Monday, April 11, 2016

Dairy-free Cream of Mushroom Soup (vegan alternatives)

WINNER of the least photogenic food ever!

Is there anything better than cream of mushroom soup? My mom was a big fan of condensed cream of mushroom soup. Like boxes of cans in the basement before Costco existed, even though everything else she made was made from scratch. Look up "canned cream of mushroom soup with chicken recipes" online. That's just one taste of my childhood.

Seeing as it's mid-April and winter still doesn't want to leave us here in Toronto, I find myself craving cream of mushroom soup. But they don't sell ready-made dairy-free cream of mushroom soup at my usual grocery store. I'm not entirely sure they sell it anywhere. Which means that I'm going to spend the better part of an hour making it. I don't really truly remember what canned chicken soup tastes like exactly, but I know that this version has a stronger mushroom flavour and doesn't have that particular sweetness that real dairy tends to have when cooked. But frankly, that sweetness isn't worth a two-day tummy ache, so here we are.


  • About 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 garlic head
  • 250g sliced white button mushrooms
  • 250g sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 cups chicken stock (or veggie stock)
  • 3 tbsp butter (or vegan butter)
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1.5 tsp salt, more to taste

Let's do it!

  1. Turn on the toaster oven to bake mode and set at 400ºF. Cut the top off the garlic head, drizzle some olive oil over it and wrap up in foil. Throw that in the toaster oven until your kitchen starts smelling super good. About 20 minutes.
  2. In a medium sized soup pot, heat up the oil on medium. Add diced onions and sauté until translucent. About 3 minutes.
  3. Throw in the mushrooms and stir until the mushrooms have reduced their size by half and let out a good amount of tasty mushroom juice. This took maybe 10 minutes which I mostly spent playing around on my computer and only stirring the mushrooms every couple of minutes. Use your ears, people. If the frying gets louder, that means you're losing liquid. Which means things are going to start burning!
  4. Take out half the onions and mushrooms and put them in a blender with the coconut milk. My coconut milk was separated, so the water went into the blender and the cream/fat went into the pot. 
  5. Squeeze out the roasted garlic from the skin (careful! It's hot!) and add to the blender. Liquify it all!
  6. Add this back to the pot along with half the chicken stock and thyme. Keep this at a low simmer with the lid on.
  7. Now to make a roux to thicken the soup up and add some extra rich, fatty flavour. Heat up the butter and flour on medium in a separate small pot. Keep stirring and moving it around so it doesn't burn, breaking it up as it turns into a big ball. Once the mixture turns golden and starts to smell a little toasty, slowly pour in the stock while stirring quickly to break up any clumps.
  8. Add this mixture to the soup and bring to a boil for at least a couple of minutes. Add salt to taste.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Pressure Cooker Spicy Oxtail and Chickpea Curry

I just bought a pressure cooker and I LOVE IT. I've gone bonkers, trying out all sorts of recipes and even amending my own to suit it. Basically any recipe I have that requires simmering something for hours can go into the pressure cooker and simmer for 30 minutes.

So. Oxtail curry. This usually takes hours to melt the collagen and get the tough meat meltingly tender. NOT TODAY.


  • 0.75 kg ox tail -Try to buy them at 3" diameter or less. If there isn't any, add 15 minutes to the cook time as it takes time to break it all down
  • 2 tbsp yellow curry powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk (see Ingredient Notes)
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 onion - diced
  • 4 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 tbsp scotch bonnet flavoured hot sauce (optional, this WILL GET SPICY)
  • 1 can chickpeas - drained and rinsed
  • 1.5 tsp fish sauce (add more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • Cooking oil

Let's do it!

  1. Put your pressure cooker on the stove on high heat. Heat up oil. Brown the oxtails on all sides.
  2. Add onions and cook until onions are soft. Stir often to keep everything from burning.
  3. Add garlic and spices. Cook for another 3 minutes.
  4. Add everything else.
  5. Close the pressure cooker and bring it to pressure. Bring heat down to medium-high (150ºC) for 40 minutes. (See note below)
  6. After 40 minutes, turn on the quick release and let the tasty smelling steam fill up your kitchen.
  7. Check on the dish. If it seems a bit too thin, simmer uncovered for a while until it thickens.
  8. Season with more fish sauce or hot sauce to your taste.
  9. Serve with rice or bread.

Lunch it up!

This is super easy to lunch up. When cooled, I took all the meat off the bones and packed the stew in a lunch container with the rice on top, so that it wouldn't soak up the stew during the day and get all soggy. Heat it all up in the microwave and ruin all your coworker's day with your incredibly fragrant lunch, while they're all eating sad sandwiches or packaged salads.

Note on the pressure cooker: I use a combo of my induction cooktop and pressure cooker. The induction cooktop gives me say more control over the temperature than my electric stove, which goes on and off in order to keep the heat. If I tell the induction cooktop to do 150ºC, IT STAYS THERE. Induction cooktops are amazing, they boil water way faster than an electric range, making them my go-to for pasta.