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Curried Cauliflower Soup

Curried Cauliflower Soup

A warm curried cauliflower soup is the perfect thing for cold gray days. I first tried a curried cauliflower soup at a restaurant called Greens.  It's a wonderful vegan-friendly place where all the dishes are elegant and served with panache.  I whipped up an easy Vitamix soup in recollection of that tasty meal.

Start by roasting the florets of a cauliflower and a medium starch potato.  I like to drizzle with a bit of olive oil and place in the cold oven.  Then, allow the oven to preheat to 400˚F and continue baking until the potatoes are cooked through.  This method causes nice browning on the cauliflower and potatoes.  While thongs are roasting, dice and sautee a red onion in olive oil.

Allow the ingredients - onions, cauliflower and potatoes - to cool slightly before adding them to the Vitamix.  Add in a hand full of cashews and enough water to cover all the mix.  Blend on medium to allow the ingredients to break down.  Then, add salt, curry powder and adjust the water to your desired thickness. (Clearly, this is a very flexible recipe, so make it your own!)

Serve garnished with chopped roasted cashews and tarragon.

Irish Stew

Irish Stew

I have been sick... for a while.  This is a soup my grandma used to make for me.  We always called it Irish stew, but it's really a very simple, five ingredient, soup.  I haven't had this dish in years. Start out with about 4-6 medium potatoes and a medium yellow onion.  Peel and chop the potatoes.  They don't need to be perfectly cubed or diced.  Grandma kept them coarsely chopped - kinda rectangular pieces.  Dice the onion fairly finely - no big chunks.

Add them all to a large pan and add water and salt.  The water should cover the ingredients with at least an inch of water.  Start with a modest amount of salt to keep things evenly seasoned.  Boil until the potatoes are fully cooked and tender.

Before serving, be sure to adjust the salt to your preference.  Grandma used to add evaporated milk when serving the soup.  But, that would turn my insides into outsides, so, I use almond milk.

She would serve it with her homemade bread.  This is the type of food I grew up eating; simple, ungarnished, unadorned, comforting food.

Okra Cornbread

Okra Cornbread

Combining two things I like: savoury cornbread and okra. So often, cornbread is sugary or bland.  I like to make it flavourful and savoury by adding diced onions.  I also like to grind my own organic cornmeal.  I find that popcorn gives a subtle, unique flavour.

In to the Vitamix grinder jar, I add equal portions of popcorn and yellow corn, along with a bit of flax seed.  Flax helps bind the bread to prevent crumbliness.

Grind the corn according to the grinder instructions - or, ya know, just buy cornmeal. It'll be a little different, but it's still going to taste good. Sift the cornmeal to get rid of any chunks.

Then add things to make cornbread: the baking soda, salt, a bit of olive oil and liquid. You can add water, but I like to use almond milk. To take this beyond plain cornbread, add in diced onions and sliced okra.

Add it all together. Mix it all up. The thing about cornbread is it's forgiving. There's no gluten to toughen, so you can make adjustments and keep mixing.

To get the perfect crust on cornbread, bake it in a preheated cast iron pan.  Simply place a seasoned cast iron pan in the oven when the preheat cycle starts.  I like to bake my cornbread at ~425˚F

After the pan is hot, remove it form the oven and add a glug of oil.  Carefully tilt the pan around so that the oil covers the entire bottom and some of the sides.  It's important to add the oil after the preheat to minimize smoking.

Pour the batter in the pan and place it (almost) immediately in the oven.  I added a bit of garnishment - halves of okra and slices of onions - to the top.

IMG_7606 Bake until the top is golden brown ~25 minutes.  When it's done, invert the pan over a plate.  Leaving anything in a hot cast iron pan will cause it to continue cooking past the optimal point.

IMG_7612Golden brown crust from preheating the pan

Thai Spicy Green Beans With Tofu

Thai Spicy Green Beans With Tofu

After touring Thailand, I'm addicted to Thai food.  I mean, I was before, but now it's a daily kinda addiction.  It's just so flavourful and so easy to make vegan and/or gluten free. Lots of fresh veg and tofu make this a plant-based delight. First, saute the tofu - about 10-15 minutes on each side - and set it to cool.  It's kinda tricky to dice when it's wobbly and searing hot.

