Category Archives: Vegetarian

Dosa! Excellent Veggie Street Fare

Sigh. Another incredible early fall day in Ottawa. Time to take advantage and hit up another food truck. I hope I will steel my nerves and visit them during the winter months but I can’t promise. We certainly have enjoyed them this summer when weather and time permits. Added bonus is that they are one type of resto where we can bring a pooch and Josie is quickly becoming a seasoned food truck gourmand.

Dosa is located at the SW corner of Dundonald Park at Lyon and Somerset streets. So far this is one of the best located trucks, at least by this diner’s point of view. Buy lunch and settle in on a bench or at a table in the dappled shade of pretty Dundonald Park, open to dogs on leash. The Dosa Inc. truck has a QR code on the back and you can scan it with your phone and a menu will pop up to peruse while you wait.

Dosa 1The truck had no line today, but many patrons were already chowing down in the park when we arrived after noon. Service is fast, friendly and helpful. And had never served a dog before. Dosa, a vegetarian staple from the south of India, combines rice and lentil batter to form a large, thin crepe. The crepe is served with a variety (13 choices at Dosa) of meat-free fillings. Each dosa comes with a lightly spiced stew, called sambar, a cooling chutney and a good scatter of thin, crisp, well-made plantain chips. According to Wikipedia, “Sambar is a vegetable stew or chowder based on a broth made with tamarind and pigeon peas”. Dosa Inc’s version, thin and very mild heat-wise also has some eggplant. The chutney, nothing like the bottled mango chutney most of us are familiar with, tastes blandly of coconut and I found to be ideal when paired with the mild spice of the dosa.

Dosa 2Josie decides on a breakfast dosa, spinach, fried egg and cheese with no sides. Rob got the #3, a classic Masala Dosa, filled with potatoes, vegetables and spices and I ordered a dosa stuffed with sweet red cabbage, spiced mushrooms and cheese. We choose to eat our dosas with a fork and knife but it could easily be rolled and eaten by hand. My dosa #7, the Gooey Gouzenko, had nice texture provided by the cabbage. The mushrooms added spice and a mild , pleasant heat. I assume the cheese was paneer. A little more cheese would have been nice, but overall, it was quite filling and a really nice change to a sandwich or a chip truck for the Ottawa lunch crew.

Dosa 4Rob’s masala dosa was full of a classic Indian potato and vegetable mixture. The potatoes were perfectly cooked and not mushy. The dosa doesn’t give you impression of eating carb-on-carb, perhaps because of the the lentils in the pancake or the texture of the extra vegetables. Dosa 8While yellow with spice, it had a very mild heat. A home-made hot sauce was available at the truck for those with more adventurous tastes, but if you’re wary of spicy food, you can eat at Dosa without a concern.

Dosa 6Josie gobbled her dosa, licked her lips and then begged for plantain chips. A dog of few words, Josie heartily endorses the Dosa truck as a great addition to Ottawa’s street food scene. Dosas are both vegetarian and gluten-free.

Dosa 9$25 for 3 dosas, one canned drink and one mango lassie. Note: Josie’s dosa was discounted $2 because we asked that they not include the sides. We were refunded the cost of one dosa because I had emailed Jake about not being there on time yesterday at lunch. The refund is not reflected in the price quoted here.

 

 

Accidental Vegetarian Week

Rob and I  find ourselves eating less meat these days. Not sure we could commit to full time vegetarianism, but we are finding that eating satisfying meatless meals is pretty easy and sacrifice free. When we do include meat, we splurge on high quality, local produce, which has a lower carbon footprint, supports local farmers and tastes better. Every two weeks or so we commit to a meatless menu for the coming week. This is what it looks like:

Monday, is the one night where neither of us has to be anywhere after supper so I usually choose a garlicky menu item. Also known as “Bottle-of-wine Monday”, tonight’s meal will be pasta — Spaghetti Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino or spaghetti with garlic, oil and chili flakes, and a nice Italian red.

The pasta is simple, but flavorful with a bite from the garlic and heat from the red chile. It’s rounded nicely with a grating of parmigiano reggiano, some good olives and a nice chianti.

Tuesday sees a rush at dinner hour. I have kickboxing and get home to three animals who need to be fed, so I usually choose something that I can prepare quickly or ahead of time. This week we are having Paneer and Tomato Curry. For this recipe I quarter 5 of the tomatoes and dice the other three. I add them all at the same time. I substitute garlic and ginger paste, available at any Indian food market, for the garlic and ginger. I find the garlic more mellow and does not repeat. Perfect for a chilly fall day, warm with Indian spices, rich with coconut milk and hearty with paneer, this dish satisfies. Rob stops at our local Indian take out on the way home for naan. You can serve this with basmati rice or grocery store naan, but tandoor-oven naan is really unbeatable. We often freeze the leftovers for another day. This recipe is filling, and satisfying. It’s excellent comfort food for a cold night and truth be told, it’s even better another day after some time in the fridge to let the flavours marry.

