Sunday, May 29, 2011

Link Love: The Savoury

It's time for some more vegan recipe link love! I couldn't quite pick a theme for this week's recipes, except for the fact that they are generally of the savoury category. I know most people don't get as excited about main courses as they do about desserts, but actually, I do. These have mostly been the best recipes I discovered as I developed my vegan culinary skills. Every single one is amazing in its own right, so whatever your tastebuds are into, I suggest you try one!

I realize that given my current lifestyle, only one of these is raw, but that's mostly because I tend to be more experimental with raw food than I was with vegan food, so I've got a lot more vegan savoury links to share than I do raw ones!

(once again, for anyone cited, I've directly linked them to your sites but please let me know if you don't want me using your photos!)

The Wannabe Chef's Dessert Hummus

Dessert Hummus. Seriously. What more needs to be said? Sounds perfect to me! Now you can get your protein and get something sweet out of it!

The Fruit Pursuit's Apple Beet Tempeh Carpaccio

I love beets. I love tempeh. I love apples and beets together. Again, what else do you need? Tempeh steaks are amazing, and these foods all combine amazingly together.

101 Cookbooks' Orange Pan-Glazed Tempeh

So back in the day, my guilty pleasure when it came to Chinese American take-out was Orange Chicken. Then I started reading 101 Cookbook, and fell in love with this recipe, because it tasted just like orange chicken, minus the evil.

Vegan Dad's "Chicken" Pot Pie

I only ever made this once because soon after I went raw and cut out things like seitan, and man do I wish I'd discovered this one earlier. I never "got" the whole chicken pot pie thing, my few experiences with them were those frozen kinds you bought at the Costco. I didn't get it until I had this (ironic, isn't it, that a vegan would allow me to love pot pies?). One word: Amazing.

The Raw Seed's Chick-Un Nuggets

I posted about these once before, but I'll do it again because they're that good. No chickens were involved in the making of these nuggets, just pure raw deliciousness.

Another pre-vegan favourite of mine was spaghetti carbonara. I think that those were the only times I actually enjoyed having creamy pasta sauces... until this recipe. Its rich non-dairy creaminess reminded me so much of authentic carbonara and all those childhood trips to Italy, that I fell in love with creamy pasta all over again.

Enjoy the end of your weekend!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Just like Grandma made it: Pain Perdu

Whenever Andrew takes too long to eat his bread and it goes stale, I get really excited because it means I get to make one of the things that remind me most of my childhood: pain perdu.

Pain perdu is probably the recipe that makes me think the most about my paternal grandmother. She made so many amazing things whenever we visited, but her pain perdu's simplicity and wholesomeness just really stuck with me over the years. It was always so unpretentious, and was one of those "wrap you up in a warm comfy blanket" type foods. When you bake it, the warm smell of cinnamon and milky bread will take over your whole kitchen. I love it. It's also one of the first things I remember making with her, so it holds a special place for me.

I know that traditionally pain perdu, is actually just French Toast, but you know how sometimes your family calls something by the wrong name and it just sticks? Yeah, well this one is kind of like that. Pain Perdu is actually the French name for French toast, aka. old bread dipped in an egg and milk batter. However, my grandmother would always make a kind of reconstituted bread loaf pudding thing out of our old bread, and pain perdu just became our name for the stuff. I suppose in the end the ingredients were all the same so technically we weren't "wrong."

I love that both my grandmothers never waste anything. Whether its my Chinese grandmother who puts basins under taps to collect the couple drops of water that fall after you turn off the tap, to my French (well, Polish actually) grandmother would always turn stale bread into the best thing ever, pain perdu.

I've made so many versions over the years, some following almost exactly the recipe my grandmother used to use, to progressively more vegan versions. At this point, I know I've gone a little far afield, but it's mostly in proportion of ingredients rather than what's in it. Here's the latest version I've made, so next time you have stale bread, don't toss it out. Feed it to the birds, sure, that's a very good cause, but if you want to eat, here's the absolutely tastiest way how:

Grandmere's Veganized Pain Perdu
2 C old bread, torn or cut into small pieces
1 1/2 C milk (I used hemp milk)
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
3 tablespoons of raw cane sugar
1 tablespoon of maple syrup
2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder (optional)*
dash of cloves, nutmeg, and allspice (optional)
dash of salt
1/3 C raisins

*I thought this really helped solidify the stuff

1. In a bowl, let the bread pieces sit in the milk until it's gotten soft and mushy again (sometimes it can take a couple hours)
2. When the bread is soft, preheat oven to 350.
3. To the soggy bread, add in the sugar, maple syrup, salt, spices, and arrowroot powder and blend with a hand mixer, electric beater, food processor, what have you.
4. Gently mix in the raisins.
5. Pour into a 8 inch round pan or a loaf pan, and bake for 45-ish minutes.
6. Let cool, the top should be crusty and the inside should still be a bit gooey.
7. Serve on its own, or it tastes fantastic with either (or both) applesauce and ice cream!

