Toad's Kitchen

(mostly) healthy recipes for the family

Archive for the tag “vegan”

Mock Peking Duck (using Seitan)

I love the taste of duck, but truthfully prefer that Donald and Daisy live on to quack another day. This is an adaptation of a recipe that I found online, that uses seitan (use commercially-made or make your own, using the recipe posted on this site under “Seitan Worship”). It is yummy and as I have said before, guilt-free.

The seitan recipe I provide makes three sausages of about 7-8 ounces each, each sausage making about two servings – this recipe will serve two people.

one seitan “sausage” (about 7-8 ounces) of homemade seitan (or use commercially-made), cut into small strips
4 teaspoons dark sesame oil
4 teaspoons hoisin sauce
4 teaspoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons soy sauce (low-sodium is fine)
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
2 green onions, sliced
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
hot cooked rice, to serve two

Whisk together all ingredients except seitan and green onions, to make marinade. Mix seitan into marinade and coat completely. Let sit for at least one hour, or overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat the broiler. Place seitan on foil-lined pan, reserving marinade. Pour remaining marinade into small saucepan and heat until warm.

Grill 4-6 inches from element until it is heated through and glazed, and just beginning to turn crispy. Be careful not to over-broil, you want the seitan to be crispy on the broiled side and chewy underneath. Plate rice and arrange broiled seitan strips on top of it. Drizzle warmed marinade over seitan, and sprinkle with green onions and toasted sesame seeds.


Seitan Worship…not for the gluten-free

As we shift more and more back to being vegetarians, I have decided to experiment a bit. When we were in Montréal in the summer, I had seitan for the first time in my life. To be honest, I was a bit sceptical and my expectations were not super high. We were in an amazing Thai food restaurant, ChuChai, and I should have known better by the quality of the food we had already been served – exceptional! Anyway, one of the dishes our group ordered was a spicy “duck” dish…I was enthralled. Very duck-like, without the loss of any quackers. Totally guilt-free!

Now back at home, I decided to try to make my own seitan. Seitan is also known as “mock meat”, as its texture is more meat-like than tofu and through different seasonings, it can be made to mimic most meats. Realistically, it is not exactly the same as meat, but it is a tasty, and guilt-free, alternative. It can be made using regular flour, but that process involves washing the flour repeatedly to remove the starch, leaving the gluten. The gluten, when the seitan is cooked, is what gives it the chewy, meat-like texture.

I found this excellent recipe at the Post Punk Kitchen vegan site:

IsaChandra’s recipe seemed to me to be the most straightforward and easy to follow. There are also many helpful suggestions in the comment section below.

I will repeat IsaChandra’s recipe below, with some suggestions following with what to do with your homemade seitan.

“1 cup vital wheat gluten flour
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 cup cold vegetable broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed or grated on a microplane grater

For the simmering broth:
4 cups vegetable broth
4 cups water
1/4 cup soy sauce

Fill a stock pot with the water, broth and soy sauce, cover and bring to a boil.

In the mean time, in a large bowl mix together gluten and yeast. In a smaller bowl mix together broth, soy sauce, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. Pour the wet into the dry and combine with a wooden spoon until most of the moisture has absorbed and partially clumped up with the dry ingredients. Use your hands and knead for about 3 minutes, until it’s an elastic dough. Divide into 3 equal pieces with a knife and then knead those pieces in your hand just to stretch them out a bit. Let rest until the broth has come to a full boil.

Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer. Add the gluten pieces and partially cover pot so that steam can escape. Let simmer for 45 minutes, turning occasionally. Turn the heat off and take the lid off, let sit for 15 minutes.

Remove from broth and place in a strainer until it is cool enough to handle. Slice and use as desired.”

Okay, it’s me again…first of all: DON’T throw the broth away. Store your seitan in it, and use it as you would any stock/veggie broth in your recipes.

This recipe, making three seitan sausage-like pieces, will make 6 servings.

It does look a little unappetizing in its newly poached form, but for recipes you cut it into slices, cubes, etc.
Now you have made your seitan, you can use it right away or store it in your fridge – I would think storage for up to a week is a reasonable amount of time.

My first attempts at cooking it in recipes, both successes, will be posted separately.

Be brave! I am sorry I brushed it off for so long. I am not a super-huge fan of tofu (not that I dislike it, it is just never my first choice), but I do like seitan.

