Corn and Zucchini Fritters

Fritters close 2

I had a fridge full of ears of corn and wanted to try something different with them. The word FRITTER just kind of appeared in my mind, which is weird because I had literally never made any kind of fritter before. I did a bit of reading online to get a sense of what to do (though I was really surprised at the variation in recipes; some with flour, some without, some with liquid, some without….). Then I just kind of went for it and was so pleasantly surprised at how well these turned out. I whipped up a quick avocado dipping cream to go with them. I think these delicious and very easy fritters will become a regular menu item!

I’m sure these would lend themselves to lots of variations, especially with different fresh herbs or seasonings. I used chickpea flour mainly because I’ve been wanting to try working with it, but I think almost any flour would work pretty well (Note: depending on which flour you use, they might not be gluten-free anymore).

roasted corn

To roast corn on the cob, remove the outer husks so that a few leaves remain covering the corn and cook in oven at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes or until done.

Yield: about 10 fritters

  • Kernels removed from two cobs of roasted corn (see above), or use 1.5 cups canned or frozen
  • 1 medium zucchini, grated
  • 1 handful chives, chopped
  • 1 cup chickpea flour (would probably work with other flours too!)
  • ½ cup water
  • Tabasco to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Coconut oil for frying

Add corn, grated zucchini, chives, and flour to a mixing bowl and combine well. Add a few dashes (or more!) of Tabasco, then start adding the water gradually while stirring the mixture. You may need a little more or less than half a cup; just aim for everything to be moistened into a batter that will at least sort of stick together when you scoop some up with a spoon.

Fritter batter

Heat about a teaspoon of coconut oil over medium heat (about 6) in a nonstick frying pan. Drop large spoonfuls of the corn mixture into the pan, using the back of the spoon or a spatula to flatten them out a bit. Cook until golden on one side, about 4 minutes, then flip and continue to fry until cooked through. Add another teaspoon of coconut oil to the pan for each new batch. Place finished fritters on a paper towel until ready to serve.

Fritters cooking

Serve with the avocado cream or with hot sauce, chutney, or vegan sour cream.

For the avocado cream:

  • 1 avocado
  • Juice of one lime
  • ¼ cup of nondairy milk (just enough milk to get it all to purée to your desired consistency).
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Small handful of chopped cilantro

Add all ingredients except chopped cilantro to a high-speed blender. Blend, then fold in chopped cilantro.

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Mango Quinoa Salad

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This fresh salad gives you that yummy Thai mango salad flavour with more substance and protein, and less chopping. It’s win-win!

Makes about 5 cups of salad

*When prepping the mangos and veggies, try to make all your pieces around the same size (except the red onion, which should be smaller).*

  • 1 cup quinoa (dry measure), cooked and cooled
  • 2 small-medium mangos (see note), flesh removed from pit and diced
  • ½ English cucumber, diced
  • 1 small red pepper, diced
  • 3 green onions, green parts only, sliced
  • ½ small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro, leaves and stems, chopped.
  • Lime wedges and cilantro leaves, to garnish.

Dressing:

  • Juice of 1.5-2 limes (if you’re reaming the limes, one and a half should be enough)
  • ½ teaspoon brown or turbinado sugar
  • ½ teaspoon soy sauce or tamari
  • 3 tablespoons oil (I used safflower, but any oil that doesn’t have a strong flavour would work)
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes (or more, if you like it spicy)

Note on the mangos: I used ataulfo mangos that were moderately ripe. If you like your mango salad with firm green (unripe) mango flesh, by all means use green mangos. Try to avoid fully ripe ones, as they are difficult to cut and lose their cube-y shape.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients and adjust to taste.

Combine the cooled quinoa with all other salad ingredients. Pour the dressing over and toss well to combine. Allow to sit for about 15 minutes, then toss again just before serving. Garnish with lime wedges and cilantro leaves.

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Vegan Poutine!

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Have you made vegan poutine yet?  If not, you better get to it ASAP.

I am actually new to the poutine scene.  I hated gravy growing up, and it wasn’t until I was an adult (and eating a vegan diet) that I was open-minded enough to give it another chance.  So, my first poutine ever was about six months ago at Poutini’s (they make a vegan one!).  It was amazing!  What was I thinking all that time with all the gravy-hate?  As an aside, I’m not usually a fan of Daiya cheese, but I find that in dishes that are very hot and ensure that the Daiya is melted and well-incorporated (like when it’s covered with gravy!) it actually works well and provides quite a cheesy experience.

