Thursday, 28 February 2013

Snow Pea and Sunflower Seed Pesto

I made recipe the other night and it turned out extra yummy. I wanted something different, something nutty. So, working off a basic pesto recipe, I made a snow pea, oregano and sunflower seed pesto and served it on gnocchi. Definitely not your usual Monday night pasta dish.
We only made one package of gnocchi, but we also had the pesto for leftovers with fettuccine  so there is enough pesto here for around 4 servings, depending on how much sauce you like. I added a tablespoon of pumpkin seed butter to round out the protein in the dish since it's a complete protein source, and it is also high in iron and a source of antioxidants. Sunflower seeds are also an excellent source of essential fatty acids, especially omega-6 fatty acids. So yay us on getting in some yummy extra nutrients. You guys might not really care what nutrients are in what, but nutrition is a passion of mine, so I have a tendency to think about my ingredients nutrient wise when I am cooking with them. Knowledge doesn't hurt, right?

Serves: 4


2 packages of gnocchi, or pasta for 4
1/2 cup roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds
optional-1 Tbsp pumpkin seed butter
2-3 cloves garlic
2 cup snow peas, washed
1 Tbsp packed fresh oregano (or thyme)
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup water
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, the good stuff
Fresh ground pepper and sea salt to taste


Toast the seeds until they smell toasty in a frying pan on medium heat.
Transfer toasted nuts and to a food processor. And pulse until crumbly.
Add pumpkin seed butter and pulse again until combined. 
Blanch snow peas in boiling water for around 15 seconds.
Add blanched snow peas, oregano, and salt and water to the blender and puree until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.
Add the olive oil and mix until well combined, then add the nutritional yeast and the lemon juice and mix again.
If you desire a thinner product, add more water or olive oil, and mix well.
Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook gnocchi as directed on package. 
Drain when cooked(don’t rinse, it needs the starch to stick), and sauce with pesto.


Monday, 25 February 2013

Summer Rolls

Also known as garden rolls or spring rolls, the un-fried variety, this appetiser is not only fun to make, but it's tasty too! This dish is great made ahead for parties, but the fresher the rolls the better. I've made the dish numerous times, both with family, or by myself while watching a corny movie or a cooking show. 
Garden rolls are all about what's inside, never use canned or frozen vegetables, all the vegetables should be fresh, but there are quite a few different varieties of vegetables that you can chose from. In the recipe below, I've included some of my favourites, but you can leave out ingredients that your supermarket doesn't have or that you dislike, or add in veggies you love. So you don't like tofu? Leave it out! Half the time I'm too lazy to prepare the tofu any ways,  but if you're marinating tofu for dinner, you might as well include it. Other popular ingredients include zucchini, red or green pepper, black or white fungus, lettuce, red cabbage....and the list goes on.
Perfect for the summer because there is no frying or baking involved, just cutting and rolling, but also great whenever you want to bring a a fresh note to a Thai meal or need an appetizer for a dinner party.

Serves: 8 rolls


8 sheets large rice paper rounds

fresh cilantro, Thai basil and/or mint
1 small green onion, just the greens, sliced lengthwise, 1-2mm thick
1/4 cuccombre, julienned
1 small carrot, fine julienne or shaved
2 large handfuls of bean sprouts
2 large handfuls of snow peas
half a package of enoki mushrooms
handful of greens (such as lettuce, or swiss chard greens used here)
1/4 yellow pepper, julienned
16 pieces of tofu (~1/4 of a brick), cut à l'alumette (about the size of your pinky finger), marinated 
Glass noodles, one small sachet, or 1 cup cooked.

Sauce to serve, such as sweet thai chilli or vegetarian hoisin sauce


Marinate the tofu as needed, I followed the Marinated Tofu Recipe.
Wash all vegetables and cut appropriately.
Cook glass noodles until aldente, drain and set aside.
Wash counter or table and arrange all items around your work area.
Fill a large pan or dish with warm water to soak the rice paper.
One at a time, soak rice paper for about 15 seconds, then transfer to clean work area.
Layer on the vegetables, starting with the herbs and greens and finishing with the glass noodles, leaving at least an inch at each end.
To close, fold each end up over the vegetables, then fold over the one side. Be gentle, but firm enough that you create a tight roll. If you are right handed, and if you're vegetables lie vertically, close the bottom and top first then fold over the right side so you can roll to the left. Normally, this will let you achieve tighter rolls, alternatively, you can lie your veg horizontally and roll upwards.
Repeat as needed, you may wish to do more than one at a time.
Cover with seran wrap until ready to serve.

