Posts Tagged ‘vegan’

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HAPPY 15th BIRTHDAY, SARA MARGOLIS !!!!

January 31, 2012

Sometimes, I wonder what I did in another life to deserve the cool, amazing friends I have. One such friend is Model Sara Margolis! We were chit-chatting the other day and I asked her if she had her birthday party planned yet. She said she hadn’t had one in years and I nearly fell outta my chair!

SO I THREW ONE! 😀

True to form, I cooked up a storm and aimed for special! I wanted these dishes to reflect a theme, showcase some of the stuff Sara has done, the places she has been and the whimsy in her personality.

#StuffSaraLikes = All things tropical! She’s a Vegetarian (Ovo-Lacto) so fruits and veggies are big. Sweets and sour surprises, too!

Sara told me a story about a vacation of hers where she, her brother and a friend flung a coconut off a hotel balcony till it busted on the concrete below. What a way to go! I bet that coconut’s coconut-pals still talk about how he met such an untimely demise! I decided to pay homage to that coconut — Otis the Coconut! — with a signature dish I called:

Sara’s Sweet & Sour Coconut/Lime Mousse w/ Sweet & Sour Mint Phyllo Chips

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Ole Otis here is stuffed with rich and fluffy yet light and bright coconut lime mousse, topped with lime zest and toasted coconut, served with phyllo chips and garnished with mint.

The sand is pulverized wafer cookies and graham crackers. The eyes are edible, too! :p

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These phyllo chips were so fun to make. I dusted them with citric acid and colored sprinkles! That citric acid is the stuff on Sour Patch Kids candies and Sour Skittles. They were a perfect pop to the decadent mousse.

A trick to get some lime taste in the chip itself was to make lime sugar! I infused confectioner’s sugar with lime zest. I let the sugar and zest sit together for an hour. Then, as I folded the phyllo pastry, I dusted the sugar between the layers to act as a bit of an adhesive during the baking process.

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Sara’s Sandcastle Retreat Cake

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This was wild! I had never made a sandcastle cake before. BUT! Sara enjoys tropical holidays. She sports enough beach pictures to fill an impressive travelogue! Besides that, “Sara” means “PRINCESS” in Hebrew. Sooo, I went with the theme and made our Princess a beach castle she can hide away in for some R&R. I dunno about that starfish, though. How did he get on the beach resort guest list? :O Looks suspicious!

I really wanted this to look like something someone made on the beach so I forwent using things like fondant and stuck with a spatula and my hands, instead!

This is a three-tier cake for 75. The bottom tier was a traditional white vanilla cake infused with guava and lime. The middle tier was my favorite — Strawberry and Chocolate swirl! It tasted exactly like Neopolitan ice cream! The top tier was a strawberry cream bundt cake.

Frosting! The top tier was frosted in a coconut-pecan glaze that gave the “sand” an awesome wet-sand look after application. The middle and bottom tiers were frosted in lemon/lime/orange zest infused buttercream.

The sand is a mixture of pulverized vanilla wafer cookies, graham cracker cookies and these gingersnap type things I bought. Those made the darker sand where I wrote “HAPPY BIRTHDAY SARA”!

I also bought the candy pearls sprinkled everywhere. 🙂 ~And the candles!

The shells, starfish and misfits invading Sara’s castle are all handmade with white chocolate. Very yummy!

The towers are, of course, ice cream cones — decorated! :p

Sara’s Facebook name is “Tweetie Bird” so I had to invite Tweety to the party!

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This is how cake was served. Here is my favorite of the three: a slice of strawberry/chocolate swirl atop strawberry cream and guava/ancho chili infused chocolate drizzle, decorated with pink and lavender sugar sprinkles — and served with a quenelle of mango sorbet. On top is a red candle with a red flame, a white chocolate sea shell and one of the cookie “castle battlements.”

The sweets didn’t stop there! Considering Sara turned FIFTEEN and TAYLOR SWIFT wrote a song called FIFTEEN, it stood to reason to make some T-Swizzle inspired treats!

Taylorific Orange Infused Cheesecake w/ Raspberry Puree

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Taylor (I call her Tayters!) has said her favorite food is cheesecake. Nothing easier, more fun or yummier than that! This is an orange infused cheesecake with graham cracker crust, served on a bed of raspberry puree w/ an orange peel twirl, orange zest & mint leaf garnish. Decadent, silky, lovely!

