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

The New Vegan Frontier


I had this realization at the grocery store the other day. It’s something I’ve obviously not given enough thought. I mean, I know why people have food restrictions and I know that there are many reasons. There are people in my family are allergic to wheat and dairy and a large reason because of that is why this site exists. I’m fairly conscientious but never though, have I gone out and so rigorously read every ingredient that went into my shopping basket. What was once simple shopping took an hour and a half.

I’m aware of the easiest ways to healthier eating and that’s making everything yourself. But after this experience, I couldn’t believe it more true. The sneaky binders and unfortunate ingredients that “deprive” those of a delicious waffle. After a few let downs there was excitement. I’d find new produce or the wheat-free, gluten-free, yeast-free bread that will remain nameless to excite me into a tizzy. I was about ready to start this detoxing cleanse.

My biggest splurge was to finally buy a rice cooker. I honestly don’t know why I hadn’t done this earlier and now it sits happily along sit my Kitchen Aid as one of my favourite appliances. Shameful to admit, I’ve never been a stellar rice steamer myself. Iffy at best, I’d cross my fingers and hope not to burn it on the bottom or lift the lid early exposing a soggy mess. Amazing that this basic food is one of my favourites and when cooked right, tastes like a delicacy to me. Naturally, I was inspired and created one of my first meals for the detox as a rice bowl.

Totally versatile, starting with a mix of brown and wild rice, I added many of my grocery shop finds; broccolini, roasted squash, pea shoots and bean sprouts. To it was a great maple baked tofu with a great tahini sauce to liven it up.

Maybe this won’t be so bad?

MAPLE TOFU AND TAHINI RICE BOWL

4 cups Cooked Brown & Wild Rice, or whatever you have that you think is nice
1 Acorn Squash, seeded & sliced
1 Block Extra Firm (organic) Tofu, halved and sliced about 1/4″ thick
Handful Each of Pea Shoots, Sprouts, Broccolini & Frozen Green peas
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil,
Safflower Oil for frying

SESAME TAHINI SAUCE

1/4 cup tahini
3 Tablespoons Water
3 tablespoons Sesame Seed Oil
1/4 cup  Lemon Juice
Pinch of Salt to taste

Make the dressing by whisking together the tahini and hot water to thin. Add the lemon  juice, sesame oil and sprinkling of salt.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Lightly drizzle 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a baking dish. Lay your sliced squash evenly and flip to coat in the oil.
Bake for about 15-20mins, then flip and return to the oven to continue roasting on the other side for another 15 minutes or until soft and golden. Remove from pan and lightly sprinkle over salt and pepper.
While the squash is roasting, heat a thin layer of the safflower oil in a large pan for frying.
Once the oil is hot, add the tofu slices and brown on both sides.
Remove and drain on towels.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF.
Using the roasting pan for the squash, add the tofu and evenly pour over the maple syrup, tossing to coat on both sides.
Bake the tofu for about a 1/2 hour, flipping half way through, until it is browned and slightly crisped.
Cook your rice, as per your usually methods. 2C dry rice with about double the water, usually does it for me.
Scoop the cooked rice into a nice, big bowl and to it, stir in the broccolini and frozen green peas

Serve rice family style or into individual bowls, topping with tofu, slices of squash and a handful of shoots and sprouts.
Drizzle over the tahini dressing. Taste and add more salt and freshly ground pepper, if needed.

Serves 4-6.

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.

crop_cranberries1

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.

Forbidden.


I never would have thought that summer BBQ’s would match up so well with Asian inspired salads.
I’ve tested this recipe a few times now at a few outdoor gatherings and I have to tell you, it held up pretty well beside the best of potato salads.

I’ve had this rice in my pantry collection for a while, you see I have a nasty habit of food shopping. Yes, admitted, I have more varieties of grains than summer sandles, which is so goes against all that is womanly. I just can’t help it though. Who knew there were so many types of quinoa, couscous or rice to be had and to hoard?

Black, or Forbidden Rice is an Asian heirloom variety of rice that is not glutenous and is very high in fiber as well as iron. It’s Forbidden name comes from it traditionally being served to the Emperors of Ancient China, thus being restricted from common consumption. Now, of course it can be found and even trademarked by a few different rice producers, sold in popular grocers and heath food stores.

Word to the wise though, check over your rice as you would lentils for forbidden objects, like pebbles. It’s heirloom and wholesome, right down to the ground it’s grown and what can get into it.

FORBIDDEN ASIAN BLACK RICE SALAD

2 Cups Black Rice, picked over
3 Cups Water
1 Yellow Pepper, finely diced
1 Red Pepper, finely diced
1 Large Carrot or a Handful of Baby Carrots, cut into matchsticks
3 scallions (green onions), finely chopped
Handful Thai Basil, about 10 leaves chopped

DRESSING

1/4 Cup Sesame Oil
1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Freshly Grated Ginger, about a 1 inch knub
1 Clove of Garlic, finely minced
Zest of One Orange
Juice of One Lime
3 – 4 Tablespoons Agave Nectar, or to taste depending on how sweet you like things

Combine the sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, zest, lime juice and agave with a whisk or a hand immersion blender until smooth. Reserve.
Check the rice over for pebbles or other impurities.
Rinse the rice, then leave it to soak for about 5 minutes. Drain well and add to a large sauce pan with a tight fitting lid.
Cover the rice with the 3 cups of water and bring it to a boil, stirring occasionally.
Reduce the heat for a low simmer and cover for about 25 minutes.
Remove from the heat and leave it covered for another 5 – 10 minutes.
Fluff with a fork and transfer the cooked rice to a large mixing bowl.
Drizzle over the prepared dressing then add the diced pepper, carrot, scallions and basil.
Toss well to combine the vegetables with the rice.
Garnish with additional citrus zest or basil leaves if desired.
No need to cool. Best served at room temperature, making it a perfect summer outdoor salad.

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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