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Winter Apple Crisp

November 28th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

I’ve had a few apple crisps in my day.  My mum’s was made with a crust of butter, brown sugar and flour only.  I’ve also had the “oat” variety which I always thought was a bit too “granola” for my liking. Regardless, apple crisp is a cold weather favourite.  There is something remarkably comforting about cinnamon, apples, butter and brown sugar that is like wrapping yourself up in a warm wool blanket in front of the fire.

Its been raining all day here in Vancouver.  As I set out for a run this morning and near froze my legs off, I thought that I should reward myself tonight with a heart-warming apple crisp; SwapMeat style.  I took inspiration from my mum’s version and that famous diner oat version and I think I came up with something comforting and wonderful.  After all, isn’t that what apple crisp is all about?

Yield:  8 servings
Prep Time:  20 minutes (it takes a bit of time to prep them apples)
Cook Time:  1 1/2 hours


For the Filling:

4-5 large sweet apples such as Gala or Braeburn
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons tapioca flour
1/4 cup maple syrup

For the Crust:

1/2 cup Earth Balance (not the spreadable kind)
1 cup whole oats (not the quick oats)
1/2 cup spelt or kamut flour
pinch of salt
1/2 cup pecans
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Peel and core the apples.  Cut into about 1/2 inch pieces and place into a medium mixing bowl.  Toss with the lemon juice, the tapioca flour and the maple syrup.

Butter (with some more Earth Balance) a 9″ baking dish.  Pour in the chopped and spiced apples and spread evenly.

In a food processor (you can also do this by hand), pulse all the ingredients for the crust until well combined.  I personally don’t like whole oat flakes in my crust, so I make sure that they were processed until they were at least 1/4 of their original size and the mixture became sticky and starts to form clumps.

Pour the crust over the apples and break up any large clumps.

Bake at 350F until the crisp is bubbling and browned.  Enjoy with a scoop of home-made cinnamon ice cream (recipe below).   How’s that for comfort food?!

Cinnamon Ice Cream:

3/4 cup non dairy milk (something not too thin like almond or hemp)
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
2 cups coconut milk (full cream)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar (or substitute stevia drops for sugar free)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

In a small bowl or cup, combine 1/4 cup of the non dairy milk with the arrowroot powder and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat the remaining milk, coconut milk, cinnamon and sugar over medium high heat.  When the mixture starts to boil, reduce the heat to minimum and stir in the arrowroot mixture.   You will notice the mix thicken almost immediately.

Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.  Let cool completely before adding it to the ice cream maker (3-4 hours in the fridge).  I often make up my ice cream mix the day before I want to serve it so that it’s ready to go right away and I don’t have to wait around in anticipation for it to cool!



November 25th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Life has been busy lately.  I’ve taken on a restaurant management job with a major hotel chain, and as ironic as it is, I’ve had very little time to get into the kitchen (the SwapMeat kitchen that is).  This pattern will hopefully change now that I’ve got my bearings. I still have a plethora recipes to veganize from my trip to Spain, not to mention some of the favourites from my restaurant.

Since I’m working the closing shift in the restaurant tonight, I figured a carbo-load is in order .  It’s Friday night and we will be running!  I had yet to try out our new griddle, so I thought I’d whip up a batch of vegan pancakes this morning.  Coffee helps too.

Yields:  8 x 3″ sized pancakes (2 substantial servings)
Prep Time:  5 minutes
Cook Time:  approximately 6 minutes


1 cup flour (I’ve used spelt flour)*
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups non-dairy milk
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
3 tablespoons agave

*spelt is actually a derivative of wheat and of course contains gluten.  You can substitute kamut flour here to avoid wheat all together.  These pancakes are not gluten-free.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine the milk, oil and agave.  Cooks tip:  use the same measuring spoon for the agave after using it for the oil, and the agave won’t stick to the spoon!

Heat a griddle to 350F, or alternately heat some oil in a saute pan. If using a non-stick griddle like I am, no oil is required.

Pour the batter onto the griddle in 1/4 cup portions.  As the pancakes cook, tiny bubbles will begin to form.  When bubbles reach the center, the pancake is ready to flip. 

This pancakes is ALMOST ready to flip. Wait until the bubbles fully burst and the top of the cake isn't so wet.

Cook for another 3-4 minutes (until golden on the opposite side) and serve hot with Earth Balance and maple syrup!

Recipe adapted from The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

That’s a hot stack!

Greta’s Strawberry Ice Cream

November 15th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Ok.  It’s cold here and I can’t seam to warm up.  It’s definitely parka season!

