Thursday, April 30, 2015

"Better Than Chicken Nuggets" Nuggets

I have made that recipe twice for meat lovers, and they absolutely loved it. Plus, they are much healthier, and cruelty-free (obviously)!



"BETTER THAN CHICKEN NUGGETS" NUGGETS

Ingredients

Olive oil (just enough to cook the mushrooms and onions)
1 onion, diced
3 artichoke hearts, diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
4 cups of mushrooms, minced (it can be white mushrooms or a mixture of white and shimeji or others)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 1/4 cup of oats (not the fast cooking kind!)
Water
White flour
Vegetable oil to fry

Directions

Cook the onions in a little bit of olive oil until they are translucent. Add the mushrooms, artichokes and then the garlic. Salt. Cook the mushroom until they shrink in size and lose a lot of their water. Add the oats to the mushroom mixture. The oat will cook with the liquid from the mushroom first. Once the liquid as completely absorbed, add water to cover the mushroom and oat mixture completely and let it cook again until the water is all evaporated/absorbed. You will have a mushy mixture.

Let it cool down a little before making the balls, otherwise you will burn yourself!

Prepare a bowl with with flour in it. Once the mixture is cool enough for you to touch it, form nuggets with the dough and coat them with white flour with the flour bowl. Put aside. Repeat until you have no more dough left.

Fry the nuggets in hot vegetable oil until brown on all sides. Place on a plate with paper towel to get rid of the excess oil.

Enjoy!

Side Dish: Deluxe Green Salad with Pears, Tomatoes, Artichokes and Pesto Dressing

How about a Deluxe Green Salad to serve with your main course?


DELUXE GREEN SALAD WITH PEARS, TOMATOES, ARTICHOKES AND PESTO DRESSING

Ingredients

2 pears, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
1 can of artichoke hearts
Pesto sauce 
Flax seeds
Salad leaves

If you don't have pesto at hand, you can make it using the recipe found at the end of that post.

Directions

It's simple. Mix all the ingredients until the flax seeds and serve it on a bed of salad leaves.



Side Dish: Zucchini with a Cashew and Pesto Sauce

You don't know what to make as a side dish? Try these: Zucchini served with a cashew and pesto sauce. Super simple, yet so tasty!



ZUCCHINI IN A CASHEW CREAM AND PESTO SAUCE

Ingredients:

1 sliced zucchini
Pesto sauce (vegan please)
Cashew cream
Olive oil to fry the zucchini
Salt to taste

Directions:

Cook the zucchini in a frying pan in a little bit of olive oil. Add salt when they start to be translucent. The salt with help the water to come out and leave them soft (that's how I like my zucchini). Once they are well cooked, you can make the sauce by mixing the cashew cream and pesto together. Poor the sauce over the zucchini.

If you don't know how to make cashew cream, it's quite easy:

CASHEW CREAM

Ingredients:

1 cup of raw cashew nuts
1/4 to 1/2 cup of filtered water (depending on the thickness you want)
A pinch of sea salt

Directions:

Blend all the ingredients together in a food processor until smooth. You can soak the cashew nuts in water for 2 hours before if you feel your blender would work too hard, but it's optional.

PESTO

Ingredients:

2 cups of fresh basil leaves
1/2 of nuts (of your choice, it can be pine nuts, cashew nuts or walnuts)
2 cloves fresh garlic
1/4 cup of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Blend all the ingredients together in a food processor until smooth.

Add a little bit of water if you find the mixture too thick and your blender can't blend the mixture well.

Super Easy Tofu Eggless Salad Sandwich

I used to love egg salad sandwiches! Whenever there was a cold buffet, that was the only sandwiches I would eat. I always had an aversion for tuna or chicken sandwiches, bleh. Now I am also grossed out by eggs.

So this recipe is much better, for the environment, the health, and your taste buds!

The sandwiches are not soggy either so you can put them in a Tupperware and eat them at work for lunch, like I did.


SUPER EASY TOFU EGGLESS SALAD SANDWICH

Ingredients

1 pack of firm tofu
1/3 cup of vegan mayo
2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
1 avocado
Salad leaves
1 tomato, sliced
8 slices of 12 grain bread

Directions

To make the salad: Blot the tofu so that it loses most of its liquid. Put it in a mixing bowl along with the mayo, mustard and salt and pepper. Mash and mix it well until you get a mixture that looks a little like an egg salad. Put aside.

To make the sandwich: Mash the avocado and spread it on one slice of bread. Add two thin slices of tomatoes on top. Spoon the tofu mixture on the tomatoes and top with a little bit of salad. Close the sandwich with another slice of bread. Repeat the process three other times. You will  have a total of four sandwiches.

Testing Recipes: Raw Vegan Chocolate Molten Lava Cake

I was craving for chocolate at decided to try out Gluten-Free-Vegan-Girl's recipe for a raw vegan chocolate molten lava cake. Please visit her page for the recipe!

First of all, her picture is amazing and looks incredibly delicious. As a vegetarian, one of my favourite treats was chocolate lava cakes. I even sinned a few times when I first became vegan with those. It was so hard to control myself around those! So when I found her recipe, I decided to try it out.