Enjoy with friends and family

Friday, 15 February 2013

No-Knead Bread

This is hands-down the best bread I've ever had. The recipe here is adapted from Jim Lahey's excellent book My Bread. His technique works so well that we never buy bread anymore - we just bake it! There are two versions of this bread, depending on how long you're willing to let it rise. The slow rise version uses less yeast, and takes 12-16 hours to rise, but the added fermentation time makes the bread taste more complex. The quick version only takes four hours to rise, but it uses a heck of a lot more yeast. 
Note: We have modified the bread recipe for a smaller loaf with less salt. No-Knead Bread 2.0 is healthier and doesn't end up moldy before you can eat all of it. We've also improved the techniques below.


No-Knead Bread 2.0
3 3/4 cups all-purpose or bread flour
1 tsp salt (or less)
1/4 tsp yeast
1 3/4 cups cool water

No-Knead Bread: Slow rise
6 cups all-purpose or bread flour 
2 1/2 tsp. salt 
1 tsp. yeast
3 cups water

Quick rise
6 cups all-purpose or bread flour
1 tbs. salt
1 1/2 tbsp. yeast
3 cups water


1. Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. You can use white or whole wheat flour, or a combination depending on how you like it. The quantity of salt you add affects the crispiness of the crust, but you can use less.

2. Add the water and mix until all of the flour is absorbed. You don't need to knead the bread, just mix and let it be. If there is extra flour in the bowl, add more water a few tablespoons at a time until the loaf is sticky.

3. If you're attempting the slow rise dough, cover your bowl with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out. Let the dough rest for 12-16 hours, or until it has doubled in volume. For the quick rise, do the same but let it rest for 4 hours.

4. Once the dough has risen, scrape it out of the bowl onto a well-floured surface, like a silicone mat or parchment paper. At this point you can either divide the loaf into two, form it into a neat shape (like baguettes, buns, pretzels), or keep it as one large boule. These instructions are for an undivided loaf:
With well-floured hands, shape the dough by folding the edges in towards the center four times (top, bottom, left, right or some variation thereof). Next, flip the loaf over so that the seam you've created is on the bottom, and shape the dough into a round ball with your hands. If the dough is sticky, sprinkle a bit more flour on it. Cover the dough with a tea towel and let it rest for 1 to 2 hours, until it has doubled in volume. If, when you poke the dough, it springs back immediately, let it rest another 15 minutes. If your finger leaves a 1/4" deep indent, the dough is ready to bake.
Note: If you would like your bread to have something interesting on the outside like wheat bran, cornmeal, flax, poppy seeds  sesame seeds etc., you can either sprinkle those ingredients on now (after you have shaped the loaf), gently lifting it and sprinkling underneath, or you can wait 30 minutes (my approach) until the bread has moistened again and then add them. 
Bread 2.0: smothered in wheat bran!
5. Preheat your oven to 475 degrees, 40 minutes before the end of the dough's second rise. If you're baking the bread in a French or Dutch oven (the best method), put your vessel in the oven now, with the lid on (make sure the handle is heat-proof), so that it can preheat. If you don't do this now, you might crack your vessel by putting it into the already-hot oven. If you're using bread pans or a baking sheet (use parchment paper underneath), you can put a shallow heat-proof container of water into the oven now, to rest underneath your bread. This will create steam when the bread is cooking, which will condense on the surface of the cold dough, ultimately helping the crust not to burn, but keeping it crispy. Cooking your bread in a French oven accomplishes a similar thing, but keeps the steam contained in the vessel, and results in a better bread.

6. Once the oven is preheated and the dough has rested, remove your cooking vessel from the oven. Make sure the dough is well-floured and is not stuck to the surface it's resting on.  Once you're ready, flip the dough over and into your cooking vessel (gently!). Be careful because that sucker will be hot. Replace the lid and put the vessel back in the oven.

