Cooking with Alison

Posts Tagged ‘vegetarian’

Baked Brie and Apricot Jam Crostini

In Appetizers, Hors D'oeuvres, Snacks on November 26, 2014 at am

I served warm brie and apricot jam crostini at my dad’s 60th birthday party and they were a huge hit.  Switch things up a bit by using a different flavoured jam or fruit butter.  For example, peach jam would have the same beautiful orange colour, any berry jam would work beautifully, blackcurrant jam would be amazing, apple butter would be comforting in the fall, and cranberry sauce (see recipe here) would be perfect for the winter holidays.  These are incredibly easy to make for a large crowd.  The key to making these delicious is using the perfect ratio of jam to brie cheese.  Don’t hold back with the jam, as it’ll make your crostini look prettier too.

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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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Egg Yolk Vinaigrette Recipe

In Sides and Sauces, Soups and Salads on October 28, 2014 at am

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I have dozens of frozen egg yolks that I would love to use up.  (See here for how to freeze eggs and other ingredients.)  But I don’t want to make any more desserts, so I have been looking for new savoury recipes that require egg yolks.  This egg yolk vinaigrette only uses up 1 egg yolk, but it’s a delicious start.  🙂  You can use it as a dip for vegetable sticks, or as a dressing on leafy salads or cold, cooked vegetable salads.  (The caesar dressing recipe here also uses an egg yolk.)

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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 a Healthy Sour Cream Substitute

In Appetizers, Hors D'oeuvres, Snacks, How-To, Sides and Sauces on September 15, 2014 at am

Sour cream is one of my favourite condiments, but I feel guilty buying it for two reasons:  1.  it’s unhealthy and high in calories, and 2. I often end up wasting food, because I have trouble using up an entire container before the expiration date.  So you can imagine my excitement when I watched chef Rocco DiSpirito share his healthy sour cream substitute on tv a few years ago.  It only requires 2 ingredients:  cottage cheese and white vinegar/lemon juice.  I have to admit, I was very doubtful that anything could even come close to tasting like sour cream.  When I first tried it, I was expecting to be as disappointed as the first time I ever tried vegan cheese, but it was amazingly similar to sour cream.  You just need to have the equipment to get the texture completely smooth (I used a mini food processor). You can make as little or as much as you want and you don’t have to feel guilty eating it.

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Delicious Rhubarb Cake Recipe

In Cakes, Desserts on September 7, 2014 at am

I made this rhubarb cake for a friend’s birthday camping trip and everyone loved it.  This is my new go-to rhubarb cake recipe.  It’s easy to make, it’s moist and delicious, and the tart rhubarb contrasts the slightly sweet cake perfectly.  This recipe makes a lot of cake, but don’t worry, because the cake is freezer friendly.

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Simple Tomato Pasta Sauce Recipe (with a Secret Ingredient)

In Pasta, Rice, and Doughs on August 29, 2014 at am

This pasta sauce uses a short list of ingredients and is very easy to make.  This recipe is for a vegetarian pasta dish, but you could always add meat if preferred.  The key ingredient that makes a world of difference to this otherwise simple tomato sauce is ricotta cheese.  Try adding a dollop of ricotta cheese to your favourite tomato-based pasta sauce recipe, or simply mix it in with store-bought tomato sauce.  This is a great way to use up leftover ricotta.  Some of my other recipes that use ricotta cheese include lasagna rollsricotta and tomato crostini, wild mushroom ravioli, puff pastry tarts with arugula and cherry tomatoes, and lemon ricotta muffins.

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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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Healthy and Delicious Chickpea, Corn and Carrot Loaf

In Sides and Sauces on July 15, 2014 at am

This is a healthy, vegetarian-friendly and dairy-free side dish that is surprisingly delicious.  It is full of flavour, it has great texture, and it’s something unexpected.  Everyone that has tried it has been pleasantly surprised, too.  I found this recipe in a cookbook that I won in a baking contest.  I am really glad that I tried it, because it’s not something that would normally entice me.  I hope that you’ll try it, too.  Let me know what you think of it!

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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!

Best Papaya Milk Drink Recipe (木瓜牛奶)

In Asian, Drinks, Other Asian Foods on June 6, 2014 at am
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Papaya milk made with 1 cup of milk

My family and I love the Chinese drink, papaya and milk (木瓜牛奶).  There is only one vendor that we buy it from, because most places do a terrible job of making this.  Often vendors or restaurants will add ice or, more commonly, use papaya that is not nearly ripe enough.  I’ve recreated our favourite vendor’s papaya milk drink.  The most important thing to remember when making papaya juice or papaya milk drink is that the papaya must be overly ripe, to the point where it is almost starting to going bad, as shown in the photo below.  The ripeness of the papaya not only affects the flavour of the drink, but also the texture of it.

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