Feb 25, 2010

Pressed Stuffed Tofu in Spicy Orange Sauce

I've always been lazy when it comes to pressing tofu. I usually try squeezing it like a sponge over the sink, only it ends up crumbling and I inevitably lose a chunk or two and eventually blot the whole mess with paper towels and call it "tofu scramble."

Now, thanks to the generosity of Jenn from Vegan Dance if You Want to Blog, I can press tofu like a pro with my new Tofu Xpress. She sent it all the way from NY... thanks for the hella cool gift, Jenn!
This is a simple gadget that really does the trick, making a block of tofu into a perfectly squished, water-free wonder! It allows for better marinating, better frying, and a meatier texture. Since I was curious as to what it could really do, I pressed the first block of tofu for about 3 hours, and the next block overnight.

The first block flattened to about half it's size, and was perfect for making the stuffed tofu. I cut it into thirds, then cut each rectangle into triangles. Then, I carefully carved out a hole for stuffing (as shown above).

The second block flattened even more and was too thin to make into stuffed tofu, so I cut it into cubes. Both were sprinkled with salt and dredged in a mixture of 1-part cornstarch and 1-part nutritional yeast. Then they were fried in a skillet with a little vegetable oil until just golden (too long and it gets more chewy than crispy). You'll also have to flip to get all sides golden.

Minced carrots, green onion, garlic, cilantro, and crumbled tofu (excavated from the triangles). Salt to taste.

Spicy Orange Sauce:
Juice of 2 large oranges
1 T. orange zest
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. fresh minced ginger
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. mirin (Japanese cooking wine)
2 T. vegetarian oyster sauce
3 T. sweet pepper & garlic sauce
1 T. arrowroot powder

Mix all ingredients except ginger and olive oil. Cook ginger in heated olive oil for a minute or so. Add the remaining mixture and whisk and simmer until thickened.

Set sauce aside, covering to keep warm. Heat filling ingredients quickly in a skillet with a little extra virgin olive oil until veggies are slightly wilted. Fry tofu wedges, then spoon in the filling. Drizzle the orange sauce on top.

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Feb 15, 2010

Vegan Dim Sum Party

This year, Lunar New Year fell on Valentine's Day. So, I got to celebrate "veggie love" and "veggie TIGERS," since 2010 is the Year of the Tiger. This one was made with carrots, olives, and cauliflower.

Many Asian cultures celebrate the Lunar New Year, so I decided to make some of my favorite Asian dishes in the form of dim sum (dumplings are by far my favorite food). This is a rather long post, as there are more than a few dishes, so bear with me!

Vegan Har Gow (Shrimp Bonnet) Dumplings

These tender, chewy dumplings, called Har Gow are typically filled with shrimp and chives. A visit to my local Asian market produced an alternative to the shrimp. I like it better when it's ground up and mixed with stuff.

Frozen Soy Shrimp

...And, a premixed package of dumpling starch for making the skins. You can make your own by using the recipe here. One thing to note: if your dough seems to tear easily, it needs to "cook" a bit more. I put my dough into a bowl with a little water, cover, and microwave for a couple minutes, and then knead when it's cooled down enough.

Har Gow Wrapper Mix

This is a gluten-free wrapper, made with a mixture of starches. I know the package says "wheat flour," but it really means wheat starch, which contains no gluten.

Here is the recipe for the filling:

1 1/2 C. thawed, ground fake shrimp
1 tsp. fresh minced ginger
1-2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 C. chopped green onion (or chives)
1 T. ground flax seed, mixed with 1 T. warm water (to mimic an egg)
season with salt and white pepper to taste.

Mix all ingredients for the filling and set aside (I usually just throw everything in the food processor). Add boiling water to the starch mix until a smooth dough forms. Cut a 1" cube and roll into a ball. Flatten the dough ball with hand, then roll out thin with a rolling pin (you may want to oil the surface to prevent excessive sticking). The thinner the wrapper, the more translucent it will be when cooked. Spoon a small amount of filling into the center, then seal the edges by pleating one side and pinching it to the other. To cook, put them into a steamer for about 10 minutes. The dough should be soft and translucent.

