Monthly Archives: June 2011

Vegan Black Bean and Yam Enchiladas with Mole Sauce

Spicy, cheesy, creamy, rich and saucy enchiladas. Vegan, but you'd never know it!

 Enchiladas, so nice and hot! Enchiladas, I got I got!

When I went to Oaxaca, I ate enchiladas with mole for almost every meal. Not eating meat, I was pretty limited. Nevertheless, I fell in love with those cheesy, saucy morsels. Corn tortillas filled with stringy Oaxaca cheese and slathered with rich, chocolatey, spicy mole made for many a fine meal.

Intimidated by the rather daunting ingredients lists for traditional mole recipes, I never took the plunge and actually made my own. Happily, while perusing the adorable blog, Scissors and Spice, I stumbled across a recipe for easy mole, thus inspiring me to whip up some enchiladas tonight. This sauce comes together using ingredients from your pantry, which is always nice when you find yourself wondering what the heck to make for dinner.

These puppies are vegan and gluten-free, but I am pretty sure you could coax any type of -vore to have them for dinner! They are delicious, and taste even better the next day.

Saucy!

If you or your loved ones are sensitive to spice, reduce the chili powder and red pepper flakes. I found the mole spicy, but not crazy spicy.

Mole Ingredients:

1 tbsp. olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 a small white onion, diced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1 1/2 tbsp. chili powder

1 tbsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. cayenne

1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 tbsp. cocoa powder

1/2 cup Hunt’s tomato sauce (or other plain tomato sauce)

3/4 cup water

2 tsp. salt

Enchilada Ingredients:

1 large yam

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

salt and pepper

1 can black beans (I opened a 19 0z can, but did not use it all)

8 small corn tortillas

1 cup (approximately) of Daiya vegan cheese (I mixed the Mozzarella and Pepperjack flavours)

Directions:

Make the mole! Heat oil on medium-low in a medium saucepan. Add garlic, onion and bell pepper and fry until the onions are translucent. Add in spices and cocoa powder, frying for a few minutes. Stir in the water and simmer for a few minutes. Add the tomato sauce and salt. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until the sauce is your desired thickness. Blend with an immersion blender, if you wish.

Preheat oven to 350°. While mole is cooking, cook the yam. I find the easiest way is to wash it, poke holes in it with a fork, and put it in a covered bowl or wrap it in paper towel. I then microwave it on high for about 10 minutes, until it is very soft. Let the yam cool, then peel it and mash in a bowl with garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Rinse and drain black beans and set aside.

Heat the tortillas in the microwave for 1 minute, to make them more pliable and cooperative.

Assemble the enchiladas! Spoon a little mole into an 8 x 8 pyrex baking pan. Dip a tortilla in mole and fill it with a smear of yam, a spoonful of black beans, and a sprinkle of Daiya. Roll it up and smush it into the pan. Repeat until all tortillas are filled and are snugly in the pan.

Pour the remaining mole over the enchiladas, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with a little more Daiya. Cover with foil and bake for half an hour.

Serve with guacamole and Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream, if desired.

Serves 3. If feeding a family, double it!

Holy mole!

PS. Thanks to Melissa from Swapmeat for pointing out the sizing issue of my images. I tried to fix it this time around, so hopefully these photos don’t appear stretched for anyone!

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16 Comments

Filed under Condiments and Sauces, Dinner

Creamy Coconut Chickpea Curry

Have a bowl of belly-warming, soul-satisfying Thai-style curry.

I am feeling a little under the weather today and the, well, weather is not helping. It is a gloomy sort of day and the sky is full of indecision. Will it rain? Will the sun decide to grace us with its elusive presence? It’s ok. I’ll just stay in, reread The Great Gatsby  and cook instead. Day well spent.

Happily, for me anyway, cloudy days like this are the best for my food photos. My house has zero natural light, so I always trudge outside with my finished product and snap away. I am sure the neighbours think I am insane.

Today feels like a comfort food kind of day, so I present you with one of my favourite quick lunch or dinner dishes. It is a Thai-inspired chickpea coconut curry that comes together in a jiffy, but packs a flavourful punch, thanks to this vegan and gluten-free jarred Thai Red Curry Paste.And coconut milk. Can you tell how obsessed I am with the stuff yet?

