Friday, 15 November 2013

Udon Pho Fusion

Fusion food is not something that I generally do, but I do love Udon and I also love Pho. This soup is incredibly fast to make and tastes fantastic.

Ingredients (Serves 4):

4 packages of Fresh Udon noodles
(I used Mr Noodles Udon and found it near the pre washed salad at Save on Foods)
1 bunch green onions
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce (optional)
4-5 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 carrot
1/4 shredded cabbage
1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
2 liters of vegetable stock
1 bunch cilantro
1 seranno chile
                                                                Siracha sauce to taste

Directions (takes about 10 minutes to make):

In a pot, bring vegetable stock, soy sauce and oyster sauce to a boil. Add ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Slice carrot thinly on a very sharp angle. Take carrot disks and slice lengthwise to create long matchstick pieces. Add to pot and continue boiling. Shred 1/4 of a cabbage thinly and add to pot. Cook carrot and cabbage for about 4 minutes.

Meanwhile boil a separate large pot of water and add all of the Udon noodles and boil according to package directions, usually about 3-5 minutes.

While the two pots are boiling away, prepare your garnishes. Thinly slice the green onion, cilantro, and serrano chile. If you're not into spicy, skip the serrano, they can be quite firey.

The soup broth is finished when the carrots are tender.

Place noodles into bowls and top with broth. Add the desired amount of cilantro, green onions, serranos, and Siracha sauce.

For a weekend treat, I have added shredded pork that I had leftover from a slow cooker pulled pork and it was excellent. Also, chicken stock could be substituted for vegetable stock. As well, rice vermicelli noodles could be used instead of udon if you aren't able to find any.


Thursday, 31 October 2013

Shepherd's Pie

A quick and easy weeknight meal, vegetarian shepherd's pie, and you really won't miss the meat. With the use of veggie ground, a tofu based ground "meat" it's often hard for people to tell, unless you tell them.


1 pkg of Yves Veggie Round Ground or Tofurkey ground original
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
1 yellow onion, diced
5-6 russet potatoes, cut up into large pieces
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp of butter
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Boil potatoes, when they are cooked mash and add salt, pepper and butter. Meanwhile in a pan on medium heat add olive oil and diced onion. Sautee for 5 minutes until onions are soft. Add veggie ground. If using Yves, it tends to be a little drier, so you will need to add about 1/4-1/2 cup of water as you go to keep the mixture moist. It does not need to be cooked, just warmed. Before adding any water, break up the veggie ground and add cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Gradually add water as needed.

In a baking dish (about a 9x13) add frozen peas and corn, no need to defrost. Add veggie ground mixture on top, spreading evenly. Top with mashed potatoes and put into a 375 degree oven uncovered for 30 minutes.

When you are ready to serve, broil on high for 2 minutes watching carefully so it does not burn, and you should get nice crispy bits for your potato topping.

Serve and enjoy.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Roasted Portobello Sandwich with Sun-dried Tomato Aioli

A 7 1/2 month old baby has kept me from feeling like I had the time or energy to post another vegetarian meal; however, this sandwich -- even the thought of this sandwich has inspired me to post again. You NEED to make it. Don't wait, this sandwich will blow your mind. I was inspired by the cookbook Clean Food by Terry Walters, a fantastic cookbook in my opinion and I plan to make quite a few of her recipes while putting my own spin on things.

I have changed parts of this recipe to suit my needs and to suit the ingredients that I could find in the store this time of year.

Ingredients (serves 4):

4 Portobello mushrooms 
2 tsp basil
2 tsp oregano
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Sourdough bread (I used multigrain sourdough)
2 whole red peppers
2 ripe avocado
1 romaine heart
Grainy mustard or dijon

10-15 sun dried tomatoes in oil
3 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1 tbsp oregano (dried or fresh)
1 tbsp basil (dried or fresh)

Preheat your oven to 400.

First, prepare the aioli so that the flavours can meld. You could make this a day ahead and have it sit in the fridge until you're ready to use it. Finely chop the sun dried tomatoes and add to a small mixing bowl. Using a microplane grater, or the small holes on a box grater, grate the garlic and add to the mixture. Add mayonnaise, herbs, and salt and stir thouroughly. Allow the mix to sit until you're ready to assemble your sandwich.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil, place the mushrooms stem side up. Remove the stems and drizzle the mushrooms with a small amount of oil. Sprinkle the mushrooms with basil, oregano, and salt and roast in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. 