I changed her recipe a little, to fit with what I had on hand. And I was not as happy as I thought I would be. I guess her cake didn't taste quite like I expected. You know, the deception you get when you are craving for something, and you get something similar, but it's not quite what you wanted in the first place. That's how I felt. Certainly her recipe is delicious, and a lot more healthy than the usual cake.

I needed to add some sugar though. It was not sweet enough for my liking (but obviously that's just my preference).

I also think I used the wrong kind of nuts for the crust. I used walnuts. I thought it was going to be the best option, because my raw vegan brownies recipe asks for walnuts and the taste is simply out of this world! But it was not good for this recipe, maybe I should have tried nuts with a softer taste.

I was not found of the peanut butter taste in the sauce either. I would have done without. But again, that's just me.

Still, look at the end result. Mine is not as pretty as hers, but it's not bad. :)



I will definitely do this recipe again, and post the new results. Any advice as to what to use to make it better?

I want to clarify: Gluten-Free-Vegan-Girl's recipe is delicious. I just screwed it up by choosing the wrong ingredients!

Chocolate Rocher Bars

When I was a kid, my parents took us (my brother, sister and I) to the North of Quebec.

Back then, my family was really religious, and we were part of a cult. The cult was fairly small. There were I think a total of 5 churches all over Quebec (and it only exists in Quebec). Now, I know at least two of those churches became independent. And in the North, there was only a family. Not sure how they came to know of the existence of our church, but the church members regularly went to visit them during their summer vacation. I don't know if they are still part of the church or not.

Anyway, although I think that cult messed up my mind for a long time, there was at least one good thing I got out of it (because you always have too look at the bright side of things, right?) And I got it from that trip. That lady in the North of Quebec, she made awesome chocolate rocher cookies!

Seeing we liked the cookies so much, my mom asked for the recipe, and we have been making them at home regularly.

I decided to shape them into chocolate bars instead of cookies. They are super easy to make, and delicious. Ah, and I veganized the recipe too, obviously.


CHOCOLATE ROCHER BARS

Ingredients

1/2 cup of almond milk
1/2 cup of vegan margarine
2 cups of vegan sugar
6 table spoons of cacao powder
3/4 cup of peanut butter
1 tea spoon of vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups of oats (not quick cooking oats)

Instead of the peanut butter, you can also use chopped walnuts.


Directions

Mix the first three ingredients in a pot and heat it over medium heat until the margarine is melted. Bring to a boil and stir well until smooth. Lower the heat and add the cacao powder. Remove from the heat and pour in the rest of the ingredients (peanut butter, vanilla, and oats). Pour the mixture in a rectangular Pyrex plate. Flatten the mixture out with a spoon and put in the freezer for at least 2 hours.

It should be kept cold in the fridge after that. If you keep it at room temperature, it will become too gooey and sticky.

Enjoy!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Vegan General Tao Tofu

Today is a beautiful day: nor cold, nor hot, nor too sunny nor too cloudy. I even get to spend some alone time at home, relaxing (writing). It's really the perfect day, so I decided to treat myself to my favourite tofu recipe: Vegan General Tao Tofu!



GENERAL TAO TOFU

Ingredients

1 block of extra firm tofu
1/2 cup flour (or cornstarch if you prefer)
Vegetable oil to fry
1 table spoon of vegetable oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 table spoon of freshly grated ginger (or in powder, like me, since I didn't have any fresh one on hand)
1/4 cup of water
Half a cube of low-sodium vegetable broth
4 table spoons of sugar
2 table spoons of vinegar
2 table spoons of low sodium soy sauce
Green onions to garnish

Preparation

Cut the tofu into bit size cubes, place in a bowl and coat them generously with flour. In a sauce pan, heat the frying oil and fry the tofu cubes once the oil is hot enough. Fry them on all sides until they are golden brown. Set the tofu aside on a plate cover with paper towels to get rid of the excess oil. In another sauce pan (or the same if you get rid of the frying oil), cook the garlic and ginger in a little bit of oil. Add the water, the vegetable broth, the sugar, vinegar and soy sauce. Mix until the sauce thickens. Place the tofu again in the sauce and mix to cover it with sauce.

Serve the tofu with rice and sprinkle with green onions.

P.S. It's one of my boyfriend's favourite food too! But I was naughty and ate everything all by myself. No worries, I will probably make it again this weekend for him to eat too.

One More Story About Victim Blaming...When Will It End?

This post is not about food. Although maybe food would comfort me in such times. Something happened recently, to someone I know, and it has been quite shocking to me. I thought the people around me were different. I thought they were not the bad guys. Or at least, not the ones to perpetuate victim blaming... I needed to share the story.



I will use false names, and since I have no imagination right now, I will be using a name generator!

A friend of mine, Sandra, came to me recently for advice. She told me her brother, Matthew, recently started dating this girl, Karen. Sandra liked Karen at first. She was saying she was open-minded. She could tell her anything. She would not judge. So far so good.

