Labor weekend recipe roundup

Happy Labor Day weekend fellow Queenslanders! The heat has finally arrived! This weekend has been hot and humid, but really breezy as well. I spent this long weekend with house hunting and spending time with the Mini Marco’s. Below are some of the meals I have prepared over the week.

I finally tried some recipes from Crazy Sexy Diet over the weekend. I adapted her Cornmeal Banana Walnut Pancakes. Since I didn’t have any banana or walnuts, I used dairy free choc chips, which of course the kids loved. I really loved the batter for this recipe. The polenta/cornmeal really gives the pancake a crunch. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to get any photos. Another recipe I tried was her Tofu Country Scramble. Marco and I really loved this. After a year on a plant based diet and I was yet to make a tofu scramble. This tasted really similar to a real egg scramble, but better.

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We also visited The Green Edge with our Living Social Lunch Vouchers. I got Spicy Seitan Burger and a Peanut Butter Milkshake. Marco got the Satay Tofu Burger and Chocolate Milkshake. It was all so good, but I ordered far to much.???????????????????????????????

While I was there I bought a couple of new vegan products. Sweet Freedom Natural Sweetener is made of apples, grapes and carob. Its a great substitute to maple syrup and much more cost effective. Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon powder is an organic dry vegan stock, which i really makes a really flavorsome stock and is the best one I have tried. It is also a lot more cost effective then buying liquid stock.

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Over the past couple of weeks when I haven’t felt like cooking I have been bring home takeaway from Vege Rama on my way home from work. For a less then $10 you can get the most delicious vegan thai, indian curries or even a lasagna, which is big enough  for two. Tonight I tried to recreate one of my favorite dishes from there.

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Easy Thai Pumpkin Curry (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 tablespoon ginger, diced

1 garlic cloves

3 tablespoons thai red curry paste

1 small red capsicum, chopped

4 cups pumpkin, chopped

2 cups carrot, chopped

2 teaspoon vegan vegetable stock mixed with 2 cups of water

400ml coconut cream

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Method:???????????????????????????????

1. Heat coconut oil in a wok, then add onion, ginger, garlic and curry paste. Saute for 3-4 minutes, until the oil separates from the curry paste. Then add 1/4 cup coconut cream and heat for few more minutes.???????????????????????????????

2. Add capsicum, pumpkin and carrot and saute for a 5 minutes.

3. Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes.

4. Add coconut cream and soy sauce and cook for a further 10 minutes or until the pumpkin is soften.

*Serve with brown rice or another other gluten free grain, or some wholemeal roti

Ever wondered how asparagus risotto gets that beautiful green color? I found this tip in an Italian cook book, to blend the stems of the asparagus spears with the liquid stock before cooking the risotto. I always find that I need more then a litre of stock, so added some of the steamer water to make use of the vitamins that get lost in the water. I haven’t made risotto in so long, so this was a nice treat.

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Green Spring Risotto (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 bunch asparagus

1 bunches of broccolini

1 litre vegan chicken liquid stock

1 tablespoon vegan butter (I used nutlex)

2 cups risotto rice

1/2 cup white wine

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 cup frozen peas

sea salt and black pepper to taste

Cashew Parmesan/vegan parmesan (optional)

Method:

1. Cut the woody ends off the asparagus and the broccolini. Then cut into each spear into 4 parts.

2. Place the asparagus and broccolini in the steamer, except for the tops of them. Leave them to the side for later. Steam for 5 mins or until tender.???????????????????????????????

3. Place steam asparagus and broccolini in the blender with the liquid stock and blend until smooth. Then place on the stock to boil, so that it is ready for the risotto.

4. Heat butter in a large pot, then once its melted add the risotto rice. Toast for a few minutes.

5. Add white wine, onion and garlic to the risotto and allow it the wine to absorb into the rice.???????????????????????????????

6. Now begin adding boiled liquid stock, a ladle at a time. Allow it to absorb into the rice, until adding more. Stir the risotto continuously.

7. About 5 minutes before the risotto is ready, steam the tops of the asparagus, broccolini and the peas. If you need more boiling water for the risotto, you can used this steam water once your finished with it.

8. Take the risotto off the heat and add in the steamed asparagus, broccolini and peas, and season with sea salt and black pepper.

9. Serve with some home-made vegan parmesan.

*Serves 4 main serves, or 6 entree serves

I love eggplant, but I find I don’t it as much as I like because I need to use so much oil to cook it. This recipe is a bit lighter on the oil, but is just as flavorsome. Its also really easy to prepare and is gluten free.

