Potato Leek Soup


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It’s unseasonably warm but damp today. Crazily enough, once winter takes it’s hold, at least for me, I just wish it would put us into it’s full throws. Cold, crisp, freeze your the inside of your nose, crunchy snow kind of winter. I find it a little easier warming up from the cold rather than the damp which is why today, I needed a little extra help.

Quick, satisfying, revive you to your toes help, like potato leek soup.

Potato leek is virtually the premise for most vegan “cream” soups, which is what makes it so perfect.
The simplicity leaves for the attention to details like the perfect potato, consistency, herb combination and finishing drizzles of infused oils and the like. It’s a free pallet that’s open for individual taste, but no matter what your preference, the satisfaction is all there.

I choose to keep my soup fairly au natural as possible – garnish with what you will: herbs, infused oils, chillies, maybe croutons, then jazzing it up with some little bite sized Walnut Rosemary and Kalamata Madeleines.
Mmmm savoury and delicious.

 

CREAMLESS POTATO LEEK SOUP

2 Large Leeks, light green and white parts only
4 Cups Yukon Gold Potatoes, about 2 large, peeled & diced
2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
3 Tablespoons Dry White Wine
4 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
1/2 Sprig Fresh Rosemary, finely minced, about 1/2 teaspoon
2 Bay Leaves
6 Cups Vegetable Stock
1 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper or to taste

 

Top and trim the leeks. Halve lengthwise and rinse to remove any dirt between the layers. Thinly slice.
Peel and dice the potatoes.
In a large stockpot, heat the oil to medium-high.
Add the leeks to the oil and sweat until they are softened, about 3-5 minutes.
Pour over the wine and sauté for an additional minute.
Add the potatoes and stir well to prevent sticking.
Strip the leaves from the thyme stems by holding firmly and running your fingers backwards to the tip of the sprig. Remove the rosemary leaves from the stem and roughly chop. Add the leaves along with the stock, salt, and bay leaves. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.
Add the pepper and remove the bay leaves.
Blend with a hand immersion blender or a food processor until smooth.
Adjust salt and pepper, if necessary.

Garnish with truffle oil, chives, thyme, chilis or roasted garlic.

Curried Lemon Quinoa With Roasted Cauliflower & Chickpeas


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Oh Yeah! Who doesn’t like Quinoa?
Haven’t heard of it??
It’s got a similar texture to brown rice or couscous (but better, it’s tender with bounce) oh, and it’s landed a “Superfood” title.
Not only high in protein, it’s a complete protein, with all 8 essential amino acids. Oh, and it’s gluten free and easy to digest…. that and it takes about seven minutes to make.

I’ve heard of it in so many rice bowl style recipes as well as served up for breakfast.
So before I continue to sound like an infomercial, what about you? Are you new to this superfood or have you already converted from rice?

This is one amazing, flavour packed recipe! The roasted cauliflower and chickpeas would be so great on their own, but the lemony-dressed, herby kale dotted, lemony quinoa just makes this a memorable dinner!

CURRIED LEMON QUINOA WITH ROASTED CAULIFLOWER & CHICKPEAS

1 Cup Quinoa
3 Cups Kale, Chopped
1/2 teaspoon Salt
3 Tablespoon Olive Oil, divided
1/2 Red Onion, thinly sliced
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Tablespoons Fresh Ginger, peeled & grated
1 Head of  Cauliflower, cut into flowerettes
1 15oz can Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 Lemons, Juiced and Zested, divided
2 Tablespoons Ground Cumin
1 Tablespoon Ground Coriander
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Powder
1/8 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Tablespoon Fresh Cilantro, finely chopped
4 Fresh Mint Leaves, Finely Chopped
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
1/4 cup tahini.
1 clove garlic, finely minced.
1-2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
½ teaspoon ground turmeric

 

Preheat the oven to 400ºF
In a large bowl, add 2 tablespoons of the oil ,onion, garlic, dried spices, cauliflower and chickpeas to toss. Spread evenly on a large baking sheet.
Roast until the cauliflower is tender, and the chickpeas have crisped, about 45-50 minutes, checking irregularly to shake the pan.
Meanwhile, in a mesh strainer. Rinse the quinoa very well for about 3 minutes.
In a large saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the quinoa.
Reduce to a simmer, cover and remove from heat after 5 minutes.
Keep covered until ready to use.
Strip the kale from the larger stems and roughly chop. Add the kale to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with salt. Using your hands, “massage” it, by grabbing handfuls of kale in your hands and scrunch it up in your palms to break down the tougher fibers. When the kale is darker green in colour, pour over 2 tablespoons olive oil, one tablespoon grated ginger, cilantro, mint and juice from one lemon. Add the cooked quinoa , salt and pepper, then stir well to combine.
To make the dressing, whisk together the tahini, adding 3-4 tablespoons of warm water to thin, add remaining lemon juice , maple syrup, curry powder, 1/2 tablespoon grated ginger and turmeric.

