Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Braised Red Cabbage

As the winter weather descends upon us, nothing is more cosy than puttering around home while delicious food slow cooks in the oven, releasing aromatic scents that soothe the soul. Everyone has different ideas of comfort food depending on nationality, heritage, or what part of the country you come from. Some regions have specific cuisines that are synonymous with them - think Cajun in the Louisiana area of the US, Tex-Mex or the homey comforts I grew up with on east coast of Canada. Most of the ancestry there is British & French with a mix of European, and over time, the cuisines have melded together to make wonderfully delicious food. 

One thing that I really like is cabbage. Cooked or raw, both are delicious. Cabbage is sometimes looked down upon as a poor man's vegetable, but it kept our ancestors alive when times were so rough, we cannot even imagine. When it starts getting chilly outside, I make braised red cabbage. 

First a layer of finely sliced cabbage goes into an oven proof pot. I like to use my enamel-coated cast iron one for this. 

Then a layer of chopped apples & onions, some brown sugar, garlic & spices. Keep layering until the pot is full. 

The top gets dotted with butter and then pour on some vinegar. Put the lid on,

And into the oven it goes for a couple of hours. 

When it's finished cooking, you have a delicious sweet and sour cabbage dish. This is wonderful hot or even at room temperature. It keeps well in the refrigerator for quite a few days and re-heats beautifully in the microwave. 

Braised Red Cabbage

¼ tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1-1½ tbsp. brown sugar
1 pound red cabbage (approx. half of a medium head)
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large or 2 small tart apples, peeled, cored and chopped (if you have a sweeter variety, use less sugar)
2 medium onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1½-2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. butter or margarine

Preheat oven to 300°F. 
In a small bowl, mix together spices and brown sugar. Set aside. 
Remove core and tough outer leaves from cabbage. Shred or slice the cabbage very thinly. 
Arrange 1/3 of the cabbage in the bottom of an oven proof casserole. Top with a few shakes of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Then layer half of the apples, onions and garlic over the cabbage. On top of that, sprinkle half of the brown sugar & spice mixture. 
Continue layers, ending with red cabbage on top.
Pour on the vinegar and dot the top with butter. 
Put the lid on and braise in the oven for 2-2½ hours, stirring a couple of times. 

Serves 4  

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


When the weather starts getting chilly, we spend some of our evenings cozied up inside catching up on PVR'd TV shows or movies that we've been wanting to see. Of course, that requires snacks. Well, maybe not "requires" but seems like as good an excuse as any.

Nachos are a favourite around here. They are so versatile you can put whatever you like on top. Most ingredients are already in the house anyway, so a plate can be made up pretty much anytime. I usually go with onions, peppers, black beans, jalapenos, cheese - pretty standard, but oh, so tasty. Sometimes, I'll do some vegetarian ground "beef"  with taco seasoning and scatter that on top as well.

And nachos have to be served with salsa and guacamole. That's a given. The guacamole that we like is from The Barefoot ContessaIt's pretty straightforward and pretty delicious. There are always arguments about whether tomatoes go into guac or not, but we're far from Mexican authentic, so we go with tomatoes.

Add a margarita - another favourite - tart and tangy it goes perfectly and we're good for the night. Now, what to watch? Have you seen any good movies lately?


2 ripe Haas avocados
1½ tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (about half of a large-ish lemon)
4 dashes of hot pepper sauce 
¼ cup small-diced red onion
1 small garlic clove, minced
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 small tomato, seeded and small-diced

Cut the avocados in half, remove the pits and scoop the flesh out of the shell into a large bowl. Immediately add the lemon juice and toss. (this keeps the avocados from turning brown). Add in the rest of the ingredients, except tomatoes and toss well. Using a sharp kife, slice through the avocados in the bowl until they are finely diced. Add the tomatoes. Mix well and taste for salt and pepper, adjusting if needed. 

