Best Vegan Visitor Recipes of 2008


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JANUARY

The citrus obsessed that I am decided away with diets and and that pink grapefruits were way underused:
Red Grapefruit Curd Filled Donuts

Every winter likes the cold and every winter I battle it with something extra warm:
Creamless Potato Leek Soup


FEBRUARY

This Chili continued to warm + what would the Superbowl be without it’s tailgate chili?
Superbowl of Chili

And this was just goood:
Cape Gooseberry & Raspberry Clafouti


MARCH

Daring Baker’s sent me the perfect gift. Dorie Greenspan’s recipe for my own birthday cake:
Perfect Party Cake

A March break get-away might have almost gotten me trapped by a snowstorm, but it was Montréal. I was hardly complaining:
Maple Madeleines


APRIL

It’s my daughter’s birthday in April and it just wouldn’t be tradition if she didn’t get her “Favourite Things Dinner”.  She’s six, I’ll give you one guess what her favourite thing is to eat:
Cheeseless Macaroni n’ Cheese

Spring and weeds. If you can’t beat ’em, EAT them:
Warm New Potato & Dandelion Salad

After breaking out the BBQ for the first grill of the season, I discovered one of the best soups ever with the leftovers:
Cedar Smoked Asparagus Soup


MAY

A peanut butter cookie bomb became one of my favourite desserts:
Peanut Butter Caramel Tarts

Mother’s Day brunch wouldn’t be complete without cake. And what better one than this coffee cake developed from my Nana’s own recipe box:
Also Goes Great With Tea Coffee Cake

JUNE

Squeaking it in for the last of the school year. I couldn’t resist buying more snacks for lunches, so I replicated them instead (even though I was made fun of for it):
Chewy Nut-Free Granola Bars

Getting sick of watching countless sandwich crusts go to waste, I came up with a solution. I saved the crusts and made bread pudding. Waste Not:
Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding
JULY

Summer’s in full swing with heat beaters and last minute evening parties. I took full advantage of the garden’s offerings with these easy recipes:
Rose Infused Strawberry Sorbet
Scape Salsa Verde Potato Salad
AUGUST

This was time consuming, but boy it was good:
Summer Pea Ravioli

The cherries were awesome this year, sweet and almost never ending. When I *almost* became tired of spitting pits, I decided I could finally bake with cherries more instead:
Cherry Streusel Muffins
SEPTEMBER

One of my favourite times of year. You know it, when there are too many tomatoes to eat at once. Never a fan of it as a kid, still I tried my own swing at it and will forever be changing my tune about tomato soup:
Heirloom Tomato Soup

Tree-fruit season YAY:
Gingered Peach Shortbread Bars
OCTOBER
Have I not yet mentioned how much I like autumn and the tree fruit? This was so easy, especially when tearing through a freshly picked bag of apples before our vacation:
Apple Upside-down Cake

Super good, super easy and quick autumn-y gnocchi with one of my most favourite flavour combinations:
Gnocchi with Butternut Squash & Spinach
NOVEMBER

Move over Charlie Brown, I’m the pumpkin patch junky. Never fails, ever November I find myself with, well, enough pumpkins to last me until next Halloween. This year I FINALLY made this:
Maple Pumpkin Butter

Everyone needs a quick go-to recipe to use up those browning bananas, and this one is it for us:
Ultra-Quick Banana Bread
DECEMBER

I took a scoop of that long over due pumpkin butter and added it to my favourite brownie batter. Why didn’t I think of this sooner?:
Pumpkin Swirl Brownies
Honestly one of the best gingerbread men I’ve ever bitten the head off of:
Classic Gingerbread Cookies

Wow. What a year! Wishing you and yours the happiest 2009!

Countdown To Christmas: Dinner


Dinner, oh dinner.
Yeah, this is the big one. It’s also the one that by experience has proven that planning ahead, pop it in the oven kind of dinners are waaaay more enjoyable than missing out on events while slaving away in the kitchen. Plus, there really are so many relatively quick and impressive recipe options to choose from, so I can watch the yule log burn on the Apple tv and sip wine while I build some new lego…  (or play with cooking show Barbie – Shhhhhh.)

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without mashed potatoes. And although I’m sure you know how to make those, I’ve added a little roasted garlic to these. Not only does it make them extra good, it’s going to match up the rest of the dishes served.

Next are steamed green beans, because you can’t go wrong with those. I really don’t know anyone who doesn’t like them… even the picky seats at the kiddie table!

