Stratford, Ontario – The Planet Diner

We spent the day at Cedar Row‘s annual Summer of Peace event and it was beautiful as always but on the way home, we were wondering where we could go for a bite to eat. I asked around, and a friend  suggested we visit The Planet Diner in Stratford, Ontario, so off we went to check it out.

The Planet Diner opened only a few months ago and it looks great. There is an outside patio, indoor diner style seating (complete with puffy red booths), and a fun kitschy decor. It features casual comfort food. They serve a primarily vegan menu, with a few meat-containing options available. It seems like they are generally dairy-free but if you have allergies, of course it’s best to double check (I didn’t ask).

They have coffee, tea, cold drinks, juice, alcohol, and virgin cocktails too. You can take a peek at their menus on their website – they’ve got lots of options for everyone, including stuff for the gluten free crowd.

We rolled in around 4ish, and there was street parking available nearby, there is also a green P around a block away.

Their brunch menu looks delicious, but ends at 3, so we picked off the regular menu.

We started off sharing the fries and gravy (default vegan) and a couple of drinks – I had a soy cappuccino (which was excellent) and JC got the virgin Caesar which was spicy and wonderful (I might have stolen a few/several sips.)

 

I had the Planet Burger, which was huge and tasty. But exceptionally so – all the layers work perfectly together – it’s got a thick beefy vegan patty, sautéed mushrooms, onions, a cheeze sauce, lettuce, tomato, and “planet sauce” on a beautiful dark soft pretzel bun.

JC got the Libacious Mac and Cheese – which was elbow noodles in a cashew cheese sauce with crispy tofu bacon, mushrooms, and scallions topped off with with some panko.

Our Tinyhuman got the Fingers and Fries off the kids menu, and enjoyed the heck out of the fries and handfuls of JC’s mac and cheese. They also have a mac and cheese on the kids menu if you’re looking for a smaller portion for your little folks.

They also have donuts and other desserts for those of you with a sweet tooth.

Service was okay and food came out quickly after we ordered. It’s nice to know about this place since we travel along this route relatively often during the summer months and lovely to have in mind in case you are seeing a show or attending one of the many festivals in Stratford (or obviously if you live there.)

I’d recommend checking it out if you have the chance! We’ll be back.

The Planet Diner
 118 Downie St, Stratford, ON N5A 1X1 (map)
website | facebook | instagram

They take cash, credit cards, and debit.

Away Kitchen and Cafe on College

The folks that have brought us the ever lovely Awai have a low-key plant based cafe brewing up on College – Away Cafe . They’ve been open for about a month, and it’s looking like a great space.

You can sort of see the menu in the picture above, but it’s a nice mix of breakfast options, appetizers, soup, salad, and drinks.

We went last week and tried a few things for a late lunch.

I ordered the Porcini mushroom soup with a savoury rosemary scone.

and JC had the empanadas.

Also the soy latte I had was excellent too.

There is a nice atmosphere, and it’s full of plants and whimsy. Also there are a couple of literal plant walls that are beautiful (and delicious). There is quite a bit of seating and free wifi.

Away Kitchen + Cafe 
680 College Ave (at Beatrice), Toronto (map)
website | instagram

Oakville check out Dar Nabati!

We decided to check out Dar Nabati‘s soft open today in downtown Oakville. It was just a nice day for a drive, and where better to go than a new vegan spot opening up in the area. Their grand opening is happening on April 27th, 2018, so pay them a visit if you can. (p.s. they will also be open for a sneak preview tomorrow, April 22nd, 2018.)

So what is Dar Nabiti? Dar (دار) Nabati (نباتي) is open to some interpretation, but it’s something in the space of Plant based/vegan/vegetarian. It is a plant based cafe, with a middle eastern twist, so you will see wonderful things like shwarma, manakeesh, halloumi, bowls, and egg salad sandwiches, croissants, cinnamon buns, and more, but obviously all vegan.

The space is super nice and cozy, with plants, and a really peaceful colour scheme. There are high tables and low tables, several fridges just waiting to be filled up for their grand opening, and some ethical body and home care goods.

It was great to see one of my favourites – Just the Goods – there, because they make some wonderfully thoughtful and ethical vegan body stuff. They also had Spiffy Naturals candles and cleaning supplies and Sade Baron body care stuff so far!

