Archive for the ‘Join us for dinner!’ Category

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Hey all,

Thought I would do a bit of a different entry for the blog. There has been a bit of a lull lately in our entries. Lavish Legumes and I recently setup a blog for her personal business, check it out at blog.chelseahailes.com.

That got me thinking about the blogs and other resources that I use to find recipes and inspiration around the web.

  1. My Cooking Diary – This is a really cool site. It isn’t strictly vegetarian but a lot of the stuff on there is. Great pictures and I love the directions. It seems they are taking a similar approach that we are and showing the meals that they have as opposed to just recipes. I have made Enchiladas using there sauce recipe, followed their link to make pitas (my first time making bread), and am going to make their granola bars.
  2. Fat Free Vegan – This is an excellent resource with lots of recipes. Just reading through her recipes I got lots of ideas on how to cook things using less fat. I recently made a roasted eggplant pesto which was a hit, even for some non-vegetarians. In this recipe she basically substitutes olive oil with the eggplant making it far less fatty, but still very tasty. I also made blueberry peach salsa, which is suprisingly good. She has a pretty huge recipe index so go check her out!
  3. Epicurious – This has quickly become one of my favorite sites. They have an exellent iPhone app and huge Vegetarian (over 4500), Vegan (over 1300) sections with a great search engine that allows you to narrow down choices by ingredient so you can use up what is in you fridge! They also have a rating a comment system that is fairly well used so you can see if what you are about to cook is any good before you make the leap.

You can also check out the side bar for some old favorites.

Let us know about any places that you like to go to in the comments below!

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Grilled Tofu Skewers and Potatoes

It’s BBQ season and we have taken our small charcoal grill down to the beach for some delicious dinners. Skewers work great on the grill and I used some tinfoil to cook potatoes. This also makes it easy to have everything ready ahead of time so that we can carry it down to the beach to cook it.

I have found that the best way to marinade Tofu is to freeze it first, then put it into a ziplock with the marinade, in this case Soya Sauce, and put it the fridge to defrost for about 12-18 hours, so you will want to do this ahead of time.

Ingredients

Tofu

  • 1 Block of Tofu
  • Soya Sauce or another marinade.
  • 3 Mixed Coloured Peppers
  • 10-15 Mushrooms
  • Some Skewers

Potatoes

  • 4-5 medium yellow potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • A bunch of a herb, such as dill or rosemary, diced
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Tin Foil

Directions

Tofu

  1. Marinate your tofu (see a marinating tip above)
  2. Cut to tofu and peppers into large pieces.
  3. Place the tofu and vegetables on the skewers in random order.
  4. Cook on the grill for about 20-30 minutes, turning them every 5 minutes

Potatoes

  1. Place all the ingredients into a bowl and toss
  2. Wrap everything in tin foil so that it is air tight. This will help them cook faster.
  3. Put on the Grill for about 50-60 minutes, turning half way.

I like to cook the potatoes first since they take the longest and will stay pretty hot even if you take them off the grill.

Spaghetti

I spent some time living in Europe. I became very good friends with an Italian who has a lot to do with how and why I cook today. His passion was for Italian food, and he made amazing pasta. It opened my eyes. This recipe is largely influenced by him with a lot of my own twists in it.

Ingredients

  • 15-20 Roma tomatoes, diced (Romas have less juice and more pulp so they will form a sauce faster)
  • 4-5 Cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Zucchini, diced
  • 1 Large yellow onion or 2-3 shalots, diced
  • 1 bunch basil, chopped
  • 1 palmful of sunflower seeds, chopped
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Good quality Spaghetti Noodles (I use barilla)

Directions

  1. Put a deep fry pan on medium heat
  2. Once hot add olive oil and garlic
  3. Once the garlic becomes fragrant, but not browned, add the tomatoes
  4. Leave for about 10-20 minutes until the tomatoes start to break down
  5. Add the zucchini and allow to soften
  6. Put a pot of water on the boil, add a palmful of salt (The may seem excessive, but is very necessary)
  7. Once boiling add the pasta and cook to package instructions, careful not to overcook, and drain
  8. It is important to try to time the sauce and noodles so that they finish cooking at about the same time
  9. Once the pasta starts to form a sauce like consistency, remove from heat and add the basil and sunflower seeds (Adding the herbs after cooking helps them to keep their flavour and creates a fresher taste)
  10. Toss the noodles with the sauce and serve

If you are in a hurry you can add tomato paste to thicken the sauce. I use pecorino cheese on top instead of Parmesan. What ever you do, do not ruin the dish with that fake Parmesan that is already shredded. It is far better to keep a piece of cheese and shred it as you need it. Parmesan and pecorino are both hard cheeses and will keep in the fridge for a long time.

