Archive for March, 2010

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How To Celebrate When Your Oven Suddenly Starts Working (Or, When Avocado and Brownie Collide!)

March 26, 2010

Dear readers,

Some of you may remember how in the past I’ve complained remarked that the oven in my kitchen hasn’t been working. A few days ago, however, it seemingly miraculously started working again. I have no idea why, but that really doesn’t matter. What matters is that I can now bake, roast, and broil whatever I want, whenever I want (at least until the oven mysteriously stops working again, knock on wood). I decided to celebrate the occasion by making a recent recipe from Hangry Pants: Avocado Brownies!

Wow! These brownies were good, and easy to make as well! I’m typically not much of a baker, but even I was able to come out with a nice little tray of tasty goodness. One of the best parts of these brownies was definitely how gooey and cakey they were, especially right out of the oven. Also, in case you are wondering, they don’t really taste like avocado at all. But that’s probably a good thing, despite how much I love avocados otherwise.

N.B. I did make a couple small changes to Heather’s recipe:

  1. I subbed in carob powder for the cocoa powder (this was probably the most significant change).
  2. I didn’t have very much whole wheat pastry flour left, so I topped up the cup with white flour.
  3. I needed to use much more milk than 2 tbsp to create the batter.
  4. My brownies needed to bake for 25 minutes before they were done, although given the state my oven’s been in for the past several months, I wouldn’t take that as indicative of anything.

Overall, this was a great recipe in every way—thanks, Heather! Now you all go out and try them as well!

Until we eat again,

Willie

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Korean Burritos, pt. 2 (Plus Special Guest Photos!)

March 25, 2010

Dear friends,

Caitlin still has plenty of things to post about from her visit to T.O. last week, but I wanted to check it now and share with you my latest kitchen creation, another Korean/Mexican fusion (go here to see my first awesome endeavor if you missed it). This time, I decided to Korean-ize an old favorite: Sweet Potato Black Bean Burritos. The whole thing was pretty easy. I started off sauteing some onions and orange peppers, added some black beans and buckwheat, and mixed the whole thing with some mashed sweet potatoes. The Korean twist was two heaping spoonfuls of gochujang that I mixed into the sweet potatoes. This little addition didn’t completely change the flavor of the filling mixture, but it definitely added a nice Korean spiciness to the whole thing. Overall, these turned out super!

But enough talk—let me just show you how these turned out. And, as a special added bonus, all of the photos today are coming courtesy of my awesome photographer-roommate Greg! So enjoy the higher-than-usual quality of photographs today! (…And if like what you see and you’re getting married soon and in the Toronto area, let me know—Greg does weddings!)

Talk to you again soon!

Until we eat again,

Willie

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Utopia, Ontario

March 16, 2010

Good morn, my little foodies!

I have safely made my way up North to the lovely and currently sunny Toronto! This visit is my longest yet, so be prepared for many delicious posts to come.

First stop, a little cafe in which we dined on my first night here: Cafe Utopia.

You may remember that our first foray into the Canadian poutine tradition was raw, tasty and live. This incarnation was quite different, and undoubtedly closer to the original. Perfectly crispy steak fries covered in a savoury mushroom gravy and cheese curds. Sounds a little like heaven in a basket, no?

On to the entrées! The white bean and tofu quesadilla was delightful, even though I’m not really used to eating masses of melted cheese anymore. Though it was a little soggy, I’m pretty sure it was the result of the food coming out too quickly for us to completely inhale that basket of poutine.

As some of you may already know, Greek food is one of my great culinary loves. Honestly, I could practically write a romance novel about Greek food and I. (Insert inappropriate Tracy Jordan quote here and replace “cornbread” with “Greek food”) Now, this vegetarian souvlaki may not have been traditionally Greek, but it was pretty good. I was a little unsure of the soy protein they use as the souvlaki meat, as I am about most meat substitutes, but it was cooked very nicely and had a smoky taste to it. It was the pita and the barbecue and tzatziki sauces that really did it for me. While Utopia’s tzatziki didn’t quite rival Dumont Burger‘s or Mezes‘, it definitely ranks high for me and the barbecue was wonderfully tangy! They may skimped on the tomato, but I didn’t mind so much considering tomatoes are way out of season, perhaps cucumbers would have been a nice addition?

