Meatless Monday – Fair’s Fair

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The T&T Night Market was a bad idea. Dead animals on a stick and a foul smell that permeated the scene greeted me as I walked up to the no admission charge gate.  And speaking of smells…what was with the smelly tofu advertised by so many vendors? According to the lady at one of the stalls it is tofu made with blue cheese. And then there were the Taiwanese smelly fries. I chose not to inquire what those were all about.

Summer time means festivals and fairs and many of these are food based. However, the typical options available for vegetarians/vegans is limited to exotic drinks and desserts. Who wants to walk around in a sugar stupor the whole time? This week’s Meatless Monday brings you a link put together by the dedicated team at VeggieFocus, a website featuring vegetarian restaurants and recipes.

The Top Ten Vegetarian/Vegan Food Festivals Around the World

If you do end up at a food festival that is not vegetarian/vegan friendly, here are some tips to help you survive nutritionally:

  • Eating before you go is always a good suggestion. Have dinner and then just plan to eat dessert at the festival. (That’s probably all you’ll get anyways.)
  • Bring bite-size snacks of nutritious foods for those hunger pangs that aren’t satisfied with simply sugar. (A handful of almonds and whole-grain crackers will help tide you over until you can get more substantial food.)
  • Fruit is a better option than baked goods. The fiber in fruit helps to slow down digestion so you don’t get the same blood sugar spike that refined sugar elicits.
  • Negotiate. Some stalls are set up assembly line style so you can request your food be made meat-free. (“A burger please and hold the meat.“)

 

 

Busy Bea Baking…

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…into the late night. With my regular work in slowdown mode and my mood melancholy I have the need to spend quality time in my kitchen. Culinary pursuits require ingredients, though, so I set out in the early part of the day to a few of many favourite food haunts: Yamchops and Kensington Market.

In such a hurry to purchase my wares and make it back in time to salvage the rest of my day, I forgot to order a small container of the chickpea tuna salad at Yamchops! Luckily I didn’t forget to get a sample of it, so with the taste fresh in my memory and the help of several online recipes for said stuff, I made my own.

The version you see in the photo consists of chickpeas, mustard, vegan mayo, a couple of nori sheets (seaweed), kiwifruit relish, celery seed, finely chopped shallot, salt and pepper. The mixture then got blended and put in the fridge to chill-waiting to be spread on some toothsome bread. (Hmm, a nice rye would be a perfect accompaniment…)

And the verdict? It tastes more like egg salad than the tuna I grew up eating but flavourful nonetheless. Who says chickpeas are just for hummus?

Tips gleaned from my culinary adventure:

  • The hand-held blender is an often used and much-loved toy in my kitchen. If you can only afford minimal equipment then I suggest this one is a must! It can be used in so many applications*, cleans easily and stores well in small spaces.
    *making smoothies, salad dressings, spreads, dips, mayonnaise, purées, etc.
  • A can of chickpeas goes a long way. You can use mash them for hummus and chickpea ‘tuna’, roast them for a healthy snack or simply throw them on salad for a boost of protein and fibre. They also have application in dessert. The Happy Hummus Hut in St. John’s Newfoundland has a Chocolate Hummus Dipper on their dessert menu. I got to try some and it is a filling treat that adequately satisfies the sweet tooth.
    Chickpeas or garbanzo beans usually come dried and require a long preparation time before they are edible enough to be used. They also come ready-made in cans*.  Whether dried or canned these beans have a long shelf life and with their versatility should be a staple item in your pantry.
    *Make sure the can is BPA-free. Eden Foods has a variety of canned beans with BPA-free lining.
Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Meatless Monday – Fettucine Coconara

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Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

This week’s Meatless Monday brings you a recipe imagined by yours truly:
Fettucine Coconara.

*Recipe requires mung bean pasta and coconut bacon. Once you’ve got your hands on these, you’re golden.

The original dish is popularly known as spaghetti (alla) carbonara and features a sauce made of cream, eggs, cheese and bacon poured over hot spaghetti. The revamped version for a meat-free meal is as follows:

 

Ingredients:

  • ½ package/2 generous handfuls of mung bean fettucine
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut bacon
  • water
  • salt and pepper, a pinch and a liberal dash
  • ¼ cup peas
  • ½ cup non-dairy milk (e.g. rice, almond, coconut…)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon vegan cream cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetarian or vegan Parmesan
  • ½ teaspoon marmite

Method:

  1. Boil the water with a pinch of salt. Add the pasta making sure it is fully submerged under water. Leave to boil for about 8 minutes.
  2. Drain the pasta and let sit. Use the same pot to make the sauce.
  3. Heat the oil on medium then add the garlic, salt, pepper and marmite. *If using marmite, reduce the pinch of salt or omit all together. No marmite? No problem-just use salt. Marmite just adds an umami taste.
  4. Slowly pour in the ‘milk’ and stir. (Heat should still be at medium.) Add the vegan cream cheese and stir until sauce thickens. Add fettucine to the pot and stir until combined.
  5. Add peas, ‘parmesan’ and coconut bacon and give it a quick stir. Serve immediately while still warm.

This recipe alchemy turns the traditional dish into a high fibre, high protein and low-fat facsimile of the real thing.

Tip:
If using frozen peas, use a steamer pot on top of the boiling fettucine pot so you can steam the peas and cook the fettucine at the same time.

Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

The vegan parmesan – kelp, nutritional yeast and nuts. Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

 

Busy Bea Baking…

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Rainy days and Mondays always get me down...” (Carpenters song)

…but baking perks me up. This week I took a page from certain cooking shows and went for a marathon-bake of recipes I had been meaning to try for quite some time. On Thursday I made a record 5 dishes requiring much prep in only a few hours, Friday was a sweet success with 3 treats in a few hours (including baking time) while Saturday was slow with a measly one recipe (pita bread). These pictures are just a tiny sample of what went on in my kitchen these past few days. I ate the food too fast to take a picture of it all.

Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Butternut squash and vanilla bean pancakes sizzling on the griddle. Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Kiwi Lime Tartlets Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Lentil Patties Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Thursday
I made:
*pie dough
*lentil patty filling
*quinoa and swiss chard salad
*spiced potatoes to serve with already prepared Indian bread
*prepared ingredients for vegan potato salad and baba ghanoush

Friday
I made:
*graham cracker crust and kiwi lime curd for the tartlet
*everything-but-the-kitchen-sink cookies
*butternut squash and vanilla bean pancakes
&
*rolled out the pie dough and filled with the lentil mix
*made baba ghanoush
*made a poolish for the pita bread

Saturday
*just baked pita – no biggie

 

 

Food competition shows often feature cocky, neurotic and/or insecure chefs, both amateur and professional, running around the kitchen like chickens with their heads cut off trying to complete the appointed task. The pace is frantic, disaster usually ensues and there’s always a look of doom and gloom on someone’s face as the program cuts to commercial.

Real-life culinary adventures need not be so dramatic. For some it is a way to relax, a therapeutic tool or a creative outlet. So get your bake-on, enjoy the journey and relish in your creations.

*Except for the graham crackers which have honey, all recipes are vegan.

Meatless Monday – A Vegetarian in Paris

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Let them eat kale

The Cordon Bleu kitchen is no place for a vegetarian, let alone a vegan.

France is renowned for its cuisine and Paris is considered one of the world’s food capitals. From wine to pastry and all animal parts in between, there’s not, however, a lot for the vegetarian to sink their teeth into.

Classically trained‘ chefs are mainly schooled in the French tradition and the list of cooking techniques reads like a French dictionary. Today is July 14th Bastille Day and Meatless Monday ponders the influence of French cuisine on the status of meat-free food.

Bastille Day is France’s national day or fête nationale and is named after the medieval fortress come state prison the Bastille. Modern-day celebrations include parades, fireworks and of course food! A celebratory meal may consist of the following iconic French foods: escargot (i.e. snails), crepes, cheese, wine and dishes made with eggs (e.g. quiche, soufflé, macarons).

Inherent in the French terms gourmet and haute-cuisine is the idea that certain food is sophisticated, elegant and refined. According to tradition, animal products are used as a major flavouring in food or as the feature of a dish. Remove the animal and you remove the prestige.

The image of meat-free dishes is often that of boring and bland food. Tempeh pales in comparison to foie gras and vegan chocolate avocado pudding does not stand up to the elevated status (and height hopefully) of a chocolate soufflé. The status quo being that good food needs meat. Time to revolutionize this idea.

Sumptuous food can be meat-free, one doesn’t have to be vegetarian/vegan to eat it  & one doesn’t have to be classically trained in order to prepare it. 

The use of other French culinary traditions (i.e. herbs, spices and fresh local ingredients) peppered with some imagination and creativity can help ennoble any plant-based dish. So enjoy your meat-free meal and savour your life.

If you find yourself travelling in France, make sure to check out Happy Cow’s list of vegetarian/vegan-friendly food establishments:

Happy Cow – France

 

 

 

 

 

Busy Bea Baking…Procrastibaking

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I learned a new word on Facebook:

Procrastibaking
The art of making cupcakes instead of doing something else you should be doing.

It and the definition are credited to the site abbyhasissues.com If this is Abby’s issue then I can deal with that no problem. Here are my latest creations from my procrastibaking.

What started off as an ice wine crème brûlée turned into an alcoholic soup. It looked promising as it chilled and congealed in the fridge but only the top layer was brûlée like while the rest was boo-lée. Besides I didn’t have any maple syrup to make the crunchy oat topping to give it a characteristic brûlée texture. The solution? Make cake of course.

A little bit of my recipe alchemy turned the soup into the cake you see below. With all the fat from the whipping cream, there was no need to put in additional fat like butter. And staying true to my (pseudo) vegan pledge, I did the old flax/chia seed trick to recreate the gelatinous egg bit. The result was a very moist cake. The leftover mango bits from the frozen treat you see on the right got mixed with some melted dark chocolate (Lindt). This fruity chocolate mud was slathered on top to adorn the cake. The second picture reveals a baker’s cosmetic secret: Cover imperfections with a dusting of icing sugar. It is like concealer on blemishes.

The mango treat was also the result of a failed experiment. Me and my hand blender got together to see if we could whip some full-fat coconut milk into shape. While the mixture thickened a little it bore no resemblance to a stiff dairy whipped cream. The solution? Throw in some fragrant organic mango and make a frozen treat. Next time, more mango and less coconut (and perhaps a little cardamom too).

And the final creation…bite my jandals* Kiwis, it’s summer in the northern hemisphere and these frozen treats are made with your superb kiwifruit. Thanks Zespri for exporting to Canada. Now could you send some gold kiwifruit and the mini ones the size of grapes?
*New Zealand word for flip-flops i.e. sandals

Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

Meatless Monday – Vacation, All I Ever Wanted…

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“The sun is shining and the weather is sweet,
Makes you want to move your dancing feet…”
~Bob Marley~

It’s been hot and humid – just how I like my summers to be. It begs the body to be outside and make hay (not food) while the sun shines. So today’s Meatless Monday just offers you a link to the complete collection (thus far) of Meatless Monday posts on Weal Food.

The Meatless Monday archives on Weal Food

I am open to feedback and requests. If there’s any topic you would like covered, let me know, and I will consider how I can accommodate you.

Ah the vegan creamsicles beckon…