Divide the quinoa among serving bowls. Spoon over cauliflower and chickpeas. Finish with the lemon zest, a drizzle of the dressing and an extra toss of fresh cilantro, if desired.

Pancake Day!!!


Is this an *official* Hoilday yet? If anyone’s counting, it should be judging by the celebrations around this house.

There were stuffed crêpes for breakfast, multigrain blueberry pancakes for lunch and our favourite, savoury pancakes will be headlining dinner. Packed with wild rice, mushrooms and leeks, the pancakes are hardly lacking in flavour. With a few extra mushrooms saved to the side, you’ll never miss your syrup for this quick and savoury (Holiday) dinner.


SAVOURY PANCAKES

1 Leek, white & light parts only, diced & divided
2 Cups Sliced Crimini Mushrooms, divided
2/3 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/3 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Unsweetened Soy Milk
1/3 Cup Cooked Wild Rice
2 Tablespoons Safflower Oil, plus more for frying

Finely dice the leeks and slice the mushrooms.
In a lightly oiled,  large frying pan, sauté the mushrooms until soft and golden.
Remove mushrooms from the pan and reserve.
Add the leeks to sauté until softened.
Roughly chop 1/2 cup of the mushrooms then add to the leeks.
In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder and salt. To it, add the wild rice and 1/3 of a cup of the mushroom leek mixture stirring to coat with the flour.
Add the milk and oil just mixing until everything is just wet and combined.
In a clean, hot frying pan, add a small amount of oil.
Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of the pancake mixture into the frying pan and cook over a medium-high heat.
Once the edges are firm and golden and the batter starts to bubble, flip each pancake to cook the other side until golden.
Serve hot with a spoonful of the remaining mushrooms and leek mixture.

Tofu & Chickpea Tagine


Ever wonder what came of those preserved lemons? Or just what to do with them?
Now that I’m detoxing and the only fruits allowed are lemons and bananas. I couldn’t have been happier now that I’ve made them. One of the key ingredients in several Moroccan dishes, these mellowed lemons add just the perfect flavour, lifting something that could have been heavy to a fresh new height.

Since this was the first meal that I would be making for visitors while I’ve been on the detox I was obviously compelled to be sure it wasn’t boring. The last thing I wanted was to showcase the potential dark side of a detox. Really, the truth be told, I’ve been having a great time being challenged to get creative in the kitchen again and I wanted it to show. This lively dinner, with it’s combination of spices and the lemon certainly didn’t disappoint.

TOFU & CHICKPEA TAGINE

1 Block Extra Firm Tofu, pressed to remove excess liquid
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Ground Coriander
1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
1 Tablespoon Ground Cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
1 scant teaspoon Sea Salt
1 scant Tablespoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 Tablespoons Cilantro, well chopped
1 Large Onion, sliced
1 – 540ml/19oz Can Chickpeas, rinsed
1 – 540ml/19oz Can White Kidney Beans, rinsed
1 1/2 Preserved Lemons, rind only – rinsed
1 1/2 Cups water

Press the tofu between two plates to remove execss liquid. Then, slice into 1 inch (2cm) cubes.
Combine the olive oil, spices, chopped cilantro, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the cubed tofu and toss to coat. Cover and let it sit to marinade for at least one hour.

Heat a large sauté pan and fry the tofu over a medium-high heat until it is dry and beginning to crisp.
Remove from the pan and add the sliced onions to cook being sure to soak up any remaining bits of the marinade.
Rinse and remove the pulp from the preserved lemons. Dice the peel and add, along with both the onions and the tofu, to a large pot. Add the rinsed chickpeas and settle over a moderate heat.
In a separate bowl add the white kidney beans and the water. Using a potato masher, crush the beans, then add to the other ingredients, stirring well to combine.
Heat through, adjust seasoning where necessary.
Serve over a chewy brown rice, couscous (if not detoxing) or quinoa with a handful of extra cilantro.

Serves 6 – 8

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.

