Project “VIS”: (Vegan-izing my Irish Stew)

I know I should probably start off with an apology for my absence. I kinda had a crazy last few months. From starting a new job to suddenly losing that job and asked to consult for a vegan brand, to relocating my life and trying to just find a darn kitchen to cook in, I just have to say – WTF 2019???!!!! I definitely did NOT sign up for what I endured last year, and VERY happy that year is over.

Ok, that profanity out and off my chest, also I have definitely been cooking but been seeking inspiring dishes to post about. Which leads me to this post as I did a thing: veganized my irish stew recipe.

This stew recipe is not just ANY recipe. It involves hours of slow cooking, searing, and flavour-infusing, combined with precisely cut veg and the perfect mix of seasonings. But, it had meat, and I wanted to give it a shot.

Could I possibly replace my secret, tried and true recipe with a new and improved plant version?

I think I did just that, and am pretty darn pleased.

Ingredients:

2 pkgs gardein “Beefless Tips” (found at most large grocers)

5-6 medium sized carrots, peeled and sliced into uniform, 1/2 inch chunks

7-8 yukon gold potatoes, peeled, halved and then cut into uniform chunks

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1 pkg dried assorted exotic mushrooms – rehydrated in 1 cup warm water

1 box vegetable stock

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 sprig fresh rosemary

2 cloves of garlic

2 bay leaf

salt and pepper to taste

1 can Guinness beer

small handful fresh parsley

2 cups water

1 cup frozen peas

cornstarch, to thicken

  • I highly recommend a slow cooker for this.

Method:

  1. Coat bottom of non-stick pan with olive oil. “saute” Vegan nuggets from frozen for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and coat in cornstarch. Return to pan and add more oil if needed, along with 2 whole cloves of garlic, salt, pepper and sprigs of herbs. Saute the nuggets until crisp and browned, another 5-6 minutes. Pat dry and set aside-leaving herbs and “pan drippings” in your pan.
  2. turn on crock pot to high setting. Add in chopped vegetables, bay leaf and box of broth along with water. cover and heat for two hours on high.
  3. Add hydrated mushrooms with the water to the pan you used previously, adding 1-2 tsp of cornstarch. Cook on medium heat until thickened for about 7-10 minutes – or, it is boiling. Slowly add the Guinness, keeping the boil (so do this very slow). turn pan down, and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes, whisking as needed. Remove herb stems. Puree very well the entire mixture with an immersion blender under very smooth. Add vegan margarine if you wish at this stage.
  4. After 2 hours, add in peas, gardein nuggets, and “Guinness roux”. Stir and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Remove stalks from parsley and roughly chop, adding to stew. Cook for additional 1.5-2 hours, depending on your crock pot. Check for doneness but vegetables should be tender and gravy thick. Add any water as required but it should be a hearty dish.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

Let’s Get Saucy!

I was pretty excited to cook for a pretty big group this weekend, and also scared as heck. I mean, prepping food for my family and me-sure. For total strangers, this type-A chick went into performance overdrive.

But good news is, I churned out an Asian-appetizer party that seemed to go well and had guests wanting more! Out of that, I had a few compliments for my sauces, which, usually was my dad’s arena. My dad was the KING of sauce making. He loved prepping everything from scratch and he was a total soup and sauce guy.

I was actually a little – ok, a lot proud to have compliments for my sauces that accompanied my dishes.

Here are a few sauce recipes I concocted over the weekend that I know you will enjoy.

Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

1C Skippy peanut butter

1 tblsp raw coconut brown sugar

2 tsp rice wine vinegar

1 tsp sesame oil

1/4 C fresh, dry-roasted and unsalted peanuts

1/2 lime juice and zest

1-2 tsp habernero sauce

1 tsp honey

1/2 C warm water

METHOD:

Whisk all ingredients well except peanuts. stir in afterwards half amount of nuts indicated and sprinkle remaining on top with fresh cilantro, if desired.

Peach, Ginger Mint Sauce

2 whole peaches, diced small

1 tsp finely grated ginger

1/2 C water plus 1/4 C sugar and more if needed

1 tsp vanilla orange white balsamic vinegar (from your favourite Olive Oil specialty bar)

Chiffonade 6 mint leaves for incorporation after

pinch of nutmeg and pinch of cayenne

METHOD:

Incorporate all ingredients in heavy-bottom pot. Over medium heat, bring to slow boil and remove from heat after 3-5 minutes. Macerate peaches by smashing lightly and cool. Incorporate fresh mint into cooled sauce. Add more water if needed to thin. use this for practically anything-from lamb, to chicken, a dip, you name it!

