Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tasty Noodles

I love pasta. And I love Veganomicon. Hence, it was easy to go through the pasta section of the cookbook and find some yummy things to make!

First up - Pasta Della California - delicious! I used rotini instead of a flatter noodle since I somehow forgot to pick some up at the store (that's been happening alot lately!).

Next, as mentioned in my last post, I had to try the Baked Ziti with Caramelized Onions and Sage Breadcrumbs, as Tracy had tempted me. Omigod - this is definitely one of my new comfort foods! I can't get over how good it tasted. I served it with a simple spinach salad with dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds and sliced almonds. This dish would be ideal to take to a potluck, due to it's large size and mass appeal in terms of texture. Since I made a huge 9x13" pan worth, and didn't want to tire of it, I decided to store several individual portions in the freezer. I can't wait to reheat them in the coming weeks! Note again, I used the suggested alternative penne, since this time, I was too lazy to look for ziti at the grocery store.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Somethings New and Somethings Old

First, I have to start by saying that imitation is a form of flattery - based on Tracy's posts, I have made Penne Vodka (to DIE for), Lower-Fat Deep Chocolate Bundt Cake, and will soon be making the Pumpkin Ziti - all from Vcon. It's great seeing and reading about some of the recipes before trying them! And besides, it's my job as a little sister to copy my big sister.

However, I do have some shred of independence. With my new cast-iron skillet, I made Meredith McCarty's Skillet Cornbread from her Fresh from a Vegetarian Kitchen cookbook. It was tasty, but quite crumbly. I might stick to my tried-and-true Jennifer Raymond Peaceful Palate Cornbread recipe and try it in the cast-iron pan instead.

I have to admit I'm not a vegan quiche fan, but was intrigued by Vcon's Asparagus Quiche with Tomato and Tarragon. I had found some asparagus at Farm Boy in the dead of winter, but by the time I got around to making the quiche, the asparagus was shriveled up and dried out. Instead, I subbed broccoli. It was the tastiest quiche! I didn't like it too warm, and opted to reheat leftover slices for only 15 seconds. I think this would be tasty in a mini-quiche form too.

I made Vcon's Smlove Pie for the third time for mine and my mom's dual b-day party. In my absentmindedness, I forgot to buy the darn pecans for the topping, so I subbed 1 cup of walnut pieces. I actually liked it better, since I could load up all of the mapled walnuts on the pie!

Finally, I made the Porcini-Wild Rice Soup from Vcon. Reeeaaaal good. Very thick and hearty. Each time I opened the casserole I stored it in, I added some water which increased the volume everytime, so it seemed like one of those cartoons where the pile never gets depleted no matter how many servings I took!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Adventures and Leftovers

As per Sarah's last post, I made sushi for our recent family gathering. I needed to pick up a few Asian specialty items, especially the inari "bags" for Sarah's favourite sushi. However, going to our usual Asian market, Kowloon, is a trip downtown and isn't too easy on the stomach. It is smelly, dirty and can be crowded. The last time we went, it contained a very strong odour of, well, to put it bluntly, feces, which doesn't really inspire any sort of culinary adventure in me. Pete and I had heard rumours of a new Asian market in the East end through a woman at work*, but she has since moved to California and we were left only with our sketchy memories of her vague directions.

I wanted to stop in at Lush's St Laurent location and pick up some vegan deals, and afterwards Pete drove through the progressively worsening snowstorm and found the mythical clean and tidy Asian grocery mecca we once could have only dreamed about - Uni Mart. It was bright, spotless, well-stocked and relatively odourless. I picked out a basket of items and we made our way to the cash. After ringing us through, we were told to go to Cash #1 for our "free gift". How exciting! I'm not sure what we did to deserve one, but free stuff is always fun. The woman at Cash #1 took our receipt, and reached down and lifted a HUGE can of oysters onto the counter. Oh no. How did I explain that I didn't want her free gift? I told her that we didn't eat animals, so she reached down again and brought up a bag of frozen shrimp. Uh, no thank you, really. I saw a stack of hundreds of packages of little bundles of yam noodles in the corner and pointed at it. She shook her head at me, said "Just for fondue!" like I was a crazy woman and handed me a package. I thanked her many times, smiling. Anyway, if you're in the Ottawa area and want great deals on anything for your Chinese, Japanese or Vietnamese cooking, check out Uni Mart. Just be warned about their generous gifts.