Shengjian Bao, are dumplings with leavened dough, and are typically filled with pork and steamed in an oiled pan until the water evaporates and your left with a crispy bottom.

Shengjian Style Dumplings (Bao)

Here's what the bottoms look like...

Another Asian market find, is "vegetarian mutton." Don't ask me why they call it mutton. I don't even know what mutton tastes like, but this is a good substitute for pork (as you can see). Most Asian faux meats come already seasoned, and this one has a slight gingery taste which lends well to the dumplings.

Soy Mutton



2 C. thawed, ground soy mutton
1/2 C. chopped yellow onions
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 C. chopped fresh cilantro
2 T. vegetarian oyster sauce (or mushroom sauce)
1 T. ground flax seeds mixed with 1 T. warm water (to mimic egg)
salt and pepper to taste


1 1/2 tsp. instant dry yeast
3/4 C. lukewarm water
2 T. sugar
2 T. canola oil
3 C. unbleached all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp. salt

For the dough, mix the water and sugar in a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. Wait until it gets nice and foamy. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. Lightly whisk the canola oil into the yeast mixture, then add the wet to the dry and knead until you get a nice smooth dough that doesn't stick to your hands. Add more water by the tablespoon if the dough is too dry. Set aside, and let rise to double its size (about 30-40 minutes).

For the filling, simply mix all of the ingredients together. It should stick together when pressed. If it's too loose, add a little more flax seed and water.

To wrap, cut a 1-2" cube of dough, roll into a ball and flatten. Roll thin with a rolling pin (about 1/8 -1/4" thick), and place a spoonful of filling in the middle. Start to pleat the edge of the dough in one direction, holding each pleat with your fingers until almost closed. Pull dough up, twist, and pinch closed on the top center of the dumpling. To cook, heat on high heat an oiled skillet (I prefer non-stick), and arrange the dumplings with the flat side down. Immediately add a cup or so of water and cover. Steam until the water is evaporated and allow them to sizzle until they turn golden and crispy on the bottom- keep an eye on them because they can burn easily!

Next, I made Daikon Radish Cakes which are made with rice flour, steamed, sliced, and pan fried. They're crispy on the outside, and tender and slightly sticky on the inside, and just like dumplings, they are dipped in soy sauce and vinegar when eaten. Sometimes, they also have dried shrimp or little bits of meat and/or scallions. I made mine with sauteed mushrooms and green onions, and it was delicious! NOTE: make sure you use rice flour, and not glutinous or sweet rice flour.

Daikon Radish Cakes


2 C. rice flour
1 C. water
1 1/2 C. daikon radish
1 1/2 C. mushrooms
1 clove garlic
1/2 C. green onions, finely chopped
pinch of white pepper
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Saute the mushrooms whole with the clove of garlic in 1 or 2 T. vegetable oil until slightly tender and browned. In a food processor, put in cubed daikon and process until very fine (grated) consistency. Add in the mushroom, garlic, salt, and white pepper, and pulse until chopped and incorporated with the daikon. Put the rice flour in a bowl, and mix in the daikon mixture. Mix in water- it should be the consistency of oatmeal or pudding. Pour into an oiled loaf pan, and steam for 30-40 minutes or until firm. Let cool, then dump out and slice into 1/2" - 1" slices. Fry in a skillet with a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil until brown and crispy on both sides.

