Monthly Archives: March 2018

Beginners guide to Tofu

Tofu: Tips ‘n’ Techniques!

Types:

The 2 main types widely available to buy in the UK are Firm & Silken.

Blocks of firm tofu are generally found in the fridge section of supermarkets and the leading brand is by Cauldron but there is now also a brand called Tofoo. I buy both of these. (They both also have flavoured tofu in their ranges which are ready to cook straight from the pack without any draining/ pressing or marinating).

Silken tofu is in a box/carton which is generally located on the aisle shelf in the world foods sections. It’s a totally different texture and much softer than firm. My favourite brand is an organic one by Clearspring.

Preparation:

For firm tofu there are a couple of options on how to prepare it.

  • If you don’t mind a softer texture you can drain the liquid and use it straight out the pack.
  • If you prefer a firmer texture then after draining you can press it to squeeze out even more liquid. You can press it by wrapping in kitchen paper and dish cloths and weighing it down with heavy objects (…books, casserole dishes, toasters… you name it!) The longer you leave it the firmer the texture but usually 30 minutes to an hour will be fine.
  • Another option here is to freeze the whole pack. You can then defrost the tofu and use without pressing, as the excess liquid will drain out during defrosting.

For silken tofu you can use it as is straight from the pack.

Because firm tofu has more texture you can slice it or cut into pieces or crumble it (more info under Cooking).

Silken is generally best for blitzing into puddings etc or for tofu scramble but it can also be sliced and deep-fried but it won’t hold the same sort of shape as firm tofu

Marinade:

Once you have pressed your tofu, you can flavour it by marinating with various herbs, spices and sauces.

Tofu is very sponge like and will absorb whatever flavours you coat it with. The longer you leave it to soak in the dressing, the stronger the flavours, however it is not necessary to leave it marinating for very long periods, even several minutes will suffice.

You can also simply add your sauces of choice whilst cooking or directly before cooking and still achieve excellent results.

Experiment with different ways and find what you like best.

Cooking:

Tofu is so versatile and tastes great cooked in many different ways. Here are some examples:

  • Fry – stir fry in oil with herbs, spices, soy sauce etc or marinate then shallow fry.
  • Deep fry – coat with batter or breadcrumbs and deep fry
  • Bake – you can marinate your tofu then bake it in the oven (either in small pieces or larger slices).
  • Scramble – simply crumble firm or silken tofu into a frying pan (more info under Suggestions).
  • BBQ, Airfry, George Foreman grill, Waffle iron… try cooking it in as many ways as you can think of!
  • Simply add straight to the pot with soups/ stews etc.

Suggestions:

  • Tofu scramble – crumble tofu of choice into a frying pan with a little oil and add Turmeric to add colour and Nutritional Yeast and soy sauce for flavour. If you like an eggy flavour you can add Black Salt (Kala namak – it’s actually pink in colour) keep stirring until cooked to desired consistency. Try adding other flavours and/or ingredients. Mushrooms, onion and baby tomatoes go really well as do peppers and courgette. A lovely breakfast/ brunch dish, or indeed at any time of day! Goes great in breakfast burritos.
  • As above but spice with Mexican chilli flavours and use in fajitas.
  • Create an omelette blending silken tofu with chickpea flour (gram flour) – the thicker your mixture the more you can create a thick frittata style dish using sliced potatoes and any other vegetables you want to add.
  • ToFish – Drain tofu, press if desired. Coat with nori (seaweed) sheets and batter mixture.

Try using Follow Your Heart Vegan Egg mix or chia seed egg or flax egg before coating with batter or breadcrumbs (more info on vegan egg ).

  • Tofu katsu curry – As above coat your tofu with vegan egg mix and panko breadcrumbs then fry or bake and serve with katsu curry.
  • Tofu ‘egg’ salad – crumble and blend tofu of choice (this works with frim or silken – or try with both types together) with vegan mayonnaise and/or salad cream / vegan plain yogurt to create an ‘egg mayo’ type filling. You can add a little turmeric for colour and black salt for added eggy flavour.
  • Tofu ‘ricotta’ – replace ricotta cheese in recipes with silken tofu; blend with vegan cream cheese and nutritional yeast for extra flavour.
  • Puddings – Tofu can be used in a wide array of sweet dishes including a simple chocolate pudding – simply blend silken tofu with chocolate powder and maple syrup or agave with a little vanilla extract for a deliciously sweet dessert that’s still good for you!
  • Or add tofu to shakes and smoothies for extra protein and added texture!

 

Tofu is a fantastic ingredient for cooking once you get used to it. Experiment and find out how you like it best. It’s so versatile, inexpensive and good for you! A great source of vegan protein!

