Tofu Parmesan

So, I know I called this dish tofu parmesan, but there is no parmesan in it. But, to be fair the mozzarella is the best part of chicken or eggplant parm so I think my title is still fairly accurate.  I love eggplant parm. I thought about it the other day, which is where I got my inspiration for this dish. I guess someone could argue this is more like Italian-style baked tofu but whatever. You can add some vegan parm into the batter, I just didn’t have any on hand. It’s delicious either way.

Tofu Parmesan 
1 block tofu
2 tbs soy sauce
1/4 cup+2tbs flour, (I used rice, but any kind is fine)
1/4 tbs Italian-style bread crumbs
1/2 cup soy milk, unflavored
2 tbs Ener-G Egg Replacer + 1 tbs water, mixed
1/4 vegan mozzarella (Try Dayia)
1/2 tbs soy sauce
1 tps garlic salt
Pinch of pepper

Drain the tofu.

Place several sheets of paper towels on a flat, clean surface. Put the tofu on the paper towels, then place some more paper towels on top. Now get something heavy (I use my science textbooks, my mom uses stone bookends) and place it on top. This will squeeze out all the liquid so it will get a denser texture when cooked. Leave this for at least an hour, but the longer the better.

Next, place the tofu in a freezable container and freeze over night.

The next morning, place it on the counter to thaw.

 

Once fairly thawed, sliced in half lengthwise so it’s like 1/4 inch thick steak. Since I am only cooking for me, I put one half back in the fridge for another day. Pour the 2tbs of soy sauce over both sides and let it marinade for at least a half an hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Mix together all the remaining ingredients, it should be slightly thick.

 

Dip the tofu steak in the cheese batter, coating well on both sides.

Place on the baking sheet and put it in the oven.

I forgot to set a timer so I don’t know exactly how long it took to cook. But something around 20 minutes I guess. Check yours after 15 just to be safe. It will be all golden and crispy when ready.

I had some basil-tomato sauce I made last week that needed to be eaten so I slathered my tofu with it. I loved the crispy and cheesy crust.

If you want to make this more chicken parm like, top it with the sauce and more cheese and bake for a few minutes longer. If you want to make this a full meal, pair it with some pasta and nice green salad.

Humintas: Bolivian Tamales

 

After receiving my package from Bolivia, I researched Bolivian food.  While majority of it isn’t vegan, because it uses fresh ingredients and simple cooking methods, it can easily be adapted. After looking at many mouth watering recipes, I saw humintas and knew I had to make them. They are pretty much just the Bolivian version of a tamale. I had a hard time fiding a basic recipe online, so I based this one on several. I also used followed some advice my friend Leslie gave me.

Although they are not complicated to make, they are time consuming (especially if you have to ground your corn by hand because your blend broke like me). But, I promise they are worth it.

I made a green chili and cilantro sauce to go with them. It’s a perfect compliment for the slightly sweet corn, and it’s not overly hot so don’t be afraid.

Green Pepper and Cilantro Sauce
1 cup cilantro
1/2 cup green onion
2 hot peppers
1/2 cup water
Pinch of salt
Red pepper flakes

If you have a blender or food processors, just throw everything in there and blend until your desired consistency.

Fresh from Farmers Market.

If you have a broken blender like me, finely chop the cilantro and green onions.

I really wished I had my blender to do this

Chop the peppers in half and remove the stem, membranes and seeds. I left a few seeds since I like it hot. Then chop finely.

Add the cilantro, green onions, and peppers to a small bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients. Mix together well, then let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours to let the flavors develop.

 
Humintas
3 cobs of corn, with husks still attached
1/2 corn meal
4 tbs Engr-G egg replacer
1 tomato
1/4 cup vegan cheese (I used Daiya mozzarella)
Pinch of salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Only use fresh corn, canned will not work.

Carefully remove the cobs from the husks. Don’t rip or tear them, they are what you cook the corn filling in.  Remove the silk and rise clean.

