The New Vegan Frontier


I had this realization at the grocery store the other day. It’s something I’ve obviously not given enough thought. I mean, I know why people have food restrictions and I know that there are many reasons. There are people in my family are allergic to wheat and dairy and a large reason because of that is why this site exists. I’m fairly conscientious but never though, have I gone out and so rigorously read every ingredient that went into my shopping basket. What was once simple shopping took an hour and a half.

I’m aware of the easiest ways to healthier eating and that’s making everything yourself. But after this experience, I couldn’t believe it more true. The sneaky binders and unfortunate ingredients that “deprive” those of a delicious waffle. After a few let downs there was excitement. I’d find new produce or the wheat-free, gluten-free, yeast-free bread that will remain nameless to excite me into a tizzy. I was about ready to start this detoxing cleanse.

My biggest splurge was to finally buy a rice cooker. I honestly don’t know why I hadn’t done this earlier and now it sits happily along sit my Kitchen Aid as one of my favourite appliances. Shameful to admit, I’ve never been a stellar rice steamer myself. Iffy at best, I’d cross my fingers and hope not to burn it on the bottom or lift the lid early exposing a soggy mess. Amazing that this basic food is one of my favourites and when cooked right, tastes like a delicacy to me. Naturally, I was inspired and created one of my first meals for the detox as a rice bowl.

Totally versatile, starting with a mix of brown and wild rice, I added many of my grocery shop finds; broccolini, roasted squash, pea shoots and bean sprouts. To it was a great maple baked tofu with a great tahini sauce to liven it up.

Maybe this won’t be so bad?

MAPLE TOFU AND TAHINI RICE BOWL

4 cups Cooked Brown & Wild Rice, or whatever you have that you think is nice
1 Acorn Squash, seeded & sliced
1 Block Extra Firm (organic) Tofu, halved and sliced about 1/4″ thick
Handful Each of Pea Shoots, Sprouts, Broccolini & Frozen Green peas
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil,
Safflower Oil for frying

SESAME TAHINI SAUCE

1/4 cup tahini
3 Tablespoons Water
3 tablespoons Sesame Seed Oil
1/4 cup  Lemon Juice
Pinch of Salt to taste

Make the dressing by whisking together the tahini and hot water to thin. Add the lemon  juice, sesame oil and sprinkling of salt.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Lightly drizzle 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a baking dish. Lay your sliced squash evenly and flip to coat in the oil.
Bake for about 15-20mins, then flip and return to the oven to continue roasting on the other side for another 15 minutes or until soft and golden. Remove from pan and lightly sprinkle over salt and pepper.
While the squash is roasting, heat a thin layer of the safflower oil in a large pan for frying.
Once the oil is hot, add the tofu slices and brown on both sides.
Remove and drain on towels.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF.
Using the roasting pan for the squash, add the tofu and evenly pour over the maple syrup, tossing to coat on both sides.
Bake the tofu for about a 1/2 hour, flipping half way through, until it is browned and slightly crisped.
Cook your rice, as per your usually methods. 2C dry rice with about double the water, usually does it for me.
Scoop the cooked rice into a nice, big bowl and to it, stir in the broccolini and frozen green peas

Serve rice family style or into individual bowls, topping with tofu, slices of squash and a handful of shoots and sprouts.
Drizzle over the tahini dressing. Taste and add more salt and freshly ground pepper, if needed.

Serves 4-6.

New Potato Salad With Scape Salsa Verde



Of course with a long weekend ahead I would be lost without a handy potato salad recipe, so here it is.
I’m sure not too many of you miss the heavy mayo laden with egg and celery version but not to fret, I’m sure it will still be offered – somewhere, you can just bring this along to the BBQ instead.

Easy, light and FRESH I’ve finally found another way to use up those tasty garlic scapes as the main ingredient in this salsa verde style dressing.

