Monthly Archives: August 2010

Beets and more beets: Beet Burgers and Beet Salad

The weekend is coming to a close and, although the weather was downright nasty for August (with the daily highs just above +10°C),   when I look back over the last two days I can conclude that it was one of the best weekends of the  past month.

You can’t beat brunch at Culina Highlands with friends Saturday morning (even though their vegan option was far too salty), freezing to death at the downtown farmer’s market (and lugging home beets, banana potatoes, carrots, corn, Macintosh apples and Concord grapes), freezing to death again at our yearly condo BBQ, making fantastic blueberry lemon jam, taking a walk to Paddy’s Cheese and putting together a delicious Sunday night supper!

Yes, all in all, it was a great two days!

I decided to cook up all the beets I picked up on Saturday and make Beet Burgers from Toni Fiore’s Totally Vegetarian plus a Beet Salad with Herbs from Habeeb Salloum’s Classic Vegetarian Cooking from the Middles East and North Africa.

The Beet Burgers were delicious.  I will certainly make these again.  However, it make take a while. Toni’s cookbook features two more tasty looking burger recipes that I need to try first.  Her burgers held together while cooking and didn’t fall apart after the first bite;  I lost a few  pieces of my burger as I munched away, but for the most part this burger held its own – without the addition of eggs!  As well as being found in her cookbook, the recipe is also on the Delicious TV website (Toni Fiore is the host).  I figured that I would take peak to see if it was online to save me from typing it out 🙂  (FYI:I did not add the pumpkin seeds and I substituted 7 fresh basil leaves for the beet greens).

Delicious as they are, this certainly is not a weeknight meal, but you can easily make them up on a weekend afternoon and freeze them uncooked for another day (I did that with the 2 of the burgers).  EPC can always eat two burgers and, of course, I packed my second burger for tomorrow’s lunch.

The Beet Salad was just as tasty.  I have contemplated picking up Habeeb Salloum’s  cookbook for the past year, so I finally signed it out from the library to give it a try.  I have a made a few recipes and enjoyed them all.  There are a few more that I am looking forward to trying.  After tasting a few selections, EPC declared that we have to get this cookbook and I would have to agree.

Anyway, I hope your weekend was as good as mine, but if not, don’t worry we have a 3-day weekend coming up!


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Easy Chipotle Macaroni and Cheese

When I woke up this morning it was +8°C!  I could not believe how cool it was out.   I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but cool mornings (and macaroni and cheese cravings) are a sure sign that fall is just around the corner.

I should have called it Chipotle Cavatappi and Cheese, but macaroni noodles will work just as well.  I got the idea to include chipotle chilis in this familiar dish from my last visit to The Keg.  We took EPC’s father there for Father’s Day and ordered their Chipotle Macaroni and Cheese as an appetizer.  We were all blown away. The smoky chipotle taste and spice added a delicious layer to this familiar comfort food.

This dish is really easy.  No need to bother with a white sauce.  You just layer the sauce coated pasta with cheese, top with bread crumbs and bake.  If you prefer a gluten-free version omit the bread crumbs and try substituting corn macaroni for the wheat.  I think corn pasta would go extremely well with the smoky flavour of this dish.  Just be sure not to  over cook it (corn pasta can get mushy).

If the end of summer is getting you down, just remember that Easy Chipotle Macaroni and Cheese  is sure to make the approaching cool weather a bit easier to bear.

Easy Chipotle Macaroni and Cheese

1 375 g package of vegetable cavatappi, cooked for the minimum cooking time indicated on the package
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
2 cups of grated old cheddar cheese
1 cup of grated parmesan
1/4 cup of bread crumbs

  • Preheat oven to 375°C
  • Bring water to boil in large pot, add pasta, return to boil and cook for the minimum time indicated on the package
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium saucepan and saute onions and garlic until translucent
  • Add canned diced tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in chipotle chili powder  and simmer 5 minutes more.
  • When pasta finishes cooking, drain and mix with tomato sauce.
  • Add 1/3 of the pasta sauce mix to the bottom of a prepared 2 quart casserole dish.  Top with a third of the cheddar and a third of the parmesan.
  • Add another layer of pasta and cheese and repeat topping the final layer of cheese with the bread crumbs and few spritzes of olive oil.
  • Cook at 375°C for 20-25 minutes until the bread crumbs are brown and the pasta is bubbling.

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Gimme some soul: Cajun-Spiced Tempeh and Creamy Grits

Thank you Bryant Terry for your fantastic cookbook Vegan Soul Kitchen!

I checked this great cookbook out of the library last week and decided to go with a dish from Terry’s “top-ten” chapter entitled “Top Six Good Eats: You Gotta’ Rewind Me” and I am glad I did!

Although, in retrospect, I am sure that any of the delicious-sounding recipes from his book would have been as good (stay tuned, I have one in mind for next weekend!), his recipe for Cajun-Spiced Tempeh and Creamy Grits was out of this world.

It was out my world too, my cooking world, that is.  I have been searching the internet to try to find an African vegetarian cookbook, one that tackles cuisine from the whole continent – not just the northern coast and haven’t had much luck. Vegan Soul Kitchen kept popping up, and although it is not exactly what I had in mind, as it is African-American, it is exceptional and does introducing some different flavours to our table.  In the end, different flavour combinations was what I was after, so Vegan Soul Kitchen did the trick!

In case you decide to try his recipe I will mention a couple of things.  One of the adaptations that I made “de-veganized” the creamy grits, so if you want it vegan just sub in unsweetened soy milk for the skim milk and cashew cream (1 cup of cashews soaked overnight and drained with 1/2 cup of water and blend until smooth) and 1/2 cup of water for the cream.  Also, it is very spicy, so if you want to tone it down cut back on the cayenne and crushed chiles;  I did not think that all the spice mix would adhere to the tempeh pieces, but it did.

