Sunday, June 27, 2010


This is really a 2-part cold weather dish, but I was cooking chickpeas and had a craving for it. If you search for cocido recipes on the Internet, you'll find many. It's a light noodle soup followed by sort of a Spanish stew in a broth of chickpeas, vegetables, and, authentically, different kinds of meat, and the images for it often look much like a prettily-arranged Japanese stew. The omni way takes all day to make, but the vegan version can come together much quicker and the actual work involved is minimal. For both versions, chickpeas are an important ingredient. Plus if you boil your own chickpeas from dried, it's a pleasingly economical way to use the broth right away. And the recipe is almost fat free!

My version is based on the one in The Vegetarian Epicure: Book 2, but I've adapted it quite heavily based on the vegetables I had, and I veganized the dumplings. This is the sort of recipe you can easily make for two, or for a small army, so I won't give exact amounts for the vegetables.

Start out by cooking chickpeas. I make a big batch but try not to have them finish up in a lot of water so the broth is flavourful. Drain the chickpeas, reserving the broth, and set the broth aside for now.

Prepare the vegetables—clean them, peel them as necessary, and cut them into large pieces. I was making a small amount, just for my supper with leftovers for a lunch. Most recipes call for cabbage, but I didn't have any so I substituted:

White onion
Brussels sprouts

Arrange them in a saucepan and add water almost to cover, plus a little salt. Bring to a boil and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Carefully drain them, adding the cooking water to the chickpea broth in another saucepan. Cover the vegetables so they'll stay hot and set aside.

Now make the broth by bringing the chickpea/vegetable broths to a boil and, if necessary, reducing the broth somewhat. Add salt and pepper to taste (I also added a little sherry). Finally, crumble in some dried vermicelli. Vermicelli nests are easy to crumble but any thin pasta will do, and let softly boil until the pasta is tender.

While the broth is cooking, put together the dumpling dough. This will serve 2 dumpling fiends, or probably 4 if each person just wants a few:

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp saffron threads or dash turmeric
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vegetable oil
water or non-dairy milk to bind

Mix the dry ingredients together, add the oil and blend until it's incorporated and the texture is grainy, then add water or non-dairy milk a little at a time until a tough dough forms. Turn it out onto a clean surface and knead it a few times, then break off teaspoon-sized pieces and roll into balls.

Now in a third saucepan (yes, you need three saucepans for this dish, sorry!), bring salted water to a boil and drop in the dumplings. They'll float to the surface right away. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes or so, until they're cooked through.

The genius part of this recipe is that you can enjoy the noodle soup as an appetizer while waiting for the dumplings to cook.

When the dumplings are ready, arrange the vegetables, chickpeas, dumplings and (optionally) some other kind of protein item such as chorizo-type seitan sausage or fried tofu neatly on a serving dish if you're cooking for many, or in a bowl if you're cooking for one, drizzle (optionally) with olive oil, and tuck in!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Seitan alla cacciatore

This came together beautifully from a container of frozen okara popcorn seitan. I had frozen it in broth, so all I needed to do was thaw it all out, gently squeeze the excess broth out of the popcorn pieces into a measuring cup—and it even came to exactly the right amount of broth for this recipe! It's served with braised fennel, which I had never made before, and which turned out wonderfully creamy and mild (raw fennel has a quite strong liquorice flavour--I like that but some don't care for it).

I found the recipe over here (with a credit). It's from Bryanna Clark Grogan's Nonna's Italian Kitchen, one of my favorite cookbooks.

Seitan alla cacciatore
Serves 4

4-6 seitan chicken cutlets, cut in half (I used 2 cups of my okara popcorn seitan)
1/4 to 1/2 cup seasoned flour (see below for the recipe; this is one of those Good Things)
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 cup vegetable stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
3/4 cup white wine or sherry
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

In a large non-stick skillet, heat 1-2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Dredge the cutlets in the seasoned flour and brown them on both sides in the oil. Set aside.

Prepare the sauce by adding the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil to the same pan. Over medium-high heat, sauté the mushrooms, onion, garlic and rosemary until the onion is tender.

Add the seitan, wine, and stock mixed with tomato paste. Cover and cook for about 45 minutes, adding a little water if needed to keep a sauce-like consistency. (Zoa's note: I let the sauce cook down uncovered for a while and added the seitan and cooked covered on low heat for about 10 minutes at the end.) Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with bread or over noodles.

Serve with crusty bread or cooked pasta noodles.

