Hot Pink Cold Pizza

I’m heading to the gym, so no time to chat and lecture you on the dire state of the world. But eating a plant-based diet 80% of the time helps. Here’s a recipe that might makes it pretty fun. Did you know that the colour pink lowers aggression in those who see it? Be kind. Eat pink. Even better if it’s in pizza form.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

Beetroot Hummus:

  • 1 large garlic clove, finely grated
  • 2 medium beets, roasted until tender
  • Half a lemon, juice only
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp sea salt

In a small bowl, stir together the garlic and the lemon juice. Let sit for 5 minutes. This removes much of the garlic’s harsh pungency.

Add the garlic mixture to a high speed blender with all remaining ingredients. Blend on high speed until completely smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add a couple tablespoons of cold water at a time until the mixture runs smoothly.

Transfer to a sealable container and chill until needed.

Cider Pickled Raisins

  • 2 tbsp golden raisins
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

In a small bowl combine the raisins and vinegar. Microwave on high heat for 30 seconds. Stir and let cool.

Toasted Everything Bagel Dukkah

  • 1 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp dried granulated onion

In a small bowl, stir together all ingredients. Spread out onto a clean baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 5 minutes, or until golden and fragrant. Cool completely before sealing in a jar. Keeps for up to 3 months.

Beetroot Pizza with Pickled Raisins, Toasted Everything Bagel Dukkah, Dill, and Shaved Radishes

  • 1 pizza crust or large naan
  • 1 recipe beetroot hummus
  • 2 tsp toasted everything bagel dukkah
  • 1 recipe cider pickled raisins
  • 1 tbsp toasted pepitas
  • 1 breakfast radish, thinly sliced
  • Crushed coriander seeds, to taste
  • Dill fronds, to garnish
  • Good olive oil, to finish

Spread the hummus liberally onto the pizza crust. Sprinkle on the dukkah, raisins, and pumpkin seeds. Garnish with shaved radishes and dill. Finish with a generous drizzle of good olive oil and crushed coriander seeds. Slice and serve.

 

Two and Fifteen Gifts

Where I am, the high tops of conifers are draped underneath a veil of fog just thin enough for a few branches to poke through. The ground is missing the crisp touch of frost, and is instead drenched in a blanket of condensation to be lifted once the day begins.

This is not quite the Vancouver I grew up in, but the humidity made the air familiar as I drove down Dewdney.

I am not quite the one who left three years ago, but the few I was about to visit were so much a part of me that setting foot back in their corridors did not seem like an act of trespass. And for all the roots they gave me, I was grateful.

Every good gift

and every

perfect

gift

is from above, coming down

from the Father of

lights

with whom there is no variation or shadow

due to change.

James 1:17

IMG_0057edit.jpg
Roast Winter Vegetables with Charred Scallion Dressing

Roast Vegetables:

  • 1 mini pumpkin, seeded, diced
  • 3 small sweet potatoes, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • few rounds black pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3 tbsp melted coconut oil

Toss all ingredients together until evenly coated and roast at 450 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until tender.

Charred Scallion Dressing:

  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 2 strips lemon zest
  • 1/2 lemon, juice only
  • 12 almonds, toasted
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Char the scallions on a grill or on your stove’s electric coils.

Brown the butter on medium heat until the milk solids are well-browned and the butter is very nutty. Remove from the heat and stir in the chili flakes.

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend into a chunky paste.

Serve the roast vegetables with the scallion dressing. This dressing is also great for sandwiches or to stir into puree soups.

Bonus question: who inspired you in 2015, and how? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear your stories!

bless you, industrialization

Closely linked to and much like democracy, industrialization is also a protégé of Western politics. While I would probably say that democracy granted to developing countries is probably as bad as giving chocolate to a dog, it would be unfitting to say the same of industrialization. (Yes, hate to break it to you about democracy, but it’s sort of common sense. When you need to build a country and get stuff done, it’s better to have a single long-term vision than multiple parties putting on a talent show.)

Industrialization is sort of like pumping iron, it whips a nation into shape – it is impossible to achieve efficient production without order and discipline. For developed countries, it’s the tried-and-true steroid for jump-starting the economy.

Even for the average household, industrialization has worked its magic. That is, unless you still roast wild fish caught by wooden spears on scratch-made pit fires or, less appetizingly, bash the poor thing’s head on a rock then rip your teeth directly into the knocked-out animal’s less-than-tender flesh.

What we would call artisan or from-scratch today can hardly be achieved in the absence of industrialization.

Consider bread, the very edible incarnation of the word ‘rustic’. Made with yeast bred in incubators with machine-regulated humidity and temperature, and flour ground by furnace or electricity powered mills from commercially farmed wheat. Prior to industrialization, people sat around and waited for yeast to fall out of the sky (in the form of rain) into hollowed-out logs and grow into a usable amount.

As a student, oh my do I love industrialization for its gifts. Just think: no industrialization = no food processor = 3 hours to make hummus. I practically live off that stuff, and ain’t no UW student got the time to mash chickpeas for 3 hours a day.

