Sunday, July 5, 2015

Not-Just Red Pepper Soup

My husband and I recently took a trip to Italy where I tasted this incredible soup in a restaurant called Roscioli in Rome. It was dairy free, but incredibly creamy and had a real complexity to the flavours. The soup at the restaurant had little shrimp and chunks of salami in it (it tastes better than it sounds), which I haven't done for this recipe. Honestly, I don't know how close this is, I just know that it's tasty.

Cooking time: 1-1.5 hours altogether
Working time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6-8


  • 2 Red bell peppers, seeded and chopped into 1" sections
  • 1.5 shallots, peeled and chopped into 1" sections
  • 5 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 can whole tomatoes
  • 2 cups homemade turkey stock
  • 1 tbsp salt (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp shrimp paste
  • Olive oil to coat veggies and 1 tbsp for soup

Let's do it!

  1. Toss the veggies in some olive oil and roast in the toaster oven on the toast setting until everything gets soft and you start to see a bit of charring. Remove garlic peels once cool enough to touch
  2. Meanwhile, deseed the tomatoes. How I do this is I pour the entire can into a large bowl and open each tomato with my hands and scrape out the seeds, then shake the tomato out in the can liquid until the seeds dislodge. I put the cleaned tomato into the soup pot. After doing this with all the tomatoes, I pour the can water through a sieve and use a wooden spoon to moosh any leftover tomato bits through, while keeping the seeds out. It's labour intensive, but it's worth it.
  3. Add everything into the soup pot and blend using an immersion blender BEFORE TURNING ON THE STOVE. Unless you want to splash molten soup all over yourself.
  4. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the flavours are blended to your liking.
  5. If you're not too picky, the soup is more or less good to go. If you're going for the the smoothest soup in the world, push the soup through a super-fine drum sieve, which will take about 10-15 minutes of active stirring, but will result in a velvety, bright texture. 
  6. At this point, I added some water to thin it out a bit and to dilute the soup, since it was very strong in flavour.

There it is, a very bright, tasty soup that will have guests asking "what... what exactly is in this?", but in a good way!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Spinach and Potato Curry Roti

Potato in curry is one of my favourite things in the world. So the first time I had spinach and potato curry roti, my mind was absolutely blown.

Anyway, this is a great spicy lunch for a super cold day.
Seriously, Toronto?

I added in peas for some protein, to round out the meal.


  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 4 medium yellow flesh potatoes, peeled and chopped into roughly 1" cubes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons or so Jamaican-style curry powder (I use Irie brand)
  • 1 can coconut milk (buy the one with the highest percentage of actual coconut in it)
  • 1 package frozen spinach (300g), defrosted and drained
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • Salt and/or fish sauce to taste
  • Hot peppers to taste
  • Flour tortillas. The big ones, not the 6-inch ones

Let's do it!

  1. In a medium sized soup pot, heat up the coconut oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and curry powder and stir for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the potatoes and let them fry on the bottom of the pan. Stirring once in a while, maybe cook for 4 more minutes.
  4. Add garlic and fry for 1 minute.
  5. Add the coconut milk and stir. Bring this to simmer and cover.
  6. I like my potatoes really soft, so I simmered this for about half an hour.
  7. When the potatoes are cooked through, add the frozen spinach and stir to combine.
  8. Once that's all nice and simmering again, add salt or fish sauce to taste. Personally, I think fish sauce and curry are a winning combination, but not all of us like fish sauce. So you may have salt.
  9. Add more curry powder if you think it needs it. I love a ton of spice.
  10. At this point, I also added about 1/2 teaspoon of my homemade "hot sauce", which is actually just fresh red chilli peppers, garlic, salt and vinegar blended. It's crazy hot and doesn't really change the flavour of anything. It just adds heat.
  11. Add the frozen peas, stir to combine. Turn off the stove and cover. Nothing worse than overcooked peas.

Lunch it up! 

You can assemble this at home, or you can bring the tortilla and curry separately. I like to keep things separate (therefore, less soggy). Put the big tortilla on a big plate, spoon some curry into the middle, then roll up into a neat little package. Microwave and you're done. 

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Penang Curry Paste

Back in one of my older posts (curry noodle soup), I linked to a recipe for Penang curry paste. It was the wrong one, which I discovered when I made it for a bunch of people.

I looked in my handwritten recipe book and found the real one. I'll be fixing the link, since that last one was no good.