I just got back from Spain a few weeks ago where I was visiting my sister and niece who are currently residing in Marbella.  I had some amazing food and wine experiences and managed to soak up some of the heat before returning to the blustery, raining weather of my home town!  Since I’ve returned to Vancouver I’ve started a new job and life has been a bit hectic, however my goal over the next month is to veganize some of the most amazing dishes that I found along my journey and get them up here to share with you all!

That being said, my sister and my niece Greta have since come to Canada to spend the Christmas season, and Greta has a passion for fine ice cream (and chippies)!  Although it’s freezing cold and I am dreaming of things like warm apple pie and festive shortbread, who could say no to this face when a request for strawberry ice cream is mentioned…

Yields:  1 quart
Cook Time:  10 minutes
Freeze Time:  25 minutes


2 cups strawberries
1 cup of almond or other non-dairy milk
2 cups full cream coconut milk
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp arrowroot powder mixed with 3 tbsp almond or other non-dairy milk
1 tsp vanilla
juice of half a lime (or 2 tbsp lemon)

Wash and cut the tops off the strawberries.  Place in a blender with the sugar, milk and coconut milk and blend until smooth.

In a medium saucepan, heat the strawberry cream mixture until it comes to a simmer.  Reduce the heat to low and stir in the arrowroot mixture, stirring constantly until the mixture starts to thicken.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and lime juice.

Let cool completely before placing into an ice cream maker.  Follow the manufacturer’s directions (mine takes about 25 minutes).  Keep in mind that your ice cream container needs to be frozen in advance.  I store mine in the freezer so that it is ready at any given moment!

You can also make this ice cream if you don’t own an ice cream maker!  Don’t fret!  Pour the cooled mixture into a freezer safe bowl.  Place in the freezer and ever 30 minutes, remove and stir.  Continue this process until the ice cream is the desired consistency.  I’ve never tried this method, however I would guess it would take about 3-4 hours.

Voila!  A frozen strawberry treat.  Who doesn’t like ice cream!? And who doesn’t like sharing their ice cream with friends!?

Zucchini “Meat” Balls with a Warm Cherry Tomato Salad

October 6th, 2011 § 3 comments § permalink

My good friend Dalyn of The Best i Ever Had, sent this recipe to me the other day when we had zucchini overtaking the garden.  A challenge came to life.  I LOVE Italian.  Garlic, basil…..olive oil and gooey cheese.  Not only that, I watched a fantastic episode of Iron Chefs a few nights ago in which the secret ingredient was mozzarella.  All the signs were pointing to a post about said ingredients.  I give you Zucchini Meatballs.  Adapted from Chef David Rocco.

Serves:  6 as main course
Prep Time:  30 minutes
Cook Time:  30 ish minutes

For the Meatballs:

8 cups chopped zucchini (about 1″ cubes)
1 1/2 cups Daiya Mozzarella
small bunch fresh mint leaves, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
2 chia “eggs” **
1 cup (250 ml) kamut or spelt breadcrumbs
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) extra virgin olive oil, for frying
salt and pepper to taste

**4 tbsp chia mixed with 1 cup of warm water.  Set aside for a few minutes until it is an egg-like consistency.

For the Tomato Salad:

20 cherry tomatoes, halved
5-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
14 fresh basil leaves, torn
salt to taste
olive oil for sauteing

Preheat the oven to 300F.  Fill a dutch oven with salted water (about 8 cups) and bring to the boil.  Add the chopped zucchini and boil for 4 minutes.  The original recipe did not mention whether or not to peel the zucchini.  I didn’t, but I probably would in the future for aesthetic purposes.   Drain the zucchini and set aside to cool.

When the zucchini is cool enough to work with, you want to remove as much water from it as you can.  I put the pieces in a clean tea towel and squeezed as much water out as I could.  the zucchini will become almost half the volume as you started with.  You’ll be astonished how much water will come out of it.

Place the dry-ish zucchini in a large mixing bowl and add the breadcrumbs, chopped mint, cheese and chia egg.  Season with salt and pepper and roll the mixture into golf ball sized meatballs.

In a saute pan, cook the meatballs in about 1/2cm hot olive oil until golden on all sides.  Transfer to a paper towel lined dish to absorb the excess oil, and then transfer to a cookie sheet.  Repeat with all the meatballs (I’m assuming you don’t have a saute pan big enough to do all the “meat” balls at once.  I did mine in about 3 batches.

