Vegan

Smashed Potatoes turn leftover baked potatoes into something special. Ugly, but special. - TheMessyBaker.com
Easy Leftover Smashed Potatoes

I seriously miscalculated the potato requirement for last night's dinner. Maybe I was distracted by the dishwasher that kept telling me the intake/drain needed my attention. Maybe I got a little pre-occupied trying to remember where I had hidden Andrew's birthday present. Either way, I...

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Roasted Cauliflower, Pomegranate & Hazelnut Salad

This roasted cauliflower salad serves as my reminder that good recipes are flexible. Good recipes invite experimentation. They serve as helpful guidelines, not rigid rules. With titles like "The Best This" or "The Ultimate That" it's easy to forget no one recipe has a monopoly...

Lentil Soup Recipe - The Messy Baker
Soup Sisters: Spread the Love

When is a bowl of soup not a bowl of soup? When it's a community coming together in support. Soup Sisters is a registered not-for-profit organization with 12 chapters across Canada. Through the help of their volunteers, they have delivered more than 100,000 containers of hot,...

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Pampered
Curly Kale - The Messy Baker If I come back as a vegetable I want to be kale. Ruffly, versatile, pretty kale. Not only would I be my favourite colour (green), I'd finally have unstoppable curls — something I can't achieve even with hot rollers and a perm. But I'd be more than just another pretty edible. Unlike with cream puffs or macarons, my feminine exterior wouldn't wrap a soft, untoned middle. Quite the opposite. Instead, my frilly greens would stem from a strong backbone  that delivered the nutritional goods. And people would love me for it. They'd write blog posts in my honour. They'd hail me as a wonder. But best of all, they'd give me the royal treatment. Not all vegetables meet a pampered end. Carrots get stripped and shredded to pieces. Potatoes have their eyes gouged out before being mashed to a pulp, and we won't discuss what happens to poor old butternut squash. But kale? I kid you not, it gets slathered in oil and given a rub down. Yeah. I'd definitely come back as kale.

Massaged Kale: Basic Techniques

I learned about massaging kale from my cousin just the other week. At first I thought she was joking. In my family, you learn pretty quickly not to take odd-sounding advice at face value. One moment of misplaced trust can take years to live down. But it turns out this is a real thing. In fact, there are two full pages dedicated to kale massage in Wild About Greens: 125 Delectable Vegan Recipes for Kale, Collards, Arugula, Bok Choy, and other Leafy Veggies Everyone Loves by Nava Atlas, (© 2012, Sterling).  The following excerpt is from her book and published here with permission:
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Pushing Boundaries
Onion Bhaji with Chaat Masala Recipe - The Messy Baker I did it. Despite containing three ingredients I've never used before, I made onion bhaji. And I pronounce them to be good. Make that "very good."  Andrew, who inspired the selection, claimed they were "delicious" and "as good as the restaurant's." So, with a flourish of my typing fingers,  I am proudly striking the first item off my 2013 Culinary Bucket List. Onion Bhaji recipe. Done. And done well. But I can't take all the credit. Monica Bhide suggested I look at her recipe for Onion Rings with Chaat Masala. I did. But I hesitated at the list of ingredients. I didn't know what chaat masala was. I had never heard of carom, and thought fenugreek was like fennel. Thanks to this recipe I got schooled. And it was far less painful than writing lines.
Rosemary Almond Crackers
Rosemary Almond Crackers
So-and-so can't touch gluten. Whatshisface is allergic to eggs. Dairy gives Thing-gummy a rash. And Hoojicky? Garlic sensitivity. Happy Holidays, indeed. I feel for you. I do. Having been on both sides of this equation (I have played the role of allergic guest and accommodating host over the years) I feel for all parties. Unfortunately, it's very hard to find a recipe everyone can eat, let alone will gobble. Sorry, but not matter how many times you suggest tofu pudding, I'm not going for it. Given the scope of food allergies and sensitivities, I have decided finding the perfect party food is downright impossible. But I've come close. This recipe from Superfood Kitchen by Julie Morris (Sterling Epicure, 2012)  is egg-free, soy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, transfat-free and dairy-free. Yet this cracker is not flavour- or texture-free. It's pleasant on its own and plays nicely with almost any savoury dip you throw at it. And if that isn't enough, it also provides me with an opportunity to use my fancy dehydrator again. Win-win or what?
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Fig and Olive Tapenade
Fig and Olive Tapenade  - TheMessyBaker.com I almost feel like I'm cheating on this one. It's far too easy to be this tasty. But on second thought, it's a perfect illustration of Eric Akis's approach to food. It delivers what he calls "obtainable goodness", is suitable for all levels of cooks, and uses ingredients you can find at the average supermarket. It's also addictive, although I don't think that's part of his mandate. This recipe is from Eric's seventh book, Everyone Can Cook Everything (Whitecap 2012), a compendium of his first six. As I struggle to get the manuscript of my first cookbook completed, it's really hard not to hate him. But one taste of the tapenade and all's forgiven.
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The Inside Scoop on Black Bean Quinoa Burgers
Black Bean Quinoa Burger – TheMessyBaker.com When you meet with the author of a cookbook, you're often given insights not found in the final print edition — like how they spent most of their time at college scribbling recipe ideas in their binder instead of taking lecture notes, or which of the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of recipes to try first. I was lucky enough to catch up with Camilla V. Saulsbury last month and talk to her about her new book, 500 Best Quinoa Recipes (Robert Rose, 2012). While no one had heard of quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) a few years ago, this seed-that-eats-like-a-grain is everywhere:  in cookbooks, granola, breakfast flakes, and baked goods. It's gluten-free, high-protein, low-fat and much more approachable than its odd name suggests. It's not gummy or stodgy like some wild grains. It's crunchy without being hard. And best of all, it's easy to cook. From someone who never cottoned onto tofu despite sincere, diverse and repeated attempts, trust me when I say quinoa is worth a try.
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Preserving tomatoes regardless of quantity
How to preserve tomatoes regardless of quantity – TheMessyBaker.com Clearly, my tomatoes aren't getting enough love. When my back was turned, they  produced and produced and produced — to the point they toppled over and smothered the Swiss chard. Lying on the ground, they continued the fight. Not only did they produce more fruit, they romped all over the basil and trampled what was going to be fennel. Injuries to either party be damned. See the red tomato in the middle? It split its side in an effort to work its way to my kitchen door. In my defense the zucchini was rather distracting — all 302 pounds of it. Plus I am a bit busy working on my book. When I finally ventured out to the jungle garden, I was met by eager orange, red and yellow tomatoes. They practically leapt into my arms. The poor watermelon just lay there and whimpered. Shush now. All in good time. All in good time. How to perserve tomatoes regardless of quantity – TheMessyBaker.com
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Spirited Fruit (and Sangria)
Spirited fruit preserves - TheMessyBaker.com I am not to be trusted. I head to the Farmers' Market with a clearly written list and rock solid resolve. And what do I return with? Way more items than intended and a feeling of panic. Where will I store all these plums? When will I have time to make pear jam? Should I freeze, can or hide the peaches? Of course, things fall apart when I toss tomatoes designated for preserving into a salad or gobble a handful of blueberries because they are too perfect for anything else but in-the-moment indulgence. You cannot imagine my relief -- your maybe you can-- when I stumbled up  a couple of preserving methods that are as flexible on quantity as I am about my shopping list. The methods are outlined in the ever-so-handy Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (Robert Rose ©2012).

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