Monday, October 5, 2015

Mini Tarts & a meal plan

Almost vegan, except for one lonely egg.  I had a crazy busy Saturday that went into the wee hours, and Sunday I thought I'd probably just lay around the house and watch TV.  But the sun finally came out and I got inspired to do some baking in the afternoon.  I needed to use up some beet greens that were in the fridge...I  guess most people just throw them away if they buy beets with them attached.  But I find that they are quite tasty, obviously nutritious, and they can be substituted for spinach in any recipe.  Why waste them?

I made six beet green/patty-pan squash tarts, loosely based on this Spinach, Zucchini & Feta Phyllo Bites recipe, and six raspberry clafouti ramekins from my Vegan Desserts In Jars book.  I ate two of each before I took this picture.  :p

Beet Green & Patty Pan Squash Phyllo Tarts

Salad spinner full of beet greens, chopped, sauteed and drained (4 oz)
1 large patty pan squash, peeled, grated, sauteed and drained (7 oz)
"Ricnotta" cashew cheese (3 oz)
Grated Daiya pepper jack cheese (.75 oz)
1 free-run egg
1 tbsp unbleached flour
3 sheets of phyllo pastry, cut into small squares
Salt & pepper to taste

I prepared my veggies and combined them in a bowl with the two cheeses, seasoned with salt & pepper, then added the egg and the flour and mixed well.  I lined a  muffin container with the phyllo sheets, brushed them lighly with olive oil, then filled each one with the veggie mixture.  They went into the oven at 350F for about 25 minutes, until set and golden.


I need to be organized this week. Lunches will either be leftovers from the freezer or sandwiches and salads. Work is kicking my butt and next weekend is going to be hectic.  Saturday I'm having Thanksgiving dinner with Esther The Wonder Pig (!!!!) and Sunday I'm hosting my family for Thanksgiving at my house.  We'll be having turkey with all the trimmings.

Monday - salmon filet, beets & beetgreen/zucchini tart (for me)
              - pork loin with applesauce & salad (for the kid)
Tuesday - tofu burgers & salad (for me)
              - leftovers (for the kid)
Wednesday - out for dinner
Thursday - vegan zucchini carbonara (for me)
                - fettucine alfredo with broccoli (for the kid)
Friday - left overs

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Autumn Abundance

It's autumn - the time of year when veggies are abundant and I'm always in "use it up" mode.  However I've been filling recycling bins full of apples from the tree in my yard lately, because I just can't keep up with them.  I managed to decorate my porch for the season, and plant some tulip bulbs and perennials in the front garden.  Note the pug photo bomber. 

I'm involved in a hectic work project with lots of overtime this week, so not much time for planning and cooking.  I was able to re-purpose the tomato sauce I made for the tofu burgers into a pot of Paltrow Pappardelle the other night, along with a bulb of fennel and some turkey sausages.  Leftovers are welcome for work lunches when I don't have a minute to think.  Last night I threw together a veggie fried rice for my son, using up some onions, carrots, peppers, broccoli & cauliflower that were kicking around.  I fried a pan of mushrooms up for myself as a side (since he's fussy & doesn't like them).

I'm eating meat from the freezer again this week, since the gardens are still producing and I didn't grocery shop.  Tonight I will probably saute a salmon filet.  Next veg to use up:  garden beets & beet greens, potatoes & cranberry beans.  I'm sure some combination of them will wind up on my plate tonight!  So while I don't technically have a meal plan, there is a method to my madness.


1 year ago:  I made my first vegan chocolate mousse.
2 years ago:  I tackled the mothership roast salmon recipe.
3 years ago:  I made Jamie's favourite ribollita.
4 years ago:  I made my first annual spinach and filo pie.
5 years ago:  I made some luxurious chick pea and leek soup.
6 years ago:  I was freestylin' in the kitchen just like Michael Smith!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Mega Veggie Burgers, Garden Salad and Basil Dressing

I had an appointment with my naturopath/nutritionist, and she read the results from my blood work (requisitioned by my medical doctor).  All he ever says is "your iron is still low, take iron pills".  She actually went through every detail, and told me which foods to eat to boost my selenium (Brazil nuts, swiss chard, salmon) and iron (leafy greens, tofu) etc. 

I went to the market to stock up on tofu and Brazil nuts this morning.  I love to buy Mori-Nu firm silken tofu in tetra packs, and make desserts with it.  It's a great, creamy dairy substitute. This time, though, I decided to make a savoury tofu recipe!

488.  Mega Veggie Burgers, Garden Salad and Basil Dressing (Jamie's Everyday Super Foods, page ??)

I've eaten my fair share of veggie burgers, and lots of them are made with soy, but I've never actually made them myself.  They were pretty simple, with just four ingredients:  drained tofu, eggs, whole wheat bread crumbs, and Marmite.  I just happened to have Marmite in the cupbaord, left over from the vegan gravy I made at Christmas.

