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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Vegan Tapas Party!!!

Hello Lovelies,

I made a Spanish themed dinner for a special friend this weekend.  For the main course I made a paella recipe that I found online by vegan chef Tal Ronnen.  It turned out alright, although I would reduce the amount of water/stock added from four cups to three, otherwise it will be less like paella and more like risotto.  The toppings were really yummy: seitan 'chorizo' (homemade!), wine braised artichoke hearts and nori-dusted oyster mushrooms that taste a lot like seafood!  Here's the paella recipe if ya wanna give it a try!

Before I served the paella I made a few Spanish tapas:  Garlic-Stuffed Olives with Lemon and Basil, Spanish Spiced Almonds and Pan con Tomate. 

Garlic-Stuffed Olives Marinated in Lemon and Basil
Head to the bulk olives at your friendly neighborhood grocery store and get a bunch of jumbo green olives stuffed with garlic cloves.  Take them home and marinate them for at least an hour in the juice and zest of one lemon, 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil and 1 tbsp olive oil.

Spanish Spiced Almonds
Toast one cup of almonds in a pan (carefully!).  Once toasted sprinkle them with 1 tsp smoked paprika, lots of fresh ground pepper and a sprinkle of salt.  Turn off the element and add 1 tbsp of sugar stirring the almonds quickly to coat them in the sugar and spices.  The sugar should melt into a candy-like coating.  Let the almonds cool on a greased plate of cookie sheet before serving.

Pan con Tomate
This is just a fancy way of saying Tomato Toast, people.  Toast some rustic bread slices under the broiler then rub each slice with a garlic clove that has been cut in half.  Smush a ripe tomato chunk on each slice.  Drizzle with good olive oil and sprinkle with S&P.  Best when you use TOP NOTCH tomatoes!

Other ideas for vegan tapas:
Banderillas: pickled veg tidbits on skewers
Vegan 'chorizo' and apples braised in wine
Patatas Bravas: fried potato chunks with 'bravas sauce' (a spicy tomato sauce) or vegan aioli
Empinadas: little turnovers filled with spicy vegan 'beef' or veg
Bean Croquettes with Romesco Sauce
Mushrooms sauteed with sherry
LOTS of Spanish vino :)

Tapas make for a really easy cocktail party since most of the dishes require assembly rather than a lot of cooking.  They would definitely add sassy Spanish flare to any holiday party you might be throwing in the next month ;)


Thursday, November 25, 2010

My Toaster Is Probably Better Than Your Toaster

Hey Gorgeous Ones,

I really, really, really love toast.  It's good any time of the day with just about anything on it.  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, even dessert toast!  Not to be a snot, but my toaster really is awesome.  I bought it right before I moved to Toronto and when I moved back to 'Peg City, it came right back with me.  I couldn't bear to leave it behind!  My Cinderella toaster not only bears the image of one of my fave Disney princesses, but it toasts a glass slipper onto your toast!  BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE: When the toast pops, it plays "The Waltz of the Flowers" from The Nutcracker.  I'll tell ya, nothing perks me up like Tchaikovsky first thing in the A.M. 

One of my ABSOLUTE FAVE toast toppings is diced tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and just a sprinkle of S&P.  Maybe some fresh basil if ya have.  I call it: Tomato Toast.  It's famous 'round these parts.

Another one to try if you are sick of PB&J is toast spread with Earth Balance butter, topped with spaghetti squash, white beans and basil.  It's a perfect meal on the go!

That's it.  That's all I'm posting today as far as recipes go.  I just wanted to brag about my toaster and spread some toasty lovin' to you all on this chilly November eve.

Juuuuuuust sayin...

Toasty hugs and kisses,

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Quest for the Perfect Spicy Peanut Noodle Soup Part I

Hey hey HEY!

