Curry Hummus

Well, hello! Nice of you to stop by. Today I’d like to present to you a delicious gem of a cookbook I found at a second-hand book store. The book is called Eat, Drink & Be Vegan by the Canadian Queen of Vegan, Dreena Burton.

I had no intentions of buying any books as I went into the shop Fair’s Fair, located in Calgary. Tom was looking for a particular book that he knew they had, and I immediately bee-lined it for the cookbook section while waiting for him to find his book. My jaw dropped when I saw one of Dreena Burton’s books, as I have wanted to own one for a long time. I was first introduced to her cookbooks two years ago, when I lived with a woman for a short while, who owned the book Let Them Eat Vegan. I poured over this book and drew a lot of inspiration from her. You can find blog posts of mine from 2013, when I experimented with the recipes from that book.

I have since discovered that she has written several books, has an amazing website, and is soon to release a new cookbook, Plant-Powered Families. One of the many things I admire about her is raising a vegan family. I think it is important for children to learn about veganism early in life: to normalize it and promote its lifestyle.

I already knew that every recipe would be a total hit, but I am completely amazed by the creativity and variety of recipes in this book, Eat, Drink & Be Vegan. There are some really tasty-looking tofu recipes, and the hummus recipes look to-die-for. That’s why I started off with this lovely variation on a classic dip.

Here is my experience with the recipe Curry Chickpea Hummus with Pappadums.

Ingredients
2 cups chickpeas
Lemon Juice from 1 medium lemon (classic me, adding way more lemon than called for)
2 tbsp seed butter (original recipe called for cashew butter)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp flax oil (or olive oil, as the recipe calls for)
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground tumeric
1/4 tsp agave nectar (sweetener)
Pepper, to taste
4-5 tbs water (I found I needed more like 7-8)
2-3 tbsp raisins or currants (don’t skip this!)

I blended all the ingredients, except for the raisins, in a blender until smooth. I added the water little by little until the hummus was at the consistency whereby a cracker would dip in without breaking. I added the raisins and pulsed the blender to break them up a little.

I made my own pita chips by baking pita bread in slices, drizzled with olive oil an dashed with salt, at 350*F for 5-7 minutes on each side. I do this whenever my pita bread is stale and about to go bad. It’s a great way to quickly use it up without throwing any away.

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Again, this humus is fantastic. I’d have no trouble at all polishing off one batch to myself in a few days. I would never suggest that you don’t double it!

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Pumpkin Cupcakes with Macadamia Nut Frosting

Dreena Burton: she knows what’s up.

For years I have been searching for macadamia nuts that do not may contain peanuts, and last weekend my dad found some at Costco!! This is a happy moment; for those of you with food allergies, you get what I am talking about. So, I was finally able to make a recipe that I had on the backlog for months: Dreena Burton’s Vegan Pumpkin Cake and Fluffy Macadamia Mallow Frosting. For her thorough and delicious recipe complete with tips for modifications, go here. Burton is the author of “Let Them Eat Vegan” that is full of delicious vegan recipes for the whole family. I highly recommend it.

Here is my experience with the recipe.

I made my own macadamia nut butter by soaking the nuts in water and blending them into a butter with a food processor. I had to soak the nuts and rinse them well, as they were salted and roasted. Ideally I would have liked to buy actual macadamia nut butter, or make the butter from raw macadamias, but these things are hard to find peanut-free. I would have also liked to use a Vitamix, but I do not own one.

First thing to do is put a can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight, for the frosting.

Ingredients for the Cake
Dry Ingredients
2 1/4 cups flour (I used half millet flour and half white all-purpose)
1/2 cup, plus 2 tbsps, sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/16 tsp ground cloves
(1/8 tsp allspice – I had to omit this because I did not have any)

Wet Ingredients
3/4 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used soy)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp lemon juice

1/4 cup neutral flavoured oil (I used melted coconut oil)

I preheated the oven to 350*F and greased 12 muffin tins (next time I will do 18, as the batter rose more than I expected it to. Cupcakes can be smaller because of the frosting on top that makes them larger).

In a large bowl I whisked together the dry ingredients. For optimal blending of the batter, they should be sifted, but I was lazy. If you do not sift dry ingredients in recipes, make sure that you whisk it well to ensure the lumps are out, and when incorporating the wet ingredients, ensure that there are not any lumps.

In a medium bowl I whisked together the wet ingredients, then added the wet mixture and the oil to the dry ingredients. I used a spatula to incorporate the ingredients together, scraping the bottom of the bowl to ensure everything blended. I filled the muffin tins with batter and baked them for 25 minutes, until a toothpick came out clean. This is how long it took for my cupcakes, as the tins were full, but with 18 instead of 12, I think it would take more like 18 minutes. When in doubt, set the timer for less time than you think, and check on them. I let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting them.

