Vegan Asian Caesar Dressing

for the past 4 months, I have had the opportunity to cook lunch 4 days a week at a local grocery store here in downtown kitchener (or as they call it, DTK). since it’s just me running the show (while the other cooks handle the catering side of the business), it’s been a huge learning curve; a really ideal way to test recipes and to get feedback for it. I get to share my experience through the food that I make while pushing people’s boundaries a little with asian inspired flavour bombs ;)

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Flavour Bomb Edamame

there’s not much to explain for this one. great as a quick snack or party app, this edamame is dressed to impress as it is packed full of flavour! this recipe makes about a cup of dressing, but you’ll only need about 1/3 of the recipe per 500 g pack of edamame. don’t worry when the dressing comes out a bit thin - you’ll just want to flavour the beans, not coat them. bonus for not having super greasy hands after eating these either! 1 pack of edamame makes about 6-8 servings, but I would lean closer to 6 since people tend to eat more than they think they will. serve with a nice, crisp cider or gluten free beer of choice.

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Banana Fiber Muffins

banana muffins baking in the oven has got to be one of my favourite smells in the world. as the maillard reaction goes down and the bananas begin to caramelize, an intoxicating, golden aroma fills the room and brings me right back to early memories of the first thing I ever baked. this version (based off a recipe from reid’s mom) is extra fibrous and filled with lots of good stuff for when you’ve been eating too much take-out and need a gut cleansing. perfect for an on-the-go breakfast, or as a snack, any time of day. we sometimes sub the bananas with pumpkin or chestnut purée to mix it up a bit. serve with a knob of butter for extra unctuousness.

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Miso Tahini Pomelo Slaw

one upside of it being the dead of winter is that it’s also citrus season!!! from pomelos to clementines, blood oranges to navel, we’ve got some beautiful, tropical imports that remind us that there’s still colour in the world. this slaw uses one of my favourite citrus fruits - pomelo! it’s a sweeter, milder grapefruit that’s less bitter. combine that with easily available winter veg and a dressing that’s shelf stable for a week, and you’ve got an easy, healthy option for lunch or dinner. for added protein, toss in some cooked chicken.

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Mapo Tofu

growing up in canada, I never understood why my friends were disgusted by tofu. but then I realized that their version of tofu was often flavourless, dry, and firm. the tofu I grew up with was always a massive flavour bomb - this silky, soft vessel used for absorbing velvety, meaty sauce, turning any bowl of plain white rice, into the ultimate comfort food. reid was a tofu convert when he first ate this, and I think you will be too. the chili bean paste (doubanjiang) and the black bean paste can be found at your local chinese supermarket in the sauce aisle.

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The Ultimate Crispy Chewy Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

for not being a celiac myself, it says a lot when I say that these are my favourite chocolate chip cookies ever. they’re crispy on the outside, chewy and melt-in-your-mouth on the inside, and perfect with a glass of milk. store them in an airtight container at room temp for a couple days and they’ll go like hot cakes. I always microwave them for 20 seconds to get them back to their freshly-baked-out-of-the-oven state. my microwave sucks though, so adjust your seconds accordingly or you’ll have a melty mess. still a melty delicious mess, but not what you want. this recipe makes 36 cookies, but we always divide the dough into 3rds and freeze 2 portions in ziplock bags. whenever we’re craving some fresh baked cookies, we just defrost a bag, ball up the dough and pop them in the oven! efficiency for the win!

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Mouth-watering Tomato Soup

This is definitely our favourite tomato soup recipe ever! It's buttery, velvety, tangy, sweet and the perfect accompaniment for crisp and gooey grilled cheese. The key is letting your onions cook down so that the natural sweetness of them balance out the tartness of the canned tomatoes. Simple and delicious, this is an effortless recipe to add to your repertoire.

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Sai Ua Falafels (Northern Thai Falafels)

We’re always looking for new ways to integrate vegetarian meals into our diets, and as much as we love tofu we’re eager to explore some more imaginative alternate proteins. Lately, that has meant pulse-patties, from black bean burgers to falafels. We love falafels for transforming relatively-boring-but-packed-with-nutrients chickpeas into crisp-on-the-outside-moist-on-the-inside flavour bombs that add substance to rice bowls and keep us full for hours after a meal. They’re traditionally spiced with cumin, coriander, mint and cilantro, but we wondered if they could be done using the same blend of aromatics as our favourite Thai sausage, Sai Ua. The answer is a resounding yes. Full of lemongrass, turmeric, chilies, kaffir lime leaves and galangal, these Thai inspired falafels have a bold flavour that keeps you going back for more. For strict vegetarians, we use powdered dry mushrooms for umami, but if you’re more lenient we recommend a healthy dose of fish sauce.

