fad food: variations

i was ready to let curry noodles die. honest.

then i bought mango pickle.

now due to running out of nooch and laziness the recipe has morphed into sliced mango pickles, lemon juice, and lots and lots of margarine. it’s goddamned delicious.

except, now i’ve run out of noodles. sigh.

fad food: it’s curry noodle weather (again)

my fad foods come in seasons. not traditional ones bounded by time, but personal ones. so lasagne is out (don’t worry, i’ll probably force my family to eat it for the whole winter), and mac’n’cheez is in.

but what am i literally eating for every meal right now? yup. once again, i’m hoovering up industrial quantities of curry noodles.

i think it’s something to do with the cold, blustery weather that comes between seasons, but for the past week or so i’ve had to force myself to eat anything else. i cook the noodles plain, then dump them on top of margarine blended with salt, curry powder, lemon juice, and nooch. then i top with copious pickle slices and mayonnaise (okay, salad cream – it’s 50p less at tesco for twice as much squeezy goodness).

i expect i’ll get sick of it soon. after all, the season’s changing.

the sketch app presents: fad food round-up

howdy to all and sundry who actually read this blog! it’s been awhile so i thought i’d let you in on my latest fad foods. however, i’ve been too lazy (and hungry) to take pictures (and/or the pictures i’ve taken have been crap), so i decided to draw my fad foods using the sketch app for android. 

(do you like my name-dropping btw? thought i’d shoehorn a plug in there just in case somebody somewhere wants to give me money to write a cookbook or something.)

anyways my sketching has had mixed results as can be seen below:

i’ve made about 5 or 6 lasagnes in the past 2 weeks, but the best picture i’ve been able/willing to take has been this:

i mean, it’s not a horrible picture, but it doesn’t adequately capture the spirit of the dish i’ve been perfecting for the past couple weeks. hence the beautiful sketch. (shut up.)

i’ve been making moussaka for donkey’s, because lasagne always seemed too fiddly. then, i actually read the instructions on a packet of lasagne sheets and discovered that you don’t actually need to cook them first. (shut. up.)

so long story short, lasagne for daaays. layered with bechamel sauce, an insanely easy tomato sauce which i guess i’ll include for posterity, sometimes some sliced courgettes, and topped with, budget permitting, vegan cheese (or breadcrumbs if not – sometimes i add ground-up nuts too).

i’ll give you the really basic tomato sauce base i found in the guardian one day (SHUT UP), as well as my adaptations.

tomato sauce for lasagne
ingredients
1 tin peeled plum tomatoes
1 or 2 onions, sliced into thin rings
3 Tbsp margarine
1/2 tsp salt

extras:
100g soya mince (either frozen or dried)
2 tsp soya sauce
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp vegetable bouillon (if using unflavoured dried mince)

method
melt the margarine in a saucepan, adding the salt and sliced onions and cooking over low heat until soft. add the soya mince if using (along with the soaking water if using dried), making sure to cook a couple minutes if frozen, along with the soya sauce, balsamic vinegar, and vegetable bouillon. dump in the tin of tomatoes, breaking apart the whole plum tomatoes with your stirring spoon. allow to come to a simmer over low heat, then just leave it to meld together for awhile so you can get on with other stuff (like slicing courgettes or making bechamel sauce!).

NEXT FAD FOOD: japanese-style breakfast. nearly every day, for about 3 years. it comes and goes sometimes but this has persisted beyond a fad into a habit.

it all started in the airport one day, desperately searching for a hearty vegan breakfast before a morning flight. i passed by a wagamama’s and thought to myself, ‘i wonder what japanese people eat for breakfast.’

as it turns out, japanese people have magic for breakfast. that day i had miso soup, sushi rice, and pickles. i’ve since substituted hiyayakko for miso soup – mine consists of cold medium-firm or silken tofu topped with chopped spring onions, nori flakes, sesame seeds, and soya sauce. on the side i have sushi rice, sliced into blocks from a container in the fridge (or fresh and hot from the rice cooker), and homemade japanese pickles. 

