Saturday, 28 March 2015

Chickenless Noodle Soup

Something that many meat-eaters ask when unfamiliar with a vegetarian diet is "but what do you eat if you can't have meat??" or another common comment being "I couldn't give up all my favourite things"…Like chicken noodle soup? Well, meaties, let me tell you that you can essentially replace meat in almost any dish. You're right, it's not the same, it's different… but the dish doesn't suffer for it. With the right seasonings and spices, any meatless dish can be just as fabulous as what you're used to, if not better in some cases! If you're already vegetarian or vegan, you know this. But if you are a hardcore meat-eater (and on my blog, which is doubtful), I challenge you to try and leave it out every now and then. You might surprise yourself! And your cooking skills will only improve with added challenges.

(Original recipe from Produce on Parade)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp thyme (fresh or dried)
1/2 tsp rosemary
1 bay leaf
3 large carrots, chopped
3 large celery stalks, chopped
4 cups of vegetable broth
1 cup of tofu, pressed and cubed
1 cup of pasta noodles, your choice of what kind-- I used bow-ties 

+ salt and pepper
+chopped carrot greens for garnish (just the top of your carrots!)

1. Over medium heat in a large pot, sauté oil, onion and garlic with thyme, rosemary and bay leaf until onion begins to brown
2. Add chopped carrots and celery and stir-well, let sauté for another minute or two
3. Add vegetable broth and pasta and cook for an additional 10 minutes over high heat
4. Add tofu cubes and reduce heat, simmer for another 5 minutes
5. Serve soup hot and sprinkle carrot greens on top! 

Note: The tofu tastes better the longer it sits in the soup and absorbs more broth. It might be even better the next day.

Baked Mushroom + Kale Wontons

I have been meaning to experiment with some wonton wrappers for a while now. You can essentially choose your favourite combination of veggies, dice them all up and sauté them before folding them into these little cute bundles. The possibilities are nearly endless-- I was even suggesting to my roommate that you could do a very non-traditional dumpling with butternut squash, caramelized onions and goat cheese (wouldn't that be fab?) But these were also crazy delicious. Recipe below.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 pkg of white or cremini mushrooms-- I bought mine pre-cut, and diced them up even smaller
1/2 yellow onion
1 cup kale, finely chopped
1-2 tbsp of ginger, finely chopped or grated
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp white miso (not necessary, but adds a great flavour)
1 pkg of wonton wrappers (egg roll wrappers)

1 scallion for garnish
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp honey

1. Preheat oven to 400F.

2. Saute all vegetables with oil on medium heat until nice and soft

3. Add soy sauce and miso (if using) and stir around to incorporate well (add salt & pepper if desired as well)

4. Turn off heat and remove pan. Working with one at a time, on a clean work surface lay down a single wonton wrapper (should be a square) and add a heaping spoonful of the mixture to the centre of the wrapper. To seal the wrapper, dip your fingers in water and add it along the edges, then fold any desired way.
*Note: because I wanted these to resemble dumplings, not egg-rolls, I used a large circular cookie-cutter to make my wrappers round, and then proceeded to fold them up… Click here for a tutorial from pinterest for different ways to fold them.

5. Once sealed, place the dumplings on a cookie sheet with parchment paper and brush lightly with oil. Bake for 10-15 minutes.

6. For the dipping sauce, I simply combined soy sauce with honey. Garnish with chopped scallion.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

White Miso Sriracha Soup

This soup is insane good. All morning I've been craving something salty and savoury, so I went out on a mission to gather some ingredients to formulate something that was just that. Behold, this beautiful soup. It hit the spot and will be another recipe I make again and again. Additionally, it's vegan! If you're not vegan and feel like adding an extra je-ne-sais-quoi to it, a poached egg on top would do the trick.

This is my first time making anything with miso. If you don't know what miso is, it is a fermented soy bean paste that is used as a traditional seasoning in Japan. It's very salty and packed with flavour, so a tiny amount goes a long way. There are various kinds, but I bought a more mild version; white miso. You can also used it in stir-frys, marinades and (surprisingly) salad dressings.

2 tbsp olive oil (or sesame if you have it)
2 tbsp sriracha
1/2 white onion, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 inch ginger, grated or diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp diced lemongrass
1 tsp garlic powder
2 cups water
4 cups of vegetable broth
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp white miso
3 pkgs ramen noodles (I literally used 3 packs of mr. noodles- just discard the soup mix)
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup cilantro

1. Heat oil and sriracha in a large pot on medium heat. Add the onions and tomato and sauté for 4 min.
2. Add the ginger, garlic, lemongrass and garlic powder, stir well and cook until fragrant; about 2 min.
3. Add the water and transfer the mixture to a blender and pulse until smooth. Transfer back to the pot.
4. Add the broth and miso, then simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Add the noodles and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until the noodles are soft. Stir in the green onions.
6. Serve hot and sprinkle cilantro atop each bowl. :) Add more sriracha if you like it on the spicier side.

