Finally got my paws on some Daiya “cheese”!

This past year, I’ve been reading article after article on a new faux cheese product called “Daiya“. It melts. it stretches. It tastes just like cheese.  Or so the rumors loomed.  With so many people singing its praises, and with VegNews awarding it “2009 Product of the Year”, I was determined to see what all the fuss was about.  To my dismay, despite the overwhelming publicity Daiya has recieved, their products are not available at Canadian grocery stores just yet (even though Daiya’s factory is in North Vancouver!).  But last week, fate led me out to New West where I got my cheese-starved hands on a 5 Lb package at Karmavore.  Oh. My. God.  It’s a miracle product!  Absolutely delicious, and performs just like cheese in every single way!

Perhaps even more impressive than the way Daiya performs is the ingredient list: so, so simple!  No crazy chemicals or weird food-like substances…and better yet, it is free of all of the most common allergens: soy, wheat, dairy (duh), and nuts!  Incredible!

The very first thing I made was a grilled cheese sandwich…Yes, it was enough to make a grown woman cry.  I immediately called my mom to get the Mac and Cheese recipe that my sister and I grew up on.  With a few veganizations, here it is.  I promise you it will stand up to all your deepest cheese desires!

Sarah and Laura’s Favorite Macaroni and Cheese

  • 2 Tbsp Earth Balance margarine
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 C. Nondairy Milk
  • 1 1/2 C plus 1/4 C grated Daiya cheese (Italian flavour)
  • 1/4 tsp.  vegan worchestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard powder
  • 2 C. dry macaroni
  • 1/4 C. breadcrumbs

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Boil pasta in salted water until almost perfect al dente, strain.

2. Meanwhile, whisk together a roux from the melted margarine, flour, and salt over medium heat.  Gradually add nondairy milk.  Add worchestershire sauce and mustard powder.  Stir in Daiya and remove from heat.

The sauce was so good, I wanted to eat it as a cheese bisque!

3. Stir together pasta and sauce, pour into an ungreased casserole dish and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.  cover with the reserved 1/4 of Daiya cheese.  Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until top begins to brown slightly.

It took all of my willpower not to eat the whole thing at this point...somehow, I managed to get it in the oven before I ate it all.

4.  It is pretty rich, so a salad goes perfectly.  (Yeah, tofu dogs were kinda silly, but childhood nostalgia got the better of me.)

Enjoy!

[EDIT] If you want to try Daiya, There are 3 Vancouver restaurants that have added it to their menu: The Naam (Kitsilano), Bandidas Taquera (Commercial Drive), and Rebellious Tomato (North Van).  If you don’t live that close, you could try ordering online, but it could be expensive….I’m not sure when it will be available to the general public, as Daiya is focusing on a retail strategy that starts with restaurants.  The good news is that rumors say it should be on grocery shelves this spring!

———————————–

In other excitement- I signed up to be a taste tester for Edible Flours, a vegan/allergy-free bakery that is gearing up to open a storefront in Vancouver…Look at the goodies they delivered to my house this morning!

Clearly, it has been a decadent and exciting week for me in the food department.  With the beautiful spring weather and the determined Olympic spirit here in Vancouver, I am setting out on a Raw Food Adventure…99% raw for 7 days!  It is something that I have been wanting to do for a long time- my body needs a break from sugar and gluten….yes, and probably too much Daiya, lol 🙂

Stay tuned for Day 1!

———————

Food for Thought:

*Breast Cancer Awareness? What does that do? Breast Cancer prevention.

*New documentary “Forks Over Knives” claims degenerative diseases can be reversed by rejecting animal-based foods.

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February 22, 2010 at 9:03 am 6 comments

Four-and-a-Half Layer Dip

Hello Amigos!

In the spirit of the Super Bowl, and Superbowl related snacks, I’d like to present the most awesomest chip dip, ever:  Four-and-a-Half Layer Dip!   Obviously, this is a vegan version of the classic 5-layer dip that usually includes sour cream and shredded cheddar.  My recipe uses a decadent cashew ricotta to replace the sour cream and cheese.   Since “4 layer dip” sounded so underwhelming to me, I squeaked in another half layer consisting of several yummy confetti garnishes!

