Frida and Diego

As I prepare for my annual Christmas trip to Toronto, I am looking forward to going to the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario.  I have treated myself to an AGO  distance membership, which means free access to regular and special exhibits; this provides added incentive to visit the AGO whenever I’m in town.  I remember being enthralled by Frida and Rivera’s work in the interior court of the Detroit Institute of Arts when I lived in that city, and am looking forward to seeing a larger collection of their works in Toronto.  More after I’ve been to the exhibit.

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Top 12 Vegan Recipes of 2012

VegNews has posted the top 12 vegan recipes of 2012:

 

  1. Vegan Macaroni & Cheese.
  2. Sumptuous Shepherd’s Stew.
  3. Guilt-Free Garlic Mashed Potatoes.
  4. Quinoa Nachos.
  5. Marinated Kale Salad.
  6. Vegan Nacho Cheese.
  7. Gluten-Free Middle Eastern Chickpea & Rice Salad.
  8. Avocado Pesto Pasta.
  9. Soy-Free Vegan Ground Beef.
  10. Vegan Ranch Burgers.
  11. Vegan Potato Pancakes.
  12. Vegan Meatballs.

 Yes, we vegans know how to eat.

Colcannon

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I love potatoes and cabbage, so I’m particularly fond of any dish that combines them.  I’ve modified the traditional Irish dish in that I don’t boil the cabbage; rather, I slice it thinly and saute it with onions.  In the version above, I’ve mashed both potatoes and sweet potatoes and added a little shredded Daiya cheese. This is comfort food at its best.

Ingredients

  • Diced and peeled Yukon gold potatoes.  I’m partial to Yukon gold because they retain their texture when boiled.
  • Diced and peeled sweet potato.
  • Sliced green cabbage
  • Sliced onions.  Leeks would be my choice, when available.
  • Earth Balance margarine.  Any vegan margarine could do, but Earth Balance is the best.
  • Soy milk.
  • Shredded Daiya vegan cheese.  I used Mozzarella-type this time, but Cheddar-style is good, too.
  • Salt to taste.  I don’t like pepper, but obviously, this can be added as one wishes.

Process

  • Boil the two types of potatoes. I boil for no longer than 17 minutes.
  • While the potatoes are cooking, saute the onions and cabbage.  I normally use canola oil, but if you’re feeling decadent, you could use margarine.  I saute on a low-to-medium heat to ensure the cabbage is sufficiently softened and caramelized.
  • Drain the potatoes and mash with soy milk and margarine.  Add the Daiya cheese.
  • Add the onion and cabbage mixture and mix well.  Season to taste.

Vegan pizza

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Pizza is one of my favourite foods.  I seem to have an almost limitless ability to consume pizza; for this reason, I prefer to make pizza myself, as I can control the levels of fat and salt. My make my own pizza dough using my Zojirushi breadmaker. I have tried different types of flours, but all-purpose unbleached flour produces the best results.

Ingredients

  • Tomato sauce.  I make a simple sauce using sauted garlic, crushed tomatoes, basil, and oregano.  Adding a teaspoon or so of sugar helps cut down the acidity of the tomatoes.  I usually add a full-bodied red wine for flavour.  I am a traditionalist when it comes to pizza; I’ve tried white sauces, but my preference is for red sauce.
  • Sliced kalamata olives.I always buy olives with pits, as I find they are more flavourful than pitted olives.  Slicing the olives around the pits is fiddly, but is worth the effort,  The challenge is to not eat too many olives while slicing them.
  • Sliced mushrooms.  If I am feeling particularly decadent, I’ll use oyster or shitake mushrooms.
  • Sun-dried tomatoes.  You have to be careful of not using too many, as otherwise the pizza will taste too salty.
  • Sliced artichokes.  The ones marinated in oil are higher in fat, but more flavourful.
  • Daiya cheese. I add this after the pizza has baked, as I don’t like the cheese to burn.
  • Bake at 425.

This is what the assembled pizza looks like, without cheese:

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Once the pizza is cooked, I sprinkle Daiya shredded cheese and cook until melted.

 

 

 

Black bean soup

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This is an easy soup that I like to prepare in the slow cooker so that it’s ready when I come home.

Ingredients

  • Cooked black beans:  I use one cup of dried beans.
  • Garlic
  • Cumin
  • Bay leaves
  • Thyme
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Tinned tomatoes.  I like the peeled variety, as they dissolve nicely. I buy Italian brands, as they are far superior than those made in North America.
  • Diced carrots
  • Vegetable stock
  • Salt, to taste.

Procedure

  • I normally use the quick-soak method to cook the beans:  Boil for two minutes, then let them soak in the hot water for an hour.  Replace the water for cooking.  I add a few drops of vegetable oil to the cooking water, as this helps keep down the foam that will be released.  Black beans take about 45 minutes to cook on low heat.     Don’t add salt, as the beans won’t cook properly.
  • Saute the garlic and cumin.
  • Place all ingredients in the slow cooker.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  • Of course, this can work equally well on the stove, but the slow cooker does a better job of releasing the flavours.
  • I like to puree the soup with an immersion blender.  I do this for just a few seconds, as I want some chunks and texture in the soup

 

Vegan baking guide

This article from VegNews provides a very useful guide for how to bake using vegan substitutes for animal-based ingredients.  The article provides links to a number of recipes. I don’t bake too often, as I prefer to cook, but when I do, the lack of animal-based ingredients has never detracted from the delicious outcome; a bonus is that vegan baked goods are often lower in fat and, of course, cholesterol.  Another bonus is that you can eat uncooked cake batter and cookie dough without fear of salmonella 🙂