Midsummer Bowlin’

What I’m feeling lately is effortless bowls chock full of veggies, grains and delicious sauces.  It’s all about the sauces and finishing touches, man.  You could have the same bowl ingredients but switch up the sauce and have a whole new take on dinner.

I’ve been suuuper digging the bi bim bap bowls from the Korean place in Covent Garden Market for delicious and fresh lunch fare.  I keep craving those flavours, so I decided to make it at home.

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This was a base of brown rice, fried puffy tofu seasoned with s&p, sauteed swiss chard, shredded carrot, pickled beet spears, seasoned with soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, plenty of sriracha and sprinkled with toasted black sesame seeds.  Dinner on the table in the time it takes the rice cooker to cook the rice = priceless.

And my friend D from over at The Elizavegan posted a recipe for some ridiculously easy, super quick, cheap-to-make-but-healthy noodles.  Meet Coconut-Sesame-Peanut Noodles.  These will become a regular around these parts for sure.  I made several modifications based on what I had on hand and how lazy I was feeling (very), and it still turned out great.  I didn’t cook the sauce and just opted to whisk it together, so I only added one big fat garlic clove because without cooking the 4 cloves it’d be too much.  I also omitted the scallions from the sauce because I didn’t have them.  For the base, I used whole wheat spaghetti for the noodles, swiss chard leaves and stems in place of the broccoli, shredded cabbage in place of the bean sprouts, and opted for some simple pan-fried tofu in sesame oil and soy sauce.  Et voila, dinner.

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Also, super in love with the new title from Terry Romero, Salad Samurai.

This is the Tempeh Reubenesque salad.  We’ve made tons from this book already and everything has been super awesome.  This was like a deconstructed reuben sandwich; in other words, amazeballs.

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- Crystal

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Le Creamsicle

Continuing on my theme of recreating Aux Vivres dishes…my favourite smoothie there is le creamsicle!  It tastes just like its namesake.  The menu says it’s made of coconut milk, orange juice, carrot juice, dates, vanilla…so I set to work and think I pretty much nailed it.  I think they add ice to theirs to make it more frosty, but I liked it as a juice consistency.

And since I juiced the carrots myself, now I have all this pulp that I will either make into Aux Vivre’s vegé lox or maybe these raw carrot cake cupcakes.  Waste not and all that.

The original.

The original.

Creamsicle Smoothie
Makes enough for a blender full

1 can light coconut milk
2 cups orange juice
3/4 cup carrot juice
1 tsp pure vanilla
8-10 pitted dates (I used Parnoosh sayer dates – they’re my favourite)

Blend, blend, blend until the dates are pulverized and everything’s nice and silky.

For the record, I’m going through the exercise of recreating all my favourites because I live a 10-hour drive away from Montreal.  But if you can go there easily, go!  It’s an awesome place and should be supported.  Until I can visit again, I’ll be busy in my kitchen trying to recreate those flavours.

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Bowl Fever

I’m still obsessing over my food from Aux Vivres. My project over the last couple weeks has been trying to replicate some of their bowls! Oh boy, their bowls are awesome and make you feel like Popeye after you’ve eaten one.

Here’s my Dragon Bol dupe!

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Shredded carrots, beets, red cabbage, rice, greens, grilled tofu, and “dragon” sauce.  For the sauce, I used this recipe, which is tasty but didn’t quite hit the mark on authenticity.  Still, absolutely worth making.  Here’s the translation, as the recipe in the link is en Français:

1/4 cup nutritional yeast
3 tbsp tablespoons olive oil
2 tbsp tablespoons maple syrup
2 tbsp tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari)
2 tbsp water
2 cloves garlic, crushed

And here’s Trevor’s dupe of the Bouddha Bol…

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Steamed broccoli, lots o’ greens, rice, shredded carrots, grilled tofu, sesame seeds, and absent pumpkin seeds and sauce.  For the sauce, we used the ninja carrot ginger dressing from Vegan Eats World, which the author has kindly posted on her blog.