Materials: food processor, spatula, clear, medium-sized casserole dish

1. Refried Bean Layer

  • 2 c. cooked pinto beans (or 1 can, drained)
  • 1 Tbs. cooking oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 Tbs chili powder or taco seasoning
  • 1 jalapeno, minced (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Heat oil and saute onion and jalapeno until tender.  Dust with salt and chili powder and cook 30 seconds more.  Stir in Pinto beans and add a Tbs of water to thin out mixture.  Transfer to food processor or blender.  Blend, adding extra water if necessary to get a smoother consistency.  Adjust seasonings and spread into the bottom of glass dish.

2. Simple Guacamole Layer

  • 3 large, ripe avocados
  • lime juice to taste (about 1.4 C, about 2 limes)
  • salt to taste (1/2 tsp +)

Put 2 of the 3 avocados in food processor with lime juice and salt.  Dice remaining avocado into small cubes.  In a medium bowl, fold together.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Spread over top of bean layer.

3. Cashew Ricotta Layer

  • 1/4 C thick cashew cream
  • 4 oz tofu, cubed roughly
  • 1 Tbs nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 C)
  • 1 tsp miso paste
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in food processor and pulse.  Every few pulses, scrape down sides of bowl.  Do not over-process, as you want a ricotta-like texture.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Spread carefully on top of guacamole mixture.

4. Salsa Layer:

  • 8-10 cherry tomatoes, halved

Arrange decoratively on top of Cashew Ricotta mixture.

5. “1/2” Layer

  • 1 chopped green onion
  • 2-3 cilantro sprigs
  • 3-4 chopped black olives

Srpinkle green and olive pieces uniformly, arrange whole cilantro sprigs on top.

Serve with Tortilla Chips and enjoy!

February 4, 2010 at 8:48 pm 1 comment

Guacabouli!

Sometimes I have crazy ideas.  This is one that turned out particularly well.   A Middle-Eastern salad gets a Mexican make-over as the ever-so-versatile avocado lends heft and creaminess to what is usually a light, palate-cleansing salad.   The taste of lime where lemon should be is a fun twist too!  Also, classic tabouli recipes usually have a far shake of oil in them,  but depending on the size of your avocado, you really don’t need to add any extra oil at all- maybe a Tbsp. of flax or hemp oil.  I make this tabouli all the time, and I can’t think of any other situation where I would consume nearly a bundle of parsley in one sitting! Makes a great accompaniment to falafels!…and enchiladas!

Gluten-free, super-protein variation: quinoa in place of couscous

Raw food variation: replace couscous with 3/4 C cauliflower, chopped finely in food processor (see this )

Yield: 4 small or 2 large servings

Ingredients:

1 large, fully ripe avocado

1/4 C fresh lime or lemon juice (about 2-3 lemons, 3 limes)

3/4 C couscous

1 1/2 C parsley, finely chopped

4-5 sun-dried tomatoes or, 10 cherry tomatoes (halved), or both

1 small red pepper, chopped

1 Tbsp.  chopped cilantro

1 Tbsp. flax or hemp oil (optional)

Sea salt to taste (start with 1/2 tsp)

Optional extras: minced garlic, finely chopped red onion, mint, finely chopped jalapeno

Directions

1. in small saucepan, pour 3/4 C boiling water over couscous.  Cover with lid and let stand 10 minutes.

2. pour boiling water over sun-dried tomatoes, let stand 10 minutes.

2. roughly mash avocado with lime or lemon juice in a large bowl

3. Chop parsley, cilantro, and rest of vegetables.  Add to avocado mixture.

4. Chop rehydrated sundried tomatoes and add them to the mixture.  Fluff couscous with a fork and add.

5. Season with salt, Tbs flax oil, and extra lime/lemon juice to taste.

Enjoy!


January 31, 2010 at 7:22 pm 1 comment

Coconut Lemon Muffins with Cashew Ricotta Centres

cuppa tea?

The impetus to develop this recipe came from my need to veganize Caffe Artigiano‘s Lemon Ricotta Muffins, which used to be my dear study-buddies and travel companions back in the day.  For those of you not familiar, Caffe Artigiano is a local coffee house in Vancouver that woos its clientele with premium beans and stunning artwork on their lattes.  They’ve won numerous awards at the World Barista Championships, and lately have been colonizing some prime real estate in anticipation of 2010 Olympics.  Anyway, I used to spend a far share of time there, developing an intimate relationship with their muffins.   The lemon ricotta muffins were always in short supply, and you could pretty much forget getting you paws on one after the 11:30 Corporate Coffee Rush.  I trained myself to get there early, and get my muffin(s) before the Suits did.  I’ll never forget the time that I opened the door for one of these Wall-Street dudes, and he took the very last lemon-ricotta right before my eyes.  The nerve.

