The Teaches of Isa: perfectly browned tofu! »
Having trouble getting gorgeous, crispy tofu for your stir-fry? Let Isa help you with her simple guide. Turns out all you really need are a good pan and a good spatula. Then you practice till you get it right every time!
[photo by Brian via Flickr]
Chipotle bringing tofu “sofritas” to the Bay Area! »
This is kind of old news but I don’t think we covered it: Next month, a.k.a. February, Chipotle will be serving “sofritas,” a shredded tofu filling in the Bay Area locations. According to AP, “The Denver-based company said the tofu will be braised with roasted tomatoes, chipotle sauce and poblano peppers.” Sounds alright to me!
I know it’s not cool to like chains but I’m a big Chipotle fan. Their guacamole is just so good. And they give you so much! And I didn’t get that pinto bean drama because I knew it had pork in it for years…how did I know but no one else did? I’m not sure. But I thought everyone knew or I would have told you.
I know Laura was bummed they stopped serving the Gardein burritos, and that would be way better than tofu filling, but this is still cool. Everyone try one for me!
It’s at-home tofu misozuke from Recipe Renovator! Laura found this and flipped, naturally, as she is all about tofu misozuke. She says, “If you can’t buy this delicious stuff, try making it yourself and feel like the artisanal kitchen wizard that you are! Because that that stuff is so tasty, it definitely involves the dark arts BURN WITCH BURN!”
Here’s my promise to you Vegansaurs: I’m totally gonna make this! And report back! Because I have no particular kitchen skills (just the worst at following recipes) except my TOTAL FEARLESSNESS. Let’s do this! We’ll be rolling in tofu misozuke by October. Guess my trick-or-treaters will be getting vegan cheese in their pillowcases this year!
Recipe: The Haight-Ashbury eggless tofu salad! »
Back in the day, when I was an omnivore, I loved egg salad. Actually, I loved anything mixed with mass amounts of mayonnaise because I’m
an American gross! So, of course as a vegan, I took it upon myself to come up with an eggless tofu salad! I know there are a million and a half variations upon which to make one’s tofu salad, which is why I’m calling mine ”The Haight-Ashbury” (upper Haighters, represent). I hope that you like it, and please, share your versions in the comments; I would love to know how you make yours! I know dill is quite popular in this kind of dish, but I’m not a big fan. (Except when it’s in here!)
1 batch homemade vegan mayo (or 3/4 - 1.5 cups of store-bought)
1 block of tofu (I used Wildwood super protein, 20 oz.)
1 Tbsp. mild vinegar (red wine, white wine or rice vinegar)
2 tsp. salt (I used black salt)
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. turmeric
3/4 - 1 tsp. cumin
2 dollops of yellow mustard
3 ribs of celery
2/3 cup chopped red onion
1/3 cup chopped green onion
In the future I will use the extra-firm tofu, as opposed to extra protein, as I like a softer consistency in my salad. Extra firm has to be drained, for which I use the best, most genius technology known as the Tofu Xpress (but I totally used to do the paper towel technique—you know, wrapping up tofu in paper towels and stacking cans of beans on top to drain the water out!)
Once the tofu is drained, I crumble it into very small pieces, till it’s practically a mush. Next, finely chop celery and red and green onions. Now add all the ingredients and mix!
You can eat immediately, but I like to let it sit in the fridge for a few hours, even overnight. It’s one of those foods that tastes best after it marinates, like potato and pasta salads!
I may have a had a few libations when I “plated” this. However, I can report back from experience, that it makes a great late-night snack!
Adele is going to give vegetarianism a go! And we’re here to help! »
Oh-so-lovely songstress Adele is making an effort to go vegetarian! She says that for what’s on the agenda in the year ahead, she has to be “really healthy and stuff like that.” Plus, when she eats meat, she thinks of her dog and sees his little dog eyes. This is incredible news, though of course going vegan would be all the more fantastic. It can be a difficult transition to make, I understand. But, Adele, I’m here to help you. Anything you need, any time of day. Then when you visit San Francisco, I’ll give you the
drinking vegan tour of the city! Or you can hire me as your personal chef, whatever works.
1. I understand you don’t like the taste of tofu, that you go so far as to describe it as “rank.” Tofu is not chicken, this much is true. However, when seasoned well, tofu is delicious! I’ll let you borrow my Tofu Xpress and we can marinate blocks of protein together! You must also read Sarah’s guide to making the most out of a tofu scramble: It will change your life.
2. Faux meat and cheese are your friends during this transitional time. Every time I blink, new ones hit the market. Try them all out to find your faves. You don’t have to like them all, it’s OK. I stay as far as I can from Tofurky deli slices and cheddar-flavored Follow Your Heart cheese.
