Basic Tomato Sauce


BASIC TOMATO SAUCE

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Small Onion, finely diced
1 Stalk Celery, finely diced
1 small Carrot, finely grated
2 Cloves Garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Thyme leaves
1 teaspoon Oregano Leaves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon Rosemary, dried and crushed

3 Cups Fresh Tomatoes, skinned and chopped; or 1 – 28-ounce Can Diced Tomatoes in Juice
Salt and Pepper, to taste


In a large saucepan, heat the oil to medium high and add the onion, garlic and celery.
Once the vegetables are aromatic and have become translucent, about 5 – 7 minutes, add the shredded carrot, thyme, oregano and rosemary; cooking for another 3 – 5 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes, reduce the heat to a medium low and simmer for about 25 minutes.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Purée to smooth the sauce with a hand immersion blender or leave chunkier, if desired.

Makes about 4 cups.

Eggless Asparagus Quiche


It finally rained – in two ways.
Thankfully the ground is now moist, our tomatoes will grow and the grass might turn away from it’s current shade of tan. Yay!
Yet, unfortunately, during our trip to the farmer’s market yesterday, we were informed that the asparagus must be left to shoot up into it’s destined willowy trees, bringing an end to our supply for the season.
Asparagus is one of my favourite summer vegetables, so I’ll be sure to freeze what I can. The rest inevitably became lunch for today in this vegan version of a classic, light meal.

EGGLESS ASPARAGUS QUICHE

1 Package, Firm Silken Tofu
2 Tablespoons Arrowroot Powder
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
1 Tablespoon Nutritional Yeast Flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Thyme, dried (or a good sprig of fresh, chopped)
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Zest of 1/2 Lemon (about 1 Tbsp)

1 Pre-made Pastry Shell, Tenderflake (I know, not me, but they’re such a time saver.)

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Bake the pastry shell for about 10 – 15 minutes or until the crust is firm and light golden. Set it aside to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 350º.
Snap the ends and blanch the asparagus in boiling water for about 2 – 3 minutes or until bright green. Rinse in cold water, then trim tips to 3″ and reserve. Trim the ends to 1/2″ pieces.
Drain the tofu and add it to the bowl of a food processor. Blend it to a smooth consistency.
Add the nutritional yeast flakes, salt, pepper and spices, mixing well to incorporate everything.
With the motor running, sprinkle the arrowroot powder through the feed tube, combining well but not over mixing.
Finish with the lemon zest and stir in the 1/2″ asparagus pieces.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pastry shell and top with the reserved asparagus tips.
Bake uncovered at 350º until set, about 20 -25 minutes.

Great warm or chilled.
Serve with a salad.

Grilled Vegetable Streudel



I had been gearing up to post about what I call Market Mystery. This is either the new or unexpected produce that turns up at the market or in your CSA box that you would never dream of buying out of your regular habits. Turns out, this event coincided perfectly when I invited my neighbour over for dinner.

I had thrown together some basic menu ideas and headed out to the grocery store to pick up some last minute things – shamefully the same things I seem to grab every time I’m out. Yes, staples are one things but redundant patterns are another. I began to think I should practice what I was about to preach.

Passing through the produce aisle, I realized I was about to ignore the fennel the same way I have done about one thousand trips before. Looking at the round white bulb and the bright green feathery fronds, I realized I’d never even tasted it. I actually think I might have been a bit intimidated on what to do with it exactly. I took the plunge, altered my menu plans and picked one out. Once I’d returned home with my fennel, I wanted to see what I could find out about my new vegetable. I knew the basics already, the other name of Anise gave away it’s licorice like flavour undertones. I’d previously seen it in salads, thinly sliced, usually served with orange segments but when I tasted it I thought I might go for the alternative of a roasted flavour. All around the fennel bulb is a combination of licorice, cabbage and celery flavours but the licorice tends to mellow when it’s cooked.