For this very quick dinner I used frozen shoestring/julienne french fries, cooked until crisp, cheddar-style Daiya (though R informs me that mozza-style would have been more appropriate for poutine; I’m still learning!), and this vegan gravy that is made of pantry staples and easy to prepare.

I paired this bowl of melty yumminess with a kale salad to round out dinner, but the nice thing about the vegan poutine is that it’s not all that unhealthy, having shed the traditional saturated/animal fats.

So… what are you waiting for??

Baked Panko-Beer Onion Rings

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Onion rings! So delicious, but depending on how they’re prepared, they may also be so greasy, unhealthy, and regret-inducing.  These crispy rings are the perfect solution: oil-free, baked, and with a light coating that gives a great crunch while allowing the sweet, delicious onion flavour to shine through.  And despite the various bowls and possible minor mess involved, they are actually pretty quick to prepare.

When I was a kid, I hated onions.  The first time I encountered onion rings was at Harvey’s when I was around ten, and they smelled so good.  My ingenious solution to this yummy-smelling but oniony dilemma was to break each ring in half, pull out the tiny string of onion and cast it aside, and eat just the batter shell.  Wow, eh?  I’ve come a long way since then.

These rings would make a great appetizer or side for a veggie burger, or you can just eat a whole bunch of them for dinner (like I did).  You’ll feel great; no pangs of regret!

  • 2 Tablespoons ground flax
  • 5 Tablespoons warm water
  • 1/3 cup beer (or nondairy milk of choice)
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups panko
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 large Vidalia/sweet onion (about the size of a baseball)

Preheat oven to 450 and cover two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine the ground flax and water and stir well, then let it sit for a few minutes to gel (this is about 2 flax eggs).

Combine the flour, salt and pepper, and place in a shallow bowl.   Combine the panko, garlic powder and paprika and place in another shallow bowl. Once the flax eggs have gelled, add the beer (or milk) and stir, and place in yet another shallow bowl.

Set up the assembly line: flour bowl, flax/beer bowl, panko bowl, baking sheets.

Now you can cut your onion crosswise into very thick slices – mine were about an inch thick.  Pop the rings apart.

(I suggest cutting the onion after getting everything else is ready to minimize onion-related eyeball suffering.  You might want to light a couple of tealights or other unscented candles on the counter to help burn off the onion fumes.  You can also cover the cut onion with a towel to contain the fumes and just reach under to grab rings as you go.)

Make the rings: dredge a ring in flour, dip in flax/beer mixture, then dredge in panko.  Place on baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining onion rings.  To save space on the sheets, you can place teeny little nubby rings inside big ones.

Bake for about 20-24 minutes, turning the rings over gently about halfway through.  They should be browned along the edges and soft on the inside.

Serve with leafy celery sticks and dip of choice!  I suggest ketchup, hot sauce, or fancy mustard.  Mega yum.

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Carrot Sweet Potato Soup with Ginger & Coconut

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Am I overdoing it on the soups?  Is that possible?

This soup is both aesthetically and gastronomically pleasing… looking as beautiful in the bowl as it tastes in your mouth!  An undercurrent of rich coconut adds depth to the delicious combination of carrot, sweet potato, and ginger.

After making a huge pot of veggie broth yesterday, I realized that my freezer is a little too full to accommodate a bunch of cup-sized frozen broth cubes.  As I was mulling over the broth-y possibilities, R. pulled out the giant bags of carrots and sweet potatoes we bought on a rare trip to Costco, and pointed out the half-bar of creamed coconut that’s been waiting forlornly for a purpose for an indefinite period of time.  He asked if I could make these things into a soup.  Yes, yes I could.

(Note: I wanted a very subtle coconut flavour to complement the ginger, so I used only a quarter-bar of creamed coconut.  If you really like coconut though, I think you could add up to half a bar for a stronger coconut flavour.)

Yield: Lots…. probably a good 8 servings.  (Or, dinner + seconds + leftovers to freeze!)