When all the meatballs have been fried, put them in the oven for about 30 minutes to make sure they are nice and crispy and cooked all the way though.   About 5 minutes before the meatballs come out of the oven, heat some olive oil in a saute pan, add the garlic, cherry tomatoes and basil and saute for about 1 minute, just until the basil has wilted slightly.  Remove from heat and serve with the hot meatballs.

Cheesy, gooey, garlicky heaven!  Enjoy.



Hummus Two Ways: Jalepeno Cilantro & Lemon Dill

September 25th, 2011 § 3 comments § permalink

I decided to do a brown rice cleanse the past 7 days to break the bad habits that I had picked up over the summer, ie. everyday is our wedding day in Cuba (booze, booze, booze), potato chips are a main staple, and coke zero in the afternoon is a nice treat.  How easy it is to pick up those kinds of habits!  Shameful!

Well, it’s day 7 of said brown rice cleanse, and I’m no worse for ware.  I ate lovely whole grains, created my own version of potato chips, explored the amazing fruits and vegetables that are in season at this time of year (many from our very own garden), and cleaned out all those cobwebs to get ready to start a marathon training program this week.

One of the clean recipes that I enjoyed over the past 7 days was hummus, and to keep it interesting I kept putting a twist on this wonderful bean dip classic.  Jalepeno Cilantro and Lemon Dill were two of my favourites.

Yields:  about 2 cups
Prep Time:  10 minutes

1 14oz can organic garbanzo beans, rinsed
2 tablespoons organic tahini
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3-6 cloves of garlic
juice of 1 small lime
1 cup cilantro (or one healthy handful)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed (if you like it extra spicy, leave a few seeds)
sea salt to taste (I used about 1 teaspoon)

**For the lemon dill version, replace the cilantro will fresh dill and the lime juice with the juice of one small lemon.  Do not include the jalepeno pepper.  Also note that photos of the dill version are not shown here.  I’m working on it though!

Process everything in a food processor until creamy.  Taste, season with salt and blend again until combined.

For my cleanse I enjoyed this dip with rice cakes topped with sprouts, tomatoes and avocado, or as a dip with Mary’s vegan Caraway Crackers.

It's time to bring out the old light box again! Dark kitchens = dark photos. Blah.


Cheesy Zucchini or Kale Chips

September 21st, 2011 § 5 comments § permalink

Potato chips are my most favourite food on the planet.  If they didn’t
have pretty much zero nutritional value and a silly high BAD fat
content, I think I would choose to live off them.  Sigh.  Ok, so I’ve
figured out a way to get around it.  Are you ready?

This mix works well with both kale and zucchini.  Don’t knock ‘em till
you’ve tried them.  You would never know these are kale or zucchini in
a blind taste test!  The chips will shrink down in the dehydrator
quite a bit, so I recommend using chunks of kale about 5” long and
zucchini no less than 3” in diameter (otherwise they will shrink to
pretty much nothing).  If skinny zucchinis are all you can find, don’t
let that stop you!  You can cut them on an angle to create a larger,
more substantial chip.

These chips do take about 24 hours to dehydrate, and make about 3-4
cups of zucchini chips, or about 5 cups of kale chips.

Prep Time:  30 minutes
Dehydration Time:  24 hours
Adapted from The Green Chefs

*note:  I make these in a food dehydrator, however Dalyn at The Best i Ever Had, has made them in the oven.

½ cup raw cashews, soaked at least 2 hours.
2 small red peppers chopped into chunks and seeds removed
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon sea salt
5 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
3 medium-sized zucchini or 2 large bunches of kale

If you are using zucchini, slice them very thinly on a mandolin.  I did mine at .75mm.  For kale on the other hand, wash and spin in a salad spinner and tear into 5″ x 2″ pieces.  I don’t use the woody stem parts of the kale.  I tear the leaf off the stem.

Place all the ingredients (other than kale or zucchini) into a food processor and process until smooth (or as smooth as it’s going to get).  In a bowl, massage the mixture into the kale or the zucchini slices.  I hand place each piece onto the dehydrator tray rather than spreading them around by the handful, making sure that each chip well covered in the red pepper paste on both sides.  It takes a few minutes, but it’s WELL worth it.

Dehydrate at a about 135F for approximately 16-20 hours.  I usually put mine in the “oven” before going to bed, and then in the morning I flip each chip over.  Regardless, try to flip the chips over at about the 8-9 hour mark.  It just gets them extra crispy.