We ate these for DAYS.  The good thing about bowls is you basically just do prep for them and then assemble as needed.  So yum.  And an easy way to pack a ton of veg into your life!

We’ve been enjoying barbecuing tofu lately, too, and Trevor did some up in the ginger beer tofu marinade from the new cookbook Salad Samurai.  Man, Terry Hope Romero is killin’ it with this one.  It’s so full of deliciousness, and everything we’ve made so far has come together really quickly, which is great for week nights.  Served with some Caribbean-inspired red beans and rice, this was mighty filling and protein-rich.

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Also, cake happened this week!

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I had an itch for cake soooo badly.  Work has been crazy stressful and I just wanted some damn cake so badly at 8:30 at night on a Tuesday.  But no dang flour in the house!  Then I remember I read about this flourless chocolate cake recipe and it sounded pretty good.  I’m usually pretty skeptical of gluten-free stuff, but this was so good and fudgy.  A tiny piece is all you need.

I got the recipe from here, and topped it with a simple chocolate glaze (icing sugar, a bit of cocoa powder, soy milk) and of course sprinkles because I just love them.

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Vieux-Port Strawberry-Basil Sorbet

As I mentioned in my Montreal post, we had some lovely sorbet in the Old Port.  I was really intrigued by the combination of strawberry and basil, and was eager to try making it at home.  I’d call this a success!  This tastes just like meandering around beautiful old Montreal, stopping at patio after patio.  Bon appetit!

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Vieux-Port Strawberry-Basil Sorbet

1 lb sweet strawberries, hulled
6 or 7 large basil leaves
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsps corn starch
pinch of salt
2 tbsp water
3 tbsp lemon juice

Combine everything in a large bowl and use an immersion blender to puree until silky smooth. Alternatively, pop everything in a blender. Proceed with pouring the mixture into your ice cream maker, following your manufacturer’s directions.

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J’aime Montréal

When I travel, one of the main things I like to do is check out the local market.  I think it’s a great way to get a really distilled sense of a place and its community and culture.  In the times we have previously been to Montreal, it’s been such quick fly-by-night trips that we haven’t had a chance to do that.  This time we finally ventured to the Marché Jean-Talon and it was everything I hoped it would be and more!

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It was amazing!  Rows upon rows upon rows of fresh Quebec produce, samples of everything, tons of maple syrup and fresh mushrooms…ahh, it was heaven.  We slurped on a couple of Banana Republica (banana, fresh soy milk, wheat germ) smoothies from Mangue et Melon while we shopped around.

After that, we carried on to the Vieux-Port / Old Montreal.  We grabbed a couple takeout boxes from La Panthère Verte on the way there, stuffed full grains, greens, roasted sweet potato, pepitas, sesame seeds and some sort of green goddess dressing, which we ate out front of the gorgeous Basilique Notre-Dame

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It was insanely hot that day and we were all just basically melted puddles.  After putzing around the basilica which didn’t have air conditioning, we were happy to come across a place that served vegan sorbet, so we got a 3 scoops — lemon, strawberry-basil and raspberry:

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By this time, I think we were all ready to call it a day and just go die in our hotel room.  On our way back to the car, we were walking along the water and there were a bunch of food trucks.  And this happened!

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Vegan poutine!  The curds were glorious bits of silken tofu in a sort of brine to make them salty.  Oh, happy day.  Thanks to Roux Food Truck for having such an offering!

It’s insanely easy to be vegan in Montreal.  It’s easy pretty much anywhere in the modern world, but some places make it really easy.  I love Montreal and can’t wait to go back!

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More Ottawa and Montreal

We’re finally home from our little trip! It’s true that it’s nice to get away but it’s even better to come home. Fortunately for us, we ate like kings while we were away…

The brunch at Café My House was calling our names and I’m so glad we decided to give it a try.

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THOSE SMOOTHIES!  The green one was mine and it was mango-cilantro.  It tasted a bit like a fresh roll in the best way possible.  I’m growing cilantro on the balcony this year and I’ll definitely be throwing some into smoothies.  Jenn’s was a typical cocoa-banana concoction which was super tasty as well, though not as interesting or refreshing as mine.

