Korean Kimchi Soup

Before you say anything, we admit it: this may not be the most traditional kimchi soup recipe you’ve ever encountered. For starters, the requisite pork belly is – for obvious reasons – absent (but not missed) in our version. We’ve also added miso paste to give the broth some extra body. Any way you slice it, this soup is a hearty meal unto itself and guaranteed to please adventurous palates.

Kimchi (fermented cabbage) is a true treat of Korean cuisine, loaded with nutrients and excellent in a variety of dishes. You can find bottled kimchi in a well-stocked Asian grocery, or if you’re feeling ambitious you can make your own – it takes a bit of time but is well worth it and the kimchi will keep, refrigerated, for a few months.

What you’ll need

Soup Base
– 1 T. fresh ginger, grated
– 2 T. red miso paste
– 3 T. Korean chili paste
– 4 T. soy sauce
– 6 cloves garlic, minced
– 3/4 t. black pepper, ground

Ingredients
– 1 onion, sliced
– 2 green onions, sliced
– 4 c. broth + 4 c. water
– 1/2 block of firm tofu, sliced.
– 1 T. vegetable oil for frying
– 2 c. kimchi (we make our own, but you can find kimchi at a well-stocked Asian grocer)
– 1 c. mushrooms, sliced
– 1 small package udon (about 1/2 lb., or one cup packed)
– 2-4 crushed Korean chilis (optional: add based on your tolerance for heat. Four will make for a blazing-hot soup!)

Preparation
In a large skillet, heat 1 T. vegetable oil over medium heat. Add kimchi (being sure to drain any excess liquid beforehand) and fry until softened (about 5 minutes). Set aside. Depending on your preference, you may also wish to fry the tofu before adding to the soup.

In a small bowl, mix together soup base seasonings with 1 c. of water until well-incorporated. In a large stockpot, add the soup base, along with 4 c. broth and remaining 3 c. water. Add tofu and vegetables – onion, garlic, green onion, mushrooms, and kimchi – and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Next, add the udon noodles and simmer for an additional 5 minutes until noodles are cooked and ready to eat. Remove soup from heat.

Serve hot and top with garnish of green onion and crushed chilis. A bowl of steamed rice makes a great addition, and a nice way to cool down between spoonfuls of soup.

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Nutso-Futso Mac & Cheese

Vegans, rejoice! The halcyon days of macaroni & cheese may not be as far behind as you think.

Having spent many days in hot pursuit of a suitable substitute for our long-lost macaroni dinner, and having tasted many veganized versions of our beloved classic (some more successful than others), we can say with all confidence that this is incontestably the best vegan macaroni & cheese we’ve ever gotten our hot little hands on (as the near-empty casserole dish will attest).

Initially, our intention was to approximate the neon-yellow Kraft Dinner of old, but this recipe turned out far more sophisticated than we could have predicted: rich, creamy and kicking out serious flavour, this is mac & cheese for grown-ups. Dress it up with sliced green onion and crumbled smoked tofu, or go classic with a healthy dose of ketchup: either way, you’re going to be a happy camper.

Serves 4 big appetites.

What you’ll Need
– 1 lb. macaroni, cooked and drained
– 3 T. vegan margarine
– 1 T. vegetable oil
– 1/3 c. flour
– 2 c. vegetable broth
– 1 c. almond milk
– 3/4 c. nutritional yeast
– 3/4 c. cashews, soaked in water
– 3 cloves garlic
– 3 T. tamari
– 1 1/2 T. tahini
– 1 T. grainy dijon mustard
– 1 T. lemon juice
– 2 t. red miso paste
– 1 t. turmeric
– 1/2 t. smoked paprika
– 1/4 t. fresh ground black pepper
– 1/8 t. white pepper
– pinch cayenne
– pinch nutmeg

Preparation

In a small bowl, add cashews and enough water to cover (roughly 1 c.), and let soak for about an hour until soft. Drain and set aside.

Combine almond milk, 1 c. vegetable broth, nutritional yeast, cashews, miso paste, tamari, tahini, garlic and mustard into a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth.

