Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Holidays!

My favourite thing about Christmas, other than spending the holidays with family, is the cookies. I have some traditional treats that have to appear on the dessert tray year after year, and I also try one or two new recipes.

Orange-Carrot Cookies

Peanut Butter Candies on a tacky plate

Mexican Wedding Cookies or Snowballs, from Joy of Vegan Baking (a success!)

Rumnog Pecan Cookies from Veganomicon. Scrumptious. I only made half the icing recipe and I still had leftovers.

Lemon Squares from Veganomicon. These will be a new holiday tradition because they are divine. Just like mini Lemon Meringue Pies. Don't sprinkle the icing sugar over them until they are ready to serve, because just like a light dusting of snow, it melts.

And of course, requested by Sarah, Gingerbread.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Joyous Winter Wishes to you and your family from ours. May we all strive for a peaceful planet.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Hot and Sour Soup

We were shopping at Costco last night and scored a box of baby bok choy. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to make Hot and Sour Soup and write the recipe down at the same time.

Tracy's Hot and Sour Soup

6 cups of vegetable broth*
2 Tblsp soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp minced ginger (optional)
¼ cup mirin
Ground white pepper
5-6 sliced white mushrooms
4-5 dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted in boiling water for 10 minutes then thinly sliced
2-3 cups of baby bok choy or thinly sliced napa cabbage
3 green onions, white and green parts, separated and sliced thinly
1 tsp Chinese chili-garlic sauce (I used Lee Kum Kee) for medium heat, or to taste
½ tub of soft or silken tofu, roughly diced
¼ cup white vinegar
2 Tblsp lemon juice
6 Tblsp corn starch, whisked with 6 Tblsp cold water
½ Tblsp sesame oil

Mung bean sprouts and fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

Bring the broth and soy sauce to a boil in a soup pot. Add garlic, ginger, mirin and pepper and reduce heat to a simmer. Add both types of mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes. Add the baby bok choy and the white parts of the onions and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the chili sauce, tofu, vinegar and lemon juice and heat through. Slowly add the corn starch mixture and stir until thickened. Turn off the heat and add the sesame oil. Ladle into bowls and garnish with the green onion parts, sprouts and cilantro.

*The type of veggie broth you use will greatly affect the taste of the soup. Vegetable boullion cubes or “un-chicken” soup mix are great. If using homemade broth, add a bit more soy sauce. Sometimes asceptic-boxed broth doesn’t have an “asian” taste, so I would avoid it, or mix half-and-half with boullion.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

It goes on and on...

the Vcon porn. Here's more.

The often-mentioned chickpea cutlets. I much preferred the texture when the chickpeas were mashed in the food processor vs. the stand mixer. I made them twice and fried them both times. These are great when you don't know what to make for dinner and you know you have a can of chickpeas in the pantry. These were topped with the Sweet Vidalia Onion Sauce.

Since I love samosas I had to try the Samosa-Stuffed Baked Potatoes. I liked the Indian flavours. Very filling.

Chickpeas make a reappearance in Chickpeas Romesco. They would be good with greens added, so I need to remember to do that next time.

Caesar Salad. I'm more of a vinegrette dressing type, but this was really good. You'd never know it was vegan. Good if you want to keep the vampires away. I'm guessing it's fairly low fat too.

I'm a HUGE hot-and-sour soup fan. I have a recipe of my own that I typically use, so I wanted to try this to compare. I found it pretty hot and not as sour as I like it, but I liked the inclusion of napa. I'll have to make mine again soon and post the recipe.

I made the Rustic Beans and Mushrooms in the suggested casserole format. I screwed something up. I think the problem was that I added 2 cups less water to the beans than I was supposed to. I had to add a lot of veggie stock to the beans to make them moist before baking, but it turned out yummy in the end.

Princess has been on a mushroom kick, so I paired her two favs - mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy. She loved it, but I think I loved it more. For me, mashed potatoes and gravy are the ultimate comfort food.