Jenn and Trevor both had the waffle BLTs with coconut bacon.  I had the tempeh benedict, which was fresh baguette, kale, eggplant, smoky tempeh and a really amazing hollandaise sauce.

And my favourite restaurant ever, Aux Vivres in Montreal.  I don’t know what it is about that place, but the food is just incredible and fresh, and I just love Montreal, so it all comes together to create such a lovely experience for me every time.

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Jenn got the Bouddha Bol, I got the coconut bacon BLT (they were one of the first places around doing coconut bacon!), Trevor got the tempeh burger.  I also got le creamsicle smoothie, which is coconut milk, orange juice, carrot juice, dates and vanilla and tastes exactly like its namesake.  Also, the chana paratha appetizer is INCREDIBLE.  I have to master paratha at home.

Another day, Trevor and I went back and we got more of the paratha, this time with their house veggie butter.  SO GOOD.
I also got their famed Dragon Bol which has an incredible Dragon sauce, and the Coconut Cashew Pie was my birthday cake, since this meal took place on my 30th birthday.

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Soooo much amazing food to be eaten.  More to come!

 

 

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Café My House and World Vegan Pizza Day

We are on our annual trip to Ottawa and Montreal, and this usually means we eat our faces off because there’s lots of great options here.  Last night we tried Café My House, this super hip restaurant that recently moved to the newly-gentrified neighbourhood of Hintonburg.

They have a rotating menu depending on what’s fresh and local at the moment, which I certainly appreciated.

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We found the menu a bit confusing, because the first 4 menu items are sharing dishes and the last 2 are entrées.  Our table was thoroughly confused as to what to order for a little while, but when we got that sorted, the food starting coming!

The amuse-bouche.  Some sort of fresh little asparagus and lotus root thing.  Really refreshing.

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Banh mi tacos!  They had a soft, pillowy chickpea flour “shell” (like socca) and were filled with the usual banh mi fillings: cooling pickle carrots, daikon and cilantro, with the twist of smoked tempeh as the “meat”.

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Deconstructed beet-kimchi dumplings!

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Housemade cheese and pickle board!  They were all incredible but the herbed brie knocked it out of the park.  My cheese-loving sister-in-law agreed.

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My entrée: Primavera spaghetti!  I am usually completely underwhelmed by raw zucchini noodles, but these were refreshing and balanced nicely by the hunks of kale cashew “goat” cheese, which was every bit as barnyard-funky as one would hope goat cheese would be.

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Trevor’s lemongrass curry.  The sauce was so velvety and was complemented nicely by the grilled pineapple salsa.  I kept stealing forkfuls of his, much to his annoyance!

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The pièce de résistance was really the dessert sampler…

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Which I couldn’t take a clear photo of to save my life.  All you need to know is, front to back: chocolate cake, tiramisu, strawberry basil cheesecake, mango cheesecake and key lime cheesecake.  The strawberry basil was unexpectedly SO AMAZING.  By far the best out of the bunch.  I’m tempted to try that combination myself sometime.

Then today, first my sister-in-law and I decided to jump out of a plane…

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GAH!  I had this on my bucket list for quite some time, so I’m glad to have crossed it off.  Can’t say I’ll be rushing back to do it again, it was as terrifying as it looks!

That worked up quite the appetite, so my sister-in-law made us these amazingly filling salads with a bunch of stuff from her CSA box and some sesame tofu:

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Then later, since it’s World Vegan Pizza Day, we stopped off at Bread & Sons for some of their amazing vegan pizza that you can just order right off the menu, no modifications necessary!  I also never pass up an opportunity to try a root beer I haven’t had yet, so I grabbed this locally brewed one, which was quite refreshing to sip as I ate pizza on the floor of my sister-in-law’s condo in my underwear.  Hahah.

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On Monday we are onward to Montreal, where my very favourite restaurant awaits – Aux Vivres!

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