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Stuffed Eggplants with Sun dried Tomatoes & Pine nuts (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 Italian eggplant

olive oil

2 small red onions

3 garlic cloves

10 sun dried tomatoes

2 tablespoons pine nuts

small handful of basil

2 tablespoons quinoa crumbs (or gluten free bread crumbs)

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.???????????????????????????????

2. Slice eggplant in half, then use a pairing knife and a spoon to scoop out most of the flesh from the eggplant, just leave the shells.???????????????????????????????

3. Brush the eggplant shells with olive oil, then place in the oven for 20 minutes.

4. In the meantime chop the eggplant flesh into small pieces and dice the red onion, garlic, sun dried tomatoes and basil.

5. Heat a pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and saute the onion and garlic for a few minutes, until they start to soften.???????????????????????????????

6. Add the eggplant flesh to the pan and saute for 5 minutes, until its cooked. Add another tablespoon of olive or water if the eggplant is too dry.???????????????????????????????

7. Take off the heat and add the sun dried tomatoes, pine nuts, basil, quinoa crumbs and sea salt. Stir through till combined well.

8. Take out the eggplant shells from the oven and fill with the eggplant stuffing.

9. Bake the eggplants for 20 minutes.

* Serves 2 to 4 depending on the size of the serve.

What to do when you have heaps of canned pineapple leftover from pizza night? I made this delicious dressing for my work salads. Well it only turned out to be one work salad, since I accidentally poured most of this dressing on my kitchen bench.

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Pineapple Poppy seed Dressing (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 cup pineapple pieces

3/4 cup pineapple juice

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

3 tablespoon olive oil/other mild oil

sea salt to taste

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Method:

1. Place all the ingredients, except the poppy seeds in a high speed blender.

2. Stir in the poppy seeds last and serve with salad.

*Makes 250 ml

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(Cookbook Project) Energise Your Life – Asparagus, bean curd and mushrooms

I’m still determined to finish cooking my way through Energise Your Life. This recipe is another one of the Sustaining Dinners, which uses some ingredients that I have never tried before. As much as I love making up my own recipes, sometimes consulting cookbooks pushes me to us ingredients that I have never tried or not familiar with.

Believe it or not I have never cooked or tasted Oyster Mushrooms. It was until more ???????????????????????????????recently that I have been experimenting with different types of mushrooms. Now I can’t believe what I’ve been missing all this time. Oyster Mushrooms are tree mushrooms that are found around the world. They are used in a variety of cuisines, but you ???????????????????????????????can find the variety I have used in Asian Grocery stores. The taste is a little different to a regular mushroom. They are very delicate and have a mild flavor, which easily soak up the flavors of other ingredients. Compared to other mushrooms these ones a bit more pricer, but are worth the cost. For this recipe I needed 250 g, however I only bought a pack that had 150g. So I also added half a 250g jar of Oyster Mushrooms that I got for Aldi (for $0.99). Obviously the jar ones didn’t taste like the fresh and they were a bit dark, but once they were cooked it was hard to tell the difference. The real test is that Marco really loved these mushroom. In recent times he has put up with my mushrooms but he usually dreads them.

Another new ingredient I have never tried is Dry Sherry. I  have seen heaps of recipes that??????????????????????????????? call for Sherry. I have been looking in the supermarket for a while, but never saw it.  I didn’t realize that it was too alcoholic to put in the supermarket. Well that’s because unlike other states we can’t buy alcohol in the supermarkets. I ended up finding it in Dan Murphy’s. There were so many to buy, but I decided on this Spanish brand. Also a bit pricer then I thought, but it was really worth the addition to this dish. It gave the most amazing flavor to this stir fry.

This stir fry includes bean curd, leek, oyster mushrooms, asparagus. It was a really nice light stir fry that had great flavors and left us feeling really light after.

The recipe book gives this recipe a 4 out of 5 star rating for energy. The ingredients contain Vit B, folate, biotin, calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc. This recipe benefits the immune, circulatory and nervous system, skin, hair, bones and soft tissue.

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Asparagus, bean curd and mushrooms (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

To make this stir fry I first heated a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Then added 225g Bean Curd, cut in cubes. After heating that for a couple of minutes I added a sliced leek and cooked that for a further couple of minutes.

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After that I added 1 clove of garlic (diced), 1 tsp of fresh ginger and 250 g oyster mushrooms (whole) and cooked them until the water came out of them. This took a few minutes as they were released a lot of water. Then I added a brunch of aspargus (chopped),  2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons dry sherry and 100ml vegan chicken stock. The recipe calls for vegetable stock or water, but this worked well to and you would never know there was no chicken in there. Then I covered the wok and allowed it to cook until the asparagus was tender.