Parmesan Dusted Sara Tots w/ Horseradish Vegenaise Dip

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TAYTER TOTS! Growing up, that was Taylor’s nickname and what I still call her. FOR THE OCCASION, though, I believe we can call these “SARA TOTS!” :p These are Yukon Gold potato “Sara Tots” dusted with Parmesan cheese and pepper, served with a luscious Vegenaise and horseradish dip. For any of you who want to cut down on the mayo, definitely go out and get some Vegenaise! It’s great and better for you!

Sarastrone Soup

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This is my traditional recipe for minestrone soup. I like fixing it vegan-style, and fully embrace the bean broth as the base of this hallmark dish. The incorporation of the shell pasta ties into Sara’s beach-themed gala, and that makes it SARASTRONE instead of minestrone!  ;p

Saravera Primavera Martini

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This was good! This is a medley of kale, watercress, baby asparagus tips, PAPAYA (omg yum), Korean garlic-chili sauce and quinoa spaghetti noodles quickly sauteed in sesame oil. Once in the martini glass, I drizzled a very clean celery/onion broth with a hint of low sodium soy sauce over it all, garnished with a scallion curl and fresh flat leaf parsley — AND PAPAYA PEPPER! NEVER throw away your papaya seeds! All you have to do is soak them, husk them, dry them and grind them! Then, you have the healthiest “pepper” you could ever hope to find!

FYI, I no longer use any other pasta but the quinoa stuff! Quinoa is a real super food. The health benefits are astounding!

The Princess Sara (Cocktail)

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Can’t have a party without a cocktail!

I made two versions of this; one for the under-21s (like our birthday girl! :p ) that was just as delicious as the one for us over-21s. This cocktail is inspired by the traditional red tea from South Africa, Rooibos Tea, and fuses some tropical influences into it with crushed mint (mojito style!) and fresh mango juice — and rum! I used coconut rum. :p

Sara said one of her favorite fruits is mango so this recipe felt natural. Rooibos is SO good for you! See here. I served this in a glass that could facilitate four Lite Cubes for the neon rave effect you see pictured. All garnished with fresh mint!

So, basically, smush a mint leaf at the bottom of the glass. Removal of the deceased leaf is optional. Lite Cubes go in. Then, start building! 3 parts mango juice, 2 parts Rooibos tea, rum to fill, mint garnish. Enjoy!

SARA! I pity people who don’t know you. You have an uncanny essence & energy that lights up any room and turns any frown upside down. I’m SO thankful we met because I firmly believe that, to make the most of life, we must surround ourselves with bright, ambitious, successful people who keep the goal of living life to its fullest at the top of their to-do list — people like you. There are LOTS of people who love you — including me! — so never forget that the more you smile and the brighter you glow, the more people you’ll inspire around you, with everything you do. Just look at all the yummy treats you inspired me to make! :p

Cheers to this next round of your life! At fifteen, the party is just getting started!

Happy Birthday, Princess! ~(=^-^)= ♡♥♡♥♡♥

OH! And here’s the DJ we had! ~(=O_O)=

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And here she is after the feast! 🐱

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Recipes for all these will be posted soon on my upcoming Tumblr dedicated to my yummies. 🙂 Stay tuned!

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Happy Birthday, Jesica Hurst!

May 4, 2011

I’m beyond excited to put the shine on an incredible, talented, fascinating friend of mine! To make a long story short, it was about two years ago that one of my best friends from Berlin turned me onto A Day To Remember‘s “If It Means A Lot To You.” Heard the song, loved it. I always enjoy hearing covers so I paid attention to the videos in the side bar on YouTube and noticed this black & white video of a girl covering it. FYI, 99.9% of the music I love is girl-sung so I clicked that first video and was absolutely blown away! It was Jes’ cover. 🙂 The rest is history!

Since then, she’s turned me onto some of my favourite music on the planet, including my favourite band of all time, Tegan & Sara. The first time I heard T&S was on Jes’ Facebook page. There was a video link to “The Con” that I could not get over. Also, “Call It Off” which remains my favourite T&S song of all time. Jes is also responsible for my infatuation with Alison Sudol and A Fine Frenzy. Her dancing to “Electric Twist” is probably one of the most fabulous things on Earth. Most recently? OH LAND, who is miraculous. Needless to say, Jes is the best damn jukebox I’ve ever come across.

