Saturday, 25 January 2014

vegan cooking successes: the ongoing saga (thinking of all the good food I'd like to be eating)

According to the internet, it's a balmy –2 degrees celsius in outside, but we are (or at least were) in the midst of another winter storm. Seems like the perfect day to hole up inside and bask in the warmth of the oven or stove and stir up some serious comfort food. Especially since I seem to have caught my first cold of the season. Only, thanks to the sneezes and other (minor) viral nastiness and the rather dismal state of my larder, I don't feel much like cooking. So instead, I've decided to reminisce about some of our kitchen successes of the past (many) months. It's about time I updated the food part of this blog, anyway.

Okay - this one's a summery recipe that turned out pretty well, and is a welcome reminder that it's not always cold, snowy and blowy outside. I have some kind of modest rhubarb plant growing in my yard and it's pretty easy to find local-ish strawberries at the market in the early summer - I've made strawberry-rhubarb crumble in the past but this year decided to try out this muffin recipe instead: Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins from Vegan Desserts by Hannah Kaminsky posted at They were pretty easy and pretty delicious, so I'm adding them to the 'make again' list.

Next up - a fall selection. Over the past couple of years I've developed a remarkable appreciation for cauliflower beyond anything I could have ever imagined. It's a great complement mashed into potatoes, as I learned while trying a new shepherd's pie recipe. But even before I discovered cauliflower's mashing potential, I was won over by a simple-looking dish called "Tomato and Cauliflower," available at Lebanese-Canadian restaurant, La Luna. Looking at their online menu and seeing the cauliflower described as deep-fried - well, that might describe some of the tastiness. Searching online for a slightly healthier version, I found several recipes recommending mixing tomato and cauliflower with turmeric and olive oil (and perhaps a little salt and cayenne pepper, maybe cilantro, if you're so inclined), and baking the combo at 425 degrees fahrenheit for 40 minutes or more. It's no La Luna Tomato and Cauliflower, but it worked out pretty well with very little effort.

Now for the Mexican-inspired entries, beginning with The Best Vegan Nachos from Pretty straightforward - tortilla chips, refried beans, lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole and salsa, with some shredded pseudo-cheddar Daiya and Tofutti sour cream to replace the dairy. I liked the guacamole recipe included - also quite straightforward - but I got lazy on the salsa and went with a jarred variety. I can't remember which, but lately I've been appreciating the PC Organics version (medium, because I'm no extreme heat lover).

For today's main feature though, it's back to one of our favourite vegan resources, Post Punk Kitchen, for Isa Chandra's Nirvana Enchilada Casserole. Like the blurb says, it's still a bit of work and mess, but much less than conventional homemade enchiladas (I'm guessing - never tried to make them), and the 'try this on a Sunday' advice seemed to make sense. The leftovers were good, but this was best (so good!) fresh out of the oven, so I'd recommend it as a dish you share with friends.

Okay, now I'm getting hungry...

Back to dessert before I sign off. For my birthday this year, one of my most exciting gifts was a new recipe book, Vegan Pie in the Sky (I really love pie!). The only thing we've tried so far is a cheesecake, which was good but didn't blow me away. I'm very much looking forward to trying every recipe in the book though, or close to it. On top of that, for Christmas my mom gave me a journal featuring several handwritten recipes I could try, including a bunch of yummy fruit-based desserts. I'm going to have to do a lot of sharing or plan on buying some serious eatin' pants...

I have no visual evidence of any of this food, so you'll just have to take my word for it that it looked as good as it tasted.

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