There is a Chinese restaurant here in my Osborne Village 'hood called the Spicy Noodle House.  My sister 'Boomer', who refers to the owners of the resto as Mr. and Mrs. Noodle, brings home a brown paper bag from said noodle house once every week or so that contains a huge vat of the most incredible spicy peanut noodle soup.  The Boom custom orders it by asking for the vegetable tofu noodle soup with the spicy peanut soup base.  I don't know if it's even vegan, but I DO know that it's incredibly good and I have been obsessed with perfecting the recipe at home.  This is the recipe I have come up with and it's delish!  It's great for utilizing pantry staples (peanut butter, udon noodles, chili flakes, veggie stock) and veggies you are likely to have around (carrots, onions, and whatever other veg you might throw into a stir fry).  Besides, there's nothin' like a little spice to keep ya warm on a chilly November day ;)

KITCHEN TIP ALERT!:  There is nothing like fresh ginger.  Save the ground stuff for baking and spice rubs.  Store fresh ginger root in your freezer.  It keeps for a looooooong time and it's super easy to grate when it's frozen!  Just peel it, put it into a little freezer bag and use it as you need it.  I also like to freeze slices of peeled ginger to make ginger tea (fresh ginger slices steeped in boiling water with honey) for any time I feel under the weather (great for tummy troubles, coughs, colds and flu!) 

Spicy Peanut Noodle Soup
1 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 large onion, diced
8 cloves garlic, sliced
3 tbsp fresh grated ginger
2 tsp chili flakes (or more if ya need it HOTTA)
2 carrots, cut in half lengthwise then sliced into half-moon shapes
2 cups sliced mushrooms, a mix of crimini and shitake
2 cups chopped bok choy or other Asian cabbage
8 cups veg stock or water
6 tbsp tamari soy sauce
1 cup natural peanut butter (I like chunky!)
2 pkgs udon noodles
1 pkg medium tofu, cubed
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained and rinsed

In your favorite soup pot (every soup lover has one), heat the oils on medium heat.  Saute the onion, garlic, ginger, chili flakes and carrot until tender.  Add the mushrooms and bok choy and saute just until soft.  Add the stock or water and tamari.  Bring the soup to a boil and then drop the heat to a simmer.

Stir in the peanut butter until totally blended into the broth and then add the udon noodles, tofu and water chestnuts.  Simmer the soup for fifteen - twenty minutes and season with S&P.  All you crazy spice freaks can add some sriracha hawt sauce right about now. 

The quest for the perfect replica continues...

Spicy Kisses,

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Veggie Burger Mania!!!!

Hey Baaaaaaaaaabes,

I have two delish and super easy veggie burger recipes for you!  I love to make large batches of burgers and freeze them.  I have been eating on the cheap lately: dinner comes straight out of the pantry.  Foods like beans, rice, quinoa, lentils, pasta, cous cous, canned San Marzano tomatoes, udon noodles, and a whack load of spices make for a huge variety of healthy and inexpernsive eats.  Recipes to come... 
My siblings and their significant others and I had another dinner party on Sunday, this time Italian themed.  I brought Spaghetti Aglio Olio which is basically spaghetti with olive oil, garlic, chili flakes and fresh Italian parseley.  Easy, easy, easy and so yummy!  I love hearing your feedback on recipes that I have posted so please don't be shy and let me know how yours turn out!!!

Basic Veggie Burgers
2 cups beans (I used adzuki for this batch but you can use your fave!)
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1/2 tsp thyme (or any spices you like! If you use black beans try cilantro, if you use white beans use basil!)
2 tsp smoked paprika (again, have fun with the seasoning, maybe chili powder or curry!)
2 tbsp shoyu

In a large bowl, mash the beans until mostly smooth with a few chunks.  Add the rice.  In a skillet, heat the oil and saute the onions and garlic until very tender.  Add them to the rice and beans along with the spices and shoyu.  Mix well until the mixture is well combined.  Season with S&P. 