On the side, we had two, very smooth local beers. I had the KLB raspberry wheat beer (nearest in the photo) and Willie had an ale, the name of which is currently escaping me… The KLB was amazing (and not very fruity at all). I don’t think I have drunk a beer as quickly since Poland, it was just that delicious!

Final verdict?

Without a doubt, I want to go back. They have plenty of vegetarian options (many of which could easily be veganized). Mostly, I want to go back for their starters. Almost all of their appetizers are vegetarian and they all look delicious.

Utopia Cafe is a perfect spot for hanging out with good beer, good conversation and a great selection of casual, veg-friendly eats.

Until We Eat Again,

Caitlin

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Another Night, Another Curry

March 14, 2010

Why have I been wanting to eat curry so much recently? Oh, that’s right: because curry is delicious. And I’ll admit—I’m also a sucker for the vibrant colors.

My latest curry was this Yellow Curry Soup, based loosely on this recipe from Closet Cooking. Unlike the other curries I’ve been making, this dish was definitely a soup (thanks to the six odd cups of vegetable broth the recipe calls for). But I liked the change of pace, and the Thai flavors still stood out despite all the watering down. As another element of newness, the main vegetable in this curry was butternut squash, which really worked well with all the other tastes. I paired it alongside some simple baked tofu, peanuts, and (although you can’t see it) edamame. All in all, a wonderful little evening meal, as pleasant to eat as it was to look at.

That’s all for today, but check back soon, because Caitlin is now in Toronto and there are sure to be many many blog-worthy food adventures coming your way shortly!

Until we eat again,

Willie

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Two Ways To Get Your Gochujang On

March 13, 2010

Hi everybody!

So remember a little while ago, when I extolled the joys of Korean gochujang? Well, consider this post part two of that exaltation. Today, I bring you two more wonderful and delicious ways to use gochujang. The first? Gochujang infused burritos!

Burritos are a silly thing to photograph, aren’t they? What you’re really interested in is what’s inside this puppy. I’ll let you in on the secret…

Still not clear? Fair enough. I did sort of make this burrito recipe up myself. Here’s what the filling looked like before it got put inside:

This here is a Korean-Mexican fusion of sorts, an idea I got from two of Closet Cooking’s recent posts (which inform me that Korean-Mexican taco trucks are all the rage in California). For my attempt at this appetizing combination, I fried up a can of black beans with some onions and red peppers, and matched all that alongside some Korean BBQ Tofu (from the batch I made a few nights before). In addition, I threw a grain in there as well, but instead of the more traditional rice, I used buckwheat, which was an amazingly good—and tasty!—idea. Add in a little lettuce and some spicy sriracha sauce, and you get what I’m calling a Korean B.B.T. Burrito (for beans, buckwheat, & tofu). And let me tell you: this was De. Li. Cious. Honestly, I really hope that (veg*n) Korean-Mexican restaurants start popping up everywhere from now on, or at least wherever I happen to be. This is a cuisine combination that everyone needs to try.

So that’s one way to put your gochujang to good use. Here’s another, slightly less complicated way:

This is just a bowl of steamed green beans and broccoli, topped with a Korean twist on my classic MAN (Miso-Agave-Nutbutter) Sauce. All I did was sub in gochujang for the miso, and voila!—a delicious “GAN Sauce” that can easily be prepared in just minutes. Obviously, this packs more heat than the normal MAN Sauce, but in my opinion, at least, that’s a good thing.

So those are two ways I’ve found to enjoy gochujang even more. I’m sure I’ll be experimenting more with it in the future, and I’ll be sure to tell you all about it when I do.

Until we eat again,

Willie

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Granola Tofu

March 12, 2010

What do you get when you combine baked tofu with crushed granola?

If you answered “kitchen fun times with Willie”, you are correct! But another acceptable answer is “a wacky and delicious dinner experiment”.

So yes, the tofu you see above is baked tofu rolled beforehand in crushed Nature’s Path Hemp Plus granola. I got the idea for this from Vegan Dad’s recent recipe for Crispy Cajun Tofu Sticks, which recommended coating tofu in crushed cereal. But seeing as granola was what was on sale last week, I decided to use that instead, and strangely enough, it worked.

One obvious problem is that I wasn’t able to get a very even coating. Perhaps I just wasn’t using enough granola; I’m not sure. However, this did work well enough, and provided a nice little crunch and sweetness to the already delicious tofu.

I put these tofu sticks to what I thought was the perfect use—on top of a bowl of Sweet Potato Curry. Did you know that sweet potatoes make curry even more amazing? They do. All in all, this was an awesome dish, packed full of all sorts of exciting flavors. What more can I say? I was a happy diner.

Mmmmm…

Until we eat again,

Willie

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The Joys of (Korean) Cooking

March 8, 2010

Dear friends,

One of the things I like most about cooking is that there’s always something new to try, whether it a new recipe, and new cuisine, or even a new ingredient! Amazingly, I was able to squeeze all three kinds of newness into a meal I made last week and, boy, was it wonderful. Let’s begin with the new ingredient…

Blogosphere, meet gochujang. Gochujang, meet blogosphere. If you’ve never seen one of these little tubs of Korean goodness, don’t be worried—like I said, this was my first seeing the stuff, too. As the label informs, gochujang is a red pepper paste, but I like to think of it as a cross between miso and kimchi. Like miso, it is a fermented paste, and like kimchi, it is packed with red chili powder spiciness. So sensitive palates beware: gochujang is hot hot hot. (For more on gochujang, check out the Wikipedia article here.)

Now I didn’t just buy this on a whim. I’ve been really eager to branch out my cooking to include Korean cuisine lately, and after skimming over a few tantalizing recipes, I came to the conclusion that gochujang was going to be an integral part of that branching out. I was happy for the opportunity to try something new anyway. So what did I make? Take a look!

What you see there is lots of tofu marinating in a Korean BBQ sauce. I got the recipe for the marinade from Closet Cooking, and it is a winner. I loved the spicy flavor of the gochujang mixed with everything else inside. However, although I maybe could’ve eaten all the tofu just like this, I decided that it’d be better to put it to further use.

First I fried all my little tofu cubes in canola oil, giving them a nice crispiness. These came out really great; just look:

And although I definitely could’ve eaten all the tofu just like this, I thought I could put it to even better use by adding it to a more complete dish. However, instead of following any specific recipe, I decided to wing it and make something of my own design, which—amazingly—came out amazing. I give you Korean Pad Thai:

Okay, I’m not really sure if Korean Pad Thai is the best name for it, but I can’t think of anything better. Basically, I went by the same general formula I used for the more traditional Pad Thai dish I made a few weeks ago in NYC (thanks again to Closet Cooking!), but with several changes. First, I had the genius idea of using the rest of the marinade as the noodle sauce. This definitely turned up the heat on this dish by a lot (as if the tofu itself wasn’t gonna be hot enough), but it added a wonderful flavor to it as well. My noodles of choice this time were udon, which are of course neither Korean nor Thai, but whatever, they were what I had handy and, more importantly, they worked great! The vegetables I chose to add were just broccoli, greens beans, and edamame, but they went very well with everything else. Overall, this dish was really really good—and also made for delicious leftovers during the week!

So, in review: Gochujang? Success. Korean cuisine? Success. Korean Pad Thai? Super success! I like it when cooking turns out this well. And be sure to check back soon to see what I did with the rest of my Korean BBQ Tofu, and what other great uses I’ve since found for gochujang!

Until we eat again,

Willie

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