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Friday, August 28, 2009

THE BEST SCRAMBLED TOFU!

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No, it's not my recipe. It's my version of Julie Hasson's recipe, and we love it! We have been eating very simply these days (between guests) and this recipe just seems to be the ticket when you want something quick, tasty, simple and versatile. Even my picky brother-in-law liked it!

I really like this recipe when made with medium-firm tofu pressed for 1/2 an hour in the Tofu Xpress gadget that I blogged about here, and Julie blogged about here. The tofu is firm, and yet has a silky texture that really "feels" like scrambled egg! UPDATE AUG 2012:  Recently I blogged about a new tofu press, larger capacity, handmade wood, that would work much better if you are using this recipe for a crowd. You can order it here, and read about it (with pics) here.


Medium-firm tofu pressed for 1 hour. (Update: I now press it for only 1/2 an hour-- it's your choice!)

In the recipe below, I use16 oz. of medium firm tofu pressed for a 1/2 hour to 1 hour in the Tofu Xpress, which results in about 12 to 8.2 oz. firm, but smooth and silky, tofu. If you do not own a tofu press, you can find various methods on the Internet.  Here is a good one, but I don't think it's necessary to press for 24 hours, as it says!  You can see how much water is in the press in the picture above, and you should get as much out with a similar amount of pressing time using the method I linked to.


We had Julie's Tofu Scramble over steamed asparagus for dinner the other night-- very satisfying!


Cooking the tofu

Printable Recipe

MY VERSION OF JULIE HASSON'S YUMMY TOFU SCRAMBLE Servings: 2-4
Julie says, "I love to serve this scramble with toasted bread for breakfast, or with gravy and quinoa for dinner. Any way you serve it, Tofu Scramble is great anytime of the day." I agree!  We sometimes have it for dinner served over roasted or steamed asparagus, and sometimes I add strips of bell pepper, or some pesto, etc. to the mix.

4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
16 oz. medium water packed tofu, rinsed and pressed for 1/2 an hour
to 1 hour
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 teaspoon granulated onion (or onion powder)
1 small onion,
thinly-sliced
Sliced mushrooms (I use about four 2-inch ones)
1 clove garlic, minced
Freshly-ground black pepper
1 tablespoon soy sauce (can be low-sodium)

Heat a medium to large nonstick, cast iron or hard-anodized aluminum skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tsp.  of olive oil so that the bottom of the skillet is very lightly coated. Break the tofu into small pieces and add them to the hot skillet. You can further break up any large pieces of tofu with a spatula. Let the tofu cook, stirring occasionally, until the tofu has is starting to turn golden.

Continue to saute the tofu until it is light golden brown. Sprinkle the nutritional yeast flakes and granulated onion over tofu, stirring so that all of the tofu is coated.

Add 2 teaspoons more olive oil to the skillet, along with the sliced onion, mushrooms and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender. 

Sprinkle with pepper and drizzle with the soy sauce, stirring until liquid is absorbed. 

Remove skillet from heat and serve the scramble warm, with toasted bread or hash brown potatoes, if desired.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per 1/4 of the recipe): 99.3 calories; 52% calories from fat; 6.1g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 235.0mg sodium; 277.6mg potassium; 5.5g carbohydrates; 2.1g fiber; 1.6g sugar; 3.4g net carbs; 8.0g protein; 2.1 points.

Nutrition (per 1/2 of the recipe): 196.2 calories; 52% calories from fat; 12.2g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 319.9mg sodium; 547.1mg potassium; 10.7g carbohydrates; 4.2g fiber; 3.2g sugar; 6.5g net carbs; 15.8g protein; 4.1 points.


Enjoy!

Monday, August 24, 2009

SUMMER MEALS AND A DISH OF GREEK-STYLE WHITE BEANS WITH PEPPERS AND ONIONS

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A summer lunch-- Denman Island corn and homegrown tomatoes (and basil!) with homemade salsa (for the corn) and homemade vegan low-fat mayonnaise (for the tomatoes).