In a large saucepan, heat margarine and vegetable oil over medium-low heat until melted. Next, gradually add flour to the mixture and stir well to incorporate (there shouldn’t be any lumps). You now have a roux! Let the roux cook over medium-low heat until lightly-toasted.

Once toasted, it is time to add your blended liquid to the saucepan. Add slowly, stirring frequently to avoid lumps. Your sauce should begin to thicken almost immediately upon contact with the roux. Add the remaining seasonings as the sauce thickens over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and let stand for a minute or two.

Author’s Note: You may notice that your sauce gets quite thick once removed from the heat. We left our’s as is (to excellent effect), but you may add an additional 1/2 c. of vegetable broth to suit your mac & cheese sensibilities.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Pour sauce onto your cooked macaroni, stirring until the noodles are completely coated in nutty, saucy goodness. Transfer macaroni & cheese to a greased 9″x13″ casserole dish, and top with breadcrumbs and a dusting of paprika for added effect. Cover casserole with aluminum foil, and bake for 20 minutes; uncover and bake for an additional 5 – 10 minutes, so the noodles get suitably crispy and brown around the edges. Remove from heat and dig in (but be careful – it’ll go fast)!

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Vegan Breakfast Burrito

Spice up your morning routine with a hearty breakfast burrito! Chock full of a savory mixture of beans, corn and the ever-popular tofu, this burrito is bound to become an indispensable breakfast companion. This recipe is also a great way to clear out leftover vegetables, so feel free to improvise or embellish with veggies of your choice.

Serves four.

What You’ll Need
– 2 large or 4 medium pitas or tortillas
– 1 block medium-soft or medium tofu, drained
– 1 c. black beans, cooked
– 3/4 c. corn kernels
– 1 medium tomato, diced
– 3 green onions, sliced
– 1/4 c. smoked tofu, cubed (optional)
– 4 cloves garlic, minced
– 2 T. soy sauce or liquid soy seasoning (e.g., Bragg’s)
– 2 T. vegetable oil
– 1/2 t. cumin
– 1/2 t. chili powder
– 1/2 t. turmeric
– 1/2 t. oregano
– 1 t. crushed red pepper flakes
– 1/2 t. pepper
– 1/4 t. sea salt
– Juice of 1/2 lime
– A dash of liquid smoke
– A pinch of sugar

Serve with a side of guacamole and hot sauce to taste.

Preparation

In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Add garlic, green onions, and crushed red pepper flakes and saute until fragrant, 1 or 2 minutes. Crumble your block of tofu into the skillet so that it forms a suitable consistency for a scramble, and stir together with garlic and onion mixture. Let sit over medium heat until any liquid is cooked off, or about 4 to 5 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Add all of your remaining ingredients and toss well. Let the entire scramble sit over medium heat another 4 or 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat. Lay out a pita or tortilla, top with a generous scoop of the scramble mixture, and roll up. Serve with a side of guacamole and a dash of hot sauce, if desired.

Burrito carnage!

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Braided Marble Rye Bread

If you’re of our generation, chances are good that when someone mentions a “marble rye,” you think of that gorgeous chocolate-brown and tan loaf that caused such trouble in a classic episode of Seinfeld. With this recipe you can enjoy the benefits of a fine marbled rye without having to wrest it from the arms of a sweet elderly person. What’s more – using a sponge starter means that you’ll be able to reproduce the same perfect loaf of bread time and time again.

If you plan to make more ryes in the future, spoon out a half-cup or so of the sponge before adding your remaining ingredients; a sponge used time and time again will yield magnificent yeast flavours as it improves with age. For more information on sponge starters, see the excellent tips from The Fresh Loaf bread-baking site.

Bakes one large, braided loaf.

