Beans and Rice (part 1)

I had a ridonculous day today.  It started off well enough viewing flats in Wandsworth, but then when Red went to meet up with his brother who had come to London for the day, I resolved to get something done that I’d been putting off all week: taking back the fan we recently bought at Argos that stopped working.  Needless to say, it was no easy task, and I ended up carrying it for nearly a mile and then taking it on the Tube clear across London when the manager at the Argos near me was being an uber bitch.  For more detail about THAT situation, refer to my poetic rendition of the day already posted on Yelp.

So, after my day of intense aggravation and needless travel on London transportation, I thought to myself, ‘There is nothing I would like more now than an alcoholic beverage’.  So I picked up some cider on the way home and started drinking.  By myself.  After all the scornful walking and hauling ass up stairs on the Underground whilst carrying a cumbersome fan sticking out of its box and dodging tourists, I managed to burn off the paltry caloric intake I’d taken in earlier in the day, so the cider went right to my head.

But, being the kitchen warrior that I am, I perservered and managed to pull off a wonderful dinner in the slightly intoxicated state that I was (am) in.  I should add that I chop things a lot faster when I’m a bit drunk.  Although I do realise that I am lucky to have not lost a finger.

Down-South (American, that is) Beans and Rice of Delicious:

Yum-o-clock

Ingredients

  • 1 green pepper, chopped roughly
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • 1 tin kidney beans
  • 200g chopped tomatoes (I use a small tin or half a large tin)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp hot sauce (or to taste… I would recommend Tabasco, but I’ll be honest and admit that I used Nando’s Hot Peri Peri Sauce)
  • salt to taste
  • 70g firm tofu
  • 3 tbsp liquid aminos
  • water
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • additional oil for deep frying

Step One A Press about 70g of firm tofu, then cut into little bits/strips (to simulate bacon bits).  Marinate for 30 minutes in some liquid aminos and water in a mug.  Deep fry for 3-4 minutes, until crispy.  You don’t need a deep-fat fryer for this, as the quantity is so small that you can just pour about 3 or 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil into a small pot and fry the tofu up in that.  Drain and set aside.

Step One B Cook two servings’ worth of brown rice.  For the absolute best, foolproof way of cooking brown rice, click here.  (After you’ve read the instructions on that link, if you’re wondering the measurements I use for two perfect servings of brown rice, it’s 115g brown rice to 180mL water.)

Step Two Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pot.  Add your pepper, onion and garlic.  Saute for 4 minutes.  Add your tomatoes, cumin, thyme and bay leaf, cover the pot with a lid and cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Remove lid and chuck in your hot sauce, salt and tofu bits.  Move everything around with your spatula to make it look like you’re doing something important.  Remove the bay leaf, while you’re at it.

Step Three Serve with rice.

Delicious time.

Red said that the tofu bits simulated bacon surprisingly well, which was the goal.  Score 15 for experimental vegetarian cooking.

Advertisements

A Vaguely Asian Dinner

On the menu tonight are adapted ‘Thai’ recipes from various cookbooks I own.  I don’t know where these cookbook authors get off calling these things ‘Thai’, but they’re really nothing of the sort.  I might go as far as calling them Thai-ish, but I’m going to fairly describe this evening’s food festivities as ‘vaguely Asian’ but all-delicious.

First up, Thai-ish Black Bean Tofu Burgers with Peanut-Chive Sauce

Thai-ish burgers

Now,

a) I’ve never heard of a Thai hamburger.

b) There’s no mint OR basil in this, so I therefore don’t understand the Thai categorisation, but wevs.

c) The peanut sauce called for lemon juice instead of lime juice.  I had my suspicions about this but went ahead and followed its instructions.  It probably would have tasted slightly more Thai-like if I’d used lime instead.

d) There are rolled oats in there.  Since when have you heard of a Thai person waking up to nice steaming bowl of porridge?

Despite my qualms of mistaken regionalism, this was pretty tasty.  I obviously changed things around, quartered the recipe, and added and subtracted things as I saw fit. 

Burger Ingredients

  • 125g firm tofu, crumbled
  • half a regular-sized tin of black beans, drained and rinsed (230g is the regular size, so let’s say 115g of black beans)
  • About 30g rolled oats, uncooked
  • half a small red onion, diced finely
  • half a regular-sized carrot, grated
  • 1/2 an inch of ginger, chopped finely
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • vegetable oil for brushing
  • flour for dusting

(Yields 4 small-ish sized burgers.  This ended up being a huge serving for the two of us when served on buns.  It’s an approriate serving for two if you’re foregoing the buns.)