  • 5 dried chilis (I use birds eye chilis)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large shallot, sliced
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, mashed with the side of a knife and chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
  • 1 tbsp lime zest
  • 1 tbsp cilantro root (this can be hard to find, as most grocers cut the root off fresh cilantro)
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp peanuts
  • 1 tbsp shrimp paste

Let's do it!

  1. In a dry saucepan, toast the coriander seeds and peanuts until fragrant. Don't let them burn! Let cool.
  2. Using a spice grinder, or a mortar and pestle, grind up the dry ingredients: chilis, salt, pepper, coriander seeds and peanuts.
  3. Using a mortar and pestle, crush all the other ingredients. Depending on the size of your mortar and pestle, you may have to do them one at a time, and mix them together in another bowl. 
  4. Mix everything together.
  5. At this point, you can either cook with it, or put it all in a zipper freezer bag, flatten it and put it in the freezer. I'll break off chunks of this and let it simmer in coconut milk when I'm ready to make curry. This makes at least 6 servings of curry, depending on how spicy you like your curry to be. 
Note: I was gifted a spice grinder at our wedding and it is INCREDIBLE. I like to buy my spices unground, because I heard that they keep better that way, and it also makes it much easier to toast them, which a lot of Asian recipes call for. A spice grinder makes this recipe way easier to make.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Vegan Enchiladas

I know, it looks gross, but it tastes great.

Okay, this is nowhere near authentic. I tried to make authentic enchilada sauce and it was a horrific failure. So here's my version. Note, the chipotle pepper in adobo sauce is what gives this sauce the right flavour. It will be spicy. I don't know how to avoid this. If you like spicy, then add more peppers!


  • 1 can kidney beans, drained
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • a bit of cooking oil
  • 1 can whole tomatoes (diced and crushed are inferior quality. A guy who used to work in a tomato canning factory told me!)
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, with some sauce 
  • 1/2 onion, chopped roughly
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4-6 small corn or flour tortillas
  • shredded vegan cheese (I used Daiya mozzarella)

Let's do it!

Refried Beans:

  1. Heat the cooking oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the kidney beans and cumin and stir to coat the beans. 
  2. Mash the beans with a potato masher and add some water to make it more of a paste. I add water several times during this process as it gets absorbed by the beans. You want it to be thick, but not so thick that you can't spread it on something easily. I added more water and simmered this on low while I made the sauce.


  1. Drain the can of whole tomatoes into a blender. 
  2. Deseed the tomatoes. I do this by submerging them in a bowl of water, opening each tomato and scraping the seeds out with my fingers under the water.
  3. Put the tomatoes, onion, garlic, chipotle pepper and about 2 teaspoons of the adobo sauce into the blender. 
  4. Blend until it's all blended nicely together.
  5. Let this mixture simmer in a small soup pot for about 30 minutes, or until you no longer taste raw onions.

Put it together!

  1. Warm up the tortillas in the microwave under a damp paper towel. You want them to be pliable so they don't break when you try to roll them. Like mine did.
  2. In an oven safe casserole dish, ladle a thin layer of sauce.
  3. Take your tortilla, put a line of beans in the middle, then some shredded cheese. Roll it up and put it cut side down into the dish.
  4. Repeat until you fill the dish.
  5. Top with more cheese, then a generous helping of sauce.
  6. Broil in the oven until the cheese is melted!

Lunch it up!

This lunch is a hot mess when it's cooked. It's also a meal unto itself, so I just stuck it in a lunch container and heated it up at work. Also, the husband can eat real cheese and prefers flour tortillas to corn, so I made a separate dish for him.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Vegan Shepherd's Pie

Fluffy potatoes, stewy stuff, what's not to love?
Note, I use real butter in this recipe, but it's easy to substitute with vegan margarine.


  • 1/4 cup carrot, diced
  • 1/4 cup celery, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • about 10 mushrooms, chopped small (I used white button mushrooms)
  • 1 can brown lentils, drained
  • 4 red skinned potatoes
  • 1/4 cup or so vegan cheese, shredded
  • butter
  • soy milk
  • salt

Let's do it!

  1. Scrub the potatoes, pierce them and put them in a microwavable dish with some water in it. Microwave them until they're cooked (all microwaves are different, mine took about 14 minutes). If you don't like microwaves, you can boil them, too. Or roast them, but that takes FOREVER.
  2. Mash them up, adding butter, soy milk and salt until you reach a creamy, easily spreadable consistency.
  3. Mix in vegan cheese.


  1. In a pot, melt butter on medium heat. 
  2. Add carrots, celery and onion, stir until onion is translucent.
  3. Add garlic and mushrooms and stir until it looks cooked.
  4. Add lentils and cook until the flavours have melded well. 
  5. Add salt to taste.

