Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Noodle Making at the Legendary Noodle (photo by Nick Procaylo, The Vancouver Province)
When we got back from Whitehorse, we stopped off in Vancouver for a couple of days to visit relatives. We were dying for some Asian food (the Chinese restaurants in Whitehorse are not vegetarian-friendly, unfortunately), so we had lunch one day at the Legendary Noodle on Denman St. (Here's a map.)
It's a small, snug place (I read it described as a "hole in the wall"!), but nicely decorated. We sat where we could watch the noodle maker. He had the dough already made and covered on his countertop. When an order came in he would cut off a chunk of the dough and start stretching and folding, stretching and folding, until, about 30 seconds later, miraculously (or so it seemed) there would be thin noodles! They would be plunged into boiling water for another 30 seconds and then mixed by the chef with whatever vegetables, sauces, etc. make the dish. Talk about fast food!
NOTE: THE FOLLOWING VIDEOS ARE JUST ONES I FOUND ON YOUTUBE-- THEY ARE NOT FROM LEGENDARY NOODLE! BUT THE TECHNIQUES ARE THE SAME. BCG
Here's a short video showing the technique for making the dough:
Here's a short video in which you can see how the noodles are formed:
The prices are amazingly cheap, the portions generous, and the menu has quite a few vegetarian options. We started with a cold peanut-noodle salad with spinach, and some vegetarian steamed dumplings, chock full of greens and green onions with some smokey sesame oil. So delicious and fresh that I forgot to take a picture before we ate them all! Sorry! (They just list the pork dumplings for the big plateful on the menu, but we just asked them to substitute the vegetarian ones-- no problem.)
For the entree, My husband had noodles with peanut sauce, nicely spicey:
I had a stir-fry with lots of vegetables and thin slices of tofu (vegans, ask them to skip the scrambled egg). It was so tasty in a subtle, smokey way:
If you eat there (and they have a restaurant on Main St. and one in Richmond, too) try the Legendary Noodle house tea!
It comes in a big glass and it's green tea with an assortment of exotic dried fruits (goji berry, longan, etc.) and chrysanthemum flowers. It's fruity and fragrant and delicious!
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Spectacular mountains outside of Whitehorse, Yukon
DH and I just returned from Whitehorse, Yukon last weekend and I am finally getting caught up enough to blog! What a beautiful area! We were supposed to go in September, when it was a little warmer, but my mother had to move, so we had to postpone the trip. However, the weather was mostly sunny and there was only a tiny bit of snow some of the time.
We were invited by the owner of the Alpine Bakery in Whitehorse, Suat Tuzlak, to stay with his family and do a bit of consulting on vegan food in the bakery. I also presented a class in the bakery after-hours, cooking a vegan Italian 5-course menu, attended the inagaural meeting of the new vegetarian society, and spoke about vegetarian/vegan diet at three area high schools. Who knew that there would be so much interest in vegetarianism so far north!
The back door of the Alpine bakery.
And it's not only vegetarianism, but organics, fair trade, community action, social responsibility, and good old fashioned kindness! They live their vision.
Here is Suat's philosophy for the bakery, and their whole life (from their website):
In the modern world of globalization, this old adage takes on new meaning. Food and food production are affecting and changing our world in subtle and profound ways. Our food choices are no longer geared towards physical health. Instead, deciding what we put on our tables and in our mouths has become a political, environmental, social and spiritual choice.
Alpine Bakery's vision goes beyond daily bread to working more mindfully towards making positive changes in the world. Its mission is to offer wholesome organic food products, promote healthy and sustainable alternative lifestyle choices and foster social and environmental activism to its customers and community.
To fulfill its mission, Alpine Bakery:
is an environmentally conscious company – producing and selling environmentally friendly, ethical and healthy products including organic produce in support of sustainable agricultural practices and industry. It also maintains environmentally sound business practices and a "green" store in support of environmental initiatives and sources minimally packaged and recycled products.
is a socially responsible corporate citizen – demonstrating respect for its customers, employees, and the community it serves by providing an open and holistic atmosphere in its bakery along with purchasing locally produced and fairly traded goods, donating goods or labour to community organizations and actively participating in community initiatives;
is a community activist – promoting and supporting activism by educating and encouraging customers and citizens to participate in social and environmental awareness raising campaigns and opening its building to non-profit and alternative community organizations.
Alpine Bakery – exercising its power of choice."
Suat supports local growers and craftspeople. He has attended "slow food" conferences and supports organics. The bakery is full of literature on all of these areas, including globalization and social issues, which is available for customers to read, or to borrow.
