Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

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Sunchoke (Jerusalem Artichoke) Hummus

December 11, 2011

Hi all!

It’s been busy around here lately at UWEA plaza (that is, my life), but I had to make sure to find some extra time today to quickly share this amazing new hummus recipe I recently came up with: Sunchoke Hummus! (If you don’t already know about the wonders that are sunchokes/Jerusalem artichokes, you’ll probably want to check out my previous post about Sunchoke Soup for a refresher.)

Now I have to admit, I can’t actually take all the credit for this amazing new recipe. In fact, it all started when I (like any obsessive-compulsive blogger) was checking out my blog stats and looking at the search engine terms people had used to reach my blog. One user got here by searching “sunchoke hummus”—but before this post was ever written. (Or was it an internet searcher from… the future?!) I guess Google took him to my Sunchoke Soup page or something, which must’ve disappointed the searcher, but which fortuitously let me in on the searcher’s excellent idea. Sunchokes are so smooth and creamy and have such a wonderful taste, why wouldn’t they work in hummus? So, in a sort of self-fulfilling search engine prophecy sort of way, I decided to come up with my own recipe for Sunchoke Hummus and post it here, both for the searcher and, of course, for you.

But that wasn’t the end of the help I got with this one. After posting my Sunchoke Soup post, I received several comments, including this one, which had the excellent idea of adding a bit of thyme to the soup mix. Thyme struck me as such an excellent complement to the flavour of the sunchokes that I couldn’t resist throwing some in with this hummus as well, and I think it really elevated the dip to new heights!

And thus was Sunchoke Hummus born. Read below for the recipe, and enjoy!

Sunchoke Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sunchokes, boiled until very soft
  • 2 cups chickpeas
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 4 tbsp reserved chickpea liquid (or water)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp thyme

Instructions

  1. Put chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, and tahini in a food processor.
  2. Pulse until mixture becomes smooth. Slowly add reserved chickpea liquid/water a little at  a time, until you get the mixture to your desired consistency.
  3. Season with salt and thyme, adding more to taste.
  4. Empty into a serving bowl and sprinkle with a little extra thyme.

Hope you like this! And, if you’re looking for more excellent hummus recipes, you’d do well to check out Oh She Glows’s recent Spicy Curry Butternut Squash Hummus. It looks sorta like this…

…and it tastes sorta like heaven! Try it out for yourself!

Until we eat again,

Willie

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“Hot Date” Spicy Mexican Chocolate Brownies (Vegan, Gluten-Free, & Nut-Free!)

December 7, 2011

What’s that? Sorry, I can’t talk right now. I have a hot date:

A hot date brownie, that is!

What am I talking about, you ask? Just the latest and greatest sweet treat to come out of my kitchen is all! Seriously, I am super excited to be sharing this recipe with you all today. These brownies are rich, decadent, and irresistible—yet vegan, gluten-free, and nut-free!

The secret? I’m pretty sure it’s the dates. I like using dates in sweet things because they’re a whole food and a superb natural sweetener. They’re extra perfect for brownies, because they naturally have that sticky, gooey texture that brownies need. And this weekend, as I was poking around the internet for gluten-free date-based brownie recipes, I had an excellent idea: why not spice things up a bit while I’m at it?

And so these Spicy Mexican Chocolate—or as I’m calling them, “Hot Date”—Brownies were born. I worked off of this excellent chocolate date brownie recipe from Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free, and then added some hot pepper and chili spices to the batter to make them extra hot. The result was divine—chewy, rich, spicy, and finger-licking good. This is definitely a recipe I will be returning to soon, and one you should get on ASAP! Here’s what to do…

“Hot Date” Mexican Chocolate Brownies
vegan, gluten-free, and nut-free
(makes 16 to 20 small brownies, 9 medium brownies, or 1 really big brownie)
adapted from this Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pitted medjool dates
  • ¾ cup hot water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ cup garbanzo-fava flour mix (other GF flours would probably work here too)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • a handful of chocolate chips (totally optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper and spray with spray oil.
  2. Place pitted dates, hot water, vanilla, and coffee granules in a bowl and let sit as you prepare the other ingredients.
  3. Mix together all the other ingredients, except for the optional chocolate chips.
  4. Place date mixture into a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides if necessary.
  5. Once date mixture is nice and smooth, add the flour mixture and process some more. You should have enough space to do this even in a very tiny food processor (mine only holds 3 cups). The final mixture will be fairly sticky and viscous.
  6. Pour mixture into the prepared baking pan, and do your best to spread it out. Silicon/rubber spatulas are a boon here, but even they can only do so much with this batter.
  7. If you wish, sprinkle the top with chocolate chips, and press down into batter.
  8. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. The toothpick test won’t work with these brownies, so just use your best judgment as to when they are set.
  9. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Once they’ve cooled down, they’re ready to eat!

