Vegan Longevity Chow Mein Noodles


longevity_noodles

Noodles are traditionally served at Chinese New Year’s feasts. Ancient Chinese belief says that long noodles are the key to a long life  and good fortune, so don’t cut those noodles as you eat!  Longevity noodles are usually stir fried and so are these.

These noodles are fresh, store bought, egg-free Chow Mein, but you can use vermicelli,  ramen or whatever you have available.

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CHOW MEIN LONG NOODLES

1  8oz (225g) package Eggless Chow Mein Noodles
1 ½ Tablespoons Neural Oil, vegetable or sunflower
1 Block Firm Tofu, diced into ½”cubes
1 Clove Garlic, finely minced
1 Carrot, sliced into thin strips
2 Cups Shredded Napa Cabbage
½ Cup Sliced Sugar Snap Peas
1 Cup Mung Bean Sprouts
4 Green Onions, finely sliced – divided
¼ Cup Dark Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Sesame Oil
¼ Cup Water
¼ teaspoon Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
¼ teaspoon Red Chilli Flakes, optional
¼ Cup Cilantro, torn for optional garnish

 

Bring water to boil in a large pot. Add the noodles and cook for one minute. Drain and rinse well with cold water. Shake well to remove all water. Drizzle over the sesame oil and set noodles aside.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté tofu for about 3 minutes per side until golden and crisp.  Remove from pan and set aside.
To the skillet, add the garlic and carrots to sauté for 1 minute. Add the cabbage, peas, bean sprouts and 3/4 of the green onions. Continue to toss for another minute, until the cabbage has wilted.
Add the reserved noodles and tofu and toss well to combine with the vegetables to warm through. Add the soy sauce, salt, a few grinds of pepper, chilli flakes and the water. Using tongs, continue to toss until all ingredients are just mixed together.

Remove from heat and transfer to a platter to serve. Top with remaining sliced green onions and cilantro, if using.

 

 

 

 

Vegan Dumplings For A Health-filled New Year


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Happy New Year!

Lunar New Year is the extra bit of horoscope magic we like to celebrate in our house. Years ahead full of health and prosperity are good things to strive for. Sitting down and folding dumplings as a family is pretty amazing too.
Other than a lot of dicing, the filling comes together pretty quickly to make a dinner full of dumplings. Folding isn’t too tough either. There are lots of folds varieties to choose from. An easy triangle, to more complicated pleats, but the trick is just to get the air out and seal the edges well.
For these I started with an off point triangle and to fancy them up, folded each of the lower corners up to make a bit of a lucky dragon type of shape.

Gong hei fat choy!

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VEGAN DUMPLINGS

For The Filling:

1/2 Block Firm Tofu, pressed and finely diced (about 1 Cup)
3 Dried Shiitake Mushrooms, reconstituted and finely diced (about 1/4 Cup)
1 Medium Carrot, finely grated
1 Cup Napa Cabbage, finely shredded
1/4 Red Pepper, finely diced
1 Clove Garlic, finely grated (with a microplane)
1 teaspoon Fresh Ginger, peeled and finely grated (with a microplane)
1 teaspoon Cilantro, finely chopped
2 teaspoons Sesame Oil
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon Salt
1 Package Wonton Wrappers
1 Tablespoon Sesame Seed Oil, for frying
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil, for frying

Combine the filling ingredients together. To fill the dumplings, add about one teaspoon of the filling to one wrapper. Glide your finger along the edges of the wrapper to dampen the edges. Fold the dumpling into a triangle, working the air out and sealing the edges well. Fold the corners up to create a dragon fold, or bring them together and seal to create a more traditional wonton shape.
Collect the finished dumplings on a parchment lined baking sheet. If you’d like to freeze for later use, store in an airtight container.
To cook, add 1/4 cup of water to a large skillet. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce to medium and add the dumplings, with space in between, and cover. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and add 1 Tablespoon of sesame seed oil and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Loosen any dumplings, as necessary to get the oil under them, then leave them to fry for about another 3-5 minutes or until golden-crisp.

For The Dipping Sauce:

1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
2 teaspoons Sesame Seed Oil
1 1/2 teaspoons Sriracha
1 teaspoon Cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon Toasted Sesame Seeds, optional

If using, toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan over a medium heat, stirring frequently. Once they begin to pop and brown, remove them from the heat.
Combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and sriracha. Stir in the chopped cilantro and sprinkle over the toasted sesame seeds.

Makes 30 Dumplings

Tofu & Chickpea Tagine


Ever wonder what came of those preserved lemons? Or just what to do with them?
Now that I’m detoxing and the only fruits allowed are lemons and bananas. I couldn’t have been happier now that I’ve made them. One of the key ingredients in several Moroccan dishes, these mellowed lemons add just the perfect flavour, lifting something that could have been heavy to a fresh new height.

