Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Apple Strudel with Phyllo Pastry

If you, like me, have avoided Phyllo Pastry like the plague, I am here to tell you...avoid no longer! I have had a box of the PC phyllo pastry sitting in my freezer for some time now. Opportunity presented itself this week, when some baking was needed for a family get together. Who knows how long this box would have sat in our freezer, had I not gathered the gumption to attempt to bake with it.

I can tell you in all honesty, the apple strudel I prepared using the instructions on the box, was a huge success! Three strudels are now notched on my belt, with the latest just assembled moments ago, and baking in the oven as I type this entry. The basic recipe (veganized) is as follows, with the addition of some raisins and fresh cranberries (1/8 to 1/4 cup each), for colour and just because I love anything with raisins!

6 Tbsp vegan margarine, 1/3 cup chopped pecans, 1/4 cup plain dry breadcrumbs, 2 apples, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 5 sheets of phyllo pastry, 1 tbsp granulated sugar.

1. Preheat oven to 375 Fahrenheit.

2. In small frying pan, melt 1 tbsp margarine over medium heat; cook pecans and bread crumbs, stirring frequently for 3 minutes. Set aside.

3. Peel, quarter (or chop finely) apples. Combine in bowl with lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon and the pecan and bread crumb mixture.

4. Melt remaining margarine. Place sheet of phyllo on your preparation surface (I used a long sheet of waxed paper); with pastry brush apply some melted margarine. Lay second sheet on top and brush on more melted margarine. Proceed until all sheets are layered and greased.

5. Stand facing the long side of the phyllo, place the entire apple mixture on the edge closest to you (leave about 2 inches on either end clear).

6. Gently, as if rolling sushi, start rolling and compressing the apple mixture all the way across. (The wax paper helps as you can use it to guide the roll and compress the filling without handling the phyllo too much with your hands.)

7. Roll the whole ensemble, back towards you so it is in the middle of your wax paper - then gently lift, using the wax paper as a hammock and transfer over to your cooking sheet. (Leave the wax paper on your baking sheet OR use parchment paper. The wax paper will smoke a bit in your oven but not burn.)

8. If you have a little margarine left, or you can also use spray cooking oil, moisten the top surface of the strudel and sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of sugar on top. Cut vents every 2 inches along the length of the strudel.

9. Bake, covered loosely with foil, for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes.

10. Serve warm with sauce or ice cream. (I read on some website that Europeans would never eat strudel cold; always warm and with a sauce!)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tortilla Lasagna

I picked up a copy of Company's Coming / Simply Vegetarian booklet at Fortino's the other day. It is a small collection of vegetarian and some vegan recipes, inexpensive at $4.99. Actually, I was thinking of buying a few more to hand out to friends and family who are still very apprehensive about having to prepare vegetarian dishes.

One of the recipes is this Tortilla Lasagna, which I was going to prepare with the suggested ingredients of cottage cheese and mozzarella cheese. However, my son Matt, balked at this and goaded me into sticking to my "vegan guns" so to speak. (Thanks Matt for keeping your Ma on the straight and narrow!!)

I prepared the dish with tofu and vegan cheese and lots of "Italian" spices and I must say, the result was excellent. (Even my husband tried a wedge and announced it was "OK"...high praise from him as he is not a big fan of tofu!) But really, I was pleasantly surprised and very pleased with the results.

  • 2 cups thick tomato sauce,
  • 1/2 package of veggie ground round (170 gm approx.)
  • (I used the faux chicken ground by Yves),
  • 1/2 tub (212 gm approx.) of firm tofu, crumbled,
  • 1 package vegan mozzarella cheese (284 gm size),
  • salt and pepper to taste,
  • spices (Oregano, Rosemary, white pepper) ,
  • 4 or 5 flour tortillas

Mix the tofu, vegan mozzarella, veggie ground round, spices + 1 1/2 cups of the tomato sauce. Lightly grease a 9 inch pan (a quiche dish works well), and lay the first tortilla, spread a generous amount of the mixture to cover the tortilla (about 1/3 cup), then add next tortilla, spread more of the cheese mixture, etc. until you have used up the filling. My last layer was a tortilla, but you could finish up with a cheese layer as well. Spread the final 1/2 cup of tomato sauce over the top. I added a sprig of rosemary for decoration and also drizzled just a bit of olive oil over the top. Pop into a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven and bake, uncovered for approximately 45 minutes until cheese is melted and golden. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Serves 6.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Isn't man an amazing animal? He kills wildlife - birds, kangaroos, deer, all kinds of cats, coyotes, beavers, groundhogs, mice, foxes and dingoes - by the million in order to protect his domestic animals and their feed. Then he kills domestic animals by the billion and eats them. This in turn kills man by the millions, because eating all those animals leads to degenerative - and fatal - health conditions like heart disease, kidney disease, and cancer. So then man tortures and kills millions more animals to look for cures for these diseases. Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals. Meanwhile, some people are dying of sad laughter at the absurdity of man, who kills so easily and so violently, and once a year, sends out cards praying for Peace on Earth.
David Coats, Old MacDonald's Factory Farm

"...the way to avoid killing is to avoid having others kill for you...

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18th Century Tibetan Buddhist Shabkar and his view on animals

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sprouting Beans

As mentioned in a previous entry, a couple of weeks back, I had the pleasure of a (mostly) raw dinner with a group in Guelph. The raw sprouts were delicious and I was inspired anew to try sprouting dried beans. I consulted my tried and trusted cookbook, Laurel's Kitchen and chose their simple instructions on sprouting.

  • you will need a wide mouth jar (or Mason Jar) and some cheesecloth.
  • Scoop approx. 2 tablespoons of beans and put into bowl, cover beans with water to soak overnight.
  • Drain in the morning, then put the beans into the jar and secure the cheesecloth over the mouth of the jar with an elastic band.
  • Place the jar on it's side, propped up somewhat on an angle (I used a loaf pan) with the mouth of the jar in the lowest position. I also dampened a towel and loosely wrapped this under the mouth of the jar (to prevent the beans from drying out) and then flipped the driest area back over the whole jar (like a little tent).
  • the whole contraptions can sit on your counter or you can put it into a cupboard to sit for the next couple of days.
  • twice a day, you rinse and drain (right through the cheesecloth) the beans.
  • Within 2-3 days the beans have sprouted and are ready to eat.

My friend Honey of Simply Zen recommends you don't let the "tails" get too long which they will, if you leave the beans sprouting for several days.

So far, I have sprouted chickpeas, lentils and a blended assortment (fenugreek, lentils, kalmut and adzuki beans). You can sprout from dried beans you might have in the cupboard (chickpeas, lentils) or purchase sprouting seeds like Mumm's (available at Simply Zen).

Sprouts are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and enzymes but for me the appeal is their fresh, crunchy texture and delicious taste.

This morning, wanting to use up some kale and sprouted chickpeas I whirred together in the food processor those ingredients plus the ginger, olives, sun-dried tomates, olive oil, sunflower and pumpkin seeds and tamari sauce (same as the kale dip recipe a few weeks back). With some crackers and a nice green tea, I enjoyed an mid-morning snack, while watching the birds and squirrels just outside my kitchen window.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

NEW "Hamilton Vegetarian Association"

I am pleased to announce that Hamilton's very own Vegetarian Association has re-established itself. Their plans initially are to offer potluck get-together's, restaurant meet-ups and a directory.

For more information about upcoming activities, visit their website at

My feeling is that this is the right time for this endeavour and I pledge my full support and co-operation to the Association.

Looking forward to seeing YOU at their first POTLUCK dinner!!