Humans might have gotten many things wrong, perhaps more wrong than right, and industrialization in a hundred years may reveal itself as the dumbest crime man has ever committed,

but hey, it works handsomely right now.

Take millstones and grind flour.

Remove your veil,

strip off your robes,

bare your legs,

and wade through the rivers.

Isaiah 47:2

IMG_5149edit

 

If you’re any bit like me and simply cannot help but gloat at the sight of meatballs on a lush, creamy bed of polenta, then this is already, without a doubt, your next obsession. If you’re with me on the gloating despite your mild disapproval of polenta, then you my friend, have just found your next every-weeknight-dinner. Savoury spiced meatballs, caramelized with minimal effort right in the oven, nestled on a bed of buttery silken hummus, are finished off with an ingeniously vibrant and zesty parsley oil and plump sultana raisins. Make an extra batch of meatballs, freeze the extras, and you’ll have dinner served in under 20 minutes any day of the week.

Ingredients for the koftes, makes 24~30:

1 tsp each fennel seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, oregano, and thyme

1/2 tsp ground white pepper

454 g ground lamb or free-range, grass-fed beef

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion, finely diced

1 free range egg

1 tbsp olive oil

a generous helping of sea salt, to taste

To make the koftes, preheat the oven to 415 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment.

Place the all of the spices in a spice/coffee grinder and pulse until finely ground. Put the spice mix in a large mixing bowl with the remaining ingredients and mix gently with your hands until the mixture comes together. Add a little cold water if the mixture seems too dry. Divide the mixture into 24~30 portions and shape them into balls. Place them on the prepared tray and bake for 20 minutes, or until browned and cooked through.

Ingredients for the hummus:

1 can chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and drained again

1 garlic clove

1 lemon, juice only

3 tbsp tahini

1 tsp honey or agave

sea salt, to taste

To make the hummus, place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add a little water at a time with the motor running to adjust to a lusciously smooth consistency. It should be slightly thinner than regular hummus.

Ingredients for the parsley oil:

80 ml extra virgin olive oil

1 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1 long strip lemon zest

To make the parsley oil, place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. It is best used immediately, but will keep, covered and refrigerated, for two days.

To assemble, spoon a large dollop of hummus into small salad plates. Splatter a bit of the parsley oil on top, then add a few koftes/meatballs. Finish with a small handful of sultana raisins and a round or two of freshly cracked black pepper.

Serve with pitas, lavash, or seeded crackers.

Happy noshing!

 

my first characters

In the western world, most people probably started off learning the alphabet with ‘A’ or ‘a’ for apple. Should the preliminary curriculum all of a sudden change course by 180 degrees and start with ‘Z’, parents might storm down the schools and government. Consider you lucky, you people who only have to deal with 26 letters of the alphabet plus a few accents aigus, accents circonflexes, and oh that forsaken cédille which is so often butchered by anglophones who don’t deal with any of the above save for the accent tréma which appears only once a year on Christmas cards anyway.

You guys have it easy. E-A-S-Y, I say.

Having lived in Taiwan until the age of eight, I’ve had the pleasure of suffering through the memorization of two thousand traditional Chinese characters before immigrating to Canada to start third grade. Yes imagine, your six, seven year old writing characters in notebooks filled with four-square grids that span each page with six columns of ten endlessly at a rate of 4 notebooks per semester. Some call it discipline, maybe I do too.

Anyhow, I don’t want to bog you down with too much of the details, but strangely enough, at thirteen years later, I still remember the very first six characters I learned.

1. 小 small

2. 花 flower

3. 生 live

4. 出 exit

5. 來 arrive

6. 了has

How is this relevant? Well, if you know nothing about Chinese (and yes it is a language, a written one to be exact though completely meaningless when used to describe a dialect), here’s the thing:

it makes perfect nonsense.

For example, if you wanted to say “small flower”, you’d literally put one and two together to get 小花. In the same way, by putting two and three together you’d get 花生 which means peanuts. Simple?

My a$$.

Where 豆腐ck did peanuts come from? It’s supposed to be flower live! But now that’s just talking nonsense, what is flower live even supposed to mean? Maybe the Chinese language does make sense after all those 24 dynasties spanning 5000 years.

And now we have it, main show of the post 花生豆腐 (peanut tofu).

He who was

seated on the throne

said,

“I am making everything new!”

Then he said,

“Write this down,

for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Revelation 21:5

peanut tofu 2

Peanut tofu is one of those things that are unimaginable, there’s no way around it, and I truly honestly do admire whoever came up with it. Its spin-offs, notably black sesame tofu and almond tofu which walks along a sweeter line are undeniably impressive, but nothing quite like the strange, earthy, savouriness you get from the peanut tofu. This is not the traditional recipe which uses a rice flour derived from an indigenous Taiwanese rice with a distinctive sweet aroma and custard-like texture once gelatinized. However, what this recipe does rely on as the thickener is agar powder, a colorless, flavourless seaweed that’s been dried and finely ground. This makes the tofu lighter in texture.

