Feb 23, 2011

Vegan Crunchy Corn Dogs

Lately, my husband has gotten somewhat obsessed with corn dogs. They weren't my favorite thing to make, since I had trouble getting the batter to stick in my first couple of attempts, but he really loved the light crispy cornbread that surrounded (or partially surrounded) the hot dogs. I tried rolling the dogs in flour first, and I tried scoring them first, but I realized that I needed to create a thicker batter to get it to stick to the slick surface of the hot dogs, and I finally figured it out.

These were also rolled in crushed tortilla chips for extra crunch, but are optional. I deep fried them, but they can also be baked- they just won't have as pretty of a shape.

Baked Corn Dogs

I used to stick the skewers in after I fried them, but putting them in before you batter them will save you a lot of mess on your hands! Use bamboo skewers if you can find them (I used the kind typically used for caramel apples).

(Makes 18 appetizer sized corn dogs)

18 bamboo skewers
1 9-pack vegan hot dogs (I used Ive's)
1 C. crushed tortilla chips (optional)
1 C. yellow corn meal
1 C. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 C. soy milk
1/4 C. canola oil
1/4 C. brown sugar
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

Heat oil for deep frying. Make sure the vessel you're using will be big enough to fit the skewered hot dogs. If you're planning to bake them, heat the oven to 400 F degrees and oil a baking sheet.

Whisk together dry ingredients into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Add the wet to the dry and mix until combined. The batter should be thick like frosting.

Cut the hot dogs in half. Skewer the hot dogs until they are about 3/4 of the way through. Holding the hot dog by the skewer (right side up), spoon the batter to "frost" the hot dog, spinning it around with your fingers. Make sure that there aren't any exposed areas, and the batter does not have to be too thick because it will puff up when cooked. Roll them in the crushed tortilla chips, if you are using them.

If frying, place your first corn dog (skewer and all) into the hot oil (about 350-375 degrees). Go and "frost" your next hot dog. By the time your next one is ready to fry, the prior one should be floating, golden, and ready to remove and drain on a paper towel. Once done with frying, you can keep them warm in an oven at 150 - 200 degrees until ready to serve.

If you're baking, put them quickly onto your baking pan and right into your preheated oven. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until golden. They'll look a bit flatter, but still crunchy and tasty. The tortilla chips will help the crunchiness with this method.

Feb 11, 2011

Romancing the Plate, A Valentine's Tale

Three women became hopelessly infatuated with the same man. He was a world-class chef, and they believed him to be the most handsome, the most noble, the most intelligent, and the most sensitive man they had ever met in their whole lives (and they had met a lot).

The first woman was an accomplished scientist, who valued the man's intellect most of all. She devised a plan to capture his heart by impressing him with her vast knowledge. The man was duly impressed, and invited her to his restaurant to have his famous breakfast. She excitedly accepted, but as the morning wore on, the man realized that although she was very intelligent, she was also a snob, a bore, and treated people as inferiors. Needless to say, she did not receive a request for a second date.

The second woman was a glamorous heiress, who valued the man's nobility and appreciation for the finer things. She put on her best designer outfit and had her makeup and hair done by the best professionals money could buy. He was mesmerized by her sparkling beauty, and invited her to his restaurant to have his famous lunch. She happily accepted, but as the afternoon wore on, he realized that although she was very beautiful, she was also very shallow, kind of a ditz, and treated people like property. Needless to say, she did not receive a request for a second date.

The third woman was beautiful, but in a quiet way. She was a waitress, who valued the man's sensitivity most of all. She worked in his restaurant, but only dared to admire him from afar. After the first two women, the man thought about his own prejudices, and decided to invite the meek waitress to dine with him. He wasn't expecting much, as he knew little about her. But as the night wore on, he realized that although she was shy and thought little of herself, she was also intelligent, beautiful, talented, and had a wonderful heart. But alas, she didn't believe she was good enough to belong in his world, and sadly refused his request for a second date.

The man was devastated, for he believed that he had just met the love of his life, but the woman would rather run away from love than believe in herself.

That night, the man racked his brain. How could he change her mind? How could he inspire her to feel differently about herself? After tossing and turning and getting little sleep, he finally decided he would do the only thing he knew how to do... cook.

So the next evening, he persuaded the woman to stay late to test a new dish. Little did she know that he had worked on it all day, tasting, embellishing, and perfecting it, until it was a masterpiece worthy of his restaurant.

The woman looked down on her plate, and marveled at the beautiful presentation. She took a bite, and her eyes closed as she savored the amazing flavors and textures. She had never tasted anything so wonderful! When she asked what it was made of, the man paused and looked deeply into her eyes.

"It's tofu," he said.

It was tofu. Simple, plain, and unassuming tofu, transformed into a beautiful work of art.

Her eyes welled up with tears, as she blushed and tried to look away. He reached gently for her face, and redirected her gaze back to his.

"You are a work of art, waiting to happen," he whispered.

