Ethiopian party!

The first time we went for Ethiopian several years ago, I really wasn’t sure what to expect.  It’s a damn shame that Ethiopian food/culture/music doesn’t get more visibility because it’s all so awesome!  The food has quickly become one of my favourites and I’m super pleased that I was able to help my friend Kittee from Cake Maker to the Stars test recipes during the creation of her new book, Teff Love.  It’s been released now; mine just came in the mail on Friday and I’m already digging in.

We are fortunate that the closest restaurant to us—literally, like a 2 minute walk—is an Ethiopian place.  We go there for their DELICIOUS vegan platter (suuuper cheap too) often, and they sell injera (the spongy, sourdough flatbread that you scoop up your food with) by the bag.  So, it’s ridiculously easy for us to buy a bag and whip up a spontaneous Ethiopian feast.  Lucky, I know.  It’s a part of why I’m so attached to living in our neighbourhood!

Vegan Ethiopian Food

Clockwise, we’ve got ye’tikil gomen be’karot (ginger-garlic cabbage and carrots), ye’kaysir atakilt (beet salad), ye’dubba alicha (roasted butternut in a spicy sauce) and ye’misser wot be’timatim (red lentils).

Bonus: these recipes utilize super cheap ingredients (lentils, cabbage, beets, squash!) and make a tonne so we have meals for days.

– Crystal

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.

Vegan Creamsicle Smoothie
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.

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.

A Weeknight Dinner Narrative

What’s a lady to do when she’s had a long day at work, went to the gym, husband’s working late and it’s 6:30 before she even starts thinking about dinner?

Before she even solidifies her game plan, she puts on a pot of whole wheat rotini.  She hasn’t had pasta in a while, and it’ll come together quickly.

She assesses that her pantry and refrigerator and the first things that pop out to her are: a bag of carrots, a bunch of kale that won’t be good much longer, an avocado, 1 orange pepper and 1/2 a yellow pepper, some broccoli sprouts, some garlic.

She grabs the biggest wok she can find, adds a glug of olive oil, puts it on medium heat, and sets out to chop the carrot, mince the garlic, tear the kale, dice the pepper and avocado.

She adds the carrot to the sizzling wok first, followed by garlic.  Then comes to the kale, left for a few minutes to wilt, then the peppers.  She leaves this to do its thing quickly while she drains the pasta.

Back to the wok.  Now everything is nice and bright, hot and crisp-tender, it gets doused in a squirt of lemon juice, a big pinch of dried basil, generous pinches of salt and black pepper, and LOTS of nutritional yeast.  Mmm, cheesy, cheesy nutritonal yeast.

The pasta gets added back in.  Everything gets tossed together.  Then plated.  Then topped with the sprouts and avocado.  And some hemp seeds for some protein.

And some hot sauce, of course.

– Crystal

Raw Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Our local grocery store had 10lb bags of carrots for $1.99.  When I happened upon them, I had no idea what I would do with 10lbs of carrots before they went bad but I knew I had to buy a bag because it was such an amazing deal.  I have a juicer, so juicing carrots was definitely on the agenda, and with the pulp from the juiced carrots I made a batch of veggie lox and these carrot cake cupcakes.  They were good!  They don’t replace a regular cupcake, but they are a nice, healthy treat.  I really liked the cream cheeze frosting.

Raw Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheeze Frosting

1 cup walnuts
1 cup pitted dates
2 cups carrot pulp
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
1/8 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup raisins

1 cup cashews, soaked at least 1 hour
5 pitted Medjool dates, soaked at least 1 hour, water reserved (or to taste)
Pinch sea salt
1 tsp lemon juice

1. In a food processor, pulse the walnuts and dates until the form a uniform paste.
2. Add in the carrots and spices and process until it becomes a smooth dough.
3. Add raisins and pulse to combine, but do not overmix because you want chunky raisins in the dough.
4. Push the batter into muffin tins. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
5. Create your frosting: Wipe your food processor clean and then add your soaked and rinsed cashews. Pulse until completely smooth and creamy. Add the lemon juice and slowly add the reserved date soaking liquid until you achieve the consistency you desire.
6. Frost your cupcakes prior to serving.

Ethiopian Cabbage & Carrots

This weekend we found ourselves at the end of a grocery cycle, with plenty of carrots and cabbage, and very little of anything else. We thought “What better way to use up a surplus of farmer’s market cabbage and carrots than to make a spicy Ethiopian dish!?”