Delicious Yam, Red Pepper and Spinach Salad

I recently discovered “Eat Clean” food and fitness author Tosca Reno. Her “Eat Clean” style of cooking is delicious and inspired. Although I can’t quite do egg-white omelettes yet – the yolk is my favourite part! – I have been incorporating her style of cooking into a lot of our meals. I recommend her cookbook, the recipes are easy to follow and her choices of ingredients unusual and yummy. I made this salad of hers, and as usual had to mess with it slightly. I found the seasonings just a little on the shy side, so I upped them a bit. The contrast of colours and tastes (sweet and sour) are wonderful. The results were both colourful and delicious, and I thought I would share 🙂

1 large or 2 medium (orange!) yams, peeled and diced into 1/2′” cubes (about 4 cups’ worth)

1 large red pepper, cut in 1″ chunks

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 cups fresh spinach


2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 large clove garlic, minced finely

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon honey

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss yam cubes and pepper pieces in olive oil until coated. Sprinkle with cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper and toss again. Spread onto baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes or until yam cubes are fork-tender. Let cool.

Whisk dressing ingredients together in small bowl.

Place cooled yam and pepper in salad bowl. Toss with dressing. Incorporate spinach leaves, tossing gently.

Serves 4-6 as a side salad, or 2 as a generous and tasty main course 🙂

Quick Green Pea Soup

When you say “pea soup” to people, most think of the “split pea and ham bone” kind. As delicious as that is, it does take a while to make. This pea soup is made using frozen peas and has a lovely “fresh” taste. It is very pretty, very fast and easy – perfect for either a quick supper after work or as a soup course for a dinner with friends. It is delicious both when fully vegan or with the dairy and or bacon add-ons.

2 cups frozen peas (don’t have to defrost)

1 litre vegetable stock  (can use chicken stock)

salt and pepper to taste

a few leaves of mint (amount is to taste)*

2-3 green onions or equivalent amount of chives, chopped

crumbled cooked bacon bits (optional), to sprinkle

heavy cream (optional)

Bring stock and peas to boil and cook until peas are soft – don’t overcook them. Puree with immersion blender (or in conventional blender) with mint leaves until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Whiz in a bit more mint if you like.

As a garnish, you can a) sprinkle a few leaves of julienned mint leaves with the green onion on top, b) sprinkle the green onion with the bacon bits, or c) beat the cream slightly and put a dollop on top (with some mint and or onion).

*Basil would also be tasty in place of the mint.

Spicy Millet Cakes with Garlicky Red Pepper Sauce

This is an adaptation of a recipe I found on the Forks Over Knives site. It is very easy to make, and definitely hits the spice buttons. Leftovers refrigerate well and make great lunches for work, which will incite jealousy in your colleagues.

The sauce in the original recipe called for tofu. I don’t mind it occasionally but am not a huge fan. If you are, just blend one package of silken tofu in as described below. It also called for half the number of red peppers, but blackened and peeled. Roasted peeled red peppers which are lovely…but a pain to do, especially if you are pressed for time. My modification saves time (and there is extra fibre from the pepper peel!), and it got very good reviews. However, if you have time to roast the peppers, I am sure it would be delicious 🙂

For the millet cakes:

3 cups vegetable broth

1 cup millet

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 large onion, diced small

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp. curry powder

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

2 tbsp. mellow white miso, dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water

2 tbsp. tomato paste

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional, but good)

salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce:

2 tbsp. olive oil

4 large red bell peppers, diced

4 large cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped, plus a bit more for garnish

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

zest and juice of 2 small or one medium lime

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook millet in vegetable stock – bring to boil and reduce heat, cover and cook for 20 minutes over medium heat or until millet is tender.

While millet is cooking, heat oil in large frying pan and saute onion for a few minutes, until transparent and fragrant. Add curry powder, garlic and cayenne and cook for another minute. Remove from heat. Add miso, tomato paste, and if you are using the nutritional yeast, add it. Add the cooked millet to this mixture and mix well.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using an ice cream scoop or a measuring cup (1/3 cup size), shape millet into cakes and place on paper. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

While the millet cakes are cooking, make the sauce (you could make this ahead). For the sauce, heat olive oil in pan and fry red peppers over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until soft and the skin starts to darken. Don’t crank up the heat, you don’t want “scorched”, only darkened – this will approximate the “roast pepper” flavour. Once most of the pepper pieces’ skins have started to darken and they are nice and soft, put peppers into food processor or blender. Add remaining ingredients, and whiz until pureed.

To serve, make a “puddle” of the red pepper sauce on the plate and position the millet cake on top. Sprinkle with additional chopped coriander if desired.






