Showing posts with label Tofu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tofu. Show all posts

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Vegan Goulash


2 blocks of tofu, frozen for one day and then defrosted
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp hot paprika (or to taste)
2 carrots
4 large potatoes
1 green capsicum (bell pepper)
1 red capsicum (bell pepper)
2l l vegetable broth
Salt to taste

If you freeze the tofu and then defrost it it becomes porous and easy to cook in stew without breaking up. Also it will absorb flavors really well! Once the tofu is defrosted cut it in big cubes. Chop the onion and sauté with the olive oil. When the onion is translucent add the paprika, the sweet paprika will give flavour, and the hot one… heat, so use this according to taste. Then add the tofu cubes and stir well. Add the vegetables and the hot vegetable broth. Simmer until the carrots and potatoes are ready, but before the potatoes start to break up. Goulash is more like a soup than a stew. If you prefer a thicker stew just cook it for longer, stirring often and breaking up the potatoes. Add salt to taste (no necessary if the broth is salty enough).

 Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Poor Italy, Viva Mexico and an improvised Vegetarian Mexican dinner

Well, Italy is out of the World Cup, and I am just glad that I didn't get up at 4 am to watch it happen!
But before the games started the four members of our family picked another nation to support (random, out of a hat) and I got Mexico! You had to dress up, cook something and learn some facts and words from that country… I was lucky! I speak enough Spanish, I like Mexican food, I have been there, and my husband was going there for work that week! So he bought me back a Mexican team T-shirts (looks good) and also some tequila, some Mexican sweets and a cute little piñata donkey. 

Now a part from the sweets (some had milk) the dinner was actually Vegan and just improvised with what I had in the house. I also used tofu, instead of meat. I rubbed the tofu in a mixure of chili, salt, oregano (oregano seems to be the only dried herb really used all over Mexico, although the name is approximative - there are several varieties!) dried coriadner, cumin and smoked paprika. The doses were totally random! Then I sautéed the tofu with a little olive oil. I kept the tofu aside and used the same pot (with the very spicy oil) to sauté some chopped celery and onions, I added some rice, then a can of red beans, and finally a couple of cups of vegetable stock. Lid on and cooked the rice by absorption. In the end I added the tofu, just to warm it up.

For the Guacamole I followed this recipe, with the difference that I didn't have fresh coriander at home, but I used a bit of chili (I always have chili in the freezer). Also because this was a really rushed job (and I had the whole chili, seeds removed) I blended everything with an immersion blender. Quite different texture really, but nice for a change. The tortilla chips came from a packet. Well, this dinner took me 40 minutes to make (including cooking time), so Viva Mexico!!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tofu and spring onion skewers

My friends Astuko and Hideko often send me this dried tofu which I find super versatile! I just soak it in water (or stock) and then use it in a variety of dishes. This time I just soaked it in water and then cut each blog into four pieces, and put them in a skewer (soak the skewers too!) with some spring onions. 

I sautéed the skewers on both sides with a little rice bran oil to which I added a few drops of sesame oil, then I brushed the tofu and spring onions with a sauce made by simmering a teaspoon of honey (use sugar or molasses if you are vegan) with two tbsp of water, two of soy sauce (gluten free please use tamari) and a pinch of freshly grated ginger. I turned the skewers over one more time and then I served them, hot and yummy! The scrapings from the pan were delicious on plain rice too!

And this is a picture of Karekare from a walk last Sunday, the Hau Hau track going up, and the Coman on the way down. Splendid! Click here if you like to see more photos of the views from these tracks.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Vermicelli in coconut and veggie broth with tofu and Asian fragrances

This is an aromatic vegan and gluten free soup, light and delicious.

For the broth:
500 ml vegetable stock
1 can coconut cream or milk + one can of water (rinsing the coconut cream)
1 large yellow courgette (zucchini)
2 fresh red chilies
1 block of tofu
a pinch of freshly grated ginger
1 stalk lemon grass
a few coriander leaves

Simmer all together for a few minutes until the zucchini are soft but not mushy.