Sweet Sunflower

Sweet sunflower, to those who pass

 If they only knew your circumstance. 

You, fooling all, but me, your

thriving leaves bending to breathe.

Just weeks ago

not knowing of what you were yet 

set you free.

 

I yanked at your stalk, 

carelessly tossed you down onto

the faded flats of the deck

(you didn’t stop me). 

Thump.

Into a pile of thick weeds you laid.

Then someone came along and saw you there, 

peeking out of the pile of

discarded garden scraps

all on display

“Wait! That’s not a weed!” she proclaimed, and I realized the

mistake

 I had made. 

There was no room left where

you were once from. 

So there I was, finding you a home.

  again. 

In spite of no soil or water, or place to spread spidery roots, 

you survived.

(You survived!)

And as I sit here on my deck, sharing the same

sun rays you are smiling into, 

admiring how much

bigger and brighter you are, I now see:

Dear sweet sunflower, I am you.

And you

are

Me. 

#truestory #relatable #sunflower #wordporn #poetry #poems #poemsofinstagram #prettyplantbasedlife

Juicing Week!

Today is day one of makeover ME!

And this journey begins with a massive juice cleanse and heart to heart with myself.

Now it is time to move forward into new abundance and opportunity, and seek out the true path I was meant to walk down.  

With the decision to make this change, I also gave the blog a little refresh as well-hey, why not!

I am excited to remove the toxins from my life and body, so this will be a good week for lots of yoga, hikes, juicing and meditation.

When preparing yourself for a big change, I speak from experience – you need to gear up the body because it will be under stress. If you let things spiral out of control, you will just end up hugging the couch crying or paralyzed with fear (also speaking from experience).

My goals are simple:

  1. Lose 15 pounds
  2. Build healthier habits outdoors
  3. Get my mind ready for a big new change

I started my Day One out with a morning meditation and giving gratitude for the day. This only takes five minutes, and I like to do this on the deck with my morning coffee. I will just zone in on a bird, or a flower, or stare at the sky, and just zone out and close my eyes. Ahhhh…so zen!

Next, I began my water. I drank 16 oz of cold water with a lemon squeezed into it and began my day with emails, and any catch up. Now, onto the juicing…this is where it gets fun!

Last night was a few hours of fruit and vegetable prep, and LOTS of juicing. We prepped enough juice to last two days, and made five AMAZING juice recipes, which I am going to share over the course of the week.

I hope you enjoy!

Day One Breakfast Detox

Ingredients

  • 3 ribs celery
  • 1 handful parsley
  • 1 beet
  • 2 lemons with skin
  • 4-5 carrots
  • 1 thumb of ginger

Method

  1. Soak fruits and vegetables in a vinegar and water bath for at least 20 minutes to remove pesticides and toxins. You can do this by adding one part vinegar to four parts water. Rinse and it is ready to use.
  2. Juice your fruits, then vegetables and last add ginger and parsley. Stir and place immediately in stand up baggies or clean jars, and refrigerate immediately.
Morning Breakfast

Here is a sample of a typical day of the  juicing diet I am following:

5 am – 7 am: 16 oz of lemon water

8 am-Breakfast Detox Juice

10 am:  16 oz lemon water

12 pm: Carrot Ginger juice

2 PM: Watermelon rosewater juice

4 PM: 16 oz lemon water

6 PM: Green Tea

7 PM: Hike and Beet Juice

9 PM: 8 oz lemon water Lemon water

It is audition season!

I cannot believe it is almost July.

I find myself becoming increasingly envious of my friends and family back home in Niagara who display their perfectly-manicured gardens, the luscious blooms splayed all over my facebook feed. I think here in Calgary I saw the tulips come up in June, and it snowed in the mountains just days ago.

The seasons have become a blur to me here, in this place I have called home. I have lost track of the amount of times I have had to move recently for work, or love, or both…and I long for the comforts of what home was to me.

You know…pancakes in the morning and pastas at night for the kids. Picking fresh herbs out of my garden and laying in the sun on my deck for a few hours while sipping wine from Niagara that I had just picked up on my last drive into the country.

I have been slacking with this blog lately, which does not mean for a minute I haven’t been cooking or baking, but I have just been incredibly busy with work, projects, auditions and craziness.

This leads me to this post-food that brings the comfort of home but elevates the dish just that little bit more into something that still makes your lips smack, your heart flutter, your mind wander into fond, delightful memories of that place that you used to call home.

