Crispy Ritz Tofu

As I was scrolling through Pinterest the other day, wasting precious hours of my life, I came upon an intriguing sounding recipe. It was Crispy Ritz Chicken. It struck me that I’d never actually tried cracker coating tofu before. And through a little experimentation, this recipe was born!
Ritz tofu

Crispy Ritz Tofu

Based on a recipe by For the Love of Dessert

Ingredients:

1 14 oz. package of extra firm tofu, drained and well pressed

2 sleeves of Ritz crackers (I used the Roasted Vegetable flavor)

1 & 3/4 cups plain soymilk

1 teaspoon lemon juice

3/4 cup vegetable broth or vegan “chicken” broth

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2.5 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons cold water

3 tablespoons margarine

Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Start by thoroughly pressing the tofu.  Set the oven to 450 degrees and lightly mist a baking sheet with spray oil. In a small bowl, mix the soymilk and lemon juice together, then set aside.

Cut the tofu into cutlets of whatever size you desire (I got about 8 medium sized cutlets). In the food processor grind the crackers into a fine crumb and add a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Place the crumbs into a shallow bowl. Begin coating the tofu cutlets by dipping them first into the soymilk mix and then the crumbs. Continue until all the cutlets are coated, then place on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, flip tofu, then bake another 10 minutes.

While the tofu cutlets are baking, create the gravy. In a saucepan mix the vegetable broth, soy sauce, onion powder, and black pepper. Bring to a small boil. Thoroughly mix together the cornstarch and cold water, making sure there are no lumps. Pour into the broth mixture and whisk thoroughly. Continue to cook over medium heat until sauce has thickened and there are no lumps. Take off the heat, and whisk in margarine.

Plate the tofu and top with gravy. This is great served over rice and veggies.

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Last Meal (Vegan MoFo #21)

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I decided to end Vegan MoFo with an entire book-based meal. Main dish, sides, drinks, and dessert are all mentioned in the book, so I cooked it all! I’ll miss the challenge this month has been, but it will also be nice to be able to not worrying about blogging five days a week. I’m already planning my theme (*cough* Disney movies *cough*) for next year.
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The genre of vampire fiction has grown rapidly these last few years. But the first vampire series I remember getting truly invested in (before all the Twilight hubub took over)  was Cirque Du Freak by Darren Shan. The first book in the series is A Living Nightmare, in which the main character is a young boy, Darren. Darren’s obsession with the supernatural and outlandish prompts him and his friend, Steve, to visit a traveling freak show that has just rolled into town. Due to their encounters at the show, Darren and Steve end up over their heads and thrown from their mundane everyday lives into being involved in the dangerous vampire world. Now Darren must choose between saving Steve’s life and sacrificing his own human future.

In the same vein as Goosebumps, but with much better writing, A Living Nightmare (and the rest of the Cirque Du Freak books) tells a harrowing story involving vampire mythos, a dash of sarcastic humor, and good old fashioned gore. Great for anyone wanting to read a vampire story that does not involve romance or sparkles.

This would be my last meal with them and I wanted it to be special. When I was looking back on it in later years, I wanted to be able to remember us together, at home, a happy family.

Mom cooked my favorite food: chicken, roast potatoes, corn on the cob. Annie and me had freshly squeezed orange juice to drink. Mom and Dad shared a bottle of wine. We had strawberry cheesecake for dessert. Everybody was in a good mood.” – Cirque Du Freak (A Living Nightmare) (paperback) page 225

I won’t tell why (I hate spoilers), but Darren is having his last meal with his family. Because of this it’s a very important dinner and I wanted to make sure I captured that in my last Vegan MoFo meal. For the chicken I used PETA’s cruelty free Chick-fil-a recipe, the potatoes were just thinly sliced and baked with Lawry’s seasoning salt and pepper, and then some fresh corn on the cob. I served it with barbecue sauce and orange juice.

cirque du freak mealThe best part of this meal though was the dessert. I decided to adapt my lemon-berry cheesecake recipe and make it into strawberry cheesecake. I wish I’d done this recipe earlier in the month when strawberries were more in season, but it still turned out well with the mediocre selection that was available.

strawberry cheezcake

Strawberry Cheesecake

Serves 8

Ingredients:

One graham cracker crust (store-bought or home-made)

1 cup silken tofu

2 cups fresh strawberries

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor blend together all the ingredients (except the pie crust) until smooth.

