Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Strawberry and Tempeh Salad

Anyone who has loved me, and maybe even a couple of folks who have hated me, will tell you that when I love something (a food, a C.D., a person) I go all the way. I love the hell out of it. There have been a variety of food examples: Pickles, mushrooms, dates, all vegan items at La Luna. I lose all sense of other options existing and focus totally on whatever has taken my fancy. I must have logged over 5 marathons worth of running to Franz Ferdiand and ONLY Franz Ferdinand (right now, I can't stop working out to the older Killers disc.)

So - my recent adoration of tempeh, which, when I had it previously, only registered on the 'acceptable protein source' section of my food radar. But, since last Saturday night's recipe, I just can't stop. Tonight, I make no indication of slowing down, as I am patiently waiting to top a great looking salad with some browned tempeh.

Ingredients (all from tonight's market):

5/6 leaves from a Boston Red Lettuce
5 strawberries (no, they aren't local, but....)
1 blood orange
1/2 English cucumber
8 pieces of tempeh
1 cup of bean sprouts
1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil
1 teaspoon of sesame seeds
Soy sauce - as you need/like

I added a little bit of the oil, 1/2 of the orange's juice, and loads of soy sauce to a warmed pan and let the tempeh quietly brown (can tempeh brown quietly?), and then eventually added some sesame seeds to the warmed tempeh. In a medium sized bowl I laid out the lettuce, which was torn up, the sliced strawberries, the other half of the orange, sliced. I cut the cucumber in half moons and added the bean sprouts. I had the best intention of adding an avocado to this little dinner of mine - but, the dark coloured skin betrayed me. The internal flesh was more pasty white than the bright green I was hoping for.
My lunch and breakfast were much too boring (breakfast = rice puffs, lunch = miso) to go into any great detail about.

The slight exception might be how, during lunch, in a very Lyndsay-esque kind of way, I spit my food all over my colleague (in her ear, while laughing hysterically, I said: "Its all vegan!" As though that would make up for the soup marks on her left sleeve.)

In much more exciting news: I am going to be reviewing a new vegan cookbook. Robin Robertson's: Vegan Fire and Spice, which you can already pick up through Vegan Heritage Press - Robin's very own publishing house. I will be sure to keep you up to date on which magazines/sites will be publishing the review(s). Three cheers for Robin, her new book, and the press.

Speaking of books. After being spit on by yours truly, Britt did me the kind honour of sharing a fantastic book, called: Dog Food. This New York Times Book Reveiw Best Illustrated Children's Book Award winner is hilarious. Check it out online if you get the chance.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I am a few days away from a Thursday night with Jens Lekman, who is playing in the uber-intimate upstairs space at AB. I can't wait - vegan pancakes here I come.

With Jens Lekman on my horizon I am also about to add the Tindersticks to my roster of shows coming up in the near future (ohhhh how many more sleeps until tegan and sarah?). The Tindersticks are fantastically depressing, they churn up all the best dark and desperate feelings of love, hate and those moments of not finding the right soy ice cream. About a million years ago, City Sickness found its way onto a great little mixed C.D., way back in the days when mixed C.D.s were as common as a vegan restaurant in downtown Toronto. It was a great C.D. Complete with Nicco, Lou Reed, Joy Division, The Flaming Lips and This Mortal Coil. Gorgeous

Stuart Staples, the husky-voiced lead singer has a huge number of his own albums (which, to be honest, sound, musically, exactly like the larger ensemble). I am quite partial to Leaving Songs.

Hey VeganCowGirl, what did you have for dinner last night?

Last night was a dinner of fairly uninspiring stirfry sustenance. I was disappointed. I had put in a lot of effort, and the return was minimal. I think my heart was in the right place, and the tempeh was, again, super fantastic (I could easily see myself replacing tempeh with every ounce of Tofu I eat), and the aubergine cooked down quite well - but, the courgette were not to my liking and the flavour was a little bland (despite the black bean sauce, and last minute hot sauce).

In an attempt to reclaim the food follies of the early-evening, I dipped into my favourite treat last night: Dates on a Rice Cake. I know, I know - about as exciting as taking Grade 10 math for the third time. But, I swear, the crispy/sweetness combination is one made in vegan heaven - and the sticky fingers look great on the bedroom door frame the next morning. I have managed to ween myself from my U of T days, when I would, equipped with killer nut butter (only Paris has managed to pull me out of a nut-butter-stomach-ache spiral), and dates - I would work my way through a sleeve of No Name original rice cakes.

