strawberry rhubarb ginger jam

the summer has officially arrived and ontario that means sunshine, obscenely hot weather… and farmer’s markets and fresh local strawberries! i am also a huge fan of canning anything possible (apple chutney is one of my faves and i will share that recipe in the fall when the apples are in season)

so inspired by the sweet little berries, i headed to the local farmer’s market to load up on some great local produce. my intention was to make just a strawberry jam, but i was drawn to a few bunches of early rhubarb.

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INGREDIENTS
1 c crushed, hulled strawberries (2 cups whole)
1 1/4 c chopped rhubarb
3 cm fresh ginger root, grated
57 g fruit pectin crystals
2 c granulated sugar

EQUIPMENT
canning pot (large enough to fit your jars, rings and snap lids)
3 125mL jars
3 250mL jars
6 rings
6 snap lids
tongs
2 clean tea towels
dutch oven or large saucepan
metal canning funnel

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METHOD

in canning pot, bring water to a rolling boil. add jars, rings and lids and boil for 15 minutes to sterilize. remove from water and place on a clean tea towel to fill. be careful not to touch the rim or inside of the jars, to keep them sterile.

in a medium-sized dutch oven, add strawberries and crush with a fork. add the rhubarb & ginger and turn the burner to medium. add sugar and pectin to the fruit and bring the mixture to a high rolling boil. boil hard for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. remove from heat and let cool slightly.

using the sterilized funnel, fill the jars, leaving 75mm-1cm space at the top. dip a clean cloth into the hot water and wipe each rim before covering with snap lids. add the rings and tighten with fingers. add the jars back to the boiling water in the canning pot and process for 5 minutes. remove and leave to seal, untouched, for 24 hours. the seals should be concave, if not make sure you pop the unsealed jars into the fridge to store.

this jam has a bit of zip from the ginger, and is quite sweet. i plan to have a wee bit with soy yogurt for dessert tonight!

 

 

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golden gnocchi with salsa fresca

before last week, i had never attempted to make my own gnocchi. it’s just so easy to buy it and not have to worry about all the fuss. however, i was looking for a new challenge – and these petite potato dumplings seemed like something i could handle (unlike the vegan gyoza i tried earlier in the week, tasty but ugly). the gnocchi turned out so well that i had to share the recipe (which i created based on several vegan & non-vegan recipes i have in my arsenal).

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for the pasta…

INGREDIENTS

500g potatoes, peeled and boiled until very tender
3/4 c all-purpose or plain flour
1 tsp sea salt
fresh ground pepper to taste

METHOD (prep)

first, peel and boil your potatoes until very tender. like nearly falling apart tender. drain and transfer to a bowl to cool. once cool, mash with a fork and season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

add the flour to your potatoes 1/4 c at a time and incorporate thoroughly. once the dough starts to hold together, transfer to a lightly floured worktop and knead until it becomes smooth and pliable, but not rubbery. (5ish minutes was enough for mine) (note: you may need to add more flour depending on your potatoes’ starchiness)

divide the dough into 4 parts. roll each into a log, approximately 2cm in diameter. cut into bite-size pieces and mark with a fork.

according to all the recipes i found, the gnocchi cook much better if you freeze them first. so, i lined a baking tray with parchment and popped them into the freezer for a few hours before dinner.

METHOD (cooking)

first, cook the gnocchi in boiling water. you will know when they’re done when they rise to the surface. drain.

second, place 1/2 tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. fry the gnocchi until they become golden (hence the name!) and serve with salsa fresca.

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for the sauce…

INGREDIENTS

1 clove roasted garlic, minced
6 cocktail-sized tomatoes, diced
2 spring onions, sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

combine all ingredients in a skillet over medium heat. cook until tomatoes begin to break apart and onions soften. serve over gnocchi.

i will definitely be making this recipe again. hope you enjoy it!

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recipe review: espresso fudge brownies

this week’s recipe experiment was espresso fudge brownies from vegan cookies invade your cookie jar.

i was having a huge chocolate craving, and i knew one of my squares of yummy dark chocolate wasn’t going to cut it.  so i looked to vegan cookies invade your cookie jar, my go-to cookie and bar book. particular faves of mine include the peanut butter blondies (holy yum!), peanut butter oatmeal cookies (with raisins) and cherry almond cookies.

Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar (2009)
Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero
Espresso Fudge Brownies (Page 130)

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these brownies were quick and easy to make, but i did have to make a few substitutions for ingredients i didn’t have to hand. the recipe calls for semisweet baking chocolate, i substituted bittersweet chocolate chips (dairy-free). it also called for espresso powder and i substituted decaf instant coffee powder. i added whole bittersweet chocolate chips for some added gooey-ness. one other issue i encountered is the lack of a 8″x8″ baking tin. i made these in a 6″x12″ glass pan. unfortunately, i think this was the downfall of these tasty morsels.

the flavour was excellent, but they were very dry (probably because they were too thin at about 1.25″). to remedy the dryness problem, i found popping them in the microwave for 20 seconds really helped. the coffee really adds another dimension to these brownies, making them really rich and balancing the sugary sweetness of the cake.

i will definitely make these brownies again, in my new 8″x 8″ pan. i really love how moskowitz and romero break down the science of vegan cookie baking. and i can’t stress enough the need to follow the method as precisely as possible, because the reactions between ingredients is often essential for recipes to turn out. i would highly recommend this book and all its recipes to the cookie lovers out there!

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recipe review: berry oat squares

i’ve decided to try something new. in addition to my weekly destination posts (i promise, they’ll resume soon!), i am going to post recipe reviews from both books and around the web. i will try the recipes, take photos of my creation (however successful) and post everything here for you lovely people to read. i am more than willing to experiment with new recipes, so if you have suggestions, please send them my way. here goes nothing!

just a few of the faves

just a few of the faves

i love cookbooks. i have a pile of them in my kitchen, and routinely refer to them when i’m struggling for dinner ideas. my primary go-to at the moment is veg everyday by hugh whittingstall-fearnly. it is brilliant.

i do, however, break into my old faves at least once a week. this week, we’re going to visit la dolce vegan! by sarah kramer. and let me tell you, this book is great!


 

La Dolce Vegan!: Vegan Livin’ Made Easy (2005)
Sarah Kramer
Berry Oat Squares (Page 214)

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i had a may-jah craving for something sweet (aka baked goods) on saturday night. now, the problem with this is that i’ve been working really hard at the gym, and somehow all that sugar and fatty goodness that accompanies sweet things doesn’t fit into my new fitness regimen. i settled on these little guys because i can pretend they’re good for me – i mean, they’re made with oats and fruit for crying out loud!

this is one of the easiest recipes i’ve come across recently. simply combine the flour, sugar, oats and marg for the base, bake, mix together fresh fruit and your favourite berry preserve, schmear on top and bake a little longer. voila! you’ve got yourself some delish dessert!

and they’re not just easy, they are really very tasty, too.  we’ve been nursing the pan since saturday and last night we finally finished them off. they are absolutely perfect with a cuppa tea, but equally paired with java as well. i really enjoyed them and will definitely be using this recipe again soon!

(on a side note, i really recommend people invest in one of sarah kramer’s books – they are one of my vegan recipe bibles!!)

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mushroom tourtière

we had a chilly weekend around here – which means that it has the rain has been pouring down for the past few days. i know the rain will lead to delicious veggies in the coming months, but in the mean time, what are we supposed to eat? well, i hope this recipe may serve as an inspiration for some appetizing sunday roasts or mid-week treats.

this mushroom tourtière is really a cross between a traditional french-canadian tourtière and a mushroom wellington. i usually make this for my new years day option (the fam has a traditional hogmanay steak pie). i use traditional tourtière seasoning, but prefer puff pastry to the usual short-crust pastry.

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INGREDIENTS

PASTRY
1 397g pkg tenderflake puff pastry (note: the ingredients state that this may include milk products, which as an accidental vegan, i deem fine – though, you may want to find another brand in your local specialty shop if you’re fussed about it)

(note #2: i’m a puff pastry lazy bones, so you could always try to make your own puff or shortcrust!)

FILLING
4-5 c chopped mushrooms (use your faves, i’m partial to cremini or brown mushrooms)
2 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
1 large onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp savoury, fresh or dried
pinch ground cloves
pinch ground nutmeg

METHOD

preheat oven to 425°F.

roll out the pastry to a 9″x7″ rectangle. you can either make a simple roll, or a lattice with the pastry.

for the filling, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 1/2 tbsp of oil to heat. sauté the onions & garlic until translucent and add the mushrooms and cook until almost all liquid has cooked off. remove from heat and add breadcrumbs and seasoning.

spoon the filling into the centre of the pastry and roll pastry together. (use a little soy milk to seal the pastry)

bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the pastry has become golden and puffed up.

serve with your fave roasted veggies and a ‘cream’ sauce or veg gravy.

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mac & cheeze (and apologies)

first, i’ll start with an apology. i have been severely neglecting my online home and i’m sorry to anyone who has been kind enough to follow along with my blog!

second, in honour of mother’s day i wanted to post one of my mum’s fave dishes, veganized. my mum grew up in a 1950s household and as a result, she (and me by proxy) is a big fan of anything made in a casserole dish. this vegan mac & cheeze is tangy and super flavourful – and a go-to on days when we don’t feel like making an elaborate meal!

