Archive for the ‘Willie’s Meals’ Category


St. Patrick’s Day! Vegan Irish Soda Bread PLUS An Angry Irish Rant!

March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I’m half Irish, and also generally hungry, so to celebrate these things I decided to bake up a quick loaf of vegan Irish Soda Bread this St. Patrick’s Day afternoon, using this simple and excellent recipe from Happy Herbivore. This was my first time making Irish Soda Bread, and I was pleased to discover how easy it was! I mean, c’mon—a bread you barely have to knead and that doesn’t have to rise at all? Compared to the other breads I’ve made in the past, this one was a cinch. And very tasty in the end, too! Here are some photos of my bread-baking adventure. First, the loaf right after it came out of the oven…

Then here’s what it looked liked sliced in half…

And finally, what it looked like sliced into, well, slices…

I was very happy with how this came out, and would definitely make it again, even for non-St.-Patrick’s-Day occasions!

Lastly, in further celebration of this Irish holiday, I thought I’d close today’s post with a little Irish rant. Did anyone else see this ludicrous article in the New York Times earlier this week? It’s so ludicrous that I almost feel that even criticizing it is giving it too much credit, but it feels wrong to let such idiocy go unchallenged (and I haven’t heard any other mention of it on the food blogosphere yet).

For those who haven’t read the article, the author’s basic argument is that, since plants have just as much life as animals do, there can be no justification for choosing to eat plants rather than animals (as the author puts it, “If eating a tofu dog [is] as much a crime against life as eating bratwurst, then pass the bratwurst, please”). These conclusions are disturbing and depressing, for many reasons. I was mostly shocked by how much the author overlooks in her assessment of veg*nism; some examples:

  • First, eating animals involves a significantly greater amount of cruelty than eating plants. (I don’t necessarily mean in principle—I’m only concerned with our current practices of meat production, which are unquestionably more barbaric in their treatment of animals than any of our ways of farming vegetables). I think I’m in agreement with most veg*ns when I say that what I want in my diet is to avoid cruelty, not (merely) to preserve life.
  • Second, eating animals includes with it the killing of all the plants needed to feed and fatten those animals. So even if you were simply concerned with merely preserving life, you’d preserve a lot more life overall if you just ate plants than if you ate plant-eating animals.
  • Third, our current practices of meat production are in my opinion inherently unsustainable, whereas sustainable fruit, grain, and vegetable farming is much more realistic. These more global considerations should figure into our reflections on preserving life just as much as concerns on the individual level.
  • Fourth, there are plenty of other reasons to be veg*n, and it betrays an astounding amount of moral deafness that the author feels justified in her decision to eat meat by the failure of this argument alone.

I could go on, but I don’t want to get carried away. And I did feel some small consolation in reading this article: namely, that if arguments in favor of eating animals are getting this obviously stupid, then maybe that’s a sign that we’ll soon all realize that there are in fact no good reasons to eat animals. And that’s something I can drink to. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Until we eat again,



Beer Food

March 8, 2011

Ah… the refreshing smell of freshly baked bread…

This weekend, I baked bread all on my own for the first time in a fairly long while (discounting naan, cornbread, and other sweet breads, that is). This is sad, because I really love baking bread. Generally, it’s the time commitment (and the abundance of superb bakeries here in Toronto) that deter me from making it more often, but when I do, I always feel like the time is well spent. Freshly baked bread just tastes so darn good!

So, as a special little treat for my long-due return to bread-baking, I decided to bake a loaf of Beer Bread, following this recent recipe from Closet Cooking. This is a straightforward (and easily veganizable!) recipe, which includes a good cup and a half of beer in its dough (I used some Chocolate Stout, which seemed to work well). I was a little disappointed that the amazing beer aroma didn’t stick around after it had baked, but the beer did seem to lend the loaf a nice inner softness and springiness. Overall, I was really happy with this bread, and had a hard time stopping myself from eating it all in one go (which is probably another reason I don’t make bread more often). Here are some photos of my bread baking journey. First, some pics of the loaf after it came out of the oven…

And here are some close ups of it after it had cooled down and been sliced open…

Yum! But that’s not the only beer food I made this weekend! Along with my beer bread, I decided to whip up a batch of Chocolate Beer Pancakes for breakfast, in part to use up the remaining beer and in part because these pancakes are soamazingIwanttoeatthemeverydayforeverymealandalsowhileI’msleeping. The recipe comes from the excellent Vegan Brunch cookbook, where it’s actually a recipe for Chocolate Beer Waffles. Lacking a waffle iron, I decided to try these out as pancakes, and they were wonderful: fluffy and super flavorful! (And as I discovered later, while eating up the leftovers, these pancakes become even more delicious when complemented by clementine slices.) Here are some photos…

And that’s all I have to share today! I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the (other) wonderful things beer can do. And remember: if you decide to make these beer recipes on your own, enjoy responsibly. 😉

Until we eat again,

Willie Costello


Chive Edamame Hummus

March 6, 2011

Hi all! Told you I’d be back again soon. And, as promised, I have yet another hummus recipe to share! (Do check out yesterday’s Red Bean & Beet Hummus if you missed it—it’s superb.)