Dill and Asparagus Risotto

Lavish Legumes raved about my risotto in her Red Wine and Wild Rice Risotto recipe so I thought I would share it here. My risotto is more of a classic style of risotto than hers. Though I must say that I have never actually had a risotto other than my own (and a small taste of Lavish Legumes’ recipe) and it is strongly influenced by Jamie Oliver’s.

This recipe can be done with essentially any veg and herb combo, but since it is spring time I thought I would do a dill dish.
I find this is an excellent dish to make for when company is coming over as it is impressive and gives you a good reason to open a bottle of wine!

Ingredients

  • Olive Oil
  • 2 medium bunches of Asparagus, bottoms snapped off and set aside and chopped
  • 1 bunch dill, stems removed and set aside, chopped
  • 2-4 balls soft mozzarella or bonconni cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan or pecorino cheese, grated.
  • 2 onion, red prefered
  • 2 stick celery, chopped finely
  • 1 cup risotto rice
  • 1 cup white wine, dry
  • 3 1/2 cups veg broth
  • boil a kettle of water
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Directions

  1. To start I usually put the oven on the lowest setting and put the serving plates in
  2. Put the veg broth on mid heat with the bottoms of the asparagus and the steams of the dill(You have to remove these as they are for flavour and not consumption so I like to tie the dill stems with a bit of string)
  3. Place high walled fry pan on medium heat
  4. Add olive oil, onions, and celery with a splash of the kettle water
  5. Allow to simmer until the water is gone and the onions and celery are soft without browning
  6. Add the rice
  7. Toast until it starts to become translucent, about 2-3 minutes
  8. Add the wine and simmer untill the broth is absorbed by the rice.
  9. Start adding and the broth a ladle full at a time
  10. Let the broth be absorbed then add another ladle, stirring consistency to make sure that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan
  11. Once 1/3 of the broth is gone, remove the asparagus ends and dill, add the chopped asparagus to the broth
  12. Keep adding the broth, bringing some of the asparagus with it until all the broth is gone
  13. Taste the rice, if it is not cooked add boiled water from the kettle until the rice is cooked.
  14. Taste again and season with salt and pepper
  15. Add the mozzarella or bonconni cheese and half the parmesan or pecorino cheese to the risotto and cover
  16. Let stand for 5 minutes.
  17. Remove the bowl from the oven
  18. Serve risotto with the remaining cheese on top

Rhubarb and Tofu

Spring has sprung and rhubarb is an amazing and underused spring vegetable. This is adapted from one of Jamie Oliver’s recipes where he used pork. The idea is to pair the tartness of the rhubarb with a bit of heat and savory from the 5 spice and soy sauce.

Into food processor and puree

  • 400 grams rhubarb, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • Thumb ginger
  • 2 big chilies, chopped roughly
  • Big teaspoon 5 spice (Chinese spice mixture)
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp honey

Tofu Stuff

  • 1 kilo tofu, chopped
  • Noodles, I prefer thicker udon  noodles
  • Fresh coriander, just a bit for on top
  • Spring onions, sliced
  • Sunflower or groundnut oil to coat pan

Marinade: First, cut the tofu into about 1″ cubes. Marinade the tofu in the puree for a few hours in the fridge.

Once you are ready to cook the tofu put a fry pan on medium-high heat and add a bit of oil to the pan. Meanwhile, Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the noodles to the water; cook until done. Add the tofu to the fry pan and do your best to not add the rhubarb mixture. Once the tofu is browned, add the rhubarb mixture and warm it all up. Taste tofu sauce for seasoning.

You are ready to plate it up: Noodles, tofu on top, sprinkle onions, sprinkle herbs from a height, squeeze of lime, maybe some more fresh chilies if you like some extra heat.

This dish goes very well with a salad of other sour spring time vegetables like green apple, radish and chard.

Vegetable Tagine

My attempt at something Moroccan!

You are definitely welcome to improvise with this one and comment with helpful tips! I’ve made it a goal to go to Morocco and India to learn their delicious ways. For me they are two very flavorful, wonderful ethic foods that I can never seem to do well enough!

So the thing I’ve noticed about Moroccan is it’s unique mix of sweet and spicy, the sweet often coming from nuts and dried fruits like apricots, prunes, dates, etc. Whole spices are definitely important to the flavour of this dish.  Where the pestle and mortar falls short (ie: cinnamon sticks) I’ve found my electric coffee grinder is awesome!

(again, I don’t usually measure- these are kind of estimates, so just adjust to your taste!)

