Archive for May, 2010

May 30, 2010

Nut butter “fries” + socca

Despite the hot weather in Toronto this past week, I’ve had the urge to cook on several occasions (as opposed to my uncook, my usual activity). Maybe it’s because I buggered up my knee (again! why?!) playing softball last night and craved comfort food. Or maybe it’s because vegan food bloggers are continually coming up with recipes that are too good not to try. I think that must be the latter, because both of these treats are ones I first drooled over on other blogs.

Last weekend, after a big day of patio furniture shopping, I wanted something quick and nutritious to eat. I’d been eying nut butter root veggie fries since I first saw Angela make them on Oh She Glows. The original recipe is by Ricki, of Diet, Dessert & Dogs. (Both of these ladies have awesome blogs – check them out!) I didn’t have parsnips on hand, but I did have carrots. Here’s my take:

Carrot & Nut Butter “Fries”

Ingredients

3 large carrots, cut into fry-sized chunks

1 tbsp almond butter

1 tbsp peanut butter

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the nut butters, soy sauce and cinnamon in a bowl. Add carrots and ensure they are well coated. Spread carrots on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes.

The verdict? Delicious! They didn’t last long. I’m lucky I managed to snap a photo before devouring them.

The other cooking adventure I want to share is something I first saw on Pure2Raw – socca! Lori and Michelle posted some mouthwatering photos and recipes of this French flatbread, and I’ve been dying to try it ever since. Today was the day – I picked up the necessary garbanzo bean flour this afternoon, I selected some rosemary from my patio garden, and I was set. Here’s what I did:

Rosemary and Onion Socca

Ingredients

1 cup garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour

1 cup water

2 tbsp + 1/2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 a small onion, thinly sliced

2 tbsp rosemary, chopped

1 tsp salt

pepper to taste

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Whisk flour, water, 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper together in a bowl until completely mixed. Let sit for at least 30 minutes. (Or the whole day if you have the time – it makes the socca creamier. If not, don’t worry – it will still taste amazing.) Add onions and rosemary. The batter will be very soupy — this is fine.

Grease a large cast iron skillet with the remaining 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Place in the heated oven for a few minutes until the pan is hot. Remove from the oven and pour in the batter. Return the skillet to the oven and bake for 40 minutes or until the desired consistency is reached. Place skillet under the broiler for several minutes to make the top crispy.

Voila! This flatbread is better than words can describe. The outside is crisp, but the inside is soft and custard-like. I ate it plain because I found the rosemary and onions were flavourful enough, but you could add any number of toppings to dress it up. I could definitely see it tasting great with some hummus, sundried tomatoes, and olives. Thank you Lori & Michele – I had never even heard of socca before you posted about it!


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May 24, 2010

By request: Amaretti Cookie recipe

I had a request from a reader, Lorri, who was looking for the recipe for the amaretti cookie I used in my Chocolate Cherry Amaretto ice cream cake. Truth be told, I didn’t write the recipe down when I made it, nor did I snap photos because I ate most of them too fast, but here is my best attempt at recreating the magic!

Note that this recipe calls for fine almond flour: I make mine by grinding almonds in the food processor until they are about as fine as they can get before becoming oily, then sifting through a flour sifter to separate the coarser pieces. You can skip the sifting step if you like – they will taste the same.

Amaretti Cookies

Ingredients

2 cups fine almond flour

1/4 cup maple sugar

1 tbsp agave

1 tbsp water, or as needed

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp almond extract

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a bowl until well-mixed. Add water as needed to create a dough-like consistency, but don’t let it get sticky. Roll into desired thickness, cut into desired shapes with cookie cutter. Transfer cookies to a lined dehydrator tray. Dehydrate at 115F for 24 hours or until desired firmness has been reached.

*For a quicker, no-dehydrator-required version, omit the water and add 2 tbsp melted coconut oil. Cut rolled dough into desired shapes and place cookies in the freezer for 10 minutes or until firm.

May 23, 2010

Garden update + Spring Herb Dressing recipe

It’s a long weekend here in Canada, and so far it has been a great one! We kicked it off with a trip to Ikea on Saturday, on a mission to find patio furniture. We’ve been looking for weeks, but have had one hell of a time finding a set that would fit out the narrow window-door that leads to our rooftop, where the patio is located. But Ikea never lets me down – success!

Today was an absolutely beautiful day in Toronto, so I took advantage by spending a little time in my community garden plot, and a little more time tending to the potted plants in the patio garden. I’m so excited by how much the kale has grown in the three weeks since I planted it. Same thing with the herb! My mint, basil and cilantro have become especially huge – here are some progress pics.

I also planted some new little kale plants, along with a few rainbow chard.