I am still undecided which final one I am submitting for the Wall of Chefs audition-I did a veg burger but then made pasta so maybe I will go a vegetarian pasta route. Who knows… 🙂

Below is my veg version of this dish. I made the non-veg version for a friend last night but promise this version is equally as yummy. Remove the honey to make it vegan 🙂

Cherries Clafouti – elevated and vegetarian

CHERRIES CLAFOUTI

Ingredients

2.5 C pitted cherries (you can also leave in pits for more flavour) – DIVIDED

300g silken tofu-slightly whipped

100g almond flour

1 tblsp tapioca flour

4 tblsp raw coconut sugar

2 tsp honey

1 half tsp salt

5 tblsp almond milk

1 half tsp vanilla extract

For brandied cherries:

Remaining half C pitted cherries

6 tblps raw sugar

about a quarter C Brandy

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease a 9×9 baking dish with coconut oil
  3. Mix together your wet ingredients, slowly adding dry. Do not overmix.
  4. Spread a thin layer (about an inch) of mix onto pan. Place in oven for about 5-7 minutes, or until firms up slightly.
  5. Open oven and sprinkle about 2 cups of cherries on top and pour remaining batter over.
  6. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until golden but not too browned.
  7. Remove from oven to cool slightly and while that is cooling, on the stovetop, prepare your sugar and water mix and bring to rolling boil.
  8. Add brandy and cherries, reducing heat to simmer and cook for 5 minutes max.
  9. Remove immediately and cool in the freezer for a minute or so, so it doesn’t over cook.
  10. Using a large round glass, cut out a warm disc of the clafouti and place on your plate. decorate plate with the brandied, warm cherries and garnish with fresh lavender and mint.
  11. Dust top of clafouti with powdered sugar and add a dallop of your favourite vegan whipped cream, cocowhip or a zesting of lemon.

Spring Faux Scallop Appetizer

Spring faux scallop with wasabi, lemon, cilantro


I am thrilled to share this latest creation in my kitchen-fake scallops. Made with King Oyster mushrooms, I have tried a few variations of this. In my previous post, I used eggplant for my scallop and it delivered a great taste, but did NOT have that slight, scallop chew we former meat eaters may recall.

It has been incredibly busy these past few weeks and I have been quiet due to mostly work has been awesome yet insanely busy, and also, MasterChef Canada aired a few weeks back and I was slightly sulking.

I know I have a great palate, I just need to really knock them out of the park with my audition this year. Still, it has been amazing to see other contestants who some are now my friends, move forward and compete for the grande prize.

With the trend of plant-forward eating still going strong, I wanted to focus on a few easy appetizers that will easily impress – and fool – your omni friends. I did a poll on my Instagram and Facebook today, and the majority of people who saw this dish voted it was a scallop! YESSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!! (plant-eater for the win).

As Chef Alvin would say, it is alllllllll about the taste. Well dont worry- I got that covered for you as well. A few steps, a lot of fun to make, and enjoy fooling your friends 😉

Spring Faux Scallop Appetizer

Serves 2

Ingredients

-2 King Oyster mushrooms, sliced into medallions slightly bigger than your average scallop (as they shrink), soaked in hot lemon water (squeeze a lemon in 2 Cups of water for one hour. Drain and press with towel to remove excess liquid). **For extra flair, you can notch the sides slightly with a sharp knife as I did, to add grooves for your seasoning and butter to go into)

-One cup frozen peas

-White Miso paste-half tsp

-Pinky fingertip sized ginger piece, shaved

-Cilantro and lemon for garnish; salt and pepper to taste (use the grinder, not shakers for this)

-1 quarter tsp wasabi

-1 tsp mushroom soy sauce

-3 tsp oil

-3 tsp vegan butter

Method

In a saucepan, saute ginger for 30 seconds in 1 tsp oil. Add peas, half cup water, salt and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes, or until tender.

While peas are cooking, take prepped King Oyster mushrooms, brush with white miso paste with a moistened finger gently onto scallop and pat dry once more. Do not put too much miso-you just want a dab on each side. Heat oil on medium-high heat. Fry for 30 seconds, flip, and fry for another 30 seconds. Add 1 tsp Vegan butter melted slightly with the 1 tsp of soy. Add to pan and press the sides of the scallop (outside round) down hard into pan, to form a crust. Flip and repeat, removing after 4 minutes. Add cracked pepperand dash of salt to pan and graze both sides of the scallop through the leftover pan juices. You should have a crust on each side with white sides. Place to side.

Puree your peas with 1 tsp cilantro and a squeeze of lemon. Use remaining vegan butter and add the wasabi. Salt to taste.

Smear or spoon puree on plate. Top with scallop and garnish with cilantro, a slice or squeeze of lemon. Serve hot immediately.