In the same hot pan, saute a medium onion and bell pepper.  When they're translucent, tip them out of the pan.  Keeping the same hot pan, add a couple cups of chopped green beans.  I prefer long beans, but I couldn't find any I liked at the market.  So, I used "French style" beans, whatever those are.  I like to get the pan quite hot and put a nice sear on the beans.  When they have a few specks of brown, put them with the onion and pepper.  In the hot, hot pan quick sear some diced portobellos.  Again, add them with the other cooked ingredients when they have a bit of colour development.

Make a quick spicy sauce out of:

  • A few hundred mL of coconut milk
  • Tamari sauce - to taste
  • Siracha - ya know, however spicy you like it
  • Red curry paste - a spoon or so
  • Crushed peanuts - also, a spoon
  • Water - enough to thin it down, 100-200 mL

Add the sauce to the hot pan and allow it to settle for a moment, then add in a pile of bean sprouts and turn off the heat.  Add in the, previously set aside, vegetables and mix thoroughly.  Add the diced tofu and a big handful of Thai basil.  Give it one final stir.

Plate it with a nice portion of rice.  I like to use black Thai rice mixed with Jasmine rice.

Tofu Pad See Ew

Tofu Pad See Ew

This is one of my favourite dishes.  It's so flavourful and it's carb heavy :) First, this isn't totally authentic.  Fish sauce plays a major role in Thai cooking.  I like to substitute tamari sauce - its vegan and gluten free.

Start with wide rice noodles.  Soak them in warm water until they're rubberband-like.  They should be flexible and have a bit of stretch.  While they're soaking, fry up some extra-firm tofu.  It's not essential to fry it, but it keeps the tofu from crumbling so much.  Also, fried food is delicious.

Then mix up a seasoning blend.  I use: tamari, tamarind, palm sugar, a whisper of red curry paste and some coconut milk to keep it all liquid in the pan.  I experimented with black soy sauce in this dish.  It's basically soy sauce with molasses.  It's tasty, but contains gluten.  If that's a deal breaker for you, skip the black soy sauce in favour of tamari and a smidgen of molasses.

Add the seasoning and coconut milk mix to a hot pan and drop in the noodles.  Stir it, jostle it, shake the pan a bit.  Be sure to keep the noodles moving to prevent them from clumping.  Coconut milk is high in fat and it helps keep the noodles moving.

When the rice noodles are starting to get tender, add in some chopped vegetables.  I use bok choi, green onions and carrots.  Continue to cook until the vege is slightly cooked - it should still have some bite; not at all mushy.

Finally, add the tofu.  Adding it last will keep it from getting smashed and crumbly.  Give it a final stir and plate it up with some fresh Thai basil.

Sparkling Cherry Limeade

Sparkling Cherry Limeade

This isn't some artificially flavoured sugary fizzy drink.  It's made from ripe dark cherries and fresh squeezed lime juice. First, either use a cherry pitter - or just halve the cherries and pick out the pit.  This birdbeak knife is handy for things like this.  I use a couple handfulls of cherries per litre of water.  Then juice, or muddle, the cherries.  Since it's just a few cherries, I don't like to dirty up a juicing machine, so smashing with a muddler works easiest.  Then, add the juice of two limes to the smashed cherries.  Strain out the pulp and set aside the juice.

It does need just a little sugar to add some sweetness.  I use about half as much sugar as juice.  Add the sugar and juice to a bit of water.  Then top it off the mixture with seltzer.  Adjust the ratio of all the items to suit your taste, because, ya know, everybody likes things a little different.

Grilled Garden Vegetables

Grilled Garden Vegetables

When the vegetables in the garden are fresh, they don't need much help to taste delicious.  I like to put them on the grill and dress and season them lightly. Most vegetables grill fairly well - as long as they're big enough not to fall through the grate.  Here, I'm using bell pepper, long beans and aubergine.

First, I like to coat everything lightly with olive oil and season with salt.  It tastes great and keeps things from sticking.  Then I like to get a good char on the peppers so that the skin slides off easily.  The beans and eggplant need to grill just long enough to become tender - not mushy.

