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It’s Been So Long….

Wow, I really haven’t posted in a while! I’m afraid life has really gotten in the way over the past 6 months or so, with some family illness, a crazy school schedule and some computer issues (still not sure about putting photos in this post because of this). The ironic thing is that I have actually been cooking and creating more than ever! I have been really inspired (like many of us) by the cookbook Jerusalem and lately by their older book, Plenty. I have many cookbooks but I have to admit that I don’t use them very often, I occasionally look at the pictures but mostly come up with my own stuff. What I love about Plenty is that not only do the recipes look amazing but I usually have most of the ingredients already. I have tried several recipes (or recipes closely inspired by the book) and they are all winners! Plenty really lends itself to tweaking and experimentation and I have been loving the bold flavours and all the different grains and spices!

Although last summer was stressful, we still managed to have some good times. I made some animal pals at the Pacific National Exhibition that I thought I would share with you!

Llama Pal!

Llama Pal!

 

"I love Moo!"

“I love Moo!”

 

Friend not Food!

Friend not Food!

I have been making a lot of different types of food lately and recently discovered a way to make homemade seitan! This was very exciting but the recipe needs a bit of tweaking before I post about it. It will come though! Seitan is a meat substitute made out of a high gluten flour (the definition of not being gluten free, unfortunately) and I have always wondered about it but thought it would be a big pain to make. It’s actually really easy and you can use it in many ways. If you purchase a lot of fake meat stuff, it can be an interesting and cheap alternative to the super processed fake hot dogs and deli slice stuff. I am excited to keep experimenting with it. I have been pretty stressed with recent life events so cooking has been a great way to de-stress and relax, I may not be able to control stuff outside the kitchen but in it I am fully in charge! I also found myself with graham crackers, cool whip and blueberries and channeled the 1950’s to do a refrigerator dessert. It didn’t look pretty but I have to admit it tasted great! I may post it if I can get the photos to look a little better.

The middle eastern flavours in Plenty and Jerusalem are still intriguing me and I’ve been thinking about one of my favourite foods, Falafel! I love falafel but the deep frying can make it kind of unhealthy. I decided to try my hand at a falafel inspired burger instead so I hope it works out! You can make these into little patties for a wrap or big ones for burgers.

Falafel Inspired Burgers (Vegan)

Yield: 12 little patties or 4 big ones

Ingredients

1 can chickpeas (540 ml), rinsed and drained

1 C. cooked brown rice

1/2 bunch cilantro

1/3 onion

3 garlic cloves

1 t garlic powder

1 t onion powder

1 t za’atar

1 t cumin

1/2 t chili flakes

2 T chopped parsley (more if you like a stronger parsley flavour)

salt and pepper

1-2 T hot sauce (optional)

-combine all ingredients in food processor and pulse until well combined

-place into bowl and form into patties of desired size with your hands (get right in there!)

-saute on each side until browned and heated through or (although this takes out the healthy aspect) you could shallow fry the little patties

-don’t over process or it will be mushy

-place in pita or bun with plain yogurt, lettuce, cherry tomatoes and pickled peppers and enjoy!

 

Rain Rain Every Day!

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It’s definitely almost Spring in Raincouver. It’s been raining pretty much nonstop for the last three or four days but at least February is over. I spotted cherry blossoms near my house and there are crocuses and snow drops dotting local lawns. I won’t really know change is coming until I see a robin; that  is the true sign of Spring for me.

Soon...

Soon…

I used to be the kitchen manager at a popular bar/hostel downtown and there was a little cafe attached as well. I used to do a sort of tortilla pie there as a lunch special sometimes and I suddenly remembered it a couple of weeks ago. I don’t remember quite how I used to  do it so this recipe is a variation there of. It’s an easy recipe but some assembly is required. Don’t be intimidated by the steps, once the fillings are prepared it is quite simple.

Me and the man have been on a real hot sauce/spice kick lately so this is one spicy meatball (say with bad Italian accent)(except it’s not a meatball or Italian). But I digress. Feel free to eliminate or use only a quarter or half of the habenaro in the filling to tone down the heat a little. We can’t get enough of different hot sauces lately and are starting quite a collection. If anyone has good hot sauce suggestions please let me know in the comments!

This recipe will become vegan very easily as there is only a little bit of cheese and that could be switched for non dairy or left out all together.

