[STOP THE PRESSES!!!** I am beyond thrilled to share the news that Ellen (yes, that Ellen!) has featured one of my recipes on her "Going Vegan with Ellen" website! Thank you, thank you, Ellen, once again for your generosity in sharing my recipes! And thank you to reader Weisserose for letting me know about it in the comments yesterday. My mouth is still sore from smiling so much! (or could that be just because I basically never shut up? ]
Sure, I loved the fact that the University of Windsor was small enough that all of my profs knew me by first name (and many welcomed students at their regular “lunch meetings” at the local pub). Or that it was possible to actually become close friends with my beloved mentor, with whom I remained in touch and from whom I continued to solicit advice on life, love and literature right up until he died (far too early, at age 66). Or that U of W’s literature profs were revered, famous or a little bit crazy . Or even that the university was located near one of the all-time best Chinese dim sum places I’ve ever had the pleasure of frequenting.
But what really made it seem fun to be in Windsor (because, let’s face it, Windsor on its own needs quite a bit of help in that area) was heading across the Ambassador bridge to Detroit and spending an afternoon at the Fairlane Mall. In those days, Canadian money was accepted at par–a perfect invitation to a twenty-something fashion-obsessed female undergrad. And once the shopping was done, the new earrings, belts, mini-skirts and knee-high boots donned and the old outfit (which I’d been wearing while shopping) shoved into garbage bins in the mall’s public restroom, there was the inevitable trip to Greektown, the downtown section of the city close to the Detroit River. It was there amid many a wooden table and bench, whitewashed walls and robin’s egg blue décor that my first boyfriend and I spent countless evenings enjoying dinners together.
I’ll never forget the excitement of seeing my first performance of Saganki, also known as flambé Kalofagas cheese. First, a swarthy waiter swaggers over to your table, compact cast iron skillet balanced on a heavy towel that he brandishes on his outstretched hand. He dips the skillet down toward your table, splashes it with a good dousing of brandy, and with consummate showmanship, sets it aflame, shouting, “OPA!” with a flourish. The surrounding patrons all emit cries of “Ooooh!!” and “Ahhh!” as if the server has embodied one of the unfortunate drummers from Spinal Tap, about to spontaneously combust. He extinguishes the flames with a deft squeeze of lemon juice, leaving the skillet behind for you to dive in, relishing the salty, rubbery, lemon-kissed cheese.
While I no longer eat most of those Greek delicacies these days, I still love many of the Mediterranean-inspired components like salty, briny olives, oregano-infused tomato sauces and the fruity aroma of unrefined olive oil. What could be more appetizing, really (besides an entirely new wardrobe, at par)?
For this dish, I decided to combine some of my favorite Greek flavors in a breakfast scramble that offers a great alternative to tofu. Modeled after the concept of my Green “Eggs” and Ham recipe, the scramble is fragrant with oregano, basil and thyme; pungent with black, oil-cured olives; and punctutated by bursts of juicy grape tomatoes. Best of all, the chickpea base provides a substantial serving of protein to get you going in the morning in a form that imitates the appearance of scrambled eggs incredibly well.
And while I wouldn’t recommend setting it ablaze, you might nevertheless find your kitchen infiltrated with ”oohs” and “aaahs” once people taste their first forkful of this scramble.
** Of course I realize that there’s probably no longer any such thing as “presses” these days, what with digital media, interwebs, iPhones, yadda yadda. But some expressions are not meant to be updated. I mean, can you imagine saying, “Walk a kilometer in my shoes”? Or “rose-colored contact lenses”? Or “sounds like a broken MP3″? Or “The best thing since sliced foccacia”? Or “don’t put all your (free-range, organic) eggs in one recycled paper carton”? Or “out of the frying pan and into the six-burner gas range”? Or “$1.25 for your thoughts”? Or. . . (okay, somebody, stop me–I must be off my IKEA Poang Chair).
Suitable for the Anti-Candida Diet (ACD), All Stages
A great savory breakfast that’s quick to put together and offers lots of flexibility in terms of veggies. I always feel totally satisfied after a scramble like this one!
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tsp (5 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
1/3 cup (80 ml) chopped sweet bell pepper (red, green, yellow or orange)
1/4 cup (60 ml) chickpea flour
1/4 tsp (1 ml) dried thyme (optional)
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) dried oregano
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) dried basil
1/8 tsp (.5 ml) turmeric
fine sea salt, to your taste
1/4 cup (60 ml) vegetable broth or unsweetened soy or almond milk
1 Tbsp (15 ml) tahini
2-3 Tbsp (30-45 ml) chopped cilantro or fresh parsley, to your taste
2 Tbsp (30 ml) chopped black olives (I like the kind in oil)
1/2 cup (120 ml) grape tomatoes, cut in half (or 1/3 cup/80 ml chopped tomato)
Heat oil in a medium nonstick frypan and add the onion and pepper. Sauté over medium heat until the onion is translucent, 5-10 minutes (if it begins to scorch, add a splash of vegetable broth or water).
