Tag Archives: recipes

My Obsession with Aux Vivres’ Dragon Bowl Sauce

19 Oct

by Marsha Taichman

If you know me, and we eat together at a restaurant  more than once, we will probably go to
Aux Vivres (4631 St. Laurent Boulevard in Montreal) if I have my way. This is the sad truth for my friends (all three of them). As far as I am concerned, everything there is tasty and nothing hurts my stomach because there is no dairy to be found anywhere, and I am lactose- intolerant. The restaurant/cafe serves fresh and often organic foods and is a proudly vegan institution. The food is so delicious there is no need to apologize for its meatless-ness or mimic meat and dairy, but they do have a lot of foods that feature creams made from tofu or nuts, and tempeh bacon and tofu scrambles are popular items on their weekend brunch menu. My boyfriend and favourite dining companion, Henry, pictured below, always gets the BLT on chapatti bread, which is composed of lettuce, tomato and smoked coconut with a white spread that is reminiscent of good old mayonnaise.

Henry

Henry and his BLT on chapatti bread

The sandwich is smoky, salty deliciousness. Every week there are specials that showcase seasonal items, and recently they had a beet latke plate and sweet potato burritos.

I order the same thing every time I go to Aux Vivres, which is the Dragon Bowl. Just typing “the same thing every time” makes me feel a little, how do you say, boring. In my defense, I have ordered other dishes there, thoroughly enjoyed them, and then pined for the Dragon Bowl all the way home. It is a bowl of organic brown rice topped with piles of fresh vegetables: spiraled beets, shredded carrots, chopped lettuce, two kinds of sprouts, and daikon radish. This mound of goodness is sprinkled with gomashio (unhulled black and white sesame seeds and salt) and is served with Dragon Bowl sauce, which is liquid gold.

dragon bowl

dragon bowl

I eat the vegetables and rice in the Dragon Bowl because they are a vehicle for said sauce. You can purchase it bottled at Aux Vivres, but then you have to cut up all the vegetables and cook the rice and I figure I will never be able to do it as well as they do (I have yet to invest in a mandolin for that perfectly thin daikon slicing), so I am happy to pay about ten dollars to feel like someone is looking after me for an hour or so.

Recently, my friend Lorie pointed me to a recipe for Dragon Bowl sauce written by the talented jae steele, who used to make Aux Vivres’ desserts. Her sauce calls for:

1/4 cup nutritional yeast
3 tbsp grapeseed or olive oil
2 tbsp. maple syrup
2 tbsp. tamari soy sauce
2 tbsp. filtered water
1 large or 2 medium cloves garlic

Blend all ingredients with a hand blender, or in a blender or food processor. Makes enough sauce for 3 Dragon Bowls. Store any leftovers in a sealed glass jar in the fridge for up to 1 week.

This version is good, but not as good as the one I long for when it’s been a while since my last fix. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that I used regular soy sauce rather than tamari soy sauce, and my olive oil might be a little off. Next time I will follow the recipe and maybe add a bit less than 2 tbsp. filtered water. But try it! Or just go to Aux Vivres and have a Dragon Bowl. You won’t be sorry. At least, I never am.

Check out Marsha’s bio on the Contributors page.

Advertisements

Can you can?

3 Oct

By Tara Thompson

You know canning food is not popular when you are in Real Canadian Superstore in mid-September and learn that all the canning supplies have been cleared to make room for Halloween candy. But never fear, I found my needed 250mL jars and proceed to continue our family tradition.

Canned tomatoes in the canner
Canned tomatoes in the canner

I remember going to my Gran & Poppa’s house every fall to can peaches and pears. We would all, usually about 5-6 of us, sit around a card table set up in their kitchen and proceed to blanch, peel, cut, pack, and process about 30 jars. I even remember my Mom making pickles and relish when I was a kid. When I met my husband, we incorporated his family’s tradition of canning tomatoes, making tomato/vegetable sauce, and creating jams. Now each year is a little different depending on what is needed (tomatoes and peaches) and what recipes strike our fancy (pickles and pickled pears).

Canned pears and peaches
Canned pears and peaches

I think that besides the tradition of  “this is what is done in the fall”, I like that I know exactly what is in the jars. It’s similar to when we make stocks; I can’t figure out why there is so much sodium in store bought stock, as we never add salt to stock. This made me think of tomato juice. Whenever I’ve tried any of the store bought tomato juice, I’ve found it too salty; maybe next year I’ll try making my own.

