Category Archives: Dessert

Salad or Dessert?

Around the end of February, I decided to give up sugar. I wanted to cleanse my body, get over the cravings of an addiction, and add in another layer of healthy living to my life.

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Here are some negative qualities of sugar that I’ve come across in my reading:

  • empty calories

  • bad for the liver

  • linked to cancer

  • fattening and can lead to obesity

  • can cause heart disease

  • can be highly addictive

How much sugar did I actually consume before eliminating it from my diet? Well, being a (mostly) vegan, I don’t eat cookies and cakes and such, but I do like chocolate! My latest chocolate binge began in December and carried on into the new year. There is always a lot of chocolate around during the holidays and then once Christmas is over, chocolate goes on sale and ya gotta buy it because it’s such a deal! And, I have to admit, I was eating milk chocolate – so deliciously sweet and smooth; so very not vegan; so very addictive!

Eating Chocolate

So, at the end of Dine Out Vancouver, I said, “That’s it! No more sugar!” I anticipated that it was going to be somewhat trying when I embarked on this sugar elimination campaign, but I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be too difficult. I was wrong! It was, and it continues to be, hard. It’s been about six weeks with no sugar and I still get cravings! At first, the cravings were every day, mostly in the evening. Nowadays, those cravings have tapered off, but every now and then, maybe a couple of times a week, when I’m relaxing in the living room in the evening, I get this restless craving for something … a nice big bite of milk chocolate! So, how do I deal with these cravings? Well, I live with a terrific partner who, for the most part, stays away from refined sugar. I’ve discovered Larabar, an energy bar made from dates and nuts.

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Plus, “Tom” and I have been exploring sweet replacements for sugar. We’ve always eaten a lot of fresh fruit, but now we eat more during the evenings – the danger time zone when fighting sugar addiction – such as fresh pineapple, mango, oranges, apples, bananas. (“Tom” is cutting up some pineapple as I type)!

And this brings me to the recipe I want to share with you. This salad is so sweetly, deliciously yummy that you could (and I have) eat it for dessert! The recipe was developed by Sherry Strong of Return to Food (http://www.returntofood.com/).

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Now before you freak out about the colour and look of this salad, let me explain! I used my spiralizer for the first time to make this salad and I made spirals our of some wonderful organic purple carrots that I received in my CSA box. Looks kinda weird, but taste was yummy!

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1 large carrot, spiralized or grated

1 large apple, spiralized or grated (skin on)

zest and juice of 1 lime

1/4 cup raisins, chopped

handful of walnuts, left whole or coarsely chopped

Toss the carrot and apple in a bowl with the lime zest and juice. Stir in raisins and walnuts. Eat! Simple, quick, healthy, satisfies the craving for sweet. Yum!

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Another Dinner Party – White Bean Salad and Strawberry Chocolate Mousse Pie

This summer saw a few dinner parties. I posted about the party “Tom” and I had here. The next dinner party was a casual bday celebration outside on some friends’ patio. It was a potluck – not in the literal sense where everyone brings whatever, and all guests take their chances on what food is available, but where the hosts provided the main course and the guests brought complementary food. Our hosts made Puttanesca sauce with pasta, so I thought I’d bring a salad. But what kind of salad goes with the strong flavours of Puttanesca sauce? Here’s what was recommended by Moira Hodgson in Oprah Magazine:

White Bean Salad

(adapted from Moira Hodgson)

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3 cups cooked navy beans

1 orange bell pepper, diced

1/4 red onion, diced

1 large tomato, diced

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsps. white wine vinegar

1 tbsp. water

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)

1/2 tsp salt (or more)

sprinkling of black pepper

Gently toss the beans, bell pepper, onion and tomato together. Whisk the dressing ingredients together then pour over the beans. Gently mix together and let marinate in fridge for a couple of hours. Bring to room temperature to serve.