And that’s all you got to do! Hope you enjoy this one, guys!

Until we eat again,

Willie

 

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Hearty Vegan Apple-Cranberry Muffins

November 27, 2011

Today I want to tell you a story about some muffins.

Any Torontonian worth their salt knows that the city’s best muffins—and not just vegan muffins, but muffins—are to be found at Urban Herbivore. If you’ve never seen one of their muffins before, I’ve actually blogged about them twice before, in these two age-old posts, but if you’re also too lazy to click on hyperlinks, I’ll just tell you that Urban Herbivore muffins are behemoths, with muffin tops so gargantuan that the whole thing looks posed to topple over at any moment. They’re also very hearty and dense, making them a meal in themselves and then some. Simply put, I’ve never had a muffin like an Urban Herbivore muffin, whether from another café or from my own kitchen.

So you can imagine my excitement when I got wind that my friend Lisa had come up with an at-home Urban Herbivore-style muffin recipe a while ago, before I started following her lovely blog. Not long after I discovered this, I was hard at work in my kitchen, eager to make some Urban Herbivore magic of my own. But that magic didn’t happen. In fact, my first pass at this recipe was a near disaster. Granted, this was surely my own fault, as I made a few recipe substitutions to better suit my pantry availability, and these substitutions seemed to set everything else off balance, making for muffins that came out tasting gritty and grainy, and that just barely held together at all. And though these weren’t a total failure (I did, after all, end up eating them all), they were nothing to share or be proud of, and certainly no rival to Urban Herbivore’s gold standard.

So a week or two later I returned to the kitchen, and tried modifying the recipe slightly to see if I could get it to work. I cut back some on both the flour and the fruit, and remembered to use coconut oil as I originally intended to, and that seemed to do the trick: lovely, hearty muffins, tasty from top to bottom! And though these are still no match for Urban Herbivore’s muffins (just look at those measly muffin tops, for example), they’re still a good start, and definitely a recipe I will be returning to and honing further. But these are plenty enjoyable as is, and now you can enjoy them too!

Hearty Apple-Cranberry Muffins (makes 12 muffins)
modified from Lisa’s “Dax’s Blueberry Birthday Muffins”

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 3 flax eggs (3 tbsp flaxseed meal + 9 tbsp warm water)
  • 2/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup apples, peeled and chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Start by making your flax eggs. You can simply mix together the flaxseed meal and water and let sit for a few minutes, or if you’re feeling a little less lazy, you can briefly heat the mixture over the stovetop until it gets goopy and egg-like in texture.
  3. Mix together the dry ingredients: the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and sugar.
  4. Mix together the wet ingredients: the coconut oil (you may have to heat this up first to melt it into a liquid), lemon juice, and flax eggs.
  5. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir until just mixed.
  6. Fold in the apples and dried cranberries.
  7. Oil a muffin tin, and then fill with batter.
  8. Put the muffins in the oven and then lower the temperature to 410°F. Bake for 20 to 25 muffins, until the muffins look nice and brown on the outside, and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out dry.

Happy eating!

Until we eat again,

Willie

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Vegan Apple Cider Doughnuts! (Some Tips & Pointers)

November 23, 2011

Ooooh yeahhhh.

Here’s something for all you Tim Hortons people: homemade, vegan Apple Cider Doughnuts! This past weekend I was hard at work in my kitchen cooking up the perfect recipe, and although I can’t say I’ve exactly reached it yet, I have come up with something pretty good, and before I put on another five pounds eating all this surplus, I’m going to take a break from the doughnut-making and share my preliminary results with you.

My doughnut escapades all started a couple weeks ago, when I stumbled upon this Apple Pumpkin Spice Doughnut recipe from Vegan Dad. It didn’t take long before I was trying these out for myself, and let me tell you: they’re fantastic! But they also got me thinking back to my childhood and the locally made apple cider doughnuts I so enjoyed. You see, I grew up down the street from an apple orchard, which sold, along with lots of local apples and other produce, doughnuts made with their very own apple cider. They were delicious, and one of those fond food memories I’ll probably never forget. They’re not very vegan, though! And that’s where I step in, tackling the difficult task of veganizing this childhood treat.

