Thursday, 28 August 2014

Cooking with Dr. Mom: Sweet and sour pineapple tofu

Mmmmmm.... this looks good. Thanks, mum!

*  *  *

This recipe was inspired by an Eating Well Pineapple Tofu stir-fry recipe.  This recipe lends itself to whatever assortment of veggies you have available. Perfect for the over supply of zucchinis and peppers this time of year. The recipe for the sauce makes enough to cover 4-6 cups of chopped veggies.  This would be good topped with roasted cashews or almond slivers.

Makes 4 servings

1 cup chopped fresh pineapple (or 1 tin pineapple tidbits drained - reserve the juice)
6 tbsp pineapple juice (or tropical juice blend if using fresh pineapple)
4 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp sirachi hot sauce
1 package extra firm tofu, cut into 1cm cubes
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp Canola or sesame oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely minced
2 tbsp fresh lemon grass, finely minced
1 1/2 cups fresh snow peas
1 small zucchini, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 large sweet red pepper, chopped

Make the sauce by combining the juice, vinegar, soy sauce, ketchup, brown sugar and sirachi sauce.
Place the chopped tofu in a shallow container and toss with 1/4 cup of the sauce.  Allow the tofu to marinate for at least 15 minutes.
Add cornstarch to the remaining sauce and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large fry pan or wok.  Lift the tofu out of the marinade with a slotted spoon and fry in the hot oil. (Return any remaining marinade to the sauce you set aside) Cook the tofu, stirring occasionally, until the cubes are golden brown and a bit caramelized on most sides (about 10 minutes).  Transfer the tofu cubes to a plate.
If the fry pan is now too dry, add another 1-2 tsp of oil.  Add the garlic, ginger and lemongrass and fry until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the veggies to the fry pan and stir fry until they are tender crisp.  Pour the sauce into the veggies and stir until thickened slightly, 30-60 seconds.  Add the pineapple chunks and tofu to the veggies and toss until heated through, 1-2 minutes.

Serve on a bed of rice or noodles.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Cooking with Dr. Mom: Wakame cucumber salad

Here's a simple and refreshing salad from my mom:

*  *  *

Wakame is a type of seaweed that can be purchased chopped and dried in Asian grocery stores.  It resembles loose leaf green tea when dry and it increases by about 8-10 times its size after being soaked in water for 20 min.  Wakame has a very subtle flavour, slightly salty, that pairs very well with cucumber.
This salad could be turned into a vegan salad meal by adding cubed tofu and cooked, cooled transparent vermicelli noodles (mung bean noodles).

This is dried wakame seaweed. It can be found in many Asian grocery stores.

 Check out these before and after photos of soaking the wakame! After only 20 minutes, the wakame completely absorbs the water.

Recipe: Cucumber and wakame salad

1 large field cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped
1 sweet red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup dried chopped wakame

Japanese style dressing
1/4 cup soya sauce
2 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tsp sesame oil

Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Soak the dried wakame in 3 cups cold water for 20-30 minutes.  Drain the soaked wakame to remove any excess water.  Toss together the cucumbers, red pepper and wakame.

Mix together the dressing ingredients then pour over the cucumber mixture and toss. Allow to sit for 15-30 minutes before serving.  Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

Serves 6 as a side dish.


Thursday, 21 August 2014

Recipe: Black bean and sweet potato tacos

I love the combination of black beans and sweet potatoes. I think their textures go great together. I made some black bean and sweet potato tacos that were really delicious and satisfyingly filling. I've been meaning to share this recipe for a while. This would be a great dish for a party or for picky eaters because everyone can just put whatever they like in their tortilla. Feel free to mix up the toppings however you like. I always have the problem that I put way too much stuff in my tortilla and then I make a mess. A delicious mess that I don't regret one bit.

As you can see, this tortilla is never going to close! I got over-excited about the toppings.

Me, excited to eat a taco.

About 6-8 tacos

-Two medium-sized sweet potatoes
-1 can of black beans, drained
-1 large onion, chopped
-2 cloves garlic
-2 tbs vegetable oil

-1 tbs chili powder
-1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
-1/4 tsp dried oregano
-1/4 tsp paprika
-1-1/2 tsp cumin
-1 tsp sea salt
-1 tsp black pepper

-2 avocados
-1/4 cup fresh lime juice

-8 flour or corn tortillas
-Toppings: salsa, diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, diced sweet peppers, shredded cheese, sour cream, hot sauce, etc.

1. Wash and peel the sweet potatoes. Boil them until they are soft, about 10-15 minutes. Drain and mash the potatoes with a potato masher until smooth, although a few chunks can remain.