The bakery is a real meeting place (and Suat makes the upstairs available for community meetings, film presentations, and yoga classes). People come in for organic coffee or tea (non-dairy milk available!), or fresh juices, and something from the bakery case, or a generous bowl of hot soup with fresh bread, or pizza (vegan available), sandwiches or sushi (very reasonable prices, too). Everything is vegetarian, most of it vegan. Earth Balance is available instead of butter, if you wish. Invariably, one gets into a conversation with someone-- we met so many great people! (DH got to speak alot of French-- there is a large Francophone community in Whitehorse.)
The bread in the bakery is AMAZING!! So many varieties (some are baked every day, and others on certain days of the week)-- many wheat-free. Many are brick oven breads and naturally leavened, or sourdough, breads (my favorites!). Here are some photos from the bakery:
A display basket with some of the breads for a catering job
The bakery case with not-too-sweet cinnamon buns and a delicious chocolate-cranberry cake
The bakery case, with cranberry scones, spelt muffins, and mini banana breads
Antonio's handmade organic, fair-trade chocolate truffles, using local berries
Fabulous bagels-- the real thing!
They grind some of their own flours
The brick oven
The spacious kitchen
Homemade granola and okara biscuits (okara from their homemade tofu) (they also make soy jerky)
The handmade, locally-made wooden trays used for transporting foods for catering, etc.
One of the propane ovens
As for Whitehorse itself, there are many interesting art galleries, museums, shops, an excellent library, and, of course, the spectacular scenery. The Yukon River flows behind the town (you can't see it in the picture below), with the mountains behind:
In this picture, you can see some of the large escarpment behind the city:
I stand beside a large copper "nugget" outside of one of the old original houses.
Some of the beautiful murals all over the city, depicting First Nations history, as well as Klondike history:
This was Yukon College, an alternative high school where I spoke to some of the students about vegetarian diet.
We managed to take two jaunts out of town, one to the south, where we visited a Tibetan lama (well, he was American, but follows Tibetan Buddhism) preparing for a 1000-day retreat in a cabin beside a beautiful lake in the woods. On the way there we stopped at the famous Emerald Lake (not the same lake mentioned above):
We also went on a 2 hour drive North, towards Haines, Alaska and saw beautiful mountains and glaciers (see the first picture).
The downtown has some old building, which give a "Wild West" feel:
This was great bookstore-- they carried lots of vegetarian and vegan book s( even one of mine!), and the biggest selection of magazines I've seen in a long time, including some very progressive ones.
In fact, we found the community very progressive environmentally. They have a farmers' market that is "plastic bag free", and the city is being inovative about their wast. In Porter Creek, the suburb where we were staying, there is a pilot program:
"With support from the 2007 Canada Winter Games and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the City is testing out carts for residential waste. While 56% of the population with curbside waste collection report that they compost, that leaves many people who do not separate their waste.
Some residents cite the cost, the availability and the quality of compostable bags as barriers to composting. In addition, our Public Works employees report injuries from lifting these heavy bags.
To address these issues, we are asking approximately 500 households in Porter Creek (almost half the neighbourhood) to participate in a pilot curbside cart program. From June 2007 to May 2008, participants will use a green ventilated cart for compostables and a black cart for garbage. We hope this will make waste separation easy!"
You can read about their solid waste program here.
Of course, this is a great place to go for outdoor recreation-- cross country skiiing, canoeing, kayaking, etc. You can explore some of that here. There are many young people who come to Whitehorse to work and play. There are events going on every day, and lots of musicians, even bellydancers! They also have a state-of-the-art Recreation center, with pools, rinks, indoor tracks, weight rooms, etc., built for last year's Canada Games. We took advantage of the pool and hot tub a few times!
Well, I'm running out of steam here-- I'll probably have more to say about Whitehorse in future! I hope we'll go back in the summer-- there's lots we didn't get a chance to see and do. (There is a fine airport-- there are direct flights from Frankfurt, Germany!) And, we didn't get to see any wildlife, excepts squirrels and naughty but beautiful magpies!
We also didn't see the Northern Lights this time. Many Japanese tourists travel there just to see the spectacular natural light show in the sky.
It was a great experience, and I was so gratified by the interest in a plant-based diet, by everyone's friendliness, and by Suat and Chalia's generosity and kindness.
