Sunday, June 14, 2015

Baked Raspberry Almond Oatmeal

A friend sold me on baked oatmeal- an inexpensive, hearty breakfast that can feed a crowd (or yourself for several days!)
I have been trying to find a recipe that would also win over my family- who needed a little convincing. 
Raspberries are a favourite in our family and this is one of our favourite times of year- when homegrown berries are in season. So filling oatmeal with raspberries tends to bring everyone to the table.
After searching and trialing many, I decided to highlight the 'nuttiness' of almond, which goes so well with raspberries.
I recommend the dairy-free version with almond milk, almond extract and coconut oil for maximum nuttiness if you have them. If you don't, go ahead and make it anyways with whatever you have. The almond extract brings a lot to the party. 
This is a little like cake for breakfast, which no one can refuse.

Baked Raspberry Almond Oatmeal
You can halve this recipe and bake in an 8" X 8" pan for about 25 minutes, but I prefer having leftovers, so I make a full recipe. 

3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup light brown sugar or cane sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup almond milk (or dairy or coconut milk)
1/2 cup applesauce
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
2 tbsp melted coconut oil (or butter)
2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9"X 13" glass or ceramic baking dish with butter or oil of choice.
2. Combine first four dry ingredients in a large bowl, stir with a fork and make a well in the centre.
3. Pour all remaining ingredients, except for raspberries, into well. Whisk up with fork to break up eggs very well, then stir into oatmeal mixture. Add raspberries.

4. Pour mixture into baking dish and bake for 35- 40 minutes, when golden on edges and fairly firm on top.
5. Serve scoops of baked oatmeal with milk of choice. Store remaining cooled baked oatmeal in fridge, tightly covered, for up to 3 days.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Chive Blossom Vinegar

I love chives.
Big time. 
I have several plants in my yard that continue producing year after year. One of the best perennial herbs you could hope for. So easy to grow and adds so much flavour to meals.
This is perhaps the easiest and most rewarding way to preserve chives.
You are not really preserving the chive or the chive blossom but the essence of the plant. 
The very best part.
The recipe is simple: 

Pour white wine vinegar over freshly picked chive blossoms. Let sit for a few days, swirl a bit. Wait until it's highly scented and takes on a pinkish hue. Strain out blossoms and bottle. 
Now imagine it cut with olive oil and a pinch of salt over lightly dressed greens. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Vegan Rainbow Slaw

Eat a rainbow today? 
With this salad it's super easy to do. And it's also a great way to use up a soft, ripe avocado.
This salad isn't a typical coleslaw laden with mayo or oil. It's an exercise in simplicity and letting the true flavours of these veggies shine. It's really a naked, undressed, beautiful salad. The avocado becomes a binder of sorts with its inherent creaminess and makes this crunchy raw salad all the better. 
And only make this salad if you love cilantro---it's flavour also helps take the place of a dressing as it infuses the other veggies.
I love serving slaws like this with Mexican food or Barbecued meals.
If you want more "dressing", you can add a little more lemon juice or a drizzle of olive oil. 
adapted from Health Starts Here, from Whole Foods

1/2 small red cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded
1/2 small green cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded
1 red pepper, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (or more)
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup minced red onion
1 large ripe avocado, diced or mashed
Juice of 1 lime or lemon
1/2 tsp sea salt, or more to taste

Toss all ingredients together in large bowl. Stir until avocado is well-distributed. Serve immediately or keeps in fridge for 1-2 days. 
Use a glass bowl to showcase this beauty!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes with Baked Feta and Warmed Olives

Roasted potatoes?
Greek nachos?
Family style roasted potatoes?
Greek fondue?
Perfection in a pan?
No words are adequate for this sumptuous side dish enhanced with baked feta, warmed olives, lemon and fresh rosemary. 

This could be served with a barbequed meal, with a rotisserie chicken, with the greek bean soup fassolada, with a hearty green salad, or on its own. It could be an appetizer with pre-dinner cocktails. The possibilities are endless.

It can be served in the centre of the table with everyone digging in with forks or fondue spears.

It is best straight from the oven- warm and fragrant with salty brine, rosemary and lemon wafting through the house.