Plate it up fancy!  So many vegetable dishes tend to be simply piled on the place.  Take a moment to arrange the ingredients to be visually appealing.  I like to serve it with fresh tarragon, basil and cherry tomatoes.  Then, drizzle a bit of aged balsamic and olive oil for extra flavour.  Happy Summer!

Blueberry and Dark Cherry Youghurt Parfait

Blueberry and Dark Cherry Youghurt Parfait

Happy Birthday America!!! This Fourth of July, stay cool with a chilled fresh fruit and youghurt parfait! I make homemade soy youghurt, and flavour it with vanilla bean.  It's fairly easy and really tasty.  

The rest of the ingredients are simple and wholesome: dark cherry halves, rolled oats and blueberries. When I'm in a rush, I just throw all the ingredients in a bowl and stir, but today's special, so let's get fancy!

First, I like to add a layer of youghurt, then oats, then berries.  The oats help keep things in layers - they add a dryness and stability. Sometimes, the sugars in the fruit draw out moisture from the youghurt, making a watery pocket in the parfait.  The oats soak up the separating water and keep things texturally consistent. 

Keep layering the youghurt, oats and fruit until about an inch from the top.  Then, place a row of cherry halves around the top of the glass, followed by a bit more youghurt and a row of blueberries. You could add a sprig of mint, or a few oats to the top.  My favorite thing, however, is a few toasted slivered almonds.  

You can customize this for your tastes.  Use strawberries or raspberries instead of cherries.  Try granola instead of oats.  Any way you make them, parfaits are refreshing summer treats.  

*Despite my European, Asian and Brittish tendencies, I'm really proud to be American.  Happy Fourth!

Fresh Courgetti Salad

Fresh Courgetti Salad

I just got a Spiralizer! I love it.  Here's a light and flavourful dish using summer squash from the garden.

Start with a couple medium sized courgettes (zucchini) and run through the small spiralizer blades.  Halve, or quarter, a dozen cherry tomatoes.  Dice half of a small red onion.  Add all the ingredients to a mixing bowl and season with salt.  Squeeze the juice of a lemon over the mixture and toss lightly.

Garnish with fresh herbs: parsley, tarragon and basil.




With grapes on the vine and leaves to spare, it's time to make dolmades!  There are several types with different filling.  I like a nice savoury eggplant and rice filling to make the perfect doma. Start by roasting an eggplant (aubergine).  I like to score it, salt it and drizzle on olive oil.  While it's roasting, plunge the grape leaves in boiling water.  Continue to cook them until they're tender.  Also, prepare a bit of rice to add to the filling.  I like to use brown jasmine rice.  It imparts a nice texture and a subtle, delightful flavour.

When the eggplant is mushy and browned, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool.  When it's cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and combine it with a bit of rice.  I use nearly equal portions of each.  Then, mix in a bit of turmeric, onion powder, lemon juice and salt.

Place a spoon of the filling mixture onto a grape leaf and roll it up - kinda like a little burrito.  Garnish with dill and drizzle with olive oil.

Smoky Hummus

Smoky Hummus

Smooth, smoky and tasty; this hummus tastes like summer. I hesitate to liken this hummus to "barbecue" flavour since it can mean so many different things.  But, it's kind of like barbecue potato chips (my weakness).

Start with the spice blend and the basic hummus ingredients:  garlic powder, smoky paprika, onion powder, salt, olive oil and lemon juice.  I use tinned chickpeas, but I always make sure to wash them.  This rinses away the thickeners and some of the gas producing compounds.

Add all the spices, the oil and lemon juice to a food processor, or high powered blender.  (I used a Vitamix).  Then add a bit of water ~250ml, and half the chickpeas.  It's important to add only half if you're using a blender.  It allows the ingredients to liquify, which makes it easier for the rest of the chickpeas to integrate in the blender.

Puree until the ingredients are liquified, then add the last half of the chickpeas.  Blend until smooth, adjusting the seasoning and liquid (oil and water) to suit your tastes.

Enjoy this smooth, smoky spread with pita bread, or in a veggie wrap.