What You’ll Need
Sponge Starter:
– 1 c. warm water
– 1/2 c. lukewarm almond or soy milk
– 2 1/4 t. (1 package) active dry yeast
– 2 T. molasses
– 1 T. margarine
– 1/2 c. rye flour
– 1/2 c. all purpose flour

Dough:
– 2 T. vegetable shortening
– 1 1/2 t. sea salt
– 1 T. caraway seeds
– 1 c. rye flour
– 1 to 1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
– 2 T. cocoa powder

Preparation
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients of your sponge starter and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit in a warm place until bubbly and doubled in size, at least one hour. (The top of the refrigerator makes a nice, cozy home for your bubbling sponge starter!)

Once you have a very active sponge starter that has doubled in size, uncover and mix well with a spatula until completely de-gassed and returned to its original size. In two large bowls, divide your sponge starter into two equal mixtures. You will now begin to make two separate loaves of rye dough: one with cocoa powder, for color, and one without.

In one bowl, add your cocoa powder to your halved sponge starter and stir well. Carefully divide all of your remaining (i.e., “dough”) ingredients in two and split them between the two sponge starters. What you will end up with is two identical balls of dough, except that one contains 2 T. cocoa powder and the other does not.

(Start by adding 1/2 c. rye flour and 1/2 c. all purpose flour to each bowl. If more flour is needed, add more all purpose flour 1/8 c. at a time to each bowl, until you have a pliable, moist dough that is not sticky but not crumbly or dry. You may need the full 1 1/2 c. of all purpose flour called for above, but chances are you will need between 1/8 and 1/4 c. less per bowl.)

Turn your dough out onto a floured surface and knead until springy, about 5 to 10 minutes. Coat each ball of rye dough in vegetable oil, return them to their bowls covered with a damp towel, and let rise in a warm place at least one hour, until the dough has doubled in size.

Punch down your dough and turn out onto a floured surface. Cut each ball of dough in half, so that you have four equal-sized pieces of dough. These will be the strands of your braided loaf.

With firm hands, roll out each piece of dough into a thin log, about 1 to 1 1/2 feet long, which tapers off towards the end. Lay out each strand side by side, and pinch them together at one end. Now, you will begin to braid the strands together. Starting from the rightmost strand, lift the strand of dough and lift it OVER its neighbour, UNDER the next neighbour, and OVER the final (leftmost) strand.

Repeat this process, always starting with whichever strand of dough happens to be the rightmost strand. Lift this strand OVER the one immediately to its left, UNDER the strand after that, and OVER the leftmost strand. This process may take some practice to get right, but your dough will look very elegant even if it is not perfect – promise!

When you have braided each strand down to its very end, pinch these ends together and tuck BOTH pinched ends underneath the loaf. Oil or grease a large baking sheet, carefully transfer your loaf onto the sheet, and let rise again at least half an hour. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 400 F.

When your dough has risen a final time, and your oven is preheated, brush the loaf with a wash of soy milk or vegan margarine and bake in the oven 25 to 30 minutes, or until completely baked and hollow-sounding when knocked on its bottom.

Let cool on a rack at least a half an hour (sprinkle with flour for a more rustic-looking loaf), admire, slice and enjoy!

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Sushi is for Lovers: A Quick Valentine’s Guide to Vegan Sushi

In need of last-minute Valentine’s Day surprise that’ll knock the socks off of your prospective sweetheart? Sushi is a great way to make a fast, relatively inexpensive, and altogether romantic dinner for two. Making your own sushi rolls together can be an adventure in and of itself, and allows for plenty of opportunities to get closer to your beau (think Patrick Swayze in Ghost). In the end, you’ll have a unique assortment of sushi rolls of your own creation to share and enjoy. Saint Valentine would be proud!

Top, L-R: Teriyaki mushrooms, shredded nori, sesame seeds. Middle, L-R: avocado, pickled ginger, pickled daikon. Bottom, L-R: Soy bean curd, julienned cucumber.