Here's a Yukon recipe for you:
YUKON HIGHBUSH CRANBERRY JELLY
Highbush cranberries are a fruit of the honeysuckle, and completely different fruit than the lowbush or commercial cranberry. Highbush cranberries grow on a shrub with pointed leaves whereas cranberries grow on a vine with oval leaves. Highbush cranberries have a single seed, which needs to be removed. If you have ever smelled something reminiscent of stinky socks on a stroll through the bush, you are likely very close to a good patch of highbush cranberries. The seeded pulp of the highbush cranberry can be used interchangeably with the pulp of the regular cranberry in any recipe.
4 cups highbush cranberries
6 cups water
Additional water (as needed)
7 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. margarine
1 pouch liquid pectin (Certo)
Bring the berries and water to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Crush the berries or put through a food mill. Strain the juice in a cheesecloth-lined sieve. Add any additional water if need to bring the juice up to 5 cups.
Bring the juice and sugar up to a boil. Add the margarine, then the liquid pectin. Bring back to a boil, stirring constantly boil hard for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Skim foam from surface and pour into sterile pint jars and seal. Process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes.
Yield: 8 cups
Monday, October 8, 2007
Our Thanksgiving meal: (clockwise from top L) roasted butternut squash slices with orange juice and spices; Garlic and Herb Crusted Soy and Seitan "Pork Tenderloin" Roast (from the Vegan Feast newsletter); my vegan brown gravy with sauteed chanterelles; Succotash from my vegan holiday cookbook (green beans, lima beans, corn, red peppers, and green onions); Orange and Rosemary Cranberry sauce (from my upcoming issue of the Vegan Feast); Traditional vegan bread stuffing; and mashed potatoes.
Dessert-- recipe below!
We celebrated last night with three vegan friends. We didn't have our usual big family dinner this year, due to various circumstances (but we'll get together next month for my mother's 90th birthday!). It was a spur of the moment dinner, because we were going to (perish the thought!) skip it altogether, since I'm down to the crunch getting the new issue of the Vegan Feast newsletter done and my house was less than tidy, shall we say. But I couldn't NOT have a harvest dinner, and I had one of my Soy and Seitan "Pork Tenderloin" roasts in the freezer (the one from the Everyday Dish DVD), a nice squash, some chanterelles, and some cranberries, so, I invited some close vegan friends who don't have family nearby and whose company we always enjoy.
The meal was ready from start to finish in 3 hours, and we stuffed ourselves with good food and great conversation! The main dish was made with my (thawed) frozen seitan "pork tenderloin", covered in a garlicky crust:
Leftover "pork tenderloin" is great in sandwiches with leftover cranberry sauce and vegan mayo! Crusty bread or rolls is the best, but it's good with any good bread;
We ended the meal with the following Ginger Apple Crumb Pie, topped by a creamy dessert sauce.
Hope all you fellow Canadians had a great weekend!
Printable Recipe (both recipes)
GINGER APPLE CRUMB PIE
This is my version of a recipe by Wendy Kalen from the Nov. 2004 issue of Fine Cooking magazine. I used my Lowfat Wholewheat Oil Pastry, which is in all of my books, I think. I used wholewheat pastry flour and a little less sugar in the crumb topping, and substituted vegan buttery spread for the butter called for (and half as much!). My guests ate every ginger-y crumb! We ate it with the Creamy Cashew-Pear sauce on top, but a vanilla vegan "ice cream" would be good, too. (I calculated the Nutrition Facts using my Lowfat Wholewheat Oil pastry crust.)
1/ 9" pie crust (your favorite)
6 medium apples, peeled, cored and thinly-sliced
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbs unbleached white flour
1 cup wholewheat pastry flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 pinch salt
1/4 cup vegan buttery spread (try my homemade vegan palm-oil-free Buttah)
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Make the crust and place it in the refrigerator until ready to fill.
Mix the sliced apples with the other filling ingredients and pile into the pie crust.
Mix the Topping ingredients with a pastry cutter, in a food processor, or with your fingers, until like crumbs. Top the apples evenly with the Crumb Topping.
Place the pie plate on a cookie sheet (to catch any drips!) and bake at 425°F for 20 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 375°F and bake another 30-35 minutes, or until the apples are tender and teh top is nicely browned.
Nutrition (per serving): 342.9 calories; 30% calories from fat; 11.5g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 192.9mg sodium; 255.0mg potassium; 58.4g carbohydrates; 4.3g fiber; 31.3g sugar; 54.1g net carbs; 4.6g protein; 7.0 points.
BRYANNA'S CREAMY CASHEW-PEAR DESSERT SAUCE (WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM HOLLY!)
