Monthly Archives: April 2014

Recipe: Scrambled tofu

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You can sub-title this post ‘Sharon’s adventures with tofu.’ After 30-coughcoughcough years as a vegetarian, I have finally experimented with the stuff. I’ve never missed meat taste or texture, hence why I don’t go out of my way to buy or eat soya mince, quorn and tofu. I occasionally buy vegetarian sausages, but that’s about as far as it goes. I’m definitely not into recreating meat/fish/eggs dishes with vegan or vegetarian alternatives.

Anth, though, is on a mission to do something about my appallingly low protein intake, given I no longer eat cheese. So a few days staying with her gave me some ideas to try.

I blame an unfortunate encounter with silken tofu (not my doing, m’lud) for my mistrust of the stuff. So I made sure I bought the firm stuff, with smoked flavour to see if that made any difference. And I drained it properly and also wrapped it in kitchen roll. I didn’t dump the family bible on top of it – on the grounds I don’t have one of those anyway!

Tofu does fine in Anth’s delicious Singapore noodles recipe, which I had for Saturday tea. And then I tried scrambled tofu for a Sunday brunch recipe. I poked around online for some inspiration, didn’t much like the look of any of them, so came up with something myself that was edible. Seeing as I have never liked eggs, I wasn’t going to pile it on toast, smothered with tomato ketchup. I did have some potatoes left over from during the week, so fried those and served them with the scrambled tofu.

And … It was OK. But I can’t get past that slimy texture. No matter how crispy the outside is, the middle is still meh. I added some other vegetables from the bottom of the fridge, plus a touch of nutritional yeast, which all the recipes online seemed to include. I couldn’t taste it, to be honest. If you like tofu, you’ll no doubt like this. I can report that the fried potatoes were very nice!

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Ingredients (serves one)

Half an onion

Firm tofu (I used two of the marked sections)

Quarter of a red pepper, diced

Six mushrooms, halved or quartered

1tsp of turmeric

1 tbsp of nutritional yeast

Sea salt

Black pepper

Fresh herbs

Gently fry the onion for a couple of minutes, then crumble in the tofu. Add the red pepper and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the mushrooms, turmeric and nutritional yeast and cook for another minute or so. Some of the online recipes included soy sauce, but I’m not hugely struck on that. Season and serve. If you’ve got fresh parsley, add that on top. I had coriander, which was perfect. I’m sure the dish would work fine on wholemeal or sourdough toast. Or turn it into brunch like I did with fried potatoes.

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Recipe: Asparagus and New Potato Salad

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It’s that time of the year again! Spring! Green leaves. Daffodils and primroses! Nesting birds! And asparagus! It’s early this year. I picked some up at my local deli where they sell three bunches for a fiver. It would be rude not to buy some.

This is based on a St Delia recipe – and one that’s been something I’ve taken to barbecues for years. The asparagus stands up well to the fresh flavours. I’ve left the herbs out of this version, but a little tarragon would go nicely if you wanted to add a bit more flavour.

New potato & asparagus salad photo DSCN1148_zpsbd1f6499.jpg

Ingredients
450g new potatoes, cut into bit-size pieces
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and sliced on the diagonal
Juice and zest of half a lemon
1/2 tsp mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 tbsp olive oil (extra virgin for preference)
3 spring onions, finely sliced

Boil the potatoes for 10-15 minutes, or until tender.
Add the asparagus pieces to the pan and cook for a scant two minutes.
Whisk the lemon juice, zest, mustard, garlic and olive oil together in a bowl. Season well with salt and pepper.
Drain the potatoes and asparagus.
Put in a serving bowl and toss with the dressing.
Scatter the spring onions over the salad before serving.

Serves 2 as a main course salad

Recipe: Potato and Sweetcorn Chowder

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It’s in the nature of food writing and blogging to want to complicate things. To go for new twists on old recipes and to dream up new complicated recipes. When I was planning this dish I thought of adding tofu, or white mushrooms to it. In the end necessity proved to be the mother of simplicity – I used the last of the tofu earlier in the week and my mushrooms were coagulating into a fungal mass. And this dish is the better for it. Just sweetcorn, potatoes and soya milk (non vegans can use semi-skimmed cows milk) and the result is sweet, savoury and delicious.

A few notes on ingredients – normally chowder is made with floury potatoes, but as the creaminess is coming from the sweetcorn and milk, so I like the potatoes to have a bit of texture. To the same aim, I’m not peeling them – I never usually do with any potato, but especially new potatoes. I also use a stock-cube. I have never managed to get a tasty vegetable stock using vegetables, so I’d rather go with a good quality cube/powder.