Bryanna's seasoned flour (lasts forever in the fridge)

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder (optional)
freshly-ground black pepper to taste

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Arugula and barley tabbouleh

I've been on a greens kick lately. It's summer, why not? My friend Katee got me onto this recipe. She made it for her family, and says "Of course I added lots of arugula and lots of squeezed lemons. And I added just a handful of cranraisins after for colour and bit of sweet. And when I dished it up I put a bit of feta but I don’t think I would the next time as I loved the fresh taste without it."

The cranraisins would have been a nice touch, I think, but I didn't have any on hand. So since I followed the recipe pretty much exactly (substituting only some sambal olek for the jalapeno and Joanne Stepaniak's Betta feta for the feta cheese), I'll just link you over there.

But man, this was good. I so get what Katee is saying about the fresh taste. The arugula makes this dish, with its slightly bitter, smoky flavour. Here's the drained, rinsed barley in the dressing:

Add a mixture of finely chopped arugula, parsley and garlic:

...and some Betta feta. Yum!

A weeknight supper salad ready in approximately 45 minutes (unless you have cooked barley around, in which case it's practically instant). I loved it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Beans, greens, cornbread, and cashew cheese

O cashew cheese, how I love you! You are delicious, you are healthy, you are the best! How I have missed you in these long weeks! Y'all can keep your Daiya and your FYI and your Cheezly and your Sheeze (I aver, never having tried any of these products), you are the erzatz cheese of my heart! Why, then, have we been apart for so long? Why, for the simple reason that you can't make proper cashew cheese using soy milk with a lot of additives (i.e., oatmeal and dates).

So I've changed my modus operandi, and now am making two kinds of soymilk in each batch--one plain, for cooking, and one with the additives, for lattes and tea. The plain flows through the filters in mere seconds so it really isn't that much more trouble.

But I did reach a tragic milestone this weekend, in that I finally gave in and composted some okara. But oh, it was worth it!

Above you see basic beans and greens, made with pea shoots, since I have a giant bag of them, and brown beans, since I have a freezer full of them, along with the Yankee cornbread from American Vegan Kitchen, slightly modified to make it savory instead of sweet (but I loved the nutmeg and it rose like a dream; I had to cut it in half horizontally to photograph it) and cooked in my toaster oven no less. Yummmmm!

I don't know why all my best meals happen on Mondays, but they certainly do seem to...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Pad Thai

Well, really, this post should be titled Pad Thai? I myself have never been to Thailand, and though I have eaten Pad Thai in various restaurants it has always been so different every time that I can't even begin to guess what the essence of Pad Thai really is…sort of a Thai-type spicy stir-fry? Probably that's as close as I'm going to get. [Note that the word "authentic" never appears on this blog except in quotation marks.] Anyway, this was fantastic, and was based on the Pad Thai recipe from Rebar: Modern Food Cookbook, though since I didn't have many of the ingredients, and substituted others (like molasses, which I can't stand, and, naturally, eggs), it's mostly my own. Here's what I did:

First, I made an omelet for breakfast this morning, but had some of the (Vegan Brunch) omelet mix left over.

Second, you should know that the whole recipe makes a ton of food. The original recipe says it serves 4-6 and I made the whole thing hoping for some leftovers for lunch tomorrow…I'll be eating this all week, no doubt, though actually I'm cool with that, because it was awesome.

Pad Thai
adapted from Rebar: Modern Food Cookbook
Serves 6

1 block extra-firm tofu, drained and chopped into 1/2 inch dice
1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 lb rice noodles, medium width

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup water
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp sambal olek
1/2 tsp cracked pepper

3 tbsp vegetable oil
8 large garlic cloves, minced
2-3 whole dried red chiles, crushed
2/3 cup omelet recipe from Vegan Brunch (you can just leave this out or use crumbled tofu if you don't have it on hand)
approximately 5 cups chopped vegetables of choice
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 bunches green onions, chopped
1 lime
4 tbsp roasted peanuts, crushed

Start by heating the 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a wok or other pan and frying the tofu. Set aside.

Now in another pan, heat a large pot of water and, when boiling, add the rice noodles, and cook briefly, according to package directions. They should be cooked but not mushy. Rinse in a colander under cold water and set aside.

Meanwhile, stir together the sauce ingredients (soy sauce to cracked pepper), and set aside, and chop whatever vegetables you will be using.

Now, in a large wok, heat 3 tbsp vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and crushed chiles and sauté until golden, stirring constantly. Add omelet mix and scramble until dry and set.

Add noodles, and keep stirring them around to combine with the egg-garlic mix.

Cook until the noodles and "eggs" are well-incorporated.