It took a few tries to end up with something I was happy with. I first tried a replica of Vegan Dad’s recipe, subbing in some reduced apple cider for the pumpkin puree and making a simple apple cider-based icing. These turned out very good texturally (soft and doughy inside, nice and crispy on the outside, as they should be), but they didn’t really taste like apple cider (at least in the dough), so it was back to the drawing board!

For my second attempt, I tried adapting and veganizing this basic Allrecipes recipe, subbing in reduced apple cider for the milk. The dough ended up tasting a lot more like apple cider this time, but it didn’t rise at all, making for a disappointingly dense interior. These were definitely my worst batch (though that’s not to say I didn’t eat them all), and so it was back to the drawing board again!

For my last trial, I worked off of this Apple Cider Doughnut recipe from Coconut & Lime. Texturally these turned out the best, even though I still couldn’t get the dough to rise. The apple cider flavour in the dough was still minimal, but that might’ve been because I used straight instead of reduced apple cider. Oh well. Thankfully doughnuts are always delicious, no matter how they turn out.

I’m still not ready to post a vouched-for apple cider doughnut recipe here, but I will share some general guidelines and tips for all you eager bakers out there. And trust me, I will be continuing my search for the perfect recipe, and once I’ve found it, you’ll be sure to hear about it first here.

Vegan Apple Cider Doughtnuts: Some Tips & Pointers

The first thing you’ll need to have is a doughnut cutter! This is just a cookie cutter for doughnuts (Torontonians, I found mine at that wondrous kitchen warehouse known as Tap Phong) and it looks like this:

If you don’t have and can’t acquire a doughnut cutter, I am told that you can also get by using two appropriately sized round cookie cutters. And if you haven’t two appropriately sized round cookie cutters, I’m pretty sure you could get by using a coffee cup and a shot glass. (If anyone actually tries this option, I want to hear about it and I want pictures. I will trade you high fives.)

Once you have your doughnut cutting implements in order, you’ll want to start making your dough. I’d recommend following either Vegan Dad’s or Coconut & Lime’s recipe. If using Vegan Dad’s, make the following substitution:

  • Instead of ⅔ cup pumpkin puree, use ½ cup of reduced apple cider, made by simmering 2 cups of normal apple cider on the stovetop for about 20 to 30 minutes.

And if using Coconut & Lime’s, make these substitutions:

  • First, some standard vegan substitutions: soy or almond milk for the cow’s milk; 3 flax eggs (3 tbsp flaxseed meal + 9 tbsp water, ideally heated over the stovetop) for the chicken eggs; canola oil for the butter.
  • You may want to use reduced apple cider in place of normal apple cider here as well; I didn’t, but it’ll only make your dough more flavourful.

With either recipe, after you’ve got your dough together, you’ll want to let it sit in a covered and oiled bowl for about an hour to an hour and a half. Hopefully you’ll get it to rise some, but I didn’t have such luck.

After it’s sat, roll out the dough to about a half inch thick and then cut out your doughnut, saving the doughnut holes (a.k.a. Timbits) as well. You’ll have to reroll the dough a couple times to get the maximum number of doughnuts! I got about nine out of the Vegan Dad recipe and over a dozen from the Coconut & Lime recipe. Once you have all your doughnuts cut out, lay them out on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet like so and let sit for about thirty minutes, covered with plastic wrap:

Now you’re ready to fry! Find your smallest pot, fill with an inch and a half to two inches of canola oil, and heat this up. If you have a candy thermometer, I’m told you want the oil to register at about 350°F. If you’re like me and don’t have such a luxury, just let it heat up for a while, and let stick a doughnut hole in there and see what happens. Once it looks like it’s nicely and rapidly frying, your oil is probably around the right temperature, and you’re ready to begin!

Carefully slide one doughnut into the pot of oil; it will begin to fry almost instantaneously. You will probably want to flip it after about 30 seconds or so to make sure the other side is evenly fried, and after about a minute total (or whenever the doughnut looks nicely golden) it’s ready to come out! (You’re going to want some sort of flat ladle-like implement for this job, both for dropping in and fishing out.)