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After that I added 1 tsp corn flour (dissolved in a little stock) to the wok and cooked that until it thickened.

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The recipe called to be served with noodles, so I just soaked some Bean Thread noodles in some hot water. I then strained it and added some soy sauce and oyster sauce for flavor.

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Tempeh and Mixed Vegetable Massaman Curry

Tempeh again tonight! I still had some left over so I figured I may as well add it to my curry. Marco really didn’t want me to add tempeh,  after last weeks chunky tempeh potato massman curry. But this time I cut it smaller and sauteed it till golden brown, before adding it to the curry.  It had a much nicer texture this time and Marco didn’t even realise I used it.

Graduation tomorrow! I’m so excited. I couldn’t get the whole day off tomorrow, so I’ll be in a mad rush tomorrow to make it to the convention center. I remember when Marco graduated a few years ago. It was so inspiring. My family haven’t see a graduation before, so I think they will see why its so important to me.

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Tempeh and Mixed Vegetable Massaman Curry (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2-3 tablespoons massaman curry paste

4 small potatoes, cut in quarters

1 sweet potato, chopped into cubes

1 carrot, chopped into cubes

1 can coconut cream

3 cups vegan beef stock (I used Massel)

1 small red capsicum, chopped

200g tempeh, cut into small pieces

4-6 shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 teaspoon raw sugar

2 tablespoons peanut butter

2 kaffir lime leaves, sliced thinly

2 handfuls of snow peas, topped and tailed

1-2 tablespoons lime juice

Method:

1. Heat oil in a large pot or wok. Add 2 tablespoons massman curry paste. Saute for 3 minutes.

2. Add potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots and half a can of coconut cream. Cook for 5 minutes.

3. Add beef stock and capsicum. Bring to the boil and cook till for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are soft.???????????????????????????????

4. In the meantime heat a pan with oil then add tempeh and 1 tsp of massman paste. Saute till lightly browned.

5. Add sliced shiitake mushroom and cook saute for another minute, then add to the curry pot.

6. Add to the pot peanut butter, sugar, kaffir lime leaves. Cook for another 5-10 minutes.

7. Add snow peas, lime juice and the rest of the coconut cream. Heat for a few minutes then serve with steamed rice and/or roti.

*Serves 6

(Cookbook Project) Energise Your Life – Aloo Gobi…Sweet Potato Noodle Soup with Tofu, Asian Greens and White Fungus

A couple of nights ago I made Aloo Gobi from Energise Your Life. I have had Aloo Gobi a couple of times in the past and I was really looking forward to making it. However, this recipe was a big disappointment. I don’t know if it is because I eat Indian food out often so I am use to more authentic flavors or this was just a terrible recipe in general.

To make this recipe I had to saute a little bit of turmeric, cumin and cayenne with extra virgin olive oil. Then add peeled tomatoes and maple syrup before adding quartered potatoes. The recipe said that the potatoes only needed 10 mins to cook, but perhaps I had the wrong type, as I only had Brushed. After letting the potatoes cook for a while I found the flavor was far too sweet and didn’t have enough spice. So I added a whole lot of sea salt and some curry powder. Lastly I added some cauliflower, but it didn’t look too exciting, so I added some peas. The end result was very underwhelming and disappointing.

To make things worse I took the advice from the book and tried to pair this dish with Basmati Rice cooked in Coconut Milk, Cumin and Lime. What a disaster. I don’t know why, but every time I try to make Coconut Rice it turns out stodgy and flavorless. This time was no exception. I also had to move the rice from the rice cooker into a pot on the stove since it refused to cook it anymore. It just keep putting it to warm.

So after a few good recipes, this one was not for us. Marco and I really didn’t want to take it for lunch the next day, but we had no choice. In fact there’s still some left over in the fridge but both of us are avoiding it lol.

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Since the Aloo Gobi disaster, our China student has arrived back from China and we also have a new Chinese student. We decided to do pizza night, so we could all make our own pizzas and get to know the new student. I am not sure if the new student has ever had pizza before. The poor thing looked very confused or maybe it was just jet lag.

Last night I thought I might make something she is more familiar with. So I dropped past the Asian grocery store on the way home and got some Sweet Potato Starch ???????????????????????????????Noodles and Asian veggies. I also got some Gold Vegetarian Sha Chao Buns, which are vegan frozen steamed buns. I also tried out some White Fungus in the soup. I first soaked them, but they didn’t soften very much. After I chopped them and discarded the really hard center. Are any of you familiar with White Fungus and how to cook it?