In the meantime soak the vermicelli in hot water until soft then divide between 6 bowls.
chop a few cherry tomatoes, and wash some fresh basil and some thai mint

Pour the hot soup over the vermicelli, making sure that each dish has equal parts of tofu and veggies.
Decorate with the tomatoes, basil and Thai mint and serve immediately.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Coconut and ginger tofu


Two blocks of soft tofu
1 shallot
2 fresh red chillies 
1 can coconut cream
500 ml vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
fresh coriander
fresh Vietnamese mint (or basil)

Drain the tofu and cut into slices. Finely chop the shallot, and roughly break up the chili, discarding the seeds unless you like your food very spicy. Place everything in a pot with the coconut cream and vegetables sock and simmer for 20 minutes. Grate the ginger and add to the tofu, finish off with some fresh coriander and Vietnamese mint leaves. If you don't have Vietnamese mint use fresh basil.
Serve with Thai rice or noodles.

It is also Orchid season in Auckland (or at least in my garden!). I love them because they last for ages, and when they start to fall off the stem I still keep them in small pots or in a bowl of water.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Ginger is the ingredient of the month for July’s Little Thumbs Up event, hosted by Chef and Sommelier in Singapore.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pumpkin with coconut cream and basil, first a side dish and then a main

I had half a pumpkin to use, but just a little bit of Thai herbs mix (ginger, lemon grass, chili, garlic and coriander), certainly not enough to give my pumpkin a spicy flavor! Still, I felt like coconut, so I cut the pumpkin and two celery stalks with leaves and put them in my pot, then I added one can of coconut cream plus one can of water (to rinse the cream out), the remaining Thai herbs mix (about half tsp) and one organic veggie stock cube. I cook the lot until the pumpkin was soft, then I adjusted it for salt and added plenty of fresh basil leaves. I wanted to add some of my Vietnamese mint but it has all dried up (no rain in Auckland either) but the basil was strong flavored and I was surprised how nice this tasted in the end! I though of using this as a side dish (like in the photo) but I run out of time to make the main and since this dish had so much sauce I just added some cubed firm tofu to it when I warmed it up for dinner. I served with Thai rice. Very nice way of eating pumpkin in summer!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, February 15, 2013

Vegan pot-sticker dumplings

I love this type of dumplings, for the filling I use what I have at hand really, but generally the base is tofu, Chinese dried mushrooms, soaked and boiled first (keep the broth for later) and fresh coriander. For flavouring I used sesame oil, soy sauce and a little fresh ginger. Blend everything into a smooth paste.

The folding is easy if you are doing it with friends. The fact is that after the first ten I got tired and bored, and I had 50 more to do! So I didn't make some particularly pretty ones to look at! My son loves them, and I wanted to make him fold a few ("so that you can learn darling!"), but he politely declined saying that he was going to take some photos of me making them instead (he is so good at finding explanations!).  One of the things I do when folding the ready bought dumpling disks is to wet the borders with water so that they stick well. And then I dip (lightly) the bottom of each dumpling in a plate lined with vegetable oil. In this way the dumplings don't stick to the tray, and then to the pot (even if they are supposed to be 'pot-stickers'!) 

Easy step by step images (this time by Arantxa, they are from this post)

Place a little filling on each pastry circle

Lightly wet the borders with water

Gently fold the pastry

Pinch the ends well and make sure that there are no air bubbles inside

If you can, try to make them look pretty!


These can also be simmered in broth (I always make a little broth for a just a few, just simmer them until they come to the surface and then they are ready!) or steamed in dumpling baskets. I learned the  pot-sticker method in Japan, where these are called gyoza (but have meat inside). 

Cook the dumpling in a very hot pan, and as soon as the bottom has started to brown turn them and brown both side as well. Then cover with a lid and let the steam finish the cooking for a minute or so. At this stage I do add a spoon or two of water or, even better, the stock left over from cooking the mushrooms.  

