Good things to eat

Posts tagged ‘garlic’

Souveggie

Well I couldn’t exactly call it “fake souvlaki” because it just doesn’t have the same appeal.

Being originally from Montreal, I am no stranger to a good souvlaki.  We have a large Greek community there with lots of wonderful restaurants with vibrant flavours like garlic, lemon and mint.    One of my favorites is what we simply refer to as “souvlaki pita”.  Which usually consists of some sort of grilled meat that has been marinated in above flavours, rolled up in a pita bread with tomato, onion, lettuce and a choice of various sauces, usually tzatziki sauce or a tahini based dressing.  Wrapped in a tinfoil wrapper and you are good to go!

So last night, on the second to last day of the Vegan Challenge, I thought I would try and make a Vegan equivalent to the much-loved favorite.

I started by marinating some strips of tofu in the same flavours the meat would usually be in.

  • lemon juice
  • oregano
  • chopped garlic
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper

And let that hang out in the fridge for awhile.

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Then for some extra filling I decided to grill some egg plant as well, which I cut into thin slices and brushed with a little olive oil and then sprinkled with crushed garlic, oregano and some S & P.

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Then I made up a nice tahini dressing of:

  • tahini
  • lemon juice
  • crushed garlic
  • dried mint
  • S & P

Don’t be alarmed that the tahini just seems to seize up when you add lemon juice to it.   Just add a few drops of warm water to thin it out to the consistency that you’d like.

Pop your tofu and eggplant in a 450 degree oven  and keep an eye on them until they look done.

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Meanwhile on the side I made up a nice fresh salad of:

  • mixed greens
  • shaved cucumber
  • shaved fennel
  • mixed olives
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • a splash of red wine vinegar
  • a sprinkle of oregano
  • a slosh of olive oil
  • S & P

Toss well and serve on the side, although it actually goes very nicely on the sandwich too.

So when you are ready, lay out your pita ( slightly warmed or not)  lay down a few strips of cooked tofu then top with the eggplant.

Drizzle on the tahini dressing and sprinkle with chopped red onion, chopped tomato ( not shown here) and some chopped parsley if you have it.

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Sure, it doesn’t even pretend to taste like chicken, but all of the flavours were there and it was perfectly agreeable!

Even the Chef thought so!

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Different Salads

I suppose a staple of the Vegan diet is salads.

All shapes, sizes and colours.

To be honest, you can pretty much chop up anything, put on a little dressing and call it a “salad” these days!  And why not?

One of my favorite meals, Vegan or not, is what I call my “Mediterranean plates” where I just make a bunch of flavorful piles of stuff that go nicely together.

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Here’s tonight’s group:

First I got started with a nice batch of roasted yams and roasted cauliflower.

Get them started.

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Then I went to a white bean and kale with lemon salad:

In a glass or ceramic bowl add:

  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • juice of 1 lemon ( but zest it first and put aside)
  • 1/2 salt
  • 1 large handful of chopped green kale ( hard stems out)

Mix the kale down into the lemon juice and cover well and let sit in the acid until it gets a little wilted.

Then drain and rinse a can of white kidney beans and add to the bowl.

Then add:

  • 1 tbsp dried or fresh chopped sage
  • a splash of olive oil
  • a pinch more salt and some fresh cracked pepper.

Mix thoroughly, top with the lemon zest and set aside to rest while you perform your other duties.

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Next we have a nice Cous Cous salad.

Again, in a glass or ceramic bowl ( but preferably with a seal-able lid) start with your dressing on the bottom.   I just used more lemon juice, a little olive oil and some fresh herbs.

Then to the bowl I added some left over grilled vegetables, peppers, asparagus, Portobello mushrooms, zucchini.   If you don’t have any grilled veg and don’t feel like making any, raw ones would work just fine too but try and keep them of the more delicate nature, not hard things like raw carrots.

Toss these in the dressing.

Meanwhile and this is just something I do for added flavour, but by no means essential……

I like to dry toast the couscous in the bottom of a heavy pot or fry pan till they get just a little bit brownish.

Then toss the DRY couscous in with the vegs and dressing and toss them in well.

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Then pour boiling water over the whole thing ( amount according to couscous directions) and then seal the bowl with a lid or place a plate on top and let stand for about 10 minutes.

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Then I whipped up a nice little Tahini sauce to pour over things:

  • 1 clove chopped garlic
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • salt & pepper
  • water as needed

Stir this all up in a bowl adding water as needed to get to the consistency you are looking for.  Tahini tends to cease up when you mix it with other things, so you may have to keep adding water for a bit.

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So now with our yams and cauliflower roasted.

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Our couscous absorbed and fluffed.

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Our beans and kale marinated.

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We are ready to put it all together!

