Monthly Archives: July 2010

Another winner by Jack Bishop: Tempeh, Spinach and Onion Quesadillas topped with Avocado Chipotle Salsa

I managed to squeeze one last recipe out of Jack Bishop’s A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen before I had to return it to the library.

Once again, the recipe turned out to be delicious. I think my husband might be starting to like Jack Bishop as much as he likes Peter Berley and Lorna Sass (maybe not as much as Lorna Sass – I think she is his favourite cookbook author of all time).

The successes I have had with Jack Bishop‘s recipes have led me to conclude that I will be ordering a copy of this cookbook and his Italian vegetarian cookbook in the not too distant future.  I always (except in very rare occasions) order new cookbooks online. It is considerably cheaper and you are not limited by the often meager bookstore selection.

For any of you that wish to take an in-depth look at Bishop’s interpretation of Italian vegetarian cuisine, a limited preview of this cookbook is available at Google Books.

Guess what!  When I was looking up the link for the book preview I noticed that A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen is featured there as well.

How exciting is that!

Google Books and the local library are two great resources for test-driving cookbooks.  After all, cookbooks are quite expensive and do take up a bit of room, so it is important that they fit the bill and provide interesting and inspiring dishes for you to cook (and eat).

Well, I won’t be cooking too much over the next 10 days.  We are taking some deserved summer holidays.

Until then…

Tempeh, Spinach and Onion Quesadillas with Avocado Chipotle Salsa

1 medium ripe avocado, cubed
1 tablespoon of cilantro, chopped
1 chipotle pepper in adobe sauce minced, with 1 teaspoon of juice (these are available canned in the Mexican aisle at the grocery store)
2 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
Salt

1 tablespoon of virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 8 oz package of tempeh, lightly steamed or sautéed until heated through ( I use Green Cuisine smoked tempeh)
2 cups of spinach, packed
4 flour tortillas
Monterey Jack cheese, grated (enough to please)

First, the salsa:

  • In a small bowl combine avocado, cilantro, chipotle chiles and sauce, lime juice and salt.
  • Stir to combine.

Next, the quesadillas:

  • Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet.
  • Add the onions and cook until lightly browned (this will take about 15 minutes)
  • Add the cumin and stir.
  • In the last few minutes of cooking add the tempeh cubes and stir to coat with onions
  • Add the spinach and cook until wilted.
  • Lay 1 tortilla in a large skillet and top with cheese, add a thin layer of the tempeh spinach mixture and top with more cheese.
  • Top with a tortilla and cook on medium heat until brown.  Flip, and repeat on the second side.
  • Repeat with remaining tortillas.
  • Slice each quesadilla into quarters and top with salsa.

Click to print

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Nigella’s Sexy Sesame Peanut Noodles

I am not sure how sexy these noodles are, but they are quick and they are easy. Two important things when you would rather be outside enjoying the sunny day than spending a lot of time in the kitchen.

After getting the week’s grocery shopping finished this morning, EPC and I ventured down to Whyte Ave to take in the Annual Art Walk and enjoy a perfect summer afternoon. In my books that means less than 25°C, with a cool breeze, and few clouds to give you a shady break now and again.

We will be heading out to the Toronto area next week and since they have been stuck in a heat wave for the last three weeks (with no end in sight) I figure we should enjoy the comfortable Edmonton weather while we can.

I adapted tonight’s recipe from Nigella Lawson’s Good Food Fast.  Although this cookbook does not feature a lot of vegetarian entrees, it does feature quite a few fast desserts and, as cookbooks go, is an enjoyable read.  As a result, I don’t think that I would recommend it as a must have cookbook for vegetarians, but my omnivore friend who  has a copy of this book uses it quite frequently for quick week night meals.  Nigella also includes a great recipe for making quick individual pizzas on store-bought naan bread, which EPC and I whip up quick frequently for a quick lunch during the winter months.

This meal is even quicker and easier if you use ready-cooked egg noodles, but I prefer to cook up some brown rice noodles instead.  With regard to the vegetables, use your imagination and add what ever tickles your fancy and suits your mood. Tonight we decided on snow peas, red pepper, and spring onions.

