Friday, July 24, 2009

Weekly Roundup

I guess I am still trying to figure out some sort of a schedule for little bloggy here. Ideally I'd update daily, but I haven't set aside the time yet. Which in turn leads to posts such as this one which will be photo heavy and retrospective.

On to the show!

This past week saw Summer peek her sweaty, sunburnt brow from behind the clouds for the first time of the year. Temperatures were toeing the
torrid line of 30 degrees Celsius (86 F) and the ultralow humidity of this prairie city turned downtown into an enormous and cruel sauna.

That meant minimal cooking for me as our apartment is not well equipped to deal with hot weather. I was tempted to bake biscuits and muffins but each sweaty time I opted instead to boil or panfry something tasty instead.

Exhibit A:
Thai Peanut Stirfry. Adapted from this "Best Thai Peanut Sauce" link
Here is my version:
  • 1/2 cup organic peanut butter (no sugar or other junk added) creamy or chunky
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1.5 tbsp lime juice
  • 1.5 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1.5 tsp sesame oil
  • 1.5 tsp hot sauce (I use Rooster Brand Chili Garlic Sauce)
  • .5 tsp ginger powder
  • 1.5 cloves garlic
Mix together in a bowl or shake in peanut butter jar, making sure all the peanut butter lumps are softened and mixed in. Let sit 30 minutes-1 hour to allow flavours to develop.

After that, it's completely versatile as far as starch, veg and protein. For this particular time, I made jasmine rice and Bribot stir-fried broccoli, cauliflower, cremini mushrooms and garlic. We pour our sauce onto the almost-cooked veg and let it thicken and cook for a bit before serving over rice. I think I may have gone a bit overboard with the coconut milk this time, because I was using up a can from earlier in the week. But it turned out amazing and very filling. Highly recommend you incorporate it in your repertoire.

The night after, we had gnocchi with jarred tomato-basil sauce. Very delicious and Bri was raving the whole time, and I was of course flattered because the man does eat a lot of pasta. Anyhow, it wasn't particularly filling so after dishes were done we decided to make movie snac
ks for during James Bond.

Exhibit B:
Vegan Cheezy Sauce "Fundue" with roasted potatos, mushrooms and pickles.

Honestly, the pickles were a bit weird but the sauce is just so good that it doesn't even matter. I usually make the Cheezy Sauce recipe (from the Veganomicon) but Bri offered to do it this time, and it was divine.

Here's our version of the nutritional yeast gravy:
  • 2 cups prepared veg broth
  • 1/4 cup spelt flour (AP flour is fine too)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • pinch of dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt (depending on saltiness of veg broth)
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 3/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes (essential ingredient but we find it's still good if you only have 1/2 cup too)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp prepared mustard
  1. Whisk flour into broth in a measuring cup and the until big lumps are gone.
  2. Cook garlic in olice oil in small saucepan over medium-low heat about 2 minutes
  3. add thyme, salt and pepper and cook for a few seconds, then add broth turmeric and nutritional yeast and raise heat to medium. Stir constantly with whisk.
  4. It should thicken in about 3 minutes but just turn the heat up if it needs a bit longer
  5. After it had thickened, let cook for another couple minutes, then add lemon juice and mustard. Taste for saltiness, adjust as needed, then remove from heat and cover until you're ready to eat. Irresistable. Keeps well in the fridge for a few days.
If you're unfamiliar with nutritional yeast, this is the time to try it! It's a bit smoky and cheesy in flavour and is a wonderful addition to all sorts of sauces, or even just sprinkled inside a wrap. High in B12 also!

Okay, so this is getting long so I'll be brief with Exhibit C: Back of the Fridge Sushi! Yesterday's dinner earned its name due to the rapidly thrown together fillings I chose. I had my weekly sushi craving but wasn't up to spending $20 on typical boring veggie rolls so after tossing a frisbee with Bri, I set to work on a big batch of sushi.

Fillings included: dill pickles, cream cheese, pickled banana peppers, vine tomato, pepper relish, dijon-Vegenaise, salad greens and barbecue sauce-marinate tofu strips.

Dinner turned out quite tasty in the end but not as good as previous sushi nights at home because I messed up the rice a bit, it was overcooked with too much
moisture which made it tough to cute nicely and the rolls weren't as luscious as they could have been. On the bright side I actually rolled 3 whole regular maki (i.e. not inside out) and they all mostly stayed. Also experimented with some fat rolls, which turned out alright.

