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vegan chocolate raspberry parfait

bailey’s chocolate mousse + raspberry parfait

I’ve never really been into Valentine’s Day (maybe it’s my aversion to neon pink EVERYTHING), but I definitely have a sweet tooth and eat a little bit of chocolate pretty much every day. If you want to make a decadent treat for your partner, or if you’re simply a chocolate fiend like me, this parfait is for you. All you have to do is blend, layer, then slide these into the fridge and try not to think about them for a couple hours until they are set (a real test of patience, if I do say so myself).

I remember seeing the Bailey’s Almande on Twitter sometime last year. I was super excited that it existed, but I figured it would only be sold in the States and promptly forgot about it. That is, until I went into the LCBO last fall and saw that gorgeous white bottle out of the corner of my eye. I swear I must have looked absolutely goofy with the huge grin on my face. While it’s not quite as creamy as the original (the consistency is more like non-dairy milk), I still think it’s a big deal that this product is now widely available.

Bailey’s was a staple on the brunch table at my Opa’s every Sunday, and that clever guy even started making his own (albeit a slightly boozier version)! When I see the bottle in my fridge, I fondly remember the Sundays spent there, stuffed to the brim, watching either Mr. Bean tapes or Walker Texas Ranger. Fun/dorky fact: my younger brother and I know the theme song from WTR by heart.

ps: I had full intentions of making an actual raspberry sauce with the berries I found in the freezer from last summer. But I got lazy, especially when I saw the jam my pal Jessica and I had so carefully preserved! Raspberry jam + water = the lazy lady’s raspberry sauce!

vegan bailey's chocolate raspberry parfait

vegan bailey's chocolate raspberry parfait

vegan bailey's chocolate raspberry parfait

vegan bailey's chocolate raspberry parfait

vegan bailey's chocolate raspberry parfait

vegan bailey's chocolate raspberry parfait

bailey’s chocolate mousse + raspberry parfait (vegan, gluten free)

serves 2 generous desserts

1 cup / 240 ml non dairy milk
1/4 cup / 50 g dark chocolate chips, chopped
1/3 cup / 45 g cashews
2 tablespoons / 22 g chia seeds
3 tablespoons / 45 ml baileys almande
1 1/2 tablespoons / 11 g cocoa powder
1 tablespoon / 14 g maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
optional: 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

raw vanilla cookie crumble (I just halved the recipe + used blanched almonds)

1/2 cup raspberry jam + 1-2 tablespoons water to thin

coconut whipped cream

Method 1: Bring the almond milk just to a simmer in a small sauce pan. Remove from the heat, then add the chopped chocolate. Let it sit for a few minutes, then stir until melted and combined. Add remaining ingredients to a high speed blender and blend until smooth. Add the milk/chocolate mixture, and blend again until smooth.

Method 2: Put everything except the chocolate into the blender and blend until smooth. Melt the chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave, then add to the blender and blend again until smooth.

Pour some of the chocolate mixture into each glass, then put in the freezer for 10 minutes to set up a bit. Divide the jam between the glasses, then return to the freezer for 3 minutes. Divide the remaining chocolate mixture between the glasses and put in the fridge to set for a few hours (preferably overnight). Top with coconut whipped cream and vanilla cookie crumble.

 

vegan chocolate coffee cardamom scones

chocolate scones with coffee + cardamom

Here is my little tip on how to survive the winter: bake.

All the time.

Everything.

Savour that rush of heat leaving the oven when you pull out a tray of cookies. Revel in the aroma of freshly baked bread filling your kitchen. Not only will you be rewarded with the heat generated by your baking venture, but also the warm (hehe) gratitude of your friends/family/coworkers when you start showing up with a buffet of baked goods.

Another method for tackling the trials of winter is the pursuit of hygge (pronounced hoo-guh), of which the entire internet seems to be obsessed. Simply put, it’s the Danish lifestyle notion of coziness or well-being. And no wonder there’s such a frenzy: who isn’t looking for the silver lining in the bitter cold days of February? Danish winters are known for being especially dark and long, so if anybody knows how to endure this time of year, it’s the Danes (also pretty sure they’re ranked the happiest nation in the world, so…).

