Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Thai Veggie Spring Rolls (vegan)

I have always wanted to make spring rolls, the kind you don't fry or bake, and finally made time to do it! I've had the rice paper wrappers in my cupboard forever.

The recipe I used comes from Everyday Greens, recipes from the vegetarian restaurant Greens in San Francisco. Some of the recipes are beyond my capabilities, unless I want to make substitutions, because I just don't have the same ingredients available to me. For instance, even the jicama required in the recipe was nowhere to be found. I'm not opposed to substituting or eliminiating ingredients, but I like to try and make a recipe as written the first time. Not all of the recipes were like this, but I would say a good amount.

I'm not going to include the recipe in this post, because making spring rolls is more of a technique.

1. Get a bunch of veggies. Julienne them or chop them. Steam them or decide eating them fresh is okay.

2. Get some kind of protein. Baked or fried tofu works great, or I often see them in the stores with shrimp (not, of course, an appropriate vegetarian ingredient).

3. Toss some or all the filler ingredients with some kind of sauce - hoisin, vinaigrette, peanut sauce, etc.

4. Boil some water or use very hot tap water, and put in pie plate. Soak rice paper wrappers one by one (leaving damp towel on top of rest). Dry briefly on paper towel. Add ingredients, and roll up rice paper wrapper, folding in sides as you go.

5. Serve with complimentary sauce.

For these spring rolls, I used carrots, red peppers, lettuce, shallots, peanut sauce, and cilantro. They were great! I'll definitely make something like this again. I wish I had taken the time to prepare some kind of tofu; it would have filled out the rolls. I served them with Tom Khai Yum soup from our local Thai restaurant.

Categories: Carrots, Cilantro, Peppers, Rice, Thai, Vegan

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

General Tao's Tofu (vegan)

I had come across this recipe in a forum somewhere, and when I went to VegWeb.com, I saw review after review of praise for this recipe. I've had it in my to-try pile for quite some time. The recipe can be found here but I'll go ahead and copy and paste it.

General Tao's Tofu

Ingredients (use vegan versions):

1 box of firm tofu
egg substitute for 1 egg
3/4 cup cornstarch
vegetable oil for frying
3 chopped green onions
1 Tablespoon minced ginger
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
2/3 cup vegetable stock
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
4 Tablespoons sugar
red pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon sherry (optional)
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
steamed broccoli


Drain, dry and cut tofu into 1 inch chunks. You can freeze tofu the night before to get a more chicken-like consistency, but it isn't necessary. Mix the egg replacer as specified on the box and add an additional 3 tablespoons water. Dip tofu in egg replacer/water mixture and coat completely. Sprinkle 3/4 cup cornstarch over tofu and coat completely. Watch out that the cornstarch doesn't clump up at the bottom of the bowl.

Heat oil in pan and fry tofu pieces until golden. Drain oil.

Heat 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil in pan on medium heat. Add green onions, ginger and garlic, cook for about 2 minutes. Be careful not to burn garlic. Add vegetable stock, soy sauce, sugar, red pepper and vinegar. Mix 2 Tablespoons water with 1 Tablespoon cornstarch and pour into mixture stirring well. Add fried tofu and coat evenly.

Serve immediately with steamed broccoli over your choice of rice.

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 30 Minutes

Jenny's Notes: I have to admit, I have had a hard time coming across a box of egg substitute down here, so I just used an egg with a little bit of water, and that worked fine. I was confused by the recipe - was I supposed to deep fry or pan fry the tofu? I wasn't sure and chose to pan fry, which worked fine. I also salted the tofu right after it came out of the pan.

Instead of steaming the broccoli, I made a double batch of the sauce and cooked the broccoli in the hot oil before finishing the sauce. It tastes best with the sauce on both anyway, in my humble opinion.

I would definitely make this again - I had to omit the garlic since I was out and I think that would greatly improve the flavor which was good to start with - and I would add a greater variety of vegetables, and possibly some nuts or sesame seeds. And maybe some heat. Back when I ate meat I recall a really tasty dish of General Tso's Chicken, and it was a little spicy but still sweet and garlicy, and I miss that element.

Categories: Broccoli, Chinese Food, Tofu, Vegan

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Eggs Italiano

My friend Kimberly gave me a subscription to the magazine Eating Well, which has recipes that are good for you but look and taste good too. I have really enjoyed going through some of them.

I have never made poached eggs before, well I should say I have never made them successfully. I did attempt once six years ago but it was a failure and I haven't done it since. I followed these directions and it was so easy and everything came out perfectly.

This dish is quick but definitely needs two pans simultaneously going on the stove for everything to be ready a the same moment. And if you don't care for zucchini like my husband doesn't, you can substitute. I used green beans instead, and cherry tomatoes instead of plum, since that was what looked best at the store.

Eggs Italiano (Eating Well April 2007)

1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound zucchini (about 2 medium, diced)
12 oz plum tomatoes (3-4), diced
3 tbsp thinly sliced fresh basil, divided
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
8 large eggs
4 whole-wheat English muffins, split and toasted
2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Fill a large, straight-sided skillet or Dutch oven with 2 inches of water; bring to a boil. Add white vinegar.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallot and garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in zucchini and tomatoes and cook, stirring occassionally, until the zucchini is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in 1 tbsp basil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.

3. Meanwhile, reduce the boiling water to a gentle simmer; the water should be steaming and small bubbles should come up from the bottom of the pan. Crack each egg into a small bowl and slip them one at a time into the simmering water, taking care not to break the yolks. Cook for 4 minutes for soft set, 5 minutes for medium set and 8 minutes for hard set. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the eggs to a clean kitchen towel to drain.

4. To serve, top each muffin half with some of the vegetable mixture, an egg, a sprinkling of cheese and the remaining basil.

Makes 4 servings.

Thoughts - This is a basic process that could work with any number of vegetable and flavor combinations. I do like this one because the flavor was intense enough and well-balanced to not leave the consumer wanting more.

Categories: Basil, Eggs, Green Beans, Tomatoes