Whole Garden Gnocchi


Who knew I could feed myself from a front yard garden alone? Other than the flour, I grew everything for this dish in my small, urban yard; potatoes, garlic, chard, tomatoes and squash.

I may have mentioned my front yard transformation last spring. With the help of a great neighbour, a dumping of dirt, a seed catalogue and some eager kids, we transferred lawn into an edible space.

Less the brussels sprouts and the chard, most of the garden now harvested. There were the three varieties of potatoes; Peruvian Reds, Blue and Russian Fingerlings, Rainbow Swiss Chard, Butternut Squash, sweet Yellow Pear Tomatoes just for this dish alone. (It doesn’t even hint at the edamame, peas, beans, beets, asparagus, blueberries, herbs, okra, cabbages, zucchini, pumpkins… corn… wow!)

After digging up a surplus of potatoes, I needed a few ideas on what to do with them. With BBQ season pretty much a thing of the past, potato salad wasn’t topping my list as much as the gnocchi. Besides, I just had to when I saw the light pinkiness of the potatoes and the great texture that was perfect for such a thing.

Feeding yourself all on your own, that’s local.
Now, that’s something to be thankful for!

PERUVIAN PINK POTATO GNOCCHI

1Lb Potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed (you can use other starchy potatoes, like Russetts as well)
1 Cup All Purpose Flour, plus more for rolling.
1/4 teaspoon Salt

In a large bowl, finely mash the cooked potatoes so they are lump free.
Add the salt and half of the flour then add 1/4 cup at a time stirring to combine and bring everything together in a smooth dough. You may not need it all.
Depending on your work surface, third or quarter the dough. Take one piece and cover remaining pieces.
Roll the dough into long “snakes” and cut into 1″ pieces.
Roll each piece off the back of a floured fork and repeat finishing all of the dough.
Drop into salted boiling water and cook gnocchi until they float; about 3 – 4 minutes.

While the gnocchi were boiling I made the “sauce” of tomatoes, chard, squash and garlic.
I cubed the peeled, cleaned squash and sautéed it, covered in a large, lightly oiled pan. Once the pieces began to soften, I removed the lid to let the stem escape and pieces brown.
I added two cloves of finely chopped garlic and the chard to cook for another two minutes.
Once the chard had wilted, I added 1 cup of sliced yellow pear tomatoes, salt, pepper and a palmful of chopped basil.
Simple and delicious.

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.

Pumpkin Cranberry Scones



I’m sitting and eating and eating and thinking about what to write for a post.
These are good. Even on the second day, but especially just warm from the oven. The amazing thing is that they are perfectly autumn and the moisture hasn’t given way to the little bricks that so many other scones can become.

I may have mentioned my favourite fall outings to the pumpkin patch, my Scottish roots and even my recent vacation. All of which brought me to my current gluttony of scones and tea.

Having arrived home after 2 1/2 weeks in the sun, one of my hoarded pumpkins wasn’t too happy about being hauled inside a little early. With signs of softness starting, I knew it wouldn’t store but since it was one of my favourite Galeux d’Eysines, I didn’t really mind carving in early.
These old French heirlooms are perfect for baking and savoury dishes.
Might be why these thing taste so good!

(That’s her in the middle, my Galeux d’Eysines in all her unspoiled glory.)


PUMPKIN CRANBERRY SCONES

1 1/2 Cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Cold Vegan Butter, cubed
3/4 Cup Pumpkin Purée, I used unseasoned, roasted Galeux d’Eysines, but canned is already drained
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon, ground
Pinch Freshly Ground Nutmeg, about 1/8 tsp.
5 T Clementine or Orange Juice, 2 clementines
1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries

Preheat oven to 450ºF.
Drain any excess water from the pumpkin purée with a fine mesh sieve, if necessary.
Add the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, pulsing to sift.
Add the cold, cubed butter and pulse to a coarse bread-crumbly consistency.
Add the the pumpkin and clementine juice to combine.
Add the dried cranberries and pulse, just to incorporate throughout the dough.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
With clean, floured hands, turn the dough out onto the parchment paper.
Pat the sticky dough into a workable 1″x8″ round and slice, with a floured blade, into 8 wedges.
Bake for 20 minutes or until tops have slightly goldened.

Allow to cool, only slightly, before eating.
Dust with confectioners sugar, if desired.

