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Saturday, September 17, 2011

CULINARY JOURNEY JUST MOVED!


Hello kind friends and fellow food lovers. 

Just a quick note to let you know that Culinary Journey 
is now Kind Cooking 
and has moved to www.Kindcooking.com


It is still a work in progress ( as in everything in life!) 
Do remember to bookmark the new site, 
and sign up to stay tuned for exciting future updates.

In addition to more delicious recipes
you will find vegan news
useful nutritional tips
Vegan on the go
and much more...

See you there!


PS: To subscribe to the new blog, 
just click on the icon on the upper right
(under Sign up for Updates)
then on Email, then on Feedblitz,
a page will appear, fill out your email address,
click on play to display the security code,
type it in
(you are doing great!)
and click on Subscribe me
Done!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Assiette de Crudités (Raw Vegie Plate)



I was trying to find a name in English for this salad and couldn't come up with one that conveyed the meaning of assiète de crudités. A plate of raw vegetables sounds somehow borring and uneventful while the French equivalent is a standard in French restaurants, showcasing the freshness of local produce for customers wanting a dish that is light in calories but big on flavor and nutrition. 


Vegetables abound in our garden this time of the year. It is an explosion of life force, colors, textures and scents (and also weeds!). What a blessings to take a trip in our backyard and bring back a mountain of fresh greens, tomatoes and wild herbs. It reminds us that the world is abundant, there is enough for everyone if we appreciate and respect nature. One of our favorite dish for a quick but satisfying lunch or dinner is to do a nice spread of fresh vegetables served with some warm bread and/or some form of vegetable protein. 


There are so many advantages to growing your food, one of them is that you don't have to worry about pesticides, herbicides and others nasty chemicals they are tipically dowsed with. A simple rinse and quick check for slugs is all that is required. They do love to nest in small folds, so you have to inspect the merchandise closely.
Some of the other pluses is that you get to take a walk, commune with the elements, thank Mother nature for the abundance she has blessed us with, take deep breaths, listen to the sounds, marvel at newly found treasures burried under deep foliage (a yound egplant, clumps of cherry tomatoes, a baby zucchini or a flower...) look up and watch the birds in the trees. Life is sweet when we take the time to count our blessings.


Ingredients: 
Tomatoes (roma, cherry, red, orange etc.)
Cucumbers
Lettuce
Kale (curley, Russian etc.)
Teese (vegan cheese)*
Fresh chives, basil leaves, 
Mint leaves
Dash of salt, 
Extra virgin olive oil 
Balsamic vinegar 
French bread or herb crackers
Any other vegetable you have on hand.

PUTTING IT TOGETHER:
The arrangement is really up to you.
I usually start by placing a few slices of lettuce, kale and any other wild greens I happen to find on the bottom of the plate.
Make thin slices of tomatoes, spreading them on the plate.
Sprinkle with a dash of find sea salt. Then sprinkle some balsamic vinegar over it, then a little extra virgin olive oil.
Slice some of the Teese mozarella vegan cheese.
Place a slice over each tomato slice.
Chop a few basil leaves and garnish over the slices.
That was the hardest part of this salad.
Peel the cucumbers if you don't like the skin and slice them.
I love to sprinkle them with some rice vinegar and a dash of salt. Mix well in a bowl.
Set on the plate next to the tomatoes.
Toast slices of French bread or just serve with crackers.
I love Wasa crackers, rosemary crackers... they have less calories and are packed with flavors.

Enjoy

Absolute Best Vegan Mozarella cheese!
* Teese has some of the most amazing vegan cheeses. They have a soft mozarella version that is moist, slices well, has a subtle flavor and makes the perfect replacement. One little package makes plenty of slices, depending on how thick you cut them, you can easily make 10 to 15. The price is comparable to the dairy version, without the calories, the hormones, the antibiotics, the fat and more importantly, the abject cruelty dairy cows are subjected to their whole lives. What's not to like, really!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Easy Nutritious Summer Salad



With the plethora of fresh vegetables available this time of the year in our own gardens, why not indulge in a healthy salad, bursting with colors, textures, flavors and nutrition?

