Fried Tofu Strips

Fried chicken is a southern staple in the US. It’s also an extremely popular food in the Black community. So, I’ve had my fair share of fried chicken over the years, pre-vegan. When I went vegan, it was crazy to experience fried « chicken ». I couldn’t believe (and still can’t believe) that I was having something that I couldn’t ever imagine being able to enjoy as a vegan. I know I haven’t had even a modicum of the fried « chicken » that so many brilliant vegan chefs and minds have created, but I wanted to contribute in some small way by making my own version of something that could easily be made at home. It absolutely mimics the flavor of fried meat… is it as good as the fried chick’n I’ve tried so far? That’s debatable. Is it healthier that any fried chick’n I’ve tried so far? Also debatable. Did I make several test batches and eat most of them in one sitting, by myself? Abso-frickin-lutely.

ATTENTION: This recipe requires 24 hours of prep time! Please plan accordingly!

What You’ll Need:

For the Dry Batter:

  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour (gluten-free flour can also be used)
  • 3 tbsp seasoning salt
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp parsley

Wet Ingredients:

  • 4 flax eggs: about 3 tbsp water + 1 tbsp flax seeds = 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Other Ingredients:

1 package of extra firm, organic tofu

What to Do:

Step six, slice the tofu once down the middle horizontally while it is laying flat.
  1. Freeze the entire pack of extra firm tofu overnight, or for at least 24 hours until fully frozen.
  2. Take the tofu out of the freezer and let it thaw fully– you can speed up the thawing process by placing the package of tofu in a bowl of hot water. Most of the time, I took it out before leaving in the morning, letting it thaw until I returned home for the day.
  3. Once tofu has fully thawed, open package and drain of water completely.
  4. Wrap the block of tofu in a thin cloth or with a few paper towels and press the tofu of any additional water for about 3-5 minutes. While the tofu is wrapped up, use a tofu press or something with weight to help drain the excess water.
  5. After pressing, let the tofu sit for an additional 15-20 minutes to air dry (I know, this recipe requires a lot of prep time, but it’s worth it! :-)). The tofu should be as dry as possible– this is very important, otherwise the water will seep out and change the flavor of the fried strips.
  6. Slice the tofu once down the middle horizontally while it is laying flat. Keep the two pieces together and slice the tofu vertically 4-5 times. You should have 8-10 evenly sliced tofu strips.
  7. Set tofu strips aside and prepare the flax eggs. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the ratio of water with flax seeds (3 tbsp:1 tbsp) x4 to create 4 flax eggs. Whisk together with a fork. Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes to thicken. You may need to add an additional 1/2 to one tbsp of water if the mixture becomes too thick (you want it to be slightly slimy).
  8. While the flax egg is thickening, prepare the dry ingredients to create the fry batter. In a large bowl, combine the flour, paprika, garlic powder, dried parsley and seasoning salt. Whisk together thoroughly until well mixed.
  9. Placed the entire amount of the vegetable oil in a medium-sized frying pan (a large pan can be used, but may cause the oil to be too shallow– add about 1/8 cup more oil if using a large pan).
  10. Heat the oil over medium heat (about 3-5 minutes; test by dropping a very tiny water droplet in the oil to see if it sizzles– DO NOT stand over the oil when testing if it’s hot); while oil is heating, check the flax eggs. Remember, they should be only slightly gelatinous and a little slimy– not too thick.
  11. Create an assembly line of flax egg then the dry batter mixture, then the frying pan.
  12. Gently place one tofu strip into the flax eggs and turn to lightly fully coat. I used one hand for the flax eggs and one for the dry batter so that the dry batter didn’t become too clumpy in the bowl and on my hand as I continued to dip strips.
  13. Gently bring the coated strip over to the dry batter and fully coat.
  14. Gently bring the strip over to the frying pan and place it on one side of the pan.
  15. Place about 3-5 strips of coated tofu into the frying pan, about 1/2 inch apart.
  16. Fry each piece for approximately 4-5 minutes on one side, turn the strip over and fry that side for an additional 3-5 minutes.
  17. Use tongs to gently remove each strip, and place it on a dish or in a container that has been lined with thin clothes or paper towels to drain the strips of excess oil.
  18. Let cool for several minutes, then, transfer to a serving dish.
  19. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley, serve and enjoy! These strips taste amazing with my tangy aioli– you can find that recipe here.

