Tofu and Vegetables with Sweet and Sour Sauce

It’s been a while since I last posted… I blame a combination of Christmas, work and having a wisdom tooth removed… So last night I made up for it with three oriental recipes: Tofu and Vegetables with Sweet and Sour Sauce, Tenderstem Broccoli in Oyster Sauce and Salty Spicy Tofu with Peanuts, served with plain rice (i will link other posts once written).

This recipe came from a Madhur Jaffrey cookbook I found some time ago and I made it for two people.

Ingredients:

  • Deep fried tofu (available from Chinese supermarkets, or check here)
  • One carrot
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 2 spring onions

For the Sauce:

  • 1tsp cornflour
  • 100ml vegetable stock
  • 2tbs white wine vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 2tbs sugar
  • 1tbs tomato ketchup
  • a dash soy sauce (preferably light)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • some ground black pepper
  • tiny pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled (not crushed)
  • a small piece of ginger, depending on taste

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Mix the cornflour with a little of the stock and set aside.

Combine the remaining stock, vinegar, sugar, ketchup, soy sauce, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper in a bowl – mix.

Heat the oil in a small pan over a medium flame. When hot put in the garlic and ginger. Fry gently until the garlic begins to brown then take off the heat. Pour the vinegar mixture into the pan and return to a low flame, allowing the sauce to heat gently for about 4 minutes. Make sure the cornflour mixture is stirred then add bit my bit to the sauce as it heats until it reaches the desired consistency. Add more salt if you think it needs it – you may want to remove the garlic and ginger. Set the sauce aside.

Peel and chop the carrot in thing diagonal strips, cut in half if necessary. Slice thin strips of pepper and cut the spring onion into pieces about 1 1/2 cm long.

To heat the tofu, cut the pieces, if necessary, then bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Place the tofu in the pan and turn the heat down.

Fry the vegetables in 2tsbs of oil over a medium flame.  Stir fry for about two minutes and turn off the heat.

Remove the tofu using a slotted spoon and let the pieces drain. Gently press with absorbent kitchen towel to remove excess water. Gently heat the sauce.

Serve by placing the tofu on the plate, adjacent to rice. Cover with the vegetables and finally use a spoon to pour sauce over both.

Sweet and sour – easy, home made, delicious.

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Vegetarian Tofu Lasagna

A few weeks ago, walking along Soho’s Old Compton Street, as we’ve done many times before, we decided to go into the small Italian deli I Camisa for the first time. We were so amazed at the selection of pastas, meats and other goods we vowed to go back, but in the meanwhile, picked up some rather authentically-Italian looking lasagna sheets. Last night I finally got around to experimenting a little and making a vegetarian lasagna with tofu – and it was fantastic! This recipe will serve about four, or three hungry people!

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  • 250 grams tofu
  • 2 white onions
  • 1 red onion
  • about 6 chestnut mushrooms
  • 100 grams fresh spinach
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 500 grams sieved tomatoes/pasata
  • some sliced black olives
  • 1 large egg
  • 120 grams grated mozzarella
  • 1 courgette/zucchini
  • 1 medium sized aubergine
  • Some dried basil and thyme
  • Lasagna sheets (I used ten dried lasagna sheets)

Making lasagna can be complex but this way you can prepare the tofu mixture before everything else. dsc00568There’s quite a bit of preparation required so the first step is to finely chop the white onions and mush the tofu together with them. I used the attachment on my hand blender to do this. Next finely chop the mushrooms and transfer with a little olive oil and two crushed garlic cloves to a large pan. Cook slowly for about five minutes, then gradually add the tofu mixture and a little salt with some more olive oil. Cook for about five more minutes.

dsc00569Keep the heat on low and add the spinach. I used fresh baby spinach which could be added whole. Fold in to the mixture slowly and add a few pinches of dried basil for flavour.

Once the spinach has wilted and is folded in, add the egg into the pan (again, low heat) and mix into the mixture. You could whisk the egg before adding into the mixture. After another couple of minutes stirring the mixture turn off the heat and add the mozzarella (reserve a little for the topping).

That’s the difficult bit done. The tomato sauce is easy. Again, a little olive oil, add the red onion, finely chopped, and the final crushed garlic clove. Heat slowly until the onion is soft then add a pinch of thyme and the olives. dsc00573You should probably add some salt at this point (I forgot) then, after a couple of minutes heating, add the sieved tomatoes. Warm through and turn off the heat. (I told you that was easy).

Finally, thinly slice the courgette and layer the bottom of the lasagna dish. Slice thinly about half of the aubergine (only slice this when you’re about to use it) and layer on top of the courgette. Cover with some tomato mixture (I used too much on this layer and would suggest using just less than half), making sure it seeps down between the layered veg. a layer of lasagna sheets (the Barilla sheets I used didn’t need precooking). dsc00574Cover the lasagna sheets with a layer of the tofu mixture. I made this a thick later using all of the mixture, but use your judgment. Cover with another layer of lasagna. Brush the lasagna with a little of the tomato mixture, cover with the remaining courgettes and some more thinly sliced aubergine and pour over the rest of the tomato mixture. Cover with a final layer of lasagna. Brush this with a little water, and sprinkle over the remaining mozzarella.

