Sushi Nights & Wasabi Fights


Back when I was younger and maybe a little more daring, dinners at home were sure tear jerkers.

My room mate and I at the time would frequently bring home or make our own sushi. In fact, it was our equivalent to most other twenty something’s macaroni and cheese.

About a bottle of sake later, the games would begin….
Starting with a fleck, then working up to a gob, we would up each other’s wasabi intake. For those unfamiliar with the powers of the great green Japanese horseradish, wasabi most closely resembles a spicy hot mustard sensation.

Serving our sushi with it’s typical Wasabi-joyu, soy sauce combination for dipping, we embraced the festivities, upping the ante with the additional blob atop the sushi itself. You see, when wasabi is a even a little over loaded, the sensation is nothing like the burning tongue of a pepper. Starting with a tingle, it continues, flurrying up your nasal passage, stopping only at the bottom of your eye, usually finishing with a tear and a jolt of adrenaline.

Watching someone suffer is not only entertaining, but addictive, which, I suppose is why we did it. As juvenile foodies, I’m sure there is much more mischief we could have been getting ourselves into. But oh, it hurt so good.


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Gluten-Free Olive Oil Pastry Dough


OLIVE OIL TART CRUST (Gluten Free)

1 Cup (Cranberry) Bean Flour
1/2 Cup Soy Flour
1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Frozen
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 Cup Ice Water

Freeze pre-measured olive oil in a small bowl.
Measure flours into the bowl of a food processor, pulsing to sift.
Add the salt and frozen olive oil.
Combine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
With the motor running, add the water 1 tablespoon at a time.
Stop once about half of the water has been added to begin checking the consistency of the dough by pinching the crumbs. The dough should hold together but not be sticky.
Add the remaining water as necessary.
Bring the dough together into a ball, then flatten it into a disk.
Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for a minimum of 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Roll the chilled dough 1/8″ thick to fit a 10″ tart pan.
Fit the dough in the pan and dock the dough with a fork.
Line the dough with a circle of parchment.
Add dried beans or pastry weights.
Blind bake for 12 minutes and allow to cool in the oven slightly before removing.

Thankful


On a recent trip to the country side, it was easy to absorb the surroundings and be thankful for what we have. The warm autumn days have brought with it a tremendous bounty.

While on the road, we were fortunate to experience one of the more remarkable pumpkin patches of recent memory. Flooded by the sea of orange, we washed up by the barn only to be further delighted by the classy heirloom varieties our hosts, the Nauman’s, had so knowledgeably grown over the past 100 days or so.

Beautiful and rarely seen French and Italian heirloom pumpkins soon filled my cart once only destined to carry orange carvers. Pink, red, blue and green classics, fit for a princess’s coach were on their way into my life to nobly, and tastily end theirs.

During the purchase of my great pumpkins, I naturally dreamed of creamy, spiced pies but thoughts shift creatively with vegan visitors and Thanksgiving at your doorstep.

Cracking into my vibrant Rouge Vif D’Etampe, I couldn’t help but imagine it’s outcome. This stunning, old French heirloom is also known as Cinderella’s Carriage, as it was used as the artist’s model in the Disney classic. It’s lovely, dense, creamy orange interior yielded about 5 cups of puréed intention. Ideal for baking, the Rouge Vif is smooth and easy to relieve of any excess liquid. This pumpkin easily puts any Holiday can of pie to shame and is well worth the small, extra effort.


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Earth Food – What Are You Doing To Spare The Planet?


Recently, Meeta over at What’s for Lunch, Honey posed that very question.

I thought about it and figured this should be easy. I’m sorry… but I recycle – a lot, I compost my food waste, we’ve even changed over our light bulbs. But I’m no savior. I would assume that for every good thing that I do, I’m probably doing something energy sucking in return, like drive a car and run the dishwasher – often. Seriously, the stress from saving the planet could almost be too much to handle.

Then it hit me. While feeling guilty driving around, dragging my kids to from farmer’s market to farmer’s market, I realized that I am a local food junkie. Nothing tastes better than a fresh, seasonal, real tomato and when you buy a bushel of them to dry or jar for later, you can enjoy real flavour all year long – without the transport exhaust.

With all the buzz, I decided to do a bit of research, to back up some of my claims, I came across one of the most interesting statistics. Rated #31 on the Climate Crisis Solution lists being vegetarian, better yet, vegan as more beneficial for the planet than downsizing your vehicle(s).

According to a study done by the University of Chicago, the amount of pollution created by animal related methane gas and transport pollution would be greatly reduced by how “… close you can be to a vegan diet and further from the mean American diet, the better you are for the planet. It doesn’t have to be all the way to the extreme end of vegan. If you simply cut down from two burgers a week to one, you’ve already made a substantial difference.” (I’m assuming “mean” = average American diet :)

Think about what you eat and where it comes from. Your food will taste better and you’ll save the planet at the same time. Easy and delicious.

