Friday, 26 April 2013

Thai-Style Green Stir Fry with Marinated Tofu- vegan

This dish goes really well with noodles! We used soba, but to be more authentically Thai, you could use rice noodles or  cellophane noodles.

I have to admit it; I'd never tried cooking Thai food before I made this! I always liked it, but somehow never got round to actually making anything Thai, mainly because some of the exotic ingredients used to be so hard to find. This recipe idea was hanging around in our drafts folder for a few weeks, with some notes on what ingredients to use that I'd decided on by looking at various recipes for Thai green curry. Tonight we had the tofu already made, the fresh coriander and a jar of galangal powder, so I decided that it was now or never... except I had no kaffir lime leaves or fresh lemongrass, so I decided to improvise by using lemongrass and ginger teabags (!) and fresh lime juice. We can't call this dish Thai Green Curry, as it is not based on a curry paste, so we think "stir fry" is more accurate. We also refer to it as "Thai-style" because we're sure it's not totally authentic. Nevertheless, it's a delicious and satisfying main meal with a palette of complex aromatic, sweet, salty and spicy flavours which is well in keeping with the Thai ambience. We will definitely be trying Thai cooking again!

There are lots of different veggies you could use; shown here are white cabbage, broccoli and green peppers.

This recipe serves 4-6.
A couple of handfuls of chopped/ broken cashews or peanuts
400-500g cubed tofu- the firmer the better
oil for roasting and frying (ricebran, coconut or olive oil are all good)
2 lemongrass and ginger or plain lemongrass teabags steeped in 100ml boiling water for at least 5 minutes
100ml dark soy sauce
around 25g gour/ jaggery
1/2 tsp galangal powder
the juice of 2 fresh limes
Stir Fry:
one fresh medium-mild red or green chilli, minced
1 rounded tab ground coriander
1 flat tab ground cumin
1/2 tsp hing
1 tsp salt
800g mixed vegetables- try white cabbage, shredded kale, baby corn, mangetout, celery, green beans, broccoli, peppers etc.
200g sprouted mung beans
100g (or more if you like) fresh coriander leaf
300ml coconut milk (nearly a whole tin)

  • First roast the nuts in a little oil and salt until they are starting to brown. Be careful not to overcook them. Set aside.
  • Make up the marinade by thoroughly mixing all the ingredients together. Discard the teabags. 
  • Then spend a few minutes stir-frying the tofu until it is lightly browned. Leave it in the marinade.
  • Prepare all the vegetables; shred the cabbage and cut the rest into matchsticks. If using broccoli or cauliflower, make sure the florets are small. Finely chop the fresh coriander.
  • Stir-fry all the veg apart from the coriander and beansprouts in the oil until they are tender but still with a little "bite" to them. Fry the cabbage first, and add the chilli and spices just before the other veg. (I used a large wok.)
  • Stir in the coconut oil, the coriander and the beansprouts; remove the tofu from the marinade and throw in the leftover liquid, simmering gently for a couple of minutes until the veg is tender and the sauce has thickened.
  • Serve with your favourite noodles or rice, topped with the cubes of tofu and the roasted nuts.
PS: This can be gluten free; just serve with rice or gluten free noodles, and use a wheat free soy sauce!

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

"Creamy" vegan tomato sauce

This sauce plus some veggies make a tasty pasta bake!
I guess it's not often a new recipe is created because of a family debate, but I made this sauce as a kind of compromise to satisfy everyone! Let me explain: regular readers will know that in our household some of us are vegan and some eat dairy. In addition to this, some prefer gluten free pasta and some the wholemeal variety and most of us like a tomato sauce with our pasta while one favours a cheese-like white sauce. Needless to say, whichever type of bake we cook there is bound to be at least one person who isn't happy with it. I don't believe in making two different dinners on one night, so I decided to give everyone the best of both worlds and make just one sauce that was both creamy and tomato-y. (I did, however, make one dish of wholewheat pasta and one of gluten free, plus I gave the kids the option to grate cheese on top of theirs.) This pretty pink sauce is based on our vegan white sauce and is a simple roux-based sauce to which some extra seasonings and tomato puree have been added. It would also be great in a vegetable pie, or over steamed veg with a grain such as barley or rice.
-And the outcome for us tonight? A happy dinner time, and all the pasta eaten up in minutes!

This recipe makes about 1 1/4 litres of sauce, this was enough to use in pasta bake for six.
4 tabs olive oil
3 rounded tabs plain wheat flour (corn flour for those who avoid gluten)
1 rounded tab tomato puree
1 litre unsweetened soya milk
1/2 -1/3 tsp black pepper
1 tsp seasalt
2 tsps paprika
1/2 tsp compound hing
3 rounded tabs yeast flakes (aka nutritional yeast)

  • Make a roux with the oil and flour, and stir in the tomato puree. (A roux means you heat the oil and whisk in the flour to make a smooth paste.)
  • Use a balloon whisk to add the soya milk gradually over a gentle heat, ensuring there are no lumps.
  • Stir in the yeast flakes and seasonings. The sauce should thicken somewhat at this stage.
  • When thickened, remove the sauce from the heat and use in your recipe or keep in the fridge/ freezer until needed.
Note: Next time I will try this with a little mustard powder for extra "bite"; if you try ihis too, do let us know how it turned out!

Monday, 22 April 2013

Quinoa Pilaff- vegan, gluten free

Quinoa pilaff served here with braised courgette and broccoli  (apologies for yet another bad photo)
Happy Earth Day! Try something vegan to remember the fact that growing plant-based foods rather than raising cattle for meat and dairy would produce enough food to feed the entire population of the world easily, and no-one would go hungry... This recipe seemed a fitting way to use up the last of the bag of fairtrade organic quinoa we bought last month: a colourful and nourishing yet simple dish for times when you're fed up with rice. It's a really good quick and easy meal teamed up with with braised vegetables or a salad.  

These amounts should serve four people:
1 1/2 tabs olive oil
1 large red pepper
1 large ripe tomato
1 cup peas
1 cup sweetcorn kernels
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 1/2 tsps seasalt
1/2 tsp hing
1 tab dried oregano
2 tsps paprika

  • Finely chop the pepper and dice the tomato.
  • Saute the pepper in the oil until it is starting to soften.
  • Add the quinoa with the water, peas, corn and tomatoes.
  • Bring to the boil and add all the seasonings. Simmer until all the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is tender: that's really all there is to it!