We had this for lunch today because we are now addicted to guacamole having scarfed our way through Mexico surviving on a guacamole diet. It’s so simple I almost didn’t post it but Andrew thought it deserved a spot on the blog alongside our other favourite, the VLT. Basically all you need to do is toast some foccacia and spread both pieces generously with guacamole. Then build your open face sandwich from there with arugula, sliced red onion, and sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle with sea salt and ground pepper and eat. It’s not the neatest sandwich but fully satisfying. Why don’t people put things like this on their menus?? Simplicity is the key to life.

I haven’t baked bread in ages. Pity because as soon as I had that dough in my hands it was therapy. Warm, doughy therapy. For any of you in the need, forget spending hundreds of dollars on specialists. Just make focaccia. Then eat it. That’s all the therapy you need. And there’s no end in sight – this one boasts fennel and tomato, but anything will do. Onions, olives, different kinds of salt, herbs, thinly sliced potato. You name it. It goes with focaccia. One immediate improvement I would make? Put herbs in the dough – maybe a little thyme or basilico right in there for the baking to imbibe the whole thing with the scent and taste of those power-packed little greens.

2 small fennel bulbs, thinly sliced

2 tomatoes, thinly sliced

1 1/2 tsps sea salt, any type (for this I used sel de guerande)

extra virgin olive oil, for dipping

3 1/2 cups white bread flour

1 tsp sea salt

2 tsps dried yeast

3 tbsps olive oil

1 1/3 cups warm water

all-purpose flour, for kneading and dusting

For the dough, sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and add the yeast. Stir to combine and make a small well in the centre. Add water and 2 tbsps of olive oil. Quickly stir a few times just to combine, then use your hands to bring the mixture together. (If the mixture is sticking to your hands, add a little flour, but avoid using it if at all possible as adding too much during the kneading process can make the bread chewy). Transfer the dough to a lightly floured counter and knead for 8 – 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Form the dough into a ball and put it in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and let sit in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours, until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put the ball of dough on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, gently roll from the center upwards in one motion, not pressing too firmly so taht any air bubbles stay intact. Roll from the centre down to the opposite end to form a rough oval shape, about 12 inches long and 8 inches at its widest point. Lightly cover adn let sit again for 20 – 30 minutes until it has risen.

Use the tips of your fingers to press dimples over the surface of the dough. Lay the fennel and tomato slices on top. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil adn sprinkle with the salt. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. Carefully slide the focaccia off the sheet and put it directly on the oven shelf. Cook for a further 5 minutes, until the crust is golden. Remove from the oven and let cool before eating. Serve with a small bowl of fruity extra virgin olive oil for dipping.

Adapted from market vegetarian by Ross Dobson.

I was given Veggie Burgers Every Which Way by Lukas Volger for my birthday. He’s got a bazillion varieties of burgers in there from bean burgers to grain burgers to tofu burgers. A lot of them use eggs but there are 5 or 6 that I’d like to try that don’t require the extra binding agent. The first on my list (based only on the available ingredients in my house last night) was the Quinoa, Red Bean, and Pecan Burger. Volger called for walnuts but they aren’t a nut I keep on hand so it was pecans instead. We ate it with guacamole, fresh pea sprouts and tomatoes for a really tasty dinner. You can’t compare it to a greasy beef burger so don’t try. It’s a veggie patty packed with complex taste, a nutritional power-punch, and the ability to carry condiments really well. It’s a keeper. Next on my list? Mushroom Barley Burger. Stay tuned.

1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed thoroughly

1 small potato, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces

1  bunch of scallions (green onions), chopped finely

1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley

2 tbsps minced fresh ginger

1 1/2 cups cooked red beans

1/2 cup roughly chopped, toasted pecans

1/2 tsp salt

juice of 1/2 lemon

1. Bring 1 cup water to boil in a small saucepan and add the quinoa. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes until the water is absorbed. Let stand for 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, boil the potato until tender. Mash with a fork.

3. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the scallions and cook just until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the parsley and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

4. In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, cooked potato, parsley-scallion mixture, red beans, and pecans with a potato masher or your hands. Add the salt and lemon juice. Shape into 6 patties.

5. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tbsps oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the patties and cook until the bottoms are browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook the other sides until crisped and slightly firmed, 4 to 5 minutes more.


