Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Making tofu palatable...

So we've all heard it. Tofu doesn't taste like anything, or is gross, its chewy, etc. However, there is a way to make tofu edible and even, dare I say palatable. Something I like to do with extra firm tofu (not silken!), is to pan fry it.

So here's the jist of it. You'll need:

-1 block of extra firm tofu
-Roasted sesame oil

Slice the tofu lenght wise to make 4 thin large rectagles. On a large plate, place a clean tea towel and arrange the tofu to be in one single layer. Fold the tea towel over the tofu and place a second plate along with a few cans of food to create weight. Leave to press out the water from the tofu for about 10 minutes. This allows the tofu to be less chewy and retain more flavor.

After ten minutes, remove the tofu from the tea towels. Heat up about 2 tablespoons of roasted sesame oil at medium heat in a skillet and arrange two slices of tofu. Cook until golden brown, then flip on other side. Wait until golden brown. Repeat oil step and fry remaining tofu.

You can then slice these into strips and make a sandwich with them. Works great in a wrap with mustard, mayonaise or soyanaise, lettuce, alfalfa sprouts and a sliced pickle. Or you can add in the fried tofu in the last minutes of any vegetable noodle stir fry.

Delicious!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Quinoa and Parsley Salad - Also known as Super Tabbouleh

Spring is right around the corner and for the occasion, a light, nutritious and savory salad is in order. It keeps very well for 5 days refrigerated in a sealed plastic container. It makes a great addition to any meal. If you are feeling adventurous, you can make yourself a lunch wrap using this salad and hummus tahini. We've all had tabbouleh with bulgur which is nice. But I prefer using cooked quinoa since it's a complete protein within itself and lends a nice texture to the salad.

For this recipe, you will need:
  • 2 bunches of flat-leaf parsley (very savory) and 1 bunch curly parsley (for texture); washed thoroughly to remove all dirt, stems removed, leaves finely chopped (You could use your food processor for this, but hand chopping renders a better finish however time consuming).
  • 1/2 a bunch of fresh mint, washed thoroughly, stems removed and finely chopped.
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 small tomato, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 green onions - white parts only, finely chopped
  • 2 cups of cooked quinoa.
  • 2 garlic cloves - crushed and minced
  • 100 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 125 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 60 ml apple cider vinegar (unpasteurised to reap the health benefits granted by the "mother")
  • 2 ml chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
In a large non-metallic bowl (the vinegar will react with the metal and render a bad taste to the salad) and combine the parsley, mint, green onion, red bell pepper, tomato and quinoa. In a 1 liter jar which has a lid, combine the oil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Close the jar tightly and shake vigorously until it forms an emulsion. Pour over parsley and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour for flavors to combine.

Enjoy!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Raspberry Feta Salad

I "invented" this salad a few years ago to accompany a large Easter meal I was making for my family. The menu consisted of Rosemary Cheese Buns, Roasted Rosemary Leg of Lamb, baby potatoes, and this salad.

I eyeball the recipe each time. Feel free to adapt it.

You'll need:
  • 4 cups mesclun (spring baby greens mix - washed thoroughly and dried in the salad spinner)
  • 1 small package of fresh raspberries, washed.
  • 5cm cube of feta cheese, crumbled.
  • 60 ml olive oil
  • 30 ml raspberry vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Lay the greens in a large salad bowl. I have a glass bowl that is not too deep. It makes for a very nice presentation. Sprinkle the feta cheese over the greens and add the raspberries. Mix the olive oil, raspberry vinegar and salt and pepper together vigorously to make an emulsion. Pour over salad and lightly toss.

Serve immediately.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Faux Sour "Cream" or Tofu Sour Cream

Not everyone can enjoy the lush favor of dairy sour cream without the nasty side effects of lactose intolerance. Others just prefer not to consume any animal products. Here's a nice replacement for sour cream using tofu.

You'll need:
  • 3 tablespoon sauerkraut
  • 30 ml rice vinegar
  • 30 ml apple cider vinegar
  • 250 ml extra firm silken tofu
  • 2 ml salt
  • 30 ml sunflower oil (avoid any strong flavored oil as it will alter the taste of the mix)

In a blender, mix all the ingredients until smooth. Store in a glass jar in the fridge. It will keep for a week.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Easy Peasy Black Bean Burgers

Probably the easiest black bean burger recipe ever. It's extremely satisfying and goes well with a slice of melted cheddar cheese on a hamburger bun with the fixings.

You'll need:

  • 2 cans of black beans (about 4 cups)- drained.
  • 1 cup of salsa (chunky style)
  • 1 1/4 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon chili pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Dash of chipotle tabasco
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • Oil for skillet

Mash the beans in a large bowl, add in the salsa, breadcrumbs and spices. Combine until a nice even mix is achieved. Add in more breadcrumbs if mix is too wet to handle. Heat up a cast iron skillet. Meanwhile, shape 12 patties from the mashed mix. Pan fry them over medium heat (about 6-8 minutes per side) until golden brown. Or you can bake them in the oven on an oiled cookie sheet for 20 to 30 minutes.

Serve with all the fixings!

