Monday, August 30, 2010

Aloo Gobi

When I announced early this afternoon that I had to devote some time to browsing through my cookbooks in order to find a recipe for my weekly cooking challenge, there was a sudden flurry of activity in our little kitchen.   My four year old daughter suddenly decided that she would also be participating and proceeded to order her dad to remove certain items from the fridge and assist her with her creation.  I was amazed at the speed with which she put together her dish.  A beautiful sweet red pepper stuffed with leftover, cooked quinoa and topped with broccoli and cauliflower flowerets.  It's so cute, take a look!  I'm very impressed with her creativity and this is the first time she's ever attempted to make anything. 

My entry this week is Aloo Gobi, a curried cauliflower and potato dish using a recipe from The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.   My husband keeps buying cauliflowers and this morning I found two mouldering away in the produce drawer that sticks shut, so I decided something needed to be done with at least one of them.   I sauteed ginger and cumin seeds in canlola oil then added the potatoes, cauliflower and tomato along with water, turmeric, coriander, a bit of brown sugar and salt.   Pop the lid on and let the vegetables cook.   I left it simmer longer than recipe called for because I wanted the flavours to really meld.  We didn't mind that the cauliflower sort of disintegrated because the sauce was great. 

Aloo Gobi before it cooks down.

Aloo Gobi

This week my friend Kathryn will be joining us for the first time.  Kathryn is transitioning to veganism and has prepared Auntie Bonnie's Curried Apple Soup from the book How it all Vegan! by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer.   You will find her challenge post here on her newly christened blog The Hedgehog in the Kitchen.  Isn't that the most adorable name for a blog?  I love it!  

And last but not least, it looks like Jeannette has delved into the fabulous Veganomicon for her cooking adventure this week.  She also made a soup and one that I have been curious about so I'm happy to hear the results.  Jeannette says:  

This was a busy weekend for me, but I had lots of veggies in the fridge, so I had to cook! I chose to prepare Spicy Peanut and Eggplant Soup from Veganomicon.  It was a bit of work, chopping and coordinating, but it was worth it! This is a yummy soup! The mild spiciness is a good counterpoint to the peanut butter. The eggplant was soft, and did not dominate the soup. (I did not brine the eggplant as instructed in the recipe. I skipped that step.) My peanut butter was nice and chunky, and the beans were still a bit crisp, so the soup's texture was enjoyable,too. I left out the cilantro (no surprise). I will definitely make this again!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Triple Power Protein Breakfast

I always feel better when I eat a hot cooked breakfast so this morning I decided to make a stir fry with the left-over quinoa in the fridge.  Into the pan went onions, red and green peppers, and half a left-over Japanese eggplant which fried for a few minutes in soy sauce.  Then I added the triple protein element - cubed tofu, black beans and quinoa with a little vegetable stock.  I ended up throwing in a few spices to add a little more flavour but as usual I used too much turmeric which made the dish slightly bitter.  It was still very tasty and a very good start to the day accompanied by a fresh fruite smoothie!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Tonight instead of going to the gym I indulged my sweet cravings by making Cinnamon Coffee Cake with a recipe courtesy of The Joy of Vegan Baking.  My daughter arrived home from the park with her dad, took a bite and asked me what the cake was called.  When I told her she said "I want to rename this Cinnamon Brown Yummy!"  She especially enjoyed the topping calling it "very rough and very good."   I actually wasn't expecting this to be such a hit because it's not very sweet.  I'm very happy to be wrong in my predictions  The recipe called for chopped walnuts in the topping but I couldn't find any so I substituted chopped pecans.

Cinnamon Brown Yummy

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fudgie Wudgie Blueberry Brownies

Fudgie Wudgie Blueberry Brownies

Even after a sugar laden week, I ended up making Fudgie Wudgie Blueberry Brownies from Veganomicon because I was asked to contribute a dessert for my dear friend Elizabeth's birthday party last night.  Most people like brownies right?   I was hoping they would be enough of a variation on the standard chocolate dessert to not be boring and I think they turned out well.   Nice and fudgy.  I must admit that I was in a bit of a hurry and instead of greasing the pan with Earth Balance I used olive oil spray.  I didn't think anyone would notice but my husband took a bite and had a strange look on his face.  No one at the party seemed to mind but I guess I won't be doing that again.

