Tag Archives: tofu

Finally! Fresh Food Fast: Marinated Sesame Tofu Steaks, Soba Noodles, Greens and best of all Pea Shoots

I signed-out Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast from the local library a few weeks ago and have since ordered my own copy.

It took me awhile to get use to the layout of the cookbook and at first I was less than impressed  – even though I made this fantastic Spicy Coconut Sweet Potato Soup out of it.  It is a seasonal cookbook, divided into spring, summer, winter and fall.  The recipes are paired, giving you a tasty meal with two easy to prepare dishes.  Each paired recipe gives you a shopping list, pantry list, and plan of attack so you can complete the meal in as little time as possible.

This was the part that turned me off.

I felt that the shopping list and procedure for preparing the meal outside of the recipe was overkill and to be frank a waste of paper.  However, the recipes, with full on Berley style, are fantastic, easy, and full of pizzazz and creativity.  It is the recipes, the most important part of any cookbook, that compelled me to change my mind, get over the parts of the layout I didn’t like, and pick up a copy for myself.

This tofu dish was much more than a simple stir fry.  The tofu, noodles, and bok choy are all cooked up separately, giving you a noodle bowl-type meal instead of just a stir fry and since the greens are quickly cooked in the same pot as the noodles, the dishes are kept to a minimum.

The glazed tofu was delicious with just a hint of sweetness from the honey (EPC swore it was maple syrup), but the piece de resistance was the accompaniment to this spring meal whose recipe Berley included.  The pea shoot salad was served atop the other ingredients to lend a tender fresh taste.

Pea shoots were a first for EPC and I and we both loved them.  They taste exactly the same as snap peas, but are much more tender and, being pea shoots, they are much “cuter” as well.  Peter Berley included sunflower sprouts in his salad, but I choose to leave them out and go for some straight pea shoot goodness.

I should also mention that I the pea shoots were a much appreciated spring-like presence in my last Organic Box.

Marinated Sesame Tofu Steaks, Soba Noodles, and Greens

1 pound of firm tofu, cut into 12 slices
6 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon of crushed red chile flakes
2 tablespoons oil

enough noodles for 4 people
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 pound baby bok choy, rinsed and trimmed – pre-washed spinach works too and makes it extra fast!

2 cups of  pea shoots
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil

  • Bring water to boil in a large pot
  • Blot the sliced tofu on paper towel to remove excess water
  • Mix 6 tablespoons soy sauce with the vinegar, honey and red chiles in a small bowl and whisk to combine
  • Heat a large skillet (I use my 12-inch cast iron) and add the oil.  Let it warm up and then add the tofu slices in one layer.  Fry the tofu for 5 minutes until the bottom is browned
  • Flip the tofu and top with the soy sauce mixture and cook until the sauce has thickened – about 5 minutes
  • When the water boils add the soba noodles and cook according to the package directions.
  • When the noodles are cooked, drain and rinse.  Transfer to a large bowl and add the tablespoon of soy sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds and toss to coat.
  • In the same pot, with enough water to cover the bottom, add the bok choy and steam for about 2 minutes.
  • In a small bowl mix the lemon juice and oil with a dash of salt.  Add the pea shoots and toss to mix.
  • Serve the noodles topped with greens and tofu with a sizeable garnish of pea shoots.
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Nigella’s Sexy Sesame Peanut Noodles

I am not sure how sexy these noodles are, but they are quick and they are easy. Two important things when you would rather be outside enjoying the sunny day than spending a lot of time in the kitchen.

After getting the week’s grocery shopping finished this morning, EPC and I ventured down to Whyte Ave to take in the Annual Art Walk and enjoy a perfect summer afternoon. In my books that means less than 25°C, with a cool breeze, and few clouds to give you a shady break now and again.

We will be heading out to the Toronto area next week and since they have been stuck in a heat wave for the last three weeks (with no end in sight) I figure we should enjoy the comfortable Edmonton weather while we can.

I adapted tonight’s recipe from Nigella Lawson’s Good Food Fast.  Although this cookbook does not feature a lot of vegetarian entrees, it does feature quite a few fast desserts and, as cookbooks go, is an enjoyable read.  As a result, I don’t think that I would recommend it as a must have cookbook for vegetarians, but my omnivore friend who  has a copy of this book uses it quite frequently for quick week night meals.  Nigella also includes a great recipe for making quick individual pizzas on store-bought naan bread, which EPC and I whip up quick frequently for a quick lunch during the winter months.

