Saturday, January 29, 2011

Balsamic-Agave Tofu with Beet Infused Couscous

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This is a really simple yet elegant dish. If you are a beet hater, this will completely change your mind. Roasting beets introduces a caramelized, chewy texture that resembles nothing of the cold-sliced beets in every salad bar everywhere. To make this, you'll need a ring mold—it will create a perfect circle shape as well as aid in assembly of all the components. In addition to balancing out the tartness of the balsamic, the agave will help give the tofu a nice glazey sear.

1 1/2 pounds of firm tofu, sliced into 6 thin slabs and pressed for at least an hour
12 spears of fresh asparagus

For the marinade

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 TB soy sauce
1 TB agave nectar
1 tsp fresh thyme, crushed between your fingers
5 cloves of garlic, grated on a mircoplane grater
2 TB olive oil
salt and pepper

For the beets and couscous
1 cup of fresh beets, skinned and cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
3 TB olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 cup large pearl couscous
1 cup water
white pepper

Using your circular ring mold, carefully cut out circles in the four pieces of pressed tofu. Set aside. In a large pyrex dish, combine all of the ingredients for the marinade. Place the tofu into the marinade, flipping over once to ensure its well coated. Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, flipping again halfway through the marinade time.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Boil 1 1/4 cups water in a small saucepan. Place the cubed beets in the boiling water for about 5 minutes. Transfer the beets with a slotted spoon to a well-greased baking pan, adding 2 TB of the oil to coat. Bake for 25 minutes. Add the diced red onion to the beet mixture with the remaining 1 TB oil and place back into the oven for 25 minutes more, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Sprinkle with the white pepper.

Once you've added the red onion to the beets, make your couscous by placing the couscous into the beet infused water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cover. Simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes.

Once your beets and couscous are done, remove the tofu from the refrigerator and saute over medium high heat in a large skillet until well-browned, about 5-7 minutes on each side. Remove from the heat and add the asparagus to the pan. Saute until bright green, about 6 minutes.

Place the remainder of the marinade into a small saucepan over medium high heat until it slightly thickens and reduces. Remove from heat and let it cool slightly while you plate.

To assemble the tower, place a ring mold onto a plate and add a slice of the tofu. Spoon some of the beet mixture over that, lightly but firmly packing it into place. Add another slice of tofu and then add a layer of the couscous on that, packing it lightly but firmly. Top with another slice of tofu and carefully remove the ring.

Serve with the sauteed asparagus and spoon some of the reduced balsamic marinade over the top.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Vcon Chickpea Noodle Soup

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I rarely get sick, but when I do, I whip up a batch of Chickpea Noodle Soup from Veganomicon and I'm better within a few hours. Seriously. I'm not sure if its the miso, spices, broth or a combination of all the ingredients, but this soup will cure what ails you. But unlike cough syrup or other icky-tasting medicine, this soup tastes fantastic and will warm you from the inside out. The original recipe calls for a brown rice miso, but I've found that a chickpea, white or mellow miso tastes nice too. This recipe is adapted from the Vcon version.

4 TB olive oil

2 cups of pressed and finely diced tofu

1 large yellow onion, chopped
1-2 large carrots, sliced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
1/2 tsp celery seeds
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 TB mirin or dry white wine
6 cups vegetable stock

1/2 cup canned chickpeas

6 oz. capellini, broken into matchstick-sized pieces
1/3 cup chickpea miso

Saute the pressed tofu in 2 TB of the oil until browned in a large stock pot over medium high heat. Remove and set aside. Add in the rest of the oil and add the carrots and onions and saute for 10 minutes. Add the garlic, mushrooms and herbs and sautee for 5 minutes more. Deglaze the pot with the mirin or wine and then add the stock and chickpeas. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Add in the capellini and cover again. Cook for 5 minutes and then remove the lid. In a small bowl, combine the miso with a bit of the broth until its well combined, then add that back into the pot. Add in the sauteed tofu and incorporate well into the soup.

