Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bacchus Roti (Toronto)

Toronto has some of the best vegan and vegetarian friendly restaurants around. So throughout this blog CC and I will be posting some of our favorite dishes from these restaurants. Hopefully we will turn you on to something new.

Bacchus Roti (LINK)

     Sweet, spicy, delicious and filling! Bacchus, a Guyanese and Barbadian restaurant located in the heart of  Toronto's Parkdale neighbourhood serves up the most delicious veggie roti. I was introduced to this place back in 1995 when I first moved to Toronto. My meat loving friends always order the goat, shrimp with cheese or chicken roti, while I, having never even heard of roti and was not too keen on the sound of goat or shrimp or even chicken roti for that matter, decided to play it safe by ordering the potato, chana and spinach roti. That did it for me. This place is #1 in my books (and I have tried others - believe me). Below is a photo of the potato and chana roti with spinach and squash added in. This a killer combo. Seriously. -B

Soul Vegetarian (Chicago - Atlanta - DC)

     It's interesting to see how a lot of food is still regional, both culturally and geographically. Such is still the case with real-deal American soul food. Collards, kalebone, popcorn chicken, things I'd never have been exposed to even the original version of, let alone a healthy vegan one. They don't seem to cross the border into the Great White North. Soul Veg is...what's a nice way to say, off the beaten cracker-ass path? Not located near a Starbucks? No Wi-fi?

     Soul Vegetarian has been saving my vegan ass on the US road for over a decade. The three locations I've always frequented are the Chicago, DC and Atlanta ones, although looking into it now it seems there are Soul Veg's in Tallahassee, Houston and a host of cities internationally from Israel to Africa and West Indies. And in a related story, they represent a branch of the African Hebrew Israelites (it's complicated, go HERE for the long version). Like Rastafarians, I can't say I agree altogether with their idea of what is and isn't sexually "natural", but I like their approach to food. Wanna stick to that? Great idea! 

     Just one quick ramble, though:

     Historically, the places with the highest percentage of centenarians in the world have been poor rural farming communities - people who worked in fields and whose diet consisted mainly of the foods that were most economic to grow - greens and grains such as rice, which are easy to digest and full of iron, minerals and vitamins. Ironically, when you look at the foods that poorer people (of any stripe) have traditionally had the most immediate access to, there is less processing or additives and a lot of nutrition...potentially. By contrast, old school soul food - born out of the slavery era - was starchy, fatty and high in calories, comfort food that suited the needs of someone working long hours of forced labor. As a diet though, it left a whole generation of people at abnormally high risk of diabetes, strokes and heart attacks. 

     As most purists will argue, making soul food healthy, without lard, is taking it out of context. I'm sure not in any position argue with that. But then, the context was slavery. Being safely out of that era, why associate a healthy approach with gentrification? Why would you carry forward the detrimental part of the tradition rather than tailoring it to do the best for the bodies and minds of the people eating it? This is Soul Vegetarian's mandate, and I like it. 


Atlanta: Country Fried Steak, Mac & Cheese and Broccoli. LINK - MAP
DC: Breakfast Wraps (weekends only sucker!)  LINK - MAP
Chicago: BBQ Protein Tidbits, BBQ Twist Sandwich. MENUMAP

*Honorable Mention: If you're in DC, another great spot just down the street from SV is Everlasting Life  (LINK). The mac & cheese will blow your mind.


Vegan Truffles

 *Update: Sadly Boardwalk Chocolates has Closed :(

Hell Yeah! They're vegan and they rock! Boardwalk Chocolates, owned and operated by Siue Moffat, has the only traditional truffle and old fashion confection company in Canada, that is totally vegan and gluten free. Moffat creates uniquely tantalizing flavour combinations like, lavender and chestnut, lemon and anise, lemongrass and ginger and chipotle chili. These heavenly morsels of goodness can be purchased at Panacea where Siue makes her delectable chocolatey treats and can purchased online here. -B

Quinoa Salad with Lemony Tahini Dressing

If you are not familiar with quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) then it is time to get acquainted. Here's the scoop. It's an ancient grain/seed originally grown in South and Central America and is high in protein, calcium and iron. It also contains vitamin E and some B vitamins as well as some other good stuff that I am not going to get into because I am not a nutritionist and don't know what they do (yet). When cooked, quinoa becomes fluffy and has a nutty flavour, so it works with many different vegetable combinations.

 Kale another essential part of this recipe, has powerful anti-oxidant properties and is high in beta carotine, vitamin K and C, calcium and other things I can't pronounce. With the leftover kale from the salad, you can bake it with flavourful spices like cumin, coriander, whole fennel seed, garlic, sweet spanish paprika, sea salt and black pepper.