We couldn't get any vegan vanilla "ice cream" on the island yesterday, so I decided to make a sauce to go with the apple pie. I started adding cashews to soymilk in the Vita-Mix, and my friend Holly, who is a third-generation vegetarian (!!), mentioned that her mother used to make a similar sauce, but she added pears to it. So, since I had two large ripe pears that needed using, here is my version, which she said tasted very similar to her mother's. It is luscious, and would be good on steamed pudding, chocolate cake, or anything else you can think of!
3/4 cup soymilk (or other nondairy milk)
1/4 cup organic cashew pieces
2 large ripe pears, peeled and cored and cut up (the pears should not be firm or hard, and should be sweet)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or Vita-Mix and blend until VERY smooth. Place in a covered bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Yield: 2 cups
Nutrition (per serving): 61.5 calories; 30% calories from fat; 2.2g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 47.6mg sodium; 118.5mg potassium; 10.0g carbohydrates; 1.9g fiber; 6.0g sugar; 8.2g net carbs; 1.5g protein; 1.0 points.
Monday, October 1, 2007
photo by John Kelly
I was making a quick saute for dinner the other night with my crispy Marinated tofu (Breast of Tofu) and a simple sauce of sauteed chanterelle mushrooms, garlic, herbs, broth, and dry white wine, when it entered my mind that many vegan recipes I see don't use wine. Interesting, I thought-- I use it all the time! I thought about this more while I enjoyed the dish with some orzo pilaf-- full-bodied and absolutely smashingly delicious in spite of its simplicity.
I lived in a winery in central California from age four to eleven. My mother had unlimited amounts of excellent wine to cook with, so I developed a taste for the rich flavor that wine lends to food. Later, when I became a vegan, I realized that wine was a powerful flavor enhancer, giving many meatless dishes a character and body that they lacked without it. But I didn’t know why that was so.
I used to think that it was perhaps the fruity flavor and the acidity of wine that worked the magic. But it’s more than that. It's the "fifth flavor"-- umami. (Read all about it here. And about recent umami discoveries further down.) Wine contains umami compounds because it is a fermented substance, and umami is a flavor enhancer. But, beyond umami, wine contains alcohol, and alcohol is a powerful flavor extractor. Some flavor components dissolve in water, and others in fat. But alcohol dissolves not only water-soluble and fat-soluble flavors, but also flavors that dissolve in neither water nor fat.
This capacity is a wonderful boon to low-fat cooks, because, without it, we lose the fat-soluble flavors (which is why fat-free foods often taste boring). No wonder I reach for a wine bottle when a dish is missing that special something!
When you splash some wine into the pan to scrape up the browned bits, you are not only getting the flavors of the wine and the caramelized bits (double umami—8 times the flavor!), but you are also releasing some extra flavors that only alcohol can extract! How neat is that?
What about when the alcohol boils off? Well, take the case of the famous pasta sauce made with tomatoes and vodka. This liquor is rather tasteless, but it does contain a lot of alcohol. The alcohol probably releases some flavor component in the tomatoes (more umami compounds), which releases into the sauce. Then it doesn’t matter if most of it boils off.
Worried about alcohol in your food? I have to tell you that I am not a drinker! I have a very low capacity for alcohol (1 glass of wine is about my limit)-- it makes me sleepy. I have never been drunk, I confess it! And this is in spite of the fact that my mother's California-French-Italian fusion cooking almost always contained wine! We even had sherry in our creamed tuna on toast (a favorite dish in the 1950's-- I'm dating myself...oh, well!). So, obviously, this didn't turn me into a wino!
The rate of alcohol evaporation depends on several factors: the intensity of heat; the length of cooking time; the pot or pan (greater surface area exposed means greater evaporation— for instance, the same dish cooked in a 10-inch skillet will retain more alcohol than that cooked in a 12-inch skillet); exposure to air; other ingredients in the recipe (breadcrumbs, for example, may absorb alcohol and protect it from the heat); and the stage at which the alcohol is added during cooking. In most cases, some alcohol is retained in the dish. Flambéing removes about 25% of the alcohol; simmering on a stovetop for 1/2 an hour evaporates about 65%; 2 and 1/2 hours of simmering removes about 95%.
photo by John Kelly
MORE ABOUT UMAMI IN WINE AND OTHER PLANT FOODS:
Since I wrote the article I linked to above, there has been a lot more research on umami. We get umami compounds (which means “delicious” combined with “essence”, and is used in Japan to describe a food that reaches a state of perfection) in many food-born substances.
