Friday, February 16, 2007

Memories of diner food

Grilled "Cheese"

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I was pretty skeptical about the idea of a dairy-free version of this childhood favourite, but at first taste it became a staple in the first couple years I was vegan. Having not had it in a good long while, and it being a rare occassion that I had some fresh wheat-free bread in the house yesterday, I whipped up a batch. Not only is it delicious, but if you're using Red Star yeast flakes, it's a great way to get some vitamin B12 in yer bod.

1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 clove garlic, crushed or grated
1/4 tsp. mustard powder
a few twists of ground pepper
1/2 cup filtered water
1 tbsp. olive oil
non-dairy, non-GMO margarine, for spreading
8 slices whole grain bread

1. In a bowl, combine nutritional yeast, flour, salt, pepper, garlic and water. Stir mixture constantly in a skillet over low heat (like making gravy). Once it gets pasty, add the oil (and a touch more water if necessary). Once the oil is incorporated, turn off the heat.

2. Margarine one side of each slice of bread. Take four of the slices and slather the other half with the "cheese". Slap the other four pieces of bread on top of the "cheesy" ones, marg side out.

3. Fry up the sandwiches until golden brown on each side. Slice sandwiches in half and serve with ketchup and pickles. Mmmmmm! (Makes 4 sandwiches.)

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Friday, February 09, 2007

The Chocolate Celebration

My mum and I were chatting on the phone the other day and she commented on how exciting it must be for me to have a 'valentine' this year, and how lucky it was that he was coming to visit me here in Montreal just before the 14th. (While we actually organized his trip around the Arcade Fire show we're going to see tonight, I held off on reminding her of that because I wanted to see where she was going with this line of conversation.) "What's so exciting," she said "is that you can finally put all that Valentine kitchenware you have to use!"

This, of course, requires an explanation. When I lived in Toronto I was in the habit of visiting Williams Sonoma on the day after a major holiday to see if there was anything exciting on sale (who can afford to shop there at full price?). Two years ago, on February 15th, I picked up a gorgeous Le Creuset "hot chocolate pot" (translation: red cast-iron saucepan with a spout) at half price (which was still $75!), and I also got some pancake moulds and some brightly coloured heart-shaped dessert plates and ramekins. (Each came in a set of four, in a box with a fancy ribbon. When I thought I'd ever use them, I don't know - when I turn into Martha Stewart, or when I have kids who would likely get a kick out of them?)

Anyhow, I mentioned all this to Ryan over the phone the next day and he listened quietly. "What?!" I asked when the silence on the other end of the line made my last sentence sound like it was still dangling in mid-air. "I'm having a whole-body-clench reaction," he said in a kind of monotonous, kind of nervous tone. "Don't worry," I assured him, laughing and a little embarrassed that I'd even brought it up. "I'll keep the cupid pancake mould in its box."

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Safely stored in the top corner cupboard.

So, with all that being said - Valentine's Day romance? Whatever.
I'll take next Wednesday (oh heck, and everyday leading up to it) to celebrate chocolate.

Dark Chocolate Pudding
with Coconut Milk and Chipotle Pepper

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I made this last weekend to bring to a dinner party at Stef's. It was great - the smokiness of the chipotle works beautifully with chocolate. Anytime I make pudding, I always wish for a double batch though - it's such a comfort food.

2 1/2 cups non-dairy milk (soy or rice)
1 1/2 cups coconut milk (should be the amount from 1 can)
1/2-2/3 cup Sucanat or organic sugar
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder (this is the rich dark stuff - I get it from my local bulk foods store)
4 tbsp. (which is 1/4 cup) non-GMO cornstarch (I use this one)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. chipotle pepper powder (depending on your heat tolerance and the strength of the powder)

In a 2 quart sauce pan over medium heat(or even medium-high, depending on your stove), warm 1 1/2 cups of milk along with the coconut milk, sugar and salt.
Pour the remaining 1 cup of milk into a bowl (or I used my Pyrex 2-cup measure), and sift in the cocoa powder and cornstarch. Whisk together until a pretty uniform mixture is achieved. Pour this mixture into the saucepan in a slow, steady stream, whisking all the while (the whisking doesn't need to be vigorous). Now stir in the chipotle (you can add the smaller amount and then try it after 10 minutes to see if you want more heat - try not to be a wuss though).

Now here's the part where pudding becomes labour-intensive. Pudding is simple, yes, but if you abandon it, it could ruin everything. You'll want to be whisking pretty constantly for the next 15-20 minutes (or more - I'm sorry, I didn't time it) to avoid clumping and to keep the bottom from burning. If there's no one around to make conversation with (your valentine, perhaps?!), maybe you'll want to get something to read - you can hold the book in one hand and still stir with the other.
Once a noticeable thickening has occurred (don't worry it'll still thicken up more in the fridge), transfer to custard cups, heart-shaped ramekins, or simply a glass or ceramic bowl (not plastic please - never mix heat with plastic), cover, and put in the fridge to cool for at least 2 hours. Alternately though, you could just allow it to cool at room temperature if you're a warm pudding kind of person.

Serves 4-6... it depends on what you consider a serving.

Decadent Truffles

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These treats are killer! Ryan and I made them as gifts at Christmas. They were a big hit. (Try not to get addicted and really just savour each one.)
I'm inclined to take this recipe and double, if not triple or quadruple it - this is just the basic formula/ratio.