Sesame Peanut Noodles

1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of soy sauce (for gluten-free, substitute wheat-free tamari)
1 teaspoon of sambal oelek
1/4 cup of smooth peanut butter (I use all natural)
2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice

2 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 block of firm tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes

1 cup of snow peas, ends trimmed and halved
1 red pepper, finely sliced
3 spring onions, finely sliced

1 375 gram of brown rice noodles, cooked, drained and tossed with a few drops of sesame oil to prevent sticking (or 500 grams pre-cooked egg noodles)

2 teaspoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons of cilantro, finely diced

  • Saute tofu cubes in oil until brown on at least 2 sides
  • While tofu is browning, whisk together sesame oil, olive oil, soy sauce, sambal oelek, peanut butter and lime juice.  You may need to add a bit of water if the sauce if too thick.  Taste and adjust seasonings.
  • Add the cooked noodles (or pre-cooked noodles) and toss with the sauce.
  • Add the vegetables and toss.
  • Add the tofu cubes and toss.
  • Top with cilantro and sesame seeds

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Sunny Boy Muffins and Strawberry Jam

What a busy couple of weeks.

First there was my in-laws’ family reunion, followed by EPC’s Aunt and three cousins staying with us for a few days, topped off with strawberry picking and preserving, and then a BBQ at EPC’s Dad’s place.

I certainly got a lot done, but man am I tired!

Since we had company staying with us for a few days, I figured they needed something special for breakfast, so I made up some delicious Sunny Boy Whole Grain Muffins.  I have been on a Sunny Boy cereal kick for the last few weeks, so I decided to take a look at the recipes on their website and came across a wonderful looking recipe for hearty (read: non-cupcake style) muffins.

I loved the muffins and so did the relations.

We enjoyed them with a dollop of homemade nectarine jam gifted to me by a coworker, as I didn’t make the strawberry jam until the weekend after they left.

The muffin recipe wasn’t followed exactly, because I was in a hurry and wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing. This can be a disaster when you are baking, but fortunately the recipe was saved by the addition of some large flake oats to soak up the extra milk.  If you end up adding twice as much milk like I did, you can save the recipe by adding 2/3 cup large flake oats.  In addition, I swapped out the all purpose flour for whole wheat.

And now on to the sweet stuff.

The strawberries were incredible.

I picked 50$ worth of strawberries in 45 minutes.  Don’t ask me how many berries that equates to, but it was a lot and the picking was easy too.  In case you live in the Edmonton area, I picked my berries at South Windermere Gardens.

Aside from berries for eating and freezing, I was able to get two batches of jam. Both jam recipes come straight off the Bernardin website.  The first, No-Pectin Strawberry Jam (shown on the muffin pictured above) was made with the addition of unripe berries.

No pectin jams are nice, because you make them with a bit less sugar.  You still need to add sugar though.  I have made the mistake of trying to do it with less than the recommended amount of sugar and, trust me, it doesn’t really work so well.

The second jam I made was Strawberry Balsamic Jam.

It is to die for.

If you are looking for a different jam, this is the one to try.  Bernardin recommends serving it with cheese and crackers, but it is also great with plain yogourt, slathered on fresh bread or by the spoonful.

I can’t wait to serve it to guests this winter as a sweet addition to a cheese tray!

Sunny Boy Whole Grain Muffins

Bernardin No-Pectin Strawberry Jam

Bernardin Strawberry Balsamic Jam

Want to impress someone? Try Pineapple-Glazed Tofu with Spicy Cucumber Salad.

This has become one of my favourite meals.

It is a wonderful summertime dish.  Cool and refreshing with a little zing!

I picked up Jack Bishop’s A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen from the local library 3 weeks ago and haven’t really had a chance to explore it as much as I would have liked.  It is due in a couple of days and of course there is a hold on it.

Sigh.

We have been so busy over the last couple of weeks that we have been cooking old standbys.  You know how it goes, too strapped for time and energy to try anything new.

Anyway, this was the perfect meal to get me back in the saddle!  (I guess the Calgary Stampede is influencing my choice of words).  No matter.  I can do no wrong after this meal – bad pun or not.

It took over an hour to prepare, because Bishop recommends that you salt, press and drain the sliced and peeled cucumbers for one hour.  Cucumbers are quite watery, so it seemed like the right thing to do.  And what do you know, I had to wipe cucumber juice off the counter a couple of times. I didn’t have any plain rice vinegar, so I substituted sushi vinegar and left out the sugar (sushi vinegar is sweet enough as it is).  It worked just fine.

One more thing.  It may seem like the glaze will never boil down, but then, voila,  you are left with perfectly browned and glazed tofu.

Just wait until you taste it!