Pour the strawberry mix into the crust, place on a cookie sheet, and bake for 60-75 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Chill for at least 5 hours and then slice and serve! This is also great garnished with strawberry sauce or vegan whipped cream.

Arya’s Vegan Tart (Vegan MoFo #15)

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AGAMEOFTHRONESnewHCEveryone and their mom has been talking about Game of Thrones lately. The HBO show has done a lot to advertise the series and, in my opinion, it’s just as good as the books. But if you want to read the stories, then start off with A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. In the book, each chapter is dedicated to a character and focuses on their actions, thoughts, etc. I like this aspect of it because it seems like everyone gets a fair share of story and no main character is neglected.

The land where the story is set, Westeros, has extremely strange seasons. Summers and winters can last for years. Now the end of a long seven-year summer is upon the land and a hard winter is coming. With the winter dangerous creatures will come creeping things from the north (usually kept out by the giant ice Wall), and nobody knows how many years the cold will last.  The story focuses mostly on the Stark family, who are the Lords of Winterfell, located in the far north. After the King’s Hand dies under mysterious circumstances, the King calls upon Lord Eddard Stark to come to the capital (which is located much further south) and become the new Hand. Despite his wife and children’s reservations, Eddard accepts the invitation and brings his two daughters, Sansa and Arya, with him.

With the cold intensifying and the family divided, plus the rumors of betrayal and war on the horizon, the Starks face more trials than ever. Whether any or all of them will survive remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure. Winter is coming.

A passing septon was looking at her askance.”Here’s the best place to find pigeon,” Arya told him as she brushed herself and picked up her fallen stick sword. “They come for the crumbs.” He hurried away.

She tied the pigeon to her belt and started down the street. A man was pushing a load of tarts by on a two-wheeled cart; the smells sang of blueberries and lemons and apricots. Her stomach made a hollow rumbly noise.

Could I have one?” She heard herself say. “A lemon, or… or any kind.”

The pushcart man looked her up and down. Plainly he did not like what he saw. “Three coppers.”

Arya tapped her wooden sword against the side of her boot. “I’ll trade you a fat pigeon,” she said.

“The Others take your pigeon,” the pushcart man said.”  – Game of Thrones (paperback) pages 716-717

I’ve made this tart previously, but I never posted the veganized recipe. It’s based off of the recipe in The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook. Fresh apricots are really hard to find around here, so I used canned fruit. But feel free to use the fresh version if it’s available to you.

Arya’s Apricot Crumb Tart – Veganized

arya's tart

Ingredients:

For crust:

1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup applesauce

1/4 cup mild oil (I used canola)

For crumble topping:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup margarine, cubed and chilled

For pie filling:

2 15 oz. cans apricots in juice

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons full-fat canned coconut milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons margarine, melted then cooled

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a bowl mix together the crust flour, salt, and sugar. In a smaller bowl mix oil and applesauce. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix thoroughly. Press into a greased pie pan.

For the crumble topping mix flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Using a fork or pastry cutter, cut the margarine into the flour mixture until crumbly. 

Drain canned apricots and lightly rinse. Cut into small bite-size pieces. Put them into a bowl and combine with brown sugar, cornstarch, coconut milk, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and margarine. Gently mix until the apricots are all coated.

Pour the apricot mixture into the prepared pie crust and them sprinkle the crumble on top.

Bake for 35-50 minutes or until crust and crumble are golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

Let cool to room temperature before serving.

