Many years ago, I stayed in the student residence a few semesters of my university studies, and one of my roommates was an international masters student from northern China – she was studying chemistry and taking English, and we would talk about food when we’d run into each other in the common area.
Eventually we got more intentional about it and decided to share meals – when she found out I was vegan, she made this spicy and sour shredded potato dish. It was one I had never had before, and it would start an obsession with this one dish I didn’t know I needed in my life.
I’d sit with her in the kitchen while she hand julienned potatoes, and then soaked them in cold water, followed by stir frying them with oil and chilis. The most complicated part was the julienning and I don’t think I even knew what a mandolin was back then.
I wish I had taken a picture of what she made, but eventually years later, I bought myself a mandolin and I started making this dish at home myself.
Then more recently, we were travelling in PEI, and we went to Noodle House, a restaurant in Charlottetown and they had hot and spicy shredded potatoes right on the menu(along with several other vegetarian options), and you better believe I was jumping up and down about it. (and of course I ordered it.)
Every one is different, but it still filled me with nostalgia, and brought me back to a small kitchen
There are a few different recipes for this dish online, but I’ve had a lot of success with this recipe from Elaine at China Sichuan Food – her blog isn’t vegan, but there are several great vegan options beyond my favourite potato dish.
Have you ever tried a dish like spicy and sour shredded potatoes? What did you think?
There are a couple of things I’ve been especially looking forward to making this month, and one of those things was a potato lasagna. But not one where it just happens to be an ingredient, but one where the potato is really centred in the dish – where you take slices of potatoes, and pretend they are noodles. Maybe that’s just a potato casserole, but I’m going to call it lasagna anyway.
Having access to a mandolin makes this dish easier, but you can definitely just thinly slice up potatoes – but the thickness is important because the potatoes have to be around 2.5 mm or less to properly cook through once you’ve got several layers going.
We picked up a 10 pound bag of potatoes when we were in Prince Edward Island last month, which I consider the home of excellent Canadian potatoes, and I was excited to use them in this tasty dish. The nice thing is that if you cut up too many slices for your pan size, you can always just mix the potato slices with some garlic salt, oil, and roast on a flat sheet with the lasagna, and everyone is a winner.
This lasagna is topped off with Somer McCowans wonderful cashew mozzarella, which you can find on her recipe for individual pizzas – but you could easily replace it with your favourite non-dairy mozzarella if you wanted to.
I whipped up a quick and easy vegan ricotta-ish filling just for an additional layer – and it worked really well as well. Everything is really easy, and you can make it your own dish with your own favourite layers. I used a basic combination of tofu ricotta ingredients – tofu, nutritional yeast, chives, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and mashed them together.
I basically veganized the recipe available from PEI Potatoes, but skipped the mushrooms because I didn’t have any, and replaced the beef with Yves Ground Round, and did multiple layers alternating potatoes – ground round – potatoes – tofu ricotta. For the “meat” you could also use a lentil bolognese sauce such as the one from Minimalist Baker.
6 cups peeled, thinly sliced potatoes (2.5mm or less)
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 green pepper, finely chopped
1 package Yves ground round or your favourite veggie beefy crumbles
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
750 ml jar of pasta sauce
1 tsp oregano
1 batch of your favourite tofu ricotta recipe. I used a simplified version of this one.
I love baked potatoes, I love soup, I love baked potato soup. It’s a creamy flavourful and thick soup that just feels like a warm hug on a cool day. Just waiting to be made in the fall as the days get cooler and shorter. But of course, it’s September in Toronto and that means it’s still just under 30 degrees celsius (that’s 80F if you’re using it) so this soup is ahead of its time today, but I’ve been thinking about this soup for weeks and it just couldn’t wait for another day.
It’s not terribly complicated, but can be, depending on how you’re feeling – I started by washing and roasting the potatoes, because they take the longest to finish – around 45 minutes – and it gave me time to do other soup related tasks. Baking them is absolutely worth it though – the added complexity of flavour is a delight.
Vegan Magic is a vegan bacon grease type product made in Toronto, and available worldwide. To find out if it’s available near you, check out their website, but if you want to make your own, The Gentle Chef has you covered too with his recipe for Bacun Grease.
One of the things that I like to do with soups that allow for it, is to add mashed beans for extra protein – especially in a soup such as this one, that would otherwise be quite carb-centric. I had dry white beans kicking around, so I rinsed them and tossed them in my instant pot to cook under pressure while the potatoes roasted, but canned beans work just as well too.
