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Archive for October 2010

Mex-I-Can: Those Proverbial Restaurant Pics

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Now, here are the vegetarian tostadas (sauteed cactus and other veggies), done vegan-style by request. At most restaurants, you ask for a dish done vegan and you just get things removed, not replaced. Here, they’ve come up with delicious vegan sauce to replace the sour cream, and they’ve recently begun sprinkling soy cheese, too. Last time I went, they were charging an extra dollar for the sauce and cheese. I really don’t mind paying that–you’re getting lots of absolutely delicious food for a good price anyways. But for the record I said I’d still pay the extra dollar but I only wanted the sauce, not the cheese. I’m just not the biggest fan of soy cheese so I prefer it without it. It’s too bad I don’t have a picture of the sopes– they’re even better than the tostadas but only because sopes are the best way to eat corn I’ve ever come across.
Bottom line: go to Mex-I-Can if you’re in Hamilton Ontario. Fantastic Mexican food and thoughtful/delicious vegan options. Be careful if you’re in a huge rush, though– they cook everything to order as far as I can tell, and sometimes they get too slammed to serve you quickly.

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Written by phdelicious

October 17, 2010 at 4:02 pm

Posted in Meals

Thanksgiving Extravaganza

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So, Thanksgiving has now come and gone in my tiny Canadian kitchen. I see this one as my first adult Thanksgiving, since it was just me and my partner, at my apartment–no older family members around to take charge! Fittingly, since we were hungry before I started cooking, we ate a piece of pie first, like the 28-year-old rebels we are.
So, the dinner proper was mostly out of Gourmet Today, which gave me all the tools for turning two humble brassicas and some rice into a fancy turkey-less occasion. I made the Mushroom Risotto from the book, which was really fun because I’ve always wanted to try making risotto and I hadn’t yet. Which is nuts because every time I’ve tried risotto I’ve swooned, which I guess makes sense because I’m a lifelong rice lover. Of course, I used vegetable stock in place of chicken stock, Earth Balance for the butter, and omitted the parmesan. I thought omitting the parm might make the risotto a little less rich than I wanted it–you know how those Gourmet types use dairy as a shortcut for flavour and balance in their dishes!–but with the dried porcinis and Earth Balance and wine, I can’t even imagine a richer result.

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Then we have the Cauliflower “Steaks” with Pancetta and Caper Berries. I omitted the pancetta, adding a teaspoon of sesame oil and a drop of liquid smoke to the sauce instead, and used drained pickled capers instead of salt-pack, and omitted the caper berries (I think that might have been overkill, considering the 1/2 cup of capers already in the dish!). Again, I used Earth Balance instead of butter in the sauce. The roasting of the “steaks” took way longer than the book said it would, which threw off my cooking schedule a bit (since I wanted to–and did–roast the brussels in the cauliflower pan once it was done and set aside). But overall it was a really tasty dish. Roasted cauliflower slabs with a salty lemony buttery sauce? Yes please!

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Now, the pie. I went back to my old standby, Farm Journal Complete Pie Cookbook, determined to veganize one of their pumpkin pie recipes once and for all. The key, I found, was to become satisfied with a slightly softer filling than a traditional pumpkin pie, since I didn’t want it to be too tofu-y: I wanted clean pumpkin taste. I chose the Pumpkin Pecan Pie, with the description “Filling is a mellow golden brown, rich like an old gold coin.” Since my two favourite kinds of pies are pecan and pumpkin, I figured I couldn’t lose. And it turned out really well! If I were to do it again, I’d blend the silken tofu instead of lazily mashing it. It’s almost impossible to mask silken tofu into complete smoothness, as I found out.