But now, I’ve figured out how to make my own lemon-ricottas, and I gotta say, I’m pretty proud of this one.  I adapted VeganYumYum‘s cranberry-lemon muffin recipe to suit my needs by doubling up on the lemon, and using coconut milk instead of soy in order to round out the acidity of the lemon.  I also lessened the amount of oil, since coconut milk kills that bird, too.  The ricotta recipe is an adjustment of Tal Ronnen’s cashew ricotta filling for his Tempura Beets in The Conscious Cook (of Oprah fame).  And for those of you wondering what the hell tofu is doing in a muffin, just trust me on this- it’s the key to getting the ricotta texture.  These muffins are light, fluffy, and …gone already!

Laurakins’s Coconut-Lemon Muffins with Cashew Ricotta

Dry ingredients:

2 C All-Purpose Flour

1/2 C + 1 Tbsp. white (or light brown) sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 Tbs cornstarch

zest from 2 lemons (make sure they are organic)

——-

Wet Ingredients:

3/4 C coconut milk

1/2 C Lemon Juice (about 2-3 lemons)

1/3 C vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp almond extract

1/4 tsp of lemon extract (optional)

——

Ricotta:

1/4 C thick cashew cream

4 oz. firm tofu, diced

1 Tbs. Nutritional yeast

2 1/2 Tbsp. Lemon juice (About 1-2 lemons)

1 1/2 tsp. white miso paste

pinch salt

—–

12 regular muffin cups or 6 jumbo.

Method:

1. Night before: soak cashews in water overnight and follow these directions the next day.

2. Zest 2 lemons, and then juice enough lemons to produce 3/4 C of lemon juice (4-5 lemons)

3. Preheat oven to 400 F, and either grease muffin pan or prepare muffin pan with paper liners.

4. Make the ricotta: in a food processor or blender, pulse all ingredients until mixture is well mixed and resembles a wet ricotta texture.  Do not over-process.  (You don’t want it to be completely smooth, but you don’t want big chunks, either.)  Taste and adjust tartness and salt, if necessary.

5.  In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.  In separate bowl, mix wet ingredients.  Gently fold wet into dry until “just mixed”.  Mixture will begin to “fluff up,” so try and work as quickly as you can…

6. Using 2 spoons, place enough batter to fill muffin cup slightly less than halfway.  Place a small ball of ricotta on top, and top this with another scoop of muffin batter.  (You can fill these muffins all the way to the top of the paper )Repeat Process.  Sprinkle tops with light brown sugar, and bake in centre of oven about 15-17 minutes, or until tops are slightly golden, and a toothpick comes out clean from the centre of the muffin.

7. Let cool at least 20 minutes (otherwise they stick to the paper!) and enjoy!

January 6, 2010 at 6:52 am 1 comment

HAPPY 2010!

What a year 2009 was!  I met a sweet boy to cook for an a regular basis, started a home-business in South Main, celebrated my one year vegi-versary, graduated from university (finally), and started a little blog!  And while the act of actually blogging went by the wayside as the months grew colder, my kitchen continued to be my laboratory where tongue-teasing dishes were devised, developed, and devoured (…as well as occasionally dumped).

Where is this blog going in 2010?   Your guess is as good as mine. But I can tell you that my head has been swimming with different themes, flavors, and styles of cooking (or, “uncooking”) that I’ve been wanting to dive into.   Also, I’d like to tackle some do-it-yourself home projects (my new loft apartment is a tad sterile-looking and in desperate need of some hand-crafted homeyness), so don’t be too shocked if you see the odd knitting needle around here.  My hope is that in 2009 Home Veganomics will become a place to share delicious, sustainable, compassionate, and cozy ideas in a variety of forms!