Mixed Vegetable and Quinoa Salad

This salad is one that I put together today with our new beloved, quinoa. It is a different combination of tastes, and will be served with falafel (which I did not make), with minty-chivy yogourt on the side. You could try different veggies in this – feel free to experiment and let me know how it goes! 🙂

By the way, the seasoning I used was Victorian Epicure Moroccan seasoning – if you do not have that, a combination of equal parts of ground cumin and cinnamon would be good.

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

1 broccoli crown, chopped into small pieces

6 green onions, sliced (use both white and green part)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 red pepper, chopped into dice

1 large carrot, peeled and grated

1 cup frozen peas

1/4 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds (“pepitas”) – sunflower seeds would also be tasty

1/2 cup Tamari almonds (or plain raw almonds)

1/2 cup dried blueberries (dried cranberries would be great, too)

about 10 mint leaves, cut into fine shreds

1-1/2 teaspoons Moroccan seasoning (or 1/2-1/2 ground cumin and cinnamon)

1/4 cup olive oil

juice of 2 limes

salt and pepper

Bring quinoa and water to boil in saucepan, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, leave lid on and let sit for 5 more minutes. Fluff with fork and let cool.

In large bowl, combine vegetables, nuts, seeds and berries. Add cooled quinoa and mix gently. Toss with the mint leaves, Moroccan seasoning, oil, lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Put in fridge to let flavours mellow, and enjoy 🙂



How to Cook Asparagus, the Easy Way

Asparagus is one of those vegetables that many people enjoy when they go out for supper, but rarely cook at home. For some reason, it has a reputation for being a complicated or exotic…the only thing you can do wrong with asparagus is overcook it. You don’t need a fancy pan or anything. My favourite way to cook asparagus is as follows, although you can prepare it in other ways, like roasting it. I personally feel that the asparagus loses something in the roasting process.

First, purchase the best asparagus you can find, as you would everything you buy to consume. That means that the stalks are not dried out, and the tips have not fallen off or gone mushy and indistinct. It should be firm, a pretty green with a purplish tinge to the tips. Some people like fat stalks, others prefer thin – neither is necessarily better. The important thing is that it is as fresh as possible.

Once you have washed the asparagus, take each stalk and snap the end off. Don’t cut them! If you snap the end rather than cutting, the stalk with break where the asparagus is not dried out. Knowing this, you may have to snap the stalk in half and discard the bottom part. Keep moving up the stem and bending slightly until it snaps.The end result may not be restaurant-perfect, but will be far better than if you just cut it and hope for the best.

Place the asparagus in a shallow frying pan and add about 1″ of water. You do not need to submerge the asparagus. Bring the water to a boil and cook the asparagus for just a couple of minutes, until it turns bright green but is still firm. This is literally a COUPLE of minutes. If you absolutely do not want crisp, firm asparagus (and who wouldn’t?) you can cook it for just a short period longer to make it more tender – but no more than a couple of minutes longer.

The Romans apparently used to have an expression: “Do it in less time than it takes to cook asparagus”, which means…quickly! Your bit of trivia for the day.

Lift the cooked asparagus out of the water with a slotted spoon or spatula and let the water drip off, and place it on a platter. Now you can use your imagination…just butter, salt and pepper is lovely, but branch out with your favourite sauce (cheese or hollandaise are two classics). Of course, lots of chopped garlic and parsley with a drizzle of olive oil and squeeze of lemon juice works for me 🙂

Garlic Makes it Better (if you had not already noticed) – Spinach and Broccoli get a little makeover

One common ingredient in almost all of my savoury dishes is garlic. I have not yet figured out a way to incorporate it into desserts, although I did try garlic gelato in Vancouver once (can’t say I was a huge fan, but I did like the balsamic vinegar gelato offered at the same establishment). I find it brings almost any recipe, that had not initially included it, up a notch or two 🙂

Two vegetables that seem to have mixed reviews are spinach and broccoli. I will tell you for free that garlic makes them special! Adding garlic to them will definitely add to their fan base. Here are my simplest ways of adding garlic to these veggies and making them delicious…

Spinach with Garlic (a dish I had for the first time many years ago in Portugal…I don’t know its name in Portuguese, or what its “official” recipe is, but this is a good approximation) – serves two to four people

one large box or bag fresh spinach (wash if package does not specify it has not been washed, do not spin dry, just pat most excess liquid off with paper towel)

one bulb garlic, separated into cloves which have been peeled and cut up fairly coarsely

2-3 tbsp. olive oil

sprinkle (1/2 tsp.? more?) cayenne pepper flakes

pinch salt

Heat olive oil in large frying pan (which has lid). Add garlic and seasonings, saute for a couple of minutes. Add spinach a handful at a time, stirring into the hot oil until it starts to wilt. As you create more space, add more spinach until you have it all in the pan. If the spinach was completely dry, add 1-2 tbsp water to the pan, stir well, cover with lid and let cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes or so, until all spinach is completely wilted. Tip pan over sink and drain off any excess liquid, if necessary (don’t let the garlic bits get dumped out!) and if desired, stir in a bit more olive oil. Add more salt if necessary, and serve.

