February 27, 2010

From now on you can find me at! I’m new at this and I realized that having my new blog based on my plain-old-anglo-Ruth-Richardson-name didn’t quite cut it. And my original name V:OOD (which I thought was very clever) was, well, of course, taken. As was my second runner-up, Vegan-ish (although whoever registered that name hasn’t used it since 2007. Bad wordpress etiquette!). As was my third choice Vegan Pig (which is taken by a woman in NYC who has some food issues. Bad karma).  So I’ve landed on v:gourmet. Visit me there for new vegan recipes, updates, and musings!


February 27, 2010

Did you know that most traditional tapenade has anchovies in it? I naively bought some tapenade in one of my favourite stores and promptly wolfed it down on really nice home-made crostini (that my hubbie made out of stale baguette but that’s another story and another recipe!). I decided I really like tapenade. So the next time I had a craving I decided to make it. I had olives. I had salt. What else could you need? Well, after going through 5 or 6 recipe books I soon realized that you need anchovies! Of course, you don’t need anchovies. It’s just that, as I said, most traditional tapenade has anchovies in it. So I modified the recipe and now I love it even more!

The other thing I should say here is that 2 of the things I found particularly  difficult about going vegan were breakfast and snacks. Breakfast was often milk-based, as it is for many of us with few apparent alternatives. And snacks were usually really cheesy because cheese is so good and so easy to grab on the go, or nibble on before dinner, or stick on a piece of toast (one of my childhood favourites). I’ll tell you about my breakfast routine later. As for snacks, I’ve discovered the joys of things like hummous and tapenade and other vegan delights.

Here’s the recipe which I’ve doubled for you since it’s too good and too convenient to make just one batch.

Tapenade (modified from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters)

1 cup black olives (get really good quality ones like Silver Leaf Kalamata Pitted in extra virgin olive oil)

2 tbsps capers, rinsed and drained

2 garlic cloves (or more depending on your tolerance for garlic)

2 or 3 springs of thyme, leaves only

1 tsp brandy

1/3 cup olive oil

Salt to taste

Throw it all into a food processor and blend until you get the consistency you like. Let it sit at room temperature for awhile so the flavours meld. Spread it on really yummy homemade crostini and snack away.

I owe thanks to my  sister Mary for this recipe. She used it at Christmas. She doubled the recipe – one batch to stick on some pork for the meat-lovers in the family and one batch to put on some tofu. The tofu was fabulous. I can’t comment on the pork but I hear it was equally good. I think she got the recipe from Canadian Living. It’s super simple and very good. And the kids love it.

4 cloves garlic

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp oil

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp paprika

2 tsp cumin and coriander

1 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp cinnamon


Marinade. Saute in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat.

This is a new recipe I discovered from Tom Philpott in Grist Magazine. It is thick, and smokey, and really good when you’ve got a chill in the bone and need something that will stick to the ribs. If you eat it with rice (or another grain) you’ve got a complete protein in combination with the split peas. I never liked split peas but with this new discovery I’m quite a fan. Buy some really good smoked Spanish paprika and the recipe will hum.

“Mise en place: (A French cooking term that essentially means, “getting your shit together”):

1. 1.5 cup split peas, rinsed and picked through for rocks

2. 1 large onion, 1 large carrot, 1 large celery stalk, chopped. (This flavor-building mixture is called a mirepoix in French; it is a great thing).

3. 2-4 cloves garlic, minced. (I use four.)

4. 4.5 cups water or homemade stock.

5. Some decent extra-virgin olive oil; and the best olive oil in the house (don’t worry if you don’t have a special bottle).

6. Something spicy/smoky: 2 teaspoons of Spanish smoked paprika (pimenton de la Vera, available where good spices are sold); or 1-2 minced chipotle peppers, dried and re-hydrated in hot water or canned. Alternately, a few slices of good quality bacon (i.e., from pastured hogs) could be chopped and added to the mirepoix (number 2 above).