What You’ll Need
– 4 c. cooked sushi rice
– 1/3 c. seasoned rice vinegar
– 1 package nori (dried seaweed) sheets
– Bamboo sushi rolling mat (optional)
– Any combination of fillings:

Sliced avocado, pickled daikon radish, marinated mushrooms, marinated or smoked tofu, julienned cucumber, julienned carrot, yam tempura, soy bean curd (“tofu chicken”), mango, or any other veggies or meat substitutes of your choice

Garnish with wasabi paste, pickled ginger, roasted sesame seeds, tamari, teriyaki sauce, vegan mayonnaise, etc.

Steamed edamame (soybeans) and homemade miso broth make excellent starters!

Preparation
Cook your sushi rice according to the instructions on the package, and season with rice vinegar (about 1/3 c. for 4 c. cooked rice). If you don’t have seasoned rice vinegar, you can season regular rice vinegar by adding 3 T. sugar and 1 t. salt to 1/3 c. vinegar.

Working on a clean surface or bamboo rolling mat, lay out a sheet of nori and add 1/3 to 1/2 c. cooked rice. With wet hands or a spatula, spread the rice into a thin layer covering almost the entire sheet of nori (leave about a one-inch strip uncovered at one end of the seaweed sheet – this will be the outer edge of your sushi roll, which you use to seal the roll tightly shut).

On the end of the sheet opposite the one-inch strip of uncovered nori, spread a layer of toppings in a thin strip about 1/2-inch from the edge of the sheet. If you’re wondering about amounts, use your discretion but keep in mind: one thin strip each of julienned cucumber, tofu, avocado and carrot (for example) will form a good-sized center filling that will still roll into a compact sushi roll.

Begin rolling your sushi by lifting up the edge of the nori closest to the filling. Roll the edge of the nori over your layer of fillings and continue to roll, pressing firmly and evenly over the entire width of the nori to ensure a consistent form. You will want to form a small log-shape, about 1 1/2-inch in diameter. This might take a bit of practice, but don’t worry – even if your sushi looks a little off, it will still taste just as good!

Rolling sushi: try to maintain firm pressure as you roll the nori up and over the filling.

When you have reached the outer edge of the nori sheet (the uncovered strip), wet a finger and thoroughly moisten the uncovered edge, then continue rolling until you have a complete sushi roll. (Wetting the nori serves to create an adhesive to bind the roll together.) Repeat the entire process, making variations on your filling ingredients (if desired) until you have used up your rice, nori and ingredients. (Hint: Leftover ingredients can be combined into tasty sushi salads!)

With a wet knife, slice your sushi rolls into 8 equal parts and arrange on serving plates. Top with roasted sesame seeds, and serve with suggested garnishes.

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Curried Zucchini Soup


This budget-friendly curried soup is as delicious as it is simple to prepare, and tastes like so much more than the sum of its parts. We have used a variety of curry powders over the years (from run-of-the-mill grocery-store brands to specialty Indian blends, and once even a spicy Jamaican curry powder – very delicious!), and we have never been disappointed by the end product.

Since this recipe uses only a handful of simple ingredients, try to select the freshest, highest-quality produce and broth. If you have the time and the inclination, try making your own vegetable broth from scratch – the results will speak for themselves.

What You’ll Need
– 2 T. vegan margarine (or vegetable oil, but only if you must!)
– 1 very large Spanish or yellow onion, sliced or diced
– 1 ½ lb. zucchini, sliced
– 1 ½ quarts (6 cups) vegetable broth
– 3 t. curry powder
– 1 t. black pepper
– ½ t. salt
– ¼ t. white pepper

Preparation
In a very large saucepan or stock pot, heat margarine over medium heat. Add onions and saute until somewhat soft, about 2 or 3 minutes. Add sliced zucchini, cover, and let soften, another 5 to 10 minutes. You may want to add a dab more margarine to saute the zucchini slices.

When zucchini is softened, add half of your broth (3 cups or so) to the pot, cover, and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the zucchini is completely cooked, about 10 minutes. Add your spices to the remaining broth and stir. Add remaining broth to the pot.

With an immersion blender, puree your soup until it is free of chunks. You may want to puree in batches, removing a few cups of soup at a time from the pot and blending in a large container. Be very careful not to splash yourself with hot soup!

