Cooking with Alison

Posts Tagged ‘vegan’

Introduction to Extra Virgin Olive Oil Tasting

In How-To, Reviews on July 6, 2016 at pm
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Photo courtesy of Flavor Your Life

On July 5, 2016,the Flavour Your Life program, which is funded by the European Union and the Italian government, hosted an extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) tasting event in Toronto. The event was held at Buca Osteria & Enoteca on King Street West, where the food and drinks were incredible, by the way. It’s my new favourite Italian restaurant and I can’t wait to go back! I usually only purchase Greek EVOO, so I was very excited to learn more about Italian EVOO. A HUGE thank you to Gordon from Confessions of a Toronto Foodie who told me about this opportunity.

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Carrot and Roasted Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing

In Sides and Sauces, Soups and Salads on June 14, 2016 at am
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Salad prior to being tossed with dressing.

The timing of my discovery of this recipe was perfect, because I was looking for winter-friendly cold salads, I had all of the ingredients on hand, and it helped me clear out my pantry. I’ve made this for pot lucks, picnics, and packed lunches. I hope you’ll try it for yourself.

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Favourite Peperonata Recipe

In Appetizers, Hors D'oeuvres, Snacks, Sides and Sauces on April 2, 2016 at am

I was first introduced to peperonata at a restaurant that used it as a topping for bruschetta. I then learned that peperonata is either served as a side dish or with sliced bread. I adapted an authentic, Italian (Sicilian) recipe to recreate the version that I had at the restaurant, so that I could serve it on top of toasted baguette slices for a party. If you prefer a more authentic version, cut the bell peppers into large chunks, add tomatoes, simmer longer, and allow it to be more liquidy.

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Korean Broccoli Salad Recipe

In Asian, Other Asian Foods, Sides and Sauces, Soups and Salads on October 25, 2015 at am

In Korean cuisine, small flavourful side dishes are often served with each meal.  This broccoli is one of those delicious Korean side dishes that can also be enjoyed as a cold salad.  This would be a great accompaniment for kalbi (BBQ beef short ribs) (see recipe here), or jap chae (see recipe here).

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Basic Hummus Recipe

In Appetizers, Hors D'oeuvres, Snacks on June 1, 2015 at am

Let me count the ways that I love hummus:  It’s healthy, easy to make, cost efficient and you can eat it with pretty much anything you have on hand.  You can spread it on a sandwich, wrap, and baguette slices for crostini, or you can serve it with dippers (ie. vegetables, crackers, pita, bagel chips (see recipe here), bread sticks, etc.).  It’s perfect for entertaining, because it can be made in advance and it makes a great vegetarian / vegan option.

I’ve compared hummus made with fresh garlic, roasted garlic, and garlic infused oil.  Garlic lovers will enjoy the roasted garlic and garlic infused oil in hummus, so instructions have been provided for both.  This is my favourite basic hummus recipe.  Enjoy it plain or experiment with different variations.  For example, you could add fresh parsley, or cilantro, and/or dill.  Also, I use limes instead of lemons when I have them on hand.  See my sun dried tomato hummus recipe here and my cilantro lime hummus recipe here.

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Japanese Seaweed Salad Recipe

In Other Asian Foods, Soups and Salads on March 21, 2015 at am

Seaweed salad is my favourite Japanese side dish.  The seaweed salad is bold in flavour with the naturally salty seaweed paired with toasted sesame oil and rice vinegar.  Seaweed salad is, in my opinion, very expensive when purchased pre-made.  Luckily, it is very easy, and much less costly, to make at home.  Although, many different varieties of seaweed can be used for salad, it can be difficult to find the most popular type.  After years of searching, I finally found some at the Asian grocery store chain, T & T.  Check the refrigerators and the freezers.  Also, I haven’t been able to figure out why the restaurants’ seaweed is always so much greener in colour.  If you know the reason behind this, please let me know in a comment!  Thanks so much!

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Frozen wakame was used for this seaweed salad.

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Favourite Red Lentil Soup Recipe

In Soups and Salads on November 21, 2014 at am

I love cooking lentils in the fall and winter months.  Here are just some of the many reasons why I almost always have some in my pantry:  they are very economical, they store well and are great to have on hand when I’m out of fresh vegetables, they’re easy and forgiving to cook, they work well in side dishes, one-pot main courses, or soup, they make freezer friendly meals, and they’re hearty, nutritious, and high in fiber.  This is my favourite red lentil soup recipe.

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Curried White Bean and Sweet Potato Soup (and DIY Meal in a Jar)

In DIY and Crafts, Soups and Salads on October 13, 2014 at am
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Curried white bean and sweet potato soup made without coconut milk

I was inspired by The Bean Ladies at Toronto’s One of a Kind Show in December, 2013 to make a curried white bean and sweet potato soup.  The flavours of this soup are mild; the spice from curry and cumin is balanced by the subtle sweetness of the sweet potatoes and brown sugar.  To add richness and/or another layer of flavour to the soup, try making this soup with coconut milk. I have also given these soups away as gifts in the form of meals in a jar (DIY meal in a jar instructions provided below).  This soup can easily be made gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian and vegan.  See another recipe that was inspired by The Bean Ladies here (Split Pea Soup and DIY meal in a jar).