Coconut Chickpea Curry and Friends. Fragrant broth.

This is a rich, slightly spicy, garlic-infused (I hate the word “garlicky”) chickpea curry inspired by my favourite Thai flavours. Delicious served over brown rice, or your favourite asian rice noodles. When cooking with a wok, it is a really good idea to prep all your ingredients first. I was stubborn about this because I am disorganized by nature, but have finally succumbed to preparing ahead.

Note: My lovely sister has brought the issue of spiciness to my attention. Different brands of red curry paste have different levels of spice. I recommend tasting a tiny bit of the paste first. My curry had a little kick, but I wouldn’t say it was spicy. Hers turned out spicy. So check it out, and use your judgement.

Ingredients:

1 tbsp oil (I used coconut oil because it does well with high heat. Vegetable oil would be fine.)

1 tsp to 1 tbsp Thai red curry paste (Depending on how spicy it is. I used 1 tbsp.)

1/2 a large white onion, cut in 1-inch pieces

1 orange bell pepper, cut in 1-inch pieces

1 19 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 carrot, grated

1/2 lb baby bok choy, ends trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces if necessary

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbsp chopped fresh basil

1 cup canned full-fat coconut milk (Use light if you want.)

1/2 cup vegetable broth (I always use bouillon powder mixed in water, as it’s cheaper)

salt to taste

Cooked brown rice or rice noodles of your choice.

Directions:

In a wok, heat oil on med-high heat until hot. Add red curry paste and stir until fragrant. Watch out for spitting oil!

Add bell peppers and onions. Fry for 2 minutes while stirring.

Add vegetable broth, and let cook for 3 minutes while stirring.

Add chickpeas, carrot, garlic and coconut milk. Turn the heat up and cook for 5 minutes, so the chickpeas get a little softer.

Add bok choy and toss well. Cook another 2 minutes.

Add the basil and toss. Taste for salt. I added a little sprinkle. Done!

Enjoy over cooked brown rice or rice noodles of your choice. Serve garnished with fresh basil, if you like. Experiment with a squeeze of lime, although I actually preferred it without.

Serves 4. Curl up with a bowl of tummy-warming goodness.

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Filed under Dinner

Vegan Beer Cheese Soup with Potatoes and Cabbage

Vegan Beer Cheese Soup, served with...beer.

Is a vegan beer cheese soup possible? This is something I have been wondering about for a long time, for some reason.  To be honest, I don’t even think I have tasted a real beer cheese soup, but I like beer and certainly used to like cheese! Loved it, in fact. After being without it for ten months (!), however, I find that nutritional yeast blended with the right ingredients really satisfies that umami craving.

So, when I came across this recipe for Cheesy Cabbage Potato Soup on Melomeals, I was pretty excited. The first time I made it, I left out some ingredients and it was still phenomenal. But then I started thinking about the addition of beer. Beer and “cheese” seemed like a pretty spectacular combo. It also struck me as kind of German.

I am half German, as my dad was born in a small town on the Rhein. As such, I have a wonderful Oma. She is a remarkable woman that I deeply admire and also happens to be a fantastic cook. She manages to make everything taste good, partly thanks (I suspect) due to the addition of bacon. Yep, Germans aren’t exactly known vegans.

When my sister (also a vegetarian) and I visit her, she makes an effort to accommodate our annoying dietary needs. She stocks up on things like veggie ground round and hunts for recipes that we can eat. Last time I was there, she was even eating hemp hearts daily!

As I made this soup, I thought of my Oma and her wonderful soups. She starts many meals with a flavourful bowl of potato or noodle soup and always insists on us taking seconds, even thirds if we can handle it! A week with Oma means being stuffed and spoiled rotten.

So, although this soup tastes nothing like any of hers, I thought it would be a good one to serve to my dad this Sunday for Father’s Day. Papa, if you’re reading this, I hope you’re game for a veganized, vaguely German classic!

Vegan Beer Cheese Soup. Vaguely German, but not very photogenic.

