Vegetarian [kind of] meets BBQ

I guess you could say I was a little out of my element? The BBQ and I aren’t exactly the best of friends…

A few months ago the Recipe Redux theme was ‘Start Smoking in the New Year’ – (yeah, I’m getting in a little late) hence the BBQ idea popping up:

The New Year is heating up with smoke and spiciness. From boldly flavored smoked salts to actual smoking techniques, subtly smoked food is on-trend. The same can be said for spice as we savor heat from harissa, sriracha and smoked paprika. Show us the healthy dish you’re heating up with smoke and/or spiciness.

My first thought was my Vegetarian Chilli but then I thought I should try something new. I follow a few American nutrition and food blogs and quite often see a recipe call for ‘Liquid Smoke’, but I have never been able to find it anywhere in Oz. So the cheat’s way was out…then I wondered how I would go about doing it the proper way. But how to smoke food without a barbecue? This just opened up a can of worms..and a trip to the hardware store… and a house smelling like ribs. Got there in the end.

Smoked Tofu, Almonds & Green Beans.

Once upon a time I found a block of smoked tofu in a health food shop. It was delicious, and expensive, and I never bought it again. So here is an attempt to recreate it! And an impressive option for all you vegetarians and vegans going to summer barbecues, only to face a sad bowl of ice berg lettuce and bread rolls with tomato sauce. I feel ya. Take this and everyone will want to be your friend. I mean, it’s not going to pass as sticky ribs anytime soon, but who wants to have to eat with their fingers and get sauce all over their face anyway? 

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Get your smoke on.. 

1 x block of tofu, cut into slices

1 x cup wood chips (I used hickory)

1 x aluminium baking tray

a lot of foil

Soak the wood chips in water over night. Layer the bottom of the tray with the wood chips and a little bit of water, then sit an elevated tray inside the aluminium tray for the tofu slices to sit on. Wrap well in foil. Place in the oven and leave it in there for 3 hours.

SIX HOURS later and I took my tofu out of the oven.

To be perfectly honest, I was really disappointed that it wasn’t ‘smokier’. Seeing as how I had committed half my life to this recipe, the tofu was a bit of an anti-climax. Ahh well, you live and you learn. The end result was delish – read on for the saviour – the tahini dressing and green beans are a win for sure.

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And the rest…

2 cups green beans

1/2 cup roasted almonds, chopped

100g fresh rocket leaves

2 TBS tahini

1 TBS lemon juice

salt & pepper

Top & tail the beans and saute them in a bit of olive oil. Add them to a big bowl with roasted almonds, rocket and tofu.

Combine the tahini, lemon juice and s & p in a small bowl and then pour it on over. I added a little warm water to the dressing to thin it out a bit, but whatever goes.

(I will certainly not hold it against you for saving six hours and not trying this one at home).

The end x

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Rice Paper Rollin’

I heard that the weather was BEAUTIFUL today. I only caught a few minutes of the sunshine walking from work to car (about 500 metres), and yes, the sunshine was perfect.

I was hungry as usual. Sunshine + hungry = rice paper rolls. What else?

I’ve probably mentioned before that Vietnamese is my favourite cuisine, so rice paper rolls always go down well. Only problem is I find them really time consuming, mainly because my knife skills leave a lot to be desired, so I usually only make them when other people are around to eat too. Lucky I have willing house mates.

There is a bit of an art to rollin’. Like sushi. First time you do it they will probably be a mess, don’t worry! I have been making these for ages and mine still look shocking. Who cares what they look like though, right?

So I went to get all my ingredients and find brown rice vermicelli noodles! Woo! I may be a little over-excited but this is totally new for me, so looking forward to trying them. Not a huge difference nutrition wise, which I was surprised about, though they are higher in dietary fibre (only slightly!). Protein, fat and carbohydrate are all pretty much equal in comparison to the regular white vermicelli. For all my gluten intolerant friends though, rice noodles are gluten free, happy days 🙂  If you are following this recipe and very sensitive to gluten, just watch out for the soy sauce!