Once you've added in the miso, don't boil the soup—it will destroy all of the beneficial enzymes in the miso. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Vcon Chickpea Cutlets with Mustard Roasted Potatoes

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When I received my copy of Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Veganomicon, I immediately scanned through the center section of the book with color photos and my eye went straight to something called a "Chickpea Cutlet." I flipped to the recipe and the ingredients were an odd yet intriguing concoction of, among other things, chickpeas, vital wheat gluten and spices. It sounded strange enough to try and I'm glad I did. These cutlets have an amazing texture and flavor—they even enthusiastically passed my husband's taste test. I've made these cutlets several times, tweaking the sides and sauces and, this trio, which we enjoyed last night, hit the mark. Roasted, glazey mini-potatoes with whole roasted garlic cloves and an agave mustard sauce complimented the cutlets perfectly.

For the potatoes:
1/4 cup earth balance, melted
3 TB prepared mustard
2 tsps dried thyme
1 whole head of garlic, broken apart and peeled
2 TB olive oil
zest of one lemon

salt and pepper

1 pound of tiny potatoes (about the size of grape tomatoes), halved

For the cutlets:
1 16 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup vital wheat gluten
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried sage
4 cloves garlic, pressed or grated with a microplane grater
1 tsp grated lemon zest

Olive oil for pan frying

For the dipping sauce:
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup prepared mustard

One bunch of kale, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
2 TB soy sauce

Preheat oven to 425. Whisk together all first six ingredients in a medium-sized pyrex dish. Add in the potatoes and toss until well mixed. Cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven for 25 minutes.

While you are waiting for the potatoes to roast, make the chickpea cutlet mixture, by first mashing the chickpeas in a bowl with the olive oil. Add the rest of the ingredients and combine well with a Kitchen Aid Mixer for 3-5 minutes. Form into 4-6 cutlets.

Once your potatoes have roasted for 25 minutes, remove the foil and place the potatoes back into the oven for 20-30 more minutes, giving them a good stir every 10 minutes. They are done when they are carmelized and slightly browned around the edges, but not burnt.

When your potatoes look like they have about 10 more minutes to go, begin frying the cutlets in a large skillet over medium high heat, about 6-7 minutes on each side.

In a separate large saucepan, place the kale and soy sauce and saute over medium high heat for 5 minutes.

Serve immediately with the agave mustard dipping sauce.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Falafel with Vegenaise Tahini

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My obsession with creating perfect falafel began almost a year ago, after a vacation in Seattle. We visited Pioneer Square, near Pike Place Market, and stepped into an unassuming place called Zaina for lunch. Despite there being a pretty good sized line in the tiny restaurant, there was only one person there doing everything. I ordered a falafel wrap and watched as she dropped mini-scoops of falafel into a huge vat of bubbling oil. There was an industrial-sized griller that she used to press each pita wrap one by one before filling it with fresh-out-of-the-oil falafel. Biting into this falafel was heaven—it was crisp and golden on the outside and the inside was somehow fluffy and doughy at the same time. Since then, I have tried to replicate that falafel with limited success, until I did these four things:

  • used dried chickpeas soaked in water overnight and did not boil them;
  • stored the chickpea flour in the freezer before adding it to the falafel mixture (you can also use plain flour, but I've found that chickpea flour results in a fluffier falafel);
  • refrigerated the falafel mixture for 4-5 hours prior to frying and kept it as cold as possible before frying it; and
  • submerged the falafel balls completely in hot oil when frying (as opposed to frying them in a shallow pool of oil, then flipping them).

I also discovered that the addition of vegenaise to the usual tahini dressing mixture of fresh lemon juice, tahini, pepper and a splash of water, gives it a richness that complements the falafel perfectly!

for the falafel:
1 cup of dried chickpeas, picked over and rinsed, soaked overnight in plenty of water
1 cup onion, chopped
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, rinsed and dried very well
3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, rinsed and dried very well
6 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1 tsp baking powder
8 TB chickpea flour (or plain flour), stored in the freezer overnight
1 tsp salt
1 tsp habanero powder
1 TB cumin

vegetable oil, for frying

for the tahini sauce:
1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup vegenaise
1/2 cup water, plus more for thinning the dressing out as desired


Place the chickpeas into a food processor and grind into a coarse mixture, ensuring that all chickpeas are pulverized, but also ensuring that it is not overprocessed into a smooth mixture. Transfer to a bowl. Place the rest of the falafel ingredients into a food processor and blend until the mixture is cohesive. Transfer that to the bowl with the pulverized chickpeas and stir to combine.

Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours prior to frying. 

Make your tahini dressing by whisking the tahini, lemon juice, vegenaise and water in a small bowl. Refrigerate until you are ready to use it.

