my friend and i did a thing!

go to my friend’s blog because she’s awesome and also because i did an interview with her as part of her series on alternative diets. go on! shoo!!

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skint breadcrumbs

so it’s occurred to me that, given how many of my recipes have the instruction to ‘top with breadcrumbs and bake’, i should probably tell you how i make baking breadcrumbs. it’s dead easy, as you’ll see below.

skint breadcrumbs
ingredients
the 2 heels from a loaf of bread that you were going to throw out anyway
1-2 Tbsp margarine
1-2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/2-1 tsp paprika (optional)

method
toast the bread heels, then tear up and stick in a food processor with all the other ingredients. whizz until fine.

note: if you’re just sticking breadcrumbs in a salad or something, and not baking them, don’t bother with the other ingredients, just use the heels of bread.

ReadyScramble(TM)

…okay fine it’s not actually trademarked.

one day recently, having run out of tofu to do scrambles, i started thinking about yellow split peas. could i use them to make a scrambled egg analogue? would it be vile?

i decided to use yellow split peas to make ‘burmese-style’ tofu, using this recipe, so that i could satisfy my curiosity.

the resulting scramble was AMAZING.

my super über-patented ReadyScramble(TM) eggy yellow split peas make a much softer scramble than normal tofu – a bit like polenta crossed with fried mushy peas (but delicious i promise!). their star quality comes from their ability to hold flavours like added vegan cheese, the way they mimic softer scrambled eggs, how you can fry them in slices to make vegg mcmuffins, and of course the fact that it’s ridiculously cheap to make – 1 1/4 cups of peas turns into twice the soybean curd you’d buy in the shops, for like one fifth of the price.

see the difference in size? ridiculous.

so i’m going to give you my mods on the aforementioned burmese-style tofu recipe, and then you can make ReadyScramble(TM) yourself! my prowess as a cook evidently isn’t matched by similar business acumen as i’m giving away my patented recipe for free :-p

ReadyScramble(TM)
ingredients
3 cups water
1 1/4 cup yellow split peas, soaked in hot water overnight, drained, and rinsed
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garlic granules
1 tsp onion granules
1/2 to 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup margarine
1/3 cup shredded vegan cheese (optional)

method
if you forgot to soak your peas overnight, have no fear! just pour boiling water over them, let sit for a couple of hours, drain, then pour more boiling water over and let sit for a couple more hours. if you’re really pressed for time you could try boiling them on the hob for 10 minutes then leaving for an hour. anyways!

put your soaked, drained, rinsed peas into a blender or food processor along with all the spices, nutritional yeast, margarine, and 1/2 cup of water. blend until the peas start to come together into a smooth paste. scrape down the sides of your processor, add another 1/2 cup of water, and blend until smooth.

have a large container, or a couple of smaller ones, ready to use. i oiled mine but that’s not strictly necessary. bring the remaining two cups of water to boil in a large pot. stir in the paste and whisk over high heat nonstop for 8 minutes. an electric whist REALLY helps here, because the mixture will get thick and your arms will get tired. keep an analogue whisk to hand though as my electric one crapped out halfway through :-/

when the 8 minutes is up, whisk in the shredded cheese if using. pour the mixture into its container(s) and let cool for at least an hour.

all you need to do now for a delicious eggy scramble, is crumble a slice into 1 Tbsp hot oil in a frying pan, and let fry on high for a few minutes. put it on toast, muffins, in burritos, in breakfast toasties…now i’m hungry again…maybe time for another scramble……

maple-miso pecans

okay so i made these yesterday but ate them all before i managed to take a picture. so here, enjoy this stock photo of a pecan that’s been put through a sketch filter. #dealwithit

hope y’all had a crackin’ holiday! i did ethiopian food for christmas and it was awesome. but, i made way too much food and had to freeze or throw out loads of leftovers. oh well.

among other things my mum gave me a bag of pecans for christmas, because pecans are wicked expensive over here. i used half the bag to make berbere-spiced pecans, which were crack, and then yesterday i got inspired by the maple syrup my brother gave me (thank you!!) and the bag of hikari miso from the east asian grocer in our fridge.

these pecans are great in salads or just eaten fresh out of the oven, on your own, hiding them from your kids.

happy veganuary!!

maple-miso pecans
ingredients
200-250g pecan halves
1Tbsp miso paste
1Tbsp maple syrup

method
line a tray with baking paper, and spread the pecans over it in an even layer. bake in the oven at 180C until slightly browned and fragrant, about 5-10mins.

meanwhile, mix the miso paste and maple syrup together in a large bowl. you can even add wasabi paste if you want a bit of kick! when you take the pecans out of the oven, tip them all into the bowl and mix well to coat.

spread the pecans back out on the tray, and put back in the oven at 160C for another 5-10mins until they are darker in colour but not burnt. then take them out and try not to burn your fingers and tongue as you stand in front of the cooker eating them all.

yusss cornbread

being a recovering american, this is the time of year where i make loads of traditional thanksgiving food. thanksgiving used to be my favourite holiday, because it was basically all about the cooking and enjoying of food with no other added bollox. there isn’t really an equivalent in the UK – it’s kind of like cooking two christmas dinners.

