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Asparagus Tofu Dumplings ~*Recipe ReDux*~

22 May

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On Friday, I hopped on a bus and went to Philadelphia for the day. After a full day of eating, walking, and meandering the Philly streets, I arrived back at my apartment at 9:30 PM. I was still feeling energized from the day, and somehow found more room in my stomach for food. So began my late-night dumpling-making extravaganza.

I can’t believe it has taken me this long to make dumplings. I purchased the gyoza wrappers (baby steps), but I made the filling and crimped the dough myself.

Crimped dumplings are just so darn cute. And, they fit the bill for this month’s The Recipe ReDux theme–a healthy take on small bites and finger foodContinue reading

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(Vegan) Lasagna with Tofu “Garden Ricotta”

11 Mar

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Spring is around the corner, it is almost, almost here, but I still feel the slam of the cold on my face and hands every time I walk outside.

This lasagna is a transition from heavy, cheesy winter comforts to lighter, colorful spring fare. By using a tofu “ricotta” instead of actual ricotta, this pasta dish gets a lighter makeover so that we won’t have to undo the top button on our pants after eating.

I used to make tofu “ricotta” back when I was cooking for 60 students in the Berkeley co-ops. Pulse some firm tofu in a blender or food processor, add some aromatics and spices, and it turns from rubbery soy product to magical cheese-like goodness in seconds! I really like the addition of white miso paste to this version.

…and because I am flexible, I added a little grated Parmesan cheese to top off my vegan lasagna. Hey, it’s a transition, remember? A little Parmesan offers a nice salty punch without weighing down the pasta, but if you are vegan, just omit.

I also love my carbs, so a little toast with olive oil and salt is a nice crunch contrast to the lasagna.

Now, bring on the warm sunshine!

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I love lasagna, and I believe there should be a lasagna for every occasion. Check out this summer version with zucchini here. And check out this Passover matzo lasagna here.

Vegan Lasagna

adapted from Chloe’s Kitchen

Serves 6-8

**Make ahead: you can prepare the unbaked lasagna and keep it in the fridge for about 2 days before baking. 

Garden Ricotta

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic

1 14-oz package firm or extra-firm tofu, drained

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon white miso paste

3 cups fresh basil

Sauce & Assembly

2 tablespoons olive oil

8 ounces mushrooms, sliced

1 24-oz jar marinara sauce

1/4 milk of your choice *I used cow’s milk, but to keep things truly vegan use soy, almond, or rice milk

1 bunch kale, stemmed and chopped (you can also use spinach or another green)

1/2 pound no-boil lasagna noodles

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. You will need a 9 x 13 inch-pan.

To make the Garden Ricotta: In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat and saute onions until soft. Add garlic and cook one more minute. Remove from heat.

In the food processor, combine onions, garlic, tofu, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and miso paste. Pulse until the mixture is almost smooth but still has some texture. Add basil and pulse a few more times to incorporate it.

To make the sauce: Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet (just use the same skillet you used to saute the onions). Add the mushrooms and cook until soft. Add marinara and milk. The milk should soften the acidity of the tomatoes (you can also add a tablespoon of brown sugar or maple syrup here, but I just omitted it).

To assemble and bake the lasagna: Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the prepared pan. Arrange 4 lasagna noodles across the pan. Spread half of the Garden Ricotta over the noodles. Layer half of the kale over the Garden Ricotta. Arrange 4 more noodles on top. Spread another layer of sauce over the noodles, then arrange 4 more noodles on top. Top with another layer of sauce, the remaining Garden Ricotta, and the remaining kale.

Cover the pan with foil and bake for 45 minutes, or until the noodles are cooked and the sauce is hot and bubbling. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Optional: If you are not vegan, I enjoyed the lasagna with a little grated Parmesan on top before serving.

Salted Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding (Vegan)

4 Jan

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I’m on winter break. My last winter break as a graduate student. Nuts! It is always a strange feeling to go from being super insanely busy to having a bunch of time on my hands.