Not So Sharky “Shark Cutlets” (Vegan MoFo #14)

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Storm Thief by Chris Wooding focuses on two young thieves, Moa and Rail, whose story begins in a chaotic city afflicted by storms that rearrange reality. These mysterious “probability storms” cause changes, big or small, and the citizens of Orokos live in fear of them. One of those citizens who knows the reality of that fear is Rail, who lost the use of his lungs during a storm years ago, and now must wear a respirator. He and Moa are, quite literally, partners in crime. They retrieve (aka, steal) items for a crime boss in the ghetto they live in.

While working on one of these missions, Rail and Moa stumble upon a map that holds the key to the mysterious heart of Orokos. With this, they might be disable the ancient machine that causes the probability storms, escape the island without being killed by the sea guardians, or just use it to buy their way out of segregation and the ghetto. Either way, these two face a journey full of hardships and uncertainty.

Inside was a low, circular room, hot and heavy with the scent of aromatic smoke. In the centre was a square bar where cooks took orders from the clientele. Rail ordered each of them a heaping plate of shark cutlets and pumpkin mash. The food arrived with complimentary mugs of cold tuzel, a spicy drink that Moa loved when she could get it.

They took their plates to a small booth and sat opposite each other. Moa attacked the food with an indecent appetite. Rail was forced to eat much more slowly, lifting his respirator between bites. He hated eating in public, but they both needed a rest and a good meal. It had been an exhausting journey.” – Storm Thief (hardback) page 70

I’ve never had shark before, so this was a harder recipe for me to come up with. I’m assuming it’s fishy tasting, but that’s just about all I know. I tried looking up vegetarian/vegan recipes, but to no avail. So the following recipe is probably nothing like shark, but it sure is tasty!

shark cutlets and pumpkin

Tofu Shark Cutlets

Ingredients

3/4 cup yellow onion, minced (about 1 small onion)

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 4.5 oz. can of chopped green chiles

1 14 oz. package of extra firm tofu, drained and pressed extremely well, then cubed

1.5 cups of water

1 tablespoon minced ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon seaweed powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cumin

8 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed

1/2 cup margarine

1.5 tablespoons dried parsley

2 teaspoons salt

Black pepper, to taste

2 cups panko bread crumbs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large pot add water, ginger, garlic, seaweed, turmeric, chili powder, salt, and cumin. Bring to a boil and then add the tofu cubes. Turn down to medium heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes, then drain and place in a large bowl.

Meanwhile, boil water in a large pot and add potatoes. Boil for about 15 minutes, or until soft then drain. In a pan saute the onion in oil until they are golden brown and fragrant. Add the onions and canned chiles to the bowl with tofu. Gently mix everything together.

Put cooked potatoes in a bowl and mash with margarine, parsley, salt, and black pepper.

On a non-stick surface, place 1/4 cup of the potato mixture. Pat it out into a circle (about the size of a veggie burger) then place 1 to 2 tablespoons of the tofu mixture in the middle. Put another 1/4 cup of potato on top, and pat into a covered mound (similar in size to a small fist).

Roll in bread crumbs and place on a greased baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the potato mixture and tofu.

Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

shark cutlets inside

Pumpkin Mash

Based on a recipe by Steamy Kitchen

Ingredients:

2 medium russet potatoes, cubed

1/2 cup plain pumpkin puree

1 tablespoon margarine

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoon original soymilk

1 tablespoon agave nectar

1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Boil a pot of water and add the potatoes. Boil for 15 minutes or until soft. Drain potatoes and coarsely mash with the remaining ingredients. Then transfer to a food processor and process until smooth and creamy.

Plethora of Pie (Vegan MoFo #10)

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Thief of Always was the first book I read that was written by Clive Barker, so it holds a special place in my heart (and personal library). It is an enchanting story of a regular ten-year-old boy, bored from school and a dull home life, being swept away to a magical place called the Holiday House where he can have fun all day long.