Step One In a mixing bowl, crumble your tofu.  Add the beans, oats, onion, carrot, ginger, soy sauce, sugar, garlic and pepper flakes.  Mash the hell out of everything until has formed a uniform consistency and generally holds itself together pretty well.  Add more oats and repeat aggressive mashing as necessary.

Step Two Mash everything down in a bowl and cut mixture into fourths.  Form each forth of the mixture into a patty.

Step Three Put some whole wheat flour on a dish.  Brush each side of all four patties with some oil.  Then dust the patties on both sides with the flour.  Place all four patties in an oven-safe dish.

Step Four (A) Preheat oven at 200C and bake for 10 minutes.  Flip patties and bake for another 10 minutes.  If your oven is as shit as mine, the underside still isn’t crispy by this point, so you’ll need to flip the patties once more and bake for another 10 minutes.

Step Four (B) While your patties are baking, make your peanut sauce below.

Peanut-Chive SaucePeanut-Chive Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
  • the juice of one lemon
  • a handful of chives, chopped
  • a couple swigs of soy sauce to taste

Mix everything together in a small bowl.  Voila.

Step Five Everything on buns.  Although, I personally thought the buns detracted/conflicted with the taste of the burgers and peanut sauce.  Hence the earlier Thai-people-don’t-eat-hamburgers comment.  Do what you want.  See if I care.

Served with Mung Bean Sprout and Corn Warm Asian-y Salad

Asian-y Salad

Going along with the disparate theme of the evening, I took some good ol’ Asian mung bean sprouts and added that delightful North American startch that everyone loves: corn.

Warm Asian-y Salad Ingredients

  • a bunch of mung bean sprouts
  • a small tin of corn
  • a small handful of red onion, diced
  • the juice of two limes
  • some grated lime zest
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2tbsp soy sauce
  • freshly ground pepper

Step One Warm up your mung bean sprouts, corn and red onion in a small pot.

Step Two Combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.  Mix thoroughly.

Step Three Chuck the contents of the bowl into the pot.  Stir.  Warm through and/or cook until the red onions are cooked to your liking.  Some people really don’t like the taste of raw red onions.  I am not one of those people.  Me, I can hack the raw onion unlike you wussies.

Mmm Kale and I’ve-had-better Tofu

Sweet BBQ TofuOn the menu tonight: Sweet BBQ Baked Tofu, Sauteed Kale with Shallots and Garlic and Brown Rice.

I used the remaining Sweet BBQ Sauce from the picnic as a marinade for some pressed, baked tofu.  It was all right, but the tofu was a bit too, well, tofu-y for my taste. It could have gone for some longer marinating time or perhaps some flash frying.  I’m not gonna lie; it wasn’t my most successful kitchen endeavour. 

Sauteed Kale with Shallots and Garlic

The Sauteed Kale with Shallots and Garlic was pretty well received, though.  Usually Red turns his nose up at kale, but he ate everything on his plate tonight.  I suppose everything goes well with shallots and garlic.  Except brownies.  I guess they wouldn’t go too well with shallots and garlic. 

That would be kinda gross.

Ingredients

  • a bunch of kale
  • two garlic cloves
  • three small shallots
  • 1-2 tsp olive oil
  • a splash of water

Chop your shallots and mince your garlic.  Heat your oil in a pot.  Add your shallots and garlic and sautee for about a minute.  Chuck in your kale and a splash of water.  Stir around a bit.  Cover the pot and let cook for about a minute.  When you open the lid, the kale should have wilted down to size.  Saute all ingredients for another minute or so.  Cover and cook for about another minute.  Keep doing this until the leaves a bright colour green and/or are a nice ‘al dente’ vegetable texture.

I love kale.  I’ve found a way Red will eat it.  Kale’s now on the menu.

Jerk Tofu

While we were in Essex this weekend, I brought my new Veganomion cookbook with me so that I could try out recipes in a fully stocked and equipped kitchen.  I realised, however, that a vegetarian’s ‘fully stocked’ kitchen is different from a non-vegetarian’s ‘fully stocked’ kitchen.  So I didn’t get to make any baked goods or even the recipes I truly wanted to test out, but I made do.  In fact, I chose a recipe that I thought Eddie (father-in-law) would appreciate for a Sunday roast dinner.  So, I wasn’t going to choose anything vegan-y exotic anyway.  I ended up making the Leek and Bean Cassoulet, but I didn’t take pictures, so no recap here as of yet.  It was quite tasty in the downhome-stodgy-starchy kind of way.  So, perfect really for a vegetarian Sunday dinner served to non-vegetarians.  It was a hit.