Spicy Tex-Mex Tortilla Pie

The Results

The Results

Yield 8 Servings

Equipment: 8″ or 9″ spring form pan, parchment paper

Ingredients

3 clove garlic minced

1 red pepper julienned

1 med onion julienned

1 habenaro*  minced (can be optional or use less than a whole habenaro)

1 lb firm tofu crumbled

2 t cumin

1/2 t tandoori masala spice

1 t chile powder

1/4 t chili flakes

1/2 can black beans (19 oz can)

3/4 can diced tomato (24 oz can)

1/2 bunch cilantro

4 oz shredded mozzarella (optional or substitute non-dairy shredded cheese)

4 large flour tortillas

 

Preheat oven to 375

*do not touch your face or skin after handling habenaros, wash hands after handling!!!

-saute the onion, pepper, garlic, habenaro and 1 t cumin. Make sure you put the fan on when sauteing with the habenaro! Don’t forget like I did and spend the next forty minutes choking and coughing on the the hot pepper fumes!

-set aside sauteed veg

-combine tofu with remaining spices, 1/4 can of the tomatoes and a bit of salt and pepper in a bowl, set aside

-combine  1/2 can tomato, beans and cilantro with a bit of salt and pepper (you can make the leftover canned stuff  and cilantro into a salsa by giving it a little buzz in a processor and adding some lime juice and hot sauce!) set aside

-spray the springform with cooking spray and line with parchment

-press a tortilla into the bottom of the pan, it should be big enough to come up the sides of the pan a little

-place 3/4 of the tofu mixture and the cheese on the tortilla

-top with another tortilla, get your hands in there and press it down and tuck it in a little

-add the bean, tomato and cilantro mix

-add another tortilla, press and tuck

-top with the sauteed veg and remaining tofu

-finish with the last tortilla and cover with foil

-bake for 45 minutes

-rest for 10 minutes and invert onto a plate, gently release the springform

-cut into pieces with a serrated knife. Top with sour cream or greek style yogurt and salsa if you like. Add a salad and there’s dinner!

All you need is a pinata, margaritas and cha cha music and it’s easy to pretend it’s not raining and miserable outside! Ole!

 

Summer, It’s “Bean” Fun!

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The Ferris Wheel

Sorry about the fail on posting some salad recipes last week; work and school preparations left me a little wiped out. Speaking of school, ewww! Although I am excited to get back to it I didn’t think my four month break would go by so fast. This summer has been pretty awesome and I expect it to stay warm through September. Do you hear me weather? (shakes fist at sky).

One summer event I try not to miss is the old PNE. There’s something about the permeating smell of fried foods and spun sugar mixed with farm animals and screaming children that I just can’t do without. It didn’t disappoint this year! I got to sit in Captain Kirk’s chair!!! His real chair from the original Star Trek!!! Sorry to let my nerd out but it was amazing!!! My boyfriend was even luckier because he actually got to meet Data and Troi from TNG (Star Trek The Next Generation for the non-nerds reading this). I am seething with jealousy but am thrilled for him!  But I digress, as summer winds down I wanted to think of some way to keep it happening food wise.

Classic Fair Fare! (sorry about the pun)

Mexican inspired dishes come to mind so I thought I’d share a super easy and quick recipe for some healthy and vegan dip!

Black Bean Chipotle Dip with Pita Chips

2 pita pockets

1 can black beans (540 ml) drained (reserve liquid) and rinsed

1 1/2 T chopped cilantro

2-3 T canned chipotle in adobo sauce

1/3 lemon wedge, juiced

1/2 t ground cumin

1/2 salt (plus more to sprinkle on chips)

oil (to drizzle or spray)

-plain greek style yogurt (optional)

-put oven on broil and cut the pitas into eighths, separating the pockets so you have 16 triangular chips for each pocket (I find it easiest to use kitchen scissors)

-lay in single layer on baking sheets

-drizzle oil or use oil spray on chips  and sprinkle with salt

-place under the broiler for 2-5 minutes, you will probably have to check them every 30 seconds or so after the first two minutes. The length of time will vary depending on your oven. Keep a close watch as these chips go from done to burnt quickly!

-combine all the ingredients plus 2 T of the reserved bean liquid in a bowl and blend with a hand blender or a food processor if you have one

-top with some plain yogurt (or not if you want to stay vegan) and some more cilantro and enjoy!

Hopefully these spicy summer flavours will help the warm days stay a little longer! You could also use this in a 7 layer dip for added yum. Or have a dip party with my yam dip and my guacamole!

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the annotated zoetrope

The Zoetrope, or "Wheel of Life," is an instructive Scientific Toy, illustrating in an attractive manner the persistence of an image on the retina of the eye; by revolving the cylinder by the hand, and looking through the openings, the images passing rapidly before the eye are blended, so as to give the figures the motions of life in the most natural manner.

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