If you're interested in making sushi at home I suggest you read and google some sushi rolling videos, that's how I got to this point. The price is so so much lower than
a restaurant and it's really not difficult once you've rolled a few.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mid morning snack

I was just scanning through recent entries and noticed that I didn't post an update on the Veggie Paté attempt! I can't believe I didn't take a photo, so maybe it's hidden on one of my many memory cards somewhere still. It was very delicious, but it did indeed turn out very hasbrown-y. I shredded the potatos and onions but I think they were too undercooked to achieve the consistency of the original paté. However, the dish was delicious and I still put it into a sandwich. I will make it again in the coming weeks and post a recipe along with it.

As for the photo of the pasta salad there, that is jsut to show off the super cute vintage ramekins I got at Honey B's during Salsa Fest. I'm very pleased with them. The pasta salad was not as good: it was a tossed together affair at the last minute to go with Brian's delicious grilled cheese sandwiches. I used 2-day old pasta and because it was whole wheat to begin with, and a little bit stale, it just wasn't up to scratch. Still, it looks quite pretty, doesn't it?

Will try to update tonight with photos of last night's amazing and rich thai peanut stirfry.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Italian experiments and Salsa Fest

Just a quicky update before bed, it's been a few days! Spent a few hours today at the Sun & Salsa Festival, sampling the various concoctions available to us from businesses in the neighbourhood. Most of them were some variation on tomato, onion, peppers and cilantro but some restaurants eschewed the theme almost entirely, choosing instead to whip up something from their menu that could be scooped into tiny paper cups and slathered on a multigrain Tostito.

Delicious Thai had a crock pot on the go and I got mad at the lady scooping it out because when I asked her if it was vegetarian she just said that it was green chili curry. I vowed not to vote for them (and I didn't - but I didn't for any, whoops!), but it was quite delicious. Didn't go well with the chips though.

The Broken Plate did some sort of cream cheese-feta-pepper combination that was delicious but so very not-salsa. Sungate Cafe was hawking some sort of curry too but it was cold and lumpy and I was not impressed.

Other booths were more creative, most notably The Naked Leaf, which integrated organic veggies from
Sunnyside Market in their recipe, as well as tea from the Naked Leaf. They even gave us a recipe card. I wasn't blown away by the salsa, though it was lovely. I am very interested in using tea leaves in a future recipe though. I was also impressed by Foo King Hot Relish, I'm not sure if they were actually in the salsa portion of the festival because they were selling their product (I bought some and yum!) as well as giving away samples.

Sorry about the lack of photos, I took my camera but I wasn't particularly happy with any of the shots from the festival.

However! I decided I wanted to make gnocchi tonight because, well, it's delicious!

And make it I did! I was a little bit wary because the recipe I was following warned of the difficulties of pulling off gnocchi, particularly without using egg as a binder, which is the route I took because Bribot prefers not to eat egg.

I followed the aforementioned recipe fairly closely, although I didn't know how many pounds of potato I had - I used 4 medium russets. I didn't have any trouble at all with the recipe. I think that my experience kneading pizza dough is a huge asset, because I felt confident during that rather important portion. The original recipe, while poetically written does have some downfalls such as "Very gently, with a feathery touch knead the dough," I'm not sure that that is physically possible, as kneading is a rather forceful process. And then "It [dough] should feel almost billowy." My dictionary has this in the entry for billow "a large undulating mass of something, typically cloud, smoke, or steam." A mite confusing! So I just ignored those bits and pretended like I was kneading bread dough.

The gnocchi turned out very soft and tasty - success! The downside is that they really haven't got much flavour on their own, so a girl's got to have a good sauce. I went basic so that I could taste the actual pasta with a butter, olive oil, garlic and dried basil sauce. I finished it off with a few shavings of this fabulous 3-year old cheddar we picked up at Janice Beaton during the Salsa Fest.

I think next time I will try incorporating ricotta into the gnocchi, or just go with a completely ricotta version - yum!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cook cook cook!

So the jalapeno poppers from last night were a double-edged sword kind of thing. They would have been wonderful but they were so terribly spicy that I couldn't enjoy them. I was happy with my panko coating, which I also used on some portobello slices. I'll have to try a more mild pepper in the future.

Today has been a day of slaving in the kitchen basically. It's been raining like crazy outside. My brother turns 18 tomorrow so I am helping with a bit of the food prep for his legion of pals. This meant two kinds of hummus (traditional and chipotle) as well as 20 deviled eggs.