Thankful For Thanksgiving


So it’s here. The big Thanksgiving week!
It really is my favorite Holiday. I love it so much, I just can’t believe we get it twice.

Like so many, I started out getting stressed on what to make, but really, staying seasonal makes it so much easier. Creating a vegan Thanksgiving menu isn’t too tough. The vegetable sides are obviously covered. It’s just the amount of choice out there, but I think if you go by what you like and what you think your guests will enjoy, everything will be a hit.

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As for the main dish, these are usually saved for Christmas, but I couldn’t resist the over-sized monster of a cabbage at the market a few weeks back for this version of my mother’s cabbage rolls.

Golabki is the Polish version of stuffed cabbage. A popular Eastern European dish, it’s the topping of puréed tomatoes that gives it the distinction.

My Mom’s recipe has a good ratio of rice to meat. Keeping that in mind, after adding a good mixture of wild, short and long rices with a package of veggie ground round, I loaded up on the veggies. Since it’s Thanksgiving, I kept it harvesty and of course, I couldn’t have been without one of my pumpkins from my collection. This time it was a little Sweet Dumpling Squash. The size is a perfect amount with one and the flavor is amazing. And according to the sign posted at the patch, “This one might even change a squash hater’s mind forever.”

As for the cabbage, I don’t tend to eat them, unless red and in a salad, or stuffed and rolled, like these. Either way if the cabbage is green and it’s autumn, it goes in a big bag and into the deep freeze until called upon for important occasions like this. Now, I’ve heard all the ways to cook various cabbage rolls, in fact, so has my mother. I’m not sure where she discovered it, but we’ve never looked back on freezing for cabbage roll preparation. Although it’s about overnight to thaw, it’s got to be one of the easiest ways to help you to prepare them. The freezing acts like boiling/steaming and once it’s thawed it’s soft and simple to core. Simply core it and peel off the outer most leaves. Keep the tougher, darker ones for lining your roasting pan, it’ll add flavor and help with clean up time too! Do this while the rice is cooking and it makes this once time consuming recipe a snap.

VEGAN HARVEST CABBAGE ROLLS (Golabki)

Large Green Cabbage, frozen whole then thawed overnight
4 Cups Cooked Mixed Rice, I used 1 1/2 Cups dry long and short grain brown and wild rice
1/3 Cup Orange Bell Pepper, diced – about 1/2 a pepper
1/3 Cup Celery (1 Stalk,leaves included), finely diced
1/3 Cup Onion, diced – about 1 small
1 Lb Package Veggie Ground Round, or about 2 Cups reconstituted TVP or finely chopped seitan
2 Cups Squash, peeled and seeded, diced 1/2″ – I used one whole Sweet Dumpling Squash, acorn would also taste good
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 1/2 Tablespoons Tamari
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper

1 – 28 oz Jar of Sauerkraut, drained and rinsed
1 – 28 oz Jar Tomato Purée

Begin to prepare one day ahead by removing the cabbage from the freezer to thaw. Otherwise, it may be cored fresh then steamed until soft and the leaves are cool and pliable to remove.

Cook the rice to it’s package directions.
While it is cooking, dice the pepper, celery and onion.
Peel and seed the squash. Dice it into 1/2″ cubes and add them to the other vegetables.
Line a large roasting pan with the outer most leaves from the cored cabbage. Once you’ve reached the more tender leaves, begin to carefully set them aside, trimming any tougher areas.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Fluff the cooked rice and add the ground round and prepared vegetables along with the minced garlic, olive oil, tamari, salt and pepper. Stir well to combine. Taste, if necessary to adjust seasoning.
On a large, flat surface, lay your first cabbage leaf with the “stem” towards you. Place a large spoonful of the stuffing into the natural curl. Begin to roll the leaf away from you once, then tuck in both sides before continuing to roll the stuffing snugly in the cabbage.
Put your roll into the prepared roasting pan and repeat, lining the pan with the cabbage rolls in a even, tight row, tucking them in on the side to create an even layer. Begin a second layer with the smaller rolled leaves, as necessary until all of the stuffing has been used up. Reserve any remaining cabbage leaves.
Pour the tomato purée over the cabbage rolls and top with the sauerkraut, a sprinkling of salt and pepper and a layer of any reserved cabbage leaves.
Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until the cabbage is tender and the squash is soft.
Best served with sour cream or yogurt and good dollop of mashed potatoes.

Cabbage rolls freeze well.