Thursday, March 30, 2006

vegan muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups oat bran
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 tbs ground flax seeds
6 tbs water
½ cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/3 cups plain soy milk
½ cup vegetable or canola oil
1 tbs molasses
2 tsp grated orange zest
½ cups raisins
½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts

In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, oat bran, baking power, baking soda and salt. Place ground flax seeds in separate mixing bowl. Combine with 6 tbs water and let sit for minutes. Add brown sugar, soy milk, oil, molasses and orange zest and whisk to combine.

Scrape liquid mixture into flour mixture and bring together with a fork, until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Stir in raisins and walnuts. Line or grease (using vegetable or canola oil) a standard 12 muffin pan and divide batter among the cups. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes, until a tester inserted into the centre of several muffins comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes before removing from pan. Serve hot with fruit compote or turn muffins out onto a rack to completely before storing.

Mock Possum Casserole

¼ cup butter
1-4oz can sliced mushrooms
¼ cup chopped onion
¼ cup flour
1 tsp salt
2 generous tbs mild or medium curry paste
1 1/2 cups (1 can) evaporated milk
1 large chicken breast (um, possum), cooked, cubed
2 broccoli crowns, divided into small florets
7 oz (½ package) dry chow mien noodles
½ cup shredded cheddar
½ cup shredded mozzarella

Melt butter in an extra large saucepan (pot or large, heavy-bottomed stainless steel wok) over medium heat. Drain mushrooms, reserving liquid, and add mushrooms to saucepan along with onion. Sauté until onions are soft and translucent. Add flour and salt and stir with a wooden spoon until the flour has formed a paste. Add enough water to the reserved mushroom liquid to total ½ cup and add to the saucepan along with the curry paste and evaporated milk. Stir and cook until sauce is smooth and has thickened. Add in cooked chicken, broccoli and noodles and toss to coat with sauce. Scrape into a casserole dish and top with cheese. Bake at 350-degrees for 30-45 minutes until cheese is hot and bubbly.

Grasshopper Cake

½ cup cornstarch
½ cup icing sugar
1 cup flour
½ cup ground almonds
1 cup butter, softened

Blend cornstarch, icing sugar, flour and ground almonds. Cream together with softened butter. Press evenly into the bottom of a 9x13-inch cake pan. Bake at 325-degrees for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely.

1-8oz package cream cheese
1 tbs icing sugar
2 pkgs instant pistachio pudding
3 ¼ cups milk
2 cups whipping cream to garnish

Let cream cheese soften at room temperature. Beat together with icing sugar until well blended. Spread evenly over base.

Prepare pudding with milk. Spread over cream cheese layer. Refrigerate for several hours to set. Whip cream and spread over pudding layer. Refrigerated to set. Garnish with faux grasshoppers and have a laugh at my expense.

Notes: To reduce the overall fat, use a graham crumb base instead of the shortbread. Using two spring form cake pans instead eliminates the problem of getting out that first piece intact.

Mongolian Improv

1 pound boneless beef
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs black bean sauce
2 tsp sugar
1 ½ tsp sesame oil
fresh ground pepper to taste

Whisk together sliced scallions, soy sauce, black bean sauce, sugar, sesame oil and pepper. Slice meat into very thin slices, about 4 inches long. Toss with marinade to coat and let marinate, refrigerated, for at least an hour. In lieu of an authentic Mongolian grill, sauté over high heat for 3 to 5 minutes, turning frequently. If it pleases you, stir-fry your favourite veggies and serve together over Asian noodles or rice.

Spicy Asian Miso Soup

¼ green pepper, sliced
¼ red pepper, sliced
¼ red onion, sliced
15 sugar snap peas, sliced
1 med carrot, julienned
1 small leek, sliced (white and light green parts only)
3 baby bok choy, cut lengthwise into quarters
3 cups vegetable broth
2 tbs white miso paste
1 tbs rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
¼ block extra firm tofu, cut into small cubes
1 tbs sambal oelek
2 tbs vegetable oil
½ pkg rice noodles, soaked in hot water until al dente

Heat vegetable broth together with miso paste. Bring to a simmer, add vegetables and continue simmering for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, toss tofu in sambal oelek. In a medium fry pan over medium-high heat, heat vegetable oil and pan-fry tofu until slightly crispy and heated through.