 And take a look at this Pumpkin Pie Brownie that Jeannette made this week!  I want a piece of that!

Pumpkin Pie Brownie

Pumpkin Pie Brownie
I took this week’s recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. The authors were generous enough to post this recipe on their blog:

I have been looking at this picture for weeks now, in a bookmarked tab, so it’s finally time to attempt it. I wanted to do it by the book; I even went out and bought plain soy milk! But, my canned pumpkin turned out to be canned sweet potato. :) For the recipe, I measured 1 cup from the 15 oz. can for the pumpkin layer and used the remaining canned sweet potato in the brownie layer. It was probably a rather scant cup. Also, I omitted the ginger (don’t like) and added extra nutmeg (love).

This was definitely a success! My taste-testers were unanimous and exuberant in their praise. “Pumpkin pie -- followed by chocolate!” The brownie bottom is fantastic (the melted chocolate has a lot to do with this). The pumpkin layer was good, too, but I think I might add either a bit more sugar or some maple syrup next time. It just could have been a little sweeter. Maybe it was the sweet potatoes or maybe it was the missing ginger.

Anyway, I never would have imagined that something without eggs and butter could taste so good! I will definitely make this again.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

When the recipe for these cookies popped into my inbox last week courtesy of The Healthy Bitch Daily, I knew I would be baking them up soon.   Never one to resist homemade chocolate chip cookies, I was curious as to how different they would be from the recipe I'd been using for the last 8 months.  Let's just say they turned out so well, I managed to stuff down about 5 or 6 before feeling slightly sick.   They were chewy perfection, I will definitely make these again but next time, will cut the amount of white sugar.     

Kim’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

What to Buy:
4 1/2 teaspoons of Ener-G Egg Replacer
6 tablespoons of warm water
1 cup Earth Balance non-dairy butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup evaporated cane juice sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (or you can use half whole wheat pastry flour and half all purpose flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 (12-ounce) package vegan chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional but delicious)

How to Make It:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a small bowl, combine the Egg replacer and the water and whip until fluffy. In a separate large bowl, add the Earth Balance, cane juice sugar, brown sugar and vanilla. Mix with a beater until well combined. Add the Egg replacer mixture and stir well. In a separate medium bowl add the flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined like a soft dough. Add the chocolate chips (and the nuts if you are using them). Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Scoop out small spoonfuls of batter and place on cookie sheet, making four rows of dough. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool. Makes 48 cookies.

What It’s Gonna Cost You:
Serving Size: 1 Cookie (28g) Calories: 130; Fat 7 g; Saturated Fat 2.5 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Carbohydrates 15 g; Fiber 1 g; Protein 1 g

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pad Thai

Wow, we are already on week three of our cooking challenge and I'm happy to report that this week's dish was a success.  My first attempt from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's The Vegan Table was a winner.  In a traditional Pad Thai there's more of a tangy, tomato base but in Colleen's version, the sauce is a sweet and slightly spicy, peanut sauce.  Some of my favourite foods - rice noodles, broccoli, garlic and crispy, seasoned tofu were smothered in a lime, tamari, peanut butter combination.   It pulled together fairly quickly even with a few separate steps.  While the noodles soak in boiling water, the tofu is sauteed, set it aside and then the veggies are cooked.  Everything is thrown together along with the sauce and quickly heated.  I was surprised at how fast I had dinner on the table.  After my last two or three disappointments I'm ecstatic to have discovered a meal I'd be happy to make again.  I didn't get a great photo of the plated food so you'll have to make due with two cooking shots.  

Pad Thai before the sauce hits.

And now it's Jeannette's turn with two submissions!

This week’s meal was a bit of a challenge. We had extensive flooding and the city had to restrict water usage due to a break in the water main. Along with the restriction, the water from the tap had to be boiled. I had way too many veggies in the fridge that had to be used up. The first dish I prepared was Tofu Aloo Gobi from the book Vegan Express by Nava Atlas. For this recipe I only omitted the cilantro, which I don’t care for, and I added an extra ½ cup of green peas.

The resulting dish was very tasty and very low fat. A lot of Indian food can be rather heavy, with lots of cream and butter. This dish had all the great taste without the heaviness. I did miss the creamy texture, so I may add a bit of coconut milk next time. , as there wasn’t much sauce in the pan. We ate this dish as is, the potatoes providing the starch. I added raisins to my bowl, because I love raisins!