Daikon Radish Cake, Uncooked

Daikon Radish Cake, After Steaming

Kimchi (sometimes spelled Kimchee) is one of my favorite veggie sides. It's a very popular Korean spicy pickled cabbage. Most often, you can find jarred kimchi in Asian markets, and they can vary in flavor, heat, and type. They are usually not vegan, as they will have seafood like shrimp paste or anchovy in it. I don't know about any of you, but I like my kimchi sweet, spicy, a little salty, and a little sour. Most of the jarred kind that I've tried are too salty and sour, and not sweet enough! I took a tip from a Korean lady, and added fruit to mine, and it was so good, I didn't need to wait a few days for it to marinate! The traditional Korean method is to let it ferment for days before eating! You can also add different veggies and fruits: carrots, bok choy, apples, oranges, etc. Try it and let me know what you think...

Sweet Spicy Kimchi

3/4 -1 C. salt (for soaking)
About 6 liters of water (25 cups or enough to just cover)

1 large head of napa cabbage
1 C. sliced or cubed daikon radish (optional)
2 C. fresh pineapple, roughly cut into chunks
1 C. Korean crushed red pepper*
5-8 cloves garlic (I like garlic)
1 tsp. fresh ginger or 1 T. dried ground ginger
1/2 C. sugar (if you don't like your kimchi sweet, add less)
1 T. apple cider vinegar

2 C. chopped green onions (or one bunch)

In a large salad or punch bowl (large enough for all the veggies), mix the salt and water until the salt is dissolved. Cut the stem out of the cabbage and cut into bite sized pieces and put into the bowl along with the cubed daikon (I usually us a big strainer inside the bowl which makes it easier later). Let soak for a couple of hours (sometimes I forget and it soaks for several). Drain the veggies, and taste.  It should be good and salty, but if it's too salty, give it a rinse or two until it's to your taste.

Puree the pineapple, *Korean red pepper (this is a seedless crushed pepper that you can find in Asian markets and is essential to this dish), garlic, ginger, sugar, and vinegar, until smooth. Pour over cabbage and daikon, along with the green onions, and mix until fully combined. Ready to eat now, or store in an air tight container in the fridge.  It lasts a long time, but we usually finish it within 3 weeks.  The flavor will intensify the longer it sits.

And, finally... DESSERT! Thai Coconut Tapioca Pudding. This is not an exact science (yet), but very simple to make. Take a package of tapioca pearls, soak in some water (enough to cover) for an hour. Let it come to a boil, then simmer until translucent. Add a can or two (depending on desired richness) of coconut milk, sugar to desired sweetness, and let thicken to desired consistency. Then top with toasted coconut and almonds after chilling. You can also eat this warm if desired.

Happy Lunar New Year Everyone!

Feb 14, 2010

Heart Attack Macaroon Cookies

Chocolatey, sugar-laden treats are meant to be eaten in moderation... except on Valentine's Day, when many of us indulge in a few candies (or a whole box of chocolates- yes, you know who you are).

I have no recipe for this cookie, as it is still in its experimental stages. But it's easy to make in a variety of different ways, so let 's just say it's an inspiration for your own recipe.

It's pretty much a no-bake chocolate macaroon sandwiched between two thin crisp cookies, dunked in melted chocolate, and decorated with a confectioner's sugar-water mixture. I made mine with shortbread cookies, but you could just as easily use a lower fat graham cracker recipe. You could also fill them with peanut butter, vegan marshmallow creme, or caramel ... don't those sound good too? Then, write whatever cute (or naughty) messages on them, and give them with a big hug and a glass of non-dairy milk.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Feb 7, 2010

Roasted Jalapeno Poppers

For me, this is a day of one of America's most popular pagan rituals. It is a day when people gather around the sacred god (otherwise known as "The Flatscreen," "The Tube," or "The Teli"- as my friend from England would say), and watch two opposing tribes battle it out.

Personally, I try to stay out of the way of all those obnoxious war cries and ensuing celebratory touchdown dances, but it's hard not to get caught up in the hype surrounding such an occasion... especially when it involves all sorts of sinful food! Oh, the gluttony!

Well, since this is a blog about food, how could I stay away? ... if not only to make a small food contribution. So here it is. It's not deep fried, but it's gooey, it's crunchy, and deceptively sinful (as most good vegan food is). Enjoy!