Once you are ready to make the falafel, pour plenty of oil into a small saucepan (enough to cover the size of the falafel) over high heat. While you are waiting for the oil to heat, scoop out a small amount of the falafel mixture—enough to make a golf-sized ball and repeat until all of the falafel has been used.

Your oil should be ready by now. Test it by throwing a pinch of the batter into the oil. If it sizzles immediately, its ready. Using a slotted spoon, carefully submerge the falafel into the oil one by one. Do not overcrowd the falafel in the pan. Once you drop the falafel into the oil, wait about 7 seconds, then insert the spoon under the falafel and gently lift it to ensure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Drain the falafel on paper towels as you finish each batch.

Serve the falafel with pita bread, tahini dressing, black olives, bulghur tabouli and hummus. Sriracha goes well with the falafel and tahini sauce.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

General Tso's Tofu

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No one really knows for sure the origin of this dish (traditionally made with chicken) or who conceived it. General Tso, a 19th-century general from the Chinese province of Hunan, and a famous personage at the time, apparently enjoyed eating this dish so much it was said to be named after him. But another Hunanese, Chef Peng, is said to have created this dish himself in the 1950s. Despite the vagueness of its origin, one thing is certain: this dish is fantastic. Heavy, crisp, sweet and garlicky, its a perfect weekend dinner when you just want to have something hearty and stay at home and relax. This recipe has been adapted from vegweb's version. I'm not sure why, but once this dish is ready, you'll have to wait around for it to cool off—it maintains a molten lava temperature for about 15 minutes even after its been plated. But its worth the wait.

1 block of tofu, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 1/2 tsps Ener-G egg replacer, whisked with 5 TB warm water
plenty of cornstarch
vegetable oil
5 scallions, chopped
2 TB minced ginger
3 TB minced garlic
2 TB mirin
2 cups vegetable stock
3 TB soy sauce
3 TB sugar
1 TB rice vinegar
1/2 tsp habanero pepper powder (or 1 tsp if you like spice)

Place a large shallow pan over medium high heat. Place enough oil in the pan to fill it halfway. While you are waiting for the oil to heat, set up a station of three shallow, wide bowls with the tofu, Ener-G and cornstarch. You can tell when the oil is ready by inserting a wooden spoon into the oil—if bubbles form around the spoon, you can begin frying.

About five pieces at a time, dunk the tofu into the Ener-G, and then place in the cornstarch. Cover the pieces with the cornstarch, tapping off any excess before placing into the pan. Repeat this process until you have all of the tofu cubes frying in the pan.

While you are waiting for the tofu to fry (anywhere from 10-12 minutes on each side), begin making your sauce. In a small saucepan, saute the scallions, ginger and garlic in a bit of oil over medium heat, just until you can smell it, about 4 minutes. Then, turn the heat up to medium high for one minute, and then add the mirin and heat for 1 minute more. Add the broth and then the soy sauce, sugar, vinegar and habenero.

Your tofu should now be ready to turn. Using tongs, flip each piece over and let it fry for 10-12 more minutes. Return to your sauce. Take some of the leftover cornstarch (about 2-3 tablespoons, and mix with about 5-6 tablespoons of water in a small bowl until it is fully disintegrated. Add that mixture to your sauce, stirring immediately. It should instantly thicken. Once desired consistency is achieved (it shouldn't be watery or too viscous), remove it from the heat and return to your tofu.

Once both sides of the tofu are golden brown, remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. Either toss the cubes in the sauce and serve or spoon the sauce over the top. Serve with rice and broccoli.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Anellini O's

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I'd like to say a couple of things to Chef Boyardee: (1) I like your hat! Its playfully tipped to one side so we know you're not a grumpy chef with a tendency to throw things in the kitchen when angry and, (2) if you made your vegetarian canned pasta products vegan by removing the egg white solids, enzyme-modified cheese and pasturized milk cultures, you'd increase your revenue—vegans and lactose-intolerant folks would buy this stuff right away! For now, I make this vegan version of "Anellini-O's" which is pretty close to the real deal. The ratio of pasta to tomato sauce will seem to be in disproportion at first, but this pasta has a tendency to expand considerably in the sauce once refrigerated (which is the lesson I learned from making the first batch with two whole cups of pasta!). I feel a little silly posting this as a "recipe," because its just combining three store-bought ingredients, but its wonderful comfort food and perfect for workday or school lunches.

