Savoury, flavour-y, classic chili – with a cocoa twist

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As I said in my previous post, I’ve recently discovered TVP (textured vegetable protein) and now soy curls (more on those to come!) and I’m intrigued by these inexpensive, easy-to-use, versatile products.

I recently revamped an old recipe of mine to include a batch of my soyrizo, and the transformation was fabulous.

Do not be daunted by the seemingly long list of ingredients in this recipe; most of them are spices that you probably already have in your cupboard.

Cocoa is the magic ingredient here. It gives depth and richness to the chili and I swear by it!

Ingredients

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 onion diced

1-2 cloves garlic minced

1 red or green pepper diced

1 rib celery diced

1 cup mushrooms sliced

1 15 oz can (400ml or 1 ½ cups) mixed beans or kidney beans drained and rinsed

2 Tbsp red lentils (optional)

1 batch of soyrizo

14 oz can diced tomatoes (or 3 fresh tomatoes diced)

½ cup bottled salsa (any heat level you like)

1 cup fresh, canned or frozen corn (optional- but so yummy and pretty in the chili)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp dried basil

½ tsp dried oregano

½ tsp cumin

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

1 Tbsp cocoa powder

1 Tbsp chili powder

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Directions

Measure out all the herbs, spices and seasonings into a small bowl or mug. I like to have these prepared so I can toss them into the pot all at once.

Heat the oil in a large pot. Sauté the onion, garlic, peppers and celery until onion is starting to wilt. Add the mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms start to release their liquid. Add all the spices, herbs and seasonings and stir into the vegetables. Let the seasonings heat through, then add all the other ingredients except the corn.

Bring everything to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover the pot. Simmer the contents for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the corn and simmer for another 5 minutes.

You can serve immediately, but I find that this chili is even better the next day. It’ll last 3-4 days in the fridge and freezes well.

This chili is loaded with vitamins C and K, many B vitamins, potassium, fibre, protein and iron. What’s missing? Fat, calories and cholesterol.

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Soyrizo – spicy vegan sausage-y crumbles

Soyrizo

I’ve recently discovered TVP or textured vegetable protein and I’m both intrigued and delighted.

I’ve resisted using TVP because I thought it would taste dry and bland. And you know what? It is dry and bland. So is flour until you do something with it.

TVP is also genius. It’s made from defatted soy flour, a by-product of extracting soybean oil. TVP is high in protein and fibre, it costs next to nothing (I bought a three-cup bag of dried crumbles for 75 cents!) and it’s versatile.

I have only begun to experiment with this amazing ingredient. The first big hit is soyrizo – my vegan version of spicy chorizo sausage crumbles.

I’ve been adding soyrizo to chili (recipe coming soon)

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And to nachos and pizza and spaghetti sauce.

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I’d love to hear how you plan to use soyrizo.

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Ingredients

1 cup TVP

7/8 cup boiling water or vegetable bouillon (that’s 1 cup of water with two tablespoons of water removed)

1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder, if you’re not already using vegetable bouillon

1 tsp salt

½ tsp smokey paprika

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp chili powder

Directions

Mix all the dry ingredients in a heat-proof bowl, mug or jar. Pour the boiling water over top and stir the moistened crumbles. Let sit for five minutes before using, or store in the fridge for up to four days.

Hail pre-made seitan for quick, easy meals

 

seitan combo

Both these dishes were made from the same basic ingredient – seitan.

This has not been my best summer. My little cat, Molly, has been extremely ill and I’ve been to-ing and fro-ing daily to the vet after work to visit with her and feed her dinner. On top of that I was tossed on the city bus by a race-car-wannabe driver who left me lamed up and in pain with a smashed ankle. The good news – I’m healing nicely and so is Molly who has received the best of veterinary care.

Last week, my friends, Stephanie and Britton, announced their new business – The Seitanists. They make the most delicious seitan, vacuum sealed and frozen, ready to use as a super easy and fast meal ingredient. Stephanie asked me to try out their seitan and see what I thought.

What I thought is buying already-made seitan is a genius idea for busy people. It was a great solution for me with my full schedule and inability to stand for any amount of time.

I used The Seitanists’ cutlets to make two very different dishes – a spicy stir fry and pan-fried schnitzel medallions.  Check it out.

Seitanic stir fry with a hot, five-spice marinade

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For this stir fry, I cut one of the pre-made seitan cutlets into strips and marinated them for a couple hours. I then stir fried the strips and all the marinade with sliced onion, bell pepper, mushrooms and snow peas and served over rice.

Here’s the recipe for my marinade, which is more than enough to marinate a cup of seitan strips and nicely coat four cups of vegetables and rice.

