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Meatless in Vancouver

Tips for scratch cooking

Charles Macurdy
Jun 25th, 2010

My singular culinary mission in life is the promotion of scratch cooking. Simply-put, that's just the approach that whatever you can cook from scratch ought to be cooked from scratch. Of course, that's within reason. Some things are too complicated or too time-consuming and that's perfectly fine. But you might be surprised how quick, easy, and rewarding it can be to make something from nothing.

From Nuba Restaurant's kitchen in Gastown comes delicious Vegan Lebanese dishes worth visiting Vancouver for

Charles Macurdy
May 28th, 2010

You walk down into Nuba from a staircase at the corner of Hastings and Cambie. The concept is simple and clear, contemporary casual Lebanese.

As a vegetarian, I was pleased to see that much of the menu is not only vegetarian, but vegan. This makes sense, since so much traditional Lebanese food is vegan-friendly. For example, falafel, hummus, and baba ghanouj are all traditionally vegan dishes. Nuba, of course, offers them all. For me, the test of a place like this is the falafel and the hummus. In general, both were straight-forward. The hummus was maybe a bit one-dimensional, lacking many layers of flavour, while the falafel was flavourful, but a bit too beany in texture.

Coconut cream pudding

Genny Bourdages
May 25th, 2010

 A Chaotic Cooking dinner party inspired me to try to make a new dish.  And it turned out to be delicious.  Give it a try yourself and let me know how you liked it by commenting below.

Blueberry tapioca pudding

Genny Bourdages
May 14th, 2010

Vegan tapioca pudding is hard to come by, as most contains eggs and dairy products. Some people who are not big into puddings may not like this, as it has a bit of an odd texture (but I love it). Once I found out about my gluten allergy I started making this recipe a lot since it's always gluten-free. This recipe is a big hit whenever I bring it to gatherings.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup organic coconut sugar
  • ½ cup organic cornstarch
  • 2 dashes of sea salt
  • 6 tablespoons of instant tapioca
  • 5 cups vanilla almond milk
  • 1-2 cups frozen organic blueberries
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

 

Directions

  • In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt and tapioca. Gradually stir in the milk until smooth. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil over medium heat.
  • Let boil for one minute and then remove from stove. Stir in vanilla. Pour in 1-2 cups of blueberries, or as many as you like. Chill in fridge to set pudding. Enjoy!

Discover Palm Hearts

Charles Macurdy
May 12th, 2010

To be honest, although I tend to enjoy almost every food you might offer me (so long as it doesn't contain any animal parts), there is one thing that I place above all others. Heart of palm, if you've never tried it, has a texture and flavor which is across between artichokes and bamboo shoots, although with a certain character all its own. Not as forceful as artichokes, and not as woody as bamboo shoots, it is a gently magical food which gets ignored far too frequently.

The most common application is in a salad as a garnish, perhaps marinated. Cold, it does give a clever dimension to a good salad, especially one also garnished with some kind of toasted nut or intense cheese, like Roquefort. Although the flavor of the palm heart is delicate, it can stand up to big contrasting players on a plate. However, it really has the potential to do so much more.

Poker night part 2: ramped-up retro onion dip

Charles Macurdy
Apr 23rd, 2010

I don’t know about you, but I remember a little something once called “California Dip” (or French Onion Dip). Basically, what you did was take a container of sour cream, add a packet of French onion soup mix, and let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours. Voila: onion dip. All things considered, it was pretty good. I mean, it was just dehydrated soup in sour cream, but hey, this was a time when words like “teriyaki” and “balsamic” were things only fancy people knew.

Poker Night Snack Time: Kale Chips

Charles Macurdy
Apr 17th, 2010

There’s very little I enjoy more than having a few friends over for a casual game of cards. Of course, if there’s one thing you need while playing Poker, it’s a healthy array of snacks. With that in mind, I thought that I’d spend the next few posts sharing some of my favorite—and most popular—snacking foods. First up: kale chips.

Most of my friends react in exactly the same way when they encounter these crispy little wonders: wow, you’ve made kale edible. In fact, I can’t take any of the credit for this little trick. You can find recipes for crispy kale all over the internet. Regardless, it often surprises me how few people know about them. They are delicious, easy, fun, and very nutricious.

Kale is a member of the cabbage family and hence very high in the sulfur compounds we’re always hearing about in connection with various health benefits. As well, kale is high in vitamins A and C and boasts an extraordinary amount of vitamin K.

Orange vinaigrette and warm quinoa salad

Charles Macurdy
Apr 4th, 2010

You'll have to excuse me for yet another brief absence. Hopefully, these two recipes will make up for it. They're a nice two recipes for getting into the Spring menu, with more fresh foods available.

The dressing is very low fat and unreasonably simple to make. It goes well in the quinoa salad below, but is also a nice all-purpose dressing. Since it's lower in oil than your average vinaigrette, it helps take the fat and salt out of salads, making them both healthy and delicious. Not many salad dressings can boast this, since most of them are about two-thirds oil, while this one is around one-third.

As for the warm salad recipe that follows, it’s meant as an easy and delicious introduction to quinoa. Aside from soy, you will not find many (if any) non-animal-sourced foods which offer a complete set of essential amino acids. Quinoa is unique among grains as a source of complete protein. It’s a good substitute for couscous, since it is similar in both size and texture, with a mild, almost nutty flavor. The salad is meant as a take on a Mediterranean cous cous salad, with quinoa replacing the cous cous.

Notes on the Feast

Charles Macurdy
Mar 25th, 2010

When planning a big meal, you have to anticipate some hiccups along the way. For me, there was one dish which presented a problem, mainly due to my own failure to realize that kohlrabi is not yet in season. Yes, it was the carrot-kohlrabi slaw, the easiest dish on the menu, which created all of my headaches.

Without access to one of the main ingredients in the dish, my thoughts turn to substitution. The natural inclination is to lean towards cabbage, but I don’t think that’ll give me either the flavor or the texture that I’m after. The better answer is daikon, a large, mild Japanese radish. It shreds well, has a nice crunch, and does not have too overwhelming a flavor (a little trick with shredded daikon: soak it in ice water for at least 10 minutes to remove some of the funkier qualities).

Anatomy of a Feast

Charles Macurdy
Mar 11th, 2010

One of my favorite things to do is to put on a real feast. It’s not just the idea of feeding a large group of people, which itself is very satisfying, but it’s the fact that large meals for large groups allow you to do things that you usually just don’t have the opportunity to do.

For example, everyday cooking is usually about putting together one satisfying plate for a small group of people, like between one and four or five diners (at most). This is much more about getting the people fed than anything else, whereas the process of building a feast has a different set of problems to solve.

For one thing, you need to build a menu. This involves thinking about a rational progression from dish to dish. How do the flavours of the dishes interact with one another? How do you balance the meal as a whole: not too heavy, not too light, not too bold, not too mild…? Some chefs like to think about it in terms of telling a story. In fact, some of the best stories I’ve ever come across have been told to me through food.

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