Turn up the heat and add the sauce, tofu, and vegetables. Stir constantly to heat everything through and prevent sticking. When the vegetables are tender, add the scallions and cilantro and cook until the whole dish is hot and steamy. Divide pad Thai among serving plates, drizzle with fresh lime juice, sprinkle with chopped peanuts, and serve with extra sambal olek on the side.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Spicy black bean and salsa pizza

This was interesting, one of those "almost too strange to try" recipes that suddenly I had all the ingredients for so it seemed like kismet that I finally had to try it.

The basic recipe is from Robin Robertson's Vegan Planet.

What I had on hand: pizza dough, brown beans, chipotle peppers in sauce, salsa, cilantro. Extra stuff I needed to, let's see, oh, nothing. So how could I resist? Assuming you have pizza dough (or dare I suggest, even just a pita or a naan or one of those Boboli-things), this recipe is so simple. Take salsa and a chipotle pepper and grind them up together in a blender. Add cilantro, black (or in this case, brown) beans, salt and pepper, and mix it up. This is your topping, and it is wonderful just as is (I did add some red pepper flakes):

Roll out your pizza dough to a 1/4 inch thickness, brush with olive oil, and bake for 5-10 minutes at 450F until firm. Spoon on the topping and put it all back in the oven for another 10 minutes or so until the topping is hot and the pizza is cooked through and browning at the edges. I added sweet red pepper for colour, and also topped the cooked pizza with avocado slices, because I had some, because it looks pretty, and because everything just tastes better with avocado slices:

A surprisingly superb Monday meal that took literally 10 minutes to put together. Happy day!

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Ooh, another Greek night at the parents'! This time I brought spanakopita. The real spanakopita, the way I always had it before I became vegan, is loaded with feta cheese and eggs. This is a kinder, gentler, milder version, based partially on the recipe in Vegan with a Vengeance, partly on this one, and partly just made up.

There is a lot of leeway in a recipe like this, so you should taste the filling and just add more of what you like to get the taste you want. I was cooking for omnis, for instance, so I went easy on the tofu. The Vegan with a Vengeance recipe calls for twice as much as I used, and that would have been good too. I'd also like to try it with the Betta feta recipe from The Uncheese Cookbook, or Tami's Faux feta from American Vegan Kitchen (both are excellent on their own, and the Faux feta is what you see on the Greek salad above, delicious and very very quick to make). Anyway, this is what I did:


2 lbs fresh spinach (you could use frozen as well)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 pound tofu, crumbled (I used fresh tofu but any kind except silken would work fine)
1 tbsp miso paste
dash nutmeg
dash oregano
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1 box phyllo dough, thawed
1/4 cup olive oil (or olive oil/Earth Balance mix)

[Options: The VWaV recipe calls for ground walnuts and in my opinion walnuts, almonds, or cashews would be great in this dish; I was cooking for a walnut-phobe, but I had some almonzano (see sidebar) so I added a few tablespoons of that, as well as 2 tbsp seasoned flour just to make assurance doubly sure that the final product wouldn't be soggy, though I'm not convinced this was useful or necessary.]

Steam the spinach if it's fresh, run it briefly under cold water to cool it, and press out as much water as you can. I ended up twisting it in a cloth and this worked well. Chop it finely and squeeze it again. Place it in a large bowl. Crumble the tofu and squeeze the excess water out of it in the same cloth. Add it to the bowl with the spinach.

Heat the 1 tbsp olive oil, and sauté the onions, scallions, and garlic just until the onions are translucent. Add to the bowl with the spinach, and add all the other ingredients up to phyllo dough. Taste the filling and adjust seasonings.

Cut the phyllo if you need to to fit your pan (I needed to cut mine). Set the scraps aside—maybe we can find a use for them later. You need to work fast now so the phyllo doesn't dry out. Brush the bottom of the pan with olive oil, add a phyllo layer, brush that lightly with olive oil, and add another layer. Keep adding layers until you have a bottom 7 layers deep. Add half the filling and spread it out neatly from edge to edge.

Place another phyllo layer on top of the filling, brush with olive oil, and add another phyllo layer. Now spread on the rest of the filling, and top with the last layers of phyllo—there should be five or six. Tuck in the corners and edges so you have a neat little package. Partially score the top with a sharp knife in a diagonal pattern.

Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes. The pastry should be cooked and golden but not too brown. The top phyllo layers may want to curl up. That's okay. Remove from the oven and let cool before cutting and serving. Spanakopita tastes best served at room temperature.

