Friday 24 February 2012

Crispy Fried Tofu in a Spicy Teriyaki Sauce

Crispy Fried Tofu in a Spicy Teriyaki Sauce

Served over a bed of steamed basmati rice

Crispy Fried Tofu in a Spicy Teriyaki Sauce

Oh my god. This was amazing!! If you have been following this blog for awhile you'll note this is quite similar to Yotam Ottenlenghi's Fiery Black Pepper Tofu I made a few years back. I always wanted to revisit this one as I loved the way the tofu was prepared (probably the only way I'll eat tofu that hasn't been marinated) and I really enjoyed the other flavours, it was just way too hot and didn't have enough sauce for my liking.

Back in England I always used to get this Japanese Tofu in Teriyaki Sauce from our local noodle bar, it was so good I would usually just order it and some steamed rice and nothing else. It was similarly fried silken tofu but in this delicious thick, sweet/salty soy based sauce with strips of spring onion. So I had a search online for some teriyaki sauces and settled on this one with a few changes. I wanted to keep this a spicy dish mind you, so I kept the chili in there but vastly reduced the pepper and used Szechuan peppercorns instead, although you can just use regular peppercorns. OR you could easily omit both the chili and peppercorns for a non spicy dish, this sauce has so much flavour it'll still taste fantastic without them.

Altogether this was perfect - that sauce is amazing, there's plenty of it and I found the spice level just right, a nice gentle burn but nothing that is overpowering. My only complaint is that I'm the only one in the house that likes tofu and I couldn't share it with anyone and it's too good not too!! So, I'm going to virtually share it with you all instead :-) Enjoy!

Crispy Fried Tofu in a Spicy Teriyaki Sauce

Crispy Fried Tofu in a Spicy Teriyaki Sauce - serves 1

100g Firm Silken Tofu
Cornstarch to dredge
Vegetable oil to fry
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
60ml or 1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp packed brown sugar, I used light muscovado
1 tsp light agave syrup
1 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp water
1 shallot, sliced thin
1 Bird's Eye Chili, deseeded and sliced thin
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
1 tsp finely chopped ginger
1/4 tsp whole Szechuan peppercorns
1 spring onion, halved and sliced thin lengthwise
50g or 1/4 cup dry weight rice of your choice, I used white basmati. 

Wrap the tofu up in some paper towels and then in a clean dish cloth and leave to absorb some of the excess liquid. Change the paper towels a few times to get out as much moisture as possible. 

Meanwhile get all your ingredients prepared: sliced shallots, spring onion, finely chopped ginger, garlic and chili. Mix together the soy sauce, water, agave syrup and add brown sugar, stir to dissolve the sugar. Unwrap the tofu and weigh out 100g and cube them whatever size you like but not too small and gently toss them in cornstarch (cornflour). Grind the peppercorns in a mortar and pestle or by smashing with a rolling pin under some cling film. Put the rice on to cook now.

In a wok add some vegetable oil, about an inch deep, I added 100g to my small wok and bring to high heat, it should just start to be smoking. Re-coat the tofu pieces in cornstarch (cornflour) as they will have likely absorbed the first amount. This will give you extra crispy tofu! Fry until crispy and golden on one side then flip and do the other. If you have cut the tofu more cubed shape do all 4 sides. Mine only needed the 2 large sides done.

Turn off the heat and remove the tofu onto paper towels to drain:

Remove the oil from the wok and remove any sediment with a bunch of paper towels, taking care as the pan will still be hot! Add a teaspoon of oil, whatever you like, I used peanut oil and return to the heat but keep it low. Add the shallots, ginger, garlic, ground peppercorns and chili and fry gently until nice and fragrant and the shallots start to soften, just a minute or two. Take care not to burn the garlic. Add the soy sauce mixture and simmer until the shallots are soft, just a minute or two. 

Dissolve the cornstarch in the water and stir this into the mixture. Keep stirring until it just gets thick, about a minute or less, then turn off the heat.  Add the tofu and spring onions then toss gently with a rubber spatula until the tofu is well coated in sauce and warmed and the spring onions just start to wilt. The residual heat will be enough to do this.