Karen has a baby from some other guy, let's call him Bobby. And Bobby's job in life is to fix computers. Karen and Bobby are still in good terms, for the baby's sake it seems. So, when Sandra had a problem with her computer, she brought it over to Bobby's house for him to fix it.

Now, Karen and Matthew were at Bobby's house and saw that Bobby downloaded dirty pictures of Sandra from her computer. She had them there for her boyfriend, or ex-boyfriend, since she now is single. Doesn't matter.

So Karen and Matthew deleted the pictures from Bobby's computer and told Sandra about it. Sandra feels awful. She is embarrassed. She feels violated. She is scared of what Bobby could do with those pictures. What does he plan to do with them? Put them on the Internet? Keep them for his own pleasure? Even this makes Sandra feel uncomfortable, she does not want him to have her pictures, she does not want him to do anything with them either.

She told Karen she wants to talk to Bobby, to tell him how she felt. Karen told her not to, that she would handle it. Bobby comes at Sandra's house (she lives with Karen, Matthew, her Father and another brother...oh and the baby, Bobby's daughter) to babysit the baby. Sandra says she does not feel comfortable to be around Bobby any more, and that she wishes he was not babysitting the baby in the house.

Karen told Sandra to tell it go already, to move on, to stop talking about it. But Sandra still doesn't feel comfortable. She started asking herself if she should go to the police. I adviced her to. For me, this kind of thing is not to be taken slightly. She talked with other people. Her father. But he only agree that what Bobby did was wrong. He didn't seem to want to tell Bobby not to come back. He doesn't seem to understand how Sandra does not feel comfortable with him around. She talked to her mom. Her mom told her: "What were you doing with those kind of pictures anyway?"

People seem not to understand how she really feels. And it seems like an opinion shared by many people.


(I don't really think Ricky Gervais is saying it's the celebrities' fault here. Although I am sure some people could understand it that way.)

I asked Sandra if she wanted me to try to talk with her dad about it. I did. He told me he would see what Sandra wants to do.

Finally, she went to the police with one of her aunts. Because she needed the moral support to go there. To go to the police is a scary thing. The police listened to her story, and they took her side (At least one good thing! Some victims are also blamed or not taken seriously when they go to the police...I am glad this story is not one of those!). They wanted to meet with Bobby. They went to Sandra's house, because this was where Bobby was, again. With the baby.

The police got Bobby into their car. They interrogated him, and recorded the conversation. They then went to ask Matthew and Karen about their version of the story.

"Sandra exaggerates a lot," Matthew said. "Bobby didn't do anything with the pictures, he just saved them."

"It's her fault anyway", said Karen. "She is the one who told us there were dirty pictures of her in her computer. So it's her fault."

The police went back to talk to Sandra and made her listen to a part of what Bobby said. He basically said that he downloaded the pictures, yes, but he did not do anything with them. He wasn't going to either. He wasn't going to post them online!

So basically, in his head, he was innocent. He confessed to doing something illegal (downloading the pictures) without thinking it was really bad. For him the real crime was uploading them. Certainly, it would have been much worst if he did in fact upload the pictures to the Internet.

But just saving the pictures without her permission is illegal. And immoral. I know morals are not universal and all, but to me, using somebody's body, or the images of it, without the person's content, for your own pleasure, it is at least objectification. And that's just wrong. It should be like a basic human right.

Anyway, the police asked Sandra if she wanted to press charges. And I guess she felt scared, like so many people do. The burden of bringing someone in court, of getting a lawyer, of fighting... She decided not to press charges and thought that maybe now Bobby would understand what he did was wrong and wouldn't do it again. Because, imagine, if his job is to fix computers, and many people have dirty pictures of themselves, of their partners or exes on there...how many computers or sexy pictures could come into his hands?

So the police let him go, and Sandra's father told him not to come back in the house.

I thought the story would end there, but there are other consequences. Karen and Matthew are very angry against Sandra. They say she is just a liar or she seriously misunderstood what they said.

I asked Sandra, because it seemed weird to me, why is it she thinks Karen told her about that story in the first place? She thinks Karen told her to vent about Bobby. Because when they were together, Bobby and her used to fight about him having a collection of dirty pictures (now, I am supposing that those were acquired legally). So she was just complaining how much a bad guy Bobby actually is. But then I asked again, if she wants him to pass off as a bad guy, what is she trying to protect him now, and says Sandra is lying? According to Sandra, it's because she needs a babysitter for her daughter; and Bobby is always available. So she is choosing convenience over what is right.

These are just assumptions, but I cannot think of why else Karen would do that... Or maybe it's the idea of having a sexual offender as an ex that is not fun for her. Maybe. I remember when my mother's ex-boyfriend (she was still dating him at the time) was arrested for sexually abusing 5 under-aged girls, my mom took it hard too. She didn't want to believe it. Instead, she bailed him out to give him the chance to hire a better lawyer, something that got her the disapproval of many of her co-workers. So maybe it's just hard to admit. Maybe Karen just wants to convince herself that what Bobby did is nothing serious, and that Sandra really is exaggerating. But if that is the case, that is also problematic. This is just wrong.

