cream of mushroom and asparagus bruschetta……..

•August 21, 2008 • Leave a Comment


it was a good one. the asparagus bruschetta is based on the recipe from vegan italiano, although i think that donna klein cuts her asparagus in small pieces. the idea is simple: take a bunch of asparagus (tough ends discarded,) arrange it on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper and spray with olive oil, and roast at 400F for ten minutes or so, until they’re a little browned but still juicy inside. once out of the oven and a little cooled, coat the asparagus with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar (and very optional: a few drops of truffle oil.)

this deliciousness then goes on top of toasted slices of bread that were rubbed with a garlic clove.

for the mushroom soup, i threw together a few things i had at home. like the bruschetta, the ingredient list is a bit fancy but preparation is simple.

i used…

2 tablespoons Earth Balance spread

2 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1 cup (approx.) unflavoured soy milk

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

5 – 10 grams dried porcini mushrooms, rehydrated in 1/2 cup water

900 ml vegetable broth (one tetra box. you may use water and bouillon cubes.)

1/2 cup red wine

1 box of sliced brown mushrooms (227 grams or 8 ounce)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves (or a teaspoon of dry)

1/2 tsp dried crumbled thyme

cloves from 1 head of roasted garlic

freshly ground pepper + a pinch of salt (you won’t need much if your broth is salted)

optional: 2 tablespoons cashew pieces

optional: 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

in a medium soup pot over medium-low heat, melt the margarine and whisk in the flour. whisk constantly for 5 minutes, until the roux stops smelling like raw dough and the shade is a tad darker. take off the heat, and add a few drops of soy milk while whisking to combine. continue adding small amounts of milk and whisking until the mixture stops sizzling when more milk is added. add the rest of the milk and whisk until all lumps are gone.

add the 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast and the soaked mushrooms along with their water. mix in the broth, wine, fresh mushrooms, herbs, roasted garlic and spices. partially cover the pot and gently simmer for about 40 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender and the flavours deepened.

remove half the soup to a blender (about 2 cups of soup) and let it cool a bit. add the cashews and lemon juice to the soup in the blender, and blend until smooth. pour the blended soup back in the pot, mix and serve.

while the soup isn’t the prettiest in this photo, kay vouches that it’s “oh my god” delicious.


convenient Sweet Potato Oven Fries With White Bean Roasted Pepper Dip……….

•August 21, 2008 • Leave a Comment

i’ve been out of updating habit again, but any day now i’ll be making a lasagna to write about.
in the meantime, let me tell you what i’m eating right now!

yesterday evening i got a call from alex, asking if i’d like to go grocery shopping at loblaws. i enjoy that place for being somewhat fancier than the nearby foodshops but always end up with the nightmare of carrying giant grocery bags on the packed bus home, so getting a ride is not an offer i could pass.

alex kept true to his status as “fancypants” with quality groceries to last a month, and i got a little carried away accordingly, including a few prepared items that i would normally make from scratch. although i typically hate spending the extra money on convenience food because it hurts my foodie pride, these minor exceptions were worth it.

first, loblaws started carrying a white bean and grilled red pepper spread in their hummus area, under the “president’s choice” brand. THANKFULLY they had the decency to avoid calling it a “white bean and roasted red pepper hummus”. it’s lower in fat than hummus and is thinner, a little spicy and quite awesome.

the ingredients make it seem easy to replicate at home in a blender/food processor deal:

white navy beans,

grilled red bell peppers,


lemon juice,

olive oil,

sea salt,

garlic puree,

brown sugar,

and “spices”.

the spices i detect are cracked black pepper, small amounts of cayenne and cumin, and a mystery dried herb that could be any of thyme, oregano, parsley, basil, crumbled bay leaf, etc.

the other thing i bought was a giant bag of pre-cut sweet potato “spears”, that is to say, fries. of course i could have bought sweet potatoes and chopped them myself, but i find them more difficult to cut through than your average root vegetable, and normally end up breaking up freeform chunks by starting a cut and jiggling the knife around.

so! i take thee, sweet potato fries, sprinkle you with salt, pepper, lime juice and shawarma spice (cumin would do), spray you with a mist of olive oil, and off to the oven for 20 minutes at 380f or so. then i dip you in white bean and pepper spread and you’re sweet, spicy, zesty and delicious.

Tips From Gil……..

