Nac Mac Vegan: adventures in rabbit food

22/07/2009

What I had for lunch

Filed under: Products, Recipes and techniques — Tags: , , , , , — Feòrag @ 16:56
Nut cutlet, roast asparagus and pineapple salsa

Nut cutlet, roast asparagus and pineapple salsa

Today’s lunch was made very quickly using a grill pan. The main protein was a Goodlife Nut Cutlet, which is really best done on a George Foreman-type grill (but you will be horrified when you see what comes out in the oil tray). This takes by far the longest time to cook, and went on first.

Next to that, I placed 8 narrow spears of asparagus. I love asparagus, but like to keep it as a special treat for when it’s in season, but my partner decided I needed a special treat anyway and bought me some regardless. When they were done, I moved them to the lowest part of the pan (our kitchen does not appear to be level) and braised them in a splash of sake before serving.

The pineapple salsa was based on a recipe in the June edition of Waitrose New – a free magazine produced by the supermarket to emphasise seasonal and new products. It uses their Organic Sugar Loaf Pineapple, which contributes to the Waitrose Foundation, a scheme which (according to Waitrose) complements Fairtrade whereby they put a proportion of profits into projects which improve the lives of the producers.

My version of the Spicy Pineapple Salsa (I’m not sure why they call it a salsa) recipe is incredibly simple:

200g pineapple, cut into large chunks
a few tiny chillies, rehydrated and chopped
1 tsp coriander leaf (frozen, in this case)

Grill the pineapple on a high heat in a grill pan, until nicely brown in places. Mix with the chilli and coriander. Serve.

The Waitrose version included palm sugar, but I can’t see why as it comes out more than sweet enough without it.

Advertisements

31/05/2009

Nutmeat and rice hash

Filed under: Experiments, Historic — Tags: , , — Feòrag @ 20:12

Having made the 1911 nutmeats, I now have to find something to do with them! Fortunately, the same book I used has a good number of recipes. Because I had the ingredients to hand, I opted for the Trumese and Rice Hash, the instructions for which read Use boiled or steamed rice in place of potato in the preceding recipe. So, making that substitution, here’s the original recipe:

Put trumese and double the quantity of cold [cooked rice] … through food cutter, using the next coarsest cutter…. Mix carefully. Simmer without browning, chopped onion in oil. Add the mixed trumese and [rice], pour consommé or nicely seasoned gravy over and set in the oven to heat, and brown over the top….

The onion may be mixed with the trumese and potato, all put into a baking dish, nut butter stirred with a cream with consommé poured over and the hash baked for ¾-1 hour. Finely sliced celery, celery salt, or any of the sweet herbs, powdered, may be substituted for the onion. sage may be used occasionally with the onion.

Well, first impression is that that would be pretty bland, so I added one or two things to the consommé. There’s also the problem of nut butter, as it could mean one of two things in this period — either peanut butter as we understand it, or a solid vegetable fat made from nut oils. The former made more sense to me. Here’s what I did:

2 cups cooked brown rice, defrosted if necessary.
1 can trumese, cut into fine dice.
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tbl peanut butter
1 tsp vegetable stock powder, or to taste
1 tomato
a small amount of water
vegetable oil for frying

Preheat the oven to about 160°C. Chop the onion finely and fry gently in the oil until opaque, then add the garlic, trumese and rice. I also had the end of a carrot, so I chopped that and added it too. Give it a good stir and let it heat through. Blend together the peanut butter, water, tomato and vegetable stock until you get a medium creamy sauce. Mix it all together, transfer to a large shallow baking tin and stick it in the oven for about 40 minutes. This is what came out:

Trumese and rice hash, fresh out of the oven

Trumese and rice hash, fresh out of the oven

If you like crispy bits on your rice, you’ll adore this, as it’s the aforementioned crispy bits surrounding a moist centre. But it was still bland even though I’d added the tomato and used brown rice. Whilst I won’t make this exact recipe the same way again, I can see a lot of promise for the basic dish — it’s not difficult to use herbs and spices, or a more strongly-flavoured stock. It would work with tofu (go for the smoked or hazel nut varieties), or any of the commercial fake meats out there, and leftovers could be added to it as well. Using cooking rings on a baking tray would give a more refined presentation.