I find that it's easier to form patties when the burger mix is chilled.  Set the bowl in the fridge for 30 min to an hour and then form the mix into patties.  At this point you can wrap them in parchment paper and cling wrap and freeze them in freezer bags OR oil up that skillet and fry 'em til the burgers are golden on both sides!  If you freeze them allow them to defrost for a couple hours.  I have also has success baking the burgers in the oven with a little olive oil drizzled over them.

Tofurkey Burgers
1 block of firm tofu
1/3 cup fine breadcrumbs plus extra for breading
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tsp smoked paprika
fresh ground black pepper
2-3 tbsp shoyu

Mash the tofu with your hands or a fork.  Stir in all the other ingredients until well combined.  Form the mixture into patties (they can be a bit finicky so be patient!) and coat with remaining breadcrumbs.  Freeze in the same manner as the basic veggie burgers and cook in the same manner as well!  Easy easy EASY!!!

Happy Trails,

Friday, November 5, 2010

Vegan Restaurants and Catering in Winnipeg!

Happy Friday!

Many of you have been asking me where to buy seitan which makes me sooooo happy because that means you are intrigued by my seitan obsession rather than disturbed by it!!  But alas, I have NO idea where to buy it in Winnipeg.  On the plus side: it is so easy to make from scratch!  And you can find all of the ingredients at your friendly neighborhood Bulk Barn (including gluten flour)!  I use this recipe for homemade seitan .  I modify it slightly by replacing the ground ginger with smoked paprika (Bulk Barn) and add 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (you can get it at Bulk Barn in the bulk spices.  I have also seen it at Superstore in the health food aisle and Organza Market in the refridgerated section).  Do not be afraid of nutritional yeast!  It has delicious flavour and is an excellent source of B12 vitamins and protein! 

I thought that since it is the weekend that I would post a list of some of my favorite vegan and vegan friendly restaurants!  I would love to hear some of your favorites too!

Boon Burger - Obviously one of my faves, I yammer on about it enough!  Burgers, poutine, soups and salads all SUPER YUMMY!!!

Falafel Place - HUGE vegan and vegetarian menu, think diner meets mouth-watering Middle Eastern cuisine!  I always get 2 dozen falafel balls and a side order of tahini sauce and STUFF MY FACE!

Burrito del Rio - the grande vegetarian burrito is the size of a small infant and packed with fresh ingredients and loads of flavour!

Fresh Cafe - One of my all-time fave's, best vegan brunch EVER!  And the fresh juices have saved me on more than one morning-after-a-bender

Calm Unity Cafe - Located in the Moksha Yoga studio it is perfectly virtuous food after a cleansing hot yoga session!

Delicious Vegetarian Restaurant - It TRUELY lives up to it's name!  You absolutely MUST try the deep fried mushrooms with spicy salt (omgomgomgomgomg!!!)!

Not exactly a restaurant, but Nofu Plant Based Catering is Winnipeg's premiere exclusively vegan catering co.!  They cater everything from office luncheons to weddings to cocktail parties to baby showers - you name it!  I can't tell you how many weddings I've been to where the vegan option is either a slab of tofu or pasta with veggies - boring!! Check Nofu out! 

It's a lot easier to eat vegan in restaurants than many people think.  At Pizzeria Gusto the 'drunken mushroom' pizza (I think it's called the 'Sophia') without the cheese is UNREAL!  At most sushi places there are tons of veggie rolls along with vegetable tempura and edamame!  If you are more in the mood for a couple little tapas to accompany a bottle of Spanish vino (although one bottle is rarely enough) then you have to visit Segovia and try the Pan Con Tomate and Olives with Orange and Thyme mmmm...

Happy Noshing this weekend!


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I Sold My Soul to Seitan

Hey Baybeeees,

Okay okay OKAY!  It appears that I am a little bit obsessed with posting seitan recipes so after this one, I'll try to vary it up!  This is a 'steakhouse' inspired dish that would be perfect date night food (the recipe serves two). 