Serve them hot! They can be eaten with chopsticks or fingers, dipped in sweet chilli sauce or soy sauce,  Max had about 25!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini and Max and Arantxa Zecchini Dowling©

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Lunch at Yagenbori in Tokyo, with delicious Yudofu, rice and pickles

Bence and Judit took us to Yagenbori, a traditional Japanese restaurant that specializes in high class Kyoto cuisine. The pickles come from Kyoto and the rice is just perfect, and we had the perfect dish for winter: yudofu, fresh tofu simmered in a light kombu broth. The tofu is then dipped in another broth, this is usually made with fish flakes, but for vegetarians just ask for some soy sauce and then use some of the stock from the simmering tofu to thin it down. 
The restaurant entrance 

Kyoto pickles and yudofu

All gone!

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, January 14, 2013

Tofu with Smoked Paprika and Pomodorini, vegan and gluten free main

This is a great vegan main, full of flavour and proteins. I cooked it for Bence and Judit, they like tofu and they asked for the recipe, so here it is:


10 pieces of dry tofu (Japanese)
500 ml vegetable stock
2 shallots
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika (or more, to taste)
1 can Italian cherry tomatoes (I used Mutti)
1 cup of water (to rinse the tomato can)
1 carrot
Salt to taste

I used ten pieces of dried tofu (like this one), soaked in 500ml of vegetables stock. Dry tofu is like a sponge and it will absorb flavors well (so use some good vegetable stock!). Then I sizzled a couple of finely slices shallots with 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, then I added the tofu (soft after soaking in the vegetable stock) and sautéd it on both sides for a minute, then I added one tsp  (well, probably a bit more...) of smoked paprika, sizzled the tofu in the spice for a little longer, and finally one can of Italian cherry tomatoes, one cup of water, and one carrot, cut into thick slices). I cooked everything until the sauce was reduced and quite thick, and the carrots soft.

Add salt to taste and serve. Tofu is yummy!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, September 14, 2012

Vegan Japanese Dinner part four, and my favourite miso soup is with eggplant, plus the winner of the gluten free cookbook giveaway

These are the final dishes of my Vegan Japanese dinner. For those of you who missed some 'episodes', the antipasto was raw avocado sashimi, and the main Fried tofu puffs simmered in vegetable broth, and by clicking here you can find the side vegetables, Broccoli and cauliflowers with easy miso sauce, and Quick Japanese Cucumber and Radish Pickles.

So, how do you finish a Japanese meal? Usually with soup and rice (dessert is optional really, a little seasonal fruit is preferred, like in this Autumn meal, where the fruit was persimmon, this fancy Japanese picnic basket, with mandarins - they are easy to carry, or this Summer meal, where dessert was... berries). 

But not fruit tonight, we just finished with rice and soup. Rice is served at the end to fill  the stomach, and diners eat what they need according to their body mass (this, I was told by a Ryokan chef in Kyoto, Nami, is it true?). By the time I served the rice and soup the light was gone, so apologies for the bad photos. Also, I had to hurry before the soup got cold! The rice is short grain and needs to be rinsed a few times, and then cooked by absorption. Usually I don't add salt to it. When ready I just put a umeboshi (pickled plum) on top, something usually done for breakfast in Japan, but I don't eat rice for breakfast so I use my umeboshi for lunch or dinner :-). And for the miso soup? Well, I like all types, but miso with eggplant is my favourite!

