27 October 2013

Orange Tofu with rice and broccoli

We bought a tofu press this week. This one to be exact. It is essentially two plastic cutting boards with screws on two sides to compress the tofu. It is amazing. I looked at the reviews for both this one and the Tofu Xpress and decided to go with the simpler gadget. It took about 20 minutes to press the block of tofu down to dense deliciousness. For the first go with the press, I decided to use the resulting tofu in an orange sauce over rice with broccoli. I used a combination of three recipes for the orange sauce (Food52, Vegetarian Ventures, and the PPK).

Ingredients
1 16 oz package extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
olive oil

zest from 1 orange
juice from two oranges
2 - 4 T rice wine vinegar (I think the higher amount balances out the sweet and salty well)
1 T maple syrup
1 - 2 T soy sauce
2 inch chopped fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic
Sriracha (or a fresh chili, or red chili flakes)
1 T cornstarch

rice
water

1 head broccoli
olive oil
salt
pepper

green onions, chopped

Method
Press tofu using whatever device you fancy until it is firm, dense, and dry. It took about 20 minutes with our new gadget.

Cook rice in whatever way you fancy. We have a cheapo rice cooker and I'm not sure how I cooked rice without it.

Preheat oven or toaster oven to 400F. Chop broccoli into pieces and coat with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Put on a small pan in a single layer and place in the oven. Cook for about 15 minutes until the florets are a bit burnt and the stalk is tender.

While the tofu is pressing, rice is steaming, and broccoli is roasting, whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce in a medium bowl. Taste and adjust sauce, although not too much, the character changes a bit when it is heated. Make sure there are no clumps from the cornstarch.

When tofu is done pressing, cut into slices. Heat some olive oil in a cast iron pan over medium heat and add slices. Cook on each side until crispy, about 10 minutes all together.

Once the tofu goes into the pan, add the sauce to a large high sided skillet. Heat the sauce over medium heat until it starts to bubble and thicken and turn off the heat. Stir every so often to keep the sauce from becoming too stiff. Add the broccoli and tofu to the sauce when they are done and stir to coat. Serve over rice with fresh green onions.


Notes
We both loved the texture of the tofu after pressing it and the sauce was delicious. The tofu was chewy and not mushy at all. I am a tofu press convert. I cut the tofu into cubes and because I didn't marinate the tofu before cooking, the tofu was a bit bland in the middle. I suggest cutting thin slabs for this dish or marinating in the sauce before cooking. I am eating the leftovers for lunch tomorrow and perhaps the sauce will soak in by then.

27 March 2013

Vegan Pulled Pork Sandwiches

When I was growing up, church was three hours. In order to feed our hungry bellies after church in the quickest way possible, my parents would usually have something going in the slow cooker before we left for church. One of the things that I really enjoyed were the BBQ sandwiches. I'm not sure what meat was used (pork? beef?), but it was placed in the cooker and covered in BBQ sauce. When we got home, it was shredded and placed on toasted buns with slices of American cheese and pickles. I loved it. This is my vegan recreation of that.

Serves: 4 sandwiches (with about 1/2 cup leftover)



Inspired by BBQ Pulled Jackfruit Sandwich

Ingredients
1 15 oz can of jackfruit NOT IN SYRUP
1/2 12 oz jar of BBQ sauce (I used Stubb's BBQ Sauce, I think I was feeling particularly nostalgic for Texas the day I bought it.)

1/4 small cabbage
2 T vegan mayo
cumin
chiptole powder
salt
pepper

Bulkie buns
pickles
vegan cheese, optional (a nice vegan cheese sauce might be good here)


Method
Drain and rinse the jackfruit. Place the jackfruit into a 1.5 qt slow cooker, add BBQ sauce and stir until the jackfruit is covered. Cover the cooker and cook on low for 6 - 8 hours. I let it go to 8 hours and that might have been too long. Using a strong fork "shred" the jackfruit.

For the coleslaw, shred the cabbage into "coleslaw" style pieces. Mix in the vegan mayo and spices. Taste and adjust seasoning. This is here to provide some crunchy contrast to the jackfruit.