So what did we have?

Philly Cheese Steak

Ugh, this was so good.

Shwarma

(you can also get sides, but we just didn’t – but they did come with pickles which is basically just excellent anyway.)

Gluten Cookies

My son loved enjoyed more bites of these cookies than any other cookies he’s eaten (there haven’t been many), so these were a winner!

We also tried one of their smoothies and a couple of tasty vibe kombuchas. AND I got a soy latte to go which was also excellent. So what I’m saying is check them out, and see what’s cooking in Oakville.

Also, look at this beautiful harbour. Go see it. It felt like a nice place to hang out today.

Dar Nabati

333 Lakeshore Rd E. Oakville ON (map)
website | instagram | facebook

p.s. they were super nice to my son, and that is a pretty easy way to get in my heart, but this post is still fair and true. 🙂

Polish Style Cauliflower with Bread Crumbs/ Kalafior z Bułką Tartą

This is a simple but comforting dish that I grew up eating very often. The nostalgia of this dish is extremely high, and for very little effort you can have a hearty side dish to pump up your lunch or dinner. I’ve appreciated cauliflower steaks before they were a thing.It’s called kalafior (Ka-la-f’your) z bułką tartą, which is basically cauliflower with a shredded bun, or in our case, cauliflower with breadcrumbs.

All you have to do is steam a cauliflower in a pot – drain it, and add margarine with fried bread crumbs on top. Voila, you’re done.  My mom would make it all in one pot and it was just so cozy and comforting. Now you can have a taste of my youth in your very own home.

It’s October, which is prime cauliflower season (or anytime during fall) so get a cauliflower while the prices are excellent and try this easy dish out.

Ingredients:
1 head of cauliflower
Your favourite margarine or flavourful oil
1/4 cup of breadcrumbs
1 tsp fresh or frozen dill, chopped (optional)

Directions
Steam the cauliflower until tender – around 8-9 minutes.


Remove and place on a serving dish.
In a frying pan, add oil or margarine and set to medium, add in the breadcrumbs and fry until crumbs are golden brown.

Pour the contents of your frying pan over your cauliflower, top with dill if you want to, and serve while it’s toasty.

Smacznego!

New Tofurky Ham-Style Roast Review

We bought the Tofurky Ham-Style Roast this weekend for the first time (from the refrigerated section at Metro in Toronto, but it’s available at Whole Foods and Sobey’s locations too) And since I couldn’t find much information about it online, I wanted to share what we thought. This is the first year it’s been available in Canada, so the moment I heard about it, I wanted to try it.

It’s a small seitan based ham that looks visually appealing, and comes with a sweet and tangy beer glaze featuring Hopworks Urban Brewery beer from Oregon. It’s full of flavour and has a vaguely ham-like flavour. If you are familiar with Tofurky roasts, the texture is quite similar – and personally, I liked it, and it complemented our meal quite nicely.

Here you can see it in it’s packaged glory – and my hand for scale. My hands aren’t particularly big, so it’s not huge, but could serve 3-4 people with a nice variety of sides and/or some stuffing.

I did not follow the preparation instructions on the box – we were making a very late dinner, and I didn’t feel like baking it for over an hour, so your experience may vary. But if you wanted to save some time and make it in the Instant Pot like I did, I mostly followed the box instructions on prep – half a cup of water, and based my timing on JL’s Vegan Roast post here. She has some great ideas for making more things simultaneously too.

I thought it was great that they had it in the refrigerated section this year, since normally you have to do more planning ahead to make a Tofurky holiday roast or ham roast – but both were ready to bake.

Instant Pot Instructions
Put half a cup of water in the instant pot, add roast, put on high pressure for 9 minutes, and let the pressure release naturally.

Poured glaze on top of the roast and brought to pressure for 4 minutes. This will result in a tender juicy roast vs a more caramelized glaze, but I really liked the result. The remaining glaze and water mixture at the bottom of the instant pot made for a fantastic quick gravy too.

Hope you find this helpful, and let me know what you think of this product if you try it!

 

 

Makowiec – Poppy Seed Roll – Vegan Mofo 2017 Day 4

I never particularly liked poppyseed rolls also known as makowiec (MAK-oh-v’yetz) when I was a kid – from a distance, I’d see them and think they were chocolate, then get close and realize it was poppies. And then I’d be filled with sadness and maybe steal a bite of icing, but otherwise, sadness.

