Vote For Me & Your Favourite Party Food


I have to say that I was not only pleasantly surprised but pretty proud that vegan choices are shortlisted over at the Marx Holiday Party Food Contest.
I was contacted last night and told that my recipes had made the finals, just in time for everyone’s last Holiday weekend of food prep! Finally, I think that it’s so great that options are out there for vegans and other Holiday guests with allergies or diet restrictions. Plus with a grand prize of $400, we could see some really fancy truffle recipes in the new year! Yum!

Since it’s the season of giving, please go and vote for me. For every vote that I get, no matter the outcome, I will be donating double that in a dollar amount to our city food bank.

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies



Yes, I said pumpkin. Soooo, does that make finally make brownies healthy?

Super chocolaty, spiced with pumpkin butter, these are so chewy and rich it’s tough to believe they’re egg free brownies.

These unbelievably easy to make brownies are simple as melting a bit of chocolate and mixing everything else up in a food processor kind of easy. Dotted with pumpkin butter and generously twisted into a heavenly chocolate ending kind of easy.
Good thing, since I’ve been sick, I could use something good this side of heaven, easy and healthy (ish).

1/2 Package Silken Tofu (3/4 Cup)
1/3 Cup Margarine
1/2 Cup Semi-Sweet Dark Chocolate, roughly chopped
1/4 Cup Dutch Processed Cocoa
3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar, Organic
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Cup Unbleached Flour, sifted
1/3 Cup Pumpkin Butter

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Line the bottom of a brownie pan (9×9) with parchment paper.
Sift the flour and set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, blend the tofu until it is just smooth.
Prepare a double boiler, or place a heat proof bowl over a simmer saucepan of water. Melt the margarine and add the chopped chocolate; stirring occasionally, until melted.
To the tofu add the cocoa, salt, sugar and vanilla; combine well.
Stir the melted chocolate into the tofu mixture.
With a spatula, fold in the flour, combining until it is just moist.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Dot pumpkin butter in rows over the brownie batter. With a knife drawn to the bottom of the batter, drag it through in an “s” shape to pull the pumpkin and create a marbled effect.
Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until just set and shiny. (Try not to over bake or scorch the edges.)
Cool to remove the brownies from the pan.

Fantabulous Summer Pea Ravioli


I like peas, actually, I figure most people do, so I can’t help but get a little giddy & nostalgic when I see the flooding piles of pea pods carefully anchored in the farmer’s crates at market.

They’re crisp, green, a little dusty but ever so perfect.

I always seem to strangely imagine a large shady porch, so perfect for sitting, chatting and watching the clothes blow in the line from the warmest summer breezes.
A big bowl is handy for catching the just cracked and tossed pods with another for rolling the fresh, young peas into.

As I bring my “fantasy” into realization, (sans a shady anything, big bowl or even laundry) I discover that shelling peas loses it’s glint after, say, about the eighth one.

But they are good. Damn, they are good. I don’t want to even cook them, just crack and roll them into my salivating jaws and realize that is a much better than any summer pea fantasy.

I rarely do more than steam peas and blob a knub of butter on them. I’m not a mint or little pearl onion kind of gal. However I got this idea for a recipe to repackage these newly podded peas to, you know, share with friends and I just had to give it a try.

SUMMER PEA RAVIOLI

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Leek, white and very light green parts only, finely chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 Cups Green Peas, shelled
1 1/2 Cups Water
1 Tablespoon Dry Vermouth
1 1/2 teaspoons Fresh Thyme, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

SOY RICOTTA
1 Cup Soy Milk
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1/2 teaspoon Salt

HOMEMADE PASTA
1/2 Cup Unbleached Flour
1/2 Cup Semolina Flour
1/3 Cup Hot Water
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

To make the pasta, combine the flours and salt in the bowl of a food processor.
With the motor running add the the oil, then, in a steady stream, add the hot water.
Continue to process. When the dough comes together, stop adding any water, if any remains. (Otherwise if your dough hasn’t come together once all water has been added, drizzle over more hot water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until it does.)
Remove the dough from the food processor and quickly knead together to form a ball. The dough should be soft but not sticky. Quarter and cover the dough and let it rest until ready to use.
To prepare the peas, heat the oil in a large sauté pan.
Add the chopped leek and garlic and sauté until soft and translucent, then add the vermouth.
Add to it, the peas, water, herbs, salt and pepper.
Meanwhile combine the soy milk, lemon juice and salt in a non-reactive bowl.
Allow it to sit while you continue with the peas.
Simmer to blanch the peas and reduce the water by about half.
Then, drain the curdled soy milk through a mesh sieve or cheesecloth and leave it to remove as much liquid as possible.
Purée the peas in a food processor on high or through a food mill.
Layer a colander over a mesh sieve which has been placed over a bowl.
Push the mixture through the colander and let what remains in the sieve to remove excess liquid.
Reserve the liquid in the bowl for the sauce.
Prepare the pasta, which has been divided into four, then roll it out into thin sheets.
Combine the pea purée with the soy ricotta.
Dot the pea purée by the teaspoonful along the first sheet of pasta.

With a water and a pastry brush, dampen the edges around the purée.
Lay another pasta sheet on top and with your fingertips, push out any air and seal the edges around each, soon to be ravioli.
With a roller, or ravioli cutter, cut out each piece.
Repeat with the two remaining sheets of pasta and pea purée.

