Category Archives: Veggies

Daring Cooks


Hiya! This is Debyi from I am so excited to be your host for the September 2009 Daring Cooks challenge. It took almost a month to decide which recipe that I wanted to do. I wanted to choose something that could be easily adapted for our GF’ers and other Alternative Cooks, as well as still being tasty for everyone else. So, I finally decided on Indian Dosas from the refresh cookbook by Ruth Tal. I had a lot of fun with this challenge, it brought back some great memories, I hope you enjoy it. 


My hubby and I had the wonderful pleasure of visiting one of the Fresh Restaurants ( in Toronto, Canada during a business trip. We ate 3 out of our 5 meals there, it was that good. If you ever get a chance to visit, I highly recommend it, they have 3 locations in Toronto. If not, their cookbooks are amazing, everything we have tried has been great.

Requirements: Must be free of animal products, this will be a challenge for you “regular” cooks out there, but its worth it. So that means, no cows milk, butter, meat, poultry, fish, chicken/beef broth, etc. This dish is also 99% oil free, using only what you need to keep the dosas from sticking (I used a quick spritz of cooking spray on the first dosa only), which isn’t too bad with a nonstick pan. You can use a different filling/sauce if you like, but it must be free of animal products. I was just looking at the new Fresh newsletter, and one of the new menu items is Avocado Dosas with a filling of avocados, grape tomatoes, cilantro & hemp seeds with a mango tamarind or cilantro coconut chutney. Might be an interesting way to go too.

Here is my adaptation of their recipe:

Indian Dosas

This recipe comes in 3 parts, the dosas, the filling and the sauce. It does take awhile to make, but the filling and sauce can be made ahead and frozen if need be. You can serve them as a main course with rice and veggies, or as an appetizer. This does take a little planning ahead, so make sure you read the recipe through before starting (I forgot & didn’t start making the rice until everything was ready, oops).

Serves 4

Equipment needed:

large bowl


griddle or skillet

ladle (or large spoon)


vegetable peeler &/or knife

large saucepan

food processor or bean masher


Dosa Pancakes

1 cup (120gm/8oz) spelt flour (or all-purpose, gluten free flour)

½ tsp (2½ gm) salt

½ tsp (2½ gm) baking powder

½ tsp (2½ gm) curry powder

½ cup (125ml/4oz) almond milk (or soy, or rice, etc.)

¾ cup (175ml/6oz) water

cooking spray, if needed


Dosa Filling

1 batch Curried Garbanzo Filling (see below), heated


Dosa Toppings

1 batch Coconut Curry Sauce (see below), heated

¼ cup (125gm) grated coconut

¼ cucumber, sliced


Dosa Pancakes

  1. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, slowly adding the almond milk and water, whisking until smooth.

  2. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray your pan with a thin layer of cooking spray, if needed.

  3. Ladle 2 tablespoons of batter into the center of your pan in a circular motion until it is a thin, round pancake. When bubbles appear on the surface and it no longer looks wet, flip it over and cook for a few seconds. Remove from heat and repeat with remaining batter. Makes 8 pancakes.


Curried Garbanzo Filling

This filling works great as a rice bowl topping or as a wrap too, so don’t be afraid to make a full batch.

5 cloves garlic

1 onion, peeled and finely diced

1 carrot, peeled and finely diced

1 green pepper, finely diced (red, yellow or orange are fine too)

2 medium hot banana chilies, minced

2 TBSP (16gm) cumin, ground

1 TBSP (8gm) oregano

1 TBSP (8gm) sea salt (coarse)

1 TBSP (8gm) turmeric

4 cups (850gm/30oz) cooked or canned chick peas (about 2 cans)

½ cup (125gm/4oz) tomato paste

  1. Heat a large saucepan over medium to low heat. Add the garlic, veggies, and spices, cooking until soft, stirring occasionally.

  2. Mash the chickpeas by hand, or in a food processor. Add the chickpeas and tomato paste to the saucepan, stirring until heated through.


Coconut Curry Sauce

This makes a great sauce to just pour over rice as well. This does freeze well, but the texture will be a little different. The flavor is still the same though.

1 onion, peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic

½ (2½ gm) tsp cumin, ground

¾ (3¾ gm) tsp sea salt (coarse)

3 TBSP (30gm) curry powder

3 TBSP (30gm) spelt flour (or all-purpose GF flour)

3 cups (750ml/24oz) vegetable broth

2 cups (500ml/24oz) coconut milk

3 large tomatoes, diced

  1. Heat a saucepan over medium heat, add the onion and garlic, cooking for 5 minutes, or until soft.

  2. Add the spices, cooking for 1 minutes more. Add the flour and cook for 1 additional minute.

  3. Gradually stir in the vegetable broth to prevent lumps. Once the flour has been incorporated, add the coconut milk and tomatoes, stirring occasionally.

  4. Let it simmer for half an hour.

Happy eating!

I served this with a side of coconut tempeh from refresh as well.  Very yummy!


Recipes To Rival

Recipes To Rival – August 2009 Challenge

I am so excited to hosting the August 2009 challenge. I had a hard time deciding which recipe to choose. I finally decided on:

Asparagus & Lemongrass Risotto

by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero from Veganomicon


Risotto is a traditional Italian rice dish. It is also one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Italy. Its origins are in North Italy where rice paddies are abundant. While this is not a traditionally prepared risotto, it is pretty close. You really want to use Arborio rice, but you can substitute any short grain rice and get a similar dish.


I did make some very selfish restrictions this month – there were no animal products allowed & everyone had to make their own broth. Why? Well, for one, it doesn’t need it. I was watching an episode of No Reservations & he had some risotto that consisted of broth and rice, period. I did indicate the optional ingredients that could be added or left out, or substituted, their choice. I also included a side dish, but they could make whatever they wanted to go with it. I wanted to do a challenge that everyone would be able to eat. All of the soy in the recipe is easily omitted for those who are allergic.