6 oz. Callebaut (or other high quality) dark chocolate
1/3 cup good quality coconut milk
a pinch of sea salt (optional)
Dutch-processed cocoa powder (maybe 1/2 to 1 cup)

Chop up the chocolate into small, and hopefully somewhat uniform, pieces.
Fill the bottom of a double-boiler with an inch or two of hot tap water, place second pot on top, making sure that the water in the bottom pot isn't touching the bottom of the top pot. Scrape all the chocolate into the top pot and turn the heat to medium (or even medium-high, depending on your stove). Stir with a heat-proof spatula regularly to prevent burning or seizing. Once all the chocolate chunks have melted away into a dreamy liquid, stir in the coconut milk and salt. Make sure you get a uniform mixture.

Scrape into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until mixture is firm but not hard (about an hour maybe?). Now, in an idea world you'd have a little purple-handled scoop, but a nice round tablespoon will do. Scoop out the mixture, roll into balls (try to do it quick 'cause the chocolate gets melty fast), drop into a bowl of cocoa powder to get a nice even coat, and then place on a parchment-lined plate or container. Repeat until you've run out of chocolate.
Cover and refrigerate to set, but serve at room temperature (very important). They'll keep in the fridge for about two weeks.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Secret Knitting

So I've been knitting pretty regularly for the past two months or so now. I just didn't mention it because I figure all the knitsters that used to come here for some fibre-based content have given up on me long ago. But now that I've racked up a good few FOs, I wanna show off.

It all started when I was avoiding studying for my Anatomy Final in mid-December. All of a sudden the herringbone stitch scarf I'd started last Boxing Day became very interesting. And before I'd memorized which facial muscles help you to smile, and which ones are used for puckering up, I'd finished it.
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But I wasn't into the colours anymore. Beautiful, yes, but too autumnal. So I promtptly started another, my third scarf in this pattern with this yarn (and I know Manos doesn't wear so well, but I love the colours so - this one's colourway 109), and while it had to be put on hold for a few days to knit a Christmas present (knitting for others? something that certainly doesn't happen as often as I'd like), I finished it pre-New Year's while Ryan and I were on a Entourage-watching marathon.
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(we're NOT going to mention how huge my right tit looks from this angle, nor that you can see right up my nose - it's about showing off the scarf, that's what's important)

A matching simple ribbed toque in Nashua chunky (It's something I've never knit with before, but I really like it with its 25% alpaca - it took exactly one ball, down to the last inch of yarn.) followed:
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and is now finished and pictured above, even if you can't see it.

And the aforementioned Christmas present? It went to my mum's partner, David, and was actually a birthday/Christmas combo present as I'd let his 53rd slip by last August. It was one of those gifts that you hand to someone on Christmas morn still on the needles, and then take right back to finish it off. Like Stephanie and Sandy's Irish Hiking Scarves, I'd liked it to have been longer, but I'd only brought a skein and a half of Lamb's Pride with me to Toronto.
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Then, stuck in Toronto with a limited number of needle options (two, actually) and just a modest amount of Boxing Day Sale yarn purchased from my beloved old stomping grounds, I started a second Irish Scarf:
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I have a pretty good idea who it's for, but I'm not saying, and it may not get finished till next Christmas anyway, knowing me... as you all do.


Friday, February 02, 2007

Rooted, revisited

Ages and ages ago I posted a recipe for Maple Roasted Roots, but the instructions were rather vague, and vague doesn't always work for everyone in the kitchen.
So here we go again:

Maple Roasted Roots

The wonderful thing about roots is that they grow in this climate and tend to store quite well, so the likelihood of getting local produce should be pretty good. Energetically, root vegetables are grounding, which is helpful at this more hibernatey time of the year. They'll also be more warming if they're organic and have avoided any chemical fertilizers (the slower a food takes to grow, the more warming it is - you can read about this in Paul Pitchford's amazing resource Healing with Whole Foods).
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16 cups chopped/cubed vegetables* (squash, onions, garlic, beets [adds great colour!], parsnips, carrots, potato, sweet potato, jerusalem artichoke, turnip, celery root... best of all, all of them!)

1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar (optional)
1 tsp. thyme

1 tsp. sea salt (or more to taste)
freshly-ground pepper

* For goodness sakes, go ahead and use organic produce so you don't have to fret about pesticides and you can just scrub and rinse the veggies real thorough-like instead of having to peel 'em. Okay, I'd peel the squash anyway, and for the garlic, use a good head or two - peel the cloves and leave 'em whole.

Preheat the oven to 400oF. In a large bowl, toss the vegetables with the syrup, oil, vinegar and thyme, so that seasonings are dispersed evenly.
Spread out onto two large, lightly-oiled baking pans, making sure that everything can rest in one layer in the pan. Slide the trays in the oven to bake. Pull them out every 12 minutes or so to stir.
After about half and hour, evenly sprinkle on the salt and pepper, toss again, and return to the oven. The vegetables will likely take the better part of an hour to be done (they should be nice and soft, but not falling apart or burning).
Serve hot, alongside some cooked grains, salad or steamed greens, and a protein of your liking.

If you have lots left over, puree it and you've got a roasted veg pasta sauce. Yum!

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"Domestic affair... do you think it's a funny title?" I asked a friend.
"Funny ha-ha?" she responded, "well, no not really."
"But 'domestic affair', it's like what's going on in the nation, but it's also me, being drawn to all these domestic tasks - knitting, cooking, caring for small children..." I tried to explain.
"I like that it has the word affair in it," she concluded.

jae's first book!

Get It Ripe cover Have you seen my award-winning whole foods cookbook Get It Ripe: a fresh take on vegan living (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2008)? Keep your eyes peeled for it!
To join the Facebook group for the book, go here.


about the blog:

about the cookbooks:

While I love hearing from you, and read each and every one of your e-mails, please understand that I just cannot respond to all of them due to the rate at which they're coming in these days!

If you have a question, I might have already answered it here.

in the press

live in person!

come see me:
* Vida Vegan Con in Portland, OR, August 26-28, 2011.

...but better yet, check the calendar for details!



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