Your rice should be ready by now so drain well if boiling or just give it a fluff if steaming and spoon onto a plate or into a shallow bowl. Place the tofu on top and scrape all the sauce over top. Serve immediately!

Crispy Fried Tofu in a Spicy Teriyaki Sauce

2013 Edit - I made this variation for dinner for my husband who hates tofu (!) Same sauce recipe but instead of frying tofu I sautéed some asparagus, sugar snap peas and half a tin of drained chick peas in a little peanut oil. Tossed them into the thickened sauce and served over wholegrain basmati rice. A delicious variation!

Nutritional Information: 1 serving with rice portion stated.

Calories: 482
Protein: 12.8g
Fat: 17.7g
Sat Fat: 1g
Fibre: 1.2g
Carbs: 70.7g
Sugar: 16.9g
Sodium: 942mg

I've been enjoying this so much it's been my lunch 3 days in a row! Here are some photos I took of the second day - I'm experimenting with injecting more colour in my photos, what do you think? Does it work? Food photography is such on ongoing learning lesson for me :-) 

Crispy Fried Tofu in a Spicy Teriyaki Sauce

Crispy Fried Tofu in a Spicy Teriyaki Sauce

The third day I had this was the first time I didn't take any pictures and thus the first time I actually had it hot!! Wow, it's even better when fresh off the wok, the downside of food blogging - always eating new foods lukewarm :-)

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Monday 20 February 2012

Drunk Canadian Maple Baked Beans on Toasted Herbed Beer Bread

Maple and Beer Baked Beans

With beer! Not your breakfast or children's baked beans these :-)

Maple and Beer Baked Beans

Oh yeah....time to get my Canadian on! Baked beans are a funny one with me as I never liked them growing up and only developed a taste for them when I moved to England in 1998. I think it's actually a prerequisite to moving there, they won't let you in without declaring a love of baked beans :-) I don't know why I wasn't keen as a child, to be honest I'm not sure I ever had them! I should have liked them though because in Canada a common tinned baked bean flavour is maple. Yes, maple baked beans, with proper Canadian maple syrup. This I had to make, and was very pleased to find this recipe for maple baked beans but then I thought, how much MORE Canadian can I make these? And basically two things come to my mind when I think of food back home - maple syrup and beer. This was a no-brainer - chuck a bottle of beer into the maple sauce and I'm golden.

Well it turned out fantastic! I made a few changes to the process of cooking beans here, mostly adopting Heidi Swanson's tip in Super Natural Cooking of adding a bunch of veg and or herbs to the beans while they cook, and of course, I've added beer here as well. The end result is not like the baked beans you know - these are even sweeter - the maple flavour is quite pronounced here which is good I think - otherwise what's the point of adding it?? You do want to actually taste maple and I think the beer not only added great flavour but most likely cut through the sweetness a bit as well. Of course if sweet savoury things are not your thing you could always cut back on the maple syrup.....but then again if sweet/savoury isn't your thing you wouldn't be making maple beans would you?? Oh and I am calling them baked beans here as that is what these are based on, even though no baking is involved at all!

Herbed Beer Bread

As I was making homemade "baked" beans it seemed rather wasteful to then put them on top of store bought slice bread. I have to thank my husband here who said, "Don't you make a beer bread that's really good?" Perfect. Beer bread for the maple beer beans - a match made in Canadian heaven :-) I've had this recipe for beer bread for years! I'm guessing I started using it around 1991, where I got it from I have no idea but it was the first bread recipe I would make before learning how to use yeast. Basically the beer works as it already has yeast in it and makes a light, airy bread with a beautiful golden crust. I haven't made it for so long as I always opt for yeast risen recipes now but I will be making this regularly now - I forgot how amazing this bread is, great flavour and texture for a quick bread and it goes so well with the sweet maple beer beans. 

A few recipe notes: You will need a day to make these as using dried beans are essential here, I'm generally a canned bean kinda girl but not here as you want to cook the beans in the beer and sauce and tinned will turn to mush. For the ketchup I always use Heinz 'reduced salt and sugar' - not sure it would have made a huge difference though. Little moosey here approved!!

