Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ndole (Cameroonian Bitterleaf Soup)

Other than my mom's famous low-fat veggie soup, this is Daniel's new favourite soup.  SO easy too.

A very peculiar but delicious combination you will find in African cooking, especially Western, is tomato and peanut.  It may sound odd, but together these two foods create a flavour that is unique and tasty.  Actually, the combination is even difficult to imagine, as they change each other's flavour so substantially - so what you imagine it tastes like, may not be even close to what it does taste like.  All the more reason to give it a try.

Bitterleaf is a special leafy green that is found in Africa, unfortunately I have not found any here.  Kale is the next best thing, so it is used in this recipe.


Time:  45 min     |     Servings:  6      |      Difficulty:  Low


2 bunches kale, deveined and chopped into small pieces
1 lb preferred protein, such as beans, tempeh, seitan - pulsed if applicable
1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes, organic recommended as they cook best
2 onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, including leaves, diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 can pickled jalapenos, finely diced
1 cup peanut butter
6 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons oil


Heat oil in stock pot (or deep pot) and add onions and celery.  Saute until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add protein, garlic and jalapenos, cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes.  Add all remaining ingredients, except peanut butter.

Simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes or until kale is tender.  Stir in peanut butter.

Serve and enjoy.

Recommendations:  Eat with Fufu!

Mesir Wat and Injera (aka Ethiopian Lentils and Flatbread)

Last month was "African" month... trying recipes from all over the continent - mainly from Western Africa (Ghana, Cameroon, Morocco).  SO delicious!

Here is a recipe for Mesir Wat, Ethiopian Lentils - sweet, spicy and delicious, served with injera, the staple flat bread.  African food is simply a revelation.

Technically speaking, injera should be used as a utensil and served with the lentils on top - eat it with your hands!  But of course, Daniel and I tried this once and then decided to use utensils.  :)

The lentils are great on plain rice, or even with naan, etc - if you'd rather buy some bread than make it.

A last note - most Ethiopian (or Eritrean) food uses a special spiced-infused-butter called Niter Kibbeh - I have made it before and it is excellent - however, to avoid the work of making it (you need to simmer whole spices in the butter for an hour) I have made a short cut - using ground spices and gently simmering them in butter for a couple minutes. 


Time: 45 min      |      Servings:  4      |      Difficulty: Low


2 cups red lentils
4 cups vegetable stock
2 onions, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
3 tablespoons Earth Balance
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground fenegreek
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
Salt, to taste

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup Teff flour
1.5 cup cold water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
Oil for frying


In a pot, heat Earth Balance over medium heat - add all ground spices.  Stir continuously until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add onions and continue cooking until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. 

Bring heat to high, add lentils and stock.  Bring to a boil and turn down head to low to simmer.  Cover and allow to cook for 30 minutes, or until lentils are fully cooking.  You don't need to stir.

Meanwhile, heat a frying pan on medium and drizzle oil (make sure the pan is well oiled; nonstick is ideal).  In a bowl, mix flours, baking powder, oil and water.  Mix until just combined - the consistency should be thinner than pancake mix so add more water if needed.

Pour a 1/2 cup into pan.  It will bubble.  You do not need to flip injera.  When the sides pop up and the top looks cooked, place aside.  Continue preparing the rest of batter this way.  Watch the heat; make sure it on medium or lower, as the bottom may burn if you don't watch.

Serve cooked lentils on top of injera and enjoy.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Grilled Smoky Tofu

Goes with everything, and IN everything! :)  Feel free to bake or fry, if a grill is not available.  This will create a caramelized glaze - wonderful!  Just be careful of burning the sauce.


Time: 30 min      |       Servings: 4      |      Difficulty:  Low


2 packages smoked tofu, sliced or cut into strips
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce (or more if you like it spicy!)
1 tablespoon preferred vegetable oil

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, allow to marinate at least 15 minutes.
Grill on BBQ, using marinade as basting sauce - until all sides are slightly charred; about 10 minutes.

Serve and enjoy.

Peruvian Series - Tallarines Verdes

Tallarines Verdes, which means "Green Noodles" in Spanish, is a Peruvian pesto dish.  It is actually an ideal family meal as it is super healthy; the sauce in Tallarines Verdes is a Basil/Spinach/Walnut mix.

Even though the ingredients are simple, my first attempt was one of my worst culinary failures in a LONG, long time! :)  That just made me want to develop a vegan version of this recipe even more.

So here it is!  Full of vitamins and antioxidants.


Time:  30 min      |      Servings: 4      |      Difficulty: Low


1 lb flat pasta, such as fettuccine
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 bunches of fresh spinach
2 bunches of fresh basil
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 cup walnuts
2 tablespoons non-dairy cream cheese
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1/4 cup vegetable broth
Salt, to taste


Add pasta to boiling water and cook according to instructions.