Asparagus and Lemongrass Risotto

Time: 1 hour 20 minutes Serves 4-6

This one does have peanuts in it, so if you are allergic, just leave them out. Personally, I liked pine nuts in it best. Fresh lemongrass is available in most grocery stores, but if you can’t find it, you can use dried. If using dried, you will want to use a cheese cloth or tea strainer. Place the dried lemongrass, ginger and garlic. Don’t worry about the heat of the serrano pepper, it only adds a nice hint of flavor.

img_3375.jpg  Lemongrass

Lemongrass Broth:

3 cloves garlic, whole and unpeeled

1” piece fresh ginger, sliced into ¼” slices

1 small stalk lemongrass, or 1 TBSP dried, chopped lemongrass

3 cups vegetable broth

3 cups water

3 TBSP tamari (or soy sauce)


½ cup cooking sherry or white wine (D’Aquino Pinot Grigio is a good choice)

1 lb asparagus

2 TBSP vegetable broth

1 cup basil leaves (Thai, if you can find it), sliced into thin strips

2 TBSP chopped fresh mint

6 large shallots, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 serrano red chile, sliced very thinly (or ½ – 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes)

1 ½ cups Arborio rice

1 tsp sugar (optional)

2 TBSP lime juice

Chopped roasted peanuts and lime wedges, for garnish (you can use pine nuts or sliced almonds instead of the peanuts)

  1. If using fresh lemongrass, peel away and discard any brown stems from the stalk. Slice the stalk in half lengthwise and cut into 3” to 4” lengths, then julienne.

  2. Give the garlic and the ginger a could whack with the side of your knife, keeping them whole. Prepare your herb pouch, if using.

  3. Place all of the broth ingredients in a large stockpot and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the broth, discarding the vegetables and herbs. Pour the broth back into the pot, cover and simmer over as low a heat as possible to keep warm.

  4. Slice the asparagus into ½” pieces, removing any tough parts from the bottom of the stem. Separate the tips from the stems and place each in separate bowls.

  5. In a medium-sized heavy-bottomed pot, saute the asparagus in 1 TBSP vegetable broth over medium heat until bright and crisp tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the basil and mint, saute for 30 seconds, remove from heat and set aside.

  6. Add the remaining tablespoon vegetable broth to the pan. Saute the shallots and garlic, stirring occasionally, until shallots are very soft, about 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the serrano and rice, saute for about 8 minutes, until the rice smells slightly toasted. Add the cooking sherry (or white wine) and stir constantly until the liquid is absorbed.

  7. Now, time for relaxation and stirring. Get a glass of your favorite beverage, turn on some soothing music, or a good movie. Ladle about ½ cup of the broth at a time into the rice, stirring constantly until each addition is absorbed. Stir and cook until the rice is creamy but still somewhat firm in the center.

  8. When the broth is almost gone, stir the sugar and lime juice into the remaining broth before adding it to the risotto. You may add more water or vegetable broth in ¼ cup increments if needed. This will take about 35 minutes.

  9. Stir the asparagus stems into the risotto and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the asparagus has reached desired tenderness.

  10. Garnish each serving with the asparagus tips, chopped roasted peanuts, and lime wedges.

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Tangerine Baked Tofu

Time: 1 hour Serves 4

You can sub orange juice, oranges, tangelos, or clementines for the tangerines.


1 lb extra-firm tofu, sliced width-wise into eighths.



1 tsp tangerine zest

1/3 cup freshly squeezed tangerine juice (2-3 tangerines)

3 TBSP lime juice

2 TBSP tamari (or soy sauce)

1 TBSP agave nectar or pure maple syrup

¼ tsp ground cumin

1/8 tsp ground allspice

Freshly ground pepper

2 TBSP dark rum (or 1 tsp rum extract)

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

  2. In a shallow 11” X 7” glass baking dish, whisk together all of the marinade ingredients. Place the sliced tofu in the marinade. Using a fork, poke a few holes into the cutlets, flip them over, and do the same on the other side.

  3. Bake the tofu for 30 minutes, flipping several times, about every 15 minutes or so. The tofu is ready when the marinade is reduced. Spoon any remaining marinade over the tofu before serving.

I cooked mine for 45 minutes & my marinade was all gone. The tofu tasted great, even without the extra marinade.


July Challenge for R2R

It’s the beginning of another month and that means its Recipes To Rival time!! Our host this month is brought to you by Lauren of Fried Pickles & Ice Cream.

What was our challenge this month? A little summer taste of Italy! A delicious & simple antipasta (appetizer), Bruschetta & a digestivo (after-dinner drink), Limoncello.
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Lauren tells us that “Bruschetta, having its origination in Italy, is served as an antipasta. It is one of the simplest & easiest things to make & will gratify your taste buds. It is greatly enjoyed when paired with red wine. In Italian, Bruschetta is pronounced ‘brusketta’, where ‘bruscare’ means ‘to roast over coals’. The trick is to roast or grill the bread… NOT bake it as we do in America. Once you have tried this recipe you will have a hard time ordering it at a restaurant!”

She also tells us that “Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur that originated in Southern Italy around the Bay of Naples. The liqueur derives its flavor from the peels, rather than the juice of the fruit, resulting in a pleasant, sweet, lemony taste. It is wonderful as a palate cleanser or as an after dinner drink. Keep your bottles of Limoncello in the freezer until ready to serve. The ingredients are simple & few, & making a batch doesn’t require much work, but you’ll need some time… don’t wait until the last minute to make it!!”

I love bruschetta! I also love limoncello! I was so excited to see this challenge. My first taste of limoncello was at Olive Garden, they have a frozen limoncello lemonade that is amazing!!! I have been looking for a bottle of limoncello ever since, but sadly, I have yet to find it. Now, I can make it at home. It is so simple to make. Bruschetta I have made before & always love it. If you have never tried it before, it is a must make. Thank you so much Lauren for the great challenge!