So what’s the enticing hummus you see above you? It’s an original recipe I’m calling, uncreatively, Chive Edamame Hummus. You see, it’s hummus, with chives and edamame in it. I got the idea because I generally love chive-y hummuses, and I thought it would be fun to complement the chives with a similarly colored bean base, for which green edamame beans were the obvious choice. Thankfully, the flavors ended up complementing each other as well! This isn’t the world’s most amazing hummus, but the little twists from the usual make it a nice dish overall. So without further ado, here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

Chive Edamame Hummus


  • 1 cup cooked great northern beans / garbanzo beans
  • 1 cup edamame beans (fresh or frozen and thawed)
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • lots of chives (I ended up using about 3/4 cup I think, but adjust to your personal tastes)
  • 2 to 4 tbsp water
  • salt, to taste


  1. Combine everything in a food processor and process, adding more water if necessary to thin it out.
  2. That’s it. Hummus is so easy.

And for reference, here’s mine after it was done in the food processor:

Hope you like this one guys! I’ll be back again soon with more delicious food!

Until we eat again,



Red Bean & Beet Hummus

March 5, 2011

Has it really been over a month since my last post? My apologies, readers. But I’m back now, and with a new original hummus recipe (and another to come tomorrow)! So that’s exciting, right?

In fact, I’ve been making a lot of hummuses (hummi?) lately. They make awesome additions to salads, and provide a nice snack throughout the day. One of my favorite hummus varieties of late has been beet hummus (which Caitlin first posted about a long time ago). Up to this weekend I’d been following this recipe from Eat Right Ontario, which is excellent, but I was starting to feel ready for something a little different.

Thankfully, I found inspiration in the latest Sweet Or Savory Kitchen Challenge hosted by the Diet, Desserts and Dogs and Affairs of Living blogs. For those unaware, the S.O.S. Kitchen Challenge is a monthly invitation to bloggers to cook up new recipes centered around a special ingredient. This month’s ingredient is azuki beans, and as soon I saw this, I immediately thought that I should make an azuki bean hummus—something I’d never tried before, but which sounded like it could turn out pretty good.

After some deliberation, I decided that azuki beans might make a good complement to beets, and so last night I tried giving it a whirl (literally!). The result was fantastic! I think azuki beans actually work better than chickpeas, as they give the hummus a darker, earthier taste. I didn’t even need to bother add extra spices to the batch; just six simple ingredients were all this hummus needed! Plus, like most hummuses, the recipe is super simple, so you should definitely try it out for yourself. Enjoy!

Red Bean & Beet Hummus


  • 1 cup cooked azuki beans
  • 2 large beets
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 to 4 tbsp water / reserved beet juice from boiling


  1. Cook those beets! Well, wash them first, and then boil them until easily pierced with a fork, about thirty minutes. Then drain (reserving some of the liquid if desired), let cool, peel, and chop into small chunks.
  2. Throw everything in! Place chopped beets in a food processor along with the azuki beans, tahini, and lemon juice.
  3. Whirl it up! As you go on, add water or reserved beet liquid to thin it out.
  4. That’s it!

For reference, here’s what mine looked like after it was all whipped up:

Mine was probably a little more liquidy than I should’ve made it, but it was still delicious! I hope you enjoy this too!

Until we eat again,



Black and Gold Steelers Rice Pudding

February 3, 2011

Only three more days until the big game! Are you pumped?!

Well, just in case you need something to get you extra excited, today I’ve got a black and gold Steelers dessert for yinz guys, the last in my series of Steelers-themed recipes: Steelers Rice Pudding! Not only is it probably the most vividly black and gold recipe I’ve made this week, it also happens to be one of my favorite desserts. Ever. And I’m not even than into rice pudding. But seriously, this recipe is in a league of its own, and the Superbowl is the perfect excuse for you to make it. So make it!

So what is this amazing dessert exactly? It’s Coconut Black Rice Pudding topped with Fresh Mango, the recipe for which can be found here on the excellent Fat Free Vegan blog. It’s fairly easy to execute, but does require some more exotic ingredients, such as cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, and cheesecloth (N.B.: You do not need a pressure cooker to make this; regular pot instructions are at the bottom, and that’s the only way I’ve made it.). But seriously, the price you may pay to stock up on some of these new pantry items is well worth it, as you’ll know as soon as you take your first bite, and you’ll be quickly using them up as you’ll be wanting make this recipe again and again. It’s just that good.