If necessary, return the blended soup to the pot and reheat. Ladle into bowls, top with a garnish of chopped chives or parsley, and enjoy! (If you like, you may add a swirl of vegan cream to the hot soup for garnish, as well.)

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Vegan Banana-Coconut French Toast with Blueberry Sauce

Shake off the weekend blues with a walloping dose of banana-coconut French toast: thick slices of bread coated with a crisp layer of caramelized banana, and topped with decadent blueberry sauce. A good vegan French toast can be hard to find, but take one bite of this recipe and you’ll never brunch again without it! Serves 4.

What You’ll Need
– 6 thick slices of wheat bread (we like it with our Scotian Brown Bread)
– 2 (over)ripe bananas, peeled
– 2/3 c. coconut milk
– 1/2 c. almond milk
– 2 t. sugar
– 2 t. rum
– 1/2 t. vanilla
– 1/4 t. nutmeg
– 1/4 t. cinnamon
– Pinch of salt

Blueberry Sauce:
– 2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries
– 2 T. sugar
– 1/4 t. corn starch

Preparation
In a small saucepan, add blueberries and sugar and simmer over medium-low heat until a thin syrup forms (5 to 10 minutes). Remove a small amount of the blueberry juice to a small bowl and stir in corn starch vigorously, until smooth. Add the juice and corn starch mixture back into the saucepan and stir to thicken. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a bowl, crush the ripe banana with a fork. Add all remaining ingredients and mix. Poke a few holes in the slices of bread with a fork and immerse each slice in the banana mixture, until well-covered and soaked through. Toss a few tablespoons of vegan margarine into a large skillet and heat over medium-low. Add slices of bread (in batches, if necessary) to the skillet and cook 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden brown.

Remove from skillet and serve immediately with a healthy topping of blueberry sauce!

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Scotian Brown Bread

With its syrupy sweetness and dense crumb, it’s no wonder that this brown bread has become a staple of the Nova Scotian pantry. Each household has its own variation on this molasses-infused loaf, but regrettably, it seems that these days few people take the time to make brown bread the old-fashioned way.

Even if all your bread is store-bought, try this hand-made recipe on for size. You’ll be amazed by how simple it can be to make your own bread at home. This recipe yields two very generous loaves – making your efforts well worth it!

What You’ll Need
– 1 3/4 c. warm water
– 1 T. traditional yeast
– 1 c. rolled oats
– 1 c. fancy molasses
– 3 T. vegetable oil
– 1 1/4 t. sea salt
– 1 c. spelt flour (or one cup extra all purpose flour)
– 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 c. all purpose flour

Preparation
In a large bowl, add yeast to warm water and let sit for 10 minutes. Stir until yeast is fully-dissolved (water should be murky).

Stir in oats, molasses, vegetable oil and salt. Next, add your spelt flour and mix until smooth and free of clumps. Add in all purpose flour cup by cup, mixing in until you have a smooth ball of dough that is moist, but not sticky. It is better to have a wetter dough than a crumbly, dry dough. Do not add more flour than you need.

Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead for 5 to 10 minutes, until dough is elastic (a good way to test: poke a finger into the dough – if it springs back to fill in the hole, it is ready to go). Roll into a ball, coat with vegetable oil, and place in a large bowl, covered with clean cloth or plastic wrap. Let rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until dough has doubled in size.

Rising: before and after. Dough has doubled in size.

Once your dough has risen, turn out onto countertop and punch it down. Divide in half with knife, and with wet hands, shape each half of the dough into a loaf (you can either use well-oiled 9×5″ breadpans, or go for the more rustic hand-shaped look and simply place your formed loaves onto a large, greased baking sheet). Let rise again for 20 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 F. When loaves have finished second rising, spray with water and – if desired – top with a handful of rolled oats or seeds. Score the tops of the loaves with a wet knife, then place in oven. Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 F and continue baking for another 20 to 25 minutes until crust is browned and bread is baked through (Hint: a baked loaf of bread should sound hollow when tapped on its bottom).