Both the girls seemed to like the soup. It was a bit spicy for our new student, but our other student loves spicy burn your tongue off flavors.They both didn’t touch their Sha Chao Buns. I don’t blame them after trying them. They were terrible. The inside didn’t taste too bad, but the actual bun tasted plasticy. Definitely will be making my own next time.

I didn’t have time tonight to include tonight’s recipe, Tempeh Sausages baked with Cherry Tomatoes…It was the best thing we’ve had all week.

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Sweet Potato Noodle Soup with Tofu, Asian Greens and White Fungus (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients:

handful white fungus

250g firm tofu

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons tamari (more for seasoning)

1 tablespoon chinese cooking wine

3 garlic cloves, finely diced

small nib ginger, finely diced

2-4 small red chillis

1 green onion, sliced

400g sweet potato starch noodle

1 litre vegan beef liquid stock

2 cups of water (or more if you need)

1/2 bunch asian greens, roughly chopped

1/2 bunch enoki mushrooms

15 snow peas, topped and tailed

handful of mint leaves to serve

Method:

1. Soak the white fungus in filtered water. Use just enough to cover. Soak for 10-20 mins.???????????????????????????????

2. Press the tofu then slice it into cubes. Then combine it with sesame oil, soy sauce, chinese cooking wine, garlic, ginger and chili. Leave it to marinate for at least 10 mins.

3. Heat a large pot and add the marinated tofu. Saute for 3 mins.

4. Add sliced onion and saute for a further few minutes.???????????????????????????????

4. Add the liquid stock and water. While its coming to the boil quickly slice the white fungus, then add the white fungus and its soaking water to the soup. Place on a simmer and cook for 15 mins.

5. Cook the starch noodles in boil water, according to pack directions.

6. Add the asian greens, enoki mushrooms and snow peas and cook for a few minutes. Add more soy sauce for seasoning if you need.

7. Add the starch noodles, then serve soup topped with mint leaves.

*Serves 6

Tempura, Sushi and Miso Soup

Tonight Marco requested sushi and soup. For him I made his favorite tuna avocado sushi, but for me I made this shiitake vegetable sushi. As for the soup I tried to make my miso soup. I’m not sure how Japanese it was, but at least I got to try out this black fungus that’s been at the back of my cupboard for the past 6 months. I quite liked it, Marco wasn’t a fan, but he doesn’t usually like miso soup. I also tried for the first time making tempura vegetables and dipping sauce. I got this recipe from Chloe’s Kitchen. I had to reduce the ingredients by a quarter, as her recipe serves 10-12. I can’t believe how easy it was to make. Not exactly the healthiest way to enjoy vegetables, but a nice crunchy weekend treat. Marco really liked this and he comment that the dipping sauce taste just like from his favorite Japanese restaurant.

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Vegetable Tempura (vegan, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup plain flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup ice cold water (add 1 ice cube cool down water)

1/2 tablespoon sesame oil

2 cups vegetables (brocoli florets, aspargus, slices of sweet potato, sliced carrot, etc)

oil to fry

Method:

1. Place flour, baking powder and sea salt in a bowl. Whisk to combine.

2. Combine cold water and sesame oil and whisk.

3. Add the water to the flour mixture and whisk till a smooth batter. Don’t worry if its a bit lumpy. Place in the fridge till your ready to fry.

4. Heat oil in a wok. Once its hot enough dip the vegetables indivdually into the batter then drop into the water. Cook vegetables for 45 seconds to 1 minute. Then place fried tempura vegetables on a plate with paper towel to drain oil. Serve with the dipping sauce.

*Serves 2-3

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Dipping Sauce for Tempura (vegan, gluten free option, nut free)

Ingredients:

1/3 cup water

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon mirin

1/2 teaspoon agave

Method:

1. Combine all the ingredients into a small pot.

2. Bring the pot to the boil, then leave to simmer for 5 mins. Serve with Tempura Vegetables.

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Shiitake Vegetable Sushi (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 cup sushi rice

2 tablespoons sushi vinegar

5 nori sheets

3 carrots, cut julienne

1/2 cup shittake mushroom, sliced

1-2 avocados

toasted black sesame seeds

tamari/soy sauce to serve

Method:

1. Cook sushi rice in a rice cooker. Once rice has cooked place in another bowl and leave to cool.

2. Add sushi vinegar to the rice and stir through.

3. Take a sushi mat and place some glad wrap onto. Then place a nori sheet ontop and with rice, smooth out with wooden spoon.