Here’s hoping that I’ll be enjoying some of this pudding Sunday night as a sweet, sweet victory snack. And in case you missed them, don’t forget about the other Steelers recipes I’ve posted this week, which should provide you with plenty of options for your own Superbowl party. To review:

Appetizer: Black and Gold Steelers Hummus

Main: Black and Gold Steelers Noodles

Main: Black and Gold Steelers Soup

Side: Black and Gold Steelers Cornbread

I can’t wait for the game!

Until we eat again,



Black and Gold Steelers Cornbread

February 2, 2011

The big game is only a few days away! Are you excited?!

Today I’m here to share with you all my Steelers Superbowl side dish: Black and Gold Steelers Cornbread! Like my black and gold Steelers hummus recipe from a few days ago, this is another simple variation on a classic (although I can’t take credit for this idea—it was my father who suggested it to me). All I had to do was get out my favorite cornbread recipe (which happens to be this one, with the baking powder halved and the sugar doubled, but feel free to use whatever recipe you prefer), and then mix some poppyseeds into the batter (I’d suggest about 2 tbsp of poppyseeds for a normal, 8×8 dish batch). Just to keep things simple, I whipped up a half batch myself and baked this cute little loaf:

I really liked how this came out visually, and I really love cornbread, so this was great all around. Plus, it’d make the perfect side to some of my black and gold Steelers soup, if you’re looking for some more food to fill your Superbowl table. Here are a few more photos…

I hope this finds its way onto your table Sunday night (or any night, really—this variation is good enough to repeat even without the special occasion). I’ll be back tomorrow with one more Steelers recipe! Hold tight until then!

Until we eat again,



Black and Gold Steelers Soup

February 1, 2011

Another day, another Steelers recipe!

Today I’m here to share with you my recipe for Steelers Soup, my main course offering in my Steelers Superbowl series. (If you missed by last two Steelers-themed dishes, simply scroll down to check them out.) This soup is an adaptation of a black bean soup recipe I got from my mom, which she clipped out of a New York Times Magazine from before I was born. I ‘Steelerized’ it by adding a variety of yellow vegetables to the mix: corn, yellow peppers, and yellow carrots! (A lot of people have been surprised to hear about these yellow carrots, but they’re perfectly natural, if less common. Carrots are also found in purple, red, and white varieties, in case you’re curious.) I really liked how the colors of this one came out: the black bean puree was a wonderfully dark black, and the vegetables provided the perfect gold contrast. But more importantly, this soup is tasty! It’s good enough to make even when the Steelers aren’t playing (and, as it occurs to me just now, if made with orange carrots and orange peppers, this would make a nice Hallowe’en soup!). But enough talk—here’s the recipe.

Black and Gold Steelers Soup

serves 4 to 6


  • 1.5 cups dried black beans (or 2 cans black beans—you want about 3 cups cooked beans in the end)
  • 2 large yellow carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds (other yellow vegetables are also okay! be inventive!)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped finely
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped into bite-sized chunks
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 small roma tomato, seeded and chopped (for optional step #5)
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar (for optional step #5)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • between 1 and 1.5 cups corn, fresh or frozen


  1. The night before, soak dried beans in a big bowl of water. The next day, drain beans, reserving the liquid in case it’s needed for step 3. Place beans in a large pot, add a generous amount of water, bring to a boil, and then simmer between 1.5 and 2.5 hours, until beans are very soft. (If using canned beans, skip this step.)
  2. While the beans are cooking, roast your carrots. Lay out the rounds on a baking sheet, sprinkle with some salt, and drizzle a little bit of olive oil on top. Cook for about thirty minutes, until carrots can easily be pierced with a fork, flipping halfway through. Remove from oven and let cool until needed in step 6.
  3. Drain cooked beans, again reserving the liquid (very important). You want to have about three cups of liquid. If you have less than this, add some of the soaking liquid from step one. Place cooked beans in a blender and puree until smooth, adding some the reserved liquid as necessary. Once done, add pureed mixture to the reserved liquid and mix together. (If using canned beans, save whatever you can from the liquid in the cans and then mix that with water to get three cups. I’m afraid this may diminish the soup’s black color some, but it should still work okay.)
  4. Heat some oil in a large pot. Add onions, yellow peppers, garlic, and cumin, and saute for several minutes.
  5. Optional Step! In the recipe I adapted this from, it next called for you to add the tomato and red wine vinegar to the pot and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. I’m really not sure how much these things really added to the recipe, and I think you’d be fine omitting them if you want to.
  6. Add the black bean mixture and bring to a low simmer. Add the coriander, salt and pepper to taste (I used a generous amount), and finally, the carrots and corn. Once vegetables are heated through, it’s ready to serve!

Hope you guys like this one! It’s a nice and hearty soup, and I rather enjoyed it myself. There will be more Steelers treats in the days to come, so keep checking back. And goooooooo Steelers!

Until we eat again,


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