three is better than one

Like popcorn kernels that get stuck between your molars, and bits of pith clogged persistently underneath one’s fingernails, it’s often the least significant things unnoticeable by others that you cannot endure about yourself. But when you have someone point out exactly what you already can’t stand about yourself (but persistently put off correcting), you don’t curse them, you don’t do them a favour and point out the needle in their eye –

You manhandle that log in your own and roll it down the mighty Fraser River.

I’ve never been a huge fan of that fuzzy nursery log story where the little bloated larvae and evanescent fungi umbrellas gorge themselves on decomposing organic matter. How dainty.

Ticket me not, nature-police. I’m just getting to my more significant point.

Don’t leave that log to rot and turn into the love bed for bad habits that will eventually stench up your life. Cut it up, cry when you do it, and you’ll feel so. much. better.

By the way, I cleaned every nook and crack in the house last night. **I don’t wink, so hint-hint-nudge-nudge, or just imagine it (but that might be inappropriate)**

How can you think

of saying to your friend,

‘Let me help you get rid

of that speck in your eye,’

when

you can’t see past the log

in your own eye?

Matthew 7:4

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Cornmilk Brioche

I was actually so excited to make this recipe which I’ve been dreaming up for a while. It’s a little bit sweet from the corn and I find that it also adds a very nice, buttery color to the dough. The best part of this is that they’re super quick! If you get everything organized, you can definitely pull these off within the hour, plus, clean-up’s a breeze as there’s no excess flour required for dusting.

Wait, I lied, the best part is how luscious and silky the dough is. Umm, I take that back, it has to be how beautiful they look coming out of the oven…or maybe the fact that they’re about to get topped with buttermilk fried chicken, maple syrup, grainy mustard, and butter lettuce. Bottom line, these are pretty delicious – even all by themselves.

Ingredients for the Cornmilk Brioche:

3/4 c canned yellow corn kernels , measured with brine

1/2 c hot water

3 1/4 c all purpose flour

1 egg, plus one yolk for brushing

1/3 c unsalted butter, softened

2 tbsp liquid honey

2 tbsp instant dry yeast

pinch sea salt

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Cornmilk Brioche Dough

To make the cornmilk, place the corn and water in a blender and blend until completely smooth. Set aside.

Put the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer and make a well in the center. Add the egg, butter, and honey into the center of the well then pour in the corn milk. Sprinkle over yeast and let the mixture stand for 5-10 minutes (depending on how warm the room is) until a foamy “skin” has formed at the top.

Add the salt and mix using the paddle attachment until incorporated. Switch to the dough hook and knead at low speed for 10~15 minutes. Add more flour, a tablespoon at a time just until the dough is able to clean the sides of the bowl. When finished, the dough should be extremely smooth and elastic. You should be able to stretch it 2 arms length without breaking.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, with the rack placed in the center of the oven.

Divide the dough into 8-12 equally sized portions and fold each into a ball, and place them on a baking sheet, spaced 2 inches apart. You may want to cover the resting dough with a damp cloth so it doesn’t lose moisture.

Let the formed dough rest for 15~20 minutes or until almost doubled in size. Mix together the yolk with 1 tbsp water and brush the tops of the dough balls with this mixture.

Bake for 12 minutes. Then switch to broil to give them a glorious dark amber finish.

Whatever you decide to do with these, no doubt you will…

Enjoy!

A Bit of Spring Cleaning

Get ready! Because you’re about to be hit by a blizzard , no it’s not winter anymore, I mean, explosion of recipes, all of which are vegan, super vibrant, fresh, and absolutely delicious! For those of you who are staying in touch via instagram (it’s on the right-hand-side, just click and follow to stay up-to-plate with everything I’m whipping up), you’ve probably been wondering why I haven’t put up the recipes to those pictures and I apologize!! Sorry, I truly am because sometimes I click on something that looks totally yum hoping to find its recipe but then it just turns out to be foodporn, and that makes me really disappointed.

I get that. So here’s a treat: a collage of recipes to kickstart spring!

