Pucker-up-baby lemon squares

LemonSquares.jpgMy lemon-loving friend, Michela, continues to inspire me to explore lemon-y desserts. Here’s the latest – the most glorious sweet and tart and lemon-y squares with a delightful shortbread crust. I pretty much followed the recipe exactly from My Darling Vegan except I didn’t use Meyer lemons, just the usual kind, which are much larger.

I didn’t know that Meyers were rather miniature so I ended up with a lot of leftover lemons… and you know what to do when life hands you lemons, right? Tequila time! But I digress.

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Here is My Darling Vegan’s recipe.

My only comments on My Darling Vegan’s recipe are:

1) you need the juice of 1 ½ regular lemons or 5-6 Meyer lemons.

2) you cannot whip this recipe up in a hurry. It’s simple but there’s cooling time needed in between steps.

So get baking! My edits/comments are clearly marked for you.

Shortbread Crust

1/2 cup vegan margarine

1/4 cup granulated sugar  (Make sure it’s vegan – some white sugars are “filtered” white using charred animal bones so check that the brand you’re buying is vegan or go with an unrefined granulated sugar.)

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 cup all-purpose flour

Meyer Lemon Curd

1 package (12 oz) extra firm silken tofu

1/2 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice (5-6 lemons) or just lemon juice (1 ½ lemons)

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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To make the crust

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 square baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a stand-up mixer with the paddle attachment, beat Use a wooden spoon to cream the butter, sugar, and lemon zest together until smooth and creamy. Add the flour and mix until well incorporated.

Press the dough into the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes until light golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes.

Do not switch the oven off yet.

To make the Lemon Curd

In a food processor combine tofu, lemon juice, zest, and granulated sugar and process until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides as necessary.

Add the powdered sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla extract and process again until combined.

Pour onto the cooled crust and bake for another 25-30 minutes still at 350F until the lemon curd has set.

Let cool at room temperature for 20 minutes and then place in the refrigerator to cool all the way.

Dust with powdered sugar or candied lemon slices just before serving.

To cut, lift the dessert right out of the pan using the parchment paper. Cut into slices – should make 12-16 squares

Spicy orange and pepper stir fry

Orange Tofu 3.jpgFor most of my adult life, I have sucked at making stir fries. I just didn’t have a clue what to do or what ingredients to add. That’s changed and now I’m stir frying like a boss thanks to the many great recipe sites out there.

This recipe is from the Vegan Richa site with just a few modifications; I added more veggies. If I could find them, I’d add those cute, sweet little baby corns too but they remain elusive.

I hope you make this recipe. It’s beautiful enough to serve to guests and delicious and different.

Ingredients

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3 tsp cornstarch (use arrowroot to make corn-free, add more starch for thicker sauce and glaze)

2 Tbsp warm water

2 Tbsp soy sauce or liquid aminos

2 Tbsp rice vinegar

2 Tbsp maple syrup, agave or 1 Tbsp raw sugar

1 Tbsp Asian Hot Chili paste (I used Sambal oelek and 1 tablespoon made this dish plenty hot! )

The juice of one naval orange

1 Tbsp flavourless oil for stir frying. I use peanut oil.

7-8 ounces of very firm tofu patted and dried and cut into cubes.

2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped/sliced (not minced)

1/2 green bell pepper thinly sliced

1/2 red bell pepper thinly sliced

1 can (about ¾ cup) sliced water chestnuts drained

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Directions:

In a small bowl or cup, whisk the cornstarch and water. Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, maple syrup, hot chili sauce, orange juice and zest. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a very large nonstick pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add the tofu cubes and fry until the cubes are browned on several sides.  This will take about 5 minutes. Add the bell peppers and sliced garlic and give a quick stir – about 1 minute.

Add the sauce and cook for about 3 more minutes until the sauce thickens.

Serve with rice, rice noodles or glass noodles.

This recipe makes 2-3 servings depending on how much rice you want to eat it with. I find it’s quite saucy and spicy so it can easily 2 ½ cups of cooked rice – enough for 3 servings.

Seitanically good bbq ribs!

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I’m just started a new job, which means I spend time with a lot of new people who are curious about my vegan diet. One thing I’ve been asked a lot is “what was the hardest food to give up” or “what do you miss the most”.

The straight up answer: I missed cheese the most, though I’m over that now that I’ve discovered many great commercial brands and make my own cheeses too. I missed bacon a lot, but that’s over too thanks to rice paper bacon and an even deeper love for the living pigs I’ve met.

But sometimes I just want something meaty, chewy and barbecue-y. Thanks to “wheat meat” or what’s properly called vital wheat gluten, I can have BBQ ribs in a jiffy that satisfy my cravings and harm no one.

Wheat meat is better known as seitan (pronounced say-tan) and like its almost namesake, it’s a tempter.

Seitan is for you if you want to eat something that’s ridiculously easy to make, inexpensive, super nutritious and versatile. That would be everyone I hope.