Harvey loves this new place and enjoys the special treatment. Mrs. Griffin, the House’s care taker, explains that this is a get-away for unique children like him. There are only two other kids there with him, Lulu and Wendell. Wendell is near Harvey’s age and gives him a big tour of the House and explains that every day is full of holidays. Every morning is spring (which usually consists of playing in the tree fort), followed by afternoon summertime (full of naps and exploring), fall in the evening (Halloween and trick-or-treating), and lastly Christmas (with any toys you desire magically appearing under the tree). Other than Mrs. Griffin, there are other strange adults there who don’t seem to be normal humans. But Harvey is willing to look past this oddity since the Holiday House is so wonderful.

Harvey would like to spend the rest of forever here, until things start becoming weird. Lulu, though never particularly friendly, starts acting oddly secretive. And when Mrs. Griffin and the other adults refuse to answer his questions, he becomes suspicious. Then any attempts to leave the House are thwarted by mysterious powers. Now all Harvey wants is his dull life back, but he might not survive another attempt at escaping the Holiday House.

Harvey set himself down at the kitchen table, and within sixty seconds Mrs. Griffin had set a dozen plates of food in front of him: hamburgers, hot dogs and fried chicken; mounds of buttered potatoes; apple, cherry and mud pies, ice cream and whipped cream; grapes, tangerines and a plate of fruits he couldn’t even name.” – Thief of Always (paperback) page 20

I always imagined Mrs. Griffin being the perfect grandmother prototype with her elderly age and love of cooking pies. I didn’t want to choose a more ordinary pie (like the aforementioned apple or cherry), so the recipe below is for a rich and creamy mud pie!

mudpie

Mud Pie

Ingredients:

2 cups chocolate pudding (homemade or Jell-O brand is accidentally vegan)

1 graham cracker crust (either store-bought or homemade)

1/2 cup Smuckers marshmallow topping (it’s accidentally vegan and is found in the ice cream topping area)

1 cup vegan cream cheese, softened

3 tablespoons original soymilk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup raw pecans

Directions:

Set oven to 375 degrees. Bake the graham cracker crust for 3-5 minutes, just enough to let it brown and bake together (especially for looser homemade recipes). After baking, set the crust aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together the marshmallow topping, cream cheese, soymilk, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar.

Next layer the pudding and cream cheese mixture into the pie crust. Put down a layer of pudding, then cream cheese mix, rest of the pudding, then drizzle the last of the cream cheese on top. Sprinkle with pecans and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Then slice and serve! It’s quite messy, but very delicious.

ESSENTIAL Biscuits (Vegan MoFo #8)

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5-27-2010-lord-sunday-by-garth-nixSince Lord Sunday (the book which inspired the below recipe), is the last book of seven in the Keys to the Kingdom series, I’ll be reviewing the first book, Mister Monday by Garth Nix, to avoid spoilers.

Keys to the Kingdom is a series about Arthur Penhaligon, a twelve year old boy who through a seemingly random accident is chosen to become the Rightful Heir of the House (the center of the universe). Controlling the House are the corrupt Morrow Days, who are each afflicted by one of the deadly sins. The Morrow Days are: Mister Monday, Grim Tuesday, Drowned Wednesday, Sir Thursday, Lady Friday, Superior Saturday, and Lord Sunday.

Arthur soon learns that the Architect (creator of the House and “secondary realms”) left a Will which was unfulfilled. Not long afterwards, a mysterious virus begins sweeping through his town in the secondary realm. Knowing that this is the work of the Morrow Days, Arthur must go into the House to search for a cure. There he learns that to save his town, and the House itself, he must defeat the Morrow Days and release the imprisoned pieces of the Will . Through his journey, Arthur meets Suzy Turquoise Blue, a clever and capable girl who, along with all the other “Piper’s children”, was drawn to the House by the Pied Piper. Suzy holds a current piece of the Will, which has manifested itself as a talking frog. With his two odd allies in tow, Arthur must work to defeat the torpid Mister Monday and stop the spreading virus before it’s too late.

” “Have a biscuit, General,” said one of the children, reaching into the barrel, which was stuffed to the brim with biscuits. Since neither Denizens nor Piper’s children needed to eat, but liked to do so anyway, it was surprising that the barrel was marked ESSENTIAL GOODS FOR EVACUATION.