This amount would serve four with plenty of vegetables and maybe a sauce.

30/05/2009

Early 20th century nutmeats revisited

Filed under: Gadgets, Historic — Tags: , , — Feòrag @ 22:50

I first experimented with making my own nutmeats over four years ago, and wrote up my experiences. I based my recipes on those given in Evora Buckram Perkins’s Laurel Health Cookery. It was a bit of a palaver, and at the time I commented:

It is easier to buy a tin of Nuttolene, but this is a useful recipe to know in case of drought.

Well, it has come to pass that there is a Nuttolene drought. Goodness Direct claims to have it in stock, but I haven’t seen it in the shops for over a year now. The customer comments over on that site hint at discontinuation after 105 years in production – it was invented, as a paté, by Dr. Kellogg himself, and went on sale in late 1904. I’m not sure when it turned into the more solid product I’ve been craving, but the difference seems to be simply the amount of water used.

Since my efforts four years ago, I have acquired a number of gadgets that might make the task easier. Firstly, I have just bought a pair of mug-shaped, loose bottomed cake tins, with a capacity of just over 1.5 cups each. I don’t know what they were intended for, but they struck me as just the right shape for nutmeats. I also have a 600w Braun hand blender, with a large liquidiser attachment, and a Kenwood Major with the meat mincer attachment, the latter serving perfectly well as a nut mill. All of these, in addition to the pressure cooker, should make the task easier than in 2004, and considerably easier than in 1911!

The only change I’ve made to the recipes I used in 2004 is to reduce the amount of water in the Nutmese (the Nuttolene-type nutmeat). The quantities given fit nicely into one of the tins mentioned above. For the record, here they are:

Nutmese

½ cup raw peanuts
1 cup cooked peanuts (see below)
a tiny smidgen of salt (very optional)
approx ¼ cup water.

Put the cooked and raw nuts into a blender and grind together. Add salt and water, and grind some more till it’s smooth. Put into a greased tin, and cover with grease aluminium foil. Steam for at least 2 hours in a pressure cooker.

Wrapped up and ready to steam

Wrapped up and ready to steam


Trumese (Protose-type nutmeat)

½ cup peanuts, cooked
½ cup blanched peanuts (be lazy, buy them ready-blanched)
½ cup vital wheat gluten flour
½ cup water
1 tsp cereal coffee (see note below)

Grind up the peanuts as for Nutmese. Add the wheat gluten and blend a bit more, then add the water and cereal coffee and blend until it turns into a dough, like a slightly heavy bread dough. Put into tins and steam as above.

I had expected to need to mix this up by hand and run it through the mincer a few times, but the Braun hand blender can just about handle this amount of dough. If I made a double quantity, I’d have to use the Major.

Cooking peanuts
Peanuts take about 80-90 minutes to cook in a pressure cooker. I made up a large batch and have frozen the leftovers. Cooked peanuts look like pinto beans, so labelling might be important.

Cereal Coffee
I found it very difficult to get hold of a cereal coffee that did not contain chicory (which would taste foul). I used Yorzo Instant Original from Lima Foods, which is made entirely from roasted barley and nothing else. I’m thinking that a tablespoon full of shoyu, and a reduction in the amount of water used, would be a good alternative.

The finished nutmeats - Nutmese on the left and Trumese on the right.

The finished nutmeats - Nutmese on the left and Trumese on the right.

They came out of their tins pretty easily. Some water got into the Nutmese, making it more like the original paté, but the Trumese came out beautifully – it’s good and solid. I will experiment with using as little water as possible in the Nutmese, but really I’d rather be able to go just up the road and pick up a tin or two of Nuttolene.

Update: the Nutmese solidified considerably on cooling.

21/04/2009

Quick springtime pasta

Filed under: Recipes and techniques — Tags: , , , , — Feòrag @ 15:48

I’m on my travels at the moment, and staying with friends who are feeding me really well. Today’s lunch was taken from BBC Good Food magazine, not sure which issue – the original recipe wasn’t vegan, but making it so is completely trivial. It claims to serve 4, but that would be as part of a full meal. It serves about 3 really, or two hungry people who know they’re not going to eat for a bit.