Once the mushrooms have roasted, remove from the oven and increase the temperature to 550C or high broil. Place the red peppers directly on the top rack with a baking sheet on the bottom rack to catch any drips if needed. Rotate the red pepper every 3-4 minutes, blackening and blistering the pepper on the outside. After the pepper has been rotated all the way around immediately remove and place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, when you can safely handle the pepper, peel the skin off and discard. Slice the red pepper into strips. 

Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit. Scoop out the avocado with a spoon so that it comes out of the skin in one piece. Slice into strips.

In a small bowl mix 3 tbsp of dijon mustard with 1 tbsp of honey or agave. If you don't have honey, I used a pinch of brown sugar, or you could skip this step and just use regular dijon or grainy mustard.

To assemble your sandwich, toast the bread in the toaster or oven. Spread aioli on one slice and mustard on the other. Slice portobellos and place along one slice of bread, followed by roasted red pepper, avocado, and romaine hearts.

This sandwich is delicious and filling on it's own and I felt like nothing else was needed with it. I know I will make this again.


Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Three Bean Vegetarian Chili

This is the fastest, tastiest chilli you will ever make.  Super cheap and you can generally keep the pantry items on hand and throw this baby together last minute.  Because it's meatless, there is no meat browning, or long simmering time.  I suppose you could throw the ingredients in the slow cooker if you wanted, but there's really no need when it cooks up in about 20 minutes.

I have to credit my sister for this recipe, she really came through with this one. I've made some adjustments from her original (more garlic, more spice, extra Serrano chilis!), but not because I didn't like the original, mostly because I can't ever stick to a recipe when I'm just throwing things in a pot.

2 tbsp Veg Oil (I used canola)
1 medium yellow onion
2 peppers (red, yellow, orange, green - your choice) seeded and chopped
2 Serrano chilis (I don't seed mine, I love spice.  If you don't, seed them and cut it down to one chili)
4-6 cloves of chopped garlic
1 cup of water (veg stock can be used)
1 can of crushed or diced tomatoes (the big can)
1 can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can of kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can of refried beans (THIS is the secret to an incredible chilli!)
1 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp (or more) cayenne
Salt and Pepper

Optional finishing toppings:
Grated Cheddar Cheese
Chopped green onion
Sour cream
Chopped fresh tomato
Chopped fresh avocado

Basically this is a chop and drop recipe.  Use a large pot and add the oil.  Chop onions and sauté for about 5 min.  Add chopped garlic and stir for 2 more minutes.  Roughly chop peppers in large pieces and add once the onion and garlic have softened.  Add Serrano chilli (or Jalepenos are fine) if using.

After the peppers have had about 3 or 4 minutes to sauté, add your dry spices now.  This allows the spices to toast slightly and will give you a better flavour.  However, watch the pot carefully, it can quickly burn.  Have your liquids ready to add once you put the dried spices in the pot.  Let the spices cook for about 1 minute and add the whole can of diced tomatoes and the cup of water.  Stir well to mix in the spices with the tomatoes.

Rinse the kidney and black beans together in a colander. Some recipes suggest not to, though I read once that rinsing beans helps to remove some of their gaseous after effect.  I'm not sure if it makes a huge difference, but I figure every bit helps.  Once the beans are rinsed under water add them to the pot.  Season with salt and pepper and simmer until you're ready to eat.

With about 5 minutes before you're ready to eat add the can of refried beans.  This adds a wonderful creaminess to the chili and really brings the whole thing together.  Don't skip this step, it's incredible.

Serve the chilli over rice (I used brown basmati) and top with your choice of cheddar cheese, green onion, sour cream, fresh tomato, or avocado.  Or hey, throw 'em all in there, all of those toppings are fantastic.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

BBQ Pizza

BBQ Pizza is one of the greatest things I've started making at home.  It's easy to make and is ten times better than buying a pre made crust or ordering from a restaurant.  The key with making these pizzas is simplicity.  Choose 3-4 ingredients including the cheese and keep it basic.  That way you'll get a rustic, delicious tasting pizza that isn't soggy from too many toppings.