So what’s the secret to capturing the elusive hygge? How do we conquer winter once and for all? Well, the good news is that you don’t need to buy expensive stuff or plan anything elaborate to experience hygge. It can be as simple as sipping hot chocolate under a thick blanket, sharing wine and stories with friends over dinner, lighting some candles and having a bath, or baking something delicious to have with your morning coffee.

vegan chocolate coffee cardamom scones

vegan chocolate coffee cardamom scones

vegan chocolate coffee cardamom scones

vegan chocolate coffee cardamom scones

vegan chocolate coffee cardamom scones

vegan chocolate coffee cardamom scones

chocolate scones with coffee + cardamom (vegan)

makes 8 scones

1 cup / 135 g all purpose flour
1 cup / 140 g white whole wheat flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup / 60 g sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cardamom
4 teaspoons finely ground espresso
1/2 cup coconut oil, cold
3/4 cup / 120 g roughly chopped chocolate
3/4 cup +1 tablespoon / 195 ml non-dairy milk, plus more for brushing
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
turbinado sugar for sprinkling

optional glaze: 2 tablespoons coconut butter, 1/2 tablespoon sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons non dairy milk

Preheat oven to 375F fan (400 regular). Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Grate the coconut oil on a box grater with the larger holes and gently stir through the dry mix. Stir through the chopped chocolate. Make a well in the middle then add the cream and vanilla, folding it through and mixing just until combined (it should be a bit shaggy and sticky, but not wet). Scrape the dough onto the counter top, then form into a circle and cut into 8 pieces. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet leaving some space in between the scones, and place in the freezer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the freezer, brush with a little bit milk, top each scone with a pinch of turbinado sugar, and bake for 18-20 minutes until golden.

For the glaze: melt the coconut butter in a small bowl in the microwave or in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the sugar and milk and whisk to combine.

gluten free miso waffle

savoury miso waffles

I think as a general rule of life, breakfast on a weekday morning is always rushed. Even if I try to get up a few minutes earlier (a real struggle when it’s so cold and dark) there isn’t time to slowly savour and enjoy the beginning of my day. Winter weekends are a great opportunity to ease into the day gradually, and lately I’ve been really digging the slow pace of it all. I love being able to sit quietly on the couch with my tea, and think about all the possibilities of the day ahead.

I’m trying to prioritize a ‘taking it easy’ mindset, since my usual tendency is to schedule large chunks of my weekend (ie meal prepping, cleaning, making bread, working on the blog) so I don’t feel like I’ve ‘wasted’ my free days. The downside to having accomplished so much is that when my weekend is over, I feel as if I’ve worked the whole time. My focus now is on having weekends with more balance so that I feel rested and fulfilled, while still being productive. I’m working away on the colouring book I received a couple Christmases ago, reading more Michael Pollan, plugging in my new Saje lamp for some relaxing vibes, catching up on podcasts, and taking the time to make myself waffles every so often. 🙂

gluten free miso waffle

gluten free miso waffle

savoury gluten free miso waffle

savoury gluten free miso waffle

savoury miso waffles (vegetarian, gluten free)

makes 4 waffles

1/4 cup whole buckwheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup almond meal
1 tablespoon tapioca flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons light, mild miso
1/2 teaspoon tamari
1 egg
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
3/4 cup non dairy milk

7 minute egg (x however many people you are serving)
4 scallions thinly sliced, greens and whites separate
2 cups red swiss chard (loosely packed), sliced, stems and leaves separate 
garnish: thinly sliced daikon radish, black and natural sesame seeds, sriracha, honey

Whisk together the dry ingredients (flours –> sugar) in a medium bowl and set aside. Whisk together the wet ingredients (miso –> milk) in a small bowl, and preheat your waffle iron (mine goes from 1 to 5, and I set it at 3.5). Bring a small pot of water to a boil for the 7 minute egg(s) and follow the instructions in the link above; once they are cooked, run them under cold water until cool to the touch, then peel and set aside.