What I love most about Jes’ music is she sings soul-to-mouth direct, no filter. If it’s a cover, she makes it her own. If it’s an original, we’re gripped with curiosity as to why she wrote what she did. I like to think that the best way to get to know an artist is to absorb what they create. With Jes’ music, we can hear and admire all we want but if we REALLY listen — just listen — we have the pleasure of learning so much. I consider myself among the fortunate who have gotten to know Jes before she’s all ultra famous with tons of records and tours and tear-sheets and editorials and whatever else she feels like conquering. :p

She was also a huge inspiration and muse over the past two years that I’ve worked on my novel. Ohhhh, how I wish I could elaborate for all of you but at this stage of the game, it’s best I say little else. Jes knows what I mean, though! So that’s well enough. 😀

A native Canadian, Jes is a model, a musician and writer for her university paper, The Gazette (at Western). She’s also ultra radiant, cupcake-sweet & blindingly bright. How fortunate are we to have a friend like this in our lives? Oh, she’s also Vegan! Sooooooooooo~

~I decided to shoot a spread of 100% Vegan yummies for this special occasion! (I’ll fill in the recipes later. If I typed those out, I’d never get this posted! So stay tuned!)

Asparagus soup with Crispy Fried Wontons & Caramelized Shallots, Celery Leaf & Sea Salt Garnish

Lentil & Sweet Potato Sauté with Caramelized Shallots

Garlic Hummus Tostadas with Lettuce & Radicchio Chiffonade, Black Olive Rounds, Diced Tomato & Lemon Zest. Served w/ Tomato Slices & Lemon Wedge

Spread shots!

Banana Cupcakes with Lemon-Banana Glaze, Sifted Powdered Sugar & Sweet Banana Chips Garnish (Made these with an awesome fruity organic Olive Oil!!!)

Peanut Butter & Banana Chia Pudding made with plain soy milk, garnished with Grapefruit Zest & Agave Nectar

Jes doesn’t drink so I made a yummy virgin refreshment! This is Hibiscus Tea sweetened with Agave Nectar & Freshly Squeezed Grapefruit Juice, Sprinkled with Grapefruit Zest. Perfect tartness!

Dessert spread!

Lookie! Lilies! ;p (Get it, Jes? hehe!)

Also, I took the liberty of commissioning my artist friend, Virginia Hilton, to put together some Jes-inspired portraits:

This world is full of amazing people; among them, those that leave an impact on others. Jes, you’ve had a profound impact on me — often, without you knowing it — and I appreciate the quality of you more than you know. Many thanks for the dazzling ride your life has been thus far and to many, many more decades to come! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SUGAR! CHEERS!

Keep up with everything Jes is doing at these links:

http://jesicahurst.blogspot.com
http://twitter.com/JesicaAtGazette
http://westerngazette.ca/author/jesica-hurst/
http://youtube.com/jeshurst

And DO check out her song “Save Me” — (a personal favourite) — at her MySpace here: http://www.myspace.com/jesshurstmusic

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St. Patrick’s Day Vegan Cobbler

March 19, 2011

Of course, had to make green things for St. Patrick’s Day 2011! 🙂

Here’s a super easy cobbler; recipe jacked off Paula Dean. It doesn’t get more simple than this and the results are exquisite! Comforting, sweet, fruity; rather reminiscent of what we call, in Spanish, Capirotada.

Also, building off the principles of Vegan baking, I subbed in some of these ingredients (via LIVESTRONG). (Sorry, Paula! :p)

Ingredients

1 Cup Self-Rising flour
1/2 cup + 1/2 cup raw cane sugar
1/2 cup diced peaches
1 cup diced pears
1/2 stick vegan butter
1 cup water
Pinch Cardamom
3-4 Pinches Cinnamon
2 Pinches powdered ginger
All Natural Green Food Dye (I use Seelect or make my own.)
Mint leaf for garnish
Coloured Sanding Sugars for Garnish (I made yellow and green). I don’t think India Tree Sanding Sugars are Vegan so make your own this way. I do!

