Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Udon Noodles with Sesame Crusted Tofu

An actual recipe tonight! Our local Sobey's just started carrying udon noodles so I thought I would whip up a quick noodle dish. We all thought it was pretty good and the sesame seeds were a nice touch. If you are against the frying of the tofu, you could just toast the sesame seeds and add them to the dish along with the sauces. The rice vinegar caught my eye in the cupboard whilst I was assembling some ingredients and I am glad it did. I really need to use it more because it adds a nice brightness to the dish without being overpowering.

- udon noodles (I used 3 175g pkgs (i.e. those small packages you seen in Asian grocery stores))
- 1 pkg tofu, cubed
- 1/3 cup sesame seeds
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- oil for frying
- 1 small red pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 small orange pepper, thinly sliced
- 1" piece of ginger, minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced

1. Cook noodles according to the directions on the package.
2. Place tofu in a bowl and add sesame seeds. Toss until most of the seeds are stuck on the tofu (you don't need full coverage here). Add cornstarch and gently toss until tofu is coated. If you still have some seeds in the bottom of the bowl, dump the tofu out on a cookie sheet and roll the cubes in the excess seeds.
3. Fry tofu in some oil over medium heat until nicely golden. Turn regularly to brown all sides. You don't need a lot of oil here. Start with a relatively thin layer and add more as needed. Remove tofu from pan/wok and drain.
4. Add peppers, ginger and garlic to the pan (there should be just a bit of oil left) and stir fry for 3-4 mins, until softened and fragrant. Add noodles to the pan/wok and fry for a min.
5. Add vinegar, soy sauce, and hoisin sauce and mix well. Add tofu and mix well. Cook until sauce thickens/soaks into the noodles. Adjust flavours/wetness to your liking by adding more of any of the three ingredients.
6. Remove from heat. Garnish with green onions. Serve.

There is still time to win a copy of The Vegan Dad Cookbook! In one day a staggering 340 people have correctly identified the mystery utensil and been entered into the draw. One measly cookbook seems so small in light of all those entrants. Maybe I should offer copies of the e-book as well . . . .

AND . . .
Have I mentioned the shad flies before? Every year at this time shad flies descend on our fair city. They rely on fresh water for their reproductive cycle, and because we live by a big lake we have learned to coexist. When we woke up this morning they were coating the house. It's pretty crazy to walk downtown and see thousands and thousands of shad flies covering just about everything. They are very docile and don't munch on the greenery, and kids love playing with them (did I mention they were docile?).

Monday, June 29, 2009

Vegan Dad Cookbook Contest!

Since I have not been posting many recipes lately I thought I would spice things up with a contest. Yes, you can win your very own copy of The Vegan Dad Cookbook! All you need to do is tell me what kitchen utensil is pictured above. Here is the deal:

1. Email your answer to the address listed in the bottom right column of this blog.
2. Correct answers will be entered into a draw to win one physical copy of The Vegan Dad Cookbook. A winner will be chosen via a random number generator.
3. Only one submission per email address, please.
4. Contest is open from June 29, 2009 to July 6, 2009, 10:00 am EST.
5. Contest open to residents of Canada and the continental U.S.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sourdough Bread

At long last I have made a successful sourdough bread! After repeated failures (and I do mean repeated), the wild yeast gods have finally smiled upon my kitchen. My guess is that the weather is now much more favourable to make a sourdough starter. My previous attempts had been in the winter when the average temperature in my kitchen was about 18 degrees Celsius and the outside temperature was so ridiculously low that absolutely nothing could survive. The past week, however, has been hot and sunny and hovering around 30 degrees. The end result: sourdough bread!