Place fried doughnuts on a drying rack with some paper towels below to catch any excess oil. Let cool, and then get back to frying the rest of your doughnuts! (The doughnut holes work similarly, but take even less time.)

For my topping, I’ve been enjoying this icing which is made by simply adding about a tablespoon of apple cider to ½ cup of icing sugar and whisking it all together. Spoon icing on top of doughnuts and spread around to cover the top. As icing cools, it will become a hardened glaze (sorry this isn’t pictured better in the photographs).

These doughnuts are definitely best eaten right after frying. If eaten even the day after, I’d recommend heating them up in a toaster oven a bit first to crisp them up and take away some of the sogginess. These doughnuts also freeze well, in case you won’t be able to—or want to restrain yourself from—eating them all in one day.

I hope you guys enjoy these! Like I said, I’m going to keep working on my doughnut recipe, and I hope to have something definitive to share with y’all soon. Until then, happy eating!

Until we eat again,

Willie

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Fawaffles (Vegan & Gluten-Free Falafel Waffles)

November 19, 2011

I have a new favourite word and that word is fawaffles.

For those who can’t tell, ‘fawaffle’ is a portmanteau of ‘falafel’ and ‘waffle’, used to describe falafel patties that have been baked in a waffle iron. Apparently, I’m not the first to come up with this moniker, but still, fawaffles have a fairly low internet presence right now, and so I want to do what little I can to change that.

This wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been perhaps more excited about a recipe’s name than the recipe itself, though it may be the first time that I’ve made a recipe primarily because I loved the name so much. Fortunately, fawaffles are as much a pleasure to eat as ‘fawaffle’ is to say. But that’s no surprise: falafels are awesome, and all that’s different with fawaffles is the baking method.

For my fawaffles, I basically followed this Yummly recipe, which by omitting the breadcrumbs, made them entirely gluten-free! There’s a lot of cilantro and parsley in here to give them flavor, and cooked brown rice acts as the binder. And though they definitely could’ve held together a little better in the end, I was very happy overall with how they turned out.

Making these fawaffles also gave me the excuse to try out this Vegan Tzatziki sauce from Vegan Dad, which I must tell you is absolutely divine. Seriously, it is drinkably good. So good that I didn’t even feel the need to stick my falafels into pitas: with this tzatziki, a little bit of harissa, and a small sprig of parsley as garnish, these fawaffles actually became a refined, composed dish, and one that I wanted to just keep eating and eating.

So spread the word—make some fawaffles for you and your friends and see what you’ve been missing!

Until we eat again,

Willie

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Perfecting my (Vegan) Okonomiyaki

November 13, 2011

お好み焼き知っていますか。

Or, for all you English readers: Do you know about okonomiyaki?

In simplest terms, okonomiyaki is a Japanese savoury pancake. Its name means, literally, “grilled as you like it”, and because of this, the various pancakes you’ll see under the heading of okonomiyaki can be quite diverse in their specific ingredients, though the base is almost always cabbage and flour. I’ve been making my own okonomiyaki for years (and have even posted about it before here), and a few weeks ago I decided to return to my recipe and kick it up a notch. You see, I just hadn’t been as satisfied with how my okonomiyaki had been turning out—the dough wasn’t coming together as it should, the cakes weren’t frying as they needed to, and in the end it just wasn’t tasting like good ol’ okonomiyaki. So I decided to go back to the drawing board, do some internet research, and come up with a new okonomiyaki formula—and happily, my efforts resulted in success!

My new recipe is posted below, but before we get to that, here are some explanatory notes. First off, the number one secret to making awesome okonomiyaki, I discovered, is nagaimo (Dioscorea opposita), a Japanese mountain yam that looks sorta like this:

In any authentic okonomiyaki, this nagaimo gets peeled and grated, which makes it turn into a goopy, sticky mess:

I had never used nagaimo before, and I was amazed at the extra bounce and springiness it brought to my batter, making everything hold together much much better than ever before. The only problem is that nagaimo can be tricky to find, even in a big cosmopolitan city like mine (pro tip for Torontonians: I found my nagaimo at Sanko on Queen & Clairmont), so if you can’t get it where you are, don’t worry—I’d been making okonomiyaki for years without it (though you may want to add in an extra flax egg to make up for its absence).