I mixed everything up with my hands and formed them into four patties.  Next up, I roughly chopped up four large tomatoes and put them in a non-stick pan with a splash of water, a splash of white wine vinegar, and some black pepper.  I let that cook over a high heat until I was able to break it down with a potato masher, then turned it down to medium and let it simmer away for 15 minutes or so to thicken.

I went outside to the garden and picked myself some beets, carrots, kale, basil & rosemary.  It's like having a market in my backyard....I love it so much at this time of year.

I put four little piles of rosemary into a non-stick pan with a couple of teaspoons of EVOO, and put it on a medium heat.

I placed one patty on each pile of rosemary and let it cook for about 3 minutes, then turned them over.  How cool do they look?!

I put some Daiya jalapeno Havarti "cheese" on each patty and then got to work slicing, dicing and shredding my salad veggies.

Finally, I tore a couple of sprigs of basil into my tomato sauce, seasoned it with salt and some chili flakes and turned the heat off.  Then I put the remainder of my basil into the food processor, along with a bit of a red chile, a couple of tablespoons of cashew cheese, a couple more tablespoons of soy milk, a squirt of mustard, and a swig of white wine vinegar.  I let this blend, adding more soy milk to get the consistency just right, and it turned green by the time it was done.  I seasoned it to taste with salt.

I served my burgers on regular old hamburger buns (since that's all I had handy), topped with the homemade tomato sauce and some of last year's homemade "bread and butter" pickles.  They may just be the most flavourful veggie burgers I've ever eaten!  Seriously good.  I wanted to go back for a second but I stopped myself.  I need to save room for dinner. :)

I am counting down the days until I can get my hands on a copy of this cookbook.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Dairy-free chard & filo pie

It rained most of Saturday but I was out and about, going from farmers' market to garden centre to organic market, and afterwards I dug up and replanted my front garden.  Sunday dawned up cool but sunny, so I was inspired to cook.  I started out with an oatmeal breakfast bake using apples from my tree.  I went grocery shopping and found filo dough at the second store I hit.  I decided it was time to make my annual Chard and Filo Pie!


My chard is sandwiched between a sage bush and the beets.  I picked all of the big leaves but left the small ones, so that they would continue to grow.

This is not an optical illusion, the bowl is as big as it looks.  It fills my whole stove top.  I picked well over a pound of chard, after I cut the stems off.  I washed it in the sink and then spun it dry.  Next up, I got my JO frying pan out and browned up some sunflower seeds (since I was out of pine nuts), then reused that pan to saute the chard leaves in a bit of olive oil.

The pie takes five eggs, a pinch of dried oregano, salt & pepper, and a lug of olive oil,  but my challenge this year was to make it dairy-free, since it calls for 12 oz feta and 2 oz cheddar.  I had two 6 oz containers of cashew/tofu feta and a wedge of cashew spirulina cheese, as well as a container of Tofutti cream cheese.  I wasn't willing to sacrifice both containers of the feta, so I only used one, 2 oz of spirulina and about 4 oz of cream cheese.   I added the toasted sunflower seeds, and last but not least added the chard and a grating of fresh nutmeg. I set this mixture aside while I laid out some oiled parchment paper and spread out my filo sheets.  My favourite part of this recipe is the cayenne sprinkled in between the layers, along with EVOO, salt and pepper.  It just gives the whole thing a nice little kick.  I transferred the pastry and the parchment to the pan, tucked it in as much as I could, and filled it with the egg and chard mixture.  Then I folded all the remaining pastry over the top and ripped off most of the parchment paper, leaving just enough to be able to grab on to later.

I put the pie in the oven at 400F for about 20 minutes.

Oh yeah baby, it came out looking wonderful!  I let it rest on a rack for a few minutes before taking it out of the pan and cutting myself a wedge.

Wow, I was so happy with the results!  Just as good as I remember!  And to think about a year ago, I was bemoaning the fact that I'd never be able to eat cheese again.   ;)

Monday, September 14, 2015

Buckwheat Zucchini Muffins & a meal plan

It was freaking cold all weekend.  Last night I decided that I should put the oven on and bake something, in part just to heat the kitchen up!  I got ambitious and decided to try an online recipe for Buckwheat Zucchini Muffins.  It required me to make my own buckwheat and oat flour using buckwheat groats, old fashioned rolled oats and my coffee/spice grinder.  This was surprisingly easy and only took a few seconds.  These muffins aren't vegan as they contain eggs, but if you were looking for a vegan substitute you could use flax "eggs" (ground flax seed and water).

I spread one muffin with some vegan Toffutti "better than cream cheese" to keep them low in sugar.  Delicious!