Potato and Sweetcorn Chowder photo DSCN1138_zpsd0fd2658.jpg

Ingredients
1 red onion, finely chopped
300g new potatoes, cubed
1 tin creamed sweetcorn (about 420g)
Soy milk to the same volume as the tin of sweetcorn
1 vegetable stock cube
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp chopped parsley (for garnish)

Sweat the red onion in a little oil in a large saucepan.
Once the onion is translucent add the potatoes, sweetcorn, soy milk, stock cube and bay leaf.
Stir thoroughly and season with salt and pepper (white pepper is best).
Bring to the simmer and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked to be thoroughly soft.
Remove the bay leaf.
Serve with the chopped parsley sprinkled over the top.

Serves 2 as a hearty main course

Recipe: Beetroot and Walnut Pesto

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This has to be one of the weirdest combinations my food-obsessed brain has come up with, but it works. The earthy sweetness of the beetroot is complemented by the dryness of the walnuts, the saltiness of the olives and then highlighted by the fragrant dill.

It is also pink.

If anyone decides to use this as a dinner-party item, please put Barbie Pasta on the menu.

Beetroot Pesto photo DSCN1142_zps6080b047.jpg

Ingredients</b
150g spaghetti
2 pre-cooked beetroots
1 clove garlic
50g walnuts
6 black olives
2 tbsp olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp dill, chopped

Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling water.
Put all the ingredients except the dill into a food processor and whizz until smooth.
Season with salt and pepper.
When the pasta is cooked, drain it and then return to the warm pan.
Stir in the sauce until all the pasta is coated.
Serve with the dill sprinkled over the top.

Serves 2

Recipe: Curried Coconut and Noodle Soup

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This is another mid-week recipe. You can spot these because they use curry powder and pre-cooked noodles. This recipe uses two ingredients that are fast becoming staples in my kitchen: coconut milk and fresh rice noodles. There are a lot of vegetables in this dish, some cooked in the coconut and curry broth and some added as it is served.

This is really quick and really tasty. You can ring the changes depending on what you have in the fridge so it is endlessly adaptable when you don’t have time to shop.

Rice noodles in curry coconut broth photo DSCN1129_zpsb1f631f2.jpg

Ingredients
60g tofu, cubed
1 tbsp curry powder/paste
150ml coconut milk
350ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp soy sauce
150g rice noodles
handful bean sprouts
6 sugar snap peas, or mangetout, sliced lengthways
1/2 little gem lettuce, shredded
3-4 slices red onion, sliced
1 spring onion, sliced
1 red chilli, chopped
1 tbsp coriander, chopped
1 lime wedge

Heat some oil in a large saucepan and add the tofu.
Fry for a few seconds and then stir in the curry powder or paste.
Make sure that the tofu is coated in the spice mix and let it cook for a few minutes.
Add the coconut milk, vegetable stock and soy sauce and bring to a simmer.
Stir in the noodles, bean sprouts and sugar snap peas.
Bring back to the simmer and let cook for a minute. You’re not actually cooking anything, just heating things through.
Just before serving, turn off the heat and stir in the lettuce.
Serve in a large bowl with the red onion, spring onion, chilli and coriander placed on top as a garnish.
Add a lime wedge for squeezing.

Serves 1

Recipe: Potatoes Nicoise

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This is a recipe from my days with St Delia’s ‘One is Fun’ book. It’s essential potatoes in a tomato pasta sauce. It tastes a lot better than that sounds. It’s a great side dish, but it tastes just as good served cold as a potato salad. Some freshly made falafel would go well with this, or some fried halloumi if you don’t want to keep it vegan. A couple of fried eggs served beside would make a great brunch dish too.

Give this a try. You’ll be finding excuses to make them again!

Nicoise potatoes photo DSCN1124_zps3222df77.jpg

Ingredients
300-350g new potatoes, diced
1 red pepper, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
Small tin (230g) chopped tomatoes
6 black olives, chopped
1 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped

Heat a generous glug of olive oil in a small frying pan and add the chopped potatoes and red pepper.
Fry them on a high heat for 5 minutes.
Add the onion and garlic and turn the heat down to medium.
Fry for 10 minutes, until the potatoes are a bit brown and they are nearly cooked.
Stir in the tomatoes and olives.
Season well with salt and pepper.
Bring to the simmer and then remove from the heat.
Let stand, uncovered, for 5 minutes. The tomatoes will reduce a little and the potatoes will finish cooking in the residual heat.
Serve with the parsley sprinkled over the top.

Serves 2 as a side dish