Saturday, June 26, 2010


I know I promised some CSA posts but life, as per usual, has been super hectic. Anyway, in the past few weeks we've received lots of scallions in our CSA share so I thought I'd make a couple of Chinese dishes.

Chinese Corn Soup

First up, Chinese corn soup. If you like Chinese corn soup, this soup is so fast and so easy that you'll kick yourself for not thinking of it earlier. All you need is a couple of cans of creamed corn, vegetable stock (1 or 2 cans worth), salt, pepper, soy sauce, cornstarch slurry and some garnish. I garnished with scallions, soy sauce and sriracha. I also opted to throw in some shredded soy curls. (Side note: growing up we always had creamed corn in the house for corn soup. It was only until I was older that I even know that creamed corn was eaten as a side dish and not as an ingredient for soup.)

Scallion Pancakes

Second, we've got scallion pancakes. I didn't do the best job with making them but they went together quite nicely and totally satisfied my Chinese food craving. Recipes for scallion pancakes are pretty much the same everywhere. I don't use yeast in mine, but I might try this one next time. I serve mine with hoisin sauce and sriracha instead of a traditional dipping sauce. It might seem daunting to make, but it's worth a shot at least once if you like scallion pancakes.

So there you have it, a pretty easy Chinese meal using some great CSA scallions. I received some pretty nifty stuff in my share this week too so hopefully I'll get around to making something interesting.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Vegan Caesar, Soy Curls and Asparagus

Vegan Caesar and Asparagus

I have been waiting months for the new CSA season to start and finally this week was the first week. We signed up with the same CSA last year and despite the bad growing season, we really enjoyed our shares.

Our first share this week contained various types of lettuce, asparagus, turnips, radishes and lovely scallions. We've been suffering with terrible grocery store produce all winter so I was delighted to finally get some good produce. But what to make first?

I decided to make a dinner-sized caesar salad with a delicious raw dressing (try it!), homemade croutons, fried and seasoned soy curls and a side of perfectly roasted asparagus.

For the dressing, I play around with the recipe. I usually use all raw cashews or raw cashews and raw almonds, never pine nuts because I don't buy them (they are pricey). I also never have kelp powder so I skip it or just use a bit of nori. The sweetener works also with maple syrup so try that if you don't have agave. And last but not least, I double the garlic. Yum!!

Anyway, the entire meal was the perfect dinner for a very warm spring evening. I'm really looking forward to more meals like this as the days get warmer.

Stay tuned for more CSA food!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Southeast Asian Inspired Tempeh Wraps

Southeast Asian Inspired Tempeh Wraps

Asian fusion is hot again. Unlike the first wave of Asian fusion many years ago, the focus lately (at least locally) seems to be Vietnamese and Korean fusion. Case in point. A few weeks ago, the Mister brought me home some "Vietnamese Tacos" from Horizons (they previously also served a Vietnamese bruschetta — I've made my own version of these too). They were less like tacos, more like wraps, a bit pricey, but were delicious. Really, anything with Sriracha and Vegenaise is delicious (try it with fries too!). After devouring two pieces, Bebe knocked the rest on the floor in attempt to steal some (he's kind of pushy when it comes to food) so I made a mental note to make my own version.

I didn't want to try and duplicate it at all but instead draw some inspiration from it. I started with some tempeh that I sliced and simmered for about 15 minutes. I drained it and marinated it my usual seasonings that I use for Pad Thai (1/3 cup soy sauce, 1/3 cup lime juice, 1/3 cup brown sugar and 1 tbsp chili garlic paste) and then fried it up and reduced the sauce to a glaze. I served it warm on homemade flatbread/tortillas with shredded carrots, broccoli sprouts and of course Sriracha and Vegenaise with a drizzle of sesame seed oil.

So there you have it. My own version of Southeast Asian tempeh wraps which are super easy to make and totally delicious.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Vegan Pho with Seitan

Vegan Pho with Seitan

By now, everyone should know what pho is (and banh mi but that'll be a different post in the future). It is either the new(ish) food trend where you live or an old trend going back several years. Wherever it falls on the food trend scale, it is warm, comforting, complex and delicious.

I haven't had vegan pho (or any other Vietnamese food) in three years since I moved from Toronto and I miss it a LOT. Sure, there are restaurants that list "vegetarian" pho, but chances are that the stock is still NOT vegan. So... I steer clear unless it's a vegan or vegetarian restaurant.

Yesterday I couldn't decide what to make for dinner and for some reason, I just wanted pho. Because I can't really get vegan pho here, I had to make it myself. This was the first time making it and it was awesome. My house smelled like a pho restaurant all evening.

I looked at a few different recipes online and saw that they all had a similar formula so I ended up winging it. Some recipes also call for whole cardamom, coriander and fennel, but I just stuck with cinnamon, cloves and star anise. Success! I did deviate a bit from some of the traditional recipes in that I didn't char the onions or strain my broth. I unfortunately did not write down or pay attention to how much I put in of some of the ingredients. I just made it to taste, so here's my blueprint.
  1. Saute some thinly sliced onion, garlic and ginger.
  2. Add water (I think I used 6-8 cups), vegan "beef" bouillon powder (half of what was called for with the amount of water I was using since I was adding soy sauce and salt), cinnamon stick (3"), whole cloves (5), star anise (5), Japanese soy sauce, splash of Bragg's, salt, pepper and sugar. Let that come to a boil and add thinly sliced seitan. I put the cloves and the star anise in a tea ball so it was easy to pull out later. I also added in some sliced mushrooms since I had some kicking around.
  3. Lower heat to a strong simmer and let simmer for about 1 hour uncovered. Take out the cinnamon stick, cloves and star anise. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  4. Add in rice noodles to the soup and cook until noodles are tender.
  5. Mound some noodles in a bowl, ladle the soup on top and garnish.
For the garnish, I only had green onions but I would have added a lime wedge, thai basil and cilantro. No bean sprouts for me though as I'm not too fond of them. I also added a dollop of chili garlic sauce. Yes, I know that you can't really see the soup under all the noodles, but trust me, it's there! I just like a lot of noodles.