After all of this, transfer to the oven (200 Celsius; conversions for temperature and weights, as ever, here), img_9051wash up and sit back and relax while it bakes for about thirty minutes. Leave to stand for five minutes before serving. Great with a healthy salad.

Published in: on 8 November, 2008 at 11:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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Easy pumpkin pie

So. It’s two days after Halloween and guess what you can get cheap from the supermarket? Big bags of candy? Check. Sarah Palin masks? You betcha. Pumpkins? Hmmm…yes..pumpkins. And you know what you can make with pumpkins? Pie. Yummy, yummy pumpkin pie. Here’s how*:

Ingredients:

  • 1 can pure pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • Single cream, 1 cup
  • Rum
  • Brown sugar, 1 cup
  • Ground cinnamon, 2 tsp
  • Ground ginger, 1 tsp
  • A sweet pie shell
  • Note: if you’re really hardcore you can of course always make your own pumpkin puree, create your own pie shell, and distill your own rum – but this recipe is called ‘easy’ for a reason

Mix sugar and spices together, beat in eggs and combine well. Throw in two glugs of rum, beat in the pumpkin and finally the cream.

Pour this filling into a pie shell and bake in an oven for 20 minutes at 230C. Turn the oven back to 175C and bake for an additional 25 minutes. Remove and check it’s cooked by sticking a knife in the middle of the pie – if nothing sticks, you’re ready to let it cool… and then eat!

*A big thanks to my Mom who passed this recipe on to me, and to my grandmother who passed it on to her.

Published in: on 2 November, 2008 at 8:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Autumnal Parsnip Soup

Continuing the Autumnal theme this is one of the Soups I’ve taken to making – they’ll keep for a while in the fridge and make a great lunch – I carry mine chilled to work in a Thermos and heat it up there. This soup was inspired by a work colleague who’d been planning to make the same, and some organic parsnips at the supermarket which were on offer. This soup combines rich parsnip flavours with a hint of curry warmth and spice – unmistakeably autumn.

  • 4 medium parsnips
  • 1 1/2 sticks of celery
  • 3 onions
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons medium curry powder
  • pinch ground cumin, pinch ground coriander
  • 1 liter vegetable stock (inc. a dash of white wine)
  • 100 ml double cream

I started by roughly peeling and chopping the parsnip, peeling and quartering the onions and slicing the celery. This is most of the prep already done.

The next step is to transfer all these vegetables to a roasting tin (reserve a little celery), drizzle a little vegetable oil over all the veg and sprinkle over the curry powder. Roast at about 200 degrees C (conversion here) for 30 minutes. This intensifies the flavour of the veg.

While the vegetables roast crush the garlic and add to the slowly simmering vegetable stock together with the reserved celery. I added some other left over vegetable stalks to mine and removed them later to add flavour. (While the stock boils and vegetables roast you could learn a little about parsnips by clicking here). The next step is to add all the roasted veg to the stock, a dash of white wine (we keep a cheap bottle in the fridge to cook with), a couple of pinches of salt, and a pinch of both ground cumin and ground coriander for a little more flavour. Simmer for about twenty minutes until all the parsnips are cooked.

Finally, using a hand blender blend all the veg and liquid together and add the cream – continue blending until you’re happy with the consistency.

Published in: on 2 November, 2008 at 1:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Trofie Liguria

It’s been a miserable day, cold, wet, windy and dark. So what better dinner than something that reminded of our holiday in Italy this summer. One of the least memorable meals we ate led to my discovery of a type of pasta I suddenly adored: Trofie. Before leaving Italy for the long train journey back to London (via Paris) we picked some up. This recipe is, apparently, a traditional way of eating the pasta; it’s simple and rustic.


  • Four handfuls of Trofie pasta, dried
  • About 100grams Anya or other small ‘nutty’ flavoured potatoes
  • About 100grams fine green beans, trimmed
  • Half a jar of green basil pesto

First step is to chop the potatoes. These should be fairly chunky, and chopped diagonally, then boiled for about ten minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove from the pan. Trim and steam the green beans in another pan at the same time – don’t overcook – these should be quite crunchy. About six minutes is enough, steaming; after that turn off the heat and keep them warm.

While the beans are steaming place the Trofie in the salted boiling water you have just removed the potatoes from. Boil as per instructions (my pasta took ten minutes) and drain. Mix together the beans, potatoes and Trofie with half a jar of pesto – keep as warm as you can, and serve immediately with freshly grated parmesan cheese and just a little salt and pepper. Great with a leafy salad with vine tomatoes and some roasted pine nuts, lightly dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

This pasta was so good we didn’t even think to take a photo till it was almost too late.

Published in: on 1 November, 2008 at 11:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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First Post: Pumpkin

First Post isn’t what we ate, but something we made with food-stuff over Hallowe’en week… Here’s out Halloween Pumpkin! We’ll post more soon…

Published in: on 1 November, 2008 at 3:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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