Here are the recipes:
Bruschetta (4 servings)
4 slices Rustic Bread
2 cups chopped Roma Tomatoes    I used grape and Roma tomatoes
1 clove Garlic
4 to 8 leaves Basil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil                     I omitted
Sea salt

-Heat grill or grill pan to medium high heat
-Slice THICK pieces of bread
-Place bread on grill until each side has a nice golden color
-Rub garlic on top side of each bread piece
-Pile tomatoes on
-sprinkle one big pinch of salt per piece on top of the tomatoes
-generously drizzle oilve oil on top of tomatoes (about 2 to 3 tablespoons per piece) omitted
-add basil to the top

1 liter grain alcohol
5 1/2 cups water
5 large lemons (or 10 small lemons)
2 1/2 cups sugar

-Gently wash lemons in cool water to remove any dirt
-Peel away zest from lemon leaving as little pith (the white stiff) as possible.
-Put peels in a large sealed jar or container (I reused the alcohol bottle)
-Pour alcohol over lemons and place container in a cool place.
-Leave the mixture for 7 days.
-Every day give the container a little swirl. You will see the alcohol become darker & darker every day.
-After 7 days, strain the alcohol by using a coffee filter.
-Prepare the simple syrup. Bring the water to a boil and add the sugar to dissolve.
-Mix the syrup with the alcohol. BE CAREFUL… DO NOT DO THIS NEAR A FLAME!!!
-Pour the limoncello into bottles or containers. Let cool completely. Store in the freezer until ready to serve!
*Date your limoncello. After a year it will no longer be delicious.

img_3355.jpg    img_3403.jpg

Verdict: Limoncello – a little too much alcohol and not enough lemon, but pretty darn good for my first try. I will definitely be making this again. It is totally worth the effort. I would also use vodka next time instead of the grain alcohol.

Bruschetta – always a winner! Hubby actually liked the Blue Cheese, Pear & Walnut Crostini that we did back in December better, he just isn’t a huge fan of basil. Very tasty, quick & easy to make. This makes a great appetizer for any party.

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Daring Cooks #2


It’s the second installment of The Daring Cooks! Our host this month was Jen from use real butter, what recipe did she choose? Well, she thought it might be a good time for us to try our hand at something that looks daunting, but is actually pretty straightforward.

The Challenge: Chinese dumplings/potstickers (aka gyoza in Japanese)


Jen tells us, “It’s a basic concept: a filling inside a dough wrapper, sealed, & cooked. This delicious theme runs through many cultures & is among the more popular bites at Chinese restaurants – especially dim sum. The recipe I provide is based on my family recipe. There is a lot of wiggle room & I encourage you to explore. If you’ve made them before – great! Now try something different!” The process goes a little like this:1. Choose a filling 2. Choose a dough 3. Choose a cooking method (boil, steam, pan-fry)

We had to make our own wrappers, we were not allowed to use pre-made ones. Not too hard, just takes a little patience & practice. For the filling, she gave us a couple of choices, the most common being pork or shrimp. You can fill dumplings/potstickers with just about anything, even blueberries or alomondella. Jen also tells us, “You can make them with other ground meats (beef, chicken…) or vegetarian (tofu, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, glass noodles, Chinese chives – oh yum!). The important thing to keep in mind is that the filling needs to “stick” to itself or else you will make your life incredibly miserable wrapping up filling that keeps falling apart. I think if I were to make vegetarian dumplings, I would sauté the cabbage & mash up the tofu for a better cohesiveness. It’s up to you how you want to fill your dumplings.”

Jen also tells us, “Time: Prep for the filling takes me 30 minutes – longer if peeling & de-veining shrimp. It will depend on your proficiency with a good sharp knife. Rolling & wrapping several dozen dumplings takes me 1 hour by myself. My parents can crank through it in 30 minutes when 1 person is rolling wrappers & the other is wrapping dumplings. Might be fun to get a second person to help! Cooking: I have to cook mine in batches. When steaming, I can cook a dozen at a time in about 10 minutes. Potstickers: 15 minutes per 2 dozen determined by the size of your pan. Boiling – 6 minutes per dozen or so depending on size of pot.”


You can find the original recipe here:

Here is my changes:

Chinese Dumplings/Potstickers

4 large napa cabbage leaves, minced
3 stalks green onions, minced
7 shitake mushrooms, minced
½ cup bamboo shoots, minced
¼ cup ginger root, minced
3 TBSP soy sauce
2 TBSP corn starch

  1. Combine all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl & mix thoroughly.
  2. Cover & refrigerate until ready to use (up to a day, but preferably within an hour or 2).


dough: (double this for the amount of filling, but easier to make it in 2 batches – or just halve the filling recipe)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup warm water
flour for work surface

  1. In a large bowl mix flour with 1/3 cup of water & stir until water is absorbed. Continue adding water 1 teaspoon at a time & mixing thoroughly until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. We want a firm dough that is barely sticky to the touch.
  2. Knead the dough about 20 strokes then cover with a damp towel for 15 minutes.
  3. Take the dough & form a flattened dome. Cut into strips about 2“ wide. Shape the strips into rounded long cylinders. On a floured surface, cut the strips into 1” pieces. Press palm down on each piece to form a flat circle (you can shape the corners in with your fingers). With a rolling pin, roll out a circular wrapper from each flat disc. Take care not to roll out too thin or the dumplings will break during cooking – about 1/16“. Leave the centers slightly thicker than the edges. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of each wrapper & fold the dough in half, pleating the edges along one side. I found it easier to pleat first, then fill. Keep all unused dough under damp cloth so it doesn’t dry out.


dipping sauce:
2 parts soy sauce
1 part red wine vinegar
chili garlic paste (optional)
minced ginger (optional)
minced garlic (optional)
minced green onion (optional)

dash mirin

  1. Stir together to combine.


To pan ‘fry’ (potstickers): Place dumplings in a dry frying pan. Heat on medium-high & ‘fry’ for a few minutes until bottoms are golden. Add ½ cup water & cover. Cook until the water has boiled away & then uncover & reduce heat to medium or medium low. Let the dumplings cook for another 2 minutes then remove from heat & serve.