So far, I’ve spent an embarrassing number of hours watching the videos on Catherine McCord’s website, Weelicious. McCord’s recipes were developed with the intention of educating kids and involving them in the cooking process. Kids love food that looks cute, but so do adults, right?!

I’m smitten by McCord’s emphasis on short ingredient lists and easy prep methods.

While this vegan pudding is not as cute-looking as rice crispy treat balls or banana dog bites, the rich, creamy taste makes up for it. I added peanut butter to the recipe because there’s nothing like a good ol’ pb + chocolate combo to make my heart melt out of my body.

It is so fun to woo non-vegans into enjoying vegan foods. I tend to say this a lot: “You would never know it was vegan if I didn’t tell you…” But really, it’s true. Silken tofu acts as the custard in the recipe, and the flavor and punch come from good-quality cocoa powder, vanilla, peanut butter, agave and salt. I’m serious, you would never know there was tofu in the pudding…if I didn’t tell you.

Six ingredients in a blender create a quick and healthy dessert. No stove required (this would be a great dorm-room recipe!). You can even eat it right out of the blender if you want to. I won’t tell. 

Brownie points: protein from the tofu, sweetness (and possibly antioxidants, depending who you talk to…) from the cocoa, and healthy fat/fiber/protein from the peanut butter. 

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Salted Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding (Vegan)

adapted from Weelicious

1 package of silken tofu

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/3 cup agave nectar or maple syrup

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

1 big pinch of salt

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until combined. Scrape down the sides and blend again to make sure everything is smooth. Sprinkle with an extra few flakes of salt and serve immediately or chilled.

Miso Soup

7 Dec

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Miso soup goes from appetizer to dinner with the addition of noodles, larger tofu cubes, broccoli, and avocado.

The broth is made with just 2 ingredients: water and miso paste. The rest is up to you: noodles or rice, tofu, egg, seasonal vegetables, chili flakes or oil, scallions, herbs, garlic…Heidi Swanson, who inspired this soup, even suggests using tea instead of water.

I’ve gabbed about my love for miso paste before, and once you have a tub of it hanging out in the fridge, you know that you can always make some soup when you’re in a dinner pinch.

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Miso Soup

adapted from 101 cookbooks

serves 2-3

**NOTE: You may need to add some salt to the soup. Taste and add as necessary. Sometimes I like to add a splash of soy sauce for a deeper, saltier flavor, too.

3 ounces dried noodles, soba or spaghetti
2 – 4 tablespoons white miso paste (to taste)
2 – 3 ounces firm tofu (2 handfuls), chopped into 1/3-inch cubes
2 handfuls of chopped broccoli florets (or spinach)
Additional toppings: a pinch of red pepper flakes, avocado cubes

Cook the noodles in salted water. Add the broccoli during the last minute of cooking. Drain, run cold water over the noodles/broccoli to stop them from cooking, shake off any excess water, and set aside.

In a medium sauce pan bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and remove from heat. Put the miso paste in a small bowl and pour a bit of the hot water over the miso, whisking so it thins out a bit (this is to avoid clumping). Stir this back into the pot. Taste, and then add more (the same way) a bit at a time until it is to your liking. Add the tofu, remove from the heat, and let it sit for just a minute or so.

Split the noodles/broccoli between two (or three) bowls, and pour the miso broth and tofu over them. Add red pepper flakes to each bowl and enjoy.

Orange Tofu with Vegetables and Rice

29 Oct

I started a new part-time job working the counter at a bakery. I often feel like a bag lady plunking bread rolls into my purse, swooping in at the end of the day and grabbing as many leftover goodies from the bakery as I can fit in my bag. “Nothing to waste,” I exclaim as I run out the door with perfectly good day-old cookies, croissants, and muffins. Someone will eat them.

Welp, lately that someone ends up being me. Even if I manage to give away most of the leftovers, I find myself sneaking in nibbles. Must…stop…Hmph, maybe I can commit to taking home extra treats just once a week. The rest of the time I will have to turn the other cheek. At least for now…

Tucked at home tonight, blogging on the eve of another brewing storm, I return to the comforts of a big warm meal right from my own quaint apartment-size kitchen.