Pineapple-Glazed  Tofu with Spicy Cucumber Salad

1 1/2 to 2 long english cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, and seeded.
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt (I didn’t have any, so I used pickling salt)
1/2 cup rice vinegar (you can use sushi vinegar and leave out the sugar)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
1 small fresh hot red Thai chili
1 heaping tablespoon of cilantro, finely chopped

1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 pound of firm tofu, cut in half and then each half sliced into four slabs and then pressed and blotted dry
2/3 cup of pineapple juice
1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
1/4 cup of salted peanuts, finely chopped

Enough brown rice noodles to make you both happy, cooked, rinsed, and tossed with a few drops of oil to prevent sticking.

First the salad:

  • Toss the cucumbers and salt in a colander and apply two sandwich size Ziploc bag full of water to the top to help draining.  Set aside for 1 hour.
  • While the cucumbers are draining, bring the vinegar and sugar to boil over medium heat.  Stir to dissolve the sugar and cook until reduced to 1/4 cup.  This takes about 5 minutes or so.
  • Pour the dressing straight from the stove into a large bowl and add the onion and chili.
  • When the cucumber has finished draining, rinse off the salt and blot dry with paper towels.  Add to the bowl and top with cilantro.
  • Stir well to mix.

Now the tofu:

  • Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet (I used my cast iron pan).
  • Add the tofu in a single layer and cook until golden brown – about 7 minutes.  Turn the tofu and cook about 5 minutes.
  • Add the pineapple juice, lime juice and a dash of salt.
  • Cook, turning the tofu once until the liquid has evaporated.  This takes about 5 minutes.
  • Spoon enough brown rice noodles for one person on a plate, top with cucumber salad, tofu and garnish with peanuts.
  • We found the dish served two of us, with enough for seconds.

Click to print

Vegetarian BBQ 2: His and Hers Homemade Pizza on the Grill!

I hate having the oven on in the summer.

Our condo is west-facing, so we get all the afternoon sun and heat. I avoid using the oven in the summer at all costs. The tools that help me do this are my Cuisinart bread machine, our toaster oven and our BBQ!

I have never tried making pizza on the BBQ. No pizza on the BBQ, means no homemade pizza at our house all summer long. Not an enticing prospect, since pizza is one of my husband’s favourite foods.

I decided that Sunday would be the day I would try making pizza on the BBQ.

Up until now, I had been using my bread maker to make the dough for my pizza – with varying levels of unsuccess. The crust was edible, but not something I could brag about, or, as I am sure you have noticed, blog about. I decided to follow a recipe for whole wheat pizza crust from Jack Bishop’s Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook and make it by hand.

It turned out fantastic.

I even used 100% whole wheat flour – instead of using part white flour as he suggested (labeling something as whole wheat and then finding out that the recipe still has white flour is one of my pet peeves!). The crust had the full flavour that you would expect from a whole wheat crust, but was tender, chewy, and easy to work with – something that evaded me when I made whole wheat crust in the bread maker.

I have seen recipes for making pizza right on the grill, but I erred on the side of caution and used my special BBQ pizza pan. I formed the uncooked dough on the pan, added my sauce (canned diced tomatoes with basil and oregano), sautéed onions, garlic and bell peppers, veggie pepperoni on EPC’s (photo above) and then a dusting of cheese (mine had fresh arugula sprinkled on after grilling – photo below).

I threw the pizza on the grill at about 500°C and let the heat come down to between 400°C and 450°C. I cooked the pizza for about 10 minutes until the cheese was bubbling and the crust was brown. It was so easy and so delicious and best of all our place stayed cool.

I have posted the recipe for the crust.  The toppings are up to you!

100% Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (enough for 2 12-inch pizzas)

1 1/3 cups of warm water
2 teaspoons of dry yeast (I used Bread machine yeast and it worked fine)
3 tablespoons of extra-virgin live oil (don’t scrimp on the oil – it helps keeps the crust supple)
3 cups of all-purpose whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups of salt

  • Using a wooden spoon, combine the water, yeast and oil in a large bowl.
  • Add the whole wheat flour, and salt and continue to stir until the dough comes together.
  • Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for about 6 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  • Put the dough into a lightly oiled large bowl and cover with a clean damp cloth.  Let rise until the dough has increased in size about 1 1/2 times.  This takes about 1 hour.
  • Divide the dough in half and place each half in a large lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth and let rise for 20 minutes.
  • Flatten each ball of dough and then shape into a circle the size of your pan.
  • Cover lightly with toppings (I pre-cooked my onions and pepper before grilling to ensure that the onions were fully cooked) and grill until cheese is bubbling and crust is brown about 10-12 minutes.
  • I had my BBQ at 500°C and lowered the heat while cooking to between 400 and 450°C.