Drunk Canadian Maple Baked Beans

225g or 1 1/4 cups dried haricot beans (also called navy beans)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp barbeque sauce
2 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp smoked sea salt (regular is fine too)
1 x 330ml can or bottle of lager, Moosehead for an Authentic Canadian version (it's vegan!)
1 medium onion, quartered
1 carrot, roughly chopped 
1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
1 stem of fresh thyme
2 large cloves garlic, peeled

The night before wash the beans then soak in a large bowl of cold water and leave overnight. The next morning drain and rinse the beans well then place in a large saucepan and fill with fresh cold water. Bring to the boil then boil the beans rapidly for 10 minutes with the lid off. Add the chopped veg and thyme, bring back to boil then cover and simmer for 50 minutes, giving the beans 1 hour cooking time in total. Stir now and again.

While the beans are simmering add all the sauce ingredients except the beer to a bowl and whisk well.

Check that the beans are tender now, if not give them a little longer, when just tender drain and remove the veg. Don't worry about removing small bits of onion or the little thyme leaves that have fallen off, they add nice flavour to the beans, just remove the large pieces of veg, thyme stalk and garlic cloves.

Place the beans back in the pot and pour over the sauce and the beer. Stir well and bring to the boil. Boil without a lid until it just starts to reduce and thicken up then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until further reduced and thickened to how you like it, mine took 20 minutes from when I added the sauce. I prefer my beans not very 'saucy' and reduced it quite a bit, you may like to leave it earlier. You can use them now or transfer to a bowl and let cool, cover and refrigerate - they reheat really easy either on a stovetop or in the microwave.

Herbed Beer Bread:

300g (2 3/4C) plain flour
2 Tbsp white sugar
2 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried herbs of your choice - I used mixed herbs and actually 1 1/2 tsp as I like it herby!
1 x 330ml can or bottle of lager of your choice

Grease a 1.5 ltr loaf pan and line the bottom with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 375F / 180C. Whisk everything but the beer in a large bowl. Pour in the beer then stir and fold in with a rubber spatula until fully mixed. It will be very thick! Scrape this mixture into the loaf pan and even off the top. Pop into the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until risen and golden brown on top and a toothpick comes out clean. Optional - I like to now brush vegan butter all over the top, it just adds a lovely flavour.  Leave it in the tin for 5 minutes then remove onto a wire rack to fully cool.

This bread is so good fresh from the oven like this but for the beans I preferred it the next day so I could toast it and slather it with vegan butter.

And of course, while I have focused thus far on just the beans and bread they both go exceptionally well as part of a larger fry up. The sweet maple beans contrasting perfectly with some lightly salted flat mushrooms and spicy vegan sausages, I've used Fry's Braai Country Herb Flavour here and I hope you'll all forgive me for being out of hash browns ;-) Tomatoes purposely left out....I never 'got' that!

Maple and Beer Baked Beans

Recipe source: Maple Baked Beans based on this one from Taste of Home.

Nutritional Information:

Maple Beer Baked Beans: per 100g
Calories: 187
Protein: 6.9g
Fat: 0.5g
Sat Fat: 0
Fibre: 7.3g
Carbs: 35.1g
Sugar: 15.2g (yup, told you they were sweeter!)
Sodium: 226mg

Herbed Beer Bread: per 100g
Calories: 203
Protein: 4.9g
Fat: 0.4g
Sat Fat: 0.1
Fibre: 1.2g
Carbs: 41g
Sugar: 3.8g
Sodium: 687mg

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Friday 17 February 2012

Healthy Banana and Orange Dark Chocolate Chunk Muffins

Healthy Banana and Orange Dark Chocolate Chunk Muffins

Wholegrain and no added fat OR sugar! Good God, what's happening to me??