1 tbl olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed (much more was used!)
400g tin chopped tomatoes
(generous) handful fresh basil, chopped
400g spaghetti (4/5 of a standard package)
290g jar chargrilled artichokes, drained and cut into bite-size pieces
(generous) handful flat leaf parsley, chopped

We used the oil from the artichokes for frying, and when boiling the spaghetti.

Put on a pot of water to boil before you start getting everything together.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan (or wok, in this case), add the garlic and cook for a minute until lightly coloured. Pour in the the chopped tomatoes then stir in the basil. Bring up to the boil then turn down the heat and gently simmer for 10mins or, in the real world, until the spaghetti is done.

Hopefully the water has come to the boil by now, so cook the spaghetti according to the instructions on the packet. Drain.

Add the artichokes to the tomato sauce until heated through, then either add it to the spaghetti, or add the spaghetti to it, depending on which pan is bigger! Stir in most of the chopped parsley (leave a bit for garnishing). If the sauce is a bit dry, add a drop of water at this point and re-heat. Serve immediately, garnished with the rest of the parsley.

Possible variation: As my other half almost certainly doesn’t like artichokes, I’m going to try the same technique using wild mushroom antipasto and/or roast aubergines and peppers.

03/04/2009

German bean soup

Filed under: Recipes and techniques — Tags: , , , , — Feòrag @ 17:07

I needed a quick tea, so I just had a go at veganising a German soup. It seems to have come out okay.

1 litre water
1 can cannelini, haricot or other white beans.
3 carrots chopped.
2 onions, chopped.
1 block smoked tofu, cut into small thin slices.
1 tbl vegan beef-style stock (or use yeast extract)
1 tbl ajwain (celery seed)
1 tbl dried parsley, or fresh equivalent.
1 pack taifun tofu wieners, sliced.
Olive oil for frying

Bring the water to the boil and add the beans, carrots, ajwain, parsley and stock powder. Turn the heat down to low and simmer.

In a separate pan, heat up the olive oil and stir fry the tofu. It doesn’t matter if it breaks up – it’s going into soup – and you want it to be a bit crispy. Once the tofu starts to go crispy, add the onions and turn the heat down. Continue to fry slowly.

When the carrots are cooked, blend the soup. Add the contents of the frying pan and the sliced sausages. Heat through and serve – you should be able to feed two as a meal and four as a snack or starter.

Korean-style spicy tofu

Filed under: Ingredients, Recipes and techniques — Tags: , , , , , , — Feòrag @ 13:46

This is one of my staple recipes, based on a dish you could get at the Korean food stall in the late, lamented Oriental City mall in north London, and a few recipes from around the internet.

2-3 tbl olive oil
At least 5 cloves garlic, sliced.
1 medium carrot, sliced.
1 medium onion, sliced.
1 sweet red pepper, or equivalent other vegetable of your choice.
1 block tofu, 300-400g.
4 spring onions
2 tbl water

For the sauce:
3 tbl kochujang
2 tbl rice syrup or 1½tbl sugar
2 tbl soya sauce

Options:
Fresh red chillies to taste
Up to 1 tbl sesame oil

Mix the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. You’ll have to stir it well to get the kochujang to blend with the soya sauce. Add extra chillies if you want.

Using a wok or a large frying pan, fry the onions, garlic and carrots for a few minutes in the olive oil. You want them to soften, but not to start turning brown. Then add the peppers/other veg, the tofu and spring onions and gently stir in the sauce until all is well-coated. Add the water, stir again, cover and simmer for a few minutes until the vegetables are cooked through. Optionally mix in some sesame oil just before serving. Serve over rice.

Notes:
Kochujang (sometimes transliterated gochujang) is a Korean paste which is basically a hot and spicy dark miso. It comes in bright red plastic tubs and is available from most Chinese supermarkets. A similar, but non-spicy, bean paste comes in tan-coloured tubs, should you not want the heat.