I talked with Matthew on Facebook, and he told me again that Sandra is exaggerating.

"He was fixing her computer and saw her pictures. To get revenge because Karen left him for me, he saved them. But he never intimidated her," he said.

"But you understand that just saving the pictures is illegal?" I asked him.

Here is the original conversation in French, for those of you who can understand.



Then he changed his story.

"He didn't saved the pictures. He just looked at them. I asked him and when he lies, his lip trembles."

"But how is "just" looking at the pictures a revenge?" I asked again.

He stopped answering.


(Why is this screen shot grey? Hum...Never mind.)

It's also weird that in Sandra's version (or the version they supposedly told Sandra first), Karen and Matthew were the ones erasing the pictures from the computer. Now, they did not delete anything but they were there when Bobby looked at the pictures? Or how would they know? 

A few days later, Sandra came back to talk to me and told me that her father has allowed Bobby back in the house. What?

Bobby swore he won't do it again, and to her dad, that was enough. I guess her father just feels that he does not want to fight over all of this. Sandra tells him how uncomfortable she feels with him around. But she is being told (by Matthew and Sandra, the father keeps quiet) to stop being so dramatic about it.

Now Sandra is thinking about moving out from her father's house. She feels everybody is against her there.

End of the story.

So what do you think? Have you ever experienced something similar? I have to say I am quite shocked about all of this. I knew victim blaming existed. I knew they blame the victims of rape for being raped because of what they wear, because of where they were, with who they were, etc. I knew some families turn a blind eye because the aggressor is a family member. What I don't understand is how can her own family turn on her like this? I am shocked. It really proves just how much rape culture is present in our society. Horrible. Just horrible.

Vegan Poutine

I haven't had a lot of time to cook lately. I have been running after some papers for the wedding, and facing the chaotic Brazilian bureaucracy. I am getting married next month actually. It happened all quite fast. In my last post, I was saying how I thought my boyfriend's family did not approve of me because I am not Jewish. Well, his parents seemed to have gotten used to the idea now, and they approve of it, although they'd wish I were Jewish. His other relatives (like his paternal grandmother and uncle) say I look like a nice girl, but that it is too bad I am not Jewish. So this is where it stands. But we are getting married anyway.

I thought it would happen later during the year, but my boyfriend wants it to happen as soon as possible. Hurry much? Well, I think he is more worried about my status in Brazil and wants to regularize everything. It's true that it would be better for me. I would be more independent, financially and all.

Anyway.

I have been incredibly busy and have not had the time to cook, as I said. Still, on Wednesday night, I got home early and was able to cook a little. I made this vegan poutine.



For those of you who don't know what poutine is, it's a French Canadian speciality, fast food. It typically consists of French fries, curd cheese and beef gravy. My version was slightly healthier: roasted fries, home-made vegan cheese and home-made vegan gravy.

CHEESE

Ingredients

1/2 cup of raw cashews soaked over night
1 cup of hot water
1/4 cup of agar-agar powder
3 table spoons of tapioca powder
1 clove of garlic, crushed
Half a bell pepper (I chose a yellow one for the colour)
A pinch of sea salt
Juice from half a lemon

I wish I had nutritional yeast powder to add to the recipe, to give it a slightly cheesier flavour, but it's been impossible to find in Brazil. Also, instead of water, you could use some vegan milk of your choice (preferably unsweetened), but I ran out.

Preparation

Mix everything into the blender until smooth and transfer to a sauce pan. Heat everything on high heat until it simmers and lower the heat to medium low. Keep stirring. The mixture will get very thing, very fast. Keep mixing until it can form a ball. Transfer the mixture into a pot and let it cool to use later. 

I let mine sit in the fridge for about 2 hours before using it. I cut it into bite size pieces and added them to the fries.

General comment: It doesn't quite taste like cheese, so don't be fooled. I love cheese and it has been what is the most difficult for me to stay away from as a vegan, but this cashew cheese goes a long way. It's versatile. I can mix in more herbs, and truffle oil, or maybe a jalapeño pepper for some Mexican flavour The possibilities are endless.

FRIES

Ingredients

3 average size potatoes
Oil to coat the potatoes
Sea salt
Thyme

Preparation

Wash the potatoes well and leave the skin on for extra vitamins. Cut them into French fries size strips. Let them soak in water for about an hour, that is to lose some of their starch and get them crunchier. Drain their soaking water and rinse them. Put them in a dish and coat them with oil, season with salt and thyme. Cook in the oven for 45 minutes or until crispy.

GRAVY

Ingredients

1 table spoon of olive oil
1/3 cup of all-purpose flour (whole wheat could have worked too)
1 table spoon tomato paste
3 cups of vegetable broth
1 clove garlic
1/2 tea spoon of each, paprika, oregano, black pepper, hot sauce

Preparation

Over medium heat, make a roux with the olive oil and the flour. Add the tomato paste and garlic. Once well combined, add a little of the vegetable broth. Enough to dilute the roux a little. Whisk until smooth. Add the rest of the broth. Continue whisking until the sauce thickens. Add the spices.

Pour the gravy over the fries and the cheese. Garnish with fresh parsley.