  • 5 very large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • Olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, finely chopped
  • Cooking oil (I use canola)
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 inches of ginger, minced
  • 2 smallish sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (more or less)
  • ¼ bar of creamed coconut (the full bar is 170g), roughly chopped
  • ¾ cup milk of choice (I used soy)
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 400.  Toss the carrots in olive oil and spread onto a baking sheet, then roast until softened through, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat some cooking oil over medium in a large stockpot.  Add the onion, celery, and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until softened.  Add about 3 cups of broth and the diced potatoes and turn heat to high.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are soft.  At some point during the simmer, the carrots will probably be done and can be added to the soup.

Once the potatoes are very soft, turn off the heat.  Stir in the milk and the creamed coconut and let the soup cool until it’s no longer hot enough to burn you if it splatters during pureeing.

Add fresh ground black pepper.  Using an immersion blender (or a food processor, but you’ll have to do it in batches), puree the soup.  Add more broth to reach your preferred consistency.  I tasted the soup before adding salt and discovered it was perfect, so I didn’t end up adding any at all!

Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil to serve.

Portobello Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Soup

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This thick, satisfying, autumn-flavoured soup tastes just like a bowl of juicy roasted Portobello mushrooms.  Actually, that’s exactly what it is.  How can you say no?

Years ago, after my undergrad, I had a part-time job in a psychology lab.  It wasn’t enough to pay the bills, so I decided to take a few shifts a week at a newly-opened takeout soup place in Halifax.  Suffice it to say, I only made it through two shifts.  During my brief time however, I tasted heaven in the form of a pureed Portobello mushroom soup.  The interesting thing was that back then, I hated mushrooms.  I don’t know how I even ended up trying it out, but that soup was so delicious that it stayed in my mind for years afterward.  I finally decided this week to try my hand at making a similar one.  Too much time has passed for me to say if this soup is really all that close to the one from years ago, but it’s so yummy that it doesn’t really matter.

Yield: A lot of soup… about 8 servings.

  • 10 large Portobello mushrooms, stems separated and caps cut into quarters
  • Olive oil
  • 3 yellow onions, diced
  • Canola oil (or other cooking oil)
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium white potatoes, diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups milk of choice (I used unsweetened soy)
  • ½ cup red wine
  • Salt to taste

Heat the oven to 400.  Toss the cut mushrooms in a bit of olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and spread in a single layer onto two parchment-lined baking sheets.  Roast for about 30 minutes, until soft and juicy.  Remove when done and put aside.

While the mushrooms are roasting, heat a frying pan over low-medium heat (about 4), and add some canola oil and the onions.  The key to caramelizing them nicely is cooking them at this low-ish heat for a while, about 30-40 minutes.  Stir them every few minutes.

When the onions are very soft and have begun to turn golden, add the celery and garlic and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or so, until the onions look perfectly golden brown and gooey.  Add the broth, potatoes, and bay leaves and turn heat to high.  When the soup boils, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are very soft.  Carefully remove bay leaves.

Now stir in the mushrooms, milk, red wine, and salt (about ¾ teaspoon, or to taste).  This should cool the soup down sufficiently to allow you to safely puree it, using an immersion blender on the stovetop.  (Be sure to check that it’s not hot before you puree though.)  If you don’t have an immersion blender, you’ll probably have to do it in a few batches in a food processor.

Puree to a nice smooth consistency, then adjust seasoning as desired.  Gently heat the soup back up on the stovetop at medium heat, and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and some fresh parsley to serve.

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Tabouleh Lentil Salad

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I love tabouleh.  I love lentils.  In this salad, they love each other.

This is more of an idea than a really specific recipe, per se.  I needed to make a quick lunch, threw this together, and it was fresh and filling at the same time (not to mention low-fat, high-protein)… perfect.

All of these measures are estimates, and I think that you could combine these ingredients in just about any proportions and the result would be delicious.

  • 1 cup green lentils, cooked and cooled (dry measure)
  • 2 small tomatoes, diced
  • 1/3 of a red pepper, finely chopped (to brighten the colour and add crunch)
  • 1/3 of an English cucumber, quartered lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves (for a normal person) or ~6 garlic cloves (Garlic Fiend option), pressed through a garlic press or finely chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Pinch of cumin
  • Salt and pepper

Mix it all together.  Eat it for all your meals and snacks until there is none left.

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