Monthly Archives: December 2013

Lasagna

I have just emerged from a bout of food poisoning. According to my research, I had a mild case. Apparently, some cases of food poisoning can last for a few days. My experience lasted for 30 hours or so, from the beginning to feel ill to the return of my appetite and a cessation of cramps. The most intense period lasted for about 5 hours with almost constant pain and … well you know. The last meal I ate before succumbing to this illness was a delicious vegetarian lasagna, salad and gluten-free apple crumble. Although I am certain that this food did not carry the bacteria or virus that made me sick, I am afraid that the lasagna is going to die a death by association, that is, I’m afraid that I won’t want to eat it again because I associate it with this attack of food poisoning. In an attempt to exorcise this lasagna-food poisoning association demon, I will share the lasagna recipe with you here on my blog. It really is quite yummy and very healthy!

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Vegetable Lasagna

(adapted from  E2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn)

2 medium or 1 large yam, cooked and mashed

lasagna noodles *

1 onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or minced

10 to 12 mushrooms, coarsely chopped

1 head broccoli, coarsely chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 red bell peppers, chopped

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp basil

1 block Silken tofu

2 jars of your favourite pasta sauce or your favourite homemade

500 grams frozen spinach, thawed and drained

3 Roma tomatoes, sliced

several leaves fresh basil, coarsely chopped

1 cup cashews, ground

Cook and mash the yams and set aside. Cook the lasagna noodles in a big pot of boiling water – do not cook all the way as they can finish cooking in the lasagna in the oven. Saute the onions in a bit of water, then add the garlic. Add a tbsp of water to prevent sticking. Add the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms release their liquid. Remove from the pan. Cook the broccoli, carrots and peppers in the mushroom liquid. Season with the cayenne, oregano and basil. Remove from pan and add to the onion and mushrooms. Crumble the tofu into the vegetables and stir everything together. Set aside. To assemble, lay down a thin layer of pasta sauce along the bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Put down a layer of lasagna noodles then cover the noodles with some more sauce. Spread the veg-tofu mixture over the sauce, then add another layer of noodles and some more sauce. The next layer is the spinach followed by the mashed yams. Some more sauce, a final layer of noodles and a final layer of sauce. Arrange the tomato slices on the top. Sprinkle on the fresh basil. Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle on the ground cashews and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove lasagna from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

* I used brown rice noodles in this lasagna because I needed to make it gluten free. These noodles worked really well. Other times I have used whole wheat lasagna noodles as well as organic white flour lasagna noodles. The recipe needs about 10 noodles.

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Mincemeat

Merry Christmas everyone! And Happy Winter Solstice! Whatever you celebrate, and wherever you are, I hope you were able to spend time with loved ones and to eat delicious food. I hosted the Christmas dinner today. Along with the turkey I cooked for my omnivore family, and to satisfy tradition, “Tom” and I also made mashed potatoes, roasted brussel sprouts and carrots, garlic-white wine mushrooms, and peas. This is our usual fare for Thanksgiving and Christmas and there isn’t much leeway allowed on these food choices by the traditionalists in the family. Where there is a little more room for experimentation is dessert. Often I will make Apple Crumble or “Tom” will make one of his sensational pies, but this year, I decided to be traditional and new age at the same time. I made vegan mincemeat tarts. When I set out to make the mincemeat, I remembered that years ago, when I used to do a lot of baking, I would make vegetarian mincemeat – no animal suet used in the making. I searched through my extensive recipe file for my mincemeat recipe and I searched through the internet looking for a vegan mincemeat recipe. I couldn’t find what I was looking for in either of those places. So, I decided to make my own version of vegan mincemeat based on my memory and on a few ideas I found online. Here’s what I came up with:

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1/2 cup apple juice

1/2 cup brown sugar

3 apples, peeled, cored, diced

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup currants

handful chopped dried cherries, optional

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp allspice

1 tbsp. brandy or rum or whiskey

Heat the apple juice and brown sugar together until the sugar dissolves. Combine all the ingredients together, including the sweetened juice. Stir well, then let sit for an hour or more to allow the dried fruit to plump up and to let flavours develop.