The above is a frequent lunch these days, as we eat corn on the cob and fresh sliced tomatoes virtually ONLY in season, when we can eat corn within a few hours of picking, and our own fresh tomatoes. They are soooooo good in season that nothing else is ever as good, so why bother? I tell you, that last tomato sandwich of the early Fall is so sad!

We have had alot of company (and alot of fun!), but not much time to cook anything fancy or to blog!


Some of my grandchildren at play on the Denman playground.


Me supervising my youngest grandchild, visiting from Vancouver

I'm also dancing regularly again, which is great exercise and more fun! (I have lost 20 lbs. so far, BTW!) This also takes up some of my time, but I decided that I need to take more time to do both exercise and something for myself, and bellydancing meets both criteria!

We managed to squeeze in a dinner party with friends last Thursday night, but I failed to take pictures of everything. We had some yummy hummous and pita and grilled eggplant from one guest, Sarah, and a delicious salad from another guest, Pam. It was also a spectacularly beautiful salad, with a vibrantly colorful cooked Blackberry Vinaigrette:




This was the recipe she used. Pam said that she used agave nectar instead of sugar and didn't have any tarragon. It was delicious and, as you can see from the photo, spectacular! Of course, she didn't use the cheese in the recipe, and she used butter lettuce and a mixture of toasted seeds instead of pistachios for the salad itself.

I served a Greek spinach rice pilaf;
Turkish-style red lentil patties; Breast of Tofu with lemon wedges; vegan Key Lime Bars; grilled zucchini and pattypan squash with olive oil, lemon juice and basil; and the following bean dish, which sounds so simple you wonder how it can be that good, but it is, and was eaten enthusiastically by all.



Printable Recipe

BRYANNA'S GREEK-STYLE WHITE BEANS WITH PEPPERS AND ONIONS IN OLIVE OIL
Servings: 6

I wanted to make a summer bean dish for a dinner party, and one guest is allergic to tomatoes. I had some canned white kidney beans and lots of peppers and onions, so I made the traditional Greek Lenten dish of peppers and onions braised in olive oil (with not quite so much olive oil as usual!), called Pipironata, and added the beans to it. It's good hot, or at room temperature. (I doubled this recipe and we had leftovers for a couple of lunches.)

2 lbs. bell peppers (preferably a mix of different colors)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
salt and freshly-ground black pepper
OPTIONAL: chopped fresh basil
1/ 19 oz. can white kidney beans or Great Northern or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

OR about 2 cups home-cooked

Wash and drain the peppers and pat them dry. Cut away the stems, cut them in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Cut the peppers into thin strips (about 1/8" wide).

Heat the olive oil in a large cast iron, anodized aluminium, or nonstick skillet. When hot, add the onions and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until they wilt and begin to brown a bit. Add the garlic and peppers and toss well. Cover and cook over medium heat until the peppers are quite soft, about 20-30 minutes. There should be enough liquid from the vegetables to keep the mixture from sticking, as long as the heat is not too high. The vegetables are braising in the oil and their own juices and there should be some "sauce" in the pan when they are done.


Stir in the vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper (add the basil , if using). Stir in the rinsed, drained beans.

Scoop the dish into a serving bowl and serve right away, or allow to come to room temperature before serving. if you refrigerate it, let it come to room temperature before serving, or reheat it.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving):
389.0 calories; 12% calories from fat; 5.6g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 20.5mg sodium; 1948.8mg potassium; 66.2g carbohydrates; 16.8g fiber; 5.4g sugar; 49.4g net carbs; 22.7g protein; 7.4 points.

Enjoy!

Monday, August 17, 2009

CHEESEY RUSTIC VEGAN GREEK-STYLE SAVORY SUMMER SQUASH PIE (VEGAN KRITIKO BOUREKI)

Best Blog Tips I promised to post this recipe from the vegan feast posted last Thursday, so here it is! You can make this pie with any squash, but the yellow pattypan squash is particularly pretty.