Gosh, I have been craving for poutine for so long. It totally satisfied my need!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Heart Warming Hot Cocoa

Yesterday evening, I talked with my dad on the webcam and told him I was engaged. My dad is quite easy-going, so he did not say much about it. He just said: "That's a good news." He didn't ask questions, he just accepted the fact.

My boyfriend and I then went to have dinner at my in-laws. It's quite usual for us to have dinner there on Fridays, for the Sabbath. Anyway, my boyfriend told them he had news.

"What is it?" his father and mother asked.
"Myriam and I will get married," boyfriend said.

His parents went silent. His brother screamed his joy. The grandmas became teary, although not with joy. Well, they probably would have preferred it if I were Jewish. My boyfriend is not religious, so for him it does not matter. He actually prefers that I am not Jewish. But maybe his family were still hopeful he would "come back to the righteous path"?

I am not sure what the parents thought. I guess they like me, but liking me and wanting me as a wife for their son, are two different things. They said they were just shocked, and they told me "welcome to the family," but what else could they say? They wouldn't make a scene in front of me.

Anyway, I am not sure how I am feeling right now. I am not sure what I was expecting anyway. I am a little confused. I slept over it and, when I woke up this morning, I felt the need to have something sweet so I made myself a cup of cocoa.


HEART WARMING HOT COCOA

Ingredients

2 cups of oat milk
3 1/2 ounces vegan dark chocolate
1 tea spoon cinnamon powder
3 table spoons of maple syrup

I was going to put a dash of rum in it too, but I wasn't able to open the bottle... Anyway, it's probably better to avoid the alcohol in the morning, right? :)

Directions

I poured the milk in a saucepan and broke the chocolate into squares before adding it to the milk. I heated the milk on low heat and added the maple syrup and cinnamon powder. I stirred everything until the chocolate was all melted and it started to boil. I took it off from the heat and served it into cups. One for me, one for boyfriend.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Vegan Palak Paneer and Flat Bread

One of my favourite Indian meals is palak paneer. I just love how it feels to have pieces of cheese inside a thick and creamy spinach sauce. I didn't grow up eating Indian food, I was first exposed to it when I moved to Toronto to study; but I cannot remember when was the first time I tried palak paneer, in which context, or how I reacted to its taste. I find it frustrating. Food memories are among my favourite memories.

Well, I will associate palak paneer to a new memory from now on. I will always remember that this is what I made the day my boyfriend proposed to me. Yes, it seems I am engaged. He popped the question and I said yes. We will get married. We are not sure when yet though, and if it will happen in Brazil or in Canada, or both. We are not sure of anything. We will talk about it all on Sunday afternoon, he says. He wants to make a "plan". That's how he calls it. Right now, we only know we love each other enough to fully commit to each other.^^

Here is what I made last night for dinner: vegan palak paneer, rice (still finishing off the free rice my ex-roomate gave me), hashbrown potatoes and home made flat bread. The picture below was taken today for lunch, though. I ate the same thing again, because I wanted to take a better picture, with better lighting. I am still learning how to take pictures of food. Lighting makes a big difference.


VEGAN PALAK PANEER

Ingredients

1 large chopped onion
2 table spoons minced ginger
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 table spoons tomato paste
2 diced tomatoes
2 cups of frozen spinach
1 pack firm tofu cut into cubes
2 cups of thick oat milk (thick)
1 tea spoon sea salt
1 table spoon mustard seeds
1 table spoon coriander
3 cardamom pods
1 table spoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon curry powder
Chili flakes to taste

Directions

I started off by cooking the onions, garlic and salt in a big pot with a little bit of olive oil over medium low it. I then added the ginger and stirred occasionally. While it cooked, I crushed and mixed the spices in a mortar. Already, the smell of the spices was dreamy. I could not wait to try how it would taste at the end. I added the spices to the veggies and added the tomato paste. I cooked it until everything was cooked through then added the tomatoes, the spinach and the milk. I let it simmer for a while until the spinach were unfrozen and the sauce had thickened. I poured the mixture into the blender, whizzed it until smooth and returned the mixture to the pot. I added the tofu, stirred and let it simmer a little bit more for the tofu to get some taste.

I am not sure how palak paneer tastes in India, but I loved this one. The original recipe called for garam masala, but I couldn't find it in Sao Paulo. If I am not mistaken, I think garam masala means a mixture of spices? I vaguely remember learning that, maybe watching a cooking show some time? I would only need to know which kinds of spices to put in the mix, and how much; but the various recipes I found on the internet for garam masala differ and I am not verse enough in India cooking to use my gut.

Even for this recipe, I replaced some spices for others and changed the quantities to make it to my liking. I followed my nose. So you will have to excuse me for not being authentic. :)

FLAT BREAD

I remember in restaurant, palak paneer is always served with a sort of flat bread. I decided to make some, to dip into the spinach sauce. I crushed cardamom pods and took only the little seeds inside to put into the recipe to give it a subtle Indian flavour. The salt also didn't dissolve entirely when I cooked the breads, so at some point we had bites slightly saltier than others, but I liked it. My boyfriend too.