The nice thing about a potato centred soup is that you really don’t have to follow a recipe, at least not precisely. It is forgiving and open to almost any kind of chaos you have in mind that day – but if you want to follow a recipe, I hope you enjoy this one!
Vegan Baked Potato Soup
By meshell A creamy flavourful and thick soup that just feels like a warm hug on a cool day. Ingredients
3-4 tbsp vegan magic bacon grease or make your own (1 tbsp reserved)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used silk soy unsweetened)
2 cups vegetable broth
1.5 cups mashed white beans
1 package of cheddar non-dairy shreds (I used Daiya)
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
your favourite salt and some freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces non-dairy sour cream (I used tofutti)
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
vegan bacon bits (optional)
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C (or 350 degrees F.)
Place the potatoes on a roasting tray and bake for 45 minutes. When done, the tip of a paring knife should go through the potatoes easily.
Take a medium sized pot – this is going to be your pot for everything – and set to low-medium heat with 2 tbsp vegan magic.
Add the flour to the Vegan Magic in the pot and stir to combine. Cook until the flour and fat has combined, about 1 minute. Pour in the non-dairy milk slowly while you whisk to incorporate. Cook over medium heat until bubbly and thickened, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes.
Scoop out the potato pulp from the skins and add to the non-dairy milk mixture. Mash with a whisk or spoon, but let it remain a little chunky.
Save the potato skins if you want to pan fry them and use them as a topping for the soup.
Mix in the mashed white beans
Add 1 cup of the non-dairy shreds and the nutritional yeast. Season well with salt, pepper, and paprika. Stir until the non-dairy shreds have melted.
Remove from the heat.
Ladle the soup into bowls, top with potato skins drizzle with non-dairy sour cream, sprinkle with vegan bacon bits, paprika, grated shreds, and chives.
Yield: approximately 6 servings
So french fries are a common inside joke in veganism, because once upon a time, it was the only thing we could eat out and about – and of course, it’s still occasionally the case. Impassioned online and offline discussions have happened related to fries and whether they are vegan or not, if the oil is shared, or McDonalds’s fries in Canada vs the USA, and whether they are healthy or should be included in veganism at all.
Well, as you may already know, I think all plant based foods should be welcome under the umbrella of veganism, since food can be a joy and a pleasure as well as something that nourishes us. Fries can be wonderful. Fries don’t have to be a terrible joke all the time either – sometimes, they can be a happy one.
My travels around have taught me that.
Have you ever gone on a road trip and stopped at a chip truck in a small town? This wasn’t something I was familiar with living in the prairies, but once I moved to Ontario – chip trucks were a fairly common sight. And you could get fries – in a styrofoam box or paper bag, and eat it on the side of the highway while listening to the passing big rigs. Maybe big rigs are not your scene – but as I have learned over the past few months – some toddlers love trucks – and my toddler loves trucks, so watching them drive by can be a lot of fun.
Another thing that is fun? Museums. And luckily – and topically – we went to a couple of potato museums this summer, and both had kitchens featuring, unsurprisingly… potato dishes. One was better than the other, and the food options, especially vegan ones, were better at one museum, but the great equalizer was fries.
Both had cut fries. Both were awesome in their own way – and both made me wonder if there were ketchup museums (p.s. yes there is).
When we were in Charlottetown, PEI, we also visited two waterfront french fry places. These were spots that mainly did fries and nothing else – though the Chip Shack did other things, they didn’t make anything but fries while we were sitting there for an hour or two – people like us were there just for the fries.
Both spots made the fries in house with local potatoes, and one spot had a mechanism with the metal fry press attached to the wall, for easy fry making. simple, slice potatoes, blanche potatoes, throw them in the deep fryer, and voila, you have french fries that are delicious and perfect, a little salty, with more salt on the side.
Back in my pregan days, I used to love the fries supreme from taco bell. Luckily, there are several places in Ontario that make a vegan version like Toronto’s Hogtown Vegan’s Fries Supremacy, and Hamilton’s Democracy’s vegan Fries Supreme. If you find yourself in either of these places, I’d recommend checking them out!
but finally, my favourite fries of all – homemade!
I have fond memories of when I was little, watching my dad make french fries at home. Some of those times were from a bag, but the extra special times were when he’d make them from whole potatoes. Knowing this, a few years ago JC bought me a french fry slicer, and I have made fries at home a few times, since then.
