Monday, August 31, 2009



Sometimes you just don't feel like thinking about cooking and sometimes you need to clean out the fridge. Yesterday was a bit of both.

I had some sauce leftover, 1/2 a package of Cheezly. jalapenos and tomatoes that were super ripe and a few pieces of seitan. So, what better way to use it than to make pizza?

The pizza dough recipe is the No Rise Crust recipe from Recipezaar. I prefer a wetter dough so I cut back on the flour a little bit. Sure, it doesn't have a developed taste like long rising/fermenting doughs but it is quick, easy and pretty good.

So there you have it, a clean-out-the-fridge Sunday dinner. Fast, easy, tasty and so much cheaper (and tastier) than delivery.

Macaroni in a Cashew / Almond "Cheese" Sauce

Macaroni & Beet Greens

Macaroni in a cashew / almond "cheese" sauce with a side of sauteed beet greens.

I've been making a lot of cashew-based sauces lately and I think this is my favourite so far. It's a more delicate taste than your traditional heavy nutritional yeast sauces (I still like those). The reason why it doesn't look creamy is because this is a photo of the macaroni the next day after all the sauce has soaked in. The day of, it was beautifully creamy.

Anyway, here's the recipe I concocted. I'm not reinventing the wheel as there are so many cashew sauces out there and they are all pretty simple.

Notes: If you want a smooth sauce, pre-soak the nuts for a few hours, then drain.

For step two, if you have a large blender, then throw everything in. If you have a food processor though, ad the water gradually as I mentioned.

You can use just cashews if you want and you could probably cut the amount of nuts down too to a total of 1 or 1.5 cups since raw nuts aren't cheap.

Macaroni in a Cashew / Almond "Cheese" Sauce

1 lb macaroni, uncooked
yellow mustard (to coat cooked macaroni)

1 cup raw cashews
1 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and celery seed (to taste)
1 small red pepper, cooked until soft (optional)
1/4 cup olive oil (optional)
2-4 tbsps lemon juice (to taste)
4 cups water
  1. Cook your pasta until al dente. Drain and toss with enough yellow mustard to lightly coat each piece and then set aside.

  2. Put all the dry ingredients into your blender or food processor and process until it is a fine powder. For the seasonings, start with 1 tsp of everything except salt. For the salt, start with 1/2 tsp or go with 1 tsp if you like salt. 1/2 tsp probably isn't near enough but it's better to start undersalted and then adjust accordingly. You can adjust the seasonings later when it is simmering in the pot. When everything is processed, add in the optional red pepper, lemon juice and oil and process until the mixture is uniform.

  3. With the motor running, slowly pour in the water, a little at a time and process until nice and smooth. Stop if your blender or food processor is getting too full (you can always add the rest of the water in the pot). Taste and adjust seasonings.

  4. Put the entire sauce mixture in a large saucepan and heat on medium-high while whisking constantly. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Let the sauce cook until mixture is thickened

  5. Mix the macaroni into the sauce and serve as is OR put into a greased casserole dish, top with breadcrumbs and bake at 350F until bubbly (15 to 30 mins depending on how you like your baked mac & cheese).
Hope you like it! Here's a bonus pic of sweet summer corn from our CSA.

Sweet Summer Corn

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pasta Pilaf

Is "Pasta Pilaf" even a correct term? Eh, I don't know and I don't care. :p

Anyway, I had a bunch of bits and pieces of produce that I needed to use up. I had originally planned on throwing them into an Aglio e Olio (olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes) spaghetti dish but I kind of wanted something a little different.

I had a box of baby shells that I was going to use for something else but it was perfect for a pilaf-type dish because of its small size. I love making pilaf with rice, couscous or orzo (and sometimes wheat noodles for a "saucy" noodle side dish) and thought that the baby shells would work well in this too.

I sauteed some onion, garlic, zucchini (which you can't really see), carrots and peas in olive oil. Then I added vegetable broth, herbs/spices, splash of Bragg's, chickpeas and threw in the shells until done with almost all the liquid absorbed. I topped it off with the last of our CSA tomatoes and parsley. Surprisingly, I eyeballed the broth and it was the perfect amount for the pasta. You want a little liquid left so that the pasta isn't totally dry. I'm not sure what the proper ratio is but maybe 1:2 pasta to liquid ratio? Something to look up online.

Anyway, it was super fast and easy to put together (about 20 minutes) and only one pot to wash. Really simple but really tasty. Give it a try!

Peach Cobbler

Peach Cobbler

Peaches are my favourite fruit. When I was a kid, my dad would get baskets of Ontario peaches from farmers' stands along the highway and I would eat as many as I could in one sitting. I love love love peaches!

Thankfully, we've been receiving quite a lot of peaches from our CSA and lucky for me, the boy (also known as the Mr. sometimes) doesn't care for peaches. More for me! My favourite way to eat peaches is just sliced when perfectly ripe, but I had about four that needed to be eaten today or cooked in something. While I love peach pie, I am absolutely terrible with pastry dough and I really didn't feel like going to the store to buy a pre-made crust. Also, I really don't ever bake anything aside from bread and never make desserts so I was kind of out of ideas aside from pie or jam. I ended up scouring Recipezaar for peach ideas and decided on peach cobbler.