Wednesday I am preparing a Cauliflower and Aged White Cheddar Soup. It’s good to try at least one new recipe a week. This was cheesy, delicious. and quite thick. Thin with more broth if you like.

Thursday is quiet for me. No appointments, nowhere to be until 11 pm hockey. So it’s a day I like to cook something that takes a little time, iPod on, Josie at my feet, kitties sleeping on the stairs, something that makes the house smell good and blows raspberries at November weather. This week I’m making a creamy, cheesy, Mushroom Risotto. I use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. The mushrooms and liquid from soaking the dried porcinis makes this dish quite beefy tasting. Like every good risotto, this is creamy, rich and satisfying. The mushrooms provide a meatiness all to themselves.

Friday this week I have chosen something light but elegant that we can open a bottle of wine with and curl up in front of the TV and fire. We are going out to dinner tomorrow at Steven Beckta’s new resto Gezellig, so we will indulge or likely over indulge then. Tonight we will have to be satisfied with Peach and Brie Quesadillas and a chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio. We used bottled peaches in juice and a white sweet onion instead of red.

I guarantee with a little planning around your schedule, you will be surprised that you can eat very well and not even realize you had no meat. That’s why we call it accidental vegetarian. We choose a recipe because it will be tasty specifically, not because it was vegetarian. That’s just a happy coincidence.

 

Classic Baked Mac & Cheese

It is a blustery, rainy day in Ottawa. We are experiencing the remnants of Hurricane Sandy. Can’t complain, it’s really not much different than a normal rainy October day. People south of us have really suffered through more devastating effects of the hurricane weather. That said, classic Halloween weather for this region puts me in the mood for comfort food and there is nothing that fits that bill more than mac and cheese. I’m sitting in Wag, a dog cafe, enjoying a cappuccino – Josie, the newest member of our family is beside me, happily gnawing an elk antler and making friends, human and canine. A soothing soundtrack and the warm orange glow of everything Halloween warm up an otherwise dreary day.

My “family” mac and cheese recipe hails originally from Canadian Living Magazine. I’ve been making it for 25 years and can no longer remember if I have made changes or if it is intact. I  omit the salt because I find canned tomatoes salty enough. If you are using no-salt tomatoes, add salt. I like this recipe because it is cheesy, tomatoey and uses summer savoury, a Down East herb from my childhood. This version is vegetarian but you can fry up some burger and add it for more protein, calories and to see you through a hockey game. Typically I use elbow macaroni. Tonight I am using Mezzani Tagliati — long tubular pasta — but any short pasta will do.

Old-Fashioned Backed Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 6

250 grams Elbow Macaroni
250 grams Shredded Cheddar
28 ounce can Diced Tomatoes
1 tsp. Sugar
1/2 tsp. Summer savory
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Eggs, beaten
1 cup Milk

1. Cook macaroni until tender but firm. Do not overcook. Drain and transfer to a greased 12 cup casserole. 2. Drain 3/4 cups of the juice from the tomatoes and discard. Pour tomatoes and remaining juice into bowl. Stir in half of the shredded cheese , sugar, savory, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce; pour over macaroni and mix well. Top with remaining cheese. 3. In a small bowl, blend eggs with milk; pour over cheese covered macaroni. DO NOT stir. Bake at 350℉ for 40 minutes until top is golden.

Click HERE for a printable version of this recipe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cacio e Pepe

Another glorious, warm summer day in the Capital city inspires me to make a simple, light pasta for tonight’s dinner on the deck. Something a little creamy, not garlicky and goes with a nice rose. Cacio e Pepe, a dish we first encountered in Mario Batali’s now-closed Enoteca San Marco in Las Vegas, is little more than good quality egg pasta, butter, olive oil, pepper and cheese. Actually that’s all it is. And it is delicious.

Pasta is the star of the show so I recommend buying (or making if you are so inclined) fresh egg spaghetti. Italians treat fresh pasta and dry pasta as different ingredients. This dish requires fresh pasta for the sauce to coat perfectly, and it makes all the difference in the world. The simple sauce and eggy pasta will give you happy mouth. It with coat your palate with delicious creaminess and a nice black pepper burn. Such a simple creation that many people would dismiss it out of hand. How tragic for them. Serve with a nice light red or rose and some well chosen olives and voila! Dinner.

Cacio e Pepe
Serves 2

Ingredients:

Fresh egg spaghetti for two
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsps. butter
1 heaping tbsp. fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan and Romano cheeses (use mostly parmesan in the mix, pecorino is good too if you have it), and some for serving.