Imagine brand creamy organic tomato soup, 16 ounces
1/2 cup anellini pasta
Vegan parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast

Boil plenty of water in a medium-sized pot. Add a bit of salt and olive oil and add the pasta. Boil for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain. Return the pasta back to the pot and add the soup and heat until warm. Serve with vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Split Pea Soup with Toasted Sesame Oil

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I love toasted sesame oil. Once it hits heat, it emits a lovely, smoky and rich aroma. I use it in marinades and when roasting vegetables to infuse that rich smokiness throughout the dish. It's also tasty drizzled over a simple split pea soup. I love making this soup when its cold outside, and I don't have much time to cook. Packed with nutrients, lentils are cheap, may be stored easily and are delicious if cooked properly.You'll need an immersion blender for quick prep; otherwise, you'll have to cool this off before pureeing in small batches in a blender. Fresh-made biscuits compliment the soup—I use bisquick (its vegan)—mixed with soy milk.  

2 TB olive oil
2 large white onions, chopped
1 tsp salt
2 cups dried split peas
7 cups homemade stock
5 TB toasted sesame oil
1 1/4 cups bisquick
2/3 cup soy milk, unsweetened
earth balance

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and salt and saute for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the split peas and stir well. Add in the stock, stir and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Combine the bisquick and soy milk until well combined and use a biscuit cutter or drinking glass to make about six biscuits. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Test the doneness of the peas to ensure they are cooked through, but not mushy. If its ready, puree the soup right in the pot, using an immersion blender. If using a speed blender, let the soup cool to a lukewarm temperature before pureeing in small batches and reheating once ready to serve.

Drizzle the toasted sesame over the soup once its been ladled into the bowls.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

VwaV Asian Tofu with Mashed Potatoes

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This is one of our favorite dinners—we have this dish about every two weeks. Its spicy, salty, tangy and sweet. When properly pressed, marinated tofu that's been sauteed goes perfectly with a mound of mashed potatoes and earth balance. The leftover marinade makes a perfect dipping sauce for the tofu and potatoes, and will satisfy with its heartiness and unique flavor. This recipe is adapted from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Asian Tofu recipe, which may be found in her cookbook, Vegan with a Vengeance (VwaV).

3/4 cup mirin
5 TB soy sauce
2 TB seasoned rice vinegar
4 TB toasted sesame oil
2-3 tsps red curry paste or sriracha
4 TB fresh ginger, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 block of tofu, pressed and sliced anyway you like

Potatoes, skinned, sliced and chopped
earth balance
1/2 cup soy milk
salt and pepper
kale, with ribs removed and ripped into small pieces

Combine the first seven ingredients in a large glass pyrex dish, adjusting the curry/sriracha level as desired. Place the tofu slices into the marinade. Cover the pyrex with saran wrap and place in refrigerator for about four hours. Flip the tofu so the marinade saturates the other side for at least two more hours.

Once you are ready to prepare the dish, boil some salted water with a bit of olive oil in a large pot. I place handfuls of potatoes into a mesh strainer and slowly submerge into the boiling water to avoid splashes. Boil for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. While your potatoes are boiling, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Drain with the mesh strainer and add the potatoes back into the pot and mash, adding earth balance, soy milk and salt and pepper.

Heat a large flat pan over medium high heat. No need to add oil since your marinade has sesame oil added. Add the tofu until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes on each side.

Place the kale on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Drizzle 4-5 tablespoons of the tofu marinade over that and bake for 10-12 minutes or until crisp.

Once your tofu is done, remove some of the minced garlic and ginger from your marinade with a slotted spoon and saute for no more than one minute, watching carefully that it doesn't brown.

Assemble all of the components onto a plate, including leftover marinade in small soy sauce bowls. Sprinkle the sauteed garlic/ginger over the tofu and mashed potatoes.

How to Press Tofu: A Primer

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While I was writing a post involving marinated tofu for the blog, I googled "how to press tofu" with the intent of linking to it for the recipe. During my search, I came across a TofuXpress, which I own and find useful for transforming the texture and density of tofu, but using this does not produce the same result as incorporating in some kind of absorbent material (towels) to get out virtually all of the moisture.