Fresh corn is available in stores at the moment (choose organic over conventional since most of the corn grown today is genetically modified to feed cattles and farm animals).

One of my favorite addition for this healthy salad is mung Bean sprouts. It is one of the easiest thing to sprout. You can't mess it up regardless of the temperature, even if you don't rinse them twice a day as it is usually required for other types of seeds or beans. They also keep refrigerated for almost a week.



Mung beans sprouts are crunchy and produce a slight nutty flavor, making them a perfect addition to most salads and wraps.

They may seem small and plain but don't let this fool you. They pack a lot of nutrition in every bite. 1 cup of raw mung beans contains 3 grams of protein. It is an excellent source of folate (vitamin B for DNA and blood cells) and manganese, a mineral essential for a healthy metabolism and bone formation.


Ingredients:
1-2 cups of mung bean sprouts
1 cup fresh corn kernels
1/3 cup of diced red onion
1/2 cup fresh or blanched green beans 
1/2 diced avocado 
1 grated carrots
2 Tbl pine nuts (optional)
2 Tbl grated coconut powder (unsweetened) optional
Fresh mint or coriander leaves

Salad dressing: 
I usually don't buy salad dressing because I have been disappointed by most of them and because they always add all kind of weird stuff to make it thick. Since it only takes less than a minute to make it why not?

Ingredients:
2 Tbl olive oil
1 Tbl balsamic vinegar
1 tsp lemon
1 Tbl nutritional yeast
salt, pepper to taste


By the way, this salad tastes even better if refrigerated over night.
I used the leftover to make a wrap with collard leaves from my garden. Talk about fresh!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Wheat Free & Gluten Free French Crepes

Gluten free crêpes


I am not allergic to wheat (although with maturing, I can't eat as much bread as I used to when I grew up in Europe!) but several of my friends and many of my students are, so I wanted to experiment with different recipes, types of flours and starch and see if I could get close to the original texture. So if you have been diagnosed with Celiac disease or have noticed a frequent allergic reaction to wheat products, you can add this recipe to your gluten free diet. 


Gluten is a great source of protein and binding, so when preparing a gluten free crepe, or pancake, the trick is to find replacements that can incorporate the binding and the light texture. When researching various gluten free recipes, I was shocked by the various complicated wheat free flour combinations I found. OMG! I don't know about you but a recipe that uses 4-5 different types of flours, like potato, sorghum, powder egg replacer, cornstarch is way too labor intensive and not flexible enough to accomodate what I may have in my pantry. Life is short, food should be fun, not a drag!


So I attempted to simplify the batter as much as possible and yet obtain the right consistency and texture. It took several attempts to get it right. The first one, was a fiasco. The recipe called for potato starch, I could only find potato flour, not sure what happened but the batter ended lumpy and thick. As aunt Vula in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding would say: "It no work!" I couldn't find potato starch in any local store, so that recipe was a no go! But with perseverance, I got it to where it was virtually impossible to tell the difference. Call me a purist, but the look of the food also matters. Using buckwheat may be healthy and safe but your crepes take on a grunge/hippie look that is more on the pancake side than the delicate French crepe. Call me a snob! 

So without further adieu, here is the recipe:

1/3 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 heaping Tbl ground flax seeds in 1/4 cup of warm water
1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
4 tsp vegetable oil (not olive oil)

This recipe is not only wheat free but also corn free and soy free. This way, just about everyone, should be able to enjoy the pleasure of crepes.

Enjoy and share with others
Multiply and have many happy little crepes!



Wednesday, July 27, 2011

2011 FALL CLASSES


A TASTE OF THAILAND


WHEN: Thursday Nov 1st,
WHERE: Firstenburg Community Center, Vancouver
PRICE: $38
REGISTER AT: 360-487-7001


DESCRIPTION: One of the most gracious culture on earth and beautiful people can be found in Thailand. Learn to make exquisite traditional Thai dishes such as papaya salad, mee krob, vegetable pad thai and discover the rich culture of kingdom of Siam.