Bon appetit!

P.S. If you want an awesome resource for nutrition, emotions, and how to link the two, check out Laury's awesome giveaway over at the Fitness Dish!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

High Raw Oatmeal Cookies #2

So a little while ago I promised two cookie recipes, and realized I actually only posted one... heh. My bad. I have to admit, I'm not as satisfied with this one as the other one, but it's still pretty tasty and is still a reliable high raw cookie recipe. My intention was to do something snazzy with black pepper and chocolate and pecan, but it wasn't nearly as cool as I thought. I'll probably be tweaking it and posting something niftier when I figure it out.
Peppered Chocolate Pecan Cookies
Makes about 12-14 cookies
3 C rolled oats, ground into flour
1 vanilla bean, ground (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
1/4 C raw almond butter (I made my own)
1/4-1/3 C maple syrup/raw agave/raw honey
1 tsp peanut butter (or your favourite raw nut butter)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 C filtered water
1/2 C "candied" pecans*
1/4 C chocolate chips
black pepper, for topping or mixing in

*my usual mix of nuts, maple syrup (or agave), cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, and salt, dehydrate at 115 til crunchy (a couple hours)

1. Grind oats flakes into flour (with the vanilla bean pod if you're using that option) and place in a bowl and stir in the salt.
2. Stir in almond butter, second nut butter (I used PB), liquid sweetener (adjust the amounts to your taste, water, candied pecans, and chocolate chips.
3. Mix dough well, either with a fork or your lovely hands. At this point, you can either choose to add the black pepper by stirring it into the mix (as much as your heart desires if you're into pepper like me) or you can sprinkle it on top after forming the cookies.
3. With clean hands, form and flatten into cookies and place on dehydrator sheet for no more than 2 hours at 105. (I found this mix is a little drier than my usual ones so it needs less dehydrating time). Again, if you'd like, grind some black pepper on top of each cookie before sticking them in the dehydrator.

I'll also leave you with some random personal information inspired by Nancy's Bootylicious Tag, because why not!

Name 3 things sitting next to you right now

1) my big kitty (not really a thing I guess, but how can things "sit" next to you?)
3) practice comp exams (yuk...)

Name 2 foods you can't live without
1) bananas
2) spirulina

Name 2 things you can't live without

1) my pink 40 oz Klean Kanteen water bottle
2) my Vitamix
(did that ever seem like product placement or what...)

Name 2 people you can't live without
(My sister and I used to take pictures of our feet together whenever we'd travel to somewhere new. Now that we both have a +1, we're strange enough to have held on to that tradition. That was from our pumpkin picking expedition last year.)

1) Andrew
2) my sister

Name 1 thing you did today

1) officially started studying for my comp exams (no, I do not regret having waited this long) instead of playing that cursed computer game...

Name 2 things you've learned from the healthy living community

1) No one can tell you what's best for your health except your own body
2) Green smoothies will change your life

Feel free to fill this out on your blog and let me know if you have! Have a great day!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Bouquet with a Twist: Presents for/from raw vegans

Ever wondered what to get a loved one if they are a raw foodist? Ever wondered what to get someone if you are a raw foodist and want to get something that agrees with your ethics but still makes a fantastic and beautiful gift? I guess this is a plug for a certain company, but I certainly didn't mean it that way. I'm only trying to share what I thought was both a great experience and a fantastic present :) This could just as easily be made at home or something...

This weekend, Andrew and I are in London (Ontario) to celebrate his mom's birthday. Earlier this week, I'd been scratching my head quite a bit to try to figure out what to get her. Obviously, it either had to be something we could pick up here or be able to carry on to a plane... A couple days before heading out, I had an epiphany that would be both a beautiful gift and a lesson in the healthiness and fun of raw foodism.

It might seem a little preachy to some, but rather than try to coerce people to adopt our lifestyle, we prefer to live by example. Whenever we visit family, we do our thing and show how a raw vegan diet can be a healthy and happy choice for anyone. If people asks questions, we'll willingly answer them. If they don't, we don't push (though we may drop a couple hints here and there about the benefits of organic food, a healthy diet, etc.).