23/03/2009

Bukkake Soba

Filed under: Japanese — Tags: , , , , , , — Feòrag @ 18:19
Bukkake soba

Bukkake soba

Yes, that really is the Japanese name for this dish, and I have no intention of calling it anything else. Even though the word bukkake is just a form of a verb meaning “to splash” or “to sprinkle”, its colloquial meaning is very appropriate for this dish.

Bukkake soba is essentially cold buckwheat noodles topped with a thick sauce and drizzled with tsuyu, a thin dipping-type one. The thick sauce is usually white, too. The version below is based on a recipe from a Japanese-language cookbook and is for a single portion.

1 bundle soba (Japanese buckwheat noodles)

for the thick sauce
approximately ½ cup very soft tofu, such as microwave tofu
50g yamatoimo (about 5cm or 2 inches)
a bowl of water with about 1tsp vinegar added

for the tsuyu
3 tbl water or konbu dashi
1 tbl soy sauce
1 tbl mirin

to garnish
1 small spring onion
a lump of wasabi to taste (optional)

Put the yamatoimo to soak in the bowl of water for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet, slice the spring onions and make up the wasabi, if necessary.

When the noodles are ready, drain them and plunge into cold water. Drain again, thoroughly, and place in a large bowl.

Put the tsuyu ingredients into a small pan and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat and set to one side.

Grated yamatoimo;

Grated yamatoimo


Peel the yamatoimo and grate finely—the finest Microplane is good for this job. It will come out as a sticky liquid. Don’t panic. Stir it into the tofu. It will be slimy. This is deliberate. Pour this mixture on top of the noodles.

Dribble the tsuyu into the bowl around the edges and garnish with spring onions and the wasabi. The wasabi can be mixed into the tsuyu.

Eat and enjoy the expression on your flatmates’ faces—this is one of those dishes that tastes much better than it looks! Then tell them what it’s called.

Notes
Yamatoimo is available from the Japan Centre in London, and in the massive See Woo supermarket in Glasgow. I used the King Soba brand of organic 100% soba this time round, and I’m afraid I was not impressed. They’re not chunky enough, and stick to one another far too easily.

Microwave tofu experiment FAIL WIN

Filed under: Experiments, Japanese — Tags: , , — Feòrag @ 14:39

I need yosedoufu—a very soft tofu made in a bowl, usually as needed—to make bukkake soba (yes, that’s the real name of the dish), but it’s not the sort of thing you can get here. I was wandering around the web when I encountered (in context, I’m not going to use the phrase “came across”!) this Japanese recipe for making tofu in a microwave, which looked as if it was just what I needed and used ready-made soya milk as a basis.

The sort of soya milk you need

The sort of soya milk you need

I gathered together my ingredients and equipment. I chose Plamil Organic soya milk. It’s important that soya milk used for tofu contain nothing but soya and water, and the recipe suggests that it needs to be at least 10% soya beans. The Plamil milk is 14% soya. The only other similarly simple brand I could find was a Provamel variety that was only 8% soya beans. As well as that, I needed nigari, of which I had two types in stock – a liquid Japanese brand, and a more natural-looking mix of salty stuff and water from the wholefood shop over the road:

Two types of nigari

Two types of nigari

The recipe appeared to be using the Japanese liquid type, so I went with that. I used a microwave saucepan, as that was large enough to hold 500ml of soya milk. The instructions were to mix the soya milk and nigari while cold, then divide between single portion bowls and microwave for 4 mins 30s in a 500w oven. I kept it all in the pan, and set my 850w oven to 600w, then microwaved it for 3mins 30s.

It did not turn out as tofu. I let it stand, and it didn’t curdle at all. Eventually, when it was cooled, I added a second teaspoon of nigari and repeated the process. The nigari was out-of-date, but it’s a mineral, so I can’t see why there’d be a problem. When it had heated, I checked the temperature and it was over the 75°C needed for coagulation to work. Again, it was liquid, so I let it stand. I checked again when it had dropped below the coagulation temperatute and I did not have tofu. I did, though, get fresh yuba! Which I ate, there and then.

Fresh yuba.

Fresh yuba.

Next I plan to use the more natural nigari and see what happens. (Update: this worked. Now to make bukkake soba.)

