{Recipe} Sweet and Sour Tofu and Vegetables

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This recipe consists of a sweet and sour sauce that is free of the questionable ingredients that the store-bought and restaurant versions contain. No bright pink sauce here!

I should warn you, lest you curse me afterwards. You will need to do some washing up after preparing this dish – a wok, a saucepan (two, if you cook rice), a fry pan or skillet, and an immersion blender.

But it will be worth it, I promise! The meal is scrumptious and moreish, and the food preparation stage is simple. Maybe you could offer to cook, if your partner washes up. ūüėČ

Ingredients

(Inspired by a recipe in The Vegan Health Plan by Amanda Sweet*)

(serves 4)

250 g firm organic tofu, cubed

1 1/2 cups chopped white mushrooms

1/2 cup sliced celery

1 medium-sized red capsicum (bell pepper), chopped (equates to 1 1/4 cup chopped)

3/4 cup pineapple pieces, fresh or tinned

1 1/2 cups carrot slices

1 tomato, chopped into 8 wedges

1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger

1 tin/400g of crushed tomatoes

200ml low-sodium vegetable stock

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 Tbsp raw sugar

2 Tbsp organic cornflour

1/4 cup raw cashews

Pepper

Method

Make the sweet and sour sauce first: 

1. Use an immersion blender, blender or small food processor to liquidise the tinned tomatoes, until smooth. Set aside.

2. To a medium saucepan (on a low heat), add the cornflour. Add the stock slowly, and stir with a whisk to avoid lumps forming.

3. Once the cornflour is incorporated, add the liquidised tomatoes, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, and sugar. Bring to a boil, then simmer gently for a few minutes. Taste the sauce – if you prefer it sweeter, add additional sugar. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and set aside.

Prepare the tofu:

4. Cut the tofu into cubes and cook it in a fry pan, until lightly browned on all sides (I use my cafe-style sandwich press to brown the tofu). Set aside.

Prepare the vegetables:

5. Heat 2 Tbsp of water in a wok. Add the onions, and cook until softened.

2. Add the garlic and ginger, stir well. Cook for about 60 seconds, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the carrots and celery. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Add the capsicum. Cook for 60 seconds.

5. Add the mushroom and pineapple. Cook for 2 mins.

6. Add the tofu and tomatoes, and the sweet and sour sauce. Mix well. Bring the sauce to the boil, then allow it to simmer gently for 2-3 minutes.

7. Add the cashews to the wok just prior to serving. Stir through.

8. Garnish with coriander or additional cashews. Serve with brown basmati or jasmine rice.

* This book is out of print.

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The Tiny Vegans’ Verdicts

My daughter enjoyed this meal, as I expected. One of 7-year-old Tiny Vegan’s favourite restaurant dishes is sweet and sour ‘not-pork’. At the very least, I knew that the sauce would be well-received by him.

And it was. In fact, he happily ate the contents of his plate.

I merely refrained from including mushroom and capsicum in his serving. Which, in turn, inspired 4-year-old Tiny Vegan to request his meal minus the mushroom and capsicum.

The disdain expressed for mushrooms by some of the tiny vegans is really quite disheartening for a mushroom admirer like myself. Cooked capsicum isn’t popular either. At least they’ll eat it raw.

***

The Virtual Vegan Potluck will be upon us soon. I will be participating again. This time, in the salad section. I am incorporating the featured ingredient into my recipe – beetroot (beets). Sign up at this page by 9 November (US time).

Every Monday, I feature a delicious vegan recipe that is enjoyed by my own family. I hope your family enjoys it too (with or without the mushrooms!).

Ally

{Recipe} Choo Chee Tofu Curry

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I adore this tofu-based curry. The combination of kaffir lime, lime juice and coconut milk is captivating.

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Cut the tofu into triangles

I use store-bought fried tofu. The packet contains 6 large pieces, basically cube-shaped. I cut each piece into 2 triangles, then I cut each triangle in half, length-ways. Thus, each piece becomes 4 triangles.  If this type of tofu is unavailable to you, use firm tofu, and cut it into large cubes. Pan-fry each cube on all sides, then cut each cube into triangles.

If you don’t want to make your own curry paste, use a store-bought vegan red curry paste. Apparently choo chee curry paste is difficult to source outside of Thailand. Even if you did find it, chances are it would contain shrimp paste. If using a store-bought curry paste, you may need to adjust the quantity (3 tablespoons may be too much if the paste is particularly spicy).

ingredientscurry

Choo Chee Tofu Curry

Serves 5 (with rice)

650g/23oz firm tofu or pre-fried tofu

5 dried kaffir lime leaves

1 can/400ml/13.5 fl oz coconut milk

1/2 can / 200ml/ 6.5 fl oz coconut cream

3 Tbsp choo chee curry paste (recipe here)

3 large basil leaves, roughly chopped

1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tsp coconut oil

2 tsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

Method

1. Slice the kaffir lime leaves very thinly with a sharp knife. Do not use the stem. Set the leaves aside.

2. If using firm tofu: Slice the tofu into large cubes and pan-fry until golden on all sides. Then cut each cube into 4 triangles.  Set aside. If using pre-fried tofu cubes: cut each cube into 4 triangles.