I made a soup with my newly acquired udon noodles, lotus root, tofu and enoki mushrooms.

Later in the week, I made more dishes from the Great Tome** of Vegan Cooking - Veganomicon. Here is Penne Vodka. I like the sauce so much more that a run-of-the-mill marinara.

There were leftover mashed potatoes wallowing in the fridge, so I tried Home-style Potato Rolls. They were chewy dough-y goodness. The recipe made so many rolls that I should have stashed some in the freezer, but didn't think of it at the time.

I had cooked a batch of chickpeas and wanted to use them up, so I tried Tomato and Roasted Eggplant Stew with Chickpeas, over the suggested Poppy-Seed Polenta. This was so amazing, I would suggest it for any eggplant-haters in your life - they will realize the errors of their ways. The eggplant melted in your mouth and the flavours were amazing.

* This woman at work, who came to Canada from China about eight to ten years ago, saw me making tea at work in a stainless steel teapot and found it ABSOLUTELY imperative that I understood to NEVER cook snake in metal. Glass or ceramic only. Ya, snake. I made sure that she was talking about the reptile. Yep. I assured her that I never would.

** The definition of tome is "often one volume of a multi-volume scholarly work". I hope that I eventually have a whole bookshelf of Isa and Terry's works.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Another Vegan Feast!

Tracy and my mom held a get-together in my honour, and we came together as a great team when it came to making tasty vegan treats!

First, mom supplied cut up veggies for snacking with a vegan soy sour cream-based dip.

She also prepared mini veggie and vegan soy cream cheese tortilla roll-ups, that were gobbled up.

Tracy made yummy sushi in different varieties that included avocado, sweet potato/mushroom and spicy tempeh. Soooo good! One of my non-vegan friends commented that she found it strange that I could eat sushi despite it tasting so 'fishy'...I told her that maybe it was fish that tasted 'seaweedy' instead!

Tracy also made what I call 'tofu bags'...I know there's a proper name for these but I can't remember what it is for the life of me. I love how the sticky rice is so sweet and delicious.

Finally, my contribution was mini toasts with Tofu Dill Salad Sandwich Filling with VwaV. I 'disguised' the tofu with tomato slices.

I also made two varieties of cupcakes - Lemon Macadamia (sans macadamias) and Chocolate and Vanilla Marbled cupcakes - both from VCTOTW. I had made the lemon variety already for Tracy's wedding, but the Marbled variety was new to try! Both were tasty, and my new icing tips ensured a pretty presentation. Kyle did note that my attempt at marbling the icing for the marbled cupcakes looked like seagull crap...fortunately it didn't taste like that! Next time I marble icing, I'll use a more decorative tip than just a large-holed one.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Season's Eatin's

After the hustle and bustle of holiday festivities, we had a few days of peace and relaxation. Which explains why I'm a little late in posting our Christmas dishes. Dinner this year was at Mom's house and I wasn't used to the lighting in the dining room, so only a few of the pics are decent enough to share.

Sarah made a Cranberry Edamame Salad which was bright and festive.

Wayne and Penny made a roasted vegetable dish.

I made a raw Shaved Fennel with Blood Oranges, Pomegranate, and Pinenuts salad.

We also had mashed potatoes, dressing, Chickpea Cutlets, veggie gravy, butternut squash and carrots. I almost didn't have room for anything on the cookie tray. Almost.

