Smoking your own tofu is a supreme act of self love. And it is actually a lot easier than you might think!
To do this, you will need to get a small smoke box and some apple wood chips from your local gourmet shop. I purchased a BBQ smoke box for $10 at The Gourmet Warehouse. They also have stove top smokers for about $40, but I opted for the cheaper do-it-yourself route.
Make sure to purchase the wood chips meant for a stove top smoker, as they are a much finer grind.
1/2 block of firm organic tofu
1 1/2 cup water
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp Apple wood smoke chips, stove top smoker grade
1 large pot or wok with lid, wide enough to fit smoke box inside
1 small BBQ smoke box
1 small wire or wooden rack, small enough to fit inside pot
1) Mix salt and water to form a brine. Place tofu in storage container and cover with brine. Let brine overnight ideally, but if you are in a pinch you can brine it for an hour.
2) Mix wood chips in a bowl with a little water, enough to moisten them. Let them soak for 20 minutes.
3) Line bottom of smoke box with tinfoil. Cover bottom of box with soaked wood chips.
4) Cover smoke box with lid and place in pot on stove.
5) Place wire rack over smoke box.
6) Remove tofu from brine and slice into inch thick strips.
7) Place tofu on wire rack.
8) Cover top of pot with tinfoil and put lid on pot.
9) Turn heat up to high. Make sure to open your windows/doors and put on your fan.
10) Smoke the tofu for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the pieces darken in color.
11) Remove from heat and your tofu is ready to use!
The Refinery (1115 Granville street) in Vancouver is known for it's innovative cocktails, charcuterie, Ocean Wise seafood, fresh breads and antipasti. It is also vegan friendly.
I was dining with a vegetarian friend so we shared two delightful plates. First up was the beet salad, featuring tender spring greens, sweet beets and goat cheese crostini. My friend ate the crostini and I had the lovely salad.
Sweet cherry tomatoes and crisp walnuts finish off this playful beet salad.
Next was the organic vegetable flat bread, finished with truffle oil. Normally this comes with goat cheese, but the chef was gracious enough to leave half of the flat bread plain.
Crisp flat bread, sweet peppers, olives and zucchini, basil chiffonade and white truffle oil
Our server picked up on the vegan vibe and even brought us over two deconstructed pina coladas, finished with coconut milk, sweet and spicy rum and tangy lime.
It was a delightful meal and the service was friendly, prompt and professional. All my annoying vegan requests were met with a smile and I was never made to feel like I was inconveniencing them.
For an exceptional vegan dining experience, check out The Refinery! I know I'll be back soon.
I've spent a good year brainstorming how to create the perfect vegan poached egg. Some of my other food blogger contemporaries have come up with their own renditions, but I think mine comes the closest so far.
Take a look for yourself....
The Best Vegan Poached Eggs on the Internet. Hands down.
Mini Hand chopper (you could use a food processor or a blender as well)
Silicon egg poaching cups are the key to success in this recipe
Make the compound butter
1) Fill frying pan with water and bring to a boil
2) While waiting for the water to boil, make the 'egg yolk' by mixing the Earth Balance and nutritional yeast together to form a compound butter
3) Put compound butter in fridge
If your Earth Balance is at room temperature you can mix the compound butter more easily
Make the Cheese Sauce
1) Put the Daiya and almond milk in a saucepan.
2) Bring to a boil, stirring constantly
3) Reduce heat to low and set sauce aside, stirring occasionally
To Make the 'Eggs'
1) Blend the tofu, Kala Namak, agar agar and water in hand chopper. Blend til very smooth.
Kala Namak is an Indian salt containing sulfur, which gives the tofu it's egg flavor.
2) Spray the silicon egg poaching cups with vegetable oil
3) Fill cup 2/3 of the way up with tofu mixture
The agar agar acts as a solidifying agent and helps set the tofu.
4) Place egg cups in boiling water and cover with lid. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the sides of the tofu are firm and pull away from the sides of the cup.
5) Take a teaspoon and gently spoon out some tofu from the centre of each 'egg'. You want to make a small hole for the compound butter to sit in. Careful not to spoon all the way to the bottom or your compound butter will leak out.
6) Take the compound butter out of the fridge. Use a clean spoon to spoon half of the butter into each hole.
Try not to get any compound butter outside the hole or your eggs won't seal properly
7) QUICKLY spoon the remaining tofu over the compound butter and spread til smooth.