here’s an old picture…just makes me want to have second breakfast tbh…

‘japanese pickles??’ i hear you ask. (not really but i need a segue.) yes, friends. pickled cucumber, radish, and ginger, all made at home. ‘but hoooooowww’

well friends, the pickling brine recipe is a piece of piss to make. allow me to enlighten you.

japanese pickling brine
ingredients
1 cup rice vinegar
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt

method
okay i confess, i nicked this recipe from somewhere but don’t remember where. anyways all you do is boil all the above together until the sugar dissolves, then pour it over the sliced veg you want to pickle (or in the case of ginger boil it for a few minutes on the hob). then just leave the jars of pickles to cool and pop in the fridge, where they will keep for ages ^_^

fad food: tandoori masala tofu

BEHOLD MY ARTY PICTURE

i’ve now eaten deep-fried tofu coated in flour and tandoori masala spice mix over curry noodles for three meals in a row. they make an excellent savoury breakfast. they also make an excellent savoury lunch. or a snack. or, in double portions, a dinner. or a midnight snack. or an excuse-to-eat-it-again noshy nosh nosh.

ANYWAYS. it’s kinda too simple to write it down as a recipe so i’ll just talk you through it.

i picked up a packet of TRS tandoori masala spice mix from my local costcutter. the ingredients are listed as ‘Coriander, Salt, Fenugreek, Cumin, Cinnamon, Chillies, Black Pepper, Ginger, Onion, Garlic, Mustard, Bay Leaves, Nutmeg, Permitted Colour E124 and E102, Citric Acid, Cloves, Mace, Cardamoms’, just in case you can’t find this spice mix or are too posh to buy premixed spice packets and want to mix it yourself. i know i love to add a bit more extra Permitted Colour E124 and E102, really enhances the flavour of the dish.

so i mixed 1 Tbsp of that with about 3 Tbsp plain flour, and a pinch of extra salt. this should be enough to coat half a block of firm tofu – just cut it up into bitty bits, no need to press it or marinate it or any other bullshit. put the flour mixture and the tofu into an airtight container and just shake it around for fuss-free coatage.

et voilà! chuck ’em in yon deep-fat fryer or a pot of hot oil, then dump ’em straight into your tum. great on top of curry noodles or cheesy pasta.

…now i’m hungry. 

fad food: tofu scramble

does anyone else ever get into a rut, where all they want to eat is the last thing they ate? that is basically my life.

lately i’ve been making the fam breakfast burritos, because come on. while they’ve ranged from basic to fancy, they all have one common denominator: scrambled tofu. my obsession has been reignited (even as my eldest has decided he hates burritos).

so i’m going to share my basic, bare-bones scrambled tofu recipe, as i’ve just eaten it for my second meal of the day.

scrambled tofu
ingredients (for one gluttonous portion)
1/4 packet of tofu, drained
small pinches of the following: salt, onion powder, garlic powder, turmeric
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
vegetable oil and/or margarine for frying

***optional extras***
a few dashes of the following: vegan worcester sauce, tabasco
1 chopped vegan sausage or hot dog
2 Tbsp grated vegan cheese

method
heat the oil/margarine in a skillet over medium heat (if your pan gets really hot put it on low-medium). put the block of tofu in the pan whole, then break up into bits with a wooden spatula or spoon. (this is key – it’s hard to get a nice scrambled texture with evenly-cut tofu.)

once the block is broken up to your satisfaction, put in the spices and stir to evenly coat the tofu. now’s the time to add your sauces and sausages too.

fry until most of the water has left the tofu, then turn off the hob. add the nutritional yeast and grated cheese if using, and stir through. serve immediately in a tortilla or bap, or on hot buttered toast.

fad food: dinner salads

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I. CANNOT. STOP.

it is beginning to annoying my family. ‘i made salad for dinner !!!’ ‘…goddammit.’

i blame tofeta. it set off this endless two-week cycle of increasingly elaborate salads, including a botched batch of ad-hoc ranch dressing. …don’t try and freehand a ranch dressing, guys. trust me.

initially it was greek salad with the tofeta, chopped olives, cucumber, tomatoes, onion, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and leaves. now i seem to have migrated west along the mediterranean to italy, inspired by my neighbour’s amazing salad with bread and sultanas.