October 30, 2010

Last spring my friend Emily and I went on a yoga retreat on the shore of Lake Simcoe. It seems like a decade ago now but I can still conjure up the feeling of sitting under a huge maple tree, overlooking the vast expanse of the lake, wind and sun soaking us with their warmth. A lovely young woman, whose name I now can’t remember, made all the food. Not only was it delicious but completely vegan. For afternoon tea she made socca. Something I had never heard of before. Turns out it’s a dish traditionally made by women in Nice overlooking the Mediterranean, which was apropos to the sun, wind, water, and comraderie of the retreat.

I read on a food blog that with socca “you ain’t re-creating the Mona Lisa: socca is meant to be in rough shards, eaten with your fingers, and is especially good after a long day on a sun-saturated beach when your skin is tingling with sand and you can lick your lips and taste the sand of the Mediterranean.” I get that, and would love to be there, but it’s also especially good after a errand-packed Saturday on a cold, fall day with Tagine and Roasted Spicy Sweet Potato.

1 cup (130g) chickpea flour

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (280ml) water

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

freshly-ground black pepper, plus additional sea salt and olive oil for serving

1. Mix together the flour, water, salt, cumin, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Let batter rest at least 2 hours, covered, at

room temperature.

2. To cook, heat the broiler in your oven. Oil a 9- or 10-inch (23cm) cast-iron or non-stick pan  with the remaining olive oil and

heat the pan in the oven.

3. Once the pan and the oven are blazing-hot, pour enough batter into the pan to cover the bottom, swirl it around, then pop it

back in the oven.

4. Bake until the socca is firm and beginning to blister and burn. The exact time will depend on your broiler.

5. Slide the socca out of the pan onto a cutting board, slice into pieces, then shower it with coarse salt, pepper, and a drizzle of

olive oil.

6. Cook the remaining socca batter the same way, adding a touch more oil to the pan between each one.

From The Sweet Life in Paris. Photo credit: David Lebovitz

mixed mushrooms on toast

August 9, 2010

vegan toasts, Ruth Richardson, vgourmet

I’ve often mentioned that I like to combine recipes. This is the perfect example. We were invited to dinner at Andrew’s clients’ house – Charles and Salome. Salome somehow pulled off an awesome dinner after work on a Wednesday. One of her appetizers was a bed of arugula with sautéed mushrooms, toasted pine nuts, and some grated parmesan. Really tasty. I think Andrew almost licked the plate when it was finally all gone. Tonight I was looking through 200 Veggie Feasts, mentioned in the Pea, Potato, and Arugula Soup entry, and they had this really yummy looking Mixed Mushrooms on Toast. Kind of like Salome’s salad but without the pine nuts and on toasted sourdough bread. I decided I wanted to make it tonight but with the sautéed mushroom recipe I love from Lucy Waverman. Voila – 3 sources of inspiration coming together in 1 helluvanelegant dish. Here it is.


1 pound mixed mushrooms

3 tbsps olive oil

1 tsp chopped garlic

2 tbsps balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup veggie stock

2 tbsps Port

2 tbsps chopped parsley

salt and pepper




Pine nuts, toasted

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper

Trim mushrooms, removing stalks if you are using shiitake, and chop. Heat oil in a skillet over high heat. Add garlic and mushroom and saute until beginning to lose their juices, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add balsamic, and stock and bring to boil. Reduce until liquid practically disappears and then add Port. Saute 1 minute longer, sprinkle with salt and pepper and parsley.

Meanwhile toast chunky slices of baguette, then arrange on serving plates. Drizzle the toast with olive oil. Top the toast with equal amounts of arugula leaves and mushrooms. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Serve immediately.


February 27, 2010

One of my vegan pet peeves, just to reiterate what I said in Recipes books I like, is that I don’t love recipes that try to mimic meat and fish with lots of rice cheese and tofu chicken and fake bacon. Why? If you aren’t going to eat the stuff, don’t pretend to eat the stuff. This is one exception. I used to love a BLT with really smokey, salty bacon so I’ve made up a vegan version that totally hits the spot when you are in the mood.

Here’s how I build it:

Toast two pieces of really nice multigrain bread (baguette also works well)

Spread veganaise on one piece

Spread some left-over Romesco Sauce from the Potato Chickpea Stew with Picada and Romesco Sauce on the other piece

Build some layers of Smoky Tofu Bacon (I get mine from the Big Carrot in Toronto which in turn comes from Ying Ying Soy Food), arugula or other greens, sliced tomatoes

Sprinkle with a little sea salt and pepper

Close it up between your two pieces of toast and serve with some sauerkraut on the side. Now that’s a really good lunch.