To boil: Bring a large pot of water to a boil & add dumplings to pot. Boil the dumplings until they float.

To steam: Place dumplings on a single layer of napa cabbage leaves or on a well-greased surface in a steamer basket with lid. Steam covered for about 6 minutes.

To freeze: Assemble dumplings on a baking sheet so they are not touching. It helps to rub the base of the dumpling in a little flour before setting on the baking sheet for ease of release. Freeze for 20-30 minutes until dumplings are no longer soft. Place in ziploc bag & freeze for up to a couple of months. Prepare per the above instructions, but allow extra time to ensure the filling is thoroughly cooked.

To serve: Serve dumplings or potstickers hot with your choice of dipping sauce combinations.


I chose to pan ‘fry’ mine. I actually made a similar recipe last year for Recipes To Rival

& I boiled those. Personally, I like them better pan ‘fried’. I will make these again, I always love some potstickers.


For dipping, I made the suggested dipping sauce, straight hoisin and a mixture of chinese mustard & soy sauce. Hubby’s fav was the suggested dipping sauce. The hoisin was too sweet, but I really liked the mustard mix, nice & spicy.

These do take a good chunk of time, but the more often you make it, the quicker it gets.


Recipes to Rival April 2009

April’s Challenge went classic: Coq Au Vin


This recipe is from Anthony Bourdain’s cookbook Les Halles

Now, I know that Anthony Bourdain is no lover of anything or anyone vegan/vegetarian, but I still love, love, love watching his show No Reservations on the travel channel. He speaks his mind, no wishy washy talk here. Needlwss to say, no matter what the recipe was for this month, if it was from Tony, I was hooked. I loved what our host this month, Temperance,
had to say,
I have never had a cookbook swear at me before or call me names, I quite enjoyed it. What i also enjoyed was the fact he didn’t assume I knew what I was doing but still expected me to do it right (after all he was telling me exactly what to do).”

She goes on to say thatCoq au vin is a peasant recipe, As Anthony Bourdain has said ‘Coq au vin is an old, tough bird you have to drown in wine to get it to taste good. That’ll be $28.95 please.’ This it one of those recipes that is deceptively hard, with a little prep work it is easy as pie, maybe even easier. The secret is the mise en place. do it all ahead stuff it in the fridge & throw it all together when you are ready.

Excerpt from the Les Halles Cookbook, by Anthony Bourdain…
Another easy dish that looks like it is hard. It is not in fact, this is the kind of dish you might enjoy spending a leisurely afternoon with. There are plenty of opportunities for breaks. It’s durable, delicious, & the perfect illustration of the principles of turning something big & tough & unlovely into something truly wonderful. Knock out your prep one thing at a time, slowly building your mise en place. Listen to some music while you do it. There’s an open bottle of wine left from the recipe, so have a glass now & again. Just clean up after yourself as you go, so your kitchen doesn’t look like a disaster area when you start the actual cooking. You should. with any luck, reach a Zen-like state of pleasurable calm. And like the very best dishes coq a vin is one of those that goes on the stove looking, smelling & tasting pretty nasty, and yet later, through the mysterious alchemical processes of time and heat turns into something magical.


Coq au vin (I halved the recipe)
from the  Les Halles Cookbook, by Anthony Bourdain, Serves 4
1 bottle plus 1 cup red wine I used The Other red wine (around $8.99 at World Market, not cheap, but tastes amazing!)
1 onion, cut into a 1-inch dice
1 carrot, cut into ¼-inch slices
1 celery rib, cut into ½ inch slices
4 whole cloves I wasn’t sure if this was whole cloves or garlic, I used garlic)
1 tbs/14 g whole black peppercorns
1 bouquet garni
1 whole chicken, about 3.5 lb, “trimmed” – meaning guts, wing tips & neckbone removed I used chicken style seitan
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbs/28 ml olive oil omitted
6 tbs/75 g butter, softened Earth balance, but only 1 TBSP
1 tbs/14 g flour
¼ lb/112 g lardons tempeh “bacon”
½ lb/ 225 g small, white button mushrooms, stems removed I used dried shiitake
12 pearl onions, peeled
pinch of sugar

3 large, deep bowls
plastic wrap
fine strainer
large Dutch oven or heavy –bottomed pot
wooden spoon
small sauté pan
small sauce pan
1 sheet parchment paper
deep serving platter

The day before you even begin to cook, combine the bottle of red wine, the diced onion (that’s the big onion, not the pearl onions), sliced carrots, celery, cloves, peppercorns, & bouquet garni in a large deep bowl. Add the chicken & submerge it in the liquid so that all of it is covered. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap & refrigerate overnight.
Remove the chicken from the marinade & pat it dry. Put it aside. Strain the marinade through the fine strainer, reserving the liquids & solids separately. Season the chicken with salt & pepper inside & out. In the large Dutch oven, heat the oil & 2 tablesppoons of the butter until almost smoking, & then sear the chicken, turning it with the tongs to evenly brown it. Once browned, it should be removed from the pot & set it aside again. Add the reserved onions, celery, & carrot to the pot & cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until they are soft & golden brown. That should take about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables & mix well with the wooden spoon so that the vegetables are coated. Now stir in the reserved strained marinade. Put the chicken back in the pot, along with the bouquet garni. Cook this for about 1 hour & 15 minutes over low heat. Have a drink. You’re almost there…

While your chicken stews slowly in the pot, cook the bacon lardons in the small sauté pan over medium heat until golden brown. Remove the bacon from the pan & drain it on paper towels, making sure to keep about 1 tablespoon of fat in the pan. Saute the mushroom tops in the bacon fat until golden brown. Set them aside.

Now, in the small saucepan, combine the pearl onions, the pinch of sugar, a pinch of salt, & 2 tablespoons of butter. Add just enough water to just cover the onions; then cover the pan with the parchment paper trimmed to the same size of the pan. (I suppose you can use foil if you must.) Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, & cook until the water has evaporated. Keep a close eye on it. Remove the paper cover & continue to cook until the onions are golden brown. Set the onions aside & add the remaining cup of red wine along with salt & pepper & reduce over medium-high heat until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.

