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Vegan Dark Chocolate Mousse

Vegan Dark Chocolate Mousse

Spring weather is starting to creep in, which clearly calls for celebration. Chocolate mousse anyone?

Even if you’re still freezing your butt off wherever you might reside, it’s hard to say no to that question.

Chocolate mousse, for the win. Always.

Vegan Dark Chocolate Mousse

This particular vegan variation feels like a favorable surprise. Inside lays a whole carton of tofu yet, its taste goes undetected. Instead, the tofu bestows a wonderfully silky texture, so creamy that you’d swear there was actual cream in this recipe.

But alas there is not, nor do you need any cream to make this mousse feel as rich as any of its dairy-filled counterparts.

Let’s celebrate that, too.

Vegan Dark Chocolate Mousse

Heavenly chocolaty and smooth, this mousse is a winner. Throw it in the freezer an hour before serving, and it becomes even better. Finish it off with some fruit to lighten up its richness, and voila.

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Japanese Miso and Seaweed Noodle Soup

Japanese Miso and Seaweed Noodle Soup

With 1-degree wind chills and the first dusting of snow, it only seemed natural to whip up a big pot of soup.

A little urban exploration and camera venture outdoors left my frigid hands wanting nothing more than a warm bowl to hold. My red cheeks were longing for that steam-filled facial, too.

And so began the soup-making.

Japanese Miso and Seaweed Noodle Soup

Originally, this was designed to be a ramen recipe. But when you get to the store and no ramen noodles are to be found, that needn’t be reason to abandon ship.

Instead, I found a funky package of raw kelp noodles laying on the shelf near the empty ramen spot. Resembling cooked rice noodles upon first look, I decided to give it a whirl. Plus, the package sold me on the claim of tons of trace minerals captured inside…

Japanese Miso and Seaweed Noodle Soup

The kelp strands were slightly crunchy – almost like a julienned cucumber – but also smooth and mild like a rice noodle.

I’d eat them again, and would recommend them for this recipe, especially if you’re seeking a light, New-Year-resolution-friendly, goodbye-sickness meal. Although, ramen or rice noodles will certainly work just as well – and play a heartier role.

Japanese Miso and Seaweed Noodle Soup

The broth here gets its flavor from kombu, one of my favorite seaweeds, and also from ginger, garlic and mushrooms. Feel free to play around with dried mushroom and other veggie combinations. But don’t skip the seaweed. It’s chock full of vitamins and minerals, and also able to develop an awesome, vegetarian umami flavor.

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Tofu Banh Mi

Tofu Banh Mi

I love a good banh mi sandwich. And there are plenty of places to get one in Philadelphia. Each, I enjoy for different reasons, and each I’ve taken away elements for designing my own.

Tofu Banh Mi

The key to a memorable vegetarian version isn’t complicated. You need flavorful tofu — i.e., a marinade before it hits the pan. A sauce or spread to lather the bun. And quality, crusty bread. Pickled veggies are an essential, too, but that can go pretty much unsaid.

Tofu Banh Mi

I’ve given my best attempt to take all of this and wrap it into my own tofu banh mi recipe. It’s fun and incredibly easy to make your own picked daikon, and I’d recommend giving it a try. Feel free to throw some other veggies into the brine, too, like jalapeños or carrots. Also, be generous with the curry mayo spread on your bread. It’ll add that hint of creaminess that goes so well with the fresh veg.

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Tatsoi Saag Paneer

Tatsoi Saag Paneer

Saag Paneer has always been one of my favorite Indian dishes. It’s super savory, has that slight hint of both sweet and rich components going on from a touch of cream, and has a smoothness that feels divine on top of Naan, or even rice.

It’s also incredibly easy to create at home, which isn’t always the case when it comes to Indian food.

Tatsoi

Technically, this dish would require whipping up your own mild, fresh cheese, known as the paneer, which in itself isn’t actually all that complicated. However, this version of Saag Paneer swaps the cheese for tofu, making it even more convenient and quick to whip up. Perhaps I should rename it to Saag Tofu, but I think the Tatsoi in the title is enough of a curveball in itself.