Ingredients

3 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 pinch of sea salt
2 cardamom pods
1 table spoon baking powder
2/3 cup water

Directions

I mixed all the ingredients together and formed a well in the middle. I poured the water in the well and started incorporating it slowly until I got most of the flour and made a dough. I kneaded the dough until it was firm enough to be rolled. I floured the counter, separated the dough into five small parts and rolled them out into circles. I fried them one by one in a slightly oiled frying pan.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Vegan raw brownies

Again for yesterday's lunch, I made raw vegan brownies for my guests. It uses no processed sugar, just the natural sweetness of dates, which is better for you since it has vitamins and fibers than the usual white sugar.


RAW VEGAN BROWNIES

Ingredients

3/4 cup walnuts
3/4 cup coconut flakes
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 cup coconut milk
10 pitted dates
coconut flakes to garnish

Preparation

Put all the ingredients (minus the coconut flakes) into a mixer and mix until you get a smooth dough. Press the dough into a pan and sprinkle with coconut flakes. You should leave it in the fridge for over 2 hours. The longer the better.


I loved how naturally sweet it was, and the chocolaty and nutty flavour reminded me of the brownies. It also has the consistency of a chocolate mousse cake (my absolute favourite dessert). So I loved it!

Vegan greek salad

I made this greek salad to go with the gnocchi. It has lettuce, cherry tomatoes, black olives, cucumbers, a vinaigrette and marinated tofu in lieu of feta cheese.


GREEK MARINATED TOFU

Ingredients

1 lb extra firm tofu
2 tb spoons olive oil
2 tb spoons balsamic vinegar
2 tb spoons soy sauce
2 tb spoons fresh lime juice
2 cloves garlic
A pinch of dried basil and a pinch of thyme

GREEK VINAIGRETTE

Ingredients

2 tb spoons olive oil
2 tb spoons red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
1 tb spoon spices for salad
salt and pepper

I found it quite satisfying and it satisfied my cravings for feta cheese, although, it is true it does not taste like feta cheese! My boyfriend liked the salad but wasn't a fan of the tofu. The guests, I guess, were too polite to say anything else but "It's very good!". Never trust what guests say... or my dad xD

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Easy creamy tomato risotto

I am still not finished with the white rice that was given to me, so I decided to try to make a risotto out of it. Usually, to make risotto, you use arborio rice, which liberates more starch while cooking and gives it its creaminess, but I was quite happy with the creaminess of this white rice risotto.



EASY CREAMY TOMATO RISOTTO

Ingredients

2 tb spoon canola oil
1 cup white rice
2 cups water
1 cube low sodium veggie broth
2 tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
A handful of cashew nuts
A handful of basil leaves
Salt and pepper

Directions

I first started frying the rice in 1tb spoon of canola oil for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. I then added 1 3/4 cup of water. It's a little bit more water than requested on the package, but I think it's important for the creaminess of the rice. I added the broth cube, stirred until it was dissolved and covered the rice to let it simmer on medium-low heat.

While the rice cooked, I chopped the tomatoes and garlic and friend them in the remaining oil. I did not want the tomatoes to be too soft. I wanted to have tomato bites in the risotto, so I just cooked them enough to cook them through. I put the tomatoes aside.

When the rice was almost cooked, I uncovered it and lowered the heat and stirred it a little. I quickly made a cream with the cashews and what was left of the water. I added it to the rice and added the tomatoes as well. I mixed it all well, seasoned with salt and pepper and served it on plates, garnished with fresh basil leaves.

We watched it in front of the TV watching Better Call Saul on Netflix. My boyfriend loved it. He was saying it looked so professional. That I was getting better and better with my cooking (did that mean that my cooking before sucked? hehe)


Yam gnocchi with a rustic tomato sauce and shimeji

Today, a dear friend of mine I hardly see because he lives in Brasilia came to Sao Paulo because his father was in the hospital (his father is better now, thanks goodness!). I invited him and his girlfriend for lunch.

I made yam gnocchi with a rustic tomato sauce and shimeji. They call yams "batata doce" here, literally "sweet potatoes" so it doesn't help with the yam vs sweet potato confusion. Basically, a sweet potatoes are orange inside; yams are white or beige.


GNOCCHI

Ingredients

5 yams
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp salt
grated nutmeg

Directions

I started by peeling the yams, and hurt myself doing so. Then I cut the yams in cubes of about an inch and a half in size. I cooked them in boiling water until they were soft. I then drained them and set aside to let them cool until room temperature. So far so good.

Things got more complicated after. I then mixed the cubes with the flour, salt and nutmeg. And I formed little balls. I didn't measure the flour really. I just put a little to form the balls. That might have been my mistake.

I boiled them again, because gnocchi are supposed to be boiled, right? But when I checked on them again, they was just a big mush in my pot. I rescued the bits of yams and put them aside with as little liquid as I could. Then I put everything in the blender with more flour and recreated the balls.

Then I fried them lightly in a little bit of olive oil. Stirring them gently to cook them on every sides.

So, I made fried gnocchis, but they were really good!