Vegetable Tagine

Spice blend

  • about 4-5 inches of cinnamon stick
  • 3 tsp anise seed
  • 3 tsp whole coriander
  • 1 tsp cardamom (I used ground)
  • 2 tbsp  ground coriander

I ground the cinnamon, anise, cardamom and coriander together into a fragrant blend, and you can make a little extra to have on hand for other things. But feel free to put whole green cardamom pods (maybe 4-6) in your dish, just warn people or pull them out… not that it tastes bad to chomp on one, just a little surprising! 🙂  …mmm cardamom!

  • olive oil
  • 2 large onions chopped in large chunks, like wedges (I used 1 yellow and 1 red)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped very fine
  • 1 tbsp fresh minced ginger
  • 1 tsp minced turmeric (or powdered if you don’t have fresh – it looks like ginger in case you’ve never purchased it before, it’s a little more burnt orange in colour)
  • 3 carrots, chopped on a bias about 1/4 ” thick
  • 4 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1-2 zucchini, chopped a little thicker than the carrots
  • 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed, soaked and strained
  • about 2 cups of veggie broth
  • 3 bay leaves
  • chili flakes or cayenne to taste
  • salt to taste
  • handful of dried apricots (halved or quartered)
  • handful of toasted almonds

Pull out that deep fry pan, and lid again… That is unless you have a nice clay tagine to bake it in! I really don’t know much about cooking Moroccan so please feel free to leave some comments! I just made this to satisfy my craving and it was quite yummy 🙂

Ok! Here we go: Heat some olive oil (about 4 tbsp) over medium-high heat. Toss in the onion and get the edges browning a little, then reduce to med heat and simmer until translucent. You can add the garlic before the onion is finished and get it a little toasted. Add the ginger, turmeric, and about half of the spice blend- stir and let the spices warm for about 1 min. Add the carrots and a half cup of broth and cook for another 5 min. Now add in the tomatoes, zucchini, chickpeas, remaining broth (should be the consistency of stew but not like a soup), bay leaves, and a pinch of cayenne and salt. Cover and allow to simmer for 15 min. Then taste and add more salt, cayenne, or spice blend as needed, as well as the almonds and apricots. If you prefer your almonds to be fully crunchy feel free to add them at the end. Simmer until the veggies are cooked through and serve over couscous.

Couscous

Make enough portions of couscous to serve. You can make with veg broth instead of water, and add a sprinkle of turmeric while it’s cooking for added flavour and colour! When it was finished, I tossed it with a some hemp seed, flax, pumpkin seeds and fresh chopped mint. (just be sure to crush the flax with a mortar and pestle so your body can break it down and use it properly)

Wild Rice and Red Wine Risotto

I can’t seem to get enough of Gregarious Greens’ delicious risottos! So I decided to try my hand at an improvised version. And, as I’ve mentioned before I always seem to have a little red wine in the house, so I thought I’d make one with red rather than white. It turned out so good. Enjoy!

For the rice feel free to use the traditional risotto rice, arborio if you wish, but I wanted to try something different so I used a country wild rice mix that has a blend of brown and wild rice. Cooking times and the amount of broth may vary depending on the rice you use but follow the same basic steps and just test it until it’s done.

Risotto

  • 3 cups        broth (homemade veg broth)
  • 3 tbsp         olive oil margarine
  • 3                  cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1                   medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup           wild rice mix
  • 1/2 cup       red wine (I had a med-full bodied blend)
  • 1/2 cup       organic canned peas
  • 2-3 tbsp      fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup       freshly grated parmesan cheese (save some for garnish!)
  • 1/4 cup       crumbled feta cheese
  • pinch          freshly ground black pepper to taste

Use a deep fry pan with a lid for this, a saucepan will also work if you don’t have one. I had started simmering some vegetable broth about an hour before and had it warming and ready to use on the side.

  1. Melt the margarine over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and saute until the onion becomes clear. (about 8 min)
  3. Add the garlic, stir and saute for about another minute.
  4. Now toss in the rice, stir and let it toast for about 5 min.
  5. Pour in the wine and cook until it is absorbed. (about 2 min)
  6. Now we begin adding the Broth a little at a time, so pour in 3/4 cup and let simmer until it is absorbed. (stir occasionally, about 8 min)
  7. Repeat step 6 (about 12 min)
  8. Add the rest of the broth and simmer for 10-15 min covered.
  9. Remove the lid and test the rice, continue to add more broth or simmer more if necessary.
  10. Over medium heat, add the peas, rosemary, cheese, and pepper and stir until heated through.
  11. Serve, sprinkle with some Parmesan for garnish, and…Voila! Risotto!

I served mine with blackened carrots and roasted asparagus! ~ To prep this while you make your risotto: Chop a few carrots on a bias, place in a backing dish at about 350F with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, toss occasionally. They are done when they reach your desired blackness. You can add the asparagus about 10 min before the carrots will be done.