4. In the center of the sheet add carrots, shiitake mushroom and avocado. Then roll the sheet into a roll.

5. Slice the sushi roll into desired size.

6. Top with black sesame seeds and serve with tamari.

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Miso Soup with Nori and Black Fungus (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 cup water

1/2 nori sheet

1/4 cup shredded black fungus mushroom

1.5-2 tablespoons white miso paste

Method:

1. Soak the black fungus mushroom in water for 15 mins and cut nori sheet in strips.

2. Bring a small pot of water to the boil and add nori and black fungus mushroom.

3. Once its boiled place on a simmer and take out a bit of water to combine with the miso paste. Once the paste has dissolved add this water back to the pot. Simmer for 5 mins then serve.

*Serves 3 small bowls

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General Tso’s Tofu with Brown Jasmine Rice

Tonight I was trying to figure out what to make with a nearly empty fridge. All I had was some leftover tofu. I was searching for recipes and I came across this recipe for General Tso’s Chicken. Luckily I had all the ingredients for the sauce and some frozen vegetable in the freezer to go with it.

I am really happy I made this dish. The sauce was really delicious. Although this dish isn’t the healthiest it has rich flavors and so you don’t need to eat a lot of it. It went really well with steamed rice and stir fried veggies.

General Tso’s Chicken is a popular Chinese dish, which is you can find in Chinese restaurants across North America. It consists of deep-fried chicken, breaded with eggs and cornstarch, with a thick sweet and mild spicy sauce made of soy sauce, rice wine, rice wine vinegar, sugar, cornstarch, dried red chili peppers (whole), garlic, MSG. I have never see this dish in any Chinese restaurants in Australia or heard of it before, but it does have an interesting history.

zuozongtangSo who was the man that this dish was famously named after? General Tso Tsung-tang (左宗棠 or Zuo Zongtang) was a general and statesmen from Hunan, during the Qing dysnasty. He famously served his country during the dynasties civil war again the Taiping Rebellion, founded modern arsenal, dockyard, new efficient logistics systems; pushed Russian forces out of China and held many positions in the China’s government.

This dish was not a traditional dish that was created for General Tso when he was alive, nor is a traditional dish in the region that he comes from. Even the people from his home town, and his living descendants haven’t heard of this dish. Rather this dish was created  in the late 20th century and named after General Tso for his historical significance.

Who actually invented this dish? Well there are a few different theories and claims that have been made. Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, who wrote The Chinese Kitchen,  claims that this dish is actually adapted from the humble Hunan chicken, which is known as Zongtang. This translates to ‘ancestral meeting hall’ in Cantonese and does not refer to  Zuo Zongtang. Another claim is that the dish was created by Taiwan-based Hunan cuisine chef, Peng Chang-kuei. In the 1970’s he moved to New York, and began experimenting with old dishes and creating new ones. Apparently he adapted this traditional dish to please local American tastes, by adding sugar. The last claim is from a New York Chinese restaurant that claim that a Chinese immigrant chef who worked for them, T.T. Wang, invented this dish in 1972.

Regardless of the creator of this dish, it is clear that it is an adapted Chinese recipe that was designed to attract local American patrons. Like many other dishes from other cuisines, many Chinese dishes have also been modified by Chinese chefs for local western tastes. Dishes like this one have been deep frying and sweetening and undoubtable bears little resemblance from the dish it was derived from.  A typical serving General Tso’s chicken has around 1300 calories, 11 grams of saturated fats and 3200 milligrams of sodium. So its definitely not a everyday dish. Since this version uses tofu, it is a bit healthier then the original, but the sauce still has alot of sodium and sugar added, so it won’t be a regular weekly special on my menu.

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General Tso’s Tofu with Brown Jasmine Rice  (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 cups brown jasmine rice

400g firm tofu

1/2 tablespoon shaoxing wine

pinch of sea salt

1/3 cup cornstarch

canola oil

2 teaspoons diced fresh ginger

1 garlic clove , diced

4 dried red chilli, rinsed and deseeded

white part of 2 scallion, diced  (optional)

Ingredients for Sauce:

2.5 tablespoons chinese rice vinegar

2.5 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 tablespoon mushroom soy sauce or dark soy sauce

1 teaspoon hoisin sauce

1/4 cup water

2.5 teaspoon evaporated cane sugar or raw sugar

1/2 tablespoon shaoxing wine

1 teaspoon corn starchP1000607

Method:

1. Put rice in the rice cooking or cook on stove according to packet instructions.

2. Press tofu, then chop it into cubes. Marinate the tofu in shaoxing wine and sea salt. Leave for 15 mins.P1000611

3. Place all the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl and set to the side.

4. Coat the tofu in corn starch.P1000612

5. Heat wok with oil then fry the tofu until golden brown. Place the tofu on a paper towel to drain oil. Remove oil from wok.