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Crochet-topped kitchen towels and Jack Bishop’s Polenta with Lentils in Tomato Sauce

I am back.

EPC and I were away on holidays and then we both caught a cold.  Not by choice, of course, so perhaps it is more accurate to say the cold caught up with us!  Anyway, there is nothing worse than a summer cold.  So,  although we returned home last week, I didn’t get around to cooking anything blog-worthy until this past weekend.

We had a good time on our holiday. We went to Saskatoon, the “Paris of the Prairies”, and spent our time hanging out with friends and relaxing. I went to the Saskatoon Farmer’s Market where I was able to pick up some handmade crochet-topped kitchen towels and a couple of beautiful aprons. We also cooked up some fresh asparagus that evening on the BBQ – delicious!

If any of you plan on heading to Saskatoon this summer, aside from visiting the farmer’s market, I suggest stopping in at Museo – the coffee shop adjacent to the Medel Art Gallery and Conservatory.  They have wonderful lattes and serve almond butter with their toasted bagels!  The gallery is located along the South Saskatchewan River and is adjacent to the wonderful Meewasin Trail system.   It you keep walking along the trail towards downtown you will come to the Victoria Street Bridge.  Just across this bridge from downtown is Las Palapas restaurant.  Here I had some wonderful pozole soup. The great thing about Las Palapas, other than the food, is that it is located right next to Homestead Ice Cream. They have traditional flavours and some unique ones like Avocado, Roses and Honey, and Dill Pickle (can you believe it?). I stuck with the slightly more traditional Butter Brickle and Dad’s Oatmeal Cookie on top of my cone.

Of course I can’t forget Christie’s Bakery on Saskatoon’s west side (they are opening a second location on Broadway this summer). We picked up a delicious Saskatoon berry pie, some wonderful lemon tarts, and a monstrous loaf of potato bread.

Yes, I certainly ate a lot on our trip! Which in why we stuck to simple hearty meals when we returned.

Now that I got our trip to Saskatoon out my system, onto the Jack Bishop part of the post.

I found out about Jack Bishop from a blog that I love to read: Cook and the Books. In one of her posts she recommended that readers check out his Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen cookbook, which I did, and then I promptly checked out his Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook from the library as well. It was hard to pick a recipe, but I settled on Polenta with Lentils and Tomato Sauce.  It was fantastic, simple to make and very flavourful. As I am sure you can tell by the photo, it is also an impressive meal to serve guests.

Because it was so warm out this past weekend, I broiled the polenta in our toaster oven, which took a little longer than it would have in the oven, but delicious all the same. I think if you were in a rush you could get away with canned lentils and store-bought polenta, but make the recipe as is if you can.

Polenta with Lentils and Tomato Sauce

1 cup cornmeal
2/3 cup green lentils, rinsed and drained
1 bay leaf
4 medium garlic cloves,  (2 whole and 2 minced)
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 celery stalk, peeled and finely diced
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons of parsley, minced
Freshly grated Parmesan for garnish

  • Bring 8 cups of water to boil in a medium saucepan and add the lentils, bay leaf and 2 whole cloves of garlic.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender – about 25 minutes
  • While the lentils are simmering you can prepare the polenta – see below
  • When the lentils are tender drain and discard the bay leaf and garlic cloves.
  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan and saute the onion, carrot and celery until tender – about 10 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Add the lentils and cook for 2 minutes until the sauce is heated and the flavours have mingled.
  • Stir in the parsley and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  • Spoon the lentils over 3 polenta triangles, garnish with cheese and serve.

    Polenta:

    • Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan.
    • When the water comes to a boil, add 1 teaspoon of salt and  lower the heat to medium
    • Slowly whisk the cornmeal into the pot in a steady stream.  This should take about 1 minute.  If you add the cornmeal to quickly it will form lumps.
    • Whisk the cornmeal continuously to prevents lumps and simmer until the polenta starts to thicken – about 1 to 2 minutes.
    • Reduce the heat to low and cook very slowly, stirring frequently for 15 minutes.
    • Pour into a lightly oiled 8 x 12 pan, smooth the top and let cool.
    • You can make this the day before and keep in the fridge covered in plastic wrap.
    • When the polenta has cooled and is firm (about 30 minutes), turn the polenta onto a cutting board and cut into 8 squares.  Cut each square in half to form a triangle.
    • Place on a baking sheet and spray each triangle lightly with oil and broil until lightly browned.  Turn and broil the second side.

    Click to Print