Smashed Summer Potatoes


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Can you tell it was a market day? These days are some of my favourite and I’m still trying to figure out what is the best summer food.
One might guess asparagus, berries, tomatoes or corn… but then there is the humble potato. Nothing screams summer dinner to me more than every including a cob of fresh corn, green beans and early treasures like baby potatoes.

There are about five thousand varieties of potatoes and ALL of them have to start out as babies.
These small, young, thin-skinned delights have just started to be robbed from the ground and sent to market on the same day. They are waiting to be boiled up and melt in your mouth.

Super easy, crazy delicious!

 

SMASHED SUMMER POTATOES

12 – 15 Baby New Potatoes
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil (about)
1 Tablespoon Chives, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon Dill, finely chopped
Zest of 1/2 Lemon
Salt & Pepper to taste.

In a large saucepan, boil the potatoes until fork tender.
Drain and score the bottom of each potato crosswise. Place knicked side down and smash each potato with your thumb or the back of a spoon to flatten.
Heat olive oil on medium high and sauté each side for about 3 – 5 minutes or until equally golden and crisp.
Remove potatoes to serving plate, reserving the remaining oil in the pan.
Sprinkle with salt, cracked pepper, herbs and lemon zest.

Serves 4

Vegan Longevity Chow Mein Noodles


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Noodles are traditionally served at Chinese New Year’s feasts. Ancient Chinese belief says that long noodles are the key to a long life  and good fortune, so don’t cut those noodles as you eat!  Longevity noodles are usually stir fried and so are these.

These noodles are fresh, store bought, egg-free Chow Mein, but you can use vermicelli,  ramen or whatever you have available.

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CHOW MEIN LONG NOODLES

1  8oz (225g) package Eggless Chow Mein Noodles
1 ½ Tablespoons Neural Oil, vegetable or sunflower
1 Block Firm Tofu, diced into ½”cubes
1 Clove Garlic, finely minced
1 Carrot, sliced into thin strips
2 Cups Shredded Napa Cabbage
½ Cup Sliced Sugar Snap Peas
1 Cup Mung Bean Sprouts
4 Green Onions, finely sliced – divided
¼ Cup Dark Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Sesame Oil
¼ Cup Water
¼ teaspoon Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
¼ teaspoon Red Chilli Flakes, optional
¼ Cup Cilantro, torn for optional garnish

 

Bring water to boil in a large pot. Add the noodles and cook for one minute. Drain and rinse well with cold water. Shake well to remove all water. Drizzle over the sesame oil and set noodles aside.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté tofu for about 3 minutes per side until golden and crisp.  Remove from pan and set aside.
To the skillet, add the garlic and carrots to sauté for 1 minute. Add the cabbage, peas, bean sprouts and 3/4 of the green onions. Continue to toss for another minute, until the cabbage has wilted.
Add the reserved noodles and tofu and toss well to combine with the vegetables to warm through. Add the soy sauce, salt, a few grinds of pepper, chilli flakes and the water. Using tongs, continue to toss until all ingredients are just mixed together.

Remove from heat and transfer to a platter to serve. Top with remaining sliced green onions and cilantro, if using.

 

 

 

 

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.

Sheppard’s Pie


Usually I’d be eating something like this in the dead of winter not the first of Spring.
I’ve been doing my best to enjoy a salad every day, plus, just posted about digging up those Sunchokes, for goodness sake!
But it’s snowing!! Not a lot, but too much. It’s cold and dreary and it’s not supposed to be spring again until Thursday.
I’ve had to go back into the storage and dig out the surrendered mittens and while I was there, I couldn’t help but stumble upon the big pot and and idea.
Sweaters = Comfort Food.
If I have to endure this never ending flurry of winter, then I’m getting a few of my favourite things out of it in the process.
…And one of them would certainly be this.

VEGAN SHEPPARD’S PIE

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, finely diced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 340g Package Veggie Ground Round OR 1 1/2 Cups Chopped, Prepared Seitan
1/2 teaspoon Dried Rosemary, crushed
1/4 teaspoon Dried Thyme
1/2 Cup Button or Crimini Mushrooms, finely chopped (optional)
2 1/2 Cups Vegetable Broth or Water
1 1/2 Tablespoons Arrowroot Powder
Salt & Pepper to taste

About 4 Large (Russet) Potatoes, peeled and diced
Soy milk and vegan butter for mashing

A few big handfuls (1 heaping cup) of Frozen English Green Peas

Heat the oil in a large stock pot and add the chopped onion.
Stir the onion frequently until it is soft and translucent. Add the garlic, ground soy, herbs and mushrooms, if using.
Stir to incorporate, then cover everything with the vegetable stock. Heat to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer and cook gently for about 20 minutes.
Sprinkle over the arrowroot and stir it in well with a fork. Remove from the heat to thicken.
Taste, adding salt and pepper, if desired. (My ground soy came seasoned, so I completely skipped this part.)
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. (If you’re eating now… this can be made in advance and frozen, covered, for later.)
Meanwhile, boil the potatoes, drain and mash (and season as you normally would with soy milk or the like etc.) until you get a smooth consistency.
To assemble, use a deep casserole pot, which preferably has a lid. First add the prepared soy mince, then top evenly with the frozen peas. Finally dot the top with the mashed potatoes and smooth with a spatula.
Cover and heat in the oven for about 20 – 30 minutes. The gravy sides should start to bubble around the edges.
Uncover for the last 10 minutes in the oven if you’d like a browner, crisper top.

Jerusalem Artichoke Chips


It’s April and finally graced with a nice day which was missing the typical showers.
I got excited and took to my garden to harvest the first of my fruits of labour.
(Well, some baby carrots were first, but they weren\’t exactly, you know, edible.)

The first things to come from gardens are often the last to go in. Things in the fall like garlic and these, Jerusalem Artichokes.

Also known as Sunchokes, they are tubers from the Sunflower family. They are quite hardy and easy to grow. Perfect raw or cooked they are an overlooked superfood. With lots of vitamin C, phosphorus and potassium, Jerusalem artichokes contain are also a very good source of iron. The taste is similar to that of a water chestnut or a potato, which makes it perfect for sautéing, soups and what I\’ve just discovered — chips!

Easy to make, all they need is a good scrubbing and a thin slice.
Heat a few inches of a versatile oil (I used Safflower) to 350ºF in a large saucepan. Working in batches, begin adding the sliced Jerusalem Artichokes. With a slotted spoon, occasionally flip them, cooking until they are lightly browned and crisp. Drain and cool on a paper towel.

I served mine with a quick mix up of \”Veganaise\” with a pinch of dried thyme and fresh lemon zest.

Know what? Even the kids ate them! How about that?

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.