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.

Barley Risotto


Returning with something super simple but so delicious.
When first sampling plant-based, I found it easier sticking to familiar things that were already in the pantry. While on the search for various grains to keep things interesting,
I remembered barley.

My mom used to use it in many of her soups when I was a kid. This, of course, makes it an easy favourite for me. It’s hearty and slightly chewy. It’s soft, warm and filling, making it a perfect, but overlooked addition to so many dishes in the winter.

Treating it like a risotto, is a great way to flavour the barley. And in this case keeping it open to so many different flavour variations. It’s no secret that I love spinach, so pair that with some sautéed mushrooms and even a pan fried tofu and this becomes a perfectly satisfying, affordable and easy winter weekday dinner.

BARLEY RISOTTO

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 Shallots, minced
1 Cup Pearl Barley
3 1/2 Cups Vegetable Broth
Sprig Thyme, stem removed
Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper to Taste

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, adding the minced shallots to sweat.
Add the barley stirring well to coat with oil and lightly toast.
Cover with all of this liquid at once. Once the mixture begins to lightly simmer, stir and reduce the heat to maintain.
Add thyme leaves.
Stir occasionally until broth is mostly absorbed and barley is tender. (If more liquid is needed add 1/2 cup water.)
Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the Spinach & Mushroom Topping

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic, thinly sliced
1 Cup Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
4 Cups Baby Spinach Leaves, packed
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat the oil and add the garlic and mushrooms.
Sauté over a medium high heat until mushrooms begin to brown.
Add the spinach, turning regularly to wilt.
Serve hot over top of prepared barley.

Serves 2

Just Visiting?


So it’s January. Or as I’ve also heard, Veganuary…  A month of clean eating repent for the holiday glut. Maybe, it’s the start of a year long commitment to eat more plant-based. But here, there is no judgement. Try it out. I’m here to help! I know, I know, the idea of doing something new is tough. New is unknown, but after over a decade of writing hundreds of Vegan Visitor recipes, I’ve learned, and tasted so much. Thirteen (!) years later,  it’s easier than ever to practice a plant-based diet — even if you’re just visiting. Diets seem to be ever evolving, but vegetables never go out of food fashion.
Easing into plant-based eating and feeling forgiven to be on that veggie grayscale can make it so much more comfortable. Testing the waters and eating this way part time, may be less of a commitment, but come February, you’ll discover clean eating isn’t that tough and will not only make you a bit more fit, but happier. It’s great to feel healthy, but you’ll be doing a little bit to lighten your “food-print” too!

Being on both sides of the food fence, I know what I need to feel satisfied during a meal and these recipes will leave you happy, healthier and satiated too.

Vegan isn’t as tricky as some might think to adapt into their everyday, so don’t fret! I’ve been doing this a long time and have put a lot of recipes to the test.

There’s everything from comforting classics to tasty one-tray dinners, simple pasta dishes to hearty winter stews. Start with this deliciously simple idea from my forthcoming book for lunch! It’s probably everything you have in your pantry already, so no stress. Adapting plant-based isn’t supposed to be. It’s here to make you feel better, ease the planet in the process.

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Creamy White Bean & Arugula Toasts

1 Can White Cannellini Beans (260g)
3 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Cup Baby Arugula, packed
3-4 Fresh Basil Leaves, chopped
1 Lemon, zested and juiced.
¼ teaspoon Salt
Crack of freshly ground pepper to taste
Chilli Flakes

Drain and rinse the beans. Heat olive oil over medium low. Add the garlic to lightly sauté, followed by the beans, salt and pepper. Once warmed through, about 5 minutes, mash the beans slightly with the back of a wooden spoon to break down and make everything even creamier. Add the arugula to wilt, basil and lemon zest, tossing to combine.

Toast some grainy slices of bread and top with some the bean mixture. Lightly drizzle it with more olive oil, if desired and top with more arugula, lemon  zest, some flaky sea salt and chilli flakes.

 

 

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Greatest Grampa’s Cookies


My Grampa is almost 85, so I guess you could say he’s the man who has just about everything.
…But there is one thing he never forgets to ask for; these cookies:

I’m so glad that I could find something that he really loves. I’m sure he’s tasted a few great things, so I’m pretty flattered. We have always made the trip up to see him and Greatest Nana after the holidays. Recently in addition to celebrating, the kids and I often pack along a few things to stock their freezer with into the New Year.
Even though I’m sure he knows what he’s getting. Along with the soups and staples, the care package wouldn’t be complete without these little surprises. Just to be festive, I’ve fancied them up a bit with hazelnut butter. I really hope he likes them.
Continue reading Greatest Grampa’s Cookies

Holiday Classic: Gingerbread Cookies


It’s surprising to admit, but I was never a kid who was overly impressed with getting a gingerbread man during the Holidays or any days for that matter.

Maybe it’s that those grocery store offerings were harder than sinking your teeth into a wooden plank? Or maybe it was the bitter, lip staining food colouring used to fill in Ginger-Santa’s suit? Even as a kid, artificial wasn’t my thing, but upon rediscovering the amazing, wafting aromas of spicy ginger cookies at my Grandparent’s house , I think I truly regained my love of molasses and the Gingerbread Man.

Packed with freshly grated ginger and that slow pouring dark molasses, these cookies are barely sweet, leaving room for plenty of adornment for the Holidays.

VEGAN GINGERBREAD COOKIES

1/2 cup Coconut Oil, room temperature
1/2 Cup Fancy Molasses
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 teaspoons Freshly Grated Ginger, include any juice
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
pinch, Freshly Grated Nutmeg
3/4 tsp Baking Soda
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Cream the coconut oil and sugar until fluffy.
While this goes, and you’ll need the time, use spray oil to coat the inside of your 1/2 cup measure.
Pour in your molasses, and don’t forget that s l o w  saying… it does take it’s time.
Add molasses into the fluffed sugar, along with the vanilla.
Using a spoon, peel your ginger, then grate into a bowl to catch any extra juice.
Add grated ginger along with its juice, discarding any really stringy bits, until evenly blended.
Follow by adding the cinnamon and nutmeg.
Next, add the soda right to the dough and, on the lowest setting, follow with the flour, a half cup at a time.
Mixing just until dough comes together.
Shape dough into 2 discs and chill for at least 2 hours before rolling.
Preheat oven to 375 °F.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 disc to just over 1/8-inch thick.
Cut your dough out into desired shapes and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake for 6 to 8 minutes until edges are firm to touch but centers are still soft.
Allow to cool completely before decorating.

For the icing, I’ve used this or I found that about 2 Cups of Icing Sugar (check your source), 1/4 Cup Corn Starch or Soy Flour, a drop of vanilla and a dribble of water mixed to a thick ribbon, will pipe really well.