Meanwhile, heat oil on medium-high.  Add onions and garlic and saute until slightly browned, about 10 minutes.  Add spinach and basil, cook until wilted.

In a blender spinach/basil mixture and all remaining ingredients - blend until a uniform, creamy green colour is reached.  Add more broth if too thick.  Salt to taste.

Combine cooked noodles with sauce and serve.

-  Serve Tallarines with a flavourful protein, like grilled seitan or Smoky Grilled Tofu.

Shepherd's Pie

This is a recipe for Shepherd's Pie.  Shepherd's pie is easy to make, but it is a little bit long.  The end result is well worth it, however!  Enjoy!


Time: 1 Hour 30 min     |      Servings: 6     |      Difficulty: Low

2 lb potatoes, preferred kind (quartered if large)
1/4 cup Earth Balance
1/2 bunch chives, chopped
1/4 cup non-dairy milk, more if needed
1/2 tablespoon Horseradish (optional)

1 lb favourite protein (I recommend seitan or tempeh), pulsed/ground
1 lb mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 onions, diced
1 large tomato, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 cup frozen vegetable mix, preffered kind
3 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
1 tablespoon vegetarian worcestire sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon marmite
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried poultry seasoning
2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed into 2 tablespoons cold water
2-3 tablespoons oil

PreparationPreheat oven to 500 degrees F.

Begin with placing cut potatoes in pot of water.  Bring to a boil and simmer until potatoes are soft, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in an dutch oven (or oven-friendly pot) heat oil on medium-high and add mushrooms and saute until they shrink and release their juices, about 10 minutes.  Add all vegetables and fry until translucent, about 10 minutes.  Add protein and continue cooking until juices begin to evaporate, about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. 

Increase heat to high, and add wine to deglaze pan, if using.  Add broth, marmite, spices and tomato paste and stir to combine.  Once boiling, add cornstarch mixture and stir.  When thick and bubble turn off heat and place aside.

Potatoes should be done.  Drain and mash with Earth Balance, chives, horseradish and milk - adding salt if necessary.

Spread potatoes on top of filling, and bake in oven until the top is golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Serve and enjoy.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Versatile Sundried Tomato Chickpeas

This is a chickpea mixture that can be used for ... literally almost anything.  It's sweet, tangy and savoury.  Yum!  This chickpea dish can be used as a filling for wraps, tarts and potpies - you can also thin it down a bit with some broth and serve it over rice or with pasta.  Best of all, it's an SSS Recipe!! :)  30 minutes includes all blitzing in the processor, too.

Time: 30 minutes     |      Servings: 4       |      Difficulty: Low

1 15 oz can chickpeas, pulsed in food processor or mashed with fork
1 cup sundried tomatoes in oil, drained, pulsed into paste
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water or vegetable broth (more if necessary)

Heat oil in pan on medium-high.  Add onions and saute until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add all remaining ingredients and cook until heated through, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

At this point, you can serve this dish or you can add more water to soften the chickpeas or make thinner.  Add more water or broth, 1/4 cup by 1/4 cup until the desired consistency is reached.

Serve and enjoy!

- As stated above, serve this any way you wish.  The picture showed is a variation I made making individual tarts, with homemade pastry crust
- Add cayenne pepper during the cooking process to give it some spice
- Add fresh chopped parsley for some extra zest!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Papa a la Huancaina

Coming from a Peruvian background, I am going to venture into veganizing a few quintessential Peruvian dishes, like this one.  It's creamy, savoury and so satisfying.  Paired with a tangy, dark flavour like Grilled Smoked Tofu - you are looking at one delicious meal.

"Papa a la Huancaina" means "Huancayo styled potatoes" with Huancayo being a region in Peru.

A curious bit of info, as Peru is "birthplace" of the potato, the word "potato" comes from the Quechua (language of the Inca) word for potato, "papa", and also is where the Spanish word "papa" comes from, like papas fritas.

Papa a la Huancaina (with caramelized smoked tofu)

Time:  45 minutes (plus 24 hour chill)      |      Servings: 4      |      Difficulty:  Low

2 containers Tofutti "Better than Cream Cheese"
5 bell peppers, either red or yellow, or a combo, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 cup non-dairy milk
1 tablespoon preferred vegetable oil
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic/onion powder
1/2 teaspoon nutritional yeast

1 lb potatoes, favourite kind, boiled whole and sliced

2 packages smoked tofu, cut into strips
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
1 teaspoon preferred vegetable oil

Chopped cilantro, for garnish (optional)
Chopped tomato, for garnish (optional)

Begin by heating oil in a frying pan on medium-high. Add bell peppers and onion, and cook until softened, about 5-10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 5 minutes longer.