Let them cool before putting them in an airtight container for storage, if they make it that long!  Chippies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gluten-Free Chocolate Zucchini Cake

September 18th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Gluten-Free.  The phrase sends shivers up and down my spine.  Veganizing something is pretty easy, but gluten-free baking is a challenge that has been an epic fail in my kitchen more times than I can count.

Gluten is a sticky storage protein that is found in many grains such as wheat, rye, spelt and barley (to name a few).  This protein is what gives baked goods their structure and texture, but for people with a gluten allergy, it can cause serious digestive problems and even in extreme cases, anaphylaxis.  Scary right?

Gluten free baking is also scary.  Textures can end up being grainy, projects crumble their way to the garbage can, not to mention that taste is usually compromised.  I’m not sure what possessed me to take one of my mum’s fantastic recipes and make it gluten-free (and vegan – that part’s a given).  I must have had a momentary lapse of reason, but this time instead of epic fail – we have a winner!  To my all my friends with gluten allergies (I’m surprised how many there are), this one’s for you!

Serves:  16
Prep Time:  20 minutes
Bake Time:  40-45 minutes

1/2 cup margarine (I used Earth Balance Butter Sticks)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/3 cups organic cane sugar
3 teaspoons egg replacer with 4 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups gluten-free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
4 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons xanathan gum
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 cups grated zucchini
vegan chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 9 x 13 cake pan.  I actually used mini loaf pans for mine, but if you do this you will need less baking time.

Cream the margarine with the vegetable oil and sugar.  Add the egg replacer and vanilla.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, cinnamon and baking soda.

Slowly combine the dry ingredients with the wet.  The batter will be thicker than a regular cake batter.  Don’t worry.  This is normal.  Add the grated zucchini.

Scoop the batter into the pan and spread it evenly (like I said, it will be thick, so you will need to spread it around).   If you have a real sweet tooth, you can sprinkle the top of the cake with chocolate chips.  I chose not to do this, but my mum usually bakes it this way.

Bake for about 40 minutes and test to make sure it’s done by inserting a toothpick.  If it comes out clean, the cake is baked, otherwise I might need a few more minutes!  If you are using muffin tins or mini loaf pans, you will only need to bake for about 20-25 minutes.  Also, if you choose to use muffin tins, I recommend cupcake liners.  This is definitely cake and NOT muffin!

This cake is rich and moist, and although the batter had a strong garbanzo bean flavour (the main flour used in Bob’s Red Mill is garbanzo bean) the finished product was delicious – no beans detected!


Avocado Potato Salad

September 17th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

We were invited to a BBQ last weekend and I was asked to bring a potato salad.  Although I have an amazing “traditional” vegan potato salad recipe, I thought I’d stir the pot a little and try something with a twist – and what better time to make something up from my head than when it needs to be served to a group of near strangers!  Luckily (seriously, it could have gone either way), the results were really good and I had a few emails after the party asking for the recipe.

When something comes out of my head and onto my plate, I’m usually pretty critical about what I can do to improve it before it is blog-worthy.  Sometimes a little tweaking is required.  In the case of the potato salad recipe, the flavours were all there, it was the texture that I wanted to play with.

To me, flavour is # 1 of importance on the Good Recipe Scale (that’s a scale that I just made up in my head).  The flavour has to be there, or it’s not worth putting it in your mouth in my opinion.

Texture is a different story; somewhat.  I’m often willing to give a little in this area depending on what the recipe is.  Generally, when I think up a dish, I want my version to be as close to the “real” version as possible if it’s a simple “veganization”.  My vegan Caesar Salad is an excellent example of this.  It’s as close to the real thing in texture and flavour as possible – I dare you to tell the difference in a taste test!  On the other hand, there are also some things in vegan cooking that you just need to accept.  Meat substitutes are a great example of this (although it often baffles me if you choose to eat a vegan diet, why you would want something to taste and feel like meat in your mouth). If you’re not using soy products or wheat gluten as a meat substitute it’s not going to have the texture of meat.  That is just a fact of life. So, when it comes to that Mexican Bean Burger recipe we made up this summer (it’s one of my favourites), I’m ok if it feels more like beans in my mouth than beef!  It’s the flavours that won me over on that one.

Back to the potato salad!

I prefer the chunks of potato to be a bit larger in this salad than I would make them in a traditional potato salad.  The reason for this is the potatoes get lost with the other ingredients during the mixing and you could end up with something that looks more like guacamole, and is essentially mashed potatoes with guacamole flavours.  Tasty, but textually not optimal!