Here I wanted to feature some of those under-acknowledged ingredients such as beet greens, parsley stems, green peas, and grainy mustard. Beet greens and parsley stems tend to just get trimmed off and thrown into the garbage which I find to be such a waste. Beet greens are actually loaded with all the great nutrients its roots has, but with more fibre and less sugar while parsley stems have even more flavour than the leaves, not to mention the nice texture it gives to the green falafel mash (recipe below!). Green peas and grainy mustard, on the other hand are like ugly christmas sweaters – you have them lying around not because they’re a kitchen staple, but because there was this one day when some magazine or trend convinced you to buy a bag/jar of the stuff (like how your friends convinced you of the sweater at Value Village). Then ever since that day it’s just been a shameful lump stuck in your pantry or fridge door.

It’s okay, it’s all good, literally. And I encourage you to really take this as a new starting point, see what poor miserable thing is your fridge or pantry that you’ve been wanting to get rid of, and cook dat thang!

For those who exalt themselves will be humbled,

and those who humble themselves

will be exalted.

Luke 14:11

Collage

Rice with Beet Greens (Top Left):

1 tbsp avocado oil

1 medium brown onion, finely diced

1 bunch beet greens, stem portion diced, leaf portion shredded

2 cups cold, cooked red and brown basmati or jasmine rice

sea salt

white pepper

pinch of cinnamon

To make the rice with beet greens, heat the oil on medium in a skillet or wok. Add the onions and let it sweat until translucent and fragrant. Turn up the heat to high and add the chopped beet greens, continue stirring until tender, then add the rice and season well to taste. Stir until the liquid is fully absorbed and mixture is heated through.

Serve immediately, with an earthy wild mushroom or nutty pureed squash soup.

 

Garlic Coconut Butter Grilled Naan

with Green Falafel Mash, Parsley Mango Slaw, and Sriracha Aioli (Top Right):

for the garlic coconut butter grilled naan:

2 fat cloves of garlic, minced

2 tbsp coconut oil

4 pieces whole wheat naan bread

To make the coconut butter, put combine garlic and coconut oil in a small bowl and microwave for 30-45 seconds until fragrant. Brush the mixture onto one side of the naan and put that side down on a hot grill pan (it’s still pretty cold where I am, but if it’s summer wherever you are and you have the luxury of using a grill, by all means fire it up!). Lift up a corner to see if it’s nicely charred, once it is, brush the oil on the upper side and flip it over to get it grill-marked.

for the green falafel mash:

2 cups flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped (throw the stems in there!)

1 can (540 ml) chickpeas, drained

1 generous tbsp madras curry powder

3 tbsp tahini

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

sea salt, to taste

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until a coarse puree forms. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle with some more EVOO and set aside.

for the parsley mango slaw:

1 large mango, ripe but firm, thinly sliced

1 cup finely shredded flat leaf parsley

Stir together the mango and parsley in a bowl and set aside.

for the sriracha aioli:

2 heaping tbsp good quality mayonnaise, feel free to use your favourite vegan mayo or cashew cream!

1 tbsp sriracha hot sauce (don’t tone it down, go beyond if it’s your thing!)

1 tbsp lime juice

In a small bowl stir together the mayo, sriracha, and lime juice, adding a bit more sriracha or lime juice to get a nice drizzling consistency. To assemble, spread the falafel mash onto the grilled naan, top with the mango slaw, and drizzle with the sriracha aioli.

Serve immediately with a minty cooler : blend together frozen yellow watermelon cubes + fresh mint + lime + coconut water!

 

Roasted Aloo Gobi (Bottom Right):

1 head cauliflower separated into bite-sized florets

1 large baking potato, diced into 1-inch pieces, boiled for 12 minutes

8 cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 cup shelled green peas, frozen is fine

3 tbsp madras curry powder

2 heaping tbsp grainy mustard

1 cup crushed tomatoes

2 tbsp melted coconut oil

sea salt, to taste

2 tbsp honey or agave

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Combine all ingredients besides the honey and place into two large baking trays. Bake for 1 hr, stirring every 10~15 minutes. Drizzle with honey and bake for another 10~15 minutes until vegetables are tender and caramelized.