You can make the "Cheesey" components days ahead, if you like, but the Tofu Feta Crumble and Tofu Ricotta are both very quick and easy to make.


Our first pattypan squash this year.


A platter with wedges of the squash pie interspersed with another savory tart.

Printable Recipe

BRYANNA'S RUSTIC VEGAN GREEK-STYLE SAVORY SUMMER SQUASH PIE (VEGAN KRITIKO BOUREKI)
Servings: 8


This is a "rustic" or "freeform" pie, in which you make one large circle of pastry and fold or pleat the excess on the edges up over part of the filling, leaving some showing in the middle.

PS: If you prefer, you can omit the pastry and use 12 sheets of commercial phyllo pastry brushed with olive oil. Use a 12" round baking pan and use 7 sheets on the bottom and 5 on the top.

2 x the recipe for Low-Fat, Crispy Olive Oil Pastry
Filling:
2 lbs. yellow or green or striped pattypan squash and or zucchini, trimmed and sliced 1/4" thick
kosher salt
1 cup Tofu Ricotta or Almond Ricotta
1 cup Quick Tofu Feta Crumble (recipe here)
1/4 cup plain soy yogurt or Tofu Sour Creme (homemade recipe here)
1/4 cup unbleached white flour
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
freshly-ground black pepper to taste
oil from a pump sprayer

Layer the squash in a colander, lightly salting each layer with kosher salt. Press the squash down in the colander with a bowl that fits into it,



weighed down by a jar of water or some cans.



Let it drain for 30 minutes.

Make the pastry and the filling while the squash drains.

For the Filling:

In a medium bowl, mix together the Tofu or Almond Ricotta, the Quick Tofu Feta Crumble, and the soy yogurt or Tofu Sour Creme and set aside.

Rinse the squash and pat dry with a clean tea towel.

To assemble the pie:
Have ready a 14" round pizza pan, sprayed with oil from a pump sprayer.

Roll the pastry out into an 18-20" round (doesn't have to be perfect!). Roll it up around the rolling pin, loosely, and transfer it to the pan by starting at the top of the pan and unrolling the pastry over the pan. Spray the dough with oil from a pump sprayer or brush lightly with olive oil.

Toss most of the squash slices with the flour in a bowl-- leave enough squash slices to decorate the open top (about 6" in diameter) of the pie un-floured.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Layer 1/2 of the floured squash neatly in overlapping circles on the pastry. Dot generously with 1/2 of the ricotta/feta/yogurt mixture, sprinkle with salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon of the mint. Repeat the layering. Place the unfloured squash decoratively on top of the last layer of Filling, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and more mint, if you have it.

Carefully bring the edges up around the filling, to make a freeform pie. Pleat the edges of the dough over the filling, leaving about a 6" open circle in the center.



Cover the squash in the open circle (not the pastry) with a circle of foil cut to fit. Spray or brush the outside of the pastry lightly with oil. Bake for about 1 hour, or until the pastry is golden.

Cool on a rack for at least 15 minutes before cutting into wedges and serving.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving):
295.2 calories; 35% calories from fat; 12.2g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 701.2mg sodium; 499.0mg potassium; 35.4g carbohydrates; 3.2g fiber; 3.6g sugar; 32.2g net carbs; 13.2g protein; 6.3 points.

Enjoy!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

TWO VEGAN FEASTS IN ONE WEEK!

Best Blog Tips I've got company coming any minute, but I wanted to blog something, so I'm going to tantalize you with photos of two dinners we had last week, and I'll post a recipe or two from them on Monday!

Our good friends Mike and Fireweed had their third wedding anniversary last week and I invited them over, with another vegan friend, Holly, for an impromptu celebratory dinner. I made a kind of Middle Eastern fusion meal, mostly cold or room-temperature dishes:


L- Beets and Greens with Vegan Yogurt Dressing , Middle- A spicy squash and cauliflower salad (Update in Aug 2011-- I don't know where that recipe came from-- maybe here?); and R-scrambled tofu with vegetables in the style of Shakshuka,  a North African egg and tomato dish that has traveled to Middle Eastern countries in various forms-- this one is more in the Iraqi style with a scramble and vegetables).