NEW POTATO SALAD WITH SCAPE SALSA VERDE

3 Lbs New Red Potatoes
8-10 Garlic Scapes, trimmed
1/4 Cup Basil Leaves, packed
1/3 Cup Flat Leaf Parsley, packed
1 Tablespoon Capers, about 30
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Wash and boil the potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover.
Cook potatoes until just tender, or al dente, so you are able to cut through them easily.
Meanwhile, trim the seed buds from the top of the scapes and discard.
Combine the scapes along with the basil and parsley, pulsing to finely chop.
Add the capers, mustard, salt, pepper and vinegar, continuing to blend while drizzling in the oil through the feed tube.
Scrape down from the sides, taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.
Drain the potatoes. Once they are cool enough to handle quarter them into even sized wedges, unless they are very small.
Add the potatoes to a large bowl and add about half of the dressing at first. Toss well to coat adding more to your liking.
Serve at room temperature.

Want more potato salad? Try my other, Warm New Potato Dandelion Greens Salad, if you still have a few weeds that need eating from your yard.

Chocolate Raspberry Torte


Not like there is any mystery that I love chocolate, but I’d realized that I hadn’t yet created a torte recipe.
What better than Valentine’s week to do the dessert cart?

Generally, a torte is a flourless cake, often using bread crumbs or ground nuts in it’s place, resulting in a dense and intensely rich cake.

I love the contrast of a tart, red raspberry with the intense chocolate, and not only because it’s Valentine’s Day. Raspberries perfectly balance the richness with a bit of pucker making this a pretty sexy end to any meal.

EGGLESS CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY TORTE

1 Cup Almonds, finely ground
1/4 Cup Cocoa Powder, sifted
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Tablespoons Safflower Oil
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
1/4 teaspoon Salt
4 oz Broken Chocolate Pieces, 70+% Dark, Semi Sweet or mixed
1/2 Package Firm Silken Tofu
3/4 Cups Frozen Raspberries

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Lightly spray or grease an 8″ cake or spring form pan, dusting it lightly with cocoa and removing any excess.
Finely grind the almonds in a food processor, adding a spoonful of the sugar, as necessary to keep it from clumping.
Transfer the ground almonds to a bowl.
Purée the tofu in the food processor, until very smooth, add the remaining sugar, cocoa, vanilla, oil and salt.
Using a glass bowl or a double boiler, heat water to a simmer in the lower pan to gently melt the chocolate above.
Pour the melted chocolate into the tofu, mixing to incorporate.
Add the ground almonds, pulsing just to combine.
Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan then evenly sprinkle the raspberries over the top.
Cover the raspberries with the remaining batter.
Bake for 45 – 50 minutes or until the sides have crackled and the center is firm.
Cool the cake completely in the pan or refrigerate until serving.
Run a knife around the edge and release the sides of the pan.
Dust with confectioners sugar and serve with a raspberry emulsion, if desired.

Good Gourd


The purée overflowith and another Holiday to eat pumpkin pie is fast on my heels, I just couldn’t be happier.

Pumpkin pie is one of those things rarely eaten but certainly loved. Perhaps it’s absence is why it’s so cherished by so many. I don’t care really. It’s the highlight of Thanksgiving dinners everywhere and a terrific way to eat pumpkin.

This year having so many varieties to search for the ultimate pie pumpkin, I wanted got the urge to try out a few different ideas stemming from the same great end result.

With the scraps I made these super Pumpkin Pie Poppers. It was a perfect way to taste test and to say I ate the whole pie, so with the winner, I made a fresh batch.

Of all the pumpkins collected from the patch, I found some that were fabulous in soups, some that were great for pasta and of course pie.