Garlic Scrapes with Mushrooms and Whipped Potatoes

Garlic Scrapes with Mushrooms and Whipped Potatoes

Garlic scrapes are not always easy to get a hold of.  Scrapes are the shoots that a garlic plant sends up when the growing cycle is nearing completion.  When they first start out, they're tender and tasty.  If they go too long, they get tough, so catching them early is key for a good dish.  These scrapes come from elephant garlic. Start by peeling and boiling a few potatoes in salted water.  When they're done, drain them and set aside.  Quarter and sear a handful of baby portobello mushrooms in olive oil.  Then, in the same hot pan, sautee the garlic scrapes.  I like to sear the bloom end to add a nice aesthetic.  The blooms themselves can be a bit tough, so it's more for garnish.

Whip the potatoes with a bit of earth balance and almond milk.  Season as needed with sea salt.

Begin plating by spooning the potatoes on the plate.  Then add the mushrooms and scrapes.  Finish with a few seared blooms.

Quinoa Salad

Quinoa Salad

With the fresh things starting to grow in the garden, this quick and easy dish is perfect. Quinoa is a pseudo-cereal.  It kind of acts like gain in cooking, but is actually a gluten free seed.  It's really versatile, too.

I like to use a tri-colour blend: red, white and black quinoa.  First, it's important to wash the seeds to prevent any bitterness.  Cook according to the instructions.  I like to use a rice cooker to make things easy.

While it's cooking, prep the vegetables and herbs.  I like to use:  sliced black & kalamata olives, parsley, basil, garlic greens, diced tomatoes and chiffonade spinach.

When the quinoa is done, allow it to cool slightly before adding the vegetables.  Season with salt and dress the salad with a vegan Italian dressing.  Typically, I like to make my own dressing with balsamic and olive oil, but Italian dressing is a quick and easy cheat!

Lemony Kale

Lemony Kale

Kale from the garden and meyer lemon from my trees!  Lemony kale salad is a quick easy and healthy side dish. First, wash, dry and tear the kale into bite sized pieces.  Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and season with a pinch of salt.  Then, squeeze in a bit of fresh lemon juice and mix gently.

Last, I like to add a bit of tarragon for an extra flavour dimension.

Strawberry Carpaccio

Strawberry Carpaccio

With the warmer weather and the arrival of fresh local fruit, carpaccioed strawberries are the perfect, light treat. Yes, I know a carpaccio is really made from meat and this is some hippy-vegan arrangement.  I'm ok with that :-)

First, thinly slice a few strawberries.  I used about five berries - the largest slices, not the edge slices.  Consistent size it fairly important.  Then, arrange, in a radiating pattern, the strawberry slices.

To create a bright flavour, I added mint and sweet basil.  Remove the leaves from the stem and add a bit of agave syrup.  Then, muddle the leaves and syrup to release the fragrant oils.

Drizzle the syrup on the berries and arrange the bruised leaves.  Garnish with sprigs of whole basil and mint.  Enjoy!

Vegan Youghurt [Recipe]

Vegan Youghurt [Recipe]

Finally I post a recipe!  Vegan soy youghurt! There are just four ingredients:

  1.  25G Ultra Gel
  2.  1/4 Teaspoon Xanthan Gum
  3.  1 Litre Silk Original
  4.  Vegan Cultures

First, measure and combine the cornstarch, xanthan gum and vegan cultures. If you're using an automatic youghurt maker, you can just mix everything in the container.  Otherwise, a large measuring mixing bowl works well.

Pour half the litre of Silk into the mixing container and mix in the dry ingredients.  Using an immersion blender, mix until completely smooth.  Then add the remaining half-litre of Silk and mix until incorporated.

If you're using the Cuisinart automatic youghurt maker, I find that 7 hours works best (starting with cold milk).  If you're using a traditional youghurt maker, start with 6 hours and check the progress until it's ready.

When it's done, it'll be nearly chunky.  Once more, run the immersion blender through the mix until it's completely smooth.

I like to serve it with granola, youghurt, fresh or frozen fruit and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Guacamole Remixed

Guacamole Remixed

How can you go wrong with avocado?!  This dish uses of the avocado shell to make a perfect bowl for the guac. You'll need the regular ingredients for guacamole:  avocados, onion, lemon/lime, tomatoes and seasonings.  I chose to flavour this one with garlic, onion powder and cumin.