Fried tofu cubes in a sticky sweet sauce was exactly what I needed tonight. With brown rice and roasted garlicky broccoli and romanesco from the farmer’s market.

Not quite like the orange chicken I used to gobble up as a kid. Better.

Orange Tofu

adapted from Vegetarian Ventures

1/2 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons orange juice

2 garlic cloves, minced

freshly grated ginger, to taste (about 1 teaspoon)

a few dashes of chili garlic sauce or sriracha

 

To make the sauce: whisk together rice vinegar, brown sugar, orange juice, garlic, ginger, and chili garlic sauce. Taste test and set aside.

 

1 egg, beaten + 1 tablespoon water

1 pound of extra firm tofu, drained and cubed

1/2 cup-3/4 cup cornstarch

2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil

 

To prepare the tofu: whisk together the beaten egg and water in a small bowl. Dip the tofu cubes into the egg mixture in a few batches and coat on all sides with cornstarch. This gets messy but will taste sooo good later!

Heat a cast-iron skillet or heavy duty pan on medium heat. Coat with the 2 tablespoons of canola oil and fry the tofu. Flip the cubes after they have browned on the first side, about 2-5 minutes per side. Turn the heat to medium low and add the orange glaze. Fold the glaze into the tofu and simmer until desired consistency. Top with sesame seeds and serve with roasted or steamed vegetables and rice.

Farmer’s Market Veggie Explosion with Miso Curry Dressing

6 Aug

A variation on the Miso-Curry Delicata Squash that I was making over and over again last fall.

This time around there’s eggplant, heirloom tomato, baby potatoes, and zucchini from the farmer’s market. And tofu for protein!

Dressed with a smash and a stir of white miso, red Thai curry paste, and extra virgin olive oil. Finished with a squeeze of lemon, fresh herbs, and slivered almonds.

I was inspired by the produce at the farmer’s market. I suggest you do the same and use whatever strikes your interest–corn, peppers, sprouts, peas, baby eggplants…

I think my favorites right now have to be the cherry tomatoes. Farmer’s market tomatoes taste SO much better than any grocery store variety. Just remember not to put them in the refrigerator or they will lose their luscious tomato taste. They are great roasted or raw.

Looking for another quick, farmer’s market-inspired dinner idea? Tacos are always the answer in my book.

I know that this Miso Curry Veggie Explosion requires you to turn on the oven. If you just can’t take the heat, make a raw salad with some kale, tomatoes, snap peas, corn etc. You could still use tofu. Just cut everything in bite size pieces and drizzle the miso-curry dressing with a little lemon and chopped herbs, and add the nuts or seeds for texture. No oven required. Stay cool.

Endless possibilities.

Veggie Explosion with Miso Curry Dressing

adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Everyday 

serves 4

1/4 cup/ 60 ml extra-virgin olive oil

Scant 1/4 cup/ 2.5 oz/ 70 g white miso (I purchase mine at Whole Foods)

Scant 1 tablespoon red Thai curry paste

1 14-oz package of extra firm tofu, cut into cubes

1 large handful of small potatoes, unpeeled and cut into chunks

1 medium eggplant, cut into small chunks

1/2 of a medium zucchini, cut into strips

1 large heirloom tomato, cut into cubes

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (half a lemon)

1/4 cup slivered almonds

small handful of fresh basil or cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, miso, and curry paste.

Combine the tofu, potatoes, eggplant, zucchini, and tomato in a large bowl with all but 2 tablespoons-worth of the miso-curry paste. Use your hands to toss well, then turn your vegetables onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment and arrange everything in a single layer. Roast for about 30 minutes, until everything is tender and browned. Toss once or twice along the way, after things start to brown a bit. When the veggies come out of the oven, squeeze half of a lemon over them.

Serve the veggie explosion with some toasted almond slivers, fresh basil or cilantro, and a spoonful of the remaining sauce with a little more lemon.