Tofu Aloo Gobi

My second dish is my own creation for using up zucchini. So, I’ll call it Summer Veggie Skillet. This week’s version is as follows:

3 leeks, sliced
3 large tomatoes, chopped
1 large bell pepper, chopped
3 medium zucchini, sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced

I tried to get everything about the same size. I cooked the leek in a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Then I added the tomatoes and bell pepper and cooked them while prepping the zucchini. Then I added the zucchini, and then the hot pepper. I just cover and let this simmer, stirring occasionally, adding back the liquid from the lid. (You may need to add a splash of water if it dries out). I seasoned with a teaspoon of Italian herbs (dried in a jar mix). I cook this until everything is tender. I serve this over couscous. My husband loves it.

I usually make this dish with eggplant, more bell peppers, and no tomatoes, using water in their place. I have also added Italian dressing as the “sauce” on a whim. It is easy to make, uses up all the extra veggies and it freezes well. I will put this in my husband’s lunch in January!

Summer Veggie Skillet

Friday, August 13, 2010

Hurry Up Alfredo Sauce - We can eat it anytime!

Pasta and kale with Hurry Up Alfredo Sauce
This pasta sauce has become a family favourite, so much so that we sometimes make it for breakfast like this plate from yesterday morning.  I often cook up a batch of pasta, throw in some kale and broccoli a few minutes before it's done and then pour the sauce over.  This creamy, cashew based sauce is made in the blender and requires no cooking so its perfect for busy families.  My daughter wouldn't go near it the first five or six times we prepared it but she gradually became curious about the rapturous faces and sounds we were making while eating.   She has since been won over but to my chagrin has renamed it "pasta with hot-dog sauce".  I'm secretly horrified at the name but it seems to have stuck.  I think the dijon mustard or the combination of seasonings makes it smell like hotdogs to her.  You can find the recipe here, on Lauren Ulm's blog.  She is the author of Vegan YumYum, a beautifully photographed cookbook.  This is my favourite pasta sauce and it's also scrumptious poured over vegetables.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Amelia Bedelia Cake

Last night at bedtime, I was reading one of those awful Amelia Bedelia books to my daughter and at the back of the book she discovered a recipe.  I knew what was coming next, M was going to request we make it and I was dreading having to say no.  I thought it would be an egg and dairy laden dessert but when I read the ingredients out loud I was shocked to discover it was vegan!  What!  Cool!

So, after my daughter extracted a promise from me that we would make it first thing in the morning, she happily went off to sleep.  I love the rare days at home when I can devote an afternoon to browsing through my cookbooks, baking treats and planning future meals.  Lately, those days seem far and few between but happily today was one of them. 

We quickly assembled the ingredients from the pantry and my only complaint was that it called for everything to be mixed in the baking pan with a fork.  I found it a little tedious getting the wet and dry ingredients mixed properly in the darn corners.  It would have been much easier and faster to use a large mixing bowl.  This is a great recipe to make with kids because they can do it all from start to finish with minimal assistance.  It was moist and not too sweet but I found some inconsistency in the batter because it was mixed in the pan (and shhhh don't tell anyone but we didn't sift the dry ingredients).

Amelia Bedelia's Sheet Cake

3 cups of flour
1 3/4 cups of sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup of cocoa
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups water

Sift the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa directly into an ungreased 9" by 13" pan.  Add oil, vinegar, and vanilla.  Pour water over all ingredients.  Mix with a fork until smooth..

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. 

Okay, so we didn't exactly sift the dry ingredients. 

Mixing with great concentration.

Chocolate sheet cake fresh from the oven.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Yes!  Today is the day I made my first Daiya cheese pizza.  The excitement and tension level in my kitchen this afternoon was off the charts.  The dough we purchased at Whole Foods on the weekend turned out to be gluten-free and when I unwrapped it from the packaging it just fell apart.  There was no way I was risking my pizza on that crappy dough so I pulled out my recipe books, found a simple one with lots of great instructions in Vegan with a Vengeance and got to work.  After a frustrating and lengthy search for yeast in which I re-organized my pantry, I was then faced with the dilemma of figuring out the equivalent of 1/4 ounce in teaspoons of yeast.  I have bulk yeast instead of those individual wee packets but with a quick google found this great conversion site called   It's 1/2 tablespoon in case anyone wants to know! 