*Note: if you are adding a poached egg, place it on top of the finished bowl and slice open to incorporate the yolk into the soup.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Lemongrass Tofu

ANOTHER amazing recipe out of my recently purchased Salad Samurai cookbook. Something awesome about this vegan recipe book is that it gives a ton of recipes in the beginning for different vegan protein salad toppers, such as bacon tempeh, maple sriracha roasted nuts, and lemongrass tofu!

This was the first time I baked tofu, and I expected it to come out of the oven much tougher and chewy than it did. I was pleasantly surprised by how tender the tofu still was, while also retaining so much flavour. This tofu is great to make to top on salads, add to sandwiches, or even a noodle or rice dish. It's the perfect combination of zesty and sweet.

Below is the (slightly) adapted recipe:

+ 1 block extra firm tofu, pressed
+ 1 heaping tbsp of finely chopped lemongrass
+ 2 tbsp maple syrup
+ 3 tsp soya sauce
+ 2 tbsp lime juice
+ 2 tsp olive oil

1. Grease a large baking dish with oil and set aside.
2. Cut the pressed tofu into thin 1/4 inch slices.
3. Add lemongrass, maple syrup, soya sauce, lime juice and olive oil to the baking dish and whisk together.
4. Add the tofu to the dish and let it sit as you preheat the oven to 400*F (about 15 min)
5. Bake the tofu for 20 minutes.
6. Remove from the oven to flip the tofu, and then return the dish to the oven for another 15-20 minutes.

Voila :)

Monday, 9 February 2015

Vegan "Bacon," Kale, and Tomato Salad.

Hey guys.

So recently I've been on this let's-try-to-eat-more-vegan kick, and I have to say it's going pretty well. I tried this once before and was overcome by my withdrawal symptoms to lack of cheese. However, recently, I have made up new, less strict guidelines. I am not buying eggs or cheese or milk at home. But when I'm out, just the standard vegetarian diet applies. Another (large) exception is if I'm making birthday treats for friends (which I obviously help eat)-- those have been pretty dairy-packed.

My wonderful aunt bought be an Indigo gift card for my birthday and I decided to put it to use this weekend. I ended up purchasing a cookbook called "Salad Samurai" and I really, reaaaaally like it. So yesterday I hit up the grocery store and stocked up on some vegan basics: tempeh & cashews… and of course, liquid smoke.

If you're not familiar with liquid smoke, it is essentially a hickory smoke flavouring that is entirely vegetarian and when added to food, gives it a distinct smokey (BACON) flavour. Thus, it is a magical ingredient, as anything it touches turns to ethical & cruelty-free bacon, without all the animal fat that comes with it. I found it at a local grocery store, next to the barbecue sauce. If you can't find it there, it is available on amazon.

It took some time to decide which salad to make first, but the BKT (bacon kale tomato) looked like a good one to start with, and I switched it up a bit and made her cashew ranch dressing and smokey sriracha nuts. I made a few more changes to the recipes, making a couple substitutions for what I had on hand, so this is not the EXACT recipe from the book-- but pretty close.

The most difficult part of making this whole thing is just the trekking out for ingredients you may not have on hand, especially if you are a meat-eater. But I hope that you find it enticing enough to seek them out anyways. You will notice that several recipes go into this salad; dressing, nuts, tempeh, and then the salad assembly itself. Don't feel like it's a lot-- you can do several steps at once and the whole salad shouldn't take you more than 30 minutes.

"Back at the Ranch" Dressing
+ 1/2 cup unroasted cashews
+ 3/4 cup hot water
+ 1 tbsp olive oil
+ 1 clove garlic, peeled
+ 2 tsps soy sauce (originally calls for tamari)
+ 2 tsp dijon mustard
+ 1 tsp garlic powder
+ 1 tsp onion powder
+ 3 tbsp chopped fresh herbs, such as dill, basil, tarragon, parsley, cilantro (I used dill & parsley)

1. Soak the cashews in the hot water for 30 minutes. Then pour them into a blender (including the water) and blend until very smooth.

2. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until smooth. Chill in a tightly covered container until ready to use, or at least 20 minutes for the flavours to blend.

Sriracha & Smoke Pecans (I used almonds, though!)
+ 1 1/2 cups raw nuts
+ 2 tbsp maple syrup or agave
+ 1 heaping tbsp sriracha
+ 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
+ 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 325*F. In a pan or casserole dish, combine nuts, syrup, sriracha and liquid smoke. Toss until evenly coated. Sprinkle with salt

2. Roast nuts for 16-18 min, stirring occasionally until a sticky glaze forms. Remove from oven and immediately transfer the nuts to a lightly oiled sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil and if necessary, use a fork to break them apart.