Suzy took the raisin-filled biscuit with glee and, between mouthfuls, introduced everyone.” – Lord Sunday (hardcover) page 145

I’ve never actually had a sweet biscuit (only savory), but these were amaaaazing.

raisin biscuit

Essential Cinnamon Raisin Biscuits

Based on a recipe from Food.com

Ingredients

1 cup raisins

1 cup water

2 cups soymilk

1 tablespoon lemon juice

4 cups self rising flour, or 4 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons baking powder mixed together

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup shortening

3 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup powdered sugar

3 and 1/2 teaspoons soymilk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Set oven to 400 degrees.

Boil water and pour over raisins, then cover and set aside. Mix the 2 cups of soymilk with lemon juice, set aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt. Cut shortening into the flour mixture (either using a fork or pastry blender) until crumbly and fine.

Mix in soymilk and drained raisins, then stir in cinnamon.

With a large greased spoon dollop out the biscuit dough onto a greased baking sheet.

Bake for 10-15 minutes.

While the biscuits cool, mix together the powdered sugar with vanilla and 3 and 1/2 teaspoons of soymilk until a glaze is formed. Drizzle over cooled biscuits and let sit until the glaze hardens.

Twig’s Sausage Soup (Vegan MoFo #7)

deepwoods

The story for today focuses on Twig, who is written about in The Edge Chronicles: Beyond the Deepwoods by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell. Twig is a young human who lives among a tribe of Woodtrolls. He’s always known he was different, due to his lack of fur and inability to work well with wood (the usual Woodtroll occupation), but it wasn’t until now he desired to know where he came from.

Soon a group of Sky Pirates are coming to trade for wood from his local village. Twig’s adoptive mother fears the Pirates will attempt to kidnap him and force him to join the crew. At his mother’s request, Twig decides to stay at a nearby Woodtroll village until the Pirates leave. While traveling to the village,  Twig breaks the one rule he’s always been told: Never leave the path. Even though it was kind of an accident, those fateful steps off the path send Twig on a fantastic journey.

While traveling on a journey to find a home and his true identity, Twig encounters many strange creatures. Including the Slaughterers, human eating trees, Sky Pirates, rot-suckers, and even the gentle giants of the forest, Banderbears. As he continues onward, Twig will learn the answers to some very pressing questions. Who his true parents are, who has been secretly guiding him in this dangerous quest, and what is life like off the path?

The tilder sausage soup tasted as delicious as it had smelled. Simmered until the sausages were soft, in stock seasoned with nibblick and orangegrass, the soup was rich and spicy. It was also just the start. Juicy hammelhorn steaks, rolled in seasoned knotroot flour and deep-fried in tilder oil came next, accompanied by earthapples and a tangy blue salad. And this was followed by honey trifle and delberry blancmange and small wafer biscuits drenched in treacle. Twig had never eaten so well – nor drunk so much. A large jug full of woodapple cider stood in the centre of each of the four tables, and Twig’s mug was never allowed to empty.” – Beyond the Deepwoods (hardcover) page 56

I had to sit and imagine what I thought nibblick and orangegrass would taste like. I chose fennel seeds for nibblick and orange bell pepper for orangegrass. Everything else was just kind of thrown into the pot willy-nilly and it turned out great! Spicy and rich, just like the book described.

tilder sausage soup

Tilder Sausage Soup

Ingredients:

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 orange bell pepper, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

10 cups of vegan “chicken” broth or vegetable broth

5 jumbo veggie dogs or 8 regular size veggie dogs, sliced (I used Smart Dogs)

1 large potato, cubed

3 medium carrots, sliced

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sriracha

3/4 cup orzo

Directions:

Saute the onion, bell pepper, and garlic in the olive oil. While that cooks, begin heating your vegetable broth to a boil. Cook the onions and bell peppers until they’re soft and fragrant.

Once the broth is boiling, add all the remaining the ingredients except for the orzo. Boil for 10-15 minutes, then add the orzo and boil for another 10 minutes. Then you’re finished!