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I also decided to bring a dessert. I have been making my chocolate mousse pie for some time now, but I wanted to add in another layer … literally another layer, but also another layer of flavour. I had some late season local strawberries in the fridge so I created this:

Strawberry Chocolate Mousse Pie

(my own creation)

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2 packages Oreo cookie type cookies

2 tbsps. coconut oil

1 recipe chocolate mousse

  • 1 full package (200 grams) organic fair trade baking chocolate (I use Camino semi-sweet)

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  • 1 package silken tofu

  • 1/2 cup almond milk

  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla (liquid or powder)

  • pinch sea salt

1 cup strawberries

1 tbsp. maple syrup

several strawberries cut in slices

Crumble 1/2 of the cookies in a blender, then transfer to a pie plate. Crumble the other 1/2 of the cookies in a blender with the coconut oil until well mixed. Mix the dry and oiled cookie crumbs together and press up the sides and into the bottom of the pie plate.

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler.

Slip the tofu into a pot of boiling water and boil for 2-3 minutes (helps get rid of any beany taste).

Put the tofu into the blender with the milk and blend until smooth. Add in the melted chocolate, vanilla and salt and blend for 2-3 minutes until very smooth. Pour the chocolate mousse into the pie plate on top of the cookie crumb base. Put in fridge for an hour or so until the mousse cools and firms up.

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Put the cup of strawberries into a blender and blend until liquid. Add in the maple syrup and blend briefly. Ladle the strawberry puree onto the chocolate mousse, letting the puree spread on its own to the edges.

Top with sliced strawberries.

Chill in fridge for at least an hour. Serve straight from the fridge.

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Dinner Party Extrodinaire!

“Tom” and I just finished hosting a great dinner party. It was such a relief to get this party going because it was prefaced by organizational challenges – procrastination, rescheduling, commitment, on again, off again. Usually our little gang of dinner partyers has our dinners scheduled ahead of time, but not this time for some reason. Funny thing is I’ve had the menu planned for months! So once we nailed down a date, I was raring to go! Here is the menu:

Cauliflower Ceviche *

Mexican Fiesta Taco Salad with Cilantro Cashew Cream *

Slow Cooker Refried Beans *

Chocolate Mousse – Strawberry-Cherry Parfaits *

fresh fruit (watermelon and cherries)

* see below for recipes

You can find the recipes for the Taco Salad and the Chocolate Mousse on my blog – see links above.

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Cauliflower Ceviche

(adapted from Dora’s Table’s Cauliflower Ceviche)

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets

1 cup of diced tomatoes

1 cup of peeled, seeded, chopped cucumber

1/2 Serrano pepper, minced

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

3 tbsp fresh lime juice

1 tsp (or more) salt

Put the cauliflower florets into a pot of boiling water and simmer for 2 minutes. Drain and immediately plunge into a big bowl of cold water. When cool, chop finely. (I threw the cauliflower into my mini-food processor to chop). Put all the chopped vegetables in a big bowl, add the cilantro, lime juice and salt and mix together. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes. We ate this with tortilla chips and alongside the taco salad as a kind of salsa.

This was the first time I made this dish. It was pretty good and was well received, but I think the next time I make it I will take it up a notch. I only put 1/2 a Serrano pepper in because I wanted to be careful about the heat, but I could easily have put the whole thing in. (You just never know with peppers … you can get a super fiery one or a fairly mild one)! Also, the dish needs more lime juice or vinegar or something to up the tangy taste. This will make the dish more liquidy, but after marinating, the ceviche could be transferred to another bowl leaving the excess liquid behind.

Cilantro Cashew Cream (This stuff is crazy delicious!)

(adapted from Oh She Glows’ Cilantro Lime Garlic Cashew Sauce)

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3/4 cup cashews, soaked overnight

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

1 large garlic clove, minced

3 tbsps. fresh lime juice (the juice of 1 whole lime)

2 tbsps. avocado

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 cup water

Drain the soaking water from the cashews. Through everything into the blender and blend for 2 or 3 minutes. Stop, scrape down the sides and blend for another 2 or 3 minutes. (Unless you have a high powered blender then you can blend it until smooth in 2 minutes).