For some reason, now that I’m both older and live in a Polish neighbourhood in Toronto I find myself wanting this damn cake every time I walk by one of the handful of deli’s along Roncesvalles. But I know these are not vegan, so I keep walking.

About a year ago I bought a can of poppyseed cake filling, for the novelty, not even really planning on making a makowiec because I figured I’d never get around to it. Well, thank goodness it’s VeganMofo, because here we go.

This recipe is based on a few things – my experience with challah, another egg heavy bread that I make with reasonable success without eggs, and a recipe in The Art of Polish Cooking by Alina Żerańska circa 1968.

Poppyseed Roll (Makowiec)

makes 2 rolls

1 package active dry yeast (2 – 1/4 tsp yeast)
1 cups warm non-dairy milk (divided)
4 cups all-purpose flour
6 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup aquafaba (what is aquafaba?)
6 tbsp coconut oil or earth balance, softened
1 can (850g) poppyseed filling (most do not have honey in them)
Optional: walnuts, finely chopped

Directions

In a bowl or measuring up dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of warm non-dairy milk.

In a mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, salt, and aquafaba.

Back with your blend of yeast and non-dairy milk, add the rest of the milk and mix in the Earth balance or coconut oil. Mix until smooth (I used a stand mixer) – the dough should be dense and sticky.

Prepare a clean greased bowl and throw your dough in. Cover it with a damp tea towel or loosely draped plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm place for approximately 2 hours or until it doubles in size.

Once it doubles, punch it and put it on a flour covered surface. Divide it in half. That’s right, you’re going to have two rolls. Shape each piece into a large rectangle with a rolling pin and then lightly oil it.  and spread around half of a can of poppyseed filling onto your rectangle. You could add a sprinkle of walnuts on this here, or skip it.

Roll your rectangle up, seem side down, and turn the ends in to keep filling from spilling out.
put the rolls on parchment, dull side of foil, a greased pan, silicon, your favourite baking stone, whatever, cover it, and let it rise up – it should double relatively quickly depending on how toasty your house is.

Somewhere in here pre-heat oven to 175oC. Brush the top of your rolls with aquafaba and soy milk. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until your rolls are golden brown.

Remove from oven and let them cool off.

I made a simple icing with aquafaba, vanilla, cream of tartar, and icing sugar but you can also just dust with icing sugar.

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I enjoyed making it. I think it just might tug on my nostalgic tastebuds and heartstrings.

Smacznego!

Barszcz/Beet Soup – Vegan Mofo 2017 – Pleased to Beet You.

Beets are a regular player in traditional Polish cooking, and Eastern European cooking in general, so I’m going talk about them every darn Tuesday for the rest of October.

I’d like to start with something traditional as heck, with some minor augmentations. Beet soup. You might know it as borcht. I know it as barszcz. It’s all basically the same thing, we can agree to disagree.

Beets + Broth = soup. Usually sour cream is involved. Sometimes some kind of sausage. But even with the most hearty seeming recipes, I often find myself hungry soon after. So with this recipe, I’m trying to avoid using special ingredients (but tofutti sour cream is absolutely fantastic in this soup if you have it around/or want to use it) and replacing sour cream with a dollop of white bean puree.

It really works – you can mix the white bean in with the soup before plating, or let folks do it afterwards – it’s a great nutritional boost, and adds a thicker texture to the soup.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium sized beets
  • 1 leek, halved
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup dry navy beans (or 1 can, drained) (or white northern beans), prepared.
  • 4 tbsps oil (or as much oil as makes you happy)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, halved and chopped
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • splash of your favourite vinegar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/8 tsp pepper (or to taste)
  • 5 medium potatoes
  • As much dill as you can handle
  • bonus: 1 diced half-salt pickle

Preheat your oven to 200C (400F) while you prepare your veggies. Bake the beets and leek with some oil (for approximately 30 minutes). I drizzled my beets with oil and wrapped them in aluminum foil, but you could also use a dish with a lid if you’re avoiding the ol’ foil scene.

Prepare your navy beans according to package instructions – I used my instant pot and made a large batch of navy beans for other recipes I’m planning to make this week. It’s a great opportunity to have some extra beans kicking around. You can store them in the refrigerator for a few days, or drain them and freeze them for more longterm storage.