In a blender, add bell pepper mixture, cream cheese, non-dairy milk, and spices.  Blend until a smooth consistency is reached. Add more non-dairy milk if a thinner consistency is desired.

Place in a bowl, tupperwear, etc, and allow to chill overnight in the refrigerator.

When sauce is ready, place potatoes in a pot of  salted cold water, and bring up to boil.  Boil until tender with a fork, about 45 minutes for medium sized potatoes.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, coat strips of smoked tofu with soy sauce, syrup and sriracha.  Allow to marinade for 15-30 minutes.  Sautee in a pan with oil on medium-high heat, using marinade liquid to deglaze while becoming caramelized, about 10 minutes.  Be careful not to burn.

Slice potatoes and drizzle with Huancaina sauce, serve with caramelized smoked tofu. Garnish with chopped tomato and cilantro, if desired.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Not-Chicken Salad

This salad is best with home-made seitan, and is unbelievably delicious!  Eat it as is, or throw it in a sandwich.  You definitely don't have to use seitan  - tempeh, tofu, and even faux chicken will work great too.  However, if you do use tofu, I recommend using fried tofu for a heartier texture.  This recipe is SSS for any lazy night!  Enjoy!

Not-Chicken Salad

Time:  15 Minutes      |      Servings:  4      |      Difficulty:     Low

1 recipe prepared seitan,  cubed (about 3 cups)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 cup shredded carrot
1 bunch green onion, sliced thinly
1/4 cup non-dairy sour cream
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper


Combine all ingredients in bowl.  Serve.

Suggestion:  Even better if chilled in the fridge for 30 minutes or more.

Easy 4 Step Seitan

Personally, there is no greater protein in the veggie world than seitan!  Why you ask?  Well, because it's high in protein, low in fat and just plain yummy.  For more information on it, check out my previous post about seitan.

Nothing beats homemade seitan.  But, I'll be honest - when the thought first occurred to me to make it, I was pretty intimated.  It sounded like something that would be long and tedious to make.  Would it even really be worth it?  All the other prepared seitan I bought at stores were well, pretty gross.  Needless to say, I was totally WRONG.  Homemade seitan is leaps and bounds better than store bought seitan.

I make triple to quadruple batches on the weekend, place 4 cutlets in 1 Ziploc bag, pour some cooking liquid in the bag and freeze it.  I use it throughout the week in all my recipes.  It's just wonderful.  There's not much else I can say other than I truly recommend you give homemade seitan a go!

Easy 4 Step Seitan

Time:  1.5 Hr      |      Servings:  8       |      Difficulty:  Low


1 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 1/4 cup cold vegetable broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon Marmite or Vegemite
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
2 cloves garlic, pressed or grated on a microplane grater
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional)

10 cups water
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
1/4 cup soy sauce


Okay - making seitan is as easy as 1-2-3-4.

1.  In a large bowl, mix together gluten flour and nutritional yeast.

2.  In a separate bowl, mix together veg broth, soy sauce, marmite, poultry seasoning, garlic, lemon zest and tomato paste, if using.

3.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and combine, knead dough for about 3 minutes until a spongy, very elastic dough is formed.  Allow to rest for 5 minutes.

4.  Roll out seitan and cut into 4 pieces.  This may be difficult - but using a sharp knife will be helpful!  Add to a pot with water, soy sauce and bouillon cubes.  Bring everything to a boil and turn down to a gentle simmer.  Simmer for 1 hour , turning occasionally.

That's it!  Enjoy in any recipe!

- Seitan is lacking the amino acid lysine - to make your protein complete, eat with pulses (ie, beans, legumes)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Middle Eastern-Inspired Phyllo Triangles with Dill Sauce

(Had to repost this because I was having major formatting issues in the original post.  Apologies for repeats!)

I've labelled this recipe as "World Class Vegan" and under medium difficulty due to the length it takes (1.5 hours) and the use of phyllo. Phyllo is actually very easy to work with, but it does take practice. I've added instructions below.

Middle Eastern-Inspired Phyllo Triangles with Dill Sauce

Time: 1.5 Hours      |      Yield: 8 Servings (Pastries) |      Difficulty: Medium


2 cans soybeans
3 cups cherry tomatoes
2 large onions
4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspooon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup fresh spinach (optional)

1 pack phyllo dough, thawed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons Earth Balance buttery spread
2 tablespoons water, hot
1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
1/4 soy creamer
2 tablespoons fresh dill
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed horseradish
1/2 teaspoon grainy mustard
juice of 1/2 lemon


Begin with preheating oven to 375 degrees. Heat oil in a deep skillet (or pot) on medium-high.