Date Posted on Instagram: 8/1/2019

Spicy Asian Slaw

I’ve never been a fan of coleslaw. Before I was vegan, I hated coleslaw. After I became vegan, I hated coleslaw. There’s never really been any version of coleslaw that I’ve liked. Then, one day I realized that the main reason I didn’t like coleslaw was because every time I had it, it was always mushy. And I have texture issues with mushy food. As I dug deeper into my disdain for for this BBQ side dish staple, I realized another reason I didn’t like it was because I wasn’t crazy about the combo of veggies that was often found in it. So, I set out to make my own slaw, because that’s what food is all about. Creating new flavors; taking the old and breathing new life into it, reinventing dishes and creating entirely new flavors altogether. It’s taken some time, but I’m finally starting to break away from the limitations I put on myself with food. I’m making sweet tofu scrams, experimenting with the flavor of veggies and just doing whatever I want because that’s usually how the best dishes are created. A little bit of creativity, a little bit of science, and in my case, a whole lotta crazy.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1/2 cup scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 cup beets, spiralized (you can buy them pre-spiralized or spiralize them yourself)
  • 1/2 cup Bosc pear, diced
  • 3-4 tbsp. cilantro, finely chopped
  • Additional cilantro for garnish
  • 1/4 cup wasabi mayo*

What to Do:

  1. on a cutting board, slice the spiralized beets roughly to create smaller shreds and spirals. Leave some different lengths but try not to have any pieces that are more than 2-3 inches in length.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the beet spirals, red cabbage, scallion and pear.
  3. Mix until well blended.
  4. Add the wasabi mayo and mix again until mayo is well blended into the slaw.
  5. Add cilantro and mix into the slaw.
  6. Transfer slaw to a serving dish and garnish with more fresh cilantro; you can enjoy alone or as a side with another meal. I also used this slaw as a filling for some delicious summer rolls!**

* To make the wasabi mayo, combine 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise (I used Trader Joe’s vegan spread and dressing) and 1 heaping tbsp. of wasabi paste. Mix the two items together vigorously until well blended. You can find wasabi paste in the Asian or international foods section of your local grocery, or go to an Asian market.

** This recipe is for a small batch of slaw that will yield about 2-3 servings. The dressing measurements also allow for the slaw to remain crunchy and not become soggy, even after sitting overnight. To make a larger batch, simply double the amounts of everything, but try to keep the ratios of dry and wet ingredients the same so you do not make the slaw too wet.

 

Date posted on Instagram: 12/16/18

Charred Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes are another food I’ve actually been a fan of since way before going vegan. They were a staple in any salad I ever made; in fact, they were my preferred salad tomato– way more so than actual salad tomatoes, which ironically are now my favorite salad tomatoes. But I never really sought out variety in the tiny little orbs of juicy tomato goodness, and it wasn’t until after I was vegan that I became aware of all the beautiful variations cherry tomatoes had to offer. I used to be embarrassed to talk about how limited my food knowledge was pre-vegan, until I realized two things: 1) I wasn’t alone. There are plenty of people who don’t have a vast knowledge of these things, plenty of people who grew up eating like crap and living in a bubble when it came to fresh food awareness and knowledge. 2) I didn’t want to feel like a poser, pretending to know about all the varieties of fruits and veggies that exist out there, as if I was some great food God gifted with all the knowledge of plant-foods, never needing to learn and grow like everyone else. So why not be honest about everything I learn about along the way, hopefully inspiring others to grow their fresh, whole-foods knowledge as well? Wow, who knew cherry tomatoes could be so powerful?

charred cherry tomatoes closeup

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 1/2 cups of rainbow cherry tomatoes
  • Fresh parsley to garnish
  • 2 teaspoons pink Himalayan sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Fire source such as a stove burner, torch, or other safe source that can provide a flame*