My goal this week is to eat from the freezer & pantry.  I am not going to do a big grocery shopping, but if I need any specific ingredients to create a dish, I will go and buy them.  I know I'm going to need onions, for instance, as I'm out of them, and everything needs onions!  But I started a list of what is in the freezer so everyone is aware.  I am so sick of hearing "what can I eat quickly?"  People need to learn to plan their meals!

Monday - something ready made from the freezer (vegan mac 'n cheese?  momos?  beet burgers?)
Wednesday - chicken, potatoes & broccoli
Thursday - left overs
Friday - BBQ (turkey sausages & burgers, sweet potatoes)

Friday, September 11, 2015

Squash Daal with Fried Egg

I've been waiting patiently for my left overs to disappear before I could make this next recipe.  Today was perfect timing...a cool, rainy evening is just the right weather for daal!

487.   Delicious Squash Daal with Special Fried Egg (Jamie's Everyday Super Food, page ??)

I love when squash comes into season because I can buy it quite cheaply at the farmers' market, rather than pay for it by the pound at the grocery store.  I picked up a couple of butternut squash last weekend for $2 each.  I cut one in half for this meal, and will save the other half for something else.

I put some music on while I did all the chopping required - the squash (unpeeled), two onions, ginger, red chile, lots of garlic, and fresh cilantro.  Then I made a quick "temper" in a large pan with olive oil, mustard & cumin seeds, curry leaves, the garlic & the chile.  I let this get golden and crispy and then I removed a portion to a smaller frying pan for later.   I added the squash, onion, ginger & cilantro stalks to the large pan and cooked it for about 15 minutes.  

Next I added 500g of urad lentils in place of the red lentils that Jamie called for.  I love red lentils so much that I didn't have any left in the cupboard!  To make up for the lack of colour, I added a couple of teaspoons of turmeric.  I covered the pan and let it simmer for about 35 minutes, then seasoned it to taste and mashed up the squash.

Normally I'd eat a daal with rice, but Jamie, being healthy in his new book, suggests eating it with eggs and a salad.  Not something I would have thought of myself, but I was game to try it, so I washed and spun dry some romaine lettuce.  The salad dressing is made with the remaining cilantro leaves, lemon juice, salt and natural yogurt.  I don't eat dairy, but I have a wonderful vendor at the market who makes a nice, sour almond yogurt.  I just happened to have a container in the fridge.  :)

The last step was to fry eggs in the pan with the remaining "temper".  Once they are cooked on the bottom, you cover the pan briefly to "coddle" them.  This cooks them on top, and they look cool with the spices around the edges.  I served them up over the daal.

OMG I love daal. Surprisingly, it goes well with eggs and salad!  I forgot to microwave myself a poppadom but I will definitely do that tomorrow, when I eat left overs.  This recipe makes enough for 8 people, but Jamie suggests you portion it into freezer bags for a rainy day.  Sounds like a plan to me!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Coconut Curry Posh Pot Noodles

Lately I find that I'm eating my main meal at lunch.  In the evening, I just want something quick, as the kitchen is hot and I'm not that hungry.  Last night I quickly boiled up some soba noodles and let them drain and cool.  I was puttering around the yard, pulling weeds and picking chard, when I discovered that my oregano, which I thought had died or been overtaken by mint, was actually hiding under the tarragon!  So I picked a big bunch of it and spent some time washing and drying it, before cutting it into small enough pieces to tie and hang from a cabinet in a brown paper bag.  It will dry out in a few weeks, and I will have flowering oregano to sprinkle into my spaghetti sauce this winter.  :)

486.  Coconut Curry Posh Pot Noodles (Jamie's Comfort Food, page ??)

I love the concept of layering up a container or jar full of goodness, then putting it in the fridge until needed.  These will make great work lunches, and they are versatile because you can just use what you have on hand.  Add boiling water, wait a few minutes, and eat!

I played with the ingredients a little bit.  Here's what I used (split between two containers):

- 1 teaspoon of curry powder
- 1 teaspoon of arrowroot powder
- 1 teaspoon of creamed coconut
- 1 teaspoon of ketchup
- 1 inch of peeled and finely chopped ginger
- 1/4 of a red pepper, finely chopped
- a handful of frozen edamame beans
- 4 large leaves of rainbow chard, chopped, stems removed
- small handful of cilantro
- a chunk of pan-fried trout, flaked
- one bundle of Soba Noodles, cooked and cooled

I started with the base ingredients, then added a splash of cold water and mixed them up to make a paste in the bottom of the jar.  Then I added the cooked noodles, the veggies, and the protein, in layers.  I covered one in boiling water for a few minutes and slurped it right up.  The other is in my bag for lunch today.  :)