I cook better than I write

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Squash and couscous

And finally one of my own creations ;)

I came up with this dish while looking through squash stew recipes. The result was very delicious, filling, yet light stew that is ideal for cool Fall days.

Butternut-Squash Couscous

4 tblspoons olive oil, divided
1 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp grounded ginger
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 cup canned diced tomatoes with their juice (from one 15-ounce can)
1/2 butternut squash, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch dice
1/2 head of cauliflower separated into florets
2 carrots peeled, quartered, and cut into sticks 2-3 inches long
2 celery sticks halved and cut into sticks 2-3 inches long
1/4 cup raisins
3 cups vegetable stock
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 cups drained and rinsed canned chickpeas (one 19-ounce can)
3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 block of tempeh, cut into 1 inch cubes

1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups couscous
Parsley and coriander to garnish

Boil cubed tempeh in salted water for 5 minutes. Drain, pat dry and set aside.
Heat 2 tspoons of oil in a skillet, add onion and garlic, and sautee for 2-3 minutes, until just tender.
Add spices, carrots, celery, squash, and chickpeas and sautee for 3 minutes. Add cauliflower, mix well and sautee for another 2-3 minutes.
Transfer vegetables in a big pot, add tomatoes, and broth, bring to boil and simmer until the vegetables are tender (10-15 minutes)
Meanwhile, add the remaining oil to the skillet, and fry tempeh until golden-brown on all sides.
When the vegetable mix is ready, add raisins and tempeh, mix, and simmer for 5 more minutes.

To prepare the couscous

In a medium saucepan, bring the water and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil. Stir in the couscous. Cover, remove from the heat, and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Serve the stew over the couscous and top with parsley and/or coriander.

Picture from "Food and Wine's" recipe that inspired me.


A very simple recipe from RealSimple magazine:

Black Beans and Rice

2 tspoons kosher salt
2 1/2 tblspoons olive oil
2 cups long-grain rice
1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 large green or red pepper, chopped (1 ½ cups)
2 medium cloves garlic, minced (1 tblspoon)
2 15-oz cans black beans, rinsed
1 cup vegetable stock
2 tblspoons red wine vinegar
2 bay leaves
1/2 tspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup sliced shallots (optional)

1 In a medium saucepan, combine 4 cups of water with 1 tspoon of the salt and 1 ½ tspoons of the olive oil. Bring to a boil.
2 Stir in the rice, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender.
3 In a large saucepan, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion, green or red pepper, and garlic until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes.
4 Add the beans, broth, vinegar, bay leaves, black pepper, cumin, and remaining salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 10 minutes; remove the bay leaves. Spoon the beans over the rice and sprinkle with the scallions, if desired. Serve warm.

Tip: For a quick black bean soup, follow this recipe. Then remove the bay leaves and process the mixture in a blender or food processor until smooth. Instead of serving it with rice, spoon a dollop of sour cream onto each serving and sprinkle with sliced shallots.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Monday, October 15, 2007

Tomato Soup and Vegetable Tian

More Martha Stewart recipes:

Spiced Chickpea and Tomato Soup

3 garlic cloves, minced
3 dried hot red chilies, chopped or 1/2 tsp red-pepper flakes
1 tsp ground coriander
3/4 tsp coarse salt
1/8 tsp caraway seeds
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 can (15oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups crushed canned tomatoes with juice
1/2 cup drained jarred roasted peppers, rinsed
3 1/2 cup vegetable stock
Parsley for garnish

1 Using the mortar and pestle crush garlic, chilies, coriander, salt, and caraway to form a paste
2 Heat oil in a saucepan; add garlic mixture and cook until just softened, for about 3 minutes
3 Stir in chickpeas, tomatoes, roasted peppers, and stock. Simmer, stirring often for 15 minutes.
4 Pure soup, rewarm if necessary. Serve with a dollop of vegan sour cream and spring of parsley.