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Two hours later –> they were ok. Just ok. I found them a little chewy and tough. You can’t notice it in the rice paper rolls because there is a lot of other stuff going on, but I think I would avoid using them in a soup or stir fry. I think I will stick to the regular white kind..I have only just converted to whole wheat pasta after all, baby steps..

Vegetarian Rice Paper Rolls

1 x block firm tofu

1 x tsp oil

1 x TBS soy

1 x love garlic, minced

1 x inch piece of ginger, minced

1/4 x cup dried shitake or other dried asian fungus (soaked in hot water for 20 mins)

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1 x carrot, thinly sliced into matchsticks

1 x cucumber, thinly slice into matchsticks

1 x capsicum, thinly sliced into matchsticks

1/2 x packet vermicelli rice noodles, soaked in hot water

rice paper roll sheets

ice burg lettuce, shredded

mint leaves

Dipping Sauce

1 x TBS hoisin

1 x tsp soy

1 x tsp lime juice

1/2 tsp chilli sauce

Heat oil in a fry pan and fry the ginger and garlic for one minute, then crumble in the tofu.

Cook until the tofu looks golden, about five minutes, then stir through the soy and soaked mushrooms and put to one side.

Cut up all your veggies. Make it as organised as possible to make rolling a little less annoying.

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Get a bowl of warm water and dip in your first sheet of rice paper, lay it flat on a bench and wait for it to soften so it’s easier to work with.

Layer your ingredients at one end of the circle, veggie sticks, lettuce, noodles, mint and tofu mixture. Be careful not to fill it up too much!

Start rolling the side with the mixture, then wrap the top and bottom sides and tuck it all in.

(I apologise sincerely for this method, I never realised how hard it would be to describe how to roll a rice paper roll! )

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I’m not going to lie, they probably won’t look neat and tidy, but they will taste amazing!

To make the sauce, just mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Dip away.

Monk Bodhi Dharma

In honour of World Vegan Day today, MSB is venturing out to Monk . . .

 

If I was forced to choose one cafe in Melbourne where I was restricted to for the rest of my life, it would be this one.

To be honest, we weren’t hungry in the slightest, but you can’t go to Monk and not eat, so we had no other choice but to have a second breakfast, naturally. We ordered the umami mushrooms with polenta.

Slow roasted king oyster, shitake, oyster & swiss brown mushrooms on a house made pumpkin, spinach & sun dried tomato polenta bread. Served w/ goats cheese, thyme & red chile oil…

Super rich and delicious.. I am glad we shared!

My photo phobia was rampant again so no food porn, sorry guys. Just believe me when I say it was pretty.

Can’t fault the coffee, can’t fault the service, and the menu is like nothing else.

Monk Bodhi Dharma is a speciality coffee house and pride themselves on beautifully made raw vegan and vegetarian food. There is always something different popping up on the menu and their creativity really does amaze me. Don’t let the vegetarian niche put you off all you carnivores out there, i promise you, you won’t be let down.

(PS –> If you take my advice and venture out there, the place is a bit hard to find if you’re a newcomer…you need to go BEHIND the main shops away from the street..and it’s tucked away all inconspicuously. )

 

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So happy World Vegan Day friends! Go eat some lentils. x

Monk Bodhi Dharma on Urbanspoon

Fudge.

The title says it all.

Found this recipe from author Emily Ho @ The Kitchn.

I don’t even like fudge. But this recipe is so easy that I had to give it a try.

And I’m so glad I did.

Because it’s deceptively good.

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Ingredients…

1 cup of dates (fresh ones preferably)

1/2 cup tahini paste

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

1/2 tsp cardamom powder

1/4 tsp salt

All you gotta do…

Put everything in a food processor

Blend, blend, blend.

Blend some more (should be pale and creamy now)

Scrape it out and spread it over a baking paper lined plate/container/anything flat, about an inch thick

Put it in the freezer for a few hours

When it’s firm you can slice it into squares

(Or if your me just eat it straight from the block)


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Please note – there is a reason why I’m categorising this in desserts. Just because it has tahini and dates in it does not mean you can do what I did and eat the whole thing 🙂 Go easy!