Maybe drop a few spinach leaves or mixed greens on the bottom to “green ” it up a little and then pile on the good stuff!   And drizzle with a bit of tahini sauce!

Yummy Vegan Salad night!!

Or anytime really!   In fact this combo cold the next day made a great work lunch!

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Oh and …….note use of home-made bun now as toasted garlic bread!!!

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Vegan Challenge-Week 1 check in

Well…… I’ve DONE it!!  One whole week with not a hit of animal product past my lips! As suspected, it really hasn’t been that hard because we already enjoy many vegan dishes a week, so it’s not like it feels all “weird” to be eating the things we do, it’s just the every meal aspect of it and of course the cow milk in my tea! Oh and much to my dismay, discovered that most, readily available, chocolate products all seem to contain dairy!!

So what have I been eating you ask?

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On the first night I whipped up a little “Spicy Tofu with vegetables and noodles”.

Start a little before and marinade the tofu for maximum flavour.

Marinade:

  • 2 cloves crushed fresh garlic
  • 1 inch knob of fresh minced ginger
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tbsp sweetener of your choice – I used brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy  or Bragg sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

I whizzed it all up in my mini chopper but if you do your mincing and crushing by hand, just mix it all in a bowl.

Meanwhile, chop up a block of firm tofu into 1 inch cubes.  I put them directly into a glass baking dish in one layer and then pour the marinate all over them and make sure they are evenly coated.

Let sit for at LEAST half hour, but the longer the better.

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When you are ready to eat, assemble your goods.

So now like any “stir fry” type thing, feel free to use what ever vegetables you enjoy but this is what I used:

  • 1 large onion thinly sliced
  • 4 medium size cremini mushrooms cut into fours
  • 1/2 head of green cabbage thinly sliced
  • 1 large handful of baby spinach with a rough chopped

Meanwhile:

Put on a pot of water to boil for the noodles.

I was surprised to find out that “Catelli Multigrain” noodles are in fact vegan.  I use these most of the time anyway but had never registered that they were egg free before because it wasn’t a priority, but good to know.

Then while the water is boiling, you might as well prepare a little garnish to go on top.

I chopped up a couple of green onions and made some carrot juliennes ( match stick size) with my new julien peeler ( I’ll show you that another time)

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Okay, let’s get started.

Firstly, in a large skillet or wok,  you want to pan fry your marinated tofu ( adding the marinade in a little at a time till it cooks down)  in a little neutral oil, till it gets  a little crispy on each side, just to give it some texture and the marinade makes a bit of a gooey sauce.

Then remove from the pan and keep warm in a heat safe container.

Add a little more oil and then toss in your vegetables.

Put you noodles in the boiling water and give a little stir.

Keep tossing the veg around until the cabbage starts to get nice and wilted.

Once the noodles are done, drain quickly and keep a bit of the cooking water.  Then toss the noodles into the pan with the veggies and toss them together.

Turn off the heat.

Give them a generous shot of soy sauce, sesame oil and rice vinegar and a sprinkle of sesame seeds and then keep tossing it everybody is well acquainted.

Place into your favorite bowl,  spoon on a helping of tofu, then top with the green onions,  carrot sticks and a sprinkle more sesame seeds.

Voila!  Vegan!

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Cockle Warmer

Well we all knew it would happen sooner or later, that the weather would turn on us! I hope not as bad for you as it has been for some!

Now that we have changed the clocks back to standard time here in North America,  it is time to turn to our comfort food.

The “Cockle Warmers” if you will.

Here’s a little impromptu dish I whipped up for a dreary night.

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I started with the base of my “Butter Chicken” recipe but went the lazy route.

Here is what you will need:

  • boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into cubes
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 inch minced fresh ginger

Start by browning the chicken is a deep skillet.  When the chicken is no longer pink, toss in the onions, garlic and ginger and keep stirring around till everything is looking a bit “sweaty”.

Now I just happened to have some grape tomatoes that were about on their last days so I tossed them in.   But you could use any chopped or canned tomato if you like.

Keep cooking till the tomatoes get a bit wrinkly looking.

Then add your spices.  Curry type dishes can be very personal from heat to intensity.   I hate to admit but I really have no rhyme nor reason to my combos.  I have a big drawer full of old pickled artichoke jars that I fill with my herbs and spices.  I open the drawer and see what takes me.   On this occasion I added, more or less a “good sprinkle of”:

  • cumin
  • coriander
  • chili flakes
  • turmeric
  • commercial curry powder
  • smokie paprika
  • garam masala
  • salt & pepper

Sprinkle all of those over the chicken and then stir in thoroughly till you can smell them.

Then add about 1/2 cup or more of cream.

Stir that in well and then cover and let simmer for at least 10 minutes till the flavours get good and acquainted.