3. Add oil to a large wok, and heat on a medium heat. Add curry paste, and cook for about 1 minute, stirring occasionally.

4. Add tofu, and mix well to coat it with the curry paste.

5. Add coconut milk, coconut cream, lime juice, sugar, salt, and kaffir lime leaves. Mix well.

6. Bring liquid to the boil, then lower the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

7. Add basil leaves and simmer for a further 2 minutes.

8. Serve immediately with brown rice or jasmine rice, and a thai-style salad.

The Tiny Vegans’ Verdicts

All of the tiny vegans enjoy this curry, and the spice level is tolerable for them. Clearly, they share their parents’ love of choo chee curry. ¬†My daughter isn’t keen on kaffir lime leaves, so she puts them to the side of her plate.

If I wasn’t cooking this meal for children, I would add a couple of finely chopped small red chillis to the wok (when adding the kaffir lime leaves).

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Each Monday, I feature a delicious vegan recipe that is enjoyed by my own family  РI hope your family enjoys it too.

Ally

{Recipe} Pistachio, Carrot and Red Capsicum Pilaf |Crumbed Tofu

Pistachio, Carrot and Red Capsicum Pilaf is tasty, colourful, and simple to prepare.

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The fragrant medley of cinnamon, cloves, garlic, and freshly-picked parsley is enhanced by the subtle crunch of  dry-roasted pistachios. Turmeric adds health-giving properties and a vibrant yellow tone.

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(Pilaf is inspired by this recipe.)

Serves – 5

* Ingredients *

1 large brown onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large carrot, grated (equates to about 1 cup)

1 cup red capsicum (bell pepper), diced

1 1/2 cups basmati rice, uncooked

1/3 cup raw whole pistachio nuts, shelled

1/4 cup roughly chopped parsley

3 1/2 cups vegetable stock

1 1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground cloves

2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice

Method

1. In a large saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons of water on a low heat. Add onion and saute for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more water if the onion begins to stick to the saucepan. Add the garlic, and cook for about 2 minutes.

2. Add turmeric, cinnamon, and cloves. Stir well, and cook for about 1 minute.

3.  Add the rice to the saucepan, and mix well to coat the rice.

4. Add the vegetable stock to the saucepan. Mix well. Cover the saucepan, and increase the heat to medium. Once the liquid is boiling, lower the heat and simmer until the rice is cooked and the liquid is absorbed (about 2o minutes). Remove the saucepan from the heat, and use a fork to mix (separate) the grains of rice. Cover the saucepan and let it sit for 10 minutes.

5. Dry roast the pistachios in a non-stick fry pan for a few minutes. Roughly chop the pistachios.

6. Put a large wok or fry pan on a low heat, then add the rice, carrot, capsicum, parsley, pistachios, and lime juice. Mix well.  Heat the pilaf for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally during this time.

7. Serve with a garden salad and crumbed tofu (recipe below).

***

Mat assures me that leftover pilaf on wholemeal wheat toast is a satisfying lunchtime combination.

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Pilaf with crumbed tofu

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Crumbed Tofu

My crumbed tofu is inspired by a recipe at¬†Earthgiven Kitchen, called¬†Crispy Breaded Tofu Strips.¬†If you are not familiar with Sarina’s blog, I suggest you check it out. Her crispy breaded tofu strips are scrumptious!

I decided to serve a tofu accompaniment with the pilaf ¬†– and Sarina’s recipe came to mind. I made a few changes to the recipe on this occasion – not because I thought I could improve the recipe, but due to the fact that I was in a bit of a hurry and had a smaller quantity of tofu to work with. For example, ¬†I omitted sesame oil from the marinade and added a couple of teaspoons of sesame seeds to the ‘crumbs’.

Four-year-old Tiny Vegan assisted me to prepare the marinade, and he was unable to resist ‘taste-tasting’ it several times.