Makes 6 cups.
Picture from Cookinglight

Vegetable Tian

6 tbspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 leek, white and pale green parts only, quartered lengthwise, rinsed, and cut into 1/4 inch slices (1 1/2 cups)
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 small Italian eggplant, unpeeled, very thinly sliced (1 cup)
1 zucchini, unpeeled, very thinly sliced (1 cup)
1 yellow zucchini, unpeeled, very thinly sliced (1 cup)
2 plum tomatoes, very thinly sliced (1 cup)
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped

1 Preheat the oven to 375 degrees with a rack in the center. Coat the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon oil. (You can also use round 9-inch baking dish)
2 Heat oil in a large skillet, add leek and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook until soft, for about 4 minutes.
3 Spread the leek mixture on a baking dish. Arrange the vegetables in leek in slightly overlapping rows, alternating eggplant, zucchinis, and tomato.
4 Top with wine, 1 tbsp of oil, oregano, salt, and pepper.
5 Bake 30 minutes, drizzle the remaining oil, and bake, until the vegetables are tender, 30 minutes more.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Hash brown - camping style

Finally a camping recipe!

This hush brown is easy to make and ideal for car camping. Serve it on its own, with sliced vege-sausage, with scrambled tofu, or with pancakes.

For 2 people you will need:

4 small potatoes, washed.
2 mushrooms
1 tsp of oil
~ 1 tbsp of tomato pesto or tomato paste
~ 1 tsp of garlic paste (or you can use 1 minced garlic clove)
Spices. I prefer za'atar and use a lot of it, but any other spice mix would work well.

Cut potatoes in 8. Boil them.
Meanwhile slice the mushrooms and mince garlic.
When potatoes are tender, heat oil in a skillet (you can use a pot if you don't have camping frying pan). Add garlic, pesto, and mushrooms. Saute for half a minute. Add potatoes and spices and fry until potatoes will get slightly crispy on the outside. Add salt, pepper, and extra-spices if needed.

Martha Stewart

Here is a recipe of a lentli stew from Martha Stewart. Do not be scared by the long list of ingredients, the soup os very easy to make. It is a very unusual combination of salty, sweet, and flavourful. The smell made me almost think of homemade apple-spice pie.
The recipe is slightly modified from its original.

Golden Lentil Stew

This slightly sweet Moroccan chickpea and lentil stew, known as harira, is brightened by spices and lemon.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 can of chickpeas, rinsed
8 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought vegetable stock
4 cups water
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro, plus 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped
3 teaspoons coarse salt
4 celery stalks, finely chopped
4 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup yellow lentils, rinsed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
5 ounces orzo or vermicelli (or any other small pasta), broken into pieces
1/2 cup chopped, pitted dates
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus whole leaves for garnish
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, and cook 5 minutes. Add chickpeas, stock, and water, and simmer until tender, about 45 minutes.
Mash garlic, finely chopped cilantro, and salt into a paste. Add garlic paste, celery, tomatoes, lentils, tomato paste, lemon juice, and spices to pot. Simmer until lentils are tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
Add pasta and dates, and cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes. Stir in coarsely chopped cilantro and parsley. Garnish with parsley leaves, and serve with lemon wedges.

Serves 6-8.

Monday, July 16, 2007


I've started researching ultralight gear recently with an idea of PCT in mind. There are too many links and useful info and I am starting to feel overwhelmed. I will use this post to classify everything. BTW if you know any links that are not listed here, or just have any advice/ideas PLEASE feel free to share!

Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail Website
Pacific Crest Trail Association

PCTHicker (1999-2003)
PCTA (up to 2007!!!)
Trail Journals (not only PCT)
Henry Shires

John O'Mahoney
Ray Jardine
Rick Halbert
Adventure Alan

Troubadour's and Nocona & Bald Eagle's gear lists and reviews. (PCTHicker)
Light Gear Forums
Backpacking Lightweight
Centrewalk's gear list


Granite Gear

Backpacking.net (general)
Henri Shires (tarp/tent system)
John (stove) and some MORE


Journey on the Crest: Walking 2600 Miles from Mexico to Canada

Dances with Marmots
PCTHicker selection
Rick's selection

PCTHicker links
Centerwalk's link

Henry Shires



Thursday, April 05, 2007

More dipping sauces

Wasabi Dipping Sauce

2 or 3 tbsp wasabi paste
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp rice vinegar

Combine all the ingredients and whisk until smooth

NOTE: if you are using wasabi powder, first make a paste out of it and only then mix it in with the other ingredients. Like this you will get a stronger flavor.
NOTE2: "Sushi Chef" wasabi powder is a real killer!!! I LOVE it ;)

Sesame Sauce
Although it is called sesame sauce it's actually peanutty and very yummy!!!

1/4 cup vegetable stock
2 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp creamy peanut butter
1 tbsp agave nectar (the original recipe calls for honey), but if you don't have any sugar or any other sweetener will do
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar

Whisk all the ingredients in small pan and bring to boil.
Reduce heat to medium-low and whisk until thickened, 1-2 minutes.
Cool and serve.

Burnt Chile Sauce

Eric's favorite ;)

1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup oil (peanut or canola)
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
5 tbsp thinly sliced garlic
3 tbsp dried chile flakes
2-3 tbsp water

Mix together sugar and salt.
Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and garlic. Reduce heat to medium and cook stirring often until shallots are golden-brown but not burned, 4-5 minutes. Using the slotted spoon transfer the shallots and garlic to the food processor.
To the oil left in the pan, add chile flakes and cook until they darken slightly (~1 minute).
Cool the oil and pour it in the food processor. Add the sugar/salt mix and process everything until well chopped.
With motor running add the water until mixture is emulsified.
Serve cooled.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Vegan camping breakfast

So what do vegan campers eat? I don't know about all of them but here is a little overview of my favorite camping food.

In the city, a vegan breakfast is very hard to pull for me; I can't do just cereal with milk in the morning even with nuts and fresh fruits it makes me hungry the minute I finish the bowl. I am yet to bake some vegan breakfast muffins.... so my usual breakfast is a peanut-butter-jelly sandwich (something I've never had as a child and thus I am not completely sick of it), but on the weekend I cheat and enjoy an amandine (almond croissant). But hey, enough of city-breakfast, what I was trying to say is that in the city breakfast is either boring or non-vegan, but it all changes during camping - the options are endless:

Scrambled tofu - the tetra-pack Mori-nu tofu keeps for several days, and there are always some dehydrated or even fresh veggies to mix in.

Hash browns with vegan sausages and mushrooms - another filling breakfast choice. I usually bring 4-5 little red skin potatoes (they keep for a while). To save the cooking time, I cut them in 4 and parboil (while rehydrating my mushrooms). Then I fry some garlic/onion with mushrooms (you could add tomatoes or any other vegetables for that matter), add the potatoes, let them fry just a bit, and then add the sausages.

The good old porridge (oatmeal or cream of wheat) - let your imagination go wild. Add some nuts, dried fruits, chocolate chips, spices (cinnamon, nutmeg) ..... The individual packets available at most grocery stores come in different flavors so you can mix and match (we end up eating 2 packets each because one is way too small). I've also noticed an organic alternative (Nature's Path) to the Quaker that has some nice "grown up" flavors. Porridge is also good for those days when you have to wake up and go (no time to parboil potatoes or fry some veggies)
NOTE: Quaker now also has the organic oatmeal!!!
NOTE #2: Check the ingredients; the cream of wheat sometimes already has powdered milk, so it's not vegan!

Pancakes - I still have my non-vegan Aunt Jemima mix that I use but you can always make your own. Mix flour, brown sugar, egg replacer, and powdered soy milk. When you get to the camp ground, just add water and bake the wonderful vegan pancakes. You should try it at home first to make sure that the proportions are right. Don't forget to bring some syrup.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

More sporks

While answering the comment to the previous post I went on the "Light my fire" website and ..... oh, no, there are more pretty sporks there!!! The sporks hunt is not over, after all.