On that note, it’s August and the Farmer’s market is bursting with tomatoes and CORN!
I could post an exhausting instruction about how to roast corn, but it’s not hard. If it’s fresh like now, usually picked a few hours before getting to you from the market, the silks will still be moist, soft and light. If it’s older you can usually tell the same way. If the silks are browned and drier you don’t have super fresh corn may have to peel the only dry loose husks from the corn and soak it for a minute or two – but when it’s fresh bring it home and put it right on the grill – the sooner the better since the sugar in corn begins to turn to starch just about as soon as it’s picked. The natural moisture should be enough to steam the corn over a steady medium heat. Turn the corn regularly so the outside husks char evenly. Once it’s grilled on all sides, about 5 – 7 minutes, remove it from the grill. Once it’s cool enough to handle, peel the husks and the typical stray silks will glide right off.
I served mine with a dollop of Lemon Thyme Spread made from 1/4 Cup of vegan margarine with about 1 Tablespoon of Fresh Thyme and the zest of 1 lemon.

GRILLED POLENTA WITH FRESH TOMATO SALSA CRUDA

POLENTA

3 Cups Vegetable Stock
1 Cup Fine Cornmeal or Polenta
pinch of salt & a crack of fresh pepper
Cooking Spray or olive oil

In a large saucepan, bring the stock to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer.
Using a whisk to combine, pour the polenta into the heated stock in a steady stream.
Reducing the heat to low, continue to stir frequently with a wooden spoon.
Polenta should come away from the edge of the pot and the spoon should be able to stand up in the center, or your arm will feel like it’s had a full workout, once it’s thickened.
Spray a 9″x13″ pan with oil and pour in the polenta. Flatten the polenta to the edges with a rubber spatula, dipping it in water, if necessary, to keep it from sticking, and cover with plastic wrap.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until very firm.
Heat grill to medium flame.
Cut the polenta into portion size servings and remove from the pan.
Brush with olive oil and grill for a few minutes each side or until crisp and golden.


FRESH TOMATO SALSA CRUDA

2 Large Field Tomatoes
1/2 Yellow Bell Pepper
1 Clove Garlic, minced
2 Scallions, chopped
3-4 Fresh Basil Leaves, chopped
2 Tablespoons Cilantro, chopped
1 Chipolte pepper, minced, optional
salt and pepper to taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Core and roughly chop the tomatoes.
Remove the seeds from the pepper and roughly chop.
Add the garlic, scallions, chopped herbs and chipolte pepper, if using.
Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Top grilled polenta, drizzle over olive oil and serve immediately.

Photo courtesy of WeirdFood.com.

Raspberry Tart


After a meal last week, I thought about some of my recipes on the site.
You see, my sister in law, along with being vegan, suffers from Celiac Disease which is a gluten intolerance restricting her diet of all wheat, rye and barley products.
No meat, no dairy and no bread. Poor girl.

To her, wheat shows it’s ugly head often. It’s in so much more that the mere loaf of bread – it’s in cakes, pastries, muffins, most veggie burgers, hot dogs and soy sauce.

This was the problem I feared when I first met with my vegan cooking challenge. I’ve gone on about creating a satisfying meal for my guests. I have to admit I feel just awful when I see her eating only hummus or grilled vegetables then skipping dessert, all while we’re all slathering our freshly toasted buns with bar-b-qed goodies.

It’s not the full meal, but here’s a little more than a popsicle for your next dessert; a gluten free, no bake raspberry tart. Happy early birthday, my dear. I hope you like it.

RASPBERRY TART

You will need about 2 Pints (3-4 cups) of fresh raspberries for the final topping.

CRUST

1/3 Cup Almonds
1/2 Cup Oatmeal
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Margarine
1/8 teaspoon Salt (pinch)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a saucepan, melt the margarine. Add the vanilla and brown sugar; mix well.
Simmer over a medium heat and allow to simmer for 2 -3 minutes.
In a food processor, combine the almonds and half of the oats, until well ground.
Add the remaining oatmeal, cinnamon and salt; pulsing to combine.
Empty the dry mixture into a medium sized bowl and pour over the hot syrup.
Once the crust mixture is well combined, transfer to an 8 inch tart pan.
Spread out and evenly press the mixture along the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
Chill to set, about 20 minutes or just while you prepare the filling.

TOFU CREAM

1/2 Package Soft Silken Tofu
1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
4 Tablespoons Confectioners Sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons Arrowroot Powder
2 Tablespoons Soy Milk

Combine tofu and sugar in a food processor and process until smooth.
With the machine running, add the arrowroot, soy milk, lemon juice and vanilla through the feeder cap.
Taste and adjust vanilla and soy milk for flavour and consistency, if necessary.

Pour into the waiting crust and return it to the refrigerator.

CHOCOLATE GANACHE

1/2 Cup Chocolate Pieces, vegan
1 Tablespoon Margarine
2 Tablespoons Soy Milk

Melt the chocolate pieces in a double boiler or in a heat safe bowl fitted over a pan of simmering water.
Stir in the margarine.
Whisk in the milk to combining until smooth.
Pour over chilling tart.

Top with raspberries and dust with confectioners sugar, if desired.
Chill until ready to serve.