30 March 2013 § 4 Comments
I wanted to make an Easter treat to take to our friend’s house for lunch tomorrow. I had planned to make chocolate truffles you know the incredibly rich, creamy ones but had a last-minute change of plan…
…I put aside the heavy cream, butter and chocolate and instead I started mixing cocoa powder, nut butter and some coconut oil. I added some interesting toppings such as crystalized ginger, toasted coconut with cardamom and toasted nuts. The result was these really tasty chocolate morsels (albeit vegan ones).
I could fib and say I was thinking of our health but it was nothing more than sheer laziness. These chocolates just needed one large bowl to be mixed in.
All you vegan cynics need to try these. I had to hide them from King Marv and The Ladies™ so we have some left to take tomorrow. I posted this recipe on my What’s for Dinner? column on Barista Kids.
2 June 2012 § 8 Comments
Last weekend we visited one of my favorite Farmers’ Markets at the Round Barn, Pakatan in beautiful Delaware County, NY. I wrote about it last summer here.
The day was lovely and the warm weather had brought out lots of friendly purveyors to sell their incredibly fresh and local produce. But, the highlight of the day was that our trip led to The Ladies
eating devouring a new food for dinner.
Getting children to eat new foods can be tricky, but in this case, it all started with one of the Ladies™ choosing some herbs because “they looked pretty.” « Read the rest of this entry »
23 September 2011 § 6 Comments
Our second week back at school and we are back in the swing of things. My Thursday night supper club has started again. A group of friends get together with our kids to have dinner. We feed the
animals kids first then the grown-ups sit down and have a glass of wine and dinner.
If you can block out the noise of the under-5s wrecking the place, it is pretty civilized. I love that we get to have some good conversation and a glass of wine (yup I know I mentioned the wine already but it has been one of those weeks.)
23 August 2011 § 12 Comments
Okay, I know I promised borscht and caviar this week – that will come later, I promise – but in the meantime, this post is about tofu. Yes tofu: soggy, tasteless and very boring. You can probably tell that I’m not a fan.
Those pesky four-and-a-half-year-olds, The Ladies™, nagged me into cooking it. For the LIFE of me, I could not get out of them how they knew of its dreary existence. But they did. Chances are, it has been via a process of osmosis: our lovely, liberal, urban township has more vegetarian infants than a group of militant Mahayana Buddhists. So… I gave in and acceded to their nagging demands. Next thing I know, I was making them Chinese noodles. And, much to everyone’s amazement they liked the tofu, and more surprisingly so did King Marv and I.
We started off well-intentioned with our chopsticks…
But then it got messy, very messy. Luckily we were eating outside.
Before cooking, I did a bit of research on tofu preparation and found that to minimize the wet blanket quotient, you need to dry the tofu first with paper towels. I wrapped it in paper towels, then I put a heavy dish on top and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes. I changed the paper towel and did it again. Then I marinated it in ginger, soy and garlic, then baked it in cubes. It sounds like a bit of work, but those 20 minutes transformed tedious tofu into something quite edible.
Ingredients – serves 4
- 1 pack of hard tofu, cubed
- 9 0z medium egg noodles
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 red pepper, seeded and sliced
- A generous handful of broccoli florets
- 2-3 carrots, peeled and sliced
- A handful of green beans, boiled for 3-4 minutes, then shocked in ice cold water so they keep their color
- 2-3 tsp water
- 2 spring onions, finely sliced
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds toasted (optional)
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1″ piece fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp runny honey
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
First of all mix together the ingredients for the marinade in a shallow dish. Add the tofu (I prefer to dry it first as mentioned above, but not necessary) and spoon the marinade over. Refrigerate for 1 hour to marinate, turning the tofu occasionally.
Pre-heat the oven to 400°F. Using a slotted spoon, remove the tofu from the marinade and reserve the liquid. Arrange tofu on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until the tofu pieces are golden and crisp on all sides.
Meanwhile cook the noodles in plenty of salted water according to the instructions on the packet, until the noodles are tender, but not sticky. Then drain them and rinse under cold, running water and drain again.
Heat a wok or heavy-based skillet, then add the oil. Add the pepper, broccoli, carrots and beans and stir-fry tossing continuously over a medium-high heat for 5-8 minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Add the water and continue to stir-fry until the vegetables are just tender but remain slightly crunchy.
Stir in the marinade, noodles, tofu and spring onions, and stir-fry until heated through.
Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds, if using.
25 July 2011 § 3 Comments
I’ve been trying to make more single meals – so no separate kids’ food. But there are some things The Ladies™ still have a bit of a problem with – couscous and chickpeas being two of them – I think it is a texture thing, as they are usually pretty adventurous for four and a half. The larder was bare and we needed dinner, and guess what was in there…yup, a can of chick peas and plenty of couscous.