Finally, I have read so much about mrsbadmouth's Tempeh Wingz. They are stupendous amazing. I had been leary of tempeh in the past, but both these and Hot-Sauce Glazed Tempeh have completely changed my opinion of the moldy soybean cake.

Coming soon - Christmas baking!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Mega Post

Wow...I didn't realize how many things I've made in recent weeks, as I had a pile of pics on my camera! Since it took me forever to upload them all, I'll keep the text bits short!

First, I had tried some items from the Joy of Vegan Baking. I was very much anticipating this book, and when I got it, I have to say I was disappointed at how much Earth Balance margarine and egg replacer was called for. Nonetheless, I kept an open mind, and tried a few recipes.

The cookies on the cover looked tantalizing. However, despite following the instructions (except I used all dark chocolate chips), mine turned out to be flat and greasy:

As I flipped further through the book, I noticed that many of the recipes seemed to be veganized from a typical Betty Crocker cookbook. I was hoping that they would be healthy vegan baked goods, but it did not seem to be the case. Anyways, I had decided to make banana muffins, and thought about making the recipe noted in the index of JOVB or a muffin version of the Peaceful Palate's Banana Cake. Oddly enough, I noticed that the JOVB credited PP's recipe and made a small change. As I flipped through the book, I noticed several versions of recipes from existing cookbooks, and they were all ones that I owned! I made the muffins, but they didn't turn out anything like the cake as they were quite concave:

I was disappointed with the book after these two attempts one night, that I returned it the next day :(

The next morning, I decided to attempt the Lemon Corn Waffles from VwaV. You may recall a previous disaster, and - surprise! The SAME thing happened AGAIN:

I thought it could have been because I added blueberries to the batter, but I realized that I wasn't letting them cook long enough, so I gave them a few minutes extra after my iron had beeped. Also, I was putting too much batter in the maker, so I cut it down:

The result - yum! Intact waffles! I wouldn't have cared anyways if they didn't look pretty. They're so good.

With leftover homemade spaghetti sauce, I made pita pizzas. Good and easy, but not very exciting.

But what was exciting was Bryanna Clark Grogan's recipe for Creamy Pasta Sauce from the Almost No-Fat cookbook. Heavenly on pasta with veggies and Yves Chick'n Tenders, but even better as a white sauce on pizza!

I also made my stand-by faves from Nava Atlas's Vegetarian Family Cookbook - Soft and Chewy Granola Bars. I don't use a pan, but rather I spread the batter into a square on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Way easier to cut and I don't have to fight with it sticking to a pan.

I also made the 'Tuna' Noodle Casserole from the same cookbook except instead of tofu I used - another surprise - Yves Chick'n Tenders! It's a little bland, which seems to be pleasing to my palate lately so it's great, but Kyle kicked up his serving by dousing it with hot sauce and soy sauce.

From Vcon, I made the Autumn Root Salad with Warm Maple-Fig dressing. A lot of prep, but it was OK.

I also made the Portobello Salad with Spicy Mustard Dressing. It was good too.

Like Tracy, I made the Baked Potato and Greens Soup with Potato-Wedge Croutons. Yum! Well worth the prepping the potatoes in the oven! I had to use spinach instead of kale since Loblaws' produce selection was quite pathetic. I will also make the 'croutons' as a side to tofu burgers since they were so good.

I made the Banana-Wheat Germ muffins too. Good, but I think I'll stick to my own recipe since I like them real banana-y.

Finally, from VwaV, I made the Mango Ginger Tofu (subbed Yves' again). It was different - I think I put too much vinegar in :(
For the second time, I also made the Raspberry Chocolate Blackout Cake for my stepdad Gord's 55th birthday. I used homemade strawberry jam since Gord hates raspberries...SO GOOD! I think I forgot to take a pic last year, so I got both the cake and Gord this year:
Yes, I think alcohol played a factor in this photo.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Veganomicon is such a treasure. I carry it with me around the house in case I get a few moments to read. What's that? No, not in the bathroom! I respect it too much for that. I have a huge pile of books to read, including back issues of Herbivore, a new VegNews, a library copy of Eat, Drink and Be Vegan, and a new copy of The Joy of Vegan Baking, and I'm snubbing them all for the 'Nomicon.