This is a great way to maintain the weekday vegetarian theme; however, I find it easier to do the dough ahead of time on the weekend or when you have some extra time and then roll out the pizza during the week.  The dough keeps in the fridge for a few days and even longer in the freezer.

Makes enough dough for 2 large pizzas
3 cups white flour
1/2 cup semolina flour (this can be substituted for regular flour, semolina gives it a crisper crust)
2 1/4 tsp (1 pkg) dry active yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large pinch salt
1 tsp sugar

In a 2 cup measuring cup, or small bowl add warm water, active yeast, and sugar.  Stir and let it sit for about 5 minutes until it foams.  Before mixing with the dry ingredients add the olive oil and stir.

In a large mixing bowl add flour and salt and mix together.  When the wet ingredients are ready mix them in with the dry.  When the dough comes together slightly, flour a large cutting board or a clean countertop and turn the tough out on the floured surface.  Knead dough for approximately ten minutes, or until the dough is less sticky, elastic and smooth.  If the dough is too sticky, add flour a few tablespoons at a time.

When the dough is ready, pinch the edges and tuck them under the ball of dough so you get a nice round ball.   In a clean large bowl, add 1 tbsp of olive oil and roll the dough around in it. Leave the dough in the bowl and cover with a tea towel and place the bowl in a draft free place for 90 minutes and let it rise.

Once the dough has risen punch it down and knead for about 1 minute.  Separate dough ball into 2 smaller dough balls.  Flour your surface and roll out the first dough ball into an 8" round pizza.  Using a rolling pin works best, although I have also done this with a clean glass bottle, or stretched it by hand (it's difficult for it to stay round by stretching unless you're experienced -- I'm not).   Cover the underside of a cookie sheet, or the top side of a cookie sheet without a lip or side, with semolina or corn meal.  This acts as the "wheels" to slide your dough off the cookie sheet and onto the BBQ grill.

In a preheated 400 degree BBQ, transfer the dough to the cookie sheet and slide it directly on to the grill.  Close the lid and cook for 1 minute.  Take the dough off the grill and flip it over.  Add your toppings to the "cooked" side of the pizza.  Slide the pizza back onto the grill to finish cooking, this time for three minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

This, I guarantee you, will be the best pizza you've ever made and likely ever had.  It's so fresh and crispy and delicious.

Some of my favourite topping combinations are: fresh tomato sauce (tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and basil, simmered for about 10 minutes on low) with caramelized onions and fresh mozzarella (Costco has great fresh mozza available for a really reasonable price); for a meat version try ground lamb, feta cheese and fresh arugula (add arugula after the pizza has been cooked); roasted red peppers, caramelized onions and white cheddar.

*Optionally this pizza can be made in the oven on a similar heat.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Red Lentil Dal

The word Dal means "to split" in Sanskrit, which refers to the style of lentils that are used in this dish. Red lentils are split and stripped of their outer hulls and cook quicker than whole, green lentils do. This dish is an excellent source of protein, especially when combined with basmati rice and will fulfill your daily protein needs without meat.

I had been dying to try a dal recipe for quite a while, as I have been exploring vegetarian cooking through Indian cuisine, especially since I received a copy of Vij's At Home for my birthday a few months back.  I've also been working at a school where Indian/Pakistani food is what is eaten most by staff and students, so it's influenced my choices lately.  Indian food is really easy to make and quite inexpensive with a well stocked spice cupboard.  I recommend hitting up the bulk section at the grocery store and stocking up, dried spices cost next to nothing.

Yesterday morning I was checking one of my favourite recipe sites, Simply Recipes, and I noticed a Red Lentil Dal was posted.  I was stoked and tried it tonight for dinner.  This recipe was incredibly easy and really inexpensive and cooked up in about 20 minutes.  I adapted some of the ingredients from the original for ease and efficiency, as well as using what I had on hand rather than buying too many ingredients.  It's an incredibly satisfying stick to your ribs type of recipe.

