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.

 

Sweet sesame wings – cauliflower can fly!

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Cauliflower wings are one of those magical vegan cooking tricks that knock my socks off. Today I tried a recipe closely based on one from Jessica in the Kitchen for sticky sesame “wings”. Oh… these are so delicious – sweet, salty, crunchy, spicy (or not if you prefer) and so satisfying.

Put on some music, gather your ingredients and chef-y vibe and just make these. You will be so glad you did.

My version is saucier and has a bit more seasoning than the original but the beauty of cooking from scratch is you can make things just the way you want.

Ingredients

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1 small head cauliflower washed and cut into florets (no stems!). You’ll have about 2 ½ – 3 cups of cauliflower florets. Make sure the cauliflower florets are completely dry before you start battering them.

For the batter and coating

3/4 cup besan or gram flour (a/k/a chickpea flour)

¾ cup unsweetened almond milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

¾ teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional – leave out if you don’t like heat)

1 ½ cups bread crumbs (I used a mix of panko and gluten-free bread crumbs)

For the sweet sesame sauce

½ cup real maple syrup

¼ cup Braggs liquid aminos (or soy sauce or tamari)

2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds. You can toast sesame seeds by spreading them on a sheet of tin foil or other small dish or pan and roasting them at 425F for 3-5 minutes. Watch them… they can burn easily. You need to know your oven, and with roasting seeds or nuts, less is always more! You can roast the seeds in your oven while it’s preheating, or use your toaster oven, if you have one (that’s what I do).

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

¾ teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder

2 chopped green onions

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Directions

Preheat your oven to 450F. Make sure your oven is completely heated up before you put the cauliflower in.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Put your breadcrumbs in a small bowl.

Combine the besan, milk, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, red pepper flakes and ground pepper in a separate bowl and mix until you have a thin batter.

Now you’re going to work assembly-line style. Dip each cauliflower piece in the batter. Shake off any excess batter and roll the cauliflower in the bread crumbs to coat the piece. Place the piece on the cookie sheet.

Repeat until all of the cauliflower pieces are coated.

Bake for 20-22 minutes.

While the wings are baking, prepare the ingredients for the sauce by whisking all the ingredients together.

Remove the wings from the oven and spoon or brush a small amount of the sauce on each piece. Don’t douse the wings though or they’ll get soggy. If you have leftover sauce, you can spoon it over the wings when you serve them.

Enjoy!

Wasabi, lime and tahini dip

I enjoyed these wings with veggie sticks and a wasabi, lime and tahini dip. I mixed 1/3 cup tahini, the juice of one lime, 2 teaspoons wasabi paste and ½ cup water together.

 

Massaman Curry – all the flavour without the heat

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Esther the Wonder Pig’s executive chef (Yeah, I know right? She has her own chef!) recently posted a recipe for Massaman curry. I had never heard of this dish – a fragrant, comforting, delicious stew originating in the Malaysian peninsula. While Esther is a pig of delicate tastes, I like my foods spicy and flavourful. We both agree that Massaman curry is best made vegan.

This curry is very straightforward to make and in less than 1 hour – from start to finish – you will be sitting down to a restaurant-worthy meal.

Do not let the long list of ingredients daunt you. You probably have most of the ingredients already on hand.

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Ingredients

1 pound yellow potatoes (about 2-3 potatoes), washed, unpeeled and cut into bite-sized pieces

1 small onion cut into 6 pieces

3 carrots cut into coins

3 cloves garlic minced

2 Tbsp coconut oil

1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger

2 Tbsp Chinese 5-spice powder

I Tbsp red curry paste (I use Thai Kitchen brand)

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp salt

½ tsp cinnamon

1 piece of star anise

¼ tsp cumin

¼ tsp cardamom

1/8 tsp cloves

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

400 ml (13 oz) can coconut milk

2/3 cup vegetable broth

½ Tbsp maple syrup (or brown sugar)

¼ cup peanut butter (please only use the kind that is just peanuts and oil – no brands full of added sugar and chemical brands)

½ cup whole, unsalted peanuts

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Directions

In a medium sized pot, heat the oil. Sauté the ginger, garlic, 5-spice powder, turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, cardamom, cloves and cumin to heat the spices through (this step helps release the flavours).