4. Check out Happy Cow so you know where to eat in every city on your tour. I really should have checked Happy Cow before I went to Reno (as opposed to the drive home), because I subsisted on a salad, a sandwich, and a Lara Bar for two days—not enough food for me. Learn from my mistakes.
5. Barnivore is your new best friend. Use it, download the app, and then go to your nearest pub.
6. Get yourself some vegan cookbooks! Because Vegan with a Vengeance was my first, I am biased in believing it should be every vegan beginner’s guide!
7. I have heard that it is safe and nutritious for doggie companions to go veg as well as humans! You and your pooch can go on this veg journey together, OMG that would be the cutest.
8. Read Vegansaurus! You’ll love us, we are sassy. Like you!
probably will not lose respect for you if you pose for a PETA ad, but personally, I think it’d be amazing if you did work with Farm Sanctuary or Mercy for Animals. Just don’t pull a Ginnifer Goodwin, in which you yell about your veganism only to turn around and bash it on Jimmy Kimmel Live, OK?
Now it’s time for a video, with everyone’s favorite kale-lover, Anderson Cooper! Just kidding; he openly hates kale because like my sister, he has the palate of a six-year-old!
Adele is just stunning in all these clips. Are you getting chills watching her sing? I am!
[photo via Tom and Lorenzo. Who does your makeup, girl? It’s perfection.]
Trade in tofu for seitan? NEVER! »
Chocolate Mousse made from tofu. Try making THAT with seitan!
Oh jeez, I am just not sure which way to go with this article, "The Maximum-Gluten Diet." So I’m gonna try to hit them all, and you’re going to go along with it because I’m doing the work of three people at my day job and I’m in the middle of a move and I’m studying and I sleep four hours a night, “LOL!”
First, the article talks about how much healthier, yummier, and more versatile wheat gluten is than tofu. It’s quick to dismiss the soybean cake, saying it’s only popular because it was “there” when the world needed it and is the reason behind gluten’s slow rise to national consciousness, or whatever.
All right, man, you need to BACK OFF the already much-maligned tofu. I would eat (properly cooked) tofu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and never even think twice about the gluten (aka seitan) I was missing. I know I’m not alone — all the tofu ladies, all the tofu ladies, put your hands up! Dudes, too, of course.
Before everyone tells me to chill out, I get it. The author is just trying to spread the seitanic word in a lighthearted way. He gives celiacs a nod. And seitan IS good, don’t get me wrong. But it’s just as easy to have a bad plate o’ seitan as it is to have a mushy tofu blob. Have you ever had spongey gluten? Worse than silken tofu scramble, in my opinion.
But the real sticking point of this article with me is the recipe. He’s like, “Let’s spend 10,000 hours listening to podcasts and washing flour!” And I’m like, “Who even listens to podcasts? Doesn’t homeboy have Spotify?” But then I’m also like, “You don’t need to wash flour.” This is because 1) I have a lazy streak and 2) you can buy wheat gluten (sometimes called vital wheat gluten) AT THE WHOLE FOODS.
If you want to make seitan yourself and you don’t have a copy of Veganomicon, you need to get one, right now, and make its recipe for Simple Seitan. Have you guys figured out that I’m a total Isa fangirl?
Finally, here is a short list of why tofu is superior to seitan (or at least just as good, I don’t like to play favorites):
1. It’s not a problem for celiacs or the scads of folks with a gluten sensitivity. Yes, I know some people are allergic to soy.
2. You can buy it at the Trader Joe’s.
3. It takes less time to make, maybe an hour compared to the 12 you’d spend kneading dough underwater or the hour and a half if you just buy vital wheat gluten at the store.
4. It soaks up flavors, blending into the background or playing a solo, depending on what you do with it.
5. You can use it in desserts — The first vegan cheesecake you ever made (or will make! It’s easier than it seems!) probably featured tofu in a starring role. Can you imagine sweet seitan? NAST!
6. YOU CAN BUY IT AT THE TRADER JOE’S.
Oh deliciousness! It’s our pal Vi Zahajszky's hemp seed tofu! It looks amazing! Go get her recipe (with detailed, illustrated instructions) at Bay Area Bites. And then make it for us, we’re hungry and totally curious.
Five ways to take your tofu scramble to the next level »
Is your tofu scramble missing something—flavor, pizazz, less slime? I’m no professional chef, but I did consult her for this article. And I’m sitting on the bench in my tofu scramble game: That means I DON’T PLAY. After complaining about tofu scrambles on restaurant menus, it’s only fair that I help others get on my level. Am I full of myself? You bet! Let’s start:
1. Tofu texture
You’ve got to go with firm or firmer, folks. Soft, medium, or silken tofu? Not gonna work here. I’ve made this mistake before, and it turns your meal all slimy. Go for firm or extra-firm. If your tofu is packed in water (usually accompanied by a hard plastic tray), you should also press it first to expel extra liquid.