•August 21, 2008 • Leave a Comment

these instructions are incomplete, do not attempt unless you’ve worked with similar recipes before! (avoiding burning the sugar can be tricky)

toffee sauce:

2 parts sugar

1 part coconut milk or vegan heavy cream

caramelize the sugar until all crystals dissolve,

stir in cream, bring to a boil and stir until homogenized. chill. (should be sticky and somewhat elastic when dripped on cold countertop.)

shortbread: 1 part sugar, 2 parts margarine, 3 parts flour, add a bit of lemon zest, tahini and coconut milk (for binding)

roll out dough, bake and chill. cover with a layer of toffee sauce, sprinkle toasted pecans, cut out cookie shapes

another use for toffee sauce:

roast pumpkin and sunflower seeds, mix in a bowl with finely chopped dried fruit, mix in enough toffee sauce for binding. roll between two parchment paper sheets, bake and cut into cookie shapes when cooled.

Food Plant…………

•August 21, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Let’s all politely ignore my continual neglect of this blog.


so i haven’t stopped making food, i just never got around to writing down my adventures. i had the best intentions and planned entries about, amongst other things, a white lasagna with homemade fresh pasta (which turned out more work than it was worth, but i’ll revisit the idea when i have more time) and a completely improvised, walnut scented apple-raspberry cake, pictured here:

i also baked a couple of birthday cakes, leading to the realization that i could really benefit from a cake decorating course.

this one, pictured in our packed and messy fridge, was made for anna’s 20th birthday. it’s made up of two layers of lemony french cake with a centre of strawberry filling and bryanna clark grogan’s lemon curd. the icing is of the strawberry cream cheese kind, made with tofutti cheese and torani strawberry syrup. white chocolate chips, melted into a disk to create shavings, saved the little decorating disaster that occurred when the filling started oozing from between the cake layers.

meanwhile, kay insisted on carrot cake for her birthday. i used a winning recipe from vegweb that i modified a bit, mostly to reduce the sugar to allow for headache-free seconds. the frosting was a lemony cream cheese this time, and the “toddler drawn” style carrots were formed by mixing icing sugar with a few drops of soymilk and colouring paste to the consistency of very sticky playdough. it tasted soooo good, especially the next day.

i was going to add two recipes at the bottom of this post, but i can barely keep my eyes open! new posts tomorrow, if you can even trust my word at this point.

Red Velvet Cake……….

•August 21, 2008 • Leave a Comment

If you mention the words “red velvet cake” to a group of people in the South, you’ll likely to get a bunch of oohs and aahs. This is one of the most popular types of cakes in this regions, and everyone loved when this beautiful red cake makes an appearance at parties, potlucks, and even weddings (remember Julia Roberts’ red velvet armadillo cake in Steel Magnolias?)

I knew about the fascination behind red velvet cake, but I had never actually made one before. I actually rarely ate them growing up because my mom was never a huge fan of them. I always liked them for the cream cheese frosting. I may be a huge chocolate fan, but I do love some cream cheese frosting! )

Our young adults group is starting up again and since I’m in charge of the dessert each week, I wanted to start the year with something that people would get excited about. I found this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, which is one of my favorite food blogs. It got great reviews, and it didn’t disappoint. This was a fabulous cake. It was super moist, and the cream cheese frosting was delicious without being overly sweet. I only had one issue- there was not nearly enough frosting for the cake. Not even close- and I was not over frosting it. The recipe didn’t make anything close to the 6 cups of frosting it was supposed to. I would say it made 2-3 cups. Luckily, I was easily able to make another batch and finish the cake, so if you’re making this, I would double the frosting recipe. This is definitely a keeper recipe. It was completely devoured, so I took that as a good sign!

Red Velvet Cake (Source: The Confetti Cakes Cookbook by Eliza Strauss, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen)

Time: 90 minutes, plus cooling
Yield: 3 cake layers

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups canola oil
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) red food coloring or 1 teaspoon red gel food coloring dissolved in 6 tablespoons of water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place teaspoon of butter in each of 3 round 9-inch layer cake pans and place pans in oven for a few minutes until butter melts. Remove pans from oven, brush interior bottom and sides of each with butter and line bottoms with parchment.

2. Whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl.

3. Place oil and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. With machine on low, very slowly add red food coloring. (Take care: it may splash.) Add vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches. Scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine.

4. Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar and add to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds.

5. Divide batter among pans, place in oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pans 20 minutes. Then remove from pans, flip layers over and peel off parchment. Cool completely before frosting.