It will stick to your taste buds too!  The flavour of Terry’s amazing spice mixture lingered pleasantly in my mouth for the entire evening.

And, of course, there were leftovers for lunch the next day!

Cajun-Spiced Tempeh with Creamy Grits

1 8 ounce package of tempeh (if required, check the ingredients to make sure it is gluten-free)
4 cups of vegetable broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 cup olive oil for frying

1 pint of cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium-sized leek, sliced thinly into half moons (about 1 cup)
3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 cups water
1 cup of vegetable stock
1 cup of stone ground grits (polenta)
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup of half and half cream

2 green onions finely sliced for garnish

Get the tempeh started:

  • Cut the tempeh into 1/2 inch fingers and then slice them in half lengthwise and then in half widthwise.
  • In a medium-sized saucepan bring the vegetable stock to boil and then add the tempeh pieces. Reduce to medium low and simmer for 25 minutes.
  • Drain the tempeh in a colander and reserve the stock for use in the grits.
  • Let the tempeh dry in the colander for about 30 minutes while you are making the grits
  • In a paper bag mix the spice mixture together (salt, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, chili powder, chile flakes, cayenne, thyme, oregano, and white pepper) and set aside
  • Heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the tempeh pieces. Fry them for 2-3 minutes on each until browned (my cast iron pan worked great for this!)
  • Transfer the tempeh to the paper bag using a fork or a slotted spoon.
  • close up the bag and shake until all the tempeh is well coated with the spice mix

Then the tomatoes and leeks:

  • While you are simmering the tempeh, chop the tomatoes into quarters, add the lemon juice and salt, give it a stir, cover and put in the fridge.
  • In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute the leeks and garlic until browned.
  • Transfer to a medium-sized bowl (the tomatoes and tempeh will get added later)

The grits:

  • To make the grits, bring the water and stock to a boil. Slowly whisk the grits into the liquid and then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes until most of the water is absorbed.
  • Add the skim milk and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently until the milk is absorbed.
  • Then add the cream and stir frequently for about 30 minutes.
  • Combine the tomatoes and tempeh with the leeks and mix well.
  • Top the grits with tempeh mixture and garnish with green onions.

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Nigerian Kidney Bean Stew with Peanut Sauce

If you have been reading my posts for a while you know that EPC has a lot of favourite meals and generally loves the recipes I post here.  In fact, the meal often has to pass the “husband taste test” before it is deemed blog-worthy.

I have been making Nigerian Kidney Bean Stew for a couple of years and it has certainly become top on EPC’s list.  It is high up on my list too, because it is easy to make and is delicious and satisfying served over brown rice

I am feeling far too relaxed today to do much writing today, so I will keep it short and leave you with this wonderful recipe adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian.

Happy cooking and have a good week.

Nigerian Kidney Bean Stew with Peanut Sauce

2 cans of  red kidney beans, rinsed well and drained
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 medium onion,  finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 green pepper, diced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 398 ml can of tomato sauce
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 generous tablespoons peanut butter
1/3-2/3 teaspoon of salt to taste

  • Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and green pepper and saute until the onion is translucent.
  • Add the cumin and stir to coat the onion mixture
  • Add the tomato sauce, cayenne, lemon juice and 1/2 cup water
  • Stir well and simmer for 15 minutes
  • Remove about 1/2 cup of liquid from the pot and reserve. Add the peanut butter to the reserved liquid and stir to mix. Return to the pot.
  • Add the kidney beans and cook until heated through – about 10 minutes.

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Bircher Muesli – our new weekend tradition

The first time I had Bircher muesli was on my honeymoon.  Our favourite Toronto hotel is connected to the Eaton Centre’s food court.  I know that a food court does not sound that appetizing, but that is where we found this great place by the name of Richtree that sells Bircher muesli.  It is there that I tried the not quite oatmeal, not quite granola breakfast treat.

Fast forward 1 year later.

We are back in Toronto for a few days  and go over to our friend’s house for breakfast before biking out to the beach for a picnic.  Guess what delicious delight she has made for us?  That is right. Bircher muesli. She had been eating it on her last trip to Europe and liked it so much she thought she would make it for us that morning.

Of course her muesli was exponentially better than the stuff from Richtree (like most restaurant food it had too much sugar).  She used the recipe from the fantastic Rebar cookbook, which I have and seems to a common book on fellow vegetarian’s shelves

My Toronto friend always has great ideas and suggestions.  After all, she was the one who introduced me to the wonderful Toronto restaurant Fresh, and for that I will be eternally grateful. Now she got me on a bircher muesli kick, so I owe her big time.

Now that we are back in Edmonton I decided that I would follow her lead and whip up a batch for EPC and I for breakfast Sunday morning.

After the first bite he declared that the muesli was f*&@ing awesome.

Fresh blueberries and fresh peaches were great combined with the sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and almonds.  I think when summer fruit is no longer available I will give it a try with frozen berries and the more traditional apple.

So if you want something different for breakfast give Bircher muesli a try!

Bircher Muesli

This needs to be started the night before!

1 cup large flake oats, not instant (to make gluten-free use certified gluten-free oats such as Only Oats)
1 peach, chopped
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped or sliced almonds
2 tablespoon sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 cup fresh berries (if using frozen thaw them overnight in the fridge)

  • Place oats in a boil and cover them with 1 1/2 cups of water.  Cover and leave to sit on the counter overnight.
  • In the morning (or the night before) toast the nuts in a toaster oven or in a heated skillet until lightly brown. Reserve.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.
  • Divide between two bowls and enjoy

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