Tag Archives | Toronto

Chefs for Peace!

Last Wednes­day evening I joined a packed room in Uni­ver­sity of Toronto’s Multi-Faith Cen­tre for a night of cook­ing and con­ver­sa­tion. Cook­ing and demon­strat­ing for us were two top chefs from Israel– one Mus­lim and one Jew­ish. Ibrahim Abu Seir is the head pas­try chef at Jerusalem’s 5 star David Citadel Hotel and Joseph Elad is the owner of Menahe Yehuda Resu­tau­rant.

The room was filled with Mus­lims, Chris­tians and Jews at every table. The pur­pose of the evening was to bring all three faiths together in a pos­i­tive way– through food. While we helped the chefs pre­pare our din­ner, we were also encour­aged to dis­cuss whether or not we thought peace could be achieved in Israel. The dis­cus­sion was very inter­est­ing and for the most part quite pos­i­tive. When one stu­dent started to bring up cer­tain anti-Israeli sen­ti­ments she had wit­nessed on U of T cam­pus, founder and dis­cus­sion facil­i­ta­tor, Kevork Aleimian, was quick to get the con­ver­sa­tion back on track. Aleimian is Armen­ian and also from Israel.

Founded in 2001, Chefs for Peace is com­prised of chefs from all over the world…

Aleimian explained Chefs for Peace is a not-for-profit with a dream of peace. Founded in 2001, it is com­prised of chefs from all over the world from dif­fer­ent reli­gious back­grounds and its goal to is to encour­age peace­ful coex­is­tence. He explained that it’s easy to focus on who did what to who and dwell in the past, but the only way to bring about peace is by work­ing together to focus on it.

The meal we were served was deli­cious. An Israeli cucum­ber tomato salad, a beau­ti­fully spiced rice and veg­etable dish and a dessert of fresh figs in coconut milk with a berry coulis on top. All veg­e­tar­ian, all kosher, and all halal.

I had a really inter­est­ing con­ver­sa­tion about the sim­i­lar­i­ties and dif­fer­ences between what makes some­thing kosher and what makes some­thing halal with a girl of Mus­lim faith at my table. I think that every­one who attended learned a lot about each other in a pos­i­tive envi­ron­ment. If only there were more pro­grams like this, the world would be a more peace­ful place.

For more infor­ma­tion visit chefsforpeace.com.

Spe­cial shout out to Emily Berg, the Wol­fond Cen­tre Hil­lel team and all the other orga­ni­za­tions that brought Chefs for Peace to Toronto for a week of amaz­ing events!

Oy vegan!

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Hamantaschen for Purim!

As many of you may know, last Thurs­day was Purim. My madrachim group for Cana­dian Israel Expe­ri­ence threw an awe­some car­ni­val for kids at the Lipa Green Cen­tre in Toronto which was a blast. Check out pics from Purim Fun 2012 here!

Even though Purim has passed, I thought I would share my vegan recipe for Haman­taschen! These are super delicious.

For more infor­ma­tion on the story behind Purim and what peo­ple do at this time of year, click here.


Vegan Haman­taschen


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tea­spoons bak­ing powder
  • 1/8 tea­spoon salt
  • 1/2 cup veg­etable short­en­ing (I use Earth Bal­ance vegan shortening)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Vegan egg replacer (equiv­a­lent of 1 large egg)
  • 3 table­spoon fresh orange juice
  • 2/3 cup fill­ing such as apri­cot or cherry jam.

Into a bowl sift together flour, bak­ing pow­der, and salt. In another bowl beat short­en­ing, sugar, and egg replacer until light and fluffy. Add juice and beat until incor­po­rated. Add flour mix­ture, stir­ring, until a smooth dough is formed. Gather dough into a ball and flat­ten into a disk. Chill dough, wrapped in plas­tic wrap, at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.

Pre­heat oven to 375° F.

On a lightly floured sur­face roll out half of dough (keep­ing other half wrapped and chilled) 1/4 inch thick. With a 3-inch cut­ter cut out as many rounds as pos­si­ble. Trans­fer rounds with a metal spat­ula to a large bak­ing sheet, arrang­ing about 1/2 inch apart. Reroll scraps and cut out more rounds. Put 1 tea­spoon fill­ing in cen­ter of each round and fold up edges to form tri­an­gu­lar cook­ies resem­bling a tri­cornered hat, pinch­ing cor­ners together and leav­ing fill­ing exposed.

Bake haman­taschen in mid­dle of oven 15–20 min­utes, or until pale golden. Cool haman­taschen on bak­ing sheet 5 min­utes and trans­fer to racks to cool com­pletely. Repeat with remain­ing dough. Keep Haman­taschen in an air­tight con­tainer at room tem­per­a­ture for up to 5 days.