Other than this, the recipe is fairly straightforward. Here’s what my batter looked like after everything was mixed together:

And here’s what one of my pancakes looked like after it had all been fried up:

Once again, I found that coconut oil is really key to achieving the perfect fry here, and I won’t be using any other type of oil from now on.

To finish off my okonomiyaki, I used the traditional accoutrements of (vegan) mayonnaise and Tonkatsu sauce, which for those that don’t know is a tangy Japanese “vegetable & fruit sauce” that typically looks like this:

Finally, I went a little unconventional and threw on some dulse and nori flakes and sprouts (instead of the traditional bonito shavings), ending up with one delicious dinner! The full recipe is just below.

Okonomiyaki (makes 3 perfectly reasonably sized pancakes, or 2 gargantuan ones)

Ingredients

  • 2 flax eggs: 2 tbsp flaxseed meal + 9 tbsp (⅜ cup) water
  • 1 cup flour
  • ⅔ cup water
  • ¼ cup grated nagaimo
  • 4 cups thinly shredded cabbage (about half of a small cabbage)
  • 2 stalks green onions, thinly sliced (about ¼ cup)
  • 1 medium-sized carrot, grated (about ½ cup)
  • oil for frying (ideally, coconut oil)
  • vegan mayonnaise
  • Tonkatsu sauce
  • dulse flakes, nori flakes, & sprouts for topping

Instructions

  1. Start by making your flax eggs: You can just mix the flaxseed meal in warm water and let sit, but for this recipe I prefer to heat the mixture on the stove for just a couple minutes until it achieves a gooey, egg-like texture.
  2. Mix together the flour and water until no lumps remain.
  3. Add in the flax egg mixture and grated nagaimo, and mix until well combined (batter should have a nice springiness to it now).
  4. Add in the cabbage, onions, and carrots, and mix, again, until well combined.
  5. Heat up some oil in your frying pan. Scoop about one third of the batter mixture into the skillet and flatten out into a pancake shape. Let fry for five to ten minutes, until the bottom side seems to be getting crispy, then flip over and fry the other side for five minutes more. Repeat for the other two pancakes.
  6. For plating, top finished pancakes with a layer of vegan mayonnaise, a squiggle of Tonkatsu sauce, a handful of sprouts, and sprinkling of dulse and nori flakes. Enjoy!

Happy eating, guys! いただきます〜!

Until we eat again,

Willie

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Hell Yes: Sunchoke (Jerusalem Artichoke) Soup

November 8, 2011

I know it may not look like much, but this may just be my new favorite soup—OF ALL TIME.

What is it, you ask? A little gem known as Sunchoke (or Jerusalem Artichoke) Soup. And what are these sunchokes / Jerusalem artichokes, you ask? They’re this knobbly little root vegetable that look like sorta like this:

And as it turns out, they make for one mind-blowingly delicious soup.

Before this weekend, I had never tried sunchokes; before last month, I hadn’t even heard of them. I think they may be an Eastern Canada thing? At any rate, they have no relation to Jerusalem, and they are not artichokes, just giving further indication that names are, generally, completely arbitrary markers. What they actually are is a species of sunflower, whose tuber is what you see above. Its taste is hard to describe, though it does have some passing resemblance to artichoke. One thing I can say is that they taste extraordinary—rich, flavorful, and unique.

This soup has got to be the perfect way to prepare sunchokes—not only it is simply stunning to taste, it’s also stunningly simple to make! The recipe I followed came from a friend, who got it from the cookbook Great Chefs Cook Vegan, and since it’s published there I’d feel wrong reprinting it here, but since it’s so ridiculously easy, I will tell you that all you need to do is:

  • saute some onions in oil,
  • add in your sunchokes (peeling not necessary, just scrub well to remove the dirt),
  • add in a little bit of salt and sugar,
  • add in some vegetable broth (about 4 cups per pound of sunchoke),
  • simmer until the sunchokes are completely soft,
  • and then blend the whole thing!

I topped mine off with some local Hakurei turnips and some freshly toasted croutons (not pictured), but really, the soup is amazing as it is, even without these accoutrements. It is, I think, best described as dinner-conversation-stopping good: serve this at a dinner party and your guests will without fail stop mid-sentence to remark on how delectable this soup is.

Sunchokes will only be available at local farmers’ markets and groceries like Fiesta Farms for a couple more months at most, so snatch some up today and make this for yourself! You’ll thank me later—I promise.

Until we eat again,

Willie

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