Since this was the first meal that I would be making for visitors while I’ve been on the detox I was obviously compelled to be sure it wasn’t boring. The last thing I wanted was to showcase the potential dark side of a detox. Really, the truth be told, I’ve been having a great time being challenged to get creative in the kitchen again and I wanted it to show. This lively dinner, with it’s combination of spices and the lemon certainly didn’t disappoint.

TOFU & CHICKPEA TAGINE

1 Block Extra Firm Tofu, pressed to remove excess liquid
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Ground Coriander
1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
1 Tablespoon Ground Cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
1 scant teaspoon Sea Salt
1 scant Tablespoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 Tablespoons Cilantro, well chopped
1 Large Onion, sliced
1 – 540ml/19oz Can Chickpeas, rinsed
1 – 540ml/19oz Can White Kidney Beans, rinsed
1 1/2 Preserved Lemons, rind only – rinsed
1 1/2 Cups water

Press the tofu between two plates to remove execss liquid. Then, slice into 1 inch (2cm) cubes.
Combine the olive oil, spices, chopped cilantro, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the cubed tofu and toss to coat. Cover and let it sit to marinade for at least one hour.

Heat a large sauté pan and fry the tofu over a medium-high heat until it is dry and beginning to crisp.
Remove from the pan and add the sliced onions to cook being sure to soak up any remaining bits of the marinade.
Rinse and remove the pulp from the preserved lemons. Dice the peel and add, along with both the onions and the tofu, to a large pot. Add the rinsed chickpeas and settle over a moderate heat.
In a separate bowl add the white kidney beans and the water. Using a potato masher, crush the beans, then add to the other ingredients, stirring well to combine.
Heat through, adjust seasoning where necessary.
Serve over a chewy brown rice, couscous (if not detoxing) or quinoa with a handful of extra cilantro.

Serves 6 – 8

The New Vegan Frontier


I had this realization at the grocery store the other day. It’s something I’ve obviously not given enough thought. I mean, I know why people have food restrictions and I know that there are many reasons. There are people in my family are allergic to wheat and dairy and a large reason because of that is why this site exists. I’m fairly conscientious but never though, have I gone out and so rigorously read every ingredient that went into my shopping basket. What was once simple shopping took an hour and a half.

I’m aware of the easiest ways to healthier eating and that’s making everything yourself. But after this experience, I couldn’t believe it more true. The sneaky binders and unfortunate ingredients that “deprive” those of a delicious waffle. After a few let downs there was excitement. I’d find new produce or the wheat-free, gluten-free, yeast-free bread that will remain nameless to excite me into a tizzy. I was about ready to start this detoxing cleanse.

My biggest splurge was to finally buy a rice cooker. I honestly don’t know why I hadn’t done this earlier and now it sits happily along sit my Kitchen Aid as one of my favourite appliances. Shameful to admit, I’ve never been a stellar rice steamer myself. Iffy at best, I’d cross my fingers and hope not to burn it on the bottom or lift the lid early exposing a soggy mess. Amazing that this basic food is one of my favourites and when cooked right, tastes like a delicacy to me. Naturally, I was inspired and created one of my first meals for the detox as a rice bowl.

Totally versatile, starting with a mix of brown and wild rice, I added many of my grocery shop finds; broccolini, roasted squash, pea shoots and bean sprouts. To it was a great maple baked tofu with a great tahini sauce to liven it up.

Maybe this won’t be so bad?

MAPLE TOFU AND TAHINI RICE BOWL

4 cups Cooked Brown & Wild Rice, or whatever you have that you think is nice
1 Acorn Squash, seeded & sliced
1 Block Extra Firm (organic) Tofu, halved and sliced about 1/4″ thick
Handful Each of Pea Shoots, Sprouts, Broccolini & Frozen Green peas
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil,
Safflower Oil for frying

SESAME TAHINI SAUCE

1/4 cup tahini
3 Tablespoons Water
3 tablespoons Sesame Seed Oil
1/4 cup  Lemon Juice
Pinch of Salt to taste

Make the dressing by whisking together the tahini and hot water to thin. Add the lemon  juice, sesame oil and sprinkling of salt.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Lightly drizzle 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a baking dish. Lay your sliced squash evenly and flip to coat in the oil.
Bake for about 15-20mins, then flip and return to the oven to continue roasting on the other side for another 15 minutes or until soft and golden. Remove from pan and lightly sprinkle over salt and pepper.
While the squash is roasting, heat a thin layer of the safflower oil in a large pan for frying.
Once the oil is hot, add the tofu slices and brown on both sides.
Remove and drain on towels.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF.
Using the roasting pan for the squash, add the tofu and evenly pour over the maple syrup, tossing to coat on both sides.
Bake the tofu for about a 1/2 hour, flipping half way through, until it is browned and slightly crisped.
Cook your rice, as per your usually methods. 2C dry rice with about double the water, usually does it for me.
Scoop the cooked rice into a nice, big bowl and to it, stir in the broccolini and frozen green peas

Serve rice family style or into individual bowls, topping with tofu, slices of squash and a handful of shoots and sprouts.
Drizzle over the tahini dressing. Taste and add more salt and freshly ground pepper, if needed.