In a small saute pan over medium heat, add a splash of oil. Add the chard stems and cook for 2-3 minutes until slightly softened. Add the sliced white part of the scallions, and cook for another minute. Add the chard leaves, a good pinch of salt and pepper, then cover with a lid, and cook for another 2 minutes until tender but still bright green.

Add the wet waffle ingredients to the dry bowl, and stir just until combined. Oil your waffle iron, then add 1/2 cup of batter and close the lid until your machine indicates they are finished. Repeat with the remaining batter.

Top each waffle with sauteed greens, daikon radish, sesame seeds, a pinch of salt, sriracha and a little drizzle of honey.

warm winter salad with apple cider dressing

warm winter salad with apple cider dressing

Happy Thursday! This hearty winter salad is a pretty great compromise to any healthy resolutions you might have made a couple weeks ago. It’s got your servings of veg covered as well as a bit of bread and cheese (#balance) so you can feel virtuous about starting the new year off right, while not feeling entirely limited to green juices (but if you thrive on those, more power to ya). Particularly in the dark days of winter, I think we could all benefit from a little more colour in our meals on occasion: not only from the wide array of vitamins and minerals, but also to brighten our spirits because we still have a lot of winter ahead of us. Fortunately even winter produce provides an enticing colour spectrum, from red and yellow beets, orange-hued squashes, vividly purple cabbages, deep green brussels sprouts and kale. I think it’s good to find a balance between the bright, energizing foods as well as the simple home-y staples like oatmeal, rice bowls, and good bread.

I’ve ramped up my bread baking recently as a way to cope with the cold weather, nourish ourselves with something hearty, and focus on a hobby that gets me away from watching Netflix all day every day. Not that there’s anything wrong with the occasional tv marathon/couch potato afternoon, because sometimes a mindless break wrapped in 3 blankets is what we need. What I love about making sourdough though is that it requires me to be mindful without requiring much exertion, occupying my thoughts as I carefully feed my starter, weigh out the ingredients, and squish the dough between my fingers. I find the tactile nature of making bread very relaxing, few movements but each very deliberate, paying attention to how the dough reacts to being carefully stretched and folded. I also crave the quiet and unhurried pace of sourdough. It’s a nice reminder to just go slow and take it easy during these (often) dreary winter months.

warm winter salad with apple cider dressing

warm winter salad with apple cider dressing

warm winter salad with apple cider dressing

warm winter salad with apple cider dressing

warm winter salad with apple cider dressing

warm winter salad with apple cider dressing

warm winter salad with apple cider dressing

warm winter salad with apple cider dressing (vegetarian)

serves 4 as a side

250 g sweet potato (about 1 medium)
chili flakes
salt and pepper
oil
6 sage leaves
100 g sourdough torn into pieces (about 2 cups)
60 g goat cheese (about 1/4 cup)
100 g peeled chestnuts, chopped
1/2 head radicchio, sliced
100 g kale, torn (4 cups loosely packed)
1/2 bosc pear, sliced

dressing:
3/4 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon shallot, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 350F convection (or 375 regular). Cut the sweet potato into medium chunks (about 3/4-1 inch) and add to a small baking dish. Add oil and a good pinch each of salt, pepper, and chili flakes, then bake for about 35-40 minutes until tender.

Once the potato is in the oven you can start the dressing. Add the apple cider and shallot to a small sauce pan over high heat. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer until reduced to 1/4 cup, then pour into a small jar. Add the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, dijon, salt, and pepper, screw on a lid and shake to combine.