Serves:  8
Prep Time:  20 minutes
Cook Time:  10-15 minutes

12 small waxy style potatoes (about 2” in diameter)
2 ripe avocados
½ medium red onion, finely chopped
½ cup finely chopped cilantro
1 jalapeño pepper, finely diced and seeds removed
3 tbsp. olive oil
Juice of half a lime
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Peel and half the potatoes.  Rinse and bring to a boil over high heat.   Boil until just tender (about 10-15 minutes).  Do not overcook.  Let the potatoes cool until they are comfortable to handle.  Cut the potato into bite sized chunks (about 2cm by 2cm).

Add the jalapeño, onion, and cilantro.  Salt the mixture (I used about 1 tsp).  You can adjust the salt at the end as well.

In another bowl, mash the avocados with the lime juice.  Add the olive oil and combine.
Gently combine the avocado mixture with the potato mixture  I like to do this with my hands.  Taste and adjust the salt and pepper.

Voila!  Avocado Potato Salad!  You might like to make a themed meal of it and try it with our Mexican Bean Burgers!

Summer Zucchini & Apple Curried Soup

September 11th, 2011 § 4 comments § permalink

My friend Dalyn (The Best i Ever Had) and I shared a garden plot this summer.  The plot was in her back yard, so I have to say, she did most of the work.  I managed to get around for the occasional weekend weeding session over a few glasses of white wine and a tomato harvest or two.  It was lots of fun, and I think we learned a lot for what to do, and what not to do next year.

Photos Courtesy of Dalyn "The Best i Ever Had"

One of our crops was zucchini.  We let a couple of these bad boys get a little out of control in terms of size, but mostly because there was so many we couldn’t keep up with ideas on what to do with them!  I’ve had three “monsters” in my fridge for about a week, and I spent the afternoon brainstorming on zucchini baking ideas (most of which I poo pooed since I don’t consume a whole lot of baked goods in general).  Then I started thinking about dinner and it came to me – I could make a summer harvest soup!

The fruits of our labour:

Serves:  6
Prep Time:  20 minutes
Cook Time:  30 minutes

1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 (or more) cloves of garlic
Grapeseed oil for sauteing
2 medium zucchini, chopped, about 1 1/2 to 2 pounds
2 apples, diced
3 cups vegetable broth
4-5 teaspoons curry powder, or to taste
3/4 cup nutritional yeast
salt and pepper to taste

In a large Dutch oven, saute the onion until translucent over high heat.  Add the zucchini, garlic, and apple and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so as not to burn.

When the apple and zucchini starts to become a bit mushy, you can add the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer.  At this point I turned the heat down to minimum and  started to blend the soup in batches in my high-speed blender until all the soup was pureed. Stir in the nutritional yeast.

This is when the soup becomes your own.  Everyone likes a different level of flavours and spice.  I used 5 tsp of curry powder here, but your curry powder may be stronger or weaker than mine, so add 1 tsp at a time and taste often until you’ve reached the flavour that best suits you.  Do the same with the salt and pepper, just adding a half a teaspoon at a time until you’ve reached the level of flavour that you like.  I have to admit I did add quite a bit of salt to mine (about 3 tsp).

Once the soup is seasoned to your liking, serve it up!  This would be lovely with some crusty bread and some vegan herbed cream cheese.  Yum.


Rice Pudding

September 10th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

It may be a little early.  Maybe I should be holding on to summer a bit longer with fruit salads and ice cream, instead of heating up the house with the oven, but I couldn’t resist…

My Nana used to say to me “You’ll miss me when I’m gone”, and boy she was right.   I miss everything about her, including her rice pudding.  She used to make it with evaporated milk, cream, and sugar, and would probably tell me that this “vegan thing” is complete nonsense!   In tribute to my Nana, I’ve converted her famous recipe into MY vegan version.  Heaven…

Servings:  4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Bake Time:  2 hours

1/3 cup aborio rice
400ml can organic coconut milk **
225ml nut milk (coconut, almond, hemp etc) **
4 tbsp agave nectar
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1tbsp coconut butter, or Earth Balance

** The total liquid (milk and coconut milk combined) for this pudding is 2 1/2 cups.

Preheat the oven to 300F.

With some coconut butter or Earth Balance, grease an oven-proof baking dish (a quart size works quite well).  Place all of the ingredients into the dish and give it a bit of a stir.  Place in the oven.

Stir every 20-30 minutes until the pudding is baked, there will be a nice brown skin on the top.

Serve hot or cold (ah!  there’s the summer), with fresh fruit or just devour alone.  Be careful not to burn you tongue!