Cocoa Notes

  • Some red velvet cakes have no cocoa, others have up to half a cup. The less cocoa, the brighter the red, and the less food dye is needed to give it the desired hue. This cake has more cocoa and quite a bit of red dye, but as you cans see from the picture, it is a real stand-out red. Feel free to use less, but make sure you dissolve it in 6 tablespoons of water to compensate for any moisture lost.
  • Dutch versus Non-Dutched cocoa: This recipe uses baking soda, so it calls for non-Dutch-Processed cocoa. The reason is that Dutch-Process cocoa is neutral and will not react with baking soda, so it can only be used in 1) recipes with baking powder or 2) recipes with enough other acidic ingredients that will compensate for the lack of acidity. However, you’ll notice that this recipe has both vinegar and buttermilk in it, or quite a bit of acidity, leading me to wonder if either kind of cocoa could be used with success. I had non-Dutch on hand, so I used it, but if you only have Dutch and try this recipe, let us know if it works. Personally, I prefer the Dutched stuff because it usually is of a higher quality with a more delicate chocolate flavor.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from several sources

Makes 6 cups (I doubled it to make enough to cover the cake)

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter room temperature
3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. With a handheld electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low speed to combine. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.

Icing Notes:

  • Technique: Cake decorators will always tell you to ice a cake in two batches, first a “crumb layer” and then the more decorative one. Though I rarely bother, in this cake in particular, with its dark hue barely disguised by a thin layer of frosting, it is especially helpful. To do this, place a small amount of frosting on the cake and spread it over the entire surface that will be iced, thereby anchoring wayward crumbs in place so that they will not mess up the final product. A few minutes in the freezer or longer in the fridge will firm this up so that you have an ideal surface to build the real layer of frosting upon. (I did a rushed, half-assed one, hence the visible crumbs in the final product.)
  • Quantity: The recipe here creates an amount of frosting that allows for a thin coat between and over the cake layers. I found it to have the ideal cake-to-frosting balance for this recipe. However, you might want to double the recipe if you prefer a more decadent, padded frosting layer.

Cherry Cheesecake Recipe or Chocolate Chip Cheesecake…….

•August 21, 2008 • Leave a Comment
Nothing beats your own homemade cheesecake, and its pretty easy )

Simple Cheesecake
Simple Cheesecake

2 cups Italian Shortbread, bashed
4 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons butter
1 teapoon cinnamon


8 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

21 oz canned cherry pie filling
1 1/2 cups whipped cream

1. Preheat oven to 175 C degrees.
2. Bash shortbread with a can and add to a mixing bowl.
3. Add sugar and mix well.
4. Add butter and using a pastry blender or a fork, blend butter until incorporated with the bashed shortbread. Mix with cinnamon.
5. Prepare springform pan by spraying with a vegetable spray or rub inside with some butter to coat.
6. Press the crushed mixture onto the bottom of the springform pan.
7. In a large mixing bowl, add cream cheese, sugar, eggs, lemon juice, vanilla extract and flour and using an electric mixer, beat until smooth.
8. Pour mixture over the base crust.
9. Bake in preheated 175 C oven for 25 to 30 minutes.
10. To test for doneness, insert a knife or large toothpick in center and if it comes out clean, then the filling is set and cooked.
11. Remove from oven and let cool.
12. Spread cherry pie filling over top.
13. Spread whipped topping over cherries.
14. Chill for 1/2 hour before serving.

* 1 cup of dark chocolate chips folded into the mixture after step 7. Omit the cherry topping and whipped cream.

Apples ‘n Honey Cake

•August 21, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Since I am on vacation with less time for blogging, you’re getting two recipes in a row. This cake is also a fine one for Rosh Hashanah, complete with apples, honey and a carrot. Don’t let yourself be daunted by the list of ingredients; this recipe is not as complicated as it looks.

Rosh Hashanah meals often include apples and honey to symbolize a “sweet new year”. In addition, dipping apples in honey is part of the Rosh Hashanah evening home ritual. Apparently the use of apples and honey is a late medieval Ashkenazi addition which is now almost universally accepted.

3 large eggs (or 2 large eggs plus 2 egg whites)
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup honey
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract or brandy
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup cold tea (green tea is a great choice)
1/4 cup orange juice (preferably fresh)
2 medium apples, peeled, cored, and grated (about 1 cup grated)
1 medium carrot, grated (about 1/2 cup grated)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 12-cup fluted tube pan with cooking spray.
2. In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process the eggs, oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla extract for 2 to 3 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Don’t insert the pusher into the feed tube while processing.
3. Add the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt to the processor bowl. Then add the tea and orange juice and process with several on/off pulses, just until combined. Add the grated apples and carrot and process with several quick on/off pulses, until combined.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 65 to 70 minutes or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes before inverting the pan and unmolding the cake onto a serving plate.

206 calories per serving, 34.8 g carbohydrate, 1.8 g fiber, 3 g protein, 6.7 g fat (0.7 g saturated), 32 mg cholesterol, 142 mg sodium, 108 mg potassium, 1 mg iron, 45 mg calcium