Vegan (or not) Garden Pesto

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By Corinne

Basil is amazing. I am so in love with basil in the summer I can hardly help myself from adding it to everything. Basil in every salad, basil on sandwiches, basil gently rubbed between my fingers just to smell every time I go outside on my deck… Ah! Well, enough with this summer reverie. It’s February and the days (while getting longer) are still short and dark and cold and we’ve just had two weeks of -20C without a break. I’m craving summer in a bad way!

This pesto is infinitely versatile- in the summer I use much more basil than other greens, but in the winter good basil is hard to find and pricy! Tonight when I made it, I used about 15g of basil and 15g of parsley(a small handful of each)- the rest was spicy arugula, so I omitted the pepper.

While I’ve historically always used cheese, I decided to give nutritional yeast a try for this recipe. I probably could have thinned it out a BIT more, but it actually emulsified easier than the cheese version, was smoother, and as a bit of a shock to both myself and my taste tester, was the preferred version!

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Time: under 10 minutes

Makes: about 1/2- 3/4 of a cup 

You will need:

  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup olive oil or other oil of your choice (I used sunflower oil)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, outer skin removed
  • 1 ½ cup(lightly packed down) fresh herbs such as basil, parsley or greens such as spinach, kale or arugula
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast or parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp salt – to taste
  • pepper – to taste

In a food processor or using an immersion blender(I usually use my immersion blender as this is a relatively small batch and I have a large food processor), combine the herbs/greens and garlic and process for 15 seconds.

With the food processor still running, add the oil SLOWLY until the mixture is smooth – you want it to emulsify. The mixture should look almost matte, and not oily. If your pesto looks oily you rushed the emulsification process and added too much oil at once.  You are looking for the mixture to be loose, not chunky but not watery or runny at all.

Add the nutritional yeast or cheese and process for ten seconds. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

You can see in the picture that I did a better job of emulsifying the one version on the left than the one on the right today. I’m going to blame using a different container than I usually use!

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Toss with warm pasta, put on pizza, spread on a pork tenderloin or chicken… pesto is delightfully easy to use! This will stay good in the fridge for about a week. 

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Vegan Chocolate Snowball Cookies

By:  Julie

Time:  35 min

Serves: 2 dozen cookies

I will admit, I used to have food prejudice.  With the word vegan I associated flavors like cardboard, kale, and unseasoned lentils.  After much research, and a daughter with food allergies, I have learned much.  I have learned that Vegan can be delicious, and if you make these cookies you won’t even know they are vegan  You will just think they are awesome – and so will anyone else you feed them to.  Picture a chocolate cloud… crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, with a rich chocolate taste.  Heaven.  My sentences are getting shorter because I’m eating them and typing with one hand.  Because I can’t stop eating them.

This recipe originally came from a past edition of Our Compliments magazine and caught my interest because it was dairy free, which is important for my family.  Corinne and I wanted to see if we could make a vegan version as this is the result.  It has the same texture as the original and is just as tasty.

You Will Need:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp ground coffee
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of well mashed very ripe banana (1 large)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt and baking powder.  In a stand mixer bowl, or a large bowl, use mixer to beat together cocoa powder, oil, and coffee until well combined.  Scrape down sides and beat again.  Add white sugar and brown sugar and beat until combined.  Add banana and vanilla and mix thoroughly.  Some people who are afraid of sticky dough here might chill it to make it easier to work with, but I promise, it’s fine.  Just skip it.  Time is money.  If you are sticking your finger in the dough at this point to lick it off you will get an intense banana flavor.  Most of this mellows after baking so don’t panic.  I doubt your family will even realize there is banana in there if you don’t blab and tell them.

Put icing sugar in a small bowl.  Using a spoon (don’t bother with an ice cream scoop, the texture of the dough will just make you insane if you try to use it), and your fingertips, make 1-inch dough balls and roll them in the icing sugar before placing on your lined cookie sheet.  Repeat until all the dough is gone and you have 24 pretty white snowballs.  I baked my two sheets of cookies separately because my oven doesn’t seal particularly well but if you have cooked two sheets at one time in the past with success, by all means throw them both in there at once.  Otherwise, bake one sheet at a time for 6-8 minutes (mine took 8).  You will no they are done because they will have leveled out and cracked a bit.  They will be like little molten lava cakes when you first take them out and they are delicate.  slide the parchment paper with the cookies off the sheet carefully onto a cooling rack.  Allow to cool completely before eating.  Or throw them in a bowl with ice-cream because, damn, they really are like little lava cookies.

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Let us know how this worked for you!