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Slow Cooker Refried Beans

(my own recipe)

image2 cups dry pinto beans, thoroughly rinsed and drained

1 small onion, diced

4 or 5 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp hickory black pepper, if you have it, otherwise use plain black pepper

1 tsp chipotle paste (I make paste by throwing a can of chipotle peppers in adobe sauce through the blender, then I store the paste in a jar in the fridge)

5 cups vegetable broth

Throw everything in the slow cooker and cook on high for 5 hours. Turn to low, coarsely mash the beans in the pot with a potato masher, and keep warm in the slow cooker until ready to use. I stirred a tsp of hickory smoked salt in just before serving. (The refried beans will probably be a bit runny. When they cool down, they thicken up. You can also reduce the liquid in the slow cooker by 1/2.)

Strawberry-Cherry Parfaits

(makes 5 servings)

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1 recipe chocolate mousse

2 cups strawberries

2 cups halved, pitted cherries

2 tbsp maple syrup

5 cherries with stem attached

Make the chocolate mousse ahead of time and leave in fridge to set for a few hours. Put the strawberries in a small saucepan over medium to low heat and add the maple syrup. Bring to low boil then let simmer for 30 minutes. Put the cherries in a small saucepan and heat over medium to low heat. Bring to low boil and let simmer for 20 minutes.

In parfait glasses (I don’t have parfait glasses so I used wine glasses), begin the layering process. Set out the glasses, and put a layer of chocolate mousse in each. Then put in a layer of strawberry compote, another layer of chocolate mousse, then a layer of cherry compote, and finish with a layer of chocolate mousse. Of course, you need to put a cherry on top!

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Looks like a mess when it’s all on the plate, but don’t let that fool you! It was all dee-licious!

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Chocolate Mousse Pie

This is a recipe I use for special occasions like birthdays and Valentines Day. It is really easy to make, tastes fabulous, is vegan and there are always some leftovers so “Tom” and I can have a treat the next day. I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for quite some time, but was waiting for a special holiday or something to share it with the world. It seems, however, that I’m too busy making chocolate mousse pies and entertaining to write blog posts at special holiday times, so I’m going to post this recipe now when we’re kind of in between holidays. I guess Easter is coming up, so if you celebrate then or just have a couple of stat days to enjoy, maybe you could try out this pie.

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Crust:

1 package vegan Oreo style cookies, crushed (I found a brand that was vegan and gluten-free in my local grocery store recently. I thought I took a picture of the package, but I can’t find it. Sorry! That’s not very helpful, is it?)

2 tbsps. coconut oil

Mix the cookie crumbs and the oil together with your hands. Press into the bottom of a pie plate. Refrigerate.

Filling:

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate (vegan and organic)

1 package silken tofu

1/2 cup almond milk

1/2 tsp vanilla

pinch sea salt

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or, if you’re like me and don’t have a double boiler, melt the chocolate in a metal or pyrex bowl over a pot of hot water. Let cool a bit. Slip the tofu into a pot of boiling water and simmer for about 3 minutes (helps remove any beany taste), drain, let cool a bit in cold water. Blend together tofu, milk, vanilla and salt in a blender until smooth. Stream the melted chocolate into the blender while motor is running. Blend until well combined and smooth. Pour over the cookie crumb pie shell. Refrigerate about 4 hours.

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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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Gingerbread Creations

Last night I got together with some friends and made snowy scenes out of gingerbread and icing. We decorated with whatever we had in our pantries including kidney beans, cinnamon sticks, stale marshmallows … ! We ended up with a hobbit house, a 1st Nations long house, and a forest. I made the forest. The inspiration for the forest and for an evening of gingerbread constructing with friends came from Lindsay Anderson and 365 Days of Dining.

I’ve actually been involved in gingerbread construction for many years. When my children were, well, children, we would make something every Christmas – there was one memorable year when my daughter made a carousel and my son made a graveyard! As well, I’ve incorporated gingerbread construction into my classroom every December as a math unit – students design their buildings, draw up blueprints and templates, roll and cut dough, assemble and decorate buildings. I just realized last night, after I lovingly and carefully brought my gingerbread forest into the house, that this was the first gingerbread creation I’d ever made for myself! If that’s not enough motivation to share on my blog, then the vegan gingerbread recipe sure is.