2. Herbs ‘n’ spices
This is god-damned crucial. Because tofu is designed to soak up the flavors of what’s around it, you don’t want to end up with a dish that tastes like … tofu. Some important items, not just for cooking a tofu scramble but also for cooking most things in the world: garlic, cumin (gives it that eggy flavor), salt, black salt (makes it even eggier), pepper, paprika, turmeric (makes it yellow, if you’re into that) and thyme. Apply liberally, and thank me in the morning.
3. Cooking time
Cook your tofu in your skillet (ideally cast-iron, but who has time/money for such frivolities?!) till you think it might be burning. Then stir it, because it probably is not burnt. The point is you want your tofu to be done, not still mushy. Here’s my process: I sautee onions and any veggies with a longer cooking time first, then I add garlic and spices, and then the tofu. After adding the tofu, I cook on medium-high heat and stir occasionally for at least 15 to 20 minutes. You want that shit browned, ya heard?
You can’t just toss onions and peppers on top of cubed tofu and expect it to be any good. You want the tofu to soak up flavors, which is why I recommended in tip #3 to cook a lot of the relevant veggies first. Frozen spinach and potatoes are especially useful in this application. When something is frozen, I add it later, when I add the tofu to the pan.
This is the final step before serving, right? So don’t scrimp! Hook yourself up with some salsa, Frank’s hot sauce (GOD FRANK’S I WANT TO DRINK YOU), avocado, tortillas, ketchup, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and whatever else you godforsaken heathens like to throw on top of your food. Serve with toast, duh.
If your tofu scrambles are lackluster, try a few of these tips, and let me know how it goes. Or show it to a friend who could really use some help. Whatever, I’m here to serve!
[Photo by Cowomally via Flickr]
Recipe: Lettuce wraps for your mouth »
Any of y’all ever go to P.F. Chang’s? It was my favorite restaurant when I was but a wee teenager in Indianapolis, and one of the yummiest menu items was the vegetarian lettuce wraps. I found myself craving these this weekend, but the nearest Chang’s is on the other side of the bay, so I decided to try to make some instead. Even though I used the “wrong” kind of lettuce because that’s what I had so GIVE ME A FUCKING BREAK, they were still really yummy: Goes well with Blue Moon, 2-Buck Chuck, Absolut straight from the bottle, +c.
Accidentally Low-Carb Lettuce Wraps Ingredients
1 head of lettuce (iceberg probably works better than the red-leaf I used)
3 Tbsp. peanut oil
1 pound of tofu, pressed and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup celery, minced
5 smallish carrots, minced
1 8-oz. can of water chestnuts, minced
2 bulbs shallots, minced (PROTIP: save time by mincing all this shit together, in a food processor if you’ve got one)
1 Tbsp. minced ginger (did you know you can buy that madness in jars now?)
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 cup cilantro
Hot chili paste or sriracha, to taste
1. Heat your skillet on medium-high, and pour 2 Tbsp. of the oil in there. Once it’s hot, throw your tofu in there. Stir frequently until it’s pretty brown; this will take maybe 10 minutes. Add your ginger, coriander, thyme, and pepper. Stir for about a minute, and then add your minced mix. Take a moment to appreciate the shallot: It’s like if garlic and onion had the most beautiful, delicious baby ever in existence, not that babies are generally delicious, I mean, I wouldn’t know about the taste of babies, OKAY GOD ANYWAY.
2. Stir and cook for a while (10 minutes-ish?) until your veggies are soft. Add the vinegar, soy sauce, and as much chili paste or sriracha as you can handle. Cook for a while longer until some of the liquid evaporates. Once it’s acceptable to you, remove from heat. You might want to let it cool for a while so its sheer heat doesn’t rip holes in your lettuce.
3. Take a leaf of lettuce, put some of this mixture on it, roll it up to the best of your ability, and nom. Make sure you have a fork nearby.
Warning: These are low-carb, so if that’s bad for you, add some rice or toast or something. I would marry carbs if they were a person, so I had some popcorn later in the evening. #popcorn4lyfe
Book review: “Rabbit Food” cookbook has a lot of info and cute drawings »
I’ve been sent an adorable copy of Beth Barnett’s cute new cookbook, Rabbit Food, to review, and it contains much more information than simply recipes, which is good because I had to modify substantially the savory recipes I made. I’m a bitch, sorry!
That being said, I’m a big fan of “Beth Bee,” as I understand she goes by. This book is accessible to vegans, vegetarians, and omnis, as the preface says: “I know that not everyone using this book will be vegan or completely vegetarian. This book will not self-destruct in protest. It’s happy you’re at least at the table!” However, it’s worth noting that a few recipes contain honey.