Your work is pretty much done here. One more thing & then it’s wine & kudos…

When the chicken is cooked through – meaning tender, the juice from the thigh running clear when pricked – carefully remove from the liquid, cut into quarters, & arrange on the deep serving platter. Strain the cooking liquid (again) into the reduced red wine. Now just add the bacon, mushrooms, & pearl onions, adjust the seasoning with salt & pepper, & swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Now pour that sauce over the chicken & dazzle your friends with your brilliance. Serve with buttered noodles & a Bourgone Rouge.

1. An old bird is best, hard to find though. Ideally you are looking for a stew chicken or an old rooster, I recommend a Kosher or Halal meat market (remember they have no pork though).
2. Bouquet garni is a bundle of herbs usually tied together with string, most recipes include parsley, thyme & bay leaf
3. Lardon may refer to different pork products cut from a pig’s belly & used for larding in French cuisine. In this case you are looking for slab or country bacon, cut into small oblongs (lardons) about ¼ by 1“. I used salt pork, which did not smell like bacon cooking but tasted pretty good. Either way a good thick bacon with alot of nice fat & not alot of additives is what you are looking for.
4. the wine should be red, other than that pick what suits your pallet & wallet. But here is a helpful guide as well, Wine With…Coq au Vin


Further tips, tricks & things to help the budget:
– Frozen pearl onions are cheap, easy & just as good as the ones you peel yourself (though nothing beats homegrown)

– Instead of buying 2 bottles of wine to get 1 liter & 1 cup wine use water for the extra cup.
– Instead of using a whole chicken get precut chicken so you can do portion control (it will also make it easier to marinade)
– don’t use non stick pan, this recipe is all about the brown bits.
– when marinading, you might want to weigh the chicken down to keep it covered.
– If you go to a Halal market take pictures if you can’t speak the language.


I totally forgot to get the mushrooms, so luckily I had some dried shiitake’s in the pantry. I served mine with noodles & broccoli.


Verdict: We both really liked this one. The one change I would make next time would be to just leave the seitan out, it didn’t really add much. I used to make a dish called Balsamic Chicken with Thyme that was pretty similar to this. I would make it again.


Here is the recipe:

Check out everyone else’s results here:

Recipes To Rival Challenge

Our hosts for March was Temperance of High on the Hog and Shawnee of Delishes Delishes.

They decided to play with fire. Shawnee of Delishes Delishes came up with this recipe for us to try. As Shawnee said ‘I’ve never purposely set fire to my food before (besides marshmallows)’. You know what, neither have I, about time wouldn’t you say? Check out the recipe & everyone else’s results! What was out challenge? 
Steak Diane Flambé
recipe by Frank Bordoni from Great Food Live

For the steaks
4x85g beef medallions Portabello’s
1 tsp Dijon mustard
freshly ground salt and pepper

For the sauce
1 tsp Butter, clarified Earth Balance
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp Shallots, finely chopped
50g button mushrooms, finely sliced
1 tbsp lemon juice
125ml double cream Soy Creamer
1 tbsp Chives, snipped
50ml Brandy
1. Rub the medallions of beef with the mustard, season with salt & pepper & set aside.
2. Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat & when hot, add the clarified butter & Worcestershire sauce.
3. Add the shallots & mushrooms, & push to the center of the pan. Arrange the medallions around the edge. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring & tossing the mushroom mixture as you go. If you prefer your steak well done, give it an extra minute or two.
4. Add the lemon juice & season with salt & pepper.
5. Turn the steaks over & pour in the cream & chives. Tilt the pan slightly (away from you) & pour in the brandy at the far end. Now turn up the heat to high so that the brandy ignites. Swirl the sauce around in the pan & turn off the heat.
6. Put the medallions on 4 plates, pour over the sauce & serve.
Disclaimer: We do not require that you flambé, if you choose to flambé & burn down your kitchen, don’t sue us. If you choose to flambé try & get a picture (I recommend getting someone to help). Remember when playing with fire keep a fire extinguisher close & never use water on a cooking fire.

I followed the directions just as they are, just substituting the portabello’s for the steak for the beef. I also cut the recipe in half, since I was just serving this to me & my hubby. Verdict: I am totally making this one again. It was simple & quick to make & tasted delicious. Next time I would double the sauce, but stick to halving the “steaks”. This is a must make!



Daring Bakers Rise Again!

Daring Bakers March 2009 Challenge – Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans & Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder & Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.


This month’s challenge has global input, with the 3 hosts living in 3 continents: Our hosts are from Canada, Australia & Italy.   The recipe we’ve chosen this month is Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table: Recipes from Emilia-Romagna, the Heartland of Northern Italian Food by Lynne Rossetto Kasper (published by William Morrow & Company Inc., 1992).

Our hosts tell us that lasagne is a dish that has successfully transcended borders & is today made around the world, albeit with many variations from the Italian original. Even within Italy, there are many variations & each region has its own lasagne tradition. The dish should always be a “vivid expression of the ‘less is more’ philosophy of cooking. Mere films of béchamel sauce & meat ragu coat the sheerest spinach pasta. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese dusts each layer. There is nothing more; no ricotta, no piling on of meats, vegetables or cheese; little tomato, & no hot spice. Baking performs the final marriage of flavours. The results are splendid.”

We had to make the pasta from scratch, a bechamel sauce & a ragu. We could also make a sweet pasta if we wanted, which was intriguing, but I love lasagne, so savory it is! I planned to make this for dinner at least a week early, but then got the flu, everyone, take your vitamins! This flu lasts for 2 weeks, minimum, yuck! Anyway, back to the lasagne. I was really excited about this one. I have made my own pasta before, my own sauce, etc. so I figured it would be pretty easy & it was. The hardest part about making your own pasta, is rolling it out. Mine could’ve been a little thinner, but it was still really good. Both of the sauces are easy to make as well. The only problem people ran into was with the ragu. Some people (including me) had a problem with the milk curdling (which is great if you want to make ricotta cheese), but it only affects the look of it, not the taste or the texture.  I shared some with some non-vegan friends, & they liked it too!

