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Vegetarian Recipes

12 November 2008

Roasted Squash and Asparagus Salad


As of tomorrow I start my 12-day detox diet. The diet is called the Wild Rose D-tox and was developed by Dr. Terry Willard of the Wild Rose College of Healing in Calgary, Alberta. Dr. Willard is recognized as one of North America's leading clinical herbalists and has spent over 30 years studying the medicinal properties of plants.

Throughout the next twelve days I will eliminate dairy, flour, sugar, shellfish, tropical fruits, alcohol and yeast from my diet.

The diet also comes with four herbal formulas that are to be consumed with breakfast and dinner, the names of which are too graphic to repeat here and not appropriate for a food blog. If you want to see what they are, click here.

During the twelve days, I can eat as much as I want, as long as my diet consists of 80% alkaline-forming foods and less than 20% acid-forming foods. When digested, foods either leave an acidic or alkaline residue (or ash) in our bodies.

It is said that too much acidity is not good for us and alkalinity helps our bodies fight certain diseases. I've actually been trying to adhere to this concept for the past 6 months. I've been structuring my diet so that, to borrow from Michael Pollen's mantra, "I eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants". I've also permanently cut all all foods that contain ingredients I don't understand like "acesulfame potassium" or "calcium stearoyl lactylate".

So over the next fortnight, I'm only going to be featuring new and old recipes that align with my detox diet. Don't be deterred. The meals are nutritious and delicious.  I wouldn't have it any other way!

This brings us to detox recipe number one -- roasted squash salad with a garlic, basil and lemon dressing. Normally I'd eat this salad with some feta cheese crumbled on top -- but not today!

Continue reading "Roasted Squash and Asparagus Salad" »

06 November 2008

Orange Ricotta Hotcakes


As of next Tuesday I'm embarking on a 12-day detox diet. It doesn't in any way involve starvation, just the cutting out of certain foods and drinks.

So I'm considering this week as a bit of a 'last hurrah' and I'm enjoying all the things on my detox 'not allowed' list. The list being yeast, alcohol, flour, dairy, sugar and tropical fruits.

This brings me to detox no-no number one -- orange and ricotta hotcakes. Small in size but not in flavour, these mini hotcakes are infused with cinnamon, orange zest and oozings of fresh ricotta. The hotcakes themselves are made of a mixture of finely ground corn flour (corn meal), unbleached flour, Castor sugar, milk and eggs. The syrup is simply a combination of honey, water and orange zest boiled with a vanilla bean. The mingling of citrus and vanilla is intoxicating and only becomes stronger as the syrup heats up.


The addition of ricotta is delightful and results in a light, moist hotcake. The trick to adding the ricotta, is to very gently fold it into the hotcake batter, making sure that there are noticeable ricotta lumps in it.  Just don't over mix, although I'm sure if you did, it'd be ok.

I had some leftover batter and I couldn't resist making some 'mini-minis'.

Someone has to feed the hotcake fairies.


Continue reading "Orange Ricotta Hotcakes" »

30 October 2008

Vegan Cupcakes -- a revelation


Some may think the words 'vegan' and 'cupcake' should never meet in a sentence. Unfortunately, the word 'vegan' still has some rather drab connotations. It conjures up images of tofu-like textures and pale imitations. Cupcakes, on the other hand, inspire child-like delight and sinful decadence. The idea of a dairy-free cupcake certainly didn't do anything for me.

That was until I tried a cupcake from the cookbook Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

They're quite spectacular. Light, moist and decadent -- all perfect cupcake prerequisites.

In the recipe, milk is substituted with plain soy milk and apple cider vinegar. It's rather ingenious really. The cider curdles the soy milk and turns it into the consistency of buttermilk. Eggs are substituted with a little canola oil which gives the cupcake its moist, fluffy texture.

The icing is a combination of non-hydrogenated margarine, vegan shortening, soy milk, icing sugar and cocoa powder.

I made the cupcakes for the Thanksgiving party I recently catered for. My reason for choosing a vegan recipe was purely out of practicality - not to cater to anyone's dietary restrictions. I know these cupcakes to be reliable and their 'veganess' takes nothing away from their 'cupcakeness'.

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World is the brainchild of punk rocker Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Romero. Moskowitz has authored several vegan cookbooks all of which have won critical claim amongst the vegan community.

These cupcakes are a great way for the uninitiated to venture into the ever-more-popular world of veganism.

Continue reading "Vegan Cupcakes -- a revelation" »

21 October 2008

A Day in the Life of a Caterer


Catering: it's an important business and one that sometimes, I think, is taken for granted. The success of events, large or small, is often dependent on the food.

Last week I had the rather stressful job of catering a 'party' at the request of my partner Nic. When he first asked me I wasn't so keen on the idea. His idea of catering was "let's just cook up a big pot of curry and then heat it up in the microwave at the venue", to which I gave my standard response to all of his bad ideas: "that's a great idea, but...no".