I followed the recipe in The Bread Baker's Apprentice and will once again admonish all home bakers to get a copy of this book. I also took the advice on Peter Reinhart's baking blog to use pineapple juice for the first two days of the seed culture (read the full post to find out why). Here is my seed culture. The tape indicates the initial amount in the measuring cup, and you can see how much it grew. After dishing off some extra starter on a fellow home baking enthusiast, I proceeded to make a basic sourdough loaf and a New York Deli Rye. My one mistake was leaving the dough too wet, which is why the loaves spread out more than I would have liked, but I was happy with the results of this first try. The sourdough has a nice flavour, not too strong, and the rye loaf (an onion rye) is absolutely divine. I made reubens tonight, of course.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Malaysian Sweet and Sour Tofu

Here is the other dish I made with the clay pot tofu (a lot of tofu, I know). I rooted around online looking at some recipes, and they all were pretty much the same. I adapted the recipe here. The tofu is fried with a cornstarch coating, but you can opt out of this step and just coat the tofu in the sauce. I never use Ener-G egg replacer, but it caught my eye at the bulk food store the other day. I thought it made a nice light and crispy batter.

- 1 pkg tofu, cubed
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp cooking sherry
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger

- Ener-G egg replacer for 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp salt
- oil for frying

- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp ketchup
- 1 tomato, cut into wedges
- thinly sliced red pepper
- thinly sliced cucumber

1. Mix together marinade ingredients and toss tofu in marinade until coated.
2. Mix together batter ingredients and toss tofu in batter until coated. Fry in 350 degree oil unitl golden on all sides. Drain.
3. Mix water and cornstarch together and pour into a saucepan. Add sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, ketchup and tomato, and bring to bubbling. Add tofu and mix to coat.
4. Garnish with red pepper and cucumber (I didn't have any on hand as you can see) and serve with rice.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Malaysian Clay Pot Tofu

Sorry to say that all the great food people brought over after Vegan Daughter's birth has finally run out. That meant back to the kitchen for me. The weather here has taken a jump up into the high twenties, so that got me thinking about food from more tropical climes. You can bake this in the oven, or, if it is too hot to even think about using the oven, on the BBQ. There is not much spicing here, so the key is a fully flavoured veggie broth and a strong soy sauce.

- 1 pkg tofu (firm or extra firm)
- oil
- 1/2 tsp tumeric
- 1/4 cup grated coconut
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 lemon grass stalk, outer husk and end removed, finely chopped
- 1" chunk of ginger, minced
- 1 green chile, seeded and minced
- 1 -2 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce, or mushroom soy sauce
- 1 can coconut milk, divided into fatty part and thin/watery part
- 1 1/4 cup vegetable stock
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- chopped fresh cilantro
- salt, if needed

Preheat oven or BBQ to 400 degrees
1. Fry tofu in a bit of oil over medium heat until nicely golden on all sides. Sprinkle tumeric over tofu and mix well. Add a few splashes of veggie broth to help evenly coat the tofu, then remove from heat. Remove tofu from pan and wipe pan dry.
2. Add coconut to the pan and dry fry for a few mins until it begins to turn golden. Add onion, garlic, lemon grass, ginger and chile with a splash of oil and fry for 4-5 mins, until softened.
3. Add oyster sauce with the thin part of the coconut milk and mix well. Add veggie stock, lime juice, sugar, and vinegar and mix well.
4. Pour mixture into a clay baker and add tofu. Cover and bake for 40 mins, stirring after 25 mins. Add in coconut fat and mix well. Bake for 10 more mins.
5. Remove from oven, stir in diced tomatoes. Adjust seasoning if needed. Garnish with cilantro and serve over rice.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Happy Father's Day

First off, a big Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there, especially the vegan dads (whether they cook or not). Here's hoping someone is making you a wonderful brunch. If you are interested, Meatout Mondays featured me for Father's Day. You can check it out here. I will warn you, though, they posted my picture. So, if you think of Vegan Dad as some graying and wise older man (something like you own father, perhaps), then prepare to be disappointed.
Sorry, no recipe tonight. With so many people bringing food by I have not had to cook since we got home from the hospital. Some of the dishes have been off my blog, but most have been new and I hope to post them here in the future (the Senegalese Peanut Soup was amazing!). The black bean chili and cornbread pictured here was made by someone who followed my blog and then later found out we lived in the same city and our kids were in the same class. Crazy, right? I like to feel like I contributed to her vegan cooking prowess ("when you can snatch this beansprot from my hand, it will be time for you to go.")