NOTE: You can always make a raw salad. No oven. Dressing is the same. Enjoy.

Pineapple Not-So-Fried-Rice

15 Jun

I’m at a weird transition point in my life.

Just a few weeks ago, I was working full time, volunteering once a week, and taking an online medical biochemistry class to fulfill a prerequisite for graduate school.

I felt busy and stressed, but I was in the groove. There came a point when I had to let something go. I stopped volunteering and I quit my job. I went back home to California for a week and was able to completely relax and gather myself. Now that I am back in New York, my main responsibility is to do well in this biochemistry class. Sure, I study throughout the day, but boy do I have gobs of free time.

Gobs. Of. Free. Time.

What a blessing, right? I’m trying to seize the day and take advantage of my new-found ‘freedom,’ but it is hard to get out there and explore when I feel obligated to catch up on Parks and Recreation and devour the tin of chocolate covered almonds in my pantry. Life is so hard sometimes.

At least now I have the time to experiment in the kitchen and cook healthy meals for myself.

The tofu gods were calling on me this week, I’ve been craving tofu like a maniac (see my previous post on Tofu Bento Bowls). And now that I finally realize how important it is to drain and press the tofu (see recipe below), all of my tofu dishes have been turning out better than ever.

This recipe is from Chloe Coscarelli’s book. This is her Pineapple Not-So-Fried Rice. In her picture, she plates the dish in a pineapple boat. I tried to do the boat, I even looked up how to do it online and watched a video. When push came to shove, things just got messy and I found that I was wasting to much of the sweet flesh. I broke down and cut the pineapple up and ate my meal out of a bowl. Oh the perils of being uncreative/lazy.

Despite the pineapple boat failure, the meal tasted superb. There’s sweet yellow pineapple and crunchy raw cashews. Baked tofu and bright green peas. Shredded carrots and studs of raisins. With all sorts of onion and garlic and spice to flavor the rice.


Tofu cubes fresh out of the oven. Ain’t nothin’ better. All it took was a good pat-dry and a press, a little soy sauce, and an oven.

Pineapple Not-So-Fried Rice

Serves 4-6

From Chloe’s Kitchen

1 14-oz package extra-firm tofu, drained

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 pineapple, or 1 1/2 cups diced pineapple

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

2 scallions, chopped (optional)

sea salt or Kosher salt

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce

3/4 cup cashews

1 carrot, peeled and shredded (I simple sliced the carrot thinly with my knife, but you could use a box grater if you want)

1/2 cup peas (you can use fresh or frozen)

1/2 cup raisins

3 cups cooked rice

1/4 cup water or vegetable broth

Note: The first thing I did was get my rice cooking so that it would be fully cooked for when I needed it later.

To prepare the tofu: Wrap the tofu tightly in dry paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Set the tofu on a flat surface and place a small baking pan on top. Then stack something heavy, like canned food or books, on top. Let the tofu sit for 20 minutes while it releases its water. When ready, discard the towels and cube the tofu.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the tofu with the soy sauce, making sure each cube is coated. Place in one layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes, turning the tofu a few times with a spatula. Remove from the oven and set aside.

If you are using a whole pineapple, peel it and remove the core. Slice the pineapple into cubes. If you want to make a pineapple boat for serving, cut the pineapple in half lengthwise, remove the inner flesh with a paring knife, then cut into bite-sized pieces (I tried to do the boat, but found that I was losing too much of the good flesh, so I nixed the idea).

In a large skillet or wok, heat the oil over medium-high heat and saute the onions until soft and lightly browned. Season with salt. Add the garlic, scallions (if using), curry, coriander, and chili-garlic sauce. Let this cook a few more minutes. Add the cashews, carrots, peas, raisins, cooked rice, water (or broth), pineapple, and tofu. Cook until heated through and adjust salt to taste. Serve the rice in the pineapple shell (if you are brave enough to try the boat method) or simply in a bowl. Enjoy!