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.

 

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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!

 

Dragon Lady Lentil Balls with Sweet and Sour Sauce

sweetandsourmeatballDo you remember my Iron Lady Lentil Burgers? These Dragon Lady Lentil Balls are a riff on that recipe with the addition of an amazingly zesty and easy-to-make sweet and sour sauce. Serve with brown rice and sautéed veggies and you’ve got an easy, inexpensive*, delicious, nutritious**, vegan meal!

You will need a food processor for this recipe.

Ingredients 

1 cup of uncooked lentils. I used Du Puys lentils because they cook in just 15 minutes

1 ½ Tbsp prepared yellow mustard

2 Tbsp maple syrup

1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/4 tsp curry powder

1 carrot – cleaned and cut into rough chunks

1/3 cup raisins (any type)

½ cup walnut pieces

2/3 cup rolled oats

1 cup fresh spinach leaves

1 tsp salt

A few grinds of black pepper

1-2 Tbsp water

Directions

Cook the lentils according to package directions – typically 2 cups of water for 1 cup of dry lentils.

Pre-heat your oven to 400F.

Put all the burger ingredients in a food processor and process until you have a very smooth, moist mixture.

Shape the lentil mixture into evenly sized meatballs. I made 15 meatballs of about 2 tablespoons each but you can make bigger or smaller balls. Place the balls on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 400F for 7 minutes then flip the balls and bake another 5-10 minutes (depending on your oven). The meatballs will have a bit of crunch on the outside but should be moist inside.

I found a simple sweet and sour recipe here and adjusted it slightly. Here is the recipe with my alteration.

Ingredients

2 teaspoon cornstarch

½ cup water

3 Tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1 tablespoon ketchup

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 Tbsp red pepper jelly (or similar style – I used an apricot and jalapeno jelly)

Meatballs2.jpgDirections

Whisk the cornstarch and 1 Tbsp water in a small bowl or cup. Set aside.

Mix all the other ingredients in a small sauce pan and heat to just before the boiling point (you do not want this mixture bubbling up, but do want everything well blended and hot.

Give the cornstarch mixture another stir and pour into the saucepan contents. Stir to combine for about 15 seconds. Let the sauce sit and thicken for about 10 minutes before serving.

Serve up and enjoy. Rawr!!!

*Inexpensive – these lentil balls are made almost entirely from pantry staples that cost just pennies.

**Nutritious – these meatballs are loaded with protein iron, fibre, B6, magnesium,