(Un)Cheesy Kale Chips

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These are a snack that does not last around my house… especially when people are over.

INGREDIENTS
2 bunches of kale
1/4 cup olive oil
4 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
3 Tablespoons raw soy sauce
1 teaspoon sea salt
1) Wash the kale and remove the bottom stems. Shred the kale into large pieces about twice the size you would want your chips to be. Feel free to include the middle stem in your chips as long as they aren’t too thick otherwise they will be chewy.

 

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2) In a small bowl mix well the oil, yeast, soy sauce and salt.

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3) Pour the mix over the kale – here comes the fun part… get your hands right in there and massage the wet mixture over the kale. You need to use your hands to make sure to fully cover the chips.

4) Spread the kale over your dehydrator trays so that they are touching but not overlapping.

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5) Dehydrate at 118 for 1 hr. Reduce heat to 105 and continue dehydrating for another 1.5-2.5 hrs depending on how crispy you want your chips.

**Alternatively you can use your oven. Turn it up to 350 degrees and spread the chips on a baking sheet so that the pieces are not touching. Do not take your eyes off the oven. After about 5-8 mins, flip the kale. Roast another 5-8 mins and they are done. It is VERY easy to burn them so it is worth repeating… Do not take your eyes off the oven!

YIELD: 6 dehydrator trays

Holy Guacamole!

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I am asked for my guacamole recipe almost as often as I am asked for my salsa recipe. One of the greatest things about this month of raw eating is being able to have one of my favourite foods whenever I want. Special thanks to Meghan who produced the guacamole for these pictures.

INGREDIENTS:
2 avocados
1 medium very ripe tomato (heirlooms have the best taste)
1/4-1/2 cup onion (I prefer white)
1-3 jalapenos (more for spicier salsa)
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
Juice from 1/2 lime
Sea salt to taste

The secret to my excellent salsa is in three things. First… FRESH INGREDIENTS. Look for the most ripe, deepest red tomatoes you can find. Organic and heirlooms are the best. Your avocados should be dark, almost black and when you pinch them in your hand they should be soft enough that your finger presses into the skin without much effort. They aren’t ripe yet if pushing requires any effort. They are over ripe if the skin is detached from the fruit inside and has started to harden (it will feel a bit crusty when you push into it). If you are on the wimpier side with spiciness but still want the taste and texture jalapenos offer the guacamole, pick ones that are light green. The more deep the green the more likely they are to be spicy… but they may surprise you… this isn’t a rule.

Second, DON’T MISS ANYTHING. Why!? WHY!? Why am I so often served un-delicious guacamole in restaurants when it is SO EASY to make? Because people use less than ripe ingredients or they leave out either the cilantro and/or the jalapenos. It is possible to make a “mild” guacamole while still keeping the jalapenos in… and for the love of the god of good food… DON’T leave out the cilantro!

And third!? Follow me on these three easy steps for which ingredients to cut/mix first. The order is important!

1) Chop the tomatoes first… chop them finely – it takes time but makes the difference. Next chop the onion and mix it in with the tomatoes.

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2) Next finely chop the cilantro and mix in with the tomatoes and onions. Now you are going to chop the jalapenos. I personally don’t like unpredictably spicy guacamole so I remove the seeds. Juice half a lime over the mix, adding in the salt.
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Finally, open your avocados in half. scoop out the fruit from the skin with a fork. Using the back of the fork press the avocado into the rest of the guacamole until it is consistent but still chunky.
NEVER ADD WATER. NEVER USE A BLENDER. Never ever add cumin, garlic, bell peppers, or sour cream/sour supreme. Blech.
Ta da! Delicious guacamole. Enjoy!
YIELD:
Feeds about 4 people (but expect it to be gone in about 10 minutes flat)

Peppermint Patties

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I think I might have tried my first peppermint patty when I was a teenager. It was at a rest stop on a road trip somewhere and there was one of those donation boxes where they trust you to give the suggested amount and only take one candy. I remember putting it in my mouth and wanting to spit it out. This is pretty serious for me because I love food – pretty much ALL food. I can probably count the times I have ever spit food out and likely most of them were because the food was too hot.

I did not spit out the peppermint patty, which I thought tasted like toothpaste, but I did decide never to be fooled into thinking they were candy again.