(Adapted from a recipe on Epicurious.com)

Oy Vegan!

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Indian Night, Oy!

Dis­re­gard the yid­dish def­i­n­i­tion of Oy for this post­ing as my din­ner and cook­ing expe­ri­ence was any­thing but a disappointment!

Last night my boyfriend and I decided to go on a bit of an adven­ture. We wan­dered down to Coxwell and Ger­rard in the east end of Toronto to lit­tle India/Pakistan. A lit­tle birdie had told us that the best place to buy spices was a shop called Kohi­noor Foods on Ger­rard Street. Boy, was this birdie right!

From the out­side it looks like a neigh­bour­hood con­ve­nience store. Inside, Kohi­noor Foods’ walls are lined with prod­ucts straight from India and Pak­istan. One wall is ded­i­cated solely to spices and legumes pack­aged by Kohi­noor Foods them­selves and priced quite rea­son­ably. We bought a large num­ber of spices for our planned feast. 200 grams of a spice is $2.99– not too shabby con­sid­er­ing the same spices cost up to twice that amount in Loblaws, Sobey’s and Metro. Not to men­tion, a lot of these spices are harder to come by in your aver­age gro­cery store.

The scene in the store reminded us of our time in India, many peo­ple came in and out demand­ing dif­fer­ent prod­ucts and the shop­keep­ers politely tried to cater to their needs.


For din­ner, we decided to make the fol­low­ing dishes using recipes from one of our favourite Indian chefs, Man­jula Jain. Watch below for a video tuto­r­ial on how to cook each of these recipes from Man­jula her­self! You can also click on the title to see the recipe writ­ten out.

1. Aloo Gobi (Pota­toes and Cauliflower)

2. Plain white bas­mati rice– Indian style

3. Bain­gan Bharta (Eggplant)


The Aloo Gobi (pic­tured below) was lighter than most, flavour­ful and almost trop­i­cal. We did  have to add quite a but more water than is writ­ten in the recipe. We also used less chilli as we can’t han­dle much heat. All in all a very tasty Aloo Gobi!


Fol­low­ing her direc­tions exactly yielded the per­fect Indian bas­mati rice (pic­tured below) . Yum!

The Bain­gan Bharta (pic­tured below) was deli­cious. The sautéed red pep­pers do make for a lovely light crunch. Again, I didn’t use as many chills as the recipe called for. We ate this with Dal Puri (type of Indian bread) which we bought at Kohi­noor Foods.

Cook­ing with all of these spices was a won­der­ful aro­matic expe­ri­ence. I’m so excited to try other dishes using these and other spices in the future. If you like Indian food, you’ll have a blast try­ing Manjula’s recipes. She also has a whole vegan sec­tion on her web­site which is really helpful.

Happy Cook­ing!

Oy Vegan!



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Totally Fabulous Vegan Bakeoff!

My stu­dents and I (photo by Bar­bara Allen), vegan cookie sam­pler plates, and my pre­sen­ta­tion! (Pho­tos by Sasha Arfin)

On Sat­ur­day Feb­ru­ary 4th, I par­tic­i­pated in the Toronto Veg­e­tar­ian Association’s Totally Fab­u­lous Vegan Bake­off with my gluten-free choco­late zuc­chini loaf. Check out my recipe below!

The event took place at 918 Bathurst Street — a cool com­mu­nity cen­tre with lots of space for events, classes and what­not. The last time I was in the main the­atre space, I was audi­tion­ing for Woody Har­rel­son for a com­edy he wrote and directed last year at Hart House The­atre. 918 Bathurst, while being a great space for audi­tions, was a lit­tle small for the amount of peo­ple who came out for this year’s bake-off. The turnout was amaz­ing! Appar­ently the line went all the way down Bathurst and almost hit Bloor St.

I entered the com­pe­ti­tion in the gluten-free choco­late cat­e­gory. I didn’t win, but I’m pretty sure I came in sec­ond. How­ever, it wasn’t about win­ning or los­ing (says the loser), it was about the expe­ri­ence! So many veg­ans, veg­e­tar­i­ans, and non-veggies came out to sam­ple the many fab­u­lous treats. Local celeb vegan chef Doug McNish judged best in show and even Cana­dian TV and radio gem George Strom­bolopolous made an appear­ance. Appar­ently, Strombo is try­ing out the vegan lifestyle and I have to say, he looks great!

Pho­tos by Sasha Arfin

There was fab­u­lous local cof­fee sup­plied by Kens­ing­ton Market’s Moon­bean Cof­fee  as well as reg­u­lar, vanilla, and cap­puc­cino flavoured soy milk from Nutrisoya.