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, thyme, oregano, basil, turmeric and salt, if using. Add the broth and tahini and whisk again until the tahini is well incorported. Stir in the cilantro.
When the onion is cooked, scrape the chickpea mixture over it in the pan and spread it out as if making a pancake. Once the edges and top begin to look dry, scrape across the bottom of the pan with a hard spatula (wood or metal) as if making scrambled eggs. Keep scraping and stirring the mixture until it begins to dry on the outsides and forms clumps. Toss the clumps around or break them up until you have pieces the size of “scrambled eggs.” The dish is ready when the exterior of the clumps of “egg” are dry and the pieces are still soft (not yet browned).
Just before serving, add the olives and tomatoes and stir until they are heated through. Serve immediately. Makes one generous serving.
[Sometimes, you just want to eat something now. I've decided to offer a mini-post every once in a while, for a dish that comes together incredibly quickly or else is so easy to make that no recipe is required. Here's today's "Flash in the Pan." (For other FitP recipes, see "Categories" at right).]
So, are you all geared up for Halloween this year? I’m dizzy just thinking of all the Lady Gagas, Shreks, The Situations, Michael Jacksons, Alices in Wonderland, Mutant Ninja Turtles, Katy Perrys, Madonnas, Neytiris, Iron Men or SuperMarios (plus the usual array of vampires, zombies, mummies, witches, ghosts and skeletons).
Sadly, we in the DDD household have put Halloween on hiatus for the time being. No, it’s not because we don’t have children ourselves (even though we don’t). Nope, it’s also not because we’re wizened old spoil-sports who dismiss frivolous celebrations (even though the HH is, just a little bit). And it’s not because we don’t enjoy candy and treats (as if I needed to tell you that).
No, the reason we’ve shelved Halloween for now is because. . . The Girls won’t let us give out candy.
Elsie may have a sweet, docile face like this:
. . . and Chaser may have a clownish, entertaining demeanor like this:
. . . but put those two together, and the sum of the parts when faced with ever-chiming doorbells and chattering children and freakish costumes is one charging, hair-raising, snarling, tails-as-straight-as-flagpoles, child-terrorizing duo.
After trying as we might to control the hellacious reaction* every time the doorbell rang, we opted to simply set a bowl of candy on the porch with a note: “Help Yourself.” (Um, big mistake: our candies were gone in 8 minutes. So now we know to write, ”Help Yourself to ONE TREAT EACH.”) It’s not the same, of course, but at least there’s peace within the home, and the HH and I can hover in darkness at the upstairs window like VC Andrews’ flowers in the attic and silently observe the parade of costumes pass by on the street.
Heartbreaking, I know. But now, on to the food!
As I’ve mentioned before, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. In addition, I love scrambles for breakfast. In particular, I love tofu scrambles. I’m also always on the quest for any new tofu-based recipes in general. Also, really quick and easy recipes. So when I find a recipe that is tofu and scramble and something new and quick and easy, well, you just know I’ll just be elated. (Okay, maybe it doesn’t quite measure up to a trip to New York last week and meeting Lindsay, Gena and Patrick Stewart all within 36 hours, but it did make me crook my elbow, pump my fist toward my waist and yell, “Yesssssss!”).
So here’s my super easy tofu scramble recipe. Basically, it’s a variation on the Mex-Ital Scramble I wrote about waaaay back when exactly 86 people were reading my blog, so I figure it’s new to most of you.
And did I mention that it’s super easy and super quick?
Like most tofu recipes, I found that the flavor of this one intensified after lingering overnight in the fridge. The contrast of the creamy sauce and firm, chewy kale with softly baked pumpkin was extremely pleasing to the palate. I sprinkled the whole thing with sesame-seaweed seasoning that I received from iHerb in honor of this month’s SOS Challenge and it worked well to add a hint of salt and spice. If you don’t have something similar, you can mix up your own gomashio (a sesame-salt sprinkle that’s wonderful on almost anything; recipe here).
Don’t worry about the pungency of the garlic in the dressing; once you heat it through, the garlic mellows out and sweetens substantially, leaving a mild, creamy, perfectly balanced flavor.
This is my final contribution to the SOS Challenge this month. Stay tuned for a roundup first thing next month, and the reveal for our next yummy ingredient!
Oh, and hope you all have a wonderful Halloween weekend!
* that would be both a) the dogs’ frenzied furor; and b) the kids’ terrified shrieks as they hightail it down the stairs and back to the sidewalk.
