Monthly Archives

November 2010

mains, recipes

Baked Tofu

My favourite way to eat tofu (aside from deep-fried puffs…come on, who doesn’t love those?) is baked. The texture becomes more dense and sturdy, which means you could use baked tofu as a sandwich “meat”, chop it up for stir-fries and rice bowls, eat a couple slices in the morning with toast, or straight-up from the fridge, cold and delicious.

A nice perk of baked tofu is that no oil is required – I use a glass Pyrex baking dish, which tofu doesn’t stick to. I haven’t baked tofu on aluminum baking sheets, so I’m not too sure if you would need any oil or parchment paper for those.
Update Nov 19/2010: Apparently tofu likes to glue itself to aluminum baking sheets, so do be warned about using them! Thanks for the tip, Kat!

It also happens to be really easy, and unless I’m feeling motivated, the marinade is as simple as straight-up soy sauce. I really enjoy tofu (I know, stereotypical vegan) so I often don’t feel the need to dress it up much beyond this, and usually only do so if I’m featuring tofu as a stand-alone dish of some kind.
Baked Tofu
1 block firm or extra firm tofu
2-3 tbsp soy sauce (I use low-sodium Kikkoman)
Step 1: Press the tofu. All this means is sandwiching it between two paper towels with something heavy on top, so that excess moisture is “pressed” from the tofu. What this does is makes the tofu more absorbent, so it sucks up flavour better. I generally press tofu 30 min – 1 hr, sometimes more, or sometimes (often, actually) not at all.
Step 2: Grab a rectangular glass Pyrex baking dish and put in the soy sauce. It should be enough to just coat the entire bottom of the dish. I don’t use a lot of marinade here, just enough for the tofu to absorb. Slice the tofu however you like – I sliced it into 12 strips, and set them in the pyrex dish.
Step 3: Marinate on one side for half an hour, and then the other side for half an hour. I’ve been known to marinate for 15 minutes on each side and the tofu still tastes good, just not quite as strong. You could marinate it longer, if you like, which would give the tofu even more flavour.
Step 4: Bake at 400 F for 45 minutes, flipping the pieces over halfway. For real, though, I usually throw it in the oven and then forget about it while I cook everything else. I’ve even forgot it in the stove for over an hour without turning them, and they turned out fine. Seriously, it’s very difficult to screw this up.
Step 5: Enjoy!
recipes, smoothies and juice

Green Dragon Juice

So this post will be a quickie, and dedicated to my love of juice. Earlier this year, I bought one of these puppies:

It’s a really excellent juicer and there are so many things I love about it – it’s fast, it’s easy to clean (takes me less than 5 minutes to clean up), and works well with fruit AND vegetables. It’s really just a solid pro of a machine, and worth every pretty penny I paid for it.
Now I understand that most people don’t have a juicer sitting in their kitchen but I wanted to share this anyway. And if you have a juicer or purchase one in the future, remember this simple recipe! 🙂 It’s an idea we took from a really sweet vegan restaurant in Winnipeg, MB called ‘Mondragon’. There are three ingredients, and it’s hella tasty.
A note on juice: I don’t ever measure out quantities, instead opting to do the old-fashioned taste-test method. Fresh fruit and vegetables inevitably vary in strength and tastiness, so while one day you might have very potent, bitter kale, the next day you might be using milder kale. But here’s the gist of what I do:
Green Dragon Juice
Makes 1 large or 2 small servings
1/2 head kale, washed and torn into pieces, stem included
2 granny smith apples, cored and chopped
1 knob of ginger, about half the size of your thumb, peeled
Run everything through your juicer – I alternate apple with greens just so the juicer doesn’t get clogged. Then, enjoy!
Toodles MoFos!
bowls, recipes

Bibimbap (Korean Rice Bowl)!

Bibimbap! Bibimbap! Is there a word more fun to say? Aside from hootenanny, of course.