Here is the recipe for you.
All recipes below from The Splendid Table: Recipes from Emilia-Romagna, the Heartland of Northern Italian Food by Lynne Rossetto Kasper (published by William Morrow & Company Inc., 1992).

Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna (Lasagne Verdi al Forno)
(Serves 8 to 10 as a first course, 6 to 8 as a main dish)
Preparation Time: 15 minutes to assemble & 40 minutes cooking time

10 quarts (9 litres) salted water
1 recipe Spinach Pasta cut for lasagna (recipe follows)#1
1 recipe Bechamel Sauce (recipe follows)#2
1 recipe Country Style Ragu (recipe follows)#3
1 cup (4 ounces/125g) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Working Ahead:
The ragu & the béchamel sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead. The ragu can also be frozen for up to 1 month. The pasta can be rolled out, cut & dried up to 24 hours before cooking. The assembled lasagne can wait at room temperature (20 degrees Celsius/68 degrees Fahrenheit) about 1 hour before baking. Do not refrigerate it before baking, as the topping of béchamel & cheese will overcook by the time the center is hot.

Assembling the Ingredients:
Have all the sauces, rewarmed gently over a medium heat, & the pasta at hand. Have a large perforated skimmer & a large bowl of cold water next to the stove. Spread a double thickness of paper towels over a large counter space. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Oil or butter a 3 quart (approx 3 litre) shallow baking dish.

Cooking the Pasta:  I skipped this step
Bring the salted water to a boil. Drop about 4 pieces of pasta in the water at a time. Cook about 2 minutes. If you are using dried pasta, cook about 4 minutes, taste, & cook longer if necessary. The pasta will continue cooking during baking, so make sure it is only barely tender. Lift the lasagne from the water with a skimmer, drain, & then slip into the bowl of cold water to stop cooking. When cool, lift out & dry on the paper towels. Repeat until all the pasta is cooked.

Assembling the Lasagne:
Spread a thin layer of béchamel over the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange a layer of about 4 overlapping sheets of pasta over the béchamel. Spread a thin layer of béchamel (about 3 or 4 spoonfuls) over the pasta, & then an equally thin layer of the ragu. Sprinkle with about 1½ TBSP of the béchamel & about 1/3 cup of the cheese. Repeat the layers until all ingredients are used, finishing with béchamel sauce & topping with a generous dusting of cheese.

Baking & Serving the Lasagne:
Cover the baking dish lightly with foil, taking care not to let it touch the top of the lasagne. Bake 40 minutes, or until almost heated through. Remove the foil & bake another 10 minutes, or until hot in the center (test by inserting a knife – if it comes out very warm, the dish is ready). Take care not to brown the cheese topping. It should be melted, creamy looking & barely tinged with a little gold. Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar & let the lasagne rest for about 10 minutes. Then serve. This is not a solid lasagne, but a moist one that slips a bit when it is cut & served.

The pasta, resting
#1 Spinach Egg Pasta (Pasta Verde)
Preparation: 45 minutes
Makes enough for 6 to 8 first course servings or 4 to 6 main course servings, equivalent to 1 lb (450g) dried boxed pasta.

2 jumbo eggs 1 ½ TBSP egg replacer whisked together with 1/3 cup warm water
10 oz fresh spinach, rinsed dry, & finely chopped; or 6 oz frozen chopped spinach, defrosted & squeezed dry I used fresh
3½ cups all purpose unbleached (plain) flour (organic stone ground preferred) whole wheat pastry flour

Working by Hand: I made by hand
A roomy work surface, 24” to 30“ deep X 30” to 36“. Any smooth surface will do, but marble cools dough slightly, making it less flexible than desired.
A pastry scraper & a small wooden spoon for blending the dough.
A wooden dowel-style rolling pin. In Italy, pasta makers use one about 35“ long & 2“ thick. The shorter American-style pin with handles at either end can be used, but the longer it is, the easier it is to roll the pasta.

Plastic wrap to wrap the resting dough & to cover rolled-out pasta waiting to be filled. It protects the pasta from drying out too quickly.

A sharp chef’s knife for cutting pasta sheets.

Cloth-covered chair backs, broom handles, or specially designed pasta racks found in cookware shops for draping the pasta.

Mixing the dough: (I used a bowl)
Mound the flour in the center of your work surface & make a well in the middle. Add the eggs & spinach. Use a wooden spoon to beat together the eggs & spinach. Then gradually start incorporating shallow scrapings of flour from the sides of the well into the liquid. As you work more & more flour into the liquid, the well’s sides may collapse. Use a pastry scraper to keep the liquids from running off & to incorporate the last bits of flour into the dough. Don’t worry if it looks like a hopelessly rough & messy lump.  I pureed the spinach in my Vitamix blender.

With the aid of the scraper to scoop up unruly pieces, start kneading the dough. Once it becomes a cohesive mass, use the scraper to remove any bits of hard flour on the work surface – these will make the dough lumpy. Knead the dough for about 3 minutes. Its consistency should be elastic & a little sticky. If it is too sticky to move easily, knead in a few more tablespoons of flour. Continue kneading about 10 minutes, or until the dough has become satiny, smooth, & very elastic. It will feel alive under your hands. Do not shortcut this step. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, & let it relax at room temperature 30 minutes to 3 hours.

Stretching & Thinning:
If using an extra-long rolling pin work with half the dough at a time. With a regular-length rolling pin, roll out a quarter of the dough at a time & keep the rest of the dough wrapped. Lightly sprinkle a large work surface with flour. The idea is to stretch the dough rather than press down & push it. Shape it into a ball & begin rolling out to form a circle, frequently turning the disc of dough a quarter turn. As it thins outs, start rolling the disc back on the pin a quarter of the way toward the center & stretching it gently sideways by running the palms of your hands over the rolled-up dough from the center of the pin outward. Unroll, turn the disc a quarter turn, & repeat. Do twice more.