6. Add 1.5 tablespoons oil in the wok and add the garlic, ginger and red chili. Cook for 4 mins or until the chili becomes fragrant.

7. Then add the sauce to the wok. Cook until it comes to the boil and comes thick. It took about 10 mins for my sauce to become thick.

8. Add tofu and shallots to the wok. Cook for 2-3 mins then serve immediately with steamed rice and asian greens/stir fry vegetables.

*Serves 4

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General Tso’s Chicken <http://rasamalaysia.com/general-tsos-chicken/&gt;

General Tso’s chicken <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Tso’s_chicken&gt;

Who Was General Tso? <http://mentalfloss.com/article/28421/who-was-general-tso&gt;

General Tso’s Chicken <http://appetiteforchina.com/recipes/general-tsos-chicken/&gt;

Straw and Hay Soy Mushroom Noodles

This is a quick dish I whipped up tonight for dinner and for tomorrows lunches. I am obsessed with Skiitake mushrooms at the moment and I love soaking them in liquid stock to give them a really nice flavor when you bite into them. If you want to mix noodles make sure you use ones that take the same amount of time to cook. These soba and ramen noodles are Organic Hakubaku Noodles, that are available at major supermarkets and Asian grocery stores.

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Straw and Hay Soy Mushroom Noodles (vegan, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 serves soba noodles

2 serves ramen noodles

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 small onion, diced

2-3 garlic cloves, diced

1 bunch shallots, diced

1 large chilli

20g skiitake mushrooms, soaked in 1 cup or vegan chicken or vegetable liquid stock or water

2 tablespoons mushroom soy sauce

2 carrots, sliced julienne

1-2 zucchini, sliced???????????????????????????????

Method:

1. Cook the noodles according to packet instructions then strain and put to the side.???????????????????????????????

2. In a hot wok heat sesame oil, then add onion, garlic, shallots and chili. Cook for 2-3 mins or until slightly browned. ???????????????????????????????

3. Add carrot and saute for 2 more minutes.

4. Add mushrooms with the stock/water, and mushroom soy and cook for 4 mins or until the carrots are tender.

5. Add zucchini and cook for 2 more minutes or until zucchini are tender.

6. Add noodles and stir through. This should soak up most of the liquid. Add more mushroom soy if not enough flavor, then serve.

*Serves 4

Valentines Day at Kuan Yin Tea House

Hi guys, last night for Valentines Day we did end up getting to go out. Luckily Marco finished work early, so we got dressed up and headed to China Town in the Valley. Kuan Yin Tea House is a place I have been wanting to try for a while. I never knew about them, until the night I walked past them on my way to Tea Master: Vegetarian Cafe Restaurant. I noticed they were one of the busiest Asian restaurants and considering it’s Vegetarian Food in a city of meat eaters I thought that was saying something.

We had to make our reservation quite early at this place, because they actually shut at 7.30pm. I thought 1 hour would be enough time to eat entree, main and dessert, considering this restaurant is quite small. So when we arrived we were greeted by a nice waitress who showed us to our table. It’s not a fancy place by any means, but it’s clean and there were plenty of pictures of the food on the walls. This really helped us, as the menu didn’t have any explanations or pictures of the dishes. Not all the dishes are vegan, but the ones we ordered were.

For entree we ordered Phantom Chips and Veggie Satay Sticks. The Phantom Chips had were made of mashed taro and pumpkin on the inside and rice paper that had gone crispy from being fried on the outside. I really liked them. Marco did too, but he couldn’t have to much because it was quite sweet, even though he’s the sweet tooth. The Satay Sticks were excellent. The texture was like chicken, the sauce was good and they were cooked evenly all the way through.

Phantom Chips

Phantom Chips

Veggie Satay Sticks

Veggie Satay Sticks

Then for mains we ordered a Wonton Soup and Veggie Snow Fish Rice. The Soup was good. It had lots of vegetables, 5 wontons, noodles and a nice flavored broth. The Veggie Snow Fish was amazing. It can’t believe it wasn’t fish. The texture, the taste, it was so good. On the side their was sauteed green beans with peanuts, marinated taro, some other vegetables and rice with gomasio.