Anyway, I digress from the matter at hand.  I accidentally left my copy of Veganomicon in Essex.  Boo.  So I just found something from the PPK  to tide me over until I can get the cookbook back.  Jerk Tofu.  Served with a sweet potato and broccoli. 

Jerk Tofu

Now, I’ll be honest.  I don’t usually like component meals.  I like one-pot meals that incorporate everything a healthy vegetarian needs.  That is to say, I want my vegetables and my protein source to be handily contained in a single serving.  While this was certainly tasty, I don’t think I will be bothered to do it again.  I had to make the marinade way ahead of time so I could marinate the tofu for a couple hours.  Then I had to cook up the broccoli and sweet potatoes separately. 

Also, this meal calls for a lot of olive oil because the tofu is shallow fried.  So if you’re not looking for something greasy, this one’s not for you.  If you are, then proceed and be merry.  Although, it would probably be just as good if not better if it were baked in the oven instead of fried, so I might try that if I can be bothered to make the marinade again in the future.  It wasn’t really as big of a hassle as I’m making it out to be; I just can’t stress enough how little hindsight I tend to have and how little patience I therefore have for recipes that require me to start three hours before I want to eat.

Ingredients

  • 150g extra firm/firm tofu pressed for one hour

         for the marinade

  • 1/2 large white onion, roughly choppped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
  • juice of 2 limes
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped (or one if you don’t want it too spicy)

Step one Put all marinade ingredients into a blender/food processer and whir until completely smooth.

Step two Cut the tofu up into pieces in the shape of your choice.  (I went with the uninspired rectangle.)

Step three Emerge tofu pieces in marinade and let sit for at least two hours.  If marinading overnight, place in refrigerator

Step four Heat 1/4-inch oil in a skillet and place tofu into skillet when it’s hot enough to make a sizzling sound.  Cook for eight minutes.  Use tongs to flip all the tofu pieces over.  Cook for another eight minutes.

Step five Remove tofu from oil and let dry on a paper bag or paper towels. Serve with accompaniments of your choice.

Soya Blackberry Smoothie

Soya Blackberry Smoothie

It’s a bit on the bitty side because of the blackberries, but who doesn’t love a purple drink?  (and by ‘a bit on the bitty side’, I mean there are bits all over the place.  Me, I don’t mind chewing my drink.  That’s why I like Bloody Marys.)

Ingredients

  • equal parts extra soft tofu and soya milk
  • a handful of blackberries or more
  • a tiny dash of vanilla extract (or essence if you’re cheap like me)
  • a squirt of honey or agave nectar

Step one blend everything together

Step two put in a glass and drink

easy peasy.

Courgette and Tofu Frittatas

Courgette and Tofu Frittatas

 

This didn’t turn out the most pretty meal, but it was my first try with this recipe.  I’m sure it will become more frittata-like in future.  While it lacked in aesthetic prettiness, it was pretty tasty and pretty healthy.  (I set Red to the task of taking the picture, and while he’s a pretty good camera man otherwise it would seem that his dinner-picture-taking skills are a bit naff.  It’s all about teh eXtreme food close up!! you see.  Pssh.  Amateur.)

Ingredients

  • 8 oz tofu
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 large courgette, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 t parsley (or other green herb or none at all, your choice)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 t salt
  • just less than 1/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 T soy sauce
  • noodles and sauce of your choice

Step one In a frying pan or pot, saute the onion, courgette, and garlic until just tender.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Step two In a bowl, mash half of your tofu.

Step three In a blender, blend the rest of the tofu until smooth

Step four Add blended tofu and mashed tofu.  Add salt, floud, baking powder and soy sauce and mixed everything together well.

Step five Stir in the sauteed vegetables, Scoop out half cupfuls of the mixture, placing them on an oiled baking sheet.  Flatten mounds while still trying to retain their shape and sticky-togetherness. (This recipe should yield about four mounds.)

Step six Bake at 200C for 15 minutes.  Flip the patties and bake for another 15 or until golden brown and crispy-looking.

Step seven Serve with noodles and sauce.  I served mine with whole wheat spaghetti  and cooked up a bit of tinned chopped tomatoes with salt, oregano, basil, pepper, and a couple pinches of raw cane sugar.