The combination of red beets, golden beets, carrot, kale and quinoa create a very colourful, super nutritious and in combination with the tahini dressing makes it super tasty. -B

What you will need:
* A cup of cinnamon chai tea (David's Tea makes a delicious caffeine free one) to revitalize, wake you up and help you focus.
*You might want to listen to Demon Fuzz- Afreaka. Just saying.

For the salad:
1 cup Quinoa (I like to soak the quinoa for about 20-25 mins to reduce the earthy taste)
2 cups water
Bunch of Kale
1 Large carrot
2 Red beets
1 Small golden beet
1 medium-large size carrot

Soak Quinoa for about 20-25 mins. While quinoa is soaking, peel then shred carrot and golden beet. Take two kale leaves, wash and chop into bite size pieces (you can use the stems if you like).
Peel and chop red beet into small bite sized pieces. Set veggies aside. When quinoa is done soaking, fill pot with 2 cups of water. Bring to boil. Add quinoa. Bring to boil again. Reduce heat to low and place on a tight fitting lid. Cook for approx. 20- 25 min (or until soft) stirring occasionally. When ready, let quinoa cool before adding veggies. Once cool, throw everything in. Give it a mix.  Serve with dressing on top.

For the dressing:
2.5  Tbls. Prepared Tahini (you can find this in most grocery stores or you can get it at Akrams in Kensington Market)
Juice from 1 medium sized lemon
Fresh parsley -a small handful
1-2 cloves garlic (adjust to taste)
Black pepper (to taste)
Sea salt (to taste)

*I use a Magic Bullet for this. If you don't have one a blender will work or you may just have to mix in a cup with a fork or whisk but it should be creamy.
Throw all the ingredients above in the Bullet and mix that shit up. Kay? Done. Adjust to taste if you like. I like it really lemony.

Baked Kale
While quinoa is cooking start preparing the kale.
Pre-heat oven to 350˚.
Wash the leftover kale from the salad and chop in to bite-size pieces. Throw the kale into a big bowl and drizzle on olive oil (just enough so that spices stick). Mix it up. Now this part is a guessing game. I just throw everything on, mix it up and BAM - Done! Sprinkle on the following spices; garlic powder, cumin, whole anise/fennel seed, coriander, sweet spanish paprika, sea salt and black pepper. Mix it up.
Spread kale on baking pan. (I don't grease or cover with anything). Bake for 10-15 min. Mix occasionally. You kinda want some really crispy pieces - almost burnt. It's a nice mix to have super crispy with just baked. When finish eat as a snack or serve as side dish. -B

Polenta! A staple of Italian country cooking.

Polenta, boiled cornmeal, is the base for many (Italian) dishes. One of which is this polenta breakfast scramble.  I love tofu scrambles so when I found out I had a "sensitivity" to tofu (but soy protein is ok- go figure) my breakfast dreams were shattered so I decided to replace the tofu with polenta. I also add veggie sausage/patties for a bit of protein. Check it out.

To start:
*You will need polenta- the pre-made kind in a tube which can be found at your local grocery store. Making polenta from scratch definitely tastes better but for this recipe the pre-made kind (plain, sundried tomato, or basil) works fine. It's also easier to cube or crumble for the scramble. For other recipes I recommend making it from scratch.

Note: If you buy the small tube use the whole thing. If you buy the large size use about half.

Other ingredients:
Your favorite salsa (if you are in a pinch and don't have salsa, tomato sause works fine)
2  med. cloves fresh garlic
1 med. zucchini cubed
1 portobello mushroom- chop in to pieces
2 cups chopped white button mushrooms (I am a big mushroom fan so I tend to go overboard so you can adjust amount to taste)
1 small red and green pepper- chop, clean and dice
2 shallots or 1 small onion

I like to sautée the onions a garlic in about a teaspoon of oil. When soft/ translucent,  I add in about 2 tablespoons of salsa and sautée the vegetables with the garlic and onions for a couple of minutes before adding in the polenta. I prefer chopping the polenta in to small cubes but you can just crumble it up and throw it in the pan. I let everything cook with the lid on (stir occasionally) until everything is soft. Then serve as is or fry up some veggie breakfast patties or veggie links(like yves) for protein.

Yams and Beets!