From the 1950’s on, umami-triggering nucleotides have been found. In 1998, two leading Japanese researchers, Yamaguchi and Ninomiya, published a list of 39 substances they believed to trigger umami, including amino acids, ibotenic and tricolomic acids, succinic acid, theanine, and an octopeptide (compound of 8 amino acids).
Dr. Shintaro Kodama was the first researcher to discover a quality called synergy in some nucleotides, which dramatically intensified the qualities of umami compounds, thus explaining the “flavor explosion” I mentioned in the article. And we know now that browning protein-rich foods, such as a golden-brown crust on bread, or the aging of wine or vinegar, the brewing of beer, the reducing of stock, the fermenting of a bread starter, etc., etc., produce hundreds of compounds that enhance umami even further, producing complex tastes and aromas. Aged wines, sake and distilled spirits develop more umami compounds and can contribute more than flavor to foods—they contribute balance and enhancement of other flavors.
Some plant foods that are rich in free amino acids and have lots of umami taste when raw are: sea vegetables, corn, peas, tomatoes, mature potatoes, bell peppers, winter squash, nuts and seeds. Other plant foods benefit from cooking or fermenting (such as making cabbage into sauerkraut, or pickling vegetables), which increases the umami taste, or can be paired with stronger umami foods, such as a salad dressing. Soy foods increase in umami taste when they are roasted, cooked, or fermented, because they are one of the most protein-rich foods around. Soy sauce, roasted soy beans, miso and, various other fermented Asian bean pastes, and fermented tofu deliver a great umami punch even when used in small amounts.
Mushrooms and fungi are a great source of synergizing umami, and, generally speaking, the darker the color, the more umami. Dried mushrooms pack an even greater punch. Yeasts (both active and non-active nutritional yeast and yeast extract, such as Marmite), which is also a fungi (and includes sourdough, a natural yeast), have umami compounds. They also act as synergizers. For instance, in a live yeast or sourdough starter, the enzymic action develops the umami in wheat flour to “ripen” the dough and develop its flavor.
I'm sure that there will be more discoveries to come! In the meantime, we can use this knowledge to expandf the flavor possibilities of vegan foods! (Can you tell I get excited about this?)
Absolutely can't use wine or other alcohol, even in cooking? Here is a list of substitutes. I would recommend the non-alcoholic wine, because it is fermented before the alcohol is removed. It won't have the flavor-releasing qualities of alcohol, but it will contain umami compounds.
Vegan Wine Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
For brands, check out http://www.barnivore.com/wine, "Your vegan wine, beer, and liquor guide"
I made this soup for lunch today in a big hurry. It combines umami compounds in mushrooms, bouillon, and white wine for a delicious meal!
BRYANNA'S CREAMY POTATO, MUSHROOM AND SPINACH BISQUE (WW CORE PLAN-COMPATIBLE)
This is something I created on the spur of the moment with things I needed to use up, and I needed lunch FAST. It's delicious with wholewheat sourdough toast. The mushroom broth and wine make this quick soup very flavorful.
2 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups chopped cremini mushrooms
1/2 cup dry white wine (can be non-alcoholic)
1 cup mushroom broth (I used vegetarian bouillon with 1/2 Tbs. Pistol River Porcini Mushroom Powder added)
2 cups non-dairy milk (use a nice, creamy one)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme
freshly-ground black pepper to taste
1/3 to 1/2 cup mashed potato flakes (You can buy organic vegan flakes in some HF stores, or from amazon or veganessentials.com [which ships to Canada at a reasonable price].)
(1/2 cup makes quite a thick soup)
1/4 cup squeezed, thawed or cooked, chopped spinach
(I had some home-cooked spinach in the freezer that I used, so I can't tell you how many ounces it was raw, unfortunately. I measured it squeezed quite dry.)
In a small soup pot, heat the oil, and then add the onions and garlic. Stir-fry until the onion starts to soften, and add the mushrooms.
Stir-fry briefly, then add half of the wine and let it cook off. Add the remaining wine, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir in the soymilk, and then the potato flakes, the smaller amount first. Remember that this soup will thicken as it stands. Stir in the spinach, heat through, and serve immediately.
Nutrition (per serving): 118.3 calories; 25% calories from fat; 3.6g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 552.9mg sodium; 450.4mg potassium; 13.1g carbohydrates; 2.3g fiber; 5.3g sugar; 10.8g net carbs; 5.6g protein; 2.2 points.