Coarsely peel and chop onion, and pulse in food processor until they are finely chopped. Add to skillet, and sauté. Meanwhile, add garlic to processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add to onions and cook until the onions begin to brown, about 10 minutes.

Pulse cherry tomatoes in food processor until coarsely chopped and add to onion mixture. Drain and rinse soy beans, coarsely chop in food processor and add to tomato mixture. Cook until it reaches a boil and turn heat to medium-low and add vinegar, almond butter, and spices. Continue cooking at a simmer for another 15-20 minutes or until soybeans are tender. Add spinach, if using, during the last 10 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool, 10-15 minutes.

After mixture has cooled, begin preparing phyllo dough. Unwrap and lay flat - be careful, phyllo can be delicate and easy to break. With a sharp knife, cut the entire square in half, lengthwise.

Mix oil and water in a bowl. Carefully take 1-2 layers of phyllo and place on clean surface. Using a pastry brush, sparingly brush with oil/water mixture. Make sure to mix the oil and water well before applying to the phyllo. Add another 1-2 layers of phyllo, doing this 3 times in total. Pay special attention to properly aligning the dough - but don't worry if you're off. Once you layers are done, simply take a knife and cut along the edge of the dough to make clean sides. Done properly, you will see a long rectangle before you. The phyllo should be facing you lengthwise.

As the steps to making phyllo triangles can seem daunting, and the instructions are terribly long, here is a great link to a video which shows you how to do it. In the video the cook makes non-vegan spanikopida, but the phyllo directions stay the same! Click here. I’d like to point out that she cuts the phyllo in 3 (width wise), where we are cutting them in 2 (lengthwise), as we are making larger triangles. Also, the cook folds away from her – I personally find it easier to fold towards. Try both ways and continue with whatever feels comfortable for you.

Repeat the steps until 8 triangles are formed, or until filling is used up. When done, mix Earth Balance with hot water and melt together. Heat in microwave if needed.

Using pastry brush, glaze the top of each triangle liberally with sugar mixture, binding any loose edges of phyllo. Place triangles on a greased baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, or until tops are golden brown.

Meanwhile, finely chop dill and mix with remaining ingredients. Chill while waiting for phyllo triangles to bake.

When ready, allow triangles to cool for 15 minutes, then serve with dill sauce.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Medieval Cooking and Almond Milk

Almond Milk...a definitively wonderful, delicious, healthful substitute for cow's milk.  It's nutty flavour lends itself beautifully to baked goods and sauces, it's easy to make at home - and for those who need to avoid soy (or soymilk), it's an invaluable addition to any vegan kitchen.  Personally, the only real competition to almond milk's "awesomeness" is rice milk - to me, they are par and I love them both equally.

Almonds originated in the Middle East, eventually making their way to Europe.  This helped form the almond's illustrious history during medieval times.  During the middle ages (5th - 16th century Europe) the eating norms were much, much different than today.  Two of the greatest paradigm differences were the inability to keep food cold, and the unavailability of many foodstuffs we take for granted today like white sugar, tomatoes, potatoes and corn just to name a few.  Spices and herbs that were available, were usually not affordable to working class.  This also applied to many meat products too.

Meat, especially beef, was expensive for peasants and they were normally not able to afford such luxuries, so instead had diets that mainly consisted of fava beans, rye, barley, buckwheat, oats, and of course almonds!  This was especially true during the later centuries after advances in agriculture.  Vegetables were in!  So ultimately, believe it or not, vegetarianism/veganism was practiced during the medieval times (albeit usually involuntarily). 

Almond milk was a staple for the medieval peasant family.  Due to cow's milk spoiling very quickly and being normally turned to cheese/butter, the masses caught onto the almond's versatility.   One of the greatest advantages of using almond milk during the middle ages was that it was perfectly fine to consume during Lent.

Almonds (particularly almond milk) permeated into almost every type of dish, and if you look back into medieval cookbooks, they are everywhere.  Yes, medieval cookbooks do exist, and if you're interest in culinary histories I highly recommend checking some out.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Agave-Garlic Marinated Smoked Tofu with Peanuty Pasta Salad

Not much to say other than YUM!  I apologize for there being no picture this time.