Serve with coconut steamed basmati rice or garlic coconut butter grilled naan (above).

 

Lemon Butter Bean Tartines  with Spring Sugar Peas, Butter Lettuce, and Radishes (Bottom Left):

for the Lemon Butter Beans:

1 can (540 ml) white or butter beans, rinsed and drained

1 heaping tbsp grainy mustard

zest and juice of 1 small lemon

2 tsp honey or agave

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

sea salt

black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth, you might need to scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times. Set aside.

for the tartine assemby:

few slices toasted baguette or spelt or dark rye bread, really anything goes

1 head Boston or butter lettuce, leaves washed and patted dry

1 cup shelled sweet peas, frozen ones are fine, just let them sit at room temperature for 20 minutes

2 scallions, thinly sliced

4~5 radishes, thinly sliced

Spread a bit of the bean puree onto the toasted bread, then put the lettuce on (that way the lettuce will actually stay on the tartine). Fill the lettuce with more of the puree and garnish with the peas, scallions, and radish rounds.

Serve  with a strawberry almond milkshake: blend together frozen strawberries + almond milk + agave + vanilla extract

Happy spring cleaning your body, mind, and pantry!

 

PSL: Plus Some Love

On those Saturday mornings when I lay, semi-tucked in between my duvet and bed sheets, and realize once more that aside from the whirring of the heater there is no other breathing thing in the apartment but me, I ponder:

what do I live for today?

Should I get up, plant my feet in my slippers, then shuffle them over to the bathroom? Or maybe I should turn my back to the tangerine hue that seeps past the canvas blinds and forget again.

Then I remember,

The Lord says,

“I will guide you along

the best pathway for life.

I will advise and watch over

you.”

-Psalms 32: 8

Simple, I like. No complicated choices, just one: do I get in that Audi R8 V8 Coupé with the one who’s got it all, and all under control?

Yes, I’d like that! Seriously, I know it’s hard to get up in the morning sometimes when there seems to be a lack of reason. But I choose to see any new day itself as the reason to get up. Why stifle a budding new day with 30, 000 presumptions before it’s even had a chance to unfurl its tender leaves? No reason, for real this time.

So no, I will not shuffle to the bathroom and convince myself that I have a migraine. And no I will not shun the smile of the sun.

I will make myself breakfast. And I will eat it like a boss.

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Ingredients for the Pumpkin Spice Latte Loaf:

2 1/2 c oats

1/2 c shredded coconut

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/3 c dark brown sugar

1/3 c medium maple syrup

1 c pumpkin puree

1 tsp vanilla

2 tsp each instant coffee granules, cinnamon, ginger

1/2 tsp each nutmeg, cloves

1/2 c full-fat coconut milk

1/2 cup chopped white chocolate, optional

To make the pumpkin loaf, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, with the rack placed in the middle of the oven. Line the bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper. Put the oats and dried coconut in a blender or food processor and grind to as fine as possible, about 2~3 minutes depending on the efficiency of your device. Dump the oat flour mixture into a large bowl and whisk in the baking soda and baking powder.

Put all the remaining ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. Pour the wet mixture into the oat flour mixture and stir until almost combined, add the white chocolate, and stir until combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 40~45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs.

Serve it in thick slices the next morning with some homemade (yes you can!) coconut butter if you didn’t add the white chocolate, or slightly toasted, warmed in the microwave, or simply as it is! Trust me, be in quite some love!

Still a Wonder

Whenever I think of comfort food, I can never wander far from bread. Just think peanut butter banana sandwiches (actually just any classic sandwich!), grilled cheese, and stuffing…oh, then french toast, croutons on clam chowder, garlic bread – the list goes on. There’s just something relieving about sinking one’s teeth (maybe first past a toasted golden crust) into the pillowy soft, moist bread.

Actually, just making the bread is happy enough of a travail for me. I suppose watching the doughboy double then triple in size is like watching a child grow. I mean, afterall, are there nof millions of tiny little yeast children growing up, reproducing and populating the entire world of their existence?

So I guess making bread reminds me a little bit of raising children, which makes me feel rather accomplished, like I’ve made a difference of some sort; like adding a bit of comfort to the home on a gloomy wet day like this.