Stretch & even out the center of the disc by rolling the dough a quarter of the way back on the pin. Then gently push the rolling pin away from you with one hand while holding the sheet in place on the work surface with the other hand. Repeat 3 more times, turning the dough a ¼ turn each time.

Repeat the 2 processes as the disc becomes larger & thinner. The goal is a sheet of even thickness. For lasagne, the sheet should be so thin that you can clearly see your hand through it & see colours. Cut into rectangles about 4” x 8“ (10 x 20 cm). Note: Enza says that transparency is a crucial element of lasagne pasta & the dough should be rolled as thinly as possible. She says this is why her housekeeper has such strong arms!

Dry the pasta at room temperature & store in a sealed container or bag.

#2 Bechamel
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter Earth Balance
4 tablespoons all purpose unbleached (plain) flour, organic stone ground preferred
2 2/3 cups milk Soy Milk
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste

Using a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over low to medium heat. Sift over the flour, whisk until smooth, & then stir (without stopping) for about 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk a little at a time & keep the mixture smooth. Bring to a slow simmer, & stir 3 to 4 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Season with salt, pepper, & a hint of nutmeg.
#3 Country Style Ragu’ (Ragu alla Contadina)
Preparation Time: Ingredient Preparation Time 30 minutes & Cooking time 2 hours
Makes enough sauce for 1 recipe fresh pasta or 1 pound/450g dried pasta)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (45 mL) vegetable broth
2 ounces pancetta, finely chopped texturized vegetable protein
1 medium onion, minced
1 medium stalk celery with leaves, minced
1 small carrot, minced
4 ounces boneless veal shoulder or round omitted
4 oz pork loin, trimmed of fat, or 4 oz mild Italian sausage (made without fennel) faux sausage
8 oz beef skirt steak, hanging tender, or boneless chuck blade or chuck center cut (in order of preference) mushrooms
1 oz thinly sliced Prosciutto di Parma omitted
2/3 cup dry red wine 1/3 cup, its all I had
1 &1/2 cups chicken or beef stock (homemade if possible) vegetable broth
2 cups milk soy milk
3 canned plum tomatoes, drained
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Working Ahead:
The ragu can be made 3 days ahead. Cover & refrigerate. It also freezes well for up to 1 month. Skim the fat from the ragu’ before using it.

Browning the Ragu Base:
Heat the olive oil in a 12“ skillet (frying pan) over medium-high heat. Have a large saucepan handy to use once browning is complete. Add the pancetta & minced vegetables & sauté, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, 10 minutes, or until the onions barely begin to color. Coarsely grind all the meats together, including the prosciutto, in a food processor or meat grinder. Stir into the pan & slowly brown over medium heat. First the meats will give off a liquid & turn dull grey but, as the liquid evaporates, browning will begin. Stir often, scooping under the meats with the wooden spatula. Protect the brown glaze forming on the bottom of the pan by turning the heat down. Cook 15 minutes, or until the meats are a deep brown. Turn the contents of the skillet into a strainer & shake out the fat. Turn them into the saucepan & set over medium heat.

Reducing & Simmering: Add the wine to the skillet, lowering the heat so the sauce bubbles quietly. Stir occasionally until the wine has reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Scrape up the brown glaze as the wine bubbles. Then pour the reduced wine into the saucepan & set the skillet aside.

Stir ½ cup stock into the saucepan & let it bubble slowly, 10 minutes, or until totally evaporated. Repeat with another ½ cup stock. Stir in the last ½ cup stock along with the milk. Adjust heat so the liquid bubbles very slowly. Partially cover the pot, & cook 1 hour. Stir frequently to check for sticking.

Add the tomatoes, crushing them as they go into the pot. Cook uncovered, at a very slow bubble for another 45 minutes, or until the sauce resembles a thick, meaty stew. Season with salt & pepper.


Verdict: This is a great recipe. It is not the typical American lasagne, and the green color of the pasta might scare some people, but it tastes great. What a great accomplishment as well. I will make this one again, maybe with a red sauce next time though.  View everyone else’s results here:

Recipes 2 Rival for January 2009

This month Kat from is hosting the challenge with Giz & Psychograd from Equal Opportunity Kitchen. They chose a Ukrainian dish called Holopchi. It’s a big like a cabbage roll but its not. It seemed like a good comfort dish for winter.

This month’s challenge sounded really interesting & I couldn’t wait to try it. Well, I guess I could because I didn’t get to it until the 31st! We had to make the bread dough, but we could use other leaves, depending on what we could find. Well, no beet leaves at my grocery store, the Swiss Chard looked like it had been steamed & the Kale wasn’t any better. So, cabbage it is. I chose to bake the Holopchi in the sauce because that seemed to be the favorite flavor choice for everyone. The Holopchi soaked in the flavor of the sauce instead of just a pop of flavor with the sauce poured over the top. I also choice to make an 1/8th of the recipe. Most people quartered the recipe & said it still made a ton, & since I would be eating this myself (hubby will taste it, but not too excited about it), I didn’t want to be eating it all month. The tale of my Holopchi making. I got up in the morning, did my exercise, ate breakfast, got ready for the day & started in on my Holopchi. I made the bread dough & set it aside for the first rise. I then made & ate lunch, cleaned up & then, I got called in to work. So, into the fridge went the Holopchi. I worked a double the next day, had a date day with my hubby, then I finally was able to make it today. It actually went really well, considering it was in the fridge for 3 days. It still rose beautifully, & cooked up great. See the verdict below.  Not real photogenic, & I should’ve added a sprig of dill to the top, but forgot to save one out.


Here’s the recipe along with some notes from Giz:
Beet Leaf Holopchi
from The Keld Community Ladies Club in Ashville, Manitoba. The last publishing of this cookbook was 1976 and I doubt it’s even in circulation anymore.

