!
The meal was delicious, thankfully. The only dish I'd made before was the spanish potato tortilla. Other foods served included olives, bread, aioli, mushrooms cooked in sherry, fried rice and avocado patties, and these excellent grilled eggplant rolls (layers of Chinese eggplant and roasted red pepper wrapped around Tofurky sausage and served with cilantro sauce):
Also a triumph, the vegan key lime pie he'd requested for dessert. I used my cashew cheesecake recipe as a starting point, but used a graham cracker crust instead of the walnut date crust. A whole lot of fresh lime juice and toasted coconut later, we ended up with this delicious pie.
I loved trying new recipes and having them come out so well. It's always a kick for me. And the Man of Science loved it too, albeit from an eater's rather than a cook's perspective. Which is what having birthday dinner is all about. Happy birthday, Man of Science. You're my favourite.
Sunday, July 3, 2011
"I don't think I'm getting enough kale," said The Man of Science yesterday. We were eating kale at the time. For the fourth time in two days.
I can't remember how I responded. I probably said nothing, seeing as my mouth was full of kale.
Yes, I know there's been a lot of kale around here lately, but frankly, the girl can't help it. When there's kale around I want to eat it all the time. And now that my mom and I are splitting a share in a local CSA (from a place called Roots and Shoots Farm) there's kale as far as the eye can see. Here is a photo of this week's entire CSA vegetable haul, which my mom gave me in its entirety because she and my dad are about to leave for vacation:
Radishes, japanese turnips, spicy stirfry greens, bok choy, onions, garlic scapes, basil, lettuce, and KALE. I'm amazed. This is just the first installment of vegetables from the farm. We'll get more each week until the end of the growing season. It's a vegan cook's dream.
I wanted to use items from the share as soon as I got home from picking it up. Fortunately, it was lunch time.
This is less of a recipe and more of a "how to" I guess, because I didn't do anything complicated. I knew I'd be cooking a lot this weekend because it was the Man of Science's birthday (more on his amazing birthday dinner later this week!) so I bought some readymade Tofurky sausages. They are really delicious. For this lunch I just put a bit of olive oil in the frying pan, then added some chopped onions and garlic scapes and one chopped up tomato. After the onions were tender (three or four minutes) I added the sausages. When those started to brown I added kale, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
And that was lunch. Now I'm out of kale. Go figure.
I'm sure this recipe would work with just about any protein/greens combination, which makes a good one to keep on hand during CSA season. Our farmer sends out weekly e-mail messages talking about what's in that week's share and suggesting recipes and techniques for people to use. It's a great system.