Layered breakfast bake

I’m constantly on the search for good, warm, filling breakfasts that incorporate a lot of vegetables. It might sound strange, but even as a vegan I have to work hard to get all the fruits and vegetables I should be eating. This is one of my solutions. It incorporates a base of British-style Bubble and Squeak, followed by caramelized onions and kale, and finished with a tofu / buckwheat topping. To be honest, this is just a delivery vehicle for caramelized onions. If you try the recipe, let me know what you think!

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Base (Bubble & Squeak)

1/2 a small cabbage, lightly sauteed in grapeseed oil and a splash of liquid smoke, seasoned with salt and pepper.

Mashed potatoes (I used red)

Combine the ingredients into a pan, and fry each side until brown and crispy.

Middle (onions and kale)

2 red onions, caramelized in olive oil, 1 Tbsp brown sugar, a pinch of garam masala, and 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar. Bake at 350 for approximately an hour and a half, until they’re done and a bit crispy.

When the onions are finished, take the pan out of the oven and add half a head of kale, chopped, and cook for a few minutes.

Topping (Buckwheat tofu)

1/2 cup buckwheat flour

1 pack of silken tofu

3 Tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tsp turmeric

1 Tbsp cornstarch

2 garlic cloves

salt and pepper

Combine the above ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Add a bit of water if you need it.

Layer the bake as follows: bubble and squeak on the bottom, kale and onions in the middle. Pour the tofu batter over everything, add a bit more salt and pepper on top, and bake in the oven (350) for about 45 minutes. It’s done when a toothpick comes out clean.

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Have I mentioned how much I love pasta?

I love pasta. It’s warm, easy, and filling. But mediocre pasta also makes me a little sad, because I know how good it can be. A friend was telling me about this great pasta that she makes with sausage, which of course was a no-go for me, but the method was intriguing. It involved making the pasta in the sauce. I thought I’d give it a try, and see what happened. Boy, am I glad I did. Fancy, delicious pasta was the result. Here’s how it went down: Caramelized Onion Pasta

I knew I wanted caramelized onions (because I always want caramelized onions), so I did that first.

3 large yellow onions in about 1/4 cup of oil, 1 Tbsp of balsamic and 1Tbsp of brown sugar, in the oven at 350 for about an hour (or longer or shorter depending on how you like things)

Then I made the sauce:

1 cup of cashews (soaked: you should do this for several hours, but I don’t. It’s fine.)

1 cup of crushed tomatoes

1 Tbsp of tomato paste

2 cups of stock (I used fake chicken stock)

Blend all that together, then, in a pan with some olive oil, quickly saute 2-3 garlic cloves, minced. Add the sauce and cook for a few minutes and season with salt and pepper. Pour all that goodness into a big pot (oven safe), and add 16oz / 454g of pasta.

Bake all that up real good for about 30 minute (350, of course), adding more stock if things are looking a bit dry. At the end, stir in a bunch of baby spinach and let it sit for a few minutes. This is also when I added in the caramelized onions.

Caramelized Onion PastaTop with some more salt and pepper, and add some vegan parmesan cheese if you’re into that kind of thing.

I also ate this for breakfast the next day, because I firmly believe there’s nothing better than breakfast pasta. Also, I wasn’t willing to surrender the leftovers to Boss.

Breakfast salad

One of the things I find most delightful about robust leafy greens is their ability to stand up to extreme manhandling, unlike many other greens (I’m looking at you, spinach). And this time of year, given the distance they have to travel to get to me, I’m happy for something that isn’t wilting on the way home from the store.

I also really like eating warm food for breakfast, and I struggle to eat enough leafy greens. My solution this morning was to whip up Isa Chandra‘s Kale Butternut squash salad. I made a small modification – I seared the kale in a hot cast-iron pan, just to soften and warm it up. I also added the rest of the ingredients while they were still warm. It was a fantastic, post-yoga salad that I heartily recommend. It’s the first recipe that I’ve tried from her new cookbook Isa Does It (you can find it – no need to link). Time permitting, I’ll try to blog a few of the photographs that result….

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A post about food

Despite doing nothing but eat for the last month, I realized today that I haven’t written about food in a long time. Yes – this holiday season has been a bit rough on the cooking front. However, I have discovered some very delicious things in our city, one of which is Bridgehead’s quinoa and butternut squash salad. I love it. It is one of the most delicious ways to eat quinoa that I have ever come across.

As far as I can tell, here’s the list of ingredients:
– quinoa
– feta
– roasted butternut squash
– cranberries
– some sort of sweet and delicious sauce

There might be more things in it – perhaps a bit of green onion? I can’t recall.

Today I set out to re-create it in my kitchen. What I used:
– red quinoa
– feta
– roasted butternut squash
– spinach (just a bit for more of a nutritional punch)
– sprouted broccoli seeds (see above)
– cranberries
– balsamic and rosemary dressing

Here is the result:

Taste verdict: not bad, but definitely not the same as the one I’ve fallen in love with.

Food Photography 101

After our last photo course, Jenn and I decided to do a specialty course on food photography at SPAO. It’s broken up over two weekends; each Saturday, class is from 9-5. It makes for a long day, but it’s super fun so far!

The first assignment that our instructor, Adrien Duey, had us do was a simple light exercise. He set up three stations with three different “found lighting” conditions. Two were soft light, and one was a very strong, direct light.

Our first assignment used eggs as a subject. We were also encouraged to keep the sets very simple and to focus on the lighting.

My group started at the softest lighting condition. The window providing the light was in the north-east corner of the room, so the light was very soft.

The second station had very similar light, but a little stronger as it was closer to the main light source in the room (a south-facing window).

Finally, the full light window: I was also instructed to use “lines” in this composition.

It was really interesting to see the different qualities of light, and the different ways that the same subject can be light. I am definitely inclined to seek out lighting conditions like the last one, but I can see from the class that that isn’t always appropriate, depending on the client.

That was the morning – more to come on the afternoon.

Also, check out my instructor’s portfolio. Wow. That’s all.