Gingerbread Cut-Out Cookies

adapted from Post Punk Kitchen

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup plain soy or almond milk

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp each nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon

1 1/2 tsps ground ginger

1/2 cup white flour

Mix oil, sugar, molasses and milk together and whisk for 3 minutes. Mix together whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir to combine. Stir in the 1/2 cup white flour to make a dough that holds together. Form into a ball, wrap in a plastic bag and refrigerate for an hour. Roll out dough to about 1/2 cm thick. Cut into desired shapes using cookie cutters, templates and knife. Put on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes exactly. Cool in pan for 2 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before assembling and icing.

Confession: My gingerbread forest was not 100% vegan! Gasp! I used royal icing which is made with egg white. Today, I looked for a vegan icing recipe – I haven’t tried it yet, but it sounds like the writer of the blog had a great time making gingerbread houses and that the icing hardens up nicely just like royal icing. If you try it or know of another vegan icing good for gingerbread construction, please post a comment.

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JAMAICA, MON!

Here’s a posting I’ve been wanting to publish for months.  “Tom” and I went to Jamaica for Christmas 2011, had a wonderful time, then held a Jamaican inspired dinner party in February.  This was the menu (warning – not vegan! in fact, not even vegetarian!):

Pepper Shrimps

Jerk Chicken

Jerk Tofu

Callaloo

Rice ‘n’ Beans

Peanut Cake

Pepper Shrimps

We chose to make this dish because when we were on a bus excursion in Jamaica, our bus driver pulled over to a roadside food stand where we bought jerk chicken and pepper shrimps.  The shrimp were whole – heads, legs, feelers, everything – and had to be peeled before eating.  They were very spicy and very tasty.  I found a recipe for a marinade for pepper shrimps, bought live shrimp (I do not recommend doing this if you’re squeamish!), and threw it all together.  Actually, there was no throwing, but rather lots of squealing over the flopping, moving shrimp, disgust over the preparation of the shrimp, the burning of fingertips over dicing up some hot chili peppers …

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallion
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 3 fresh Scotch bonnet or habanero chiles, halved and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 10 whole allspice
  • 1 lb large shrimp in shell (21 to 25 per lb)

Combine all ingredients in a big bowl and let marinate for a bit – maybe half an hour or so.

Then, in a big heavy pot and bring just to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for a few minutes.

Remove pot from heat. Cool shrimp in liquid to room temperature, uncovered, about 1 hour. Transfer shrimp with a slotted spoon to a plate or bowl and drizzle some of cooking liquid on top.  Provide plenty of napkins for wiping fingers as this is the ultimate in finger food!

Jerk Chicken and Tofu

I bought a jar of jerk sauce at the airport in Montego Bay and that’s what I used for this recipe.

You can buy such jars or even jerk spice mixes in most grocery stores in Canada, or you can make your own.  With the sauce from the jar, I only needed a little bit to lightly coat the chicken and tofu and there was no need to really marinade because the flavour is already so powerful, it doesn’t need to seep and soak into the raw food.

I baked the chicken and tofu, but I suppose it could be barbequed, especially over charcoal.

Callaloo

Callaloo is the Jamaican green.  I ate it almost every morning for breakfast along with fresh fruit.  People liken it to spinach, but it’s not nearly as delicate.  I find it more like a Chinese green and, in fact, “Tom” and I use Gai Lan as our substitute for callaloo while in Canada.  We prepare it by sauteeing up a bit of onion and garlic, then throwing in some chopped Gai Lan and steaming for a bit.  Voila!

Rice ‘n’ Beans

This is a mainstay of the Jamaican diet.  I ate this almost everyday in Jamaica as well.  All it really is is rice, red beans (can use kidney beans), coconut milk, and garlic.  You can add whatever spices and herbs you want – make it spicy with chili peppers, thyme is a common addition, a bay leaf, some chopped up onion, etc.  Actually, I can’t find the exact recipe I used to make this dish for this dinner party, so it’s likely I just threw the ingredients together!

Peanut Cake

This treat is not cake at all!  It’s more like peanut brittle, but with a ginger kick to it.  I made it the day of the dinner party and when we ate the cakes, they were really, really hard!  The next day, however, they had softened to a much more manageable biting and chewing texture.

  • 2 cup roasted peanuts
  • 5 tablespoons minced or shredded ginger
  • 3 cups dark unprocessed sugar
  • 1 cup water

Combine the peanuts and ginger.