Healthy Banana and Orange Dark Chocolate Chunk Muffins

I thought these would make a good post Valentine's Day recipe - when you still might be craving sweets but want something a little healthier and not as guilty ;-) You'll recall at the start of the year I said I was going to try and reduce the amount of white sugar/white flour in my baking. It has mostly been going well but I suppose I've always been hesitant to make such things because I imagine this is what people generally think of when they think of vegan baking, that it's all going to be whole grains with no fat or sugar....or flavour. Hence this blog has mostly been about attempting to shatter that image with desserts and baked goods *hopefully* undetectable from their decadent, sugar laden omni friends ;-)

But, we can all do with cutting back on white flour and sugar and these are a delicious option on that front, and while I'm certainly not against healthy fats at all, these just happen to have no added fat as well. Please note I have said added here, of course there is sugar and fat in the chocolate and a tiny bit of sugar in the soy yogurt BUT that's it, and surprisingly these are sweet enough as they are, have a great texture and to prove they pass the sweet test - my boy loves them, and this is a boy who won't touch brown bread and loves sweet things.

You may have noticed these have not appeared on my daily food diary, not that I haven't made and eaten them - I've actually made these 3 times already! They were made before I even started the food diary, sometimes I cook and bake so much I end up with a backlog!! ;-)

Healthy Banana & Orange Dark Chocolate Chunk Muffins - makes 12

225g wholemeal (wholewheat) flour - 1 1/2 cups
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
300 - 350g very ripe bananas, about 2 very large ones
130g plain soy yogurt - 1/2 cup
1 tsp vanilla
80ml freshly squeezed orange juice - 1/3 cup (generally the juice from 1 large navel orange)
zest of 1/2 a navel orange
100g dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F. Line or grease a muffin tray, I lightly greased silicon muffin cases and place them in the muffin tin to hold them in place.

Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Add the banana, yogurt, vanilla, fresh orange juice and zest into a blender and blend until thick and really smooth. Note - if you don't feel like making muffins at this stage this mixture makes a delicious smoothie!

Pour this mixture into the flour mixture and whisk gently until it just comes together, do not over-mix! Fold in the chopped chocolate.

Spoon the batter in to the muffin cases - you can fill them right up here, these don't get much bigger. Pop in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until slightly risen, golden and firm to touch - check with a toothpick too. Leave in the tin for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to fully cool, I left mine in their silicon cases at this stage. 

While you can certainly have these warm I personally prefer them when they have not only cooled but when the chocolate has hardened again. Lovely with a cup of coffee for breakfast!

Nutritional Information: based on 1 muffin

Calories: 142
Fat: 3.5g
Sat Fat: 1.8g
Fibre: 3.7g
Carbs: 25.4g
Sugar: 8.4g
Protein: 3.8g
Sodium: 159mg

Gotta love a muffin that has more fibre than fat! In comparison here are the stats for my regular banana chocolate muffins: 

Calories: 207
Fat: 6.6g
Sat Fat: 2g
Fibre: 1.6g
Carbs: 35.2g
Sugar: 17g
Protein: 2.3g
Sodium: 139mg

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Tuesday 14 February 2012

Valentine's Day Meal 2012

Vegan Ravioli

Homemade ravioli filled with Basil Almond Feta in a Creamy Tomato Sauce and homemade Garlic bread

Vegan Ravioli

All washed down with chilled Champagne - sublime!.....and for dessert?

Vegan Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky Toffee Pudding and Sauce with Vegan Vanilla Ice Cream

Vegan Sticky Toffee Pudding

No complaints here!

A few shots of the table earlier in the day

Our kitchen and dining area is still not finished - those are borrowed chairs! Still no paint or blinds either, thankfully it's private here!

It was an amazing meal, absolutely delicious and honestly better than anything vegan we would get in Cork :-) All recipe components are on the blog here except the sticky toffee pudding, I'll post relevant links and step by step photos of the ravioli later, right now I've got Champagne to finish!

 Happy Valentine's Day to you All!!! 

Thursday 9 February 2012

Cheezy Garlic Drop Biscuits

Vegan Cheezy Garlic Biscuits

Or the blog post where I fall in love with Nutritional Yeast!

So, I've added hints of red and hearts to this post as apparently there is some holiday coming up in February that requires me to do so ;-) Not that there is anything particularly romantic about cheezy garlic biscuits but you will fall in love with these!