Remove the kale leaves from the ribs, then tear roughly into pieces. Wash and dry the leaves and add to a large bowl. Add a couple spoonfuls of the dressing and work it into the kale with your hands (this will soften it so it’s perfect salad texture). Wipe out the pan you cooked the cider in, and heat a splash of oil over a medium heat. Fry the sage leaves for about a minute until slightly darker (but not brown), and set aside. Add the sourdough pieces to the pan and fry until golden. Add the sweet potato, sage, sourdough, goat cheese, chestnuts, radicchio, pear, and remaining dressing to the bowl, tossing to coat. Add an extra pinch of salt if needed. Serve warm.

vegan gluten free spicy coconut soup

spicy coconut and pineapple soup

It’s raining pretty hard right now while I’m sitting here writing this, and just looking outside is giving me chills. So as I make myself another cup of tea and look at the pictures of this soup, I imagine it like a big warm blanket, warming my head to my toes, eliminating the word ‘cold’ from body’s vocabulary (even if only temporarily). At this time of year when people are often doing cleanses to start their year off right,  I try not to think about resolutions based on the calendar year and just do right by my body with a hot bowl of food accompanied by something starchy (usually in the form of bread or some cooked grains). 

The new year brings people to not only make goals for the year ahead, but reflect on the year previous. Currently the internet is full of thank-god-2016-is-over type stuff. And on the one hand, I can totally agree: a lot of celebrities and influential musicians passed, an overtly sexist and racist man convinced people that he could successfully hold the most powerful position in the United States, there has been horrific violence in the news constantly, and an exorbitant number of people forced to flee their homes and live as refugees. 

In light of all this, a lot of good things actually happened last year as well. (Check out this article in the Telegraph and scroll down.) Bad things are unavoidable in life, and sometimes it’s hard to see the light in so much dark. Though it may not always be grand, there is always good to be found. I thought back over the year to just a handful of good things that happened in my life: my older brother got married, which means I finally have a sister. My cousin’s oldest son is now cancer free after being diagnosed with leukemia in 2013. I celebrated 3 years with my partner. My best pals had a sweet little baby. I conquered my fear of traveling alone. Not to mention all the small day-to-day things that I tend to take for granted. I guess what I’m saying is don’t feel down about the past, but look forward with the hope that we all have the strength to accept the good and the bad things as they come.

vegan gluten free spicy coconut soup

vegan gluten free spicy coconut soup

vegan gluten free spicy coconut soup

vegan gluten free spicy coconut soup

vegan gluten free spicy coconut soup

spicy coconut and pineapple soup (vegan, gluten free)

serves 2-3

2/3 cup uncooked short grain brown rice + 1 cup water/veg stock
2 cups sliced onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
6 curry leaves, torn
1 1/2 teaspoons tamarind paste
1 1/2 teaspoons sambal oelek, plus more for serving
2 teaspoons red curry paste
1/2 stalk lemongrass, about 5 inches, bashed with the back of a knife
2 teaspoons sugar
good pinch of salt
4 cups veg stock
3/4 cup coconut milk
2 teaspoons lime juice
150 g soft tofu (not silken), 1/2 inch cubes
100 g enoki mushrooms, pulled apart into strands
1 cup pineapple, 1/2 inch cubes
cilantro

Start with the rice: bring 1 cup of water or veg stock to a boil in a small pot. Rinse the rice in a small sieve, then add to the pot with a good pinch of salt. Low the heat to medium low, cover and continue to cook for 15-20 minutes. Once the rice is al dente, remove from the heat still covered, then fluff with a fork after 5 minutes or so.

For the soup: add a splash of oil to a pot over medium low heat along with the sliced onion. Stir occasionally for 8-10 minutes until softened slightly, but don’t allow it to brown. Add the minced garlic and ginger and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the curry leaves, tamarind, sambal, red curry paste, lemongrass, sugar, and salt, stirring to coat, then add the stock. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the lemon grass, then add the coconut milk, lime juice, tofu, mushrooms, and pineapple and cook for 5 minutes over a simmer. Divide the rice between two bowls and pour half the soup into each, then top with cilantro and more sambal.

Notes:

Feel free to use some noodles in place of the rice; I batch cooked a bunch of rice so it’s what I had on hand when I made the soup.

I realize that ‘spicy’ is subjective and if we’re being honest here, I’m a total wimp. So if you like heat, add more to the base of the soup and garnish with it too.

vegan holiday eggnog

holiday nog 2 ways

I think I love the time leading up to Christmas even more than Christmas itself. The feelings of barely being sleeping the night before and the surge of excitement the next morning have faded as I’ve grown further away from childhood. But I have only grown more fond of all the traditions that precede Christmas: baking cookies, picking out + decorating a tree, looking at neighbours’ outdoor lights and shouting “GRISWOLDS!” when an elaborate set up is spotted, or planning a theme for the Christmas Eve party at my grandma’s house.