last night’s had some cubed almond chèvre (it turns out gram flour added during the mixing process makes it reliably sliceable!), sliced grapes, onion, garlic, balsamic-stewed tomatoes, chickpeas, and homemade croutons. my son didn’t like it so i ate his leftovers.

i expect with the sudden torrential downpours my salad days are numbered. yay climate change… :-/

fad food: curry noodles and raita

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no that’s not guacamole, smartarse. i was craving my go-to nice weather junk meal of a packet of curry noodles and homemade cucumber mint raita, but i was too lazy to go to the shops for vegan yoghurt. so i decided to use a mashed-up avocado instead.

and you know what? it is goddamned delicious.

i first hit upon this combo last year, as i was trying to think of a use for curry flavoured packet noodles so i wouldn’t have to go to the shops for less useless packet noodles. (are we sensing the theme here?)

i had a cucumber and some yoghurt to use up, and fresh mint in the garden, so whipped together some raita to go over the noodles. now in summer i pretty much only buy curry noodles to eat with raita!

you can find normal raita recipes that are easy to veganise so i’m going to give you my avocado buttermilk raita recipe instead.

avocado buttermilk raita
ingredients
half a large cucumber, grated and squeezed so that the juice can be drained off (save that juice, it’s lovely with apple juice and water!)
1 avocado, mashed
1/4 to 1/3 cup soya milk
1 to 2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1 to 2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves, or 1 tsp dry

method
combine 1 tsp lemon juice with the soya milk and set aside. once the grated cucumber is drained, stir in the salt and the rest of the lemon juice. add the mint and avocado, stirring until combined. add in the curdled soya milk according to taste – for a thinner raita, add more milk.

fad food: hot dogs

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i blame waitrose.

there’s a waitrose near the aldi i always shop at, and one day, in a quest for vegan quorn (which ended up not being that amazing anyway, any suggestions for using up the second bag in my freezer would be helpful), i stopped in.

normally i don’t shop at posh bullshit places like waitrose, but as it turns out they’re really really good for finding specialty vegan products! i suppose that’s one benefit to associating the word ‘vegan’ with ‘posh’.

anyways in addition to the quorn i found flavoured tofu (not necessarily big enough packets to justify the price though), swedish glace chocolate covered ice cream lollies, salted caramel coyo coconut yogurt that seriously TASTED LIKE CHEESECAKE Y’ALL, and a packet of vegan franks.

oh, no. the obvious next purchase was finger rolls. no, no, no.

eldest son LOVES hot dogs. we blasted through that packet of franks and due to cheapness and laziness reverted back to linda mccartney sausages. dm;hhd.

after a couple dogs with just ketchup and squeezy american-style mustard, i rediscovered the homemade cucumber pickles in the fridge. a couple days later came the dessicated fried onion in the cupboard. husband couldn’t find finger rolls yesterday so bought white hamburger-style rolls instead. DON’T CARE HOT DOGS.

i’m now at the point where i’m talking myself down from a hot dog for breakfast, like a wino reasoning with herself that so long as the pinot doesn’t come out until the afternoon it’s socially acceptable to day drink by yourself.

…hot dogs are allowed to come out after 10am.

giving myself a week before i attempt a detox.

fad food: bagels

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so this is the first post in a new series about the various foods i’m binge-eating at the moment.

i’m not a fad eater in the sense that i go on popular diets, but i am the kind of person who eats one thing obsessively for about two weeks, with the recipe getting more and more complex and wonderful until i have achieved culinary perfection, and then doesn’t eat it again for a year.  i am currently doing this with bagels.

it started innocently enough.  husband brought home bagels for our eldest son, who excitedly ate one.  i suddenly had the idea to go to holland and barrett, to pick up some vegan soft cheese to spread on one.  it only went downhill from there.

from a simple toasted bagel with cream cheese, it evolved into cream cheese plus sliced tomato, salt and pepper, then tofurkey slices became involved, then a red onion came into the picture, then i found radishes in my fridge…yeah.  i’m now on three fully loaded deli-style bagels a day.  help.

i’ve just sent my husband out for capers.  nothing good can come of this.