A TASTE OF VIETNAM


WHEN: Thursday Nov 3rd, 6-8:30pm
WHERE: Clark Community College, Vancouver
CLASS ID: F185 CTC Rm: 153
PRICE: $75
REGISTER AT: (360)992-2939


DESCRIPTION: Journey to the mystical land of Aulac, now known as Vietnam. Blending the best of Chinese and French influences, discover fresh dishes that incorporate unique herbs like lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and several mint leaves. Learn to make the traditional 'pho' soup, heavenly salad, summer rolls, pickled vegetables and more.

THE LIGHT SIDE OF FRENCH COOKING


WHEN:  Thursday Nov 17th, 5-6:30pm
WHERE: Clark Community College, Vancouver
CLASS ID: F177  CTC Rm: 153
PRICE: $75
REGISTER AT: (360)992-2939




DESCRIPTION: Nouvelle Cuisine from the South of France is admired the world over but it usually characterized by rich and fattening dishes. This class, taught by a native of the French Riviera, will teach you how to create and enjoy some of the rich flavors of French cooking without the heavy calories and artery clogging results! A guilt-free way to a French palate. All the dishes are free of animal products for people with dietary restrictions. Recipes include: Onion soup ‘gratinée, olive tapenade, escalope with mushroom cream sauce, vegan chocolate mousse and much more



CHINESE BANQUET


WHEN:  Monday Dec 5th, 5-6:30pm
WHERE: Firstenburg Community Center, Vancouver
PRICE: $38
REGISTER AT: 360-487-7001




DESCRIPTION: Treat yourself or impress your friends with a complete traditional Chinese meal you can make at home, with no msg, less salt and fat. Learn a few tricks to create popular dishes served all over the world, in this fun and interactive class.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

RHUBARB CRISP

My only exposure to rhubard as a child was with jam, a friend used to make and give to my mom. She had a huge vegetable garden bursting with all kinds of edible treasures. I remember helping her around huge cooking pots with long fibrous stems slow cooking in her kitchen. Carefully removing the foam at the top from time to time. She always mixed them with strawberries.  


Rhubarb Crisp




Well, rhubarb is in season now so why not take advantage of what Mother Nature is offering us? One of the simplest dish you can make with Rhubarb is a crisp. To use less sweetener, add other fruit like cherries, peaches, pears or a little apple juice. Turns out, rhubard is a vegetable, not a fruit! So you can have your vegetable and eat it like a fruit! 

INGREDIENTS:
5-6 rhubarb stems, trimmed at the end
1-2 cups of other chopped sweet fruit (cherries, peaches, apples...)
Some granola (make sure it doesn't contain honey because most do!)
Little sugar for the top

PREPARATION:

  1. Wash, trim and chop the rhubarb. Keep the left over for your compost pile. 
  2. Pour into a large pot
  3. Add a cup of apple juice or water
  4. Sprinkle a little sugar
  5. Mix and cover and cook over low to medium heat (15mn max).
  6. Mix every now and then
  7. Remove from heat

When ready to serve you can do one of several things depending on how much time you have and if you don't mind a few more calories:


1. Quick serve: just pour some granola over the top and serve
2. A little more fancy: Melt a few tablespoons of vegan butter, mix them with the granola and spoon over the top. Broil for 2 minutes at 350 to caramelize the top. Yumm!
3. Fancier ever: broil the top and serve with your favorite vegan icecream! 

NUTRITIONAL CORNER:
Rhubarb is low in calories (just 26 calories in 1 cup, not bad), 95% of it is water. You do want to add some sugar to lower its acidity (3.1 pH), just don't go crazy with it.

GROWING TIPS: 
If you are thinking of growing it, make sure to have space for it, because it is like zucchinis, it needs space around it. Rhubarb needs heavy mulching in the winter to protect the bulb from the cold. Mulch also throughout the year. Remember that leaves are poisonous, so be careful with children. 


Use rhubarb to make an aphid spray: 
Chop 3 to 5 rhubarb leaves and add to a quart of water. 
Boil for 30 minutes.
Strain and add a dash of liquid, non-detergent, soap.
Pour in a spray bottle and spray as needed.