The idea for this post started out as the holiday nog featured below, and a dairy free eggnog made with actual eggs. When I went to make the recipes on Tuesday morning, I realized that we only had 3 eggs left in the carton and was confronted with the dilemma: breakfast or eggnog? Since the weather outside was frightful(ly cold) and the notion of eggs for breakfast was so delightful, I decided to forgo the eggs in my nog for now. But there are still two ways to enjoy your nog this holiday! First, a more classic version with lots of nutmeg and vanilla, and a second super easy gingerbread variation (not pictured). Bonus: these are naturally sweetened only with dates, but you can replace them with a couple tablespoons of sugar or maple syrup if you don’t have any dates in your pantry.

vegan holiday eggnog

vegan holiday eggnog

vegan holiday eggnog

vegan holiday eggnog

ps if you’re feeling stressed about Christmas because presents are overwhelming, consider gifting a donation to a local charity like Loving Spoonful! They do incredible food justice work in the Kingston community, and will send you an e-card that you can pass along as your gift 🙂 

holiday nog (vegan, gluten free)

makes about 4 cups / 8 servings

scant 1 cup cashews
2 3/4 cups water
1/4 cup coconut cream
6-8 medjool dates, pitted (depending on how sweet you want it)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for serving
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
optional: a generous splash of rum

gingerbread nog (vegan, gluten free)

2 cups holiday nog
1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch ground cloves

Soak the cashews in water for  1 hour (or more if you don’t have a high speed blender). Drain and rinse the cashews, then add everything to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a clean glass bottle or jar, then chill for a few hours until it has thickened. For the gingerbread version, keep 2 cups of the holiday nog in the blender, add the remaining ingredients and blend. After chilling the nog becomes quite rich and creamy, so thin it with water if desired.

vegan gluten free whole roasted cauliflower

whole roasted cauliflower with tomato and chickpea stew

There is something so magical about pulling this cauliflower out of the oven. It looks so impressive in its whole form, coated in a golden crust of warming Moroccan spices, sitting atop a fragrant tomato stew studded with chickpeas, capers, and preserved lemon.

I had April Bloomfield’s version of roasted cauliflower a while back (minus the anchovies), and I loved that it achieved something that many other vegetarian main dishes do not: it is a beautiful centre piece. While many holiday meals usually leave vegetarians with just a handful of side dishes to choose from, this colourful and bold flavoured cauliflower can become the focal point of your meal. This is a great dish to make for your Christmas gathering because the prep time is minimal, so you can spend more time with your family (who might otherwise be freaked out by the faux turkey/ham that you brought 😉 ).

vegan gluten free whole roasted cauliflower

vegan gluten free whole roasted cauliflower

vegan gluten free whole roasted cauliflower

vegan gluten free whole roasted cauliflower

vegan gluten free whole roasted cauliflower

vegan gluten free whole roasted cauliflower

whole roasted cauliflower with tomato chickpea stew (vegan, gluten free)

serves 3-4 

olive oil
1 onion, sliced (about 1 cup)
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
2 tablespoons preserved lemon, finely chopped
2 tablespoons capers
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes, crushed by hand
1 head cauliflower
spice rub (2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 recipe ras el hanout)
garnish: toasted almonds, lemon zest, cilantro

Preheat the oven to 400F (fan). Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium low heat. Add the onion, stir occasionally for 7-8 minutes until slightly softened. Add the garlic, preserved lemon and capers and stir for another 2 minutes. Add the spices and stir to coat, then add the can of tomatoes and chickpeas and bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat.

Meanwhile, grab your cauliflower and cut off the base/extra green leafy bits, and cut a small ‘x’ into the core. Mix the oil and spices in a small bowl, then rub all over the outside of the cauliflower (except the very bottom). Remove the pot from the heat, and place the cauliflower in the sauce. Put the lid on and roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of your cauliflower, as it should be tender but not soft or mushy. Remove the lid and continue baking for 15-20 minutes until the cauliflower is golden and has crisped up a bit (at this point you can also turn on the broiler for a couple minutes if you want).