They freeze well.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Spiced Honey Cake

Honey is a gift from the gods. I love watching the honeybees work away tirelessly on a warm summer day, gathering the precious nectar. Cooking with honey seems almost forgotten. Only in the odd potluck, am I reminded of the joys of cooking with this golden gift. Here's a recipe I find truly enhances the flavor and richness of honey.

Spiced Honey Cake

Prep time: 25 minutes
Baking time: 1 hour

  • 330 ml honey
  • 250 ml strongly brewed coffee
  • 15 ml orange peel
  • 2 3/4 cups of flour
  • 10 ml baking powder
  • 5 ml baking soda
  • 5 ml ground cinnamon
  • 2 ml ground nutmeg
  • 1 ml ground cloves
  • 1 ml powdered ginger
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 250 ml chopped walnuts
  • 4 eggs
  • 60 ml sunflower or corn oil
  • 250 ml sugar
  • Powdered sugar

In a small saucepan, bring the honey to a boil. Add in the coffee and orange peel and mix. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and salt. Set aside. Take 30 ml of the dry ingredients and mix with the walnuts. Set aside.

In a large bowl, with a hand mixer, beat the eggs until they have a creamy lemony yellow color. Add in the oil while mixing. Add in slowly the sugar and mix for three minutes until the mix is pale and thick. With a spatula, incorporate the other ingredients, one third of each alternating between the flour, the honey and the egg mixture until just combined. Add in the nuts.

Pour the batter in a well oiled 10' bundt cake pan with a non stick surface. Bake in a preheated oven at 325F for about an hour, or until the toothpick test comes out clean.

Unmold the cake and leave to cool on rack for 30 minutes. Decorate by sifting powdered sugar on cake.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Hummus Tahini

chick peasThe humble chickpea is very famous in the form of this very popular dip called Hummus Tahini. It can serve as a complimentary sauce in your sandwiches or can even be the center stage to your lunch wrap.

Here's a simple start to your hummus recipe which can be easily adapted to any palate. You can make it spicier, garlicky, curry-ish. It's yours to experiment!

Hummus Tahini
  • 500 ml of cooked chick peas
  • 30 ml of tahini (sesame paste - make sure your tahini is homogeneous since it tends to separate
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • sea salt to taste (start with just a pinch)
  • vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
into oil and solids)
In a food processor, blend all the ingredients except the vegetable stock. Pour in a bit of stock and blend, repeat until you have a thick smooth and creamy consistency. Refrigerate.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Vegetarian Morrocan Style Chickpea Stew

This is another vegetarian/vegan friendly meal which is a complete source of protein when you serve it with a grain, may it be rice, couscous, etc. I prefer this recipe with the super grain, quinoa. You can find the recipe to make yourself a side of quinoa here.

  • 500ml of cooked chickpeas (one large can or two small cans).
  • 1 liter of vegetable stock
  • 2 potatoes peeled, largely cubed, about 1 inch.
  • 1 small turnip, peeled, largely cubed
  • 1 cup of winter squash (butternut, buttercup, ambercup or any other sweet orange fleshed squash.
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 carrots, peeled and largely sliced, about 1 inch rondelles.
  • 2 celery sticks, largely sliced into 1 inch pieces.
  • 1 zucchini, cut into 1 inch rondelles
  • 1 small can of tomato paste with garlic
  • 60ml of sultana raisins
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper

In a large dutch oven, put your chickpeas, stock, raisins and root vegetables in. Bring to a boil and add the bay leaf. Simmer for 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Add in the tomato paste, cayenne pepper, celery and zucchini. Cook for another 5 minutes.

Serve on bed of grains and enjoy.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Brown Rice "Crispy" Peanut Butter Squares

This is a delightful replacement to the very bland rice crispy squares using marshmallows to hold it together. You know, a nice change. Be careful though, this recipe is even MORE of a sticky mess than the traditional recipe. A plus side to this dessert/snack is the brown rice syrup. Grain syrups do not mess up the blood glucose levels since its digested further down the intestinal tract than other types of sugar, according to my cooking teacher. I could be wrong. Please feel free to say so.

So on with the recipe.

125 ml peanut or almond butter
125 ml chopped nuts
2 ml vanilla
2 ml cinnamon
180 ml of brown rice syrup
4 cups of puffed brown rice cereal

Mix all the ingredients except for the cereal in a large bowl. Add in the cereal and mix with wet hands until well coated. Press the mixture in a well oiled pan and place in the fridge to harden.

They freeze well.

Vegan Carrot Cake

A nice guilt free cake for those of us who are vegetarian curious/friendly.

1.5 Cups of Whole wheat pastry flour (very important!)
2 tsp of cinnamon powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp nutmeg
3 average sized carrots, grated finely
3/4 cups crushed pineapple, drained.
1/2 cup of maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2lbs soft tofu
1/2 cup coarsely crushed walnuts
1/3 cup corn or sunflower oil

Sift all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a food processor, blend the oil, maple syrup, tofu and vanilla. Pour the liquid mix into a bowl and stir in the carrots and pineapple. Transfer the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold together. Pour batter into a well oiled bundt or cake pan. Bake for 45 minutes in a 350F oven. Two small cake pans will require only 30 minutes.