You'll need: 1 dozen jalapeno peppers, cut in half lengthwise


1 C. cooked potatoes, mashed but chunky
1/4 C. Tofutti cream cheese (room temp)
1/2 C. green onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. garlic powder
cracked black pepper and salt to taste
1/2 C. vegan cheese (shredded)
Bread Crumb Topping:
1/2 C. plain bread crumbs
1 T. dehydrated onion
1/2 tsp. ground rosemary
1/2 tsp. ground thyme
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
cracked black pepper and salt to taste

Bacony Bits:
3 T. TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein)
2 T. water
1 T. soy sauce
1 T. maple syrup (or agave nectar)
1 T. extra virgin olive oil


Pull out seeds from jalapenos and set them on a prepared cookie sheet cut side up.

For the filling:
Mix together the softened cream cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper and set aside. Chop green onions and mix in with cooked potatoes. Mix in the cream cheese mixture and vegan cheese until it becomes a chunky mash.

For the bread crumb topping:
Mix together all the ingredients until uniformly combined.

For the bacony bits:
In a bowl, mix together the soy sauce, maple syrup, and water, and heat in the microwave until hot (about 30 sec). Mix in the TVP until well coated and let it soak for a few minutes. When it has finished soaking and rehydrated, add the extra virgin olive oil and mix well.

Mix the bacony bits with the bread crumb topping until well combined.

To assemble:
Spoon in the potato mixture into each jalapeno half, careful not to mound it. Then, while holding each pepper over your bread crumb bowl, press in some of the bread crumbs to mound over the jalapeno half.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

Feb 3, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me Cake II

Why is it that the older you get, the less candles you get?

Yes, I've hit 39. And, as I cling desperately to my 30's, I'm (oddly enough) looking forward to the big 4-0. Maybe because 40 is the new 20, which makes me only 19 -haha!

Anyway, I love making birthday cakes for my friends and family, so when mine rolls around, it's time to make another "Ultimate Karma Cake." Last year, it was my Ultimate Coconut Cake. This year, my best friend Cee insisted on making a cake for me (love her!)... Anyway, she asked me what kind I wanted, and I came up with a Chocolate Cookies & Cream cake. It came out gorgeous, and tasted divine. It definitely screamed, "Happy Birthday to Me!"

My favorite chocolate cake recipe can be found here. And for the frosting, she used the vanilla frosting recipe from VCTOTW and mixed in crushed chocolate cookies, leaving chunks in for texture. Then she decorated the sides with more crushed cookies- brilliant!

For me, a birthday is kind of like New Years Eve. I end up thinking about what I've learned so far, and where I've grown, and reflect on the stumbles I've had this past year. I think about what I'd like to accomplish before my next birthday, and if I'm doing what I should to reach my goals. I also like to take time to appreciate all that I have right now- the people in my life, my health, and the lessons learned (and re-learned). So here's a list of things I've picked up along the way of this journey that is called "life."

1) Outer beauty is so much more effective when balanced with inner beauty.
2) Worrying about money only leads to less money.
3) Hating on yourself leads to no money.
4) Taking care of yourself means more than going to the gym and eating well.
4 part II) Taking care of yourself also requires facing your fears, stepping forward, and supporting yourself with love- which makes going to the gym and eating well that much more positive and satisfying.
5) It's much more effective to share your beliefs through setting an example, rather than passing judgment.
6) Communicating well means putting yourself in another's shoes before speaking.
7) The more you care about the honest details, the more dependable, the more balanced, and the more aware you will be, and the less mistakes you will make.
8) Punishing yourself for mistakes is like "...taking chemo because your tired of shaving your head." (quoted from Robin Williams).
9) Your worst enemy when learning something new is your own ego.
10) Your best friend when learning something new is your own intuition.
...and finally
11) Being vegan is the bomb! (Not that I'm passing judgment on anyone) :D

Hmmm... I wonder what kind of cake I'll want next year.