Agave-Garlic Marinated Grilled Cutlets with Peanuty Pasta Salad

Time: 45 Min      |      Yield: 4 Servings      |      Difficulty: Low

Marinated Tofu:
1 Pack smoked tofu, sliced into 4
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 low sodium vegetable broth
3-5 cloves garlic, mashed
1 teaspoon agave syrup
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce (or more if you like it super spicy)
1 tablespoon preferred vegetable oil

Pasta Salad:
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup low sodium vegetable broth
1/4 cup tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon oriental sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1/2 tablespoon hot pepper, like Serrano, or 1/4 tablespoon Sriracha
12 oz (3/4 lb) rigatoni or any short pasta on hand
1 large orange bell pepper, cut into matchstick-size strips (or grated)
1 large carrot, grated
1/2 cup very thinly sliced onion
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped salted peanuts
2 tablespoons lime juice (optional) or to taste

Begin with turning on BBQ to medium-high heat, and boiling salted water to cook pasta.

Mix all ingredients for marinade in a large bowl and add smoked tofu.  Let sit for about 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, for the salad, combine all ingredients except pasta and vegetables in a bowl to make peanut sauce. Once pasta is done, allow to cool and combine all remaining ingredients.

Grill marinated tofu until well done, continuously basting in marinade, no more than 5-7 minutes each side.

Serve with Pasta Salad.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Tomato and Hummus Pizza

I was in Australia less than a week ago, visiting my fiance's sister. She moved to Melbourne with her fiance, who is Australian. We had a great time - definitely going back!

While we were there, we had a pizza night. Everyone could make their own pizzas and I figured this would be a yummy combination. Not only did it turn out yummy, but it was also beautiful! I don't think it's a coincidence that the Vegan pizza was the most beautiful pizza out of the bunch. ;)

This is a Super Simple Series (SSS) recipe. You can however, turn it up a notch and make everything from scratch.

Tomato and Hummus Pizza

Time: 35 Minutes      |      Servings: 2      |      Difficulty: Low

2 prepared pizza crusts, 8-10"
1 medium-large container garlic hummus
4-5 ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh basil
olive oil, as needed
salt and pepper, as needed
1/4 red onion, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Celsius.

Spread hummud evenly onto pizza crusts. Top pizza with tomato slices. Sprinkle salt and pepper.  If desired, drizzle with olive oil.

Bake pizzas for 20-30 minutes, or until crusts are golden brown. Top with fresh basil and enjoy.

- If you don't have hummus on hand, or want to use another bean, feel free to puree navy beans, soy beans or anything else your heart contents in place of hummus.
- The possibilities are literally endless; top pizzas with whatever! :)

Thai Green Curry

This recipe is from scratch - so you get all that comforting satisfaction from making it. The ingredients are potentially difficult to find at a normal grocery store - but if you drop by an Asian market, all these ingredients (plus the general everyday ingredients) are super easy to find. Every single ingredient listed below I found at an Asian market with no problems, except for nutritional yeast, which I had on hand and did not look for.

This recipe is from a traditional recipe of chicken green curry, which I have veganized. It has all the foreign ingredients you'd find in an authentic recipe, plus a few uniquely vegan additions. Actually, one thing that I have always noticed (or thought to myself) is how similar fish sauce and nutritional yeast smell. I actually found more of a similarity between these two ingredients than nutritional yeast and cheese (although it's still a great cheezy addition). That's my humble observation. I have used nutritional yeast as the replacement for shrimp paste, which turned out great.

Thai Green Curry
Time: 1 Hour      |      Servings: 4      |      Difficulty: Low
1 block extra firm tofu, cubed
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cans coconut milk
10 cloves of garlic (yes, 10)
3 stalks lemongrass
1/2 of a purple onion, very coarsely chopped
4 Thai chilies, stems removed
2 pieces galangal, about a thumb's size each, peeled
2 cups fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
2 green bell peppers, thinly sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup vegetarian fish sauce
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
10 lime leaves, preferably still on branches
1/4 cup Thai basil, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
2 cups white rice, cooked with 4 cups of water
Begin with placing rice and water in a pot, and bringing to a boil.  Turn down heat bring down to a simmer.  Cover and cook for 20 minutes (a timer is very useful here so you can forget about it and come back to it after 20 minutes).  Turn off heat and set aside, still covered.
Meanwhile, remove outer leaves of lemon grass, cut off the bulb and roughly slice the light yellow body, you'll have about 1/4 - 1/3 cup.   In a food processor, pulse together lemongrass, chilies, onion, garlic, galangal, cilantro, nutritional yeast, fish sauce and 1/4 of a can of coconut milk until a thick paste is formed - you've now made a true Thai curry paste!  As lemongrass and galangal are very hard, it can take some time, up to 10 minutes, to get a real paste consistency.  Use a spatula to scrape down the sides to help it along.
Heat oil in a deep pan, add paste.  Cook, stirring constantly, until beautifully fragrant, about 1-3 minutes.  Add the remaining coconut milk, spices, vinegar, along with whole lime leaves (you'll take them out at the end), tofu, bell pepper and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil and maintain for about 10 minutes, and bring down to a simmer.  Stir in lime juice and Thai basil, and cook for another 20 minutes, or until desired thickness is reached.
Remove lime leaves.  Serve with rice, and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

BBQ Baked Veg Cutlets

There's nothing more satisfying than making something from scratch; when you make something from a box, you can never have that soul-satisfying ability to say "I made that!”

