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
1 tin peeled plum tomatoes
1 or 2 onions, sliced into thin rings
3 Tbsp margarine
1/2 tsp salt

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

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
1 cup rice vinegar
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt

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 ^_^

roast chicken-style tofu

so uh, this is probably the pinnacle of my recipe-blogging career. seriously. i can’t imagine how it gets better from here.

a couple weeks ago i veganised a recipe from the guardian for lemon-roasted new potatoes, and the intrusive thought popped up that it would be the perfect side for roast chicken. this made me sad for two reasons: firstly, that such an iconic taste of my childhood was built on the death of an animal; and secondly, that i wouldn’t be able to properly recreate this taste in a cruelty-free way.

i immediately set out to prove myself wrong on the second count.

i’ve had three goes at this recipe, which requires one specialty ingredient that you can pick up from your local east asian grocer: oiled beancurd sheets. different from thicker tofu skin, and not to be confused with dry beancurd sheets which can’t be folded without crumbling to shit, oiled sheets are pliable and mimic both the crispness and the sloppiness of roasted skin really well. the sheets i bought were so large that i had to snip them into four pieces for the recipe, so one pack of around 8 large sheets is good value too.

this isn’t really an ‘everyday’ recipe, because while it’s relatively straightforward to make, it takes longer than an average weeknight supper and needs some prep earlier in the day or the night before. namely, the tofu needs to be pressed and marinated – which will only make you hungry as you put together the marinade:

one day i, too, will be able to take gorgeous pictures of my food. but just look at that marinade. ffs LOOK AT IT. 

anyways after you marinate the tofu for as long as you can, you then have to roll it up into its ‘skin’, which is also a bit fiddly. i’d highly recommend this roast for special occasions or company, though, because it’s goddamned delicious.

so without further ado:

roast chicken-style tofu
2 400g packets firm tofu (can also stretch the marinade to 3 if you have lots of company)
2 large oiled beancurd sheets (3 if making extra)
juice, zest, and pulp from 2 lemons
2 Tbsp fresh rosemary needles, or 2 tsp dried
2 Tbsp poultry seasoning of choice
1 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste (i used 2 tsp, which was slightly too salty – also reduce if poultry seasoning is particularly salty)
black pepper to taste
3/4 cup olive oil

a few hours before you’re due to cook this, or the night before, drain each block of tofu and slice into 4 pieces lengthwise – they should be long rectangles about 1.5cm thick. save the containers! take two large plates, put a dishtowel over the bottom plate, and arrange your 8 tofu pieces evenly over the plate. double the dishtowel over on top of the tofu, stack the second plate on top, and balance several heavy objects on that plate (i used a rice cooker and iron skillet).

while the tofu is pressing, make your marinade. wanna make it really easy on yourself? throw the lemon, rosemary, seasoning, salt, pepper, and olive oil into a food processor and blend until smooth. if food processors are too fancy for you, just chop the lemon zest and rosemary needles as finely as you can, and mix the marinade together with a fork.

after at least 20 minutes, carefully take the heavy things off your top tofu plate, and chuck the dishtowel in the laundry. put 4 pieces of the pressed tofu back into each of the containers, and evenly divide the marinade between them – you should have about 300ml marinade. don’t forget to evenly divide up the chunky bits! pop it into the fridge and leave for a few hours. 

a couple hours before you’re due to serve, take the tofu out of the fridge. put all the pieces onto a plate, and combine the marinade into one container (just makes it loads easier). take a large baking dish and oil it with about 1Tbsp olive oil. take your two large beancurd sheets, and cut them each into 4 pieces with kitchen scissors. each piece should be able to wrap around the tofu fillets.

place a beancurd sheet onto a cutting board and brush with the marinade. put one tofu fillet inside, then fold the sheet around it and roll up like a burrito. brush the bottom seam and sides with marinade, place your parcel seam-side down into the baking dish, and brush the top with marinade. repeat with the remaining tofu and sheets. if at any point you think you might run out of marinade (i’m looking right atcha, stretching-to-12-parcels people), just add more olive oil and mix back in.

heat your oven to 220C/gas 6. cover your baking dish with foil (or a lid if you have one o’ them fancy casserole dishes), and place in the oven. take it out after half an hour, brush the tops of your parcels in the gorgeous bubbling liquid from the baking dish, put the foil back on, and put back in for 20 minutes. remove from the oven again, brush the tops, then put it uncovered back into the oven for 10-15 minutes.

remove from oven, brush one more time because why not, and serve with all the yums ^_^

(note: you can also make this a one-pan dish by roasting in a casserole dish over vegetables. aw yiss!!)

fad food: tandoori masala tofu


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 voilĂ ! 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

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.

tofeta or not tofeta (hint: yes)

so i was on facebook, as i often am, trawling through the ‘what fat vegans eat’ group, as i often do. (go join this group now. it will make you hungry.)

anyways i saw this beautiful picture, accompanied by a loose recipe, and became hungry. i am basically on a cheese kick but hate complicated bullshit recipes involving cultures and rejuvelac and bullshit, so this recipe appealed to me straightaway because:

1. i already had all the ingredients to hand.
2. the most complicated thing i had to do was slice tofu.


so here we go, a more formal recipe:

half a block of tofu, cut into 1cm cubes
1 large garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp mint
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
2 to 3 Tbsp lemon juice
enough olive oil to cover

really? just chuck it all into an airtight container, shake it around, and leave it in the fridge for a few hours until you want to use it. occasionally take it out, shake it a bit, and look longingly at it.

i kept it marinating for about a day and made greek salad with it.