 

Watch it, the kernels like to fly off.

Next cut the kernels off the cobs. This can get a bit messy so I suggest  doing this in a bowl so the kernels don’t end up everywhere.

Mashing by hand sucks.

Now, put the kernels in the blender with the corn meal and blend into a slightly sticky paste. I unfortunately had to ground mine by hand (the nice thing about being a geologist is I usually have a nice piece of rock laying around that can be used as a pestle. And yes mom, it’s clean!).

 

Next, remove the seeds from the tomato and chopped finely. Add to the corn mixture.

Traditionally the humintas are stuffed with the cheese, but I am not that talented yet. Add the cheese and egg replacer, then season with the salt and pepper. Mix together well.

Bring a few inches of water to boil in a large pot on the stove.

In another pot, put a few inches of cold water and set aside.

Sort the corns husks into large and small pieces. The large ones are will be the wrappers and the small ones will be used to tie the humintas shut.

Once it’s boiling, place the large husks into the boiling water for about 10 seconds. This makes the husks easier to work with.Then dunk straight into the cold water.

Spray a pan or cookie sheet with cooking spray.

Now time to fill the husks. Spread enough of the corn mixture, 2-3 tablespoons depending on size of the husks, into each husk in a thin layer. I  suggest laying several husk on top  of each other, it is easier to fill and tie. I also suggest oiling the inside husk before you put in the filling. I didn’t do this and my huminitas stuck a little bit.

Not the easier thing to do, but it gets better with practice.

Now fold over the sides to make a little package. Then tie shut with the smaller husks like string.

Not the best wrapping job ever….

Place the humintas on the pan or cookie sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes. They are done when the husks are browned and steam is no longer coming off them.

 

I thought they might open, but I didn’t have any more husks.

Mine burst open because I didn’t wrap them tight enough. I should have used more husks and tied them better. They still tasted amazing, and the few that did stay closed were the best ones.

I topped them with sauce and ate them while they were still hot. Since most of mine stuck to the husks, I had to scoop them out. But normally, they should come right out and be eaten freely. Sweet, cheesy, and very filling.  The sauce provided a nice contrast. I can’t wait to have authentic ones, let’s hope I get to go to Bolivia soon!

Viva las humintas!

The recipes I based this on:
http://www.food2.com/blog/humitas-ecuatorianas
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Andean-Humita-en-Chala-230683
http://thefrugalchef.com/2009/10/humintas-bolivian-style-tamales/
http://www.boliviaweb.com/recipes/english/humintas.htm

Cheesy Fried Tofu

Oh my God. This is one of the best things I’ve ever made. I had Daiya cheddar left from my Mexican Pizza, and couldn’t face another burrito (I’ve been eating them all week for lunch). I already planned on making collard-green-style Swiss chard, so that lead me to thinking about my Southern dinner the other night. Then it hit me, cheesy fried tofu. I couldn’t find a recipe for it online so I decided to just add cheese to my fried tofu batter. This recipe is for one serving, but is so simple it can easily be multiplied to feed more people.

Tastes better than chicken.

Cheesy Fried Tofu
1 block extra firm tofu
2 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs flour
Pinch of salt and pepper
1/4 cup+2tbs flour, (I used rice, but any kind is fine)
1/2 cup soy milk, unflavored
1 tbs nutritional yeast
1/2 tbs soy sauce
1 tps yellow mustard
3-5 shakes of Tabasco sauce
1 tps garlic salt
Pinch of pepper
1/4 cup vegan cheddar cheese (try Daiya)
Oil for frying

Drain the tofu.

Place several sheets of paper towels on a flat, clean surface. Put the tofu on the paper towels, then place some more paper towels on top. Now get something heavy (I use my science textbooks, my mom uses stone bookends) and place it on top. This will squeeze out all the liquid so it will get a denser texture when cooked. Leave this for at least an hour, but the longer the better.

Next, place the tofu in a freezable container and freeze over night.