It’s not that hard to do, even without a deep fryer (and even easier when we still had an air fryer.) The keys to excellent fries (at least in my opinion) are:
soaking in salted water immediately after slicing
drying them off well (a salad spinner is pretty good for this)
We travelled through Canadian potato country this summer – notably PEI and New Brunswick – which is not to say that other provinces don’t grow potatoes, just that when I think of Canadian potatoes, I definitely think of PEI first. We went to potato museums, and ate french fries, and baked potatoes, and potatoes every which way and it was my scene.
Now, I love potatoes all the time, I there are so could eat them for every meal, for weeks, and never get tired, because they are so diverse and versatile and delicious.
Potatoes have an important part of my cultural history and my dreams, and I want to celebrate that for the duration of VeganMoFo starting tomorrow.
So for September, I’m going to talk about potatoes, and the various awesome things about them.
If you’re interested, you can learn about how and where they grow, some methods of preparation that might be new to you, and a quick journey around the world of (vegan or veganized) potato preparations – including kopytki, potato pancakes, aloo tiki, potato curry, batata harra, spicy sour julienned potatoes , colcannon potatoes, papas a la huancaina, potato blini, babka ziemniaczana, gnocchi, atakilt wat, and more. I am also hoping to do a couple of round ups of some of my favourite potato related veganmofo posts (past and present.)
I hope you’re as excited about VeganMofo as I am, and I am looking forward to reading and playing along. You can find me participating on instagram too over at @veganinyourcity.
While we were in Quebec City, we stayed at a lovely airbnb and enjoyed the sights and sounds of old Quebec. There are some incredible urban climbs in Quebec City, but thankfully you are rewarded by the accompanying grand views of the city and the St. Lawerence river. We got a lot of exploring done – even during our relatively short visit.
On our first day there, we visited the Governors Promenade, which also has a 300 step staircase where you can see a beautiful view of the river, and of Levis, the city across the St. Lawerence.
We wandered through Vieux- Quebec, and it’s so easy to enjoy the old and winding streets, full of history and incredible architecture. Just walking around without a specific destination in mind is a pleasure, because you will inevitably stumble upon something that sparks your interest.
This area is also home to several National Historic Sites, a UNESCO world heritage site, and the majestic Chateau Frontenac (which is a hotel you can even stay at if you want to be in the middle of everything, and a few hundred dollars a night.) Randomly, there were Dali sculptures being displayed and sold outside (in case you’re wondering… we didn’t buy any of them…)
When it was time to grab a meal somewhere, we decided to check out Les Gourmandises LOUCA, a zero waste, vegan restaurant and grocery. They have reusable containers you can take for your to-go items, a variety of bulk foods, and wrapping free items, cloth napkins instead of paper towels, and a chalkboard menu.
I climbed a surprisingly steep hill and a few flights of stairs to get up to Rue St. Jean, a lively street with cobblestones and lovely little shops. Directly across from Louca there is the Parc Saint-Matthews, which contains an old graveyard and a library, and a lot of the old wonderful and historical architecture Quebec city is full of.
I waited for JC and our son to join me and sat on this bench outside the restaurant taking in the hustle and bustle of the street – it’s definitely worth exploring a bit more, but I don’t feel comfortable speaking French much, and also don’t want to be rude by not speaking at all, so I sat this one out.
Once everyone arrived, we ordered a bunch of different things and I liked them all in different ways, there was a nice variety of options – we had the soup du jour – vegetable.
The pizza with some cashew cheese, and the dumplings. Our son got a hummus sandwich and absolutely loved every bite. The bread was incredible, and this time, camera did not eat first.
I think the dumplings were my favourite. The different colours had different, but similar fillings of tofu and spinach and spices.
The service was friendly and welcoming and we all had a great time there – they were bilingual though JC speaks/spoke French, they offered because we were speaking English amongst ourselves. I thought it was also really nice that they had some toys and play dough for kids, as well as a high chair and booster seat. If you are in Quebec City because you live there, or are just visiting, I’d recommend checking this place out!
We didn’t spend a lot of time in Quebec City, but we didn’t have to to know that it was somewhere special. I suspect we will be back again soon, and not just because our road trip routes through there again on the way home.
If you’re looking for other vegan options in Quebec City, Justin Plus Lauren did a great overview of what else is available, and it appears updated – with the exception of Louca. Chez Victor will probably be a stop we check out next time, as there are locations around QC, and some of them even deliver!
We were passing through Montreal on a road trip recently, and wanted to try something new. Our usual stop Sushi Momo wasn’t open until evening, and we wanted something we could take with us to go, so we could arrive at our next destination with the option of eating lunch.
