Broccoli & Tofu Lo-Mein

23 06 2012

Well, my life almost changed drastically the other week. I found a job on Craigslist that I was totally under-qualified for, but thought would be right up my alley. I applied and was basically hired on the spot. Cut to me sweating as a sous chef for a new restaurant in a resort town on opening night. Me apartment-hunting in a part of the country I have always dreamed of living. Culminate in me declining the job and returning to my parents house in the town I grew up in.

Sometimes almost taking that giant life leap is just enough to make you have an epiphone on who you are and where you see yourself. Covered in flour, in my new chef jacket, I realized that I don’t want to be a pizza cook for the rest of my life. Even a glorified one.

So I’m taking a step back, back into my own kitchen, to focus on my recipes, my brewing, and my writing. Here’s hoping that from these things, I can salvage some sort of financially-stable career. Or at least help me into my own house because I really want a cat. All roads lead to cat.

Here’s one of my “I work all the damn time so have no time to grocery shop”-recipes. This lo-mein sauce is now my go-to stir-fry sauce; so easy and quick to make, with stuff that you almost certaintly have hanging around the kitchen. It’s savory, with the perfect level of heat, and drenches the noodles without becoming too absorbed.

Broccoli Lo Mein
Adapted from 365 Easy Vegetarian Recipes

8 oz. of whatever noodle you like (soba, rice noodles, whole wheat spaghetti, whatever)
1 tb. canola oil, divided
1 lb. broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces
1 lb. firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cut into 1-inch. pieces
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsps. fresh gingerroot, minced
1 recipe of Lo Mein Sauce (see below)

Prepare noodles according to package directions. Drain and keep warm.

Heat 1 1/2 tsps. oil in a large, heavy pan over high heat. Add broccoli and tofu. Stir-fry about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and ginger and stir-fry 1 minute. Transfer to plate and keep warm. Add remaining oil to pan and heat. Add cooked noodles and stir-fry about 2 minutes or until thoroughly hot. Toss noodles with Lo Mein Sauce.

Lo Mein Sauce

1/4 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tsps. rice wine vinegar
2 tsps. sesame oil
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. sugar

Combine ingredients in an airtight container. Shake.





Chocolate Tofu Cheesecake

1 05 2012

I wish I had more time to make treats like this. I would bake a new treat every day. But alas, my cooking time is usually dedicated to making din and lunches for work. And alas, I am not a baker. I get so damned jealous of bloggers who post pictures of stacked cookies, moist and decadent bars, over-the-top cakes; all that dessert porn stuff. I just can’t do it.

Anything involving making a dough or a batter gives me terrible anxiety. It’s way too much pressure to know that I can completely ruin a dish by doing something like say..over-mixing. Don’t even get me started on pancakes. I have literally broken down and cried while making pancakes.

Fortunately, there were only a few tears shed while making this vegan chocolate cheesecake. I did it and I did it well. It’s smooth and creamy, rich and chocolatey with a great added nuttiness from the almond extract. My attempts at baked goods usually grow stale on the counter. This one was gone in a day. That’s gotta say something.

Chocolate Tofu Cheesecake
Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Dummies

Filling:
1 1/4 lbs. firm tofu
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 oz. (3 squares) semi-sweet baking chocolate
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
Pinch of salt

Crust:
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 tb. sugar
1/3 cup margarine

Place the tofu in a clean sink, cover it with waxed paper and a heavy weight (I like to use a full tea kettle), and let it drain for 20 minutes. While the tofu drains, make the crust.

For the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a medium bowl. Melt the margarine in a saucepan over low heat, and then add it to the crumb mixture. Stir until blended, and then press the crumbs into the bottom and sides of an 8-inch nonstick springform pan. Set aside. (Or you can use a ready-made 9-inch graham cracker crust, which holds the same amount as the springform pan)

In a food processor, blend the drained tofu, 1/4-pound at a time, with 1 cup of the sugar, adding 1/4 cup sugar with each addition of tofu. Process until the ingredients are well-blended.

Pour the tofu-sugar mixture into a bowl. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a double boiler or saucepan, melt the chocolate. While the chocolate is melting, place the graham cracker crust in the oven and cook for about 8 minutes; then remove, set aside and let cool.

After the chocolate has melted, add it to the tofu mixture. Stir in the vanilla, almond extract, salt, and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Blend well.

Pour the mixture into the graham cracker crust and bake for about 40 minutes. When the cake is done, it will be slightly risen on the edges with small cracks on the surface. The middle will not have risen, but it will be springy to the touch and will have a dry, firm appearance. Chill the cheesecake for at least 2 hours after baking.