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1 Tbsp paprika

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1/2 tsp cayenne powder

1 tsp five-spice powder

4 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce 

2 Tbsp cooking sherry 

2 Tbsp agave

 1 Tbsp sesame oil

Seitanic schnitzel medallions

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Making these little schnitzel medallions could not have been easier. I cut the seitan cutlet into medallions, dredged them in flour seasoned with salt and pepper, dipped them in almond milk and then covered them in mix of 1/2 cup panko crumbs, two tablespoons flour and two tablespoons nutritional yeast.

I pan fried the medallions in vegan margarine on medium heat until both sides were golden and crispy, then served the medallions with lemon wedges, a pink potato salad (add some beets to your regular potato salad) and sauerkraut. My German mother would have loved this.

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Hail seitan! This amazing, versatile ingredient is inexpensive, easy to work with, delicious, versatile and good for you. Thanks to ready-to-use seitan from The Seitanists, there’s no excuse ever for me not to be able to have a great meal in less than 30 minutes.

Curried rice and lentil salad with grapes and celery

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If the Waldorf-Astoria merged with the Best Marigold Hotel, this would be the new hotel’s signature dish. This salad, which eats as a meal, combines flavourful Indian spices, the crunch of celery, the sweetness of grapes and the staying power of lentils and rice. It’s also an easy dish to make that will last for 3-4 days in the fridge and travels well, which makes it great for toting for lunches, picnics or pot lucks.

Ingredients

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The salad

2 ½ cups cooked brown rice (that’s about 1 cup uncooked)

1 cup of cooked du Puy or beluga (a/k/a black) lentils (about ½ cup uncooked)

2 green onions sliced

2 stalks of celery sliced

1 ½ cups red grapes cut in half

¼ cup slivered almonds toasted*

The dressing

The juice of 1 lemon

4 Tbsp canola or peanut oil**

1 Tbsp curry powder

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp turmeric

3 – 4 cloves garlic minced

¾ tsp ground ginger

¾ tsp salt

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Directions

Place all the salad ingredients in a large bowl. In a cup or small bowl, whisk all the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad. Toss everything thoroughly to combine. I like this salad after it’s had time to sit and the flavours can marry. I usually make it in the morning for lunch.

Serve up and enjoy!  This makes 3-4 servings.

*To toast the almonds, place them on a small cookie sheet or other heat-proof dish (I used a miniature casserole dish). Place the almonds in the oven (To save power, I use my toaster oven.) at 400F for 3-4 minutes. Seriously keep your eye on them! They can burn in a flash. Remove the almonds from the oven as soon as they are toasted or they’ll keep cooking.

**Use an oil that is flavourless and will not go solid (like virgin coconut oil does). I tried this salad with melted coconut oil once and the minute the oil got cold, I was left with unappetizing mini-chunks of “oil” throughout the salad.

Easy vegan, almond-almond cookies

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I recently bought “Isa does it” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz – it’s a recipe book chockablock full of delicious, doable vegan recipes. One of the first that I tried was her lemon-lemon cookies. They’re pretty much like crack. It’s impossible not to eat them all immediately and then crave another batch.

But I also happen to love almonds so I wanted to see if I could recreate Isa’s lemon-lemon cookies but with an almond flavour. And yup, I did it. These cookies are rich, nutty, chewy, crunchy and just as addictive as the lemon-y originals And, because there’s no lemon rind grating involved, these cookies are kinder on my knuckles too.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients

For the cookies

½ cup coconut oil melted

¾ cup white sugar

3 Tbsp almond flour– toasted*

½ tsp almond extract

½ tsp vanilla extract

3 Tbsp almond milk

1 ½ cups flour

½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp cornstarch

For the icing

1 cup icing sugar

1/2 tsp almond extract

½ Tbsp melted margarine

1 Tbsp almond milk

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Direction

*To toast the almond flour, place it on a small cookie sheet or other heat-proof dish (I used a miniature casserole dish). Place the flour in the oven at 400F for two minutes max. Not kidding – not one minute longer or it will burn! Remove immediately.

I have a toaster oven so I toasted the almond flour in the toaster oven. If you used your regular oven, turn the heat down on the oven to 350F. You may need to leave the oven door open for a minute to get the heat to drop.

In a medium sized bowl, mix the sugar, coconut oil, almond extract, vanilla extract, and almond milk together until they are combined. Add the toasted almond flour and stir to combine. Sift in the cornstarch and baking powder and then add the flour and stir to combine.

Use a teaspoon to drop the cookie dough in mounds onto the cookie sheet. You can use the back of the spoon or your fingers to flatten the cookies down slightly. I can get 15 cookies from this recipe.