After pricking my fingers on broken eggshells for an hour I wanted to do my own project and decided to try to mimic Kootenay Kitchen's Veggie Pâté. They have a gallery of the Making Of the product so I used that as a guide. I think it might just turn out like a baked mashed potato thing, but I guess I'll find out when it is done cooking.

Next on the list today is some sort of Thai stirfry to use up the rice I've cooked the past couple days. Yum!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Food Update!

Alright! So I embraced my kitchen today since I had the day off with the BF. We made a fabulous brunch and presently I am making baked jalapeno poppers...mmm! (Edit: they burned my face off. Not really. But they were really, really hot.)

Earlier in the week I did indeed tackle the seitan project and snapped some photos to share.
BlockquoteThe seitan has to be boiled for half an hour or so and during that time it expands a fair bit. I didn't know what to expect, never having had seitan before so it seemed a bit weird looking to be honest.I sliced up one of the four "chunks" of seitan once it was done and kept the rest in tupperware along with the cooking liquid. Sort of looks like a chicken breast.The final product! Seitan and nooch stirfry. I forgot to take a photo before we started eating, sorry about the mess there. Contains seitan, flat rice noodles, broccoli, nutritional yeast gravy (based on the Veganomicon's Cheezy Sauce, but not as good as usual because I was out of boullion and was in a hurry) and a side of mixed greens.

Since it is Sunday, I decided Bri and I should make an epic brunch to enjoy together. Since he doesn't have much of an appetite in the mornings we pushed the meal back to about noon and nursed coffee through a morning which included a trip to the post office and flea market.Frying up some tomatoes in olive oil with dried Italian herbs in one pan, and heating up our first ever tofu scramble (season with turmeric, sea salt, black pepper and sun dried tomatoes) and a pair of veggie sausages.
Ahhh yes! Clockwise from top: French's Dijon mustard, PC organic ketchup, buttermilk crumpet with butter, fried tomatos with sprinkle of swiss cheese, white potato hashbrowns (middle), poppyseed pancakes (courtesy my mum), caramelized yellow onion with fried cremini mushrooms, tofu scramble with sundried tomatoes.

Last night we had delightful appies at my mum's place: diced tomatoes, black olive tapenade, artichoke-asiago dip and 3-year old parmesan on dark rye crisps. And ice cold Corona bottles! I'm not even usually a big Corona fan, but I couldn't resist and it was just great.

After that, we sampled a little takeout from the new sushi place that just opened across the street. At first when ordering we were disheartened a bit because all the sushi on their menu had fish (totally legit, but neither of us eat fishies or other seafood). We spotted their single-order "basic" sushi menu on the way out though and ordered from there. They were out of inari so we missed out there, but we got tamago, cucumber-cream cheese roll, avocado roll and a futomaki salad roll. The rice was super fresh and the salad was crunchy and delicious. Very nice! Mum says they were happy to make rolls to order for her so perhaps next time we eat in there we'll ask about a tempura yam roll (Midori makes a fabulous one).

And I made my own sushi this week. Combinations of inari, creminis simmered with soy sauce & mirin, carrot & cucumber and avocado. They looked more lovely than usual thanks to black sesame seeds as garnish.

I guess the bottom line is that I'm hooked on sushi!

Monday, July 6, 2009


I haven't blogged too much about food lately, but it is still an entertaining part of my life. I have decided to make an effort to cut down on wheat and salt as well as get back into my rollerblading regime(ish) schedule because I've been feeling a bit listless lately.

The salt effort is mainly going to be me cutting down on processed foods, something I don't indulge in too often anyway. As for wheat, it's really just that I have been slowly incorporating more processed, nutritionally deficient white breads into my diet lately and I don't want to make it a habit. Somehow, wandering downtown on a hot summer night after a few drinks makes a girl crave veggie dogs from street corners and dried out but delicious CPU slices.

Last week I unofficially set a goal for myself (i.e., posted it as a facebook status update), that I wanted to make Seitan which is a wheat gluten "cutlet," or vegan meat substitute. I have most of the ingredients so all I need is to set aside some time but I didn't accomplish it within my unofficial time limit (i.e. last week). Darn. But this has led me to think that maybe I should give myself a weekly food project in an effort to have some fun, experimental "me" time that will probably be practical as well.

Stay tuned for Seitan!