This is not your usual cabbage roll – can you imagine a bread dough wrapped in beet leaves & baked in a creamy, garlic, onion & dill sauce.

Bread Dough:
2 pkgs. yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
2 cups scalded milk soy milk
4 cups warm water
1/4 cup melted butter Earth Balance
8 cups flour
3 eggs, beaten Ener-g egg replacer
2 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp Sugar
6 1/2 cups flour
a couple bunches of beet leaves cabbage leaves

Note: When I first saw this recipe I thought it was wrong – how many recipes need THAT much flour. I used the recipe & indeed had to add more to get the right consistency. AND I ran out of dough before I ran out of beet leaves.

1. Dissolve 1 tsp sugar in ½ cup tepid water, sprinkle with yeast & let stand for 10 minutes.

2. To the milk-water liquid add the melted butter, dissolved yeast & 8 cups of flour. Let rise in a warm place until double in bulk (about 1 hour)

3. Add salt, beaten eggs, sugar & remaining flour.

4. Knead well until dough is smooth & top with melted butter or oil.

5. Place in a warm place & let rise until double in bulk. It will take about 2 hours. Punch down. When dough has risen to double in bulk, place a piece of dough, the size of a walnut on a beet leaf & roll up (leaving sides open)

6. Place holopchi loosely in a pot to allow for dough to rise to double in bulk again.

7. Arrange in layers, dotting each layer with butter.

8. Cover tightly, bake in a moderate oven of 350 F for ¾ to 1 hour. Serve with dill sauce or cream & onion sauce. (I like to cook the holopchi with the sauce but you don’t have to. You can add it later – just make sure you have enough butter in roasting pan before layering your beet leaf rolls.) (I baked mine longer – about 1 ½ hours & was happy with the result) 

1/2 cup butter Earth Balance
2 cups whipping cream soy milk
8 small onions (I used chives)
2 handfuls of chopped fresh dill (this makes the whole dish)
2-4 large cloves of garlic, chopped fine

Melt butter in saucepan. Add onions (chives) garlic, dill & cream.
Let it come to a boil & then turn down the heat.
I like to cook the holopchi with the sauce but you don’t have to. You can add it later – just make sure you have enough butter in roasting pan before layering your beet leaf rolls.

This is not a 5 minute recipe. When you commit to making it – it’s an adventure – most definitely a worthwhile one. This recipe filled an open roaster & a turkey sized roaster.

You can find her original complete post (with pictures) about it here.


Verdict: We both loved it. What great flavor. Actually, this would taste really good with some spaghetti & a side salad. I really liked the cabbage leaves with it, nice mild flavor. I think the beet leaves, or Swiss chard would be great too, less mild in flavor, but really good. I recommend everyone trying this at least once. Thanks so much for the great challenge.

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies???

Okay, so our aunt & uncle have a garden and they planted zucchini’s.  Well, if you have ever had, or lived near any who has a garden, you know that there is a point where they are doing everything they can to give away their overabundance of veggies.  For us, its zucchini’s (well, cucumbers too, put that’s another post).  What to do with all of the zucchini’s?  Well, I’ve sauteed, stuffed, stir-fried, and baked them.  I was searching the web trying to find another way to use them when I came across some baked goods.  Well my m-i-l has made some bread with them, but I wondered about cookies.  I know you can use them for sweets, but I hadn’t thought about cookies, so I went searching and found a recipe from “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” and thought I would give it a try.  Here is my version of their cookies.


Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies

From “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”

Makes 2 dozen cookies

1 1/2 tsp Ener-G egg replacer

1/3 cup warm water
1/3 c applesauce
1/3 c brown sugar
1/4 c honey
1 T vanilla extract
1 c spelt flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1/2 t baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1 c finely shredded zucchini
12 oz chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg replacer and water until frothy.  Stir in the applesauce, brown sugar, honey, and vanilla extract. 

3. In a small bowl, stir together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. 

4. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined.   The dough may seem a little dry, but that’s okay, the moisture from the zucchini will be all it needs.  Add the grated zucchini and chocolate chips, stirring until incorporated.

5. Spoon the dough onto your cookie sheets and bake for 12 – 15 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes and enjoy!  These will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 3 – 4 days, if they last that long.


They turned out awesome!!!  My hubby was on the phone when I made them, so I just handed him one.  He later came in and said they were really good.  But, what was the green flecks?  I told him zucchini and he said, yum.  (He is not afraid of strange food combos, which is good)  You totally can’t even taste the veggies.  Next time I think I would actually only use about 10 oz of chocolate chips instead of 12 (I know, I can’t believe I said that!), there were just a few too many of them.


Dinner and Dessert

For dinner we had a yummy noodle salad and some fruit salad for dessert. 

img_2647.jpg    img_2654.jpg

I made the Asian Noodle Salad from the June/July 1999 Cooking Pleasures Magazine.  I didn’t have to tweak it too much, but did change a couple of things.  We ended the dinner with a yummy fruit salad of just some chopped cantaloupe, raspberries, and blueberries.  The fruit all had great flavor!  Hooray for summer and fresh fruit season.


Asian Vegetable Salad

I used green tea soba noodles, they had some great flavor. If you can find them, they complement this dish very well.

Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 6 minutes Serves: 4


6 oz Soba Noodles

2 cups broccoli florets

1 cup snap peas (snow peas would work great too)

½ red bell pepper, cut into thin strips

¼ cup mushrooms, sliced ( I used cremini)

½ cup baked tofu, thinly sliced

1 TBSP sesame seeds, toasted


3 TBSP soy sauce

2 TBSP rice vineagar

2 tsp sugar

½ tsp fresh ginger, grated

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles according to the package directions.

  2. In the last 2 minutes of cooking time on the noodles, add the broccoli, snap peas and bell pepper. Drain and rinse.

  3. While the noodles are cooking, whisk together the dressing ingredients in a large bowl. Add the mushrooms, noodles, and vegetables, tossing to combine. Top with the tofu and sesame seeds.

  4. This salad can be served warm, room temperature, or cold.