For Second Christmas, we tried to minimize the gluten in the food. I made Vcon's Spaghetti Squash Mexicana with Tropical Avocado Salsa Fresca with Sweet Potato Fries and Corn Muffins from How It All Vegan. The squash was a relatively easy and tasty dish, although I will split the squash lengthwise before baking next time, instead of across the "waist". I loved the salsa.

We topped it with Sour Cilantro Cream also from Vcon.

Sarah made a Spinach Salad with marinated mushrooms. I could have eaten all of the mushrooms, they were so tasty.

Two days later for J's birthday dinner, I made Veganomicon's Black Bean Burgers which looked so pretty topped with red onion, tomato, and avocado slices and the Sour Cilantro Cream. So pretty in fact that I ate mine before I even thought about taking a photo. Luckily I remembered before cutting the cake - Lower-Fat Deep Chocolate Bundt Cake from guess where... Veganomicon! It was so moist and delicious that even I, someone who doesn't get too excited about cake, really enjoyed it. Please excuse the candle divet.

We tried the Red Wine Roux on the Chickpea Cutlets and were kind of turned off by the colour, but pleasantly surprised by the flavour. I still want to try the Mustard Sauce before I declare a Cutlet Sauce winner.

I had planned to make the BBQ Black-Eyed Pea Collard Rolls (from Vcon) for New Years Eve, but by the time the evening rolled around and after a raw key lime pie disaster, just the thought of making the BBQ sauce was too much for me. I'm glad I waited, because I started early on New Year's Day and had the sauce simmering on the stove and everything prepped ahead of time. It was then just a matter of assembling the rolls. They were really yummy. When I make them again, I'll add a little brown rice inside to soak up the saucy goodness.

Last night I tried Vcon's Pumpkin Baked Ziti with Caramelized Onions and Sage Crumb Topping. It was savoury and I can see why it is popular as a comfort food.

Now it's time to cut back on the hibernation food and eat a bit more lightly. There are one too many cookies hanging out on my bathroom scale.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

2007 ended with some tasty treats...for Xmas morning breakfast, I made Mrs. Bad Mouth's Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns, as it's a tradition to always have cinnamon buns in the morning. I had made them in my breadmaker on the dough setting on Sunday, stuck them in the fridge (where they shriveled up and had me quite worried), then let them rise for an hour on Tuesday morning, and they baked up perfectly!

I'm hoping that Tracy will post our Xmas meal pics soon!

Later in the month, I made the Black Bean Vegetable Soup from Vcon. It made alot, and it took Kyle and I almost a week to get through it all!

I also made Blueberry Lemon Pancakes from Vcon as well - I found that I had to add about 1/4 cup more flour to make them a little thicker. Might have had something to do with the fact that I used whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose. Very good!

Finally, I made up some treats for a small New Year's gathering - first up was a veggie tray with vegan soy sour cream (non-hydrogenated) with the addition of the same ingredients listed in Vcon's Sour Cilantro Cream. Yum!

Next, I made the Mushroom-Walnut Pate from Vcon. Sooo good! Makes quite a bit though, so I would halve the recipe next time. I'm thinking it might be good to mix with some veggie broth and veggies to serve with pasta...

Back by popular demand, the Voluptuous Vegan's Guacamole. Guaranteed to give everyone the worst garlic breath ever.

I also made mini-pizzas with Creamy Pasta Sauce from Bryanna Clark Grogan's Almost No Fat Cookbook. I made these a month or so ago, and thought they'd be a great addition. It was very easy to make the sauce and cook the veggies in advance and simply assemble and bake the pizzas on the night of the party.

Finally, I think what has to be the most amazing cake ever. Vcon's Coconut Lemon Bundt Cake. There are honestly no words for this delectable dessert - extremely easy to make, beautiful in presentation with a light dusting of icing sugar, and so tasty served with Vcon's Vanilla Ice Cream. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I'm so happy that it made as much as it did as I can't wait to dig into the leftovers today!

Hope everyone has a very happy and healthy 2008!