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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Raw Vegan "Scallops" with Orange Pepper Cream and Blood Orange Salsa

Hello there!

It has been mighty chilly here in Winnipeg (duh, it's January!) but I have had an excuse to stay inside for the past week - STREP THROAT!  It was a fun-filled, first time experience for me indeed (fun, like someone stabbing you in the throat with a fork)!  I was mostly on a liquid diet but some softer foods made it onto my sick bed menu too (Avocado Carpaccio, anyone?).  And in my antibiotic/Advil stupor, I managed to create an outstanding dish that I am so proud of and so excited to share with you!  King oyster mushrooms are not always easy to find, but I have had no problem finding them in my friendly neighborhood Asian grocery store.  Blood oranges are easily substituted with regular, seedless naval oranges or even grapefruit.  This recipe should serve eight as a starter or four as a main dish.  

Raw Vegan "Scallops" with Orange Pepper Cream and Blood Orange Salsa
for the mushroom 'scallops':
- one dozen king oyster mushrooms, bottoms and caps removed
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp nama shoyu or tamari soy sauce
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp agave syrup
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- S&P
for the bell pepper puree:
- 2 orange or yellow bell peppers
- 1/2 cup macadamia nuts
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1 tbsp minced shallot
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
for the blood orange salsa:
- 2 blood oranges, rind and pith cut away with a sharp paring knife and diced (regular seedless naval oranges are fine if you can't find blood oranges)
- 1 minced shallot
- 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped (or parsley if you are a cilantro hater)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp macadamia nut oil, or pistachio oil or avocado oil or olive oil
- 1 chili pepper, seeded and finely diced (optional)
- S&P

Slice the king oyster mushroom stems into 1/2" thick "scallops".  Mix together all other ingredients and season with S&P.  Marinate "scallops" in the lovely marinade you just whipped up for 30 min - an hour, stirring occasionally.

Dehydrate the "scallops" at 104 degrees for two hours, basting occasionally with the marinade.  Alternatively, if you are not in possession of a dehydrator, but want to keep this dish raw, warm the medallions in an oven on it's lowest setting with the door cracked open.  If you are not in the least bit concerned about the rawness factor, sear the scallops in a pan with 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat until tender.

For the puree, combine all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until silky smooth.  

For the salsa, toss all ingredients together and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

To serve, put a few tablespoons of the bell pepper puree in the middle of each plate and swirl to make a nice circle.  Arrange the scallops in the center of the plate and put a spoonful of the blood orange salsa on top.  Garnish with a cilantro sprig if you like.



Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Roasted Chestnut and Red Lentil Soup

Hey Lovelies!

I decided to try roasting chestnuts on Christmas Eve.  I saw people roasting chestnuts on big, cast iron grills, all over Rome and didn't get a chance to try them.  And they seemed like a totally idyllic thing to eat at Christmas (cue the Nat King Cole).  So I bought some chestnuts, painstakingly scored little crosses on them with my utility knife, tossed them with olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh rosemary, and waited with anticipation of festive bliss as they roasted in the oven.  

I had ten guests over on Christmas Eve and not one had tried a roasted chestnut before.  Once cooled, I proudly brought a massive platter of the toasty beauties into the dining room as a curious crowd gathered.  After wrestling with the peels a bit, we popped the crumbly innards into our mouths with excitement. . . "It tastes like a dry, baked potato."  "Yeah, a really dry potato, but a bit sweet."  A potato?  A dry potato?!  It was certainly not what any of us were expecting, least of all me.  No buttery crunch?  No toasty, warm nuttiness?  None.  Maybe they're better roasted over an open fire?

It goes without saying that I was left with a massive amount of skin-on, roasted chestnuts.  On Boxing Day (the day after Christmas here in Canada) my darling father took to the task of peeling said chestnuts and reserving their meat in a bowl.  "You can't just waste them!" he argued.  So I did what any chic, modern, resourceful gal would do, I Googled!  And that night, I adapted a recipe by Nigella Lawson (LOVE her!) and made a fabulously festive dinner out of my unconventional holiday leftovers.

