Category Archives: appetizers

Homemade Onion Rings!

Don’t these onion rings look delicious?

They are!

They are crispy and flavourful and in my mind the bread-crumb coating is reminiscent of A&W’s onion rings.  EPC says they are much better than that.  In fact, other than the bread crumb coating these onion rings are happily without all the fat, calories, and sodium that you would normally find in an A&W onion ring.

Not that fat and calories are bad and I like salty snacks as much as the next person, but I do not have a deep fryer and I do not want to get one.  So if you don’t want onion rings from a fast food chain, why not slice, dip, coat and bake them at 450°C to feed your craving.

I have been poking around on the Post Punk Kitchen website over the last few months eagerly awaiting the release of Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s new cookbook Appetite for Reduction.  Bye the way, I am first in line to preview the book once it arrives at the local library.  That is how excited I am. If you are not familiar with her work check out her site.  In a nutshell she has taken the vegan world by storm with her great vegan cookbooks, such as Veganomicom and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  I noticed last month that she had posted a few samples recipes from her soon to be released book, one of which is the delightful onion rings that I made to go along with tonight’s dinner.  The other recipes look delicious too.

I followed the recipe, but made a few changes.  I used whole wheat flour (of course), reduced the salt to 1/2 teaspoon, and used cow’s milk instead of almond milk.  If you are feeling creative I think that you could add some Cajun seasoning or even a bit of cayenne pepper  (or not, they are great just they way they are).

I can’t wait until Appetite for Reduction arrives this winter.  I am hoping she provides some other healthier options for comfort foods to get me through until spring.

Click here for the recipe

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A weekend of beets

Eating a large amount of beets over the course of a weekend should not come as a surprise at this time of year.  It is harvest time after all!

We went over to our friend’s place for supper and games on Saturday evening and what a treat!  The company and the food were top-notch.

Our host prepared these wonderful puff pastry parcels filled with golden and red beets that were absolutely delightful and for dessert his “partner-in-cooking” prepared a lovely apple tart.  He promises me that the beet parcel recipe is forthcoming, so I hope to be making it myself and posting it soon.  Enjoying the harvest bounty with friends made it feel like Thanksgiving had come a weekend early.

We also played a  board game that EPC really enjoyed.  I finally got into it after the second round (translate: figured out what the heck was going on), but we didn’t make it to a third, as dessert and conversation got in the way.  The game is popular in the UK and is called The Really Nasty Horse Racing Game.  Since EPC enjoyed it so much, I am hoping that I can track it down here in Canada.

I was lucky enough to be on the receiving end of a large bag of beets harvested from the garden of my co-worker’s mother.  I decided to make a beet cake with cream cheese icing and some savory beet pancakes that I had seen in a summer issue of Vegetarian Times (their photo is much better than mine).

Beet cake is something I have enjoyed numerous times at a local restaurant The Blue Plate Diner.  I didn’t have a recipe for a beet cake so I took a carrot cake recipe and modified it.  It worked out and tasted great (thanks to some suggestions from my Mom), but I have a bit of tweaking to do before it makes an appearance on Cookbook Cooks.

The beet pancakes were scrumptious.  I am eating a leftover one as I write this post and I must confess that eating one the second day convinced me to get off my butt and post the recipe so you can make them too!

Savory Beet Pancakes with Yogurt-Mint Sauce
makes about 8 pancakes

Yogurt-Mint Sauce:
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used 2%)
1/2 teaspoon dried mint
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
a few turns of the pepper mill

Beet Pancakes:
1 1/2 cups of grated beets (about 3 medium)
1 cup of grated carrot
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten

First make the yogurt mint sauce:

  • Using a fork, whisk together yogurt, mint, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl
  • Refrigerate until ready to use
  • Then make the pancakes:

  • Preheat oven to 250°C (to keep the pancakes hot as you prepare them)
  • Grate beets and carrots by hand or using a food processor.
  • Add garlic and salt and stir.
  • Add the beaten eggs and mix well.
  • Spray a non-stick skillet or cast iron pan with cooking oil and heat over medium heat (medium low if you are using cast iron)
  • Drop 1/4 cup of the beet mixture onto the pan and flatten.  I found that I could easily cook 2 at a time.
  • Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side and put finished pancakes in the oven until ready to serve.
  • Top with yogurt-mint sauce and serve
  • Click to print

    Vegetarian Tortilla Soup and Tortillas in Bean Sauce

    After our sun-soaked Christmas holiday in Cancun, Mexico, I decided that I needed to start cooking Mexican cuisine when we got home. This was music to EPC’s ears, who had thoroughly enjoyed refried beans, tortillas, guacamole, salsa, enchiladas, and even a Margarita right alongside me!  Of course I whip up the odd Tex-Mex dish, or more correctly Edmonton-Mex dish, but I wanted to get to crux of it and delve into a cuisine that I had little experience with.