RUSTIC TOMATO SAUCE

Ingredients

8 italian tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 onion, chopped
A handful of black olives, pitted
A handful of basil leaves
1 tablespoon of sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

I plunged the tomatoes in boiling water and let them cook for a few minutes until I saw their skin was loose. I drained them and let them sit in cold water to cool them more quickly. I then peeled off their skins and put them in a blender along with the basil leaves and the olives. I whizzed it up. Then I cooked the onion and the garlic in a little olive oil until they were translucent and added the tomato mixture to the onions. I stirred, brought it to a boil and lowered the fire to let it simmer a little. I added salt and pepper and the sugar.

No mistake for the sauce, it was delicious and so simple! :)

SHIMEJI

I just chopped up some shimeji and cooked them in a little bit of olive oil and salt.

ALL TOGETHER

I put the gnocchi in a service plate and poured some sauce on top. I garnished with the shimeji and some more basil leaves.

My friends and boyfriend loved it. And I have to say, this was one of the most satisfying meal I have had in a long time. I had barely cooked all week and I was happy to make something a little bit more complex, all homemade! ;)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Vegan eating out: Subway

I have a confession to make. This is the second time I try to stick to a vegan diet. The first time, it was from 2008 to 2009. I managed to eat entirely vegan for a year. Then I travelled to Brazil for the first time, and I got tempted by their vegetarian pizzas...and that was it. Now, in Brazil again, I decided to give it another go.

The first time I became vegan, I didn't tell my family, and when they came to visit me in Toronto my mom proudly handed me a bag of curd cheese she had brought from Quebec, thinking I would be happy to make my own poutine. I gently refused saying:

"Thanks, but I don't eat cheese anymore. I am vegan..."

My mother looked at me with surprise. She was horrified.

"You don't eat cheese anymore? You need it for your proteins."

She continued bugging me even when we were waiting in the line to enter the CN Tower.

"Not even a little egg?"

My mother's reaction is not uncommon when I tell people I am vegan.

"But it's just for a diet. You won't eat like that for the rest of your life, right?"

I thought I could make a series showing people what vegans eat when they go out.

For example, we can go to Subway.


I learned recently that Subway is trying some vegan sandwiches in some locations in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

There seems to be more vegan toppings in some countries too (like the U.S.) than in Brazil.

Here, we have only the white italian bread that is vegan. The others have cheese or honey in it. Sadly, even the whole wheat bread seems to contain L-cystein, and I am not sure if the source if animal or human (yuck). So I stay away from it.

I usually have a veggie delight on white italian bread with all the veggies (here this means lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, pickles, black olives and cucumbers). I top it with a fat free sweet onion sauce.

I am also not sure if Subway's breads here contain azodicarbonamide. A chemical used to make yoga mats... So don't be fooled: eating at a fast food restaurant is always fast food.






Monday, February 23, 2015

Pasta with mushroom cream




I am a big fan of re-using the leftovers and changing the dish a little bit for less boredom!

I had some cream of mushroom soup left from yesterday's dinner. I tossed it in with vegan pasta and voilà!

It was delicious. :)

A classic: Crepes with maple syrup


I went grocery shopping yesterday morning, and I could not resist buying maple syrup. I live in Brazil, and this is clearly imported from Canada (hence the French on the bottle), so it is quite pricy. When my father came to visit me last May, before the World Cup craze, he brought me a few cans. But they are already over. I have been craving for maple syrup since.

Crepes with maple syrup was a staple food in my house growing up. Every Saturday morning, we were almost certain to have it for breakfast. Now that I am vegan, I no longer use my family recipe, but my own version, cruelty-free.

VEGAN CREPES

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup, all purpose flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
A pinch of sea salt
1 cup of soy milk
2 tablespoons of vegan margarine, melted
More margarine to cook the crepes

Often, crepes batter use sugar, but I don't put it, since I find the maple syrup in itself contains enough sugar! You can use whole wheat flour if you prefer, or use a mixture of both whole wheat and all purpose flour for a healthier alternative. I didn't have any whole wheat flour at hand. You can also add in a mashed banana to the batter, or oats, which gives it a nice and healthy taste.

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients together (flour, baking powder and salt). Whisk in the milk and the melted margarine until the batter is smooth. It shouldn't be too liquid. Heat some more margarine in a frying pan. When the margarine is all melted and boiling, it means the pan is hot enough. If the pan is not hot enough, the batter will stick and you won't have a nice looking crepe (my daddy's trick!). Pour in enough batter to make the first crepe. Cook for 1 or 2 min until the batter is darker around the edges. The top of the crepe should not be runny. Flip it and cook on the other side. Once cooked through, put aside on a plate and repeat the process until there is no more batter. Serve with bananas or fruit of your choice and maple syrup.

Bon appétit!

Cream of mushroom soup


I am trying to lose 3 kg and find I am not really good with diets (I have a hard time sticking to them). The only things that seem to work for me is working out, eating well and avoid eating too much carbs at night. This means that for dinner, I enjoy making soups, like this one. A creamy mushroom soup.