DDD In Your Kitchen
As always,I love it when readers try my recipes and let me know that they did. I thought I’d share links to other people who made recipes from the blog and posted about it during the past few weeks.
Here’s a list of recent culinary creations based on DDD recipes. If I missed yours, let me know and I’d be happy to add it to the list!
1 block (12-16 ounces or about 400 g) firm or extra firm tofu, patted dry
1 Tbsp (15 ml) coconut oil, preferably organic
1/4-1/2 cup (60-120 ml) vegetable broth or stock, as needed
5 leaves kale, midrib removed, coarsely chopped
2 cups cooked pumpkin, cut into 1″ (2.5 cm) cubes
1-1/2 to 2 cups creamy salad dressing (I used Caesar from Clean Food)
sprinkle of sesame seasoning (I used Eden Shake, or use gomashio)
Crumble the tofu into bite-sized pieces, or cut into small cubes. Heat the oil in a large nonstick frypan over medium-high heat and add the tofu. Brown on all sides until lightly golden.
Add the broth and kale and cook for another minute or two, until the kale begins to wilt a bit. Add the pumpkin and dressing and gently stir to coat everything. Lower heat to simmer, cover, and allow to heat through, stirring once or twice, about 10 minutes. Serve, garnished with sesame seasoning. Makes 4-6 servings. May be frozen.
[I've decided to offer a mini-post every once in a while, for a dish that comes together incredibly quickly, or else is so easy to make that no recipe is required. Here's today's "Flash in the Pan."]
Oooh. . . I’m feeling the crunch. I wish I could say that’s the “crunch” of a lovely rice crisp-filled chocolate bar or the crunch of ice in a gin and tonic as I lounge by a pool, or even the crunch of my feet as they traverse a lovely woodsy trail with The Girls, but no; the crunch I am experiencing is the crunch of marking as the semester nears its end. And now that we’ve reached this critical juncture in the term, I’m afraid I won’t be able to post as often as I’d like, at least for a couple of weeks.
I did discover that I’ve got quite a few photos from previous cooking adventures, however, patiently waiting for posts, so I’ll try to clear out some old files over the next while as I simultaneously clear out that pile of marking.
First up is a recipe I remembered while reading Katy’s post yesterday, about her first-ever tofu scramble. I realized I’ve got no fewer than 4 potential posts about various tofu dishes, as the quintessential bean is a regular in our household and I’m always trying out different recipes in a quest for variety and novelty. I’ll start you off with this super-easy Flash in the Pan recipe before moving on to other favorite scrambles in the next week or two.
Like so many of you, I am a big fan of Veganomicon. One recipe in particular calls to me over and over, sort of like Casablanca or It’s A Wonderful Life: no matter how many times I sample Isa and Terry’s Caesar salad, I’m always excited to see it again. In fact, I do believe I’ve never tasted a Caesar dressing quite as good as that one, vegan or otherwise. (“We’re pretty fond of it, too, Mum. We just love that high-protein, high-fat combination of tofu and ground almonds!”)
Just a wee problem: every time the HH and I whip up a batch of that dressing for our romaine lettuce, we end up with enough silky, garlicy coating for 10-12 servings. But we are only two. And yes, I eat Caesar for four days in a row–but still end up with half the dressing in a jar in the fridge. So, what to do with the leftovers?
Last weekend, I had a little epiphany: why not COOK IT?? Yes, my friends, I heated up a Caesar salad dressing. And not only that; I also mixed it with salsa and crumbled tofu. Yep, life sure is wacky in the DDD household! (“You said it, Mum! But does this mean we get to lick dressing off your fingers now?”)
And you know what? It was fantastic! The combination of slightly spicy (I used a medium-hot salsa), creamy and pungent was to-die-for. The raw garlic in the dressing is cooked a bit, thereby mitigating the usual bite when that particular bulb is eaten raw. The dressing-salsa mixture was the perfect consistency–thick enough to smother and cling to the chunks of tofu, yet soft enough to remain a bit saucy. (And we’re all for saucy here at DDD).
The second time I tried it, we were actually all out of salsa, so I just used a chopped onion sautéed in a tad of olive oil, a (large) chopped tomato and a few sprinkles of tabasco, for a very similar effect. I think I’m addicted to this stuff now (or, at least, for the next couple of weeks, before I move on to something else. . . not only wacky, but fickle, too. I guess that’s just what life is like during crunch time.).
Mex-Ital Tofu Scramble
If you’re in a hurry and happen to have leftover Caesar dressing in the fridge, this is a great scramble for breakfast or lunch. People are particular about the tofu they use for scrambles–I like really firm, solid chunks, but if you prefer the water-packed kind, go for it. This is lovely on a piece of spelt pita.
