(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
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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.

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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Banana Pancakes

There’s a reason Jack Johnson wrote a song about banana pancakes. They are the most amazing wake-up-late-on-a-Sunday morning comfort food with no real competitor. This coming from someone whose favourite meal is brunch and who is incredibly picky about brunch foods. But unfortunately, as good and easy as banana pancakes are to make, they are so often poorly prepared. Results range from too moist to too thin to “ugly” (the often thick batter can make them difficult to shape in the pan). I have the perfect recipe for you!

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup flour (you can substitute all purpose gf flour)
1 pinch of salt
1-2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
2 tablespoons of baking powder
3/4 of a cup of almond milk or soy milk
1 small – medium ripe banana, mashed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1) To prepare the pancakes, sift the flour with the sugar and salt in a large bowl and slowly add the baking powder and cinnamon making sure they are well mixed.

2) Mix mashed banana with dry ingredients and then pour in the almond milk and oil and stir until well blended and the consistency is even. Add more almond milk as needed for consistency.

3) Heat stove over medium and grease the pan with oil. Pour mixture into pan – you may need to use the back of a spoon to even out the pancake if the dough is thick. Turn pancakes once.

4) Serve and enjoy!

And then spend the rest of the afternoon rubbing your tummy! mm!

Meghan’s Risotto

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I think this might be Meghan’s all-time favourite dish that I have ever made for her. It’s creamy, rich, and complex and most importantly, does not contain mushrooms.
INGREDIENTS
5 cups of vegetable stock
1/3 cup of raw pumpkin seeds
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 cup of cipollini onions, finely chopped (or shallots)
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
3 cups of chopped squash (I used butternut), cut into cubes
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons of tamari (or soy sauce)
1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
sprigs of cilantro for garnish
Daiya cheese to taste
1) Preheat oven to 375.  In a large pot, simmer vegetable stock on low.
2) Heat a large sauce pan over medium high heat and add the olive oil.  Introduce pumpkin seeds all at once.  Stir constantly being careful not to allow the pumpkin seeds to burn.  You will start to have some seeds that “pop” – do not be alarmed, this means the pumpkin seeds are nearly done.  Once most of the seeds have started to brown and before any of them have gone black, remove from the seeds from the pan (but leaving the oil in the pan).
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3) Using the same oil as was used for the pumpkin seeds, sautee the garlic and onions for 2-3 minutes.
4) Add half a cup of vegetable stock and the butternut squash then reduce heat to low.  Cover and let simmer for 20-25 minutes until the squash is tender.  Remove lid from simmering squash once tender and let the liquid cook off.
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5) Add another tablespoon of oil, the arborio rice, and saute 2-3 minutes.  Add toasted pumpkin seeds, wine, tamari, salt, pepper, oregano, and thyme.  Continue to add the vegetable stock, half a cup at a time, constantly stirring the risotto.  Once the risotto is soft and the sauce is creamy, the risotto is ready.
Serves 2, with plenty of leftover risotto for another 2 meals for 2 people.