Quinoa Taco Salad

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By Corinne

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with quinoa as I shared in my post on Lemony Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas. I find it tends to suck the flavour out of things, and isn’t really that exciting on it’s own. Ha, ha, am I selling you on this yet? This really is a wonderful supper full of savoury flavours and delightful textures. I have found that red quinoa seems to have a bit more flavour, and I prefer it for this dish and most others. It is vegan as long as you either use dairy free cheese shreds and either omit or use a dairy free version of sour cream.

This recipe was inspired by one from Thug Kitchen 101- but edited for both additional flavour and simplicity. It could also easily be used as a filling for tacos, or as a topping for nachos 🙂

 

Time: about 35 minutes

Serves: 4 generously

You will need:

  • 1 cup red quinoa, rinsed (to rinse or not to rinse? I buy mine in bulk so rinse)
  • 1 3/4 cups water or veggie broth (I used veggie broth)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 cup canned (cooked) black beans
  • 1 large onion, small dice
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, small dice
  • 1-2 fresh jalapeño, minced (don’t be afraid to use at least one here! The quinoa really does make things less spicy somehow)
  • 2 heads romaine, washed and chopped
  • juice of one lime, + additional lime wedges for each salad
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • tortilla chips
  • garnishes- avocado or guacamole, additional jalapeño, green onions, diced cherry or regular tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, shredded cheddar or queso fresca

Combine 1 cup quinoa with water or veggie broth. Add 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp oregano. Bring to boil, and then cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Stir every few minutes until water is absorbed and quinoa is fluffy- about 20 min. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding a bit more of everything to your taste, or leaving it as is. While quinoa is cooking, prepare vegetables.

Add 2 tbsp oil to pan on medium high heat, and add onion, black beans, bell pepper,  and jalapeño to pan. Fry until veggies are starting to get tender and getting some colour- about 5-7 min. Add cooked quinoa, lime juice, garlic, and cilantro. Stir for an additional minute or two.

Serve hot over lettuce with toppings of your choice. Also delicious cold for lunch the next day!

 

 

Skillet Chili Pasta

By Corinne

For a long time I had mixed feelings about chili. I don’t care for kidney beans. Sometimes people put mushrooms in their chili, and mushrooms happen to be one of the few things that I REALLY don’t like. I’m a bit picky about my ground beef. But one of the glorious things about making things yourself is you can do it how you like it. I usually make chili with stew beef rather than ground beef, but though I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, I have been inspired to make more plant protein based meals. This chili is a riff on something between my regular chili, and the chili mac from Thug Kitchen 101. It is vegan as long as you stick to vegan ‘toppers’ to finish.

You will need:

  • 2 tbsp safflower or olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped (I often use red onion, but yellow onions work fine)
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped
  • 1 carrot finely chopped
  • 1 large stalk of celery (or two small)
  • 1 jalapeño finely minced (use half if you are cautious about the heat, it is always easier to add more than to try and adjust it if you’ve made it too hot for your taste)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic pressed or minced
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups (500ml)  of a plain tomato sauce, or diced tomatoes (I usually use my ones I canned from my garden until I run out!)
  • *2 tbsp (30 ml)- 1/2 cup tomato paste the amount of tomato paste needed will depend on the tomato sauce you use and whether you used just canned tomatoes or an actual sauce
  • 1 can of beer
  • 2-3 cups (750ml) of vegetable broth (start with 2, add more water if needed for the pasta to cook)
  • 3 cups of small pasta (about 240g) (today I used a tri-colour rotini, but I also love small shells for this)
  • 1 can (540ml 19 fl oz) of black beans, rinsed
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp lime juice + zest from one lime
  • any or none of the following to finish – cilantro, cheese, sour cream, avocado, lime wedges, additional jalapeño. This dish is vegan as long as you stick to vegan add ins.

In a large skillet, add  2 tbsp oil and chopped onion, celery, carrot, bell pepper,  and jalapeño pepper. Cook for 5-7 minutes until veggies are fragrant and getting tender. Add garlic, coriander, cumin and paprika and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Add tomato sauce, veggie broth, and beer. Cover and bring to a simmer. Add pasta, cover and cook until pasta is a bit before al dente.  The amount of time here will depend on the size of your pasta, but about 7 minutes should probably do it. Add lime juice and zest, maple syrup and tomato paste and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Serve topped with any or none of the the suggested toppings. Do you have any toppings you love for chili that aren’t mentioned here?

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Maple Balsamic Slaw and Sausage

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By Corinne

If ‘coleslaw’ makes you think of mayo- banish it from your mind!  This is not your mayo based coleslaw for sure. Red cabbage is beautiful, inexpensive and an excellent source of vitamins C, K, and A. You could do all red cabbage for this slaw, or all green if that’s all you can find, but I like a combination of the two for the colours. In the middle of winter it can be difficult to find good produce that is reasonably priced. This colourful meal checks a number of boxes- easy, fast, healthy and economical!

RANDOM SCIENCE FACTS AND FUN HOME LAB FOR KIDS– skip this and scroll down if you want to straight to the foods!

You can also make an AWESOME natural indicator with red cabbage. An indicator is a substance that changes colour depending on pH. Red cabbage contains a pigment molecule that is an anthocyanin- this is what is responsible for the colour changes. Want a fun little science lab you can do at home?  I have done the following MANY times with my science students. I usually have them test a variety of ‘mystery liquids’ with both pH strips and a few drops of the red cabbage indicator. They are always surprised with the variety and brightness of the colours produced.

To make the indicator, boil some chopped red cabbage(about a cup or cup and a half) with a half a cup of water for about 5 minutes- it doesn’t matter too much proportions, but you want to end up with a dark purple liquid – that being said, the colour of the liquid will very much depend on the pH of your tap water and how close to neutral your  water is. Strain and cool (keep tightly sealed in the fridge) Once cooled, you can test a variety of household substances.

Start with something you know is acidic- lemon juice or vinegar and something you know is basic- bleach for example, so you have a baseline and know what colours to expect from acids and bases. In science class we use spot plates and pipettes, but you can just place a few drops of your testing liquid onto a plate. You want just a few drops of the substance you are testing, and then place a few drops of your indicator into it and record your observations.

If you drip this liquid into a substance that is basic, it will turn green, and if you drip it into an acid it turns bright pink. (Neutral solutions will stay purple). Have fun checking a variety of household liquids!

Time: 40 minutes for the sausages, about 15 minutes for the slaw or less if you are using a food processor.

Oven: 400F

Serves: 2-3

You will need:

  • 350 g (about 4 cups) red cabbage thinly sliced
  • 200 g (about 3 cups) green cabbage thinly sliced
  • 140 g (1 large) carrot grated
  • 3 salt and pepper sausages (can be found at Maltese if you are in Thunder Bay) or 3 mildly flavoured sausages of your choice
  • 1 clove garlic finely minced
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) safflower or olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tbsp (37 ml) pure maple syrup (don’t use maple flavoured whatever!)
  • 1/2 tbsp (7 ml) toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) smooth dijon mustard
  • 1/2 shallot, finely minced (about 1.5 tbsp)
  • 1 clove of garlic finely minced
  • a few grinds of fresh pepper

Heat oven to 400F while you make the dressing.

Whisk together all dressing ingredients. This makes about 1 cup of dressing.

Thinly slice cabbages and grate carrot. I used a food processor today, but have often just sliced by hand. Dress slaw in half of the dressing and refrigerate and reserve the other half of the dressing. (This is fine made ahead, but ensure you don’t add the toasted sesame seeds until serving)

Add 1 additional clove of garlic to the reserved dressing. Place sausages in a small casserole dish with the half cup of reserved dressing. Bake for 40 minutes, flipping them over periodically and basting in the dressing.

In a small frying pan, add the sesame seeds and toast over medium heat, shaking them up until golden- about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Add a generous amount slaw to each plate. When sausage is thoroughly cooked, slice on the bias and place on top of slaw. Sprinkle with a teaspoon or two of toasted sesame seeds.

 

Broccoli Potato Beer Soup

By Corinne

Life has been crazy. I hope you can forgive my slacking in the blogosphere. I’ve made a lot of great things, but those extra steps of taking pictures and writing things out has just been beyond what I’ve been able to do the last month or so!

It has also been freezing. The last two weeks it’s been colder in Thunder Bay than it has in the Arctic- like the actual north pole! We just got back from a few days of skiing where we had a high of about -30C everyday. Brrrrr… I have to say, that perhaps the one good thing about this wintery weather is soup.

Originally, I was feeling more of a cheddar beer soup… but we just spent 3 days eating out and I was really craving more veg. Plus, a cheddar soup is so much (delicious) cheese, but it’s January so everyone is trying to be good! Thus, I thought I would do a soup that was somewhere closer to being a little more virtuous and yet had the spirit of something more decadent.

This is quick to put together, is loaded with savory flavours, and vegan if you either omit the cheese or use a vegan shredded cheese to finish.