Method:

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add fresh pasta and cook 3 minutes. Drain.
2. Meanwhile in a large saute pan or skillet, melt two tablespoons of the butter with the olive oil on medium high heat. Add fresh pepper and toast for about 45 seconds. Turn heat to low. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta water.
3. Toss cooked pasta with pepper sauce in pan. Add final tablespoon of butter and cheeses. Toss. Add reserved pasta water to loosen if desired.
4. Serve immediately.

Serve on a sun-drenched deck or garden patio with a dry rose and olives. Pretend you are in Roma.

Click HERE for a printable version of this recipe.

 

 

Easiest Potluck Dish That Wows

Easy Potluck RecipeIf you’re like me and don’t have any money/quiver in terror at the thought of having to prepare a dish for other people (except for your boyfriend who has to eat what you make before he goes to work in the evenings or he starves), this dish is perfect for you. So, you can relax and focus on what’s really important: Removing things in your medicine cabinet because you know your friends are snoopy.

I make this side dish every time we host a medium-to-large dinner party or holiday dinner in our apartment. It doesn’t take long, which is always nice when oven space is at a premium. It’s generally really cheap to make, tastes delicious and is subject to oohs and aahs when unveiled to a crowd.

I stole this recipe from my boyfriend’s mom. She makes it on similar occasions, but she puts carrots in it too. I skip the carrots because then there’s room for more cheese. It has no name, other than that “cheesy broccoli thing”, but my friends have tried to make “Pillsbury broccoli delight” catch on.

This is a perfect potluck side dish as well. I made this for my very first potluck and it turned out great, although while it was baking I made a frantic phone call to my parents asking what the general potluck etiquette was when it came to getting your dish back because my dishware was new at the time and I wanted it back. My mom assured me when I was leaving the host would wash it for me and give it back, which is exactly what happened. Phew. She also suggested adding pretty shapes.

Easy Potluck Recipe
"Does this mean you're going out tonight?"

You’ll need:

Baking dish (red Kitchen-aid dishware is the most impressive)
Cooking spray
3 tubes of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls (keep each of these in the fridge until the last second. This means when the recipe calls for one tube, you go get one tube out of the fridge and leave the rest in there or it will be a big sticky mess)
1 block (the big package!) of cheddar cheese, the older or sharper the better, grated
2-3 big heads of fresh broccoli, chopped into pieces
Parchment paper
Cookie cutters

And it goes like this:

1. Lube up the baking dish with a thin layer of cooking spray, paying extra special attention to the corners and the sides.

2. Spread one tube of crescent roll dough across the bottom of the dish, and squish together the little dotted lines on the dough with your fingers.

3. Bake this layer for 8-10 minutes or so at about 350, until reasonably cooked.

Easy Potluck Recipe
The first layer, baked in advance. If you're not pressed for time, you can skip this step, but it is difficult to discern whether or not the bottom layer is truly cooked once it is all constructed.

4. Cover the first layer of cooked dough with broccoli pieces.

Easy Potluck Recipe
The broccoli layer. This is the coverage you should be striving for.

5. Spread the cheese over the broccoli, filling up all of the nooks and crannies (especially the crannies).

Easy Potluck Recipe
The cheese layer. Crannies: filled.

6. Cover with another tube of crescent roll dough, stretching it out as much as possible to cover all of the broccoli and cheese. Pinch the seams in the dough together with your fingers.

Easy Potluck Recipe
Do your best, those Pillsbury crescent roll seams are tricky.

Here’s where we get fancy! I’ve served this plenty of times without the shapes on top, but I don’t think I’ll do it any other way after doing it with the shapes the last time.

7. Lay out a sheet of parchment paper and lightly spray it with cooking spray.

8. Roll out the last tube of dough onto the parchment paper. Pinch together the seams yet again to make one smooth sheet of dough.

9. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters and place them on the dish.

Easy Potluck Recipe
I only have Christmas cookie cutters, and the only other shapes were snowmen and candy canes. I didn't think they would come off well.

 

 

 

You cannot ball up this dough and roll it out again, it just doesn’t work no matter what you do. Do you see the tiny, mangled, ugly star in the bottom right-hand corner up there? That’s what happens when you try to recycle the dough. Just never try. Maximize the amount of shapes you can make to the best of your ability.

Bake the entire thing as long as you can in the middle of the oven at about 350. You need to keep it in the oven a while to make sure the broccoli cooks and the cheese melts, but you don’t want to burn the top dough layer. I’ve found it usually takes between 15-20 minutes, but if your dough layer isn’t too brown yet – keep going. If you didn’t bake the bottom layer first, you need to keep it in the oven until the top layer just can’t take it anymore.

10. Impress your friends! Also, you can add shredded chicken and make it a meal.

Easy Potluck Recipe
BOOM. Tastes even better the next day as leftovers!