Spanakopita and the Goodness of the Human Race

Yesterday was a looonnngggg day. I worked for 12 hours, and it was fair to say I was slightly brain dead. So I wandered down to the lift and into the maze that is the Queens Road Towers car park. Now my sense of direction is bad at the best of times. I’m actually waiting for a study to come out that identifies the gene for navigation (has it been done already?), because I am certain that I was born without it. Anyway, I went down to the very bottom to go to my car. Keep in mind, that I parked my car in the same spot that I did last week, when I originally got lost (yes, this exact scenario happened a week ago), so i thought second time round I would be fine.

No, Ali, not the case.

So it’s after hours, everyone has left, no car park attendant, and I’m wandering about aimlessly wondering what I’m going to do, when my knight in shining armour appears! I ended up asking if he knew where 4B was, and he didn’t, but he walked around the whole car park with me till I found my car. How nice is that?! I was so grateful!

And then, once I got home, there was a surprise on the bench, and our lovely next door neighbour had brought us some silver beet from his garden. Double win!

 

silverbeet

 

 

So yesterday, even though it was an average day, I was pleasantly reminded of  how awesome people can be. And it made everything ok! Alas, the inspiration for today’s recipe. Spanakopita (traditionally a spinach and feta pie), turned vegan. I actually hadn’t planned on making it vegan, but there is a recent convert in our household so i thought i’d make it vegan friendly so she can partake in it’s goodness too!

Spanakopita is really simple to make and is great for a light lunch with a salad on the side. It’s made with filo pastry which is slightly healthier than regular puff or shortcrust pastry because it’s really light and thin. It’s usually made with spinach but I used silverbeet which works well too.

Silverbeet (also known as Swiss Chard) is super high in Vitamin K. No one ever talks about Vitamin K, do they? It’s major role in the body is to help with blood clotting, but it’s also important for our bone health and is an excellent source of fibre and iron too 🙂 And I found out recently that all newborns get a Vitamin K shot when they are first born because they don’t have enough in their little bodies! Vitamin K doesn’t cross the placenta to get from mum to baby, and there isn’t enough bacteria in babies’ digestive tracts for Vitamin K to be produced, so we need a bit of a helping hand first off! 

Recipe from The Veggie Table.

 


 

spanakopita

Vegan Spanakopita.

8 sheets of filo pastry

1 TBS olive oil

8 stalks spring onions, sliced finely

3 cloves garlic, chopped finely

a big big bunch of silverbeet (it will shrink i promise), shredded

a bunch of mint, chopped

a bunch of dill, chopped

1/2 block firm tofu (about 150-200g), crumbled

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

3/4 cup hazelnut meal (any nut flour will work)

2 tsp dried oregano

dash of nutmeg

1/4 cup lemon juice and the rind of the lemon

1/4 cup olive oil

S & P

Preheat oven to 180C

Heat up the TBS of oil in a pan

Add silverbeet and cook for a few minutes until it starts to wilt

Add spring onions and garlic and cook for another 2 minutes

Take off the heat and put it in a fine colander to drain any excess water

Grab a big bowl, stir through the veg mix with the fresh herbs, nutritional yeast, hazelnut meal, crumbled tofu, oregano, lemon juice and rind, and olive oil

Give it a good stir and add S & P to taste (you won’t need too much salt because of the nutritional yeast)

Use a square or round baking dish and spray it with cooking spray or brush it with melted oil/butter/nuttelex

Lay down sheets of filo giving them a spray between each one until you have 5 sheets

Put in your filling

Top with another 3 sheets of filo with a spray/brush between each

Score the top with a knife, just slice it about 3/4 of the way through without touching the bottom

Bake it in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown on top


Annddd I just tried it and it’s amazing! Didn’t miss the cheese at all. Kind of a pain for non vegetarians because I doubt you would have nutritional yeast on hand, so feel free to go ahead and use cheese if that’s easier!