So I took advantage of the bounty of spring herbs and created a new salad dressing for my kale, broccoli raab and cabbage salad.

Spring Herb Dressing

Ingredients

1 avocado

3 tbsp water

2 tbsp tahini

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp tamari

handful each of chives, cilantro, parsley

Instructions

Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth.

May 18, 2010

A win for chocolate, cherries & amaretto

Exciting news — I am totally honoured to have won raw dessert goddess Heather Pace’s ice cream cake challenge!

My chocolate cherry amaretto ice cream cake must have looked yummy. It sure did taste good. I can’t even imagine how hard it must have been to judge this challenge because every single entry was stunningly beautiful and so unique. Some ambitious ladies even made multiple cakes! Check out all the entries here and be prepared to drool. Congratulations to the other winners: Kelli’s Pear Berry Bliss cake and Aimee’s Cookies ‘n’ Cream cake. They both look incredible.

The most awesome part of all of this? The prize is a whole whack of Heather’s raw chocolate and granola. Sweet! (Pun intended.)

Thanks again, Heather! I can’t wait for the next Sweetly Raw dessert challenge.

May 16, 2010

Eating with omnivores

I spent most of Saturday with a group of foodie friends from school — first shopping at Toronto’s spectacular St. Lawrence Market, then making, eating and sharing delicious food. I generally find that people who self-describe as “foodies”, in the traditional sense, tend not to be very vegan friendly. Often, I notice a subtle attitude to the effect that vegetarian food can be good, but is somehow inferior in taste to cuisine centred around animal products. (Note: this is not a specific commentary on any of my friends – it’s simply a general observation!)

At any rate, when dining with non-veg friends, especially those of the foodie variety, I feel that it is my mission to show them that vegan (and raw) food is complex, inventive and yes, dare I say it, better than traditional fare. And there’s no better way to do so than with a raw dessert. So I wowed my omnivorous foodie friends with a strawberry-topped raw vegan cheesecake!

The vegans ate roasted asparagus, zucchini and portabello mushrooms, with fresh organic greens, wild leeks, broccollini and a simple olive oil and lemon vinaigrette.

I am realizing that for the past few years, I have tended to seek out and spend time mainly with veg friends. I socialized frequently with friends from the vegetarian association in Ottawa, with which I was involved, and friends from work, who mostly ate the same way that I do (I used to work in politics, and for an animal protection organization – lots of veg folks). But when I moved to Toronto and became immersed in the new world of law school, I made a lot more non-veg friends. Andnone of them have ever even heard of eating raw! It has been fun to share my style of cuisine with a new group of people, but at the same time I’ve had to step a little outside my comfort zone while participating in some social dining situations. For instance, I’ve eaten at restaurants I would never choose myself in a million years, such as a Korean BBQ joint. (Thankfully, they had some straight-up veggies and rice. Thank you, Asian cuisine, for your veg-friendliness.) For the vegans out there, especially those of you who eat a lot of raw food, do you find it difficult to share meals with non-veg folks? How do you cope?

I hope a fabulous weekend was had by all. I’ll leave you with some photos of the goods at the St. Lawrence Market, including Cruda Cafe’s raw goodies! Although we didn’t eat there this time, I’m glad to see that Cruda’s menu has grown immensely since the last time I was there, and equally happy that the place was insanely busy. Raw food is good food 🙂

May 9, 2010

Chocolate cherry amaretto ice cream cake

Oh. My. God. This is one of the best desserts I’ve ever eaten!

Let’s rewind. After having tons of fun with Heathy’s Moon Pie challenge, I was totally jazzed to enter her latest raw dessert contest: the Ultimate Raw Ice Cream Cake challenge. I knew pretty much from the start that I wanted to combined the delicious flavours of cherries and amaretto, and to round it off, I decided to throw in some chocolate. I’ve always been a big fan of amaretto liquer (although I rarely drink alcohol anymore), and I’ve been having tons of fun with a bottle of almond extract I picked up a few weeks ago. It really does a great job of imparting the delicious flavour of amaretto to certain foods. I’ve been adding a few drops of it to vegan yogurt recently, along with frozen cherries, so I knew the flavour combination would work  well in my ice cream cake. Here’s the breakdown of my take on a raw ice cream cake:

Crust: almond dark cacao (almonds, cacao, coconut oil, maple sugar)

Layer 1: chocolate ice cream (Heathy’s recipe)

Layer 2: amaretti cookie crumble (almonds, shredded coconut, coconut oil, maple sugar, almond extract)

Layer 3: cherry amaretto ice cream (Heathy’s recipe, + almond extract, cherries)

Swirl: chocolate ice cream and cherry amaretto ice cream (with cherry juice for the pink colour)

Toppings: coconut whipped cream (Heathy’s recipe + some fresh young coconut), dried cherries, amaretti cookie

And that’s all, folks! The only challenge I ran into while constructing this beauty was an absent icing set. At one point I did own an icing bag complete with all kinds of deocrative tips for making fun icing patterns, but I can’t find it anywhere! Maybe it was lost when we moved last summer? At any rate, I improvised by cutting a hole in the corner of a ziploc bag, poking the tip of an old agave squirt bottle in the corner, and using that contraption to ice the top. It wasn’t ideal, but hey, it worked in a pinch!