10/03/2009

Odd tomatoes and ersatz roast

Filed under: Ingredients, Products, Recipes and techniques — Tags: , , — Feòrag @ 22:01
A sliced marmande tomato

A sliced marmande tomato

We recently obtained some marmande tomatoes, an unusual looking beastie that is said to taste really good. My other half googled for recipes using them, and found Oven-roasted Marmande Tomatoes, a staple in the south of France, apparently. We had all the ingredients except the fresh herbs (well, technically we have fresh rosemary, growing in the garden, but it was dark) so I decided to give it a go. It was pretty straightforward. I roasted them for longer than specified, but that’s because I have a strong dislike of half-cooked tomatoes. The recipe is highly recommended, and is likely to become a staple in this household whenever we can get hold of interesting tomatoes.

We were at a loss as to what would go with it until I remembered that we’d bought a Redwood Foods Cheatin’ turkey style roast with cranberry and wild rice stuffing when Real Foods had been selling them off after the festive season, and that it was still in our freezer. What’s more, it cooked at close to the same temperature as the tomatoes – result! I tend not to like fake meats (I never liked the real thing), but they make a useful compromise with my meat-eating partner. He declares that it is quite nice, though a little dry. I’d worried that I’d overdone the olive oil in the tomatoes, but he felt that was good with the roast.

But the tomatoes were the stars of this meal. I shall have to see if Waitrose still have them.

Sichuan Aubergine and Tofu

Filed under: Chinese — Tags: , , , — Feòrag @ 11:38

This recipe is based on one in Classic Food of China by Yan-Kit So, a book which is absolutely essential reading for anyone interested in Chinese cuisine. Very few of the recipes are vegan, but the background material on the history and variety of Chinese food is fascinating.

The quantities below serve two when served as a single dish with rice.

2 aubergines
½ block of tofu
8-10g Chinese black fungus
vegetable oil for deep frying
2-3 cloves garlic
2cm (or so) fresh ginger
as many small, hot, dried red chillies as you can bear (start off with about 10)
1 tbl sake (shaoxing wine is more authentic)
½ tsp sugar or other sweetener
1 tbl soy sauce
1 tbl rice vinegar
1 tbl strong stock or water
2 spring onions, cut into rounds

Cover the black fungus with warm water and leave to soak for an hour. Rinse them well – there will be grit – and break off the thick knobbly bit at the base. Break into small pieces and set aside.

Chop the garlic and ginger finely and put in a small bowl. Set aside.

Mix the sugar, soy sauce and rice vinegar in another small bowl. Make sure the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

Cut the aubergine into large cubes, leaving the skin on. Dice the tofu similarly. Heat up the oil in a deep fat fryer, a chip pan or a wok and fry the aubergine in batches until it begins to brown. Deep fry the tofu until golden. Set aside, draining on a few sheets of kitchen roll.

If you used the wok for deep frying, find somewhere to put the oil – it can be re-used. Leave a tablespoon or so of oil in the wok, and make sure you have all the ingredients to hand. Heat the oil in the wok on a high heat until it starts to smoke. Don’t panic. Add the garlic and ginger and stir it a couple of times, then add the chillies and stir. They should puff up a little. Add the tofu, aubergine and fungus to the pan and continue to stir fry for a few seconds. Dribble the sake around the edges of the food – it should sizzle in a satisfying manner – then add the sugar/soy sauce/vinegar mix and the stock. Cover the wok and reduce the heat. Simmer for 10 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add the spring onions and serve. Optionally, you can dribble a little bit of sesame oil over it, for added flavour.

06/03/2009

Vegan Dashi

Filed under: Ingredients, Japanese, Products — Tags: , , , , , — Feòrag @ 13:07

Dashi is Japanese for soup stock. It comes in all sorts. Hon dashi (本だし) is never vegan as it’s fish stock. Konbu (こんぶ – kelp) and shiitake dashi are more promising, but they usually contain bonito (also call katsuoboshi), a fish product.