Before they could start whining that they did not like chickpeas I sent them both out to the garden – one of them to pick the tomatoes and the other to pick basil and mint. We made a quick salad and they were so distracted by the act of gathering ingredients they forgot to complain and ate a decent amount.
Recipe for this quick, vegan salad:
- 1 can chickpeas
- 1 cup couscous
- 1½ cups boiling water
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp olive oil
- ½ red onion finely chopped
- Handful of fresh basil and mint – finely chopped
- ½ red pepper seeded and chopped
- ½ yellow pepper seeded and chopped
- Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
For the dressing:
- 1/3 cup sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
- 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Boil the water in a pan (make sure it has a tight-fitting lid) add the salt and olive oil, when boiling add the couscous. Stir well. Cover and remove from heat. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes. Then fluff with a fork so the couscous is light and does not stick together.
In a bowl mix the couscous and all the vegetables and herbs.
Make the salad dressing by whisking the oil into the vinegar. Taste and season.
Pour the dressing onto the salad and make sure it is evenly coated.
19 July 2011 § 16 Comments
With the temperature over 90° outside it is far too hot to have the oven on for kale chips. Eating it raw in this salad will give you your dose of daily greens. This salad is vegan but don’t let that put you off – should you desire add a handful of grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese.
Recipe – serves 4
- 8oz orzo
- 5 cups water
- 1 cup walnuts
- 2 cups chopped kale (remove the woody stems)
- 1 cup fresh basil
- 1 large clove of garlic
- Juice from 1 lemon
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- ½ cup halved olives (remove the stones)
- Salt and pepper
Bring a pan of water to boiling, add a generous pinch of salt and add the orzo. Simmer for 5-7 minutes, drain when tender and let it cool.
Add the kale and basil to a pan of boiling water for about 30 seconds. Then submerge in ice water for a few seconds, then drain. Dry in some paper towel. This will preserve the bright green color so your salad does not turn a muddy green color after a few hours.
In a food processor, pulse the nuts, garlic, basil and kale until you have a fine mince, adding some olive oil and lemon juice as you go. You might have to do in 2 batches. When you have a green, thick smooth paste. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Should you wish to add parmigiano stir it in now.
Add the chopped olives and tomatoes and serve.
King Marv and I loved this, but The Ladies™ were not keen. However my friend’s two-year old son kept begging for more.
29 June 2011 § 5 Comments
As weeds go, Purslane is one of the most interesting. It has a number of aliases – pigweed (my favorite -naturally), hogweed, Verdolaga in Spanish and pusley.
In terms of nutritional value, it packs a mean punch: protein, vitamin E, vitamin C, and the best source of Omega 3 fatty acids of any leafy plant. And (file under: Great News for Vegans,) it is loaded with the heart-healthy alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is typically found in cold-water fatty fish such as wild salmon, anchovies, sardines and mackerel.
I was surprised that something so beneficial actually tasted so good. Unlike say, wheatgrass which is basically inedible unless mixed with gin. It tastes a bit like watercress albeit less peppery and more lemony. In terms of usage, it is widely eaten in parts of Europe, the Middle East, Mexico and Asia. The Greeks may not be able to run an economy but they know how good this green is. It is commonly used there and believed to have medicinal qualities. Here however, it is generally ignored. Maybe re-branding it McPurslane would help….
When I bought it from the Farmers’ Market last week, I was told that like okra, it turns mucilaginous when cooked. Obviously, I nodded and then rushed home to look up the word. It means it turns gummy and gooey when cooked.
This vegan potato salad recipe is a perfect summer side dish and it is so tasty, that we actually had ours as a main. The zest in the dressing makes it positively lemonicious and the herbs took me back to the Greek island of Levkas.
Keen students of photography will note that there are no red onions in the photo. I forgot about them and left them soaking while I took the picture, but they are definitely worth adding as they add a crisp, extra bite to the salad. Just remember to soak the red onion first in iced water to reduce the onion aftertaste.
- Enough fingerlings potatoes for 2 – quantity determined by your appetite
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tbsp Dijon mustard
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- About 1 cup purslane, thoroughly washed, torn or chopped (stems are tangier than leaves)
- ½ cup red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp capers
- 1 tbsp olives
- A handful of olives
- 1 large tomato, roughly chopped
- ½ cup fresh herbs – mint and oregano (or any herbs you have – parsley or chervil would work)
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil and then add the salt and potatoes. Cook for about 10 minutes until tender. Drain thoroughly, leave to air dry and then pour into a serving bowl.
Add the olive oil to the lemon juice, zest and vinegar, whisking until well emulsified, taste and season and then pour over potatoes.
Add all the other ingredients, mix and season with salt and pepper.