Pumpkin Pecan Pie

unbaked 9 or 10 inch pie shell
scant 1 c. soft silken tofu, drained as much as possible, measured, then blended
2 c. canned pumpkin
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. powdered ginger (or just “ginger” as old cookbooks call it)
1/4 t. ground cloves
1 and 1/2 c. “milk”
1/2 T. ground flax
Caramelized Pecan Topping (instructions below)

Mix together blended tofu and pumpkin. Stir in sugar, salt, spices. Mix in “milk” and flax. Pour into pie shell. I covered the edges of the pastry with strips of tin foil, too, to prevent overbrowning, and removed them in the last 15 minutes of baking. Bake at 400F– it says 45 to 55 minutes, but I baked it for 60 mins, watching carefully for overbrowning the crust. Cool completely, refrigerate covered overnight (this helps set the filling). Next day, return to room temperature. Mix together 3T. Earth Balance, 2/3 c. brown sugar, 2/3 c. chopped pecans. Drop in spoonfuls over pie to cover. Broil until mixture starts to bubble, about 3 minutes. Don’t overbroil– they say it will turn syrupy. Cool and eat!

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Next morning, fresh out of the fridge for breakfast!

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Written by phdelicious

October 16, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Posted in Baking, Meals

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Seitanic Jambalaya!

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I’ve been wanting to make the jambalaya from Veganomicon for awhile now, and I was happy with it once I finally did. It made about a ton, as promised, and I had to freeze a bunch of it. Now, reheating frozen rice dishes is a tricky business: you can easily take the turn into Mushy Town. Which I did, the first time I tried with this. So, feeding my dear boyfriend late one night, I put more planning and thought into it and my efforts were rewarded (I served it with a mess of maple-walnut collards–thought up a dish by myself, and of course, didn’t take a picture nor post it.) Thoroughly thaw the jambalaya in its single-serving tupperware that you froze it in, then heat a bit of olive oil in a non-stick pan (non-stick is, I think, kind of required here) and dump in the jambalaya, spreading it out to maximize surface area. Let it fry and sizzle for a couple of minutes, and then start gently flipping it over in sections to brown other spots. Come to think of it, it’s a bit like cooking matzoh brie. Keep doing this until any water has evaporated and you have your desired level of moistness/brown-ness. The bonus of this method is that you get a few crusty little brown bits, which taste smoky and delicious in this dish. Now you can freeze jambalaya to your heart’s content!

Written by phdelicious

October 11, 2010 at 4:09 am

Posted in Meals

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Forgotten Galette

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Oh dear, the pictures in this entry are admittedly from last month (hence the peaches). As a result, I don’t remember the details of this delicious galette! I’ve redone what I did at the time, tried to cobble together some recipes from epicurious, but I just don’t remember for sure. Academia-addled brain. I thawed a square of vegan puff pastry, rolled it out to a larger square, rolled out some marzipan really thin, a bit smaller than the pastry, and placed it on the pastry. Arranged peaches (blanched, cooled, peeled, sliced) on top. Now I really can’t remember if I mixed the peaches with any lemon juice, or if I sprinkled a bit of sugar on top. But it’s possible I did. Mind like a sieve. Baked probably at 425? Who knows anymore. All I know is, it was delicious. My mom was visiting, so I wanted to make a dessert with all her favourite dessert-y things combined: puff pastry, marzipan, peaches. And she loved it! The rest of the dinner is below: the Vegetable Lasagna variation of Lasagna al Forno Bolognese from Nonna’s Italian Kitchen (using “Prostitute’s Stew” instead of the fake bolognese) and the caesar salad from Veganomicon (but with storebought croutons). The lasagna was both rich and subtle–Bryanna’s right, it’s not the lasagna we’ve come to expect in North America. Fittingly, it wasn’t quite what I expected– I guess I expected it to be somewhat bolder-flavoured. But I liked it.