Service was friendly and quick, it was also bilingual, though the menu was not. We ordered a few things from their brunch menu, and waited in a lovely front sitting area in the sunshine surrounded by plants.
I ordered the bagel au « saumon fumé tsé » which was excellent and came with hashbrown potatoes, a salad, and some fruit.
JC got the B.L.T and he really liked it too,
and our son really liked the pains dorés with apple caramel, but we didn’t grab a picture of that one.
Antidote Bouffe Végane seems like a cool place to sit and eat, but we had to get rolling on to Quebec city.
I’ve talked about Cafe Dei Campi before, but it’s one of my favourite places to go to eat and have coffee in Montreal. We’ve gone there many many times since they opened in 2016, but only been to Montreal three times in that time. It’s just wonderful every time. They make vegan pastries, but have dairy products for coffee, but also make a damn good soy latte.
Since our last visit, they added a nice outdoor patio – but we stayed inside. They also had dinosaurs for our son to play with, which was a great bonus.
We ordered a variety of things, including a strawberry tart, cornettos, and a chocolate hazelnut filled beignet.
But I was most excited for the cornettos as usual – they’re an Italian croissant-like pastry filled with an orange scented chocolate, and we had to take one of them to go.
As an added bonus, especially if you have someone in your party that needs to burn off some energy, or you enjoy eating outside, you can visit Pere Marquette Park across the street – it’s got trees, benches, a skate park, baseball fields and other things to enjoy.
Obviously, we will be back again to this wonderful place, and I recommend you try it someday too.
I recently had the opportunity to visit Farm’r, a local procurement centring, seasonal, farm-to-table style restaurant on the Esplanade. They have a great covered patio outside, and bright cheerful indoor seating, with great lighting.
But what I really want to talk about is the food – because I liked it. A lot.
We had the opportunity to try a variety of dishes, take pictures, and chat. One thing I love is hearing about food from the chef involved – and I was happy to hear a bit from Chef Kyle Webster on what each dish was about – he seemed especially keen on the Ontario grown quinoa and kale salad, so I was very excited to try it.
Did you know that folks are growing quinoa in Ontario? I didn’t – while I knew about an initiative in another part of the country, finding out it is being grown right here is pretty cool.
Here is what I had:
Lentil and chickpea fritter sandwich
Beets with pumpkin seeds (ask for this without feta)
We also got to try some beer from Hendersons Brewery which was fun too – their beer is already familiar to us, and is all really enjoyable – though my favourite was the borderline molasses flavoured bourbon barrel aged dark beer. In case you’re curious, Henderson brewery beer is vegan. (Thanks barnivore.)
So the lentil and chickpea fritters were lovely with the tahini gravy – do not skip the gravy though, they’re made for one another. I can’t help but think of how much my toddler son would love these as well – and Farm’r seems like a kid friendly spot too, which is a bonus if you’re looking.
The quinoa and kale salad was hearty and satisfying and had large flavourful quinoa seeds, I’d recommend trying it as a side or in a sides trio plate.
And finally, I’m not a stranger to beets, especially roasted ones, or basically beets in any form, but if you’re beet curious or ambivalent, I suspect this would be a great place to try them for the first time because this dish highlights the very best beets have to offer, in one of their ideal preparation methods. This typically comes with feta, but ask them skip it, you’re not missing anything. Time to love beets.
I enjoyed this spot a lot, because the food is delicious, and because it authentically hits some of my points of interest and asks questions like: where does food come from, who helps it grow, how far does it travel, is it ethically produced, who makes this? I love places like this, because they talk and think about accessibility of “good” food and what that might look like. Check it out for yourself.
We visited Cambridge and Guelph last month and it was a lovely little drive and visit – I’m not sure how we ended up at No Udder in Cambridge, but I’m glad we did.
No Udder has been open since the beginning of June, and is a dairy-ice ice cream parlour with nut-free and gluten-free options. They’re in the front space of Nature’s Vibe, a health food and alternative health type space – but follow different hours. There was a nice variety of flavours, and the very friendly folks inside offered samples of all of them without hesitation.
The three of us sampled a little of everything, but when I saw lemon and lavender on the list, I knew I’d be getting them – sample or no sample. The lemon had the most perfect flecks of lemon zest – it was the real deal in every way.
Have you tried No Udder yet? (If you’ve ever had the ice cream from Fairly Frosted bakery at markets and VegFests around the province, you might have already enjoyed some!)