At 300 calories for the whole 12 Rice Cakes, I would rarely feel any guilt - but the iron stomach I would wake up with the next morning has been enough to deter me from over doing it with the Rice Cake Delights. And...of course, I have put Nut Butter (of all types) out of my reach - for good.

How to make the best Rice Cake Delight:

2 rice cakes
1 banana -sliced into coins
2 tablespoons of nut butter * unless you are me
8 dates

Spread the nut butter on the rice cakes, lovingly lay the banana coins around the crispy cake, add your dates (I usually press them down flat to avoid them popping off in the eating process).


Monday, February 25, 2008


I just finished lunch. The conversation was awesome (!) (The Five List: Alan Rickman, Peter Mansbridge, John Stewart, Natalie Portman, and Patrick Dempsey), and the food was a perfect mid-day snack.
I picked up a Lima Miso Soup box on Saturday, which I dipped into for the first time today. The little 60 grams of soup (for a total of 53 calories wasn't going to be enough to hold me after a killer workout this morning and only a bit of puffed rice and soy milk for breakfast). I added to my soup snack a little memory of my time in China. Beihia had this great 'cafeteria' ish hall of a restaurant (easily fit 300 people) and it was just a long line of windows where, in a very science fiction-like manner, you selected food stuffs by looking, pointing and being served by masked men behind a sheet of glass. One of the best foods that I would always dash for was the cucumber salad (which you could also find at almost any bar, night market, or park). I loved it so much that I started making the dish at home - and it was fantastic. Oh, and super simple for the hot chinese afternoons.

1 cucumber (doesn't really matter which variety you use)

1-2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of vinegar (I like the sushi vinegar, but apple cider is good as well)

How To:
Just shred the cucumber and let it sit in the sauce for a while.
Ahhhh.....I miss China. Some great meals were had in China. Some great times were had in China. I would give my left arm for a good afternoon of rice-field mountain biking. But, I have heard rumours that a mint-tea awaits me at Cafe Belga. This totally (way too) funky (for me) cafe is at the heart of Place Flagey and serves vegan speculous treats with their coffee.
Also - check out the link of the week. Vegan Vancouverite is a cute little site, whose author, as a good catholic, is in the middle of Lent. Giving up cooked food as a vegan takes a special disposition. Her recipes look great, and her writing is quite endearing. And! It is from B.C. - who doesn't love B.C. Check it out.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The sun is shinning, and the radio's playing Drive By Truckers and I have some bright yellow soup in my tummy. All is well.

We actually just spent about an hour sitting on a patio. It is February 24th isn't it?

Oh my.

Here's my soup recipe.
Can I suggest listening to Alaska in Winter while putting it together. It turns out that my random purchase was a good choice. They just released concert dates for April, but they show up in Brussels smack between two conferences (Amsterdam and Atlanta) and a family weekend. Nope. Sorry.


1/4 butternut squash (chopped)
1 spring onion
1 sweet potato
1 can of chick peas
2 tablespoons of tumeric
1 tablespoon of cumin
5 cups of water

I let everything except the chickpeas boil for about 25 minutes (perfect floor washing opportunity) and added the chickpeas before giving it all a good blitz.

I liked it.

mmmmm....Also - the only other vegan I knew in the Hammer (besides mr. wonkey himself), Abram, has a vegan website, which he shared with me this past week. Check it out!

Winkles* and Recipes

I found a new bio-winkle and restaurant in downtown Brussels yesterday. I suppose, I didn't find it. It has been around for quite some time - a little fact that is betrayed by the rickitiness of the shelving units and the well -layered information walls, which if you are into yoga, meditation or learning Russian rhythm dancing, are quite helpful. The selection was as good, if not better, than Shanti and Tsampa, and offered me an atmosphere that allowed me to continue kidding myself (chant: I am not a yuppie, I am not a yuppie...buying dried mushrooms, miso soup and extra firm tofu does not make me a yuppie).

The shop, before lunch, was just crammed - a line snaked all the way back to their well stocked walk in fridge. I was hungry, and I hate queuing. So, we dropped the basket and headed for the staircase.