I had a little filling left over and wanted to taste this experimental dish before I inflicted it upon my relations, so I made these little cuties:

Mmmm. Not to worry. Five people and no leftovers. Everybody loved it! Ahem, and here's a gratuitous beauty shot of Cheeta, sleeping off this hot summer day...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Minty barley pilaf

More experimentation from The Candle Café Cookbook, inspired by the rapidly expanding mint "bed" in my garden (well, it's rapidly expanding, and I certainly hope it's mint...I didn't plant it, it just appeared a few years ago like Audrey 2 in the old Chinese man's flower shop...), and the resolve to get more use out of my wonderful panini press.

This is the Caesar salad with herbed croutons and nori dressing, the Minty barley pilaf, and Asian baked tofu.

Croutons are so good and so easy to make--whenever I do make them I wonder why I don't have them every day.

The nori dressing's interesting, a tofu/soymilk base with mustard, capers, lemon juice, garlic, tamari, hot sauce--and a sheet of nori, which sounded so strange I had to try it. I love nori but this is one of those recipes I'll have to experience more than once to get used to the taste in a salad dressing. Luckily the recipe makes two cups, so I'll get that wish.

The pilaf I adapted. The original recipe calls for dried shiitake mushrooms, but in my opinion the marriage of barley and mushrooms isn't, as it were, inevitably fated, and I prefer those ingredients single. I added more vegetables instead, and, since to me a pilaf isn't a pilaf unless you start by frying something, I changed the method somewhat as well. Here's what I did:

Minty barley pilaf
adapted from The Candle Café Cookbook
serves 4

1 cup pot barley, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 tbsp umeboshi vinegar
1/4 cup chopped cashews
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
2 red radishes, minced
4 green onions (white and green parts), chopped
sea salt and black pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil and, when hot, add the onion and carrots and fry until the onions are translucent. Add 3 cups of water and the barley, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the barley is tender.

Remove from heat and stir in the other ingredients, adding salt and pepper to taste. Serve at once.

Note: This was even better cold the next day as a salad.

Note 2: It's spearmint, doubters!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Aztec salad

This is heavily adapted from the Aztec salad from The Candle Café Cookbook. Billed as "a balanced meal that's full of the flavours of Mexico," it was very yummy. The inspiration behind this dish, for me, was giving tempeh another try. This time I bought an Asian-style marinated tempeh—nothing in it I wouldn't have put there myself—but although admittedly it looks impressive, the taste was okay but not too much more than that. I guess I'm a tofu/seitan gal at heart.

The recipe…well, here's what I did (this is not the real recipe at all, at all, but I liked it a lot):

Aztec salad
adapted from The Candle Café Cookbook
serves 2

Pumpkin seeds:
1/2 cup raw unsalted pumpkin seeds
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp chili powder

Quinoa mixture:
2 cups cooked quinoa
1/2 cup sweet corn (frozen is okay; 1 cob, if using fresh)
3 green onions, finely sliced (white and green parts)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 cup cooked black beans
juice of 1/2 lime
vinaigrette dressing (the recipe calls for tomato vinaigrette; I used some leftover salsa verde)

4 oz pre-marinated tempeh

2 cups mesclun greens
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
1 roma tomato, diced

Prepare the pumpkin seeds by heating the oil in a skillet, and, when hot, adding the other ingredients, and stirring about until the pumpkin seeds are just beginning to brown and/or pop. Set aside to cool.

Now put your corn in the same skillet, and stir-fry without any additional oil until the kernels begin to brown. Place in a large bowl with the green onions, cilantro, red pepper, black beans, lime juice, and quinoa. Add vinaigrette (start with about 1/4 cup) to taste.

Cook the tempeh according to package directions (yes, you can do it in the same skillet!).

To assemble the salad, cover the bottom of each plate with mesclun greens. Place about 1 cup of the dressed quinoa mixture on top of the lettuce. Arrange tempeh, tomato, and avocado slices on top, and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.

Do we always eat this healthy at The Airy Way? No, but we certainly enjoy it when we do!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Seitan "meatballs" with coconut curry

Mon dieu, I saw this over at Végécarib and knew I had to make it for myself! So delish! La fourmi has her favourite okara seitan ball recipe and I have mine. She writes beautiful French and I can barely read it…but here's my take on what she did, and it was lovely. Please bear in mind that this is not a direct translation. For one thing, I didn't have all the ingredients her recipe calls for (raisins, for instance, which would probably have been wonderful) on hand, so I substituted.