It had to be something easy to eat. Finger food, food that would taste great hold or cold.

Now, about the party. I was given some rather cryptic details. It was a Thanksgiving snack for people volunteering on a political campaign. "Ahhh!" I thought: "A political party". They were giving up their holiday time to make calls and canvas the streets. How many of them were there? "Not sure, about fifteen", he replied. There were in fact about 20. Will other people be bringing any food? "Oh yes, it's like a pot luck". Only one other person brought food.


So armed with these details, I came up with a menu. My previous trepidation about catering had vanished because I thought what the hell, it's good experience, other people are bringing food and I'll use the recipes on my websites.

Continue reading "A Day in the Life of a Caterer" »

01 October 2008

Raw Wraps: ridiculously good


A few months ago I wrote about my new found experiences with raw food in LA. It was a revelation at the time and I still try to incorporate some raw recipes into my diet.

I was recently trawling raw food guru, Juliano's website for some ideas when I spotted his recipe of the month for a basic wrap.

I read the recipe and instantly thought 'wow'. Now you might be looking at the picture above and be thinking that I'm far too easily excited. It's a bit of lettuce, tomato, avocado, onion and what looks to be like soy sauce in the background. So what?

But that's exactly why I'm excited. It's healthy, ridiculously simple and absolutely delicious. The sauce is a mixture of nama shoyu (raw, unpasteurized soy sauce) and lemon juice. Light soy sauce will also suffice.

The combination of red romaine lettuce, juicy tomato, slices of creamy avocado topped with sweet, white onion is perfect in its simplicity. The dipping sauce is also perfect -- full-bodied with a fresh lemony twist. I like to add finely grated ginger for an extra layer of flavour.

I ate ten of these little wraps and would have kept going if I hadn't had to share my simple feast.

I urge you to try this recipe and if you do, please let me know what you think. Am I too easily pleased?

Continue reading "Raw Wraps: ridiculously good" »

11 September 2008

Peach & Barbecued Corn Salad


Have you ever made something that seemed too good to be true, especially when it was ridiculously simple to make?

I just had one of those moments.

It was this peach and barbecued corn salad that did it to me. Let me tell you about it.

Sweet, yet slightly tart peaches, barbecued sweet corn rubbed with lime and sea salt, slices of creamy buffalo mozzarella and a scattering of basil leaves. All this drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and an aged balsamic.

Please sir, some more.

The tastes and textures in this salad bewitched me. I got the idea from a farmer in Long Island, NY. He had a stall at the side of the road selling white corn and Amish peaches. I bought some and as I was leaving he called out the recipe to me. He'd never tried it himself but it was from a faithful customer of his.

I never got the farmer's name and I'll never know whose recipe this is but to both these people, I'll be ever grateful.

I'm submitting this post to Weekend Herb Blogging being hosted this week by Gretchen from Canela & Comino.


Continue reading "Peach & Barbecued Corn Salad" »

08 August 2008

Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms


The delicate flower of young zucchini is something I look forward to each summer. They are a real delicacy in most countries however, they grow in abundance in their native Central America.

When I was in Oaxaca, Mexico, I'd see mountains of the flowers being sold in the local markets. Not so in Vancouver. So when I did finally see the prized blossom I bought as many as I could. I bought both male and female blossoms. Female blossoms grow directly out of the zucchini fruit whereas the male flowers grow directly on the stems of the plant.

Using the word 'stuffed' with 'zucchini blossoms' just seems wrong on all levels however I cannot find a better word and judging by all the other recipes out there, neither can anyone else. I looked up 'stuff' in a thesaurus and some of the synonyms included 'overload', 'force', 'ram' and 'jam'. All wrong. I was hoping to find a word that would better describe the way you have to tenderly fill the blossoms with the ingredients.

I guess sometimes literality trumps sounding pretty and delicate because the blossoms are literally stuffed with a creamy mixture of ricotta, garlic, fresh basil, egg and a little salt. They are then dipped in a light batter of flour and soda water and then deep fried for a few minutes.


While it almost seems a sin to deep fry such a delicate thing the result is worth it because they remain just as delicate to eat. The batter coats the flowers ever so lightly but still has a satisfying crunch when you bite into its warm, creamy centre.

Continue reading "Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms" »

06 July 2008

Pillows of Love: Homemade Gnocchi


Gnocchi are surprisingly easy to make...once you've mastered them a few times that is. The texture and taste of homemade gnocchi is far superior to the pre-made stuff, hence the title: 'pillows of love'.

It is important to use floury potatoes like russets when making the gnocchi as the dough needs to be light and airy. I did try using Yukon potatoes once and the gnocchi was more like 'pillows of lead'.