It's a good thing I started early because for a five ingredient recipe this takes a little time.  After mixing and then kneading for a good ten minutes, (my pre-pizza gorgefest workout) I left the dough under a damp towel to rest for an hour.   

The crust when baked was not as tender as I'd hoped.  It felt fine while I was kneading it but I think it may be my fault for not letting it rest long enough.   I was too hungry and excited to wait much longer than 15 minutes afer the second punch down and kneading.

We made three pizzas, one with just cheese for my daughter and two with veggies.   As an experiment, I laid the Daiya down first with the vegetables on top while the other had the Daiya on top of the veggies.  I think I had really high expectations for the cheese, never a good idea because as far as I'm concerned it did not live up to the hype.  It was good and melted well on one of the pizzas but the pizza that had the cheese on top was a little dry and not as gooey.   Flavour wise, again it was just okay, definitely not as salty as regular cheese.   Despite my reactions to the product and dough, I managed to scarf down an entire dinner plate sized pizza all by myself.  Now I need a nap. 

Daiya on top.

Melted Daiya pizza bite.

Daiya cheese underneath veggies stood up well. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

A trip to Panacea

I've been hearing about Daiya vegan cheese for several months and fantasizing about eating a hot, gooey pizza with melted cheese.  It's one of the few foods I do occasionally miss eating a plant based diet but I know those darling baby cows and their mamas are worth it.  Apparently, not only does Daiya taste great, but it's supposed to shred, melt and stretch like regular cheese.  So when I recently discovered that Toronto had an all vegan store called Panacea (at Bloor and Bathurst Street), I gathered together my little family and off we went in search of this miraculous product.  We arrived and were immediately offered assistance by the owner Ken Bontius and his business partner.  Not only were they incredibly friendly and helpful but they also engaged us in delightful conversation.  We spent an enjoyable 45 minutes wandering the aisles and chatting. My daughter was offerered an organic lollipop upon entering the store and then spent quite a few minutes contemplating the treat section at the front. There is a little bit of everything including organic vegan groceries, snacks, cosmetics and personal care items, cookbooks and reference materials and organic fair trade clothing and accessories. The shelves and displays are as tidy and clean as can be.  I will gladly stop by and shop whenever I'm in the area.  

I have also been searching for vegan graham cracker crumbs all over the city without any luck and was hopeful that I would find them there.  Alas, I was informed that this product was nowhere to be found but Ken told me he had contacted the owner of Sweet and Sara who makes handmade vegan marshmellows and treats in the U.S. in order to source them.  After taking a quick look at the Sweet and Sara product page and ingredient list I notice that they use graham flour and not premade graham cracker crumbs which makes sense so I think some further investigation is in order.  

Ken Bontius - owner of Panacea

M outside Panacea

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Spaghetti and Beanballs

This was an insanely busy week and thankfully I had decided ahead of time to prepare something relatively simple.  My challenge recipe for week two was Spaghetti and Beanballs from Veganomicon.  The bean balls are made with mashed up kidney beans, seasonings, bread crumbs and some wheat gluten.  We liked them but weren't thrilled so to speak.  I guess I'm not a huge kidney bean fan because they tasted too bean-y to me.  The leftovers are going to work with my husband.    Next week I promise to make something more attractive and hopefully delicious!

Spaghetti and Beanballs

And here is Jeannette's yummy looking submission:

We had a rather late breakfast today, so we didn’t want a big meal. I decided to prepare Curried Cashew Couscous from the book Vegan Express by Nava Atlas. This dish was very quick to prepare, as the recipe promised. I did leave out the ginger and the scallions (I don’t like either taste), and I added an extra ½ cup of green peas. I don’t own any “fragrant” oils, like walnut oil, so I used 2 tablespoons of good quality virgin olive oil.

The resulting dish was very pretty to look at, slightly orange from the curry and turmeric. The peas and dried cranberries added a nice pop of color. The curry was very subtle, but tasty. You could add more curry and/or the ginger for a spicier taste, but it isn’t necessary.