This recipe uses the cutlet recipe I previously posted along with a recipe for some home-made Maple BBQ Sauce that I made up on a whim because I was feeling too lazy to go to the store and buy some. If you have an empty Heinz ketchup bottle hanging around, I highly recommend cleaning it out and pouring your BBQ sauce into it. The recipe makes about ¾ of a bottle (which is more than you will need) and this way you can pour as needed. You must wait until the BBQ is totally cool before bottling it.

Enjoy this recipe with mashed potatoes, grilled vegetables, or anything else your heart desires. The picture you see here is of a cutlet with "Eazy Mac & Cheeze" - a recipe that I am still perfecting and will post as soon as it's ready! Take care!

This recipe makes 8 cutlets/servings; if 8 servings are too many, simply half the recipe. Actually, you can half almost all the recipes here if you need to (except for baked goods)!

BBQ Baked Veg Cutlets

Time: 1 Hour | Yield: 8 Servings | Difficulty: Low

For Cutlets:
2 Cups Vital Wheat Gluten
1 Block Extra Firm Tofu
¼ cup Soy Sauce
1-2 tablespoons Marmite*
1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
1 tablespoon Onion Powder
1 tablespoon Nutritional Yeast
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
1 teaspoon Thyme, dried
1 teaspoon Sage, dried
1 cup water, or more if needed

For Maple BBQ Sauce:
1 small (5.5 oz) can tomato paste
1 cup ketchup
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
1/3 cup red wine vinegar (add more if you like more tang)
4-5 dashes of liquid smoke*
1 tablespoon Earth Balance buttery spread
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In food processor, add all ingredients for cutlet except gluten. Blend until the tofu becomes a thick but still pour-able paste, adding more water if necessary. Taste the paste and season more if necessary. Please note that if it tastes too strong, it’s probably perfect. Once you add the gluten, the flavours will diminish significantly. So you want to have enough oomph in the paste to withstand the addition of gluten.

In a large bowl, pour the tofu mixture and add the gluten. Mix well, and when it becomes a non-sticky dough begin to knead, flouring the counter if necessary. It will probably be so well incorporated you won’t need flour to knead it.

Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the dough becomes very elastic. Let sit for another 5-10 minutes.

While the cutlet mixture is resting, heat water in a sauce pan on medium and add tomato paste. Once dissolved, add all remaining ingredients for the BBQ sauce and stire until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Place aside to cool.

Cut in cutlet dough in half, and from each half make 4 cutlets, using your hands to stretch and pound them flat.

Using a sauce brush, brush bbq sauce on all cutlets, both sides, and place on a greased baking sheet. You may need two baking sheets if making all 8 cutlets. Bake in oven for 30 minutes, turning every 10-15 minutes and basting with additional BBQ sauce. Serve.

- add molasses instead of maple syrup to BBQ sauce
- grill the cutlets after baking, if desired
- you can sub any form of pureed bean for tofu, at any time

The Ultimate Vegan Cutlet!

I humbly offer my recipe to the long traditions of cutlet recipes. What I love about this recipe is that it is the best of both worlds: it includes tofu and gluten (Seitan), meaning not only does it hold well texture-wise, it also absorbs the flavours it marinades it. Using an array of herbs and spices, this recipe transforms the generally accepted as bland tofu and gluten into powerful a culinary constituent! It is a cinch to make and I hope you find it as useful as I have.

Note:  If 8 Cutlets (Servings) are too many, this recipe can easily be halved or quartered. 

Veg Cutlet

Time: 1 Hour | Yield: 8 Servings (Cutlets) | Difficulty: Low

2 Cups Vital Wheat Gluten
1 Block Extra Firm Tofu
¼ cup Soy Sauce
1-2 tablespoons Marmite*
1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
1 tablespoon Onion Powder
1 tablespoon Nutritional Yeast
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
1 teaspoon Thyme, dried
1 teaspoon Sage, dried
1 cup water, or more if needed
2 tablespoons olive oil


Preheat oven to 375 degrees Celsius.

In food processor, add all ingredients except gluten. Blend until the tofu becomes a thick, but still pour-able, paste. Taste the paste and season more if necessary. Please note that if it tastes too strong, it’s probably perfect. Once you add the gluten, the flavours will diminish significantly. So you want to have enough oomph in the paste to withstand the addition of gluten.