‘Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche’

My dad always says ‘real men don’t eat quiche’. I’ve never totally understood what this means but I feel compelled to disagree. What’s wrong with quiche?! Anyway – this isn’t your regular egg and bacon quiche from the bakery, this one is vegan, and it’s lovely 🙂

Lots of healthy fats from coconut oil and cashews, and a good dose of fibre from the buckwheat and wholemeal flours too. I had planned on making the pastry entirely out of buckwheat to make it gluten free, but i ran out so had to substitute wholemeal flour. If anyone has ever given buckwheat pastry a go let me now how it turned out!

You can use any vegetable you like for the filling. Spinach and leek would be good, or mushroom.

And if you’re wondering what the hell agar agar is (I don’t blame you) it’s a type of seaweed. It’s used as a gelling agent instead of gelatine (if you’re unsure of why I avoid gelatine, read this – apologies in advance :P). Agar agar is a bit of a tricky one to find, you’ll have to go to a health food store, it’s a fine white tasteless powder and you have to measure it vey carefully! But it worked beautifully in this recipe.

 

Recipe inspired from YumUniverse.

 

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I’m really proud of this baby because I made my own pastry and it turned out pretty damn good.

Broccoli and Capsicum Quiche

PASTRY

1/2 cup buckwheat flour

1 cup wholemeal plain flour

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup water

FILLING

1 cup cashews, soaked for 2 hours

1 TBS lemon juice

1/2 tsp salt

1 TBS nutritional yeast

2 cups water

3 tsp of agar agar

1 cup broccoli florets

1/2 cup capsicum slices

1/2 cup cooked quinoa

Preheat oven to 180 C

Mix the flours and salt in a large bowl

Rub the coconut oil in with fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs

Add water and combine to form a firm dough

Wrap in cling film and leave it in the fridge while you make the filling

Blend cashews, water, salt, lemon juice, agar agar and nutritional yeast in a food processor until smooth

Roll out the dough and place in a pie dish, because of the buckwheat the dough will be a bit difficult to work with so expect it to break a little, just patch it up with your fingers

Blind bake for 10 minutes

Take pastry out of the oven, sprinkle over quinoa, then veggies, then pour over cashew mixture

Put back in the oven and bake for another 45 minutes.

Leave it to cool in the fridge before you slice!

Serve hot or cold.

Just to re-iterate once more I’m not against guys eating quiche. Especially vegan quiche. Just quietly i would be very impressed 😉

Tofu Saturdays

It’s Saturday today, hooray!!

I am feeling the positive vibes this weekend, my Saturday has gotten off to a good start. We went to the 1000 Steps this morning for a bit of a workout. It’s always so beautiful down Ferntree Gully way! This post is inspired by a cafe that I recently discovered in Belgrave called Earthly Pleasures – where we had just done the steps and then had some amazing scrambled tofu!

Now, i know when most people hear scrambled tofu they probably fall asleep, but hear me out – I went through a huge scrambled tofu phase in my vegan days, and it’s so easy and versatile! Tofu is super high in protein with 1/2 cup containing around 10 grams – and it’s also an excellent source of calcium too! By itself it is bland and boring, so it really is what you make of it. The one I had at Earthly Pleasures was packed full of fresh herbs, but you can add anything you like..this is my favourite way to make it…

1 x block of firm tofu (make sure it’s firm and not silken!)

1 x tsp of olive oil

1/2 x diced onion

1 x red capsicum – diced

1 x field mushroom – diced

2 x stalks of kale, finely shredded

1 x TBS tamari

1 x TBS nutritional yeast

Get your pan hot and add the oil, grab the tofu with your hands and give it a big squeeze! You want it to crumble in the pan.

Cook it for a couple of minutes until it started to get brown, then add the onion and cook for another couple of minutes.

Then throw in the rest of your veggies, it depends on how crunchy you like your veggies but I only cook it for another couple of minutes more to heat them through.

Stir through tamari and nutritional yeast.

Serve with sliced avocado and toast! We stopped off at a little farmer’s market on the way home from the steps and got this amazing French sourdough – yum!

tofu scramble