I am surprised by the high calorie count per serving in the nutritional information given with the recipe. There are 400 cal for the cashews and 260 for the oil, which comes to 165 cal/serving at 4 servings. That leaves another 250 calories per serving for everything else, so I think 414 cal/serving is high, especially as it makes a lot. I think it is a pretty healthy and tasty side dish. We ate it warm, but it could be good cold. I think I might add more fruit to it, too, like apples, or maybe shredded carrots.

Curried Cashew Couscous

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Roasted Kale = Yum!

Kale is one of my favourite vegetables and one of the few my daughter will eat so I don't know what took me so long to try roasting it.   The bunch I had in the fridge was looking a little sad so I decided today was the day.   If I don't eat some greens every day I notice myself getting cranky so it's always nice to discover a new way to prepare them. 

I tossed the kale in a bowl with a little sesame oil, sesame seeds and a pinch of salt, threw it in the oven for 10 minutes and voila!   Easy, healthy finger food.  We gobbled up the entire pan in a few minutes.   Another tasty option for the topping is olive oil and nutritional yeast.

She ate almost the entire plate!

Crispy Roasted Kale

Monday, August 2, 2010

Eggplant-Potato Moussaka with Pine Nut Cream

I'm so excited!  For the first week of the vegan cooking challenge I decided to make Eggplant-Potato Moussaka with Pine Nut Cream from Veganomicon.  I wanted to attempt something completely new and a little bit fancy in honour of my husband's birthday.  There is quite a bit of prep work involved in this recipe.  Eggplant, zucchini and potatoes were peeled, sliced and roasted on trays.  I seem to have severely underestimated the amount of shrinkage the vegetables would undergo and only prepared one tray for each.   I would recommend doing one and a half or two trays of each to end up with enough for layering.  As the veggies roasted, I prepared the tomato based sauce on the stove and the pine nut cream in the food processor.  Once all of the components were ready, the layering began and then back into the oven it went.   

I was a little disappointed in the flavour of this dish.  I've never had regular moussaka so I had nothing to compare it to but for the same amount of effort I would much rather eat a scrumptious lasagna.   I'm not sure if I did something wrong apart from over-roasting the potatoes and I am quite obssessed with eggplant so I was sure this was going to be a hit.  I'm glad I gave it a go even though it turned out to be not among my favourites from this collection.  

Eggplant-Potato Moussaka with Pine Nut Cream

Joining me in the challenge is my talented friend Jeannette who does not (yet) have her own food blog.  She has submitted the following:  

For my first entry in the Vegan Cooking Challenge, I made a zucchini cake that I found posted on The Post Punk Kitchen.  But, as my husband will attest, I never follow a recipe to the letter. SO, I read the posts following the original recipe post and made a few adjustments of my own. Here is my modified recipe:


3 cups grated, unpeeled, fresh zucchini
2 ripe bananas, mashed well
1/2 cup canola oil
3 cups flour
1 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. Vanilla

I omitted the ground walnuts and the chocolate chips. I also took the cake out of the pan after 5 minutes and ate it warm.

My Results:

I got a sweet, moist and firm zucchini cake. It was not as “tender” as it would have been with the full cup of oil, but it was not dry. I could have used a tablespoon or two of liquid to thin the batter, because it was fairly stiff. I never peel zucchini before grating; I like the green flecks. I mixed the sugar into the flour by mistake. If I had mixed it into the wet ingredients, it might have helped pull some of the liquid out of the zucchini. But, it didn’t matter because this cake is very good, even with my modifications.

I am curious about using soda instead of baking powder. Soda needs an acid to react with. I wonder if baking powder should be used? Is this something vegans do not use?

Jeannette's Zucchini Cake

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Coconut-Lemon Bundt Cake

I made this cake for my husband's birthday even though it's not the usual frosted confection typically eaten at such occoasions.  Before it even had a chance to cool down and receive the recommended sprinkling of icing sugar, slices were being snuck out of the kitchen while I was busy preparing dinner.  It was a hit with the adults and my very, discriminating daughter ate 3/4 of a good sized piece.  She's usually a strictly chocolate girl so that tells me something.  The shredded coconut lends the texture an unexpected chewiness and combines nicely with the lemon flavour.  This cake would be perfect for afternoon tea.   

Recipe from Veganomicon

Coconut-Lemon Bundt Cake