Shimaya konbu dashi

Shimaya konbu dashi

There are at least two brands of Japanese instant konbu dashi which are vegan. The first is made by Shimaya (シマヤ), comes as mid-green sachets (long and thin) in a green plastic bag, and is labelled こんぶだしの素. I have also seen the same product in boxes. You might read that this product contains lactose—it used to, but doesn’t any more. If you want to check, go to the product page and search for 乳糖, which is Japanese for lactose. You’ll find it in the shiitake dashi (which used to be vegan—poo!), but not the konbu dashi at the top. The ingredients translate as: seasonings (amino acid etc), table salt, saccharides (dextrose, sugar), natural flavourings (kelp powder, kelp extract). You can get this from the Japan Centre, or any of the Japanese supermarkets in London.

Ajinomoto konbu dashi

Ajinomoto konbu dashi

The second is a similar product made by Ajinomoto, and is packaged almost identically, with eight long and thin, but light green, sachets per pack. When I first spotted it, I thought it was the Shimaya one with re-vamped packaging. The ingredients for this brand are salt, sugar, mannitol (E421), monosodium glutamate (E621), powdered kelp, kelp extract.

Two brands of dashi which are vegetarian, but not vegan.

Two brands of dashi which are vegetarian, but not vegan.

There are two more brands, which are vegetarian, but unfortunately aren’t vegan, though for one of them you’d never tell from the translated ingredients list. Riken Mutenka (“additive-free”) Konbu Dashi is also GM-free. The importer translates the ingredients as simply “tangle”. The actual list is: flavourings (kelp extract, powdered kelp), starch, lactose, yeast extract. The other is a Dutch macrobiotic brand, Manna, which also contains lactose (I thought macrobiotics discouraged the use of dairy?).

Wel-Pac dashi konbu

Wel-Pac dashi konbu

If you know you will need the dashi a few hours in advance, it’s simple but time-consuming to make your own. Good dashi konbu will be thick and not too wrinkled – I’ve had consistently good results with the Korean Wel-Pac brand, which is stocked by pretty much all Chinese supermarkets and is easy to obtain. To make a litre of stock, take a sheet and break it into three long pieces. Wipe the konbu with a damp cloth and place in a large pan with a litre of water. Put the lid on the pan and bring quickly to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until you have about ¾ of the original volume of liquid. If your pan lid does not have a hole in it to let steam out, place it ajar whilst simmering. Top up the water back to the original level, using cold water, and simmer for a further 20 minutes or so, then top up again and simmer for another 10 minutes.

By this point you will know if you had good quality konbu as it will have expanded and small blisters will appear on the surface. The more dashi you make, the longer it will take to cook. It will keep for a few days in the refrigerator, and you could consider making a highly concentrated version and freezing it—just use less water or more konbu.

Another trick for simmered dishes is to simply place a piece of dashi konbu at the bottom of the pan before you add the other ingredients and remove it after cooking. Don’t throw the used konbu away, though, as it is still good to eat.

05/03/2009

Ume soba update

Filed under: Japanese, Products — Tags: , , — Feòrag @ 21:00

I got a response from the Japan Centre with respect to yesterday’s delivery. As I suspected, it was a genuine error—they were unaware that cochineal is made from insects, and were apologetic. They let me know that they will not only change the web page for that product, but are going to go through all their pink products just to make sure.

Anyone able to recommend a good (European) list of animal ingredients to which I can refer them?

04/03/2009

Annoyingly not vegan things

Filed under: Japanese, Products — Tags: , , — Feòrag @ 11:44

I had a big box of stuff arrive from the Japan Centre this morning, including the painfully expensive rice and many things containing green tea. One item I got was ume soba—buckwheat noodles flavoured with plum, which the site mentions as being vegetarian. Unfortunately, they’re not, as that pretty pink colour comes from cochineal. I even checked the Japanese ingredient listing in case the importers had got the English language translation wrong (it happens), but コチニール is pretty clear.

Now, it’s hard enough for vegetarians and vegans to keep track of all those little ingredients which aren’t suitable, so I’m not going to have a go at them over the error. They do make more effort than other sites to point out the presence of fish, wheat, egg and all sorts of problematic ingredients. This post is really just to note that it’s there. I have made use of the contact form and politely let them know about it. It would be really helpful, not just for vegetarians and vegans, if they included full ingredients listings, too.

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.