Saturday, January 24, 2009

Saturday Morning Tofu Scramble


I would never have thought to post this recipe because it is one of those vegan standbys that everyone knows how to make. Uh... right? I don't even remember how I learned to make scrambled tofu, but I'm guessing that my university roommates taught me. Which would mean I've been making this for over a decade. 

However, it has come to my attention that not everyone makes this the same way. The Man of Science, for example, makes his with tahini, which I have never added to mine. And just last week my 50 year old francophone admin assistant, who used to tell me I was too skinny and I needed a good steak, told me that she visited her neighbour's giant chicken farm and it was so gross and upsetting she hasn't been able to eat an egg since. She wanted to know what I ate instead of eggs in the morning. 

Recruited! Excellent. 

spinach and spices

Saturday Morning Tofu Scramble (for two)

1 small onion, chopped up small
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 block of firm tofu, crumbled
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tbsp (or so. I usually dump in a cap full) tamari sauce
1 roasted red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup spinach, torn up into bite sized pieces

In your trusty cast iron pan (or a regular frying pan or whatever) heat the olive oil over medium high heat. 

Add onion and garlic and saute until onions are tender.

Add tofu and spices and turn heat down to medium. Stir until tofu is evenly yellow from turmeric. Add the tamari and stir some more.

Add spinach, red pepper.

Reduce heat to low and cover to steam spinach. Add a bit of water if stuff starts sticking. 

After two of three minutes, the spinach should be floppy wilty, and then the whole thing is ready to eat! 

Some notes:

-This is good on toast or with a side of roasted potatoes like in my expertly composed photo above. 

-Not related to this recipe, but why has Top Chef never had a "cook vegan" challenge? Is it because Diet Doctor Pepper probably wouldn't sponsor it? I think it would be a great task, what with Tom Colicciho being all on about "respecting your food" this season. And it would be a challenge for most of the "cheftestants", given that the only time I've seen them cook tofu was last season when Richard marinated it in beef fat. A move which, incidentally, made the Man of Science hate him. 

-The spinach and red pepper are a nice combination of veggies to add to this dish, but the great thing about it is that you can throw in whatever you happen to have on hand. Tomatoes are nice, and so are olives, asparagus, and fresh peppers or herbs. Just keep the quantities reasonable. Once I made this at my friend Fiona's place and put in way too many vegetables. the tofu was overshadowed and it tasted way too "vegetabley". I never knew such a thing was possible. 


Monday, January 19, 2009

Skillet Coffee Cake

coffee cake

I hated Roughing It In The Bush when I was forced to read it in my second year Canadian Literature class. I thought Ms. Moodie was a big old bore, not to mention being put off by her questionable attitudes towards the "savages" who surrounded her. 

However, it is weirdly a book that I return to in my thoughts quite often. For example, if I can't sleep at night and want to imagine a cosy, soothing scenario, I think of the scene in the book where she and her husband are returning from a snowy trip to a far away neighbour's home. Her husband is upright and guiding the sled through the silent, snowy forest. Susanna is asleep on the sled itself, completely covered with woolen blankets. Personally, I think that would be a great place to sleep. 

And if I am forced to do without some modern luxury for whatever reason I think of Susanna and count myself lucky. I thought of her this weekend when I wanted to make a coffee cake for The Man of Science (who is lukewarm on all desserts except for coffee cake). Unfortunately, there is no cake pan at the House of Science. Its kitchen is slightly, shall we say, rudimentary. But you know what that kitchen has? A perfect cast iron skillet. It seemed very pioneery to make a cake in a skillet.

Who knew skillet cake could be so nice? And not carry any of the turmeric flavor from the breakfast cooked earlier the same day? It worked out so well, I am a little worried about turning into one of those people who insist that "A cast iron skillet is all you need! No other pots! No other pans! Skillet only! Praise the skillet." Like the people who used to come into the health food store and try to convince me that I should throw away all my soap, shampoo, conditioner, and household cleansers and just use vinegar instead. Not happening, people. 

have some!

Skillet Coffee Cake (vegan)

For the cake:

1 cup white flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sunflower or canola oil
1 cup applesauce
1/2 cup almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the topping:

1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp sunflower or canola oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Mix all dry ingredients for the cake together, including the sugar. 

Mix all wet ingredients, then stir them into the dry. 

Spread batter into skillet.  

Mix all dry ingredients for topping, then mix in oil until it gets crumbly. 

Spread topping on top (duh.) of cake batter. 

Bake for about half an hour, or until a knife in the middle comes out clean. 

Some notes:

-You can use a regular cake pan instead of a skillet if you are fancy like that. 

-After we spent a Saturday afternoon snacking on this cake, The Man of Science had a dream that his cousin, Vaughn, came into the kitchen and announced that he was going to eat some of the cake. The Man of Science was kind of annoyed in the dream, and told Vaughn he could have some, but he'd better not eat it all. This dream is far less disturbing than the last cake-themed dream he had, in which his brother was actually a cheesecake. 

-This would probably also be nice with apple pieces and nuts mixed into the batter. 


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ridiculously Easy Black Bean and Artichoke Dip


I'm a wee bit stunned right now, having just come from the car dealership where I purchased the most expensive thing I've ever bought in my life. Uh... a car. A new car at that. It is a lovely car, safe, grey, good sound system, lots of space for my dog in the back. And I'm sure once the shock wears off and I sort out selling my old car* I will be wildly pleased and able to enjoy the new car.