You COULD stop here.

But I also happened to have some left over chick peas in the fridge that I tossed in and then some nice kale that I chopped up and added in at the last minute.

Put the lid back on for a few minutes until the chick peas heat and the kale wilts.

Then you are good to go!   Just add it to some rice or your favorite grain.

Or in my house, we even put this sort of thing on pasta!

I quickly whipped up a little cucumber salad to have something fresh along with it.

Finely slice either by hand or on a mandolin slicer some:

  • Cucumber
  • red bell pepper
  • red onion

Toss them in a little rice wine vinegar with a drizzle of something sweet, sugar, honey, agave etc and a little salt and pepper.    Let the vegetables sit in this for a little before serving.   But I like to leave as much of the liquid behind when serving.

And there you have a quick Wednesday night type dinner that was very easy and you can hide all sorts of good for you things in there!!

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Spooky Dip

Okay, so maybe it isn’t THAT spooky, but it IS made with orange and black food!  So I think that counts!

I started by do up a batch of my Roasted Yams but instead of adding my favorite poultry spice to them, I used pumpkin pie spice instead!  And a bit of chili flakes and cumin.

Meanwhile in the food processor, finely squish 1 -2 cloves of fresh garlic.  Then add some rinsed black beans and whiz those up together.

Then I added about a 1/4 cup of plain pumpkin seeds for a little texture and whizzed those in too.

Then the roasted yams.

Whiz them all up till they are mostly creamy with just a bit of chunky bits.

I realized that I have a similar thing I made, only here I just boiled the yams instead of baking them.   Yam Hummus, either way is good.

Now if you are thinking that this spooky dip is kind of light for having black beans in it, you are very observant.

I have a confession to make.  I didn’t actually USE the black beans!  I had some left over in a container in the fridge that I thought were fine, but even after rinsing thoroughly, they were still pretty stanky!!  So I had to open a can of chick peas instead!

So please use caution when using leftovers!  That could put a whole new meaning in Spooky Dip!

Arugula Salad as nature intended

Finally I have harvested something to eat from The Balcony Garden!

I wish you had “taste – O – vision” because this truly was just divine!

I gently trimmed the supple leaves from their base, gave them a quick wash just to remove any “bug spit” then on to the plate!

I whipped up the perfect little dressing that consisted of:

  • 1 clove of fresh garlic finely minced
  • the juice and zest of one lemon
  • olive oil x twice the juice
  • salt & pepper

Whisk that up and lovingly spoon and drizzle over the precious arugula.

Then add a few shavings of some good quality parmesan cheese.

Heavenly I tell you!  Just heavenly!

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he young fresh arugulas are almost sweet, not even a hint of what can usually be a bit of a bitter  bite!  Say THAT three times quickly!

The Joy of the Blog

So what’s the best part of being in the blog world?   Getting to read all the wonderful stuff out there.

It’s fine to sit and write about stuff yourself, but I think it is WAY more fun to read about and try other people’s stuff!

But how do you FIND other stuff?  Well, I didn’t get it at first, but then I caught on.  When people read YOUR stuff……and goodness only knows how they came upon it………but then they hit the “LIKE” button or better yet, they leave a comment, then you see them there.

And then you get curious as to just WHO is reading your stuff…..so you hit the link to them and get to their blog…..then you check out their stuff.  

And around and around it goes!   It’s fascinating really!  It’s  like having friends all over the world who share your interests or turn you on to stuff you never knew about!

So it happened the other day that someone from the blog                         

HEALTHY MODERATION  said that she liked one of my posts, so of course I went to visit her!

And she is a girl after my own heart who enjoys the Lebanese food and has posted some lovely recipes. 

I found one that I had never heard of called Mjadara that I just HAD to try!

Most Lebanese food that I am familiar with has big strong flavours from spices or garlic and lemon but this dish is very gentle and mild, very comforting and hearty.

Actually it reminds me of a Lebanese version of an Ayurvedic ( ancient  Hindu system of traditional medicine) dish called Khichdi, an East Indian rice and lentil comfort food dish.  But it is also used in healing.  People with maladies would eat nothing but this, or be on a “khichdi fast” because it is so gentle it helps to restore health.

But then she paired the Mjadara with Cabbage Salad with Mint and Garlic which added such a  fresh and wonderful balance to the dish.   Truly delightful!

And the best part is, I stumped The Chef!  He had never had either of these dishes before and found himself quite pleased by them.

So may I suggest that next time you are reading a blog, even this blog, to go to the bottom and see who “Liked” it or made a comment and go and visit their blog.   You will be AMAZED where you can find yourself!

At the very least you could find yourself with a great idea for dinner tonight!!

Mjadara and cabbage salad

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