Canning isn’t complicated, but there are a number of steps. To get started, some basic supplies are needed:

  1. Mason Jars (we like large mouth jars)
  2. Two-piece lids (sealing disc & rim)
  3. Large pot to prepare the recipe in
  4. Canner (to hold the jars… water must cover the jars)
  5. Accurate measuring spoons and cups

When you find a recipe, follow it precisely and make sure that it is a modern recipe, current with today’s health guidelines.

This year’s new discovery was Pickled Pears (with a few adjustments for our tastes):

1 large lemon
8-1/2 cups water, divided
12 medium ripened Autumn Star pears (with red skins)
1-1/4 cups white sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar
4 to 6 bay leaves (1 for each jar)
12 to 24 pink peppercorns (4 for each jar)
12 to 24 green peppercorns (4 for each jar)

Prepare the canner, jars, and lids for canning.

  • Start the water boiling in your canner (it takes longer than you think).
  • Sterilize the jars by either submersing them in boiling water or the rinse cycle of the dishwasher.
    Also while you finish working keep the jars warm to keep them sterilized.
  • Sterilize the lids by keeping them in a small pot of hot water to soften the seals. To prevent them from sticking together, put them in the water opposite each other: bottoms together, tops together.

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the lemon peel from the lemon in one continuous spiral. Cut vertically into pieces (1 for each jar) and set aside.

Squeeze the lemon juice into a large bowl and add 4 cups of water.

Peel, quarter, and core the pears, placing them in the lemon juice solution to prevent discolouration.

Place the sugar, vinegar, and remaining 4 1/2 cups water along with the reserved lemon peel in a large pot and bring to a boil.

Drain the pears and add them to the boiling syrup. Return to a boil and remove from the heat. The syrup should be a pink colour (from the skins).

In each sterilized Mason jar, place 1 piece of lemon peel, 1 bay leaf, 4 pink peppercorns, and 4 green peppercorns. Pack the pears into the jars to within 3/4” of the top of the rim of the jar (headspace). Remove any air trapped in the jars by sliding a rubber spatula down the sides of the jar. Fill with syrup, to the 3/4″ headspace.

Wipe the jar rim with a clean damp cloth. Centre the canning lid on the jar. Apply the screw band (rim) and tighten until just finger tip tight.

Place the jars in the canner and when the water is boiling time the process for 10 minutes. The water should cover the jars by at least 1”.

When 10 minutes is up, remove the lid from the canner and wait 5 minutes before removing the jars. Place the jars on a tea towel or wooden board. Let cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours. Check that the jars have sealed properly: sealed lids curve downward. Remove screw bands and store them separately (we don’t do this, but it is to prevent moisture and rust). Wipe jars clean, label and store them in a cool dark place until ready to serve.

Makes 3X500mL jars or 6X250mL jars.

    Adapted from “Picture Perfect Pickles: Pickled Pears.” Harrowsmith Country Life. October 2009 (No. 208) pg 86 (also available online through EBSCO’s MasterFILE Premier – check your library’s e-resources!).

    Other canning recipes are available in many places.  Two good books that I found are:

    Put ‘em Up!: A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook from Drying and Freezing to Canning and Pickling by Sherri Brooks Vinton.

    You Can Can: A Guide to Canning, Preserving, and Pickling ed. Jan Miller

    Check out Tara’s bio on the Contributors page.

    A is for autumn, A is for apple

    25 Sep
    (and X is for waXing philosophical)

    The hordes are back at school, the suits are out in full force downtown, and the air is crisp – summer, alas, is waning.

    Autumn is my favourite season. Can you smell it? It smells like a fresh start, a clear head, a sweater, a pile of leaves, a freshly-stoked fireplace. It tastes like turkey, fresh cranberries, gourds of various shapes and sizes, and apples.

    Always, apples.

    One of the (many) strange (and in this case, lovely) things about being the child of an Anglican minister (well, of two Anglican ministers, but let’s just let that go for now, ok? Ok…) is that you get to discover new communities every time your parental unit is moved to a new parish. Thus we moved from the wilds of Laval (it was the wilds back then, sort of) to walks along the riverfront in Verdun, to fireworks in St Lambert, to the rolling hills of the Montérégie.