Makes approx. 1½ cups

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Greek Shepherd's Pie

Everyone loves shepherd's pie, don't they? It's also a super easy dish to make vegetarian. For a traditional type pie, most people will have the ingredients on hand already, it's not difficult to throw together, and is one of those wonderfully comforting dishes.

Then, there are interesting twists on shepherd's pie. This is one of my favourites. It comes from Looneyspoons. It's Greek-inspired and delicious!

The pretty coloured layers in this hearty pie are as appetizing as the taste. Yves Veggie Ground Round takes the place of ground beef for the crust and layers of tomatoes, spinach & cheese are topped with mashed potatoes.

I like the potatoes when they're a little browned and crispy. Turning on the broiler for a few minutes at the end of the cooking time accomplishes that nicely.  Just to amp things up on this batch, I decided to use up a couple of Daiya cheddar slices that I had. You could also use the shreds, but this is what I had in the fridge. 

I just chopped up the slices and added them to the potatoes while I was mashing them. They were still hot, so it melted the Daiya right in. Yummy! Or if you prefer, Opa! 

Greek Shepherd's Pie (based on Shepherdopoulos Pie by Janet & Greta Podleski)

4 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
½ tsp. salt
2 slices of Daiya cheddar style, chopped into ½-inch sized pieces, ¼ cup Daiya cheddar style shreds, or            ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup milk 
1 pkg. Yves Original Veggie Ground Round
¼ cup unseasoned dry bread crumbs
¼ cup minced onions
1 egg white *
2 tbsp. ketchup
1 cloves garlic, minced
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 large tomato, thinly sliced
¾ tsp. dried oregano
¼ cup shredded Swiss cheese (Gouda is also nice) 
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese 
10-ounce pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry 

Cook potatoes in a large pot of boiling water until tender. Drain well. Add in salt & Daiya, then mash a bit to get the Daiya melted. Add milk and mash until smooth. Set aside. 

In a large bowl, combine Yves Veggie Ground Round, bread crumbs, onions, egg white, ketchup, garlic and pepper. Mix well (using your hands works best). Pat this mixture over the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. 

Layer tomato slices over the "crust". Sprinkle oregano over the tomatoes. Spread Swiss and feta cheeses over the tomatoes. Top cheese with chopped spinach. Spoon mashed potatoes over spinach and spread out evenly. Smooth the top and bake in a 350°F oven for 45 minutes. Let sit or 5 minutes or so before slicing into wedges. 

Makes 4-6 servings

* If you wanted to make this completely vegan, you can easily switch out the milk and cheeses for non-dairy alternatives. I haven't tried it, but I imagine ground chia seeds that were mixed with water and allowed to sit until gelatinous would probably work as the binding agent to keep the crust together. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Recipe Testing, part 2

As I mentioned,  I'm recipe testing for Dreena Burton's new book that is due out late next year, and here's another sampling of what I've made.

Zesty Raw Almond Sauce that I used to toss with some soba noodles & sautéed green onions, red peppers & snow peas.

Pumpkin Snackles

Greek Lentil and White Bean Soup with Olive & Tomato Gremolata

(Pina-Coolada, Mango Gems, Red Velvet Studs & Peachsicles)

These were really easy and really tasty. I had a few in the freezer when a mini heat wave hit us, and the fruitsicles really hit the spot.

Southwest Quinoa Salad 

Saucy BBQ Chickpeas and Green Beans

Tropical Apple Crisp

It's all looking delicious, isn't it? I think this book is going to be a smashing success. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Broccoli Love

Oh Broccoli. A lot of people seem to dislike you. Yes, you have a bit of a strong taste and coming from the cabbage family, that is to be expected I suppose. But you have so much going for you. First off, you are kind of cute - you look like little trees. And you're also very high in Vitamin C, giving us more than 100% of our daily requirement. You also boast abundant amounts of Vitamin K and Vitamin A and are a good vegetable source for calcium. You also contain anti-carcinogenic compounds, but those get significantly destroyed if you're boiled, so we like to steam, roast, microwave or stir-fry you. Mmmmm....I'm thinking some people might be starting to feel your love. 