On the bright side, the kit of 4 is now available at the "Canadian Tire" - impressive!!!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


The first place I visited in Redmond, WA was .......... those of you who said Microsoft can stop reading my blog and cross me out from your friends list (unless you are Jaihoon) ;)

no, the first place I visited was the REI store!!!! I saw it when we were driving home and I was ecstatic, yelling to Jaihoon: "oh, my G-d, you have REI store, oh my G-d!!!!" And so the next day, the very very patient Goli and me went to explore all the wonders of the place.

We spend about 2 hours inside, me blah-blahing about all the stuff they have, scaring the sale-person who assumed we would by "one of everything", trying stuff on, debating whether to by half-the-store and ask them to ship it to Montreal..... well, you got the picture, right? And for those of you who is still curious about what I ended up getting ..... drum roll.......

Here are finally, long-waited-for, wonderful, colorful, light, and magnificent
Light my fire sporks!!!!!!!!!

Aren't they pretty??? ;)

East and West approved stuffed Portobellos

Here is an easy recipe I came up with one day in Montreal. It was also great hit on the West coast when I cooked it for my non-vegan friends. I served these mushrooms with rice and simple green salad.

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms.

4 Portobello mushrooms
2 Granny Smith apples
2 medium size carrots
1/2 block of firm tofu
~ 7 Cremini (or regular white button) mushrooms
~ 1 cup of blanched almonds (optional but helps to make the filling sticky. Try substituting with 1/2 of wheat germ and 1/2 nutritional yeast)
1 tbsp of finely minced fresh ginger
3-4 finely minced garlic cloves
2 zucchinis
1/2 cup of cauliflower florets (optional)
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
~ 3 tbsp of Tamari (or Soy) sauce
I used the Herbes de Provence mix first time, but when I was cooking it for my friends I experimented with the mix of oregano, basil, marjoram, parsley, and sage. It was very delicious as well

Preheat the oven to 400C
Grind the almonds in the blender/food processor to create fine mix.
Shred carrots, apples, and tofu in different bowls.
Quarter the Cremini mushrooms. If they are too big cut them in 8.
Cut zucchinis in half, and scrape out the pulp (use the spoon). Reserve the shells - you can stuff them and bake with the mushrooms.
If using cauliflower, cut the florets in small pieces.
Heat 3 tbsp of olive oil on the medium-high heat in a frying pan, add garlic, ginger, mushrooms and fry for 7-10 minutes, or until the mushrooms loose most of the liquid.
Lower the heat to medium and add carrots, apples, zucchinis, cauliflower, mix well and let fry for 5-7 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender.
Add spices, tofu, and Tamari. Keep mixing until the tofu is thoroughly warm.
Taste and adjust for seasoning.
Add the almonds and stir the mixture. Now it should be easier to work with the filling.
Let the filling cool; meanwhile cut the stems of the Portobellos and scrape of the gills (spoon works the best for this).
Lightly oil the baking pan with the remaining olive oil
Stuff the Portobello cups and the zucchini shells with the stuffing, be generous :)
Put them on the baking sheet and start the timer.

The mushrooms come out best after 20-25 minutes of baking. Zucchinis would take as long as 40 minutes of baking.
You could add some shredded vegan cheddar on top during the last 5 minutes of baking.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Spring Rolls

I made a lot of spring rolls over the holidays. Here are three dipping sauce recipes, as a preview

Lime-Soy Dipping Sauce

½ cup soy sauce
2 large limes zest and juice
2 tbsp sugar
Pinch dried red chilie flakes

Combine ingredients and stir over medium-high heat until sugar is dissolved.
Cool and serve

Dim Sum Sauce

3 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp chili sauce
1 tbsp dark sesame oil

Combine ingredients and whisk until smooth.

Sweet Chile Sauce

1/2 cup sugar or any other sweetener
1/2 cup rice vinegar
2 tbsp grated carrot
2 tbsp grated cucumber
1/2 tsp dried chile flakes

Whisk together sugar and vinegar, bring to simmer over medium-high heat and cook until sweetner is dissolved.
Stir in carrot, cucumber, and chile flakes. Simmer 1 minute.
Serve warm or cooled.

P.S. the photo comes from the allrecipes website

Yellow Pepper Soup with Wild Mushroom Croutons

I have a big collection of recipes and there are SO many I would like to try that it's very rare that I cook something twice. This weekend was an exception. I wanted soup .... something light and filling ..... I remembered the pepper soup I made hmmmmmm couple of years ago ;). It was very good and it had also those wonderful mushroom croutons with it. The more I thought about the soup the more I wanted it, so I headed off to the market and got 6 yellow peppers. The cashier was very surprised and even warned me that it would coast me 8$ ;)

Half an hour later we were enjoying the Yellow Pepper Soup with Wild Mushroom Croutons. And let me tell you those croutons are too die for!!!!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

More Cookies!!!!

Here are the cookies I made for my colleagues couple of weeks ago. On the left are some Polenta-Lemon Thins, and on the right are the Citrus-Glazed Cranberry-Oatmeal Cookies. The original recipe for the Oatmeal cookies could be find here.

The cookies were a big hit and were eaten in ~5 minutes!!! I am still getting "when are you bringing more cookies?" from my colleagues ;)

P.S. I added most of the recipes to my previous cookie post.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Impromptu Supper

Some of my firends think that I eat good food every day..... well I try, but truth to be told those evenings when I come home after 10 hour work day spending yet another hour cooking does not inspire me, and the idea of fries with ketchup (or even a slice of non vegan pizza), and even the pictures of some very non-vegan foods are flowting in my head. Usually I give in and get some junk food (always vegetarian).

One of those evening I decided to be stronger than my cravings for junk food. I looked around my kitchen and found ...
No not banana - a PLANTAIN!!!!
"Fried plantain - this is what I am having for supper today!"
But I was very very hungry and I knew that a plantain won't be enough, and that couple of hours later I would be going to the dep for some chips!

What else do I have? Pita? Hummus? POTATOES!!!! 3 round organic potatoes were waiting for me in the capboard. But how can I have potatoes with no mushrooms?

The picture of the supper was getting more and more exciting:
Garlicy fried mushrooms and potatoes with sweet-and-salty fired plantain!

Let's check the fridge, maybe there is something else hiding there? Some canned tomatoes, shallots, cilantro..........

And here is the final dish - delicious (even if plantain got a bit overcooked) and healthy.

Couple of days later I made a similar supper using potatoes, chickpeas, spinach, mushrooms, fresh tomato, and coconut milk. And a plantain, bien sur!!!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

X-mas Cookies!!!

Happy New Year to all of you!

Yes, I am alive ..... I was just quite busy during this holiday season. Busy doing what???? COOKING!!!! So here are my little creations:

The yellow yummies in the top left corner are Polenta-Lemon Crisps (1). To the right of them are Lemon-Poppy Seed Slices (2), next are Brandied Cranberry-Apricot Bars (3) and Viennese Coffee Balls (4). The big chocolate cookies are Peanut Butter Munchies (5), to the left of them are Applesauce Oatmeal Cookies (6), and the Earl Grey Tea Cookies (7). In the middle we have Apricot-Sage Cookies (8) and what was suppose to be Chocolate-Pistachio Wreaths, but was turned into Half/Half cookies (9).

I am posting the recipes on the other blog, so click on the link to find out how to make these X-mas wonders!

BTW speaking of cookies and baking check out Josée at http://www.pacane.com/ - baking blog with recipes and pictures!!! Gives you a motivation to learn French ;)