7. Bake your bread for 30 minutes with the lid on. Then take the lid off and bake it for another 25-30 minutes. Removing the lid part way is essential for getting a nice crust. 

8. Once it's cooked, tip the bread out of the pot and onto a cooling rack. You should hear crackling noises at this point (called 'singing'), which means the bread is cooling. You should leave the bread for around an hour to cool. If you cut the loaf too soon, you'll halt the last stage of the cooking process and you can ruin the consistency of your baby.

9. Enjoy! Store your bread in a container, or in the (cooled) French oven itself, just not in the fridge or it will go stale faster. 

Balsamic Glazed Radicchio

This slightly bitter friend is a great accompaniment to pasta, especially pasta primavera, or served with tapas. The best method of preparing radicchio so that its bitterness does not over power you palate is to soak it, but then again adding a glaze helps too.


2 grapefruit sized heads of radicchio 
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1-2 Tbsp honey
Olive oil
Salt and pepper


Wash outside of radicchio and cut each into eight wedges. Place radicchio in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Let soak a minimum of 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a anti-stick pan on medium-high heat, bring balsamic vinegar with honey to a boil, then reduce heat. 
Simmer on medium-low for around 15 minutes (or more) until the balsamic is reduced to a maple syrup like consistency. 
Remove from heat.
After radicchio has soaked, let dry on a cloth for 3-5 minutes.
Preheat grill.
When dry, brush wedges with olive oil. 
Put radicchio on the grill, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Be mindful not to overcrowd as the vegetable can become soggy. (If you don't want the tips burning, you can wrap the tops with tinfoil so that they are not on the direct heat.)
Grill for 5-10 minutes, such that the core is just soft.
Remove from heat and brush or pour on balsamic reduction.
Serve and enjoy!

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Red Potato Salad

Big fans of garlic here! big fans. The first few times we made this recipe, or a more pungent version, we woke up tasting it. Not exactly the kind of properties you want in a potato salad. No worries, we've scaled it down 3 or 4 cloves :). 
The perfect accompagniment to a burger or
marinated tofu with a side of sautéed greens

If there is one thing I've learned when using raw garlic in cold dishes, it is to let it sit before adding more garlic or serving. As a salad or a sauce sits, the garlic flavours intensifies. So, whenever using raw garlic, taste and season before and after refrigerating. 

By letting the oil, garlic and
herbs sit for a while, the oil
absorbs the flavour of all the
 fresh ingredients, making for
a tastier salad


  • 10 medium red potatoes, cut into large chunks 
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp red onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs, such as my favourite, thyme
  • 1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1tsp sea salt* + extra to taste
  • 4 Tbsp white wine vinegar 


  1. In a large pot, bring water to a boil and cook potatoes for about 10 minutes, until just cooked. 
  2. While potatoes are cooking, in a medium mixing bowl combine 1/4 cup olive oil with garlic, onion, salt and herbs (see picture aside).  PRO TIP: Slice the garlic in half, prior to mincing and remove the very center structure of the garlic. This little nubbin gives the garlic that spicy sulfurous property, and as tasty as it is, it can leave you tasting like garlic for hours.
  3. When potatoes are ready, rinse with cold water in a colander then toss in mixing bowl with garlicky mixture. 
  4. At this point add the vinegar, and more oil and salt as needed. 
  5. Refrigerate until cooled. Adjust seasoning as needed. 
  6. Serve and dig in!

* fun fact: Although health Canada has rules that all " table" or household marketed salts need to be iodized, many salts, including, but not limited to, finishing salts and sea salts tend to not be iodized. So, take a look at the labels before you buy your sea salts. Although goitre isn't that common in Canada or the US, those not consuming adequate amounts of iodine, especially the elderly can be at higher risk of mild or moderate iodine deficiency, and thus goitre.  

Monday, 11 February 2013

Vegan Vanilla Buttercream

Making icing vegan can be a bit of a struggle at times. And with V-day around the corner, you don't want to mess it up. Well, at least I don't.  Ryan had three cupcakes yesterday  this has to say something about the quality of the cake, as well as the frosting.

Under this mountain of soft, creamy buttercream, is my classic Vegan Chocolate Cake. Crushed red peppercorns are a fun, spicy touch.