Let's amp it up and really get them hooked on you. Lightly steamed and drizzled with some yummy sauce, what's not to love? I'm thinking you'll be having a lot more dinner dates broccoli. 

Broccoli with Orange Sesame Sauce

1 pound broccoli, cut into florets
¾ cup orange juice
1 tbsp. honey or agave 
1½ tsp. grated fresh ginger
2 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 4 tsp. water
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. dark sesame oil
2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

To prepare the sauce, combine orange juice, honey and ginger in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the cornstarch mixture, whisking while returning to a boil. Cook the sauce until thickened, about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and stir in lemon juice and sesame oil. 
Meanwhile, steam broccoli until tender-crisp, about 5-6 minutes. Arrange on a serving platter, pour sauce over broccoli and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Tofu and Mushroom Piccata

Years ago, I bought  Robin Robertson's 'The Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook'I grew up in a regular ol' Canadian household, with lots of nourishing comfort meals. I got the book thinking it would be full of more of those comfort type dishes and it certainly is! Also included are some things a little more elegant. One that caught my attention was Tofu & Mushroom Piccata. Now, readers of my old blog know that I am adverse to those little fungi, but Jim likes them, so I followed the recipe and just didn't put any mushrooms on my plate.

This is so simple to make and comes together quickly, so why not dine fancy on a weeknight? 

The bright fresh flavours of lemon and parsley mingle nicely with the salty bite of the capers. It truly is a nice balance. 

Tofu and Mushroom Piccata 

1 large lemon, peeled and white pith removed
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 pound extra firm tofu, cut into ¼ inch thick slices
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup dry white wine
4 ounces white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons capers, drained
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons butter or soy margarine (optional)
Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Cut the lemon into very thin rounds, discarding the seeds, and set aside.
Put the flour in a shallow bowl. Season the tofu with salt and pepper and dredge in flour, tapping off any excess. Transfer the tofu slices to a platter and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add tofu, in batches, and cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes total. Place the tofu slices on a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven.
Deglaze the skillet with the wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom.  Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring a few times, until slightly softened, about 2 minutes.
Stir in the lemon slices, capers, and parsley and simmer until hot. Stir in the butter, if using, to enrich the sauce. 
Arrange tofu on a serving platter or individual plates. Pour the sauce over the tofu and serve at once.
Serves 4
©Robin Robertson

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Remember back in 2009 when the movie Julie & Julia came out, and suddenly there was a renewed interest in Julia Child? When I was a little girl, I'd watch PBS in the evenings. There was The Electric Company, Zoom and then The French Chef would come on. I sat mesmerized watching Julia doing her thing in the kitchen. And who doesn't have this in their cookbook collection?

Because of the movie, one of the food channels started running some of the French Chef shows again. I managed to catch a few of the episodes and in one, Julia did a recipe that was so simple and sounded like something we'd enjoy, so I found it in my book and gave it a go. Be warned - this is full of cream & cheese. But then, what else would we expect from Julia?

This, casserole I guess it would be, was surprisingly easy. Here it is right out of the oven all golden brown. Yum! 

I used Tofurky Kielbassa sausages and turned this dish into a lacto-ovo vegetarian one. It was very, very delicious but very rich - not something I would be able to eat often. I filled the rest of our plate with vegetables so as not to "over-indulge" :o) A glass of wine on the side and we were feeling very French indeed. Bon Appétit! 