Mushroom Dill Frittata & Curry Roasted Potatoes (Oh, and Bloody Marys)

19 12 2011

Like most people, or at least like most people I would want to associate with, I am addicted to brunch. This probably stems from the fact that I will sleep until around noon/later than noon, if given the chance. So when you wake up as the sun is getting ready to start its descent, sometimes your screwed up internal clock doesn’t know whether it wants breakfast or lunch. How about BOTH, SUCKAS.

Ahem.

So for Sunday’s 2:00 food blowout, I opened one of my favorite cookbooks, Vegan Brunch, and played around with some of Isa’s recipes. The frittata is very flavorful, with bright dill and juicy mushies. What I love most about frittatas is that they taste just as good cold or reheated the next day as they do coming right out of the oven.

And these roasted potatoes are just the perfect breakfast potato recipe. Since they’re baked, they don’t get all oily or mushy, and still retain a crisp bite. Cumin is also a great partner with potatoes. Try sprinkling on a little nutritional yeast for some cheesy potato goodness.

And now..dun da dun, the star of the show and love of my life…thebloodymary.

This is one of the best Bloody Mary’s I’ve ever tasted and is now my official go-to recipe. I have to give kudos to White On Rice Couple for creating this sriracha-spiced mouth bliss. I think it’s about time for another one.

Mushroom Dill Frittata
Adapted from Vegan Brunch

1 tb. olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 oz. mushrooms, thinly sliced (your choice. I’d go for an earthier selection such as cremini, shiitake or bellas)
1 package extra-firm tofu
1 tb. soy sauce
1 tsp. mustard
1/4 tsp. turmeric
Several dashes of fresh black pepper
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/3 cup loosely packed fresh dill, chopped
1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Saute the garlic for about 30 seconds, then add the mushrooms and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes.

Squeeze out the tofu to remove any excess water. Crumble and squeeze it into a large mixing bowl, until it has the consistency of ricotta. Mash really well! Add the soy sauce, mustard, turmeric, black pepper, yeast, salt and dill to the tofu and mix well. When the mushies are ready, add then to the mixture. Taste for seasonings.

Lightly grease an 8-inch pie pan and firmly press the frittata mixture into it. Bake for 20 minutes, until it is firm and lightly browned on the top. Let cool for about 3 minutes, then invert onto a plate and serve.

Curry Roasted Potatoes

2 1/2 lbs. potatoes
2 tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tb. curry powder
1/2 tsp. cumin

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray or lightly grease with olive oil.

Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise and then into about 3/4-inch pieces. Place on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Use yr hands to coat all of the potatoes in oil, then sprinkle them with salt, curry powder and cumin. Toss to coat.

Bake potatoes in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove and use a spatula to flip them. Return the potatoes to the oven and roast for another 10-15 minutes, or until they’re lightly browned and tender on the inside.





Tofu Reuben

22 11 2011

Layers of warm tofu, tons of sauerkraut, Russian dressing and swiss cheese, nestled between toasty pumpernickel bread… gah. I would have stacked this sandwich to the ceiling if I had the means.

I didn’t use a marinade with the tofu. Though I wonder how it would taste marinated in some type of corn beef brine. Oh well, didn’t have the time or patience for the stuff tonight. I just sliced the tofu thin and fried it in oil with salt and pepper.

You can use any vegetarian sandwich stuffer when making a reuben; tofu, tempeh, seitan, I don’t care. And even though you’re using a meat substitute, don’t you dare try to make this a healthy sandwich. It is not/should not be one. Slather it in dressing, rub butter all over them breads, melt cheese over the whole thing, vegan or not, either way, make it decadent. Perfection, thy name is reuben.

Tofu Reuben
Adapted from Vegan Planet

2 tbs. soy or regular mayonnaise
1 tb. ketchup
1 tb. sweet pickle relish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbs. olive oil
4 slices bread (Rye is the standard, though I love me some pumpernickel)
1 package tofu, drained and sliced thin
1/2 cup sauerkraut, drained and warmed (You can use a microwave, but I think the best method is heating it up on a skillet with some oil, salt, pepper and caraway seeds)
Swiss cheese/vegan cheese/whatever cheese

In a small bowl, combine the mayo, ketchup and relish. Season with salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Set aside.

Brush a small amount of the olive oil on one side of each slice of bread. Place the bread oiled side down on a flat surface and spread the mayo mixture on the other side of each slice.

Layer the tofu, sauerkraut and cheese on 2 of the bread slices and top with the remaining 2 bread slices, oiled side up.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place the sandwiches in the skillet and cook, turning once, until toasty on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from the skillet, cut in half, and serve hot with a pickle!