Broccoli with Garlic, for 3-4 people

3 cups or so broccoli florets (washed and cut into equal bite-sized pieces)

one clove garlic, separated into cloves which have been peeled and cut up fairly coarsely

2-3 tbsp olive oil

sprinkle (1/2 tsp? more?) cayenne pepper flakes

pinch salt, or 1-2 tbsp soya sauce

Cook broccoli in saucepan containing small amount of water for a couple of minutes, until it just turns bright green. Remove from heat, drain, and rinse with cold water to arrest cooking process.

While broccoli is cooking, heat olive oil in a large frying pan or wok and saute garlic, pepper flakes and salt (if not using soya sauce) for a couple of minutes. Add broccoli, and stir it around in the olive oil to coat. If using soya sauce, sprinkle it in now.

This is also nice with almonds (add a handful and saute with the garlic), or a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds (toast in separate, dry – no oil – frying pan for a couple of minutes until fragrant).

Fresh Cucumber and Toasted Quinoa Salad

I recently purchased a cookbook called “Quinoa, the Everyday Superfood” at Costco. It is a great little book, showing how quinoa can be used in every meal from breakfast to dessert.

The first recipes I made from this book have been very yummy. As usual, I messed ever so slightly with this recipe and made it “mine” with, we think, great results 🙂


1 cup quinoa

2 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock

3 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp Salata vinegar (seasoned German vinegar, if you don’t have it, use white wine vinegar or rice vinegar)

2 cups chopped English cucumber (about 1/2 a cucumber)

2-3 green onions, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped (or 2 tbsp. or so of dried dill)

salt and pepper

1 cup tamari almonds (or toasted plain almonds)

In large pan, toast quinoa (dry, no oil) over medium heat until fragrant but not brown. Add stock to it and bring to boil. Cover and cook over low heat for ten minutes, then turn off heat and leave covered for an additional four minutes. Remove lid, fluff with fork, and let cool completely.

Toss well with remaining ingredients. Best if eaten immediately, but can be refrigerated for up to three days in a sealed container.


Adrian’s Tomato Sauce

One of the mainstays of our family’s diet is pasta. It is usually served with this tomato sauce, which is worth making in quantity because it can be used in a variety of other dishes, saving time, effort and money.

As anyone in the family knows, Adrian is a very “selective” eater and this sauce makes the grade for him…hence the name 🙂

The version below is the “basic” recipe…feel free to add grated carrots, zucchini, or mixing and matching veggies as is your taste. The only real constants are the garlic and onion.

The versatility of the sauce is great – I will post recipes “starring” it, to follow.

In the meantime, bon appétit!

2-3 tbsp. olive oil

4 large cloves garlic, chopped

1 large white sweet onion (like Walla Walla – I am really into cooking with them right now)

2 cups mushrooms

1 red or green pepper, chopped

1-28 oz can stewed tomatoes

1-14 oz can tomato sauce

1-2 tsp. EACH dried basil, oregano, thyme (can use fresh but increase amounts accordingly)

1-2 tsp. fennel seeds (this is optional but very tasty)

1 tsp red chili pepper flakes (or good dash Tabasco sauce)

2-3 bay leaves (do not crumble, leave whole and remove when sauce has finished cooking)

salt and pepper to taste

pinch sugar

1/2 cup or so red wine (if you have any open)

Saute two of the garlic cloves and the onion in the olive oil until beginning to soften. Add the vegetables and cook for a few minutes longer until everything is nice and soft. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, herbs and seasonings, and wine if using.

Cover with a splatter screen and simmer over low heat for an hour until liquid is slightly reduced. When sauce has finished cooking, stir in the remaining raw garlic (or taka-taka, as it is known in our house) – this gives a really fresh garlicky hit to the flavour.

Serve over pasta, with freshly grated cheese if desired (parmesan for the purists, but also delish with cheddar – a Gramma Jean touch!) 🙂

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