World Vegan Month Recipe 3: Garlic Spaghetti and Tofu Bites

As part of my World Vegan Month series of recipes, here is another big favourite, with tofu again. A simple recipe for busy days, it is ready in no time and real comfort food too, for those cold winter evenings. You could serve it with some roasted vegetables or salad – our neighbour Ingrid has been supplying us with autumn endive salad from her garden. ๐Ÿ™‚

Garlic Spaghetti and Tofu Bites

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For 2 people:

  • Spaghetti
  • 5 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 small onion/shallot, finely chopped
  • 4 or 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 200g (7 oz) firm tofu, cut into small cubes
  • 2 tsps cornflour
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • plenty of freshly ground black pepper

Cook your spaghetti. While it is cooking, warm the olive oil in a small frying pan. Gently saute the onion/shallot until soft and then add the garlic, turning the heat off so the garlic barely browns.

Mix the flour, herbs and seasoning and toss the tofu cubes in it, making sure they are completely coated. In a separate pan warm a little olive or sunflower oil and fry the tofu cubes until crispy and golden. Be careful not to get the oil too hot, and keep turning them with a spatula.

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Coat the cooked and drained spaghetti with the garlic oil and then sprinkle the tofu cubes on top. I sprinkled on some flowery herbs for decoration too. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Enjoy!

(I’m posting my parmesan alternative next week, which goes well on top of this pasta. ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

World Vegan Month Recipe 1: Tofu Wraps

Although I am vegetarian, and not vegan, World Vegan Month seems a good month to share a couple ofย  good vegan recipes with you.

Over the past year I have been trying to cut down on dairy produce, and the result has been a lot of experiments… some more successful than others! Seitan and similar meat substitutes are completely superfluous to someone who hasn’t eaten meat for over 20 years; cheese substitutes are mostly inedible (my opinion!); tofu, however, is a lifesaver – I love it! This first recipe I want to share uses tofu and has become a favourite, partly because it is such an informal affair… i.e. you get sticky fingers eating it! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Tofu Wraps

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For the marinated tofu you will need:

  • 200g (7 oz) firm tofu, cut into narrow strips
  • 2 tbsps tomato puree
  • 4-5 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp mixed dried herbs
  • plenty of freshly ground black pepper
  • any other herbs or spices you fancy adding, such as chilli, coriander, onion powder etc

Spread the tofu strips over the base of a large dish or baking tray and cover with all the marinade ingredients. Do this as early in the day as possible, or even the night before, so the tofu can absorb all the flavours. Stir a few times during the day. I give mine about 10-12 hours to marinate.

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For the wraps:

  • 4 large soft tortilla wraps, warmed
  • 1/2 an iceberg lettuce, cut into smallish chunks
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced

For the tsatsiki, mix all the following ingredients together and let stand a few minutes before serving:

  • 220ml (1 cup) (soya) yoghurt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1/2 small cucumber, cut into very small chunks
  • salt and pepper

Just before you are ready to eat, heat a little sunflower or olive oil in a skillet/frying pan and on a medium to high heat fry the tofu, marinade and all, turning frequently, until warmed through and slightly crispy.

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Now the fun part! Place a wrap on a plate, sprinkle lettuce on the centre and then bits of tofu, salad and finally tsatsiki. Then wrap!

The packet showed us how…

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… but I will spare you the photos of us eating! ๐Ÿ˜‰ The challenge is to eat this without any sauce dripping out… practically impossible, but that’s what makes it such a fun meal. ๐Ÿ™‚

What do you do with wraps?

Focaccia with Rosemary

Rosmarinus officinalis

I have a rather old rosemary plant with no space to repot and overwinter it. Last year I risked leaving it outdoors and took cuttings. It survived the mild winter, but has lost a lot of needles this summer and has barely put on new growth. So I have been harvesting a lot, and a new smaller plant is on my list for spring. So, what can I do with all my rosemary?

My trusty calendar for October had the answer:

Calendar

๐Ÿ™‚

Rosemary Focaccia

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  • 5oog (1 lb) strong white flour
  • 10g (1 tbsp) dried instant yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 325ml (1 1/3 cups) warm water

Mix all the ingredients well and knead for 5 – 10 minutes until you have a smooth and elastic dough. Place in a clean bowl and brush with oil. Cover and leave in a warm place to rise for an hour or two.

Divide into two, or if you like you could make up to 6 mini foccaccia. Flatten slightly and place on a lightly floured baking tray. Cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place for a further twenty minutes. Preheat your oven to 250ยฐC/475ยฐF.

Topping:

  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, crushed and mixed into 5 tbsps olive oil
  • 100g (3 1/2 oz) feta cheese, crumbled into large chunks
  • about 10 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 sprigs of rosemary

After the dough has rested a second time, use your knuckles to make little dimples in the top. Place the feta and tomatoes in and around these dimples and then brush the garlic oil all over – nice and generously! Sprinkle with sea salt, pepper and the rosemary sprigs, which you can break up a little.

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Bake for 20-30 minutes until firm in the centre and golden and crispy on the outside.

Enjoy while still warm!

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(Tip: leftovers can be warmed in the microwave the next day and taste just as good!)

Have you ever made Focaccia?