I wish you all the very best, and look forward a year full of possibilities 😀

Yours,

Laurakins

January 2, 2010 at 6:44 am 2 comments

Sweet and Smoky Banana Squash Soup

Well…I won’t lie, the food budget has taken a severe hit over the last few months.  I ate out way more than I should have, and when I did decide to cook, I cooked bourgeoisie-style.  I’d like to introduce my enabler: the super-duper megastore Whole Foods, which has opened up just four blocks from where I live.    Since September, it has been exerting a very powerful force upon my bank account.  But what can I do? I’ve become smitten with their organic celery and enchanted by their technicoloured tomatoes.  Little purple potatoes wink at me beside rows of gleaming apples with names like exotic dancers.  Everyone in there is happy- the shoppers, the checkers, and seemingly, the produce.  In a state of immaculate food bliss, I willingly overpay.  $4 for 4 potatoes? Okay!  $5 for half a cup of walnuts?  Super!  $2 for an apple?  Okey-dokey!  But today, a representative from the Canada Student Loan Bureau kindly reminded me that the first payment on my loans is due next month.  Needless to say, that call burst my elitist vegetable bubble.  And so,  I say not goodbye to Whole foods, but Auf Wiedersehen!  I shall now recommence my grocery shopping in Chinatown at shabby produce dives where fruit flies congregate on last weeks’ bananas,  and the organic stickers are of questionable authenticity.  Or something like that.   But it’s not really farewell…I will be back at Whole Foods, not to purchase anything, but just to say hi to the squashes from time to time.

Anyhoot, here’s a really delicious and filling autumn soup that you can make sans expensive ingredients from elitist grocery providers, with exception of the chipotle puree.  It’s so warm and comforting…the squash is naturally sweet and complimented by the cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice seasonings.  The sweetness is perfectly rounded out by the smoky chipotle puree.  Don’t be scared- it’s not spicy, just warm. I had never had banana squash before- what a treat!  They are huge 2-3 foot squashes (or squashi?) but are often sold in chunks at the grocery store.  Skip this recipe if you can’t get your hands on a can of chipotles in adobo sauce- it is the key ingredient (next to the  banana squash, of course!), and trust me, you will want to throw chipotles into everything once you try them!

Sweet and Smoky Banana Squash Soup

1 large chunk of banana squash, about the span of both hands, peeled and diced small

1 tbsp oil

1 small onion, chopped

2 large carrots, diced small

2 stalks celery, diced small

1 cup cauliflower, in small florets

1/2 cup of masoor dhal (red lentils)

1 1/2 tsp salt (to taste)

1 tbsp cumin

1 tsp cinamin

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp allspice

veg broth or water to cover

1 tsp dry thyme

1 Tbsp chipotle puree*** (or more, to taste)

***CHIPOTLE PUREE: Blend 1 small tin of Chipotles in Adobo Sauce in Blender.  Keeps for 2 months in fridge.

Directions:

1. Saute onion in oil until translucent, add carrots and celery cook for 3 minutes more.

2. Add cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice to the mix.  Toast, but be careful not to burn.

3.  Add diced squash, cauliflower, and masoor dhal; Cover with broth or water (lentils will absorb a fair amount or water so make sure that everything is really well immersed in liquid); add thyme

4. Cover and cook about 20 minutes or until cauliflower is very soft.

5.  Transfer half the soup to blender and puree.  Return to pot.

6. Season with salt and chipotle puree.  Adjust to taste.

Enjoy!

xox Laurakins

October 14, 2009 at 3:15 am 1 comment

Guess who got to be one of 5 taster-testers for Sarah Kramer?

ME!!

Obviously, I cannot disclose this recipe, as it is Top Secret stuff until she publishes her next book.  However, I’m sure there are no legal snafus with me posting a tantalizing picture of the results:

Sarah Kramer's top secret veg curry

Sarah Kramer's top secret veg curry

If you are wondering how I managed to get into Sarah Kramer‘s Inner Circle, I can tell you in one word: Facebook.  That creepy?  Maybe.  If you are awake Tuesday morning (September 8th) at 8:45 am, she is going to be on Canada AM….it’s times like these I really wish I had cable.  Le sigh. 

Speaking of vegan celebrities, I had the surprise and pleasure of seeing my Letter to the Editor published in VegNews Magazine this month in defense of the lovely Kris Carr, and her cancer-related conversion to veganism (p 23, Sept/Nov issue).  Someone wrote a nasty review of her article, accusing Carr of being an inferior vegan compared with so-called “elite vegans” who made the switch to veggies entirely out of compassion.  I sent in a retort over 3 months ago, and totally forgot all about it.  As I read the 1st few lines of it, I thought, “amen, sistah!” until I realized that it was me who wrote it!  It was so cool to see my name in print in my favorite magazine- I’m going to make a point of writing more letters to editors!

Giddy over my two favorite Veggie Starlets,

Laurakins

September 6, 2009 at 6:40 am Leave a comment

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