Back soon with recipes. In the meantime, enjoy your families, dads!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Meat: That Stuff Will Kill You

The U.S. National Cancer Institute recently released the largest study ever done on meat consumption. The findings? Those who ate 125 grams of red (beef and pork) and processed meat a day had a 30% greater chance of dying of heart disease and cancer than those who ate 20 grams a day. The study found that potentially carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds are formed in the gut when heme iron from red meat and gut bacteria trigger meat protein to combine with nitrites.

I read about the study in the recent issue of Nutrition Action. The coverage was interesting. According to Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health, "if you go from eating meat twice a day to once a week, you can eliminate most of the risk." Most of the risk? Why not eliminate all the risk? Isn't this like recommending smoking one cigarette a day to reduce the risk of cancer? Nutrition Action gets in on the game, too. Even though grilling meat increases your risk of cancer, the editors offer a list of tips for "good grilling" to minimize the risk. And, while they condemn red meat for its environmental impact (55% of the erosion, 37% of pesticides applied, 50% of antibiotics consumed, 32% of nitrogen and 33% of the phosphorous load into the water supply in the U.S.), they let fish and poultry off the hook.

It's time for health advocates to promote veganism and quit this ridiculous charade of minimizing the risk of meat.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009

On Tempeh Meatballs

First off, let me thank all of those who offered their congratulations on the birth of Vegan Daughter. Vegan Mom is recovering well (or as well as can be expected) but we both feel like we will never sleep again. I have not been doing any cooking at all since our friends and neighbours have been bringing over meals. I can't say enough about how great that is! But, now that Vegan Sons 1-3 are in bed and Vegan Daughter is snoozing away in her bassinet, I thought I would try to squeak in a quick post.

Back in October of 2008 I posted on Italian Tempeh Meatballs, and more recently I posted a recipe for Maple Garlic Tempeh Balls. Not everyone enjoys tempeh, and tempeh balls can be a bit tricky since they need to have the right taste and texture, and not fall apart in the sauce. After a few readers posted about that very problem, I decided to experiment a bit. Here are my thoughts.

1. You can remove some of the "special taste" from tempeh by boiling it for 10 mins before putting it into a recipe. However, I find that it makes the tempeh rather watery and keeps the balls from remaining cohesive. I would suggest just using the tempeh straight up. Or, if you must boil, use more gluten (see 3).
2. You can season and spice the heck out of these. Don't be afraid to go crazy.
3. How much vital wheat gluten is too much? The gluten really is essential here (sorry to the wheat intolerant), and I have used anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 cup, along with 1/3 to 1/2 cup of instant oatmeal to help bind thing together. While I like the texture of the 1/3 cup, 1/2 cup makes for a very durable ball.
4. Go easy on the liquids. I have the best result when I have a firm yet malleable mixture that I can bring together with wet hands to form the perfect ball.
5. Make sure the balls are well sauteed and have a nice golden brown outside. Most of the cooking is done in this step, so don't skimp out. A well-cooked ball is less likely to fall apart later. See how nice these look?
6. Your sauce must be relatively thick. Too thin a sauce and it will penetrate the ball and result in disaster. In this pic we see a quick and easy sauce: 1 can chopped tomatoes, 1 jar spaghetti sauce, and 1 can tomato paste.
7. If the ball is well-cooked, and the sauce thick enough, you can simmer the balls in the sauce. This completes the cooking and adds flavour.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Introducing Vegan Daughter

Just a wee post tonight to introduce Vegan Daughter. Sometimes I am sorry I keep things more or less anonymous on this blog because I would love to post a picture of something other than her feet. She is a real cutie (and that's not just dad bias! Ha ha!). Vegan Mom is doing well, but recovering from a C-section takes time. I am able to bring food to her so I have been making batches of veggie broth, vegan Jell-O, and chocolate and tapioca pudding for her to enjoy. And, our neighbours have been dropping off vegan meals for the the kids and my in-laws back at the house. How great are they?!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tofu "Egg" Slices

When I posted the above pic of a Tofu English Muffin Sandwich with my review of rice vegan cheese, Brandie asked/begged that I share how I made the "egg-like" tofu slice. The answer is simple. I slice the tofu, fry for a few mins on each side in a bit of oil and then remove from the pan. I then add to the pan the rest of the ingredients from Vegan Mom's Scrambled Tofu (at least doubling the creamer), and whisk into a sauce. I add the tofu back and cook for about 5-7 mins, turning regularly to coat and adding extra creamer if it gets too dry. Once the sauce nicely coats the tofu you are done.

