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Thanks for visiting and bon appétit!
Heather

Thinking about starting the New Year on a delicious, frugal and healthy note? If so, this is the soup for you!

This recipe is from Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure, a cookbook for those who use pressure cookers. But don’t worry, even if you don’t have a pressure cooker you can still make this soup—I’ve provided conventional stove-top directions as well.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp safflower or canola oil
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped onions or thinly sliced leeks (white and light green parts)
  • 3½ to 4 cups boiling water
  • 1 lb beets, trimmed, scrubbed, and cut into ½ inch cubes
  • ½ lb thin-skinned potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 lb cabbage, cored and thinly shredded
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 2 tsp dried dill seeds or dill weed
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 to 4 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Optional garnishes:

  • Sour cream or plain yogourt
  • Cucumber

Directions for Pressure Cookers:

  1. Heat the oil in the cooker. Cook the onions over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Add the water (stand back to avoid sputtering oil), beets, potatoes, cabbage, tomatoe paste, bay leaves, and dill seeds.
  2. Lock the lid in place. Over high heat, bring to high pressure. Lower the heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for 6 minutes. Reduce the pressure with a quick-release method. Remove the lid, tilting away from you to allow any excess steam to escape. If the beets are not fork tender, replace (but do not lock) the lid and simmer until they are done. Remove the bay leaves.

Conventional Stove-top Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in stock pot. Cook the onions over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Add the water (stand back to avoid sputtering oil), beets, potatoes, cabbage, tomatoe paste, bay leaves, and dill seeds.
  2. Cook over low-medium heat until beets are fork tender. Remove the bay leaves.

Serving Options:

For a winter soup: Purée about one third of the soup with a hand blender. Stir in salt and pepper. Add lemon juice to taste just before serving. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream, if desired.

For a summer soup: Purée the soup, add salt and pepper, and transfer to a large storage container, cover and chill. Just before serving, add lemon juice to taste. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or yogourt, if desired, and top with cucumber and/or dill.


Ever wonder why the tofu you toss into your stir-fry at home never has the flavour and crispiness of restaurant tofu? I did, too, until I came across this recipe for baked tofu in the Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant cookbook.* This recipe is very easy and reheats well. It also takes precisely as long to cook as does brown rice. Coincidence? I think not.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp dark sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tbsp mirin, sake or dry sherry
  • 1 tbsp rice or cider vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp finely minced onion
  • 1 tsp grated ginger root
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp chili paste
  • 1 package of extra-firm tofu, pressed and cut into 1/4″ cubes

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease the inside of a 9 x 9″ oven-safe dish.
  2. Combine all the ingredients except for the tofu in a medium sized bowl and briefly whisk.
  3. Add the tofu and stir to coat.
  4. Dump the whole kit and kaboodle into the oven-safe dish and spread evenly.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes. (You can turn the tofu partway through cooking if you like, though I confess I’m too lazy to bother.)
  6. Eat.

______________

*Note: The cookbook actually provides a few variations on baked tofu, all of which are tasty. Also, as I suspect you’ve guessed, the above recipe is my paraphrasing of the original.


I’ve been meaning to try my hand at making yogourt for a while. I loved the yogourt my mom used to make for me when I was a kid, and the way I eat it, yogourt has become a rather expensive habit.

My first foray into yogourt making was a smashing success thanks to Farida’s easy-to-follow recipe, which I found at her blog, AZ Cookbook: Food from Azerbaijan & Beyond.

I’m happy to report that my yogourt tastes exactly as delicious as the yogourt I used as starter, and, whereas the starter cost me $3.50/litre, my yogourt came to just $1.50/litre.

If you’ve been thinking of giving this a try yourself, go for it—it’s easy, delectable and cheap!

 

Portabello mushrooms make this vegetarian version of French onion soup hearty, and the thyme gives it a fragrance that’s divine. This soup is a bit involved to make, but it doesn’t seem like so much work if you divide the work over 2 days. You can prepare the onions through step 2, cool them in the pot, and refrigerate for up to 3 days before proceeding with the recipe. For the best flavor, make the soup a day or 2 in advance.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 lbs yellow onions, halved and cut in thin slices
  • salt
  • water for deglazing
  • 8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 4 large portabello mushroom caps, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 6 sprigs of fresh thyme (you can substitue dry thyme, but it won’t match the fragrance of the fresh)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ground black pepper

For the Croutons:

  • 1 small baguette, cut in 1/2-inch slices (2 slices per bowl)
  • thin slices of Manchego cheese to cover croutons

Directions:

  1. Adjust oven rack to accomodate your 6-litre Dutch oven (or a large stock pot with an oven-safe lid) and heat oven to 400 degrees. Thoroughly grease inside of heavy-bottomed Dutch oven.  Place butter in pot and add onions and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, covered for 1 hour until onions are moist and somewhat reduced in volume.
  2. Remove pot from oven and stir onions, scraping bottom and sides of pot. Return pot to oven with lid slightly ajar and continue to cook until onions are very soft and golden brown, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours longer, stirring onions and scraping bottom and sides of pot after 1 hour.
  3. Carefully remove pot from oven and place on medium-high heat. Using oven mitts to handle pot, cook onions, stirring frequently and scraping bottom and sides of pot, until liquid evaporates and onions brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Reduce heat to medium if onions are browning too quickly.
  4. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, for 5 to 10 minutes and pot bottom is coated with dark crust (this is the fond), adjusting heat as necessary. Scrape any fond that collects on the spoon back into onions.
  5. Stir in 1/4 cup water, scraping pot bottom to loosen crust, and cook until water evaporates and pot bottom has formed another dark crust, 6 to 8 minutes. Repeat process of deglazing 2 or 3 more times, until onions are very dark brown.
  6. Stir in sherry and cook, stirring frequently, until sherry evaporates, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add sliced portabellos, stirring until the mushrooms are soft and reduced in volume.
  8. Stir in broth, thyme, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, scraping up any final bits of browned crust on bottom and sides of pot. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes. Remove and discard herbs, then season with salt and pepper.

For the croutons: While soup simmers, arrange baguette slices in single layer on baking sheet and bake in 400-degree oven until bread is dry, crisp, and golden at edges, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

To serve: Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Set individual broiler-safe crocks on baking sheet and fill each with about 1 3/4 cups soup. Top each bowl with 1 or 2 baguette slices (do not overlap slices) and place slices of Manchego cheese on top. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly around edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

You can thank my sister-in-law, Tomomi, for teaching me how to make these delicious buns and letting me share the recipe with you. Steamed buns are quick and easy to make, freeze well, and can hold pretty much any filling your heart desires.

Sweet azuki bean buns

Tomomi’s Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tbsp sesame (or other) oil
  • 1-2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1  tsp dry yeast

Directions:

  1. Put all ingredients into a bread machine and run it on the dough setting.
  2. While the bread machine is machining, make your filling (See below for filling ideas.)
  3. Once the bread machine cycle is complete, preheat your oven to 105°F.  (My oven gives me the option of 0°F or 200°F, so I just preheat it at the lowest setting for a few minutes, then turn the heat off.)
  4. Take your dough and divide in 6. Shape into buns and place on squares of baking parchment.
  5. Let them rise inside the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
  6. Flatten the rolls (I do this on a piece of parchment so I don’t have to worry about dusting the counter with flour), place a tsp to a tbsp of filling in the middle of your dough and bring the edges together until the tastiness is sealed inside. Return stuffed bun to its square of parchment.
  7. Let buns rise in the oven another 10 minutes. While waiting start water boiling in a wok or pot large enough to accommodate your bamboo steamer.
  8. At the end of the 10 minutes, transfer the buns into the steamer and cook them for 10 minutes over medium-high heat.
  9. Enjoy.

Note: Buns freeze well and can be thawed in the fridge overnight. Microwave them for approximately 30 seconds for a warm and satisfying treat.

Heather’s Whole Wheat Version

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tbsp sesame (or other) oil
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1  tsp dry yeast

Directions as above.

Filling Ideas

  • Sweet Azuki Bean Buns ~ fill with sweet azuki bean paste
  • Tuna Melts ~ fill with a mixture of light flaked tuna, avocado, and old cheddar
  • Pizza Pockets ~ fill with a mixture of tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella, and veggie pepperoni
  • Lox Pockets ~ fill with a mixture of smoked salmon, cream cheese, and capers
  • Taco Pockets ~ fill with a mixture of refried beans, salsa, and Monterey Jack cheese
  • Samosa Buns ~ fill with samosa filling (I especially like the recipe in the Moosewood Cookbook)
  • Apple Pie Pocket ~ will with a mixture of baked apple, pomegranate seeds, a pinch of cinnamon and clove, and Manchego cheese
  • Spanokopita Buns ~ fill with a mixture of feta cheese, cooked chopped spinach, sautéed onion and chopped garlic
  • Brocco-Buns ~ fill with a finely chopped mixture of cooked broccoli and cauliflower, and shredded jalapeño havarti
  • Sweet Potato Buns ~ fill with mashed yams seasoned with a pinch of salt and some maple syrup

Have your own ideas for scrumptious fillings? We’d love to read about them in the comments!

These mini cornbreads are especially delicious straight from the oven with a bit of melty cream cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ cups cornmeal
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup plain yogourt
  • 1¼ cups milk
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 drained can whole kernal corn (without added sodium; not creamed corn)
  • 4 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely minced
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly oil 12-cup muffin tin.
  2. In a bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, and baking powder. In a second bowl whisk together egg, yogourt, and milk. Pour liquid into dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until the dry ingredients are moist.
  3. Add butter, corn, jalapeño, and half the cheese, then stir.
  4. Spoon batter into muffin tin. Divide the rest of the cheese evenly and sprinkle over each cup. Bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Let cool in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer muffins to cooling rack. These keep well in the freezer and can be thawed overnight or microwaved when you’re ready to eat them.
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