Den Teepot, the restaurant, is perched above the shop and feels more like the inside of a tropical bird store than any restaurant in Brussels I have ever been to. Bright yellow and green walls, with a couple of hokie murals, were less than soothing to my eyes, and the sarried and abrupt hostess only added to the intense entrance into our lunch stop. The menu, found on each wooden table, is inside a plastic insert and warns guests that they, essentially, have no choice. They offer: Miso Soup, The Plate of the Day, Rice, Bread, and a couple of beers, teas and juices. I was unsure about the whole thing (to how many wacky places can you take your patient-but-non-vegan boyfriend?) but K was up for the challenge.

The plate of the day was macrobiotic, consisting of: a mini mound of brown rice which was encircled by a tasting of various other foods: broiled Belgian Endive, black beans, carrots, boiled cabbage, and a couple of other not so memorable dishes. I could have stayed for a vegan desert (cakes, tarts etc), but the idea of hitting the road was much more enticing. On the upside - the meal cost us 19 euro, and that included the beer and tea that we ordered with our 'meal'. Overall - Den TeePot is a great idea, but lacks something (taste). I will head back to the shop though - I was impressed with the selection of soy products, bulk goods and eco-friendly cleaning products (they even make a car wash)....

The day was hardly over - I started writing (rewriting) a paper I have to give at a presentation and then re-give at a conference, we went for mojitos at Roxy, I found a wooden watch at DeDees, I found a great clothing shop downtown, and....MediaMarkt informed us that the oven was still no where near complete.

Still lacking in proper appliances, I did manage to make up for the wonky Thursday night meal with a DIY dish that impressed me!


(cut into 1 inch by 4 inch slivers)
Olive oil
Spring Onions
Chipotle Sauce

Tortilla shells

How To:

In one heavy bottomed and non-stick pan I heated the mushrooms and onions until they were quite soft.
I added all of the spices to the onions and mushrooms (recreating the smokey flavour of the other night's dishes).

In the second pan I cooked the tempeh, browning it on both sides - I added a little bit of tomato chutney to it. I think, next time, I would try and make (or buy) a salsa instead. The spring onion went into this pan as well - though more as a garnish then an essential ingredient.

The tortilla shells were smeared with hummus and an extra dollop of the chipotle sauce. This was followed by a generous filling of the mushrooms and tempeh. They were folded up and down they went.

It was a fantastic dish. Next time I would add some chopped black olives to the tempeh. I really recommend it to anyone looking to do something a little different from the regular vegan staples. The flavours at first glance might not add up (hummus and chipotle sauce), but it was well worth the gamble. We enjoyed the wraps accompanied by a good bottle of wine and the new Mountain Goats C.D. - all so good.

We thought the fun was over....but no way. We had made a quick stop at the Asian Grocery shop (KY) to pick up some coconut milk. That wasn't the only thing we picked up. We were in a wacky mood and wanted to try something we opted for the NEON green and pink Thai Desert, otherwise known as: Suong Sa Hot Luu. The packet informed us that we needed to Chauffer le Hot luu for one minute - but we decided to be daring and eat our Hot LuLu (as it immediately became known as) without warming it up (mostly because we don't own a microwave). The excessive packaging included: a packet of funny agar agar noodles (neon green), tapioca pearls (hot lulu), coconut milk, and sugar water. It was actually really yummy - and super fun to eat.The night ended with a whole lot of Wallace and Grommit
*A winkle is a store in Flemish

Friday, February 22, 2008

When it all goes wrong...

It must be said. It is time to fess up. It is time to come clean.

The VeganCowGirl isn't perfect.

I know it is hard to imagine a night going past when I don't crank out amazing acts of culinary creation. But, sadly. It is true.

In fact, it happened last night.

Visions of tasty gourds and crispy tofu danced in my head as I puttered around the kitchen, I had a dream. I had a goal. (maybe that was the problem). Dreams and goals were quickly extinguished. I knew - long before I put the fork to my lips - it sucked.

One could easily pull a Lydia Bennett and blame other elements of the night. The fact that I was using the stove top to cook the squash (roasting was the obvious choice, but I am still without an oven) wasn't helping, and the tofu was decidedly less EXTRA firm than the packaging had led me to believe. Of course I could take this route of causation realism. It would be totally acceptable.