For Pudding:

1 cup plain (or vanilla, your call) Almond Milk. (You may use Coconut Milk or Soy, as well.)
1 tbsp corn starch
1 tbsp arrowroot powder
1 tsp extract of your choice. I used Pistachio Extract).
1 tsp Agave Nectar
Pinch of salt
Minced pears, peaches, sweetened dried cranberries
1-2 drops green food dye

Here we go!

Slice up Vegan Butter, place in 9×7 baking dish (I use one of my favourite pyrex vessels). Place in oven to melt completely. (Baking dish is not set in stone. You may bake this in something similar sized and feel free to adjust ingredients to bake larger batches in larger vessels).

Meanwhile, combine peaches, pears, water & half-cup cane sugar in sauce pan. Simmer, allow to reduce by half. The water, fruits and sugar will make a nice syrup.

While that’s working its magic, combine flour, cane sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and salt in bowl and stir to combine. LISTEN TO YOUR ELDERS & BETTERS! JUST LIKE MISS PAULA SAID, YOU WILL RUIN THIS RECIPE WITH THE WRONG FLOUR! If you don’t have self-rising flour, add a few teaspoons of baking powder and a pinch of salt to whatever you’re using. 2 or 3 tsps of baking powder should do the trick.

Slowly pour milk into dry ingredients and stir as you go. Stir with a spoon or whisk, your preference, till lumps are gone but don’t beat it to death.

Carefully remove baking dish from oven. Pour batter directly onto the butter. DO NOT STIR!

Next, ladle fruit directly onto batter in a bit of a scatter. ONCE AGAIN, DO NOT STIR! (It’s good to get a good amount of syrup in there, too, so your cobbler will be nice and juicy if you prefer it hot. Personally, I don’t use too much of the syrup but feel free to play with the ratio and find your comfort zone with baking this dish).

Sprinkle some coloured sanding sugar over the top for a bit of drama on the finished product.

Bake at 375-400 F (190-200 C) for 45 minutes. May be served piping hot, warm, room temperature or cold. In the pictures below, I chilled mine in the fridge and served it cold. I love the set state’s appearance. :p ~Also, serve with whatever you like; ice cream, whipped topping, fruit compote, jam, drizzles, plain. I served it with pudding!

For Pudding:

COMPLETELY dissolve cornstarch in bowl with 1 cup of milk.

Combine arrowroot, other cup of milk, agave nectar & salt in sauce pan. Stir to dissolve arrowroot powder. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly.

Stir in cornstarch slurry and continue to simmer until thickened. It’s gonna happen fast so watch for it!

Remove from heat, add extract, cranberries, pears, peaches and a few drops of green food dye. Stir to combine. Pour into dish and cover lightly with plastic wrap so that the plastic touches the surface of the pudding. This prevents a film from forming on the top. Put in fridge to cool.

You can cool till the cobbler is done and top with semi-set pudding or wait till later and top fully set, cold pudding on a cooled cobbler. If, when you remove your pudding from the fridge and it seems it separated in any way, just stir it up again and it’ll be fine.

ADDITIONALLY, YOU MAY USE ANY STORE BOUGHT VEGAN PUDDING, such as Zen Soy. It will save you a lot of time. Vanilla is a good flavour to build on for this but Banana works awesome, too. Just dump your pudding in a bowl, add minced fruit, food dye, stir to combine, reserve till ready to serve.

Plate Cobbler. Top with pudding. Garnish with a mint leaf.

Post-Bake:

Plated & Ready for Face-Stuffing:


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Fashion Week Yummy Treats – Lunch on Day 1 of Milan Fashion Week

February 23, 2011

I’ve been taking a bunch of pictures of goodies I’ve been making since Fashion Season (Autumn/Winter 2011-2012) began but I haven’t blogged any of it! So! Here’s what I made today, the first day of Milan Fashion Week:

Blueberry, Wheatgrass, Tangerine, Apple, Mango, Almond Milk Smoothie

Super easy here!

Handful freshly clipped Wheatgrass
1/2 pint blueberriees
2 red apples
2 mangoes
2 tangerines
2 cups almond milk

Combine almond milk, blueberries and wheatgrass in a blender. Blend about 30 seconds. Strain. Reserve juice, dispose of pulp.
Next, juice apples, mangoes, tangerines and reserve pulp for use in anything, really! Cakes, breads, pies, fritters, empanadas, even a fruity vegan burger of some kind.
Pour blueberry/wheatgrass/almond milk into glass. Fill with mango/apple/tangerine juice. It will make that cool looking orange-ish effect at the frothy top. Garnish with a tangerine round and tangerine zest and enjoy!

