Friday, June 26, 2009

Gimme a Quiche

Asparagus and Spring Onion Quiche

It's always been a goal of mine to make a vegan quiche, but I'd never gotten around to it before this week. Yes, it's tofu based, and many of us are reducing our intake of the stuff, but I say a bit of soy in moderation now and then, for most of us, is nothing to fret about. Serve this with a fresh green salad, or steamed greens (brocco, kale, collards, rapini) with nooch, tamari and flax oil.

1- 9" pie crust
1 lb. asparagus (preferably not super-thick stemmed), trimmed
2 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil
6 spring onions, trimmed so the white and only 3" of the green remains
2 medium cloves garlic
1 lb. (454g) firm tofu (if you have a scale, check to see that it's really a lb; sometimes the packages that say 454g are actually more, in which case you wouldn't use the whole thing)
1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
3/4-1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. thyme (or 2 tsp fresh)
1/4 tsp. turmeric

Preheat the oven to 375oF. I'm going to let you fend for yourself in the crust department (and if it needs pre-baking, go ahead and do that. As you can see from the photo, I didn't even have the time Monday night, when I made this, to make a crust thus proving it to be optional). If you're opting to go crust-free, making this more of a frittata, oil a 9" pie plate and set aside (you're going to think at some point that the pie plate's not big enough, but it will be!).

Take your trimmed asparagus, and pick out the 12 nicest ones, and cut off the top 3.5-4 inches of them. With the rest of the spears, cut off the top inch - set all of these aside. Chop the remaining bottom bits into 1/2 inch (1cm) rounds. Slice the onions in 1/4 inch (1/2cm) rounds. Heat the 2 tbsp oil in a medium skillet, add the asparagus and onion rounds, and saute over medium heat until the asparagus begins to get tender, about 5-8 minutes. Fill a medium saucepan fitted with a steamer basket with an inch of water and place, covered, over high heat. Steam the asparagus tips and 3.5-inch pieces till al dente, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and toss with 1 tsp oil.

Place the tofu, milk, nutritional yeast, salt, thyme and turmeric in the work bowl of the food processor fitted with the S blade. Give it a good whirl to create a smooth texture. You will need to stop the thing, scrape down the sides with a spatula and whirl again to get the uniform consistency we're looking for.
Transfer half of the tofu mixture into a medium bowl and mix it with the asparagus and onion rounds. Take the veg-free tofu and dollop a small bit of it in the pie crust (or pie plate) and smooth it out to create a thin base. Portion in all the veg-tofu and smooth it out on top. Finally, spread on the last of the veg-free tofu mixture and make the surface real smooth. Decorate this with the reserved steamed asparagus spears and heads as you wish.

Bake for 40 minutes, until the top appears firm but not super dry and cracking.
Makes 6 servings.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Farmers' Market finds - week 7

from Plan B Organic Farm
asparagus - $4.50 per bunch/lb. x 2
zucchini - $1.75/lb.
salad greens - $3.50/bag x3
garlic scapes - $2.50/bunch

The Cutting Veg
kale - $3/bunch
young Swiss chard - $3/bag
spring onions - $3/bunch of 6

Baba Link
Swiss mint - $1.50/bunch
Sweet Cicely plant (smells licoricey) - $2.50

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Favourite spring flavour combination

...Of course you know the one I'm talking about.

Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins

There’s a fantastic time late in the spring where the rhubarb’s been out for a few weeks, and the first strawberries appear. How can you not immediately celebrate this perfect pairing with some muffins?
Do pay attention to the size of the pieces of rhubarb you cut – if they’re too big their sourness will be quite a contrast in the muffin; if they’re too small they won’t be noticeable.

2 1/2 cups spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup diced rhubarb (about 1 large or 2 thin stalks, sliced down the middle and cut in 1/2-inch pieces)
2/3-3/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup applesauce
1/3 cup sour milk (1 tbsp cider vinegar + non-dairy milk)
1/4 cup sunflower or grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sliced strawberries
optional topping: 1 tbsp organic sugar + 1/4 tsp cinnamon (not pictured above)

Preheat oven to 375oF. Prepare 12 muffin cups with liners or a light coating of oil and set aside.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add the rhubarb Pour in the maple syrup, applesauce, sour milk, oil and vanilla. Mix together just until all the flour has been absorbed. Gently fold in the berries. Portion evenly into the prepared muffin cups. Slide them into the oven and bake for 25 minutes, until the tops are domed and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Stores in an airtight container for 2 days, or in the fridge for up to a week.

Makes 12 muffins.


If you're interested to know, the first time I made these the taste was good, but they were too moist, really, and didn't rise properly. I'd put in less dry ingredients and more wet ingredients and set the oven at a lower temperature (than what's listed in the recipe above). I'm sure you can see the difference:

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

In search of recipe testers: An adventure

Yesterday morning I decided it was time to get a team of recipe testers in place for my second cookbook. I'm in the thick of the recipe creation process right now, moving through it as fast as I can considering how little time I have, really. The manuscript is due at the start of September, right around the time I start school.