 

Recipes:

Easy choc pudding:

Ingredients

  • 1x 300g box soft silken tofu (e.g. Clearspring)
  • 4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp agave nectar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pistachios

Directions

  1. Blend tofu, cocoa, agave and vanilla in food processor. Pour into serving dishes; top with berries and nuts.

 

Yummy tahini baked tofu

Ingredients

  • 1 block firm tofu, drained and pressed, cut into pieces or sliced
  • 1 – 2 tbsp soy sauce or Bragg liquid aminos
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F / 200 c
  2. Oil a flat baking pan or dish. Place in the pan so that the slices overlap
  3. Mix the sauce ingredients in a bowl until it is a cream like consistency. Add a little water to thin if needed.
  4. Pour mixture over tofu and bake until lightly golden – about 20 minutes

 

 

I absolutely adore tofu, I enjoy experimenting with it as it’s such a versatile ingredient in terms of texture and tastes you can create with it. Have fun and enjoy tasting your tofu creations!

 

 

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To Do list… or not To Do List

Image result for to do list

I write.

I write because I want to write.

I write because it helps me.

To understand, to make sense, to solve, to support, to guide and to soothe.

I’m on holiday but I still brought my notepad and pen. Because the urge to write is always there. I can’t switch it off. In fact, the urge comes stronger and deeper and more intense when I am on holiday.

Because my brain is switching off… Not immediately… but little by little, moment by moment, day by day… and by switching off to the old, the mundane, the idle chitter-chatter and constant full on brain-pain and brain-fog… I can allow my poor, weary mind to breathe… to relax, stretch and sigh… and make a little space for… well, everything.

And when I do, the inspiration comes thick and fast. Everything has more meaning. More intensity. More depth. The colours are brighter and the food tastes sweeter and the air I breathe goes deeper. And I feel awake – alive – totally and utterly switched on… to life! To LIVING! And I feel the need to write more than ever. I need to let it all out.

So on this notebook page my words are pouring… letting it out, letting it go…

But then I stop and turn the page because a new and urgent thought (or two, or three) has just popped into my thoughts and I feel the burning need to write it (them) down…

My dominant hand, the one holding the pen, the one with the almighty power takes a crisp, clean page and begins to write, To Do List.

I instantly hate myself.

Why am I doing this?

I attempt to appease myself and next to No.1 on the hot-list write: Chill. Chill. And CHILL!!!

Okay. That’s better, I think…

I follow No.2 with: Forget ‘Must’s’ and ‘To Do’s’ and ‘List’s’… and just ‘BE’.

Be present.

Be in the moment.

Let each moment unfold as it needs to and as it will.

Don’t interfere.

Don’t force or try or pre-empt. Just simply be there. Be there so much that each and every part of everyday fills you up, so you are totally of that experience at any given time.

Not thinking about what happened yesterday or what might happen later.

Just completely… right there.

I want to walk the same path along the ocean and stand and stare in wonder at its beauty, each and every time like I did the first time.

I don’t want to get used to it… to take it for granted… or be too busy thinking about what’s next on the list to notice.

But…

How do I get rid of this nagging in my brain? This overwhelm of so many thoughts and ideas and plans… that literally make me feel like my little mind computer simply has no more space to store?

I write.

I write To Do Lists.

But I don’t want my trusty To Do Lists to interfere and complicate the beauty and simplicity of just DOing and BEing while I’m on holiday; whilst I’m wanting to be as present and as in the moment as I can possibly be… without some uptight To-Do list hanging over me, tapping me on the shoulder every few minutes and saying, “Ahem, isn’t there something else you should be doing right now?”

I want to lay and read for as long as I want to read. I want to eat when I feel a niggle of hunger. I want to nap whenever my eyelids feel heavy and nap for as long as my body decides it needs before I rouse gently and easily to the sound of distant laughter and not the abrupt noise of my alarm clock.

I want to do all these things at precisely the time I feel like doing them and not because I have dinner reservations or something else dictated and outlined on a list.

But there is merit in having a plan… oh I dunno, little things like getting more done for example. (But is ‘getting / having / doing / being’ more, less about what holidays are about… and more about what real life is about anyway? And thus the whole point of going on holiday; to get away from that for a couple of weeks?)

And is planning really just a clever façade to avoid risk-taking?

Planning is essentially a control mechanism – a means by which we can feel we assert some sort of power over our lives and how they pan out. And control comes from fear. If we are so used to, in our normal day to day lives, planning and have this feeling of control, then of course it’s going to be so much harder to shake this off and let it go completely; the ‘what if’s’ and the potential for things to go wrong feels almost too big to bear. It also likely comes in part from that lovely acronym FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).

So how do we create balance?

Is there value in wasting time wisely?

A lack of a plan or outline can create stress; uncertainty; can feel like wasting time. Or on the other hand being so anally retentive and obsessing over plans and timings, that there’s no room for manoeuvre and then that creates stress.

So balance – a bit of structure so that the part of your ‘safe’ zone brain feels secure; enough plans to have rough outline but loose enough that you can go with the flow of life… as life changes and as you do, i.e. weather, mood, circumstance, health etc…

And key things – the main things you want to do are prioritised but remain open as to how or when you do them. Or, if there are key things that can only be attended to on set days or times, start with that as a basis and let all else unfold around it.

The result being that we feel secure by having a bit of a plan for the key areas but relaxed enough that we can let all else unfold naturally around it. Balance.

As John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens when we’re busy making plans” …so put your paper and pen down every once in a while (and your smart phones too for that matter but that’s another story)… be exactly where you are and savour every delicious, unplanned moment.