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I made mincemeat tarts with my mincemeat, but you could also make a mincemeat pie or even just serve the mincemeat straight up with a bit of vegan ice cream or cashew cream. To make my tarts, I made some pastry dough, rolled it out fairly thinly, cut out large circles using a small bowl as my cut-out, then lined a tart pan (like a muffin pan except the sides are more sloping) with the pastry circles. It’s a bit tricky doing the crust for tarts – you have to gently press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the openings in the tart pan, and the dough will overlap on the sides, and you have to press and flatten and make sure it isn’t too thick and make sure that you’re careful and the dough doesn’t rip. Whew! I ended up making just 6 of these tarts. Then I found some pre-made tart shells in the freezer and I filled 4 of these with mincemeat. Finally, I  made a larger tart using what I call a patty-pan. By then, I had run out of mincemeat and I was done working with pastry!

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Before serving, I heated the tarts up a bit then served them with cashew cream. They were a big hit. Even my cynical-about-vegan-cooking brother declared them “delicious”.

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Scotland Gone Vegan!

Tonight “Tom” and I hosted a Scottish themed dinner party. Our inspiration was our recent trip to Scotland where we were able to sample haggis, tatties, neeps and bridies. We managed to find vegetarian haggis and bridies, but got quite a shock when we bit into a tattie pie and discovered not only potatoes, but meat as well!

Vegetarian Haggis nestled atop mashed tatties and bashed neeps and served with whiskey sauce.

Vegetarian Haggis nestled atop mashed tatties and bashed neeps and served with whiskey sauce.

 

A sampler dish of vegetarian haggis, tatties and neeps served with an oak cake.

A sampler dish of vegetarian haggis, tatties and neeps served with an oak cake.

Here is the menu for our dinner party:

Bridies* with HP Sauce

Haggis, Mashed Tatties, Bashed Neeps with Whiskey Sauce*

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Oat Cakes

Salad with Caesar Chavez Dressing

Carnachan*

And here’s how we made the food (recipes included for menu items with a *) …

Bridies (adapted from this recipe)

– these are meat and onion pies

– “Tom”, being the accomplished pastry chef he is, made these

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1 recipe for pastry dough (enough for about 3 pie crusts)

1 package of Veggie Ground Round

1 onion, diced

1 cup vegetarian beef bouillon

1 tsp dry mustard

1 1/2 tsps garlic powder

1 tsp dried thyme

salt and pepper

Saute the Veggie Ground Round and the onion together for a bit, then add the remaining ingredients. Let simmer and cook down until the liquid has been reduced. Roll out the pastry dough and cut out 6″ diameter circles. Spoon some of the meat and onion mixture onto 1 half of the pastry circle, moisten edges with water, fold over, crimp closed with a fork, and cut a steam slash or two into the pastry. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, rotate pan(s) and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes until lightly browned on the bottom. This recipe made 17 bridies.

Vegetarian Haggis with Tatties and Neeps (recipe adapted from here) and Whiskey Sauce (I can’t remember where I got the recipe from!)

(I apologize for the photo – I forget to take a picture until we’d already started eating!)

A tower of tatties, neeps and haggis.

A tower of tatties, neeps and haggis.

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 small carrot, finely chopped

5 mushrooms, finely chopped

1 cup vegetarian beef bouillon

1/3 cup red lentils

2 tbsp. cooked kidney beans, mashed

3 tbsps. ground peanuts

2 tbsps. ground hazelnuts

 1 tbsp. tamari

1 tbsp. lemon juice

3 tsps minced fresh rosemary

1 1/2 tsps dried thyme

1 pinch cayenne

1 1/3 cups oats

1 large rutabaga (Swede turnip), peeled and cut into cubes

6 white potatoes, peeled, quartered

1/2 cup non-dairy milk

salt

1 cup Scotch whiskey (I used a blend because it was considerably cheaper than the single malt)

3/4 cup almond milk

1/4 cup agave nectar

2 tbsps. cashew cream (see dessert recipe below)

Saute the onion (add a splash of water to prevent sticking if needed) for a bit, then add the carrots and mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms release their moisture. Stir in the broth, lentils, kidney beans, peanuts, hazelnuts, tamari and lemon juice. Cook for a couple of minutes then stir in thyme, rosemary and cayenne. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir in oats, cover and simmer for 20 minutes – you may need to add more water as the oats begin to soak up the liquid. Spoon into a baking dish and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

Boil the rutabaga cubes until tender, drain and mash.

Boil the potatoes until tender, drain, mash with milk and salt.

Heat and simmer the whiskey until reduced by 1/2. Whisk in the milk, agave and cashew cream. Let simmer, whisking now and then until it thickens a bit.