Gratin de Pommes de Terre et Saucisson 
(Gratin of Potatoes, Onions & Sausages)

2/3 cup minced onions
2 tbsp. butter
½ lb. potatoes, sliced 
2 Tofurky kielbassa sausages, sliced ¼-½-inch thick
3 eggs
1½ cups whipping cream
½ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
¼ cup grated Swiss cheese (I chose Gruyère)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Cook the onions slowly in butter for 5 minutes or so, until tender but not browned. 
Drop the potatoes into boiling salted water and cook for 6-8 minutes or until barely done. Drain thoroughly. 
Butter a 3-4 cup baking dish (1½-2 inches deep). Spread half of the potatoes in the bottom, then half of the cooked onions. Over them, lay the sliced sausage, then the rest of the onions and finally the remaining potatoes. 
Beat eggs with whipping cream, salt and pepper. Pour over the potatoes and shake dish to send liquid to bottom. 
Spread on the cheese and dot with butter. 
Bake for 30-40 minutes in upper third of oven until top is nicely browned. 

Serves 4

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Citrus Chili Panko Crusted Tofu

While I was out shopping, browsing around bottles of sauces, I spied this -  

It looked like a sweet chili sauce, which I very much like, so I threw it in my cart. I got home and thought "What am I going to do with this now?" 

I got out a block of tofu, and sliced it 

Then to seem a bit more fancy, I cut it into triangles 

Brushed it with some of the Citrus Chili Sauce

On a plate, I mixed up a panko crumb mix to use as a coating

Carefully turned the tofu so all of the sides were coated with crumbs 

I laid the triangles out on a parchment covered baking sheet, because who wants to have to scrub pans any more than they have to. Certainly not me. 

After these were baked, I served them with some more of the chili sauce and with some Easy Aioli from Celebrate Vegan

These were crispy with a little bit of sweet heat. 

I opened a bottle of this Spanish wine which went very nicely. Spanish wines are a favourite of mine. Usually reasonably priced, they are very often passed over for more "popular" countries. 

The chili and the little bit of cinnamon in the crust worked well with this Garnacha (also known as Grenache). These wines are generally, soft with low acidity which makes them very easy to drink with a wonderful flavour and will compliment a wide array of foods. 

The recipe for the coating, was inspired by a posting on Oh She Glows which in turn was inspired by Cornmeal Tofu from Veganomicon 

Citrus Chili Panko Crusted Tofu

1 14-16 oz. block firm or extra firm tofu
½ cup panko crumbs
¼ cup cornmeal
½ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. chili powder
¼ tsp. onion powder
¼ tsp. cinnamon
few shakes of salt
½ cup Citrus Chili Sauce (or other sweet chili sauce)

Drain tofu and press if necessary. Slice into 6 slabs, then cut the slabs diagonally in half so you end up with 12 triangles. Pat pieces dry with paper towels. 

In a bowl, mix together remaining ingredients, except for the chili sauce. Pour a small quantity of the crumb mix onto a plate and shake to evenly distribute. 

Working one piece at a time, brush chili sauce on each triangle, making sure all sides are coated. Place the tofu piece onto the plate with the crumbs and coat all sides with breading. Place on parchment covered baking sheet in a single layer. 

Bake in a 350°F for 15 minutes. Turn over and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. 

Serve with some of the chili sauce for dipping or any other sauce of your choice. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Kale Pie

I love pie, so when my friend, Dynise said she was writing a new cookbook all about pie I couldn't wait to get my mitts on it.

This is a beautiful book. There are colour pictures of every recipe, chapters on classic pies, sweet pies, savoury pies, raw pies, pies that aren't pies, different crusts, tarts and so on. I tested a few of the recipes for this book and everything I made was fabulous. I was so excited to see all of the other pies that I wanted to make.

I scored some kale at Goodness Me! for $1.49! Can you believe it? The regular stuff was $2.99 at the grocery store. I'd gotten some a couple of weeks before that at $1.69 which I thought was a deal. This just blew the other out of the water. 

I found a recipe in Dynise's book for kale pie that sounded magically delicious. I had all of the ingredients on hand, so my dinner dilemma was solved (for that day anyway). I started by following Dynise's intruction for a grain crust. She suggested millet, but I didn't have any in the pantry, so I did a brown rice crust. 

