Friday, July 28, 2006


Best Blog Tips

Yesterday I made a recipe from my Chinese cookbook, "Authentic Chinese Cuisine for the Contemporary Kitchen"-- Buddha's "Roast Duck", a variation of my Buddha's "Chicken" recipe. I'd almost forgotten how easy it is to make, and how delicious. It makes a lovely appetizer and was gobbled up in no time. I served it with some homemade organic Chinese plum sauce I made last year, but you can use the more traditional "Duck Sauce" (see recipe at end of this blog entry).

This is NOT a Weight Watcher's Core Food Plan recipe! It's fried, to begin with, (I shallow-fried it in a skillet instead of the traditional deep-frying) and yuba (Don't know what yuba is? See about yuba below) is quite rich. This was for company. This time I had no fresh yuba, so I used dried yuba sheets, soaked, which works just fine.

Printable Recipe

Serves 4
This is a traditional yuba, or beancurd skin, recipe used by Chinese Buddhist vegetarians. It makes a delicious hot or cold appetizer. Leftovers can be chopped and used in stuffings or rice or noodle dishes.
          If you use fresh yuba, which needs no soaking, this dish is very quick to prepare. It's very easy to make, though, whether you use fresh or dried.

3 large (about 16" in diameter) round sheets fresh yuba (beancurd skin), cut in half
OR 3 large rectangular sheets dried yuba (beancurd skin)
1/3 c. mushroom bouillon, or the water from soaking dried mushrooms
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. dry sherry
3/4 tsp. organic sugar
2 tsp. dark (Asian) sesame oil
oil for shallow-frying (cold-pressed Chinese peanut oil, such as Lion&Globe Brand, is good, or you can use canola oil)

If using the dried yuba, soak the sheets (handle carefully) in warm water for 5-10 minutes, then pat them dry and cut them in half.

Mix the broth, soy sauce, sherry, sugar, and sesame oil in a small saucepan and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Pour this into a bowl and allow to cool slightly.

Spread a piece of fine cheesecloth or thin white cotton sheeting, about 12x6", over a cookie sheet. Place one half-sheet fresh or reconstituted dried yuba on this.

Brush the sheet with the soy sauce mixture. Cover with another piece of yuba and brush-- repeat until all of the yuba and sauce is used up. If there is some sauce left, pour it over the yuba and brush evenly towards the outsides.

Fold the short side in, once, and then once again, so that it is folded in thirds, and flatten lightly. I had to fold it over in half to make it fit into my steamer and skillet. Wrap it in the cloth. Tie the ends with white string. Steam the roll, covered, on a steaming try with holes over boiling water, for 10 minutes.

Remove the cloth carefully and cut the roll into 2 sections, if it seems to big to handle. Heat oil about 1/4-1/2" deep over high heat in a large, heavy skillet. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, carefully add the "package"(s), standing back to avoid splattering, and fry until golden-brown. This will take only a few seconds.

Turn over and fry the other side. It will probably puff up. Remove from the pan (you may have to use cooking tongs.

Drain the yuba on paper.

To serve, slice diagonally into thin slices on a cutting board with a sharp knife, and serve hot or cold as an appetizer.

To make MOCK PEKING DUCK, serve thinly sliced Buddha's Roast Duck with Manadarin pancakes or flour tortillas, and finely-shredded green onion. Guests place a bit of "duck" along with about 1 tsp. of "Duck Sauce" sauce (below)and a few shreds of green onion in a Mandarin pancake, roll up, and eat out of hand.

Makes about 7/8 c.

Although many recipes for "Duck sauce" call for plum sauce or hoisin sauce, the traditional sauce in China is made with brown or yellow bean paste. Serve this with Buddha's "Roast Duck".

1/2 c. water
4 T. brown bean sauce (OR use slightly watered down miso)
4 T. organic sugar
2 T. dark (Asian) sesame oil

Mix the ingredients in a small saucepan. Stir over high heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture has thickened to your liking. Chill the mixture before serving.

This photo shows a package of dried yuba, a sheet of it on the left, and the soaked yuba on the right.

YUBA OR BEANCURD SKIN ("TOFU SKIN", BEANTHREAD SKIN", TOU-P'I, DOUFU-P'I OR DOUFU-I) is considered a delicacy Japan, but is a much more common food in China and Taiwan, where each city will have a number of shops or market stalls selling only beancurd skin and products made from it. It is made by simmering soymilk and lifting off the "skin" that forms on the top, just like that on dairy milk. It's very rich and nutritious, and high in protein.