Spinach “Ricotta” Balls

17 11 2010

I’m really tired. Like uugghhhh reaaalllly tired. Went for a short hike this weekend in Boylston and picked a couple of ticks off my body piece afterwards. Maybe I have lyme disease. Does that make one tired? I am tired. I made these vegan spinach bawlz. They are good. I’m sorry but I must retire now. 

UPDATE: Hello! Feeling much better now. Well, slightly. Think I managed to pick up a UTI during my adventures this weekend. If anyone has any natural remedies for this that ACTUALLY WORK, I would be interested to hear them. So a little bit about my balls. They are super savory and moist. My dad discovered them in the fridge and couldn’t get over how rich they tasted. Like something he shouldn’t be eating. They are rich, but in a good way. They’re vegan and baked instead of fried. Try making them to go in a sandwich, or they also taste really good on their own with some ketchup.
Here is a nice photo of my boymanfriend Ryan. He is now of the internet.

Spinach “Ricotta” Balls
Adapted from The Uncheese Cookbook

1 package spinach (fresh baby spinach or frozen chopped spinach both work)
2/3 cup Vegan Parmesan (recipe below)

1 package firm tofu, drained & mashed
3/4 cup vegan mayo
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsps. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion granules
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground dill seed
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Steam the spinach. Drain and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350.

To make the “ricotta” mixture, combine the tofu, mayo, cornmeal, flour, garlic, onion granules, salt, dill seed, and black pepper in a bowl and mix until it becomes thick. Add the spinach and the “Parmesan” and mix well. Form into balls using 2 tbs. mixture for each ball. Place on an oiled baking sheet and bake 40 minutes. If needed, broil for 5 minutes just to brown the tops.

Vegan Parmesan

1 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup almonds, blanched and dried (to blanch almonds, place them in enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Drain, then rinse under cold water. Pinch skins between fingers and they should slip off easily)
1/2 tsp. salt

Grind these 3 ingredients up in a food processer. Store in a tightly sealed container in the fridge.

 





Tofu Cutlets

25 10 2010


These should have been blogged about last week, but I’ve been out in Worcester for a couple days visiting my maaan. Ryan just published an interview in Worcester Magazine with a local band Herra Terra, so we went out to Ralph’s Diner to check out their record-release show on Saturday. Striking electronic rock + a couple shots of whiskey =  a solid time. Visit my Flickr page for show photos. Also this weekend, an outrageously good breakfast at Lou Roc’s in Worcester. Fast & friendly service, manageable prices, huge portions. Broccoli Cheddar Homefries and a Weekend Breakfast Specials list that I couldn’t even begin to wrap my mind around (pumpkin french toast drooool). If you’re obsessed with finding quaint little breakfast joints as I am, check this place out. Ok on to tofu cutlets.

I’m sure that most of you have your own favorite recipe for some kind of baked or fried tofu. Here is mine. It has great flavor on its own, but the flavors are universal enough that you can take this tofu and really do anything with it. It gets a great texture from being frozen for 2 days. It’s worth the wait. Propsies to My Vegan Mom for inspiring my tofu lunch the other day. Ok get this, she fried an avocado. Like.. make vegan fish tacos, with a fried avocado. I fucking love her. Check it out. So with that in mind, I made a similar style taco, just with my fried tofu, cabbage, hot sauce, and vegan tartar sauce. Nom.

And then later that night, getting home late from work, not really thinking about cooking, re-heated a baked potato, made some gravy, and just poured that over the tofu. And right now I might need to refer you to an earlier post. This gravy. I’ll let you in on one of my lesser than sexy moments. Left the gravy on the stove to cool down before I put it away. Went and had about 2 beers, went back into the kitchen, took a finger taste of the gravy, and realized, I need more. Took a spoon and stood in my kitchen, around 12 am on a Thursday, eating gravy. It’s that good. Go make it. Put it on everything.

Tofu Cutlets
Adapted from The Chicago Diner Cookbook

1 lb. tofu, cut into 6-7 pieces

Marinade:
5 tbs. canola oil
1 1/2 cups water
1 tb. nutritional yeast
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tb. dried parsley
2 tsps. garlic powder
2 tsps. onion powder

Dry Mix:
1 cup cornmeal (or crushed Cheerios or breadcrumbs.. whatever you have)
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. pepper

Wrap the slices of tofu in plastic wrap and then in tin foil. Freeze for at least 48 hours. To thaw, remove the plastic & foil. Place in a bowl and cover with hot water until ice dissolves. While it’s defrosting, whip up the marinade by mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl or shallow pan. Remove the tofu slices from the water and squeeze them together with the palms of your hands. They should look spongy. Add to the marinade and let sit for 30 minutes.

Mix the dry ingredients in a dish. Remove the tofu from the marinade, press out most of the liquid and coat with the dry mix. Heat some oil in a skillet and pan-fry the slices until crispy.