Archive for July, 2010

h1

Mahjong Food

July 31, 2010

Hello readers!

A couple of weeks ago, Caitlin and I invited a couple friends over to spend an evening playing Mahjong with us. For those that don’t know, Mahjong is a highly entertaining (and highly addictive) game, sort of similar to what Gin Rummy would be like, if Gin Rummy were played with small plastic tiles instead of cards, four people instead of two, and Chinese words for all the moves. I know, it sounds weird, but I promise you it’s wonderful.

And how did we convince two of our friends to come over and play such a weird game? By enticing them with food, of course! And apropos to the occasion, Caitlin and I chose to prepare a couple delectable Asian dishes for our dinner. Coincidentally, both are dishes that I first fell in love with in Japan even though they both originated in China, in much the same way that I first fell in love with Mahjong in Japan even though it’s really a Chinese game at heart. Anyway, you’re surely here to see the food, not to read my rambling recollections. So without further ado, here’s our first dish—Mabo Tofu:

Mabo Tofu is about as simple as it gets: it’s just lots and lots of tofu, simmered in a spicy sauce. I’ve tried making the sauce from scratch before, but this time we decided to take it easy and just use a packaged version (this one, if you’re interested). Making this from a box makes it mind-numbingly simple (you just fry your tofu a bit and then pour in the sauce), but the taste is still all there. I love it!

Accompanying this dish, we made a heaping pile of Gyoza (note that this photo is only half of all the gyoza we made):

For those that don’t know, gyoza are fried dumplings, variously filled with either vegetables, ground meat, or anything else you can think of. For our gyoza, I whipped up a nicely sauteed mix of vegetables, combining cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, spinach, and some other things I can no longer remember. Caitlin placed this filling into the little dough circles we bought and then folded them up in proper gyoza form. We then fried them in oil until they just started to brown. The result: deliciousness. Seriously, we made over 50 gyozas (gyozai? or is it just gyoza?), but had no problem whatsoever devouring all of them between the four of us. Gyoza are just that good.

Finally, our friends brought some cupcakes with them to share, and although they weren’t at all keeping with our Asian theme for the night, their amazingly wondrous deliciousness more than made up for it. Check out this delectable box:

These incredible little treats were from Sweet Avenue in New Jersey, and they were wonderful. Our flavors, starting from roughly 12 o’clock and moving clockwise, were: Lemonade Iced Tea, Sexy Sadie (red velvet), Tiramisu, Cinnamon Sticky Bun, Lavender Lemon (it actually tastes like flowers!), and in the center was Peanut Butter Cup. Whoa my gosh were these good (and, of course, very very rich). I would definitely recommend Sweet Avenue without reservation—if you’re close by, you must must must try them out.

And that’s all for today. Enjoy your weekends, everybody!

Until we eat again,

Willie

h1

Affordable and Delicious Indian Food in London?

July 20, 2010

yes, please.

A few of my fellow librarians and I heard tell of great Indian food just north of our campus on Drummond Street. We meandered up there one somewhat dreary evening and our spirits were much raised by the delicious food at Diwana Bhel Poori House.

I started my meal with a delicious sweet lassi.

The lassi was followed up with a crispy, thin dosa filled with potatoes and spinach, coconut chutney and dhal on the side.

Care to take a look inside?

Just thought you might like look inside at some of this spicy and delicious potato and spinach filling!

Diwana Bhel Poori House is a great spot if you are in London and in the market for affordable and delicious Indian food. I went for dinner, but they apparently have a great lunch buffet as well.

Until We Eat Again,

Caitlin

h1

There’s Still Time For Soup in Summer

July 19, 2010

Hello bloggees!

If your town is anything like mine, you’ve probably been dying from sweltering heat for the past several weeks. So one would think that it would be the worst time of the year to make soup for dinner. But I beg to differ. First, soups can be made nice and light, and that often makes for a nicer meal than something heavy in summer. And of course, soups can also be made cold. But perhaps most importantly, summer is the time when some of the best soup vegetables are in season. And those are some of the reasons that last week Caitlin and I decided to make some asparagus soup. And thankfully, it turned out amazingly delicious.

Wasn’t it pretty? Our recipe was taken from Cadry’s Kitchen, and it was a simple blend of various, lightly cooked vegetables. It was a breeze to prepare and a joy to eat. What I liked most about this soup was just how fresh it tasted. The consistency was also very nice—not too chunky, but not too watery either. All in all, I just really loved this soup! So don’t be afraid: summer can still be a time for soup.