Confession: I intended on using gluten-free beer, but ended up using Old Milwaukee, which is NOT gluten-free. It is, however, vegan. Click here to check out vegan-friendly beers. Also, I ended up having to add quite a bit of additional salt, which I did not measure. So, add salt to taste, or use veggie broth instead of water and omit the added bouillon. If you do try this recipe, feel free to leave a comment below and tell us about how you tweaked it. Together, I believe we can make the yummiest beer cheese soup ever!

Soup Ingredients:

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 1/2 large white onions, chopped

3 small carrots (around 1 cup), chopped

8 cups shredded green cabbage (most of a smallish head)

4 potatoes, cut in bite-size pieces

7 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme

5 tsp. bouillon powder

1 bay leaf

6 cups boiled water

salt and pepper

1 bottle or can gluten-free beer

“Cheese” Ingredients:

1 block lite silken tofu

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbsp. tahini

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1 lemon, juiced

1 tbsp. cider vinegar

1 1/2 tbsp. tamari

sprinkle salt

Directions:

In a large pot, heat olive oil on medium low. When hot, add onions, carrot, thyme, and a sprinkle of salt. Sauté until onions are translucent.

Add garlic, potatoes and cabbage, turning heat up to medium. Let the veggies cook while you boil a kettleful of water.

When kettle has boiled, add 6 cups hot water, bouillon, and bay leaf and turn heat to high.

Once the soup is back up to a boil, cover and turn heat to low, simmering for 20-25 minutes, until potatoes are soft.

While soup is simmering, make your “cheese”. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor until very smooth. I blended mine, and had to add a little bit of water to unstick it.

Once potatoes are soft, take the pot off the heat and let cool for a few minutes. Stir in beer, followed by the “cheese”. Set blender aside, without rinsing. Add salt and pepper to taste. I added quite a bit of salt at this point.

If you want a thicker soup like I did,  blend 4 cups in the still-“cheesy” blender. Gets all that good stuff out!

Genießen! (Enjoy, according to Google translate)

Makes a large pot of soup. You may want to halve this recipe if you don’t want a lot of leftovers.

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Filed under Soups

Vegan Coconut Mango Pudding

A taste of the tropics in a teacup!

I really keep meaning to do more dinner and main course posts. Really, I do. But my insatiable craving for sweets after dinner seems to be inspiring me more than, say, cravings for vegan stews and stir-fries.

I had a bunch of coconut milk in my fridge that needed to be used, to be fair. And I don’t know if I’ve already mentioned it, but I am borderline obsessed with coconut. When you don’t eat dairy, it really can be a godsend when you desire something creamy and fatty. So, I consume coconut in some form every day.

On that note, So Delicious coconut milk ice cream is amazing! It’s not health food, as its fat and calorie content is similar to that of regular ice cream, but it somehow has good fibre content and I find that I do not overindulge in it like I did with dairy ice cream. Plus, they have a vegan, gluten-free cookie dough flavour!

I digress. This creamy, yet firm, pudding was born of a coconut craving and inspired my decision to stop being cheap and finally buy some agar powder, which is made of seaweed and is a vegan gelatin substitute. I paid $11 for a bag of it, but it’s going to last a long time. Unless I make puddings like this every day.

Vegan pudding for dessert! Go ahead and satisfy that craving.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups full-fat canned coconut milk

1 ripe mango, peeled and cubed

2 tbsp. agave, honey or sugar (I used agave)

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. agar powder

Directions:

In a saucepan, whisk coconut milk, agave, vanilla and agar powder together and bring to a boil over high heat.

Once boiling, turn heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes, whisking every so often to make sure the agar dissolves and doesn’t get lumpy.

Combine the coconut mixture with the mango in a blender and blend until the mixture is a smooth, uniform liquid.

Pour into small bowls, or cute teacups, and chill in the fridge for an hour until firm.

Makes around 4 servings, depending on how big your bowls or teacups are. 

Coconut Mango Pudding with Strawberry and Mint

4 Comments

Filed under Desserts

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

If summer were a quinoa salad...

Weather befitting late spring has been a little lacking here in Vancouver. But I am not daunted. I bring summer to my plate! I bought my first barbecue about a month ago, and the novelty has yet to wear off. How could it? This miraculous contraption transforms humble vegetables into a feast for the senses. Zucchini, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes and corn become delectably juicy and soul-satisfying morsels that simply scream “summer is here!”