I'm really psyched by how well both our families have accepted our choices. Like I mentioned, I really appreciate that my mom goes out of her way to look up the nutritional benefits of everything she makes for me, has veganized a lot of my favourite recipes, and even goes out to places I can eat when we go for family dinners. When we come here, I also really appreciate the alternative, which is simply for his parents to step back and let us do our own thing. They don't bat an eye when I've shown up with my Vitamix and strange superfood mixes, and his mom has always let me provide a raw dish for dinners and things to share with the family. So it's all a win.

Anyway, we're often talk to his mom about the benefits of a high fruit diet and she often seems pretty interested. So I figured, why not mix the whole "bouquet of flowers for mom" and fruit thing all in one? My mom received a bouquet from Edible Arrangements a few years ago and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. They're a company who makes flower arrangements out of fruit, and the bouquets can be customized for all sorts of occasions. None of their fruit have any preservatives in them because they're made within 24 hours of your pick-up (or delivery), and the fruit tries to be seasonal (as in, they only have watermelon arrangements in the summer months, etc.) They're even operating operating in quite a few countries now.

When I thought of them, I knew I'd struck gold. I mean seriously: fruit and "flowers," what could be cooler? I'd certainly love one! It can convince people that fruit are both awesome, pretty, and tasty! Plus, it's such an original gift. We took quite a while to slog through all of the choices because so many of them were just so cute! We finally settled on this adorable pineapple-melon daisy bouquet, it just seemed so her, and was so bright and sunny!

Gotta say, it was a huge success. Everyone was super curious about what it was, and it was devoured pretty quickly. It's mostly gone now (in fact, it already eaten by the time I could snap a photo of it).

Next time you're wondering what to get someone for a special occasion, consider this yummy and healthy option, whether you buy it from them or make your own version!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Wake Up Smoothie

Now I've never been a big coffee drinker, and I won't even touch the whole "should you drink coffee debate." (My short answer is no, unless perhaps on the odd social occasion... and by "odd social occasion" I'm not making some kind of loop hole to mean every week because I go out with my friends.) If you do want details on some of the reasons why I stand by this opinion, check out Sabine's awesome post about the subject which she conveniently just wrote up today!

Sure I've had coffee. When it's strong, I love the stuff, like an espresso, or better yet like Turkish Coffee... mmmm,Turkish coffee, it's like liquid chocolate, but coffee... and yes, I do lick the coffee paste at the bottom of the cup that they tell you not to eat. And for good measure, sure, a cafe au lait at a little cafe in Paris is quite charming too, just not all the time.

All that being said, I somehow ended up with lots of sample bags of teccino, the supposed "coffee replacer." I really like it, but not needing that coffee flavour in my life, those packets have just been sitting around for months. So to clean up my pantry, I came up with a Wake Up smoothie for Andrew.

To be honest, teccino tastes as much like coffee as carob tastes like chocolate, so by that I mean not at all. I'm not sure why companies have to go and compare things that are not comparable. I have a hard time believing that junkie coffee drinkers will find any satisfaction in "pretend coffee" as much smokers don't with a nicotine patch. That being said, teccino is quite yummy in its own right, so there's no need to pretend it's something else. Teccino's base is barley, chicory and carob, so it's rich, warming, and it comes in lots of yummy flavours.

This smoothie kind of tasted like coffee ice cream, but mostly, it tasted like yummy that needs no comparison.

Wake Up Smoothie

2 bananas (1 frozen, 1 not)
2 tablespoons of teccino
2 tablespoons of water
optional teaspoon of maca, mesquite, brown rice protein and/or pea protein

Have a lovely hopefully sunny weekend!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sweet Potato Parsnip Curry

As a lot of people have been commenting, it's been raining all week with no end in sight. Even worse, us Ottawans in older houses actually had to turn the heat back on a couple days earlier this week because the nights were getting pretty chilly... eew, I know.

More importantly though, I was confronted with one of those tough life questions this week: What to do when you find a forgotten block of tofu in your fridge just before you're about to go off for a long weekend? Thankfully, I came up with a clever answer to that question before my world imploded. Conveniently matching this week's icky weather, this recipe was perfectly warm and comforting. Soon there will be warmth and sun... I promise.

Sweet Potato Parsnip Curry
3oz tofu, diced
2 parsnips, chopped
1/2 large sweet potato, diced
1/2 large tomato, chopped
3 tablespoons of leftover tomato sauce*
1 teaspoon of curry powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of maple syrup/honey/agave
oil of choice (I used EVOO) for frying

*This was a leftover of the tomato sauce I made for the pizza earlier this week... pretty much 1/2 tomato blended with a handful of sundried tomatoes, a date, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. I'm sure "normal" tomato sauce would work just fine too though.