    We lived in Otterburn Park, nestled at the foot of Mont St. Hilaire (a mountain I climbed several times during our three years there). Were you to jump in a car and drive along Chemin de la Montagne, hugging Mont St. Hilaire’s south peak (as we did every Sunday), you would reach Rougemont, one of three points in my mother’s parish, and the heart of Quebec’s apple industry.

    No place ever spoke to me like Rougemont did. Granted, the small town had all the right Alex ingredients: a deserted, romantic graveyard, a picturesque, tiny church, a host of eccentric characters, and (let’s be honest here) horses. It also, of course, had orchards: orchards as far as the eye could see, leading up in pin-straight rows or haphazard zigzags to the Rougemont mountain itself. I learned a great deal about farming in those years: I saw early mornings and late nights, biting frost and blighting sun. I, less so than my mother but still enough to make an impression, was invited into the old farmhouses of Anglophone rural Quebec: butter churners and rocking chairs, wooden stools and hiking boots. I ate fresh corn on the cob, I bore witness to the most magnificent Thanksgiving altar displays; singing the hymn “Come Ye Thankful People Come” never had such humble significance. I also got my first shock from an electric fence, but never mind that now.

    I picked apples: up ladders and down. I ate apples: fresh apples, cooked apples, apple crisp, apple pie. I grew to love and respect the trees and their fruit; I could identify dozens of types of apples by smell and taste.

    I am lucky enough to still have a Rougemont farmer in my life; one of the lesser blessings is the bags of apples he brings me every autumn. I’ve moved from Otterburn, to Bedford, then Pointe Claire, and Montreal (2 apartments; 1 condo), and now Ottawa; the bags follow. There are few more happy phrases uttered than, “Alexandra, I’ve got some Cortlands for you!” Cortlands remain my favourites: their tart, crisp, clear white insides, and the way their red skins bleed a little when you cut them, are a constant marvel (wait, that sounds weird, doesn’t it? Have I been watching too many criminal dramas?). My mother favours Paula Reds; my husband likes Spy apples (which I turn my nose up as an Ontario apple). I hate nothing more than the wax they put on apples to give them a shine in the grocery store: those things look to me like the fruit equivalent of someone with a fake tan: why take a good thing to extremes? I am also a local cider fiend: the best, in my book, is Covey Hill’s own Mystique. An excellent article about the cider route in Quebec is here, featuring Rougemont’s most well-known cider-making resident, Michel Jodoin.

    In a life somewhat geographically schizophrenic, nothing takes me back to lazy teenage days in the country quite like a fresh bag of apples, tied tight and stowed in the car, promises to future autumn afternoons.

    Some apple factoids to crunch on:

    • Apple saplings came over to the New World with Champlain
    • That cad, Sir George Simpson, turned up on the shores of the most westerly HBC fort with apple seeds tucked into his vest pocket
    • McIntosh apples are as Canadian as, well, I’ll let you fill that blank in…: Every McIntosh can trace itself back to one discovered in 1811 by John McIntosh in Dundas County, Ontario.
    • Did you know that Canadian researchers analysed eight popular types of apples and found Red Delicious, Northern Spy and Ida Red had the most antioxidants? Guess I should play nice, then.
    • Apples should be stored in a cool, dark, slightly moist place: I put mine in the crisper drawer of the fridge, with a dark, wet tea towel completely covering them (yes, I chortle when I tuck them back in).

    My favourite apple crisp recipe (adapted from Nigella Lawson’s How to Be A Domestic Goddess  Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking and The Yoga Cookbook: Vegetarian Food for Body and Mind, by the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres):

    Filling ingredients:

    • 4 large apples, sliced into eighths, skin on
    • 25 g raisins
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
    • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

    Topping ingredients:

    • 60 g chopped walnuts
    • 2 1/2 cups granola (I swear by this stuff)
    • 1 1/4 cups flour
    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 1 2/3 cups honey and/or maple syrup (I like to mix both)

    Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Mix the filling ingredients together and transfer into an 8-inch square baking dish. Combine flour with butter, then honey and/or syrup and mix well. Stir the liquid mixture into the granola. Spoon the topping over the filling. Bake for 45 minutes.