Then I got to work on the filling which included nuts and raisins. I love the sweet-savoury combo of pretty much anything. 

Just a little time in the oven and voila! (sorry the colour is weird in the photo. My camera settings were off) 

North African-Inspired Kale Pie

I quite liked this. I had a big slice for dinner and it kept well in the refrigerator for a couple of days and was easily heated up in the microwave, which makes it great for transporting to work for lunch. The filling stayed moist, and the crust didn't get soggy. Soooo.....what should I make next?  

Want to get your own copy of  "Pies and Tarts with Heart"? Click here.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Field Roast Came To Me

For years now, I've been reading about Field Roast products. My American veg*n friends and fellow bloggers have been raving about this company, extolling the virtues of it's tastiness and even though I scoured what stores are available to me when I cross-border shop, I never found Field Roast products. Not to worry, they came to me! While browsing in Goodness Me one day, I spotted them - dogs, sausages, roasts - I think I actually squealed out loud a little bit. A little orange sign said "New" and a little yellow sign said "Special" - meaning 'on sale'. Yes! I decided on the sausages and chose "Smoked Apple Sage"

Even on sale, these were a little pricey. I got a package for 4 for $5.99 and I couldn't wait to try them. On that same shopping trip, I also scored on another sale - 

Silver Hills hot dog and hamburger buns 2 for $6, so of course, I got one of each. Jim is a white bread lover. As much as I try, I can't get him to embrace the lusciousness of whole grain bread. I've brought home different brands, different seed and grain types but he still goes for white. The best I could hope for was the unbleached kind - until now. He will eat these! I think it's because they have a familiar texture and he can't see the "stuff". 

Last year, President's Choice introduced a line of condiments, some of which we tried and thought were very good. The zucchini relish is outstanding. I was super excited to see this 

And look - no weird, funky ingredients. 

Here's my sausage hot off the barbeque with some fried onions and smothered in maple mustard. Yummy! Although these were tasty - the price is a little steep. Tofurky sausages are about $2 less a package, and I really like Tofurky's Kielbasa and Italian ones. Granted, Field Roast has some different flavours.....what a conundrum! I'll be watching for the sales and checking out Wegman's  (again!) when I do some cross-border shopping. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Recipe Testing

I'm recipe testing again! WOOT! WOOT! I've done this numerous times and I really enjoy it. Not only does it help me decide "what's for dinner" some nights, it gives me a chance to help out the author with a crucial part of the cookbook writing process. That being - can the masses make this successfully? We can all follow a recipe, but not everyone cooks exactly the same. Hell, my own cooking sometimes varies from one time to the next. During the testing process, I find it fun to compare notes with the other testers. Sometimes, a recipe will get tested that I don't have the slightest interest in, but another tester will give it such rave reviews that makes me wonder what I'm missing. So, I'll give it a try and discover a new favourite.

These recipes are for Dreena Burton's new cookbook that is due to be released in late 2014 or early 2015. It sounds like quite a long time away, but I know there is so much work that goes into writing, organizing, editing, and all of the other tasks involved in getting a book published that the time is certainly needed. I can't share any of the recipes with you, obviously, but I will occasionally post some photos of what I've tested just to get you geared up and excited for this new book! This is what I've made so far:

Blueberry Lassy Muffins

Apple Lentil Dahl

Gingerbread Granola

Oven-Baked Chickpea Ratatouille

Looks awesome, eh? And this is just the start. Check back for more. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Mama Mia!

Once we were off the cleanse and had slowly re-introduced "forbidden foods" it was time to indulge a bit. We hadn't had any pasta for quite some time and we hadn't had spaghetti and "meatballs" for ages and ages so I got myself to work.