Well, older and wiser, I decided to give them another chance this winter. I was flipping through a vegan recipe book at home and saw a recipe for them and decided maybe I’d love them more if I made them myself and if I made them in the shape of hearts.

And I did! They were so well loved by those I shared them with, I made another batch. You don’t have to go to the trouble of making yours heart shaped… make this recipe even easier than it is but rolling the dough into balls and pressing flat with a glass.

INGREDIENTS:
1/3 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup Earth Balance
2 tsp pure peppermint extract
4 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
Vegan chocolate chips

1) Mix all ingredients (except chocolate chips) with a hand mixer, adding the confectioner’s sugar 1/2 cup at a time. The mixture will be thick and coarse.

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2) Form into a ball and knead it for a few minutes to make sure the sugar is well mixed. Roll the dough flat on a lightly floured surface. Using a cookie cutter you can cut out shapes. Thicker dough and smaller cookie cutters work best.
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3) Place the patties in the freezer and let them freeze for at least 45 minutes.
4) Dip the peppermint patties into the chocolate (I will post a recipe for setting chocolate later) and let them set on parchment paper. Freeze overnight. Wrap in squares of tin foil and they are ready to share!
Yield: approx 2 dozen.

(No) Butter Tarts

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Butter Tarts were my second favourite Christmas treat as a kid and when I went vegan a few years ago I didn’t even bother checking for a way to make butter tarts vegan. Not only did they seem unapproachable from what I assumed was a labour intensive process, but their very name defies vegan… I expected them to rely heavily on butter for the pastry and eggs for the filling.

With trying a few different recipes and adding my own flair to capture that taste I remembered, I finally came up with this version. I have found, through feeding my butter tarts to numerous people that there are some serious splitting of camps – those who like them runny and those who like them solid. A few other less serious camps also exist: raisins/nuts or not? spices or not? super sweet or not?

My butter tart recipe is more toward the runny side, has raisins, currants and pecans, lots of spice and not overrun with sugar. If you like yours more solid, cook the tarts a little longer. Feel free to omit the raisins and nuts if you like and cut back on the spice.

I hope you enjoy these amazing Canadian (and vegan) wonders!

INGREDIENTS:

Tart shells:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/3 cups frozen Earth Balance
Cold water

Filling:
3/4 cup raisins/currants, soaked in hot water for 10-15 mins and then drained
1/2 cup chopped pecans/walnuts
2 tbsp EnerG whipped with 1/4 cup of warm water
3/4 cup corn syrup
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp white vinegar
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup Earth Balance, melted
1/2 tsp nutmeg (optional)
1/2 tsp allspice (optional)
1/4 tsp cloves (optional)

1) First start with preparing the dough for the tart shells. Chill the flour and blender in the freezer with the Earth Balance for at least half an hour.

2) Cut Earth Balance into the flour with a pastry knife until the mixture is coarse. Use your hands to press the ingredients together between your fingers until crumbly.

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3) Add cold water gradually until the dough clumps. Do not overdo this! Only add as much water as will keep the dough together.

4) Form a ball of dough, wrap in saran wrap or a clean kitchen towel and refrigerate for an hour. When the dough has chilled use a rolling pin to roll out the dough on a generously floured surface. The dough should reach about 1/4″. I use a cookie cutter to cut the cups out of the dough but you could find other circle shaped objects will do the same (hint: a cup could work!). Grease the muffin tin before putting tarts shells in.

5) When the dough has sufficiently chilled and you are ready to fill the tarts, preheat the oven to 350. Sprinkle the raisins and nuts (if you’re using them) into the shells.

6) Using an electric mixer beat the EnerG egg replacer mixture with the rice syrup, vinegar, vanilla, cornstarch, sugar and salt.

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7) Stir in the melted Earth Balance. Pour the mixture into the prepared tart shells. Be careful not to overfill the tarts because the syrup, if it overflows, will cause the tart shells to stick to the pan.
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8) Bake for 15-25 minutes (depending on how runny you like your tarts – less time will produce runnier tarts). Be careful not to burn them.

Yield: approx 1 dozen butter tarts.