Many thanks to my par­ents for help­ing me plate my choco­late zuc­chini loaf and for trans­port­ing the sam­ples and dis­play to the venue. Also, a shout-out to my sis­ter Sasha Arfin for mak­ing an incred­i­bly beau­ti­ful sign for my loaf! (See below for sign and recipe!)

Pho­tos by Sasha Arfin


Check out this mini high­light video by Richard Arfin!

My gluten-free Chocolate Zucchini Loaf

Jamie’s Gluten-Free Chocolate Zucchini Loaf
This loaf is deli­cious! The zuc­chini adds mois­ture and an amaz­ing tex­ture to the loaf. That com­bined with choco­laty goodness–trust me, it won’t last very long.


  • 2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 1/2 tea­spoons guar gum
  • 1/2 tea­spoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tea­spoons bak­ing soda
  • 1/2 cup unsweet­ened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup gran­u­lated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tea­spoon cinnamon
  • egg replacer — equiv­a­lent to 2 eggs worth
  • 1/2 cup organic canola oil
  • 1 tea­spoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 3 cups grated unpeeled zucchini
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet choco­late chips


Pre­heat oven to 350° F / 176° C

Lightly grease or oil two 8-inch loaf pans OR two 12-cup muf­fin tins

Place flour, guar gum, salt, bak­ing soda, cin­na­mon and cocoa pow­der in a medium bowl. Use a wire whisk to combine.

In a large bowl, place oil, sug­ars, egg replacer and vanilla and mix until fluffy. Stir in apple­sauce and shred­ded zuc­chini. Stir flour mix­ture into bat­ter until just com­bined. Fold in choco­late chips.

Divide bat­ter between pre­pared loaf or muf­fin pans and bake for 50 min­utes for loaves or 25–30 min­utes for muffins or until a tooth­pick inserted in the cen­ter of loaf or muf­fin comes out clean.

Allow to cool on wire rack for 10 min­utes before turn­ing out.

Yields about 24 muffins or 8–10 slices per loaf


Oy Vegan!

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veJEWtarian meet-up!

Just doing a last call to those who are inter­ested in attend­ing our Jew­ish veg­e­tar­ian and vegan group in Toronto. We’ll be meet­ing tonight at Sadie’s Diner. Can’t wait to see you all there!

Oy Vegan!

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Oy Vegan Restaurant Review: Vegan Brunch at the Windsor Arms Hotel

When I heard there was a vegan brunch at the Wind­sor Arms Hotel in down­town Toronto, I couldn’t believe my ears! Where in this city can you find an upscale healthy vegan brunch?

Well, under the guid­ance and vision of exec­u­tive vegan chef Doug McNish, the Wind­sor Arms Hotel has had new life breathed into it with a vegan brunch menu that runs every Sun­day in the hotel’s Prime restau­rant. The restau­rant is also run­ning a vegan lunch and din­ner menu through­out the week!

Need­less to say, I just HAD to go try out the vegan brunch the moment I got wind of it.

I ordered the Vegan Bene­dict. The tofu was smokey and the egg­less hol­landaise sauce was incredible!

Jared ordered “The Works” which, lucky me, I got to taste.  Each com­po­nent was packed with flavour. The pota­toes were art­fully sea­soned and the tofu scram­ble was, seri­ously, the best I’ve ever had.

Then, dessert! The choco­late brownie was rich and divine.

All in all, it was a great expe­ri­ence! Upscale vegan din­ing is excit­ing for so many rea­sons. One being now you have some­where to bring some­one you want to impress! Whether it be for a spe­cial occa­sion or a busi­ness meet­ing, now Toronto has a fine din­ing restau­rant where being vegan isn’t a spe­cial request, it’s an upscale experience.

(Chef Doug McNish and I)

Thanks to Chef Doug McNish and the the staff of the Wind­sor Arms Hotel for a lovely Sun­day brunch experience!

Oy Vegan!

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Help Free These Elephants!


On Octo­ber 25th 2011 the Toronto City Coun­cil voted 31 to 4 in favour of send­ing Iringa, Toka & Thika, the 3 remain­ing ele­phants at the Toronto Zoo, to the PAWS Sanc­tu­ary in Cal­i­for­nia. This place is awesome!

It is now Nov 11th!? What is the hold up? Bob Barker has even offered to cover all the costs to trans­port these poor guys to California.

Please sign this peti­tion to help set them free…


Toronto is a great place to live, if you are a human. I don’t think the ele­phants will appre­ci­ate another snowy win­ter the way we do, so let’s set them free and give them a bet­ter life.

