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.

cheat’s bolognese

you know how some days you go to make pasta with a simple tomato sauce, and as you’re frying an onion you discover that you’ve run out of tinned tomatoes? yeah. 

fortunately my frantic search turned up tomato paste and frozen soya mince (i knew that impulse purchase from tesco would pay off!), so i decided i’d do a bolognese sauce. mindful of the ‘perfect bolognese’ article i read in the guardian a few weeks ago (yes i know how bougie that sounds), i added a bit more margarine and commandeered some soya milk to mimic the dairy in a ‘true’ bolognese.

and it was awesome! plus i used yeast extract instead of nooch, so it’s easy to make with on-hand non-specialist ingredients. so without further ado, the recipe:

cheat’s bolognese
serves 4 adults
ingredients (just fyi, these are all approximate)
250g pasta
50g margarine
1 medium onion, sliced into thin rings
100g frozen soya mince
1/2 to 1 tsp yeast extract, such as marmite
2 Tbsp tomato paste
~1 Tbsp soya sauce
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 cup unsweetened plant milk (i used soya)
salt and pepper to taste

method
put on the hob a large covered pan of salted water, with a slick of vegetable oil on top. while you’re waiting for it to boil, melt the margarine in a separate pan and fry the onion over low heat until softened.

once it’s all golden and yummy-smelling, add the mince and turn the heat up a little. fry for a couple of minutes until thawed, then turn heat back down. add the yeast, tomato paste, soya sauce, and vinegar, and mix well.

stir in the soya milk and bring to a simmer. by now hopefully your pasta water has boiled, so you can add the pasta to the pan. simmer the sauce for a few minutes, then take off heat while your pasta cooks.

before you drain your pasta, reserve about 1/3 cup of the cooking water. add this to the bolognese and bring back to a simmer. drain the pasta and return it to the large pan, stirring in the bolognese sauce. add salt and pepper, and serve while hot!

ReadyScramble(TM)

…okay fine it’s not actually trademarked.

one day recently, having run out of tofu to do scrambles, i started thinking about yellow split peas. could i use them to make a scrambled egg analogue? would it be vile?

i decided to use yellow split peas to make ‘burmese-style’ tofu, using this recipe, so that i could satisfy my curiosity.

the resulting scramble was AMAZING.

my super über-patented ReadyScramble(TM) eggy yellow split peas make a much softer scramble than normal tofu – a bit like polenta crossed with fried mushy peas (but delicious i promise!). their star quality comes from their ability to hold flavours like added vegan cheese, the way they mimic softer scrambled eggs, how you can fry them in slices to make vegg mcmuffins, and of course the fact that it’s ridiculously cheap to make – 1 1/4 cups of peas turns into twice the soybean curd you’d buy in the shops, for like one fifth of the price.

see the difference in size? ridiculous.

so i’m going to give you my mods on the aforementioned burmese-style tofu recipe, and then you can make ReadyScramble(TM) yourself! my prowess as a cook evidently isn’t matched by similar business acumen as i’m giving away my patented recipe for free :-p

ReadyScramble(TM)
ingredients
3 cups water
1 1/4 cup yellow split peas, soaked in hot water overnight, drained, and rinsed
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garlic granules
1 tsp onion granules
1/2 to 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup margarine
1/3 cup shredded vegan cheese (optional)

method
if you forgot to soak your peas overnight, have no fear! just pour boiling water over them, let sit for a couple of hours, drain, then pour more boiling water over and let sit for a couple more hours. if you’re really pressed for time you could try boiling them on the hob for 10 minutes then leaving for an hour. anyways!

put your soaked, drained, rinsed peas into a blender or food processor along with all the spices, nutritional yeast, margarine, and 1/2 cup of water. blend until the peas start to come together into a smooth paste. scrape down the sides of your processor, add another 1/2 cup of water, and blend until smooth.

have a large container, or a couple of smaller ones, ready to use. i oiled mine but that’s not strictly necessary. bring the remaining two cups of water to boil in a large pot. stir in the paste and whisk over high heat nonstop for 8 minutes. an electric whist REALLY helps here, because the mixture will get thick and your arms will get tired. keep an analogue whisk to hand though as my electric one crapped out halfway through :-/

when the 8 minutes is up, whisk in the shredded cheese if using. pour the mixture into its container(s) and let cool for at least an hour.

all you need to do now for a delicious eggy scramble, is crumble a slice into 1 Tbsp hot oil in a frying pan, and let fry on high for a few minutes. put it on toast, muffins, in burritos, in breakfast toasties…now i’m hungry again…maybe time for another scramble……

the white sauce grimoire

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see this?  it’s called a roux, and it is your new best friend.

just by combining flour and margarine over the hob, you now have a magic thickener that enables you to turn a 59p carton of soya milk – or any other non-dairy milk, hell, even water – into a delicious white sauce that even your omni friends will love.

(apologies if you already know what a roux is, my tone is perhaps more condescending than strictly necessary.)

i’m going to give you my recipe for a basic, bare-bones white sauce, and then tell you how i fancy it up.  all measurements are for around 100g of pasta, or enough for two people.

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oooooh lookie i did a mise-en-place! lol

basic white sauce
ingredients
2 to 3 Tbsp margarine
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp flour (can be gluten-free flour if you must)
1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups unsweetened soya milk, or other non-dairy milk
1/3 cup nutritional yeast (if you don’t have any to hand, substitute with 1/2 to 1 tsp marmite.  but add more salt to get rid of that bitter aftertaste!)

method
1. melt the margarine over a low-medium heat.  add the salt and flour, and stir until combined into a paste – about one minute.

2. immediately add a splash of the milk and stir until the mixture is smooth.  add the yeast and stir.

3. gradually add the rest of the milk while stirring, until the sauce is smooth and well-mixed.

4. allow to thicken over the heat.  don’t worry if it boils – this is non-dairy milk!  add more milk for a thinner sauce.

5. take off heat.  sauce will thicken upon standing.

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pictured: fancy chipotle mac

variations
bechamel – add 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp garlic granules, and possibly a bay leaf while on the heat

pepper sauce – bechamel + 1 to 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

mac’n’cheez – add 1/2 tsp garlic granules and 1 tsp cider vinegar

cheddar mac – mac’n’cheez + 1 Tbsp tomato passata (or 1 tsp paste)

chipotle mac – mac’n’cheez + 1 tsp chipotle paste (or 1 Tbsp chipotle sauce such as cholula), and 1 to 2 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander and a quarter of a lime added when the sauce is off the heat.  i also added avocado and vegan chorizo sausage to mine.

fondue – add 1 tsp garlic granules and 1/4 cup hard cider or beer

hollandaise – add 1/2 to 1 tsp mustard powder, 1/2 tsp garlic granules, and either half a lemon’s zest or a quarter of a lemon’s juice

lemon cream – add 1/2 tsp garlic granules and the zest of a whole lemon. smoked paprika is nice with this one too.

that’s what i got today.  stay tuned for why you really need to keep nutritional yeast around at all times!