Dig in, my friends. Dig in.

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes with Baked Feta and Warm Olives 
Serves about 6 as a side dish

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. 

2. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, toss together:

2 1/2 lbs red or yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 6 wedges each
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp finely fresh rosemary, minced or 1 tsp dried rosemary, crumbled
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tap fresh ground pepper

3. When adequately tossed with herb and spice, bake in oven for 30 minutes, tossing potatoes once or twice during that time until edges are crispy and golden.

4. Remove from oven, add:
Juice of 1 large lemon
Large handful of the best olives you can find (about 100 grams of Castlevetrano or other large green olive are my favourite)

5. Bake for 10 more minutes. 

6. Add:
1 cup crumbled feta

7. Bake 5 more minutes until feta begins to soften and brown. Serve immediately. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Dandelion Mocha

I love dandelions. 


Yes, I sometimes pull them up in my yard but its only because I want to eat them. I like saving some for the bees but I'd pull them up for this warm dandelion salad with fried shallots or for garden greens pakoras. I know not everyone appreciates this abundant green found everywhere, after my mother refused to eat them. But she has started eating kale from my garden. Small steps.

When a friend gave us Rosemary Gladstar's Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide, it started a whole new obsession with how to use the dandelion in different ways. 

I knew dandelion was beneficial to health, it being green and all, but I didn't realize all the benefits of the roots. The root is considered a liver tonic or "blood purifier". The bitter compounds help with digestion.

Ms. Gladstar's recipe for Dandelion Mocha had me making sure I was pulling the whole plant up, with all the root bits!,  for making this delicious warming drink after making a salad with the greens.

Spring time is a great time to harvest fresh, tender dandelion greens to use in the kitchen. And yes, the roots can be used, but it is a process. A process only undertaken by the most dedicated of dandelion-lovers. 

From the dozens of plants I pulled, soaked, chopped, roasted, ground, I had about 2 tablespoons of root powder. Hmm. I love the fact that my dandelions were organic and local but this was far too much work for so little reward.

Then I found this tea. Organic Roasted Dandelion Root! 

Not only is it organic, but it comes with little words of affirmation for your day. Yep, so worth the purchase. 
You can definitely drink this just as a tea to reap the benefits of dandelion root. But it is so much more delicious in a "mocha" form. This can be a substitute for coffee but really, it is a delicious drink in its own right.

My children love it- it is slightly chocolatey and it is also has the shock value of being made of a weed! 

I highly recommend Rosemary's book if you are interested in dabbling in growing, harvesting or just learning more and using medicinal herbs.

Dandelion Mocha
Serves 2
Inspired by Rosemary Gladstar's recipe in her book. She suggests this as an alternative to coffee or doing half coffee and half mocha to adjust to caffeine-free.

2 dandelion root tea bags
2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup milk (dairy or almond milk)
1 tbsp cocoa or cacao powder
1 tbsp maple syrup or sweetener of choice (I sometimes use some stevia)
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp vanilla

1. Pour boiling water over the dandelion tea bags in a small tea pot. Cover and let steep for at least 10 minutes.
2. While tea is steeping, warm milk in a small saucepan over medium heat, add cocoa, sweetener, cinnamon and vanilla. Whisk until smooth and hot.
3. Pour tea into saucepan and whisk. Taste and adjust for desired sweetness. Serve immediately.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Pepper Garlic Stirfry

When I asked participants what they wanted to learn at our community kitchen, one of the responses was a stirfry that doesn't use jarred sauces and is flavourful.

Easy enough. 

At home I make them often to use up the end of the week's vegetables. 

The only problem is I don't usually follow a recipe, so I needed to document.  I came home determined to document my stirfry recipe.

It turns out this version was declared the "best ever" by one of my regulars at the dinner table. 

This is by far the highest praise I can ever hope to attain. 

Pepper Garlic Vegetable Tofu Stirfry
This recipe is easily adapted to the vegetables and protein you have on hand. This equation works with about 4-6 cups of raw vegetables to this quantity of sauce. Serve over cooked rice or noodles.

