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.