Ingredients

250g of firm tofu

marinade:

1 Tbsp maple syrup

1 Tbsp applesauce

2 Tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)

1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice

1 Tbsp water

1/8 tsp salt

Crumbed coating:

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

2 Tbsp corn flour

2 tsp sesame seeds

a pinch of salt

pepper to taste

Method

1. Cut the tofu into sticks, then place the pieces in a container, side-by-side. Set aside.

2. In a jug , add the marinade ingredients. Whisk with a fork. Then pour the marinade over the tofu sticks. Ensure that all of the tofu is well coated. Cover the container and place it in the fridge. Ideally, allow the tofu to marinade overnight, or for a couple of hours. Do not be perturbed if you do not have that much time! Any amount of marination time will be sufficient.

3. In a mixing bowl, add the nutritional yeast, corn flour, sesame seeds, salt, and pepper. Mix well.

4. Place each piece of the tofu into the mixing bowl and use your fingers or a spoon to coat each piece well. Once all of the pieces are coated,  heat a non-stick fry pan or skillet.

5. Cook the tofu pieces on all sides until the coating becomes browned and crisp.

6. Serve immediately.

***

Tofu sticks are a good finger-food option for toddlers.

 Little Baker enjoyed his pilaf and crumbed tofu.

Little Baker enjoyed his pilaf and crumbed tofu.

Each Monday, I feature a couple of delicious vegan recipes that are enjoyed by my family – I hope your family enjoys them too.

Ally

{Recipe} Chickpea Curry | Tofu and Coconut Curry

Back in the mid-90’s when I was a uni student and a ‘pescy-vegetarian’ living in Sydney, I frequently ate at cheap and cheerful Indian food establishments.

With names like North Indian Diner and Tandoori Palace, this type of eatery presents the curries in bain-maries, ready to be slopped on to a large plate with rice. A garlic naan or a couple of pappadums would complete the meal. I only required a $10 note to access this comfort-food indulgence (and I usually left with change). Once I became vegan, I ditched the cream-laden curries, but continued to enjoy the (small) range of vegan offerings.

Growing up in Sydney, I was fortunate to have access to great Indian food (beyond the cheap and cheerful places!). My mum exposed my sister and I to foods from many cultures – both in our own kitchen and at local restaurants.

I indulged in delicious Indian food in Malaysia when I holidayed there in the late 90’s. I can’t even recall what I ate (maybe Susykat can help me out here!), but I do remember that it was totally scrumptious (and vegan).

I adore lentils and chickpeas, potatoes and eggplant. I particularly appreciate them teamed with the flavoursome spices that make Indian food so tantalising – cumin, ginger, cardamon, coriander, asafoetida, cinnamon, mustard seeds, and the rest!

Today’s recipes

I recently discovered the blog, Soul of Spice. If you are a fan of Indian food, you will adore this blog. I have fallen in love with the Kala Channa recipe. The combination of cayenne pepper, garlic, freshly grated ginger, cumin seeds, turmeric, asafoetida, and fresh tomato is spectacular.

‘Kala channa’ refers to small, brown chickpeas. For this recipe, I use the variety of chickpeas that is commonly available in my neck of the woods – small,¬†pale brown, dried chickpeas. chickpea1

The recipe is available here.

This recipe requires a half teaspoon of cayenne pepper. ¬†Although I prefer a ‘heaped half teaspoon’ version, with a big dollop of coconut yoghurt to relieve the spice edge, I only use a quarter teaspoon when preparing it for the whole family.¬†Additionally, I use a medium-sized tomato (which is slightly more than the 1/2 cup of tomato specified), and I add the garlic and ginger once the onion is cooked.

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Last week, I served the chickpea curry with basmati rice, potato and pea curry, pappadums, sliced banana and shredded coconut, sliced cucumber and coconut yoghurt, green mango pickle, and sliced avocado. It was a veritable feast!

***

Last night, I made Tofu and Coconut Curry. 

Readers of this blog know that I occasionally refer to my 6 year-old son as our Least Adventurous Eater.

Well, this curry was a hit with him! First, he exclaimed: ‘This is actually quite good’. That is high praise from him!

Then, later: ‘I love this tofu’. Ah, how my heart sang.

He reiterated his high praise by declaring that we should have it for dinner ¬†‘tomorrow night too’. No problem! We have enough left over for a side dish for tonight’s dinner.

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Tofu and Coconut Curry

Adapted from: Tempeh Curry recipe in Wolf and Lamb: Animal Free Cooking, by Marijonas Vilkelis

Serves 4, with rice.

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp olive oil (or 2 Tbsp water, for oil-free)

1 tsp mustard seeds

1tsp cumin seeds

1tsp turmeric

2 tsp ground coriander

A pinch of dried chilli flakes

1 tsp salt

1/2 Tbsp freshly grated ginger (or 1/2 tsp ground ginger)

2-3 garlic gloves, crushed

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 medium tomato, chopped

400g/14oz organic, firm tofu (preferably calcium-set) OR 400g/14oz tempeh 

3/4 cup/200ml  coconut cream 

1/3 cup of loosely-packed, freshly chopped coriander (cilantro)

Method

1. Cut the tofu (or tempeh) into cubes. Set aside.

2. Heat the oil (or water) in a wok, then add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Stir regularly until the seeds are browned.