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Ingredients for Frosting
1 can of coconut milk, refrigerated over night*
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup icing sugar
1 vanilla bean, seeded*
3 tbsp macadamia nut butter
1/2 tsp xanthan gum (found it at the health food store)

*note: I used a brand of coconut milk called Arayuma. I got it at the health food store, and it claims to be organic, fair trade, and preservative-free. 1% of the proceeds go to protecting Sri Lanka’s wild elephants. It was the cheapest coconut milk there, and I wanted to try a good-quality coconut milk. I have heard that canned coconut milk is not too good for you, but I am not exactly sure why. Anyway, I just wanted to try something new.

*note: cut vanilla bean length-wise and use a knife to scrape out the dark paste inside. You can use 1 tsp vanilla extract if you don’t want to use vanilla bean.

To make the frosting, first off, I scooped out the fatty part of the coconut milk, making sure to leave behind all the coconut water. The fat is much more solid than I was expecting, and took up about 2/3 of the can. I placed the coconut fat into a large bowl and whipped it with an electric mixer for about a minute to fluff it up. I added the salt, sugar, vanilla bean, and nut butter and slowly whipped it to incorporate, and added the xanthan gum last. I whipped the frosting for about two minutes until it was creamy. I put it in the fridge to let it solidify a bit more, leaving it in there for about 10 minutes.

Using a piping bag, I piped the frosting on the cupcakes. It would have been easy to just use a knife to spread it on the cupcakes, but I felt like they deserved a little more love than that, given how delicious they are.

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With the leftover coconut water, I plan on making a green smoothie and adding it to that. For the leftover pumpkin puree, check out this recipe of mine from a previous post.

Christmas Feast 2013

Christmas at my house traditionally involves my stepfather pulling off a giant turkey dinner for the family; it wouldn’t be Christmas without bacon roasted on the turkey and sausage in the stuffing. This was the first Christmas since I became flexitarian (vegan with exceptions here and there), and I wanted to make a festive vegan dish to contribute to the plant-based options on the table. I decided to make a Festive Savoury Tart with Mushroom Gravy. I got the recipe for the tart from Dreena Burton, who I follow on Facebook. She included this recipe in her cookbook called Let Them Eat Vegan. I do not own this cookbook yet, but had access to it over the summer while living with another vegan. Here is my adaptation of her Festive Chickpea Tart recipe.

Festive Savoury Tart
Ingredients for the pie shell
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup coconut oil at room temperature
4-7 tbsp cold water

Ingredients for the filling
3-4 tbsp coconut oil
1 large onion, diced
3 ribs of celery, diced
4 cloves of garlic, diced
2 cups chickpeas, with 1/3 cup reserved
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp soy sauce (ideally tamari instead, but I don’t know where to find it)
1/2 tsp ground sage
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup pecans, toasted (ideally use walnuts)
10 oz spinach, chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 tbsp fresh thyme
Fresh parsley
Pepper

Ingredients for the topping
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp soy sauce (again, ideally tamari)
2 tbsp pecans or walnuts

Mushroom Gravy
Ingredients
2 shallots, diced
1-2 cloves of garlic, diced
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
3-4 tbsp flour
4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 tsp thyme
3-4 tbsp coconut oil
salt and pepper

First off, I made the pie dough. It is important to note that this recipe needs some tweaking, as it was quite difficult to roll out, and I ended up pressing it in with my fingers. While the crust stayed together when the tart was being served, I am still not convinced that this recipe is the best approach to vegan pie crust.

To make the dough I tossed together the four, sugar, and salt, then cut in the coconut oil with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembled sand. I added the water little by little until the dough easily forms a ball. I think I required a little extra water to do so. I formed a ball with the dough, wrapped it in plastic wrap, flattened it into a disk, and refrigerated it for an hour.

Next came the filling for the tart. I began by toasting the pecans for 8-9 minutes in an oven of 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and let them cool. Next, I sauteed the onion, celery, garlic, and salt and pepper in a pan with the coconut oil. I let them cook for about 10 minutes, until the onion was soft and golden.

In a food processor, I pulsed the chickpeas (not including the reserved 1/3 cup) with the lemon juice, soy sauce, sage, and sauteed mixture, leaving the mixture slightly chunky; you do not want it to look like hummus. I added the toasted pecans and briefly pulsed it to break up the nuts. I transferred the mixture to a bowl and stirred in the spinach, cranberries, parsley, thyme, and reserved chickpeas. Then, I transferred the filling into a pie shell, with the pie dough pressed in evenly.

On the top of the tart I sprinkled the topping ingredients. The pecans will toast in the oven, so there is no need to toast them beforehand.

The tart was baked at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.

Next came the mushroom gravy. I sauteed the shallots and garlic for a few minutes, then added the sliced mushrooms and browned them for 10 minutes. I added the flour, reduced the heat, and cooked for another five minutes. Little by little I whisked in the vegetable stock and added the thyme. The gravy simmered for 30 minutes, then I seasoned it with salt and pepper. If the gravy had been too thin for my liking, I would have added more flour by mixing it with water in a little bowl, then adding it to the mixture (this reduces the likelihood of lumps in the gravy).