Miso soup with eggplant, tofu and onion weed

First you have to go back for a moment to the Fried tofu puffs simmered in vegetable broth, I used some light vegetable stock to cook the tofu puffs, and the leftover broth after draining the tofu was the base for my miso soup. Then I cut two long eggplants into six pieces each. I took the stock back to simmering point and I added the eggplants and four small cubes of Japanese freeze dried tofu (available in Japanese shops - but I have Japanese friends who send it to me by post regularly. Thank you Hideko and Atsuko!). I simmered everything for 30 minutes, then I took the miso paste left over from Broccoli and cauliflowers with easy miso sauce (in Japanese Zen cuisine everything is recycled!), and added a bit more miso paste to get the amount I wanted - personal taste here, and mixed it well. With chopstick I picked up the eggplant pieces and tofu and divided them between four bowl (3 pieces of eggplant and 1 small block of tofu for each bowl) then I quickly mixed the miso paste with the broth, and poured it into the bowls. To finish I topped the soups with some chopped onion weed. I love miso soup with eggplants! Did I said that already? :-)

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

And now for the winner of the beautiful book by Sarah King:
The Family-friendly Gluten-free Cookbook  (RRP $39.99), courtesy of New Holland Publishers NZ. The winner has been chosen with and....

List Randomizer

There were 16 items in your list. Here they are in random order:
1.             Robyn
2.             Arfi
3.             Jane
4.             JT
5.             Anonymos ,
6.             Rebecca
7.             Emma
8.             Anita
9.             Rochelle Harrison
10.         Laura
11.         Ashley
12.         Claire
13.         Lucy
14.         Leanne
15.         Simo
16.         Mel
Timestamp: 2012-09-14 19:35:36 UTC
Congratulation Robyn! Please send me your address by email at alessandra at clear dot net dot nz

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Vegan Japanese dinner part 2: the tofu dish

Fried tofu puffs simmered in vegetable broth 

Finally I find some time to write the second recipe of my Vegan Japanese dinner. The starter was avocado sashimi, and this is the 'main' (I am using the word main as this is the 'main' protein course). Then there will be two vegetable dishes (one cooked and one raw) to accompany the tofu, and to finish in traditional Japanese style, the rice and the soup.

But now for the recipe:

1 bag of fried tofu puffs (in NZ they are available in Chinese stores)
1.5 l vegetable stock
1 celery stalk
1 carrot
Onion weed (or garlic chives) to finish
Soy or tamari sauce to serve (optional)

If you don't know what onion weed is you can find it here, now that it is spring it grows wild everywhere in Oratia, and I forage heaps of it!.

Wash the onion weeds and chop finely. Keep aside (the flowers too). Chop the celery and peel and cut the carrot into thick irregular pieces, I like to make them look a little 'geometric' to look pretty alongside the tofu puffs. Bring the stock to boil, then add the cut vegetables and tofu puffs. Simmer until the vegetables are cooked, drain (keep the vegetable stock aside as you will need it for a sauce and the soup later on - I will publish those recipes in the next few days). Serve the tofu puffs and vegetables in pretty bowls, and top with chopped onion weeds, finishing with some onion weed flowers to decorate (and eat, as they are edible). Serve with soy or tamari sauce. 

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Opossum scaloppine... I mean...Tofu scaloppine!!!!

This month's MTC challenge is about scaloppine, and very kindly they allowed not only meat and fish scaloppine, but also seitan, for vegetarians. Now, the seitan in Italy may be better and more suited to scaloppine, I dotn't really know, but I can assure you that the one here is as suited as a shoe sole would be and so, risking of being eliminated, I am using tofu instead. 

So what about the opossum?

For those who don't know, opossums in NZ are an imported dangerous pest that is destroying our native forests and birds. So it is our civic duty, especially if we live in the bush, to trap them... and kill them. For a vegetarian this is hard to stomach, but since I show little pity to mosquitos, for example, I have to come to term with the fact that yes, opossums and other predators must be eliminated. We didn't have any for a while, and then the other night my husband saw one, and he said that he was going to set the traps in the morning. But during the night the opossum got busy in my garden!!! The day after I decided to make my tofu scaloppine with white wine and parsley and... all the parsley was gone!! Eaten!! By the Opossum. OK, it could have been worse, I still had the wine, but the beast didn't leave me a single little leaf, and I had to buy the parsley, it was slightly irritating. That night, tempted by an apple with peanut butter, the opossum died in its trap. I still cannot get used to it, fortunately the boys deal with the carcass. How? Well, my next door neighbor is an old hippy, basically a vegan except for roadkill type of meat. He says that since we have to kill it we should also eat it. So when we get an opossum we call him, he checks to see if it is healthy (tb is a risk here) and then he skins it and cook it. This time it was nicely parsley flavored, and stuffed with apple and peanut butter! His son was most appreciative too: he doesn't like the policies of the meat industry and prefers to eat meat that comes from a wild animal, killed for an ecological purpose. Well, my hat off to them, but I still rather eat tofu :-).