Monday, July 18, 2011

MINT COLESLAW



Why not take coleslaw, an all-American favorite, spice it up a little and create a ligther version?  You will have an explosion of flavors that will make the traditional version a boring distant memory. Here is how:


INGREDIENTS:
1/2 Red and 1/2 green cabbage finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh spearmint or a mix of other mint leaves
3 Tbl vegenaise
1 Tbl cider vinegar
1 tsp dry sweetener
dash of salt
1/2 cup fresh spinach



PREPARATION:

  1. In a food processor, chop the cabbage until it is fine.
  2. Roughly chop the mint
  3. In a small bowl, mix the Vegenaise*, the vinegar, the sugar and the salt.
  4. Toss the cabbage and mint with the dressing.
  5. Make a bed with the spinach leaves and spoon the coleslaw.

Bon appétit

*Vegenaise is the best eggless mayonnaise.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

French Sweet Crepes

I woke up Sunday morning, it was a gorgeous day. Not too hot, just enough air to keep it cool and enjoy a nice breakfast on the deck. I was given a great crepe pan as a gift the day before so what better treat than a lovely sweet French crepe for breakfast. French crepes are soft in the middle but ligthly crunchy on the edge. They are very thin (on the other end of the spectrum of the thick hearty pancakes).
One of my favorite fruit, this time of the year are nectarines, because they seem to always be sweet. I haven't had the same luck with peaches that feel more like tennis balls in terms of hardness and rarely ripen once at home.

The filling for this recipe may seem pretty basic but don't let it fool you, it is exquisite. French deserts are amazing, not because they have tons of sugar or fat (granted, some do) but because they allow the natural flavors to be discovered. There is such freedom in going back to this simplicity and nature. Honestly, why complicate when you can enjoy things as they are.

INGREDIENTS
1 cup soymilk
1/2 cup water
1 cup flour
2 tsp dry sweetener (like turbinado sugar)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbl vegan butter
1 Tbl ground flaxseeds

Note: Many recipes call for powder egg replacer but you may not have it at home, so stick to flaxseeds. It is a nice way to add Omega-3 essential fatty acids (great for heart conditions), lots of anti-oxydants and is a great source of fiber. I love its nutty flavor too.

TIPS: Buy whole flax seeds and only grind a little at a time in a blender or coffee grinder because they go rancid more quickly after being ground into meal. If you grind more, refrigerate and use in salad dressing, over stir-fries, over breakfast cereals, in shakes...

PREPARATION:
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend for a few seconds.
In a thick bottomed frying pan, place a little vegetable oil and bring heat to medium high.
Pour a small laddle and immediately spread the batter so that an even layer spreads accross the pan.
Using a spatula, gently lift the sides and when it no longer sticks to the pan, either flip the crepe with the spatula or with the pan. The ladder one may take a little practice but it will impress your friends.
When the other side is done, place on a plate.
Spread 1 Tbl of your favorite jam (I used peach) in the middle of the crepe in the form of a strip.
Place fresh slices of nectarines on top.
Sprinkle with a little granulated sugar.
Fold the left and right flaps on the middle, then the top and bottom to create a lovely bundle.
Serve as is.

NOTE: Use any fruit, get creative. Can be served with your favorite vegan icecream or sherbet.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New potatoes and leek stir-fry

Nature is such a wonderful thing we take for granted.
Last fall, I discovered some potatoes that I had completely forgotten about and as a result had sprouted in the back of my pantry. I proceeded by cutting them into small pieces, each with a sprout and planted them in my garden covering them with thick layer of leave mulch. I knew that not much grows in the winter in the Northwest but hoped that something will come out eventually out of it. And it did. Beautiful leaves grew a few months ago and some potatoes even appeared. It was time to harvest. Wow, so many beautiful little potatoes. It was like a treasure hunt. And when I thought I was done, more were found.

And the funny thing is that the original pieces of potatoes were still almost intact in the ground, and yet they had produced a whole family of little ones.  Next to the potatoes, some leeks also grew. And when you have potatoes and leeks, what do you do? You make potato leek soup, oven roasted vegies or a great stir-fry. We did all three.

New potatoes are only harvested in the spring and summer so look out for them in the stores or better, grow your own. Eat with the season to  What is really unique about them is that they have a thinner skin and a high moisture content which gives them a creamy texture. They are usually used as side dish but why not making them the star of the show?