Top with fresh coriander, toasted almonds, and lemon zest. Serve with bulgur or rice.

butternut squash soup with zhoug

I T ‘ S  S O U P   S E A S O N !

It hasn’t even been terribly cold yet and I am already in the routine of having my teapot/mug within arm’s reach. I know I will regret saying this later (like mid-January when I have to walk to work in a blizzard), but I love when the weather gets cooler. Sliding around the kitchen in my slippers. Baking cookies and treats, because you need something to go with all those cups of tea. Feeling inspired to cook again, as during the summer I am usually too hot to feel like going anywhere near the stove, and I get way more creative with fall/winter produce and the assorted beans/grains in our cupboards. I love soups, stews, casseroles, trays of roasted veg, hearty meals that leave you feeling warm and snuggly so you can lay on the couch wrapped in blankets, read a book, and listen to Miles Davis

Right now all my body wants is hot bowls of food and baked goods, and I am obliging in the form of soup and homemade sourdough (because who needs a spoon when you have bread?). I have missed my weekend routine of making bread, which is yet another reason to be grateful the days of 35C + humidex are behind us.

Despite finding happiness with spending more time in the kitchen, there are some tasks I will never enjoy, one of them being peeling squash. The beauty of this soup is that you don’t have to peel it since the skin separates easily after its stint in the oven (the seeds are easier to scoop out too). Zhoug is a spicy herby paste with origins in Yemen and contrasts the sweet roasted butternut squash really well. It’s also super easy to make and since you only need a few spoonfuls, you can keep the rest in the fridge or freezer next time you wanna add some zing to your protein/grain salad/salad dressing/roasted veg/y’know.

squashsoup1

vegan butternut squash soup

vegan butternut squash soup

vegan butternut squash soup

vegan butternut squash soup

vegan butternut squash soup

butternut squash soup with zhoug (vegetarian, vegan, gluten free)

1.3 kg butternut squash
heaping 2 cups sliced onion
4 cloves minced garlic (1 1/2 tablespoons)
1 1/2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons tamari
pinch cinnamon
3 cups veg stock
1/2 cup cashews, soaked in hot water (+ 1/2 cup water to blend)
water as needed to thin
zhoug
optional: goat/sheep’s milk feta

Preheat the oven to 400F (fan). Cut the squash in half lengthwise, brush lightly with a little bit of oil, then place face down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 40 minutes until tender and starting to caramelize. While the squash is baking, start cooking the onions in a pot over low heat with a splash of oil. Stir occasionally, cooking them until they’re soft and sweet (about 20-25 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes.

Bash the cumin and coriander in a mortar and pestle, then add to the pot with the chili flakes, salt, pepper, tamari, and cinnamon. Add the cooked squash (removed from the skin) and stir everything to coat, then add the stock and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile drain the soaked cashews, then add to a high speed blender with 1/2 cup water and blend until smooth (remove a few teaspoons for topping the soup if you want). Remove the soup from the heat and add to the blender, pureeing in batches until smooth. Add more salt and pepper if needed.

Add all the zhoug ingredients to a food processor or mortar and pestle, and pulse/bash until everything is combined but still very textured. Swirl cashew cream and zhoug on top of soup, adding feta if not vegan.

whole wheat no knead bread with chestnut jam

no knead whole wheat bread + vanilla chestnut jam

This has been my go to bread while I have been without a sourdough starter (somehow mine ended up in the cupboard instead of the fridge, RIP). It’s almost entirely whole wheat, but it tastes surprisingly sweet due to a recent addition to my pantry: white whole wheat flour. White whole wheat flour IS 100% whole wheat, so don’t let the name fool you. The whole wheat you’re probably used to seeing in the grocery store is made from red wheat, which has a darker colour and stronger flavour. White whole wheat flour is made from white wheat, which is lighter and much milder.