Wait for your beets to be finished baking. While you are waiting for your beets and leeks to cool off and your navy beans to cook, heat up 2 tbsp of oil in a large pot and stir in the onion and carrots, let them cook until onions are translucent.

Are your beets cool? Great. Who doesn’t like a cool beet? Now you can peel em, and dice them up, and throw them in the pot with the rest of the vegetables (don’t forget about your delicious garlic and leeks). Now it’s show time.

Add the broth, bay leaf, and pepper. Let it all cook together on low medium heat for 20 minutes, or until carrots are tender, throw in the lemon juice and splash of vinegar (I used rice vinegar) and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf before serving.

While the soup is cooking up, boil your potatoes – you want them nice and tender. I did not peel mine because I like the added texture of the skin, when they are soft, smash them up.

How are your navy beans doing? Are they soft? Great! Puree 1-2 cups of beans in your favourite blender. Too thick? Add 100-200ml of hot water (I stole some water from the potatoes.)

Chop up your dill or just rip it apart into little dill pieces.

When you’re ready to serve your soup – take around half a cup of potatoes and put in the bottom of a bowl, pour in the soup, take 1/4 cup measure of white bean puree, top off with dill and pepper to taste. You can throw the diced pickle in with the broth, or put it on top with the white bean puree. It adds a lovely flavour and textural change when it’s in the soup – a surprise, but a pleasant one

Hope you like it because we certainly did tonight!

Smacznego!

Młoda Kapusta Zasmażana – Fried Cabbage – Vegan Mofo Day 2

Fried Cabbage, sounds boring right? No. It’s not.

It’s hearty and warm and cozy. There is this fantastic balance of sweet and smoky and lightly salty. The smoky tofu bacon really brings this all together, but any kind of fried meatless sausage type product would work great in this too. I really like the Tofurky or Yves Kielbasas for a quick comforting cabbagy meal – just slice them into half moon slices and fry them with some onion and then add sliced cabbage and onions.

It all pairs wonderfully with kasza gryczana (lightly roasted buckwheat groats) or boiled/mashed potatoes.

I’m calling this a young (młoda) cabbage (kapusta) because the one I used was dark leafy and green and fresh off the farm despite being the beginning of autumn. If you’re deep in the middle of somewhere else, can’t find deep green young cabbage, but can find Napa cabbage, its tender leaves might fit the bill.

I’ve got other plans for the rest of the cabbage – as there are always other things to do with cabbage in Polish cooking – it is a very versatile vegetable – featured in some of my favourite things like cabbage rolls, sauerkraut, a variety of soups and stews, and more!

Kapusta Zasmażana

Ingredients

Tofu Bacon

  • 1/2 block of tofu, pressed, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • splash of liquid smoke
  • 1 tsp soy sauce or Braggs aminos
  • (optional) 1tsp mushroom powder

Add sesame oil, liquid smoke, soy sauce and (optional) mushroom powder to a bowl, add the tofu, marinate for 15 minutes and then toss all into a frying pan on medium. Let this fry up until lightly browned and then set aside. Use the same frying pan for the cabbage and onion.

Cabbage

  • 1 tsp of oil (or however much you want to use really. follow your heart, you could probably use water or broth too)
  • 1 white small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 green young cabbage, finely chopped
  • 1 TBSP apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup dill, roughly chopped
  • salt to taste

Add oil to frying pan if using, then add the onion and cook until translucent, add the garlic and stir until fragrant. Toss in the cabbage and cook for around 7 minutes until everything has had the opportunity to blend and mix. You want the cabbage to still have a bit of a crunch to it. Add the vinegar.

Roughly chop up the smokey tofu pieces and mix in with the cabbage. Let them fry together for a bit and then mix in the chopped dill. Give everything a stir and then turn off the burner.

You can serve with buckwheat groats or potatoes or just by itself in a bowl.

Smacznego!

Naleśniki – Polish Crepes – Vegan Mofo

Happy first day of Vegan Mofo!

I wanted to start things off with one of my favourite childhood memories.When I was little one of my fondest morning memories is when my mom would make naleśniki (Na-leh-shniki.) Watching her make them always seemed so magical because what was once a liquid, seemed to defy gravity – clinging to the pan, changing colour, and turning into something delicious. I would sit at the kitchen table, we would listen to the CBC, we would talk, all while she made breakfast.