Toast the rolls, place a portion of the jackfruit on the rolls, add some coleslaw, and top with pickles and optional cheese.

Notes
This was amazingly delicious. I have one more can of jackfruit in my pantry and I think I might have to make this again. We both really really enjoyed it, a lot. Make it, and make it soon.

26 March 2013

Vegetable Bowl

As the day was winding down at work today, I was trying to decide what to make for dinner. We had several vegetables near the end of their lives and I knew that we had a lot of lentils and rice in the pantry. Thus the vegetable bowl with lentils and rice was born!

Serves: 2 (with about 1 cup leftover lentils, and 1 cup leftover vegetables)

Ingredients
Lentils
1/3 - 1/2 cup brown lentils
1+ cups water
cumin
chipotle powder
turmeric
smoked paprika
salt
pepper

Rice
1 "cup" rice
1.5 "cup" water
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

Vegetables
1/2 medium butternut squash
3 stalks broccoli
1/2 onion
4 stalks rainbow chard
olive oil
salt
pepper
basil
rosemary


Method
Lentils
Measure and rinse lentils. Place in a small saucepan and add water and spices. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn to a medium simmer and stir every so often to prevent sticking. Cook until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.

Rice
Using the "cup" measuring device from your rice cooker, measure and rinse rice. Put rice in rice cooker with the water and cumin seeds. My very simple cooker has one setting, but if you have a fancy pants cooker, you might want to set it specifically to the type of rice you are using. Cook until rice is done.

Vegetables
Preheat oven to 400F.

Peel and cut butternut squash into 2 cm pieces. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cut broccoli into 4 cm long pieces, place on prepared baking sheet. Chop the onion into large pieces and place on baking sheet. Any other "roastable" vegetable can be used here - carrots, beets, potatoes, etc. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, basil, rosemary, and anything else you think would be tasty. Stir vegetables to coat.

Place in oven, and bake for about 25 minutes or until tender, flipping vegetables over halfway through. You can also bake the remainder of the butternut squash at this time, but if you leave it in large pieces, it will have to bake for longer.

While the vegetables are in the oven, chop chard into 2 cm pieces. Sauté in a cast iron pan with olive oil, salt, and pepper, until wilted.

Grab a bowl, put in a scoop of rice, a ladle full of lentils, half the roasted vegetables, and half the chard. Repeat with second bowl.


Notes
This was delicious. I was reminded that we need to do vegetable medley dinners more often. We get a lot of produce with our food box delivery and I hate seeing portions of it go to waste each week. My husband was a big fan of this meal.

Other ideas for combinations:
Quinoa, beets, sweet potato, spinach
Quinoa, kale, carrots, potatoes
Rice, kidney beans, onion, carrots, jalapeno, cilantro, avocado
Rice, white beans, cabbage, onion, thyme
Millet, chickpeas, carrots, chard, onion (inspired by Vegan Richa)
.
.
.
The possibilities are endless!

03 March 2013

Breakfast Board

I started eating what I call breakfast boards when I visited Svalbard, Norway for work a few years ago. At the hotels they had Pickled breakfast buffets - pickled fish, pickled onions, pickled pickles, brown cheese, soft-boiled eggs and I loved making myself a plate with everything I could eat.

The last time my husband and I visited Portland, we went to Broder and I was so happy to have something so similar to my Svalbard memory. Over Christmas, we went to Berlin, Germany and had breakfast at Cafe Marx where they had a delicious vegetarian breakfast board (if a bit salty, but all German food is too salty to me). It was time to make a breakfast board at home.



You can use a variety of vegetables/dips for your board, this is just what I had on hand today.
Ingredients
hummus
pear
avocado
sprouts
bell pepper
carrots
bread and butter pickles
toast points with homemade bread


Notes
I love being able to put together different food bites during my breakfast to get a variety of flavours and textures.

11 November 2012

Butternut squash sauce over pasta

Today I was planning on going up to school to get some work done. Instead, I finished watching Breaking Bad and I answered e-mails from my advisor. I did get a lot of work done and because I was at home, I had the luxury of cooking something tasty for lunch.