Remove from pans or sheet onto cooling rack, let cool for half-an-hour, and enjoy.

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Evelyn’s Cranberry-Oatmeal Cookies

Something of an homage, this recipe is a vegan version of a classic childhood treat. The brainchild of a hometown local named Evelyn, these generously-sized cookies are pillowy-soft, golden-brown and bursting with fresh cranberries.

In an effort to recreate their glory, we present you with our take on Evelyn’s legendary cranberry-oatmeal cookies. May they serve you well when you next find yourself with a dark cup of coffee and a few hours to while away the afternoon. This recipe makes 8 hefty cookies.

What You’ll Need
– 1 c. old-fashioned oats
– 1 1/2 c. flour
– 1 t. baking soda
– 1/4 t. salt
– 1/2 T. cinnamon
– 1/2 t. ginger
– 1/2 t. allspice
– 2/3 c. vegetable oil (I prefer sunflower)
– 1/3 c. brown sugar
– 1/4 c. maple syrup
– 2 T. almond milk
– 1 t. vanilla
– 1/4 t. almond extract
– 1 c. fresh (or frozen) cranberries, whole.

Preparation
Preheat oven to 375 F.

Combine all dry ingredients – oats, flour, baking soda, salt and spices – together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together wet ingredients until incorporated. Next, add the wet ingredients to the dry, mixing thoroughly until well-combined. Fold in chopped cranberries.

Form the dough into palm-sized balls (about 1/4 cup), and smash them down using a fork or your fingers onto a large, greased baking sheet. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes, until lightly golden-brown. Cool, and serve with a pot of dark coffee or tea.

*Note: while baking you may notice some popping noises coming from the oven. Do not be alarmed! It is simply the sound of the cranberries taking on their cookie-based form.

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Kung Pao Tempeh

Yes, that’s right. Kung Pao Tempeh.

Our meatless take on the Chinese take-out standby, the spicy Kung Pao Chicken, this dish is perfect for those jonesing for a better meat substitute. Tempeh is high in protein and absorbs flavors very readily, making it the perfect candidate for this flavorful dish (tofu may be used as well with very good results!)

What You’ll Need
– 1 block (1/2 lb.) tempeh, blanched, sliced and marinated in:

– 1/4 c. water
– 1 T. tamari
– 1 T. sherry
– 1 t. vegetable oil
– 2 cloves garlic, minced

– 1 T. dark soy sauce
– 1 T. tamari
– 2 T. dry sherry
– 1 1/2 T. red wine vinegar
– 2 T. raw sugar
– 1 T. cornstarch
– 1/4 t. sea salt
– 1/4 c. vegetable oil, for frying
– 5 to 10 dried red chilies, crushed (we used ancho chilies, but any kind will do)
– 2 to 3 T. garlic, minced
– 2 to 3 T. ginger root, minced
– 1/2 c. green onions, chopped
– 1/2 c. cashews, whole or chopped
– 1 t. sesame oil

Preparation
Blanch your tempeh for a few minutes to reduce its bitterness, slice into thin strips and marinate at least one hour, or up to an entire day. Prepare your kung pao sauce by combining in a small bowl soy sauce, tamari, sherry, vinegar, sugar and cornstarch and mixing very well until smooth.

In a small pan, heat half of your frying oil over medium heat. Add dried chilies, garlic, ginger and green onions and fry until fragrant, about 2 or 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large heavy skillet or wok, heat the remainder of your frying oil over medium heat. Add the tempeh slices in a single layer to cover the bottom of the pan. Try not to overcrowd. Fry the tempeh until each side is golden brown and crispy, about 2 or 3 minutes per side. Add the chili/garlic/ginger/onion mixture to the skillet, as well as cashews and a sprinkle of sesame oil. Now add your bowl of sauce, which will begin to thicken up immediately on contact with the hot pan. Give all the ingredients a toss and remove the skillet from the heat. Let sit a minute or so until sauce is thickened and tempeh is well coated.

Serve kung pao tempeh very hot over a bed of rice.


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