Put it together:

  1. Put the filling in a high casserole dish (mine was about 12" x 7" and 4" high). Spread flat.
  2. Top with potatoes and spread flat.
  3. Place in the oven on a high broil and watch it until it turns golden brown. I wouldn't walking away, as you don't want to burn the thing.
  4. Let cool a bit before handling.

That's it!

Lunch it up!
Put it in the fridge overnight and slice it up into portions the next day when it's cold and sticks together better. I suppose you could serve this with a salad, but I just brought about 3 servings with me to eat throughout the day at work. Wheee!!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Stolen recipe

Okay, stolen's a strong word. But I recently tried out a great recipe that I need to share with the world.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts - Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas and Pomegranate Seeds.

This is not my recipe, which is why there's a link to it. I substituted mixed beans for chickpeas, though.

It's absolutely delicious. If you think you don't like brussel sprouts, try roasting them in the oven.

If you want a tip on how to deseed a pomegranate, use the tips in this video:

And there it is, my laziest post ever. No photo, no recipe. I realize I haven't posted anything new since July, but there are so many great recipes out there, you just can't invent something new every day.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Vietnamese Vermicelli with Chicken and Green Papaya Salad

It's hot. It's been about 40ºC with the humidex for over a week and not surprisingly, a heavy, hearty meal isn't what I'm looking for nowadays. I still love love love noodles, though, so here is a recipe for something I get pretty often in Vietnamese restaurants.

Vietnamese Chicken and Vermicelli

    • 2 Chicken thighs
    • 1/2 tsp five spice powder
    • 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
    • 2 servings vermicelli (I buy the kind that comes knotted in single servings. Easier that way)
    • 1 large lemon
    • 1/4 cup fish sauce
    • 1/2 tbsp honey
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • fresh chilis
    • bit of water
    • Optional: shredded lettuce, cucumber, or other raw veggies

                        Let's Do It!

                          1. For the chicken, simply marinate in the five spice powder and soy sauce for a little while. Then fry it on the stove (or grill it on the bbq) until it's done. Maybe 4 minutes a side. I'm not the best at cooking things to completion and have on more than a few occasions eaten raw chicken. But my stomach can take it. Don't risk salmonella. If you're not sure if a chicken is cooked, pierce it with a knife and see if the juices run clear. If they do, you're good.
                          2. Let the chicken cool then rip the meat off with your hands. Save the bones in the freezer for soup. This makes it easier to eat at work.
                          3. For the nước chấm (sauce), juice and seed 1 whole lemon and mix with the fish sauce, honey, garlic, chopped chilis (as much or as little as you want) and a bit of water. I didn't really measure it anything, but rather added stuff and tasted often until I got the flavour balance as I like it (just a little sweet, very sour, a little salty, very spicy).
                          4. Cook the vermicelli according to the package directions, making sure to rinse well in cold water and strain after.
                          5. Whenever I go to the restaurants, they also serve the dish with shredded veggies to mix with the noodles. I made a salad instead.

                          Lunch it up!
                          I had the fish sauce in a little screw top jar, the chicken in its own container and the vermicelli in its own container. To eat, heat the chicken up (if you want), swish the vermicelli in some boiling water and drain well. Put the noodles and chicken together and pour the sauce over it all.

                                  Green Papaya Salad

                                  My friend Keith once said "lettuce isn't a vegetable. It's a carrier for salad dressing." That's how I feel about this salad. I love fish sauce and limes. I could drink nước chấm instead of water. The first time I had this was in Thailand, and it was the spiciest thing I had ever had. You.. you don't need to do that.
                                  • 1 green papaya
                                  • fish sauce
                                  • limes
                                  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
                                  • fresh chilis

                                  Let's do it!

                                  1. Cut the papaya in half and scoop out the seeds and soft pith with a spoon. Careful, the little white seeds will get EVERYWHERE. Maybe do it in a bag or something.
                                  2. Peel the papaya.
                                  3. If you have a food processor with a grater, use it. If not... happy grating.
                                  4. At this point, I squeezed the grated papaya with my hands just to soften it a bit. Don't know if that helps.
                                  5. Add fish sauce and the juice of a lime (or two) to your taste preference. Mix in the garlic.
                                  6. Add fresh chilis to your taste.

                                  Just realized that although I couldn't find any recipes for this online yesterday, I'm seeing a bunch now and they call for all sorts of fun stuff like sugar and cilantro. You could put those in, I guess.