Here is a history of yuba.

Here is how to make your own yuba!

This "skin" can be used fresh, or is dried in sheets or rolled-up "sticks". The sticks are used in soups, stews, and stir-fries, and can also be barbecued. The sheets can be cut up like "noodles", or used in soups, stews, and stir-fries as well. They can be rolled around fillings and baked, steamed or fried for delicious appetizers, or used as a crispy "skin" around vegetarian poultry substitutes.

Dried Yuba

Yuba (I'm going to refer to this product by its Japanese name because it is shorter, becoming more universally accepted [like tofu instead of bean curd], and less confusing than the various English translations from the Chinese names) is a very concentrated soyfood. The dried version, more widely available in Asian markets and some large supermarkets, must be soaked in warm water for about 10 minutes before using.

Fresh sheets are also available in large cities in Chinese tofu shops, and must be frozen for future use. They often come in 16"-diameter round sheets, or semi-circular sheets. These are sometimes labelled "Fresh Spring Roll Skins or Wrappers", but are not to be confused with the wrappers made from flour. The package will tell you that the ingredients are only soybeans and water. Some varieties are very thin, some are as thick as canvas. The sheets are folded into many forms and sizes to make rolls and stuffed pouches, or molded and steamed.

The Chinese have used amazing ingenuity to create "mock meats" using yuba. In Chinese yuba shops you will find replicas of chickens, ducks, fish, hams, rolled meats, sausages links, etc., all made primarily from yuba. These dishes, with names such as Buddha's Chicken or Buddha's Duck, as served on cold plates at fine restaurants or family banquets.

Often, these "mock meats" are made from a similar product called pai-yeh, or pressed beancurd sheets or wrappers, sometimes translated as "one hundred leaves" or "one hundred pages". These are used in the same ways as yuba, but are made by pressing firm soybean curds under very heavy weights for several hours, until the sheet of beancurd looks like a 6-12" square of canvas with a clothlike pattern imprinted on both sides. The sheets are flexible and very attractive, I think. They are, unfortunately, harder to find outside of urban centers with large Chinese populations, so I have not called for this product in this book. However, should you find it, feel free to substitute it for yuba.

A thicker form of yuba is called Er-ju bean curd sheets. They are brown and come in stacks of 5 x 1 and 1/2" sheets tied together with string or wrapped in paper. They can be soaked and then cooked with soy sauce and seasonings to make a type of "ham" or "bacon".


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Monday, July 24, 2006


Best Blog Tips

It's a bit cooler than the other day, but still definitely salad weather! And hearty salads are great for the Weight Watcher's Core Plan, which I am following just now. I made a wheat berry salad (I'll post that later in the week), but I wasn't sure DH would like it, so I wanted to make an interesting potato salad as a back-up. It was both delicious and eye-appealing.

Printable Recipe

Serves 12

4 lbs. new boiling potatoes or red-skinned potatoes, peeled (cut into same-sized chunks if too large to cook whole)
2 c. shelled frozen edamamé (green soybeans), or baby lima beans (or use shelled or frozen baby peas)
4 cups fresh or frozen sweet corn kernels
2 medium onions, thinly sliced and soaked in boiling water to cover for 10 minutes, then drained
NOTE: I only had regular onions, and this process makes the taste much less strong. I you want the onions really raw, use a sweet onion instead.
1/4 c. cider vinegar
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
1/4 c. minced fresh tarragon (or 4 tsp. dried tarragon)
2 medium ripe, firm tomatoes, diced
1 cup aquafaba or Fat-Free Oil Substitute
1/3 c. cider vinegar
1 tsp. salt
freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 c. Tofu Mayonnaise or my Lowfat Eggless Mayonnaise (here's my new version with no extracted oil) or use reduced-fat (though higher in calories than the above) Veganaise

Cover the potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until they are tender, but still firm.(OR micro-steam them in a covered microwave-safe casserole for 8-10 minutes-- no water necessary.) Drain in a colander and peel them with your fingers under running cold water (or leave the peel on, if you prefer-- I did because I like the color of the pink-red peels).

Drain them again and cut into medium dice, or thick slices, as desired. Toss the potatoes in a large bowl with vinegar, onions, tarragon and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Cook the beans in boiling water to cover for about 5 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Drain and cool under cold running water. Drain well again. (NOTE: If you use frozen baby peas, just cover them in boiling water and let thaw, then drain.) Fold the beans into the potatoes.