But you probably already knew that. It is no secret that grilling food takes it to another level. I’m just new at it.

I am reminded of an article,  Chris Dummitt’s “Finding a Place for Father: Selling the Barbecue in Post-war Canada,” from one of my history classes. Dummitt argues that men in post-war Canada were expected to be more than just the family’s breadwinner, despite the usual 1950s gender stereotypes.  He argues that a father was supposed to participate in family life and the barbecue was marketed as the gendered space in which he could achieve that. Dummitt finds that after the Second World War, advertisers cultivated the idea that barbecuing was a manly activity,  underlining the fact that all other cooking activities were women’s work: when a man barbecued, he made a special, celebrated appearance in food preparation.

I remember enjoying Dummitt’s article and being amused by the thought of some sort of high-level conspiracy to convince men that cooking for one’s family is okay, as long as heavy-duty tools, fire and meat are involved. I also couldn’t help but wonder if men and people in general just like cooking with fire. Did they need extensive ad campaigns to convince the Canadian public that barbecuing is awesome?

I find it interesting that barbecuing is still a somewhat gendered activity. It certainly was last night at my house! Jack manned the barbecue while I prepared the side dishes, such as this summery Mediterranean Quinoa salad. It combines a lot of the flavours I enjoy, and is a great way to get a little more protein and fibre-rich quinoa into your diet!

Olives, tomatoes, fresh basil, fennel, bell peppers, quinoa. These are a few of my favourite things!

Ingredients:

3 cups cooked quinoa, cooled (I always add salt or bouillon while cooking)

1 yellow bell pepper, cut in bite-size pieces

20 cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup jarred pitted kalamata olives, halved

1 1/2 cups fennel, thinly sliced and roughly chopped

1 clove garlic,  finely minced

1 cup fresh basil, finely chopped and loosely packed

3/4 cup italian parsley, finely chopped and loosely packed

1/2 a lemon, juiced

2 tbsp. cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. salt

fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions:

Combine everything in a bowl and toss well.

Taste, and add more salt, pepper and lemon as you think best. I added a little more salt.

If possible, make this salad a couple hours before serving so the flavours can combine.

Enjoy!

Served 9 people as a salad course, with a little left over. Tastes good the next day too! This would be a great nutritious lunch to take to work.

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Filed under Salads and Sides

Tova’s Banana Bread Pancakes

Tova, lulled into a pancake-induced bliss

My almost three year old sister Tova has been obsessed with banana bread for a good portion of her wee life, and I certainly don’t blame her. It’s delicious! Another newer obsession of hers is making pancakes with me when I stop by for a visit. She loves dragging her stool to the counter and carefully whisking and pouring the ingredients into the bowl. After gently frying the golden medallions of batter, we enjoy them together. She eats one, and then I end up eating the rest, unfortunately. But making pancakes has been a good way for us two sisters to bond, with a shared love of cooking bridging the age gap between us.

Yesterday I dropped by for a minute and was greeted exuberantly by Tova with a “Yay! Yet’s make PANCAAAAAAAAKES!” When I told her no, promising that we would make them the next day, she proceeded to cry her heart out, sobbing dramatically.

So, today we made pancakes. Instead of our usual pancakes with pink sprinkles, I decided that we would create some banana bread pancakes and she happily acquiesced. Kissed with cinnamon and with the addition of maple syrup on top, they do taste like banana bread, only more textured due to a healthy dose of buckwheat flour. Moist and dense, these are not the fluffiest pancakes. Instead, they are hearty, picky kid-approved pancakes that are fun to make and eat with the little (or big) kid in your life!

Ingredients: 

1/3 cup brown rice flour

1/3 cup buckwheat flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

pinch salt

3/4  cup non-dairy milk or water

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tbsp. oil

1 ripe banana, mashed

Directions:

Preheat a non-stick pan on medium-low temperature.

Whisk dry ingredients together in a bowl. (Tova did this really well!)

Whisk wet ingredients together in a separate bowl.

Pour wet ingredients into the dry. (Tova said: “That smells yummy!”) Whisk until just combined.

Optional Tova step: Eat some batter. (“I like yicking the batter.”)

With a 1/8 cup scoop, pour batter into pan. I did two pancakes at a time, flipping when bubbles formed.