This meal is even quicker and easier if you use ready-cooked egg noodles, but I prefer to cook up some brown rice noodles instead.  With regard to the vegetables, use your imagination and add what ever tickles your fancy and suits your mood. Tonight we decided on snow peas, red pepper, and spring onions.

Sesame Peanut Noodles

1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of soy sauce (for gluten-free, substitute wheat-free tamari)
1 teaspoon of sambal oelek
1/4 cup of smooth peanut butter (I use all natural)
2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice

2 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 block of firm tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes

1 cup of snow peas, ends trimmed and halved
1 red pepper, finely sliced
3 spring onions, finely sliced

1 375 gram of brown rice noodles, cooked, drained and tossed with a few drops of sesame oil to prevent sticking (or 500 grams pre-cooked egg noodles)

2 teaspoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons of cilantro, finely diced

  • Saute tofu cubes in oil until brown on at least 2 sides
  • While tofu is browning, whisk together sesame oil, olive oil, soy sauce, sambal oelek, peanut butter and lime juice.  You may need to add a bit of water if the sauce if too thick.  Taste and adjust seasonings.
  • Add the cooked noodles (or pre-cooked noodles) and toss with the sauce.
  • Add the vegetables and toss.
  • Add the tofu cubes and toss.
  • Top with cilantro and sesame seeds

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Want to impress someone? Try Pineapple-Glazed Tofu with Spicy Cucumber Salad.

This has become one of my favourite meals.

It is a wonderful summertime dish.  Cool and refreshing with a little zing!

I picked up Jack Bishop’s A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen from the local library 3 weeks ago and haven’t really had a chance to explore it as much as I would have liked.  It is due in a couple of days and of course there is a hold on it.

Sigh.

We have been so busy over the last couple of weeks that we have been cooking old standbys.  You know how it goes, too strapped for time and energy to try anything new.

Anyway, this was the perfect meal to get me back in the saddle!  (I guess the Calgary Stampede is influencing my choice of words).  No matter.  I can do no wrong after this meal – bad pun or not.

It took over an hour to prepare, because Bishop recommends that you salt, press and drain the sliced and peeled cucumbers for one hour.  Cucumbers are quite watery, so it seemed like the right thing to do.  And what do you know, I had to wipe cucumber juice off the counter a couple of times. I didn’t have any plain rice vinegar, so I substituted sushi vinegar and left out the sugar (sushi vinegar is sweet enough as it is).  It worked just fine.

One more thing.  It may seem like the glaze will never boil down, but then, voila,  you are left with perfectly browned and glazed tofu.

Just wait until you taste it!

Pineapple-Glazed  Tofu with Spicy Cucumber Salad

1 1/2 to 2 long english cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, and seeded.
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt (I didn’t have any, so I used pickling salt)
1/2 cup rice vinegar (you can use sushi vinegar and leave out the sugar)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
1 small fresh hot red Thai chili
1 heaping tablespoon of cilantro, finely chopped

1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 pound of firm tofu, cut in half and then each half sliced into four slabs and then pressed and blotted dry
2/3 cup of pineapple juice
1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
1/4 cup of salted peanuts, finely chopped

Enough brown rice noodles to make you both happy, cooked, rinsed, and tossed with a few drops of oil to prevent sticking.

First the salad:

  • Toss the cucumbers and salt in a colander and apply two sandwich size Ziploc bag full of water to the top to help draining.  Set aside for 1 hour.
  • While the cucumbers are draining, bring the vinegar and sugar to boil over medium heat.  Stir to dissolve the sugar and cook until reduced to 1/4 cup.  This takes about 5 minutes or so.
  • Pour the dressing straight from the stove into a large bowl and add the onion and chili.
  • When the cucumber has finished draining, rinse off the salt and blot dry with paper towels.  Add to the bowl and top with cilantro.
  • Stir well to mix.

Now the tofu:

  • Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet (I used my cast iron pan).
  • Add the tofu in a single layer and cook until golden brown – about 7 minutes.  Turn the tofu and cook about 5 minutes.
  • Add the pineapple juice, lime juice and a dash of salt.
  • Cook, turning the tofu once until the liquid has evaporated.  This takes about 5 minutes.
  • Spoon enough brown rice noodles for one person on a plate, top with cucumber salad, tofu and garnish with peanuts.
  • We found the dish served two of us, with enough for seconds.

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Vegetarian BBQ!

