Tag Archives: Daiya

Vegan food takes over the family holiday meal

By Pamela

Last week my uncle facebooked me to say he was planning an impromptu family gathering at his home in Napanee. This is a rare occurrence for my family. We’re close in some ways (we’re mostly all connected by facebook, and stay in touch) and we all look pretty much the same, but large family events are not common. So my partner and I decided to make the trip to Napanee and back to participate.

My uncle is a lover of kale, smoothies and carrot juice, but is otherwise mostly uninitiated in the ways of vegan cuisine. He and the rest of my family, however, are very open to trying new things, and were enthused when I told them I would bring along a few dishes to share with everyone. Of course, then the pressure’s on. My food had to be not just passable, but fabulous. There was no margin for error. And how would I decide what to bring, from my extensive repertoire of vegan wonderfulness?

The apple crisp BEFORE part of the crisp was stolen by squirrels.
The choice of dessert was made easy with the purchase of a 10 pound bag of apples. Apple crisp it would be! My partner says I make the best apple crisp ever, so it’s usually a good bet. So I prepared that first, and set it outside to cool. Next, I prepared miso gravy, which is super yummy and light, and also excellent on poutine. Imagine my amusement when I went out to put the miso gravy in the cooling zone, and discovered that about 1/4 of the “crisp” on the apple crisp was missing! It’s a good thing that I think squirrels are adorable.

I rectified the situation by patching it up with some “crisp” remaining from a leftover piece of apple crisp made for a Sunday event with the in-laws. My family’s pretty “salt of the earth” so I don’t think they minded too much that they’d shared dessert with a hungry squirrel. Then, I spoke on the phone to my uncle’s girlfriend, who was organizing the party. She told me she was disappointed that she missed out on trying my mac & cheez the last time I’d visited. So, I made an executive decision to make mac & cheez as well. If a non-vegan wants to try vegan mac & cheez, then try it they shall!

Neil's Ham & Cheez biscuits. Nom!
Next, I set upon making Neil’s ham and cheez biscuits which I had delighted in at a potluck past. I started small, making one batch first just to ensure I had the magic touch. They. Were. Amazing. So, I made a second batch. Forty-eight little ham and cheez biscuits! Although there were much fewer than that by the time we arrived at my uncle’s house. I blame the squirrels.

The last frontier of the day was preparing cheez kale mashed potatoes. First, I had to peel five pounds of potatoes. My uncle had expressed a great deal of concern about having enough potatoes, so I figured no less than that would do. The cheez-ness was attained through nutritional yeast, unsweetened almond milk, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and earth balance. There is no recipe, I just made it up as I went along. Boil the potatoes (and blanche the kale), mash them up until your muscles are sore, and throw in random amounts of the aforementioned ingredients.

A couple of recipes:

APPLE CRISP

Peel and slice (1/8 to 1/4 inch slices) about seven MacIntosh apples. Put them in an 8 x 8 glass baking thing. Sprinkle with lemon juice.

In a medium sized bowl, cream half a cup of vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance or Becel Vegan) with 3/4 cup of brown sugar. Add 1/2 cup of flour (I use spelt). Add 1 tsp. cinnamon. Mix in 1 cup of oats.

Sprinkle the crisp on top and cook at 350F for about 30-40 minutes.

MISO GRAVY

Melt about 1/4 cup vegan margarine in a saucepan. Whisk in about the same amount of flour. Add about two cups of veggie broth, and 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast. Whisk in about 2 TB miso (or to taste). Whisk pretty constantly until it has thickened. Add pepper and paprika to taste.

The family in a post-meal food coma.
We came home with some leftovers but all in all my contributions went over very well. My uncle facebooked me this morning to say, “thankx for the food Pam. Everyone loved your food.”

Mock meats of Ottawa’s Chinatown, Part 1

From Yves Veggie Cuisine to Tofurky to Gardein to Sol to the offerings in the President’s Choice Blue Menu line, the variety of mock meats in supermarkets has exploded in recent years. Ottawa’s Chinatown is a fantastic resource for lovers of mock meats. This is the first in a series of posts to introduce readers to the treasures they can find in Chinatown and meals that can be made with them.

Our first stop: Phuoc Loi on the northeast corner of Somerset and Booth. If you’re driving, you’ll need to find street parking or use the pay parking lot at the southeast corner of Somerset and Lebreton. Head to the freezer section in the back right corner of the store.

You’re looking for this: 

It may look “grim”, in the words of my big sister, but this is the best mock ham I have tried.  A caution to vegans: I have seen similarly shaped mock ham that includes whey or egg — be sure to read the ingredients.