I made the pesto using a very sharp, good quality kitchen knife instead of a mortar and pestle and I much preferred the results. The pesto takes about 15 minutes to chop in which time I'm totally intoxicated by the smell of the young, sweet basil (which has been sprouting enthusiastically from my window box).

What follows are step-by-step photos and instructions to help you make fresh pesto and homemade gnocchi. Bear in mind, that gnocchi is one of those hit and miss affairs rather like souffles. Their success is dependant on a whole range of factors including the type of potatoes used, the consistency of the mashed potato (don't over mash) and the quickness with which you work.

Here are some quick tips:

  • Use russet potatoes
  • Boil them with their skins on
  • Remove the potatoes one by one from the boiled water and peel them straight away
  • Quickly mash them with a fork or put them through a ricer while they are still hot. Don't over mash them.
  • Let them cool for 10 minutes but no longer
  • They should still be fluffy when you mix the egg and flour with them 

Continue reading "Pillows of Love: Homemade Gnocchi" »

01 July 2008

Raw Broccoli Salad: I'm addicted.


Raw broccoli is not something that I would eat for fun, that is until I fell in love with this raw broccoli salad. I've made it three days in a row and am showing no signs of tiring of it -- true love, non?

I tried a raw broccoli salad at RAWvolution during a recent trip to LA which opened my eyes to the exciting possibilities of raw food.

Some vegetables are spiteful in the way they convey their goodness by making me suffer for every last vitamin and mineral, like those vicious little wheat grass shots, which might be good for me in the long run, but certainly do nothing for me in the short-term.

The raw broccoli salad was different for a number of reasons. Firstly, I finely chopped the broccoli florets and then soaked them for an hour in a mixture of lemon juice, finely minced coriander, minced garlic, cumin seeds, good quality extra-virgin olive oil and flor de Sal, a Portuguese salt. I bought the salt after reading an enticing review from Marc over at No Recipes in his 5 salts from around the world post. Marc succinctly described the salt as "Strong salinity, mineraly, briny, full of umami".

The combination of the salt, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil, softens the broccoli. It still however, retains its tender crunch and soaks up the intense flavour of the dressing. The addition of cumin seeds add a sweet complexity to the salad, like a fragrant perfume. They can be substituted with caraway or fennel seeds.

The extra-virgin olive oil I'm using at the moment is produced by Badia a Coltibuono, a 1000-year old estate in Chianti, Tuscany. The oil is intensely fruity with a peppery, slightly bitter aftertaste. I've found that when I mix it with various ingredients such as the garlic and lemon juice and then let it sit in the open for a while, the bitterness evaporates. What is left, is a delicious, intense and rich oil. I use it in dressings and top soups and pastas.

A note on chopping the broccoli. While it is rather laborious, it's well worth it at the end. Just make sure you sharpen your knife. The manual chopping is much better than using a processor. I know this from experience. Today we tried to take a short-cut by using the processor which resulted in the broccoli being cut too finely, thus becoming mushy. So...no cheating!

I'm submitting this post to Weekend Herb Blogging being hosted by Pam from Sidewalk Shoes.


Continue reading "Raw Broccoli Salad: I'm addicted. " »

18 June 2008

Penance for Profiteroles: Carrot and Kale Soup


After a rather decadent date with chocolate ice-cream filled profiteroles last week, I felt as if I needed to repent with something simple. That something turned out to be a Carrot and Kale Soup.

Kale is one of my favourite vegetables but I don't cook it nearly as often as I should. There's something about its texture which I really love, especially when it's steamed, or as in this case, simmered for several minutes.

I mentioned in my my kale & smoked bacon quiche post, that the texture is somewhere between English spinach and seaweed. However, I'm not sure that's accurate. The leaves are curled and are very much firmer than lettuce, but soften upon wilting. If you can help me with a description of its texture, I'd love to hear it, because right now I'm groping around without success.

When I was in LA doing the raw food thing I tried a pretty hardcore green juice with raw kale in it. I won't be doing that again. While I do love the leafy green, consuming it raw was far too potent and I felt rather 'green' for several hours afterwards! That's not to say you shouldn't try it raw though, perhaps having it for breakfast first thing was the problem. I think I should have first consumed some greasy scrambled eggs and bacon to counteract the purity of all the raw kale nutrients!

In this recipe I used curly leafed baby kale, which when lightly cooked provides more calcium for every 100g serving than milk, yogurt, cooked broccoli or cooked spinach. It also has seven times the amount of vitamin A than cooked broccoli. These are just a few examples of the seemingly endless benefits of kale.

I'm submitting this post to Weekend Herb Blogging being hosted this week by Joanna of the blog Joanna's Food.


Continue reading "Penance for Profiteroles: Carrot and Kale Soup" »

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