Summer finally arrived in Edmonton this past weekend.

Temperatures were below seasonal for the first two weeks of June, but now that summer is just around the corner the temperature seems to have righted itself.

In celebration of the warm weather we decided to have our first BBQ of the year.  I know, I know, June 13th is a little late, but I am always slow on seasonal transitions.  This year I found myself saying it is still cool enough to use the oven or make risotto, so I better take advantage of it while I can.  Stupid really, since it looks like summer will only last 3 months at best. I should have been taking advantage of the fact that there wasn’t any snow and started BBQing a few weeks ago.

This may or may not come as a surprise, but I have actually been asked what the point is of having a BBQ when I won’t be cooking up a thick juicy steak.  Well, for starters nothing beats BBQed vegetables.

I recommend getting a stainless steel vegetable basket.  It is the perfect way to  cook up your favourite vegetables and much easier than trying to prevent them from falling through the grate.   I chopped up a red onion, yellow pepper, some baby zucchini, threw in a few whole cloves of garlic and drizzled some olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top.  Although they were wonderful, I must admit they were a little undercooked.  The onions could have stood to be grilled for a few more minutes.  Next time I will leave them on for about 20 minutes.

I also parboiled some baby potatoes, drizzled them olive oil and some salt and pepper and wrapped them up in foil before I threw them on the grill.  EPC loved them.  They were tender and slightly charred. Delicious!

To top it all off I marinated a block of firm tofu with a really fantastic marinade from the Rebar cookbook and grilled that too.

I will share the recipe with you, because you can never have enough marinade recipes.  To make the inevitable transition to winter a little easier this marinade works great with a stir fry too!

Basil-Soy Marinade

1 or 2 blocks of firm tofu (1 block serves two to three)
1/4 cup soy sauce, sodium reduced
2/3 cup of water
2 tablespoons of lime juice
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sambal oelek
2 teaspoon sugar
a few turns of the pepper mill
8 leaves of basil, roughly chopped

  • Slice the tofu into 3 thin rectangles. Cut each rectangle in half so you have six thin squares.
  • Combine at the ingredients, except the basil, into a small pot.
  • Simmer over medium low heat for 5 minutes.
  • Throw in the basil and pour over the tofu.
  • Marinade for 2-8 hours
  • Reserve the sauce and use to baste the tofu or as a stir-fry sauce.

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Quick and tasty weeknight meal – Thai Curry with Vegetables and Tofu

Did you ever think you could enjoy a Thai curry on a weeknight without having to go to a restaurant?

Perhaps it seems to exotic to fall into the quick and easy category?

Well, exotic or not, this Thai Curry is quick and tasty enough to spruce up your weeknight dinner repertoire.

I came across a version of this recipe in Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Suppers, but after taking a look at the recipe I realized that it was basically the same as the one on the side of my jar of Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste.

Thats right. I took this recipe straight of the side of the jar of curry paste – with the appropriate vegetarian modifications, of course. You certainly do not have to limit yourself to the red curry, as the green curry paste is equally good. In addition, feel free to experiment with the vegetables: half a can of baby corn, some broccoli or cauliflower would work equally well.  I also think a bit of spinach would be a tasty addition.

Aside from slicing a carrot and a couple of shallots, chopping and seeding a roma tomato, cubing a package of firm tofu, and tearing some basil leaves, the meal came together with frozen green beans, frozen peas, and a can of coconut milk. To cut down on time I decided to forgo the brown rice and use brown rice noodles instead. They cook quite a bit quicker and offer a pleasant change of pace.

Thai Curry with Vegetables and Tofu

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 -14 ounce can light coconut milk
1-2 tablespoons Thai Kitchen red curry paste (this is quite spicy, so adjust for personal taste!)
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons soya sauce
1 block firm tofu, cubed
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 roma tomato, seeded and chopped
2 medium carrots (cut into thirds and thinly sliced lengthwise)
1 cup of frozen green beans
1/4 cup of frozen green peas
10 basil leaves, shredded

  • Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet add tofu cubes and cook until golden.  You will need to turn the tofu half-way through cooking.
  • Remove the tofu from the pan and set aside.  In the same pan gently fry the scallions for 3 minutes and then add the curry paste, stirring until fragrant.
  • Add the coconut milk, soy sauce and sugar and stir to mix well
  • Add the carrots, tomato, green beans,peas and simmer until tender (about 10 minutes)
  • Add the tofu and basil and cook until heated through
  • Add water if sauce is too thick.