7. Something acidic, like a wedge of lemon or some wine vinegar.

8. Good sea salt and a pepper grinder.

9. Something green, like flat-leaf parsley or even arugula. To be chopped while peas are cooking.

10. A little crushed red chile pepper, optional but really nice.


Cover bottom of a medium heavy-bottom pot with your everyday olive oil. Turn heat to a gentle medium. After a minute, add the miroepoix vegetables (hold off on the garlic; it burns easily). Cook, stirring often, for ten or so minutes, until veggies are soft but not browned. If they threaten to turn brown, turn heat down a little. Add the garlic and the paprika or chipotles. Cook, stirring, until garlic perfumes the air, a minute or so. Note the beautiful red hue everything has turned. Add the peas, stir to mix with the veggies. Add the water or stock; bring to boil; cover; turn heat to low; let simmer.

As the peas cook, check them every few minutes. If they seem on the verge of drying out, add some hot water or stock. While they’re cooking, chop about half a bunch of parsley or a several arugula leaves for garnish. The peas should be done in about an hour, maybe a little less. They are ready when they are very soft. Their collapse should be complete, catastrophic, abject: like a Democratic Senator confronting a question of principle.

When they are done, add a vigorous twist or three of black pepper, and taste. They will taste quite flat. Stir in a teaspoon of salt, and marvel at the flavors that emerge. Now add a small amount of acid—a teaspoon or so lemon juice or vinegar. You don’t want it to taste lemony or vinegary; you just want the acid to balance the flavors. Taste again and adjust for salt, pepper, and acid. More smoked paprika could be added at this stage, if desired.

To serve, ladle into warm bowls over brown rice or toasted crusty bread. Drizzle with the best olive oil you have—this dish will showcase its flavor—add a dash of crushed chile flakes, and a good sprinkle of chopped greens.

This dish goes with malty, lightly hopped brown ales like Bell’s Best Brown; and with rustic, simple red wines. I’ve been enjoying the 2008 Vin de Pays du Vaucluse ($10), bottled for the great wine merchant Kermit Lynch.”

Coconut Curry Veggies

February 23, 2010

This is a mainstay in our family. LOVE this recipe. It’s from the amazing Vij in Vancouver and goes with almost anything. Make double or triple as it keeps (and even freezes well).

1/2 cup canola oil

25 to 30 fresh curry leaves

1 tbsp black mustard seeds

1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions

1 tbsp + 1 tsp chopped garlic

2 cups chopped tomatoes (2 large)

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tbsp salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 12 ounce can coconut milk, stirred

1 lb eggplant, chopped into 1-1/2″ pieces (I use zucchini)

1 lb cauliflower, cut into 1-1/2″ florets

2 red and yellow bell peppers, seeded and chopped into 1″ pieces

3/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1. In a large pot, heat oil on medium heat. Keeping your head at a distance from the pot, add the curry leaves and mustard seeds and allow them to sizzle for about one minute or until a few seeds pop.

2. Immediately add onions and sauté until golden brown, about 8 minutes

3. Add tomatoes and remaining spices and sauté for 8 minutes or until oil glistens on top.

4. Stir in coconut milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low. Add eggplant (zucchini). Cover and simmer to five minutes. Add cauliflower and bell peppers, cover and simmer for another five minutes. Stir in cilantro.

Serve over basmati rice.

Winter Portobello Stew

February 15, 2010

This is sooooooo yummy. It’s so hearty it’s almost like a beef stew. We love this on a cold, snowy, wintry night in January.

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large onion, diced into 1/2-inch pieces dice

2 teaspoons chopped rosemary

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 pinches red pepper flakes

1/2 pound portabella mushrooms, sliced 3/8-inch thick, gills removed

1 pound large white mushrooms, thickly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons tomato paste

11/2 cups Quick Mushroom Stock (recipe follows), Wild Mushroom Stock or water

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons butter (optional)

2 tablespoons chopped parsley or tarragon

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and rosemary and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and remove to a bowl. Return pan to medium heat and add half remaining oil. When pan is hot, add portabella mushrooms and saute until nicely browned, about 5 minutes. Add them to bowl with onions, and repeat with remaining oil and white mushrooms. Return everything to pan and add garlic, tomato paste, stock and vinegar. Simmer gently 12 to 15 minutes, then swirl in butter. Add parsley and taste for salt and pepper. Makes 4 servings.

– Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

Quick Mushroom Stock

1/4 cup or more dried porcini mushrooms

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 onion, coarsely chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 large garlic clove, chopped

2 mushrooms, sliced, plus any trimmings

2 teaspoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon fresh marjoram or 1 teaspoon dried (or I use Thyme)

1/2 cup dry white or red wine (red makes it much heartier)

1 tablespoon flour

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Cover dried mushrooms with 1 1/2 cups hot water and set aside. Heat oil in saucepan over high heat. Add chopped onion, carrot, garlic and mushrooms. Saute, stirring occasionally, until well-browned, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, stir in tomato paste, marjoram and wine, and sprinkle on flour. Cover pan and cook until wine is reduced to syrupy glaze, about 3 minutes. Add porcini and their soaking water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, a little pepper and vinegar and simmer 20 minutes. Strain well (I feel guilty straining out all the goodies so I just add the whole shebang to the stew!). Remove porcini and use in stews or other dishes (same goes here). Concentrate stock by simmering it, uncovered, until desired strength. Makes about 1 cup.

– Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

Okay – this is a great recipe from Spain – Potato and Chickpea Stew with Picada and Romesco Sauce. It looks involved but it’s not hard. There are a number of steps but it’s all pretty easy and straightforward. Enjoy. Make double. Chin Chin. From Deborah Madison. (Oh, and I keep the extra Romesco Sauce for sandwiches and dips!)

Potato and Chickpea Stew


1 lb. waxy-fleshed potatoes

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, diced

2 large cloves garlic, minced

2 generous pinches saffron

2 large red bell peppers, diced

1 large yellow or red bell pepper, cut into 1-in.-wide strips

1 heaping tsp. sweet paprika

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

1/2 cup medium-dry sherry

2 cups crushed tomatoes with juice

2-1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (or two 15-oz. cans, rinsed)

3 cups chickpea broth or water

1-1/2 tsp. salt

Freshly ground pepper

Romesco sauce (see below)

Picado (see below)

Chopped parsley for garnish

4 generous servings

If using fingerling potatoes, halve them lengthwise. Large round potatoes can be cut into thick rounds or quartered.

Warm the oil in a wide pot with the onion, garlic, saffron, peppers, and potatoes. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring gently every now and then, until the potatoes are tender-firm, about 25 min. Add the paprika, parsley, and red pepper flakes, and cook 3 to 4 min. Add the sherry and cook until the juices are thick and syrupy, about 12 min.

Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, and broth or water to cover. Season with salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper, then cover and cook over low heat until the potatoes are completely tender, about 20 min. If the stew is soupy and you plan to serve it right away, stir in 1/4 cup picada (or more if necessary) to thicken it. If you don’t plan to serve the stew for 1 hour of mor, it may not need the bread crumbs since it will thicken as it stands. Serve in soup plates with any additional picada sprinkled over the top along with the extra parsley. Add a spoonful of the Romesco sauce to each bowl and pass the rest.

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.


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 30, 2010

I just made this soup on Sunday – a merger between two potato leek soup recipes. It was really yummy and great for a cold winter’s night!! And the non-vegan boys in the house love it with crumbled bacon on top.

10 medium leeks

olive oil

salt and pepper

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

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. 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.

(or for the meat eaters in our family I crumble some well-done bacon on top.)

I made up this recipe based on a few I’ve eaten when I’m out and about. I’m really happy with it. You can add more or less dressing depending on your preference:

1 cup mixed wild rice, cooked

1 cup barley, cooked

1 cup black quinoa, cooked

1 – 2 cups pumpkin seeds (roasted tamari pumpkin seeds are nice)

5 celery stalks, chopped and lightly sautéed

4 large carrots, chopped and lightly sautéed

(some sautéed fennel is also nice if you have some around)

3/4 cup of dried cranberries

Bunch of green onion, chopped

Bunch of parsley, chopped

Bunch of cilantro, chopped

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix. Toss with the dressing below.


1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon grated ginger

dash maple syrup

1/2 cup Olive oil

Salt and Pepper