Tag Archives: vegetarian

A taste for tofu

13 Feb

Though tofu is much less maligned than it was when I first developed an interest in diversifying my protein sources over ten years ago, I still meet people with a real hate-on for my beloved bean curd. The thing is, tofu doesn’t have much flavour at all; it’s more about giving tofu a taste you enjoy than it is about developing a taste for tofu. Tofu haters don’t last long in the face of the delicious dish I’m about to introduce you to.

If you’re shaking your head in dismay and thinking “the texture is the problem”, rest assured: fresh tofu is available in a variety of textures. The most common are soft/silken tofu, which is usually sold in boxes, and firm/cotton tofu, which is usually sold vaccuum-packed (in larger grocery stores) or stored in buckets of water (in smaller/specialty stores). The latter can more easily be eaten with chopsticks and doesn’t jiggle like the former.

Vacuum-packed, cotton-style tofu

Vacuum-packed, cotton-style tofu

It’s the kind of tofu involved in this recipe, and I encourage you to try it out and see what you think. It just may change your mind about tofu forever (you’re welcome).

Faced with this?

Cubed tofu

Cubed tofu

Gather the following 4 ingredients for a marinade…

Marinade ingredients

Marinade ingredients (aka Why I'm a Librarian and Not a Food Stylist)

and transform it into this (see recipe below):

Cooked tofu

Ginger-garlic tofu

The best thing about this tofu dish is its versatility. You can add it to spinach salad for some extra flavour and protein. You can toss it in a stir fry. You can pile on some corn kernels…

Tofu with corn kernels

and a generous helping of mashed potatoes…

Tofu, corn, mashed potatoes

then stick the baking dish back in the oven on broil for a few minutes and have a delicious non-shepherd’s pie.

Non-shepherd's pie

Non-shepherd's pie

Serve with salad for a complete meal!

Eat your greens at every meal

Complete meal

That’s cranberry juice, btw.

You can also serve this tofu straight-up in lieu of the meat in a meat-and-potatoes dinner (move over, tofurkey). ‘Cause eating well is all about options. Without further ado…

Ginger-Garlic Tofu

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp tamari
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1 block firm/cotton tofu, cubed

Method:
1) Mix all ingredients except tofu in a baking dish
2) Add the cubed tofu to the marinade and mix to coat evenly
3) Let sit for 15 minutes
4) Cook on 350F-400F for 10-15 minutes, until tofu is browned

Advertisements

Pumpkin pie perfection

3 Nov

Hello blogosphere!

My name is Alison, and I currently reside in Winnipeg. I don’t know how it feels where you are, but it is most certainly, undeniably fall here. And fall really makes me want to do three things:

1) knit

2) drink tea and

3) bake delicious, spicy, wholesome foods

Since this is a blog dedicated to yummy foods made by library folk, I have decided to share my first pumpkin pie baking experience.

It began with me heading to the Organic market; sadly, they didn’t have pumpkins yet, so this baby hails from Superstore.  I brought my orange baby home, and opened my laptop and went right to Martha Stewart’s web site. Regardless of how you may feel about her, one cannot deny the woman is a genius in the kitchen. I also feel her recipes are really easy to follow, and every one I have used has turned out super yum. I grabbed this recipe from her site.

I began poking several holes around my pumpkin, placing it in about an inch of water, and shoving it in the oven. 45 minutes later, I had a steamed pumpkin.

Steamed Pumpkin

Steamed Pumpkin

Next, I cut off the top, peeled off the skin and cut the pumpkin into small chunks. I then used my food processor to mash it up.  It made a LOT of pumpkin puree.  Enough for seven pies and at least two batches of pumpkin cookies (to be made on a later date).

Pumpkin Pieces

Pumpkin Pieces

For the crust, I elected to use the Press In recipe Martha suggested. It’s an easy shortbread crust and it’s super tasty. Though, don’t use a mixer. I tried on my first go (I know I shouldn’t have, I just really wanted to get the crust going) and it pretty much failed. It turned all gooey. The second go around was a lot more successful. The dough was pretty crumbly, which made me concerned that it would end up dry and sandy, but it didn’t. It ended up absorbing moisture from the pie filling.

Press In Shortbread Pie Crust

Press In Shortbread Pie Crust

Next, I began the pie filling. Om nom nom!  I threw together the pumpkin, heavy cream, sugar, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and eggs in a large bowl and whisked it. After tasting it, I thought it needed more allspice and cinnamon.  I added twice as much.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

Pumpkin Pie Filling

Pre-Oven Pumpkin Pie

Pre-Oven Pumpkin Pie

I then stuck the pies in the oven for 60 mins. After pulling them out, I waited about an hour before I gave them a taste. They were pretty good, but the next day they were really good!

Pumpkin Pie Slice

Pumpkin Pie Slice

Overall, this was a very easy, yummy recipe.  My first attempt at pumpkin pie turned out a success! You should note, I made a double recipe, which made seven pies. There were six mighty happy people after I made this. 😉

Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed my post and as Julia would say, Bon appetit! 🙂

Alison Pattern

Check out Alison’s bio on the Contributors page.

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.

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.

    Breakfast for dinner with ice cream for dessert

    13 Sep

    In my experience, grad school introduces heightened drama into the least suspecting of adult lives. For those of you pursuing an MLIS or other graduate degree, I offer the following antidote: breakfast for dinner with ice cream for dessert. Here is how it’s done.

    First, assemble friends. In my time of need this summer, I was lucky to have two fabulous fellow librarians-in-training at the ready to lend a hand (and share the spoils) in this important mission.

    Next, set the table. Despite being students on a tight budget, we had some lovely placemats at our disposal, plus a stand-out bowl from Anthropologie, which we used to hold our grapes. Note how these contribute to the final spread:

    Crepes, fruit, ice cream

    On to the breakfast, crêpes or pancakes being my preferred choice. If you’re without a favourite recipe, I recommend my grand-maman’s crêpes or Williams-Sonoma’s Blueberry-Buttermilk Pancakes. Whip them up and keep them warm while you tackle the ice cream, or prepare both in tandem with your pals.

    Crepes cooking
    In order to create a homemade version of the treat you thought you simply loved but are about to discover you can’t live without, I suggest that you beg for, borrow, or buy an ice cream maker. You’ll need to freeze it for a full 24 hours before pouring the combined ingredients into it. Sound high-maintenance? Trust me, it’s worth it. Beyond the unparalleled taste of homemade ice cream, there’s the thrilling process of watching liquid ingredients slowly transform into this beloved standby of comfort foods before your very eyes thanks to the freezing and mixing mechanisms of the maker.

    Here’s a breakdown, with visuals:

    1) Prepare the fruit and other ingredients (we relied on a simple recipe for Strawberry Peach Ice Cream that came with the mixer, using both puréed and chopped fruit for added flavour and texture)

    Preparation of ice cream ingredients

    2) Pour the combined ingredients into the frozen ice cream maker

    Pouring the ice cream mix into the mixer

    3) Mix the ice cream, slowly and gradually (oh, the suspense!)

    4) Monitor the texture, which will indicate when the ice cream is ready to be served

    Ice cream frozen to perfection

    Then comes the best part…

    Eat.

    Crepes

    Observe how goodness wipes badness away.

    Eat some more.

    Ice cream

    Count your blessings.

    Repeat.

    ♥ ♥ ♥

    With special thanks to Aliya Dalfen and Judith Logan

    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.

    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