Place in a deep pot with the sugar and water.

Put stove on high and boil.

Boil until water is gone and the sugar is like caramel and sticky.

Place a sheet of greased paper on a flat surface (kitchen counter) close by.

Stir the mixture in the pot with a large spoon to be sure it does not stick to the bottom.

Use the spoon to scoop out mixture to create 1-1/4-inch wide mounds on the greased paper.

Each 1-1/4-inch wide mound should be placed in a separate heap on the greased paper.

Let the drops cool and harden. Serve. Makes about 20 pieces.

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Potato Salad and Fruit Sauce

Okay, let’s see how this new blog format works.  I’m finding WordPress not as user-friendly as blogspot, but from what I understand I should be able to do more with wordpress … I just have to figure out how.

Just a reminder, this blog, Mostly Vegan, is a continuation of Food, Farts and Fun and that blog can still be accessed here: Food, Farts and Fun.

This potato salad recipe was inspired by Ross on Vegan Eats.  I’m not a great fan of potato salads – I prefer my potatoes cooked and hot – but “Tom” (remember him from F,F&F?) loves them and I thought this recipe would be worth trying because I could use potatoes and green onions grown by our very ownselves as well as dill and cucumber from the local farm market.  (There are many farm markets in Richmond.  Today I went to Urban Farm Market on the corner of No 5 Rd and Westminster Hwy).

Potato and Cucumber Salad

5 fist-sized (or slightly smaller) new potatoes, cut into whatever size you like for potato salads, cooked until fork-tender but not falling apart

1 whole English cucumber, diced or chunked or however you like (I cut the cucumber lengthwise in quarters, then chopped)

3 large green onions, chopped

1 bunch of dill, chopped finely

1/4 cup tahini

1/4 cup water

1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced finely or pressed

2 tbsps fresh lemon juice (the juice from 1/2 lemon)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp sugar (original recipe calls for cane sugar, I used brown sugar, “Tom” suggests agave nectar)

1 tsp olive oil

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

freshly ground black pepper

8+ grape tomatoes, cut into quarters lengthwise (optional)

Mix the drained and cooled potatoes with the cucumbers and green onions.  Toss in the dill.  Whisk together tahini, water, garlic, lemon juice, salt, sugar, oil, paprika until smooth.  Combine the vegetables with the dressing (don’t put all of it in at once, you might not want all of it.  I used about 3/4 of the dressing in our salad).  Spoon the salad into bowls, garnish with 4 grape tomatoes and grind on some black pepper.

Note:  This salad is best eaten fairly soon after preparing.  If left too long, the cucumbers release their water and the salad ends up sitting in a pool of cucumber juice!

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Now for dessert!

I managed to find some late season local strawberries earlier this week.  At the same time I bought some local blueberries and a couple of Okanagan plums, all purchased at G.J. Farm on No. 4 Rd just south of Steveston Hwy.  I decided a fruit parfait was in order so I whipped up a fruit sauce (inspired by Fit For Life by Marilyn Diamond).

Fruit Sauce

4 tbsps raw cashews, soaked for at least 1 hour (I usually soak them overnight)

2 medjool dates

2 fresh apricots, peeled, pitted, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup water

Put the dates, apricots and water in a blender and leave overnight to soak – do not drain.  In the morning, drain the cashews then throw the cashews in the blender.  Blend for 5 minutes, scraping down the sides as necessary.

In a parfait glass (or a beer glass, or what have you) put a layer of peeled, pitted, sliced plums.  Add a layer of fruit sauce, about 3 spoonfuls, then a layer of sliced strawberries, then some more fruit sauce, then some blueberries, then some more fruit sauce.  Eat!

I first made these parfaits for “Tom” and I in the beer glasses.  The 2nd time I made them, I took them to the beach with my friend.  This time I made them in plastic, lidded containers, put them in a cooler with ice packs.  So refreshing!  I really love the strawberries and the fruit sauce combo.  Yum!

Note: I made this fruit sauce again, but used a mango instead of the apricots.  It was still quite delicious, but the colour was a little disturbing.  Here, what do you think?

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