Tag Archives: tofu

Recipe: Choc-Mint Birthday Cupcakes for Andrew

It’s Andrew’s birthday today!  Happy birthday, Andrew!  Every year, I ask him what kind of cake he would like for his birthday, and every year, I get a slightly terrified look (you want me to make a decision?  About food?), followed by a sheepish acknowledgement, after some discussion, that yes, he does want something chocolatey and minty.  Again.  Because being an Andrew means wanting choc-mint everything all the time.  (He knows what he likes…)

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The problem with Andrew having a birthday at this time of year is that he never gets a truly elaborate birthday cake, mostly because I am in the middle of grant season.  This grant season has been particularly diabolical, too, what with the NHMRC compressing all the due dates so that all the grants are due a week apart, changing the rules twice (so far), and then our finance department providing the coup de grace by introducing new costings for all our internal services the day all the budgets were due to the grants office.   It’s all rather exhausting, not to say demoralising, and while it’s awfully early in the year to be losing the will to live, I, for one, am getting close to that point.

(The good news is that I’m getting a lot of singing work, which is always a balm to the soul.  Though not conducive to blogging.  So yes, there is a significant chance that I will be disappearing off the radar quite a bit over the next couple of months.  And I’m sorry about that lengthy whinge.  As I said, I’m feeling rather demoralised.)

Here, have some cupcakes to un-demoralise you.

Here, have some cupcakes to un-demoralise you.

Anyway.  Cake!  So, as you may have gathered, my priority for Andrew’s birthday cake is to produce a cake that is on the one hand suitably choc-minty and decadent, and on the other hand really, really fast to make.  Which, oddly enough, tends to mean vegan or nearly-vegan, since most of those cupcake recipes are very straightforward.  As a bonus, of course, this means that I can easily cater to my sister-in-law, who prefers to avoid dairy if possible.

These cupcakes, then, are just a nice, simple, vegan cupcake, flavoured with really good cocoa, and an optional (non vegan) cube of mint-filled chocolate in the centre.  I’ve topped them with a really basic peppermint-spiked chocolate tofu mousse, which is, frankly, easier to make than chocolate ganache, and not a lot more complicated than chocolate buttercream, and much tastier.

Not elaborate, but entirely delicious.  Which is really all you can ask for from a cupcake…

Your Shopping List (Makes seven big cupcakes – one for everyone in the family, plus an extra one for the birthday boy)

2/3 cup almond milk + 20 ml for the topping
3/4 tsp cider or white wine vinegar
3/4 cup plain flour or plain spelt flour
1/4 cup really good Dutch-style cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup sugar
7 squares of Cadbury Peppermint Block, or similar (optional)
125 g silken tofu
2 tsp creme de cacao (optional)
115 g dark chocolate
6 drops peppermint oil, or peppermint essence to taste (start with 1/4 teaspoon)
Green sugar, optional

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Recipe: Scrambled Tofu with Cajun Spices

Three quarters of the way through the month and it’s probably time I actually created a recipe for my Anyone Can Cook Vegetarian Food challenge.  And in fact, I did create this recipe, several days ago – I’m just having trouble getting around to posting it. I’m running a big event at work next week and am being a bit overwhelmed not so much by the workload as by the slightly terrifying levels of enthusiasm and competitiveness being demonstrated by those around me. 

The number of questions I’ve been getting about exactly how things will work and precisely how I will prevent cheating – including the Graphics department expressing an alarming level of concern about people forging voting tokens (and I’m not at *all* worried that it’s the people who design all the images, drawings, posters etc who have forgery on their minds…) is… well, let’s just say that I’m beginning to wonder if my trust in my colleagues is misplaced and I should be appointing scrutineers.  And maybe the Electoral Commission, to supervise.

(Still, given that my biggest worry a few weeks ago was that nobody would participate, overwhelming enthusiasm is a fairly nice problem to have.  I am beginning to feel a little bit like a kindergarten teacher, however.)

Anyway.  This is indeed a lovely, quick recipe to make – and it’s tofu, which is a product I’m normally terrified of, so it’s slightly amazing, even to me, that this recipe has been getting onto my weeknight roster.  To me, this tastes like a nice, spicy version of scrambled eggs.  (Andrew tells me it tastes nothing like scrambled eggs. He’s wrong, but since he hates eggs, and likes this recipe, I’m not going to complain…)  Like scrambled eggs, it’s a good, fast recipe to put together on a hot day.

I like to serve this with corn chips, which saves any extra cooking and is also yummy.  But it’s pretty nice on it’s own, or you could stuff it into a burrito for a vegan version of breakfast burritos…

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Your shopping list

250 g soft tofu
4 spring onions (scallions)
2 capsicums, one red and one green
1-2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp Cajun spice mix
1 chipotle pepper in adobo, or 1 tsp ground chipotle pepper
½ tsp turmeric
250 g cherry tomatoes
small handful of fresh coriander (optional – leave it out if you hate coriander)
½ cup grated cheese or vegan cheeze (cheddar, mozzarella, or a combination of cheeses)
corn chips or bread to serve

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Anyone Can Cook Fabulous Vegetarian Food: Non-Terrifying Tofu!