I sent Crystal off downtown to find us some injera (Ethiopian fermented flat bread with a sort of spongy texture…it’s so good) while I prepared this. Its a simple recipe which takes about 40 minutes to prepare, and most of that time you’ll just be reading or hovering by the stove while the cabbage and potatoes cook.

It turned out amazing and we ended up with enough leftovers for a full meal the next day. 

3 tbsp olive oil
4 carrots, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon berbere
1/2 head cabbage, shredded
2 small potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
+ A few pieces of Injera (we buy ours at a local Ethio restaurant, but you could make your own)

All you need to do is heat your oil in a pot over medium heat, and then toss in the onion and carrot. Once that has cooked for a few minutes you can add the cabbage, garlic, ginger, and spices. Stir it up well and let the cabbage cook down for about 10 minutes. If you want you can add a bit of water to keep the spices from burning at the bottom while the cabbage cooks. Next you’ll want to add in the potatoes and sweet potatoes, cover the pot and let it cook on low heat until the potatoes are done.

Next, lay a piece of injera flat on a bit plate, and scoop a shareable sized portion on top.  Have a stack of more injera handy, as it will be your “utensils” – you’ll scoop up the stew with pieces of it.  Once you’re all done, eat your plate injera, it’s good.

Have fun and stay in school.

-Trevor

Lox and Cream Cheese

Végélox, bottom left

When we were in Montreal in June, we ate at Aux Vivres as it had been recommended to me several times.  Even though I was advised that I HAD to get something with the smoked coconut bacon, when I saw they had something called végélox on the menu, I had to have it; I really liked smoked salmon in my pregan days.

It was amazing.  I made “mmmmpfffhh!” sounds and with my mouth full, said, “ommhhhhyygoood” several times.  When we made the trek home a few days later, I felt bad that I may not have that sandwich for another another long while until we get back there.

When I got home, one of the first things I did was google: “vegelox recipe” and this popped up!  It seemed like a weird recipe but I thought I’d give it a go.  Turns out, it is the real thing, just like the one in the restaurant.

At the restaurant, they stuff a chapati bread full of tofu cream, végélox, capers, mayo and lettuce.  I think the tofu cream is pretty necessary to the taste and texture of the sandwich, so I made my own dupe, trying to remember what it tasted like.  I’d say it was a complete success.

Aux Vivre’s Végélox (vegan smoked salmon)

1 cup organic carrot pulp
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tbsp dulse flakes (You can find dulse, a seaweed, at your health food store. In order to make dulse flakes, dry it in a warm oven and grind into a powder.) [Crystal’s note:  I used crumbled nori and it worked great]
1/2 tsp salt
3-4 dashes of liquid smoke
Mix everything together and adjust seasoning to taste.
Tofu Cream
1 block extra firm tofu, crumbled into food processor
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp olive oil
1.5 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp agave nectar
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt
black pepper
In a food processor, add tofu with liquid ingredients first and blend, scraping down the sides periodically, until it is a smooth texture.  Add nutritional yeast, salt and pepper and pulse to incorporate.  Taste for salt and adjust seasonings accordingly.
Sandwich/wrap assembly:
Spread a generous amount of tofu cream, a good amount of lox spread, top with vegan mayo, capers and lettuce.  For a real Aux Vivres experience, get a nice, soft chapati.  Really great in a sprouted-grain wrap, cut into cute pinwheels, or on a sandwich.  Or just as a canapé – a smear of tofu cream, topped with lox and a couple capers.  
So, while it doesn’t recreate the experience of being in Montreal at this lovely place, it at least will tide me over until I can return.  Now I just need to recreate one of the drinks I had there, le creamsicle.  Coconut milk, orange juice, carrot juice, vanilla…mmm.
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Furthermore, it’s almost time for the Toronto Veg Fair again!  Each year, we have have a great time and I look forward to it a whole bunch.  This year, Isa freakin’ Moskowitz is going to be demoing, as well as the lovely Terry Hope Romero from NYC, and Taymer Mason is coming all the way from Barbados.  We’ve made a lot of stuff by those 3 ladies and I’m honestly so excited to see them all and meet the ones I haven’t before.  Also, there’s going to be a meetup of some people I know from the PPK, so that should be really fun.

All in all, it makes me feel warm and squishy to be surrounded by so many people who are so passionate about veganism, animal welfare, activism, environmental issues, etc.  It serves as a real reminder of why I am vegan and how it’s impacted my life in a profound and wonderful way.

– Crystal