Alternatively, you can make your wheatgrass juice and blend it with everything else in a Vitamix. But I wanted more of a juicy-juice w/ the only “smooth” component being the almond milk, (which itself is actually a juice. Just… milky!)

Now, I say to strain out the wheatgrass/blueberry because the wheatgrass itself is non-digestible by humans. I didn’t know that when I first started messing with it and chewed it up, no problem AND never had any stomach or digestive issues. I still like to nibble on the blades sometimes but I’ll take the advice of elders and betters and not gobble down the grass itself. :p Only juice!

Spring/Summer Sauté

This was a super fast and super delicious saute to toss together, especially if you’re cramped on time or just don’t feel like a multi-hour ritual in the kitchen.

1 yellow zucchini
1 cup fresh green beans, ends trimmed, cut in half (or not, your call. French them if you want!)
1/2 purple onion, sliced
handful cilantro
Juice of 1 tangerine
sprig of rosemary (run your fingers down the sprig to remove the rosemary. No need to chop it but you can if you want).
pinch of cardamom
2-3 pinches regular or Hungarian paprika
1-2 grinds of red pepper flake mill
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste (or grains of paradise instead of pepper)
Tangerine zest
Good olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic, sliced (dice, mince, even add whole and remove at the end if you prefer. Depends on how strong a garlic flavour you enjoy but I like it hearty so used fresh, sliced garlic).

We want to work quickly here.

First, heat olive oil in a skillet. Sauté onion 1 minute. Add pinch of sea salt. Add garlic and sauté an additional minute.
Add green beans, squash, rosemary, cilantro, all the spices and sauté aggressively for 5-6 minutes. Keep things moving so it all cooks evenly.
Add tangerine juice and sauté another 3 minutes, aggressively. Check for seasoning. If no further salting or peppering is necessary, move on.
Plate. Garnish with fresh tangerine zest, bushel of cilantro and rosemary sprig. Serves 2.

I was starving so I ate the whole thing. :p

This is a yummy seasonal dish! Feel free to add nuts when the spices go in, if you like. Macadamias would be really good. Or almonds! Anything you enjoy, really. 🙂

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World Travel On the Wings of Cuisine 001 – Peru

October 8, 2010

A few weeks ago, I had this great epiphany. I realized that, because of all my friends around the world, I use quite a few different languages over the course of the day. I may not be entirely fluent in a lot of them but I know enough to get by! I’m getting there! I feel it shows so much respect to be able to converse or even say just a few things to someone in their native tongue so I do my very best to embrace as many manners of communication as possible. So far, I speak English (being American), Spanish is my second language, I’m fairly fluent in French and know a decent amount of Japanese. Right now, I’m learning Portuguese but also dabble in German and Russian (which, I admit, IS TOUGH!). Oh, I know some Swedish! I grew up obsessed with Swedish movies and spent a lot of time pouring over comparisons between the original dialogue and English translations of Lukas Moodysson’s films “Lilja-4-Ever” and “Fucking Amal” (“Show Me Love” domestically), for example. So that type of dedication lends one some leverage with the language.

On that epiphany! I’ve been a few places but haven’t “seen the world” the way I’d like to — yet! Keyword “yet” because I WILL go everywhere I want one of these days! I feel a great way to experience a people and a place is through their food. So! What I’ll be doing here on this blog is picking a place in the world I admire, would like to go or have gone. Then, I’ll recreate some of their dishes and write a bit of history to coincide.

In choosing my first destination, I had the bright idea from some Twitter inspiration! One of my most favourite people to follow – Pamela Francesca Celiz (@pamelafrancesca) had a birthday Oct 4th! Sooooo, since her family is Peruvian, I thought it’d be fun to start there! She’s so fun and sweet. A real cheer to keep up with! Also, I do encourage everyone to check out her sisters Maryl & Silvie Celiz at HLife: Healthy Living Redefined. It’s an online holistic health lifestyle publication and I literally never close it. HLife has a browser-tab dedicated to it because there is just SO MUCH information! So many fantastic articles. I’m particularly taken by their write-ups on body/mind/spirit because that is subject matter near & dear to my heart as someone who cannot agree more with the power of positive energy and how important harmony with those three aspects of life are to optimal health. See here their piece on Positive Attitude! Priceless!

