September 20, 2010

And what is soubise you ask? It’s a good question. Fortunately the recipe I found in my first search happened to be an almost-vegan soubise – probably not by design since the chef behind the recipe – Jamie Kennedy – is not a vegan chef. Lucky for me though because had I found the common, and traditional recipe, I probably wouldn’t have pursued it much further. The classic french soubise is a white sauce made from a bechamel base (butter, milk, flour, and more butter), flavoured with pureed onions and enriched with cream. I can’t vouch for the traditional recipe, but the version below is pretty damn good without the cream, or the butter. Serve it with Flageolet Soubise, on sandwiches, or any other way your onion-loving self desires.

4 medium-sized onions, peeled and sliced thinly

200g olive oil

salt to taste

Cider vinegar to taste

1. Place sliced onions and olive oil in a saucepan and cook slowly until onions are transparent, but not browned.

2. Transfer to a blender and process until pureed.

3. Season with salt and a touch of cider vinegar.


August 24, 2010


So what’s charmoula? I asked the same question. I found the recipe in Bonnie Stern’s Friday Night Dinners and, it sounded good, but I had never heard of it. Turns out wiki, of course, has the answer: “Chermoula or charmoula is a marinade used in Algerian, Moroccan  and Tunisian  cooking. It is usually used to flavor fish or seafood, but it can be used on other meats or vegetables. Chermoula is often made of a mixture of herbs, oil, lemon juice, pickled lemons, garlic, cumin, and salt. It may also include onion, fresh coriander, ground chili peppers, black pepper, or saffron.” Bonnie Stern’s includes mayonnaise, for which I substituted veganaise. Tasty. It actually totally satisfied my longing for aioli which I do love but have put on the no-no list for obvious eggy reasons. We had it last night on the Moroccan Tagine and it was, naturally, the perfect compliment.

1 cup veganaise

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp hot red pepper sauce

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 tbsp paprika (preferably smoked)

2 tbsps finely chopped fresh cilantro

In a bowl, combine veganaise, garlic, lemon juice, hot pepper sauce, cumin, paprika, and cilantro.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

onion confit

April 3, 2010

This is from Alice Waters Chez Panisse Vegetables. I have it stewing on the stove as I write this and the smell is good enough reason to make it! She suggests that it’s a particularly nice compliment to wilted greens or in pasta, or as an hors d’oeuvre on a crouton. I’m going to serve it for Easter dinner with the grilled portobello mushrooms for the vegans in the house, and the lamb for the non-vegans.

4 large onions

4 tbsps olive oil

salt and pepper

1 tbsp sugar

3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 cups red wine

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup sherry vinegar

cassis (optional)

Peel and slice the onions very thin. Brown the onions in olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or so. Stir in the sugar and cook, covered a few more minutes, to allow the sugar to caramelize slightly. Add the thyme, the red wine, the vinegars, and cassis, if you wish. Simmer, uncovered, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the liquid is cooked down to a syrup.

Makes about 2 cups.

We came to the farm for Easter and, low and behold, the rhubarb is coming out of the ground! Not surprising since it’s such an early bloomer, but it still amazes me each time I see its red and green leaves pushing out of the earth so early in the season. Doesn’t it know it could turn quite cold again? Alas, it’s a very hearty plant.

In honour of rhubarb’s robustness, initiative, and tenacity, I am going to give you an incredible compote recipe. It’s from The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lutkins. I made it last spring, canned it, and enjoyed it until Christmas when my family wolfed it down one breakfast with rhubarb coffee cake (recipe to follow if I can figure out how to truly vegan-ize it). I wish I had made more.  It would be particularly scrumptious if you wait until the strawberries come into season. But perhaps you have some frozen from last season? Whatever the case, beware. This recipe is awesome and addictive.

