December 20, 2007
I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed today, what with an order for 56 frosted cupcakes due by noon, as well as an article on cooking with avocado expected by this afternoon. Yikes. Therefore, today’s Holidailies post will be short and sweet. Or, in this case, short and spicy.
This recipe for Tofu Masala is quick and easy, despite the long list of spices that need to be ground into a curry. I’ve adapted the recipe from the fabulous cookbook, Green, by Flip Shelton. When I saw it in Chapters, I loved the modern, clean look of the book and bought it on impulse, but must say it’s become one of my favorites because of the recipes.
Maybe it’s my lifelong enchantment with Australia (and New Zealand) that drew me to it, but the book itself is a definite winner, filled with fresh, delicious, quick dishes that have, so far, always come out just right.
This recipe was one of my first ventures into homemade curries, and I was a bit intimidated by all the spices the first time I made it; my mother’s spice cupboard, in contrast, contained exactly one jar each of garlic salt, paprika, onion salt, and white pepper. All I knew about fenugreek at the time was that it’s commonly used in Ayurvedic cooking, and is supposed to help keep blood sugar levels even (enough of a reason right there to try it, I guess). But the spice mixture here–and it’s a powerfully hot mix, so beware if you’re timid about hot spice–is the perfect blend to offset the otherwise bland tofu, the al dente vegetables, and the brown basmati rice.
Sorry I don’t have a photo of this one; we made it at my last cooking class and consumed it before I remembered to snap a picture. I’ll add one in next time we eat it over here at D,D & D.
Easy Masala Curry with Veggies and Tofu
This dish is truly a snap to make, despite the long list of spices. And you can alter the mix of vegetables to your taste, or according to what’s on hand in the fridge!
1/2-1 small jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1-inch piece of ginger, minced
2 T. chopped cilantro
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
1 tsp. black mustard seeds
1 tsp. fenugreek
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. Sucanat or 5 drops stevia
Pinch sea salt
Juice of one lemon
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
About 400 g. (1 lb.) firm or extra-firm tofu, cubed
1 cup green beans, cut in half, or green peas
1/2 red pepper, chopped
2 small Japanese eggplants, cut in disks
1 cup button mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
4 medium tomatoes, chopped
Place the jalapeno, garlic, ginger, cilantro, spices, sucanat, salt and lemon juice in a small food processor or coffee grinder and blend until you have a paste. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat and add the onions. Saute for two minutes, or until just soft. Add the chili paste and stir until the onion is well coated. Add the tofu, and stir to coat. Add remaining ingredients, reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
Serve over brown basmati rice. Makes 4-6 servings.
November 29, 2007
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I have to admit, it took me a long time to warm up to tofu.
When I first revamped my diet in accordance with the NAG principles, I had never eaten tofu, let alone familiarized myself with the many varieties in which it’s available. My naturopath touted the truism you hear so often: “It’s basically flavorless on its own, so it absorbs the flavor of whatever you cook it with. ” Great!, I thought, I’ll make some tofu tonight! , and went out and bought some.
Back then, I didn’t know about the importance of buying organic tofu, or which type to buy, so I just got any old extra-firm. Went home, and created some kind of pseudo-stew (the ingredients of which elude me now) and tasted it. Bah! Feh! Ptewie! I couldn’t even eat one full mouthful.
No taste, you say? Absorbs the flavors of whatever it’s with? Uh, sorry, no. Tofu tastes exactly like what it is: cooked, compressed soybeans. Ugh.
It took me several months of experimentation, some great cookbooks, and a dogged determination to finally hit upon a few recipes I could actually eat and enjoy. Over the years, tofu has become one of my very favorite foods, a staple in our home, despite the many controversies swirling round it.
The trick, I’ve found, is to use assertive flavors that can complement and conceal it. Pressing the tofu helps considerably, as that causes the water to exude, thereby leaving little gaps for the sauce to sneak its way in and become absorbed. Baking firm or extra-firm tofu in a hearty sauce is useful, too. (Now, desserts are a whole other matter, and they most often require aseptically-packaged silken tofu. But depending on the dessert, you can choose anything from Soft-Silken to Extra-Firm Silken. Occasionally, cheesecakes are good with Chinese-style, water-packed firm tofu. Some souffle-type desserts are best made with medium tofu. Okay, got all that? Quiz to follow).