But, no. Like so many others I am choosing to place the blame on myself. Or, so I did last night as I sat on the rug and started to make direct links between the questionable dinner service and the war on terror, global warming and the fire on Queen Street West. My fault. All of it.

Good thing I am eating out tonight - another flop and I could be responsible for the coming of the anti-christ. (Anti-Christ. Now that's a title. "Hey, I am the anti-christ". Though, that isn't really a title one takes seriously if someone has hung such heavy nomenclature on their own shoulders).

Oh well, I suppose that I can save the world by whipping up one really good weekend wonder over the next couple of nights.

Hmmmmm....what shall it be?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Racy Recipes

Tonight's post, and the dinner I have slapped together, were both inspired by a couple of ISB moms who are hosting some vegan musicians. The questions and queries that they sent my way got me thinking about K before K's bean burritos and my killer** pot of chili.

First - the burritos. These bad boys and their various incarnations were regular features on the good old shore of Lake Ontario. They would stick to the glass stove-top like mofos, but the combination of root veg, and refried (President's Choice was always the best) beans was well worth the into-the-night scrubbing.

Never Mind the Bullocks, here are the Burritos


Black Beans (actual refried beans, like: President's Choice, or Amy's Kitchen Organic Refried Beans with Green Chilies, or you can use a can of black beans - cooking them up in the fry pan before starting with the rest of the dish)
1 onion
1 pack of tofu or tvp
1 sweet potato - diced (and, if you have the chance giving them pre boil/broil is always a good idea - speeds it all up)
1 handful of raisins - secret ingredient!!!
2 cloves of garlic
1 red pepper
2 tablespoons of chili powder (now...this is the CHILI powder that you can buy in Canada....the Mexican, smokey, chipolte type spice that is a very deep red. I found out tonight that if you use Chili powder bought in the U.K. or Europe that is labeled Chili powder, you will be throwing out the first batch of onions. It was pure fire-up-your-nose chilies. Oh my god).
Whole Wheat Wraps (anything grainy of your choice would work)

Add oil to a warmed pan/wok and let the onions cook through for about 5 minutes, add your spices and your super finely diced tofu - let it brown (but don't let it get too crispy, as it doesn't work for this recipe so much). Add your spices, a little bit of salsa to keep it from sticking and throw in everything except for the beans. Add as much salsa (or chopped tomatoes) as needed to prevent the dish from sticking to the pan. When the potatoes are cooked through and you can go for it with the beans. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes and serve with diced lettuce, salsa, home made guacamole, pita, wraps, rice....whatever your heart desires. But don't eat it in the company of a golden spaniel. Just don't.

Last night's meal, which I had originally hoped would be a burrito reincarnation, went down the chili path quite quickly (mostly because it being market night we didn't really feel like stepping converse-covered-feet into a grocery shop (why go to GB when you have a huge market spread out before you? Why?

So, with Mexican on the mind, a chili was invented - my first in Brussels AND my first without proper (see above note) chili powder.

Killer First Date Chili
(seriously, I used the wrong spice the first time I made this dish, and it had the potentional of shutting down a windpipe or two. But who wants to tell the cute vegan she has lite your insides on fire?)

Ingredients (super duper similar to burritos):

1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 sweet potato
2 cans of red kidney beans
1/2 a block of tofu
1 jar of bio tomato puree
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 tablespoon of paprika (smoked)
1 tablespoon of chipolte sauce (I used Trees Can't Dance sauce)
1 tablespoon of cocoa
1 tablespoon of Cinnamon
a touch of olive oil
Fresh Cilantro

I know the ingredient list seems simple, and the prep is pretty much: chuck it all in, simmer and wait for it to taste good. - but, I think that is what makes it so amazingly good - simple.

I served it with some lemon stuffed olives and some really, really good rye bread.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

treats and treasures

On our last trip to Manchester K took me to an arts and crafts centre. Similar to some co-op artist projects that are happening in Toronto and Guelph. The oldish building encapsulates about 20 different artists of various genres (jewelery, fabric printing, fine art, screen prints, sculpture, button funk) and is (wo)manned by the creators themselves.