Spread the corn (thaw the frozen kernels in boiling water, then drain first) on a cookie sheet sprayed with oil from a pump sprayer. Spray the top of the corn with a little more oil. Broil just until the corn starts to brown and char a bit around the edges and on top.

To make the Vinaigrette, whisk together the Aquafaba or Fat-Free Oil Substitute, the vinegar and salt. Add the mayonnaise and blend until smooth with a stick/immersion blender (or blend in a blender or food processor).

Pour the mixture over the potatoes and beans and stir gently, sprinkling with pepper to taste. Add the diced tomatoes and stir gently; taste for salt. Place in a serving bowl and refrigerate until serving time. Serve on crisp romaine lettuce leaves, if you like.

Nutrition (per serving; made with my homemade Tofu Mayonnaise):
223.6 calories; 3% calories from fat; 0.9g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 328.0mg sodium; 1120.5mg potassium; 49.4g carbohydrates; 5.8g fiber; 2.7g sugar; 43.6g net carbs; 7.2g protein; 3.7 points.


Saturday, July 22, 2006


Best Blog Tips

I know some of you will laugh at me saying that in British Columbia, but it's supposed to get up to 38 degrees celsius today (slightly over 100 degrees F), and I don't feel like cooking! I dug around in the refrigerator today and came up with this delicious and eye-appealing whole-meal salad:

Printable Recipe

Serves 4
Since I used what I had around, this is open to experimentation!

3 1/2 cups plain cooked  medium (#2) bulgur wheat, cold (OR cooked quinoa instead, or 1/2 & 1/2)
1 1/2 cups reconstituted Soy Curls or vegan "chicken" strips or "tenders" (1 pckg.), or "chicken" seitan strips OR cooked or canned chickpeas rinsed and drained
(NOTE: chickpeas were what I was originally going to use, but they had to be thawed out, and the Soy Curls™ were already reconstituted and in the fridge, so I used them)
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 zucchini (7-8 oz.), diced small
1/2 cup chopped oregano, basil, cilantro, parsley,mint, and/or lemon balm
1/2 cup chopped green onion (2 large-ish green onions)
grated peel of 2 oranges
chopped flesh of the same 2 oranges (cut the rind off with a sharp knife)

3/4 cup aquafaba or Oil Substitute for Salad Dressing
4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 pinches cinnamon
freshly-ground black pepper to taste

Whisk or blend the Dressing ingredients together well.

Mix the dressing well with the remaining ingredients. Garnish as desired. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until serving time, but leave at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Nutrition (per serving): 307.7 calories; 20% calories from fat; 7.3g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 496.5mg sodium; 611.3mg potassium; 54.4g carbohydrates; 16.5g fiber; 3.9g sugar; 37.9g net carbs; 11.5g protein; 6.0 points.

Stay cool!

Sunday, July 16, 2006


Best Blog Tips Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Ringo and Tina decided to curl up on the dirt in an unused planter!

I started on the Weight Watcher's Core Food plan the week of my son's wedding- probably a silly idea, but I actually did lose weight, even with the wedding and almost a week of company. The Core Food Plan is very flexible and easy for vegans. It actually does help me to stay on the plan, knowing I spent some money on this!

Here are a few things I've cooked up that conform with the Core Plan:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Some local beets and greens that I steamed (tossed the beets with no-fat balsamic vinaigrette); steamed local baby potatoes; extra-firm tofu that I dredged in seasoned ww flour and browned under the broiler, then cooked in broth and dry sherry, with green pepper, sundried tomatoes, garlic, rosemary, and just a smidgen of kalamata olives.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
A bowl of romano beans (you could use pintos) that I cooked in chicken-style veggie broth with onions, garlic, celery, carrot, fresh sage and rosemary, pepper, and a couple of extra spoonfuls of my homemade veggie broth powder. Very yummy! I cooked some organic local cauliflower and our own kale in some of the broth and added it to the bowl.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
"Fritattine" (small fritatte, or Italian omelets) folded around browned mushrooms and potatoes (fat-free) with a little of my vegan "Gruyere" cheese melted on top (UPDATE: recipe in my book World Vegan Feast). I used my basic Fritatta recipe from my book "Nonna's italian Kitchen", but I only made 3/4 of the recipe and used 1 (12.3 oz.) box of extra-firm SILKEN tofu. I only added some basil to the basic batter.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
It made 5 small omelets about 5-6" across. I cooked them in small nonstick skillets over medium heat, covered, for a few minutes, until they firmed on top and browned on the bottom, then flipped them over and cooked a few more minutes. They can be filled with all sorts of vegetable mixtures. This one was actually a little dry-- next time I would serve the potatoes on the side, I think.