What’s tatsoi, and what’s it doing in this recipe? Typically, at least in the states, Saag Paneer is made with spinach. You could certainly use that in my version too, and I’ve included instructions to do so. However, I chose to use tatsoi instead, because, well, I have a garden full of it. If you’re wondering what to do with your own tatsoi, I would highly recommend you put it to use in this.

Tatsoi Saag Paneer

Like spinach, tatsoi is a tender green, although with just slightly more of a bite…especially when you let it reach its flowering point in the garden. (Pick it before this if you can.)

In comparison to most other greens though, the flavor is subtle, and the texture is creamy. This makes it so adaptable for this dish, where the dominance of flavors should remain in its collection of spices.

Tatsoi

If you’re not familiar with tatsoi, try it out if you can and get your adventure thriving in the kitchen. It grows abundantly during the spring months, and can also be found for pretty cheap in most Asian markets. Again though, spinach is a guaranteed go-to, and will also work wonders here, so have no fear if tatsoi can’t be found.

Philadelphia Community Garden

Serve the Saag alongside basmati rice, preferably of the fiber-rich, brown variety, and a warm piece of naan. This dish will also goes well with a wide range of other Indian dishes, from curries to masalas, and more. So if you feel inspired, make a feast.

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Winter Soba Noodle Soup with Chili Sesame Oil

Winter Soba Noodle Soup with Chili Sesame Oil

When it rains, it pours.

There was a time a couple years ago when my car got towed while I was away, traveling for a month. An entire month in a Philly tow truck lot costs the equivalent to an entire month of a lot of people’s salaries. It was an unfortunate way to return home from a trip. To further this unfortunate nonsense, my wallet got stolen the week that followed. And in the days that followed that, I got hit by a car (luckily without much injury). To end out that week, I was laid off from a steady freelance gig, because times were apparently tough for everyone that year.

It was a month of rain – the kind where lighting seems to strike down without warning, and the power goes out, and you’re left in silence wondering what to learn from the entire situation as you wait for the lights to turn on again. (Part of what I learned is that tears don’t work on Philly tow truck guys, ever. Ever. Sometimes money situations aren’t fun, but they aren’t usually worth that whole breath-stealing mountain of your stress. And sometimes it just pours in life, and if you don’t learn to move on, you’ll become a miserable human being. Like I imagine the tow truck people are.)

Fast forward two years later, and again, it appears to be pouring. However, this time it’s that good kind of storm, where the sun’s somehow peaking out while the drops are still falling, and you’re looking at the sky in pure awe. Waves of rain. That is life, at least from my own experience.

Kale

It feels like everything I’ve been working at for awhile now is starting to all pick up steam. All at the exact same time, spearheading in one single month. I’ve had my soup spoon in a million different pots these past few years, so a lot is going on right now. Crazy.

It’s a weird, terrifying, exciting, overwhelming[ly satisfying] feeling that often leaves me in this bright-eyed, slightly wiped area. My time these days is running short, which is where food and cooking comes in.

I’m a firm believer in finding balance and space to connect with those you love – and what better way than through food? Ideally, that’s in the kitchen, over shared conversation and creativity, if you have any creative steam remaining.

Winter Soba Noodle Soup with Chili Sesame Oil

This was one of those Sunday soups, dreamed up on a rainy (speaking literally here) afternoon with one of my good friends. She brought some tiny thai chilies from her parents’ garden, which inspired the hot sesame chili oil that gets drizzled on top. Collaboration – it’s the start of all good things.

Full of hearty-healthiness, this soup is perfect for when you need brain power and stamina, and just something that tastes downright awesome in your bowl. It’s nourishing, packed with kale, butternut, and seaweed, and warming for the winter. Feel free to adjust how many chilies you use in the sesame oil, depending on your desire for spice and warmth!

P.S. FoodFitnessFreshAir is coming alive tomorrow night! For all my Philly friends, I’ll be running the food truck inside Garage bar, serving up socca with tons of fancy sauces, and simple, quality toppings. 6p.m. till sold out! Introduce yourself. Come say hello. Join me.

On tap:
-Beet Pesto with Arugula & Bulgarian Feta
-Curry Coconut Lentils with Roasted Carrots & Spicy Thai Chili
-Fire-Roasted Eggplant with Black Tahina, Honey Labane, Crispy Chickpeas, and Pomegranate Sauce

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