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Thai Noodles from our favourite Toronto restaurant!

Tonight’s dinner: delicious!

Even though making the sauce for this meal requires a bit of work, it was absolutely worth the effort. So please do not be put off by the list of ingredients and the required food processor!  This dish has the type of tangy flavourful sauce that keeps many of us going back to Thai restaurants.  Although this recipe is by no means authentic, it is so good and so reminiscent of authentic that no one will even care, or notice that is isn’t.

Another nice thing about this recipe is that it is easy to make gluten-free.  It already has brown rice noodles, so all you have to do is substitute the soya sauce for wheat-free tamari.  If you do feel like cutting corners, I don’t think anyone would notice if you skipped out on marinating the tofu.

Once you get around to making Thai Noodles, you will find out why Fresh is our favorite restaurant in Toronto.  We have both cookbooks from this restaurant, Fresh at Home and reFresh, and, in case you are interested, you can get them both from Chapter’s or Amazon, so you do not have worry about making a special trip to Toronto.  However,  if you are in the neighborhood I recommend that you stop by (they have three locations).  We have plans to go to Toronto this summer and are quite excited to eat there at least once every day that we are in town.

EPC is a big fan of eating Fresh’s rice/noodle bowls, but does find them too involved to enjoy cooking them, so that is where I come in.

Even though the weather was fantastic this weekend, I felt like staying in all day Sunday, parked on the couch reading a novel and being lazy.  I will confess I always feel a bit guilty when I do not make it outside on the weekend for a walk, but since I had taken in the 124th Street Gallery Walk on Saturday afternoon I decided to advantage of my desire to stay in and do some cooking.  If my laziness got me in the bad books with my husband, tonight’s dinner would get me out.

An afternoon in was a perfect opportunity for me to marinade tofu, simmer the sauce and quickly put together reFresh’s Thai Noodles between chapters.

Marinated tofu, thin shavings of carrots, tender spinach, a succulent sauce, garnished with fresh cilantro, bean sprouts, peanuts and cucumber, all on top of a bed of brown rice noodles…

How can you resist?

Thai Noodles

1 375 g package of brown rice spaghetti noodles
6 cups of spinach
1 block of firm tofu, marinated (recipe below)
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
1 large carrot, peeled into strips (use vegetable peeler)
Thai noodle sauce (recipe below)
2 cups bean sprouts, reserve a handful for garnish
1/2 cup cilantro
1/4 cup roasted peanuts
4 inches of cucumber, sliced into strips

  • Cook the noodles according to package directions, drain, and put back in the pot with a bit of the Thai Noodle Sauce to prevent sticking (don’t worry about keeping them warm)
  • Put the tofu, spinach, tomato, carrot and Thai Noodle Sauce in a wok.  Bring to a boil and then simmer until the greens are tender.  Add the bean sprouts and stir
  • Divide the noodles up among four bowls (or two bowls and two lunch containers) and top with the vegetable and tofu mix.
  • Garnish with fresh cucumber, cilantro, bean sprouts and peanuts

Marinated Tofu

1 block of firm tofu, cubed
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup low-sodium soya sauce or wheat-free tamari
2 tablespoons filtered water
1 tablespoon sunflower oil

  • Mix the vinegar, soya sauce, water and oil in a shallow dish.
  • Add the tofu cubes and marinate for 1 hour in the fridge

Thai Noodle Sauce

3 inch piece of ginger root, peeled and chopped
12 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons sesame oil
2/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 1/3 cup grated unsweetened coconut
2 tablespoons chili powder
2/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup low-sodium soya sauce or wheat-free tamari
5 cups of carrot juice
1-2 teaspoons sea salt
4 teaspoons paprika
1 stalk lemongrass, peel off outer layer and cut off top of stalk and crush

  • In food processor, puree the ginger and garlic
  • In a large saucepan heat the sesame oil over medium-low heat.  Add the ginger and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes
  • Grind the sunflower seeds in the food processor and add to the saucepan
  • Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes
  • Remove the stalk of lemongrass

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Tomatillo-Sauced Enchiladas courtesy of Rick Bayless

EPC is one year older today.

For two weeks every year my husband  is numerically 1 year older than me.  Then, in 14 days, I catch up and he no longer has a younger wife.

We always make jokes about this.

In a few years he will test-drive 40 for me.  If he doesn’t like it, I may take the cue and stay 39 forever.