Just before serving, add rice wine vinegar and sesame oil to broth and vegetables. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add rice noodles to broth to heat. Serve, garnishing with spicy tofu to individual taste.

green bean and herb risotto

3-4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
4 tbs olive oil
3 medium shallots, peeled, finely chopped
1 ½ cups Arborio, “superfino” quality
1 cup dry white wine
2 tbs freshly grated parmesan
2 tbs butter
3 tbs Boursin (or mascarpone) cheese
8 green beans, blanched, sliced
1 medium tomato, seeded, diced
2 tsp chopped fresh poultry herbs
1 green onion, thinly sliced
kosher salt/fresh ground pepper

Bring stock to a gentle simmer in a medium saucepan; keep hot. In a separate pot, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Sauté shallots until translucent. Add rice and cook 3-4 minutes, stirring to coat grains. Add wine and continue to cook, stirring, until wine is absorbed.

Add ½ cup of stock at a time, bringing each to a simmer and stirring gently and occasionally, waiting until each ½ cup is nearly absorbed before adding more. Be careful not to over stir and risk breaking down the grains. Continue this until risotto has been cooking for about 15 minutes, at which point the grains should be al dente (almost cooked) and moist and creamy.

Gently stir in parmesan, Boursin and chopped herbs. Add butter, beans, tomato and green onion. Stir until heated through. Season to taste.

Notes: Blanching is a method by which vegetables are partially cooked to bring out the flavours and colours. Drop into boiling water for one minute, then transfer to ice water to stop the cooking and set the colours. If not using a home-made stock, look for low-sodium and use unsalted butter to avoid an over-salted risotto. Risotto is excellent served with chicken, fish, red meats and vegetarian dishes, making it a very versatile addition to any cook’s repertoire.


1 1/8 tsp active dry yeast
¾ cup warm water
½ cup granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
1 large egg, beaten
½ cup evaporated milk
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tbs butter, softened
oil for deep frying
powdered sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle yeast over warm water and stir to dissolve. Let stand 5 minutes. Add sugar, salt, egg and evaporated milk. Whisk to thoroughly blend. Switch to paddle attachment and add half of the flour, beating until smooth. Add butter and gradually blend in remaining flour. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours. Roll out onto a floured surface to 1/8-inch thick. Cut into 3-inch squares (or try also rectangles and bite-sized squares). Deep fry at 360-degrees until lightly browned on both sides; 2-3 minutes. Drain on paper towels and dust generously with powdered sugar. Serve hot with café au lait or lattes.

Notes: Beignet dough freezes well. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in small freezer bags. When eating beignets dusted with a proper heap of icing sugar, let the errors of others teach you to not inhale while taking a bite.

tuna ceviche

1 lb sushi grade or very fresh Ahi tuna
1 small shallot, finely diced
1 green onion, finely sliced
¼ green bell pepper, finely diced
2 tbs chopped banana peppers
flesh from ¼ medium papaya, finely diced
10 green seedless grapes, thinly sliced
juice from 1 lb key limes (about ¼ cup)
2 tbs olive oil
3 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp sugar
fresh ground pepper to taste
Tabasco sauce to taste

Dice tuna into ¼-inch cubes. In a small bowl, toss tuna together with shallot, green onion, bell pepper, banana peppers, papaya and grapes. In a separate bowl, whisk together key lime juice, olive oil, kosher salt, sugar, pepper and Tabasco sauce. Pour over tuna mixture and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour. Serve in cocktail glasses.

Notes: Although the tuna in this recipe isn’t cooked with heat, it isn’t raw (although that’s rather nice, too). The proteins are “cooked” in this method by the acid in the key limes. True story.

Where to find it: You’ll want the freshest available tuna for this recipe. Even though I didn’t find the sushi grade I was hoping for, a still very fresh catch was available at Codfather’s on Gordon Drive in Kelowna.

black forest trifle

1 chocolate pound cake
(or equivalent other chocolate cake)
3 tbs sugar
1 tbs plus 2 tsp cornstarch
1 tbs flour
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1 cup milk
¾ cup good quality chocolate chips
1 cup whipping cream
2-14oz cans of cherries, halved, juice reserved
2 squares Bakers Chocolate for shaving
2 oz kirsch

To make chocolate pastry crème, in a medium bowl, beat sugar, cornstarch, flour and eggs using an electric mixer on high speed. Bring milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Gradually whisk about 1/3 of the hot milk into the egg mixture to combine. Transfer mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk. Whisk constantly over medium-low heat, scraping the bottom and corners of the pan, until the pastry cream is thickened and begins to bubble. Fold in chocolate and continue to cook, whisking, until chocolate is melted and incorporated; about a minute. Scrape into a clean bowl to cool.