Basically, Bibimbap is composed of rice, topped with, well, pretty much whatever the hell you want, but often cooked spinach, carrot, mushrooms, meat (or if you’re cool, tofu), cucumber, zucchini…anything you want. The most awesome part, however, is that none of the toppings are served plain – each one is like a little mini-salad with a few basic flavorings, which is what makes this rice dish so awesome. That, and the gochujang, a Korean hot sauce – it really makes the entire dish, and I don’t feel it would be bibimbap without it. Not that I’m a bibimbap connoisseur or anything, but still, it totally makes it. We have a little Korean store here and that’s where I found it, and I haven’t seen it around anywhere else, but some Asian grocers probably have it.
After looking at recipes for bibimbap for 15 minutes and collecting ideas, I said, “screw it, I’m just gonna wing this.” That’s the kind of meal it is. And aside from the fact that there are many individually prepared toppings, each one took me maybe 5 minutes (or less), so it’s pretty fast to whip together. The thing that took the longest was baking the tofu, but if you already have tofu prepared, or some sort of vegan beef concoction, then you’re golden.

A note on bibimbap: it’s usually served with a fried egg on top, but it tastes really awesome without eggs – probably even better.

Bibimbap

Ingredients:
-enough rice for 4 people (I used jasmine this time, but I usually use brown rice)

A) Gochujang sauce recipe – I used this one
B) Stir-fried zucchini
C) Baked tofu
D) Steamed spinach
E) Toasted sesame seeds
F) Shredded carrot
G) Mung bean sprouts
A) Make as directed. Since I don’t have a mortar and pestle, I pulsed the sesame seeds a few times in my coffee grinder.
B) Stir-fried zucchini
Thinly slice 1 medium zucchini (I used a mandolin), mince some garlic (I used 3 cloves) and stir-fry in a little oil until the zucchini softens, about five minutes. After it was done cooking, I added a bit of mirin to give the zucchini more flavor but use whatever you’d like! Do what’cha want!
C) Baked tofu
Start this first, since you can leave it in the oven while you do the other stuff. I cubed a block of tofu and marinated it in a shallow dish with about 2 tbsp soy sauce for 15 minutes – enough soy sauce to cover it all, but leaving little to no excess liquid. Crank the oven to 375 degrees F and leave it in there for a while, about half an hour, stirring the pieces halfway through so they brown evenly.
D) Steamed spinach
Wash 1 bunch of spinach, and steam until wilted, 2-3 minutes. Squeeze out excess moisture and season with soy sauce and mirin to taste.
E) Toasted sesame seeds
Throw some white sesame seeds (about 2 tablespoons – see Susan V’s recipe) onto a dry baking sheet and bake until they’re nice and golden, stirring a couple times. This took me less than 10 minutes. Set aside – you’ll use some as garnish, and some will go in the gochujang sauce.
F) grate 2 medium carrots, and put in a bowl with a drizzle of sesame oil.
G) boil 1 bag of mung bean sprouts (a lot, probably 4 cups worth) for a couple of minutes and then put in a colander to drain. After it’s cooled a little, add a little toasted sesame oil and salt.
There you go! Now grab your rice, and assemble like so:

Voila! Bibimbap! If you’re a spice wimp (like me), be careful about loading on too much sauce. A little goes a long way, as it is really spicy!

See you guys on Monday for another week of MoFo’ing!

dessert, recipes

Light Coffee “Jell-O” Dessert

This was one of those recipes that seemed so strange to me that I just had to try it. The first time I made it was a couple of months ago, and I couldn’t for the life of me find the original blog I found it on, so I tried to recall it to the best of my memory.

