The original inspiration for this dish came from Jamie Oliver but I can’t remember if it was from one of his TV shows or cookbooks. Whatever the case, it’s become one of our staples as it’s quick, delicious, and versatile. I started making it with cherry tomatoes instead of fennel but one day  I didn’t have cherry tomatoes, tried the fennel instead, and everyone liked it better. I still make it both ways, and sometimes I use thyme instead of basil. However you make it, it looks great, tastes great, and is an easy addition to any meal.

2 peppers, cleaned, sliced in half, seeds removed

1 fennel bulb, cleaned, and sliced into thin strips

several basil leaves, sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

olive oil

sea salt and pepper

Clean the peppers, cut in half, and place in the bottom of a cast-iron pan. Fill the peppers with sliced fennel, garlic, and basil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and a couple of turns of the pepper mill. Bake in the oven at 400 for 20 or 30 minutes until they are cooked to your liking.

garlic ginger tea

August 18, 2010

vgourmet, Ruth Richardson, garlic ginger tea

Sounds weird right? It’s a bit kooky but it’s good and it works. Andrew woke up with a sore throat and feeling totally under the weather. I had a hunch I would find the right drink in my new Modern Ayurvedic Cookbook and I did! It’s Shelley’s Garlic Ginger Tea and “Shelley swears by this tea whenever she catches a cold or cough that she can’t seem to shake.” Try it. It works because food is healing. Eat and drink the right stuff and you’re on the road to recovery!

4 cloves garlic

pinch of cayenne

4 tsps fresh ginger, chopped

4 cups water

maple syrup to taste

squeeze of lemon to taste

In a large pot on high heat, combine garlic, cayenne, ginger, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain, serve with maple syrup and a squeeze of lemon. Drink throughout the day.

garlic smashed potatoes

April 17, 2010

Lucy Waverman, God love her, did a piece in the Globe and Mail right before the winter holidays on how to cook a vegan Christmas feast! One component of that feast was garlic mashed potatoes which, in our house, we call smashed potatoes. They’re good. Love ’em. And don’t miss the cream or milk at all. I made one addition, the rosemary, which I really like if the rest of the meal calls for that earthy, pungent compliment.

3 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

2 heads of garlic, skinned, root end trimmed

spring or two of rosemary in cheesecloth (bouquet garni style)

1/3 cup olive oil

3/4 to 1 cup potato cooking water

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Separate garlic cloves and place in a pot of cold salted water along with potatoes and rosemary bouquet garni. Bring to a boil and boil until potatoes and garlic cloves are tender when pierced with a fork. Remove rosemary. Drain and reserve potato cooking water separately.

Mash together potatoes and garlic. Add olive oil and beat until combined. Add enough potato cooking water to reach a soft creamy consistency. Season well with sea salt and pepper to taste.

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.

ginger hummus

March 15, 2010

I’ve tried a number of hummus recipes which have all been more or less good. Last night I tried this new one. We decided we like it best. Not sure why – flavours are a little more subtle, it’s softer and smoother, it doesn’t firm up the way others do after a day or two. It’s a good one. It’s from a cookbook I bought awhile ago but haven’t really explored fully – Tassajara: Dinners and Desserts. I’m now motivated to work my way through it, especially after reading about their very appealing approach to food (Musing #5). If I could only tap into that. Wow! Watch out. The Tassajara Zen Mountain Center is the oldest Japanese Buddhist Sōtō Zen monastery in the US located in the Ventana Wilderness area in California. It attracts serious zen practitioners and is known for its mission of teaching teachers. They eat this hummus. Now that’s a powerful endorsement.

2 cups chickpeas, cooked

2 inches ginger, peeled and cut into coins or grated

4 garlic cloves, peeled

1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground

1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and ground

2-3 tbsps olive oil

1/4 to 1/2 cups of tahini

Juice of 2 lemons


Prepare the chickpeas (either cook dried chickpeas or rinse canned chickpeas). Puree chickpeas with remaining ingredients and about 1/4 cup of water. Check consistency. If you want it less stiff, add more olive oil, tahini, and/or lemon juice. Add salt to taste.


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.

potato leek soup

January 16, 2010

vgourmet, vegan soup, vegan potato leek soup, Ruth Richardson
I just made this soup on Sunday – a merger between two beautiful potato leek soup recipes. The kids love it and it’s fantastic on a cold winter’s night. Great with a little crostini floating on an ocean of flavour. And the non-vegan boys in the house love it sprinkled with a little crispy crumbled bacon. As with any good soup recipe, you might as well make a huge batch and keep some in the freezer for a rainy day.

10 medium leeks

olive oil

sea salt

8 cups veggie stock

1 stalk celery

a few sprigs of thyme

1 bay leaf

1 small bunch rosemary

2 cloves garlic

1 pd yellow potatoes

white wine vinegar

sea salt and pepper to taste

a few sprigs parsley

Clean leeks. Cut in half lengthwise and slice thinly. Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot. Add leeks and cook until just tender – they should still be slightly crunchy and bright green. Salt to taste. Add veggie stock along with minced garlic and a bouquet garni made of thyme, celery, bay leaf, rosemary, salt and pepper. Add potatoes, cut into small cubes.

Bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer. Cook until veggies are tender but not falling apart. Puree in a food processor or blender. Season to taste with about 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar and more salt if necessary. Serve hot garnished with a little chopped parsley and a few grinds of the peppermill, and if you wish, with grilled or toasted slices of bread.