Wonton Soup

Wonton Soup

Veggie Snow Fish Rice

Veggie Snow Fish Rice

Veggie Snow Fish

Veggie Snow Fish

For the drink we got a Lychee Green Tea with Pearls. For dessert we had the Valentines Dessert. This was a heart shape Rich Chocolate Cake that was all gooey inside, Berry Coulie and Berry Ice cream. This was an excellent end to the meal and for once I got to have dessert. The candle was a strange touch, but it was romantic I suppose.

Lychee Green Tea with Pearls

Lychee Green Tea with Pearls

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Vegan Rich Chocolate Cake, Berries Coulie, Vegan Berry Ice cream

I really loved this place and can’t wait to go back. By the look of their blog the chef is trying out new desserts and is getting good reviews from the customers. Next time I want to try their vegan Tiramisu. The cost of the food is also quite cheap, especially compared to the other restaurants around China Town. Only down side is that they close so early. On friday night they do stay open till 8pm. Otherwise it’s a great place for lunch.

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By the way sorry about the photos. Once we got our first dish we realised that we had no sim card in the camera. So all the photos are taken from my mobile phone. They definitely don’t do the food justice.

Weekend of International cuisines: Part 1

Hi all, hope you had a great weekend. Mine hasn’t been too busy. I got my ring back from the jeweler and saw Silver Linings Playbook, which is a  really great film. I was going to take  a little break from cooking this weekend, but we have so much food in the fridge that it feels wrong to buy food out.

On Saturday Marco and I went to Westend Market at Davies Park. I first went here a couple of months back and finally saw what all the fuss is about. It is probably the closest thing we have to the Sukuzi Markets in Melbourne. There are fresh food markets, hawker stands from all different nationalities, clothing and other stalls and live music.

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There are heaps of great vegan eats here if you look. Last time I was here I got the No Bull vegan pie from Ykillamoocow. It was really good and it was hard to tell it wasn’t a traditional meat pie. Infact last time I was here I came espeically to try this pie.

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This time I wanted to try something different. So I got the Hungarian Tócsni with Avocado, Mushroom, Purple Onion. Its a potato rosti topped with the rest of the ingredients. Mine got broken when they made it so its hard to tell that’s what it is, but nevertheless it tasted really good. I miss avocado. They are not in season at the moment and a bit too expensive to be having everyday. Marco got a Turkish Gozleme with Spinach & Cheese. I don’t let him have cheese very often so he gets it where he can. This stand also did a pumpkin and spinach one that would be vegan.

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For desert I got a Cardamom Latte from Gypsy General Trading. It was a really hot day, but it was worth it. We also got some Salted Carmel Macadamias from Bonobo Nuts to take home. These are the best nuts I have ever had. Last time we got a tri box with the macadamias, chai almonds and some other sweet cashews. This is a must buy when you come to the Westend Markets.

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After visiting Marco’s nieces and nephew we came home and found our new Chinese student and her friends making Chinese Hot Pot. They persuaded us to try some, as there was so much left over and heaps of extra ingredients that hadn’t been used. I’m not sure what was in the stock as they said it was from China and they didn’t know how to tell me what it was. They added to the hot pot silken tofu, fried tofu, fish balls, fish cake, bok choy, wombok, enoki mushrooms and rice noodles. It was very spicy and had a strong flavor from the chili and peppercorns. It was nice, but I couldn’t have very much. I admit I couldn’t resist the fish balls. I haven’t had them in years, since I discovered how much msg and processed ingredients are in them. So I’ve slipped up again. However, I had a dream the night before that I was eating fried chicken and couldn’t stop even though I knew its bad. I haven’t had one of those dreams for ages. I use to always have dreams about eating KFC or custard puffs, when I first had to give up dairy. As long as I don’t eat them in real life, I guess its not so bad to dream about eating them.

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The girls had heaps of silken tofu left over that they were going to throw out because they didn’t like the taste of it. I took the opportunity to use it to make Marinated Buffalo-Style Tofu Mozzarella, from my new favorite book, The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions. I was a bit skeptical that it wasn’t going to taste anything like cheese, but I thought I may as well try it out. Since I was using leftovers the silken tofu wasn’t cut a bit smaller and I only had half of the amount, so I just halved the recipe.

Marinated Buffalo-Style Tofu Mozzarella (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

DSC02906Ingredients:

180-200g silken tofu, cut into cubes

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 sun dried tomatoes,  cut julienne

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/2 tablespoon dried basil

1/2 tablespoon minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Method:

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1. Combine all the ingredients, except the tofu, in a small bowl.