OK.  This is it.  This is where it gets scary.  I’ve been playing, I admit, at the shallow end of the vegetarian pool.  I buy my farmers’ market veggies, I use legumes with grains to build whole proteins, and I add nuts to anything I think I can get away with, given that neither Andrew or I really like nuts in things.  I make veggie-burgers and vegan cakes and smoothies with non-dairy milks, and I even play with raw foods.

But there is one food that I have, thus far, largely avoided.  I buy it sometimes, and put it in my fridge, whence it gazes upon my accusingly until I feel so overwhelmed with guilt that I blend it up with a lot of chocolate and call it a truffle tart.  Or… nope, that’s basically all I do with it, really.  Oh, wait, there’s a dip, too.  It’s quite a good dip, actually.  But that really is it.  And this is silly, because I know perfectly well that one can make tasty food with tofu.  I’ve even done so, on occasion.  It’s just… there’s something about it that intimidates me utterly.  Perhaps it’s the beige, quiveringness of it all.  Perhaps it’s the subtly nutty flavour which, I must admit, I do not really like.

All I can say for certain is that I am terrified of tofu, and it’s time to face my fears!  With Lent (and thus vegetarianism) rapidly approaching, the time has come to gird my loins and venture into the land of soy products.

The March 2014 theme is

Non-Terrifying Tofu!

(Soy be it.)

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I’m going to need a lot of help on this challenge, I can tell you now.  Because while I have successfully followed recipes for tofu, I just am nowhere near comfortable enough with it to generate my own.  So if you are a regular eater of tofu, if you know just how to make it awesome, please, come and share your recipes, especially the savoury ones (I’ve pretty much got a handle on the whole ‘blend tofu with fruit or chocolate to make a mousse’ concept).  I’d really love to get some good marinated tofu recipes, some curries, some scrambled tofu (the best tofu I have had to date was a vegan version of Migas, spicy scrambled tofu with tortilla bits), some… honestly, I dont know what!  If I did, I wouldn’t be basically sitting here going ‘help!  I don’t know what to do with tofu!’

But I truly don’t.  If you do, I’d love to hear from you this month.

Challenge rules can be found at the main challenge page!  Don’t forget to add your post to the linky below once you’ve done all the lovely adding of icons and linking back to this page, so that you can get the blog hop code for your own page.

(I was going to end with another Soy pun, but since the only thing that comes to mind relates to Soylent Green, which is really not a very vegetarian concept, I think I might leave it at that…)



Recipe: Pumpkin and Tofu Curry with Lemongrass

served2I know.  It’s another curry.  This is really weird.  I’ve never really liked curry, and I don’t *understand* how curry works, but I seem to have made two which I like in the space of three days.  And I don’t know what I’ve done that is different to the many, many curries I have disliked.  

To make things even more bizarre, I’m mostly, but not quite, following recipes, because I don’t really know enough to know what I’m doing when changing them.  Tonight’s effort was particularly strange because I cook by smell and I just couldn’t make sense of what I was smelling early on.  And then it all tasted far too sweet and mild and mangoish, but I didn’t dare fiddle with it, which turned out to be a good instinct, because in the end it was nicely tangy and lemon-grassish with a pleasing kick of heat from the ginger and chilli and no mango or serious coconut taste at all.

None of this makes any sense, but since I appear to have once more made an almost-certainly-inauthentic curry that I actually like and might want to make again, here goes.  In case you were wondering, it started life as a Cambodian Pork and Lemongrass Curry, but obviously the pig got away this time (the lemongrass did not).

Oh, also, I think this is the third time I’ve ever cooked with tofu while not making dessert.  Learning experiences all round…

Your Shopping List

2 tbsp canola or sunflower oil
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
a piece of ginger-root about two cubic inches in size
3 big tablespoons of lemongrass paste (check that yours doesn’t contain gluten or fish sauce if these are problematic for you – alternatively, you could go with the 2 tablespoons of chopped lemongrass which the recipe I’m mostly ignoring suggested)
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander seed, ground
1 tsp fennel seed
300 g firm tofu
500 g pumpkin
125 g potato
250 g sweet potato
zest and juice of one lime
270 ml light coconut cream
130 ml water
1 big tablespoon of tamarind puree
2 red capsicums
1 red chilli
75 g pistachios, because we really gave up on authenticity and that’s what was in the pantry when I decided that this dish needed some crunch
To serve: rice, about 1 1/2  – 2 cups.  Purple Thai rice looks particularly pretty here.  This curry serves 4-6 people, I should think.
 
 

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Recipe: Raw-ish Vegan Sachertorte Pistachio Truffle Tart

chocolate tartI know, I know, that’s a terrible title, but what else could I call it?  It has a raw nut-and-fruit crust, heavy on the pistachios and the apricots, it has a vegan chocolate mousse filling, with more apricot jam to give it a bit of a lift, and the whole thing is rich, rich rich.

But (mostly) good for you!