    The joy of soup

    6 Sep

    By Jennifer O’Donnell

    This summer it’s been one great farmers’ market salad after another – garnished with delicious strawberries, raspberries, apricots, peaches and plums. But amidst all of my salad making, I hadn’t really noticed the vegetables so much.

    That changed a few days ago when I started reading Anna Thomas’ Love Soup. I’d been inspired when I heard about her on a blog – specifically, that the recipes for Love Soup had been created when she found herself living with a teeny tiny kitchen for several years while her house was being renovated.

    But in this time and teeny space, she continued to entertain her friends with homemade vegetarian food – especially soups.

    This resonated with me because my own kitchen right now seems so very small. I rushed out to get Love Soup (from the public library, of course). Anna’s recipes all look wonderful and she speaks so lovingly and passionately about farmers’ markets. The next day, bags in hand, I headed off to get the ingredients for her Basic Light Vegetable Broth and Sweet Corn Soup. Last night, I made the broth (along with an incredibly tasty dinner, but that’s another story). I’d forgotten my shopping list, but with a few minor substitutions, the broth smelled amazing.

    And today, I made the Sweet Corn Soup. I couldn’t believe how easy it was! All I had to do today was chop an onion and slice the kernels off the ears of corn. Seriously! Oh, and then I had to sauté the onion while the corn simmered in the broth. The bulk of my ‘cooking time’ was spent sitting, reading, and listening to the rain fall gently outside while the soup cooked. It was a little slice of heaven.

    I must admit that for a moment I was rethinking the wisdom of spending so much at the farmers’ market in order to make the broth and soup. After all, I still have student loans and am on a tight budget. “I’m just throwing the veggies out after the broth is made.  It seems like a waste,” I thought. “Maybe next time, I’ll just get less expensive veggies from the grocery store to make the broth…”

    But then… I tasted the soup. I had figured it would be good because it had so many fresh ingredients. It seemed too simple: the only things I’d put in the soup today were caramelised onion and corn kernels. Oh, and the broth. But my goodness, I wasn’t expecting such a rich, full-bodied taste! The flavours are blended together in the puree, and yet it seems as though I can detect each of the distinctive flavours of the soup and broth.

    True, I’ve only tried two recipes so far, but I can’t help but love Love Soup. I love Anna’s love of farmers’ markets. I love that her recipes are grouped by growing seasons. I love the detail in her recipes. I love that the recipes are all vegetarian (and that 66 of the 100 soup recipes are vegan). I can’t wait to try more. As I pack up the vegetable broth and Sweet Corn Soup to freeze, I can’t help but think what I’ll make tomorrow. I’m thinking Zucchini and Basil Soup.

    Hmmm… now to find a way to meet people in my new home town. These wonderful soups should definitely be shared!

    Check out Jennifer’s bio on the Contributors page.

    Really love your peaches, wanna shake your tree.

    1 Sep

    By Jessica Roy

    Peach season is here. It’s time to peach it up people! Of course, fresh local peaches are lovely all on their own but, like many things in life, they are even better when pizza is involved. Perhaps, like me, you are skeptical, having had a similarly bad fruit-pizza experience that you’d rather soon forget. Or, maybe you are concerned that I am unwittingly leading you into the wacky world of dessert pizza. Rest assured that peach pizza is nothing like these botched pizza experiments. I suggest that you brush your favorite thin crust homemade pizza dough with olive oil (if you like it crunchy like how I like it) and top it with thinly sliced peaches (marinated in a little lime juice and brown sugar), fresh basil leaves, arugula, bocconcini cheese and fresh ground pepper. I promise you won’t regret it and, afterwards, you can make peach and basil sangria with the leftover ingredients.

    This is what the end of summer tastes like. Pretty darn good.

    Peach pizza

    Peach pizza

    Check out Jessica’s bio on the Contributors page.