But first, I've been wanting to make Lemon Corn Waffles from VwaV, so I made them for dinner one night. I love the taste of lemon in breakfast type fare, because it makes it taste lighter. These were both hearty and light at the same time. Please excuse my poor waffle skills.

Another Vwav recipe on my list was Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Garlic. They were ok, but I'm still not totally sold on B.S. They have a radish-y type flavour that I can't quite get past.

Pictured alongside the sprouts is Baked BBQ Tofu from Vcon. I simmered the leftover Backyard Barbecue Sauce a few days later with chickpeas and some Smoked Tofu Cubes and it was divine.

Since I'd read so many good reviews, and because we have a couple of potato soup lovers in the house, I had to make Baked Potato and Greens Soup with Potato-Wedge Croutons. Smokin'. This is our new household potato soup recipe. I love Isa and Terry's intro to the recipe and told Princess about it. She called the crouton a "french-fry for giants - a giant who is ten feet longer than the table". She dropped half of hers on the floor, so Echo the dog got a sample. He gave it his approval.

When I was a child, I loved sloppy joes. I got all nostalgic and weepy-eyed when I bit into my Snobby Joe. I'm going to be making a lot of these. Even though I swore I would stick to my four-star recipe rating system, I gave these ****+.

I had a couple of cans of white beans, so Cheater Baked Beans appeared out of the oven. They were a breeze to make. I think this is going to be a recipe that grows on me. My taste buds think beans should taste spicy, so they are going to need some time to adjust.

I love how the muffin recipes in Vcon are really healthy. If I wanted a treat, I'd make a cookie or a cupcake. Muffins to me go with mid-morning tea and should be fruit- and fibre-filled. Here are the Applesauce Oat-Bran Muffins. They smelled so good while baking and tasted great.

I bought The Joy of Vegan Baking with a Chapters gift card that I received for my birthday. Unfortunately I have yet to make something from it that I was happy with. My chocolate chip cookies were done on the outside but not in the inside, my Hearty Spiced Cocoa Muffins disintegrated, and my Jam-filled Oat Bran Muffins - well, exploded.

The fruit desserts from this book sound really good, and I'm looking forward to trying some tarts and crisps and the Blueberry Orange Bundt Cake. I really like the tone of the writing and find it, well, compassionate. However, I would have liked to see less Earth Balance and Egg Replacer used and more whole wheat flours and healthy oils and leaveners.

Finally, I'm proud to showcase Princess's first kitchen creation - Sunshine Dip. She found the recipe herself in a kid's cookbook she inherited from Tay and came down the stairs announcing that she wanted to make it for lunch. How could I resist? I'm so proud that she is interested in cooking and food.

The dip is a blend of Veganaisse, ketchup, and chopped sweet pickle. Food styling by Princess. She'll be whipping up Vcon creations in no time.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Yummy Experiment

I honestly don’t set out to modify recipes – especially when they don’t need changes! But sometimes as you re-invent a good recipe you end up coming up with something totally awesome.

Case in point – Vcon’s Vanillla Ice Cream. Delicious. Just like traditional ice cream in terms of texture, but without the sour taste of cow’s milk. So on Wednesday night, I set out to make a repeat batch. I encountered a few issues. I had exactly ½ of a package of silken tofu, which was the required amount according to the recipe, yet 1 cup of coconut milk left (2 times what the recipe called for). Obviously I didn’t have enough tofu to save for a third batch given the excess coconut milk, and I didn’t have any other recipes that would have used up the excess coconut milk. So I decided to dump the tofu in the blender and add the whole cup of coconut milk. I’ll just cut the required 1 cup soymilk down to ½ cup, I thought. Problem was, I was out of plain soymilk! I decided to then use ½ cup of chocolate soymilk, so I scanned the Chocolate Ice Cream option in Vcon and noticed that it called for melted chocolate chips to serve as the chocolate base. I decided not to go that route, and was now on an adventure.