2. Heat the olive oil and add the chopped onion. Saute for 5 minutes. Add 1 clove of garlic, minced, along with the seasonings. Saute on low heat until the onion is translucent. Mix in the black beans with 1/4 cup of water. Continue to cook until the liquid is absorbed. Transfer the bean mixture to a bowl and mash with a potato masher until the bean mixture sticks to itself.

3. To prepare guacamole, cut the avocados in half and remove the pits. Scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Add 1 clove of grated garlic and the lime juice. Mash and mix the ingredients together with a fork, leaving a few chunks of avocado. Add salt to taste. 

4. Heat the tortillas briefly in the oven, if desired. To prepare the tacos, spread a layer of sweet potato, a layer of black bean mixture, and a layer of guacamole down the centre of the tortilla. On top of these, add any additional toppings, as desired. Fold or roll the tortilla and eat!

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Cooking with Dr. Mom: Soba noodles with eggplant and mango

Another delicious-sounding recipe from my awesome mom.

 * * *

Yotam Ottolenghi wrote the wonderful vegetarian cookbook "Plenty".  The recipes are inspired by his time spent living in both Europe and the Middle East. He credits this recipe to his mother. He describes it as her "ultimate cook-to-impress fare" and a favorite among the readers of his Guardian recipe column.  I followed his recipe except that I broiled the eggplant instead of deep frying it as he suggests and I added mushrooms.
The recipe is best if it is made a few hours before eating to allow time for the flavors to meld. It would be a good choice for a pot luck party.
If this is to be a main course, simply add cubed fried/grilled tofu to the salad.

Soba Noodles with eggplant and mango

1/2 cup rice vinegar
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1/2 tsp sirachi hot sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
grated zest and juice of one lime

1 Italian eggplant or 3-4 Asian eggplants, cut into 2cm cubes and tossed with vegetable oil
8 oz soba noodles
1 large ripe mango, cut into 1cm cubes
1 1/2 cups Thai basil leaves, julienned
2 cups cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 sweet (vidalia) onion, very thinly sliced
1 pkg sliced mushrooms (8 oz)

roasted sesame seeds for garnish

In a small pot, heat the rice vinegar, sugar and salt over moderate heat to dissolve  the sugar in the vinegar. Remove from heat and add the rest of the dressing ingredients to the pot.  Allow to cool before tossing on the salad.

Lay the eggplant in a single layer on a foil covered cookie sheet and broil about 3 inches from the element.  Turn to cook the other side once browned and sizzling.  The eggplant should be soft, cooked through, with darkened crispy skin.
Fry onions in 1 tsp oil until cooked.  Cool. 

Cook the soba noodles in lots of boiling lightly salted water until cooked al dente - about 6-8 minutes.  Drain well and rinse under cold running water.  Shake the water off and allow to drip dry or lay on a clean dish towel to thoroughly dry before tossing with dressing and salad ingredients.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the dressing, mango, mushrooms, eggplant, cooked cold soba noodles, half the basil and half the cilantro and the onion.  Allow to sit for 1-2 hours.  When ready to serve, add the other half of the basil and cilantro to the salad and toss well.

Serves 6.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Link: Tick Bite Might Turn You Into a Vegetarian

Probably many of you have already seen this bit of news, but it's pretty cool. According to some research, there's evidence that Lone Star tick bites can cause people to become allergic to meat! When the tick takes a bite it injects a sugar called alpha-gal into the human host's bloodstream. The human begins to produce an antibody to alpha-gal which is activated when they eat red meat, pork, or dairy products. The Lone Star tick is found in the southern United States, so meat-loving Canadians need not be too alarmed. Maybe this tick was genetically engineered by mad vegetarian scientists in order to force the world to become vegetarian? I think I'll try to catch some and sell their bites as "motivators" for people with low will power who want to become vegetarian.

EDIT (courtesy of Sarah): The lone star tick is actually found throughout the eastern United States and has even been reported in Quebec! I stand corrected; Canadian meat-lovers should be alarmed. 

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Recipe: Easy vegan pesto

I love fresh herbs! They make any recipe taste fresh and flavourful. One of my favourite herbs is basil. Basil in bruschetta, basil in thai curry, basil with balsamic vinegar on tomatoes... basil tastes like summer! Here's a simple way to make a vegan basil pesto. I tossed this with cold pasta and vegetables for a delicious pasta salad, but it would also be good in a veggie burger, or in a sandwich, or with hot pasta, or in a potato salad.

Yields about 1.5 cups

-2 cups loose fresh basil leaves
-1 cup walnuts (traditionally pine nuts are used in pesto, but they're pricey and walnuts taste just as good)
-1/2 cup olive oil
-2 garlic cloves
-3 tbs nutritional yeast (optional)
-salt and pepper, to taste

Blend all ingredients together in a blender until smooth. Enjoy!