Seitan is also for you if you just get a kick out of saying “hail seitan” like I do.

Seitan is NOT for you, if you have any gluten issues. Seitan is gluten.

This recipe is from BOSH!

Ingredients

1 cup vital wheat flour (also called vital wheat gluten or 80% wheat protein flour)

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

1 Tbsp smoked paprika

1 Tbsp soya sauce

1 Tbsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp liquid smoke

½ tsp ground pepper

¾ cup vegetable stock

½ cup of your favourite barbecue sauce (homemade or bottled). Check the ingredient list to make sure the sauce is vegan, but it probably is.

More barbecue sauce for dipping.

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Directions

Heat your oven to 350F.

Grease a small cookie sheet or baking dish.

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl until you have a fist-sized, springy dough ball.

Using your hands, spread the dough out on a greased cookie sheet or in a baking dish so that you have a rectangle that’s about 9”x 4”.

Bake for 20 minutes then remove from the oven and spread the ½ cup barbecue sauce over the now puffed and ridiculous looking seitan (the exuberance of the seitan’s rising and springiness make me laugh). Bake for another 5 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cut into “ribs”.

That’s it. So easy. Enjoy!

Thug Kitchen’s Apple Baked Beans

Finishedbowl1.jpgThese “baked” beans are a misnomer since they’re cooked entirely on the stovetop. That means, though, that they’re a great dish to make all year round. They’re tangy, sweet and just a little bit different thanks to the addition of diced apple and fresh rosemary.

I follow the Thug’s recipe faithfully except for a few tweaks: maple syrup, liquid smoke and salt (don’t add the salt ‘til the end; you may not need it). Here’s their recipe, tidied up a bit for delicate sensibilities (that would not be mine) and with photos, which are not in the cookbook.

There is some overnight prep involved – read the recipe all the way through!

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Ingredients

1 ½ cups dried white beans (I use a mix of navy beans and Great Northern beans)

2 tsps olive oil

½ onion diced

1 clove garlic minced

1 tsp smoked paprika

½ tsp liquid smoke

15 oz can tomato sauce

1 Tbsp molasses

2 Tbsp maple syrup (or brown sugar)

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tsps soy sauce or tamari

1 tsp sea salt (optional)

1 sprig rosemary (sprig should be about 6-8” long)

2 ½ cups vegetable broth

1 medium apple washed but not peeled, cored and cut into pieces about the size of your pinky fingertip. I use either a Granny Smith or Macintosh apple.

Directions

Soak the beans in a big bowl of water for 8 hours. I soak my beans in the fridge overnight.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Sauté the onion for about 5 minutes, until it’s starting to turn golden. Add the garlic and paprika and cook for another 30 seconds.

Add the drained beans, tomato sauce, molasses, vinegar, maple syrup (or brown sugar), liquid smoke, vegetable broth and rosemary. Stir it all up. This is the “witch’s brew” stage or as the Thug’s say it will look like you’re “trying to cast a spell or some shit”.

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Simmer this all together for about 1 hour. The leaves will have fallen off your rosemary so just fish out the remaining twig.

At this point, taste the beans and add salt, if you want.

Stir in the chopped apple and simmer for about another 30 minutes.

Serve up immediately. This dish will last for 4 days in the fridge and freezes well. It makes 4 extremely filling servings.

 

Samosa Pie – when East meets West, it’s the best

SamosaPie.jpgI love samosas and I love pie. Here’s the perfect marriage of the two with all the deliciousness of samosas and none of the fiddling with dough or deep frying.

A samosa pie is an impressive dish to serve up and guaranteed to make your mouth happy. Don’t let the list of ingredients or steps deter you; this is one worthy creation!

 Ingredients

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2 already-prepared, vegan pie crusts* left out to thaw for about 15-20 minutes.

1-2 Tbsp flour for rolling your dough

1 Tbsp flavorless oil – I use peanut oil

4 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered

1 small onion, diced (1/2 cup)

1 medium carrot, diced (½ cup)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup frozen peas

1 cup of chopped spinach

1 cup of cooked chickpeas (if using canned, drained and rinsed)

1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth

2 tsp. agave nectar or sugar

2 Tbs. unflavoured plant milk (I use almond milk)

The spices

1-2 teaspoons coriander seeds (if you hate coriander, use cumin seeds)

1 tsp. curry powder

1 Tbsp garam masala

1 tsp. ground ginger

½ tsp. ground cumin

⅛ tsp. red pepper flakes, optional

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Directions 

In a large pot, boil the potatoes until they are fork tender. That will take about 15 minutes. Drain them and roughly mash them so that they are still quite lumpy.

While the potatoes boil, measure all your spices into a small bowl or cup.

Pre-heat your oven to 375F.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Sauté the onion, garlic and carrots until the onion is translucent. Push the onion/carrot mixture to the side of the pan and place the spices in the centre of the pan. Heat the spices until they become fragrant then turn off the heat and mix the spices in with the onion/carrot mixture.