I used frozen sour cherries (although I still found them pretty sweet), and the slight tartness perfectly counterbalanced the sweetness of the remaining components of the ice cream cake. It was a total joy every time I bit into one of the juice cherry chunks. As far as the individual components go, I think my favourite part to eat on its own was probably the amaretti cookie crumble. I had to stop myself from devouring it so I would have enough left for the cake.

My boy and I each had a slice last night (it may or may have not been my entire dinner!) and we’re still swooning. It also totally gave me a sugar high… I’ve been eating ultra clean lately so even sugar in raw desserts get to me super easily these days. Thankfully, it wasn’t difficult to enlist the help of a small army of friends, who are eager to assist in polishing off the rest of this delicious creation. In the meantime, here’s some raw food porn for your enjoyment 🙂 If you want even more pics, check out some of the other entries floating around the blogosphere, like Kelli’s rawspberies and cream & chocolate strawberries & banana cakes, Norka’s lilac and poppy seed cake, Gillian’s Gimme S’More cake, an amazing orange blossom cake, several creations by Nelly, and Bitt’s cookies ‘n’ cream cake.

May 3, 2010

The Raw Candy 21

When I saw this 21-question raw-themed survey on a few of my fave raw food blogs (like The Raw Food Nerd, Bitt’s Blog, and The Health Sleuth), I knew I had to join in on the fun. I don’t know about you, but when I was younger, surveys like this were hugely popular to email around among friends, and I always loved getting them and filling them out. So this is all kinds of fun for me, and it’s a cool way to get to know other bloggers a bit better… join in on the fun and post in on your own blog!

1. Favourite raw vegan milk? Hemp milk for nutritional value, almond milk for taste.

2. What are the top 3 recipes you are planning to make? A raw ice cream cake for Heathy’s Ultimate Raw Ice Cream Cake Challenge! I have my flavour combination all planned out in my head. It’s going to be good, folks.

3. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure? Hmm, this is a tough one. I haven’t made anything for a long time that hasn’t turned out… raw recipes are pretty forgiving. Oh wait, the raspberry jelly layer I tried to create when I first made my moon pies was a total failure.

4. How do you organize your recipes? Um, in my head? I should keep better track of things I create… but unless it’s bookmarked on the computer, already in a recipe book, or posted on my blog, it tends to stay in my brain.

5. Compost, trash or garbage disposal? Compost! The city of Toronto collects it every Tuesday 🙂

6. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods… what would they be? Obviously, kale. Avocado. And for fruit… cherries! My fave. Let’s hope this is a tropical island with abundant tropical fruit.

7. Fondest food memory from your childhood? Chowing down on freshly-picked produce from my mom’s garden every summer. Yum.

8. Favourite raw ice cream? How about all of it? If I am forced to choose, I think I’ll go with the Mint Sundae from Pure Food & Wine… pure minty heaven.

9. Most loved kitchen appliance? Definitely the Vita Mix. That baby gets used at least twice per day!

10. Spice/herb you can’t be without? I’m with Alysha on this one: cilantro all the way. The best herb known to humankind.

11. Recipe (cook) book you have owned for the longest time? I think the first cookbook I acquired is the Student’s Vegetarian Cookbook, a birthday present from my mom at some point during my teen years. I still recommend it to young people who want to go veg.

12. Favourite flavour of jam/jelly? Homemade black currant jelly!

13. Favourite raw (vegan) recipe to serve to an omni friend? Dessert, hands down. I tend not to serve the same thing twice because I like trying new recipes, but any form of raw dessert I’ve ever served to an omni friend has been a smashing hit. Whether it’s key lime pie, coconut lime cookies, chocolate ganache tart, macaroons, cookies, moon pies, mallomars, ice cream, chocolate layer cake, chocolate caramel bars… the list goes on.

14. Favourite meal to make? I’m going to have to be basic on this one and go with an avocado-massaged kale salad. It’s my lunch basically every day and I never get tired of devouring it! The key is mixing up the add-on veggies.

15. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking. Hemp seed, a zillion kinds of frozen fruit, nut flour.