1. Steam parsnips and sweet potato until soft.
2. In a lightly oiled saucepan, quickly sautee the tofu over medium heat. After 3-4 minutes, add in everything else and stir until warm.
3. Eat (it goes wonderfully with quinoa!)

For all you 9-5ers, it's almost the weekend! Hang in there :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

High Raw Oatmeal Cookies #1

Bad Blogspot, bad. I don't know if any of you had a chance to read my snazzy recipe for a Chinese dish I got off of my mom during my trip back home to DC last weekend, but Blogspot decided to go all Friday the 13th, and collapse and deleted all our posts... I'll try to put it back together some time.

In the meantime, I'll send you off with not one but two wholesome cookie recipes. See, I don't eat grains very often, but when we moved to Ottawa, we met George, a non-pesticide using grain farmer at the Lansdowne Farmers Market, and our lives changed forever. As far as I know, we've never lived in such proximity to an "organic" grain farmer before so we just really want to support what he does. Not only is he awesome (he grows oats, wheat, barley, rye, spelt, buckwheat, triticale and more), but when you know someone on a first name basis, you want to support them as often as you can.

George is also pretty much the reason why I really got into feeding Andrew VOO in all its glorious combinations since last summer (that and I always wanted to try the recipe. Obviously, I have to taste test it whenever I make it to make sure it's not poison and after all we know that taste-testing or eating cookie dough doesn't count... hehe).

Anyway, with the farmers markets having just opened for the season around here, there isn't much for us vegan high-raw foodies yet. Food at the market still pretty much consists in meats of all kinds, early greens and sprouts, and potatoes from over the winter season. Not super exciting. So grains are just about as cool as it gets for us right now.

As always, a long story to say: we bought oats this weekend, and here's the first thing I did with them!

Everything Cookies
(inspired by L'Oven's Everything Cookies, more about them later)

2C rolled oats, ground into flour
1/2 C rolled oats
1/2 C coconut cashew "cream"*
1/4 C chocolate chips
1/4 C raisins
1/4 C cranberries
1/4 C hemp seeds
1/4 sesame seeds
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1/4 C maple syrup
1/4 C hemp milk (or any vegan milk)
1/2 teaspoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of salt


*Notice: Every time I make cookies I'm going to put in the dehydrator, I pretty much stick to the rule of thumb that I need:
a) a kind of "flour"
b) a kind of oil/fat (this time the "coconut cashew cream")
c) a kind of sweetener

For the fat, I usually use coconut oil, but didn't have any on hand so I invented the coconut cashew cream instead. By throwing coconut flakes into your Vitamix and putting it on high speed for a bit, and adding a tiny bit of water once it starts to look like coconut butter, you can make coconut flakes turn into a more buttery/creamy consistency. Just to make it thicker, I also added a good handful of cashews, which is what really turned it into a coconut cashew buttery type substance.

1. Make coconut cashew cream, and set aside.
2. Grind 2 C oats into flour in your food processor, Vitamix, what-not machine.
3. In a mixing bowl, mix oat flour, 1/2 C oats flakes, salt, cinnamon, and all the "fixings".
4. Stir in "cream," maple syrup, milk, and molasses, until it forms cookie dough. (I started with a fork and you might have to use your hands. Don't over-mix because it gets tough.
5. Shape into cookies with your hands and place on a dehydrator sheet at 110 for about 3-4 hours. Let cool when done and if you aren't going to eat them within a week, store them in the fridge.

(When it comes to raw sweeteners, I'm sure you could go with raw honey or agave or something. However, I live in Canada so maple syrup is easy to come by and local, so that's generally my preference for heartier, more wholesome cookies like this one.)


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Raw Pizza Reboot

I don't do raw gourmet foods nearly as often as I used to. When I first delved deeper into the world of raw foods, going gourmet was something that quickly became an obsessive culinary habit. Now it's something I probably do once in a blue moon, or in this case, Friday the 13th. Why? Mostly because I learned that I really do love raw foods for their simplicity, for their freshness, for their "alive-ness" so why mix and blend and dehydrate when you can have a food in all its natural glory? I realized that raw gourmet is exactly that: gourmet. It's a treat, something you have every once in a while like for a special occasion or when you want to put your chef cap on for an evening.