 

What to Do:

  1.  Turn stove-top burner on medium to high heat.
  2. Poke a very small hole at one end of the tomato with a fork. This hole is for ventilation.
  3. Remove fork and puncture the tomato again with another tiny hole, this time leaving the fork inside to hold the tomato.
  4. Place tomato directly over flame, holding it in position for approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  5. Rotate tomato around flame to char the other sides of the tomato. The skin will pop and peel due to the heat. It may also make some noise, but this is normal — make sure you have the vent hole in each tomato!
  6. Repeat this process with each tomato. This may feel a bit time consuming but it shouldn’t take longer than 15-20 minutes, depending on how many tomatoes you are charring. If you have a metal skewer stick, you can place multiple tomatoes on it at once to make the process quicker. Make sure you are using metal and not a wooden skewer, as the wood will burn.
  7. Transfer charred tomatoes to a serving dish. Add olive oil and gently mix into tomatoes.
  8. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

 

 

 

* I used a stove-top burner for this recipe. I believe most chefs use a torch to char food, so it may be easier to use that method. If you have a torch on hand, by all means use it! If you have another fire source that can achieve the same affect, use that!. I think a stove-top is the most economical way to make this recipe. It also feels like making tomato s’mores, so that’s always fun.

 

Date posted on Instagram: 9/3/2018

Cracked Black Pepper and Mushroom Alfredo Sauce (Raw)

I LOVE alfredo sauce. Unfortunately, the classic and traditional style of this sauce is filled with dairy. However, one of the most beautiful things about my vegan journey has been discovering all the foods I can still eat without dairy or meat in them. This is another recipe I created during my raw vegan week challenge. If I’m being 100% honest, I was kind of surprised at how good it turned out! If you’ve had a chance to read my blog post on my week of eating raw, it was so good that it literally gave me the energy boost I needed to continue with the challenge during mid-week when I was getting a little tired of eating uncooked food and missed all my hot goodies. It truly reminded me of the alfredo sauces I used to eat– rich, creamy, and flavorful. So try it out and don’t say I didn’t warn you — it may very well be addictive!

raw cracked black pepper and mushroom alfredo

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup of your favorite plant-milk (I used almond milk)*
  • 3-4 tablespoons of tahini
  • 3/4 cup unsalted cashews (can be raw but not required)
  • 1/2 cup baby bella mushrooms (cremini)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, chopped thickly
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

 

What to Do:

  1.  Combine all ingredients in a food processor.
  2. Pulse sauce in intervals until well blended.
  3. You want the sauce to be smooth and creamy; add more milk if necessary.
  4. Serve over noodles or veggies. Taste great as a raw recipe but can be heated up as well.

 

* I think almond or soy may be the best for this recipe because they are both a little thicker. Oat milk for example, is slightly thinner and the goal is to have a rich sauce. But experiment and see what works best for you and your taste buds!

** this recipe can also be made nut-free by omitting the cashews and replacing them with an additional 1 tbsp. of tahini (so, about 5 tbsp. total) and an additional 1/2 tbsp. of nutritional yeast. Combine all ingredients and blend, as in the original instructions.

 

Date posted on Instagram: 7/17/18

**Updated: June 14, 2019**

Tangy Aioli

Sauces are great. I love fries with ketchup. I love nuggets with BBQ or sweet and sour sauce. I love tofu scram or breakfast potatoes with salsa. The list goes on. I also love a good multi-purpose, tangy sauce. And this aioli is just that. Fun fact: traditionally, an aioli was a mixture of a whole bunch of pounded garlic, mixed into an egg, lemon juice and olive oil concoction. Today, an aioli is pretty much interchangeable with mayo, but, I usually here “aioli” used when referring to more flavorful sauces than your typical, plain mayonnaise. Not only is this aioli just as sandwich-friendly as mayo, it’s anything but plain.