“Acorns were good until bread was found. “

-Francis Bacon

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Ingredients for my favourite sandwich bread:

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 cups warm water

2 tbsp active dry yeast

2 cups whole wheat flour

3~4 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup skim milk powder

2 tsp fine sea salt

1/3 cup canola or grape seed oil

1 egg yolk

1 tbsp milk

To make the bread, combine the brown sugar with the warm water in the bowl of your stand mixer. Sprinkle on the yeast and let it stand for 5 minutes, or until it foams and puffs up.

Add the whole wheat flour, 3 cups of the all purpose flour, milk powder, and salt to the yeast mixture. Using the dough hook, knead the dough on low speed (2~4) until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Gradually knead in the oil. Add the remaining flour, 1/3 cup at a time, until the dough starts to clean the sides of the bowl – you may not need to use all of the flour. When I made mine, I only needed 3 2/3 cups of the all purpose, but the key is to gradually add so you get to the point where you’ve added just enough flour, otherwise your dough may get too dry.

Grease a bucket with a lid – a 4 litre ice cream bucket is perfect – with a tablespoon of oil. Dump the kneaded dough into the bucket and cover with the lid. Put the bucket in a warm, dark place and let it rise for an hour. Once it’s at least doubled in size, punch it down and fold the edges into the center. Put the lid back on and let it rise again for another hour.

Turn the soft, elastic dough onto a smooth clean working surface and divide into two equal portions. Using a rolling pin, roll each half into a rectangle, about 9 x 14 inches. Starting at the short end, roll up the dough snugly to form a log. Place each log in a greased loaf pan with the seam side down. Cover and let rise for 1 more hour.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 385 degrees F. In a small bowl, beat together the egg yolk with the milk lightly. Once the dough has finished its hour of rising, brush the top with the egg yolk wash.

Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Then, lower the temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking for 20 to 30 minutes. Unlike batter breads and cakes, you don’t need to stick a skewer in there to test if it’s done. Simply tap the top gently – if it sounds hollow, then it’s done.

Cool completely in the pan before running a knife along the sides of the pan and inverting to release the loaf.

The possibilities are now endless.

Enjoy!

Casually Pudding it Out

Last year, while in Montreal, I stumbled upon a little patisserie. The floorspace of that mignon location was (my eyes are searching for an appropriate comparison as I write this), no bigger than a couple of my dining room table’s surface.

It was quite astounding, really, the rate at which baguettes, boules, pain au chocolats, croissants, and other viennoiseries were being popped from their invisible oven. While yes, the smell of flaky, buttery pastries was rich and openly seducing me, it seems that I have a soft spot for those who play it cool.

Half a dozen or so slices of a certain firm, cold bread pudding, which they called the diplomate, arranged on a glass stand under a glass dome, caught my attention. The anonymous advice “the more unappealing something appears, the more reason to try it; it’s not on the menu for no reason.” rang in the back of my ears.

I’m still working on attaining that moist firmness, that richness that’s delightful cold, and the delicate spice, but in the meantime, while I dream, I’d like to share here, a little recipe of a humble pudding.

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Ingredients for the pannettone pudding:

1 panettone, cut into 1-inch cubes

6 free range eggs

1 cup raw sugar

300 ml heavy cream

300 ml milk

dash of cinnamon

1 tbsp spiced rum (whisky or brandy will do just fine)

1 tbsp softened butter, for greasing

To make the bread pudding, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, with the rack in the center of the oven. Spread the cubes out in a single layer on a large baking sheet and toast the cubes for 5 minutes, or until crisp golden. Let cool completely. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees F.

Meanwhile in a really large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, cream, milk, cinnamon and rum. Add the bread cubes and mix gently with hands to coat. Let the mixture stand and absorb the moisture while you grease a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish. Pour the bread mixture into the greased dish in an even thickness, pressing down gently to level it.

Bake for 40 minutes, raise the temperature to 375 degrees F and bake for another 10 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Cool completely before slicing. I recommend eating this the day after, letting it rest and set in the fridge overnight first tp let the flavours meld together.

Enjoy!