The book’s zine roots are apparent in the by-hand illustrations and spiral binding:
MOUSSE ≠ MOOSE, sillyhead!
The book goes on to discuss the vegan perspective on the food supply, health considerations, and the history of food in North America, a section that is highly fascinating and covers the food practices of indigenous peoples up to now. Then it gives you some tips for starting your first garden, whether urban or regular. The last bit before you get to the food (which is what we’re waiting for, right?) shows you how to sew your own reusable grocery bags and produce bags, the latter of which is, to me, a novel idea.
The breakfast, soup, entree, drinks, and sweets recipes include such tasty gems as Easy Baking Powder Biscuits and Almond Gravy, Split Pea & Potato Soup, Tofu Pot Pie (recipe below), Nutritional Yeast Cheese, and Cocoa No-Bake Drops.
While the sweet recipes were winners, it is my opinion that fresh onions and/or garlic would be a welcome addition to almost every recipe. Some recipes half-ass it with onion and garlic powder, but I really think the fresh versions are worth the trouble.
I will now share this Tofu Pot Pie recipe from the book with you. While it looks a bit involved and has a lot of parts, it really doesn’t take too long to make. You can mix the crust and/or cook the tofu in advance, even. Sadly, it could use some modifications that seem so obvious to me now, so you’ll see a few spots where I edited it below.
A light burned out in my kitchen, and I can’t reach it. Deal with it.
Tofu Pot Pie
1 3/4 cups unbleached flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup plain “milk”
pinch of salt
Mix everything together; knead. Set aside while preparing filling for pie. Then preheat the oven to 450 F.
Separate the dough into two slightly unequal pieces. Roll out the larger piece between two sheets of parchment paper (do this, trust me) and then lay it into the pie pan. Cover the crust with foil, fill it with dry beans or pie weights (do this too, trust me!) and bake it for 7 minutes.
Remove from oven, and set aside the bottom crust and the extra dough.
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 vegetable bouillon cube
3 Tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp. salt (EDIT)
1/2 cup unbleached flour
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. poultry seasoning (I used Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute because Trader Joe’s does not carry poultry seasoning, or lime juice, for that matter)
diced minced onion
Boil water, add the bouillon cube and oil, mix together flour & yeast and then add SLOWLY while whisking, stirring out lumps. Add diced onion last. Stir and cook on low to medium heat until thick. Set aside. IGNORE THIS.
Saute your onions in a saucepan with the vegetable oil until they are nice and soft; otherwise your pot pie ends up with crunchy onions, which, when in a soft, soupy setting, fully gross me out. Do not—I repeat, DO NOT—add your onions last as the recipe mandates.
Add water and bouillon cube and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. While you wait, mix the other ingredients together. Once water is boiling, whisk in the dry mixture little by little. When it gets thick, remove from heat.
1/4 cup flour
1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 lb. firm tofu, cubed
Shake to mix everything but the tofu together in paper or plastic bag. Add tofu cubes and shake to coat well.
1 lb. breaded tofu (from above)
2 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup chopped potato
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup green peas
1 cup diced onion (EDIT: To make this easier and faster, instead of celery, carrot, and peas, I just used two cups of “ghetto veggies.”)
3-4 cloves of garlic, crushed (EDIT)
1 tsp. salt (EDIT)
In a large skillet with 2 Tbsp vegetable oil, sauté everything on medium heat. Stir frequently, cooking for about 20 minutes total, or until the potatoes start to soften up. They don’t have to be completely done, as they will cook more in the oven. Remove from heat and mix in the gravy from Part 2.
Y’all, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over five years of vegan cooking, it’s never trust a recipe without garlic. Here’s what you really want to do: In a separate skillet with 1 Tbsp. of the oil, saute the tofu, flipping as much as you can, until it gets nice and brown and crispy.
While you’re working on that, heat the remainder of the oil in another, much larger skillet. Saute the onions and fresh celery, if using, until they’re soft (maybe 8 to 10 minutes). Add the garlic and salt, and stir until that shit is fragrant as fuck. Then add the rest of your veggies and continue cooking until everything is cooked through. Mix in the tofu and the gravy.
N.B. You will need a big-ass skillet, and don’t make the mistake of using cast-iron on your tofu (royally fucked that up myself).
For assembly (FINALLY)!
Decrease oven temperature to 375 F. Then pack all the filling into the pre-cooked bottom pie crust in the pie pan. Pat down the filling to remove pockets of air. At last!
Roll out the second half of the pie crust dough (between the two pieces of parchment paper). Drape and position the top crust dough over the filling, and pinch it together at the edges with the bottom crust. Using a sharp knife, cut a few decorative vents in the top.
Bake your pot pie at 375 F for 30 minutes.