Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Guest Post - National Vegetarian Week & a Delicous Tofu Recipe from Aly Challoner-Jones

 I love the power of twitter. Mum is really looking at healthy diet and after reading a detox book of her's I decided that I needed to try and get tofu into my life. Jo and I have had mixed success with it but I was sure someone on twitter could help - step up Aly Challoner-Jones who is a "Vegetarian Consultant and Educator". Given that it is also National Vegetarian Week she offered to do a guest blog post and I obviously obliged - the below includes a delicious sounding recipe that Jo and I will be trying very soon. 
Take it away Aly.....
Yes indeed, it’s that time of year….National Vegetarian Week!! When veggies and meaties alike rejoice in the knowledge, they can take pleasure in a whole 7 days of delicious meat free gastronomy. Or for some, beans on toast? Pop a poached egg on the top and I’d be happy. No longer do we associate being vegetarian with lentil stews and peppers stuffed with a variety of grains. Let’s not forget the offerings of cheese in pastry….many different types of pastry and a plethora of bubbling melted cheese, draped over tomatoes and mushrooms! No, we can be a little more adventurous, a little more refined, and a little more inventive than that.
Tofu…beancurd….a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine. It’s a delicious addition to a stir fry or a Thai curry perhaps. High in complete protein and low in fat, it’s right up there on the chart  next to chicken and steak. A versatile ingredient that lends itself to many different methods of cooking and preparation, so what can we do with it? 
This recipe encompasses all aspects of the taste spectrum. We taste with so much more than just our taste buds. We look for colour and appearance, then texture and taste, followed by each step of the experience arriving in sequence. I’ve included some delicious tender seasonal vegetables, as well as flavours that you can adapt and play with depending on personal taste. The recipes are separate, so you can add elements or take away as you wish.
The recipes make enough for 2 people (with a medium appetite!)
Sesame and maple roasted tofu with a salad of crisp seasonal vegetables, light lime and chilli dressing and a sweet potato stack.
For the tofu
200g of firm tofu (Clear Spot brand is good)
1 tbsp maple syrup, or honey if you prefer
2 tbsp sesame seeds
Salt and black pepper for seasoning
A little olive oil, or olive oil spray
Preheat an oven to 180 degrees C or gas mark 4.
Grind the sesame seeds in a pestle or mortar, or food processor if you have one.
Melt the syrup or honey in a small dish, and add a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper.
Pat dry the tofu and cut into batons about a centimetre in diameter.
Brush the batons with a little syrup or honey, and then roll each one in the sesame seeds.
Brush a baking tray with a little oil, lay the tofu batons on the tray and spray or lightly brush each with a little more oil.
Roast for 10 mins, turn and roast for a further 10.
Sweet potato stack
1 large sweet potato weighing about 200g
A little olive oil
A pinch of smoked paprika
Salt and pepper to season
Preheat an oven to 180 degrees C or Gas mark 4.
Peel and thinly slice the potatoes, I used a mandolin but as thin as you can get with a knife is fine.
Using either non stick rings or an oven proof dish, layer up the potato, brushing with oil and seasoning as you go. Keep the prettiest slices for the top!
Brush with a little oil, and sprinkle with smoked paprika
Bake in oven for about 15 minutes, then cover with a piece of foil for the remaining 15.
Lift gently out of the cooking ring, or cut wedges from the dish to serve.
Salad of crisp seasonal vegetables, light lime and chilli dressing
You can be as choosy as you like here! I’ve decided to use Chanteray carrots, leeks, asparagus (of course!) and red pepper.
4 Chanteray carrots
Half a large leek
4 asparagus spears
¼ of a red pepper
For the dressing
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
¼ of a red chilli (no seeds!)
Half a tsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Coriander and chives to finish, a tsp of each, or a few sprigs!
Make the dressing first. Whisk together the lime juice and olive oil until it forms a creamy emulsion. Then stir in the remaining dressing ingredients.
Peel and quarter carrots, steam for 5 minutes over a pan of simmering water. These take the longest.
Next are the asparagus, snap the stem where it breaks naturally, cut into half and add to the carrots so they steam for no more than 3 minutes.
Next cut the leeks into strips, make sure you wash all the soil away. Add these last so they steam for no more than 2 minutes.
Cut the pepper into long thin julienne strips, and leave raw.
Toss the vegetables in the dressing and serve with your tofu batons and sweet potato stack. You might like a little extra dressing on the side….I did!
Enjoy!! I thought you might like to see how I’ve put it together…..Happy National Vegetarian Week!

 Aly Challoner-Jones
Vegetarian Consultant and Educator.
@AbsoluteCooking and Facebook page - Absolute Cooking

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