You can lightly steam the potatoes and stir fry them with a little garlic, green onion, salt and pepper and any other condiment you like. Potatoes goes really well with rosemary for example for something different. That's what we did in the photo. Super simple, quick and delicious. I added some vegan sausages for a little quick protein.

Leeks are essentially giant green onions. They are from the same alium family. In terms of nutrition, leeks are a great source of vitamin C as well as iron and fiber, they are known for helping the blood and the heart.
In terms of handling leeks, you always want to check and wash the dirt of the bottom after removing the roots. You can also stir fry the leeks with a little water and salt.




 The finished product:

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wild mushroom Fettucini with wilted spinach salad


Ok, so I may have spoken too fast. Summer hasn't arrived yet. It looks like the seasons have shifted a whole month forward. April showers are now May showers and the temperatures aren't exactly summer like these days. Apparently with the various large earthquakes and tsunamis, the earth's axis has shifted more than one degree. So warm dishes are really nice until the sun decides to make an extended appearance!


Every now and then, we have a craving for pasta but we wanted something a little more rich with a creamy sauce. Living in the pacific Northwest, we have a great selection of wild mushroom available at regular grocery stores. So I combined a vegan cream sauce my friend and chef Miyoko Schinner showed me a few years ago with these tender and full of flavors mushrooms.  Yum!


And to balance cooked food with something fresh, I prepared my signature wilted spinach salad dish. The challenge with these 2 dishes is the timing. Got to work fast and get things lined up correctly. In real estate, it is location, location, location. When it comes to cooking, it is preparation, preparation, preparation.

1. Cook the pasta
Cook the pasta according to package instructions. 
The trick is that when it is almost completely done (taste to be sure but don't burn your fingers or your tongue in the process!), pour out the water and rinse under cold water until the noodles are warm to the touch. Pour 1/2 Tbl of oil and mix with hands to prevent from sticking. Put aside and get started on the sauce.

2. Prepare the mushroom sauce
First the cream:
Blend 1 cup of cashew nuts with 2 cups of broth in a blender (or you can use plain water too).
Add some salt if you are using water. Add some black pepper and garlic powder. Make sure that the liquid is smooth (no small pieces of nuts should be left) Pour into a small pan.

3. Pan Fry the mushrooms
  1. Gently wash the mushrooms. Any type will do (porcini, portobellos, white caps etc.) and cut in half if they are small or slice the shrooms, as we call them at home.
  2. In a frying pan, put 1 Tbl vegetable oil, 1-2 cloves of minced garlic over medium heat. Make sure that it doesn't burn.
  3. Add the mushrooms making sure that they are not too crowded.
  4. Add 2 Tbl balsamic vinegar and quickly mix into the mushrooms to make them sweat and caramelize. Don't overcook, they are full of water and only need a little tenderizing.
  5. Taste, add some salt if you need it. Remove from heat and put aside.
Putting it all together
  1. Heat up the cashew cream sauce over medium heat. Using a wooden spoon, gently stir the sauce until it thickens a little. As soon as you see that it does, remove from heat.
  2. Place the pasta in a large frying pan, mix the caramelized mushrooms, then pour the sauce over and gently mix for a minute or so. Immediately serve. Save some cream sauce and mushrooms because you will be asked for seconds. Guaranteed!

4. Wilted Spinach salad

Looks and tastes fancy but it is so easy to make and preserves most of the nutrient in the spinach.
The trick is to heat 2-3 Tbl of extra virgin olive oil (regular olive oil will also do, but treat yourself to good things from time to time). I know, virgin olive oil should be consumed cold, but it is also nice now and then heated.
  1. So place the washed and dried spinach in a large bowl,
  2. Slice some red onion thinly if you like raw onions
  3. Sprinkle some pine nuts and some nutritional yeast (1-2 Tbl)
  4. Heat up the oil in your smallest pan, on high heat for less than a minute depending on how quickly your stove heats up. Watch it because it happens very quickly. Don't let it smoke.
  5. It is all in the timing.
  6. Pour it immediately over the spinach and quickly mix it until all the leaves are coated and shinny.
  7. Sprinkle with a little lemon juice (optional) and serve.
Bon appétit!