Category Archives: chefs/cookbook authors

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

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.

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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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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.


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.

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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.


    • 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.

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    Three Sisters’ Stew with Corn Dumplings (did I mention how much I love Peter Berley’s recipes?)

    I am constantly amazed.  Peter Berley never disappoints.

    I will confess that I take a look at some of his recipes and wonder, will this taste good, will it have enough flavour, will EPC like it?  I know I wondered when I made his Root Vegetable Risotto with Red Beans.

    Silly me.

    Even if I begin cooking with doubts I always end the meal convinced.  Convinced that Peter Berley makes fantastic cookbooks and I am lucky to have one.

    I was also convinced by the dumplings.  Before eating this stew I had never had dumplings before.  They are wonderful.  I can’t speak for all dumplings, but corn dumplings made with masa harina are the bee’s knees!  The great thing about corn dumplings is that besides being taste-bud friendly they are also celiac friendly.  I imagine that they eclipse wheat flour dumplings in the way that corn tortillas do flour tortillas.

    In fact, EPC figured that the stew could be improved with even more dumplings (the recipe made 18 dumplings!).

    Of course he was joking, but I am sure you get the point.

    Enough about dumplings and onto the three sisters.

    He is not referring to actual sisters, but instead to the three sisters of corn, squash, and beans which make up the cornerstone of Native American Cuisine and are the main components of the recipe.  In the recipe’s introduction he paints an idyllic picture of the cornstalk providing support for the bean tendrils, the large squash leaves spreading over the ground holding in moisture and shading out weeds, all benefiting from the nitrogen that the beans add to the soil.  In addition to agricultural support, the three sisters combine well with thyme and sage to make this delicious stew.

    Located in the hearty stew section of The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, Three Sisters’ Stew with Corn Dumplings was a perfect choice for a spring evening meal when the weather seems more like fall or early winter.

    Three Sisters’ Stew with Corn Dumplings

    1 cup of dried pinto beans, soaked overnight and cooked until tender (I soaked them for 3 hours andcooked them in the pressure cooker with 2 cups of water for 20 minutes at high pressure)  You can also use 3 cups of canned pinto beans
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 large leek, washed well and sliced
    1 carrot, sliced
    1 medium butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled and chopped
    1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (leave a few seeds if you like it spicy)
    400 ml of canned crushed tomato
    2 sprigs fresh thyme
    1 sprig of fresh sage
    2 cups of thinly sliced fresh spinach
    salt and pepper to taste

    1 cup of masa harina
    3/4 cup boiling water
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 tablespoon olive oil

    Get the dumplings underway first:

    • Add masa harina to a medium-sized bowl
    • Bring the water to boil in a small pot.
    • Whisk the olive oil and salt into the boiling water and then pour over the masa harina.
    • Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together into a ball.
    • Cover the bowl with a plate and set aside

    Then get the stew started:

    • Heat the oil over medium heat and add the leeks, carrots, squash, and jalapeno.  Saute for 10 minutes to soften, stirring frequently
    • Add the crushed tomatoes, pour in the beans with their juice (if using canned beans add about 1 cup of water).  Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water, if needed, to thin the stew.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes.
    • While the stew simmers, form the dumplings into bite sized oblong balls. I made about 18 dumplings.
    • Add about 1/2 inch of water to a pot with a steaming basket and stem the dumplings for 8 minutes.
    • To the stew, add salt and pepper to taste.
    • Add spinach and stir
    • Add the dumplings and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes until the spinach is cooked through.

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    Madhur Jaffrey’s Besan, or Polenta with an Eastern Flair

    By the time the end of the workweek roles around the two of us are often too tired to do much of anything other than eat dinner, relax, go for a walk, and then go to bed.  This Friday night we decided to spice it up and head down to Whyte Ave for a short walk and a trip to Chapter’s to browse the bookshelves.

    Lucky for me EPC wanted to head over to Planet Organic to pick up a snack from the deli.  That meant we could also pop into Greenwood’s Bookstore (they have a much better vegetarian cookbook selection than the Whyte Ave Chapter’s, at least in my opinion).  Tonight turned out to be my lucky night!

    At Greenwood’s I found a copy of Madhur Jaffrey’s World of the East Vegetarian Cooking discounted 50%!  The front cover was slightly creased at the corner, but other than that it was completely intact.  This cookbook gets such favourable reviews that I had been contemplating picking it up for a few months now, but figured I really could not justify buying yet another cookbook.  However, at 50% off how could I refuse? I was so excited with my new discount purchase that I decided to make Sunday’s dinner from its pages.

    While flipping through the Beans and Dried Peas section and I came across an intriguing dish the likes of which I have never seen before.  Madhur coins it a Savory Chickpea Flour Quiche, but take a look at the recipe.

    Cook the chickpea flour with onions and seasonings, pour into pan, cool, cut and serve.  The instructions read like polenta, not so unfamiliar after all, so I figure this dish can be coined polenta with an eastern flair.

    It turned out fantastic.  EPC and both loved it.   I served it alongside Rasam, which Madhur describes as a tomato, tamarind and dal broth.  This sour spicy soup is one of my favourite South Indian dishes.  Although I really enjoyed the soup, I think that next time I make the Besan (and there will be a next time -it was delicious and not much work at all) I will serve a vegetable curry or two on the side instead.


    2 1/2 cups of chickpea flour sifted
    3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
    1/2 teaspoon ginger, grated
    1 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, ground (I crushed mine with a mortar and pestle)
    1/2 teaspoon turmeric
    1/2 -1 teaspoon of cayenne
    1 medium onion, sliced in half and then into fine half rings
    5 tablespoons vegetable oil
    6 dried curry leaves

    2 teaspoons salt
    1 tablespoon lemon juice

    1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
    1 hot chili, seeded and minced
    1/4 cup dried unsweetened coconut

    • Put the sifted chickpea flour in bowl.  Slowly add 4 1/2 cups of water, breaking up the lumps as you go.  When all the water has been added, pour the batter through a fine mesh sieve to remove all the lumps.
    • Combine the garlic ginger, cumin, turmeric and cayenne in a small cup with 1/4 cup of water.  Set aside.
    • Heat the oil in a heavy 2 1/2 quart pot (I used an enameled Dutch oven) over medium heat.
    • Add the curry leaves and stir.  Then add the onions.
    • Cook the onions for 2-3 minutes, until softened, but not brown.
    • Add the spices in the cup with the water and stir-fry for 1 minute.
    • Add the chickpea flour mixture into the pot and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
    • Turn the heat to medium low and stir vigorously until the mixture pulls away from the side of the pot.  This should take about 20 minutes
    • Add the salt and lemon juice and mix well.
    • Put the mixture into a 9 X 9 cake pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
    • Sprinkle the cilantro, chilies, and coconut and let cool.
    • Slice into 16 squares.

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