Tofu Scaloppine with wine and parsley, and thin roast potatoes

I used 4 dried blocks of Japanese tofu: first I let it rest in 500 ml of warm vegetable broth to rehydrate, then I cut each piece into two thinner slices (scaloppine must be thin) and pressed them well to get the extra stock our (keep it, you will need it later!) and flatten them a bit more. I passed the slices in flour, and then placed them in a pot with plenty of sizzling melted salted butter. A quick sauté on both sides, and then I added a good glass of white wine. Once the wine was absorbed and the scaloppine had been turned around a few times I scraped the bottom of the pan (you may need to remove the scaloppine to do this, I didn't) and added the leftover vegetable broth. I simmered everything until I had a thick sauce, then I added salt and pepper to taste, and plenty of (bought) chopped parsley.

To accompany the scaloppine I made some thinly cut roast potatoes, (simply brushed with olive oil and salt only and roasted until crisp) and it was such a nice, vegetarian, main!! 

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Monday, June 11, 2012

Tofu with Bell Peppers, looking for a right English title

Or with capsicums... In the last month I had a larger number of visitors form the US for all of my blogs, and I was asking myself if I am using the right English names for them. There is one person who keeps 'correcting' me ("we call them this and we call them that") so for once (once!) I changed the title!

On the other hand... maybe I could call this recipe Paprika Tofu! :-)

I chopped two stalks of celery, one small onion, and sliced a carrot. I put everything in a large pot with olive oil and sautéed for 5 minutes. I added one yellow, one orange and one red bell peppers/capsicums/paprika and then after 5 minutes I added one can of Mutti tomato pulp (like a thick passata), one cup of vegetable stock and one block of tofu cut into cubes. I simmered the lot for 30 minutes, then I added salt and smoked paprika to taste (quite a bit of smoked paprika actually, I love it!). I simmered everything again until the sauce was quite thick, and then I added some chopped parsley and one more drizzle of olive oil, and served everything with Israeli Couscous (which is similar to Fregola Sarda).

Super red and bright in colour, and flavor!!

With this recipe I take part in the Lagostina contest hosted by Araba Felice in Cucina
in the section "Healthy but with Flavour" for the Tempra pot :-)

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pine Nut Tōfu Sauce, and a Japanese recipe book to help Japan's recovery efforts.

Today I am proposing a recipe extract from an ebook that I have just purchased: KIBŌ (Brimming with Hope. The Author is Elizabeth Andoh, a renowned Japanese food writer (also the author of Kansha  a book about Japanese Vegan and Vegetarian cuisine!)

The book is being sold online for under $US4, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Japan's recovery efforts. If you like to have a look inside the book, and for more sample recipes, please click here, where you will also find the links to purchase the book. You can also find the info on Amazon by clicking here.

Pine Nut Tōfu Sauce  (Matsu no Mi Shira Aéadapted from page 87:
KIBŌ (Brimming with Hope): Recipes & Stories from Japan’s Tohoku 
by Elizabeth Andoh (10 Speed, 2012).

Recipe Elizabeth Andoh, photographer Aya Brackett, stylist Karen Shinto

Reprinted with permission from Kibo ("Brimming with Hope"): Recipes and Stories from Japan's Tohoku by Elizabeth Andoh, copyright (c) 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

This nutty tōfu sauce comes to the Tohoku table in two ways: either mixed with fruit or tossed with greens. If you choose the fruit version, try fresh apples and dried apricots, cranberries, or blueberries, diced. The classic version, stuffed into a whole scooped out persimmon, is shown on page 71 of KIBŌ (photo on page 70), If you prefer, toss slightly bitter greens in the tōfu sauce; briefly blanched and coarsely chopped spinach or kale are good choices.