VEGAN CREAMY MUSHROOM SOUP

Ingredients:

Olive oil to sautee the veggies
1 onion, chopped
2 sticks, celery, chopped
400 g, mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves, garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons, all purpose flour
2 cups, low sodium vegetable broth
frozen spinach (optional)
Sea salt to taste
Rice cream and green onions for decoration

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat and  sautee onion, celery, garlic and mushrooms and a little bit of salt. Cook until the mushrooms lose most of their water and the onions are translucent. Add the flour and mix well until the veggies are all coated. Add the broth. The flour will eventually allow for the broth to thicken a little. Let simmer for about 15 min. Pour 3/4 of the mixture in a mixer and blend until smooth. Return to the pan with the rest of the veggies. This way, your soup won't be completely smooth but you will still have chunks of mushrooms and celery in it (which I prefer). You can then add the spinach and rectify the seasoning to taste. Decorate with rice cream and green onions before serving.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Jambalaya and cornbread



I was so hungry I could not decide what to make for lunch (and use as my first recipe here). I asked my boyfriend what he thought I should make. Of everything I made lately, I asked him, what was his favourite dish. He gave a few suggestions but finally decided on my vegan jambalaya recipe. A recipe I did last week.

I had been researching about Cajun cuisine last week and quite liked the story. I already knew the Cajun people were originally French Canadians (before they were called that) and had been forced out of their settlements and deported to the South of the U.S.A. I also supposed that since the climate there is very different from Canada's, they had to adapt their cuisine using ingredients that were more readily available to them. What I didn't know was that their religious beliefs made their way into their kitchen too: predominantly Catholics, they usually start off their recipes with the Holy Trinity (which is, for them, onions, bell peppers and celery). Sometimes, they also add the Pope (some garlic). Isn't that funny? I wish I could refer to these ingredients as such, but unfortunately no one will know what I will be talking about. ^^

Here is the recipe for my vegan jambalaya and corn bread:

VEGAN JAMBALAYA

Ingredients:

Olive oil to sautee the veggies
1/4 cup, diced onion
1/4 cup, diced bell pepper (I used yellow and green)
1/4 cup, sliced celery
1 quartered zuchini
2 tablespoons, crushed garlic
1 cup, brown rice
1 can, black beans
2 cans (10 3/4 oz or 305 g), peeled tomatoes
10 3/4 oz or 305 g, water (I used the empty tomato can)
Low sodium vegetable broth cube
Sea salt, oregano, cumin, cayenne pepper and hot sauce to taste
Chopped parsley to decorate

Directions:

In a large pot, heat the oil over high heat with the onion, bell pepper and celery until the onions are slightly translucent. Add the zucchini and cook some more until they are soft. Add the garlic and a little bit of salt. Add the rice and mix like if you were frying it. Then add the liquids: starting with the canned tomatoes, the beans (use their can juice too!) and the water. Add the broth cube and mix well. Cover and let cook for 20 minutes without touching it. After 20 minutes, you can remove the cover and stir it some more. Let it cook again and stir it occasionally. Lower the heat and let it cook until the rice is cooked through and the cooking liquid is almost all evaporated. At this time, add the oregano, cayenne pepper, cumin and hot sauce of your choice. Adjust seasoning to your taste. Serve in plates and decorate with chopped parsley.


CORN BREAD

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups, cornmeal (for polenta)
1 cup, all purpose flour
1 tablespoon, baking powder
1 teaspoon, salt
6 tablespoons, vegan sugar
2 cups, soy milk
2 teaspoons, lemon vinegar
1/4 cup, canola oil

Directions:

Mix together the dry ingredients (floor, cornmeal, salt, sugar and baking powder) and slowly pour in the milk. Stir. Add the oil and vinegar and stir some more until everything is well combined. Grease a pyrex baking dish and pour the mixture in. Cook in a preheated oven for 30 min at 400°F or until cooked through and slightly golden around the edges.

Let's see

I have had a food blog before. One in Portuguese. I posted a total of 12 recipes there. Then I gave it up. I also had another blog in French in which I posted two recipes before closed it down. I was never really good at staying in focus. I attribute this flaw to a self-assessed attention deficit disorder.

I realized I had this disorder when a friend of mine told me she has ADHD. I seemed to have the same difficulty she has, minus the hyperactivity part. I do not get that excited about things, apart from the few and occasional joyful bursts. Still, for me, it was an epiphany: I seldom can stay focus on a conversation, make silly inattention mistakes, or serious ones.

In school, I was certainly the student who stared the most at the teachers, but my mind was never there. My face used to turn a vivid red when the teachers asked me a question, thinking I was their most fervent follower. I rarely knew what they were talking about.

I cannot drive a car because of that: I stop seeing the road, I think about other things while driving. It's very dangerous.

I also have a hard time sticking to my projects. My attention is divergent. I start doing other things. Still, I come back to it if it is something important to me and I manage to finish it, after going through countless detours.

I am an aspiring author. I am writing, and love writing, but I am working on four books at the moment. I write a little bit of one, then another, and another again. Right now, my attention is diverging again to try to keep a food blog once more. Let's see how this time goes.