Oh, and the girls are Vegan! :p So all the stuff I prepared is, too.

Onto the cuisine of Peru! May I just say, Peruvians eat gooooooooood! I basically drooled all through my research. It has so much in common with the Mexican cuisine of my heritage, (not to mention Spanish is spoken there), so this was both homely and fun for me.

First, a short bit on Peruvian Cuisine from PeruGuide.com.
Here, is Wikipedia’s entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peruvian_cuisine
And Karla talks about the origins of causa rellena here. (From GlobalExpressTours.com)
Here, it’s stated that Karla’s entry may be one of several possibilities. Which is to say that this dish’s TRUE origins may very well be unknown or the dish itself has lost a bit of its origin over time.

Causa!

This is my first causa ever! So do forgive if it’s not as elaborate as it could be but it was sooo fun to make! I promise my next causa will be HAUTE CAUSA! This is basically a Peruvian potato salad. In another variation, it’s built kind of like Shepherd’s Pie where one places a layer of mashed potatoes in a dish, then a filling layer of one’s choice, (tuna salad, chicken salad, avocadoes, quinoa or anything, really), then mashed potatoes and chills it. Festively decorate it to the extent of one’s wild imagination and slice!

But I did a version of causa that is stacked. It’s a lil tater tower. :p

For this, I did a bit of a test batch that came out quite nice! I boiled 2 potatoes. 1 white, 1 yukon gold.  Then, I halved them. The layers went like this:

Yellow: 1 half yukon gold potato mashed w/ olive oil, sea salt, pepper, aji powder, turmeric, pinch of cumin.

Red: 1 half white potato, olive oil, sea salt, pepper, tomato sauce, diced tomato (instead of making a solid layer to the tower, I mixed it into the mash).

White: 1 half white potato, olive oil, sea salt, white pepper

Purple: I couldn’t source purple potatoes, which are a staple in Peru. The markets have been sketchy lately! 😦 So I went with a short cut! I mashed 1 half white potato with sauteed purple cabbage. Also had sea salt, olive oil, white pepper.

I molded them separately and stacked them by hand. Then, garnished with some julienned carrot, cilantro, bell pepper and diced tomato. Next time, I’ll do a sauce!

Paltas Rellenas w/ Tomato, Arugula & Baby Spinach Salad and Salsa Criolla (Onion Sauce)

1 large avocado. peeled, halved, pitted
1 cup quinoa
2 cups veggie broth
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tbsp diced tomato
1 tbsp diced celery
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp diced onion
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
2 tsp Turmeric
2 tsp Aji powder
Sea Salt to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste

Stuffed avocado is a staple food in Peruvian cuisine. I stuffed this one with quinoa, which is another staple but I put a spin on its preparation by going the pilaf route. We do that a lot in Mexican cooking so I thought it’d be a tasty addition.

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add quinoa and stir regularly till it’s browned all around. Make a well in the center and add diced onion, tomato, celery, garlic and chopped cilantro. Let sizzle a bit. Then, mix in with the quinoa and stir it all around, 2-3 minutes. Add Veggie broth, turmeric, aji powder, salt & pepper and stir to combine. Cover and let cook 12-15 mins or until liquid is gone. Turn off heat and remove so the steam will finish the cooking process. It’s like making rice but it’s MUCH more forgiving. If you peak, it’s not like you’ll ruin the grain or the cooking time the way rice can go south if you’re constantly lifting the lid. Also, if you poke or stir the quinoa, it won’t turn to porridge the way rice does if you agitate it too much.

For the Salad:

Half a tomato, sliced in rounds
Handfull Arugula
Handfull Baby Spinach
Olive Oil

Arrange tomato and baby spinach leaves decoratively on your plate and wedge arugula leaves wherever you want to make a pretty presentation. Drizzle with olive oil after salsa criolla is plated. Recipe follows.

Salsa Criolla

This is another Peruvian staple. AND IT’S SO GOOD! And so simple! As I don’t have any Peruvian onions, I used the purple variety.