When pastry cream is cool, slice cake into ½-inch slices and whip cream. Combine reserved cherry juice with kirsch.

In a medium glass trifle dish, or other decorative bowl, layer cake into the bottom. Sprinkle with cherry juice/kirsch and layer with chocolate pastry cream, cherries and whipped cream. Continue layering to the top of the bowl, finishing with cream. Shave chocolate (a vegetable peeler works very well for this) on top of trifle and serve.

Where to find it: Kirsch is a cherry flavoured liqueur, available in most liquor stores. Look for it in small-sized bottles, unless you intend to use it often in your baking. For the best kirsch to be found anywhere, buy from Okanagan Spirits in Vernon, or wherever Okanagan Spirits are sold. Visit for more information.

roasted vegetable lasagna

8 sheets of lasagna pasta (see note)
½ medium eggplant
1 small zucchini
¼ medium red onion
1 red pepper
2 tbs plus 1 tsp olive oil
½ tsp plus a pinch salt
½ tsp plus a pinch pepper
1 small leek
6 medium button mushrooms
2 ¾ cups pasta sauce (680ml can)
500g ricotta
2 cups grated mozzarella
2 tbs Italian seasoning

Cook pasta until it is pliable but still somewhat firm in the centre; drain, rinse and set aside.

Slice eggplant, zucchini, red onion and red pepper into quarters. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast in a 400-degree oven for 15 minutes. Cool and thinly slice.

Thinly slice leek and mushrooms and toss together in a small, oven-safe saucepan, with remaining olive oil, and a pinch each of salt a pepper. Place in oven and roast for 10 minutes.

In a 9 by 14-inch baking dish, layer sauce, pasta, roasted vegetables, Italian seasoning and ricotta into 4 layers. Top with grated mozzarella and bake at 350-degrees for 45 minutes, until cheese is lightly browned, hot and bubbling in the centre.

Note: This recipe uses (almost) square sheets of lasagna pasta, available at Valoroso Foods on Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna. If using the longer, more narrow sheets, use 12 sheets for four layers.

frozen pineapple chiffon tart

For the base:
4oz cold butter
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ cups flour
1 large egg yolk
2 tbs heavy cream

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and sugar. Cut in cold butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.

In a small bowl, whisk together yolk and cream. Mix into flour mixture until dough comes together and can be formed into a ball. Flatten into a 6-inch disk and wrap dough in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

On a lightly-floured surface, roll dough to fit a 9-inch tart pan with removable base (alternately, use a springform pan). Press into pan and refrigerate until firm.

Blind bake tart (by covering with a circle of parchment paper and weighing down with either dried beans or rice) at 400-degrees for five minutes. Lower heat to 375 and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until set. Lift out parchment and lightly prick the bottom and continue baking 10-15 minutes, until done on the bottom. Cool on wire rack.

For the filling:
5 large egg yolks
2/3 cup plus ¼ cup sugar
10 tbs fresh pineapple puree
4 tbs butter, cubed
4 gelatine leaves, soaked in cold water
1 egg white

In a heavy, non-reactive saucepan, beat yolks and sugar until well blended. Stir in 7 tbs of the puree and the butter. Cooking over med-low heat, stir constantly until mixture resembles hollandaise sauce (thickly coats a wooden spoon but still pour able). Don’t allow to boil. Pour into a strainer over a medium bowl. Press through strainer and add remaining puree.

Squeeze water out of gelatine and stir into the pineapple curd mixture. Let cool to room temperature.

Beat egg white until frothy, add remaining ¼ cup sugar and beat to stiff peaks. Mix 1/3 into pineapple curd mixture and lightly fold in remaining 2/3. Pour into cooled tart shell and freeze overnight. Garnish with fresh pineapple (shown sprinkled first with sugar and toasted with a butane torch).