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serves: 4-6

INGREDIENTS

for the cheeze sauce
1 heap tbsp flour + 1 heap tbsp vegan margarine (to make a roux)
4 c plain non-dairy milk (soy works best), + more if the sauce becomes too thick
1 c nutritional yeast
1 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp granulated garlic powder
salt & pepper to taste

for the casserole
4 c uncooked whole wheat pasta, cooked al dente (i used fusilli)
2 c diced tomatoes, fresh or canned
1 medium onion, diced (sauté in tsp of olive oil)
1/2 c panko breadcrumbs
1 c daiya vegan cheddar-style cheese

METHOD

first, cook the pasta. it’s important that it is al dente or just under-cooked, as it will absorb some of the sauce and juice from the tomatoes.

while the pasta is cooking, lightly sauté the onions until brown and sweet. you can also assemble the sauce while the onions and pasta cook.

THE SAUCE
in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add the vegan margarine until it liquifies and begins to bubble. add the flour and whisk the two together. brown in the pan for 1-2 minutes, to cook the flour a little. slowly add the non-dairy milk, whisking the entire time. the sauce will not look thick enough to begin with, but will thicken quickly (about 4 minutes). when the sauce has thickened, add the remaining ingredients and whisk together. the yeast will cause the sauce to thicken a little more, so if it is too solid (it should be easy to pour) add a bit more non-dairy milk until it is the right consistency.

preheat your oven to 400°F.

ASSEMBLY
place the pasta, tomatoes, onion and sauce in a large casserole dish. make sure it is spread in an even layer and then sprinkle the top with 1/4 c panko. cover the top with your favourite non-dairy cheese (i LOVE daiya!) and then add the remaining panko. you might want to spray a little oil over the top to encourage your cheese to brown.

bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the dish is completely warmed through and the non-dairy cheese has melted.

serve with a side salad, or more mac & cheeze, whichever you prefer ;o).

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destination: nottingham

i went to notts back in august 2012 to visit my long lost friend from uni, big boy (bb) and his bf. first off, nottingham is a really cool town. i arrived at midday on a saturday and we got straight to our mini-pubcrawl. we visited a few of bb’s fave pubs and restaurants (had some delish hummus and pita on the way into town) and then we headed over to the alley cafe bar for some vegan grub. bb and his bf are not vego, but they were gracious hosts (even bought soy milk specially for me!) and found this vegan gem.

ALLEY CAFE
cannon court, longrow
nottingham NG1 6JE

i can’t say whether or not the alley cafe is hard to find or not, because i didn’t have to look at a map the whole time i was in notts. but, because the entrance is located down an alley off cannon court, i would assume that you might get a wee bit lost finding it.

the alley cafe prides itself on it’s atmosphere and i found it cozy and very homey, which was also reflected in it’s menu. they offer some great breakfast and dessert options, but what really drew me in was the burgers.

i ordered the happy hemp burger – described as “a crunchy hemp seed patty seared until crisp and served in a granary bap filled with salad, ketchup and mayo, [served with] potato wedges and burger relish”. vegan options of nearly all the alley cafe’s menu items are available.

the burger definitely lived up to my expectations. it was crisp, and held together really well. obviously, i didn’t have mayo – but a little of the tomato relish added another dimension to the burger.  this was not what i would normally think of as relish (we are a bit lady ross cucumber relish crazy at my house!), i would usually refer to it as a ‘chutney’ – delicious none-the-less.

my meat-eating companions were also really pleased with their first vegan meal. and i think this is a sign of a truly high-quality veg restaurant – it pleases everybody!

i encourage anyone who has a few days to spare in the UK to explore notts – robin hood, sherwood forest and all – and see what other vegan treats you can find! happy travels!

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open-faced breakfast sandwich

i love a good hot breakfast. it’s the one meal that i think is difficult to veganize, only because a traditional breakfast, or brunch for that matter, has a majorly heavy focus on eggs. but i think i’ve been able to satiate all of the brunch-y requirements with this creation – sweet and savoury, warm, something with a little crunch. it’s quick to throw together, filling, healthful and delicious – what more could you want? 🙂

inspired by something i had at giraffe in the uk, i give you…

pan roasted tomatoes & kale, with hummus on toasted 12 grain rye

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Serves: 1

INGREDIENTS

1 handful kale, washed and cut into bit-sized pieces
6-10 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
50g hummus (i used garden fresh naturals – original 100 cal snack pack – btw these are super yummy!!)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey or agave
2 thick slices multigrain bread, toasted
pinch of salt & pepper

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METHOD

add oil to a small skillet and heat to medium. add the kale and tomatoes at the same time and stir to begin cooking. the tomatoes will begin to soften and the kale will begin to wilt after about 1 minute.

add the remaining ingredients and stir consistently for the next 5 minutes, or until kale has wilted and tomatoes start to brown. remove from heat and let stand for 1-2 minutes (the tomato juice, oil and honey will thicken just a little to make a great sauce). toast your bread and spread hummus in an even layer over one side of each slice. top with kale & tomatoes and eat while warm!