    One could argue that being a vegetarian makes it impossible to delve into Mexican cuisine, since even the beans, something all vegetarians hold dear, are traditionally made with pork fat; even Rick Bayless includes lard in his recipes.  I had a tough time searching out a vegetarian Mexican cookbook that I thought would be authentic, or as close to authentic as a vegetarian could get.  I came across an older cookbook – published in 1996- by Kippy Nigh who owns a vegetarian restaurant and bakery in San Cristobal de las Casas.  I thought to myself, if the woman who wrote the cookbook owns a vegetarian Mexican restaurant in Mexico, you can’t get more authentic than that!  In addition, I spent a few days in San Cristobal de las Casas about 20 years ago, so I figured why not try it for nostalgia’s sake alone.

    As I mentioned in my last post I had to take a trip to one of the city’s Mexican grocery stores to find my ingredients.  Now I am set!

    EPC loved the soup and had two helpings.  I was a little less enthusiastic, but the soup was good, just not as good as I expected.

    I thought that the soup would be a little spicier from the addition of the dried chile.   Next time I would definitely add 2 chiles.  Adding one cube of vegetable broth to the 5 cups water would also be a good idea and help to round out the flavour. The soup itself tasted like your basic tomato soup, but once you had the crispy tortilla strips, avocado and cheese it was transformed.  As for the Tortillas in Bean Sauce, they were delicious.  Sadly, I forgot to warm the tortillas before dipping them into the bean sauce.  The dipping went well, but when I folded them over they cracked.

    Tortilla Soup

    3 cloves of garlic, minced
    1 medium onion sliced
    2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
    1/2 pound of tomatoes seeded and chopped ( I used a 19 ounce can of diced tomatoes)
    1 or 2 guajillo chiles
    5 cups of water (or vegetable broth, or 2 1/2 cups of each)
    1 sprig of fresh epazote (I used a dry sprig)
    6 corn tortillas, cut in strips
    1/4 pound of jack cheese, grated
    1 large ripe avacado, cut in slices
    3 green onions, chopped
    • In a large saucepan heat the oil and sauté the garlic and onions
    • Add the tomatoes and chile, and sauté until the tomato dissolved.
    • Blend and strain through a medium mesh strainer (I blended the soup, but did not strain)
    • Add 5 cups of water and the epazote, and simmer for 25 minutes
    • Spray the tortilla strips, or bruch lightly,  with olive oil and bake them at 350°C until crispy
    • Place the tortilla strips in bowls and top with cheese and avocado.
    • Ladle the hot broth into the bowls and serve

    Serves 4

    Click to print

    Tortillas in Bean Sauce

    1 cup of refried beans (I used canned)
    1/2 cup of water
    8 tortillas
    1 cup of grated Jack cheese

    Mix the beans and water and heat over medium heat.

    • Soften the tortillas one by one on a heated skillet.
    • Dip each tortilla in the bean sauce, then place on a plate.
    • Add some cheese to half of the tortilla and fold the other half over.
    • Keep them warm in the oven at low heat so they don’t get cold before serving.

    Serves 4

    Click to print

    Planet Organic Hummus (with a sesame oil twist)

    EPC and I are having a party tonight.

    What fun!

    The theme is a  Christmas Party in January.  We will be hosting it for my work coffee group and I have asked everyone to dress up fancy if they wish (we don’t get that opportunity at work, so why not).  EPC and I had some renovations done this past fall.  As a result, January was far more favorable than late November for a Christmas party, so here we are.

    Originally I had wanted to be the “hostess with the mostess” and prepare all the snacks myself and introduce our guests to vegetarian finger food, but there were a few concerned comments about there being a lack of variety if the food was all vegetarian.  This shocked me, as I am sure you can imagine, but rather than show I had something to prove, I conceded and made the party a potluck.  In the end, it seems that most of the guests will bring vegetarian food anyway, so I ended up having more free time Saturday afternoon than I would have if I was preparing enough finger food for 15.  Enough time to post my latest entry anyway.

    I think that there are an infinite number of recipes for hummus.  Afterall, it is a vegetarian’s favorite dip (isn’t it?) and it has become popular among carnivores, because of its presence on Greek and Lebanese menus.  Not to toot my own “recipe-finding” horn, but this hummus rises above the rest.  I think the addition of sesame oil  gives this hummus it’s oomph.  I got this recipe from The Planet Organic Market Cookbook by Diane Shaskin.  Planet Organic Market is a Canadian organic food store and deli.  I have a friend who shops there quite regularly and buys this exact hummus from their deli.  If I remember correctly, it was at her house that I first tried this hummus and it is also the first recipe that I made after getting the cookbook from EPC last Christmas.

    I made it for our New Year’s Eve party last year, to rave reviews, so I figured it would be a good choice for our Christmas Party in January.

    Planet Organic Hummus

    1 19-ounce can of chickpeas, rinsed well
    1 tablespoon of tahini
    2 teaspoons of toasted sesame oil
    1 tablespoon of garlic, minced (more or less to taste)
    2 tablespoons of lemon juice
    1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    1 teaspoon of sea salt.
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

    • Mix all ingredients (except the olive oil) in a food processor until well blended.
    • Add olive oil and blend together.

    Serve with pita chips, pita bread, or fresh vegetables. We also like it spread on a fresh vegetable sandwich.