Serves 4-6.

Countdown to Christmas: Dessert – Ginger Pear Tarts


Here it is, the big day. I hope you have all that shopping done.
You’ve planned for the appetizers, the sides and the main attraction…
I hope you’ve saved room for dessert.

I couldn’t resist something spiced and a little lighter than a cake or that never ending tray of sweet offerings that nibble me into a coma. The gingerbread was such a hit, I decided to use it as the base of the tart. It holds up pretty well as a crust and with a light cream there’s plenty of room for spicy, soaked pears.

Merry Christmas to you and yours. I hope you enjoy the Holidays, the food and your families!

POACHED SPICED PEARS

2 pears, peeled halved and cored; I used Abate Fetel
1 Cup Sugar
1 1/2 Cups Water
1 Vanilla Pod, split
1 Cinnamon Stick, 2″ in length
Zest Strips of 1 Lemon
2 Tablespoons Brandy

Combine the sugar and the water in a large saucepan over a medium high heat.
Add the vanilla pod, cinnamon and lemon strips.
Once the sugar has dissolved add the brandy and the pear halves.
If the pears are not submerged, just cook until softened then turn them over, occasionally basting, if necessary.
Remove when softened, about 20 minutes. Cool and store in the liquid until ready to use.
May be made two days in advance.

TOFU CREAM

300g Soft Silken Tofu
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
4 Tablespoons Confectioners Sugar
1 Tablespoon Arrowroot Powder
1  (2-inch) Fresh Ginger, peeled
1/4  teaspoon Salt
1/4 Cup Pastry Flour

Grate the ginger and squeeze to remove the juice, should equal one tablespoon.
In a food processor, blend the tofu, ginger and lemon juice along with the vanilla, sugar, salt, flour and arrowroot powder.
Serve cold or baked.

GINGERBREAD COOKIE CRUST (half batch)

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Roll out the chilled cookie dough. Cut into rounds to fit your tart shells.
Dock with a fork to prevent excessive air bubbles and bake for 10 minutes..
While the tart shells cool, prepare the tofu cream and thinly slice the poached pears.
Dollop the cream and top with the sliced pears.
Return to the oven and bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until the tofu cream is set and firm.
Makes 6 four inch tarts.

Palak Paneer Phyllo Triangles


Perfect for using up left overs on just on their own, these little triangles make a great appetizer or side for a soup.

It took me a while to dig into Palak Paneer, the Indian creamed spinach with homemade cheese.
It wasn’t until a friend of mine returned from an extended stay in India and reintroduced me to a few more traditional dishes, that I realized spinach is a very welcomed side to a spicy curry.
Of course for a vegan version, I make my “paneer” from a diced, fried, firm silken tofu which is soft and mildly flavoured, like the paneer which satisfied my cheese knowing tongue.

For the triangles I add just a little more to the flavour combination with minced red bell pepper and some fresh basil.

PALAK PANEER

5-6 Cups packed Spinach
1 Cup packed arugula (optional)
1/2 Package firm silken tofu
1 Medium Sized Onion, minced
2-3 Bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon Minced Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Minced Garlic
1/2 teaspoon Green chili paste
1/2 Cup Water
1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala Powder
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp. Black pepper
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, finely diced
5-6 Large Basil Leaves, finely chopped
Vegetable oil as required

12 Sheets of Phyllo DoughMix ginger and garlic into a paste, add green chilli paste and water to combine.
Add the spinach and arugula to a large pan with a fitted lit.
Pour the ginger-garlic-chili liquid over the rinsed spinach and arugula.
Cover and steam for about 7-8 minutes.
Cool slightly and drain excess liquid.
Cut tofu into 1/2″ cubes.
Heat enough oil to just cover the bottom of a sauté pan. Fry the tofu pieces over a medium heat till they are slightly browned.
Remove tofu with a slotted spoon and continue to drain tofu on paper and set the aside.
Drain all but 1 tablespoon of oil from sauté pan. Fry bay leaves and cumin seeds. Add chopped onion. Sauté until the onions become tender.
Add salt, pepper, and garam masala. Stir well.
Remove bay leaves then add onions along with the spinach to a food processor.
Purée, adding tablespoonfuls of water as necessary until smooth.
Transfer spinach mixture to a bowl and stir in tofu, basil and red peppers.
Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Lay one sheet of phyllo on a cutting board and brush it lightly with oil.
Carefully lay another sheet on top of the first then cut into 3 strips, lengthwise.
Cover the remaining sheets with a dampened cloth to keep them from drying.
Scoop a heaping tablespoonful of the prepared spinach mixture onto the end of one of the cut strips.
Fold over once to cover then flip the left corner up and over to form a triangle.
Continue to fold the straight ends over to keep the triangle shape, finishing the length of the phyllo.
With a moistened finger, wet the last edge of the phyllo to seal.
Repeat with the remaining phyllo sheets, cutting them into strips, filling then folding over into triangles.
Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 12 – 15 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.
Makes 18 triangles.