Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July Foodie Pen Pal

I participated again this month in this really cool group called Foodie Pen Pals. The way it works is you sign up and at the beginning of the month you are assigned someone else from the group. You get in touch with that person to check if they have any food allergies or dislikes then (while not spending more than $15) you put together a little package of goodies and send it off. Someone else will do the same for you and when you get your package you take a photo and blog about what was in there.

This month I received a package from Deanna at Coastal Storm. You should definitely check out her blog. These are all the goodies I received:

1. Blueberry Jam - which I have been using pretty much everyday
2. Awesome no nut granola which I intend to use in some cookies once the heat dies down a bit here.
3. Hemp Hearts - I love the packaging
4. Young & Smylie Licorice - Deanna mentioned that this was her families favourite. I put it out at a get together and no one could stop eating it. The licorice is super soft and yummy.
5. Homemade granola bars - I barley got a picture of these because they looked so good I wanted to eat them right away. Trust me they are delicious. Deanna also sent the recipe for them so I will make them soon and blog about them so you can enjoy them to (There is a non-vegan version on her website)
6. Luna bar - Yummy!
7. Fruit Source bar - These are my favourite snack!

Thanks so much Deanna for the awesome package.

If you want to participate check out the The Lean Green Bean blog for more info.

And if you want to see the package I sent this month head over to http://veggienook.com to check it out.

The Lean Green Bean

Monday, July 23, 2012

Vegan Pineapple Sorbet & Blueberry Curd - Secret Recipe Club

This month for the Secret Recipe Club I was assigned a lovely blog called Manu's Menu written by the Italian born Manuela. This blog has it all going on. The recipes are varied, the pictures are lovely, and there are a ton of regional dishes from Italy, Australia and India!

Manuela is Italian, married to an Indian, living in Australia so her culinary background is pretty diverse. You should definitely check out her blog as there are a lot of yummy looking recipes.

There were a number of dishes that I wanted to try and veganize from Manu's Menu, including this yummy looking yogurt cake and this dish of cannelloni. However it has been extremely hot here in Montreal pretty much this whole month. Hot enough that the idea of turning on the oven makes me feel queasy. Plus being 8 months pregnant does not really add any motivation to bake anything. So in the end I decided to go with something cool and refreshing Pineapple Sorbet and Blueberry Curd.

For the sorbet I decided to add some fresh mint that is growing on our balcony and man did it add a nice flavour to the dish. Isn't it a pretty colour?

I also veganized the original blueberry curd recipe by cutting out the eggs and replacing with a bit of corn starch. Thank Manu for the tasty recipes.

Pineapple Sorbet with Fresh Mint
Adapted from Manu's Menu 

2 cups pineapple, chopped
8 Tbsp sugar
1/2 water
2 sprigs of fresh mint

In a blender blend pineapple, sugar, and water until smooth. Chill mixture for an hour. Once chilled, add mixture to your ice cream maker and follow the manufactuer's directions. Meanwhile, julienne the mint leaves and add them to the ice cream maker in the last 2 minutes.

Transfer to a container and freeze for at least 3 hours before serving.

Vegan Blueberry Curd
Adapted from Manu's Menu

1 pint of blueberries (Fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup of water
6 Tbsp unsalted vegan margarine
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp corn starch
pinch of salt

In a medium pot cook blueberries and water over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until blueberries burst open.

Using a fine mesh sieve starin the mixture. Be sure to press the blueberries with a spoon to make sure you get as much of the liquid and pulp out of them. Discard the skins and put the liquid/pulp aside.

Using the same pot, whisk together the sugar and margarine. Add the cornstarch, the blueberry liquid, and the salt.

Whisk over medium heat. Allow the mixture to simmer but not boil for 5 - 7 minutes. The mixture should coat the back of a spoon and will thicken more as it cools.

Pour into a glass jar and store in the fridge. Serve over ice cream, on toast or with cake! Yum.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Hazelnut Pesto Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Asparagus

Originally this post was suppose to feature delicious homemade gnocchi, however after carefully reading a recipe and crafting beautiful little pockets of goodness I put them in simmering water to cook. And it was disaster. I ended up with a huge pot of potato water. So now this post is about the pesto I made to go with the gnocchi.

Hazelnut Pesto

1/4 cup roasted hazelnuts without skin
1 - 2 cups of fresh basil leaves
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients together in a food processor or blender. You may need to add more olive oil or some water to help with blending.

To serve I roasted some cherry tomatoes in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes and saute some asparagus and peas with a little lemon juice.

Once my pasta was cooked I tossed it with the pesto mixture and served with the tomatoes, peas and asparagus.

This dish would be amazing with homemade gnocchi!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Vegan Banana Bread

I have to say this banana bread turned out to be one of the best banana breads I have tried. Sometimes I really feel like banana bread but I don't have super ripe bananas (you know the ones with all the brown spots) but I usually go ahead and make the recipe anyway and it is never banana-y enough. This time though my bananas were very ripe and I love the way the recipe turned out. Go figure.

Vegan Banana Bread
Adapted from the Post Punk Kitchen

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup Earth Balance, room temp
3 very ripe bananas, mashed well
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup soy milk, mixed with 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare a 8×4 bread pan with non stick cooking spray, or if you have a mini loaf tray prepare this instead.

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt and spices.

Cream together the Earth Balance and sugar. Add bananas, soy milk mixture and vanilla.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Mix well. Pour batter into pan. Bake for an hour to an hour 10 minutes or if using mini loaf pans bake for 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Monday, July 9, 2012


If you have never tried dukkah then you are in for a real treat. It is an Egyptian side dish containing nuts and spices. You can use if for a lot of different things like a spice mix or serve it as a dip with some bread and olive oil. Just dip the bread in the olive oil and then into the dukkah. So good and easy to make.


2/3 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup sesame seeds
2 Tbsp coriander seeds
2 Tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp flaked sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil, to serve
Crusty bread or pita, to serve

Toast hazelnuts in a dry skillet until browned. If the skins are still on pour nuts into a dry dishtowel and rub until skins come off.

Toast sesame seeds until brown and set aside to cool.

Toast all spices in a dry skillet until brown and fragrant shaking the pan often. About 2 minutes. Let cool.

In a spice grinder (I have a coffee grinder that I use to grind spices and sugar) or mortar and pestle grind nuts to a course powder and do the same with the spices. Mix nuts and spices with whole seasame seeds and then add salt and pepper to taste.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge. 

Serve with a good quality olive oil and bread. Just dip the bread in the olive oil and then into the dukkah mixture. Enjoy!