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Pandan Kaya

We first encountered this unbelievable, spreadable, heaven-in-a-spoon through Jannell's good friend Meagan, who brought a jar of it back from Singapore. After trying it, Jannell couldn't stop talking about how good this was. It's essentially a pandan flavoured coconut custard, but since most of us have never encountered pandan before, that description really doesn't do it justice. It's sweet, rich and has this incredibly unique grassy flavour that comes from the pandan leaves. Please just trust us. You want this in your lives. It goes great on toast, on gf crackers as a snack, or our personal favourite application, as a replacement for maple syrup on waffles or pancakes.

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Coconut Chia Pudding

Coconut chia pudding is excellent either as a delicious dessert to cap off a nice meal, or as a beautiful breakfast to start your day. You can even use it as a dairy free yogurt to top off some granola if you reduce the chia seeds to 3 tbsp! This recipe is super easy, but that doesn't mean you won't be blown away by the results. It's sweet and rich, pairing perfectly with fresh seasonal fruit.

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Buddha Bowl

I first made this for the family I've been personal chefing for the summer. I drew inspiration from multiple recipes online and combined them to achieve the ultimate buddha bowl! If you're body is craving a hearty and healthy meal, this is a great option. If you care for more protein, sautéed shrimp is a nice addition. 
 

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Coconut Rice

Gluten Free Coconut Rice

I struggled for a long time with coconut rice. I loved the concept, but it always turned out a bit gloopy and mushy. finally, I stumbled upon andrea nguyen's technique, which is to use the coconut water found at the bottom of coconut milk cans rather than the cream. In order to separate the cream and water, make sure you buy a good brand of coconut milk that doesn't contain any emulsifiers. 

note that this recipe still works fine if you don't have a rice cooker. use the same cooking method as usual, but for the liquid use all of the coconut water you get from the can and top it up with water to reach the right rice-liquid ratio.

Serves 4 hungry rice eaters or 6 normal rice eaters

Special Equipment

Rice cooker

Ingredients

1 (400 mL) can of coconut milk
3 rice-cooker-cups of jasmine rice (2 1/4 US cups)
6 Kaffir lime leaves (optional)
Water

Instructions

Refrigerate the coconut milk for 24 hours to ensure separation of the cream and the water.

Skim the solidified coconut cream from the top of the can, leaving the clear water and any milky liquid. Reserve for another use.

Measure out the rice into your rice cooker and rinse until the water runs clear.

Pour in the coconut water and kaffir lime leaves. Top up with water until you reach the "3 cups" marker on the side of the bowl.

Cook the rice in the cooker. Serve.

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Pavlova

Credit goes to Andrea Witzel for this recipe. This is one of the desserts that is most in line with our ethos of finding great food that happens to be gluten free. It's super light, so you always have room for a slice after a big meal, and by pairing it with a tart strawberry-lime curd the sweetness isn't overwhelming. In our rendition, we've topped it with whipped coconut cream and kaffir lime zest, but it could just as easily be made with whipped cream and regular lime zest.

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Whipped Coconut Cream

Gluten Free Whipped Coconut Cream

whipped coconut cream is really easy but it requires a bit of planning and careful purchase of the right brand of coconut milk. a lot of coconut milk is made with guar gum so that it doesn't separate, but that separation is integral to the process of making whipped coconut cream. we typically buy Aroy-D branded coconut milk since we've had typically good results with it, but any pure coconut milk will do. next, in order to get the best separation possible and to ensure the cream will whip properly, you'll need to put the can of coconut milk in the fridge for about 24 hours. it might be possible on a shorter time frame, but we've always done it overnight for dinner the next day.

Ingredients

1 can or tetrapack of pure coconut milk (no guar gum or xanthan gum)
1 tbsp white granulated sugar (optional)

Instructions

Refrigerate the coconut milk for 24 hours to ensure separation of the cream and the water.

Open the coconut milk and scoop out the cream that's floating on top. Ideally this will be almost ice cream textured. Reserve the coconut water and any thin coconut milk for another use.

Place the coconut cream and sugar (if using) in a metal bowl and mix with either a stand mixer or a hand mixer on medium high until the cream is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.

Serve.

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Strawberry Lime Curd

We made this curd to go with our Pavlova, but it can be used for other recipes as well. It's sweet and tangy, a perfect accompaniment for meringue. This recipe calls for 4 egg yolks since the meringue uses 4 egg whites, but if you're using this curd for another recipe you can substitute 2 whole eggs for the 4 eggs yolks.

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Pickled Veg

This recipe works for pretty much any vegetable, though we're partial to pickling carrots, daikons and onions. It's an easy way to add a bit of tang and crunch to a meal and we end up going through a jar of pickled veg pretty well every week. Carrots seem to keep a bit better than daikons (which get a bit of a funky smell after a week or ten days) so we recommend pickling in separate jars/ containers. The proportions of this recipe are more important than the precise measurements - I personally go with the rule "a bit of sugar, a bit more water and a bit more vinegar" but I've tried to translate that to real units.

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