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.