Roasted Chestnut and Red Lentil Soup

- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 2 sticks of celery, chopped
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 2 veggie bouillon cubes
- 6 cups water
- 1 cup red lentils
- 1 cup roasted chestnut meat (To roast chestnuts:  Buy 2 cups of chestnuts.  Deeply and carefully score an X on the flat side of each nut.  Toss with 2 tbsp olive oil, S&P and some fresh rosemary if you like.  Place the chestnuts in an even layer on a big piece of aluminum foil and then gather up the foil edges around the nuts, leaving a nice big opening at the top.  Place on a baking sheet and roast in a pre-heated 425 degree oven for 30 - 40 min or until the peels curl up a bit.  Let cool and then peel.)
- S&P
-Optional garnish: soy sour cream or cashew cream and chopped parsley

In your favorite soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic, carrot and celery.  Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.  Cook the veg mixture until slightly softened.  

Add the cinnamon, cumin, coriander, nutmeg and bouillon cubes and cook for one minute or until very fragrant.

Add the water, crank the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Add the lentils and reduce heat to medium low.

Add the chestnuts and simmer the soup until the lentils are very soft, about 20 - 30 min.  You will know they are done when you can smush them on the side of the pot with a spoon very easily.  

Puree the soup with an immersion blender (if you haven't got one, go buy one!  They are very inexpensive and make blending soups such a breeze!) and season with S&P.  

Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with a swirl of soy sour cream or cashew cream and a sprinkle of chopped parsley.      

This is very festive soup and warms you up from the inside out!


Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy Happy New Year Hunny Bunches!

Did you have a nice holiday?  Eat any yummy-licious vegan fare?  My Dad and Step Mama drove from Calgary to Winnipeg and stayed at mine and ATM's newly renovated home, it was so nice to have them here!  They gave me an amazing Breville juicer for Christmas and I am totally hooked on juicing!  We had an awesome Christmas Day brunch at the residence of my lovely Step-Sister Steph and her boyfriend Nick.  Steph made an Eggs Benedict feast and even made a special vegan version for me!

 ATM was working in northern Alberta over Christmas so we hosted a faux-Christmas dinner for her family when she returned.  I made a Pumpkin Parsnip Lasagne from VegNews' holiday 2012 issue (which Santa sweetly tucked into my stocking!); Cinnamon Roasted Root Veg; Haricots Vert with Shallots, Lemon and Walnuts; V.V. style stuffing and gravy; and some PC Brand World's Best Meatless Chicken Filets dredged in cornstarch that was seasoned with S&P and fresh rosemary, and fried pan fried in olive oil.  It was a delightful feast!  

On New Year's Eve, ATM and I hosted a massive NYE bash and I served up vegan tapas that disappeared as soon as they left the kitchen!  In addition to the tapas on the V.V. blog, I made Patatas Bravas (deep fried potato chunks tossed with pimenton and chilies, served with a vegan aioli) a Mediterranean White Bean Dip and cutie little Empanadas with Mushrooms, Walnuts and Olives!

On New Year's Day, aside from cleaning up after our fete, ATM and I celebrated our 2nd Anniversary!  We were too exhausted to cook so we ordered veganized pizza and snuggled.  ATM surprised me with a Vitamix blender as an anniversary gift!  My DREAM blender!!!  Now the V.V. kitchen is totally pimped!

I didn't make any resolutions for 2013 but I certainly made re-affirmations.  I am a documentary junkie and lately Netflix has enabled me to feed my addiction to the umpteenth degree!  So many outstanding docs about diet and nutrition, our food systems and plant based diets are available right now!  First and foremost, if you haven't seen it already, please watch Veducated!  I know many, many people who watched it and really questioned their consumption of meat and other people who went vegetarian or vegan after watching it.  I really do believe that if more people made the connection between a hamburger and what that hamburger really is (was), fewer people would want to eat meat.  Other great docs to see include Hungry For Change, Farmageddon, Food, Inc., and the TED Talks series 'Chew On This'.  American Netflix has waaaaaay more selection than our good ol' Canadian Netflix (lucky ducks!), and I think you can watch Forks Over Knives on there. . . if so, WATCH IT!!!!   Watching these films has helped me re-affirm the reason I bring compassion into my kitchen and into my heart.

Vivacious Vegan <3