1 onion, halved & thinly sliced
1 aji pepper, julienned (you can halve the juliennes as I did)
1 tsp lime juice (I used key lime and feel free to go over the 1 tsp if you like it a bit more tart. BUT! Traditionally, the onions should be sliced “a la pluma” — like feathers — and I think I used a lil more lime juice than I’m saying ;p so my onion kinda wilted. Ah well! It was delicious~)
Salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients very well. Let marinade 20-30 mins. so the acid and onion marry. Serve and enjoy! Keep remainder in the fridge.

Tallarin Verde

1 lb noodles (traditionally, it’s made with spaghetti but I felt like using rotini because I love how sauce bunches up in the spirals of the noodle).
2 quarts water
5-6 oz. organic baby spinach (a whole package from the fresh produce section of your local green grocer. I used Earthbound Farms Organic Baby Spinach. But buy local if you can!). Reserve 6 leaves for presentation.
1 cup fresh basil leaves
2 tbsp. diced onion
2 tbsp. diced garlic
2 tbsp. olive oil
Black olives, sliced
Vegan Parmesan Cheese (I used Galaxy Nutritional Foods Vegan Grated Topping because it’s lighter in colour but you would do well to use ParmaRaw. It’s great! As an aside, has anyone tried Parmazano? If so, how is it?
Salt & Pepper
1/3 cup Veggie stock
2 tbsp. Earth Balance Vegan Butter
Rose petal for garnish.

For starters, Peruvians love a pesto-type verde (green) sauce but it’s not just basil. They pack it with spinach! This is a great way to take in all the essential calcium, folic acid, lutein and legions of other good stuff spinach provides!

Boil pasta to package instructions. While that’s working, compile the sauce as it’s super easy.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add garlic & onion, saute till fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add spinach and basil and incorporate with the olive oil, garlic and onion in folding motions. Cover and let wilt a bit, about 2 mins. Remove cover and agitate, pressing down and folding. Add veggie stock and stir till spinach and basil are completely wilted.

Next, transfer to a blender and blend away till smooth. Stream some olive oil in if there isn’t enough liquid but it should be fine. Return to skillet, add Vegan butter and stir till entirely melted and incorporated and silky.

Drain pasta. You can combine sauce and pasta either in the skillet, in the pot where the pasta boiled or in a huge bowl to serve family style. Arrange spinach on individual serving bowls, plate, sprinkle with vegan parmesan cheese, decorate with sliced olives & garnish with a rose petal. 🙂 Pretty and yummy! (And damn healthy).

Above are photos of the olive-less variety. Not everyone likes olives. 😦 When I served this, one of my guests requested no olives so~ their loss!

Limonada de Rosas

I fixed this in honour of Pamela’s birthday. No beautiful girl can have a birthday without beautiful flowers! :p ~Let me just say right off the bat. I’M OBSESSED & ADDICTED TO THIS DRINK! Traditionally, it’s non-alcoholic but IT’S A BIRTHDAY, after all! So I spiked it with Pisco, (Peru’s flagship spirit). I even busted out the vintage crystal to drink from! 😀 Here’s how I made it, (going off this recipe from Peru-recipes.com:

Take the petals of a dozen (12) roses, put them in a bowl and pour 4 cups boiling water over them. Let steep for an hour (or more. I actually steeped them overnight for a tea as rosey as possible).

Strain. Add juice of a dozen (12) key limes and stir to combine. You may also use Persian limes, juice 4-6 of them. Depends how tart you like your limeade. (I like it quite tart). To serve 8 oz. drinks, it’s 2 oz. Pisco, 4 oz. rose tea. You may vary this depending on how strong you like your drinks.

Here’s where it gets ESSENTIAL! Float a whole rose on the top of the drink, like a lilly pad.(No stem, of course). OMG! Everytime you take a drink, the first thing you do is sniff the rose. It’s such a remarkable thing that happens to your olfactory system! As the fragrance of the flower waltzes through your head, the tartness of the drink peppers your mouth and the Pisco warms you inside. One of my guests said it best, “This is like drinking a beautiful woman!” Cannot agree more! And if anyone with allergies has an attack over this, I hope you find it was worth it! I have pretty bad allergies and I was fine. And I, literally, drank these all day. It’s THAT good!