My standard formula consists of:

Protein + Onion + Green Veg + Colourful Veg + Homemade Sauce + Some Crunchy Topping

You can use almost anything you have in the fridge, here are some examples:

Protein: pressed tofu, chicken or beef 
Onion: yellow, white, or green (use white & green parts)
Substantial Green veg: a good amount of broccoli, bok choy or gai lan
Colourful veg: bell peppers, carrots, celery, mushrooms, frozen peas or edamame
Crunchy topping: cashews, almonds, sesame seeds

Pepper Garlic Stirfry Sauce
Mix together the following ingredients in a measuring cup or small bowl with a fork until smooth:

1/4 cup soy sauce 
3/4 cup water 
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper (mild) or more, to taste 
Optional: 1 tsp fresh minced ginger

1. Using paper towel, pat dry the pressed tofu. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Dice into 1" cubes. 

2. Heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil (anything but olive oil!) in wok or frying pan over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. 

3. Add tofu and cook, tossing often, until cubes are slightly golden. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of soy sauce and stir. Remove to a bowl.

4. Into same pan, add another tablespoon of oil, then add firmest vegetables first (onions, carrots, etc.), cook for a few minutes, tossing often, then add the remaining vegetables and cook until crisp-tender. Add tofu back to pan.

5. Pour mixed sauce ingredients over hot vegetables and tofu. Continue to stir and cook until sauce is glossy, about 2 to 3 minutes.

6. Sprinkle with crunchy nuts or seeds or serve at table with hot rice or noodles. 

Equipment recommendation: 
I am sure you can use any frypan here (except non-stick since no one wants to use those on high heat! or really any heat for that matter...) but I love my carbon steel wok. It has a flat bottom, sloped sides and a helper handle. I can't imagine life without it. You need to wash them well when you get it home (apparently it is coated in thick, non-edible industrial oil to transport and store so it doesn't rust before getting to consumer). Proceed to season it like a cast iron pan before using. But it is true love after that! For some wok care tips, see this article.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Vegan Quinoa Chili

It's the beginning of a new year. 

Resolutions are to be made. Often mine involve food. I can't help it.

Eat more vegan food. Eat more vegetables. Save money on groceries. Don't get stuck in food ruts. Eat things that the kids won't necessarily eat (they will grow to like it). Try new foods, new recipes. Grow more food. Focus on family, not meal preparation. But in all this- Simplify.

In this spirit, I share a recipe that I found here and have made many times this season. I have shared it many times and it hits almost all my resolutions (with the exception of exercise!)

It is vegan, simple, can be prepared in minutes, hits all our nutritional needs and can be modified to make it exciting to your tastebuds.

People who know me well are likely shocked that I have posted a recipe with mushrooms, but here they fall into the backdrop, with the stars being the quinoa and beans. Mushrooms? My resolution to try things I don't usually make. 

I hope you also try new things and find happiness in simplicity in this coming year.

Happy New Year, Happy New Eats!

Vegan Quinoa Chili
Serves 4-6
This recipe is so simple, yet so perfect. We find the perfect amount of spice when we remove the seeds from the jalapeño, but if you love heat, add some of the seeds. Cayenne pepper makes a perfect substitute for jalapeños in a pinch. 
A delicious accompaniment are these cornbread muffins.
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups rinsed and chopped button or cremini mushrooms (one small package)
2 medium onions, diced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely minced (or 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper)
2 tbsp chili powder
1 can (796 ml) diced tomatoes (about 3 cups homemade processed peeled & diced tomatoes)
1 can (540 ml) mixed beans (about 2 cups cooked beans, or 1 small can black beans & 1 small can white beans)
1/2 cup quinoa

1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Cook onions for about 5 minutes, then add mushrooms and continue to cook for another 5-8 minutes.
2. Stir in jalapeño (or cayenne) and chill powder, cook 1 minute longer, stirring frequently. Stir in tomatoes with juices, beans and quinoa and 1 cup water.
3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until quinoa is tender. Season with salt and pepper if desired (not needed if using salted tomatoes and beans).
4. Optional (vegetarian) garnishes include: plain yogurt, grated cheese, or chopped cilantro.