Tempeh Bacon Bites (I halved this recipe)
+ 8 ounces tempeh
+ 2 tbsp maple syrup
+ 2 tbsp soy sauce (or tamari)
+ 1 tbsp ketchup
+ 1 tbsp vegetable oil (I just used olive)
+ 3/4 tsp liquid smoke
+ olive oil, for pan frying

1. Slice tempeh into small, bite-sized pieces.

2. In a baking dish, mix together the remaining ingredients. Add the tempeh bits and toss to coat. Let stand for 10 minutes, or cover and chill overnight.

3. Fry the tempeh over medium heat, ensuring they are in a single layer. Cook until browned on one side, and them flip them (I let mine get really dark). After it is browned on both sides, pour the leftover marinade over it and simmer until it is absorbed.

BKT Salad!
+ 1 bunch kale (any kind)
+ cherry tomatoes (desired amount)
+ about half a red onion, diced
+ "Back at the ranch" dressing (about half of the recipe)
+ Sriracha & smoke pecans (about half of the recipe)
+ Tempeh Bacon Bites (about half of the recipe)

1. Wash the kale and remove the hard stems with a knife. Chop the kale into ribbons and add to a bowl.

2. Add the tomatoes and onion and dressing. Toss with your hands to coat.

3. Serve with nuts and tempeh bacon bites scattered on top.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Homemade Hot Sauce

I've been in Toronto for 4 months now and have become slightly fixated on the Fresh restaurants and their dishes. So extremely simple and healthy in their ingredients with an amazing taste. My favourite I order every time now is the powerhouse bowl. Recently, I've discovered that Fresh has cookbooks you can buy-- and I recently got my hands on one for just enough time to copy a few recipes down.

In my obsession with powerhouse, comes a curiosity-- with tahini. I actually have never cooked with it before, but  ever since it was brought to my attention I notice it in every magazine, blog and book I come across. It's like a magical, mysterious, intriguing ingredient that has been following me around begging me to make something with it. Turns out the powerhouse's sauce (which is what makes it so amazing in my opinion) is a mixture of tahini + their house hot sauce, and a few other additions. So, in my attempt at powerhouse, the first step was the hot sauce.

Because I skim details occasionally and fail to take them into account, this recipe is not the exact same as Fresh's-- I omitted a couple things, added in others and substituted for things I didn't have at the time. But it tastes extraordinarily similar, and while it looks a little different from your typical hot sauces, it is guaranteed to please.

+ 4 habanero peppers
+ 1/2 red onion, chopped
+ 2 cloves of garlic
1 inch fresh ginger
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 cup soya sauce
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3-4 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp crushed chillies
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cumin

+ Puree peppers, onion, garlic, ginger, thyme and rosemary in a food processor or blender (add a bit of water if not blending well)
+ Pour puree into a saucepan and add the soya sauce. Cook over low heat for about 5 minutes.
+ Add balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, mustard and all spices-- simmer for 30 minutes.
+ Remove from heat and cool.

TIP: mix a few tablespoons of this sauce with tahini, lemon juice and chopped parsley to create the best, make-shift version of Fresh's spicy tahini sauce-- add to rice or noodles with various beans/tofu/chickpeas/lentils and fresh vegetables.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

No-Fail Fluffy Buttercream

**Image: Birthday cake that I made for my good friend two years ago (ombre petal cake)

For those of you who ask, 'how did you make this frosting?' this post is for you.
It's extremely easy and no different from any other buttercream recipe, however it is a lot easier if you have a stand mixer (KitchenAid)

+ 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
+ 2 cups of icing sugar
+ 1 tsp vanilla extract OR any other flavour you would like to add
  (I like to use vanilla beans-- and I swear by this website for ordering beans/extracts) 
+ 2 tsp milk/cream 

+ Place the butter in a stand mixer fitted with an paddle attachment and beat at medium-high speed for about 8 minutes-- yes! 8 minutes. The butter will get very fluffy and lighten over this time. If you are doing with with a hand-held mixer, your arm might hurt a bit after, but it's still totally sufficient.

+ Add the icing sugar. If there are a lot of clumps in it, sift it first with either a sifter or by tapping it through a mesh strainer into the bowl. Beat for another 2-3 minutes.

+ Add your flavour of choice + milk + any colouring you want the icing to have. Beat for another minute or so (or until colour is uniform throughout)

Tip: If you need more icing, use about 2 cups of butter and 4 cups of icing sugar. This recipe is enough to frost just over a dozen sugar cookies. You would need to double it for a cake or cupcakes.