Tag Archives: converting carnivore

Dancing Taste Buds: Indian-Inspired Tofu Curry

Mmm, street food! Wherever you go in Asia, you’re sure to find some of the best food from the hawkers on the street…if you’re bold enough to try it. You’ll find these vendors on busy street corners, on boats in crowded canals, and in bustling night markets with their steamy carts lit by luminaries. The crowds around the most popular vendors might just convince you to overlook the guy at the next cart selling deep fried crickets – blehk!

This fragrant coconut milk-based Indian-style tofu curry makes me think of warm Bombay nights and a exuberant Bollywood movies bursting with vibrant tropical colors, smiles and dancing. It’s a delicious, thick, filling curry that’s oh so satisfying! And the tofu packs this dish with protein. It’s so rich that meat-eaters love it, as do vegans! And the chef in your family will like it too since it’s so easy and quick to make. I like to make this on my Bollywood dancing night – yes, I take a Bollywood dance class and I flipping love it! (You don’t believe me, do you? Well this is a photo of our last performance – that’s me on the bottom left.) The music is so happy and the choreography is so fun that I can’t help but laugh through the whole class. I have yet to get John to do a little Bollywood dance with me, but I’m persistent. One day, I swear I’ll get him to gyrate to a tabla beat!

I’ve adapted this from a recipe by the wonderful cookbook author, Andrea Nguyen. You can use regular curry powder, but if you have Madras curry, this dish really comes alive and adds a spicy kick that’s sure to make your taste buds dance!

Indian-Inspired Tofu Curry

Serves: 4
From fridge to table: about 15-20 minutes

2-3 tbsp canola or grapeseed oil
1 can (14 oz) coconut milk
14-16 oz. firm tofu cut into thin domino-sized/shaped pieces
1/2 tsp salt (I like using smoked sea salt – it adds so much depth, it’s delicious)
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup sliced bamboo shoots (drained and rinsed)
1.5 tsp curry powder, preferably Madras curry
2 tsp light brown sugar
2-3 small heads baby bok choy, cut into 1″ pieces
1/2 cup asparagus tips, sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh Asian-style herbs. Any of the following works great with this dish: mint, cilantro or basil. (Confession: I used all three and it was fabulous!)

Cooked rice, or cooked noodles (soba or udon are great with this)

If you have time, do this step with the tofu since it creates an interesting texture, but if you don’t have time, you can skip it: put tofu in a wide, shallow bowl. Mix in 1 tsp salt with 2 cups very hot water and pour over tofu. Let sit for 15 minutes, then drain and let sit on paper towels for 15 minutes.

Heat oil in large non-stick saucepan over medium heat. Fry shallots until lightly golden, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and saute 2-3 minutes until light and crisp. Add curry powder. Remove solid ingredients from pan and set aside, but don’t clean the pan. Add a little more oil and then saute the tofu, turning once, until golden – about 4-5 minutes. It won’t get crispy, but it’ll get golden around the edges.

Add the shallot mixture to the pan again, and add coconut milk, salt, bamboo shoots and brown sugar. Bring to simmer and cook 2-3 minutes. Add bok choy and asparagus and cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with chopped herbs.  Serve with either rice or atop noodles. Then rejoice as your taste buds dance!

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Delicious Meatless Tamale Pie Fools Meat-Addicts


Ha ha, a seriously delicious tamale pie (which happens to be meatless) just fooled 5 hardcore meat-addicts! If any meat-impostor entree could dupe our Supper Club buddies, I knew it would be this incredibly flavorful, goey blend of ground meatless ground ‘meat’, salsa, refried black beans, onion, garlic and melted vegan cheddar cheese sandwiched between hearty polenta discs. People used to freak out about this dish when I made it with ground turkey and real cheddar, and now I’ve figured out some easy fixes to make it vegan – and it passed the meat-lover test by fooling our friends.

Our friends thought their incessant jokes about Operation Carnivore Conversion and my creative efforts to get my husband to go meatless had broken me. One of them even launched a counter assault called “Operation Enduring Meat” to thwart my efforts, and they thought I finally surrendered. Not sure why they’re so terrified of meatless meals – one of them was so worried that I’d serve her a vegan dinner that she called *three* times the day of our Supper Club dinner to ask if she could bring over steak. Seriously! Instead of destroying my resolve, I declared a secret all-out war and went all devious on their pork-worshiping butts. For the record, no, I did not feel bad lying to them and telling them that I had made them my famous tamale pie with ground meat when in fact I had used “beefless ground beef.” And yes, I relished every single moan of joy that came out of their mouths while they were devouring my vegan tamale pie and every single one of their comments that “fake meat is nasty.” Ha ha!