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Written by phdelicious

October 9, 2010 at 4:55 pm

Cinnamon Biscuit Rolls

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Here’s a half-blurry cross-section picture of the cinnamon biscuit rolls I’ve been making again lately– it’s the best picture I have! I first learned to make these biscuit rolls in Grade Nine cooking class back in the mid-nineties. Luckily, I kept my old cooking class binders (covered in band logos done with wite-out: Rancid, Operation Ivy, The Specials, and so on)– so I have all those old recipes for popovers, muffins, baked chicken, basic pie crust, butter tarts…all sorts of Canadian cooking class curricular basics that hadn’t changed since at least the 1970s. I loved these “Foods and Nutrition” classes–they were my introduction to my life-long love of cooking. Anyhow, I remember being so taken with these cinnamon biscuits that I came home and made more. Except that I mistakenly used salt for the baking powder. I was so frustrated that I started all over again that very evening. It was one of the first times I had a baking failure, and realized how obsessive compulsive I can be.
Wow, I’m chatty today. Alright, the point is, I veganized the recipe this year and it’s great! I prefer the biscuit dough to a classic yeast dough cinnamon roll– less bready, more gooey and rich. I’ve provided both metric and imperial, just to pay homage to Canadian high school cooking class protocol.

Jiffy Cinnamon Rolls
500ml/ 2 c. flour
30ml/ 2 T. sugar
20ml/ 4 t. baking powder
5ml/ 1 t. salt
50ml/ 1/4 c. cold Earth Balance (I know the conversion of cups and quarter cups is controversial–I’m convinced that in this case, 50 ml meant 1/4 cup).
250ml/ 1 c. cold “milk” of your choice (I even used watered down cashew cream once, and it was even more delicious)
75ml/ 1/3 c. soft Earth Balance (you may want to add a tiny bit more to make the mixture spreadable– I wrote down the recipe twice in my binder with conflicting amounts (oh, Grade Nine Jessica!), and this is the lesser. It certainly works at this amount, though, and don’t overdo it–you don’t want greasy, boiled over rolls.)
250ml/ 1 c. brown sugar
10ml/ 2 t. cinnamon
75ml/ 1/3 c. raisins (fully optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Grease 12 muffin tins.
2. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt. Cut in EB until crumbly. Mix in milk and knead 8-10 times. Now, depending on the kind of milk you use, you may have a very wet dough. Add a few more tablespoons of flour if necessary, but use a light touch. You don’t want tough biscuits!
3. Roll out into rectangle about a third of an inch (1cm) thick and 12 inches (30cm) long.
4. Cream EB, brown sugar, and cinnamon together well. Drop 5ml/ 1t. of this mixture into each muffin tin, and spread the rest over the dough rectangle. (Since your dough will likely be somewhat soft, you’ll want to have a light touch with this, too– half-drop, half-spread it). Sprinkle raisins if using. Roll up like a jelly roll. Mark first into 12 pieces, then cut and place in muffin tins.
5. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Immediately invert onto wire rack over waxed paper.

Written by phdelicious

October 7, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Posted in Baking

Green Posole!

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Yet another soup! I promise, tomorrow I’m going to pass along a recipe for once, and it won’t be for soup! This is the Green Posole from Viva Vegan. Extremely delicious. Warm chile green-ness, rich pumpkin seed earthiness, hominy toasty-ness, tangy tomatillos. I don’t think I had enough tomatillos, and the chiles I put in became too mellow and disappeared in the leftovers. So, when I warmed up leftovers out of the freezer I added a little spoonful of bottled tomatillo salsa (I used to use Herdez, but now I actually prefer President’s Choice because I’m a lame gringo and have a bourgeois appreciation for the little charred bits and tangy flavour in the PC brand) and it perked it right back up!

Written by phdelicious

October 6, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Posted in Meals

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Lentil Soup

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Lentil soup from Nonna’s Italian Kitchen. This is still one of my favourite cookbooks, for so many reasons. And this is a very good soup. Not as flavourful as the Sicilian Style Split Pea Soup from that book, but a very good soup nonetheless.
I’m looking forward to Vegan Month of Food in November! Hopefully this will get me back on some kind of daily-posting track.

Written by phdelicious

October 5, 2010 at 2:56 am

Posted in Meals

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