And although many of the links I found involved a weight and towels, I couldn't find a "how to" that followed my method. So I thought, "Why not make my own?" Now, this isn't rocket science, but properly pressed tofu is an essential step when marinating, as it maximizes the tofu's ability to fully absorb the flavor of the marinade.
Step One: Grab four thick handtowels and place the block of tofu on a cutting board like so:

Step Two: Cut your tofu in half, and then the halves into halves and then those halves into halves to make eight equal-sized pieces.

Step Three: Lay the pieces out like so, using two of the four towels:

Step Four: Place the two remaining towels over the top of the tofu, like so:

Step Five: Place, one by one, large, heavy coffee table books, until you've added about 10 pounds of books. Let the tofu press for at least one hour before removing the weights:

Step Six: Cut the pressed tofu as desired and place in marinade, flipping over halfway through the marinade timing:

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Coconut French Toast

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Weekend breakfast is the best. I'm not a huge fan of sugar, but my husband is. This french toast recipe can be adapted to be sweet or savory, depending on what you like. Full-fat, organic coconut milk is essential for this recipe. Be sure to get a good quality brand of coconut milk—you can tell its a good brand if the cream is packed tightly towards the top of the can when you open it. Besides being a rich source of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), coconut milk binds perfectly with the bread, giving it a rich, cakey-like texture and flavor. I think using olive oil to saute the french toast tastes good, but if that's not up your alley, use canola oil since it has virtually no taste that may conflict with the other ingredients. I like to slice up and leave out whatever bread I'm going to use all day (a crusty italian loaf works best), and then whip up the mixture before bed, so I can let the bread soak all night.


1 can organic coconut milk (13 fl. oz)
1 1/2 cups soy, almond or hemp milk
3 TB garbanzo bean flour

1 TB cornstarch

olive oil or canola oil

1 loaf of italian bread, sliced (sandwich bread will work too—if you use it, though, skip the overnight soaking and dunk the bread into the mixture for 5 minutes or less before browning in a pan)
Optional toppings: earth balance, powdered sugar, maple syrup, agave, nutritional yeast

If using an italian loaf of bread, slice into 1 to 1.5-inch thick slices and leave out to dry during the day. The dry bread will soak up the coconut mixture better than fresh bread.

Before bed, empty the entire can of coconut milk into a medium-sized bowl. Whisk until well emulsified. Add the soymilk, garbanzo bean flour and cornstarch and stir until the ingredients have blended together. Empty the mixture into a large glass pyrex dish, enough for all of the bread pieces to fit. Dunk the bread in, making sure all pieces are well-covered with the mixture, cover with saran wrap and place into the refrigerator.

In the morning, heat 2-3 TB of olive oil or canola oil in a large flat saute pan or griddle over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the slices of french toast and saute for 10 minutes. Flip and saute the other side for 10 minutes more. Dial up the heat to medium-high and flip again, for 5 minutes more on each side or until a nice browning has been achieved.

Toppings: If you like sweet french toast, cover in earth balance, powdered sugar and pure maple syrup. If you like a more savory french toast, cover in earth balance, a touch of powdered sugar and some nutritional yeast. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Field Roast and Daiya Lasagna

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The other night, while I was making lasagna, my husband was outside talking to our neighbor who was grilling a steak for his family. About ten minutes after my husband came back inside, our doorbell rang and it was our neighbor (who knows I'm vegan), with a covered plate of steak for my husband. He said to me, "Your husband said that you were making lasagna ... its probably full of vegetables and stuff, so I made him some extra steak." Now, our neighbor's intentions were good, (and he was a minister) and he was always kind and helpful to us (he's since moved), but I was baffled by his comment. Vegan lasagna = yucko? No. This is a lasagna that my husband and I can agree on: its hearty, faux-meaty and cheezy, lots of texture and second-helping worthy.