Since it’s summer, I opted for grilling instead of roasting. Not only did I want to keep the extra heat out of my house, I thought the smokiness might be a nice addition. Fennel, as intimidating as I first thought, is very simply to prepare. The bottom root end, the stalks and fronds need to be removed, but not discarded – I ended up using practically everything here and there. I sliced the bulb down the centre and tossed over the marinade.

Other than the time taken to grill, this recipe was a snap. My guests were impressed and I have become a fennel convert.

Now onward to Jerusalem artichokes, golden beets and kohlrabi. Which are the vegetables, you’ve eyed, but not tried?

GRILLED VEGETABLE STRUDEL

1 Bulb Fennel
1 Zucchini
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Orange Pepper
1/2 Red Onion
3 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Vermouth (optional)
1 Tablespoon Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped (optional)
Crack of Black Pepper
1 Sheet of Puff Pastry*

Heat the grill to medium.
Remove the top fennel fronds and reserve.
Cut the base from the fennel, slice down the center.
Remove the ends from the zucchini, slice lengthwise.
Slice the onion into 1/4″ rounds.
Toss the fennel, zucchini and onion in the balsamic, oil, vermouth and pepper.
Add the vegetables, along with the pepper to the bbq and grill, turning regularly, until the vegetables have even grill marks and have softened.
Place the pepper into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam.
Remove the skin and pull the stem from the pepper to remove the seeds.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Roll out the puff pastry to a 10″x10″ square.
Chop the vegetables roughly.
Add garlic, parsley and reserved fennel fronds, if using, salt to taste and add pepper if necessary.
Spoon and evenly distribute the grilled vegetable mixture to the center of the pastry to form a line.
Pull the first side of the pastry over the vegetables, roll the pastry and vegetables over into the remaining pastry. Dot the end with water to seal. Flip the pastry so the seal is on the bottom.
Transfer the strudel to a non-stick baking dish or cookie sheet. Score the top.
Bake on the center rack for about 25-30 minutes. Remove once the pastry is golden and crisp.

* As to date, Tenderflake in Canada and Pepperidge Farms brands of puff pastry are vegan.
However, As with any prepared food you should be prepared to read the label.

Serve with a drizzling of Roasted Red Pepper Purée.

Serves 4-6

Everyone’s Favourite Banana Cake


In honor of Mother’s Day it’s all about all things sweet.

… and not to mention comforting. With banana cake here’s certainly both.

Call it banana bread or call it cake, I don’t know any mom who hasn’t cut out a slice after the need has arisen to use up some over ripened bananas.

So perfect for a Mother’s Day luncheon, especially if your Mother in Law happens to be vegan, as is mine.

There is certainly no reason to deprive any woman on her big day!

As most moms will tell you this is the best way of using up those bananas. In our house we’re pretty particular over the colour yellow so once bananas are streaked with brown they’re destined for the freezer where they keep wonderfully until something delicious is ready for them.

Happy Mother’s Day to all!

EGGLESS BANANA CAKE

3 Ripe Bananas
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
1 teaspoon Salt
Replacer equal to one egg (+ water to package direction)
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 1/2 Cup Soft Whole Wheat Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Pieces
1/2 Cup Broken, Toasted Pecans (optional)

Method

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

In a large mixer, cream the bananas with the oil, sugar and vanilla.

Prepare the egg replacer as to the package directions and add it and the salt to the banana mixture.

Once well combined, add the baking powder and soda, followed by the flour, adding it in batches.

Stir in chocolate pieces and nuts, if using.

Oil and dust a 8″ round pan with flour. Pour in the batter and bake on the centre rack for about 40 -45 minutes.

Check bounce at the centre of the cake or insert and remove a toothpick. The cake is moist but it should come out fairly clean.

Allow to cool slightly and dust with confectioners sugar.

This recipe will also make a great loaf (55 – 65 minutes), 12 muffins(18-20 minutes) or 24 mini muffins (about 13 – 15 minutes).