2. Add the tofu and coat in the mixture.

3. Place in an airtight container and leave to marinate overnight. Eat room temperature.

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So for lunch today I decided to try out my vegan marinated mozzarella. I can’t believe how much this taste like cheese. I haven’t eaten cheese in 3 years so I also asked Marco, Mum and Ted to try as well. They too thought it tasted just like cheese. Just a little less salty. They all commented that the marinate was also very nice.  So if your vegan or dairy intolerance and  missing cheese this is definitely a great recipe to try.

To make the most of it I made Greek Salad wraps with Marinated Buffalo-Style Tofu Mozzarella and Homemade Hummus. It was a really delicious and filling lunch. I had to stop myself making another one after this. To go with it I made a Watermelon & Ginger Juice. I tried to make it like the one I had the the New Leaf Cafe, at Murwillumbah.

Greek Salad wraps with Marinated Buffalo-Style Tofu Mozzarella and Hummus (vegan, gluten free option, nut free)

DSC02915Ingredients:

2 Whole wheat or Gluten free Wraps

2 handfuls of sliced lettuce

1 tomato, sliced

1/2 small cucumbers sliced in battons

1/2 small red onions sliced

8 black olives, pitted and sliced

sea salt to taste

homemade hummus

Marinated Buffalo-Style Tofu Mozzarella

Method:

1. Heat the wraps in a dry pan, then fill with all the ingredients and wrap it up.

* Serves 2

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Watermelon & Ginger JuiceDSC02930 (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

3.5-4 cups watermelon

1 tablespoon grated ginger

1/2 cup filtered water

Method:

1. Whiz all the ingredients in the blender (or juice) until liquidized, then serve.

* Serves 2

After lunch we took the dogs to the dog park near Rocks River Park. If I haven’t introduced them to you yet, these are my babies, Albie and Bella. Albie is the big White German Shepherd, he’s  1 1/2 years old and is very much the baby of the two. Bella is a Maltese Shih Tzu and shes 7 years old. We got Albie together and he became our life. Bella was my brothers dog, who we adopted after we got Albie. They are best of friends now and separating them is almost impossible. Albie is a big scaredy cat, everything scares him. But he does have a ferocious bark, which is more of a deterrent. He’s not exactly friendly with new people or even with people who pass us in the street. He’s been to puppy school, extra obedience classes and I have tried everything, but he’s just suspicious of everyone. Bella on the other hand is the most friendliest dog, but if Albie is scared then she springs in to action and will fight off any dog or human who he feels threatened by. I love them so much and our lives are so much better with them in it.

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Orange, Mint and Basil Noodles Stir fry with Assorted Mushrooms and Cabbage

I am addicted to mushrooms at the moment. Dried and fresh, I love them all. These little fungi are low in carbohydrates, calories, and sodium. They are cholesterol and fat free. They are also high in fiber, protein, a good source of B vitamins, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, and selenium. They are good for our metabolism and if consumed regularly are proven to decrease the amount of cancerous cells in our bodies [1].

I like to use them in pasta and noodle dishes to substitute where I would normally use meat. Dried mushrooms especially have a meat like texture and they help to make a balanced filling dish. I bought a packet of assorted mushrooms from the local Asian supermarket. They are really affordable and easy to work with. Another one of my go to recipes with dried mushrooms is Risoni Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes & Mushrooms. 

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Orange, Mint & Basil Noodles  Stir fry with Assorted Mushrooms and Cabbage (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 serve of brown rice noodles

1 garlic clove

2 shallots

1 red chili

1/2 cup cabbage

handful assorted mushrooms (dried & fresh)

1/2 cup vegan chicken or vegetable stock (or water)

10 basil leaves

10 mint leaves

segments from 1/2 an orange

1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil (plus extra for wok)DSC02630

Method:

1. Cook the noodles according to packet directions, then strain and set to the side.

2. In the meantime dice the garlic, shallots and chili. Chop the cabbage and fresh mushrooms. Soak the dried mushrooms.DSC02632

3. Prepare the herb sauce. Place basil, mint, orange in a mortar and pestle. Then add sesame oil and tamari.

4. Heat the wok with a little bit of sesame oil. Then add garlic, shallots and chili. Cook for 1 minute.

DSC026345. Add all the mushrooms with stock and cabbage. Cook for 3-4mins or until cabbage has wilted and stock has dried up.

6. Add the herb sauce and noodles. Heat through for one more minute, then serve.

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[1] Leslee Dru Browning 2008, Mushrooms: The Underestimated Super Food, <http://www.naturalnews.com/024548_mushrooms_cancer_food.html>