On our last visit baggage allowances inhibited any major spending of art, but our workhorse of a Ford Fiesta changed all of that this past week. Given the choice of a couple of artists we quite liked on our last trip we settled on a piece from Lily Greenwood, whose work was also spotted later that day at the Eighth Day cafe , where we had stopped in for a quick vegan hot chocolate.

There were a couple of Emily Carr-ish paintings that would have worked well in the front room, but in the end we decided on this butterfly painting, which will cover a large portion of the open space in the bedroom.

If you dig natural, appliqué, oil, canvass type delights then give Lily a shout. Or, check out the Manchester Arts and Design Centre: 17 Oak Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester M4 5JDShe also designs snazzy websites.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggidy Jig

Despite rumours of eternal darkness and showers, Brussels is sunny and warm today. A nice follow up to yesterday's equally wonderful weather. I feel spoiled - especially with reports from Athens and China of unprecedented snow and cold.

My holiday was amazing! With the exception of some banking troubles yesterday afternoon (which has left me with negative euros and hopes that K will let me eat the left overs in the fridge until things get sorted out), the week away from work/school was magnificent. The weather, the people, the landscape, the road tripping, the history - it was all just as it should be. I feel relaxed, rested and ready to tackle the next five weeks until Slovenia.

I can't possibly pack in the last ten days of good times and good eats into one post - so you will have to be patient and experience vicarious associations at a moderate pace.

Rather than going in any sort of order, I want to start with my blogger-ode to Northumberland. I loved it. It was fantastic. And K-before-K is a big turd for raining on my 'let's move to Northern England' parade with his unfounded comments about darkness, drudgery and bleakness. Blah - he knows nothing. The people of Northumberland were wonderful, the scenery was breathtaking, and, even on the darkest day, the pubs were warm and they knew more about vegan-good-eats (The pub in Twice Brewed makes most of their soups VEGAN....and yes, they actually said "Vegan") then most of Southern Ontario.

We drove up from Manchester on Tuesday - leaving after our last Healey and Healey oats and tea breakfast. We were privy to blue skies and sunshine the whole ride up. We stopped for a pizza lunch in Newcastle (after taking in the jaw dropping size of The Angel of The North). The pizza was ok (no, La Pizzeria, but the olives and wine were yummy). Kevin had a camera-clicking party along the riverside and we were back on the road by about 4 30 -headed for our final destination.

The rest of the drive up north was sheepy and hilly. The Cheviot range of hills were full of brightly spray painted sheep - I liked the pink ones the best. We arrived at The Coach House just after the sun had set. Leona, one of the owners, met us at the front door, showed us our (fantastic) rafters room and took us to the lounge for an afternoon tea.

I have stayed at but a few B&Bs in my lifetime, and maybe they weren't the best. But, The Coach House exceeded all of my expectations. I was totally impressed with the service, the food, the room, the laid back atmosphere and the surrounding area.

Food wise, Leona went out of her way to make me comfortable and meet my wacky needs. Every morning a new soy product had sprouted on the table K and I shared during breakfast. Breakfast!!! Breakfast......if so much food could be labeled by but one name. She slow cooks her oatmeal every evening (salted in the yummy Scottish tradition), and serves it in the A.M with stewed fruit and maple syrup. The oatmeal was meant as a starter - toast, (eggs, bacon, and other meaty options) followed. The carbs, though many, went to good use - hiking, walking and regular tom foolery kept us svelte all week long.

I would (and hope to) head back to the Coach House. I can't recommend it enough. It was perfect distance from everything we wanted to check out: Hadrian's Wall, a cult of Mithra's worshiping site (who doesn't want to worship Mithra?), Lindisfarne, Alwnick (home of the Harry Potter castle....and a very likelysite of where Alan Rickman has slept, eaten and walked around), the shore, loads of great castles, and some cute little 'spend the day' towns.

The cost didn't gut me either - totally manageable room rates. The room itself was fantastic - huge, comfy bed, bright and big bathroom. My only complaint was the water pressure in the room.

Lunch and dinner - with the exception of Thursday - were foraged for in other locations - and, on the whole, I was really impressed with my options and the fare that found its way into my mouth. A picnic of hummus and oat cakes after our walk around Lindisfarne, a descent curry at the Twice Brewed Inn and a great pub dinner on the night of our arrival were some of the highlights.

