Vegan chai pear scones

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My friend, Marina, and I both know that any recipe can be made vegan. These pear chai scones are proof of that. After tasting her scones which tasted somewhere between happiness, a hug and warm spices, Marina shared the original milk-and-egg-and-butter version of this recipe with me saying “of course make it vegan.” Of course. It’s easy peasy to do by substituting applesauce or a flax egg for a chicken’s egg, any plant-based milk for the heavy cream and vegan margarine for the butter required in the original recipe.

Here’s my version with some added touches – a batch with raisins and a batch with diced candied ginger.

Ingredients

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2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
½ cup vegan margarine

2 pears, cored, peeled and cut into small pieces (and what a great way to use up pears that look battered and bruised)

½ cup unsweetened applesauce (or a third pear)
1 Tbsp ground flax seed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup plant milk. I used almond milk.

Optional – ½ cup raisins or 1/3 cup diced candied ginger

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Directions

Preheat your oven to 350F.

In a small bowl, mix the ground flax seed with 3 tablespoons of water. Stir together until the mix resembles a goopy brown snot (it does, sorry). Add the milk and vanilla and combine. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, stir the flour, sugar and salt together. Sift in the baking powder and spices. Yes, sift. We talk about this sifting thing every time. You do not want nasty, crystalline, salty bits of baking powder showing up in your finished baking!

Cut in the margarine using a pastry blender OR use two dinner knives or your hands until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Stir in the pear chunks (but not the applesauce).

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Your flour-sugar-spice mix should look like this once you’ve cut in the margarine.

Add the flax egg mixture and the applesauce to your flour mixture. Mix lightly to combine. IF you are adding raisins or candied ginger, add that now and fold in. The dough will be very sticky.

Lightly flour a work surface and place the dough on it. Form it into a circle then flatten it using your hands until it’s just a bit less than 1” thick.  You can sprinkle the top of the dough very lightly with flour too so you can work with it. Cut the circle into 8 equal wedges using a sharp knife.

Use a spatula to transfer the scones to an ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle the scones with a bit of sugar (I used “vanilla sugar” I had made by storing a whole vanilla bean in sugar.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Eat up and enjoy!

 

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.

Esther’s Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies

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Here’s a recipe from Esther’s Kitchen (Esther being none other than media phenomena and fashionista Esther the Wonder Pig) that is so easy, versatile and forgiving, I have to share it.

Esther’s chef, Linda, tried these brownies 11 different ways – each way being equally delicious I’m sure.

Then I tried the recipe two more ways. Again, all fabulously delicious!

The best part – you just bung everything into a food processor or mixing bowl and hand mix, then pour the batter into a parchment-lined pan and bake. You end up with dense, moist, chocolatey and spicy brownies that satisfy.

Here’s Esther’s Kitchen’s original recipe post:

This recipe has been tested using the following choices: almond butter, peanut butter, sunflower butter, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, dairy-free butter, coconut oil, almond flour, all purpose flour and gluten-free baking flour blend. Each one tasted great and had unique flavors. All of the ingredients resulted in a moist brownie that held together well. The brown rice syrup had the least amount of sweetness. This batch was baked with almond butter, almond flour, coconut oil and agave.

Esther’s Pumpkin Brownies

Cuisine: Esther Approved Dessert, Baked Good, Gluten-free and Nut-free options

Prep Time: 10 minutes Bake Time: 25 minutes Cool Time: 15 minutes Yields: 12 (3”x3”) brownies

By: Chef Linda | Esther’s Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin from a 15 oz can or homemade and excess water drained
  • 1/2 cup creamy almond, peanut or seed butter (almond was used)
  • 2 Tablespoons softened coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar, maple syrup or brown rice syrup (agave was used)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cacao/cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup flour of choice: almond, gluten free baking blend or all purpose (almond was used)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar Instructions

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Line an 8“ x 8“ baking dish with parchment paper. Press the paper alond the bottom edge and all 4 corners; set aside.

3. Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl or food processor. Use an electric hand mixer or process in the food process until the batter is smooth.

4. Pour all of the batter in the center of the parchment lined baking dish. Scrape out remaining batter from the bowl or food processor. Spread the batter into the corners until you have a level surface.

5. Bake the brownies for 25 minutes. Cool the brownies on a metal rack for 15 minutes.

6. Pull up two sides of paper and lift the brownie out of the pan. Place the paper and brownie on a cutting board. Slice the brownie into 9 pieces or as desired.

Here’s what Chef Linda’s brownies look like.

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I hope you give this amazingly versatile recipe a try and make it your own! The key is to know where you can make swaps:

  • the type of flour
  • the type of oil
  • the type of nut/seed butter
  • the types of sweetener, and
  • the spices.

You can also try add ins such as chocolate chips, walnuts or pecans, even diced candied fruit.

Just do not mess with the proportions of ingredients because that’s where the chemistry is.

Here’s one of my versions:

I used, pumpkin, regular flour, a mix of maple syrup and agave, coconut oil, tahini paste instead of a nut butter, and added a cup of chocolate chips and a big pinch of cayenne pepper. This batch was made in the food processor.