Cook the ravioli in a large pot of rapidly boiling water for about 2-3 minutes or until they all float.
Meanwhile, melt knub of (vegan) butter, about 2 tablespoons and add about 1/2 cup of the reserved, strained pea liquid to heat. Once it’s simmering add 2 tablespoons of vermouth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Continue to simmer until the ravioli is done.
Remove with the ravioli from the water with a slotted spoon.
To plate, evenly spoon the sauce in the center of four plates and top with ravioli.
Garnish with fresh pea shoots and cracked pepper, if desired.

Serves 4.

Nice Socca


Eons since I’ve visited the south of France, I was whisked to my memories of the Mediterranean first, by a post by David Lebovitz and again by this book.

The books recipe missed elements, like being tested apparently, but it reinforced this Nice institution.
Chick pea flour, at least within my reach, tends to be bitter but seasoned and sweetened -whoa, this is good stuff.

Go with tradition and eat it while it’s hot, it won’t be hard. Pour a glass of chilly rosé to wash it down and find yourself too, whisked away with an authentic Mediterranean street treat.

SOCCA

1/3 Cup Dried Apricots
1 Cup Chickpea/Garbanzo Bean Flour
3 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil, plus more for drizzling
Pinch Salt
4 Tablespoons Pistachios, shelled and roughly chopped
1 scant Cup of Cold Water

Thinly slice and soak the apricots in warm water.
Preheat the oven to it’s maximum setting (525ºF in my case).
In a bowl, combine the flour, 2 Tablespoons of the sugar, and salt.
Mixing well, add the water, followed by the olive oil.
Let the batter rest for about 20 minutes.
Add enough oil to lightly coat a cast iron pan and heat in the oven as it comes to it’s full temperature.
Shell and roughly chop the pistachios and drain the apricots.
Carefully remove the hot pan from the oven. Pour in the batter in a thin, even stream.
Evenly sprinkle over the apricots and pistachios. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over top and return the pan to the hot oven.
Bake for about 5 minutes or until it is dry, golden and coming away at the edges.
Remove from the oven, sprinkling it evenly with the remaining 1 Tablespoon of sugar.
Serve warm.

Palak Paneer Phyllo Triangles


Perfect for using up left overs on just on their own, these little triangles make a great appetizer or side for a soup.

It took me a while to dig into Palak Paneer, the Indian creamed spinach with homemade cheese.
It wasn’t until a friend of mine returned from an extended stay in India and reintroduced me to a few more traditional dishes, that I realized spinach is a very welcomed side to a spicy curry.
Of course for a vegan version, I make my “paneer” from a diced, fried, firm silken tofu which is soft and mildly flavoured, like the paneer which satisfied my cheese knowing tongue.

For the triangles I add just a little more to the flavour combination with minced red bell pepper and some fresh basil.

PALAK PANEER

5-6 Cups packed Spinach
1 Cup packed arugula (optional)
1/2 Package firm silken tofu
1 Medium Sized Onion, minced
2-3 Bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon Minced Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Minced Garlic
1/2 teaspoon Green chili paste
1/2 Cup Water
1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala Powder
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp. Black pepper
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, finely diced
5-6 Large Basil Leaves, finely chopped
Vegetable oil as required

12 Sheets of Phyllo DoughMix ginger and garlic into a paste, add green chilli paste and water to combine.
Add the spinach and arugula to a large pan with a fitted lit.
Pour the ginger-garlic-chili liquid over the rinsed spinach and arugula.
Cover and steam for about 7-8 minutes.
Cool slightly and drain excess liquid.
Cut tofu into 1/2″ cubes.
Heat enough oil to just cover the bottom of a sauté pan. Fry the tofu pieces over a medium heat till they are slightly browned.
Remove tofu with a slotted spoon and continue to drain tofu on paper and set the aside.
Drain all but 1 tablespoon of oil from sauté pan. Fry bay leaves and cumin seeds. Add chopped onion. Sauté until the onions become tender.
Add salt, pepper, and garam masala. Stir well.
Remove bay leaves then add onions along with the spinach to a food processor.
Purée, adding tablespoonfuls of water as necessary until smooth.
Transfer spinach mixture to a bowl and stir in tofu, basil and red peppers.
Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Lay one sheet of phyllo on a cutting board and brush it lightly with oil.
Carefully lay another sheet on top of the first then cut into 3 strips, lengthwise.
Cover the remaining sheets with a dampened cloth to keep them from drying.
Scoop a heaping tablespoonful of the prepared spinach mixture onto the end of one of the cut strips.
Fold over once to cover then flip the left corner up and over to form a triangle.
Continue to fold the straight ends over to keep the triangle shape, finishing the length of the phyllo.
With a moistened finger, wet the last edge of the phyllo to seal.
Repeat with the remaining phyllo sheets, cutting them into strips, filling then folding over into triangles.
Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 12 – 15 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.
Makes 18 triangles.

Rosemary Walnut Kalamata Olive Miniature Madeleines


After a few email and requests to bake another batch, I wanted to jot down this easy recipe for a super savoury quick bread.

I’d served these up with the Creamless Potato Leek Soup a little while back but I’m sure that they’d also be great as a muffin with a salad. The flavour combination goes really well with one another and isn’t overpowering. These easily complement a simpler fare, heightening it to something a little more special. But then again, don’t most baked goods?

Very light, tender and flavourful… plus a bit addictive, especially in their petite portion sizes.


Continue reading Rosemary Walnut Kalamata Olive Miniature Madeleines