3.  Add onion, ginger, chilli and garlic. Stir regularly, and fry until onion softens. (If cooking without oil, you will need to add additional water at this stage to prevent the onion from sticking.)

4. Add tomato, salt, and 1/3 cup of water. Stir well.

5. Add the tofu (or tempeh) and stir until it is well coated.

6. Add the coconut cream, and stir well. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.

7. Add the chopped coriander (cilantro), and stir until incorporated.

8. Serve immediately.

Last night, I served the curry with brown rice, chickpea curry (kala channa), pappadums, green mango pickles, and mango chutney.

What is your favourite type of curry?

Each Monday I feature a delicious vegan recipe (or two) that is enjoyed by my own family. I sincerely hope your family enjoys it too.

Ally

{Recipe} Banana Oat Pancakes | Scrambled Tofu

What a difference a day makes! As I write, it is raining!

The extreme temperatures of the weekend have subsided – at least in my part of the country. It is a relief. However, high temps are expected later in the week.

I hope the rain is falling where it is so desperately needed.

***

Today I am posting two recipes that are ideal for a weekend breakfast.

Banana Oat Pancakes and Scrambled Tofu.

Take your pick. Sweet or savoury. Or both!

Banana Oat Pancake

Banana Oat Pancakes

From¬†The Cancer Survivor’s Guide¬†by Neal Barnard, MD and Jennifer Reilly, RD

Quantity: 10 pancakes

My children adore these pancakes, and they enjoy helping with the preparation. There is enough mixing and mashing to keep 3 children involved, with only a few minor scuffles over the wooden spoon! I don’t know what we will do when Little Baker wants in on the action!
My school aged kids also enjoy finding a mini pancake (or two) in their lunchboxes.

In the recipe, the walnuts are listed as ‘optional’. We always add them.

The recipe is available here.

[ Edited on 2 March 2013 Gluten-free version: We have made the recipe several times with rice flour in place of wheat flour, and they are delicious.]

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Serve with sliced banana and maple syrup, or berries and maple syrup.

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Scrambled Tofu

Serves 3.

When I first embraced veganism many moons ago, I regularly indulged in scrambled tofu. It is a versatile, simple-to-prepare meal. It is flexible too. I would use whatever vegies were languishing in my fridge. For some reason, I stopped making it – for years.

Recently, I recalled the charms of scrambled tofu. The good news? My eldest son likes it! When he was 4, my son was very enthusiastic about helping me (and his dad) in the kitchen with food preparation. I used to call him Mini Chef.

Well, Mini Chef is back! He enthusiastically assisted me to prepare our scrambled tofu meal. He also endured his first cooking injury- a tiny burn on his finger. He was stoic. A burn wasn’t going to stop Mini Chef!

This meal is also suitable for a quick, simple dinner. You can ramp up the heat by adding more cayenne pepper, or some chilli flakes.

You will need:

250g firm tofu (approx. 9 oz)

1 tbsp spring onions, chopped (shallots)

1/2 cup grated carrot

1/4 cup red capsicum, diced (bell pepper)

2 tbsp sun dried tomatoes (oil free), chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp cumin seeds

1/8 tsp ginger

1/8 tsp salt

1 tsp nutritional yeast

1/2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari

2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

a dash of pepper

sunflower greens or sprouts

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Method

1. Break the tofu into pieces, and crumble between your fingertips. Set aside.

2. Heat a fry pan (skillet) and add a splash of olive oil or water.

3. Add the spring onions, and stir regularly. Add the minced garlic, and cook until fragrant.

4. Add all of the spices, including salt and pepper, and cook until fragrant, stirring regularly.

5. Add the crumbled tofu, and stir until it is coated in the spices and takes on a yellow colour (from the turmeric).

6. Add the nutritional yeast, and mix well. Pour in the soy sauce. Stir.

7. Add the vegetables, stir well, and cook for a few minutes. Sprinkle parsley over the top just prior to serving.

8. Serve immediately with toast, avocado slices and sunflower greens.

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I served the scrambled tofu with store-bought rice and chia bread (gluten-free).

***

Do you prefer a sweet or savoury breakfast? What is your favourite indulgent, weekend breakfast?

Each Monday, I feature a delicious vegan recipe (or two!) that is enjoyed (or outright adored!) by my family. I hope your family enjoys it too.

***

Do you like green smoothies? Do you want to establish a daily green smoothie habit? Check out my e-book giveaway here.

Ally

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