It's funny sometimes how a recipe develops. I have always loved biscuits, and I am using the American term here, think of a lighter, flakier scone. I already have my basic biscuit recipe, which I love, and I have posted a cheeze and onion version using Cheezly which I also love. Then a friend on facebook posted a recipe to these "Cheddar Bay Biscuits" that you get at Red Lobster chain of restaurants in North America. They looked amazing and as I already love biscuits looked into them further. Turns out they are mega popular with everyone trying to recreate them. Who knew? I've never even been to a Red Lobster!

They are, from what I could see, simply a light and flaky garlic biscuit with a lot of grated cheddar baked in. Of course you could just replace the grated cheddar with your favourite vegan melty cheese: cheezly melty cheddar or daiya but I've been trying to avoid those lately and as a result have been falling in love with nutritional yeast. The other day I made Chloe Coscarelli's Vegan Goldfish Crackers:

Vegan Goldfish Crackers

Not only are they insanley cute but they tasted so much like the original cheesy goldfish crackers and they get their cheesy flavour from nutritional yeast. My son used to love those and could not tell the difference! As I was so impressed with those I decided to try her Mac and Cheeze, also a nutritional yeast based one:

Vegan Mac and Cheese

I have tried many vegan nutritional yeast based mac and cheezes and to be honest I have really liked them all but I think this one is now my favourite.

I then whipped up these Baked Cheeze and Onion Tortilla Chips one evening for a snack, they are crisp, salty and cheezy - the holy trinity of snack foods? Yes. 

Vegan Cheese and Onion Tortilla Chips

So, now that I have established that I really love Nutritional Yeast as a cheezy type flavouring I set about veganizing these cheddar bay biscuits with it. In the end these turned out amazing! They are a combination of my basic biscuit recipe with flavour inspiration from Chloe's Goldfish Crackers and this one for the garlic parsley butter that is brushed on after they are baked. Heavenly.

Vegan Cheezy Garlic Biscuits

Cheezy Garlic Drop Biscuits - makes about 18 depending on size.

350g plain flour - 2 1/2 cups
20g nutritional yeast flakes - 1/3 cup
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
50g vegan butter - 1/4 cup
50g cold vegetable fat (shortening) - 1/4 cup
350ml cold unsweetened soy milk - 1 1/2 cups
2 Tbsp vegan butter, melted
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder
pinch of salt

Line a baking sheet with baking paper and preheat the oven to 200C/400F. 

Measure the flour and baking powder in a large bowl and mix well. Grind the nutritional yeast in a mortar and pestle so that it is fine and no longer flakes. You can easily do this by hand as well. Mix with the ground flakes the salt, turmeric, garlic powder and onion powder. Set aside.

Add the butter and shortening to the flour and cut in with a pastry cutter (preferable) or with 2 knives or with your hands until you have a crumbly mixture. As the shortening is a lot harder than the butter there should be larger crumbs of it left and the butter as it's softer should look somewhat flaky in there. I prefer to do this part by hand with a pastry cutter as opposed to a food processor as you have more control over how small the crumbs get. You don't want them too fine as it's this that will make the biscuits light and fluffy.

Now stir in the nutritional yeast and seasonings and mix well. Stir in the cold soy milk until well blended - do not over mix. 

Using a tablespoon scoop up some of the mixture and drop onto the baking sheet. It's easiest to use 2 tablespoons here, one to scoop and the other to push it off onto the pan.

Pop into the preheated oven and bake for about 12 - 15 minutes, mine took 12. Rotate the pan halfway through if need be. They should be lightly golden brown and you can do a toothpick test - if it comes out clean with only dry crumbs attached they are done.

Now melt the butter for the glaze and stir in the parsley, garlic powder and a tiny pinch of salt. Mix well and brush this generously over the hot biscuits:

Vegan Cheezy Garlic Biscuits

Repeat until they are all done then EAT! These are best warm and you don't need to add any more butter, I just wanted to get my little heart shaped butter dish in the photos ;-)

They are lovely just on their own, with a warming bowl of soup or as a side to any dinner :-)

Nutritional Information: based on 1 biscuit out of 18

Calories: 127
Fat: 5.5g
Sat Fat: 1.7g
Fibre: 0.8g
Protein: 3.1g
Carbs: 15.8g
Sugar: 0.2g
Sodium: 254mg