Assembly:

– put a scoop of mashed potatoes on a plate, hollow out the mound somewhat

– put a scoop of mashed turnips into the hollow of the mashed potatoes, hollow out the turnips a bit

– put a scoop of haggis into the turnip hollow and mound and sculpt the haggis over top

– serve with whiskey sauce

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Carnachan (my own creation, based on a dessert I had in World’s End Pub in Edinburgh)

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1 cup cashews, soaked overnight, drained

1/2 to 3/4 cup water

2 tbsp. agave nectar

4 cups frozen raspberries

2 tbsps. sweetener like agave or honey or sugar

3/4 cup oats

1/2 cup sliced almonds

Blend the cashews with the water – start with 1/2 cup water, then increase until the cashews can be blended easily, but are still blending into a thickish cream. Reserve 2 tbsps. for the whiskey sauce above. Blend the agave into the rest of the cashew cream. Heat the raspberries gently and stir in the sweetener, gently so as not to break apart all the raspberries. Toast the oats in a dry pan over med-high heat – shake and toss the oats so that they do not burn. Remove from heat and transfer into a dish as soon as they start to brown. Toast the almonds in the same way.

Ways to assemble the carnachan:

1. I assembled the dessert by putting a dollop of cashew cream into an individual dessert bowl, then a spoonful of raspberries, then sprinkling some toasted oats and almonds over top. My grandson (3 years old) helped with the assembly, so I went for the least complicated method.

2. In individual bowls, layer cream, then raspberries, then oats, then cream, then raspberries, then oats, then cream, then oats and almonds.

Variation:

– soak the raspberries in whiskey or Drambuie beforehand or drizzle a bit of whiskey onto the dessert when serving

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Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad with Baked Tofu

Today I made a new recipe from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. All you vegans and plant-based dieters know this cookbook author I’m sure. She’s written a number of books , the latest being Isa Does It, just released this year, and on my Christmas list. Check out her website, Post Punk Kitchen, listed at the bottom on my blogroll. Anyway, back to the recipe … I tweaked Isa’s original recipe a bit, so check out my tweaks and Tom’s suggestions at the end.

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Dressing:

1/3 cup warm water

3 tbsps agave nectar

3 tbsps chili garlic sauce

1 tbsp tamari sauce *

1/4 cup lime juice **

1/4 tsp salt

Salad:

350 grams medium-firm tofu ***

1/2 of a 450 gram package of rice noodle sticks ****

1 medium cucumber, thinly sliced half moons

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced *****

1 cup edamame beans ******

1/4 cup thinly sliced mint leaves

Peanut-Mint Gremolata

1/4 cup peanuts, chopped very well

3 tbsps finely chopped mint

zest of 1/2 lime

Press the tofu like this. After pressing overnight or all day, slice the tofu into 8 equal pieces widthwise, then slice each rectangle into 2 long triangles. Mix the dressing ingredients together, then marinade the tofu triangles in the dressing overnight or all day. Lightly grease a baking sheet, place the marinated (after removing the tofu from the marinade, reserve the marinade for dressing the salad) tofu triangles on the sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes then flip the tofu and bake for another 15 minutes. Set aside.

Cook the rice noodles – boil a pot of water, put the noodles in the hot water, remove from heat and let soak for about 20 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water. Set aside.

Toss the cucumber, red onion, edamame and mint together, then add the noodles and toss again. Pour the reserved marinade/dressing over and toss again.

Combine the gremolata ingredients in a small bowl.

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To serve, spoon some salad into a big bowl, add a few triangles of baked tofu, sprinkle on some gremolata, eat!

* original recipe called for soy sauce, I changed it to tamari sauce

** original recipe called for freshly squeezed lime juice, I didn’t have any limes at the time I made the marinade, so I used bottled lime juice, but I recommend the fresh lime juice if possible

*** the original recipe called for a much shorter marinating time and also fried the tofu, I marinated for several hours and baked the tofu

**** the original recipe called for thin rice noodles, vermicelli, but I didn’t have any so I used the rice sticks instead – I’ll use the vermicelli next time, I also think this salad would be good with soba noodles

***** the original recipe called for 1 whole red onion, but I reduced it to 1/2 red onion because too much raw onion doesn’t sit well with my gastro-intestinal system

****** the original recipe called for string beans, but I don’t like those kind of beans so I substituted edemame and they worked wonderfully

Tom’s suggestions:

  • no cucumber – use grated carrot and/or cabbage instead

  • add toasted sesame seeds to the gremolata mix

  • finely dice some red pepper and use as a garnish (for colour)

  • more salt or more tamari

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