I mean, think about it – the nuts and dried fruit are full of protein and vitamins and iron.  The bitter, dark chocolate is full of anti-oxidants and happiness.  The tofu has more protein and is undoubtedly healthy in other ways that I’ve forgotten.  It’s practically a tonic!  You should eat it for breakfast!

OK, maybe that’s taking it too far, but I am ridiculously proud of this tart.  You see, it was my turn to bring cake to our monthly admin meeting this week, and, as you might possibly have intuited, it has been fiendishly hot around here.  I really couldn’t face baking anything, but I couldn’t do something sensible like cheesecake, because my admin group also includes a couple of people who can’t eat lactose or gluten.  At this point, a sane person would have given up and gone and bought something for the meeting, but, as we have previously established, I’m not a sane person, at least when it comes to food.

So I crossed a chocolate mousse recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World with a whole lot of different raw truffle and raw cheesecake recipes from people like Hannah at Wayfaring Chocolate and Kiri at Bite Sized Thoughts, and came up with this – a decadent dessert that takes less than an hour to make.  It may be more like half an hour if one is organised and not wandering around the kitchen foraging for likely ingredients.

Incidentally, it tastes amazing…

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Your shopping list:

1/2 cup cashews
1 cup pistachios (plus a handful more to garnish)
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup pumpkin seed meal, or ground pistachios, or almond meal
1 cup fresh dates, pits removed
1/2 cup dried apricots (plus a handful more to garnish)
20 ml maple syrup, plus 60 ml for the filling
750 g tofu (a firm one with a fairly silky texture would be good here)
125 ml orange juice
60 ml apricot jam
5 ml orange flower water
650 g dark, dark chocolate, oh yeah.

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Recipe: Vegan Pasta Primavera

First up, I should confess: the version of this dish you see is not 100% vegan, because I had this beautiful fresh egg pasta that needed to be used.  But the sauce is definitely vegan, and as I actually cook with egg-free pasta most of the time, it will certainly be vegan next time I make it.  So I think this counts as a vegan pasta dish, at least in its heart!

The sauce for this pasta is light and herby in flavour – I was trying to get a sort of ricotta-ish personality to the tofu, and I think I succeeded.  It’s actually based on a cheese, nut and herb purée from Mark Grant’s excellent book, Roman Cookery: Ancient Recipes for Modern Kitchens.  If you have any interest in historical foods that are actually edible and don’t involve flamingoes or dormice, I can highly recommend this cookbook.  The vegetables were what looked good at the farmers’ market and at the supermarket.  This recipe is, of course, even more fun if it’s what looks good in your garden, so if you have zucchini peas or string beans growing, feel free to use them in place of some of the other vegetables.  This recipe is very forgiving.

Don’t be intimidated by the very long list of ingredients for this recipe, by the way.  I promise that this recipe is very easy to make (the blender does much of the work), and practically every ingredient can be substituted for what you have on hand.  If you have a herb garden, you can have a lot of fun picking the different herbs for the sauce.  If not, don’t worry if you miss a few of them.  I think the parsley, coriander and mint are the most important, though the basil is good too.

Above all – enjoy!

Your Shopping List

200 g tofu
150 g pine nuts
half a bunch of fresh parsley
half a bunch of fresh coriander
two sprigs of mint
two sprigs of basil
one sprig of oregano
four sprigs of dill
80 ml olive oil + more to sauté the vegetables
60 ml red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
salt to taste
150 g shelled broad beans (about 400g in the pod)
3 baby leeks, halved lengthways and sliced
1 baby fennel bulb, or half a standard fennel bulb, sliced finely
1 bulb of baby garlic (at the point where it is still a single clove), or one clove of the mature kind, chopped finely
12 baby carrots, as many colours as possible!
2 bunches of asparagus (about 225 g prepared weight)
1/2 cup white wine
400 g cherry tomatoes, as many colours as possible!
60 g spinach or rocket or a combination of both
500 g pasta, to serve

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Recipe: Roman Pine-Nut, Cheese and Herb Purée

This recipes is adapted from Roman Cookery: Ancient Recipes for Modern Kitchens by Mark Grant.  Somewhere, I know, I have the vegan version of this recipe, in which I substituted tofutti cream cheese for the feta, but I can’t find it now.  For what it’s worth, I believe I used a little more tofutti than I would have used of the feta, and it needed to sit overnight in the fridge, as it was fairly liquid when first made (but firmed up nicely overnight).  More recently, I’ve tried it with 150g firm tofu, and that worked very well and gave a good consistency.  With or without feta, it’s delicious – very fresh and tangy and lovely on fresh bread.

Your Shopping List

100g pine nuts
80ml olive oil
80ml red wine vinegar
125g feta (or 150g firm tofu)
1 bunch of parsley
1 bunch of coriander
half a bunch of mint, maybe more.  The original recipe says 3 mint leaves, but I completely ignore this theory
1 sprig of thyme
1 sprig of savory (I used marjoram instead)
1 sprig of rue (I used fennel fronds or dill)
salt and pepper

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