Add this mixture to the mashed potatoes. Stir in the broth, frozen peas, chickpeas, spinach, soy or almond milk and sugar or agave and mix everything well.

Spoon this mixture into an 11” deep dish pie plate.

Using your hands wad the two pie crusts into a dough ball. Dust a rolling pin with flour and working on a floured surface, roll the dough out until you have an 11” disk.

Place this disk onto the samosa pie filling and press down the edges of the pie crust to seal in the pie. Use a knife to cut a few slits in the top of the pie crust to let steam vent.

Wrap the edges of the pie crust in tin foil so they don’t burn. The edges always seem to brown faster than the centre of the pie.

Bake your pie for 30 minutes then remove the foil from around the edge of the crust. Bake another 45 minutes. Let the pie stand for about 10 minutes before serving. Serve with bottled tamarind sauce.

*Vegan pie crusts are quite common and use vegetable oil or vegetable shortening instead of lard.

Here’s an excellent recipe and instructions on making pie crust, if you’re inclined to bake right from scratch. It really isn’t hard at all and only takes a few extra minutes!

 

Little lemon thugcakes with creamy lemon frosting

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My friend, Michela, likes lemon-y baked goods so I made her a batch of lemon cupcakes with creamy lemon icing. The recipe is from The Thug Kitchen cookbook with a few alterations (and no swearing – because the recipe is that easy!).

Ingredients

The cupcakes

1 ½ cups fine cornmeal (the kind you make polenta with)

¾ cups flour

¾ cup sugar (make sure it’s vegan sugar –not filtered through animal bone char! In Canada, Redpath sugar passes muster)

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups coconut milk (a 13oz can)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

The zest from ½ a lemon

The lemon icing

3 cups of icing sugar

½ cup vegan margarine at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 Tbsp lemon juice (the juice of ½ lemon)

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Directions

Heat your oven to 375F. Grease a mini cupcake tin.

To make the cupcakes

Mix all the dry ingredients in a big bowl. Sift in the baking powder because you do not want to find weird, salty lumps of baking powder.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients. Stir until you have a moist batter with no dry pockets and few lumps.

Spoon the batter into the cupcake tin and bake for 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Pop out each cupcake onto a platter and allow them to cool completely before frosting them.

To make the frosting

Mix all the ingredients together until you have a smooth creamy frosting. Be patient. You will feel like you can’t possibly get all that powdery sugar – which will fly everywhere if you are rushing – to incorporate into the small amount of margarine and liquid, but you will.

When the cupcakes are cooled to room temperature, spread about 2 teaspoons of frosting on each cupcake.

This recipe makes an ample amount of frosting because in my world, more is more.

This recipe makes two dozen mini-cupcakes.

 

Hoisin-marinaded stir fry – like a boss!

HoisinStirFry.jpgSomehow going vegan has made me a better cook. Pre-vegan days I tried making stir fries but they were uninspired and incredibly monotonous. Not any more. This might be my favourite stir fry ever. It’s easy yet has a flavor complexity, and is fun to eat with its many different textures and the slurpy noodles.

Ingredients

Hoisin Marinade Sauce

3 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp water

2 tsp sesame oil

1 Tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar

1 tsp lime juice (about ½ lime)

1 tbsp peanut butter or almond butter

1.5 tbsp maple syrup

1.5 Tbsp minced or grated ginger (about a thumb-sized piece of ginger root)

4 cloves of garlic minced

1 hot green or red chili pepper, finely chopped

red pepper flakes to taste

12 oz firm tofu, patted dry and cut in bite-sized cubed

For the veggies and noodles

6 oz rice noodles (I use pad thai noodles)

4 baby bok choys sliced up

1 carrot cut into coins

1 red pepper diced

½ cup frozen peas thawed

3-4 mushrooms cleaned and sliced (I used cremini mushrooms but try any type that suits your taste)

1 tsp oil

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Directions

Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl large enough to hold the cubed tofu. I find it helpful to first melt the nut butter in the microwave so it mixes more readily with the other marinade ingredients.

Once your marinade is mixed, add the tofu cubes and toss them to coat them. Let them marinade for 10 minutes and up to 1 hour.

While the tofu marinades, prep your veggies and cook the rice noodles according to the package directions. When the noodles are cooked, drain them and place them in a large serving bowl.

Heat the oil in a wok or skillet on medium-high heat. Add the marinated tofu and marinade and sauté until the tofu starts to get some browned sides. When the tofu has some crispy colour, remove it from the wok and place it in the serving bowl with the rice noodles. Leave the marinade in the wok.

Add the stir fry vegetables and cook them in the marinade mix. They will cook very quickly – in about 3 minutes. Remove them and the marinade and add them to the bowl along with the tofu and noodles.

Toss everything and combine. Make sure the noodles are coated with marinade.

Top with a sprinkle of chopped peanuts.

Serve up and enjoy!!

This recipe makes 3-4 servings and is heavily based on a similar recipe from Vegan Richa.