I dumped in the ½ cup chocolate soymilk, but thought a chocolate ice cream should have more chocolate. I added in some cocoa, and was on my way. I added the required sugar and vanilla, and blended everything together.

After dumping the mixture in my ice cream maker, I had a thought. What if I could mimic the Soy Delicious (also called Purely Decadent) Peanut Butter Zig Zag ice cream that Kyle and I buy almost every week? While the ice cream was mixing, I stirred together some natural peanut butter and maple syrup (to make it sweeter) and stuck it in the freezer to chill, until the ice cream was ready and I had thought about what the heck I was going to do. I decided to take my soft serve ice cream and pour it into a shallow container, then swirled in the chilled PB mixture. After letting the ice cream firm up until the next night, Kyle and I took a sample, and it was awesome. Would have been better if I had ground some chocolate chips up and swirled them in too, for some crunchy bits. Next time!

Choco-PB Swirl Ice Cream
1 cup lite coconut milk
¾ cup sugar
½ pkg (6 oz) silken tofu
½ cup chocolate soymilk
3 tbsp cocoa
1 tbsp vanilla
½ cup natural peanut butter
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup coarsely ground chocolate chips (optional)

Mix coconut milk, sugar, tofu, soymilk, cocoa and vanilla in a blender until smooth. Pour into ice cream maker, and follow manufacturer’s directions. Meanwhile, stir together peanut butter and maple syrup. Set aside in freezer. After ice cream has churned for about 35-40 minutes, pour into a shallow oblong container. Drop clumps of PB mixture and ground chocolate chips (if using), and lightly swirl into ice cream using a knife, trying to maintain ribbons. Store in freezer overnight to harden further.

Soft-serve (pre-overnight freezing) and hard ice cream pics shown below...notice the yummy bands of PB!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


After waiting patiently for Tracy to bring me my copy of Vcon on Saturday (OK, maybe I wasn't that patient), I quickly flipped through the pages to find out what I would make. It had been a very long time since I had a new cookbook to flip through (I think VCTOTW was my last purchase!), and I could barely contain myself.

I set out immediately to make some exciting new recipes. I have been keen on trying new salads lately, and the Corn and Edamame-Sesame Salad sounded perfect. I decided to serve it on spinach, since it's all I had anyways, and I wanted it to be more of a meal. Of course, after making it, I read the 'Tip' bar which said not to use canned corn...too late! Geez, I had the cookbook in my little paws for only a few hours, and I already screwed up! Oh well, I'm not sure why you can't use canned, but it still tasted great. I don't have a recipe scoring system like Tracy, but I definitely noted in my copy to make this again! Next time, I'll try adding some minced red onions or chopped green onions for added flavour and some red pepper to add a little more colour.

About an hour later, I made an executive decision to bake some cookies. I'm trying to reduce my sugar intake, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies called for much less sugar than I was used to seeing in other cookie recipes. I thought it would also be interesting to see how brown rice syrup works in cookies, as I don't have much experience baking with it and this was the first time I'd seen it in a cookie recipe. I found this recipe to be quite similar to the oatmeal cookies that I was used to making, but I was happy to see that it called for oil instead of Earth Balance - especially when I only needed 1/2 cup of oil compared to my usual 1 cup of EB. This time, I read everything around the recipe (to avoid a similar corn incident), and noted that it would be OK to use chocolate chips. I also added in the last of my chopped walnuts. These cookies are awesome! A must bake!

On Sunday morning, I was STILL in a baking mood! I decided to make my sweetie some Banana-Walnut Waffles. Again, I had to make a small substitution of pecans for the walnuts (due to using them all up for cookies...that was poor planning). They were great! I just think that next time, I won't add maple syrup to the batter and use it as a topping only, as I found that the waffles were sticking to my non-stick iron, no matter how thoroughly I sprayed it with oil. It made so many, that I managed to tuck some away in the freezer to enjoy this weekend!