R- my New, Improved No-Oil Hummous; and, behind the rye crisp and celery, Mutabbal (Smokey Palestinian-style Eggplant Dip or Spread-- recipe in my new cookbook World Vegan Feast)


R- Sweet Potato Oven "Fries" with Moroccan Spices and, in front, Roasted Potato Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes (recipe in my new cookbook World Vegan Feast )
For dessert we had homemade popsicles!

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Last Sunday night we had one of our communal vegan dinners with some vegan friends, hosted by Mike and Fireweed this time (we alternate). The theme was locally grown and what a gorgeous meal!


The table set with gazpacho and slices of 2 savory tarts that I made.


Close-up of the tarts-- they were sliced and arranged around a bowl of homegrown cherry tomatoes-- one was a savory rustic Italian greens tart (recipe in my new cookbook World Vegan Feast ), and the other was a Greek-style pie made with our home-grown yellow patty-pan squash (See recipe here).


Close-up of Fireweed's gazpacho.


Ellen's green salad-- chock-full of goodies like pumpkin seeds, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.


Pelka's delicious green bean and shiitake mushroom casserole!


Fireweed's veggie kebabs in a pineapple!

And the dessert-- here are some shots of Fireweed's yummy homemade blueberry pie (made with organic berries that she and Mike picked locally!):







It's sure good to have great vegan friends who are also such good cooks! (PS: We missed you, Sarah and Gordon!)

Cheers til next time!


Monday, August 3, 2009

CONSERVING WATER WHEN MAKING HOMEMADE SOYMILK OR TOFU; EASY VEGAN POPSICLES-- NOT JUST FOR KIDS!

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A Vegan Pineapple Sherbet Pop about to be eaten, in front of a new batch of Vegan Orange Creamsicles

Last week all temperature records were broken in BC-- it was HOT! Popsicles and salads were the order of the day, and I'll get back to those popsicles very soon. A prime concern for many people, even in our rain forest, is water-- or the lack thereof. We had a dry winter and spring, and now a dry summer. Forest fires are raging in parts of the province; wells are drying up. You see trucks with huge water tanks waiting in the ferry lineups to bring water to fill island wells. (We are lucky-- we have a back-up deep well to fill up our well in the summer.)


A reader pointed out the problem of how much water is used in soymilk making some time ago, and I addressed that on my page about soymilk making. But I recently began to use a more efficient way of utilizing water during the soymilk-making process, and I'd like to share it with you.

If you make your own soymilk and/or tofu and you are having water problems, here are some ideas to conserve water during the very water-intensive process:

You can use the same 2 quarts or so of water to:
a.) float the skins off the soybeans;
b.) scald your equipment;
c.) wash your equipment after making the soymilk;
and d.) water your plants or garden!



While rubbing the skins off of the beans before making the soymilk (removing the skins results in a product with a less "beany" taste), strain the water in which you are floating off the skins through a seive into a pot or bowl each time. Re-use the same water for each round of rubbing off and floating off the skins and save the water after the last round. (NOTE: I have found that the age of the soybeans makes a difference in terms of removing the skins.  For older, more shrunken soybeans, it takes me about 7 minutes to remove the skins; for nice plump newer soybeans it takes only about 3 minutes.  I soak them in the refrigerator first for a few days.  Freezing the soaked beans also helps the skins come off more easily.)

Now you can
boil that same strained rinsing water and use it to scald your equipment in a basin. After making your soymilk, you can re-use the same water (in a washing basin and reheated) to wash out your straining cloth and clean and rinse your soymilk-making equipment. If you use dish soap, use a biodegradable one. You can then use this washing and rinsing water to water your plants or garden, or even flush your toilet, if water is very scarce. I hope that helps!