Drained, frozen, thawed, and marinated.

The next morning, place it on the counter to thaw.

Once fairly thawed, sliced in half lengthwise so it’s like 1/4 inch thick steak. I normally don’t like to cut tofu into steaks, but I figured the cheese would stick better to a bigger piece. Since I am only cooking for me, I put one half back in the fridge for another day. Pour the 2tbs of soy sauce over both sides and let it marinade for at least a half an hour.

Cheesy.

In a small bowl, mix together the 2 tbs of flour with the salt and pepper.

In another bowl,  mix together the remaining ingredients. It should make a chunky batter.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. The oil is ready when some water sprinkled in sizzles and bounces right out.

I don’t know why the batter looks more yellow in this one…

Now time to fry. First, coat both sides of the tofu steak in the dry flour mixture.

Pile it on, get a nice thick crust.

Next dip it into the cheese mixture. Make sure it is thoroughly coated in a thick layer.

I had some butter in the pan too, that’s why the oil is a bit brown.

Next place in the hot oil. Cooked on both sides until golden brown and crispy.

I was so eager to try the tofu, I almost forgot to take final pictures! It was crispy and gooey, just like I imagined. I loved it with spicy Southern-style Swiss chard. Best fried tofu ever.

I hurried through the photos because I wanted to try it so bad!

"Cheese" and Veggie Pizza

I haven’t made a “traditional” style pizza in a long time because I don’t like most vegan cheese—and because I like my hummus version better anyways. There was a sale on Daiya cheese so I thought I would give the mozzarella a try since I like their cheddar.

I was a little disappointed because it tastes just like the cheddar. I wanted the slightly salty and creaminess of the mozzarella, instead it was slightly sweet and dense. These are good qualities for cheddar cheese, but not mozzarella. They must use the same formula, just minus the food coloring. I didn’t hate it, but I would not call it mozzarella. It’s just a nice generic white cheese substitute.

I used my usual array of veggies I bought pre-chopped from the salad bar at the grocery store. But, this time I loaded it up with fresh basil. I even added some to a store-bought sauce. The rich herb flavor blended really nicely with the sweetness of the cheese.

Cheese and Veggie Pizza
1 pre-baked pizza crust (try mine)
1/2 cup tomato basil sauce
1/2 cup vegan mozzarella cheese (Try Daiya)
Handful fresh basil
Handful fresh kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 of a tomato, sliced
1/8 cup red onion, sliced

Pre-heat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Spread the sauce evenly over the pre-baked crust.

Sprinkle on the mozzarella.

Place an even, single layer of basil on top of the cheese.

Top with the remaining veggies.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the veggies are cooked. Since this is non-dairy cheese, it will not get all bubbly and brown like real mozzarella does. It will burn if you leave it in the oven longer than 15 minutes. Although it doesn’t bubble, it does get pretty gooey.

It was yummy and definitely a nice change, but I still like my hummus version better.

Spinach and Mushroom Pizza

I wanted something different for my Friday night pizza this week, and thought sauce-less might be nice. I saw an amazing spinach pizza recipe when I was looking at other vegan blogs last night…but I can’t remember which one I saw it on. There are great vegan sites out there and one of them has a fantastic spinach pizza recipe that I based this on.

Thrawed on the counter for 5 hours

My pizza dough recipe makes 2 to 3 pizzas easily, so I freeze some for the next few weeks. It should freeze nicely, and I heard on some cooking show before that it can last for up to 3 months (though I usually eat mine within a month so I don’t know). Again, I suggest pre-baking the crust since the veggies do not take long to cook.




 

Spinach and Mushroom Pizza

1 pre-baked pizza crust (try mine)
1 tbs olive oil
1 clove of garlic, fine chopped
1 cup spinach, chopped (frozen or fresh)
1/8 cup red onion, sliced
1/2 mushroom, sliced
1/8 cup kalamata olives, chopped.  
Pinch of salt and pepper

Evenly spread the olive oil and chopped garlic on the pre-baked pizza crust.