She smiled and fell into his arms, as they shared their first kiss. Needless to say, she accepted his request for a second date.
Almond Encrusted Tofu on Top of Seasoned Quinoa Rice, Roasted Red Pepper Ring, and Red Pepper Coulis

Almond Encrusted Tofu for Two:
Drain and press extra-firm tofu, then marinate in salt water for half an hour (taste for desired saltiness), drain and press again. Slice tofu into two 1/2" thick, 3 inch wide slices and set aside. In a small bowl, mix together in these proportions: 2 tsp. nutritional yeast flakes, pinch of salt, 2 T. sliced almonds, pinch of black pepper, 2 tsp. all purpose flour, dry seasoning of choice, and a little water to form a paste. Mix together, smear a thin layer on top of the 3 inch tofu rounds, then arrange some almond slices on top (they should stick). Fry in a non-stick skillet with a thin layer of vegetable oil, 2 minutes per side (carefully flipping with spatula). Press down with a spatula to flatten a bit.

Quinoa Rice:
Cook half quinoa, half medium grain rice. Take about 1 cup of rice and season with fresh parsley, lemon juice, salt, olive oil, nutritional yeast, and roasted minced garlic. Oil a 3" ring form about 1/2 deep, and set on top of plate. Press in rice mixture with the back of a spoon, then lift mold.

Red Pepper Coulis:
Roast about a cup of sweet red pepper and one garlic clove. Puree these with salt, a little water (a couple tablespoons), pepper, and a squeeze of agave nectar. Pour into a squeeze bottle, and decorate the plate as desired.

Tofu on FoodistaTofu

Feb 5, 2011

Ultimate Game Day Food

What is the Superbowl, if not Thanksgiving's loud obnoxious cousin?  I know most of you probably love the sport, but since I'm a less than enthusiastic fan, I usually end up making food for my football-loving buddies.  And what could be a more obnoxious dish than this?...

Deep fried zucchini slice, topped with vegan pepperoni, melted Daiya cheese, fried onion rings, spinach dip, and diced tomatoes
 ... as obnoxious as a vegan can get!  Loud, messy, and made with no recipes.  Tomatoes added only for guilt, and can be omitted.  I drizzled hot sauce on mine.  Buddies called it vegan "crack." 

Here's how I made it:

Fry Batter:
Take about two cups of all purpose flour, about a tablespoon of cornstarch, teaspoon of salt, and enough cold water to make pancake batter consistency.  Don't over-stir.  Slice zucchini into long 1/2 inch slices, do the same for your onions (into rings).  Dip them in the batter, then into Panko bread crumbs.  Fry in a deep fryer at 350-375 degrees F until golden and crispy.  Do not overcrowd your fryer.  Drain on paper towels or recycled paper shopping bags (cut open).

Pepperoni and Melted Cheese:
Place a little bit of oil in a hot nonstick pan.  Arrange "veggeroni" side by side in the pan, then sprinkle Daiya cheese over the veggeroni.  Cover for a few minutes to melt the cheese and crisp the bottoms of the veggeroni.  Quickly separate veggeroni & cheese into 4-piece strips.  Place these on top of the zucchinis.

Spinach Dip:
Thaw 8-10oz. of frozen spinach, press, and drain.  In a food processor, blend 1 package of extra firm Mori-Nu silken tofu, about 3/4 cup Vegennaise, about a teaspoon of garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. 
Cut onion rings in half to fit on top of zucchini and veggeroni/cheese.  Spoon on a couple dollops of spinach dip. Finish with diced tomatoes, and hot sauce (optional).

Happy Game Day... Hope your team wins!!

Feb 3, 2011

Vegan Lunar New Year and My 40th

This year's lunar new year falls a day before I hit the big 4-0!  The first day of the lunar new year is traditionally without meat- how perfect is that?  I thought that I might as well celebrate both at the same time, and make some of my favorite foods.
2011 Year of the Rabbit:  Orange Rabbit
I'm a second generation Taiwanese gal, being the first in my family to be born here.  And, even though I was raised with a lot of authentic cuisine, my palette has definitely grown to include a lot of international and Americanized flavors.  I have a feeling that a lot of my relatives in Taiwan would laugh at me if they knew about the siracha sauce on my pizza or the nutritional yeast flakes on my rice (probably not as bad as Vegennaise on my sushi though).
Longevity Noodles
Noodles symbolize longevity, and are typically served on birthdays and other celebrations.  The longer the noodle, the longer the life.  What a great reason to have noodles on my birthday!  The key to good rice noodles, is to soak them, then pan fry them until tender.
Wonton Rabbit
This is my attempt to make wontons in the shape of rabbits... someone said they could also be whales.  Let's just say they're an abstract interpretation.

Nian Gao:  Chinese sweet mochi cake, coconut flavor

Our good friend and world famous beatboxer, singer, and musician, Butterscotch just brought us this mochi cake back from her Hong Kong tour.  It's made with coconut milk, glutenous rice flour, and sugar.

Deep fried nian gao
I cut it into slices and deep fried these... they were SO good- crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.  

Happy Lunar New Year!

Here's one of Butterscotch's latest videos.  She is so fricken talented!  Check it out.