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Now, those popsicles! Sure, I keep them around for treats for my grandchildren, but DH and I like them for a cold treat, too. And the ones I make are low in calories, fat, and even sugar. I don't have any of those fancy, flat Popsicle molds (UPDATE Aug 3 2011-- I do now! Great Canadian Superstore has some at a very reasonable price.)-- I like the small ones you can buy in a large supermarket just because they ARE small. These small molds make a popsicle that's only around 50 cool calories and about 1 WW point!

(PS: here is an article with links to all sorts of popsicle molds. This site sells many different kinds of popsicle molds. Tupperware sells molds, in Canada, too.

If you are looking for BPA-free molds, here are three: Tovola molds [doesn't say they are BPA free, but I according to this site, they are]; Norpro molds ; and Soft landing molds . Stainless-steel popsicle molds are also available. You can also use wooden popsicle sticks [buy them at craft stores if you can't find them elsewhere] with tiny glass jars or drinking glasses. Because it is a cold mixture that goes into them, and they can be removed from the mold as soon as they freeze, and the plastic is never heated, I personally don't worry too much about this.)

For special occasions, you can make "adult popsicles" by adding a little liquor or liqueur to the mix!

Here are two of our favorite popsicle recipes, and I'll share some more of our favorites in the weeks to come.



Printable Recipe

BRYANNA'S VEGAN ORANGE CREAMSICLES (WITH GROWN-UP OPTION)
Servings: 16
Yield: 16 small popsicles

1 cup non-dairy milk
(you can even use soymilk that has turned to "buttermilk"!)
1/ 12.3 oz. box firm or extra-firm SILKEN tofu (use soft or medium tofu if silken is not available)
6 oz frozen orange juice concentrate
1/3 cup unbleached organic granulated sugar (or agave nectar)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pinch salt
GROWN-UP OPTION: 3 tablespoons citrus vodka or orange liqueur

Blend until smooth in a blender or Vita-Mix, fill your popsicle molds, put the sticks in place, and freeze solid. To remove, turn the mold upside down and run under hot tap water for a a few seconds, until the popsicles loosen in the molds enough to slide them out.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving):
54.2 calories; 9% calories from fat; 0.6g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 39.3mg sodium; 142.5mg potassium; 10.2g carbohydrates; 0.2g fiber; 9.7g sugar; 10.0g net carbs; 2.3g protein; 1.1 points.

Nutrition facts with the vodka or liqueur added: Nutrition (per serving): 60.3 calories; 8% calories from fat; 0.6g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 39.3mg sodium; 142.6mg potassium; 10.2g carbohydrates; 0.2g fiber; 9.7g sugar; 10.0g net carbs; 2.3g protein; 1.2 points.

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Printable Recipe

BRYANNA'S VEGAN PINEAPPLE SHERBET POPS (WITH GROWN-UP OPTION)
Servings: 18
Yield: 18 small popsicles


1/ 12.3 oz box firm or extra-firm SILKEN tofu (use soft or medium tofu if silken is not available)
1/3 cup unbleached organic granulated sugar (or agave nectar)
4 teaspoons lemon or lime juice
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
19 oz canned unsweetened crushed pineapple packed in juice (with the juice)
GROWN-UP OPTION: 3 tablespoons vodka, rum, pineapple liqueur or coconut liqueur

Blend until smooth in a blender or Vita-Mix, fill your popsicle molds, put the sticks in place, and freeze solid. To remove, turn the mold upside down and run under hot tap water for a few seconds, until the popsicles loosen in the molds enough to slide them out.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving):
43.6 calories; 8% calories from fat; 0.4g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 12.5mg sodium; 68.1mg potassium; 8.9g carbohydrates; 0.3g fiber; 8.2g sugar; 8.6g net carbs; 1.6g protein; 0.9 points.

Nutrition facts with the liquor added: Nutrition (per serving): 52.4 calories; 6% calories from fat; 0.4g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 12.5mg sodium; 68.1mg potassium; 9.7g carbohydrates; 0.3g fiber; 8.2g sugar; 9.4g net carbs; 1.6g protein; 1.0 points.

Keep cool!