To balance things out, I just wouldn’t be a mother if I didn’t serve brussels sprouts. Actually, these are the one vegetables I was made to sit and stare at as a child but thankfully, I’ve learned to cook them properly. The trick is to under cook them, there the secret’s out – now stand back and watch and the hoards make way in the produce aisle! Briefly roasted with oil, then tossed with rosemary and a little of the dinner’s themed garlic seemed utterly delicious!

One of my most favourite sides I’ve made almost too many times to count. Popular around Thanksgiving, yet I haven’t made it for Christmas. Combine two of my favourites, it’s a creamy spinach and squash gratin.

The main attraction? Another relatively easy but impressive dish. Adapted from Gourmet’s November issue. This mushroom spinach pie has a little something for everyone with earthy mushrooms, spinach, walnuts and, of course, roasted garlic.

My favourite part? The pie seriously took me about six minutes to make it but it can be made hours in advance.

This dinner will serve 4- 6.

SIMPLE ROASTED GARLIC

3 Bulbs Garlic
2 Tablespoons Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Cut the tops from each bulb and peel the outermost layers of papery skin from the garlic.
Coat each bulb well with the olive oil and roast for 30 – 35 minutes, until each bulb is soft, sticky and golden brown. Adding more oil or cover with foil, if necessary to avoid drying and over-browning.

ROASTED GARLIC MASHED POTATOES

4 Large Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 Bulb Roasted Garlic
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt, or to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Using a pressure cooker or traditional stove top method, boil the potatoes until soft.
Drain then mash by hand, those little lumps and bits are good.
Squeeze the cooled garlic from the skin into a bowl and mash with a fork.
Add the garlic, oil, continuing to mash until fluffy. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve immediately.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH + SPINACH GRATIN

This recipe can be made days ahead, up to the point of adding the crumb topping, which can be done while reheating.

1 Small Butternut Squash
1/2  Bulb Roasted Garlic, about 2 Tablespoons mashed
6 Cups Baby Spinach Leaves, packed
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk, or unsweetened soy milk will do
1/2 Tablespoon Arrowroot Powder
1/8 teaspoon Freshly Ground Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Salt, scant
1/4 teaspoon Pepper, to your liking
2 Slices Whole Wheat bread
1/4 Cup Earth Balance Butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon Dried Rosemary, crumbled – optional

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Lightly spray a casserole dish with oil.
Sauté the spinach in the olive oil. Once wilted, remove with a squeeze and discard any extra liquid.
Slice the neck of the squash in to 1/4″ rounds. Remove the skin from the edge and evenly layer the bottom the casserole dish.
Sprinkle over a pinch of salt and pepper.
Top with sautéed spinach, nutmeg, another sprinkling of salt and pepper, then evenly dot with the roasted garlic.
Add another layer of squash to cover in an even layer, sprinkling over another pinch of the salt and pepper.
Combine the almond milk with the arrowroot powder and pour over the squash.
Tightly cover with foil and bake for 40 – 45 minutes or until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork.
Meanwhile toast the bread slices to dry out completely. Either add to a food processor or chop finely by hand.
Add the butter and rosemary to the crumbs, mixing evenly.
Top the baked squash with the crumb mixture. Return it to the oven and continue to bake uncovered for about 10 minutes or until brown and crusty.

MUSHROOM SPINACH + WALNUT PIE

2 (397g) Packages Frozen Puff Pastry, thawed
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 Cups Sliced Mushrooms, I used crimini, but I’m doing shiitake for the next one.
8 Cups Baby Spinach, packed
1/4 Cup Walnuts, chopped
1 Bulb Roasted Garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dried Rosemary, crumbled
Salt and Pepper

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Heat 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the mushrooms and sauté until soft and browned.
Remove the mushrooms to cool.
Add the remaining oil and sauté the spinach leaves. Squeeze over the bulb of roasted garlic and stir.
While the spinach wilts and the mushrooms cool, roll out the first package of dough into about a 12″x8″ rectangle.
Place the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
Top the dough with the mushrooms, then the wilted spinach.
Sprinkle over salt, pepper, rosemary and chopped walnuts.
Roll out the remaining dough to top the pie, crimping and tucking the edges under.
Lightly score the top with a sharp blade, occasionally piercing for steam vents.
Bake in the center of the oven for 20 – 25 minutes, until golden and crisp.

Roasted Chestnut and Persimmon Stuffing


Stuffing is easily the highlight of most Holiday dinners. It’s what turns Sunday dinner in to a Holiday feast and there are about the same amount of people who eat it that there are ways of making it.

Here, I’ve combined a few of my favourites with a little seasonal flare, creating something scrumptious, festive and memorable.