It’s incredibly easy and just a wee bit of patience while it sets in the fridge – here’s the equation:
Coffee + agar agar + sweetener = coffee “jell-o”.
It’s a strange but magical equation. If you serve it up in a small bowl or decorative glass with your non-dairy beverage of choice, it’s wonderful. I’ve even been known to throw in some chocolate chips. It’s sort of like a latte, a latte wearing a different outfit, so you could dress it up however you want – cinnamon, chocolate shavings or vegan whipped “cream” would all be pretty fancy sitting on top of this. It’s also a light, low-calorie dessert if you’re into that.
Now since I don’t drink coffee – I quit the stuff back in January – I use Teeccino instead, which I really like (especially the hazelnut kind…mmm!) and is similar to coffee. Considering the original recipe used real coffee, I’m quite confident that this recipe will still work if you choose to be caffeinated.
A note about agar agar: You should be able to find it at most health food stores. My city is small and not hip with the times, so if I can find it, you probably can, too.
Light Coffee “Jell-O” Dessert
2 cups strong-brewed coffee (or Teeccino)
2 tsp agar agar powder
1 tbsp agave nectar (or other sweetener, to taste)
non-dairy milk (for serving)
Brew up your coffee. Once brewed, pour it in a small saucepan on high heat. Add the agar agar and sweetener, stirring frequently until the mixture boils and the agar agar dissolves. Once it boils, take if off the heat and pour it into an 8×8 dish, or other similar-sized dish:
Steamy!
Let it hang out in the fridge until it’s cooled and set, about 1 or 2 hours. I don’t bother covering it while it’s cooling. You’ll know it’s ready to go when it can do this:
The Criminal Kid? Who’s that? 🙂
Once it’s set, cut it into cubes, put some in an attractive serving dish or glass, add some non-dairy milk (i use about 1/2 c) and enjoy! If you like things really sweet, you can add some more sweetener on top, but I prefer it the way it is.
Note: The texture agar agar creates is a different experience from Jell-O – a little firmer, and it dissolves in your mouth more quickly. Honestly, though, it’s been a while since I’ve eaten Jell-O so I don’t even really remember.

The first time I took a bite of this dessert, I wasn’t sure what to think. The unique texture, with the flavour of coffee…it was like those root beer milkshakes (I know, gross, but a part of my teenage past) where you just had to keep drinking it because it was so darn unusual. And then by the end of it, you wish you had more. And then it turns out you love it after all.

Happy MoFoing, all! See you tomorrow 🙂

appetizers, recipes

Naan, naan, glorious naan!

Before I begin this post, I wanted to express a pet peeve of mine. You know how you read things that are all, “a vegan diet can be healthy, but severely restricting your food intake can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies”? It annoys the crap out of me. Such works almost always include the obligatory “vegans must be careful to ensure sufficient protein”. Jeez Louise, what do these people think we eat? Iceburg lettuce with a side of an apple?

And then I wonder, if people are so concerned about us vegans being deprived, why don’t they consider the nutrients one might be deprived of on the Standard American Diet? Why aren’t there warnings like, “the SAD can lead to deficiencies in iron, folate, magnesium and B-vitamins”? All of this crap will just perpetuate the notion that vegan diets are really tough (as in, you need to be a person of incredible willpower to do it), heavily restricted and possibly dangerous (?!).
And what’s this “protein-deficient, severely restrictive” stuff I hear so often? Why no mention of the dangers of excess protein? I don’t know about you guys, but my protein intake is always higher than the RDA, and the RDA is generous. Protein is incredibly easy to come by. And I think the ‘severely restrictive’ bit is just someone having a hard time imagining a plate of food minus a hunk of animal. As the 700-some blogs participating in Vegan MoFo this year could attest, I don’t think we’re too restricted. 🙂
On to naan!
I avoided making naan bread for far too long. I don’t know what I was afraid of – they’re hella easy to make! Whip up some dough, let it rise, roll it out, and cook it real hot right under your stove’s heat source! Look at how poofy and beautiful these guys got!

Oh naan, so lovely. So delicious.

The trick, it seems, is to cook the naan on a hot pizza stone, right under the element. They cook really fast (2-3 minutes) and you can do two at a time. Seriously, there’s no reason not to go and make these. The recipe and method I followed is here and the only subs I made were vegan yogurt for the dairy kind, and non-dairy margarine instead of ghee.


Mmm, Indian feast – Dal, basmati rice, aloo matar, and naan

Logan and I absolutely adored the naan, especially warm from the oven. Big win today!

In other news, my left hand is about to fall off from all the MoFoing and NaNoWriMoing, so you won’t see me again until Monday. Unless something really exciting happens. I’m off to enjoy the 18 degree celsius weather – where on earth did this come from? No winter jacket? HELLZ YEAH!

Peace!