What can you do with it?  A few ideas…

Slice it thinly, sear each side briefly in a hot frying pan, and put it in sandwiches.

Slice it thickly, glaze it with a mixture of maple syrup and mustard, and bake in the oven.

Cube it and add it to a tofu scramble, as suggested in this previous post.

Or, try this recipe for Ham & Cheese Biscuits.  These biscuits proved very popular at a potluck.  They will also cause any dogs who happen to be nearby to cluster around your legs and stare at you hopefully.

  • Mix 2 cups of flour, 3 tsp. of baking powder, and ¾ tsp. of salt.
  • Cut ¾ of a stick of Earth Balance margarine into small pieces and blend it into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or with your fingers.  (A stick is equivalent to ½ cup.)
  • Mix in ¼ cup of diced mock ham and ¼ cup of Daiya cheddar style shreds.
  • Add a splash of vinegar to ¾ cup of soy milk, and mix with the dry ingredients to form a dough.
  • Knead the dough briefly, folding it over no more than 5 times.  This will give the finished biscuits nice flaky layers inside.
  • Flatten the dough to about ½ inch thick. Use a sharp knife to slice it into squares.
  • Bake at 450°F for 13 minutes.

The photo of the biscuits has one pulled apart to show the flaky texture (and delicious bits of mock ham and cheese) inside.

I have also found the mock ham at New 168 Market on the southwest corner of Somerset and Breezehill (just west of the O-Train tracks).  They’re closed for renovations right now, but when they reopen they might be more convenient for those doing errands by car, as they have a small parking lot just west of the store.

Next instalment: vegan “wings” that are way better than the real thing.

Vegan Mac & Cheez

By Pamela

Daiya vegan cheese appeared in the Ottawa market in June 2010, opening up many new culinary opportunities for vegans, many of whom had come to accept that may never enjoy the stringy goodness of cheese again.

Daiya’s cheddar variety melts and tastes nearly identical to its cow’s milk counterpart. It’s quite a marvel, really, that a company can take coconut, tapioca, and a few other ingredients, and somehow make it mimic the “real” thing… minus, of course, the saturated fat, cholesterol, and goodness knows what else you might find in cheese made from cow’s milk.

My favorite thing to make using Daiya is vegan mac & cheese. I have made it for many vegetarians, vegans, and omnivores, and many of the omnivores did not even realize that it was vegan. My partner’s children love it, and my non-veg dad does too. In what follows, I will describe roughly how it’s made (I don’t usually measure things).

Rice pasta
Start by boiling water, and getting some pasta going. I personally prefer rice pasta. For this recipe, make about a pound.

Earth Balance
While that’s underway, melt about 1/3 of a cup of vegan margarine in a small saucepan. I like to use either Earth Balance, or Becel Vegan. Both are non-hydrogenated, and vegan. Earth Balance gets the leg up for being a bit more healthy.

Once the margarine is melted, it’s time to add the Belsoy creamer.

Belsoy creamer
Soy milk or any other kind of milk is not a sufficient substitute for this. If you are against soy, you could possibly substitute Mimicreme creamer, that has an almond and cashew base. However, while this works, the end result is not as delicious as it is when the soy creamer is used. Whisk it all together over low heat.

Next, whisk in about 2 teaspoons of soy sauce (this dish can be gluten-free if a wheat free soy sauce is used), and half a cup of nutritional yeast. Spices that are needed included about 1/4 tsp. of black pepper, 1/4 tsp. turmeric, 1 tsp. of garlic powder, and 1/2 tsp. onion powder. Adjust these to suit your taste.

Nutritional yeast
Cashew butter.

Keep whisking frequently. Add water as needed so that the sauce doesn’t get too thick. Then, for added smoothness, add about 1 tablespoon of cashew butter.

By now, your pasta should be pretty much done. Strain and rinse it, and put it into a 13 * 9 baking dish, preferably glass. Pour the sauce over the pasta and mix it together. Sprinkle with Daiya cheddar cheez.

Pop it in the oven, which should be pre-heated on broil. Cook for five to ten minutes, watching carefully to ensure it doesn’t burn. Serve.

The finished product

I’m not going to lie to you; this is not health food. But it’s way more healthy than traditional mac & cheese, and it’s just as delicious. It’s also kinder to animals! At our house we usually serve it with a nice big salad, or a green smoothie.

Try it on your non-vegan friends and family. I promise you, they will love it.