In a large bowl, pour the tofu mixture and add the gluten. Mix well, and when it becomes a dry-ish dough (not sticky to touch) begin to knead, flouring the counter if necessary.
Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the dough becomes very elastic. Let sit for another 5-10 minutes.

Cut in half, and from each half make 4 cutlets, using your hands to stretch and pound flat.

Coat cutlets with olive oil and place on a baking sheet.  Bake cutlets in oven, turning once, for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
-     You can replace the tofu with 1.5 cups of any kind of pureed bean (I recommend chickpeas or navy beans); make as normal.
-     Instead of oil, you can use any sauce you prefer and bake these as normal.  Make sure to grease the baking sheet.  BBQ recipe to follow.

*Marmite can be found in most normal grocery stores. I usually find it in the baking aisle, near the spices. If you cannot find Marmite, use Vegemite - and if you cannot find that, sub the Marmite for extra soy sauce.

Food Facts: Seitan

Seitan... to be honest I find most people (Vegan or otherwise) don’t really know what Seitan is, but have probably tried it at some point. It is popular in Asian (particularly Chinese, and even Buddhist) cuisine under the pseudonym of “mock duck”.

What is Seitan? Seitan is the protein (gluten) of wheat. It is an ancient, natural food that is an excellent analogue to meat (particularly beef). Traditionally, Seitan is made by making dough and running it under a stream of water until all the sugars (starch, carbs) wash away and all that is left is the gooey, stringy protein known as gluten.

Seitan is a phenomenal source of protein with about 31 grams of protein per 4 oz serving. Beef has about 36 per 4 oz serving so it's a great comparable. Isn’t that awesome!?

While meat is slightly higher in protein, it also contains nasty additions like saturated fat, cholesterol… and bad karma (ok judgement call on me, you certainly don’t have to agree). Seitan on the other hand is zero fat, and has no cholesterol or saturated fat. It has a few carbs in there, but it comes from flour so this is to be expected.

The downside to Seitan is that it is not a complete protein, like soy, for example. That being said, as with other sources of plant proteins – this fact is hardly an issue as long as you eat a varied diet of legumes and leafy greens!

Of course, a warning: if you are allergic to gluten (celiac) then please do not eat Seitan! I suppose this is obvious, but I understand that the awesome-ness of gluten is tempting to try!

So, what does gluten taste like? Firstly, the texture is chewy and a slightly tough; like overcooked meat. You need a sharp or serrated knife to cut through it easily (especially raw). The flavour, (which is always subjective) to me, is pretty bland but slightly yeast-y? Even nutty. The blandness is good for incorporating it into meals - although it is definitely more flavourful than tofu.

My opinion is that home-made Seitan is much better than store-bought. This may sound gross but I personally feel like store-bought is reminiscent to dog food. So I never eat store bought Seitan plain. When I am in a jam, I grind it in the food processor and make it into a “veef” – which is my version of veg ground beef. Recipes to come!

I hope you enjoyed the info on Seitan and encourage you to try it and see for yourself. Happy Cooking!


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Easy Banana Bread

Happy belated Easter!

Ok, well this isn't a real meal (or it could be, if you have a big sweet tooth) but I had to share this recipe because it is so unbelievably delicious; not to mention super moist! Banana bread recipes are generally run-of-the-mill, but I'd like to share with you this particular one that has slowly evolved in my kitchen. That being said there is nothing too fancy about it.

Chef's Tip: I have seen many other vegan chefs use the cider/soy milk mixture to create a make-shift buttermilk, so I have used that idea here. It helps create a super moist cake.

While I know this is a vegan blog, perhaps you'd like to know what buttermilk really is. Buttermilk is not 'buttery milk' (fattening), but rather the residual milk left after a person makes butter (back in the olden days). It is actually very low in fat. It is thicker due to bacteria (almost like watered down yoghurt). Of course, in the modern age, bacteria are added to force fermentation. This is no longer a natural occurrence.

Easy Banana Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups sugar, preferably raw
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup soy milk, full fat (not fat free)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups super ripe bananas, mashed (about 4 bananas)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 - 1 cup chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease a loaf pan.

In a large bowl (you will eventually add all ingredients to this bowl), mix together soy milk and apple cider. Let stand for at least two minutes (for soy milk to curdle) while you prepare the other ingredients.

In a medium sized bowl, mix flour, sugars, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

Once 2 minutes have passed, add bananas, maple syrup, canola oil and vanilla to the soy milk mixture and stir well to combine. Add the dry ingredients and mix only until just combined (never over mix cake batter!), quickly but gently fold in walnut and pour batter into the bread loaf.