Sunflower-Crusted Seitan with Mushroom-Garlic Smashed Potatoes
-2 seitan cutlets sliced in half crosswise
-1/4 cup red wine vinegar
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1/4 cup shoyu
-2 tbsp fresh chopped herbs of your choice
-1/2 cup water
-1/3 cup flour
-1/3 - 1/2 cup ground sunflower seeds
-2 tbsp olive oil
-4 - 5 medium sized Yukon Gold taters, washed and cubed
-3 cloves garlic, chopped
-1 cup chopped mushrooms
-2 tbsp vegan butter

Whisk together the red wine vinegar, shoyu, minced garlic, herbs and water.  Season with S&P and marinate the seitan 'filets' in the mixture for at least and hour.  Remove the 'filets' from the marinade and dredge them in flour.  Then dip them in the marinade again and coat them in the ground seeds, pressing them on so they stick well!  Heat the oil in a skillet and saute the seitan filets until golden on both sides. 

To make a 'jus':  pour the leftover marinade into the hot skillet and reduce until slightly thickened and season with S&P.

Meanwhile, boil the potatoes until tender.  Drain them and mash them with a potato masher or whip them up with an immersion blender.  In a skillet, saute the mushrooms and garlic and then add to the taters along with the vegan butta.  Season with S&P, of course!

I served this up with some roasted baby carrots from (you guessed it) my Mama's garden!


Monday, November 1, 2010

Sesame-Crusted Seitan with Red Wine-Soy Braised Vegetables and Crispy Udon Noodle Cakes

Hello Darlings,

Sorry I haven't posted in a while!  I hope that the recipe I am posting today makes it worth the wait.  I had two lovely girlfriends over for dinner last week and dreamt up this dish.  I had all the ingredients for stir fry but I find that stir fry can be so booooorrrrring!!!  So this is stir fry my way.  No more saucey piles of whatever you have in the fridge atop rice, people! 

Sesame-Crusted Seitan with Red Wine-Soy Braised Vegetables and Crispy Udon Noodle Cakes
serves 4
sesame seitan:
-3 seitan cutlets (about 1 1/2 lbs)
-1 clove garlic, minced
-2 tsp fresh grated ginger
-4 tbsp sweet chili sauce
-4 tbsp shoyu
-1/3 cup water
-sriracha hot sauce (to your liking)
-pinch S and lots of fresh ground P
-1/3 cup whole wheat flour
-2 tbsp sesame seeds
braised veg:
-4 to 6 cups of your favorite chopped veg (I used purple cabbage, onion, garlic, mushrooms, bell peppers and cucumbers)
-1/3 cup red wine
-2 tbsp shoyu
-fresh ground P
udon noodle cakes:
-2 packages of udon noodles

SEITAN: Whisk together the garlic, ginger, chili sauce, shoyu, water, hot sauce and S&P.  Cut the seitan into bite sized chunks and marinate in the sauce for at least an hour.  Toss together the flour and sesame seeds and add the drained seitan (reserve the marinade).  Add a tablespoon of the marinade to the flour/sesame/seitan mixture and ensure that each little seitan chunk is well coated with flour/sesame seeds.  Heat a few tbsp of oil in a skillet over medium heat and fry the seitan until golden on all sides.

VEG:  Heat a few tsp of veg oil in a skillet and saute veg until tender crisp.  Add wine and shoyu and cook until absorbed.  Season with pepper!

NOODLE CAKES: Carefully remove the noodles from the package and slice them in half into triangles.  Heat 3 tbsp veg oil in a pan and saute until golden on each side.  You can keep them warm in an oven set to low heat.

TO ASSEMBLE:  Place a noodle cake on each plate and top with the braised veg followed by the seitan.  Pour the reserved marinade into a hot skillet and reduce by half.  You can add a splash of red wine too!  Pour the sauce over the seitan and serve with some steamed baby bok choy!

Until next time,