Category Archives: Vegetarian

If at first you don’t succeed…try try again

This morning when I woke up, I remembered that I had a score to settle. A crispy cheesy score.

I tried to make gougeres, or cheese puffs last year, and they were everything except for the puff. So I looked up David Lebovitz’s post on gougeres and something he said made me feel better. He thinks “the funky-looking ones have a lot of charm”! How nice of him.

Even so, I figured it’s time to show those little puffs who’s boss.

I think I put the puffs in their place this time. (literally) 😉

Oh, if you ever need to impress someone, this is the way to go.

Gougeres – adapted from David Lebovitz
makes about 18 small puffs

1/3 c. water
2 Tbsp. butter
1 pinch of each: chili powder, garlic powder, salt
1/3 c. flour
1 extra large egg
1/2 c. grated sharp cheese (I used aged cheddar)
extra cheese to sprinkle on top

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a small saucepan, heat the water, butter, and the pinches of spices together until butter is melted and water is boiling.
2. Add flour all at once and stir quickly until the dough leaves the sides of the pan. Turn off heat.
3. Continue to smoosh the dough around the pan for a few minutes to cool it off a little. (so you don’t scramble the egg when it’s added)
4. Add the egg and beat until the dough is soft (more of a stiff batter) and shiny. This might take a few minutes, don’t despair if it looks curdled, just press on.
5. Stir in the cheese.
6. At this point, you can: pipe the dough with pastry bag and round tip onto a baking sheet lined with parchment; or lacking a pastry bag, use a ziplock bag with a corner snipped; or just use two spoons to drop the dough.
7. Just make sure they’re evenly sized, about as large as a cherry tomato.
8. Sprinkle with extra cheese.
9. Bake at 425 degrees for about 6 minutes, until they have puffed, then reduce heat to 375 degrees F and continue to bake another 6 minutes, or until the puffs are browned on the sides.
10. Take care not to underbake or the puffs will collapse when taken out of the oven.

Easy Cheese Puffs on Foodista

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Filed under Appetizers, Cheese, Snacks, Vegetarian

Ceiling Art

Let’s play 20 questions:

Q1. What happens when you try to blend chickpeas in a blender?
A. They get stuck on the sides of the blender.

Q2. What do you do to get them down so you can puree them?
A. You open the top of the blender while it’s running and you scrape down the sides with a metal spoon.

Q3. Does that work?
A. Yes, surprisingly, it does.

Q4. Doesn’t the chickpeas fly out?
A. No, they don’t. Not unless you accidentally poke the whirling blade with your spoon.

Q5. !!!
A. 😀 I’m ok.

Q6. So what happened?
A. My kitchen got a makeover…I got ceiling art!

Q7. Uh, so what do you do to prevent that?
A. Don’t touch the blade while it’s on! Or use a food processor.

No…that wasn’t me. I would never put hummus on the ceiling. That was somebody else. I did, however, have fresh, homemade pita and hummus yesterday. I love hummus…garlicky, creaming goodness.

And watching pitas puff like balloons in the oven is so much fun!

You should try one day. 🙂

Just use a food processor.

Hummus
makes about 1 1/4 cups

1 1/2 c. canned chickpeas, drained, but reserve the liquid
2 Tbsp. tahini (substitute smooth peanutbutter in a pinch!)
4 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil (available at most Asian groceries)
1/8 tsp. ground cumin
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
olive oil, to drizzle on top

1. Add all ingredients except for the olive oil to the food processor.
2. Puree until smooth.
3. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with warm pitas.

Pita
makes 6 small

3/4 c. warm water
1 tsp. yeast
1 3/4 c. all purpose flour (I sneaked in 1/4 c. whole wheat)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. olive oil

1. Add yeast to warm water in a large bowl and let stand for a couple minutes.
2. Add the salt, sugar, oil, and 1 1/2 c. flour. Mix until smooth.
3. Gradually knead in the last 1/4 c. of flour until you get a smooth, elastic ball, about 5-7 minutes.
4. Cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
5. Divide the dough into 6 portions and form each into a ball. Let rest 10 minutes. Crank up your oven as high as it can go, mine’s 500 degrees F. Put a cookie sheet upside down in the middle.
6. Roll out each ball on a floured surface until 1/8 inch thick. If too thick, pitas won’t puff properly.
7. Bake each pita about 3-4 minutes, or until puffed and the very lightest brown.

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Filed under Appetizers, Breads, Snacks, Vegetarian

Fresh Tomato Bruschetta

On Saturday I went to the Farmer’s market in Ste. Anne with Ian. I bought this strange looking sandwich thing. I am not entirely sure what it’s called. It looks like a great big kernel of wheat. See?

I only know that it is made of home-ground whole wheat flour and baked. And it’s filled with a mixture of lentils, carrots, tofu curds, green peppers, chili peppers, red peppers, and is almost fat-free. I also know that it’s awfully tasty and filling.

We went to a marvelous and charming little cafe in town, called Twigs. They have the most innovative sandwiches I’ve ever seen or heard of. Alligator sandwich, anyone? They also have excellent espresso, which has become my treat reserved for Saturdays.

Anyways, we also picked up a baguette at the market. Very delicious bread with a crunchy crust and a chewey inside. That is, if you eat it on the same day. Which we didn’t. So what happened to the bread? It got hard and dry, blame it on the Montreal weather. It has been very cold these past few days. I even broke out winter boots. Yes, winter boots in September.

In efforts to resuscitate the baguette, I made bruschetta! (Was going to make baked french toast but forgot…)

Simple ingredients. Easy dish. Elegant look. Wonderful taste. Read on for the recipe.