So, that’s my stab at Peruvian yummies. I learned so much and will continue to study all the fantastic dishes Peru has to offer. I’d like to thank Pamela Francesca Celiz for the inspiration and I hope my readers will be inspired to further research and look to experience this unique, exceptional cuisine.

Once again, Happy Birthday, Pamela! 🙂 ¡Salud!

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A Very Veggie Day Today!

August 25, 2010

So, today was sooo all up on the veggieness!

Morning started w/ my usual lemon water, followed by herbal tea, (Orange Blossom today) and a few raw almonds to snack on as a light breakfast till my brunch guest arrived. I was going to make something elaborate — like broiled shrimp tossed in lemon & tarragon and wilted escarole — but when choices came up, my guest shouted “Veggie dogs!” ~So Hot Dogs & Champagne it was! :p Marlene Dietrich proudly shone down on us from Heaven! (FYI: Hot dogs & champagne was her favourite meal).

We had these lovelies with some bubbly! 🙂 Beneath the Veggie frank is some all natural ketchup, all natural mustard and on top is my favourite all natural salsa from Sun Harvest and an organic dill pickle flank wedged into the side. Served ’em with some organic cherry tomatoes.

Lunch was mountains of fruit. Sad to say, I didn’t take pictures but I had enough kiwis and oranges to turn me various shades of orange and green! So refreshing and yummy.

Dinner rocked. I fixed vegan pasta w/ tomato & basil sauce full of baby spinach, flat leaf parsley and garlic w/ a side of Tofurky Vegan Italian Sausage. They’re my favourites! The texture is insanely good. Very firm, very satisfying for people (like me) who love to chew things. >:D

Here’s the pasta I used. It’s made from Quinoa which is REALLY awesome! Here’s the company site.

Pretty shameless product feature but they’re sooooo good!

Finished off with some Hazelnut coffee spiked with coconut milk. Was a great day! 🙂

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Raw Vegan Adventures (Part Deux) Day 1

July 6, 2010

Apologies for a lack of posts lately! Been a bit busy which forced me to neglect daily Raw Vegan Adventures posts but I’ll get ’em all up now that things have settled down! 🙂

I decided to do a week stint with Raw Veganism. I enjoy trying different diets, experiencing different regimens. They keep me entertained and allow me to explore my body’s wants and needs. As a chef, I have every kind of food known to the human race around me on a daily basis. In the past, it was easy to get into the habit of eating whatever I wanted. That kind of behavior can become quite senseless and I would notice my my body feeling sluggish, strange, even bored. So! I began experimenting with detoxes, cleanses & diets. Fast forward to today, these regimens have become a lifestyle for me. It’s like I’m fine tuning myself and I never felt better than when I was on a raw vegan diet. Of everything I’ve tried, the energy level raw veganism gave me was unprecedented. It was like I was HIGH on healthy! ~Do any of you ever feel that way with the dietary disciplines you follow?

So, I wanted to re-experience that awesome feeling. Here are the comings and goings of my latest foray into Raw Veganism and it was fantastic!

Day 1!

Breakfast! Big bowl of organic grapefruit. There’s much to be said for how juice SPRAYS across the room when having at one of these. :p I love it! I paired that with a tart Granny Smith.

Green Monster! Baby Spinach, Arugula, Flat Leaf Parsley, Cilantro, Lemon & Lime Juice and water. 🙂

Lunch! I made a kind of vegan taco thingie. The filling is a mix of diced extra firm tofu, strawberries, tomatoes, chia seeds tossed in red wine vinegar, sea salt and freshly ground mixed peppercorns. Topped w/ shaved carrot, side of red grapes. I had two of these and was entirely stuffed. ~_~

For dinner, I made a Tofu & Tomato Napoleon on a bed of mixed baby greens, topped with some frisse & littered with chia seeds and golden flax seeds. Sprinkled w/ rice wine vinegar, sea salt, freshly ground mixed peppercorns.

Throughout the day, I had some snacks; Almonds and grapes, mostly. Raw okra is another favorite snack of mine! 🙂 I’ve also gotten ADDICTED to red wine vinegar shots. >.> ~I dunno how kind that is on my esophagus and digestive system but I LOVE shooting 1-2 oz. of straight vinegar. The feeling is AMAZING. Seriously, it feels like an orgasm. Every nerve in my body tingles in unison and it’s just LOL ~well, it’s orgasmic! :p

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