In the book, the directions are to cook them on a baking sheet, which is actually more practical for a large amount, but I couldn't wait for the oven to heat up. The texture is better when they are cooked in the oven, but they were pretty good done on the stovetop.

Hope you're having a good weekend!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Saturday, July 15, 2006


Best Blog Tips Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I just had a cup of green tea that I'd like to share with you. I work in a library, which some of you may know, and one of my library patrons gave me a little gift-- a packet with two odd-looking sort of straw balls in it it, labelled "Flower Among the Tea". She told me that when you steeped it the ball turned into a beautiful flower in a cup of green tea. And indeed it did!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Lisa got it from the Tea Centre in Courtenay, BC, near where I live. Check out their page about "Flower Among the Tea". It explains how they make them, too. (They mail-order.) I recommend using a glass cup, as I did, for full effect. (Or a glass "flowering tea" pot for larger tea balls.) They say you can steep it three times.

UPDATE: There are now many brands of flowering teas available, including on amazon.  An organic brand is Numi.

Just thought it was too interesting not to share (and it tasted good too!).


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Best Blog Tips

What did I make for dinner in the midst of all the wedding busy-ness last week? Here's one thing we really liked! I made it totally on the spur-of-the-moment. I used the fat-free chili gravy from the "Chicken" Tortilla Pie from last July's Vegan Feast newsletter (which was "fancier", with artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes in it). This sauce is so quick to mix up and tastes great on this sort of dish! Corn tortillas are tastier than flour tortillas in this type of dish, I think, and have fewer calories, too. (NOTE: I discontinued my newsletter several years ago.)

Printable Recipe

Serves 4
I made this with leftover frozen tortillas, homemade tofu "mascarpone", vegan "cheddar", and a package of Yves Veggie "Ground Round", PLUS a jar of peppers and some canned sliced olives that I wanted to use up. For want of a vegetable, I used some frozen corn that I had in the freezer. It was yummy!

8 corn tortillas (8-inch size)

1 pckg Yves Veggie "Ground Round" (any style), or about 2 cups any veggie "hamburger" crumbles
(NOTE: You can use whole or mashed pinto or black beans, or spicy bean spread, either instead of, or in addition to, "hamburger" crumbles, if you wish.)

2 cups frozen corn, thawed and drained
1 cup Tofu Mascarpone (from my book Nonna's Italian Kitchen), or you could use vegan cream cheese, OR vegan "Ricotta" (recipes here)
6 oz. chiles from a jar (NOT jalapeños-- California green chiles are good), rinsed (seed if necessary) and flattened out (I used a jar of Spanish "fire peppers", but they were actually quite mild)
3 oz. grated vegan cheese (your favorite variety)
1 cup water
1 1/2 Tbs tomato paste
1 Tbs chili powder
1 Tbs white flour
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp soy sauce
GARNISHES (any or all):
sliced California black olives
vegan sour crème
sliced avocado
hot sauce or salsa
chopped tomatoes
chopped onion

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Blend all of the gravy ingredients in a blender until smooth. Bring to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring, then reduce heat to medium and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently. OR place it in a 1 qt. microwave-safe bowl and microwave 2 minutes. Whisk and microwave 1 more minute until thickened.

Mix the "hamburger" crumbles with 1/2 cup of the Chili gravy. Set aside.

Spray a 9" pie pan with oil from a pump sprayer.

1.)Layer 2 tortillas in the bottom of the pan. (Or make 2 stacks in an oval pan.)
2.) Layer on the peppers; then 2 more tortillas.
3.) Spread on the "mascarpone"(or vegan cream cheese, OR vegan "Ricotta"), and add the corn kernels (they will stick to the "cheese"; add 2 more tortillas.
4.) Add the "hamburger" crumbles in an even layer; add the last 2 tortillas.
5.) Spread on the the remaining sauce, sprinkle with the the soy cheese and olives.

Cover the casserole with foil.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes. Cut into wedges to serve.