New Cookbook: Asian Tofu Book

Ok, so I don’t own this cookbook … yet. And I’m not even sure if any of the recipes are vegan, or vegetarian for that matter. Still, the pictures from the book on Bon Appétit’s website look amazing, especially the Crisp Grilled Tofu Pockets. Plus, I’m excited at the idea of learning new tofu techniques.

We eat tofu all the time, but it wasn’t always that way. As a vegetarian, I would eat it in Asian dishes, but I never prepared it at home. When I first became vegan, I have to admit, I was quite intimidated by the thought of preparing it and the texture of raw tofu weirded me out. Now, I can’t get enough of the stuff.

I mostly cook with extra firm tofu unless a recipe calls for something else. And my main “technique,” if you will, is to cut it into cubes to fry in a wok. I’ve also made recipes before that call for tossing it in cornstarch before frying to add a nice crunch. I’ve also made blackened tofu by rolling it in spices and baking. My friend, Lisa, has a great post on dry frying tofu, which adds a great texture.

Have any of you out there tried this cookbook? If so, what are your thoughts? Also, what are your tried-and-true techniques for preparing tofu?

Weekend Tofu and Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole

If you’re looking for a good, stick-to-your-ribs kind of breakfast, this dish is for you. It’s the first recipe I’ve made from the newest cookbook in my collection, “The Vegan Slow Cooker,” and it was delicious. Hash browns are layered in the bottom of the crockpot, vegan cheddar (I used Daiya) was layered on top of that, and then a mixture of silken tofu and spices is added to the top. Paprika and freshly ground pepper top it off before it cooks for two hours in your slow cooker. The tofu mixture firms up nicely to the consistency of scrambled eggs.

I wasn’t sure how flavorful it would be, but the final result packs a ton of it. Still, while the recipe is great on its own, the next time I make it, I’m going to add onions and green peppers to bulk it up and add extra texture and flavor. We added a few drops of hot sauce to give it a kick.

Next up? Hungarian Mushroom Soup. Can’t wait.

New Cookbook: The Vegan Slow Cooker

Some men buy their wives/girlfriends/boyfriends flowers and chocolates for Valentine’s Day. My husband bought me this cookbook. That may seem weird to some, but it was the perfect gift for me. He knows me so well.

Like so many other newlyweds, I added a crockpot to my wedding registry and the only use it’s gotten in the last six years has been for keeping mulled cider warm during the holidays. But my awesome co-workers and I were just chatting the other day about how we need to use our crockpots more. That’s why I was so excited to get this cookbook.

And I’m even putting it to the test as I type this. I’m making the Weekend Tofu and Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole. Hashbrowns and vegan cheddar are layered on the bottom of the crockpot and an “egg-like” mixture that consists of tofu and spices is poured over the top to cook for two hours. It looks incredible. Expect pictures and a review soon.

Weeknight Basics: Stir-fry and Spring Rolls

We eat stir-fry all the time and never seem to tire of it. I cook about 2 cups of brown rice, fry a whole block of tofu that’s been cubed and then throw in whatever veggies I have on hand. And I don’t even make a sauce; a little Bragg’s, a little Sriracha and a sprinkling of sesame seeds and there you go. For this particular meal, I used fresh broccoli, carrots and a green pepper. I also found vegan spring rolls at Whole Foods to round out the meal. The whole thing was under $12 and was enough for two dinners.

Best-Ever Tofu ‘Egg’ Salad with Sunny Seeds

If you haven’t had it already, I’m not sure if the above picture will look all that appetizing to you. After all, even traditional egg salad isn’t all that attractive. But the Best-Ever Tofu “Egg” Salad with Sunny Seeds recipe from “Big Vegan” is, by far, the best mock egg salad I’ve ever had. I’ve not made that many recipes from the cookbook, but this recipe alone makes the book worth the price. (Oddly, I found the recipe on Google Books.) It’s a delicious and addictive mix of different flavors and textures, from the creamy parsley-laced base, to the chewy bits of tofu and crunchy carrots, celery and sunflower seeds. The only change I made was to add a pinch of turmeric to give it a golden color; without, the chopped parsley gives it a green hue. I also added a pinch of curry powder because I happen to like it in my “egg” salad.