If you use frozen spinach like I did, thaw and thoroughly drain it, or else your pizza will be soggy.  If you are using fresh, wash it well and coarsely chop.

Evenly spread the spinach over the crust, then spread on the onions on top.

If you use fresh mushrooms like I did, wash and dry them well before slicing. If you use canned, drain them thoroughly like the spinach to keep your pizza from getting soggy. Evenly spread on top of the spinach and onions.

Top with the olives, then sprinkle on a pinch or two of salt and pepper. If you like a kick, add some red pepper flakes too.

Bake for 7-10 minutes, until spinach and mushrooms are wilted.

It’s a nice change from the same old tomato sauce pizza, plus it will make you strong like Popeye 😛

Mac and Cheese

Bet you didn’t think vegans eat mac and cheese? Well, we do. I don’t think I could be a vegan if I couldn’t have it. Of course it’s not real cheese. There are two ways to make it, with nutritional yeast or with alternative cheeses.

It smells kind of like Parmesan.

Nutritional yeast is deactivated yeast made from cultured sugarcane or molasses. It’s similar to brewer’s yeast, the left over stuff from making beer, but way less “yeasty” tasting. I had never heard of the stuff until I became a vegan. It has a slight earthy/cheesy/yeasty flavor that can boost up any dish that normally has cheese or meat in it. It’s available at health food stores, usually in bulk but I have seen it in packages too. It is fairly inexpensive, so don’t be a afraid to buy some. It’s good on popcorn or pasta for a “cheesy” topping.

It looks like cheese…

I stated before in my Pad Thai Pizza post that I am not a big fan of most alternative cheeses. Although some claim they “really melt,” they don’t. I choose the word pliable to describe them. They are more pliable when heated but not melty and bubbly.  However, I  heard all these rants and raves about Daiya. So I thought I would give it a try. It tasted pretty good out of the bag. The texture is not quite right, but way better then some other brands I’ve tried. It didn’t totally melt, but it got pretty bubbly and gooey. For something I am not a big fan of, I do like this soy cheese. I used both nutritional yeast and the soy cheese in this recipe. 

Mac and Cheese
3 cups elbow macaroni
2 tbs vegan butter

Cheese Sauce:
1 cup nutritional yeast
1 cup non-sweetened soy milk
1 tps mustard 
1 cup soy cheese (I suggest Daiya)
1/2 tps turmeric
1/2 tps cumin
1 tps garlic powder
1 tps soy sauce
1/4 tps pepper

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F, if you want to bake it.

Cook macaroni according to directions. Return to pot or a large bowl after it’s drained for mixing. If you are baking it, leave the pasta a little undercooked, it will finish cooking in the oven.

It’s not quite a roux but it keeps the sauce together.

In a small sauce pan, heat butter over medium until melted, then add the nutritional yeast. It will make a lumpy mixture, just stir until everything is well mixed.

I was skeptical when I saw the cheese clump, but it smoothed out

Add milk and mustard, whisk well.  Add soy cheese while continuously whisking. It may clump on the bottom, but should come together as it warms. 

Add turmeric, cumin, garlic powder, soy sauce, and pepper. Heat until it starts to simmer. Taste, it may need a bit of salt.

Pour the sauce over the macaroni and mix thoroughly.

If you like stove-top style,  you can eat it just like this. But if you prefer baked, pour into a baking dish and pop it in the oven for 15 minutes or until it gets golden-brown and bubbly.

Since I’m only cooking for one, I baked mine in individual ramekins. 

I topped mine with some extra cheese and red pepper flakes before I baked it. Breadcrumbs are a good choice too, gives it a nice crunch.

It’s creamy and gooey just like dairy mac and cheese. See, being a vegan does not mean just boring vegetables.

Here are some other recipes to try too:
http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=8295.0
http://www.thekindlife.com/user_recipe/view/10014/115/1 
http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/vegan-mac-and-no-cheese/Detail.aspx