I’ve said this before, and it truly bears repeating: I’m a very lazy cook. Not the best trait for someone whose dietary restrictions require that everything be made from scratch. Consequently, I try to find shortcuts where I can. Use the food processor instead of the hand grater; make up huge batches and freeze for later re-heating; or, as in the case of this morning’s breakfast, recyle up leftovers whenever possible.
[Yesterday’s Simple Sauteed Greens]
I enjoyed some simple sauteed greens for dinner last evening (yes, that’s all I even wanted, after a mid-afternoon chocolate frenzy), and so had a container of pre-sauteed broccoli rabe hanging out in the fridge. The saute was super-easy: sliced garlic, olive oil, chopped rabe. That’s it. I also noticed some leftover canned crushed tomatoes being stored in a glass jar. I’d been hankering after a tofu scramble for several days, so thought this would be a great opportunity to whip one up (no matter that the house is still not unpacked, and I’m hosting what will probably be my last-ever at home cooking class tomorrow evening–none of which is prepared yet).
Tofu is a wonderful scrambled egg substitute, I find, especially when it’s crumbled (as here) rather than cubed. This dish provides complete protein courtesy of the tofu, high-protein pine nuts, and the greens. You’ll also be acquiring a surfeit of minerals here, due to the many trace minerals in the greens and the high iron in the raisins. Garlic and tomato round out the dish for antioxidant benefits–and the many anti-bacterial, anti-viral qualities of the garlic are a true boon this time of year (at least, for those of us enduring a cold, wet winter, such as we get in Ontario).
You’ll find this dish is still quite saucy, so decrease the tomatoes if desired. The combination of herbs works wonderfully with the pine nuts and raisins, the sweetness of which act as a perfect counterpoint to the bitter greens and slightly acrid tomato. If you find broccoli rabe too bitter, I think chopped chard would be excellent here, too.
As I said, I ate this for breakfast, but it seems to me most people would find it suitable as a dinner dish or even a side dish.
Mediterranean Tofu Scramble
TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.
November 22, 2007
As always, thanks for reading. I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!
“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]
* * *
The snow here in the GTA this morning is relentless–curtains of white, ice pellets grazing your cheeks as you attempt, vainly, to walk the crunchy path to the local park to appease The Girls. It was Chaser’s first experience with snow, and apparently (so my H.H. tells me), she loved it, bouncing and prancing and pawing at every crystallized chunk that scuttled her way along the road. (“That stuff is awesome, Mum! Can we go out again? Can we? Huh? Huh?!”)
[If you look really hard, you can see snowflakes against the fence.]
On mornings like this, I wish I had a fireplace before which I could curl up and just read, my latest book club book (as-yet unchosen, since it will be my pick this time round), one of the fifty or so I have stacked up in my office, the entire newspaper, magazines, or food mags. But, hey, wait a second! I do have a fireplace (albeit gas–ugh), one of the nicer features of this house. Unfortunately, it’s still surrounded by boxes and as-yet unassembled bookcases and other detritus that we haven’t found a place for yet.
But something about the snow and the cold, as we all know, elicits a strong desire for comfort foods. As if I don’t have enough cravings for chocolate, anyway.
In order to satisfy the urge and eat something relatively healthy, I decided to mix up my favorite vegan chocolate pudding. Now, admittedly, there are at least 7,482 such recipes floating on the Internet and in various vegan cookbooks, but I still think mine is best. It’s an amalgam of recipes I’ve read over the years for similar puddings, from the McDougall‘s original to the ubiquitous vegan chocolate mousse one finds everywhere.
This one is ultra-rich tasting, creamy and has a certain globby texture that reminds me exactly of old-fashioned, cooked, chocolate pudding. Only this one is made with relatively low-fat silken tofu (the kind in the aseptic boxes), cocoa powder (lower fat than actual chocolate), and agave nectar instead of any refined sugar. Chocolate bliss, truly.
One caveat: my photos do not do justice to this extraordinary dessert. (In fact, the H.H. thinks it looks sort of like poo. “Poo? Did you say, ‘Poo,’ Mum? But I love to eat poo!”). Seriously, you have to try it. Even the highly carnivorous H.H. loves it (despite its scatological appearance).
Heavenly Chocolate Tofu Pudding
[This recipe will also appear in my upcoming cookbook, Sweet Freedom, along with more than 100 others, most of which are not featured on this blog. For more information, check the “Cookbook” button at right, or visit the cookbook blog.]
TO VIEW THE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.