Bake for an hour, or until a knife comes out clean. Let the loaf stand for about ½ hour before serving.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Yummy Lazy Fajitas

Bonjour! I hope everyone (Michele) has had a great week! I have been busy working out and trying to get healthy… and I have more or less neglected the blog. My apologies for this.

So, today's recipe is for delicious vegan fajitas! They are extremely easy and I am quite sure they will make its way into your usual culinary repertoire. Enjoy!

Vegan Fajitas [Serves 4, or 2 really hungry people]

4-6 Four Tortillas
1 tbsp Canola oil
3 Bell peppers (assorted colours), sliced
1/4 lb Mushrooms (your favourite kind), sliced
2 Onions, sliced
2 cloves Garlic, diced
1 Can Refried Beans
1 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp onion powder
1-2 tbsp chilli powder
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp pepper
1/2 tsp coriander (optional)
1/4 cup water

Lettuce, chopped, for topping
Salsa, for topping
Guacamole, for topping


Heat oil in a pan over med-high heat. Add bell peppers and sauté until they become soft, about 5 minutes. Add onions and mushrooms and continue sautéing until onions are translucent; add garlic and continue cooking for 5 minutes longer or until vegetables have caramelized to your taste.

Add spices and continue cooking for about 2 minutes. Add the water to deglaze the pan and add refried beans. It will be slightly difficult to mix the beans into the mix, but as it warms it will incorporate into the vegetables.

Your filling is now complete. Warm the tortillas and spoon filling onto them, along with chopped lettuce, salsa and guacamole. Roll up and serve. Enjoy!


- Add a can of corn (drained and rinsed) for extra flavour

- Add Seitan or Tofu to up the protein (although there is a good quantity as is)

- To make these into Enchiladas, roll up each tortilla (without lettuce) and place into a deep baking pan. Pour over enchilada sauce (most are Vegan) and sprinkle Vegan cheese over top. Bake at 375 until the cheese is browned and bubbly.

PS -I have figured out how to add pictures - so they will be coming soon! :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Herbed Pasta Salad

Happy Sunday!

This Herbed Pasta Salad is a variation of a pasta salad in Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's book "The Vegan Table". I hope you enjoy it!

Herbed Pasta Salad [Makes 6 servings].

16 oz vegan penne (or similar)*
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cucumber, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
1 can artichokes, drained and chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup pine nuts

Optional: 1 block tofu, squared and fried


Begin with cooking pasta according to instructions.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine oil, vinegar, lemon juice, fresh herbs, salt, pepper and sugar. Blend until the herbs look finely chopped and ingredients are well incorporated.

When pasta is cooked, allow to cool and combine all ingredients (including tofu, if using). Mix thoroughly and serve.

* Dried pasta is usually Vegan, but check the ingredients just to make sure. Rice pasta is almost always Vegan.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Black Bean Quesadillas with Pico De Gallo

Happy New Year to all! I went grocery shopping at Whole Foods down in West Vancouver - such a nice store, but far and expensive. Decided I would try it out and compare the purchase price to that at the normal grocery next time I shop for the same ingredients. I will let you know.

Today I made some super easy quesadillas and Pico de Gallo, which is a rustic salsa. The entire meal took less than an hour to make and clean. It was absolutely delicious! I came up with this recipe a while ago actually - and if it's of any value, Dan said he'll be happy eating Vegan if all meals are as yummy as this one! I served the quesadillas with some home made coleslaw.

Black Bean Quesadillas w/ PDG & [Makes 4 Servings]

2 cans black beans, drained
2 small onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, diced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Cayenne, to taste
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup shredded Vegan cheese (optional)

4 flour tortillas

3 medium tomatoes, quartered
1 small red onion, quartered
1 garlic clove, finely diced
2-3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1/2 a lime (and more to taste)


Heat a pan on medium-high heat. Add ½ the oil, and sauté onions until translucent then add garlic, continuing to sauté until the onions caramelize slightly. Add the black beans and sauté together until heated through. Add water and stir in the cumin, pepper, salt, and cayenne. Bring to a boil and cook until most of the water has evaporated (this allows the beans to break down a little).

In a large pan (large enough to hold one tortilla), heat remaining oil on med-high heat. Place one flour tortilla in the pan and sprinkle vegan cheese on half (if using). Spoon ¼ of black beans onto the same half and fold over, allowing the bottom to brown, about 4 minutes. Flip over to brown the other side, another 4 minutes. Follow the same directions for the 3 remaining tortillas, adding more oil if needed. Place each complete quesadilla onto a plate.

Meanwhile, add in the red onion, tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, and lime juice in a food processor. Pulse until the contents are evenly chopped and begin to look like fresh, delicious salsa.
Serve immediately with prepared quesadillas.