Oh, did I mention that Ian is learning to cook? I didn’t? Oops. Well, it seems that his first lesson is knife skills, seeing as he made salad today with boiled eggs. (If your boiled eggs always have the icky bluish-greenish sulfur ring, follow this trick: bring eggs to a full boil for 2 minutes ONLY, then cover and let sit for 10 minutes, rinse with cold water and peel. I guarantee perfect eggs every time.)

Doesn’t the olive oil and balsamic vinegar look like the perfect couple approaching each other shyly? No? Okay, maybe it’s just me. 😉

Note: Rubbing the garlic on the toast gives just enough garlicky-goodness without visible, or overwhelming chunks of garlic. Enjoy.

Fresh Tomato Bruschetta
serves 3-4

1/2 lb. fresh tomatoes
5-6 fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade, or fine strips
dash of onion salt, to taste
pepper to taste
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, cut in half crosswise
1/2 of a day-old baguette, sliced

  1. Place the baguette slices on a baking tray and dry in 250 degree oven until crisp, about 20 minutes, or more if your bread is more fresh.
  2. Chop the tomatoes and combine with the rest of the ingredients except for the garlic. Set aside.
  3. Rub one side of each toast with the garlic and top with tomato mixture.
  4. Eat.

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Filed under Appetizers, Side dishes, Vegetarian

Handmade Noodles with Fried Tofu Curd

We had leftover dough from dumplings again. Usually it gets wrapped and left in the fridge until someone remembers it, then it gets transformed into green onion pancakes or handmade noodles.

The way I’ve always learned to make noodles is rolling out the dough until very thin, generously flouring, folding several times, and finally cutting into thin strips. I decided to play with the dough today and stretched the dough until the strands became thinner and broader. The texture is slightly different but definitely not something you can experience using storebought noodles, even storebought “handmade” ones.

The fried tofu curds come in a package and can be bought from an Asian food market. The broth consists of the tofu, bok choy, sliced green onions and minced ginger. A very satisfying lunch. 🙂

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Filed under Chinese, Lunch, Vegetarian

Spicy Cold Noodles

It’s hot here. My mom always says that when it gets too hot she loses her appetite. I can certainly understand that, although I agree more with not wanting to cook in heat.

These noodles are hot n’ cold. No, not quite like the song.

They are cold on your lips and hot on your tongue. Quite an interesting contrast. The toasted Sichuan peppercorns add just a bit of numbness to the mix. I took this to a potluck and it was very well received. In fact, it was gone before I could get to it. I got an interesting comment though. One lady asked me what kind of peanuts I used. I was confused and told her that it was simply raw, regular peanuts. She thought it tasted sweet. I told her the dish contained no sugar. She didn’t understand how the peanuts tasted sweet.

While I’m not exactly sure why she said it, I could guess that in toasting the peanuts until they are a golden brown brought out the deep roasted and sweet flavour. The peanuts leftover on the bottom of the dish after all the noodles were eaten were picked off too. Don’t skimp on the toasting time; the flavours leak out into the oil and meld onto the noodles later.

Spicy Cold Noodles
makes a ton, or a lot for 4-6 people

1 lb. thin spaghetti
1/3 c. oil, not olive
1/2 c. raw peanuts
1 tsp. Sichuan peppercorns
3 Tbsp. Chinese Chili Sauce with Oil (Lao Gan Ma 老干妈)
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. chili powder
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped roughly
salt to taste

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and run cold water over it until the noodles are very cold. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large wok, add the peppercorns, pepper flakes, and peanuts. Toast on medium low heat for about 10-15 minutes, or until the peanuts are starting to turn golden brown.
  3. Add the garlic powder, chili powder, noodles, and chopped cilantro. Toss until coated. Serve cold.

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Filed under Chinese, Side dishes, Vegetarian

Crispy Tofu Sandwich with Sweet Soy Mayo

This was surprisingly good. I’ve never been the one for vegetarian sandwiches and have never had a tofu sandwich. This was a good little experiment to start making them more often. It’s a tasty vegetarian sandwich with an Asian flair.

The tofu is brushed with a soy sauce and hoisin sauce concoction, coated with seasoned flour, and panfried until crispy and browned. The leftover sauce is mixed with a bit of mayonnaise to spread on toasted whole wheat bread. Yum!

Oh, and the best argument I’ve heard on being vegetarian is the global food crisis. I can understand that, and even became a vegetarian for a few months a while back, for that reason.

Crispy Tofu Sandwich with Sweet Soy Mayo
makes 4 sandwiches

2 large blocks of firm (or extra firm) tofu, cut horizontally into 4 slices
3 Tbsp. light soy sauce
1 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. corn starch
3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
4 Tbsp. mayonnaise
a few tablespoons oil, for frying
8 slices whole wheat bread, toasted
8 lettuce leaves

Pat the tofu slices with paper towels until dry, set aside. In a microwavable bowl, combine soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sugar, and corn starch. Mix together until blended. Put the flour, salt, garlic powder, and pepper on a plate. Mix well with your fingers. Heat a large skillet on medium heat, drizzle in a couple tablespoons oil. Take a slice of tofu, brush with the sauce on both sides, and coat well with the flour mixture. Place on the hot skillet. Repeat with all tofu, you may need to do this in batches. You will have leftover sauce, reserve. Fry the tofu slices for about 5 minutes on each side, or until crispy and well-browned. Remove from pan and place on a separate plate.

Put the leftover sauce in the microwave for 30 seconds on high. Mix together with mayonnaise. Spread one tablespoon on each of 4 slices of bread. Take the other 4 slices of bread, layer with lettuce, two slices of tofu each, and place the bread with mayo on top.

Serve immediately. Leftover sandwiches will no longer be crispy, but they are still quite flavourful.

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Filed under Lunch, Vegetarian