Add the broth, salt, coconut milk, star anise, maple syrup (or brown sugar) and curry paste. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes, carrots and onions and reduce to a simmer.

Simmer covered for about 20 minutes. You want the potatoes to be cooked through.

Fish out the piece of star anise; it’s done its work.

Add the peanut butter and peanuts and stir until the peanut butter is combined. You will have a thick, creamy sauce.

Serve on brown, basmati or jasmine rice. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Garlic-lemon-basil spread

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So sometimes life gives us happy accidents…like when I discovered that with slight alterations, the sauce I love to serve on pasta also makes an amazing spread or dip for crackers and veggie sticks. This spread is flavourful, healthy and super easy to make.

Ingredients

1 ½ avocadoes – peeled and pitted

The juice and zest of ½ a lemon

1-2 cloves garlic (or more if you like garlic!)

A handful fresh basil leaves –about ½ cup packed

A handful fresh kale or spinach leaves (optional)

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

¼ cup pistachios or walnuts (optional)

 

Directions

Put everything in a food processor and whirl until you have a smooth spread. Serve on crackers or with veggie sticks. I especially love this dip on endive leaves and garlick-y crackers.

 

 

 

Vegan pumpkin risotto

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Oh, this dish just oozes comfort and joy for the fall and winter season. It’s creamy, sweet, satisfying and impresses the heck out of people you serve it to.

So, think your risotto won’t be any good without cheese or butter? Try this!

If you have 30 to 90 minutes you have time to make this dish and wow yourself and a friend. The risotto takes just 30 minutes to make, but you do need about 40 minutes to roast the pumpkin or squash, which you can do the day before.

Making risotto is a bit of an exercise in faith. You just have to believe it’s going to work because halfway through the process, the pan will look like a messy failure. But it always turns out.

This recipe makes 2 generous servings or 3 appetizer size servings.

Ingredients

1 cup Arborio rice (must be Arborio rice)

3 cups vegetable broth

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp vegan margarine

1 large shallot finely minced (or 1 clove garlic minced and ½ onion minced)

1/3 cup (or so) of dry white wine (optional – but it’s an excuse to crack open the wine!)

½ tsp cumin

I small pumpkin or squash. I love thin-skinned heirloom squashes that don’t need to be peeled. For this recipe I used a honeynut squash.

3 Tbsp nutritional yeast

1/2 to 1 tsp ground black pepper

1 -2 cups fresh spinach chopped finely.

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Directions

Prepare your squash. Heat your oven to 400F. Wash the squash and cut it in half. Remove the seeds and place the squash halves on a cookie sheet cut side up. Drizzle the squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast the squash for 40 minutes until it’s fork tender and golden brown in spots. Remove from the oven and let the squash cool. If you’re using a thin-skinned squash, just cube the squash. If you are using any other type of squash, remove the skin and then cube the vegetable.

Heat the broth in a saucepan so it’s at a low simmer.

In a large frying pan or skillet, heat the olive oil and margarine.

Add the shallot (or onion and garlic, if that’s what you’re using) and sauté until translucent.

Add the rice and stir until it’s coated with the margarine and shallots and turning a light golden colour.

Add the cumin and the white wine (if using) and stir together.

Now the magic. This step will take about 20 minutes.

One ladle at a time (about ½ cup), add broth to the pan of rice.

Stir the rice until the broth is all absorbed by the rice. At first the rice will quickly absorb the broth and at the same time it will release its starch, creating a creamy base. As the rice cooks, the broth will absorb more and more slowly. Patience. Listen to music. Ladle. Stir. Ladle. Stir.

In about 20 minutes your rice will be done and all your broth should be used up. The rice will be al dente. Stir in the nutritional yeast.

Stir in the chopped spinach and the cubed, cooked squash and stir together. Serve up and enjoy!