I had done this for Get It Ripe, but knowing there would likely be more people interested this time around, I thought I could do it better this time. Instead of taking anyone I could get, I set up more structured criteria: Tell me why you're interested, and your culinary experience, if any; promise not to go all substitutiony on me.

Using all the social media vehicles I had access to, I put up a post on my blog, sent a link to the post to my fbook groups and tweeted it. Letting people know about my search on the walls of various fbook groups lead to facebook threatening to shut down my account (so I'm still treading cautiously here). More than 15 people RT'ed the message on twitter (nice!).

Some e-mails were saying "Pick me!", "I really want to help out!" and "I'd be honored if you chose me" with this I-hope-I-get-the-job tone. Many promised to follow the recipes to the letter, as I'd mention in the call for testers. At first I thought it was cute that people were so eager and worried about being not-good-enough, but 50 e-mails or so in, it got to the point in reading e-mails that if people weren't gushing about Get It Ripe, I'd unconsciously question how much they really liked it because enough people were saying such super kind things about the book and my approach (I was getting spoiled!). The instructions in the call for testers was perfectly clear about needing an e-mail to my gmail account, so I knew not to take people who responded through facebook or twitter or in the comments on my blog, taking it as a sign that perhaps they weren't going to be super at following directions.

I sent out the first package of 38 recipes for my long list of testers at 10:30 last night.
As I was shutting down my computer an hour later I was saying to myself "Really, NO MORE TESTERS!", but then I awoke this morning to find this fantastic e-mail from David...

I am a 72 year old newbie vegan, having decided to take the plunge on April 1st. I bought Rip Esselstyn's Engine 2 Diet which sent me to check out a local health food store, Planet Organic. A very enthusiastic young woman there said I really should buy a book called Get It Ripe, but unfortunately they were sold out. I had just been given a gift card for Chapters so I rushed out there and got your book and didn't put it down for three hours after I got home! You did a wonderful job!
As for my culinary experience, it is quite basic but improving. My mother began teaching basic cooking (as well as sewing and cleaning) to me and my two brothers at age eight. My late wife was an excellent cook and so I did very little cooking during our 37 year marriage. When I retired, she said "I want to retire, too! I will retire from cooking!" OK said I, and I was just beginning to relax in the kitchen and be creative and adventurous when she was diagnosed with cancer and died 15 months later. That was four years ago and I am only now getting interested in cooking again. I started the year with a baking stone and Peter Reinhart's
Whole Grain Breads. Now I am beginning to delve into your book.
I really wanna test recipes for you!!

...and there was no way I could turn him down.

So I now, even after turning dozens away, have 82 recipe testers!
And while I love the company, this really is not sustainable for me - I have to manage all that feedback!
I suspect that for round 2 of testing I will need to narrow it down to about 30 people, but for now we'll all just have some fun with it.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sharpen your knives, bust out your saucepans, preheat your oven!

You knew this was coming, right - that I'd be looking for recipe testers for the upcoming Ripe from Around Here? Are you game? How 'bout I describe and you think it over before getting in touch.

1. This is a trade of sorts. I send you a recipe package - which means you get a more thorough sneak-peek than what's been appearing on the blog - and you give me info based on your experience with the recipes that can be very useful for me.

2. You don't have to be an amazing chef to partake (it's good, really, to have a mix of experience levels amongst testers). You do have to have a commitment to following the recipe as it appears. I'm talkin' to. the. letter.
The reason for this, obviously, is that if you don't test the recipe as it is, we're not really getting a good understanding if it works as it is. When I had testers for Get It Ripe, some wrote back saying that the substituted so-and-so and this-and-that but that it was still good. Nice to hear, but not super helpful. Also had someone write that a cookie recipe of mine that I've make too many times to count and has been enjoyed by hundreds of people was too salty. I can only assume she was super-sensitive, or used the wrong measuring spoon.
This also means that at least some of you will need access to ingredients beyond your average grocery store. Ingredients like lemon balm and tempeh will more likely be found at your local farmers' market or health food store.

3. You don't have to test all the recipes in MS Word package, but you do need to test at least two (and send me feedback) by the set deadline in order to be included in the next mail-out.

4. You can drop out at anytime if need be (this'll be running till September, I expect).

Does this all sound good to you? Drop me a line at with "I wanna test recipes!" in the subject line. Tell me a bit about why you're interested and your culinary background, if any, and how you heard about this (directly through the blog, through an fbook group, through twitter...). We'll take it from there. (A comment here on the blog is nice, but I'm gonna need that direct note to my e-mail account.)

Your involvement not only gets you access to these recipes almost a year early, but my praise and adoration. If you're super committed it also gets your name published in the book!


Friday, June 12, 2009

Inspired by Spring Produce, part 4

So parts 2 (the Rhubarb Galettes) and 3 (the Pesto Potato Salad and Springtime Tabouleh) got different post titles, but I'm sure it's not too hard to follow along.

White Bean and Lovage Soup

This soup is very lovagey (if you go for all the recommended ingredients), but it's nice for something different. If you don't have or want some of the ingredients, you'll be pleased with the more commonly found options and still get a satisfying soup. I'm sorry there's no picture - I took some, but they seem to have disappeared.