Serves 4
1 cup split red lentils
3 cups water
3 plum tomatoes, diced (or 2 regular tomatoes)
2 tsp canola oil
1 medium white onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic very finely chopped (a micro plane grater would work well)
1/2 tsp sesame seeds (optional)
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (cumin powder will also work)
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds (whole)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp turmeric
1 lime including zest
1 bunch cilantro
Salt and Pepper
Cooked basmati rice (I used brown basmati)

Rinse red lentils and place into a medium sized pot.  Cover with 3 cups of water bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes on medium low until lentils are soft. Not all of the water will be absorbed.

While you're cooking the lentils, in a medium saucepan sauté the onions on medium heat in the canola oil until soft.  Add grated or finely minced garlic and cook for another minute being careful not to burn the garlic.  Add the sesame seeds, cumin, fennel and mustard seeds and stir until you hear the mustard seeds "popping." Stir in the turmeric and add the bay leaf.

To the spice mixture add the lentils including the water they are sitting in and stir the mixture together.  Season with salt and pepper and add tomatoes cooking for another 10 minutes.  When you are ready to serve add finely chopped cilantro, lime zest, and lime juice.

Serve over basmati rice and garnish with any leftover cilantro.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Fresh Summer Garden Pasta

I made note of an Ina Garten pasta sauce recipe in my first blog entry and, while I linked directly to her Food Network recipe, I thought I would extrapolate and give my take on a cheap, easy, and VERY delicious pasta.  Even for people who can't cook, you can make this and look like a champ!

While Ina Garten uses cherry tomatoes, and they are most certainly the best choice for this pasta hands down, regular tomatoes can also be used, but try to use the on the vine tomatoes, or tomatoes that are as fresh as possible.  It really makes a difference with the flavour.  Also, don't store the tomatoes in the fridge, it makes them have less taste.  Instead, keep them in a bowl on the counter or in a cupboard uncovered.  This goes for onions as well, storing them in the fridge makes them much less potent and they lose a lot of their flavour.  Regular tomatoes on the vine cost much less than cherry tomatoes, so if you don't have access to them, or want to keep your meal even cheaper, regular tomatoes are fine here.  Although do be sure that you treat yourself to the cherry tomato version sometime, just slice each one in half and use as I do with regular tomatoes in this recipe.

I was fortunate enough to be able to pick fresh basil and as many cherry tomatoes as were ripe from my mom's garden, which made for a very fresh tasting pasta sauce.  Did I mention that this sauce is NO COOK, again, ridiculously easy.  Because this recipe is no cook, do not try to substitute for dried basil, it will not taste good.  Make this only when you can find the fresh stuff.

Serves 4
6 on the vine tomatoes diced (or 2 pints of halved cherry tomatoes)
1/3 cup olive oil
6 cloves of finely chopped garlic
A large bunch of basil (About 10 leaves, sliced)
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 lb of dried pasta (use spaghetti, linguini, or angel hair - something long and thin)
1 cup of grated cheese (parmesan would work, so would any other hard cheese - even white cheddar would be good.  Don't use orange cheddar, that just seems like an unnatural combination)
1 cup of cooked pasta water
Salt and pepper

In a large heatproof bowl, dice tomatoes, mince garlic, and slice basil.  Add to the bowl.  Add 1/4 cup of olive oil, a large pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Stir the ingredients together and let them sit in the bowl on the counter at room temperature.  Cover with plastic wrap.  This recipe works best if you can let it sit for a couple of hours (4max), however, it is still tasty if you just prepare it and eat it right away, but give it about 10-15 min to sit so that the salt draws out some of the moisture in the tomatoes and the flavours can meld.

Cook the entire package of pasta in boiling water according to package directions.  Before draining reserve about a cup of the water that it cooked in.  Drain pasta and add noodles directly to the large bowl containing the tomato basil mixture and toss.  Add in 1/2 cup of the pasta water and see if you need more to stretch the sauce at all.  If so, use the full cup.  Sprinkle in most of the cheese (reserve some for topping the individual bowls) and toss to melt.

When serving add the noodles to the bowls and then scoop out extra tomato basil mixture and some of the sauce and pour over noodles.  Top with the leftover cheese.

This recipe is so fast and easy, you'll love it and it's quite easy on the wallet too.