Rhubarb Apple Berry Crumble

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I am all about comfort food – and apple crumble is high up there on the list of favourites. I had been craving rhubarb for a while and at the last minute tossed in some blackberries I had in my fridge… the mix of flavours was fantastic!

INGREDIENTS:
4 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I used a couple granny smiths and a couple royal galas)
2/3 cup frozen rhubarb pieces
1/2 cup black berries
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup quick oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Earth Balance

1) Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease baking dish.

2) In a large bowl toss the apple pieces, rhubarb and berries with the granulated sugar, a tablespoon of the flour, and half of the cinnamon.

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3) Arrange mixture in the baking dish.
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4) In the bowl you just used, combine the flour, rolled oats, brown sugar, nutmeg, remaining cinammon, and salt. Cut the butter into the mix until it is fine and crumbly.
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5) Sprinkle this over the fruit. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes until the apples are soft when pierced with a fork. Uncover and continue baking for 10 minutes until crumble is crisp and golden.

HBV’s Famous Fesenjaan

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Fesenjaan: a delicious persian eggplant, pomegranate & walnut stew

I made this amazing meal for Mara and Melissa who came over for an evening of food, drinks and dancing. To make this recipe truly vegan, replace the honey for agave syrup. The walnut sauce is an excellent texture for this stew and holds well with the honey which balances sweet with the sour pomegranate seeds. The little bit of spice from the crushed red pepper and delicate spice from the cinnamon and tumeric make this an easy yet complex tasting dinner that is guaranteed to please!

INGREDIENTS
5 Japanese eggplants (the long thin light purple ones)
6 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium-sized onion, peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1-2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1-2 tsp. salt
1-2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 cups chopped cilantro leaves, plus 1 cup leaves for garnish
2/3 cup chopped fresh mint
2 cups (1/2 lb.) toasted walnuts
2-3 cups pure pomegranate juice (the real stuff)
2 tbsp honey
Cilantro or parsley for garnish
Pomegranate seeds for garnish

1) Cut eggplants into ½ inch thick rounds. Heat half the oil in a pan over medium high temperature. Sautee the eggplant on both sides until wilted and brown. Remove from the pan and let sit on a paper towel while you prepare the stew.

2) Toast the walnut pieces – I used my toaster oven (watch them carefully or they will burn. I have burned a few batches in the past trying to multi-task while making fesenjaan). Use a blender to grind the walnuts very finely. Remove from blender and combine in a small bowl the walnuts with the pomegranate juice, honey (or agave) and stir until thick.

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2) Add the other half of the oil to the pan and sautee the chopped onion for 10 minutes or so until brown. Add garlic and sautee another 2-3 minutes. Add the cumin, cinammon, salt, pepper, tumeric, crushed red pepper flakes and continue to sautee.

3) Add remaining oil to skillet, and reheat over medium heat. Add onion, and sauté for 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Add garlic during last few minutes of browning onions, and continue cooking. Add cumin, cinnamon, salt, pepper, turmeric, crushed red pepper, parsley, cilantro and fresh mint, and sauté for another 5 minutes or so.

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4) Pour the walnut and pomegrante sauce into the pan and mix together. Add the sautéed eggplant and simmer for 30 minutes or until it is thick.

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5) Serve over rice, couscous, or even quinoa!

Yield: 4-6 servings.

Whoah Felafel!

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I have been intimidated to make falafel – I hear just as often how “easy” it is to make as I hear “I tried that once and they just fell apart in the pan” – but I got adventurous last night and decided to give them a try and decide for myself… and after rooting around through different recipes, I have to say – this one paid off!

INGREDIENTS
1 can of garbanzo beans (chick peas), drained
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon flour (can substitute all-purpose gf flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons cumin
1/2 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1) Mix all ingredients in a blender – for me this was a very inelegant process, I suggest mixing in batches. The consistency should result in something similar to the picture below.
2) Place bowl with falafel in the fridge and chill for 2 hours.
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3) Heat a generous layer of canola oil in a deep pan over medium high heat.
4) Press falafel into balls and place in the oil once fully heated. Cook on all sides for approx 5 minutes or until balls are golden and starting to crisp.
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5) Serve in a pita with tomato slices, lettuce, and vegan tzatziki sauce
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