Carefully halve avocados, taking care to keep the peel in good condition.  Dice and scoop out the flesh, adding it to a medium mixing bowl.

Add the minced tomatoes, seasonings and a squeeze of lemon.  Mix well, but don't completely smash up all the chunks.  They provide a varied mouth-feel throughout, making for a unique treat.

Arrange the chunky guacamole in the empty avocado shells and garnish with slices of tomato, green onion and lemon.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Creamy Watercress Soup

This is a quick and easy dish with a St. Patrick's Day hue. Creamy watercress soup! IMG_3711

First, hack up the white bit of 2-3 leeks and one large potato.  It's also fine to use the green part of the leek, but it will result in a slightly darker colour.  Sautee them with a bit of olive oil until the potatoes are tender.  You don't want them to begin to brown since that will result in a darker soup.

Then, add to a blander jar: a couple hand-fulls (about a cup of leaves) of watercress, the cooked leek and potato and a hand-full of macadamia nuts.  I just used regular roasted macadamias.

Blend on medium speed and add water until the mixture is thin enough to puree.  Next, ultra puree the mixture!  It needs to be completely smooth (I used a Vitamix, for the perfect consistency).  When it's very smooth, taste and season it with salt, and if you like, a little squeeze of lemon.

Garnish with a few watercress leaves and a drizzle of macadamia nut oil.

Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup

I love mushroom soup, but not the sloppy congealed type that's extruded from a can.  I like a rich, flavourful and meaty soup with chunks of mushroom. IMG_2108

First, make a broth.  The broth is the canvas on which the soup is painted.  I made a very simple base using: celery, carrots and a seasoning blend [bay, paprika, garlic powder, dehydrated onion and nutritional yeast.

Don't salt the broth because that reduces flexibility of the finished product.  It's best to salt the soup at the end.  Otherwise, it can reduce and become too salty.

In a separate pan, boil a medium chopped potato.  While that's cooking away, rehydrate a selection of your favourite mushrooms.  Now, I always like to use fresh, but finding these unique funghi can be a challenge.  So, I've chosen dehydrated: black trumpet, oyster and porcini.

Simply pour boiling water over them and allow them to reconstitute ~20 minutes, or until tender.  At this stage, the broth should also be ready.

Remove the mushrooms from the water and set aside.  Add the water from the mushrooms to a high speed blender.  *Often there's grit that sinks to the bottom when rehydrating mushrooms.  Be cautions to prevent adding the grit to the mix.*  Then, add into the blender the broth, cooked (drained) potato and most of the mushrooms.  I like to select a few mushrooms for garnish and set them aside.  This provides both texture and aesthetic enhancement.

Pulverize the mix in the blender until velvety and creamy.  Season with salt, to taste, and blend until thoroughly mixed!  Garnish with the reserved mushrooms and serve piping hot.

Made from scratch Hot Cocoa!

Mmmm!  The perfect thing for these cold winter days!  Vegan, made from scratch, hot cocoa! IMG_3260

First, I like to work with fair trade organic cacao nibs.  Spread them in a thin layer and toast lightly at 350˚F until they start to darken and sizzle.  Then, after they've cooled just slightly, add them to the Vitamix.  You may be able to do this with another blender, but the ultra slow speed option of the Vitamix makes the process very easy.

Blend on low until a thick paste forms.  Then add a bit of non-dairy milk - just enough to loosen the cacao so it can be easily blended.  I like almond milk best for this beverage.  Increase the blender speed to the highest setting.  In a high powered blender, the friction of the blade will cause the mixture to heat up.  Continue blending until the mixture reaches ~150˚F, adding milk as needed to keep the entire mixture available to the blades.

When heated, and smooth, add a bit of vanilla bean and cayenne pepper (if you like things wild).  Unless you're using a sweetened milk, it may need sweetening at this point, too.  Blend a while longer to ensure that all the ingredients are completely mixed through.

To ensure consistency, be sure to strain the mix through a very fine sieve.  Pour up the mixture and garnish with flake salt.  I like Maldon or a fleur de sel.