Holiday Leftover Gnocchi


Ok, so nothing was really left over. Having had been lucky enough to serve up two Thanksgiving dinners, I was still looking for more. One scoopful of my butternut squash & spinach casserole wasn’t enough, but not having another lucky table of thirteen tonight, I wasn’t about to serve it again. Besides, I, even me, haven’t been craving over-time in the kitchen, so I wanted something quick.

GNOCCHI WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH & SPINACH

2 Tablespoons Olive OIl
2 Cups Butternut Squash, diced, 1/2″ cube
3/4 Cup Water
2 Cup Baby Spinach Leaves
1Lb (500g) Gnocchi, store bought (I know, but after a weekend of feast creating 75 seconds of cooking can be a very good thing.)
1 Tablespoon Fresh Italian Parsley, finely chopped
1 Sprig Fresh Thyme, stem removed
1 Clove Garlic, finely minced
Salt & Pepper to taste

Peel and cube the squash and add it to a large sauté pan with the 3/4 cups of water.
Over high heat, bring the water to a boil and stir frequently.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Once the water is gone, add about half of the oil and reduce the heat slightly to medium high.
Add the minced garlic and continue to toss often until the butternut squash is golden and tender.
Add the spinach to the squash and sauté until wilted. Add herbs, tossing to combine.
Add the gnocchi to the boiling water and cook for about 2 minutes or until it begins to float (as per package directions.)
Drain and add to the spinach and squash.
Sprinkle over salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 2-3.

Thanksgiving Weekend Eve (Canadian Style)


Here we are, the weekend I lust after for most of the year. Yes, call me crazy but I love Thanksgiving more than lets say, Christmas. Frankly, I’m thankful for Thanksgiving.

This morning’s drive north to the farm was glorious. Enjoying the warmth of an Indian Summer, the leaves were blazing red in the temperate breeze. The corn stalks have turned tan and the green ground cover has been replaced in most parts with a see of orange pumpkins.

It was not a hard decision to go fully local this year. The bounty is tough to argue with.
At the farm, the over-sized broccoli and cauliflower heads were no match for the cabbages which were easily the size of the pumpkins awaiting Halloween.
Genuine Brussel sprouts were proudly displayed, complete with their stalks rendering them hardly recognizable as grocery store produce, were only recently picked and ready for this weekend’s picky eaters.
I could hardly fit this cornucopia of my future feast into the car, when I was seduced by the countryside’s apple orchard markers.

The midday sun was ablaze as we set out to find the perfect tree. Countless gleaming red apples practically jumped into my bag knowing that they would be Sunday’s pie, or next week’s apple butter… Eighteen pounds later, I managed to wedge my sweet spheres into the car and made my trip back into the envious city.

The Menu

Heirloom Tomato Soup
Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Cinnamon Orange Cranberries
“Turkey”
Green Beans
Sautéed brussels sprouts
Mashed Potatoes & Gravy
Butternut Squash & Spinach Casserole
Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

Pumpkin Pie
Apple Galette

I will be sure to post all recipes. If you’d like, leave your request for the order in the comments and I’ll get to the most demanded.
In the meantime, this is what I prepared first….

SPICED ORANGE CRANBERRY SAUCE

3/4Lb Fresh Cranberries, frozen will do
1 Cup Orange Juice
1 Cup Sugar
1 Stick of Cinnamon, 2-3″ piece

Pick over and rinse the cranberries.
Into a large pot, combine the cranberries with the juice and sugar.
Drop in the cinnamon stick and bring everything to a boil for about 5 minutes, or until the cranberries have begun to pop.
Continue to simmer until slightly thickened and reduced.
Remove the cinnamon stick, if desired cover or can.
Cranberries will keep preserved or in the fridge for a week.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Side, By Side, By Side.


For some, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be complete without having a bird as the guest of honour.
For others, it’s everything else that fills the plate; your aunt’s famous stuffing, homemade cranberries or your mom’s casserole that make the meal. Bumping elbows, it’s not tough to see, for our herbivore guests, the sides become the main. However, the gravy might be out, the stuffing perhaps filled that bird or decadence won with the addition creams and cheese, making even the sides slim pickings.

Since Holidays are about the company, these few tweaks on some delicious classics are sure to be enjoyed by the entire table. Be thankful, celebrate the season… and your guests. (& I’m sure they will thank you too.)

I’ve put together a few quick and easy side dishes for Thanksgiving, and beyond. Simple and fast to prepare, these sides can easily be doubled or made ahead of time and just reheated, allowing more time for company…. and dessert.


Continue reading Side, By Side, By Side.