Archive for Vegan

How to Make Beet Powder (natural food colouring)

Well, my experiments with Butterfly Pea Tea have kicked off a whole new obsession: natural food colouring.

I’m sure many of you are skeptical when you read that item on your ingredients list that says “natural food colouring.” I mean, what even is that?? And in the case of some companies (I’m looking at you, Kraft), the ingredients might well be “natural,” but that doesn’t mean they are actually things we want to eat. Beetle shells, anyone?

Beet Powder Natural Food Colouring

Going beyond that, though, if you’re vegan/vegetarian, you may be eating things that are not vegan/vegetarian, and you wouldn’t even know it.

So after playing around with the intense blues and purples of Butterfly Pea Tea, I was curious; what other things could I make natural food colouring out of?

The first thing I thought of was beets. I mean, every time I cook with those bad boys, my kitchen looks like someone’s been murdered there, so it seems like a no-brainer.

The question is, how to harness the power of the beet without permanently staining everything around me?

The answer, my friends, lies in a few simple kitchen tools.

First, I juiced up a couple of beets. This isn’t weird for me, I like to add a little beet juice when I’m juicing because it adds a pretty pink colour. But this time, I wasn’t looking for the juice, I was looking for the pulp.

Juicing the beets leaves you with a nice, even, fairly dry final product, which is perfect for drying.

After juicing the beets, I dehydrated them overnight in my dehydrator (here’s the one I have). If you don’t have one, spread the beet pulp in a thin layer on a cookie sheet and turn your oven on to the lowest setting. I’d bake them like that for maybe a few hours, then turn off the oven and let them sit overnight (if you don’t open the oven, the residual heat lasts quite some time). Don’t forget to stir them occasionally to make sure the drying process is even.

After you’ve dehydrated your beet pulp, just throw it into a coffee grinder or a blender and blitz the crap out of it. Et Voila! Beet powder!

Add it to baking, to cocktails, I’m even going to experiment with it in buttercream frosting…

Farm Fresh Ratatouille with Polenta {Vegan}

Ask me about my food philosophy, and it’ll be the same answer every time: obviously it needs to be delicious, made with love, mostly plant-based, and ideally, sustainable, local and in season.

You see, what we eat has far-reaching effects, probably more so than we realize. By supporting local farmers and eating seasonally, it’s much better for the environment. Our carbon footprint is reduced when we eat locally-produced stuff, and the truth is, it tastes better, too. Now, I’m not saying I don’t buy bananas (I totally do), but given the choice between a locally-grown cucumber and one grown a continent away, I’ll choose the local one every time.

Cucumbers growing int he greenhouse

Cucumbers being grown in a greenhouse.

Supporting local farmers also supports our local economy. I’m a small business owner, I want to support other small business owners, and hopefully they will support me. More money stays in our local economy, and that’s also a good thing.

BC Greenhouse Vegetables

I really love visiting farms, so I was stoked to get invited to a long table dinner last week that took place inside a working greenhouse where they were growing cucumbers. It was a really cool experience to see how they are able to grow way more cucumbers hydroponically, by growing them vertically instead of on the ground. And it’s not just cucumbers. Other farms are growing eggplant, peppers and tomatoes.

BC Greenhouse Longtable Dinner

The dinner was fantastic, and paired with lots of other local ingredients, like cheeses and wine from Mt. Lehman, and local meats as well.

Roasted red pepper bisque Veggie Fritters Lemon curd with rhubarb

We went home with very full bellies, and also a bag of superfresh produce. I decided to turn mine into ratatouille, which is a kind of French peasant stew made of vegetables. You could serve it plain, or as a side, but I like serving mine on a bed of creamy polenta.

It’s such a great spring/summer dish, the perfect thing to make after a trip to the Farmer’s Market.

Hug a farmer, you guys! They work so hard, and without them, our lives would be much less colourful and a whole lot less delicious.

Ratatouille and Polenta

Ratatouille with Polenta

Ingredients for the stew:

  • 2 tbsp–1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small green zucchini, not peeled, quartered and sliced into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 small yellow or light green zucchini,┬ánot peeled, quartered and sliced into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 small eggplant, peeled or not peeled, quartered and sliced into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and sliced into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced into 1/2″ dice
  • 3-4 vine-ripened tomatoes (small to medium), diced
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olives (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs: parsley, basil, oregano
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce or 2 tbsp tomato paste plus 2 tbsp water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for the polenta:

  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup non dairy milk, unsweetened, unflavoured
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup corn flour
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 2 1/2 tsp vegan butter

Vegan Ratatouille and Polenta

Method:

  1. In a dutch oven on medium heat, heat up 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add the diced the onion, season and stir well. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the eggplant and zucchini and stir well to coat with oil (add more if needed). Season. Allow to cook for another 5 minutes or so.
  3. Add the garlic and stir well to combine.
  4. Add the peppers and stir well, allow to cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes and the tomato sauce. Stir everything well together and allow to cook for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the sauce has thickened. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and the olives. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
  6. Lastly, stir in the fresh herbs just before serving, reserving a few for garnish.
  7. To make the polenta: bring the vegetable stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Combine the polenta and the corn flour together, and then add it to the boiling vegetable stock in a a steady, slow stream, whisking all the time.
  8. Turn the heat down to medium and continue to whisk until the polenta is a thick, porridge-like consistency. Remove from heat and whisk in the vegan butter and the vegan milk. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
  9. To serve: pour the polenta onto a large serving platter and top with the ratatouille. Garnish with fresh herbs, balsamic vinegar, EVOO and (if you’re not vegan) a little cheese.

 

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