He always gets very excited about his birthday and likes me to make fuss over him.  On his birthday proper I prepare a special meal for him and then, on the following weekend, I take him out to the restaurant of his choice. Of course, there are also gifts and a cake.  This year he opted out of the cake and wanted me take him out to Marble Slab for ice cream instead.

Ice cream is his favorite dessert.

When I asked him what he wanted me to make for his birthday dinner, he replied “something Mexican”.  When we did the week’s grocery shopping I was not yet in possession of my new vegetarian Mexican cookbook, but luckily I had a library copy of Rick Bayless’s Mexican Everyday lying around.  I browsed through it and, although the cookbook is meaty, he does include some vegetarian recipes and vegetarian adaptions on some of his meat-based recipes, so I was able to find something suitable quite quickly.  I love tomatillos, so I thought the Tomatillo-Sauced Enchiladas would taste fantastic.  Rick Bayless has quite a reputation as a Mexican chef, rivaled only by Diana Kennedy.

Sadly, I could not find fresh tomatillos.  He allows for this, by including instructions if you have to resort to bottled tomatillo salsa.  I played it safe and went with Herdez tomatillo salsa.  I am sure the dish would be much finer with fresh homemade salsa, but I will save that for next time.  In fact, if you can find tomatillos and have the inclination, do yourself a favour and make the sauce from scratch.  Finally, a warning about using store-bought salsa: you will not need to add extra salt to the recipe, as the salsa adds enough. I also found the salsa too mild for my taste, so I added a few dashes of cayenne pepper to liven it up.

I should also mention that I do not eat mushrooms.

Ever.

Perhaps it is because  I work with fungi all day and the thought of eating some when I get home just doesn’t sit well.  However, I will include the original recipe for those of you who eat mushrooms and the modifications for those of you who don’t.

Tomatillo-Sauced Enchiladas with Spinach and Mushrooms
Serves 4

Tomatillo sauce:
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled
Fresh hot green chilies, stemmed and quartered – 1 jalapeño or 1-2 Serrano peppers
1 1/2 pounds tomatillos (10-12 husked, rinsed and cut into quarters)
3/4 cup of rough chopped cilantro, save a few for the garnish
2 cups vegetable broth

*If using store-bought salsa you will need between 3 and 4 cups

Enchiladas:
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 ounces of mushrooms, stemmed and sliced (I substituted 1/2 block of firm tofu (175 g), diced and 1 diced zucchini. Add after the onion)
1 large red onion, thinly sliced (reserve 1/4 of the onion for garnish)
10 cups of spinach, stems removed (I used 4 cups of spinach)
salt
12 corn tortillas
3 tablespoons of Mexican crema, sour cream, heavy cream, or crèam fraîche (I used sour cream)
1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1 cup of crumbled Mexican queso fresco or other fresh cheese such as feta or goat (I used feta)

Preheat the oven to 350°C

To make tomatillo sauce:
• Drop the garlic and chilies into a running food processor one piece at a time until each piece in finely chopped.
• Add the tomatillos and cilantro, processing until smooth
• Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium saucepan and cook stirring frequently until the mixture is almost the consistency of tomato sauce (~7 minutes)
• Add the vegetable broth and simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes
*If using store-bought sauce, bring to a boil in a medium saucepan and then let simmer

To make enchiladas:
• heat 1 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a large 12-inch skillet/
• Add the mushrooms and sauté for a couple of minutes until the mushrooms begin to brown (if omitting mushrooms, start with the onions)
• Add 3/4 of the onions and cook until the onion is translucent
• Add the tofu, if using, and sauté until it browns and then add zucchini and cook for 3 minutes.
• Add the spinach and cook while stirring until the spinach wilts.
• Lay the tortillas in a single layer on a baking sheet and spray or brush each side lightly with oil. Place in the oven for 3 minutes until the tortillas soften.
• Remove the tortillas from the oven and stack in a single pile, covering with a tea towel to keep them warm

Enchilada assembly:
• Stir the crema into the sauce (bottled or homemade) and adjust the seasoning with salt, or sugar if too tangy.
• Holding a tortilla by one edge, dip and coat with sauce.
• Lay the tortilla on the plate and spoon 2 generous tablespoons of filling in the centre, roll up and lay the filled tortilla seam side down on the plate. Prepare 3 tortillas per plate.
• Pour 1/4 cup of sauce over each plate of enchiladas
• Garnish with remaining onion,  1/4 of the cheese, and some cilantro springs.