Baked Yams and Beets. This recipe is IBS (more about that later) friendly, easy to make, and is nutritious and  delicious!  Both beets greens and roots are an excellent source of magnesium, iron and vitamin B. Beet roots are also a good source of potassium, fibre, folic acid and manganese. Yams are a excellent source of vitamins A, B6, C,  thiamine and panoththenic acid.Vitamin B6, Thiamine and pantothenic acid work to metabolize your food which is helpful if you have IBS.

What you will need:

A Glass of your favorite vegan red wine and I like to listen to the Soviettes (LP 3) to get me stoked.
1 xlrg yam or 2 med.
5 small beets, unwashed and unpeeled
olive oil (enough to brush on beets and drizzle on yams)
sea salt to taste
black pepper to taste
garlic powder
handful of fresh parsley
tin foil
shallow baking dish
large bowl for mixing

Baking Beets:
1. Preheat oven to °400
2. Trim stems to about 1/2"
3. Do not wash. Apparently moisture causes the beets to steam and we don't want this. I mistakenly washed the beets and they steamed and sizzled and made funny white bubbles. If there is dirt on your beets just wipe with a paper towel.
4. Brush outsides with olive
5. Wrap tightly in tin foil.
6. Place in shallow baking dish and cook for 45-60 minutes (until soft and skin slips off)
7. When beets are cooked cut off stems if you are not using them, and peel off skin.
8. Chop into bite sized pieces

Baking Yams:
You can bake the yams in the same dish as the beets however you will only need to bake the yams for about 15-20 minute so put them in at the end.
1. Wash yam and cut off any bad spots
2. Chop yam into bite size pieces.
3. Place yams in a large bowl
4. Drizzle on olive oil
5. Sprinkle on sea salt, black pepper, garlic and rosemary
6. Mix
7. Spread yams and beets on baking pan and bake for 15-20 minutes or until soft.  Stir occasionally
8. When ready, salt and pepper to taste  and add fresh chopped parsley.

*Note: For a more substantial meal try adding chick peas. Canned or dry - follow cooking directions. Then sauteé in a bit of olive oil and fresh lemon and salt and pepper to taste.

*P.s. You can also bake fennel with the beets (same way - cook until soft) and eat together as a side dish.
Buon Appetito!

Butternut Squash Soup

To kick things off I thought I would start with an all time favorite. It's a great comfort food for fall and winter and can be made so many different ways. The first time a make a new dish I follow the recipe to the letter then I figure out ways to basterdize it. For this Butternut Squash soup recipe I am going to give you a few different options because hey, who doesn't like variety?

What you will need:

*Your favorite album. I like to listen to Chet Baker's Baby Breeze while making this soup
*A glass of your favorite white wine (if you drink). You can check this site (barnivore)to see if your favorite drink is vegan.

1 med. butternut squash (or pepper squash)
Olive oil (for brushing on squash before baking)
Garlic powder (to sprinkle on squash while baking)
Harvest Sun  organic low sodium vegetable bouillon cube, which can be found locally at Panacea. 
*If you have time you can always make your own or use a prepared vegetable broth like Pacific Foods.
2 lrg. carrots (you can also add fennel)
1 lrg. Bosc pear (or Gala or Honeycrisp apple)
3-4 cloves of garlic (adjust to taste)
2 tbls. of diced fresh ginger
1 lrg. or 2 small sweet Spanish onions
2 tbls. of Braggs
1 tbls. of Earth Balance
Salt and Pepper to taste

 1. Preheat oven to 350˚. Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds. Put seeds in a bowl and save for baking. You will need to wash and let seeds dry.
2. Brush on olive oil and sprinkle on garlic powder. Cover squash with tin foil and place on pan tin foil side up. Bake approx. 45mins. (Check occasionally to see if squash is soft). Uncover and let bake for 10-15 minutes more minutes without tin foil off. Brown tops. I usually do this the night before.
3. Chop onions, garlic and ginger then sautée in Braggs and Earth Balance until golden brown.
4. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and place in vegetable bouillon cube. Add salt and pepper.
5. Chop carrots and pears and place in broth along with baked squash, sautéed onions, garlic, and ginger. Let simmer for about 20-30 minutes.
6. I usually use a Magic Bullet for this next step but a blender works great too. If you are using a Bullet you will need to do this next part in two steps.  Once soup is cooked blend together.
7. Garnish with seeds.

Baking seeds while soup is simmering:
Pre-heat oven to 250˚. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
Place clean, dry seeds in a bowl and drizzle on olive oil then sprinkle in cumin, sweet spanish paprika, garlic powder and fine fine sea salt. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden and mix occasionally. These are great to eat separately as a snack or you garnish your soup with them. -B