Though there are three different parts to the recipe, it comes together relatively fast. I serve mine on slices of whole wheat bread with a little spring mix, or sometimes I just eat it with a spoon. It’s that good.

Now if I could just find a veganized pimento cheese recipe …

Enjoy!

Broccoli Almond Sweet & Sour Tofu

This dish reminds me a lot of the General Tao’s Tofu I made a while back with the exception of the sauce. The General Tao’s sauce was sweet and spicy, and this is sweet and tangy.

The recipe is taken directly from the Vegan Yum Yum book, and you can also find it on Lauren Ulm’s website by the same name. (That’s why I’m not going to post it on here.) The book has the entire recipe, which includes adding the brown rice and the broccoli.

It’s delicious, and much tastier and healthier than most takeout. Plus, I use the sweet and sour sauce recipe quite a bit for my stir-fry dishes. It’s super-easy to make and you probably have most of the ingredients on-hand (especially if you’ve stocked your pantry).

The key for making this dish quickly is to do your prep work in advance and to take a couple of shortcuts:

First, I get my brown rice going. Second, I press my tofu. I then make the sauce and set it aside. About 10 minutes before the rice is finished cooking, I throw my broccoli pieces on top of the rice and close the lid. The broccoli will be perfectly steamed by the time the rest of the dish is finished. After I finish frying my tofu, I take it out and wipe the pan. I then pour my sauce mixture into the same skillet to thicken. Once it thickens, I toss in my fried tofu pieces, stir to coat, and serve immediately over the steamed broccoli and rice.

Enjoy!

Green Stir-fry

I love to cook, but every now and then, I have weeks where I just don’t have the motivation to step into the kitchen. This past week was one of them. I kept putting off going to the grocery, and as a result, we ate very poorly. In fact, we were a good example of how a vegan diet can be unhealthy. We lived off of veggie burgers, tofu hot dogs, tater tots, and lots of sugary sweets, which are all okay in moderation, but not every day. After a week of eating junk, my body was craving vegetables.

I love stir-fry because anything goes. It’s a great way to clean out your fridge, which is what I did for this stir-fry. For some reason, I had tons of green vegetables on hand (hence the name “Green Stir-fry”); I had some cucumbers that needed to be used, as well as a green pepper, frozen edamame, and a small head of broccoli. I also tossed in some baby carrots for extra color, tofu, peanuts, and a drizzle of a soy peanut sauce on top. The dish definitely satisfied my vegetable craving.

Green Stir-fry

Serves 2 + leftovers for the next day

Ingredients:

2 cups uncooked long-grain brown rice
4 cups water
1 tbsp Earth Balance margarine

1 lb extra firm tofu
1 tbsp low-sodium soy or tamari sauce
1 tbsp mirin

1 large green pepper, chopped into large pieces
1/2 seedless cucumber, cut into large pieces
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup broccoli pieces, chopped
1 cup frozen, shelled edamame
1/4 cup peanuts

1/4 cup natural peanut butter (I like Earth Balance brand)
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp low-sodium soy or tamari sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp chili paste

1 tbsp canola oil for frying

Directions:

Place the rice into a wide pan, and add water and margarine. Heat on medium-high until it comes up to a boil. Cover and turn down to low. Cook for 40 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, press the tofu for about 20 minutes. Once it’s been pressed, cut into 1-inch cubes. Chop all the vegetables into uniform pieces so that they cook evenly. Make the sauce by combining the peanut butter, water, sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and chili paste. Set aside.

In a wok or a heavy skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Toss in the cubed tofu and stir constantly to brown on all sides. Mix together the tablespoons of soy sauce and mirin, and add them to the tofu. Stir to coat. Take the tofu out of the wok and set aside.

Add the chopped vegetables to the pan and stir constantly to avoid burning. Cook the vegetables for about 4 to 5 minutes, and then add the peanuts and the tofu. Pour about half of the peanut sauce over the top and mix to coat everything. I serve the other half of the sauce at the table to drizzle over the dish.

Serve over the brown rice.

Enjoy!