I had two butternut squashes in my cupboard from our produce delivery that needed to be used up. I found a recipe for Smokey Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese at Manifest Vegan when I was looking through recipes I had starred in my Google Reader.

Notes
I loved this. Instead of using the smoked paprika, I added 1 chipotle pepper in adobe sauce. I added some sriricha sauce because I wanted a bit more heat. I wanted a cheezier flavour, so I added about double the nutritional yeast called for, but it never got the flavour I wanted. I also use whole wheat rotini instead of gluten free pasta.

When my husband came home from his brewery tour, he finished off the rest of my portion and asked if I would boil him more pasta. I guess it is a winner.

09 November 2012

Butternut Squash Stacks

I have been playing around with more raw food recipes lately. I enjoy the freshness of raw food and I think SOME of the philosophy behind eating raw foods is compelling. Anyway, so I have been dabbling here and there with recipes. I tried to follow this raw food recipe from Callie England for these stacks, but I couldn't get the butternut squash soft enough to chew through. I ended up boiling the butternut squash for a few minutes in order to eat it.




Notes
These were super duper tasty! The cat came over to sniff them and ended up licking up some of the spinach filling. She is so weird.

I did boil the squash for a bit too long, so it became a tad mushy. Overall, pretty good.

08 November 2012

Beer brewing/pumpkin carving party food spread

My husband brews beer. Every few weeks he has his brew buddies over to brew a new batch. He has gotten very technical with all of it and now our basement is filled with two chest freezers with temperature controllers to have the beer brew and condition at the proper temperature as well as a lot of other peripheral brew equipment. The newest piece of equipment saw its debut a few weeks ago. We had a group of people (mostly physicists) over for beer brewing and pumpkin carving. The equipment is a plate chiller and is used to cool the boiling wort to yeast pitching temperature. Unfortunately, we didn't have the proper fittings to hook the hose onto the plate chiller, so they brainstormed and came up with a way to gravity feed the water from our second floor bedroom through the plate chiller to cool the beer. You can see pictures of this adventure at my friend, Robert's, blog. After all the shenanigans, I was glad I made a lot of food!


The entire spread


Dehydrated banana bread, from Practically Raw
It tastes just like banana bread, and only has a few ingrediants. Delicious!


Chocolate kale chips, also from Practically Raw
This is a pretty similar recipe, although I used raw cashews, maple syrup, cocoa powder, and no chia seeds or lemon juice. The massaging of the kale took the longest time. These taste like crispy bits of chocolate. You cannot taste the kale at all. The Practically Raw cookbook has an entire chapter on kale chips and another one on hummus. It is a fantastic book. I need to just buy it, I have been using the library copy for the past few months. The perk of being a graduate student, I get to check out books for as long as I desire.


Hummus, baba ganoush, pineapple, guacamole
All pretty standard recipes.


Homemade pita bread
I used a recipe from Whole Foods for the Whole Family and cooked them on a cast iron griddle in a 400 degree oven. I had the oven heating up to 500 degrees, but the smoke detector went off. Obviously, something was burning off the pan, but 400 degrees worked out fine. I got into quite a rhythm while I was making them. I divided them out into 12 balls. Rolled one ball out into a round with the rolling pin. Put it in the oven. Rolled out the next ball. Turned the first pita over. Put the second one in the oven. Roll out the next ball. Take the first pita out of the oven. Turn the second one over. Put the third one in the oven. I was so happy that these actually puffed up in the oven, it was great and amazing.



Notes
Everyone enjoyed the spread and we only had minimal leftovers. I would say the day was a hit!

The day after the beer brewing/pumpking carving, we were hit with the outskirts of Sandy. School was cancelled for Monday and Tuesday, but there wasn't a lot of damage in the area, thank goodness, and we never lost power. We did, however, see a pack of wild turkeys wander in our backyard during the worst of the wind and rain. They hung out for an hour and then moved onto whereever they were going.

07 November 2012

Chickpea "Omlette" pancake thing - pudla

I have now tried two recipes involving chickpea flour to mimic an omlette texture and I do have to say - it is really tasty. The first one I tried was based on a recipe from Vegan Richa. The second one I tried was from Kittee Kate. The recipes are slightly different, but both my husband and I enjoyed them throughly!