10 large stalks rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths

4 cups hulled, halved strawberries

1 cup organic cane sugar

1 cup fresh orange juice

Finely grated zest of 1 orange

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

2 tsps ground ginger

1/2 tsp salt (optional)

1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

1. Combine all the ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Stir well and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring once and skimming off any foam that forms on top, until the rhubarb is just tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

2. Remove the vanilla bean and let the mixture cool to room temperature. Then cover and refrigerate. It will keep for two days.

The refresh cookbook by Ruth Tal is fantastic. There are a number of soups I want to try out (butternut squash and pear with coconut milk – sounds yummy!) so I’ll get back to you on those. In the meantime I thought I should highlight two of their sauces that are the perfect accompaniment to rice and veggies, or what they call rice bowls. Rice bowls are simply steamed brown basmatic rice (but you can use any rice) topped with, well, pretty much anything from tofu to grilled vegetables to nuts and seeds. My favourite is sticky rice with grilled peppers, zucchini, fennel, maybe some steamed greens, sesame seeds and/or tamari sunflower seeds and then, of course, these two sauces – tahini and tamari. Dollop on liberally and enjoy. It’s good, it’s filling, it’s nurturing. Vegan comfort food. And because you build it yourself, the kids can opt in and out of whatever tickles their fancy or not. Everyone’s happy.

Tahini Sauce

2 cloves garlic

1/2 cup chopped parsley  (the other day I didn’t have any so I used cilantro instead which was equally good)

1/2 tsp sea salt

2 tbsps lemon juice

2/3 cup filtered water

1/2 cup sesame butter (tahini)

Whiz ingredients in a blender or food processor. Run until smooth, scraping the sides down once or twice.

Simple Tamari Sauce

1/2 cup tamari

3 tbsps sesame oil

1 1/2 inch ginger root, peeled and minced

4 tbsps lemon juice

Put all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.


February 20, 2010

This recipe comes from Deborah Madison. She suggests making it in association with the Potato Chickpea Stew but it’s great on soups, other stews, or as a thickener to various dishes.


A lively seasoning of fried bread, and garlic, picada is used in Spanish dishes as a thickener and flavouring. Picada is also a good addition to pasta and plain vegetables. To make 1/2 cup picada, toast 1/4 cup peeled almonds in a 350F oven until they’re pale gold, 8 – 10 minutes. Remove and set aside. Meanwhile, slowly fry one slice of white country-style bread in 2 tbsps olive oil until golden on both sides. Grind the bread, almonds, and 2 large garlic cloves and pinch of salt in a food processor to make a crumbly paste.

romesco sauce

February 20, 2010

This recipe comes from Deborah Madison. She suggests making it in association with the Potato Chickpea Stew but it’s great on sandwiches, other stews, or as a dip.

Romesco Sauce


2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, and seeded

1/4 cup almonds, roasted

1/4 cup hazelnuts, roasted and peeled

1 slice country-style white bread

Olive oil for frying

3 cloves garlic

1-1/2 tsp. ground red chile or red pepper flakes

4 small plum tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 tbsp. chopped parsley

1/2 tsp. salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 tsp. sweet paprika

1/4 cup sherry vinegar

1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Makes 2 cups

This Catalan sauce is utterly delicious served with chickpeas, roasted potatoes,

or grilled vegetables.

To roast the peppers, place them under a broiler or over a gas flame until the skins are charred. Put them in a bowl, cover with a plate, and set aside for 15 min. Peel and seed the peppers.

Roast the nuts in a 350°F oven for 7 to 10 min., or until they smell toasty. Let them cool slightly, and then rub the hazelnuts between the folds of a towel to remove loose skins. (The almonds don’t need peeling.)

Fry the bread in a little olive oil until golden and crisp. When the bread is cool, grind it with the nuts and garlic in a food processor or a mortar until fairly fine. Add everything else but the vinegar and oil and process or work with the pestle until smooth. With the machine running, or your arm working if you’re using a mortar and pestle, gradually pour in the vinegar, then the oil. Taste to make sure the sauce has enough salt and plenty of piquancy.