1/8 cup or 3 Tbsp soy milk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegan margarine
3 cups icing (confectioner's) sugar


In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine margarine and vanilla. 
Slowly whisk in sugar.
Add soy milk and whisk until smooth.
(more or less soy milk may be needed depending on your margarine)

So far, this recipe hasn't let me down. Hope its as tasty for you as it is for me!

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Asian Soup

I've been a very busy bee these past few days. With class, exams, labs and work, its nice to come home and make a good hot meal, even if it only takes 30 minutes. I've always been a fan of Asian soups. Miso, hot and sour, vegetarian pho, its all good. This recipe is pretty simple, in that it doesn't contain many crazy Asian ingredients that you may not necessarily have on hand.

Serves 4


2 packages soba noodles, cooked following package directions

Olive oil
10 oyster mushrooms
1 clove garlic, minced
1/16 green cabbage or napa cabbage
1 large carrot, shaved
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 mirador pepper or Long chilli pepper, minced
5 dried shiitake mushrooms, steps removed, rinsed and chopped
1 handful dried seaweed
1/2 bunch Chinese broccoli or 1/2 a head of bok choy, chopped
1/4 cup, pack fresh cilantro leaves
2 cups vegetable broth
5 cups water
2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp Asian 5 spice
1/2 tsp ground corriander
1 tsp ginger powder or 1" fresh ginger
3 Tbsp soy sauce


On medium heat in a medium large pot, lightly brown oyster mushrooms in oil. Add garlic, and fresh ginger, if using.
Add cabbage, liquid, dried mushrooms, hot pepper, seaweed, sesame oil, spices and soy sauce. 
Bring to a boil and then add carrot and green onion. 
Let simmer on medium for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile cook soba noodles as directed on package.
After 10 minutes add greens to soup and simmer for another 5 minutes.
Check seasoning and liquid level and add more soy sauce, salt or pepper, or water as desired. 
When all vegetables are cooked, add cilantro, remove pot from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
Serve soup on top of noodles and add hot sauce if desired.

Hope you enjoy! 

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Vegan Banana Bread

Waking up to the smell of banana bread is absolutely wonderful. Unfortunately, I was the one in the kitchen, not the one leisurely waking up. :)
This is hands down the best vegan banana bread I've had to date.  It has the components of every good bread that doesn't know if it should be eaten for breakfast or for dessert. Well, if you are fortunate enough to have any left after breakfast, you might just be able to indulge after dinner too.

Serves: 6-12
Bake at 350°F for 1 hour


2 ripe and frozen bananas/ 1 cup mashed
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Granola, optional


Preheat oven to 350°F.
Remove bananas from freezer, cut off ends and cut in half, place in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high until defrosted, about 1 minute, 30 seconds. 
When dethawed, squeeze banana out of peel, and mash in medium mixing bowl. 
Add wet ingredients, brown sugar, salt and vanilla and mix well.
Mix dry ingredients and add to wet. Mix well.
Pour batter into greased bread pan.
Top with granola.
Bake at 350°F for approximately 1 hour.
Test with a knife/chopstick/cake tester before removing.
Remove, let cool 5-10 minutes before removing from bread pan. Let cool an additional 10 minutes (minimum) before cutting.

butter it up and enjoy!

Saturday, 2 February 2013

A Side of Rustic Roots

Man, the aroma of this dish in the oven is amazing! These fall/ winter vegetables are perfect baked in a duch oven, but I've also baked them in a Pyrex dish for more caramelized roots.
Did I mention that all you have to do is cut a few vegetables, toss with olive oil and spice and cook? One of those dishes that you can throw in the oven while you work on something else, in my case it was studying for nutrition class.

Serves: 4-8


3 medium large carrots, scrubbed clean and chunked
20 fingerling or baby potatoes, scrubbed clean
10 crimini or button mushrooms, washed
1 large onion, chopped into large wedges or 5 peeled shallots
1 head of garlic, whole cloves crushed
Olive oil to coat
3 tsp French herbes, or a blend of your favourite
1/4 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper


Place all vegetables in your ditch oven, coat with olive oil and add seasoning. Mix until well combined.
Place lid on Dutch oven and place in oven.
Turn oven on to 400 deg.F.
Bake for about 40 minutes.
Like I said, you're going to smell it.