Bake at 350F for 10 to 12 minutes until the edges of the cookies are golden.

Let the cookies cool completely on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a plate or cooling rack so you can drizzle on the icing.

To make the icing, combine all the icing ingredients in a small bowl or cup. The icing will be drizzly. Use a spoon to pour over the cookies, and while the icing is still wet, sprinkle on any garnish you might want or leave plain.

Let the icing set and serve up! Enjoy.

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It’s been a stormy, icy weekend here and almond-almond cookies, a good book and some kitty snuggles made it really quite perfect.

The first and still the best vegan cheese I ever made

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In the first week of my vegan journey, I craved some creamy cheese. I bought a store-made brand and after one taste, dumped the whole tub. That chemically, chalky glop tasted like something that had been made by people who had never had cream cheese.

A quick google search didn’t bring me much luck either – I wanted cream cheese NOW not after eight hours of soaking cashews.

This is what I came up with and it’s still one of the best vegan cheeses ever. It’s so popular with my tribe that my friend, Cathy, specifically requests it for her birthday gift.  This recipe is nearly instant, easy and simple. And best of all, it’s delicious.

Let’s get started.

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Ingredients

¾ cup raw cashews

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp salt

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic

2 tablepoons nutritional yeast

2-4 tablespoons water (I used 4 today for a very spreadable cheese).

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Directions

Put everything in a blender and whiz until smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides of the blender a couple times.

Serve with crackers, rye toast, slices of apple or tomato.

 

 

Sham or scam – it’s a pigless ham

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Here’s one of the most ridiculously easy and delicious seitan recipes you’re ever going to find. With the investment of just a couple dollars for ingredients and a little more than 2 hours of your time (most of which will be spent watching Netflix while the sham/scam bakes), you’ll end up with a beauty of a faux ham that easily serves 4-5 people.

I had my sham/scam for dinner with sauerkraut and potatoes because I was feeling exuberantly German one night. The next night, still feeling all Teutonic, the sham/scam accompanied a pea soup (recipe to follow).

This recipe, created by Courtney Oliverez, is pretty forgiving and flexible. If you want to substitute in different spices or sweeteners go for it. Just do not play around with the cooking time or temperature or the amount of vital wheat gluten.

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Ingredients

Mix in a blender

14 oz can beets, juice and all (not pickled beets)

½ cup water

3-4 Tbsp brown sugar (I find 3 tablespoons is plenty but if you think you want it sweeter, go for the full 4 tablespoons). You could also try maple syrup for a deeper flavour. I haven’t done this yet.

¼ cup olive oil (or peanut oil)

3 Tbsp liquid smoke (yes, that seems like a lot but trust me on this).

2 Tbsp onion powder

2 Tbsp garlic powder (or as I discovered, 1 Tbsp garlic powder and one clove garlic work too)

3 Tbsp miso (either red or white)

1 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp sea or kosher salt (Measure this. With the amount of miso already in this recipe, your sham/scam can end up pretty salty very quickly if you over do the salt)

½ to 1 tsp pepper (preferrably white)

Mix in a large bowl

2 cups vital wheat gluten

¼ cup chickpea flour, almond flour or regular flour

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Directions

Pour the blender ingredients into the bowl of flour. Combine everything with a spoon or your hands (I use my hands). You will end up with a very unappetizing pink and brain-like bowl of goop. Oh boy!

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The unappetizing brain-like dough. 

Let this mix stand for 15 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 325F.

After 15 minutes, lay a large sheet of heavy duty tin foil out on your counter. Place the dough mix on the foil and shape into an oval loaf. Wrap the dough thoroughly and tightly but leaving a bit of room for the dough to expand. I like to double wrap my seitan, and if you’re not using heavy duty foil, I strongly recommend you double wrap, making sure all the seams are sealed.**

At this point I like to “burp the baby”. Pat and smack the dough to help spank out air bubbles because you do not want an airy, bready loaf.

Place the wrapped dough on a sheet and bake for 2 hours. Remove from the oven and let cool. Seitan is always best if it’s allowed to cool for a minimum of 8 hours in the fridge, but I have to be honest, I almost always eat a slice of sham/scam as soon as it’s cool enough to handle because it’s that good

Out of the oven

Here’s my sham/scam right out of the oven and unwrapped — a fragrant thing of dubious beauty!

** What’s with all the security?? Seitan can explode in the oven if it’s not wrapped well. By the way, that is not my photo; I haven’t experienced the seitanic explosion yet.

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A seitanic explosion caused by poorly wrapped dough. Don’t let this happen to you.