1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 new/green garlics, chopped or 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
4 1/2 cups white beans (cannellini, navy or Great Northern)
4 cups vegetable stock or filtered water
1 bunch lovage (to make 2 cups lightly packed leaves and 3/4 cup chopped stems) OR 2 cups flat parsley leaves and 2 stalks celery, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary (or 2 tsp fresh)
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Allow the onions to caramelize a bit in the olive oil over medium-low heat for about 15-20 minutes, stirring every so often to prevent sticking. Add the green garlic, saute over medium heat for 5 minutes more, then add the beans, stock (or water) and lovage stems only (or celery). Cover, and cook for 5 minutes before grabbing your handblender and pureeing to desired texture (or whirling in batches in a food processor or blender). Stir in the lovage (or parsley) leaves, rosemary, salt and pepper, cover and cook for a final 5 minutes before serving.
Makes about 6 servings.

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

A rant about farmers' markets, and two new recipes

Lisa and I have developed a Monday evening ritual over the past month: she comes over to my place directly from her day job, we go to the farmers' market around the corner from my house, buy whatever produce we can find, and go back to my kitchen to make something of it. The objective is to create recipes inspired by local produce at exactly the time of year that the ingredients are available from nearby sources, making it truly authentic.

The first week was exciting - simply the return of the market for its second year was a thrill, and picking up baby greens, a greenhouse cuke, green garlic, wild leeks and fiddleheads (the last three in particular) offered a bit of a culinary challenge. But the following weeks have left something to be desired. Salad mix still, yes, but cukes have made no appearance since, asparagus was in stock only one week, and the fiddleheads and wild leeks are now done for the year. There are many tables with non-vegan items (meats, cheeses, honey) and "value added items" - breads, other baked goods, prepared raw foods, $20 flower arrangements... but that's not what I'm after. The market runs from 3-7pm each Monday, and we get there by 5 - this week one stall listed rhubarb and red Russian kale on their white board, but it was all gone by the time we arrived. We left with only a few items...

10 spring red onions ($2.50) and baby beet greens ($2) as well as 2 bags salad greens ($5) which are not pictured.

... and by the time we were back chez moi I was a bit cranky, I'll admit. I would like to think that someone can pop by their local market on a weekday evening, maybe on the way home from work, and be able to pick up the majority of ingredients they need to make dinner that night for their family. Wouldn't that be nice?
Maybe it's that our local market, certainly smaller than the more established Thursday Dufferin Grove or Tuesday Riverdale Markets, but all of these markets need to more reliably offer a variety of items in order to get cred from a wider audience. At least that's my feeling.

Okay, so enough complaining - I sent Lisa back to the market after our initial trip to pick up some potatoes (2.5 lbs for $2.50) and my crankiness dissipated once she arrived back. We did manage to scrounge up the ingredients for two salads, both which could be enjoyed at room temperature for a packed lunch.

Pesto Potato Salad

I have always been turned off of potato salad (or egg salad or tuna salad) with mayo. Bleh. (No offense if you're into it.) This, however is great. You could also throw in 1/2-1 cup green peas or chopped green beans, though you might want to up the amount of pesto and/or salt. Serve with a fresh green salad or steamed greens.

1 kg potatoes - scrub well, peel off only the funky bits, and chopped into bite-sized pieces (about 1-inch cubes)
1/2 cup non-dairy pesto (any kind - basil, cilantro, garlic scape, parsley, wild leek, whatev)
5 spring red onions (or 6 green onions), thinly sliced
1 tsp. sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Bring a 3-quart saucepan of salted water to a boil, plunk in the potatoes, and cook uncovered until the taters are soft but not yet falling apart, about 10-12 minutes. Drain into a colander, rinse well with cold cold water, and place in a large bowl to cool. Add the pesto, onions, salt and pepper, and mix gently (maybe with a silicon spatula). Serve at room temperature.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Springtime Tabouleh

Bulgur wheat is replaced by gluten-free millet (or you could use quinoa). Asparagus and radishes are an early-in-the-season variation on the classic tomatoes and cukes. Fresh lemon balm is a unique replacement for some of the parsley, though if you can't find it, forget about it and double the amount of parsley called for. This filling salad tastes best on the first day, but will be fine on day 2 or 3. Serve with a fresh green salad or steamed greens.

1 cup millet
2 cups filtered water
2 cups (350g) chopped asparagus
1 cup finely chopped lemon balm
1 cup finely chopped mint
1 cup finely chopped parsley
5 spring red onions (or 6 green onions), thinly sliced
6 small radishes
juice of 1/2-1 lemon (about 2 tbsp to 1/4 cup)
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1/2-1 tsp. sea salt, to taste
freshly ground pepper

Place the millet and the water in a 2 litre saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook covered for 20 minutes, just until all the water has been absorbed. Set aside and allow to cool.

Steam the asparagus for 2 minutes, until al dente, then transfer to a colander, run cold water over them to stop the cooking process, and set aside to cool completely.

Toss all the ingredients together in a large bowl (use a utensil or use you clean hands), until everything is well distributed. Serve at room temperature.

Makes about 8 servings.

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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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