having grown up in the american south, i get nostalgic for heavy southern-style food this time of year – collard greens, baked sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top, blackeye beans swimming in gravy, and of course dense, moist cornbread to eat it all with!

for the past couple weeks, i’ve been making loads of cornbread. the first recipe i tried was WAY too crumbly. it was useless at mopping up anything, and in the hands of my children it turned into a crumbly mess on my kitchen floor.

isa chandra’s recipe was better but still not quite as dense as i wanted. i then had the brainwave to sub out some of the soya milk for soya yogurt. bam! delicious, dense, moist cornbread. my recipe below.

cornbread
ingredients
2 cups cornmeal
1 cup plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 1/2 cups vegan yogurt
1 cup soya milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 Tbsp golden syrup

method
preheat oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. grease a small baking tin, pour in the mixture and bake for a little over half an hour until a knife inserted into the middle of the bread comes out clean.

i made a fancy thing!! polenta provençal 

sorry for the shitty, multiple-filtered picture. i was going to take a picture immediately upon plating, but i just *had* to have a bite. then, halfway into eating it, i remembered to take a picture. 

so what goes into polenta provençal, i can hear you ask. WELL.

this is a great meal because it looks très fancy but you can prepare all the different components in advance and combine them all together for a super-quick showstopper of a meal.

first thing’s first! go make a whole bunch of the ppk’s chickpea cutlets. you can freeze them before the frying stage too so they’re ready to whip out and cook at a moment’s notice. one of these will sit on top of your polenta, swimming in provençal sauce. 

so i’ll go ahead and write up my polenta and sauce recipes below, for your delectation. 

cheesy polenta
ingredients
1/2 cup cornmeal
3 cups vegetable stock (can use a combination of stock and plant milk for a creamier flavour)
2Tbsp margarine
1tsp garlic granules
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 head’s worth of boiled cauliflower florets, coarsely mashed (optional)
grated vegan cheese to taste (optional)

method
look, i make polenta very simply. some people recommend whisking in the cornmeal after bringing the stock to boil – fuck that. put your cornmeal and cauliflower (if using) into a large pan, and pour the liquid over slowly while stirring. if you stir with a fork it helps prevent and break up lumps.

THEN bring your pan to a boil over high heat. add the garlic granules and pepper. you’re going to want to stir this fairly frequently. 

after you’ve brought it to boil, turn the heat down to a simmer (else it’ll start spitting at you). keep stirring frequently. you’ll notice it thickening up nicely. when it’s at pudding consistency, take it off heat and add the margarine, nooch, and cheese. stir well and ladle it out immediately – it will solidify more as it cools!

if you’re making this in advance and it goes very solid in the fridge, you have a couple options. you can either bake or fry it which is delicious, or if you want it more liquid you can whisk in boiled water in a pan and bring it back to boil.

provençal sauce
ingredients
1 onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, diced into small cubes
2 sticks celery, de-stringed and chopped finely
2Tbsp capers with brine
1 large or 2 medium tomatoes, diced (omit if on a low-potassium diet)
oil or margarine for frying

method
heat the oil or margarine in a skillet over low heat. add the onion, carrot, and celery, stirring to coat in oil. this is a pretty low-maintenance pan right now – just make sure the mirepoix is spread out evenly and leave it for awhile to soften, stirring occasionally. 

you can wait until the onions are translucent and the carrots soft, or you can even leave for longer until the mixture is golden-brown and caramelised. in any case when cooked to your liking add the capers, brine, and tomato if using, and allow to simmer for a bit longer to let the flavours meld. can be used straightaway or refridgerated/frozen.

fad food: tandoori masala tofu

BEHOLD MY ARTY PICTURE

i’ve now eaten deep-fried tofu coated in flour and tandoori masala spice mix over curry noodles for three meals in a row. they make an excellent savoury breakfast. they also make an excellent savoury lunch. or a snack. or, in double portions, a dinner. or a midnight snack. or an excuse-to-eat-it-again noshy nosh nosh.

ANYWAYS. it’s kinda too simple to write it down as a recipe so i’ll just talk you through it.

i picked up a packet of TRS tandoori masala spice mix from my local costcutter. the ingredients are listed as ‘Coriander, Salt, Fenugreek, Cumin, Cinnamon, Chillies, Black Pepper, Ginger, Onion, Garlic, Mustard, Bay Leaves, Nutmeg, Permitted Colour E124 and E102, Citric Acid, Cloves, Mace, Cardamoms’, just in case you can’t find this spice mix or are too posh to buy premixed spice packets and want to mix it yourself. i know i love to add a bit more extra Permitted Colour E124 and E102, really enhances the flavour of the dish.

so i mixed 1 Tbsp of that with about 3 Tbsp plain flour, and a pinch of extra salt. this should be enough to coat half a block of firm tofu – just cut it up into bitty bits, no need to press it or marinate it or any other bullshit. put the flour mixture and the tofu into an airtight container and just shake it around for fuss-free coatage.

et voilà! chuck ’em in yon deep-fat fryer or a pot of hot oil, then dump ’em straight into your tum. great on top of curry noodles or cheesy pasta.

…now i’m hungry.