Enjoy with maple syrup or other topping of your choice!

Makes 11 small pancakes.

Tova, pancake chef extraordinaire!

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Filed under Breakfast

Health(ier) Chocolate Banana Muffins

Agave-sweetened chocolate banana muffins. Three for me, one for you! Unless you make your own batch.

I admire people who are just stubborn enough to know and get what they want in life. Self-assuredness, extroversion and determination are qualities I would love to have, however, most of the time I tend to accept things the way they are and assume that everything happens for some unknown reason. I am pliable to the rhythm of the world.

Not so in the kitchen, a smaller, more insular world in which my creativity and I are sovereign. I love rummaging around in the fridge and imagining concoctions out of seemingly unrelated ingredients.

Cooking is one thing, but baking is another and was never something I was exceedingly gifted at. So, when I stopped baking with wheat flour, some bizarre things came out of my oven. Spiced pumpkin loaf that neither rose nor lost any moisture comes to mind. We politely choked down half of it before donating it to the dumpster.

Then I discovered my all-time favourite blog, Gluten-Free Goddess. Every recipe of Karina’s that I have made has been outstanding and the way she manipulates gluten-free flours is nothing short of miraculous. But when I first started using her recipes for baked goods, my stubbornness reared its ugly head. My pantry wasn’t as well-stocked with the appropriate flours as it is now, so I made reckless substitutions, thinking I knew best and forgetting that baking is more a science than an art. I used only rice flour. Or replaced flour with flax meal, resulting in weird, heavy cakes and muffins that in no way resembled Karina’s delightfully airy creations.

If I could give the me from the past some advice on gluten-free baking, it would be:

  1. Don’t be cheap! Stock your pantry with various gluten-free flours, as combining them in recipes yields the best results. If you use only rice flour, your muffin will have a grainy, chalky texture. My current flour favourites are buckwheat, sorghum, brown rice, and quinoa. Buy in bulk, and avoid Whole Foods if you’re on a budget.
  2. Don’t make rash substitution decisions until you’ve gotten more comfortable with gluten-free baking. It’s easier to screw up and you’ll end up with many disappointing results.
  3. Listen to the Gluten-Free Goddess. She knows all.
This recipe is one of the first muffin recipes that I have modified that actually came out delicious! These vegan and gluten-free chocolate banana muffins taste so good, I don’t think anyone would guess that they’re a healthier version of the classic. I am not claiming these to be “health” muffins, as they are a sweet treat, however they contain less fat and more fibre than the average wheat flour chocolate banana muffin and are sweetened with agave. But if you want to tell yourself that they’re a health muffin while you indulge in your second (or third, in my case), go right ahead.  No judgement here.

Trayful of chocolatey banananess.

Dry Ingredients:
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup dairy-free dark chocolate chips
Wet Ingredients: 
1/2 cup agave
1/4 cup light-tasting oil (this time, I melted Earth Balance buttery flavour spread. Vegan, but not necessarily the healthiest choice.)
3/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 tbsp. vanilla
3 overripe bananas, mashed
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° and line a 12-muffin tin with baking cups.
Whisk all dry ingredients together in a large bowl, except the chocolate chips.
Whisk all wet ingredients in a liquid measuring cup, except the mashed bananas.
Slowly pour the wet mixture into the dry, mixing a little at a time with a wooden spoon. Stir until just combined. Do not over mix as this will result in a sad, flat muffin. The batter will be somewhat stiff; do not be alarmed.
Fold in the chocolate chips and mashed banana until the batter is uniform.
Fill baking cups almost to the top with batter. Smooth batter with a wet finger so the muffins look pretty. Optional: place a few chocolate chips on top to make them more attractive (and chocolatey).
Bake 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Mine took 30 minutes.
Cool in pan for about 10 minutes, then transfer muffins to a cooling rack.
Enjoy! They are divine eaten warm, but also keep well in an airtight container or individually wrapped and frozen. They did not last long in my house.

Kindly note the gooeyness and non-hockey puck texture of this gluten-free vegan baby.

Makes roughly 14 muffins. I know it’s an awkward number, but I take one for the team and eat two, so that I’m left with an even dozen. 
Recipe based on this one at Nutritious Foodie. 

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Filed under Muffins