16. Favourite grocery store? Whole Foods… I might go almost every day. Bad, I know, but it’s on the way home, and my gym’s right next door. Too tempting for me to resist.

17. Food blog you read the most? It’s hard to narrow down to one – I love so many food blogs! Probably Gena’s Choosing Raw?

18. What is one ingredient that you’ve become familiar with that you can’t imagine you ever lived without? My eyes have been opened to an entire universe of raw staples that I never knew existed! So it’s tough to choose just one… but probably coconut oil. It’s so key to making amazing raw desserts.

19. Most coveted condiment? Capers! Or sundried tomatoes in salads.

20. Best food smell? As awesome as it is to eat raw, this is one area where cooked food will always reign supreme… I’ll go with the smell of Thai restaurants. Something about the combination of spices always draws me in.

21. Best cooked food memory that you’d like to re-create raw? A German cake roll. I used to work at a really nice little German restaurant in high school, and one of their signature desserts was a rich layer of creamy ganache, rolled inside a light and fluffy cake later, sliced and garnished with whipped cream.

I hope you enjoyed reading this! Now go and post one of your own 🙂

As I mentioned above, my ice cream cake plans are well underway — I even picked up some young coconuts in Chinatown today. So check back later this week to see what I come up with…

May 1, 2010

Catching up! Gardening & Chocolate Chai smoothie

Hello all!

I was a very bad blogger last month, but it’s not my fault: I was forced to write five law school exams and one paper. It’s a good excuse, right? Anyway, I don’t have many photos of delicious eats to share with you, as I had no time to make much of anything exciting. Apart from the mouth-watering strawberry moon pies, of course, which were a runner-up in Heathy’s Moonie Pie contest. Congrats to fellow Torontonian Lisa, whose amazing-looking lemon ginger moon pies took the win!

On that note, Heathy’s latest dessert challenge is shaping up to be fun: a contest make the Ultimate Raw Ice Cream Cake! I’m super excited for this one, as Dairy Queen ice cream cakes were always a childhood favourite. The thought of a dairy cake with tons of added sugar and other crap now turns my stomach, but a raw ice cream cake made with natural raw ingredients, like cashews and coconut, is much more appealing. The “challenge” part of this event refers to the fact that we have to come up with our own twist on one of Heathy’s recipes, and I’m mulling over a few ideas. I promise you it will be good – and will be accompanied by lots of photos!

Speaking of contest, I just won one – the Purely Delicious magazine giveaway on In The Raw! The prize is a year-long subscription to the magazine, which is totally awesome because I never see it on newsstands near me. Thanks again, Earth Mother!

Now that I’ve reclaimed my life post-exams, I’ve been working on various gardening projects for the summer. I was lucky enough to get a plot in a community garden not far from my place, and I’m currently planning out which veggies to grow. Kale is an obvious choice, as is chard — both greens are hardy and do well in mid-summer heat, unlike a lot of other more tender greens which flower and go to seed early if it gets too hot for them. I also picked up some heirloom carrot seeds, and I’ll probably also grow beats, green beans, fennel, possibly cabbage, maybe some broccoli, and whatever else seems like a good idea. This will be the first year I’ve gardened on my own, so it will be a learning experience: my goal is to have a steady stream of garden-fresh produce all summer. Thankfully, my mom has decades of gardening experience under her belt and is only a phone call away. I’d also be very grateful for gardening tips and suggestions from you!

I also have a herb garden underway on my rooftop patio. I spent a good part of today potting herbs, and they are looking great! I threw in extra cilantro because I love it, and there’s basil, sage, chives, peppermint, chocolate mint (which will go well in my smoothies!), rosemary and parsley. I’m also going to grow container peas on the patio, since there’s is a pre-existing lattice for them to climb, and they will be perfect for snacking throughout the summer. And finally, a pot or two of kale for emergencies. Although most of my kale will be in my actual garden plot, I know there will be days when I won’t want to bike all the way over to the garden to harvest the green kale goodness!

I’ll leave you with a recipe for a new smoothie I created today – the Chocolate Chai Smoothie. It contains Sun Warrior protein, because it’s a post-gym creation, but feel free to omit it if that’s not your thing. But you may want to add some extra raw cacao powder. Sorry, no picture – I was too hungry!

Chocolate Chai Smoothie

Ingredients

1 frozen banana

1 cup strongly brewed chai tea, chilled (I used one tea bag for this, steeped for 15 minutes)

1/2 cup almond milk

1 scoop chocolate Sun Warrior raw vegan protein powder

1 scoop Amazing Grass Chocolate Green SuperFood

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup ice cubes

Instructions

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Slurp it down!