1 pound tofu, pressed for at least an hour
Fresh lemon juice (about half a lemon)
3-4 cloves of minced garlic
dash of salt and pepper
1 tsp each of dried basil and oregano
3 tbsps vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast
1/8 cup olive oil
2 cups bella mushrooms, sliced
2 cups onion, finely diced

Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Sausages, ground in a food processor
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 jar of prepared pasta sauce, vegan
3 tsps Ener-G, whisked with 4 TB water
No-boil lasagna noodles
Daiya, mozzarella style shreads

First, prepare your ricotta cheeze mixture by putting the pressed tofu into a food processor, along with the lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper, dried spices and vegan parm or nutritional yeast. Give it a good chop in the processor until crumbly, then add the oil and process again until the mixture forms a solid mass in the processor. Transfer to a bowl and let it marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

Once you are ready to make the lasagna, saute in a large pan separately in olive oil, until browned: the onion, mushrooms and field roast. Once each item has been browned, transfer to a bowl while you saute the other components. Add the garlic to the saute pan and then the prepared pasta sauce. Let simmer for 10 minutes, then add the sauteed items to that, and let simmer for 20 minutes. Add the Ener-G mixture and stir well.

Now you are ready to assemble the lasagna. Start by spraying a 9X13 glass pyrex with canola oil. Spoon a small layer of the pasta mixture into the pyrex. Take an uncooked, no-boil noodle and spread a generous layer of the tofu ricotta onto each noodle and place, ricotta-side up, until the layer is completed. Spoon another layer of the sauce mixture over that, and then repeat the ricotta/noodle step, but this time placing it ricotta-side down. Spoon another layer of the sauce mixture over that. Dash some parmesan over that and cover the pyrex with aluminum foil.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Bake the lasagna for 30 minutes, covered. Take the foil off and bake for another 30 minutes. Sprinkle with daiya shreads and place back into the over for 2-3 minutes. Let the lasagna rest for 15-20 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Vegetable Stock

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I never buy vegetable stock during the fall and winter. I also never buy extra vegetables for the sole purpose of making stock. Because we use so many vegetables throughout the week, I just bag the trimmings and store in the freezer until I have about 2 full freezer bags. (This is also a great way to use vegetables that may go bad before you get a chance to use them.)

To make the stock, simply add the trimmings to a large pot with olive oil, salt and some fresh or frozen thyme
over medium high heat. I like to use Crate&Barrel's Utensil Pot Clip (pictured) when doing this, since lots of stirring is involved. Once the trimmings have reduced (about 20 minutes), I add enough water to cover the vegetables, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.

Once the broth is cool enough, you can strain the vegetables through cheesecloth to squeeze out all of the flavor. You can also use a potato masher if you don't have cheesecloth handy—just be sure to strain the final product again through a fine mesh strainer. I store the broth in 4-cup plastic containers for easy use—it will last 2-3 days in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer.

Here are some of the trimmings I use to make the broth:

beet tops
broccoli stems
brussel sprout ends
carrot ends
celery ends/leftover pieces

kale and/or collard green ribs
mushroom stems
onion ends (use the papery skins as well)

Fried Tofu with Thai Vinegar Sauce

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I love thai food. Its a perfect balance of spicy and sweet, bitter and salty. I also love anything fried. This thai-inspired dish delivers in heartiness, taste, texture and presentation. If you deep-fry tofu, Ener-G is your friend. You simply dunk whatever you're frying into diluted Ener-G before coating in cornstarch and it repels the oil from whatever your frying magnificently. I like to prepare the vinegar sauce and marinate the shallots overnight—if you don't have time to do this, a quick saute of the shallots will do the trick.

1 block of tofu (I like to cut it into 8 pieces and then again in half to make squares, but whatever way you cut it will work fine.)

1 1/2 tsps Ener-G, whisked with 5 tbsps water
vegetable oil
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 cup boiling water
5 tbsps sugar
1 tsp salt

red chili pepper flakes
2-3 shallots, sliced thinly
cilantro sprigs

Make your vinegar sauce by first dissolving the sugar with the boiling water in a small saucepan. Add the vinegar, salt and red chili pepper flakes. If marinating the shallots, add those and transfer the mixture, covered, to the refrigerator.

Once you are ready to prepare the tofu, set up two wide shallow bowls—one with cornstarch and one with the Ener-G mixture. Heat plenty of vegetable oil in a wide frying pan over medium high heat, about 7 minutes. You can tell when the oil is ready by inserting a wooden spoon into the oil. If it bubbles up around the spoon, its ready.

Working in batches, dunk the tofu slices into the Ener-G mixture, then transfer to the cornstarch, tapping off any excess. Add to the hot oil and fry on each side until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon onto paper towels until ready to plate.

Arrange the tofu slices in a shallow bowl, spooning the prepared vinegar sauce over the top. Top with shallots and cilantro—enjoy the deep-fried goodness!