Notes
Would very very very much make again. I had to cook them for a while to make sure they were cooked through, but it was so so worth it. The perfect thing about these recipes is you can use them with practically any vegetables you need to use. Try one of the recipes today!

25 October 2012

Rice Noodles with Peanut Sauce

Today, I was working from home because we needed to take our kitty to the vet. Nothing major, but she is 20 years old and needs a check up every so often.

I'm almost convinced that this cat is going to live forever.


Taken with my Rolleiflex camera. I just needed to adjust the focus a biiiiit more.

Anyway, so both my husband and I were at home today, he is trying to get over sickness and I was trying to work in a quiet environment. I looked at the clock and realised that we hadn't had lunch yet and it was almost time to go to the vet. I looked through our fridge and decided on rice noodles with peanut sauce. I have been craving Thai food lately and none of the "Thai" restaurants around here are cutting it. While this isn't even remotely authentic, it fulfilled a bit of my noodle craving.

Ingredients
rice noodles
vegetables (I used onion, garlic, carrot, broccoli)

peanut butter
sriracha sauce
hoisin/oyster/black bean/other dark sauce to give a little umami taste
hot water, to blend

Method
Boil enough water to cover the rice noodles. When the water is boiling, add the noodles and cover for 5 - 8 minutes until almost done.

In a wok or frying pan, saute onion and garlic with olive oil until softened. Add carrots and broccoli (and whatever other vegetables you want, unless it is a green - spinach, kale, etc - add that at the very end) and any water to make it not stick to the bottom and to steam the vegetables a bit.

While the vegetables are cooking, make the peanut sauce. I used about 1/4 cup of chunky peanut butter with a few squirts of sriracha and a few drops of oyster sauce, and added enough hot water to make a thin, whiskable sauce.

When the noodles are almost done, add to the pan with the vegetables. Add the peanut sauce and stir until everything is coated. Cook everything together until the noodles and vegetables are the desired tenderness. Add water to prevent too much sticking.


Notes
Both of us thought this was good. I didn't think it was "good" food, but it was exactly what I wanted, so it was great and quick.

19 October 2012

Falafel and tzatziki sauce

Wednesday, I got home after my zumba class and I needed to eat. I was trying to decide if I should just heat up a can of soup or go with the original plan of making falafel. I decided that I would be much happier with falafel.

This is based on the recipe from Rabbit Food cookbook, which is a fabulous cookbook.

Ingredients
1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained
1/4 red onion, diced,
3 - 4 garlic, diced (I love a lot of garlic flavour)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup flour
lemon juice
cumin
cayenne pepper
black pepper
salt

plain coconut yogurt, this was a tad bit too sweet
1/4 cup diced cucumber
lemon juice

tomato slices
cucumber slices
pickles
lettuce
sriracha sauce

pita bread or tortillas

Method
Using a potato masher or food processor, mash up the chickpeas until there are no whole ones left. Usually I use the food processor, but I didn't want to dirty up the food processor bowl, so I used the potato masher and it works okay. Make sure that all the other ingredients are diced very very small. Add all the other ingredients and mix until evenly distributed. The mixture should be able to stick together when pressed.

Heat up a cast iron skillet over medium heat. You can also deep fry or bake the falafel, but I prefer to shallow fry them in a skillet. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, measure out a 1/4 cup and mash into about a 6 cm diameter patty. Place on the skillet and cook until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Continue making patties until the mixture is gone. I made about 8 patties.

To make the tzatziki sauce, mix together the yogurt, cucumber, and lemon juice. Set aside to let the flavours blend.

To serve, heat the bread or tortillas until warm and pliable. Place 2 patties in the center and add the tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, pickles, sriracha, and tzatziki.

Notes
These were surprising good. The recipe is so simple and came out really well. The patties didn't get hard the way they do when falafel is fried, and even though the fell apart a bit, they were still good. My husband had already had dinner, but he kept stealing bites because he liked it so much. We ate the leftovers for lunch on Thursday and they were still quite tasty.