    A few words on gluten-free (G.F.) cooking

    28 Aug

    By Nancy Bertolotti

    Before you start preparing G.F. food there are some things you need to know.  First, if a product is not labeled “gluten-free” you may still be able to use it but should always check with the manufacturer to find out if it contains gluten.  Some products may not say they are gluten-free on the label but may be.  Others won’t.  Be wary because you also need to watch for contamination.  Anyone who bakes knows that flour has the ability to ‘fly’ around the kitchen and end up in places you would never suspect. For a person with celiac disease this is a problem.  Many of them can’t even have a crumb.  A gluten-free label means a product was processed or prepared in a separate facility where there is no possibility of contamination.  Another thing you need to be aware of if you are purchasing products that are not labeled gluten-free, is that suppliers of the ingredients for prepared foods often change.  In other words, one batch of something may be gluten-free while another may not.  The manufacturer of the prepared food should be able to tell you its status.  Check with them often.  Don’t just assume because you purchased this product before and it was gluten-free that it still is.

    Is it necessary for you to have a completely gluten-free kitchen?  No, it’s not, but I do recommend you clean all utensils just prior to use.  And if you are baking items that are not gluten-free on the same day, bake the gluten-free ones first.

    If you are on a gluten-free diet or you want to cook for someone who is, try this tasty Zucchini Bread.  You and they will love it!

    G.F. Zucchini Bread

    It’s zucchini season!  Every day I find a new zucchini ready to be picked from my garden and sometimes I find oversized ones that have been hidden under the large leaves of the zucchini plant.  The optimum size for picking is around 6 inches, but if your plants should get away from you, this recipe might help you use some of those extra large zucchinis.  It is an adaptation from a book I can’t recommend highly enough called The Gluten-Free Kitchen by Roben Ryberg (2000).

    Gluten-free zucchini bread

    Ingredients

    1 egg
    3 tbsp. oil
    2 tbsp. butter
    3/4 cup sugar
    1 tsp. vanilla
    1/2 cup potato starch
    3/4 cup cornstarch
    1 tbsp. baking powder
    3/4 tsp. baking soda
    1/4 tsp. salt
    3/4 tsp. xanthan gum
    1 tsp. cinnamon
    1/4 cup milk
    1 cup grated zucchini
    optional:  chopped walnuts  (Don’t forget to check with the manufacturer of the nuts.  Sometimes they use flour when roasting them.)

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In large bowl mix egg, oil, butter, sugar, and vanilla.  Add all remaining ingredients except zucchini and nuts.  Mix more – it will be thick.  Then add zucchini and nuts.  Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes.  Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.

    You will notice that baked goods that are gluten-free are a little more crumbly than non-gluten-free goods.  You will also want to wrap this shortly after cooling so it doesn’t dry out.  This loaf does freeze well and you may even want to cut it into pieces before freezing and then just extract the number of pieces you need when you need them, microwave them from frozen for 15 to 30 seconds and you have a ready-to-eat dessert for your guests who require gluten-free food.  This recipe also passed the test with family members who do not need to eat gluten-free.

    Enjoy!

    Check out Nancy’s bio and a link to her food blog on the Contributors page

    Lunchtime variety

    26 Aug

    Do you ever think, Argh, if I have to plan one more packed lunch I am so going to shoot myself in the head? Well, I do, and I can’t even complain that much, since I only have to prepare my own lunches.

    Every once in awhile, I just get utterly sick of lunch options. Moreover, my altruistic career choice of public librarian prevents me from chowing down at the Château every day (alas). I have more or less been riffing on “Salad variations” for the past year or so, except for my evening shifts, for which I try to pack something more substantial. I eat little meat, so I also always have nuts on hand.

    This week, even the spouse was feeling that the trusty regular choices just weren’t inspiring anymore, so something had to be done. I decided to whip us up some grilled sandwiches to pack and re-heat for lunch.

    File this one under: Recipes, Unlikely Sources for: I got this recipe for a Portobello Mushroom Sandwich from the Globe & Mail. It’s simply divine, and easy to make and simple to pack and re-heat (if you have a toaster oven at work; if not, I’m sure it’s lovely cold, too). This is an easy-peasy sandwich with few ingredients, and it tastes gourmet; it’s also a great pick for vegetarians. I like to use Première Moisson whole wheat bread instead of the baguette recommended above; this time, I used some lovely olive miche from Fidélice, patisserie fine.

    Warning: last time I warmed up this sandwich in the toaster oven at work, library staff flocked into the staffroom to hover over my food like vultures. The pesto smell will win over even the most reluctant nose. Bring a stick to beat back the masses if necessary.

    One delicious sammie