It was easy to make and probably not the best vegan pho in the world, but it was so delicious and easy to make. Definitely going to make this again very soon.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Tomato Sauce with Onion and "Butter"

Tomato Sauce with Onion and "Butter" over Pasta

I came across a delightful little recipe for a super simple tomato sauce that made its way around the internet some time ago: Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter by Marcella Hazan. I was intrigued that it only has 3 main ingredients (tomatoes, onion and butter) and received rave reviews from everyone. So of course I had to make a vegan version.

You'll find the original recipe in the link above. Basically you take 1 large 28 oz tin of good tomatoes (don't settle for crappy cheap tomatoes*) smooshed up with the juice along with about 5 tbsp of your favourite vegan margarine (Earth Balance) and an onion** cut in half and throw that in a sauce pan. You can use unsalted vegan margarine and then salt to taste but I found that the salted margarine wasn't too salty for this. Anyway, bring the mixture to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 45 mins, stirring occasionally. Then you take out the onion and serve over pasta.

Sounds too simple to be that good right? Wrong. It's incredible. Really! The combination of margarine, slowly cooked onion and tomatoes works so well that I wanted to just eat the sauce as is. I did deviate from the original in that I did throw in some roughly minced garlic. I also cut the onion into 8 wedges and left that in the final sauce. Next time I'll try it like the original — no garlic and take out the onion.

I served the sauce over thick homemade wheat pasta with basil since I was out of packaged pasta (and no semolina flour). Just 2 cups white flour with 1/4 cup soy flour, salt, basil, olive oil and about 3/4 cup boiling water. Mix and knead until smooth, cover and let sit for 30 mins. Then simply roll out, cut and let dry for a few minutes and then cook in boiling salted water until done. It's super easy and yummy, but it is a bit time consuming. Sometimes it's worth it though and the homemade pasta was awesome with this sauce.

And there you have it. A 3 ingredient sauce that folks all over rave about. I think that this sauce is going to become my go-to sauce around here since I always have those ingredients on hand. Now, this is NOT a low-fat sauce by any means but it's really good, and for me, worth the calories and fat. Give it a try!

* If all you have are cheaper mediocre canned tomatoes, you might want to add a sprinkle of sugar to the sauce when simmering.

** I was reading that quite a few chefs swear by not sauteeing onion or garlic in tomato sauces and letting it cook in the sauce itself for the best flavour. I think they're on to something because this tasted way better than any tomato sauce I've made with sauteed onions and garlic.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Recipe Round-Up

I know I haven't made anything for this blog in some time but my January was crazy busy. Things are a little calmer now. I have been making things for the group blog so I thought I would post a round-up of recent recipes.

Some dishes since the new year:
I swear I'll do something interesting for this blog soon. Maybe with my pasta machine which is still in the box! :p I don't have a lot of readers but my sister is my biggest fan and supporter, and I'm sure she'd appreciate some new posts here! *waves to big sis* :)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Angel Biscuits / Yeast Biscuits

Yeast Biscuits

Everyone has their own preferences for biscuits and apparently, my preference are angel / yeast biscuits.

I had been looking for a good biscuit recipe that wasn't dry and crumbly, but light and fluffy — not just for me, but also for the Mr. since that is what he grew up with. I remember bookmarking a few that used yeast but didn't get around to making them until yesterday because I finally got a pastry cutter.

The biscuits are only slightly more involved than regular biscuits, but they're worth it. The result is like a cross between a biscuit and a roll. All the taste of a biscuit with a more tender texture and no crumbling.

I used this recipe and substituted with soy milk and vinegar to replace the buttermilk. Give it a go!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year (and late Festivus dinner photos)

Seitan "Ham"      Roasted Broccoli & Cauliflower
           Seitan "Ham" with Onion & Garlic Chutney                                              Roasted Broccoli & Cauliflower

Balsamic Glazed Portobellos      Homemade Bread
              Balsamic Glazed Portobello Mushrooms                                                               Freshly Baked Bread

Happy New Year! 2009 sucked on so many levels for a lot of people so I am really hoping that 2010 will be better for everyone.

Now on to the food. The Mr. and I had a couple friends over for a Festivus dinner on the 26th. I really didn't manage to get enough photos and the seitan was taken the next day. It's hard to take photos when you've got guests waiting!

Here was the full menu:
  • seitan "ham" with a pineapple chipotle glaze
  • roasted cauliflower & broccoli
  • mashed potatoes (not shown)
  • mushroom gravy (not shown)
  • green bean casserole (not shown)
  • thyme scented onion and roasted garlic chutney
  • balsamic glazed portobello mushrooms
  • freshly baked bread
The seitan "ham" was modified from Bryanna's recipe and the glaze was modified from a Recipezaar recipe (warning, the original recipe is NOT vegan). Aside from those two, everything was my own recipe/concoction. The glaze was amazing with the "ham" and the onion chutney was a perfect accompaniment.

I thought everything turned out well and I hope our friends enjoyed the meal as much as I enjoyed cooking it! I think I'm done with holiday menus until Easter. Next dinner I think I'll do a cuisine that is generally not vegan friendly like Thai or Vietnamese or Korean.

In the meantime, Happy New Year!

P.S. If you're not already vegan, go vegan and stay vegan!
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