 

 

 

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destination: stratford (ontario)

last weekend my mum and i decided to go to the swan parade in stratford, ontario (yes, the home of the shakespearean festival). it was a hilarious experience. over 1000 people line the streets nearest the avon river to watch the stratford swans march from their winter home to the river.

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before we went to see the spectacle we went for lunch at the york street kitchen on erie, a great little sandwich spot. the decor is very retro (think your grandma’s 70s kitchen) and the staff were extremely friendly and helpful. when we arrived the server was engaged in a passionate discussion about game of thrones with one of the regulars, but gave us a friendly smile and told us to grab a seat. while this might be a turn off for some, i think it added to the charm of the place. it shows that people really enjoy the restaurant!

YORK STREET KITCHEN ON ERIE
24 erie street, stratford, ontario N5A 2M4

 

york street kitchen does both breakfast and evening menus, but they are best known for their extensive take-out sandwich menu.

my mum opted for one of their daily special sandwiches (the ‘old fashioned’ – ham and veggies on farm-fresh bread) and i went for the ‘build your own sandwich’.

 

the process is pretty simple. choose your base (i went for the veggie – though the hummus or pb & j were tempting). the choose your bread and dress it up with whatever toppings you want (mine was: sourdough with black olives, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, avocado, tomatoes and lettuce).

apologies for the following photo – unfortunately, i was so excited to eat that i forgot to take a pic beforehand!

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the sandwich was absolutely fantastic! i consider myself a bit of a sandwich fiend, and i haven’t had a sarnie this good in a long time. the bread was incredibly fresh, beautiful crust and super soft inside. i opted not to have any sauce on mine, as i figured the natural juices from the veggies and the creamy avos would be plenty. i’m really glad i made this choice. the red peppers were roasted with herbs, s&p and olive oil, so they actually provided a little sauciness.

if you’re heading to stratford this season to enjoy some great theatre, i highly recommend visiting york street kitchen. take-out is also available.

 

 

 

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destination: barcelona

all week i’ve been dreaming of warm weather (we finally got a little sunshine this week), and i thought the vegan pantry ought to take a trip to somewhere nice and sunny! i went to barcelona, spain a few years ago and travelled on my own. it meant that i was able to see everything i wanted to, and do a few things that may not have been possible with a travel companion. this post is going to be a little different, as i ended up just eating salad, tomato baguettes and veggie paella at hole-in-the-wall restaurants for most of my trip. i did, however, sign up for an amazing cooking class while i was in the capital of catalonia.

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COOK & TASTE
Carrer del Paradís, 3
08003 Barcelona, Spain
closest metro: Jaume I

right in the heart of the gothic district, cook and taste is located in a refurbished building with exposed stone walls and 2 state of the art demo kitchens. for €65, you get to learn how to make 4 courses, have unlimited wine (both red and white are available, though the red is particularly delish) and eat all your tasty creations. when you register you also have the option to pay an extra €13 and go on a guided tour of la boqueria (known as one of the very best food markets in europe, pictured above). you MUST reserve your place in advance and email them with any special dietary requirements.

i originally intended to go on the market tour, but too many cervezas and getting a little lost on the metro prevented me from participating. i did make it in time for my scheduled class, and it was worth every penny.

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when you arrive, you are greeted by a nicely set place at a long counter. all recipes are provided and so are pens, so you can make your own notes about each dish. the chefs are wonderful, both skilled in the kitchen and full of very interesting culinary facts about spain. i personally love the history of food and how it has evolved in different places, so this was a definite bonus. wine is provided throughout the session (which lasts about 3 hours) and the class is definitely hands on.

at my session we made: gazpatcho & garlic tomato bread, tortilla, paella & catalonian creme. i emailed the folks there prior to my session to let them know i would need a veggie option (this was before my veganism began in earnest) and they even asked if it was just lacto-ovo or if i would need a vegan meal. i really appreciated this aspect of the course, in particular. spain is not a super veg-friendly place – “sin carne?” is a very important phrase to use! – so i was very happy to have them be so accommodating.

our chef talked us through each item on the menu and demonstrated, with the help of the participants, how to make each dish. i got to help make my veggie paella, and man it was delicious!

when i recently checked out their website, i also noticed that they are now offering a ‘foodies stroll’ and i can’t imagine a better way to see barcelona.

if you have the time, i highly recommend going to the 1/2 day cooking course at cook and taste. i learned so much about spanish and catalonian cuisine, that i wouldn’t have been able to experience otherwise!

 

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