The savoury tart was eaten by all at the Christmas meal, and I was able to enjoy the festive flavours without having any turkey. Even though this time of year has proven to be more difficult to eat vegan (with all the family get-togethers and all), it was nice to share this dish with my family.

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Pesto White Bean Dip and Homemade Bread

This summer has been going by so fast, and I have found it hard to keep up with the recipes I want to post here. Over the past few months I have grown into a hummus fiend; Costco-sized tubs don’t last long enough, so sometimes I make my own. After experimenting with different flavours of this delicious chickpea dip (plain, paprika, and spinach), I decided to use a different kind of bean. I got the recipe for Pesto White Bean Dip from Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton.

Ingredients
1 can white kidney beans, drained
2/3 cups fresh basil, rinsed
2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 clove garlic
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted and cooled (bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or fry in a skillet for about 3 minutes)
1-3 tbsp water
Optional: 2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast

In a food processor, blend everything except for half of the pine nuts. The more olive oil you add, the richer the dip will be, and the more water you add, the thinner it will be. Stir in the rest of the pine nuts and Enjoy! Delicious in sandwiches and with crackers, and a perfect summer recipe.

Even though I did not make my own bread the time this bean dip was around, I thought this would be a good place to include the Whole Wheat Bread I made recently. I got the recipe from my employer at Bagelino’s, a bagel shop located in downtown Calgary. He won’t give up his secret homemade bagel recipe, but he was willing to share his bread recipe, and threw in some fresh yeast for me to use at home. When he gave me the recipe, he only included the ingredient measurements, but not much in the line of instructions, so I had to apply some techniques from working with fresh yeast at Cordon Bleu.

Ingredients
11 oz warm water
3 cups flour (I used 2 cups whole wheat, 1 cup white, but you can do whatever combo, as long as you adjust the water as needed)
2 1/2 tbsp butter, melted (you can probably guess I used vegan margerine)
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp fresh yeast (1 1/2 tsp if using dried yeast)

Combine flour, salt, and butter in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine sugar and yeast and then add to flour mixture. Add water and combine. I needed to add a little more flour, as the dough was too sticky, and I did this one tsp at a time. I wanted the dough to be slightly sticky, but also slightly smooth. Knead the dough by throwing it on a lightly floured surface over and over again, folding it on itself, for about 10 minutes. Place in a lightly floured bowl and cover with a towel or a plastic bag. Let the dough rest for 45 minutes.

Punch down the dough and knead again for about 5 minutes. Shape the dough into a log and place in a lightly greased bread pan. Let rise for another 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, turning the pan half way through.

A good tip that my employer gave me was to put a about an inch of water into an oven-safe cup and let it sit at the bottom of the oven while the bread bakes. This avoids a thick crust from forming.

The bread turned out really well; about a third of it was gone before it had time to cool down, thanks to Tom and I snacking on it! I plan on making more – in fact, I plan on making double batches and freezing the loaves if I have time in the fall. The nice thing about making bread is that the part that takes time is the rising, so if I have a day of studying ahead of me, why not punch some dough during my study breaks?

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Cookies and Ice Cream

Of course ice cream can be vegan (while being super simple and cheap)! A lot of the vegan ice creams I have seen in stores have been quite expensive, usually using tofu or coconut as the “cream”. I have found a very simple recipe from following Vegucated on Facebook, and lately they have been posting a lot of recipes for vegan ice cream, including this site. I plan on trying some of these recipes out, as I have heard coconut ice cream is fantastic. But, for now, here is a recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip Ice Cream.

Ingredients
2 bananas
1 tbsp peanut butter (I use soy nut butter because of my allergy)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips

A few hours before I wanted to eat the ice cream, I pealed the bananas and put them in the freezer. Once the bananas were frozen, I placed all the ingredients in a food processor and blended until really smooth. I scooped the ice cream into a container and froze it for about an hour, until the ice cream was scoopable. TaDa!

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A few weeks ago I made vegan cookies that went really well with this ice cream, but were also great on their own. Here is a recipe for Chocolate Cherry Pecan Cookies, from Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton.

Ingredients
1 cup cake and pastry flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips
1/4 cup crushed pecans
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1/4 cup oil (I used grape seed oil)
1/4 cup dried cherries

I combined all the dry ingredients in a bowl, then stirred in the chocolate chips and pecans. In a separate bowl I mixed together the maple syrup, extracts, oil, and cherries, then added the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients until just incorporated. Then, I scooped the dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet, making about 12 cookies, and flattened each cookie slightly. The cookies were baked for 11 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

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So here is a cookies and ice cream combo that is delicious, nutritious, and simple. While the cookies are definitely less “healthy” than the ice cream, they sure add a yummy crunch to this cream-less ice cream.