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 package extra-firm tofu (about 350 grams or 12 ounces), crumbled or cut in small cubes
leftover Caesar salad dressing (about 1/2 cup or 125 ml.)–I use the Veganomicon recipe
about 1/2 cup of your favorite salsa
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro (optional)
In a large frypan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the tofu and sauté just until the bits of tofu begin to dry out on the edges and perhaps start to brown a little. Stir in the Caesar dressing and salsa and mix to blend well, coating all the tofu. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens just a bit and is heated through, 3-5 minutes. Stir in cilantro if desired. Breakfast* is served! Makes 4 servings.
I have to admit, it took me a long time to warm up to tofu.
When I first revamped my diet in accordance with the NAG principles, I had never eaten tofu, let alone familiarized myself with the many varieties in which it’s available. My naturopath touted the truism you hear so often: “It’s basically flavorless on its own, so it absorbs the flavor of whatever you cook it with. ” Great!, I thought, I’ll make some tofu tonight! , and went out and bought some.
Back then, I didn’t know about the importance of buying organic tofu, or which type to buy, so I just got any old extra-firm. Went home, and created some kind of pseudo-stew (the ingredients of which elude me now) and tasted it. Bah! Feh! Ptewie! I couldn’t even eat one full mouthful.
No taste, you say? Absorbs the flavors of whatever it’s with? Uh, sorry, no. Tofu tastes exactly like what it is: cooked, compressed soybeans. Ugh.
It took me several months of experimentation, some great cookbooks, and a dogged determination to finally hit upon a few recipes I could actually eat and enjoy. Over the years, tofu has become one of my very favorite foods, a staple in our home, despite the many controversies swirling round it.
The trick, I’ve found, is to use assertive flavors that can complement and conceal it. Pressing the tofu helps considerably, as that causes the water to exude, thereby leaving little gaps for the sauce to sneak its way in and become absorbed. Baking firm or extra-firm tofu in a hearty sauce is useful, too. (Now, desserts are a whole other matter, and they most often require aseptically-packaged silken tofu. But depending on the dessert, you can choose anything from Soft-Silken to Extra-Firm Silken. Occasionally, cheesecakes are good with Chinese-style, water-packed firm tofu. Some souffle-type desserts are best made with medium tofu. Okay, got all that? Quiz to follow).
I’ve said this before, and it truly bears repeating: I’m a very lazy cook. Not the best trait for someone whose dietary restrictions require that everything be made from scratch. Consequently, I try to find shortcuts where I can. Use the food processor instead of the hand grater; make up huge batches and freeze for later re-heating; or, as in the case of this morning’s breakfast, recyle up leftovers whenever possible.
[Yesterday's Simple Sauteed Greens]
I enjoyed some simple sauteed greens for dinner last evening (yes, that’s all I even wanted, after a mid-afternoon chocolate frenzy), and so had a container of pre-sauteed broccoli rabe hanging out in the fridge. The saute was super-easy: sliced garlic, olive oil, chopped rabe. That’s it. I also noticed some leftover canned crushed tomatoes being stored in a glass jar. I’d been hankering after a tofu scramble for several days, so thought this would be a great opportunity to whip one up (no matter that the house is still not unpacked, and I’m hosting what will probably be my last-ever at home cooking class tomorrow evening–none of which is prepared yet).
Tofu is a wonderful scrambled egg substitute, I find, especially when it’s crumbled (as here) rather than cubed. This dish provides complete protein courtesy of the tofu, high-protein pine nuts, and the greens. You’ll also be acquiring a surfeit of minerals here, due to the many trace minerals in the greens and the high iron in the raisins. Garlic and tomato round out the dish for antioxidant benefits–and the many anti-bacterial, anti-viral qualities of the garlic are a true boon this time of year (at least, for those of us enduring a cold, wet winter, such as we get in Ontario).
You’ll find this dish is still quite saucy, so decrease the tomatoes if desired. The combination of herbs works wonderfully with the pine nuts and raisins, the sweetness of which act as a perfect counterpoint to the bitter greens and slightly acrid tomato. If you find broccoli rabe too bitter, I think chopped chard would be excellent here, too.
As I said, I ate this for breakfast, but it seems to me most people would find it suitable as a dinner dish or even a side dish.
Heat the oil over medium heat in a nonstick frypan. Add the garlic and saute 1-2 minutes, until it begins to soften. Add the pine nuts, then sprinkle with the herbs and spices and continue to saute another 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add the crumbled tofu and stir to coat. Pour the tomatoes over all, combine well, then stir in the remaining ingredients.
Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes, until heated through. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings. This may be stored in the refrigerator up to 4 days, or frozen up to 3 months.