Thursday, December 15, 2011

Savoury Barbecue Tofu Sandwiches

Although this is typically more of a summery dish, the other day I had a craving for barbecue. Luscious, spicy-sweet barbecue that leaves your mouth warm and wanting more...I had to have it! So I came up with an amazing recipe that will delight your tongue and satisfy your tummy.

Barbefu Sandwiches


1 block firm or extra firm tofu
1-2 tbsp barbecue spice (or combine your favourites of garlic, oregano, nutmeg, savoury, paprika, ginger, and others)
1 tsp cumin seed
dash sea salt (if your barbecue spice includes salt, you may want to omit this)
1-2 tsp liquid smoke
1-2 tsp unrefined sugar
1-2 tsp cayenne pepper
3 tbsp diced tomatoes and chillies
splash soy sauce
1-2 tsp oil of your choice
1/4-1/2 sweet onion
asiago cheese

optional, to taste:

crushed red pepper
extra garlic
extra ginger

1) Press the tofu in a pickle press (sometimes called tsukemono press) or between two weighted plates. Once the tofu has been pressed, cut into four slices and set aside.

2) Combine the barbecue spices, along with the optional spices if you intend to use them, with the sugar and pepper. Mix thoroughly, then add the liquid smoke and soy sauce. Add the diced tomatoes and chillies and stir again, then add a little bit of water if it is too thick.

3) Heat the oil in a frypan and wait for it to get hot. Add cumin seed to the oil and let them sizzle, then place the tofu slices in the pan and coat them with the oil and cumin seed, turning a few times to make sure they are entirely covered.

4) Cook the tofu slices until they are golden on both sides. Then add onion, cooking until the onion has become semi-transparent and reduced.

5) Add the barbecue sauce, spreading around one side, then turn the slices and add the rest, spreading on the other side. Turn down the heat and let it cook until any extra liquid has cooked out.

6) Grate asiago cheese atop the slices, then flip and do the same for the other side, while they are still cooking. It will melt and blend with the sauce, to make a truly amazing taste.

7) Serve hot on buns. Layer the slices with one slice of tofu, a layer of onion, then another slice of tofu, topped by a last layer of onion. Makes two delicious sandwiches!

Tips and Such

- You can substitute nutritional yeast flakes for the asiago. It won't be exactly the same flavour, but it will give a comparable addition to the dish that will be especially delicious and keep it vegan too!

- You can mash the tofu, if you prefer, and simply cook it that way. It will be like a shredded barbecue sandwich.

- Potato side dishes make a perfect complement to these sandwiches, both crisps and chips, mashed potatoes, or whatever you might want to try. Experiment and find a great match!

As you can see, these are lovely and quite a filling meal! It's enough for one person to eat without side dishes, or two to eat with side dishes. This takes virtually no time at all to prepare, so it is an ideal dish for a night where you just want something delicious but don't want to spend a great deal of time in the kitchen. You can so easily double the recipe to feed a larger group, or if you're not very hungry, just refrigerate half of the tofu and onions for up to a week and reheat whenever you please!

Keep warm and happy this chilly and dark time of year. I hope this will help you in that goal!

};) Dhiar <3

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Be Corny and Chow Down!

As the days get colder, warm, comforting foods tend to dwell on our minds. One such food is soup, and one particularly comforting kind of soup is chowder.

Since my chronicler Hushicho had a bad experience with some canned corn chowder that had turned, upwards of twenty years previous, this was a special challenge: develop a recipe homemade that could be duplicated without that same risk! So naturally, as I often do, I rose to the occasion.

The Corniest Chowder Ever


2 C milk or soymilk (or any sort of milk; nutmilks will also work nicely)
1 tbsp butter or margarine
1 baking potato, cubed
1 can kernel corn
1/4-1/2 large onion
carrot, sliced thin, to taste
1 bay leaf

all to taste:

sea salt
black pepper

1) In a saucepan, heat the butter or margarine over medium-high heat until it has melted. Add the onion, carrot, and all spices except for salt and pepper, and stir to coat. Cook for 5 or so minutes, until the onions have reduced and are mostly transparent.

2) Add the milk and stir thoroughly. Bring just to a boil, then add the potato. Turn the heat down and let it simmer for at least 10 minutes.

3) Add the salt, pepper, and corn. Stir thoroughly and let cook for at least 5 more minutes, making sure the potato is tender and not hard.

4) Serve hot. This recipe will serve two with a side dish!

Tips and Such

- Cut the potato into small pieces so that it will be sure to cook within the 10 or so minutes. It's also nicer to fit onto the spoon if it's not a huge unwieldy chunk of tater!

- You can add a little hot pepper at the start, if you like a bit of extra heat! Or use Hungarian paprika, which is hotter than the paprika most groceries have. Experiment and play around! You might find something you especially enjoy.

- You can add a spoon of flour at the beginning, coating the onion and carrot, if you like your soup thicker. If you decide later that you would like it thicker, take some of the broth and ladle it into a bowl, then take a spoonful of cornstarch and whisk it together until it is completely blended. Add this back to your soup and stir it completely in. Your chowder should thicken quickly!

- You can add less corn, if you prefer less. Corn makes the dish sweeter and richer, and you will probably find every spoonful of chowder with some vegetable in it.

As you can see, it turned out wonderfully! This dish will make your day on these cold afternoons. When you don't have an Incubus to cuddle, choose the next best thing!

};) Dhiar <3

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Incutales Cupcakes!

So Uhr has been wanting to learn how to cook lately, and I thought it would make things extra-fun if we made an Uhr-themed cupcake, one that reminds of how darling and adorable he is. "But Miester," he insisted, "we must make one of you if there is one of me!"

As a result, we have Dhiar and Uhr themed cupcakes!

Dhiar and Uhr Cupcakes


1 1/2 C flour
3/4 C sugar
1/2-1 tsp baking powder
1 stick margarine or butter
2 eggs
confectioners sugar
cocoa powder
vanilla extract
strawberry flavouring
red food colour
red and white sugar sprinkles
baking cups


1) Preheat the oven to 350 F/175 C. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with baking cups.

2) Blend together flour, sugar, baking powder, and then 1/2 stick butter, vanilla extract to taste, and the eggs in a bowl. Mix thoroughly, slowly adding milk by spoonful until batter reaches desired consistency. It should be standard cake consistency, runny but not watery.

3) Pour half of the batter into a separate bowl. In the original bowl, add strawberry flavouring, to taste. Usually around 1-2 tbsp will add a delightful strawberry flavour. Add red food colour to the other bowl's batter and mix thoroughly.

4) Spoon out batter into baking cups. Try to get the same amount in each, but don't worry too much if some have more than others.

5) Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Do not overbake.

6) Set on rack to cool.


1) Place 1/4 stick of butter with 3 tbsp confectioners sugar in one bowl. Place 1/4 stick of butter with 2 tbsp cocoa powder and 1 tbsp confectioners sugar in the other bowl.

2) Add 1/2 tsp milk and mix thoroughly. An electric mixer is ideal for this. Mix for a couple of minutes, until the frosting is light and fluffy and does not run. If the frosting is too runny, add more sugar; if it is too thick, add more milk, 1/2 tsp at a time, and blend thoroughly after adding every ingredient.

3) Frost the cupcakes when cooled, using the chocolate frosting for the red cupcakes, and the white frosting for the other cupcakes. Add the sugar sprinkles on top of the white frosting for a festive Uhr-like appearance!

Dhiar and Uhr cupcakes together!

 The Dhiarcakes in their sultry chocolate glory!

 Uhrcakes are pure and adorable!

 Even in cupcake motif, Dhiar takes it off sexily!

Since these are Dhiar and Uhr motifs, they must go together!

Aren't they delightful and fun? You can have an especially exciting Incutales party by making a nice pot of tea and serving these cupcakes. The recipe makes twelve, six of each kind, which is enough for six people each to enjoy one of the Dhiar and one of the Uhr motif. That's quite a nice tea party! Or if you're so inclined, they also go wonderfully with a nice cream liqueur.

So next time you're up for some quick and easy cupcakes, think about making them Incutales style! It doesn't take long, and it's loads of fun to make cupcakes on your own exciting motifs.


};) Dhiar <3

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Quick and Easy Sea Salt Bread

Sometimes you just need a good loaf of bread. But somehow, many are frightened by the prospect of baking bread. They fear complexity and difficulty in their cooking; they would rather make something that can be thrown together in just a few minutes.

Don't worry! This is easy bread. A minimum of ingredients, and good ingredients, make for a delicious breakfast food, a lovely snack, or even a fantastic way to make a memorable sandwich. Try it out! I promise, it's easy.

Sea Salt Bread


2 1/2 C flour
1 1/2 C warm water
1/2 C cool water
1 tsp active yeast
dash sugar
sea salt

1) Whisk together the flour, yeast, sugar, and a dash of sea salt, until it is all blended and the flour is smooth.

2) Add the warm water, a little at a time, and blend thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Once it becomes thick enough, dust your hands with flour and knead the dough until smooth.

3) Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let it sit. Preheat the oven to 375 F/190 C.

4) When the oven is ready, uncover the dough and knead it again. Add the cool water and continue to knead until it becomes sticky.

5) Put the dough in a greased loaf pan and shape to the desired appearance. Sprinkle sea salt crystals over the top.

6) Bake for around 45 minutes to an hour, or until pleasantly golden.

7) Set on a rack to cool.

Tips and Such

- You can test to make sure bread is done by inserting a toothpick in the middle. If it comes out clean, the bread has baked throughout. This is helpful so that you don't accidentally take a loaf of bread out before it has thoroughly baked, leaving it underbaked in the centre!

- It is essential that you either have a rack or constantly move your bread so that it can cool. If you don't have a rack, you'll have bread with a soggy bottom. It'll ruin the lovely crisp crust! If you don't have a rack, you can prop the bread at an angle so the steam can escape.

- If you want to, you can omit the salt topping. It adds a zing to the taste, but it's not necessary if you prefer to use less salt.

- Use a bread box or cover the bread so that it doesn't dry out. Freshly-baked bread tends to dry out within a few days, and it becomes largely inedible by itself. You can still use old bread, though, as croutons, to make bread pudding, or to make a traditional dish developed by the French. Called pain perdu, which means 'lost bread', it was developed to make a use for bread that had hardened and become unusable for anything else. Dipped in egg and cooked, it is known to most of the rest of the world as French toast!

I hope you will enjoy my simple sea salt bread. Homemade bread doesn't have to be difficult, and it can bring such a warmth to the hearts of all who eat it. Enjoy some today! It doesn't take a lot of effort or time. And your kitchen will smell wonderful.

};) Dhiar <3

Fakin' Bacon

Many people enjoy the smoky flavours of things like bacon, but when you don't eat meat, your options are limited. These days you can get pre-made items, which are generally tasty. But what if you don't have any in the house? Or what if you like the taste, but want it on something else?

I have just the thing for you!

Jazz up those veggie dogs, spruce up that falafel! Here's a sauce you can make that you can use for preparing anything with a delightfully smoky flavour.

Smoke Gets in Your Sauce


3 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp liquid smoke
1 tsp sugar

1) Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Use as a marinade near the end of cooking, or a dipping sauce.

Tips and Such

- If you want to make facon, as it's commonly called, press a block of tofu and then slice it into thin slices. Cook it in an oil of your choice until it is golden and has become a little crispy. Add the sauce to it and cook it until it is crispy. Serve hot.

- This sauce is best added at the end, when the food is almost finished cooking, but has enough time left to soak in the flavours. You don't want to put it on too early, because the nature of the sauce means that it will cook on quickly and may burn if cooked too long.

- A couple of spoonfuls should be enough for a couple of veggie dogs, so if you have any left, just refrigerate it.

- Be sure to pay attention when buying liquid smoke. Most liquid smoke is made in a vegan style, but not all. Check out the ingredients when you pick up your bottle!

This recipe is quick and easy, and it's sure to please anyone with a craving for that smoky flavour. Try it on some of your favourite foods!

};) Dhiar <3

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tofu of the Mongols

Admittedly, this isn't an actual Mongolian recipe, but instead it's based around the dishes calling themselves 'Mongolian', primarily in places outside of Mongolia.

Would Genghis Khan approve?

Well, who knows.

But I approve!

Rich Mongolian Tofu


1 block tofu
1 bell pepper (red is sweeter, if you like sweet)
2 eggs
sliced lotus root
sliced onion
soy sauce
hoisin sauce
mirin (optional)
sesame oil
pepper (cayenne, shichimi togarashi, white, or black, or some combination)

1) Press the tofu as always, and cut it into cubes. Heat a little sesame oil in a frypan over medium-high heat and, when it is hot enough, add the tofu and stir to coat. Cook until lightly browned, stirring regularly so it does not burn.

2) In a bowl, mix equal parts soy sauce and hoisin sauce with 1 tbsp mirin and 1 tsp sesame oil for every 2 tbsp soy sauce and hoisin sauce. Add 1 tsp cornstarch and blend thoroughly, adding water to mix. It might be a little thin, but it will thicken with cooking.

3) Break two eggs into a bowl and add your pepper of choice. Blend thoroughly.

4) Add the egg to the tofu, stirring constantly to coat, until the egg has cooked around the tofu.

5) Add onion, bell pepper, and lotus root, allowing it to cook until the onion is semi-transparent and fragrant. This should take about a minute.

6) Pour the soy-hoisin mixture over the contents of the frypan and stir to coat. Cook for a few more minutes, so that the tofu can absorb the flavour of the sauce and the sauce can thicken.

7) Serve hot!

Tips and Such

- Many Asian markets will have lotus root already sliced and frozen. This makes it convenient to take what you need and keep the rest frozen, so you don't have to worry about slicing fresh lotus root every time. It also keeps much longer than fresh, which is a consideration if you don't use lotus root frequently. It is arguably the best part of the recipe, so please don't omit it!

- If you want to omit the eggs, that's fine. They add a certain dimension and texture to the dish, but they are entirely optional if you don't like eggs or don't have any on hand. You might substitute textured vegetable protein or various wheatmeats, or any other food you prefer!

This recipe is easy and makes a delicious meal that anyone can enjoy. It may not be Mongolian really, but it's so tasty even Genghis Khan surely wouldn't care.

};) Dhiar <3

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Simple and Delicious Udon

Even in the heat of summer, udon is a welcome and often refreshing treat. The Japanese belief is that if it is hot, eat something that is also will stimulate sweating and cool you off! So udon is eaten throughout the year.

This is a simple recipe that can be customised to your liking. Give it a try! You'll find its taste and quality is comparable to a noodle shop's.

Simple Udon


futomaru udon (any udon will do, this is just a favourite)
satoimo noodles (I use Malony or マロニー)
kelp (also called konbu)
sesame oil
3 tbsp soy sauce
1-2 tbsp mirin
3 cloves of garlic, or to taste
ginger, to taste
thin-sliced lotus root (optional)

1) Use kitchen scissors to cut a piece of kelp that is about 2"x2" at least, or larger to your preference. Cut it into medium-sized strips and place it in a bowl.

2) Heat as much water as you want broth for your udon. Once it boils, take it off heat and pour it over the kelp. Cover the bowl and let it sit for at least five minutes.

3) Heat a small amount of sesame oil (about 1 tsp) in a saucepan. Peel the garlic cloves and slice them into smaller pieces, and add the garlic and ginger to the sesame oil. Saute until it is aromatic, probably about 30 seconds or so.

4) Add the kelp and broth to the saucepan, then add soy sauce and mirin. If you are using lotus root, add it now. Turn to medium heat, to cook.

5) Prepare the futomaru udon by boiling a pot of water and adding the noodles to the boiling water. Keep it cooking steadily for around 10 minutes.

6) About 3-5 minutes before the futomaru udon is ready, add the satoimo noodles to the cooking broth. This will make them ready by the time your udon is.

7) Remove the futomaru udon from water and place them in your bowl. Then pour the contents of the broth over it. You can serve with shichimi togarashi or any topping.

Tips and Such

- If you don't have mirin, simply add some sake and a pinch of sugar to the broth. The sweetness of mirin doesn't really feature in the finished dish, but it does add a contrast that brings out the robust tones of the soy sauce better than if it were just alone.

This is a simple and delicious dish! Everybody loves a good udon. It only takes a few minutes to make, and it is so comforting and yummy. You will feel better after tasting this traditional style udon!

};) Dhiar <3

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Best Sauerkraut Veggie Dogs Ever

Jager has been making himself comfortable, and it's been an exciting challenge to provide him with delicious vegetarian foods in the style of his homeland. So today I tried a very successful experiment: wieners with sauerkraut.

As some of you may know, not all vegetarian wieners are created equal. Unfortunately there are some that aren't as tasty as others. But this recipe accounts for that, in case you can only put hands on veggie dogs that are okay but not great.

For especially delicious vegetarian wieners, I recommend Veggie Patch or Tofurky. But this recipe is good no matter what kind of hot dogs you use. You may want to keep your Veggie Patch or Tofurky wieners to eat with minimal condiments, and use your less favourite ones for this recipe.

Best Sauerkraut Veggie Dogs Ever


2 vegetarian hot dogs
2 buns
1 can sauerkraut (I like Bavarian-style)
1 tbsp Bavarian mustard (see Tips and Such if you don't have this)
1 tbsp instant mushroom stock
dash salt
black pepper, to taste
Hungarian paprika, to taste (optional)

1) Drain the sauerkraut. Rinse it if you find canned sauerkraut too acidic and strong. If you aren't going to prepare the entire can's contents, put the rest in a container and refrigerate.

2) Dilute 1 tbsp Bavarian mustard in enough water to cover the bottom of a small frypan. Place the wieners in the frypan with the diluted mustard solution and roll to cover.

3) Heat over medium to medium-high heat and continue to roll them so they cook evenly, until tender and until the liquid has all cooked off.

4) Place the sauerkraut in a small saucepan and add the mushroom stock powder, salt, black pepper, and paprika. Add a little water and mix thoroughly. If you prefer, instead of water, you can add a splash of beer instead. Or you can even just substitute beer for the mushroom stock entirely.

5) Cook sauerkraut over medium heat until most of the liquid has cooked off.

6) Serve on sturdy buns!

Tips and Such

- Use Bavarian mustard for the best taste. Bavarian mustard is sweet, which balances the sour and salty tastes of the sauerkraut in this recipe. It also gives a gentle tangy quality to the hot dogs, which is something very valuable if they are less than delicious on their own. If you don't have access to Bavarian mustard, use whatever mustard you can find and add a pinch of sugar (like Florida Crystals) and a dash or two of tarragon.

- Make sure the liquid is cooked out of both items so that when you add it, it doesn't make the bun soggy. Soggy buns mean messy hands, because buns just fall apart when they get soggy. I think that is the most absolutely perverted I have ever sounded in my life while trying to give genuine advice.

Quick, a distraction!

This is a quick, easy preparation which can add taste to even the most lacking of veggie dogs! Give it a try, and I feel certain that you won't be disappointed.

Happy Wieners to You!

};) Dhiar <3

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Vegan Paprika Wurst

Today's recipe is a favourite of a new friend and regular to the Incuverse, Jager Rader!

He comes from the splendid Deutschland, a place of savoury cooking and delightful dishes. One of his favourites is wurst, which is available in a variety of ways. But of course, it's not very vegetarian-friendly. So today, we will be making a recipe that is not only vegan, but also delicious, for our friend Jager!

Vegan Paprika Wurst


1/2 C vital wheat gluten
1/4 C all-purpose flour
1/4 C water
1/4 C soy sauce
1-2 tbsp Hungarian paprika, or to taste
1 tsp - 1 tbsp garlic powder (optional)
1 tsp ground white pepper
1/2-1 tsp nutmeg

pinch, or to taste


1) Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Stir, and then add the wet ingredients. Stir thoroughly again. The mixture should be doughy.

2) Let it rest for around 10 minutes.

3) Knead the mixture until it is smooth. You may want to knead it for about five minutes, to be sure it will be nice and smooth and have the right texture.

4) Heat some oil in a frypan to medium-high heat.

5) Pinch off pieces of the dough and roll each one into a ball, then roll them out on a flat surface to a cylindrical shape. Place them carefully, one at a time, in the frypan.

6) Cover and let them cook for about 10 minutes, making sure to flip them during the cooking. Don't let them burn!

7) Serve hot. Makes about 5 medium-sized wurst.

Tips and Such

- Once you have cooked the wurst for about 10 minutes and they seem solid, add onion and cook uncovered until the onion is semi-transparent. Wurst with onion is always delicious, and it complements the flavour of the wurst perfectly!

- Wurst is excellent served with pasta. Spaetzle is ideal, but any pasta will do!

- Once they are cooked, these wurst are fine to be served anytime. Simply refrigerate them or place them in a cool, dry place until you are ready to eat them. They can be enjoyed hot or cold, just like traditionally-made wurst!

- You can alternatively make larger or smaller wurst. If you want to do so, you can make a pair of large wurst and slice them for crackers, pizza toppings, or sandwiches!

A friend prepared a delicious-looking batch of wurst with some peace sign shaped organic pasta! This mouth-watering picture shows you how easy it is to make a delicious and fulfilling meal.

Until next time, happy wursting!

};) Dhiar <3

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Super Garlic Parsley Tofu

Garlic is one of the most delicious and appetising foods in existence. There are few people who can resist becoming hungry when they catch the rich aroma of cooking garlic.

And since we're cooking vegetarian, tofu is an ideal and easy-to-use source of protein and other wonderful nutrition.

This is a delicious and satisfying dish that can be a hearty dinner, or can feed two as an entree with side dishes. You will find it especially flavourful, and you might even want a nap afterwards as you will be so profoundly satisfied by eating it!

Super Garlic Parsley Tofu 


1 block tofu
extra virgin olive oil
1/2 bulb garlic
1 tbsp instant mushroom stock
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp margarine
sea salt

1) First, press the tofu as always, and then cut it into cubes. Peel the garlic and cut into pieces as desired.

2) Heat a small amount of olive oil over medium heat in a frypan. Add the tofu cubes to the oil and stir to coat. Add sea salt and stir again. Cook for 10-20 minutes, until tofu begins to brown.

3) Remove the tofu to a bowl or plate. Add the margarine to the frypan and cook until completely melted, then add the garlic. Cook for around 30 seconds. Add the flour and stir thoroughly, to blend with the margarine.

4) Add about 1 C water, and stir thoroughly to blend with the margarine mixture. Add the instant mushroom stock and blend thoroughly. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the tofu back in. Stir again.

5) Add paprika and parsley, to taste. Parsley has a subtle flavour, so add as much as you like. Add more water if it is not to desired consistency. If it is too runny, just cook until it thickens.

6) Serve hot. This dish goes well over rice or noodles, but it is delicious by itself!

Tips and Such

- If you are using Hungarian paprika, note that it is much more flavourful and hotter than paprika that is typically sold in grocery stores (unless you are in Hungary), so use less.

- Fresh parsley will make the flavour much richer, so if you can get it, it will add a delightful depth to the dish!

- This is based off a German recipe, so you can also serve this over boiled potatoes or egg noodles, which are common in German cooking.

I hope you will enjoy this simple dish! It is thoroughly delightful and oh so fulfilling. It tastes rich, but it is actually quite nutritious and not nearly as indulgent as it may seem.

Guten appetit!

};) Dhiar <3

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Take a Little Pizza My Heart

Ooh, pizza! One of life's greatest and most beloved pleasure foods. It's not the top of the healthy foods list, but it's quite fulfilling and can actually, if you make it right, be not so terrible for you. I'm all about pleasure without guilt!

Pizza My Heart


the crust
2 C Flour (1C + 1C to use later)
1/2 C warm water
1 tsp dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar (I use Florida Crystals)
1 tbsp garlic powder (or more, to taste)
1 tbsp onion powder (ditto)
1 tbsp Italian seasoning (double ditto)

the sauce
1/2 can of diced tomatoes (you can approximate and just add a whole small tomato)
1-2 tbsp olive oil
dash sea salt

the rest
vegetarian protein nuggets
3-5 cloves garlic, peeled
cheese or cheese substitute (optional)

1) First, make the crust by combining the dry ingredients for it. Only use 1 C of the flour to start with, and save 1 C for later. Mix with a wire whisk until completely blended. Then add the warm water slowly, stirring it in thoroughly the whole time, until totally blended. You may have to add slightly more water than 1/2 C, but if you do, it's no sweat. Mix the dough completely.

It should not be runny, but it should be quite sticky. Cover it with a tea towel and put it in a warm place like the unheated oven for around 15 minutes.

2) While the dough is resting, make your tomato topping! Before you start, drain off excess liquid from the tomatoes. Then crush them with a potato masher. Add the olive oil and salt, and mix thoroughly.

3) Once the dough has had a chance to rest, take it out and uncover it. Prepare your counter by scattering some flour on it, and rub it around. Flour your hands as well, then add 1/2 C of the remaining flour to the dough, kneading it and working it in. Turn it out from the bowl once it's not as sticky, and continue to add the remaining flour, kneading it in, until it is not very sticky at all. It can still be slightly sticky, but it shouldn't feel sticky all over.

4) Dust your pizza stone or pan with flour, then sprinkle a handful of cornmeal on it, making sure to scatter it around. Preheat your oven to around 400 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 205 Celsius.

5) Form your dough into a ball and place it on the pizza stone or pan. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a circular shape. Make sure it's not totally flat, but not too thick either.

6) Spread the tomato topping on it, then slice your fresh garlic on top of that. If you are using vegetarian protein nuggets or other substitutes, you can add them now. You can also add various other toppings such as peppers, olives, or whatever you want!

7) Add a couple of handfuls of cheese or cheese substitute, to bring it all together.

8) Bake for 15-20 minutes. Serve hot!

Tips and Such

- There are many wonderful toppings for pizza. I like to use Nutrela, a delicious textured soy protein from India. These are delicious and actually quite nutritious! They're very popular and you may be able to find them at a local Indian grocery. I prepared mine by soaking them in boiling water for about 10-15 minutes, then squeezing them dry. I added some liquid smoke, which gave them an amazing flavour.

- Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty! Dough is best when it is kneaded by hand.

- Have flour ready in a cup, so that you can add more if you need to. If you're concerned about wasting it, just handle the cup's outside and dust the dough with the flour. Then you can pour the remainder back into the bag or jar if you don't use it.

Pizza is a wonderful food for comfort, but it's also very easy to make, and quite inexpensive! You can make pizza more nutritious by developing your own recipe, with toppings that satisfy you and fulfill your nutritional needs.

A friend of mine decided to try my recipe. I think it turned out delicious. What do you think?

Mouth watering?

Eat well!

};) Dhiar <3

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Carbonara Vegetaria

Sometimes (quite often actually) the love of Italian food cannot be denied, just as surely as the cravings for cuisine of the American South. One of the most beloved dishes is carbonara, which also has about as many different versions as there are people who love it.

This is my recipe for a sumptuous vegetarian version of the dish, and it's especially great if you have some veggie hot dogs just lying around in the icebox, going spare.

Carbonara Vegetaria


Pasta (you can use any pasta; I like fiori) enough for 1-2 people
2 vegetarian hot dogs
1 egg
3 cloves garlic, peeled
Extra virgin olive oil
Black olives
Synthetic bacon pieces
Black pepper
Cooking wine

1) Cook and drain the pasta, setting it aside. You can also do this at the same time as you are preparing the rest of the carbonara if you want.

2) Heat 1-2 tsp olive oil, or more if needed, in a frypan. Either press or cut the garlic cloves into the oil. Use only medium heat; you don't want to cook too hot with olive oil. Let the garlic cook and release its aroma, then add 1-2 tbsp synthetic bacon pieces. Stir to coat with oil and cook it all together.

3) Slice the vegetarian hot dogs lengthwise and then cut them into slices and add them to the oil. Stir again to coat. Cook these for about 5 minutes, longer if desired.

4) Add the olives and stir to coat. You won't need to cook these for as long.

5) In a bowl, blend the egg with pepper and stir until smooth and consistent.

6) Add the pasta to the oil mixture and, as before, stir to coat. Add the cooking wine and stir again, making sure to cook it long enough for the wine to cook out. You want only a hint of it and its roundness.

7) Turn off the heat and pour the egg mixture in, stirring thoroughly and constantly until the residual heat cooks it enough. You want the pasta and the rest to be coated in the egg, not for it to cook itself separately.

8) Serve while hot!

Tips and Such

- You can probably just cook the pasta at the same time as the rest of it, but if you feel like you might make a mistake or feel rushed, just cook the pasta first, drain it, and leave it in its pot. It won't be sitting long enough to get cold, and its heat will be refreshed by cooking it with the oil mixture.

- There are various brands of synthetic bacon pieces. These are commonly found with the salad dressings and fixings in many markets. Make sure to read the ingredients, though, because not all of them are vegetarian! However, many of them are just textured soy protein pieces with smoke flavour. Brands like Bacos and McCormick are, at present, completely vegan and have a circle-U symbol on them.

- Due to the nature of this dish, it doesn't keep very well refrigerated, so try to fix only as much as you intend to eat. If you do end up saving some as leftovers, refrigerate it and try to use it within the next day or two at most.

- If you don't have cooking wine, you can just use mirin and sake in combination. As with the wine, make sure it cooks out before you add the egg.

Ingredient Info

Vegetarian hot dogs are hot dogs, or wieners, that are made with only vegetarian ingredients, typically from soy.

Synthetic bacon pieces are commonly pieces of soy protein that has been textured, coloured, and flavoured with smoke to give it a taste similar to bacon. Several of these are vegetarian or even vegan, but be sure to check the label and, if in doubt, check online or ask around.

Cooking wine is wine that is not intended for drinking, for whatever reason, and so is used for cooking. It can be that the wine is not of a suitable quality according to its vineyards, or perhaps it just didn't turn out the way they wanted. Note that you can use any wine for cooking, but wine that is sold as cooking wine in grocery stores is usually of a quality thought unsuitable for drinking purposes.

Italian food is so romantic! Although if you're having an intimate night, you may want to omit the garlic. But who knows, perhaps if you both eat it, your kisses will be fiery and no-one will try to ease in on your fun!

Buon appetito!

};) Dhiar <3

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Country Fried (Actually Baked) Tofu

Sometimes you get a hankering for some good, old-fashioned homestyle cooking.

Well, that's pretty much every day for me, and it's always homestyle since I make it at home. But there is the desire, once you have had it, for the comforting, delicious, and delightful foods popular in the American South. It comes up every so often, and it's difficult to deny.

Many traditional southern foods, however, have a lot of things that wouldn't agree with most vegetarians, and additionally they tend to be deep fried, which isn't something you want to have too often.

Still, there's not a lot you can do if you have a craving, other than indulge it. If you don't, it just builds up until you're quaking and you go out and eat something you probably shouldn't. What better way to indulge a craving than to do it in a healthier way, and handmade, so you can be sure of what went into it!

Country Fried (Actually Baked) Tofu


The Steaks

1 block firm or extra firm tofu
2 tbsp cornmeal
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
Soy sauce

The Gravy

1 tbsp butter or margarine
milk (whichever kind you want, soymilk works beautifully)
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste

1) Make sure to press the tofu. I know experienced tofu cooks will have already done this, but I can't say it enough. If you don't know what I mean, see my post here about tofu. If you don't press tofu, it retains water. If it's full of water, it will fall apart quicker than the main character of a Lifetime Original Movie.

2) Preheat the oven to 350 F or about 175 C. While you're doing this, mix the dry ingredients for the coating of the tofu. Also while you're at the oven, put a piece of aluminum foil on a cooking sheet. Sprinkle some of the coating mixture onto the aluminum foil, or if you prefer, use cooking spray or brush oil onto it, to prevent sticking.

3) Pour some soy sauce in a bowl, not a huge amount, but enough to cover the bottom of a cereal or soup bowl. You will be using this to dip the tofu slices in.

4) Slice the tofu into thick slices. You can probably get 6 or 7 slices per block of tofu.

5) Dip a tofu slice into the bowl with the soy sauce, and turn it slowly over a few times, to coat it completely. Then do the same thing with the bowl with the coating, making sure it is completely covered all over.

6) Place the slice on the cooking sheet and repeat the process for the rest. You should have some of the coating mix left over, so save it. We're going to be using it.

7) Once the oven is preheated, bake for 15 minutes, turn, and bake for another 15 minutes. Oven temperatures sometimes vary, so be sure to check in and make sure they're doing okay. If they stick to the foil, carefully pick up the foil (the pan and the tofu will be hot, the foil probably won't be that hot) and curl it, working the slice to gently separate it. Don't burn yourself! Use tongs or chopsticks if it's too hot.

8) Once the tofu is done cooking, turn off the oven and leave it in for just another minute or two. Take a small frying pan and heat the butter in it on medium-high heat, until it starts to sizzle. Add the remainder of your coating mixture to it and stir thoroughly; it will become a lumpy mass. Add small amounts of milk at a time and work it to your desired consistency. Add salt and black pepper.

9) Serve the tofu slices covered in your delicious creamy gravy. Eat while hot!

Tips and Such

- Remember to press the tofu! I can't emphasise this enough. If you don't press it, it will be crumbly and will affect the flavour. Tofu can't absorb flavours as effectively if it already is suffused with its own liquid. Pressing tofu makes it more effective to cook with, and much easier to handle.

- Nutritional yeast isn't a necessity for this dish, but it does enhance the flavour and helps to thicken the gravy and give it the right creaminess. You can omit it, but you should add a pinch of turbinado sugar and a little more salt. It won't be exactly the same, but it will do fine! Nutritional yeast flakes are great, even if you don't cook vegan all the time. They're delicious, versatile, and very good for you! They add immense nutritional value to every dish, and they also make a fabulous non-dairy cheese sauce!

- This dish won't keep very well once you've added the gravy to it (unless you made very thick gravy), so if you're unsure that all of the slices of tofu will be finished, just keep the gravy warm and add it when you serve up a slice of tofu. That way, you can save the leftover slices and gravy separately, and heat them up when you want them. Try to use them within a day or two, though. This is a dish best enjoyed as fresh as possible.

- You can add extra spices to the coating mix, if you want. There are plenty of delicious ones that would work, like perhaps oregano, basil, parsley, or even a little ginger! It depends on what your tastes are, so if you have a favourite spice you think might add a dimension of flavour, go for it!

- If you get the gravy too thin, just add a little flour at a time, stirring it throughly, until it reaches its desired consistency. If you get it too thick, a little more milk will help it to thin. Don't add a lot! When heated, gravy tends to thicken naturally.

Ingredient Info

As usual, I'm only covering ingredients that haven't been discussed before, so if you see something in the recipe you don't recognise, look back through my previous entries to find them!

Cornmeal is coarsely-ground corn. It isn't exactly the same as corn flour, generally speaking, and it tends to be rougher in consistency. It also isn't the same as cornstarch, so be careful! Cornstarch is a starch, not a flour, and is basically a thickener. Cornmeal can also be called polenta flour or polenta (which usually refers to cornmeal in a very coarse form) or maize flour or meal.

Enjoy your delicious southern-style meal, and don't forget...baking a meal for someone is like giving them life!

};) Dhiar <3

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tofu - If You've Got It, Flaunt It!

One staple of most vegan and vegetarian diets is tofu. It's nutritious, it is pretty much completely healthy and good for you, and it's great for texture. It's something especially precious to the diet, and anyone can enjoy it.

However, a good many people don't really know how to use it, and that is a pity. Many a dish has been ruined by simple bad preparation, or lack of knowhow. So today, I will let you in on some great secrets of preparing tofu and cooking it to the best!

Choose wisely! Select the right tofu for your recipe. If you don't know what you're going to make, choose firm or extra firm tofu; these are best for dishes where you're going to be putting cubes of tofu with other foods, or eating it on its own. Many dishes you can quickly throw together are best when firm or extra firm tofu is used for them.

Press your advantage! Tofu is not ready, right out of the container. Open the container, pour all the water out, and take the block of tofu out of the container.

Get a bowl with a mostly flat bottom, turn it upside-down and set it in the sink, and place the block of tofu on it. Then put a plate on top of the block of tofu. Now it should be positioned between two flat surfaces that will press it. Leave it there for at least half an hour, ideally a few hours.

You may need to add weight on the top. If so, a mixing bowl or something should do nicely. Just make sure you balance it well so it doesn't topple over.

You can actually use an upside-down plate for the bottom, just make sure it's not something where water is going to pool under the tofu. If water pools under it, you've just defeated the purpose of pressing it.

Pressing tofu is important, because it is suspended in water. That water takes on a strong tofu taste and aroma, and it also makes the tofu flimsy, since it's waterlogged. Even soft tofu should be pressed, unless it's already prepared.

Use it, don't lose it! You can preserve tofu by keeping it in water and changing the water regularly. However, it's best just to use all the tofu after opening it. There's always leftovers! Fried tofu keeps quite well refrigerated, as well.

A watched pot never boils! And it may seem like you've been cooking it forever, but cook it a little bit longer. Tofu needs to be cooked in a frypan until it is golden if you're just cooking it with oil. It must have sufficient time to cook.

A marinade is as good as a smile! If you have the time, press the tofu and then marinate it. This will enhance the flavour and make it even more enjoyable. Tofu absorbs liquid easily, which makes it especially easy to season for its part in your dish. Since it is so absorbent, you don't need to marinate it for a long time. You can just marinate it for an hour, and you'll see the immediate enhancement!

Freeze in a flash! Even many people who use tofu regularly don't know this handy secret, but actually, freezing tofu makes it easier than ever to use.

To freeze it, open the container and pour out the water. Squeeze as much water as you can out of it without crushing it or causing it to collapse. Put it in the freezer for a few hours, until it is completely frozen. Then take it out and let it thaw.

The tofu will change texture, and it will also be easier to squeeze the water from it! It is perfect for many dishes, because it is easier to use without falling apart. Freezing and thawing tofu gives it a different, slightly chewier texture. It is still supremely absorbent. It's much easier for beginning tofu chefs to use.

I hope these tips will help you as much as they have helped me in my tofu journey! Tofu doesn't have to be bland, crumbly, damp, or unappealing. It just happens that many people don't prepare it properly and don't know that they're doing anything wrong! And so, as a result, they believe -- and mistakenly! -- forever that tofu is something to be avoided. In actuality, tofu is nutritious, delicious, versatile, and an absolutely amazing food that can be used regularly in a healthy diet. You could have a tofu dish every day for a month and never prepare it the same way twice in a row!

I hope you will enjoy your newfound joy with tofu!

};) Dhiar <3