In the top three, the all classic Sugar Pie Pumpkin is always standard. It has a good texture, dense and creamy for pies.
Next, silky with a hint of melony sweetness was the Rouge Vif D’Etamps. This Cinderella pumpkin is not just charming for it’s good looks. Once it’s prepared for pie, it’ll make you and your guests all feel happy forever after.
Last it’s the queen of Venice. I know I just when on and on about how I love the Marina Di Chioggia but, as far as pumpkins go, it’s practically perfect in every way. This gourd tasted great on it’s own so naturally, it’s sweet and creamy texture worked beautifully in the gnocchi, cake, pie, pasta and CUSTARD that followed.

Essentially that’s what pumpkin pie is right, custard in a pastry shell? This notion got me to thinking about my own likes for pie and maybe others too. I’m more for the insides and not so much for the crust. I try, really I do to eat every last crusty crumb, but after all this testing, I was looking forward to my second, er, third Thanksgiving of the year, I thought maybe to just put the good stuff in a cup.

This revolutionary classic is so versatile and sure to please everyone at the Holiday table. Topped with whipped cream and fresh nutmeg or made extra decedent with a good sprinkling of sugar and a dusting of fresh cardamom, then brûléed to a sharp, crunchy perfection.
Ahhhhhh. Don’t even get me started on my love of crème brûlée.


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Soba 101


One of my most favourite places to explore is any neighbourhood China Town. Bustling with people, new aromas, and spilling produce, this exciting area of most major cities is a feast for the eyes.

Here in Toronto, tucked a few blocks over from the central China Town is a small but wonderful Japanese store. After refilling my wasabi prescription, I gaze along the long aisles of offerings. Included are various teas, Hello Kitty Pocky sticks, every shade of miso, enoki mushrooms and of course, noodles.

Wheat, rice, green tea, tofu, ramen, udon and soba noodle varieties ready for any dish the Far East has ever created.

How elated was I to discover that soba is the name for buckwheat in Japanese?
For those of you who weren’t sure, like me, buckwheat is neither a grass or related to the wheat family. It’s a flowering plant which produces the seeds for great things like pillows and yes, buckwheat flour.

Asian noodle soup has to be in my top list of most amazing meals. The simplicity of them makes them satisfying and perfect. The noodles and broth create a host bowl for just about any combination imaginable.


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Maple Pumpkin Quick Bread


One of the best things about living in Canada in the fall, other than the fabulous hauls from the farmers market, is that other reason why we appreciate the almighty maple tree.
The nectar of nature, maple syrup is truly a spring gift, however delicious, a simple autumn walk can be just as spectacular. The colourful displays the scarlet and rusted orange maple leaves screaming their last vibrant shrieks before plunging to their deaths is always enough to get my heart racing back to life.

When I recently took part in a detox diet, I realized my longing of food. No, I didn’t crave fatty snack food or sugar, per se, it was the bread. Neglected of fruit, sugars and wheat among (many) other things, it was the bread I craved.

Always a creative person, by mid-diet, I was determined to solve my dilemma.
Only restricted by wheat, gluten and yeast, I set out to find any alternative.
Scanning the aisles of the health food store, I found various root and bean flours which met my specific diet requirements. Knowing that some of these new flours would lend an undesired new flavour twist to my creation, I found the most mild; brown rice, cranberry bean, arrowroot and soy flours then set off to work.

Inspired by a dense, sticky snack bread sent to me from my Blogging By Mail partner, Arden. Her Kruidkoek was spiced, but not too sweet, perfect for something like, say, pumpkin.

Next having to go sugar-free, I knew I wouldn’t get the sticky, sweetness of that super Dutch snack, but it didn’t matter. I wasn’t looking for cake, I wanted my bread back. Something to clean my plates and dip in my soup. Something just to finally eat and feel satisfied again. The maple syrup was perfect in this regard. Not the same sweetness as sugar and just a hint of smokiness – perfect.

What I ended up with made me feel like I was cheating, isn’t that terrible? Great on it’s own and with the Roasted Vegetable Soup, I finally I felt like this diet was really working for me. I had my bread, I felt whole again.
Continue reading Maple Pumpkin Quick Bread