You want to seal the compound butter inside like an egg yolk, and make sure it doesn't leak out.
8) Cover the pan with lid again and cook for 7 to 10 more minutes. To check if they are done, jiggle the moulds. The edges should pull away from the mould and the centre should be set.
To Plate the Dish
1) Lightly toast the English muffins
2) Take the egg poaching cups out of the pan
3) Cover each egg poaching cup with 1/2 an English muffin
Covering the moulds with the English muffin makes plating a breeze!
4) Invert the egg cup over the English muffin. The 'egg' should slide out easily.
I like my food well seasoned so I put a little cracked pepper and Kala Namak right on the 'eggs'
5) Drizzle with cheese sauce
6) Sprinkle freshly ground pepper and garnish with a fresh basil leaf
No need for eggs and butter here! Just yummy vegan goodness
Tonight I was so tired, I almost ate a nuclear potato for dinner (potato, cooked in microwave). Luckily I came to my senses and whipped up this lovely yellow curry. I threw in all my odds and ends from the week: lupini beans, tofu, and corn. In the time it took me to make rice, I had a lovely home cooked meal.
And that random cucumber end, languishing in my produce drawer? I dressed it with sesame oil, rice vinegar and seasoning salt. Mmmmm....so much better than a nuclear potato ;)
This country style salad is bright, flavourful and hearty. Pair it with soup for a simple meal, or make a big bowl of it and bring it to your next potluck!
If using fresh bread, toss the salad right before serving so it doesn't get soggy!
2 tomatoes (Use organic for best results. I used two straight from my garden!)
1/2 cup olives
1/3 cup capers
1 small jar artichokes, marinated in olive oil
1/3 cup green onions, chopped
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil chiffonade
1/2 loaf or 2 cups ciabatta bread, roughly torn. (Use day old bread for best results, and double check with the bakery that it's vegan as some places use milk or butter.)
5 shallots minced
1/3 cup balsamic
3/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp rosemary, minced
1) Chop tomatoes and remove seeds.
2) Dice cucumbers, removing seeds if they are particularly wet
3) Roughly chop the artichoke hearts
A gorgeous vegan mise en place!
4) Mix tomatoes, cucumber, red and green onions, capers, artichokes and olives in a large bowl.
5) To make vinaigrette, place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk briskly until combined.
6) Toss bread with vegetables and vinaigrette. Serve and garnish each salad with a pinch of the basil chiffonade.
1 cup panko breadcrumbs (you can substitute normal breadcrumbs, just make sure there is no egg or milk in it)
For Mustard Agave Dipping Sauce
2 tbp yellow mustard
1 1/2 tbsp agave nectar
1 tbsp veganaise
1) Soak tvp chunks in hot water for about an hour, or until tender. Drain and reserve soaking liquid.
2) Place tvp, beans, , 3 tbsp. panko, garlic, miso, mustard and poultry seasoning in food processor. Blend til combined. If mix is too dry, add some of the soaking liquid reserved from the tvp. If mix is too wet, add more breadcrumbs. The mixture should be thick and substantial.
3) Place mixture in a bowl and put in freezer for 20 minutes or so, to allow it to firm up.
4) Place almond milk in one bowl, and the panko in another bowl. Take out tvp mixture and prepare to make the strips.
When breading the strips, keep one hand 'wet' and one hand 'dry'. It will save you a big mess!
5) Take out a large baking sheet, cover with tinfoil, and grease with vegetable oil. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
6) Take a chunk of tvp mixture and quickly roll into a strip. Careful not to handle it too much.
7) Dunk into almond milk and then immediately place in panko. Cover with breadcrumbs and shape into a nice strip shape.
8) Place on baking sheet. Continue preparing the strips until all the tvp mixture is gone.
9) Bake the strips for 10 minutes.
10) While the strips are baking, prepare the mustard agave sauce. Mix mustard, agave and veganaise in a bowl and stir to combine.
11) After the strip have cooked for 10 minute, flip then gently so they crisp on both side. Continue cooking for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until they are firm and golden brown.
12) Serve with agave mustard sauce and enjoy!
* Chef's Note: TVP often comes dried, so you will need to reconstitute it by soaking with hot water for about an hour. You can also leave to soak overnight. You can add extra flavor by soaking in a broth instead of plain water. If chunks are not available, you can also use the tvp flakes, which are smaller and reconstitute faster. Use these if you are in a time crunch.