Until we eat again,

Willie

h1

Summer Fun with Oatmeal

July 16, 2010

Oatmeal: it’s a wonderful thing. Hearty, wholesome, and delicious, it’s hard to beat oatmeal when it comes to simple (and affordable) breakfasts. Plus, with the wide variety of add-ins that can be added to it (bananas, milk, maple syrup, and nut butter, to name a few), oatmeal can really be more of a breakfast treat than a breakfast cereal. Back in the wintertime, I was making myself big batches of oatmeal every week that I’d heat up daily for breakfast. Yet with the arrival of summer, oatmeal has fallen off my radar—hot cereal just doesn’t have the same appeal in sweltering heat. But then I realized—with the help of some fellow food bloggers—that the end of hot breakfasts does not have to mean the end of oatmeal breakfasts. So today I bring you two inventive ways to enjoy oatmeal that will keep your body cool and your stomach very satisfied.

First up, we have some Overnight Oats, recipe courtesy of Oh She Glows. These have been all the rage in the food blogosphere recently, and with good reason: they’re delicious, simple, and perfect for summer. Instead of cooking your oats on the stovetop, you leave them to soak in some milk in the refrigerator overnight, and the next morning you’ll have a tasty bowl of oats all ready to go. I didn’t have any chia seeds to use when I made what you see above, but it was delicious all the same. I definitely recommend this recipe to everyone.

Secondly, we have a Oatmeal Cookie Smoothie, recipe courtesy of Happy Herbivore. This is a little more decadent way to eat your oats, but with a recipe this good, I think a little decadence is okay. Because this smoothie uses two frozen bananas, it comes out tasting more like an ice cream shake, which is of course fine by me! And the grinded oats together with the cinnamon and cardamom give it a really nice and irresistible oatmeal cookie taste.

One note: I used much more milk than the original recipe calls for—four times more, to be precise, so a full cup of milk. I have often found that I’ve needed to add in more milk with Happy Herbivore’s smoothie recipes, which may be because we just like our smoothies to be different consistencies, or because our blenders mix things up a little differently. I’m not sure, but just be aware that if you make this smoothie, don’t feel shy to add some extra milk if it’s looking too thick for your tastes.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading about these summer oat recipes, and that you get to try them in the near future! Happy eating!

Until we eat again,

Willie

h1

Thrive Burgers: Good Clean Fun

July 14, 2010

A good vegan burger is not always the easiest thing to come by. Many of the frozen store-bought brands can taste bland in my experience, and the ones that don’t are often full of not-so-wholesome synthetic ingredients. Homemade burgers, on the other hand, are not all that simple to make, especially when it comes to finding the right binder to make everything hold together. And in both cases, vegan burgers can often come out tasting a little too meat-like for my tastes. So I was really excited to try out one of Brendan Brazier‘s “Thrive Diet” burgers the other night. For those that don’t know, Brendan Brazier is a vegan Iron-Man triathlete, who is chock full of nutritional and athletic wisdom (as well as delicious recipes). I’ve had lots of luck with his recipes before, and I was confident that his spin on burgers would be something special.

The burger I decided to try out was his Almond Flaxseed Burger, and it was not at all what you’d call a traditional burger. First, it consisted of only five ingredients: primarily almonds and flaxseed, and then some liquids and oil. No soy, no vital wheat gluten, no textured vegetable protein—just simple, unprocessed, whole food ingredients. Second, it was all assembled in my blender in a matter of, oh, one minute, and didn’t even need to be cooked afterward! All I needed to do after blending was shape the mixture a bit in my hands, and I was very happy to see that my patties held together quite well. Here’s how one of them turned out:

So how did I decide to enjoy my wacky raw vegan patties? On my first night with them I chose to crumble one up into a salad. Not exactly the most common to eat a burger, but I was a little hesitant to just eat one of these guys raw right off. Thankfully, the salad idea turned out amazing. Along with some sweet potato and avocado, this was one hearty salad, but I savored every second of it.

The next night I decided to go more classic and make myself a burger sandwich. I also decided to bake my burger this time, as well—not because I was at all disappointed in how the raw burger turned out, but because I didn’t really want to eat a coolly refrigerated patty on toast and I was curious to see how it would taste baked. Fortunately, it was really good, albeit not significantly different. Paired with some Black Russian bread and spicy mustard, this was quite the treat:

So what’s my final verdict on these Thrive Burgers? They definitely get two thumbs up in my book. What I liked most about them was how they didn’t try to imitate traditional burgers at all and instead were happy being their own unique sort of patty. Of course, this did mean that they didn’t taste much like your average burger, so if you’re looking for a good vegan burger imitation, this is not it. But if you’re in the mood for a healthy, wholesome raw twist on the average burger, look no further than this.