What would be lovely on it’s own, shuffled up beside stewed cranberries, I originally thought I would stuff red onions. Upon a quick search, I found that the beautiful site, Smitten Kitchen had already done just that but with much different stuffing. Having a surplus of onions and one lonely pumpkin still left from Halloween, I decided to march forward and give you all one more pumpkin dish.

Naturally the stuffing can be baked up on it’s own, or in any other found cavity, but I really liked the moisture and the sweetness of this little pie pumpkin. It really complemented the dried persimmons and roasted chestnuts headlining the dressing.

…And I still had a little left over for a few onions after all.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Thank you for all your kind words and encouragement.
Enjoy the day, your friends, family and your dinner.

Continue reading Roasted Chestnut and Persimmon Stuffing

Quinoa – My Attempt At a “Hearty Hippie Meal”.


Quinoa has been blasted into my vocabulary lately.
I’d tried it in the past, or so I’d thought since either my taste buds have changed or it wasn’t really quinoa I’m remembering.
This stuff is good. I have to say it’s a pretty good addiction to have as quinoa has the highest levels of protein of any other grain plus, it’s delicious, chewy, a bit nutty – it’s like the caviar of the vegan world.

MISO ASPARAGUS QUINOA

1 Cup Quinoa
2 Cups Filtered Water
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Cup Garbanzo Beans
1/3 Cup Red Onion, Chopped)
3- 4 Cloves Garlic, minced (1 Tablespoon)
1 Cup Fresh Asparagus
1/2 Ear of Corn, cob removed

Dressing

1 Tablespoon White Miso
1/2 teaspoon Ginger, minced
1 Clove of Garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon Scallions, finely minced
1/3 Cup Filtered Water

Place the quinoa into a mesh colander, submerge and agitate it for 3 minutes to be sure it is rinsed very well. Drain.
In a sauce pan, add the water, quinoa and salt. Once the water begins boiling, reduce the heat to simmer, cover and cook the quinoa for 7 – 10 minutes, or until the water has absorbed. Stir and fluff the quinoa with a fork.
While the quinoa is cooking, cut the corn from the cob; snap and trim the asparagus to 1″ lengths.
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan.
Drain and rinse the beans. Add them to the oil to brown slightly.
Add the onion and garlic to soften.
Add the asparagus and corn kernels. Sauté until the asparagus is just tender.
Combine the ingredients for the dressing and whisk until smooth.
Set aside.
Mix the vegetables and beans with the quinoa.
Drizzle over the dressing.
Garnish with hemp, sunflower, or toasted pumpkin seeds if desired.

Should serve 4… unless you’re super hungry.

Eggless Rapini & Roasted Red Pepper Strata


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A strata is traditionally an egg custard/bread pudding casserole served up savoury and scrumptious for brunch.
It makes a perfect brunch centrepiece since it’s quick to prepare and can be made the night before. In fact, doing so will make it more custardy and delicious.
I suppose, for some, the issue here would be that eggs are the main ingredient but not a problem. I’d almost go on a limb to state this is a better version than the “Original”, not to mention healthier.

After trying to feed Rapini to my kids, I couldn’t help but have a bit left over. Quite alright as I already had my sights set on what to do with it. With any holiday weekend, let alone Sunday, brunch is definitely in order.

Serve it for your next Sunday brunch, or as a lighter dinner fare along with a salad.
Fear tofu no more.

RAPINI & ROASTED RED PEPPER STRATA
1 Package Medium-Firm Tofu
1 1/2 Cups Soy Milk
2 Tablespoons Arrowroot Powder
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Mustard Powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
Dash of Cayenne Powder
Dash of Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 Tablespoon Fresh Chives, Chopped
1 teaspoon (4-5 leaves) Fresh Basil, chopped
1/2 teaspoon Fresh Oregano, chopped
Zest of 1 Lemon
1 Cup Steamed Rapini, chopped
1 Roasted Red Pepper, diced
1/2 Cup diced Tomatoes
1/2 Loaf Day Old, Rustic Farmer’s Bread, about 6 Cups, 1″ cubes (I used Olive Bread)

With a food processor combine the tofu, soy milk, arrowroot powder, salt and spices.
Once smooth, combine the chopped herbs and lemon zest, then add the rapini, red pepper and tomato.
Lightly spray a shallow baking dish with oil.
Add half of the bread and half of the tofu and vegetable mixture.
Grind a small amount of black pepper and repeat with another layer of bread, filling in any gaps, finishing with the tofu.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours and up to over night.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Let strata stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
Bake strata, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through, 45 to 55 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

I found the Tuesday Night Leftovers challenge over at Project Foodie This is a must list to bookmark!