I tried chestnut jam for the first time when I was in France WWOOFing on an organic farm last month. Since they grew their own chestnuts, their confiture de marron was homemade and a staple on the breakfast table each day. I slathered it onto my bread and stirred it into my porridge, so taken by the earthiness and subtle sweetness of this spread. I knew I needed to make it when I got home. So, to balance the incredibly easy bread recipe below, I’m including a slightly more time consuming homemade jam (I can’t find chestnut jam in any stores anyway).

I’m not gonna lie, roasting and peeling those chestnuts is a little bit tedious. It is definitely worthwhile though when you get to enjoy the fruits of your labour by : 1) sipping on a glass of wine, then inhaling deeply as the chestnuts simmer with a vanilla bean and the warm scents fill your kitchen, and 2) sprinkling some flakey salt on one piece, then chocolate sprinkles (hagelslag, which I picked up in the Netherlands) on another.

whole wheat no knead bread

whole wheat no knead bread

whole wheat no knead bread

whole wheat no knead bread

whole wheat no knead bread with chestnut jam

whole wheat no knead bread with chestnut jam

whole wheat no knead bread with chestnut jam

no knead whole wheat bread with chestnut vanilla jam (vegan, vegetarian)

inspired by Jim Lahey’s no knead bread

2 1/2 cups / 340g white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup / 70g all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups /350 g warm water

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the water, and stir with a spoon until everything is incorporated and there are no dry spots. Cover with a towel, and leave to rise for 12-14 hours.* Generously flour your counter, and using a bowl scraper ease the dough onto the counter. Flour the top, then gently shape the dough into either a round (for a boule) or an oblong shape (for a standard loaf).

For a boule: line a medium bowl with a tea towel/napkin and dust with rice flour, then place the dough in the bowl seam side up. Cover with another towel, and let rise for about 2 hours. 30 minutes before baking, start preheating your oven to 450F (fan) with a large dutch oven inside. When you’re ready to bake, remove the dutch oven and take off the lid. Gently flip the bowl over the dutch oven, trying to land the dough in the centre (alternatively you can place some parchment over the bowl, flip the dough onto it, and lower it into the dutch oven holding the edges of the parchment). Slash the bread a couple times, then place the lid on and bake for 20 minutes. After 25 minutes reduce the heat to 425F (fan), remove the lid and continue baking for another 20 minutes until the crust is really golden, then turn out onto a rack to cool.

For a loaf: lightly oil a 9×4 loaf pan (make sure it is okay at high temperatures!), then place your dough in seam side down. Cover with a towel and let rise for 2 hours. 30 minutes before baking, start preheating your oven to 450F (fan) with a large sheet pan on the bottom rack. When you’re ready to bake, remove the towel and slash the top of the loaf. Place the loaf into the oven and pour 1 cup of boiling water onto the sheet pan, then close the oven quickly to keep the steam inside. After 20 minutes reduce the heat to 425F (fan), and continue baking for another 20 minutes until the crust is really golden. Turn out onto a rack to cool.

chestnut jam

makes about 2 cups

550 g whole chestnuts
1 vanilla bean
135 g sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Preheat your oven to 400F (fan). Carefully cut an ‘x’ into the rounded side of a handful of chestnuts**. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the shell has started to peel back. Remove from the oven, and carefully remove the shell and inner fuzzy skin. Repeat until all the chestnuts have been peeled.*** Once peeled, I had about 300 g chestnuts. Add those to a medium pot with 550 g water and one vanilla bean, then bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 30-40 minutes until they easily break apart. Add 135 g sugar and stir until dissolved. Split the vanilla bean and add the paste back to the pot (you can always use the leftover bean to infuse your bag of sugar!). Blend with an immersion blender or food processor, add 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, then reduce heat to low and stir until thickened to the consistency of apple butter, about 15-20 minutes.