Until we eat again,

Willie

h1

Simple Delicious Gluten-Free & Vegan Cookies

July 6, 2010

Hi all!

The title kind of gives away the punchline of this post: today I’m here to share and promote this amazing cookie recipe I made a little while back, which aside from being super delicious is also a breeze to make and, on top of all that, gluten-free and vegan. What you see above is a batch of Sunflower Shortbread Button Cookies, made with the help of this recipe from Diet, Dessert and Dogs. As you may notice, the original recipe is for Pumpkinseed Shortbread Cookies, but as Whole Foods did not have any pumpkinseed butter when I went there, I opted for Sunbutter Sunflower Seed Spread instead, which the recipe lists as an acceptable alternative. And in fact, I think this only made the cookies better (I’ve tried pumpkinseed butter once before, and it wasn’t all that great).

Basically, these cookies taste just like those peanut butter fork-print cookies your mom used to make as a child (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out this picture), except better, and, I suppose, a little more wholesome for you. The ingredient list is a mere six items long, and the only gluten-free speciality ingredient it calls for is brown rice flour, which is fairly easy to find nowadays. More or less, all you do is mix the ingredients together and then shape into buttons and bake. And in only 12 minutes or less, out come cute and delicious shortbread cookies!

The one thing I’d note about this recipe is that you should make sure to go through these cookies fast (which shouldn’t really be a problem, seeing as they are de-li-cious). After a few days, I found that they started to get more crumbly and didn’t hold together as well as they did before. But aside from that, these cookies really were a dream, and no one will ever guess that they’re both gluten-free and vegan. So get off your computer and into the kitchen! These cookies are calling.

Until we eat again,

Willie

h1

A Few of My Favourite Things

July 5, 2010

A couple weeks ago I went to Toronto for a brief weekend visit, which was the longest amount of time my current class schedule would allow for. But although my time there was brief, I was able to enjoy myself quite well, and that included enjoying some of my favo(u)rite Toronto foods, as well as some new treats! My basic strategy foodwise was just to hit up a few of my most-loved markets and cafes for some tasty T.O. specialities, and this plan worked out perfectly. So what did I get? Well, first off, I got some delicious baked goods from The Urban Herbivore:

I’ve written about how magnificent The Urban Herbivore’s baked goodies are once before, and I was very excited to stop back in this trip. My treats of choice this time were, first, their Chocolate Banana Bread and, second, their Cranberry Flax Muffin. Both were delectable, but I was really blown away by the muffin (all the more so since I’m not all that crazy for cranberries). What really did it for me was the flax, the flavor of which this muffin was bursting with. I don’t really know what they did or how they did, but I was happy enough just getting to eat it. Here’s another shot of this glorious muffin, showing off just how ridiculously large its muffin top is:

On Saturday afternoon, I decided to check out a place I hadn’t tried before for lunch: Vena’s Restaurant. This place is right down the block from where I live in Toronto, and it specializes in West Indian Roti, a dish I had yet to try. Basically, it’s a big burrito-like roll filled with vegetables (or meat, if you’re not like me) cooked in a delicious sauce. Here’s what my roti looked like when I got it:

And here’s what it looked like on the inside:

This wasn’t blow-you-away good, but it was pretty satisfying. One of the most disappointing things about this roti was its unevenness: some of the vegetables were amazing (the butternut squash in particular), while others were more forgettable. Vena’s also isn’t going to win points in anybody’s book for decor, but at $6 or $7 a roti, it is a great place to stop in for a cheap and filling lunch.

And for my weekend dinners, I made special Toronto salads both nights. Like my typical salads, they involved lots of greens (spinach this time), avocado, sweet potato, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, flaxseed meal, and nutritional yeast, but for that extra-special Toronto taste, I added a generous helping of Uncle Ben’s sprouts (sold at the wonderful St. Lawrence Market) and some Ying Ying Soy Food Black Bean Tofu (also sold at St. Lawrence). Here is one of those salads, in all its glory:

This was massive, but delicious from the beginning to the very end!

This trip was much too short, but as you can see, I had my fair share of fun. It’ll be a little while yet before I have more Toronto deliciousness to blog about, but I’ll be back soon enough with more food adventures from delicious delicious New York!

Until we eat again,

Willie

%d bloggers like this: