Sunday, September 25, 2016

South African Yellow Rice #SundaySupper

If you were to come up to me when I was a kid, even a teenager, and say "you're going to be almost 100% vegan from your 20's and beyond", I'd have thought you were crazy. In fact, I probably would have laughed you off the face of the planet - after all, I lived for rare steak, turkey at Thanksgiving and Christmas, the treat of bacon on the occasional special brunch out. However, life (and body chemistry) often has other plans, and now aside from the occasional, small portion of lean fish or seafood, animal proteins are off the menu.

South African Yellow Rice

If anything, though, taking meat away simply added a wealth of opportunity for flavour to come into my cooking! My digestion started changing when I was in university - when I couldn't afford much, if any, meat anyways - and rice, pasta, bread, frozen veggies and canned beans became the new "norm" my second year when I no longer had a meal plan. Through friends with similar monetary restrictions but from various ethnic backgrounds, I began to pick up flavour combinations to add to the relatively plain staples. Roasted frozen broccoli, cauliflower and green beans with garlic, onion, chili flakes, cumin and a hint of cinnamon became a filling, flavourful base for leftover rice and lentils, while spiking jarred tomato sauce with what felt like any and every herb and spice from Bulk Barn (all purchased on Student Discount Days) created the go-to condiment for everything my boyfriend and I ate for almost a month - I'd have it spooned over chickpea-filled tortillas zapped in the microwave, mixed with macaroni, broccoli and cottage cheese for dinner, and (for a brief moment when I could eat them) would use it to poach an egg for breakfast.

However, one of the things I never made in the apartment was sweet and spicy rice pilafs. One major reason was that all the recipes I had - from cookbooks, the web and friends - took an hour or more to make, which simply doesn't fit with the "home at 8 and starving" student mentality. The other (and probably more pressing) reason was that the ex did. not. like. dried fruit at all. Not Raisin Bran, not date squares, not cranberry-raisin fruit buns fresh from the bakery. As a result, I got my pilafs from the International Buffet section of our cafeteria in the Student Hall once every couple months, and envied the smells of my classmate's meals as we sat in 3-hour lectures.

Many years and a breakup later, I re-evaluated one of the recipes I was given by the Student Hall during an event for South African Style Rice. Essentially a mixture of sweet and spicy curry infused into Basmati rice and garnished with raisins, it also relies heavily on dried spices as opposed to fresh onion, etc that take time to cook down. Start to finish, I can get a pot on the table in about 30 minutes, with an extra 10 if I add a can of chickpeas (my favourite legume at the moment) to the pot as it simmers. As a bonus, this rice is absolutely divine cold the next day, but also reheats well on the stovetop, in the oven or in the microwave if you want it warm.

World Vegetarian Day is coming up, and to go with it #SundaySupper is providing a roundup of the best veggie-based offerings our team has to offer. Whether you're a lifelong convert or dabbling in Maybe / Mostly Meatless Mondays, You'll find something great!


Did you know?

  • Some of the reasons people say they have adopted a vegetarian-based diet are to improve overall health, environmental concerns, animal welfare, food safety concerns, and weight loss.
  • There are several types of vegetarians: A lacto-ovo vegetarian eats dairy and eggs, in addition to plant-based foods. They do not eat meat or fish. A lacto vegetarian eats the same as a lacto-ovo vegetarian, but does not eat eggs. A vegan eats only plant-based foods. A vegan avoids meat, dairy, fish and any foods with ingredients from animal sources. Some vegans also avoid honey.
  • More females follow a vegetarian diet than males do.
  • Vegetarians may be prone to vitamin B12 deficiency. Therefore, they must make sure that they get enough vitamin B12 through fortified foods or supplements.





Sunday Supper Movement

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Squidgy Superfood Brownies

I never thought I would have as much of a struggle to procure ingredients as I did with these brownies. I had a killer recipe waiting in the wings, with flavours I knew were going to be hits. First of all, it was a brownie recipe, which means one thing was present: chocolate - and lots of it. The other ingredients in the formula promised a fudgier-style crumb, which I adore, and lent great earthy notes that balanced the bitterness of the cocoa and the sweetness of the sugar and Truvia. It's a rarity for me to find a recipe using buckwheat flour that isn't completely gluten free, but the dark, nutty tasting flour kept the total gluten level relatively low in these bars, meaning more fudginess!

Squidgy Superfood Brownies

But chocolate and buckwheat aside, the ingredient that sealed the deal (and almost drove me batty trying to procure) was roasted, pureed beets. I had planted rows upon rows of the root veggie (and carrots, but that's another sob story) at the beginning of the year, choosing varieties that were known for remaining sweet and tender even at gargantuan sizes, for the major purpose of baking into delicious treats. However, just like when I went to make the Green Thai Curry Paste, day after day I'd walk out to the garden to find my prized heirlooms half eaten while still underground. Forget 20-pound showstoppers, I'd be happy with enough beet left for a salad!

Squidgy Superfood BrowniesThankfully, the garden gods eventually smiled on me and granted me a small (in number) but large (in size and flavour) crop of my prized beets. After thinking the only thing I'd be able to make with this year's harvest was a small batch of Blueberry Beet Butter, I finally had enough to make my brownies.

I wasn't disappointed either - the cooled brownies were full of chocolatey flavour and were edged with just enough *something special* to appeal to the "I don't eat dessert" crowd. The texture was fudgy, edging on the slightest bit of squidgy in the centre, and they held together when cut so that they could be individually wrapped for lunches. The large amount of beet puree gave the batch a delicate ruddy colour and - bonus point - kept the added fat down to just ¼ cup for the loaf pan-sized batch. Of course, the perfect brownie (beet or otherwise) relies on a delicate manipulation of temperature for success. My secrets are pretty basic, but boy do they work:

1. Do not, under any circumstances, overbake. In most cases a toothpick will come out with damp crumbs for a fudgy batch

2. Placing the pan of baked brownies directly in the freezer from the oven for 30 minutes, then remove it and bring to room temp.

I have no idea why that second trick works - I took biology, not chemistry in college - but it does. I always make sure I've got enough space in my freezer to stick the hot pan (on a baking sheet if I have to layer on top of something) before I pop a batch in the oven!

What's your favourite type of brownie - fudgy, cakey, somewhere in between? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Peanut Butter Graham Cookies (with Tallow!)

Way back when I first rendered a batch of tallow, I wasn't quite sure how to use it. I mean, obviously it would make killer savoury pastry (like in my Jamaican “No-Beef” Patties) and would be a great option for sauteeing onions and garlic for soups, but I never thought too much about using it in sweet things. However, once I added it to my Butterscotch Apple Bread, I discovered that the slight savoury aroma translated into almost a "doughnut shop" nuance in flavour - after all, doughnuts used to be fried in the stuff!

Peanut Butter Graham Cookies (with Tallow!)

I couldn't wait to see what my home-rendered tallow would be like in other baking applications, and there's no better place in my mind to start than cookies! I (and my dad) adore peanut butter cookies of any type, and the sweet-salty flavour profile that peanut butter has worked great with the rest of the ingredients. To counter the savoury edge from the fats, I brought in the caramel flavours of graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and toasted oats, then tossed in a couple handfuls of whatever chocolate I had kicking around (mostly leftover candy from "end of the school year" parties).