I've tried many different recipes for home made "meatballs" over the years with varying success. Some had great flavour, but the texture was too mushy. Some were firm, but didn't taste that great. Then one day, I made a terrific batch and they've been my "go to" ever since. They're from Bryanna Clark Grogan's book, "Nonna's Italian Kitchen."

At first I thought it would be a lot of work because these meatballs are a combination of Byanna's burger-mix recipe and her Italian sausage recipe. But everything basically got measured and dumped together. The balls are shaped and steamed first. I did up to this point earlier in the day and refrigerated the balls for frying later.

After a few rolls around in the frying pan to get some colour on them, these puppies were ready. These are so flavourful and have a nice firm, "meaty" texture. They'd be good for making a "meat"ball sub and of course, they're great with pasta which I served with my standard marinara-type sauce that I zinged up a little. Delizioso!

Try as I might, I couldn't find the meatball recipe on-line and don't want to post without the author's permission. I can share my recipe for the sauce though!

Carrie's Pasta Sauce

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup dry red wine
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. brown rice syrup (optional)
½ cup fresh basil or to taste

Heat olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Add garlic and sauté for another minute or two until garlic is really fragrant. Pour in red wine and let the alcohol boil off as you stir up all browned bits from the bottom (called deglazing). When the wine had reduced, add tomatoes, bay leaf, oregano, salt and pepper,  and optional brown rice syrup. (This little bit of sweet helps to cut the acid of the tomatoes and really brings out the flavour. It’s not necessary by any means, but if you find your sauce tastes a bit acidy then try it! I’ll sometimes add it, sometimes not). Simmer for 30-45 minutes until sauce has thickened. Turn off heat, stir in fresh basil. Let sit for 5 minutes, taste and adjust seasonings.

For a bit more kick to your sauce, making it more or an arribiata type – add  ¼ - ½ tsp. red pepper flakes to the onions just after they start to turn translucent.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Coming Off The Cleanse

We survived the cleanse and after 12 days, we both felt a lot better. I had more energy and was sleeping better. Jim also had increased energy and noticed an easing of his arthritis pain. Now it's time to slowly re-introduce the things that were stricken from out diet during the cleanse. At first we gleefully thought sugar! It just makes things taste a bit better. OK, it makes things taste alot better. But when actually thinking about it, sugar doesn't really add any nutritional value so we decided to hold off on that for now. After careful consideration the thing we decided that would make the biggest impact on us right now was yeast. Surprised? Let me explain.

If we introduce yeast first, we are now able to eat oranges, grapefruits, peanuts, grapes, those wonderful things that have naturally occurring yeast on their skins. Plus we can have all of those things in the 'feremented' category that we weren't allowed. Yeast must be present for fermentation to take place which is why we weren't eating anything fermented. Now we can have vinegars, soy sauce, pickles, olives, black tea, DIJON MUSTARD. Can you hear the angels singing?

While I was looking through cookbooks to decide what to make for dinner, the page that fell open when I opened Let Them Eat Vegan! was "Chickpea and Artichoke Bliss in a Dish". When I was doing recipe testing for Dreena this was one of my favourites. It's consistently good. 

There's balsamic vinegar in there and olives....the full recipe contains raisins, but I had to leave those out this time around. Dreena was kind enough to post the recipe on her website. You can find it here. If you make it, I highly recommend adding the raisins. Those angels are really singing now. 

While we were "cleansing" I tried making a couple of different salad dressings, and they were just OK. Something seemed to be missing. Oh yes - that vinegar "punch". Now I could make a proper dressing. One that I really enjoy is from Dynise Balcavage, that I also did testing for.  

Here is 'Dijon Vinaigrette' from The Urban Vegan: 250 Simple, Sumptuous Recipes from Street Cart Favorites to Haute Cuisine.  It's got dijon mustard in there and vinegar. Simple, classic, a winner! 

It really livened up our salad. A plate of greens never tasted so good. Now the entire choir has joined in.