I don't think I've even had peach cobbler or cobbler anything, but it sounded good and easy to make so I modified this recipe. Basically I doubled the peaches, cut the sugar and margarine and used more coconut milk in the dough/batter. Here's the slightly modified version:

Fresh Peach Cobbler

4 large fresh peaches, peeled and sliced
1 cup sugar (1/2 cup for the peaches and 1/2 cup for the batter)
1/4 cup vegan margarine, melted
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup coconut milk (you could use 3/4 soy milk)
  1. Mix peach slices with half the sugar (1/2 cup) and set aside.
  2. Pour the melted margarine into an 8" square or round baking dish.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and remaining sugar (1/2 cup).
  4. Stir in the coconut milk until just combined. The consistency should be like a thick muffin batter. Well I don't know if it should be, but that's how mine was. Add more coconut milk if needed.
  5. Put the batter over the melted margarine, smoothing out as necessary to cover the bottom of the pan.
  6. Top with the peaches including any liquid that has been extracted.
  7. Bake at 375F for 45 minutes.
I thought it turned out really well. The only reason why I used coconut milk was because I was out of soy milk. I think it added a nice richness to it and you really couldn't taste the coconut.

I had it both warm and cold and both ways were delicious! The top and sides were nice and crunchy and the middle under the peaches was cakey with some gooey parts due to the peach juice and margarine. It was so easy to put together with ingredients that I always have on hand and it totally tastes like summer.

ETA: You're going to see this blue plate a lot, not just because we're vegan, but because it literally is the only nice plate I own. The rest are cheapo white dishes from Target. :)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Pesto Fettucine & Roasted Eggplant

More CSA produce to use up! We are almost caught up with our shares. All that's left right now are some beets, sweet candy onions, jalapenos and zucchini.

The pesto was made with basil, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, blanched almonds and nutritional yeast and then tossed with fettucine and fresh diced heirloom tomatoes.

On the side is eggplant tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and oven roasted until soft and nicely browned on top.

A simple but delicious dinner and so much healthier than that damn tomato pie from yesterday!

Southern Tomato Pie

I love belonging to a CSA but sometimes we get so much of something that I need to branch out and try something new. This week we got a ton of tomatoes. I usually just drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, but I wanted to do something different and came across a ton of recipes for Southern Tomato Pie, not to be confused with local Tomato Pie.

I was intrigued by the simplicity of Southern Tomato Pie as well as the sheer fattiness of the dish. Basically it is fresh tomatoes, onions and basil in a full fat pastry crust and topped with a combo of cheese and mayo.

For my version, I used the classic Crisco crust recipe with vegetable shortening. I suck at making pastry so mine looks pretty thick. I prebaked the crust for 10 mins and then filled with layers of pre-salted and drained sliced tomatoes, sliced sweet onions, basil and black pepper. Then it was topped off with a combination of Daiya vegan mozzarella, Vegenaise and some chives for good measure. Then it was baked for about 35 minutes.

The verdict? Delicious but super heavy. Despite the fresh produce, the pastry and cheese and mayo will tip you over the edge into food coma really quickly.

I think this is the single most calorie dense and unhealthy dish I've made pre- and post-vegan! I think if I ever make this again, I'll make it more like a European savoury pie by skipping the topping. It was fun to make though and I think it was successfully veganised!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Roasted Fennel

I hate the taste of licorice with a passion and I can only tolerate something like anise if it is a minor ingredient. As a kid, I routinely tried to like those licorice candy bits but to no avail. I hated it.

This week's CSA share had two bulbs of fennel. I almost swapped them for something else but I changed my mind because I'd never cooked with fennel before and was curious how it would turn out. I've been told that the licorice flavour becomes more and more subdued as fennel cooks. Because I hate licorice so much, raw in a salad was totally out of the question. I know that some folks put it in soup, but it's so damn hot here that one pot of soup a week is the most I can handle. I really couldn't think of what else to do but oven roast it. Oven roasting is my default for vegetables I've never cooked with or if I am out of ideas. It is actually my favourite way of preparing a lot of things like broccoli, cauliflower and squash. Easy and flavourful.

I cut up the bulb into manageable pieces (sort of looks like artichoke hearts, eh?), drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt, pepper & nutritional yeast and oven roasted at 450F for about maybe 25 mins (can't remember exactly how long) until it was tender, browned and caramelised. I then garnished it with a little bit of the fluffy green tops.

The verdict? It was pretty good with only a hint of licorice. Would I make it again? Maybe for guests who are fans of fennel but probably not for myself. It was fun experimenting though and I was still pleased with the results!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Cabbage & Barley Soup

Cabbage & Barley Soup

When life hands you cabbage, you make cabbage soup!

We've been inundated for the past month with cabbage from our CSA share. I had two more heads left after roasting some and making coleslaw so I decided to make soup tonight.

The soup contains cabbage, onion, garlic, carrots, celery and barley. The base is tomato juice and it is seasoned with a couple of vegetable bouillon cubes, black pepper, vegan worcestershire sauce, sugar, thyme and summer savoury.

I sauteed the aromatics (onion, garlic, celery, carrots) first and then added in the rest of the ingredients. 25 mins in my pressure cooker and it was cooked to perfection and tastes like it was simmering for hours. Yum!

One more head of cabbage to go!

Vegan Alfredo & Vegetables

Vegan fettucine alfredo made with a cashew-based porcini & roasted garlic cream sauce and a side of oven roasted broccoli & cauliflower.

The sauce was simply blended cashews with water, salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, garlic & onion powder and about 6 cloves of roasted garlic. I sauteed (rehydrated) porcini mushrooms in margarine and then added the cashew mixture and let that simmer until thickened. If you soak the cashews first in boiling water and blend for a long time and use soy milk instead of water, it will yield a much creamier sauce. I don't mind mine not entirely smooth though.

The broccoli and cauilfower were done how I always do roasted vegetables — tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, herbs/spices and then roasted at 450F until nice and browned.
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