The author of the recipe recommends serving the tofu with freshly grated wasabi as well as aged soy paste. Fortunately, the latter is rather easy to come by nowadays in the age of Asian megastores such as T&T; try Wuan Chuang, which has a lovely balance of earthy sweetness and savouriness and can pretty much hold its own. However, obtaining fresh wasabi root is still a challenge. Personally I prefer it without wasabi – what can I say? I’m a purist.

Tweaked and translated from 我的日式食物櫃 – Liz

Ingredients for the Peanut Tofu, serves 12 as an appetizer:

800 ml unsweetened traditional soy milk (you can find this in Asian grocers, DO NOT use soy beverages such as So Good, Silk, or Soy Dream)

3 tbsp all natural peanut butter (made with just peanuts)

8 g agar powder

400 ml filtered water

1 tbsp light soy sauce

1 tsp sea salt

To make the peanut tofu, whisk the agar powder and water in a small saucepan over medium heat until dissolved. Put the peanut butter in a blender and blend with the agar mixture until smooth.

In a separate pot, whisk the soy milk until hot, but not boiled. Whisk in the soy sauce and salt. Pour the peanut agar mixture into the soy mixture and stir well.

Place the pot in an ice waterbath to cool the mixture down as quickly as possible.

Meanwhile, brush the inside of a 13 x 9 in. dish with a neutral oil – preferably peanut, to stick with the theme – or simply line the bottom with parchment.

Once the mixture begins to thicken, whisk it vigourously until smooth and pour it into the prepared dish. Chill completely for at least 2 hours or until set.

Serve cold with soy paste and a steaming cup of genmaicha, enjoy!

 

salt and bovine cellulite

Rounding up 2014, because that seems like the only appropriate thing to do at this point, it seems that avocados and eggs haven’t exactly been my thing despite that donburi which may well be one of the highlights of the year. At least for me, 2014 has unfurled into a series of flirtations with NaCl and cellulite. While “put an egg on it” has more or less swept over the daily grub scene and transcended the bounds of the a.m., I’ve been frolicking around in salt – just recall that watermelon, that crumble, and that kabocha. That kabocha though…

As I write this I am also noticing that the two things that sum up the year for me are the two things that happen to be the unchallenged pillars of flavour. Coincidence?

Moving on to fat, the woes of this misunderstood substance, especially animal fat, which in my opinion, is perhaps what makes meat appealing. And when you mix fats, it’s possibly the best thing you can do to a dish. Mind you, I am one to buy beef ribs and despite the flashing red sale sign hovering over family packs of tenderloin. Tilapia fillets…did I even touch those? I think I prefer my fish AFAP (as fat as possible) so keep that skin on and hand me that belly trim. Also, um, smoked oyster oil makes the kale nearly arbitrary. Yes, kale, the little black lace dress of the edible dimension in recent years.

Now, to wrap things up, I’m really dishing up the nitty gritty essence of the year in this one plate of a single carrot. Buried in coarse flakes of kosher salt and baked until the natural sugars become concentrated into a candy intensity, the flesh becomes tender yet firm and meaty, then finished with searing beef fat in the cast iron (which is, by the way, so 2014), this is the most tedious, pretentious, and worthwhile dirt cheap bite I’ve made. And with this South Asian wind sweeping across North America, briny notes from plain yoghurt and lentils sort of made sense.

You shall present them

before the LORD,

and the priests shall

throw salt on them,

and they shall offer them up

as a burnt offering to the LORD

Ezekiel 43:24

IMG_4464edit2

Ingredients for the salt baked carrots, serves 4

4 medium carrots, sized like those in bunches, scrubbed clean

3 cups coarse kosher or sea salt

3 tbsp rendered beef fat

To make the baked carrots, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, with the rack placed in the middle. Pour half of the salt into a baking dish. Nestle the carrots into the salt and pour the remaining salt on top of the carrots to cover.

Bake the carrots for 40-45 minutes or until tender when pierced by the tip of a knife.

Let stand for 10 minutes, before breaking off the salt cap and brushing off the excess salt.

Heat the beef fat in a cast iron skillet until hot. Add the carrots and sear on all sides until golden and lightly blistered.

Ingredients for the lentils and garnishes:

1 cup cooked lentils, drained

juice of one lemon

1/2 tsp honey, to taste

Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

1 small garlic clove, crushed

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

4 tbsp quark orplain Balkan style yoghurt

small handful baby arugula

To make the briny lentils, combine all ingredients except for the yoghurt and arugula and let stand for at least 30 minutes, or preferably overnight in the fridge.

To serve, divide the lentils into four plates. Place a carrot on each plate, dot with yoghurt, and garnish with arugula.

Enjoy!

(I usually have this with steak, because then I’d naturally have a cast ironful of beef fat.)

 

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!