Recipe makes about 1 cup sauce, enough to make 6 to 8 small servings when mixed with fruit or blanched greens.

4 ounces (about 1/4 to 1/3 large block) tōfu, drained of packaging liquid
1/4 to 1/3 cup pine nuts (matsu no mi), un-toasted
Pinch of salt
Drop of mirin (syrupy rice wine)

Bring plain water to a vigorous boil, add the tōfu and cook it for 1 minute (begin counting from the time the water returns to a boil). With a slotted spoon, remove the tōfu, draining it well as you set it aside to toast and crush the pine nuts.

In a heavy skillet set over medium heat, dry roast the pine nuts, stirring them with a spatula or gently swirling the skillet to keep the nuts in motion. When aromatic and very lightly colored, about 2 minutes, remove the skillet from the stove. The nuts will continue to roast with retained heat so judge color on the light side. While still warm, transfer the nuts to a suribachi (grooved mortar) to crush them the old-fashioned way, or to the bowl of a mini-sized food processor the modern way.

If you are using a suribachi grind the nuts until completely crushed and slightly oily BEFORE adding the drained tōfu you set aside earlier. Continue to grind until the mixture is smooth and thick. Sprinkle with the salt and grind further. Finally, drizzle in a few drops of mirin. When ready to use, toss in your fruit or greens and mix. Serve family-style from the suribachi bowl, or divvy up into individual portions, mounded in small bowls or cups.

If you are using a mini food processor, pulse-process the nuts until crushed and slightly oily. Scrape down the sides BEFORE adding the drained tōfu you set aside earlier. Continue to pulse-process until the mixture is smooth and thick. Sprinkle with the salt, drizzle in a few drops of mirin and pulse to blend.

Scrape out the sauce and use immediately, or store in a covered glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. 

This ebook is really lovely and it has many vegetarian recipes, if you like, please have a look and spread the word.

And since I am talking about a cookbook I am also entering this post to the blogging event Cookbook Sundays, hosted by New Zealand blogger Sue of Couscous & Consciousness


Monday, December 12, 2011

TTT: Taiwanese Tofu with Tomato

Ok, the TTT name is my invention, but the recipe is really Taiwanese. Several years ago I had a Taiwanese baby-sitter, she was also vegetarian (in Taiwan there is a strong vegetarian Buddhist tradition) and she didn't cook with garlic, onion, chives and leeks (this is the old Buddhist tradition). She taught me a lot of recipes... no, not recipes, maybe I should say 'ways of cooking'.

This recipe is so basic that I almost thought of not putting it on the blog, but the fact is that it is quite amazing!! In my Italian brain I never thought of combining tomatoes with tofu and soy sauce this way, it didn't feel right, and I was quite skeptical when she showed it to me. And then I tasted it: WOWOWOW, it works!

And not only it works, the kids love it, and it is so easy and quick... and in a way it feels so ... ethical!
Yes, just a few low cost ingredients, not much time or energy needed, and lots of proteins.

I usually used some red ripe tomatoes, but I had some ripe little orange tomatoes to finish, and so they went: cut and placed into the frying pan/wok/pot with a little vegetable oil (olive oil works well) and a small pinch of salt. Of course you could also add garlic, but the original recipe, as I said before, doesn't allow for allium of any type. Cook on high, stirring constantly, when the tomatoes start to mush into a sauce add the cubed tofu, stir and then add one or two tbs of soy sauce (I use only Japanese soy sauce, Kikkoman or Yamasa) and stir until the tofu is really hot (a couple of minutes only). Top with fresh chopped coriander if you like, and serve immediately with rice or noodles.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©


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