However, whenever I do choose to go all out, I turn to my trustiest source: the Goddess of raw gourmet, Alissa Cohen and her bible, Living on Live Food. To me, Alissa is like the Julia Child of raw foods, bringing what seems like really complex un-cooking techniques to us plebeians and showing us how simple it is to make yummy raw foods.

So when Andrew wanted pizza, I knew straight away that I would use her Easy Pizza Crust. Yet as much as I love her cheese recipe, I wasn't quite willing to shell out the dineros for all those macadamia nuts. Instead, I came up with a fantastic equivalent, that I frankly think tastes better than the original (and will cost you about half as much).

Raw Pizza Cheese
(or should that be raw pizza raw cheese?)
1 1/2 C raw cashews
1/4 C raw macadamia nuts
1/4 C raw sunflower seeds
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 teaspoons of Bragg's Liquid Aminos
2 tablespoons of water

Blend everything in you trusty ol' Vitamix/high speed blender!

I eye-balled my own tomato sauce recipe with what I believe to be 2 1/2 tomatoes, a very large handful of sundried tomatoes, a big slice of pepper, thyme, rosemary, salt, garlic, and 3 dates. Toppings included the usual fantastic combo of pineapple, black olives, spinach, broccoli, and red pepper.

I also always follow Alissa's tip to put the cheese first then the sauce. The cheese tends to be easier to spread and stick on the crust, so you can just pour the tomato sauce over it rather than make a big globby mess.

Other than that, it's Saturday so we're off to the market, a rainy market sure, but I'l take it! In the meantime, Go make a pizza! Have a great weekend!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Taste Combinations: The Good, Bad, and the Ugly

Blessed Beltane to all!
(belated, I know)

What a gorgeous spring weekend! We were suppose to be slated for a long weekend of rain but clever Mother Nature decided to give us a break. I hope you all having a wonderful weekend! Finally green has come to the city and it looks like it's here to stay. This weekends highlights included lots of biking, garden clean up, the first market day of the year, brunch, Veg Fest, laying in the daffodils, browsing around street vendor stalls, and general outdoor awesomeness.

However, it was Beltane this weekend, so I figured I should make the theme of this post a little bit more romantic or at least relationship-based? I present to you: delicious food pairings. Last week's beyond bizarre basil and kiwi combination (okay, I'm sure there are weirder things in this world) made me think of the other lovely pairings you should definitely try out. As much as those who are similar stay together, I definitely believe that opposites attract and do create a tremendous amount of spark, especially in the food world where taste and texture is concerned. Sweet and sour is only one such example. However, a good food pairing more often has to do with texture as it does with taste. Combining crunchy and buttery, soft and crinkly , are only some of the texture-based aims of true foodgasms. As I just read in the Last Chinese Chef (an amazing book I've been meaning to review), the author writes that "food should be more than just food: It should tease and provoke the mind."

If you're at a loss for some kitchen creativity, here are some of the strange or just plain tasty things I've come across over my lifetime (some of these I've mentioned before or are relatively generic but it never hurts to give a refresher):
  • Coffee and lemon (in ice cream is the best)
  • Oranges and beets (makes a fantastic and quick salad)
  • Blueberries and lavender
  • Pear and ginger
  • Spirulina and frozen bananas (or spirulina and anything in my case! That spirulina sure does get around...)
  • Mango and cilantro
  • Chocolate and black pepper
  • Cacao and chipotle peppers
  • Tomatoes and basil
  • Chocolate covered almonds and roasted chickpeas (together they taste just like pocky)
  • Red beans and any liquid sweetener
For you omnivores and vegetarians:
  • pear and blue cheese (add walnuts if you're in the mood for a threesome)
  • rainbow trout and raspberry jam
  • goat cheese (or raw nut cheese) and figs
  • brie and raspberry jam
  • heck, any white cheese and any fruit preserve
  • duck (or probably any bird meat) and figs
  • scrambled eggs and dill
  • cucumber and jellyfish
And back in my more unhealthy days (unfortunately I confess that if these foods still rock your boat, I still do condone these fantastic combinations):
  • M&Ms and Doritos
  • Popcorn and M&Ms
  • Ruffles (the chips) and vanilla ice cream
  • rice and ketchup
  • rice and melted brie
  • ... oh the shame I'm currently feeling...
I've also just been told that sundried tomatoes, though salty, pretty much have the same texture as raisins so can be interestingly paired with things that raisins would usually go with. Kiwi and strawberry, though they look nothing alike, can also be used interchangeably in the same way.

One of the ickier tastes that I have to say I did not enjoy was shortbread and curry spices. It tasted like bum. Other than that do you have any weird and/or interesting food pairings to share?