I am also eyeing the tofu omelet recipe in Vegan Brunch and think that would work well too.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Memphis BBQ Tofu

The quest to redefine BBQ continues! When I posted my ultimate BBQ tofu recipe, Justin suggested that I also try using a dry rub a la southern BBQ. Tonight I took him up on the offer and I am glad I did. This tofu is absolutely bursting with flavour and was enjoyed by young and old. I will leave it to Justin and my friend John P. to school me in the ways of Memphis BBQ and tell me if I got it right.

Dry Rub
- 4 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp seasoned salt
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- cayenne pepper to taste

BBQ Sauce
- 1 recipe sweet and sticky BBQ sauce, replacing the water with 1/4 apple cider vinegar and 1/4 cup Jack Daniels (I also strained the onions out before BBQing)

- 1 pkg extra firm tofu, cut in 8 slices

1. Combine ingredients for dry rub (it will make about 2x more than you need, so store the rest for next time). Rub all sides of the tofu with about half of the mixture and let sit for at least 30 mins.
2. Heat half of the grill to high heat. Oil the grill and grill tofu for a few mins per side to get some nice grill marks and to make the outside golden and crispy.
3. Move tofu to the other side of the grill (i.e. the one that is off) and spoon thick layer of BBQ sauce over top. Close the top and cook for 5 mins. Flip tofu over and repeat. You can serve it now, or you can sauce it again.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Creamy Soft Polenta

This is a hearty side to accompany whatever Italian entree you might be serving. I made a seitan marsala and a simple salad and this polenta was a great addition to the meal. Play around with the herbs to suit your entree, and be sure not to overcook it into a dense lump.

Serve 4-6 as a side
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 large cloves garlic, chopped
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup polenta
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp dried herbs (sage, thyme, basil, whatever suits you)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup coconut cream (top of the can of an unshaken can of coconut milk), or soy creamer

1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute garlic for a few mins, until lightly golden.
2 Add vegetable broth and increase heat to hi. Bring water to boiling then add polenta slowly, stirring all the time. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for 15-20 mins, stirring regularly so it does not stick. It should be like thick porridge.
3. Season to taste with herbs and salt and pepper.
4. Remove from heat and stir in coconut cream. Serve.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Food for Thought

The above chart makes me think twice about my notion that buying organic is somehow sticking it to the man or undermining the system.

You should also check out this report on the soy industry.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Dessert Pizza with Rum Glazed Grilled Pineapple

The pizza really isn't the focus here--it is merely a vehicle for the pineapple. The pineapple recipe is from the latest Food and Drink magazine and it is quite spectacular (I think). And the pizza really isn't that bad, either.

Grilled Pineapple
- 1/2 pineapple, peeled, cored, and sliced crosswise into 6 pieces
- 2 tbsp margarine
- 2 tbsp rum
- 1 tbsp packed brown sugar

- 1 pizza crust
- strawberry jam
- sliced banana
- vegan chocolate chips

1. Place pineapple slices in a shallow dish. Heat together glaze ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat until margarine is melted. Pour over over pineapple and turn to coat. Let set (turning every so often) while you heat the grill to medium.
2. Grill for 6 to 8 mins, turning and basting, until golden and glazed. Cut into pieces and let cool.
3. Heat a pizza stone in a 450 degree oven.
4. Spread a thin layer of strawberry jam over the pizza crust (too much and it will bubble all over the place and make a real mess. Top with toppings.
5. Bake for 10-12 mins, or until crust is done and chocolate chips have started to melt.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Vegan Dad on the TVA Podcast

Although I cringe every time I hear my voice on tape (it reminds me of the Far Side joke showing a bunch of nerds playing with a voice recorder and wondering if their voices really sound that funny), I am providing the link to my recent podcast interview with the Toronto Vegetarian Association. It is podcast 143, and I am on in the final half. Many thanks to Lisa for a great interview.