Finally, I ended my spree by making the Vanilla Ice Cream. Over the past few weeks, I tried doing some online hunting for 'ice cream' recipes, but didn't have much luck. I'm too lazy to cook something first to make a custard, I don't like the idea of xanthan gum or soy lecithin, and I found my recent attempts at using cashews left my ice cream too gritty. Yes, I was being fussy. But I have found the perfect recipe in Vcon - I simply pile the ingredients in a blender, whiz them up, and pour into the ice cream maker. I was skeptical about the recipe calling for silken tofu, as a previous attempt with tofu was too icy and not creamy. Despite that, I remained open-minded. I bought a can of coconut milk (once home, I noticed I got the low-fat kind out of habit), and put it in the fridge, as per the instructions, so that I could skim off the 'cream' the next day. Well, when I took it out of the fridge, I wasn't thinking and tipped it so far back that skimming cream would likely not happen - even if the low-fat kind would have even produced it! So I just poured the required amount of coconut milk instead and hoped for the best. I have to say that after mixing for 35-40 minutes in my ice cream maker, it produced the firmest soft serve that I have made to date. Still, I poured it into a shallow container and froze it overnight to firm it up a little more, as per my usual practice. The next day, I tasted the best ice cream ever, and will not be buying anymore Soy Delicious from now on! I still have enough leftover ingredients to make another batch tonight, and can't wait to try the other suggested flavours!

I'm so glad that I now sound like a Vcon salesperson instead of an Yves' Cuisine salesperson.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Way, way up here in a tiny corner of this northern snow-covered land, I stood in the middle of a bookstore with a newly unpackaged copy of The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook clenched in my little hands. It was a joyous climax to a long, epic struggle fraught with hardships and tears. (The short story is, that after waiting weeks and weeks for our Chapters pre-order to arrive, they ran out of books, so we cancelled and ordered from Amazon. They shipped the next day. I did buy one copy at Chapters as soon as they arrived, only to return it when my online order was delivered. Chapters pre-ordering = sucks)

So the grand tally for my VwaV challenge? I made 57 out of 134 recipes. I was on one hand disheartened, because I thought I could have tried more. On the other hand, I have so many favourites that are so delicious I make them time and time again. And because of the challenge, I now know about Maple-Mustard Glazed Potatoes, which are a secret treasure. And Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies. And Butternut Vindaloo. Recipes I still want to try? Fresh Corn Fritters, Lemon Corn Waffles, Coconut Pancakes, Knishes and Moroccan Tagine.

But I can't help myself from digging into Veganomicon head first. I had already made a few things from the sneak-peek freebee recipes. And it's funny - from browsing all the photos and reading threads on the ppk, there was already a mental index of the recipes in Vcon formed in my head before I even opened the book. I'm being more organized this time, checking off each recipe in the table of contents as I make it and rating each recipe out of four stars. Here's what I've made so far.

Basic Broiled Tofu (easy and quick)

Chickpea-Noodle Soup (I didn't think I would like it as much as I do)

Chickpea Cutlets (I'll bake these next time because I have no skillet-skills)

Salt and Pepper Tofu (not officially in the book, but SO GOOD!! Again, challenging my frying skills)

Spicy Tempeh and Broccoli with Rotini (changed the name to match what I used)

Tamarind Lentils (When I saw this dish mentioned in the sneak-peek, I knew it would be mine. And it is so forking delicious. Make this now and keep your bed warm tonight.)

Pistachio-Rose Water Cookies (AMAZING! I had to make them because I thought the cupcake version was worth dying for. So are these.)

Just before I got Vcon, mrsbadmouth's zine Don't Eat off the Sidewalk 2 arrived. I had to make the Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls. They were outta this world. Tay loved them, so make them for your loved ones. I used a 9"x9" pan as stated, but I'd recommend a 9"x13" because they were popping out. I have to be careful - these could make me chubby really quick.

I'm off to read Vcon. I'm only on page 101. The Seitan Baguette with Broth Dip is speaking to me.