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For my next batch, I diverged and used: mashed banana and no pumpkin, regular flour, the full amount of coconut oil, almond butter, maple syrup only 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spices, ½ teaspoon cinnamon and ½ teaspoon cardamon. I also added a cup of chocolate chips because it’s chocolate and more is more.

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Why are you still reading? Go make some brownies!!

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

Red lentil dal – dishing up some red hot love

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I love Indian food, and lucky me, I got to spend a month in the south of India partaking of some of the best Indian meals any person has ever enjoyed.

This recipe for red lentil dal is highly westernized but no less flavourful and nourishing than the more exotic originals. What it is though, is faster to make using ingredients that are readily available in North America and Europe. Don’t let the long list of ingredients deter you – it’s mostly spices you likely already have in your cupboard.

Ingredients

2 cups red lentils

1 Tbsp coconut oil (or olive oil)

1 large onion diced

2 Tbsp curry paste (I use Thai Kitchen brand)

1 heaping Tbsp curry powder

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

3-4 cloves garlic minced

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp sambal oelek (chili paste)

½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground cloves

397 ml can tomato paste (13.5 oz)

1 cup chopped spinach (optional)

2 tomatoes diced

Directions

Cook the lentils. You need 4 cups of liquid. I use a mix of vegetable broth and water. You can use just water or all vegetable broth. Bring the lentils and liquid to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and simmer covered. The lentils will only take about 15 minutes to cook. There may be a tiny amount of liquid in the pot and that’s okay. Set aside.

In a large pot, melt the coconut oil. Add the diced onion and cook on medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are golden.

Add all the spices and seasonings: curry paste, curry powder, cumin, tumeric, chili powder, sambal oelek, garlic, sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves and ginger and heat through combining with the onion. Add the chopped tomato and combine. Add the tomato paste and spinach and combine. Last, add in the cooked lentils and mix everything together.

Serve with basmati rice, samosas and chapati bread. Mmmmm.

 

Moroccan stew – the warmth of the sun in a bowl.

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When I make this stew, I find myself saying “redolent” over and over as in “this stew is redolent of a sunlit Moroccan bazaar.” It’s not the prettiest dish, but there’s nothing else like it when you want something rich, warmly spiced and satisfying.

Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil or vegan margarine

1 onion chopped

1 cup shredded kale or spinach (optional)

4 ½ cups vegetable broth

1 cup of cooked chickpeas

1 cup of diced canned tomatoes

2 medium potatoes peeled and diced

1 sweet potato peeled and diced

2 carrots diced

½ cup dried red lentils

1/3 cup dried apricots chopped

1/3 cup wheat bulgur (optional – to help thicken the dish)

Spice mixture – combine in a small cup or bowl

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

½ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground cloves

¼ tsp ground turmeric

¼ tsp curry powder

Directions

Heat the oil or margarine in a large pot on medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until the onion is softened. Add the spice mixture and cook for about 2 minutes.

Add all the other ingredients except the kale or spinach. Stir to combine and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and simmer for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are cooked through. Stir in the kale/spinach and cook for another minute to let the greens wilt.

Serve up and enjoy!

This dish freezes well.

Baked curried tofu with creamy coconut rice

curriedtofu.jpgI absolutely love marinated and baked tofu. Depending on the marinade and how thinly or thickly you slice the tofu, you can create a range of flavours and textures.

The dish is easy to make though you need to allow time for the tofu to marinate.

The rice is a tasty side that comes together effortlessly. The sauce is my vegan riff on a traditional Indian raita – a cooling yogurt-based sauce that accompanies spicy dishes.

Make the tofu

Ingredients

14 oz block extra firm tofu

2 Tbsp soy sauce

3 Tbsp water

½ tsp curry powder

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp garam masala

½ tsp turmeric powder

½ tsp onion powder

2 cloves garlic minced

Directions

To make the tofu, cut the block into 8 equal slices. Place on a clean, lint-free towel and cover with another towel and press to squeeze out the liquid. Use the whole flat of your hand and press evenly.

Mix all the other ingredients together and spoon a small amount into the bottom of a shallow dish. Place the tofu in the dish. It’s okay if the tofu is stacked in 2 layers Spoon the marinade over the tofu and allow it to marinate in the fridge 1 to 4 hours

When the tofu has marinated, place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Spoon any remaining marinade over the tofu Bake at 425 for 30 minutes.

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Make the rice

Ingredients

1 cup basmati rice

1 cup coconut milk

1 cup water

3 cardamon pods (or about ½ tsp ground cardamon)

1 cinnamon stick

1 bay leaf

1 tsp salt

½ tsp curry powder

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp garam masala

½ tsp turmeric powder

1 chili sliced (optional)

½ cup peas

Shelled pistachios for garnish (optional)

Directions

Add everything but the pistachios and peas to a pot and stir together. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook covered for about 15 minutes. Stir in the peas. Top with pistachios if using.

Make the raita

Ingredients

½ cup unsweetened soy-, nut- or coconut-milk yogurt (not coconut-flavoured yogurt but yogurt that is made from coconut milk)

½ tsp coriander

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp salt

½ cup diced cucumber

1 shallot diced finely

Directions

Mix everything together and serve with the tofu and rice.

I enjoyed this meal with a beet and mandarin orange salad on the side.