Seitan "meatballs" with coconut curry
adapted from Boulettes de seitan au curry
serves 2

3 cups seitan meatballs (or other protein of choice; shown are frozen "chicken"-style okara seitan balls-see sidebar for recipe)
3 tbsp canola or peanut oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
2 tsp graines à roussir*
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 cup vegetable stock
1 tsp corn starch mixed with 2 tbsp water

*graines à roussir are a mixture of whole cumin, fenugreek, and mustard seeds. I am familiar with it as the Indian panch phoron; if you don't have any of this or the ingredients to make it, you can just leave it out.

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a non-stick skillet and fry the meatballs until golden. Set aside.

In the same skillet, heat the remaining oil and, when hot, add the onion, garlic, and ginger. When the onion is just beginning to turn translucent, add the coriander and cumin and cook for 3 minutes more.

Now add the coconut milk, soy sauce, brown sugar, and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes to let the flavours blend. Add the cornstarch-water slurry and the seitan balls, and stir to heat and thicken the sauce. Serve over rice.

This rice was part of the Caribbean yellow rice and pigeon peas recipe from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home. Obviously, I didn't add the pigeon peas, but really all this is is a simple pilaf with tumeric added to the onions while they are frying to give everything a bright yellow colour.

I was lucky enough to find fresh beets with their greens in the supermarket today, so that completed this meal—beets boiled separately, and greens and stems steamed and dressed with rice vinegar and salt and pepper.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tamarind lentils

This is a recipe I've wanted to try for a long time, and now don't know why I haven't, because I'll be making it again and again. It's amazingly good. Maybe what was holding me back was that it calls for "tamarind paste," because I hate the stuff in the jars, and make my own—it takes seconds—from the rectangles of concentrated actual tamarind you can buy in Superstore or any Indian grocery store. The tamarind squares are just squished tamarind, including seeds and fiber, so all you need to do is pour a little water over a bit of it, heat it in the microwave for a few seconds, then stir the mixture up and press it through a sieve. Instant tamarind paste that tastes unlike the toxic waste that comes out of any jar I've ever tried. Proper tamarind paste tastes like…well, like lemon/lime with a bit of a dark side…myself, I can lick it off the sieve, but that's just me. Here's an entertaining video showing you how to make it with so much more style and verve than I ever could.

Tamarind lentils
from Veganomicon (recipe found here and re-stolen)
serves 4

3 tbsp coconut or peanut oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 inch cube fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 large onion, diced
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
generous pinch of cayenne (I used a very generous pinch, like about 1 tsp)
1 cup dried lentils (black or green preferred)
2 cups vegetable broth or water
2 tsp tamarind syrup or paste
1 tbsp pure maple syrup or agave nectar
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp salt

In a heavy-bottomed medium-size pot with a lid, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and let sizzle for 30 seconds. Add onion and fry until translucent and soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in garam masala, cumin seeds, and cayenne, and stir for 30 seconds until spices smell fragrant. [At this point, if you are not actually swooning with bliss at the smell, you need a better masala recipe.]

Add lentils and liquid, increase heat to high, and bring to a boil. Stir and lower heat to medium-low. Partially cover and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. Stir occasionally until lentils have absorbed most of the cooking liquid and are very tender. The lentils will be very thick. If you want a thinner consistency, add a few more tablespoons of water.

Aren't French lentils just stupendously gorgeous? I went into aesthetic arrest the first time I ever saw them, in the bulk section at Save-On Foods back in the day when Save-On had the best bulk food section in the city (seriously, what happened, Save-On?).

In small bowl, combine tamarind, maple syrup/agave, tomato paste, and salt. Use a rubber spatula to scrape all of the mixture into the lentils.

Stir to completely dissolve all the flavorings. Simmer for another 4 to 6 minutes. Adjust salt to taste.

I had this, as recommended, with the Poppy-seed cornmeal roti, also from Veganomicon, which was, in my opinion, kind of meh, but this may (somehow) have been my fault, though I tried to follow the recipe exactly. I did use whole wheat flour rather than whole wheat pastry flour, but then, I'm an old hand at making roti with whole wheat flour and I always like them. These ones turned out quite dry and crispy despite the rather high oil content.

The deal with this recipe is that besides the actual roti dough, you also make "crumbs", which are a mixture of whole wheat flour, cornmeal, oil, and salt--and then you fold all this into the roti as you are rolling them. But those are…the same ingredients as are in the roti…and they add nothing except a little extra fuss as far as I can tell. Eh, next time I'll stick with plain whole wheat.

But those tamarind lentils…go on out and try them…do…