The batch was amazing - perfectly sweet, salty and savoury at once, chewy in the middle with crisp edges and that little bit of texture from the oats. While I thought they might be greasy with the tallow, they didn't cause any oil slicks on my hands as I handled them - something I attribute to the chilling time (which is now a "must" on my oatmeal cookie list). While they won't be appearing in school lunch boxes anytime soon, there's nothing stopping kids from grabbing one with a glass of milk as they walk in the door!)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Sweet Heat Pepper Jelly - Toast Topper #74

With work starting up again, I've been spending less time in the garden than usual this year. When I do get out there before dark (usually weekends only), the scraggly plot of various edible vegetation is full of surprises - this weekend alone, I discovered that cape gooseberries had long since edged out one of my tomato plants and had likely been growing all Summer (granted, the stems and blossoms do look rather tomato-like, it was only when the physalises started appearing that I started to wonder) and that I had quite the bounty of large beets on my hands. One of the other joys I discovered in with all my tomato, nasturtium and herb foliage was that my chili pepper plants (that I had long assumed killed by the vole invasion) had come back - full force. While most of the fruits are not ready to pick just yet, I did manage to snag a few Scotch Bonnets, a half-red Tabasco and a whole whack of my new fave: monkeyface peppers. I had forgotten that in the mix of peppers I set out all those months ago I had also planted Ring of Fire and scorpion chilis - ay carumba!

Sweet Heat Pepper Jelly

Luckily, I don't have to think about those just yet. I had always wanted to make a pepper jelly with my homegrown beauties, especially since the Tabasco and Scotch Bonnets have a decent, fruity flavour to them in addition to searing heat. A simmer in apple juice draws out the acidic, slightly bitter notes and makes them disappear, and by using Pomona’s Pectin I was able to use just enough sugar to call the works a "jelly" while preventing the batch turning into hellfire candy. 

A dollop of this on cream cheese-spread crackers (or toasted Dark Molasses Bread) is nothing short of delicious - there's a definite "kick" that sneaks up from behind but doesn't leave your tastebuds mangled beyond repair. It's also fantastic as a glaze for salmon, chicken, pork or even cornbread! 

Do you like pepper jelly? How do you savour it?

Shared with Gluten Free Fridays

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Dark Molasses Bread #SundaySupper

Working in a school, coffee is something that essentially runs through the veins of myself and my coworkers. While not as heavy of a user as some, I do enjoy a cup or two a day - particularly during the winter months, where the days seem to drag on a little more than usual and recess is anything but enjoyable. Coffee is also one of the great equalizers among us - from the newest to the oldest staff members, we all drink from the same urn (like it or not) and if the pot runs dry before everyone's had their lunch break.... well, lets just say it's not always a pretty sight.

Dark "Lassy" Bread

Of course, the staff room is also full of carbohydrate-laden accoutrements to the morning brew, and whether it's donuts, cookies or coffee cake there's almost never leftovers. At home, while mom loves carbs in general, she'd much rather have a slice of hearty bread or a bagel, toasted with peanut butter, than a cupcake or store bought muffin. Her philosophy is "the heartier the better", and the two of us share a deep fondness for the dark, lightly sweetened rye bread we can find at the local deli.

Rye is not a wholly unusual bread variety for me to make - given that it's one of my mom's favourite types of bread, I've been playing with recipes for years, adding fruit and cacao nibs, granola,
multitudes of seeds and even trying a 100% sourdough. This time around, I brought the tang of sourdough, the sweetness of maple sugar and molasses, the nuttiness of buckwheat and the bitter hint of strong coffee to the loaf. At once sweet and savoury, it fits every meal of the day - toasted with a smear of creamy nut butter and a dollop of almost any Toast Topper, made into cream cheese and smoked salmon sandwiches or simply plain on a ploughman's lunch plate. The flavour of the coffee, while subtle, enhances the other nuances in the bread and reminds me of the "Russian Bread" I used to be able to have in my grandparent's favourite pub growing up.

This week's #SundaySupper is all about that morning cuppa. Whether you're obsessed with it straight up (I'm a black, no sugar gal myself), need a touch of sugar and cream to get things rolling, or prefer your java in edible form, we've got lots of options to drool at!




Main dishes

Sunday Supper Movement
Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.