Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Kentucky Fried Tofu

While the Colonel has taken up the space on every vegan's dartboard, I have to admit: I miss the shit. Well, except for the occasional HAIR or BIG BLOODY VEIN. Gross.

A long time ago, I mixed up some gamasio and nooch and I'll be damned if it didn't taste just like the Original Recipe. So, since I had some potatoes and a bag of shredded cabbage, I figured tonight was the night to end the craving. I messed around with the ingredients and made it even better. I like to use White Wave extra firm tofu because it's already pressed perfectly and ready to slice.

Close up:

Kentucky Fried Tofu
Makes 4-6 servings

1 lb extra firm tofu, pressed and sliced in thirds, widthwise. Then made into triangles.
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
3 heaping tbsp nutritional yeast
pinch rubbed sage
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp paprika
couple dashes garlic powder
couple dashes onion powder
1/2 cup fine bread crumbs

Grind up the almonds with the sea salt in a spice grinder (if you're a fancypants), or a coffee grinder (like me), or blender. You want it to be flour-like.
Throw the almond mixture in a bowl. Mix in the remaining ingredients.

Heat a deepish frying pan, and add about 1/4 inch of peanut oil. Reduce heat to medium.

Dredge the tofu triangles in the mixture. Make sure to fully coat each piece. Lay them gently, just a few at a time, in the pan. Fry, turning frequently, three to five minutes or until they are golden brown on both sides. Keep the pieces that are done in a warm oven (200° or less), until you're ready to serve.

Serve with mashed potatoes, cole slaw, corn on the cob, etc.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Screw you! I love my bread machine!

The bread machine, once thought of as a boon to people who didn't have the time or counter space for "real" baking, has taken quite a beating lately. Now that foodies have returned to making things the old-fashioned way, this appliance has become the redheaded stepchild of many cooks and Food Network stars. I even found this quote from Mark Bittman: "You can buy mediocre bread easily enough, or make the real thing without much practice." Pfft.

My trusty Oster, that replaced my trusty Black & Decker of ten years ago, finally gave up the ghost. I noticed it was making a wretched noise, and then one day the little kneading apparatus just froze. Mid-cycle, of course. Ever see an unmixed loaf of baked bread? I don't even know why I bothered chiseling it out of the pan.

So, with the promise of a bonus plus a $600 check from Dubya, I decided it was time to make some kitchen purchases. Things like new oven mitts, silicone spatulas, a waffle maker (oh, we'll have fun with that), and a new bread machine. This time I wanted something that wasn't going to up and die, and wasn't going to cost me a million dollars (what up, Zojirushi?). I finally settled on the Sunbeam. Inexpensive, good reviews, and a trusted name. Also, hello? Free shipping!

The first loaf was a disaster. I got the recipe from a cookbook I had used many times as an omnivore. I flipped through a couple more books, and decided that this particular recipe just blew, and that after years of reading other recipes, I could probably make my own. So I made this one this morning. It's a spicy and tender loaf with a nice crunchy crust. I recommend it for a hearty tempeh reuben or muffuletta sandwich. Or just plain with Earth Balance and a bowl of minestrone.

Spicy Sun-Dried Tomato Bread
makes one 2lb loaf

1 cup hot water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp salt-free Italian seasoning
1/3 cup leftover mashed potatoes
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
6-8 sun-dried tomato halves, snipped into little pieces
a few twists of black pepper
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

handful of desired nuts/seeds. I used a mix of pine nuts, slivered almonds, and pepitas.

Put all ingredients except the nuts in the machine according to the manufacturer's instructions. Set the machine for basic, medium crust. 2lbs. Add nuts or seeds at the raisin cycle beep. Cool finished loaf on a wire rack.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Thai Peanut Pasta Salad

I fear this would get an awful lot of "Oh my goodness! That's just too spicy!" if I brought this to the next family gathering. Also, my father has acquired a horrible allergy to capsaicin. He had a tiny dip on a fork of some serrano chile sauce (wimpy) back in November, and smoke came out of his ears. Hard to believe, as this is a man who used to drink Tabasco.

This is a good one to make when you're down to the last couple blops of peanut butter. Just shake up all the dressing ingredients in the jar!

Thai Peanut Pasta Salad
Makes a TON

12-16 ounces whole wheat pasta (rotini, bowties, shells, or whatever small cut pasta you like)
1 cup frozen peas
1 lb tofu, cut into tiny triangles
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 peeled and seeded cucumber, julienned
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
roasted peanuts and cilantro for garnish

Preheat broiler. Arrange tofu pieces on a pan with a drizzle of peanut oil. Place under broiler and flip often, about 10 minutes or until tofu is golden brown and crispy on the outside.

Cook pasta according to the box, or how you like it (I like it a little more cooked than al dente, so there you go). About 3 or so minutes before you plan to take it off the stove, throw in the frozen peas and bring it back to a boil. Drain and rinse pasta and peas in cold water. Dump into a large bowl, and toss with prepared vegetables and cooled, broiled tofu. Pour dressing over, and mix well.

1/3 cup chunky peanut butter
Juice of one large, or two small limes.
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 inch chunk of peeled ginger, grated on a microplane
1 tsp sriracha sauce, or to taste
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup warm water

Put all ingredients in a jar and shake, or mix well with a whisk. Add more warm water if it's too thick.

You're such a down...home...girl...

Growing up in Minnesota means lots of family meals out in the sticks with a large Lutheran family. Potlucks are common, and each dish brings with it memories, comfort, and of course, animal products.

After going vegan in 2006, these family events became tougher to attend. Everyone loved my lasagna last Christmas (no idea there was no cheese!) and even my veggie-hating brother asked for seconds of the Eggplant Moussaka I brought the Christmas before. My dad welcomed me into his kitchen to create a vegan Thanksgiving, and I've never had anyone look at my cookies sideways. So I decided, if it's good enough for me and my family, why not veganize all those favorites from my childhood, and throw in some new stuff that would make my Aunt Vicki fan herself with her hymnal? Hence the birth of this blog. Enjoy, and feel free to make suggestions!