The past week’s been a little bit crazy. Friday before last was Journal production. Although it went more smoothly than the October edition, I still stuck around for about 11 hours straight. The new issue looks great, but there’s still learning to be done.
The next day I got a call from my mum inviting me on a grocery trip to Superstore. She actually called me while I was working on my Menu for the Week! Yes, you heard right, I made a menu last week! I made one this week too… My greatest tip is to look through your cookbooks, or your favourite blogs for recipes that you can try. This makes it easy to know what ingredients you will need, plus takes the pressure off of needing to invent anything. I already feel more enlightened thanks to the new recipes from this week.
Another strategy I tried out was preparing ahead for more prep-heavy meals. I baked potatoes for soup ahead of time, and soaked chickpeas overnight to get a better bang for my buck than canned beans.
So I tagged along to ol’ Superstore and, staying within my $30/person food budget, picked up the necessary ingredients for the week’s meals. Here’s what we ate last week, and a bit more of what I learned.
Vegan Hash Brown Loaf (delicious, I promise to share the recipe) with Nutritional Yeast Cheezy Sauce (from the Veganomicon) and steamed bok choy with lemon-olive oil dressing.
Kootenay Kitchen’s “Végé Pâté.” The real thing is a delicious spread made from potatoes, onions, sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast and plenty of delicious spices. It’s great on sandwiches, crackers or straight up, but at $5+ for a little 130-gram package, it’s not budget friendly. I looked at the “how it’s made” photos on their website to get some clue as to how to recreate the little loaf. The only thing I really gleaned is that I should shred the potatoes and onions. I used the shredding disk on my food processor, and I got lots of long strings of raw potato (I’ve tried using boiled potato and ended up with a disappointing loaf of mashed potato).
It’s the long, crispy strings that make this dish reminiscent of hash browns. I think I might further process the shredded potato next time to get closer to the texture of the Pâté that I’m looking for, but the results this time were delicious anyway.
Oh! Also, I bought a silicon loaf pan at Superstore for $6. It worked great for this dish, highly recommended!
(PS: I made this again this Monday, but pretty much stuck to the same recipe: awesome again. Recipe to follow…)
Mushroom & Asparagus Risotto
Now, you may be thinking that this is a weird dish to make on a budget. Asparagus risotto in November? But the asparagus was the same price as broccoli (Only $1.88/lb!) when I was at Superstore, so I couldn’t help it. I was going to use crimini mushrooms, but they were not available bulk so I just grabbed the ol’ white button mushrooms. I was sorely tempted by the cello-packs of mixed wild mushrooms, but then I saw a little bug crawling around inside the package. Ick…
Twice-baked Potatoes with feta & broccoli; chickpea & roasted red pepper “pâté;” steamed asparagus
I didn’t grow up with twice-baked potatoes. Once in a while we would have those ones from M&M Meat Shop, but I realize now that they’re nothing like the real thing. I’ll post a recipe for ‘em soon, because they’re so freaking easy, and delicious. The version I make now sprouted from a recipe that I used when I was on that crazy cleanse back in the winter. That version used Roquefort and Manchego (from sheep’s milk) cheeses. The bacteria used to make Roquefort are a type of penicillin (called (Penicillium roqueforti). It was in the cleanse recipe primarily because it aids in digestion, but also because the sharp flavour means you don’t have to use a lot to add a kick to the potato.
The chickpea-pepper side-dish is sort of like hummus, but with more texture, and a few more interesting ingredients. I added it to this meal because I always feel like the meal lacks protein.
Baked Potato & Kale Soup with crispy cornmeal-potato croutons (Recipes from the Veganomicon)
Brian made this amazing soup on Wednesday, which turns out to be pretty chilly. It was hearty and comforting. The only downside was the baked-potato croutons, which were total tater overkill. The soup came together pretty easily because I baked the potatoes the night before with that meal’s potatoes. Clever, eh?
Popeye Pasta (recipe from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan)
Bri was going to make this one too, but he was out with a 24-hour bug and couldn’t do much other than nap and look adorable. Luckily, it was a super easy recipe. It was tomato sauce almost from scratch–used canned crushed tomatoes–plus frozen spinach.
It was nothing to rave about, but it was good sauce, and encouraged me to make some more pasta sauces from scratch.
Chickpea patties and “Thick n Rich” miso gravy (from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan), with roasted yam fries
Even though I own two of them, I haven’t been using Dreena Burton’s vegan cookbooks much recently because I was turned off by how often she used fennel bulbs in recipes. Really, she doesn’t use it all that much. Unfortunately, the last/first time I ever cooked fennel (it wasn’t even her recipe) I did a crappy job and I haven’t wanted to try again since.
That being said, this gravy was probably the best ever. Brian raved about it immediately, and proclaimed it way better than our beloved nutritional yeast gravy. This Thick N Rich Gravy is a bit like The Naam’s bottled miso gravy, but with a bit more…depth, and a more seductive tang.
Seriously, that recipe alone is worth the cost of the book! But if you can’t bring yourself to buy it, I might end up posting my own hybrid version of it in the upcoming weeks, so don’t worry.
On yam fries: ah, so good. Usually my fries stick to the tin foil, but I used a little extra oil and actually made sure each individual fry was coated in it. So very good!