In the meantime though, I need a beer. And some snacks. Stat. And that's where this black bean dip comes in. It is one of those things I often forget about and then when I make it again I wonder why I don't make it all the time. It's great for dipping tortilla chips into and equally good as a proteiny sandwich spread. It also keeps well in the fridge for a few days which is a big plus for me since I often arrive home from work hungry and need to have easy and healthy snacks on hand.

black beans and artichokes

Ridiculously Easy Black Bean and Artichoke Dip

2 cups of black beans (approximately 1 can if you're using canned)
1 cup of artichoke hearts (more if you really like 'em!)
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 clove of garlic
salt and pepper to taste

If you are using artichoke hearts that aren't packed in oil, then add 1 tablespoon of olive oil as well.

If using canned ingredients, drain them but don't rinse them.

Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

Serve with chips or spread on bread.

Some notes:

-Mark Bittman over at the New York Times Bitten Blog did a great post about what should be in your well-stocked pantry for 2009. About dried beans he said, "more economical, better tasting, space saving and available in far more varieties. Cook a pound once a week and you’ll always have them around..." So true. I cook a whole bunch of beans at once and then freeze 250 ml containers of them to use at a later date. Cheap, fresh, and convenient.

-Fresh cilantro is also nice in this, just wash it well because no one wants gritty dip.

-Did I mention that I just BOUGHT a CAR?!?! I think I need to go lie down...


*Anyone want to buy a 1998 Subaru Legacy station wagon with windsheild wipers that usually work?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Butternut Squash Pizza


So, I'm going on hour 22 of having "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" stuck in my head. It has been attacking my brain like a glorious, catchy virus and I am suddenly not in the mood to listen to anything else. Is this why Top 40 music makes so much money? It is nefarious. And the part where she harmonizes on the word "attention" gives me chills all over my whole body.

What does this have to do with squash pizza, you may ask? Well, uh, not much. However, if marriage between one woman and one pizza were allowed, I might seriously consider proposing to this dish. Not because it is super fancy or roller-coaster-ride exciting. Rather, it is nourishing, subtly sweet, and uncomplicated. All qualities one might want in a life partner. Given the chance, I would totally put a ring on it.

squash pizza

Butternut Squash Pizza

1 pizza crust

(I like this recipe from Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal Vegetable Miracle.)

1 medium sized butternut squash, peeled and chopped
1 medium sized onion, chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoon basil
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons parmesan or soy parmesan.

Prepare the dough for your pizza crust, if necessary.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Put squash and onion in a large bowl with 3 tbsp of olive oil and rosemary, basil, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat.

On a baking sheet, spread out squash and onion mixture and bake for 20 minutes.

Turn oven down to 350 degrees.

Roll pizza dough out as thinly as possible and place on a baking sheet sprinkled with a pinch of cornmeal or breadcrumbs.

Spread remaining tbsp of olive oil on top of crust.

Cover crust with squash and onion mixture. Sprinkle with parmesan and additional salt and pepper if desired.

Bake for fifteen minutes or until crust starts to brown at edges.

Some notes:

-In the future I would add some cloves of garlic and maybe some sliced apples to the squash mixture while it is roasting.

-In keeping with the connection to Animal Vegetable Miracle, this is a very easy dish to make with local ingredients. This time of year here in freezing Ontario, local food is a bit hard to come by. At my neighbourhood health food store I can get squash and onions and garlic from local farms.

-This pizza would also go really well with some (not local, sadly) swiss chard on the side. Or maybe layered under the squash. The possibilities are endless, really.


Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Eve Spanish Feast

tapas NYE

I have never really liked New Year's Eve.

This is largely because I am not a late-night-party person. And I am totally unable to pretend that I am having a good time when I would rather be home in bed with the dog. For years I would go to see my now-ex boyfriend play rock shows in and around the city. I spent most of those New Year's Eves trying to stay awake at the back of a bar while packs of drunken revelers smashed glasses and shouted expletives around me.

One year I offered to babysit for my friend Lisa so she and her partner, Richard, could go out and party. I hung out with their son Elliot until his bed time, then listened to CBC, read the paper, and ate snacks until midnight. It was the best New Year's Eve I'd ever had. It was also the first year anyone told me that how you spend New Year's Eve portends how you are going to spend the coming year. Sure enough, by July of that year I had ditched my boyfriend and taken up temporary residence in Lisa and Richard's house where I spent the rest of the summer listening to CBC, reading the paper, and eating snacks.

Since then, I've put some thought into New Year's Eve, always making sure that whatever I do is something that sets me up well for the year to come. With that in mind, I spent last night preparing a big delicious meal with The Man of Science, surrounded by happy pets in a cosy house.

We decided on a Spanish theme because it allowed for a bunch of different dishes and because I am still not in the mood for anything super heavy, what with the potato-and-sugar-laden holidays barely behind me. We used recipes from the internet and barely strayed from them, so I'll post photos and links instead of re-hashing other people's recipes for you.

My favourite dish of the night was the tapas mushrooms which were cooked in sherry:


We ate the mushrooms first along with olives, bread, cheese, and some marinated artichoke hearts:


The vegan frittata was delicious, but didn't turn out nearly as pretty as the version pictured on Diet, Dessert, and Dogs. I used cornstarch instead of potato starch and wasn't exactly sure when to add it to the mix, so I imagine that had something to do with it not firming up properly:


While the frittata was baking, the Man of Science cooked up some vegan paella with lots of vegetables in the rice and a bunch more artichoke hearts on top:


And there was wine and sherry and then champagne at midnight. And then I fell into bed in a well-fed stupor. 2009 is off to a very filling start.