In a Vase on Monday: Aromatherapy

It started with a basil flower…

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And various mints are flowering so beautifully at the moment too, providing me with the inspiration I needed for this week’s vase…

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“In a Vase on Monday” is hosted by Cathy at “Rambling in the Garden“, challenging us to find some materials in our gardens every week for a vase to bring indoors. Today I was planning on cutting the only dahlia flower that has been worth a mention this summer… but I chickened out! So I turned to some old friends for help instead – the herbs.

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You can never go wrong with herbs.

Not only do they taste good, they also enrich the garden with attractive foliage and flowers, as well as attracting bees, butterflies and other good creatures.

The lemon verbena has done very well in several pots this summer and should flower soon. The pineapple sage is now flowering more scarcely, but has grown tremendously. Some thyme and oregano are still in flower, so I cut a few sprigs of those, and some of the last lavender also went in. The salad burnet is flowering again, and I also added some of the trailing rosemary.

I actually remembered to add a prop this week…. the gardening catalogues have been arriving for a couple of weeks now, and my lists are not getting any shorter! The largest catalogue is from one of the new online nurseries I discovered this spring; an excellent herb seed and plant supplier. The basil flower above is their Ocimum basilicum “Christmas”, which I grew from seed. It has a lovely warm aroma, tasting slightly of citrus and spices. ๐Ÿ˜€

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The vase smells delicious.

Now, what shall I cook for dinner tonight…

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Lavender Shortbread

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Lavender is one of the loveliest perfumes, and a lavender bag retrieved from a drawer in the middle of winter conjures up images of summer, bees and warm nights. Most of my lavender is slowly going over after flowering early, but I also have some sorts that have only just opened. While it is in flower I like to use it fresh, not dried… inย Lavender Ice Cream, Lavender Syrup, and here’s my latest lavender recipe:

Lemon and Lavender Shortbread

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You will need:

  • 55g (1/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh organic lavender flowers for just a hint of lavender – if you want a more pronounced flavour use 2 tsps
  • 115g (1 stick) softened butter
  • zest of 1 small lemon
  • 170g (1 1/3 cups) plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • extra sugar for dusting

Place all ingredients in a food processor and whizz together to form a smooth dough. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 160ยฐC and place a sheet of parchment on a baking tray.

Roll out the dough to about 5 mm and cut into rounds or hearts etc using a cookie cutter of your choice. Place on the baking tray and prick all over with a fork. Bake for 15 minutes, when they should just begin browning. Mine needed a lttle longer today. Check them at 12 minutes as they can burn really quickly.

Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with sugar. After a few minutes’ cooling, transfer carefully to a cooling rack. They will still be soft and crumbly, but crisp up as soon as they are cold.

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Best enjoyed on a summer afternoon with a cup of tea!

(These shortbread biscuits are the same recipe as my Rosemary Shortbread, posted here. Change up the herbs or flavourings as the fancy takes you! ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

Potato Salad

The chive blossom vinegar I made a couple of weeks ago is a beautiful colour and now smells intensely of onions… time to put some to use!

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And as new potatoes are now hitting the shops and markets I thought potato salad would be just right. This is not a traditional Bavarian potato salad, I must point out, as that is something different (once I’ve mastered it I’ll post that recipe too!).

Potato Salad

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  • 1lb new potatoes
  • 1 cup garden peas (I used frozen)
  • 3 spring onions
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 4-5 tbsps chive blossom vinegar
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 tbsp (vegan) mayonnaise (optional)
  • black pepper
  • chives and chive flowers

Wash the potatoes but don’t peel them. Boil until just tender and leave to cool a little.

Cook the peas. Slice the spring onions finely. Dice the cooked potatoes.

Mix all the dressing ingredients together and pour over the still warm potatoes. Add the peas and onions and stir well.

Add some chopped chives and chive flowers and a little more pepper to serve.

 

Best enjoyed still slightly warm!

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What do you use chives for?

In a Vase on Monday: In the Pink!

Okay, my first vase is actually not a vase… and it doesn’t contain water either, but vinegar!

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Last week my chives began to flower. I love using them in salads, and had already decided to try preserving some of them too; I bought some good organic white wine vinegar and waited for the sun to shine. And then Marie posted this… Thanks Marie! This is foolproof, and after just a few days it tastes so good!

(If you want to try making it, visit Marie’s post at My Little Corner of Rhode Island)

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ย Today thunderstorms, hail and heavy rain were forecast, and the white peonies had just started opening yesterday, so I cut two white ones and one sugar candy pink peony to float in a large bowl. As I write the scent is wonderful…

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I experimented with a different colour background too… and added a few Veronica petals… so romantic!

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Neither have names, but I think the white one should be called “Raspberry Ripple”. Mmmm, looks good enough to eat!

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The storm did come – how glad I am I cut these! We had absolutely torrential rain and extremely strong wind, and the peony plants are all looking the worse for wear… I shall inspect the damage more closely in daylight tomorrow!

ย Thank you to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting “In a Vase on Monday”, which challenges us to find flowers for cutting from our own gardens… it is a very enjoyable challenge too! Take a look at some of the others this week linking in to her site here.

Hope your weather is calmer than ours!

๐Ÿ™‚