IMG_6472

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise (I used Trader Joe’s Vegan Spread and Dressing)
  • 3-4 tablespoons Thai chili sauce (I used a garlic chili pepper sauce by a brand called A Taste of Thai)*
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons minced parsley
  • the juice of 1/2 large lemon or 1 small lemon
  • the juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon of white vinegar (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

What to Do:

  1.  Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Mix all ingredients together well and adjust seasoning amounts if necessary to suit your taste.

* This sauce is amazing! Since finding it at Whole Foods, I put it on almost everything! It has a very low heat index and focuses more on flavor. It’s SO good! It’s perfect for this aioli, but if you can’t find it at your local Whole Foods Market or are not located near a Whole Foods, simply look for a Thai chili sauce or a chili sauce at any ethnic (Asian or Indian) market, at any big-box store, Target, and of course, check your local supermarkets!

Date posted on Instagram: 8/25/18

(not posted on it’s own but as a drizzled sauce over crab cakes!)

Sautéed Swiss Chard

This was my first time using swiss chard. The leaves were a little bitter to taste (which I later found out is a common occurrence, ha), and I thought adding vinegar would counter that — I also served them with something sweeter to balance it out. I got a few differing opinions on these greens, one saying that the bitterness came from the stems and that I should de-stem them. However, I also asked a chef who works in a kitchen that is currently serving a dish that uses swiss chard, stems and all. They told me that younger leaves may be better. Still not entirely sure, but I liked the way these turned out, so I’m happy either way.

img_4996-e1531289217856.jpg

 

What You’ll Need:

  • Approximately 5-6 full leaves of swiss chard, chopped, with stems cut off and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

 

What to Do:

  1. Heat a skillet on low to medium heat with olive oil.
  2. Once hot, place swiss chard in skillet and stir to mix with olive oil.
  3. Add salt and pepper and stir.
  4. Saute swiss chard for approximately 3-4 minutes, then reduce heat to a low simmer.
  5. dd vinegar to skillet and mix well with chard.
  6. Simmer chard in vinegar for approximately 2-3 minutes.
  7. Return heat to low to medium and stir chard occasionally until most of vinegar has absorbed into chard.
  8. Add more salt and pepper to taste is necessary. Bon appetit!

 

 

 

Date posted on Instagram: 6/28/18

Balsamic Ginger Glazed Carrots

These carrots were insane. Although glazed carrots scream autumn, I needed something to counter the taste of the swiss chard I was making for a dish. I thought sweet would counter bitter. That’s the only reason I decided to make glazed carrots — but this was the embodiment of necessity being the mother of invention! Okay, so I know I didn’t invent glazed carrots, but these were seriously good. And I would have never thought to make them if it weren’t for the swiss chard. Well, maybe I would have thought to make them for like, Thanksgiving or something — but that’s a really long time away. Okay, just make these carrots because they taste amazing.

Balsamic Glaze carrots close up

What You’ll Need:

  • Approximately 1/2 pound of organic baby carrots, stems removed (I got mine from the farmer’s market)
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons agave
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • glass container with lid (big enough to fit carrots)

organic baby carrots
Organic baby carrots.

What to Do:

  1. Wash carrots thoroughly.
  2. Place baby carrots in container and add vinegar and ginger; mix carrots into vinegar mixture well until all carrots are covered.
  3. Cover container with lid and place in fridge. Let carrots marinate for an hour, minimum 30 minutes.
  4. Remove carrots from fridge and set aside to become room temperature.
  5. Heat a skillet on low to medium heat with olive oil in it.
  6. Once hot, remove carrots from container and add to skillet. Add salt to carrots and stir into olive oil; let saute for approximately 3 minutes.
  7. Reduce heat to a simmer and add remaining balsamic marinade to skillet. Stir marinade into carrots.
  8. Let carrots simmer for approximately 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  9. Add agave to skillet, and stir into carrots well.
  10. Turn up heat to low and let carrots saute, stirring frequently to avoid agave from burning and sticking on the pan.
  11. Saute carrots for approximately 4 more minutes or until carrots are tender and have started to gain a caramelized glaze. Remove from heat. Bon appetit!

Date posted on Instagram: 6/28/18