Our one true food disappointment didn't come until we reached Durham: an oily, buttery, food throwing Tapyanaki-house fleeced us for a good portion of our first born son's college fund. The only cool thing about this noisy hill top restaurant was the veggie sushi...not maki...sushi. I was impressed.

There was loads of other wonder moments to this past week - great new C.D.'s, my brand new copy of Pride and Prejudice (Colin Firth Style), Kevin's new alter ego (sun glasses can change a man forever), really good Marks and Spencer side road stops and some kid named Mr. Bean. I promise to find the time to post Ks really good photos - they are too good to miss.

Glad to be home. Brussels is just about perfect. All that's missing is a little bit of Bigger.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Just came back from a walk at Tegg's Nose. Magical.

A perfect leg stretch after a pasta lunch and coffee snack.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

I know I said I would be out of contact, but, what can I say....ferry crossing is just about as sleek a travel experience as you can get. The wifi has me hooked up and sending packets of gigs as we speak.

Behind me, K is committing the ultimate non-vegan atrocity - the greasy British breakfast line. I think I would rather spend my morning with the rough looking lady serving him (whose green teeth are in interesting juxtaposition to the pristine white "I just had my first cotillion" hat the ferry company forces her to wear), then eat the sausage and eggs available for a whopping 2 euro.

With my tea beside me, my body is slowly starting to wake up from a late (great) night and an uber early morning (4 10 am - thank god Kevin had a bad dream or we would still be sleeping).

Last night K and I headed out to join Andrea, her broken (mystery) foot and James for a lighting fast Fanny Thai (YES, I have an addiction) before our long awaited Stars show. They were astoundingly wonderful (and yes mom - your shirt is in the mail). Their newest cd:In Our Bedroom After the War is really well done. A bit of a depart from their previous L.P., a bit more lyrically smart if you ask me. Set Yourself on Fire and the compilation of Arts and Crafts folks doing covers of their stuff (Do You Trust Your Friends) were both great stuff, but this was more art than craft.

Apostle of Hustle opened up for them, and who would have thought that a song about Easy E would be as good as Easy E himself?

Can I just make a comment about the music scene in Brussels? I am short.

The Arts and Crafts label has just about all the best bands on the planet. Just about.
We had a wonderful night.

The ferry is making its turn, pointing it nose away from France. I come.

Friday, February 08, 2008

I plan on being out of contact for a while this next week commeth.

The northern reaches of England (which are apparently lacking in vegan options) will be my home for Reading Week. After birthday celebrations just outside of Manchester, we are headed for the Coach House in Crookham. I have fingers crossed for day trips to Hadrian's Wall, Lindisfarne (Holy Island), and I would love to see some of Henry VIII's army's battle sites. We are spending our last night away in Durham, hunting up ghosties and other ancient memories.

Perhaps the part of the trip that I am most looking forward to is my pair of yellow (and I mean YELLOW) rain pants that I hope and pray I will get to wear while hiking. Please, please let it be wet enough for me to wear these pants. They go really well with everything.

If I get the chance I will try to update, otherwise, expect vegancowgirl to return sometime the week of the 18th.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

I Heart(ichoke) Chickpea Soup and Sunny Avocado Salad

I dipped my emulsifier into a new breed of veggie last night! Jerusalem artichokes, which are neither artichokes or grown (traditionally) in Jerusalem, were the main staple of the soup I blitzed last night for dinner.

I had always seen these knobby little guys at the grocery shop, but, for some reason, had steered clear. I wasn't quite sure what to do with them, and it was the king of the world's vegetable patch himself that made the suggestion last night (when philistine me was about to stick to the mundane sweet potato - foolish me).

They came home in a card board box and were small and full of bumps and dirty bits. A good wash down and a slicing revealed their off-white inside. They could easily disguise themselves as bits of parsnip or turnip. They made up the bulk of my root veg and chick pea soup last night - and their flavour was distinct, without being obnoxious.

I paired this thick and earthy soup with a light and tangy salad. Find the recipe nuggets below!

I Heart(ichoke) Chickpea Soup

8 Jerusalem Artichokes: sliced
5 carrots: sliced
2 sweet potatoes: sliced
2 large cooking onions: diced
2 cloves of garlic: diced
1 jar of chickpeas: drained and washed
1 tsp of olive oil
Sumac (optional)

Instructions: Warm the olive oil on medium heat and add the onions. I let them sit for about 7 minutes. I added the whole lot of veg - giving it a big stir, coating them in the oil. (you don't even need the oil - you could actually just add the veg to boiling broth or water - you can reduce the fat and lose almost zero flavour - just make sure to find other ways to get in your EFA).