Ele­phants nat­u­rally can travel 10 to 20 miles in a day. As you can see here, Iringa is con­fined to a very small space…

I don’t need to tell you how intel­li­gent and sen­si­tive ele­phants are, but here is a great video show­ing an ele­phants capac­ity for companionship…

Oy Vegan!

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Oy Vegan Restaurant Review: Hogtown Vegan

So fel­low oyvegan.com-er Jared and I vis­ited Hog­town Vegan for din­ner on a Sun­day evening last month. When we walked in we were pleas­antly sur­prised by the cozy atmos­phere. The restau­rant pro­vided a warm refuge from the brisk fall air. We also noted that it was almost full, an impres­sive feat for a Sun­day night in the restau­rant biz.

Our server was friendly, knowl­edge­able and totally into the food, which, as a food lover, is always excit­ing. We ordered the chipo­tle mac n’ “cheese” to start and the reuban sand­wich and unchicken burger to share for our mains. The burger and the sand­wich came with a choice of fries, caeser salad, or sauteed col­lard greens. We ordered the salad and the greens.

The mac n “cheese” was deli­cious. I’m not sure how they did it, but the “cheese” sauce was superb. One of the best fake cheese sauces I’ve ever had. Both sand­wiches were lovely. I espe­cially liked the reuben which was com­prised of their own home-made sei­tan, a slaw of sauer­kraut, alphal­pha sprouts, gar­lic but­ter, and horse­rad­ish mayo on pumper­nickel rye. This is their sig­na­ture dish if you’re won­der­ing what to get. I highly rec­om­mend it!

The price point was also very rea­son­able. $11 for a sand­wich with a side of super tasty vegan caeser salad or gar­licky col­lard greens (which I couldn’t stop eat­ing). We left feel­ing sati­ated and pleased with our expe­ri­ence instead of bloated and lethar­gic like most peo­ple feel after a trip to a diner. So, if you’re look­ing for com­pas­sion­ate com­fort food, look no further.

Oy vegan! gives Hog­town Vegan 2 kosher thumbs up!


Hog­town Vegan in Toronto is located at 834 Bloor St W. Hours: MON-FRI 5pm-11pm SAT/ SUN 11:30am-11pm  Con­tact: 416 901 9779

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Wooooohooooo! We did it Toronto! We just took a great step towards pro­tect­ing our sharks. Thank Hashem!

It was a lively and pas­sion­ate debate at Toronto City Coun­cil today. In the end, the coun­sel­lors voted for the ban of shark fins in Toronto: 38–4. Coun­sel­lors R. Ford, Mam­moliti, Shiner and Holy­day opposed the ban. Read more about it here.

The whole room erupted in applause as the motion passed. This is a great day for Toronto and a great day for sharks. The next step is to take this coun­try wide and then world wide! Who’s with me?!


Oy Vegan!



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Special Alert! Sign this petition for a fin free Toronto!!!




Great news! On Thurs­day Octo­ber 13th, I went down to city hall to show my sup­port for the pro­posed shark fin ban in Toronto which was brought before the licens­ing and stan­dards committee.

I’m happy to report there was a huge turnout of shark lovers. We def­i­nitely out­num­bered the angry shark fin soup mer­chants! About 40–50 peo­ple spoke to the com­mit­tee in sup­port of the ban. Among them was Rob Stew­art maker of the crit­i­cally acclaimed doc­u­men­tary Shark­wa­ter, win­ner of 31 inter­na­tional awards and Les Stroud of hit TV show Sur­vivor­man.

shark fins

Christo­pher Chin from COARE flew in from Cal­i­for­nia, where they just passed a shark fin ban effec­tive Jan­u­ary of next year, to speak to the com­mit­tee. One of the high­lights of the day came when Julie Ander­son of United Con­ser­va­tion­ists and Shark Angels showed select footage of her work with sharks which included video of sharks being finned,  and was chas­tised by the speaker for show­ing such graphic imagery. One of the coun­sel­lors yelled out dra­mat­i­cally that she felt nauseous.

The good news is that the com­mit­tee voted unan­i­mously to bring the issue before city coun­cil later in the month. Word on the street right now is it will take place Octo­ber 24th 2011. A small vic­tory but a step in the right direction!

In the mean­time, more sig­na­tures are needed to show support!!

Please take a sec­ond and sign the peti­tion to sup­port the ban of the pos­ses­sion, sale, and con­sump­tion of shark fin prod­ucts in Toronto!


Oy Vegan wants to shout out every­one who came to sup­port on Thurs­day AND a HUGE shout out to Coun­cil­lor Kristyn Wong-Tam and Coun­cil­lor Glenn De Baere­maeker for all the work they have done!!!

Oy Vegan!

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