There would be two typical fillings, a sweetened cheese one made with quark or some kind of stewed fruit or jam. My favourite of course, would be one with fruit, so that’s what I made this morning, finally, for my own family.  When my mom made it, it was topped off with a vanilla sugar thick cream – this morning I made a quick cream with maple syrup, coconut yogurt, and some vanilla bean.

Before I went vegan, she would use a piece of bacon to grease the pan,  but eventually, once I went vegan she would still make ones for me with oil, filled with fruit, and dusted with icing sugar. Lucky me!

Smacznego! (which means bon appetit! or enjoy your meal!)

Naleśniki – Polish Crepes

Makes 8 naleśniki

 

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tsps prepared Bob’s Red Mill egg replacer mix
  • 1 cup unsweeteend soymilk
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 tsp a light vegetable oil (I used canola)
  • Filling; stewed fruit or your favourite jam
  • Topping:
    • 1 cup of your favourite non-dairy yogurt
    • 1 tbsp maple syrup
    • half of the inside of a vanilla bean or a splash of vanilla extract

Pre-heat a large pan on medium heat.

Mix all ingredients together in a blender – and blend for 30 seconds on high – and then it’s showtime.

Measure out 1/3 cup of your batter, pick up your pan with one hand, and get ready to pour and rotate as quickly as you can.  I used a 1/3 cup measure to pour batter onto the pan – it will be ready to flip after about a minute. Batter will curl at the edges and look slightly dry.

one of my wonky little naleśnik – it doesn’t have to be perfect, it still works wonderfully

Flip it, and after another minute remove from pan and place on a plate. Cover plate with another plate and repeat until you have no batter left – should make approximately 8 pan sized naleśnik.

Now the filling, so, honestly, I wanted to make a sweet cheese filling with some silken tofu – but the one I bought yesterday looked like it had been frozen, which wouldn’t have had the texture I was looking for, so I shifted gears and used a jar of plum jam my mom had sent me a few months ago. It was perfect, but any stewed fruit or jarred jam will do – apple, plum, apricot, pick your favourite!

after filling, before being topped off with the sweetened vanilla yogurt creme

Please join me for more Polish Vegan Recipes throughout the month of October! And connect with me on instagram or facebook for more great vegan stuff or behind the scenes action!

Vegan Mofo – Day 0 – Polish Vegan Things

It’s almost time for Vegan MoFo.

What is Vegan MoFo? I’m glad you asked – it’s an annual celebration of Vegan Food. If you want to read about the history, I recommend going straight to the source and reading What is VeganMoFo on the VeganMoFo site.

I have participated in nearly all of them except the one last year (and I would have, but I missed signing up due to the fog of new motherhood.) This year my goal is to try and post on the blog 5 times a week and a substantive comment on at least 10 blogs a day – ideally ones I have not interacted much with before, and always if a stumble upon a post has no comments.

Please connect with me on Instagram and/or on Facebook, and I look forward to meeting new fellow vegan food fans during October!

The Theme

Vegan Mofo has a bunch of great ideas for posts throughout the month, which you can see here on their handy prompts page, but I’ve decided to go with a theme that is close to my heart, and heritage – Polish Vegan Things.

So the aim is All Polish Food, veganized. I’d also like to talk about some of the cool stuff happening in Poland for veganism and animal rights, as well as some of the great cookbooks and Polish blogs out there. I speak and read Polish quite fluently, but writing it is still not a strong point – so sadly, and sorry, my posts wont be bilingual – perhaps someday.

work in progress

Several weeks ago, I picked up a big beautiful leafy green head of cabbage started a batch of sauerkraut that I’m hoping to use in a recipe for Bigos – which is a hearty “hunters” stew that is just perfect for fall – and the fermented cabbage is pretty much ready to be eaten, so that is coming up as a recipe for sure. If you want to make your own sauerkraut or kapusta kiszona it’s really incredibly and surprisingly easy – but it just takes some time.

You can follow my super easy guide from way back when I took a class at the wonderful West End Food Coop – Fermentation 101.

 

Anyway, I’ll be back tomorrow, probably with a recipe close to my heart. Thanks for reading!