An example of a meal in a jar (split pea soup)

Example of a meal in a jar (split pea soup)

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How to Make Iced Tea and Delicious Variations

In Drinks, How-To on August 15, 2014 at am

Iced tea has always been one of my favourite drinks, so I’m not sure why it took me so long to start making it from scratch.  I should clarify that the drink, ‘iced tea’, means different things depending on where you go.  In some places, if you order an iced tea, they will bring you a straight up cup of tea that is served chilled with ice.  I learned that the hard way while traveling on a cruise, once.  I was very disappointed.  😉  The iced tea that I’m in love with is sometimes referred to as sweet tea.  Now that I know how easy it is to make iced tea, how much better it tastes when homemade, and how much fun it is to try different flavour variations, I will never buy canned or bottled iced tea again.  In fact, from now on, John and I are going to start serving homemade iced tea instead of soda/pop when we have friends over.  Also, if you’re like me, then you probably have boxes and boxes and boxes of different types of tea at home that you may never get through.  This is a great way to enjoy them while cleaning out your cupboards.

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Great Salad Dressing Tip from Extreme Cheapskates

In Sides and Sauces, Soups and Salads on July 11, 2014 at am

For a while, I was obsessed with watching TLC’s show, Extreme Cheapskates.  In this show, people go to revolting, albeit sometimes creative, extremes to save money.  Surprisingly, I picked up a good salad dressing tip from one of the episodes.  🙂  When you finish a jar of jam, before you wash the jar and recycle it, make a salad dressing in the still-slightly-jammy jar.  This will not only add sweetness and a hint of fruit flavour to your dressing, it will also save you from having to wash additional dishes.  Of course, this also reduces your food waste.

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To make your salad dressing:  Add some vinegar/lemon juice, olive oil, and mustard powder/dijon mustard to the almost empty jam jar.  (Note:  A good starting ratio is 1:5 for vinegar/lemon juice to extra virgin olive oil.  The mustard helps emulsify the dressing.)  Screw the lid on tightly, shake vigorously until the dressing is well mixed, and then adjust the ingredients to taste.  For example, you might want to add additional vinegar, a pinch of salt and/or black pepper, honey/maple syrup, etc.

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Creative Uses for Avocado and Tips for Making Them Even More Delicious

In Appetizers, Hors D'oeuvres, Snacks, Sides and Sauces on July 6, 2014 at am

I love avocados and often eat them straight out of the peel with a spoon.  Here are a few creative ways to use avocados and some tips for making them taste even better (other than just adding them to everything and anything you can think of):

  1. Be sure to try warming up your avocado (peel and pit removed) in the microwave.  I love warm avocados, especially in a sandwich, pita, or wrap.  I’ve also seen recipes where people bake avocado halves in the shell.
  2. Have you ever tasted avocado tempura (Japanese deep fried avocado)?  It’s delicious – probably in part because of the warming effect.  You could easily deep fry slices of avocado at home, by either using a tempura batter or an egg wash followed by a coating of panko crumbs.
  3. I used to eat avocados plain until my friend Aurelie told me that in France, a lot of people eat their avocados with a dollop of Dijon mustard.  I’m so glad that she told me that, because I’ve been doing it ever since.  My preferred brand of Dijon mustard is Maille.
  4. I’ve also discovered that I like eating avocados with a light drizzle of honey.  But, oddly, I don’t like the taste of honey mustard on avocados.
  5. Try using half of an avocado, still in the shell, as a carbohydrate substitute and bowl for your favourite tuna, crab, chicken, or ham salad.  See a tuna salad recipe here.  You could even place a fried egg in the avocado half.  I’ve also seen recipes where people bake avocado halves in the shell (pit removed) with eggs or cheese, etc.
  6. Use avocado to make a delicious and healthy mayonnaise substitute.
  7. Make smoothies or other types of drinks using avocados.  Don’t forget alcoholic drinks like avocado margaritas.
  8. I’ve even seen recipes for avocado soup.  Let me know if you’ve tried this and what you thought of it.
  9. Make an avocado frosting for your baked goods.  These are often vegan friendly.  The natural green colour is great for St Patrick’s Day, Halloween, and Christmas themed parties.
  10. Avocado can be used as a fat substitute in vegan baking.  John and I plan to try making black bean and avocado brownies.  If they’re really good, I’ll share the recipe.
  11. Lastly, I’ve put avocado popsicles on my list of things to try.

Just to be thorough, here are some of the ways that I use avocados in every day cooking:  in all sorts of salads, in sandwiches, as burger toppings, in wraps, in pitas, in tacos, in quesadillas, in sushi (maki rolls or hand rolls), in guacamole (see recipe here), in salsa with exotic fruits atop fish, in breakfast or egg dishes, as toppings or garnish for some soups, in fish tartare or ceviche (see recipes here), in appetizers served in wonton cups (see recipe here), etc., etc.  Let me know how you like to use avocados!

Ingredients That Freeze Beautifully

In Appetizers, Hors D'oeuvres, Snacks, Asian, Breads, Breakfast, Desserts, How-To, Indian, Main Course on June 1, 2014 at am

Whenever I cook with ingredients that I don’t use regularly, I almost always end up with extra ingredients that I can’t find the time or purpose for.  I hate to waste food.  So, very early on, I learned how to make the freezer my best friend.  Below I’ve shared a list of fresh and canned ingredients that freeze beautifully for months to a year, without a change in texture or taste.  Let me know if you can think of anything else!  I will add to this list as I discover new freezer friendly ingredients.  Also, I’ve posted many many freezer friendly recipes throughout the years.  Just look to the end of each recipe for freezing instructions, as applicable.

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