I added about 5 cups of water to the soup and let it sit for 45 minutes (the carrots were the last to go soft). I emulsified, added the fresh Rosemary and let it have another few minutes to bubble away. When I ladled the soup into the bowls I topped them off with some Sumac. This was a great soup for a damp night - you could easily replace the chickpeas with lentils, and omit the pesky carrots all together. Yet, there was something perfect about this mixture. The nuttiness of the artichokes was a perfect compliment for the chickpea flavour.

Sunny Avocado Salad

A good loaf of dark German bread wasn't the only thing I was serving with the soup. I added to the meal a salad that was a question mark until I put the first forkful in my mouth. My gamble on the mixture paid off!

5 slices of sun dried tomato
2 hot house tomatoes - quartered
1/2 a bag of organic mesculin greens
3/4 of a fresh avocado - cubed
about 25 cashew nuts
olive oil
balsamic vinegar

Through this together at the last minute and enjoy!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Cabbage Wraps and Sesame Greens

We finished off a gorgeously productive weekend with a feast in our new dining room (ok, dining alcove). The three dishes that came out of our ovenless kitchen were all well beyond the expectations that I had for myself - it was Sunday after all.

But, apparently, all I need was a little inspiration from my new cookbook: wild garlic, gooseberries...and me, and the embedded memories of a chinese restaurant in downtown manchester, where, according to K, I stole the cabbage leaf recipe from.

Cabbage Wraps

2 blocks of extra firm tofu - Diced
(my fu was frozen, so after some deliberation, it was decided that I would boil the tofu until it was soft enough to dice. The end result was actually better than I had hoped for)

2 spring onions - Diced

3 cloves of garlic - Smashed and Diced

1 red pepper - Diced

1/2 a zucchini - Diced

1 tub of mushrooms - Diced
(I think that this could be a mushroom-centric dish. I think a trip to the mushroom man on the market on Wednesday might illicit a tweak of this dish).

Olive Oil

I warmed the pan and added all of the ingredients at the same time. I also threw in a little Japanese rice vinegar and some organic soy sauce.

While this mixture was cooking through I tore apart a Boston lettuce I got from the market on Wednesday, nicking it from the kitchen gods but seconds before the brown goo set in. It was the inner, clam shell like leaves I was after.

I cooked the stuffing for about 20 minutes - stirring occasionally and served it in a bowl allowing for the self-serve option. I did this mainly because K loves to roll these bad boys.

The second dish - the one that was inspired from the culinary musings of Denis Cotter (you really need to buy this book if you are into narrative and food). I only made a few changes here and there, most of the yumminess should be contributed to Denis. Thank you Denis.

Sesame Greens

Bok Choi: I used a large Bok and pulled off all of the outer leaves, gave them a good wash, sliced the lower, tougher white bits and cut the actual leaves vertically down the centre.
Sesame Oil
4 garlic cloves - diced
3 spring onions - diced
1 thumb of ginger
soy sauce
sesame seeds
sea salt

This was dead easy - and probably the most delicious dish I have eaten in ages.

I warmed the pan, added my oil and threw in all of the ingredients. I covered it was a lid and let it sit/steam/cook for about 15 minutes. It was wicked. I imagine a squeeze of tangerine would be pretty good as well.

The night was capped off by the rice pudding I had made (using a rendition of a recipe from Robin Robertson's Vegan Planet). We (Kevin) crushed some cardamom pods and the fresh spice was added to the bubbling rice and soymilk. I also threw in a cinnamon stick, some fresh Iranian dates and enough soymilk to drown a small village. It worked as breakfast for us this morning, in addition to ending our weekend off with a sweet smile.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Market Madness - How can I not fall in love with the wacky bunch at the bio stand I find myself standing in front of every Wednesday evening. This past week they exceeded usual wackiness by using some Anise for portraiture purposes:

Shameless Food Photo - This photo is from an impromptu meal we enjoyed after our market madness. Kevin's famous chickpea concoction was excellent - and the artichokes were almost worth the inflated price.