Time: about 10 min prep about 40 min total

Serves: 4

You will need:

  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1 large carrot diced
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2.5 cups russet potatoes diced with skin on
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 4 cups veggie broth (chicken broth would also work)
  • 1 can of beer (355ml, 12 fl oz) (I would recommend a ‘boring’ beer like a lager rather than an IPA. If you use something bitter and hoppy, the bitterness will really come through)
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard (I actually really like the President’s choice one)
  • 1 tsp your favourite hotsauce- I used Heartbeat hot sauce, our local hot sauce (dial this up if you’re feeling it)
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • 2 tbsp safflower or olive oil
  • Several generous grinds of fresh pepper and salt to taste
  • Shredded cheddar cheese for garnish if desired
  • * I didn’t have any, but it would be delightful with a hit of chives to finish!

Add 2 tbsp oil to a heavy bottomed pot on medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrot to pot. Cook for about 10 minutes, until you start getting some nice browned bits on the bottom. Add garlic and cook for about 1-2 minutes more until garlic is fragrant.

Deglaze pot with beer, scraping up those delicious browned bits. Add diced potatoes, and veggie broth. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes until potatoes are tender. Add the dijon, hot sauce, lemon zest, lemon juice, and several grinds of fresh pepper. Add the broccoli and boil for about another 6 minutes.

Use an immersion blender to blend soup to desired consistency, I like mine where there are still a few chunky bits left. Taste and adjust seasoning- adding more salt (depending on the saltiness of your broth, this may or may not be needed) more pepper or more hot sauce if you want to dial up the heat a bit.

This would be delightful topped with some fresh chives, but I forgot to buy them so had to go without. Top with cheese (vegan if desired) and enjoy with garlic toasts!

 

 

Osso Buco

20171015_175758.jpgBy Corinne

Osso buco is is Italian for “bone with a hole”. Traditionally this dish is made with veal shanks, but also works well with beef shanks, or even lamb shanks. It reminds me of beef short ribs, in that it’s a dish that is perfect for company as it looks impressive but is considerably hands off. You can even prep everything the day before, and refrigerate overnight, and just bring your braising liquid to a boil on the stovetop before putting into the oven.

Gremolata is a delightful, bright, garnish that I tend to only make for this dish, but every time I do I think I should use it for other things.

There are a few alterations from this and a more traditional osso buco. I don’t dredge the meat in flour before browning, because I’ve found I always end up with too much burnt flour bits. If you use a bit of oil the shanks will brown up nicely even without the flour. I also skip the step of putting my fresh herbs in cheesecloth- really, it’s pretty easy to remove them at the end of cooking so I find the step of creating a little bouquet garni to be an unnecessary step.

I always save all of the cooking liquid/veg, freeze it in containers and use it as a base for future gravy on days I’ve made something where I want gravy but haven’t made a roast or what not – think poutine 😉

Time: 20 minute prep, 2 hours cook

Serves: 4

You will need:

  • 4 veal or beef shanks
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, small dice
  • 1 medium carrot small dice
  • 1 large stalk of celery, small dice
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups of dry white wine, divided (I use chardonnay)
  • 2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock – I used this veggie bouillon
  • 1 large sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 2 large sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper
    For gremolata
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley minced
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 small clove garlic finely minced

Preheat the oven 300F.

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large dutch oven on medium high until almost smoking. Pat shanks dry (they will brown better) and season with salt and pepper on each side. Add shanks to dutch oven, browning on each side- about 2-3 minutes per side. Don’t over crowd your pot or they will steam rather than brown. You may have to do this one at a time depending on the size of your shanks and your pot. Set them aside on a plate. You may need to add the additional oil between shanks.

While browning the shanks, dice onion, carrot, celery and set aside.

When shanks are finished, add onion, carrot, celery to the pot. Cook for a minute or two, and then slowly add 1 cup of wine to the pot to deglaze, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Simmer veg in white wine until wine has almost entirely reduced and been absorbed by the veg.

Add 4 cloves of minced garlic. Stir for an additional minute, ensuring that you do not burn the garlic. Add the two tbsp of tomato paste and stir into the vegetables. Add the other cup of white wine, and 2 cups of chicken or veggie stock. Add the sprigs of rosemary and thyme and then put the shanks and any juice on the plate back in the pot. Your shanks should be mostly submerged in liquid, but if there are a few bits sticking out that’s ok. Place lid on pot and place in oven on middle rack.

After 1 hour, remove from oven and move shanks around ensuring that any bits that were above the liquid are now under it. Return to oven for one more hour.

For the gremolata, finely mince 3 tbsp fresh parsley, mix with zest of one lemon and one small clove of garlic finely minced and set aside until ready to serve.

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When shanks are done (they should be very tender) remove from oven. Remove sprigs of thyme and rosemary. Remove bay leaves. Serve over risotto. At this point, you can either spoon over some of the cooking liquid and veg as is, or you can use an immersion blender and blend into a smoother gravy.  Garnish with gremolata. Don’t forget that the bone marrow is supposed to be the most delicious part!