Notes:

*If the timing doesn’t work out and you end up having to leave the house, just place the bowl in the fridge and continue when you get back. The cold temperature will slow down the fermentation, and the cold dough is actually a bit easier to handle. I have made this dough and left it out for 6 hours, then put it in the fridge for 12 hours and proceeded with shaping and had excellent results. The second rise in the pan/bowl takes a bit longer because the dough is cold, so you just need to watch for signs that it’s ready (springs back very slowly when poked).
** Try to cut the ‘x’ through the shell layer so that steam can escape, so they will be easier to peel and prevent them from exploding
*** Chestnuts are easiest to peel when hot, so just do a handful at a time (I did about 8 or 9 at a time)

vegetarian vegan pan bagnat

turkish inspired pan bagnat

I know, a sandwich. What a terribly mundane idea for a blog post.

BUT.

This sandwich is different, I swear. I wrestle with myself over recipe ideas all the time, thinking “it’s been done” or “it’s boring” or “who needs a recipe for that?” or “how interesting could a vegetarian sandwich be without cheese?!”. This blog is supposed to represent foods that I like to eat regularly; sandwiches definitely fall into that category, so I unashamedly present to you my take on a pan bagnat. People have this idea in mind that vegetarian/vegan food is supremely bland or uninteresting; while that may be true of some stuff, I hope this sandwich proves otherwise. When I think about food options that I wish existed in Kingston, this type of food comes to mind. I want something fairly wholesome, inexpensive, with a lot of flavour.

I was flipping through Sarah B‘s cookbook and saw the pan bagnat, which is basically a Nicoise salad on a bun. The name translates to ‘bathed bread’, because all the flavours soak into the bread as you let it sit, and it is insanely delicious. Her recipe drew me in with its bright flavours and colours, and so I thought that I would like to eat something similar, but with a more middle Eastern influence. My sincerest apologies to the people of Nice, France*: this tastes pretty different from the OG pan bagnat.

I have this oddly dichotomous approach to cooking. There are days when I stare blearily into the fridge, have tumbleweeds rolling through my skull, and lay on the couch ignoring my rumbling stomach because I am too tired/lazy/uninspired to make anything. And then other days I’m making granola, yogurt, veg stock, planning meals for the upcoming week, all while tending to some rising bread.

This sandwich is sort of the best of both worlds: it’s a bit of prep to make the components (when I have more energy), but then you have everything in your fridge to easily throw together some not-boring sandwiches for lunch all week long! It’s totally worth it: the muhammara is great for dipping vegetables, and probably also great tossed with pasta. The preserved lemons will keep in your fridge for a while (assuming your container is clean and they are submerged in the lemon juice), and add a really incredible rounded lemon flavour to any dish.

*Speaking of France: I am going there very shortly (t minus six days) on a little adventure to WWOOF on an organic farm!

vegetarian vegan pan bagnat

vegetarian vegan pan bagnat

vegetarian vegan pan bagnat

vegetarian vegan pan bagnat

vegetarian vegan pan bagnat

vegetarian vegan pan bagnat

vegetarian vegan pan bagnat

vegetarian vegan pan bagnat

middle eastern inspired pan bagnat (vegetarian)

serves 2 with leftovers of muhammara and mashed beans

ciabatta or other crusty bread
one batch of muhammara
olive oil
15 oz can of cannellini beans
1/4 cup finely chopped preserved lemons (this or this faster one)
2 teaspoons tahini
1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper
1/8 teaspoon sumac
arugula or other greens
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
handful of string beans, blanched
handful of chopped pitted olives
sliced red onion
a handful of torn coriander

Slice the bread lengthwise, and pull out some of the bread guts to make room for all the filling. Dip the bread guts in extra muhammara! Spoon the bottom half with a generous amount of muhammara. Mash the cannellini beans with the preserved lemon, tahini, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, pepper and sumac, leaving it a bit textured. Add a generous amount of this next, then layer on the eggs, beans, olives, onions, arugula, and coriander. Brush the top half of the bread with olive oil, place it on top, then wrap it up and put it in the fridge. This type of sandwich gets better as it soaks in all the flavours. We wrapped it up and enjoyed it a couple hours later on a roadside quick picnic by the lake after we went apple picking.

Notes:

– this is easily made vegan by leaving out the hardboiled eggs.