“So you guys like it?” I asked innocently. “It’s awesome! One of your best dinners ever!” they said. I waited until they had licked their plates clean before I slapped down a packet of beefless ground beef on the dinner table. “SUCKAS!” I exclaimed while doing a victory lap around the table of stunned vanquished carnivores. Serves my friends right for messing with me! One of them refused to believe it was true. Knowing that I don’t eat meat, she forced me to take a bite of the tamale pie to prove to her that it was made with faux meat.

So there you have it, Operation Carnivore Conversion wins the war! Damn, that victory lap felt great, and this tamale pie never tasted so good. 🙂

Meatless Tamale Pie

1 pound beefless ground beef (I used Trader Joe’s version, which worked great)
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
1.5 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 15-16 oz can of refried black beans
1 15-16 oz jar of your favorite salsa
1/2 can of white corn (optional)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
3 cups fake cheddar cheese (Daiya works great since it melts and stretches), or if you eat cheese, use sharp cheddar
2 rolls of prepared polenta, sliced into 1/3″ thick rounds. This is what packaged, prepared polenta looks like:

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large saute pan, saute the onion and garlic until the onion is beginning to turn golden and slightly brown around the edges. Add the fake beef and stir until it’s well integrated and warmed through. Add the chili powder and cumin, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add the beans, salsa and corn and simmer (stirring frequently) until mixture thickens, about 5-10 minutes. Turn of heat and mix in cilantro.

Oil a large, high-sided baking dish (13x9x2 works well) and place half of the polenta rounds on the bottom. Heap on heavy spoonfulls of the tamale filling onto each round – it might end up running together to totally cover the polenta, which is fine. Sprinkle with half the cheese. Then put the remaining polenta rounds on top to cover it all, then sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. This is what it looks like once you assemble it:

Bake for about 35 minutes until the dish is heated through and the sauce is bubbly, about 35 minutes. (Or bake refrigerated tamale pie, covered, for 20 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 35 minutes or so until it’s bubbly).

Enjoy!

Superhero Stir Fry Side Dish: Kale and Chard in a Spicy Teriyaki Disguise

Does anyone remember The Superfriends? It’s a vintage cartoon that features a dream-team alliance of seriously bitchin’ superheros. A couple nights ago I had a dream about The Superfriends, which went something like this: “Wonder Twin Powers, Activate! Form of: the healthiest, most cruciferous vegetable on the planet to protect against cancer and fight cholesterol!” (And then POOF!, he turns into kale). Then the female side of the daring duo says: “Shape of: a super-vegetable that contains 13 different kinds of antioxidants and betalain to fight aging, heart disease and inflammation!” (And then BANG!, she turns into Swiss chard).

(Yeah, that was a weird dream! But not as strange as the one in which my body was made of nougat – now that was seriously bizarre. Perhaps I should lay off the margaritas before bed).

Anyway, I woke up inspired to make a side dish with these fabulous superhero vegetables. But as spicy-sweet, nutty and flavorful as these thick-leafed veggies taste to me, I know they will intimidate my veg-shy carnisaurus. I mean, c’mon, the guy grew up eating something called “Scrapple,” a pressed-together mess of pig scraps. (Ew!)  Its tag line could be “From the Rooter to the Tooter!”  Let’s face it, kale and Swiss chard are pretty advanced veggies that can terrify people (like my husband) who don’t frequent the farmer’s market. So I decided to disguise these Superhero Veggies in a flavorful cape of spicy miso teriyaki. And guess what, John flipping LOVED THEM and asked for seconds! I knew he couldn’t resist the savory-sweet, hot teriyaki flavors. Woohoo, score one for Team Veg! Bonus for the cooks: this recipe takes all of 10 minutes to make, from fridge to plate.

Maybe my dream wasn’t so bizarre after all. These awesome SuperVeggies deserve to star in their own show…okay, maybe not as a crime-fighting duo, but perhaps as the stars of your next dinner!

Superhero Stir Fry: Kale and Chard in a Spicy Miso Teriyaki Disguise
Time to prepare: 10 minutes
Servings: makes enough for 4 side dishes
  • 1-2 tbsp oil that can take high heat (like grapeseed or peanut oil)
  • half bunch of kale, leaves torn in two or three parts (your choice of dinosaur kale, red, purple, etc. Get crazy, my friends!) (Lucky for me, my favorite farmer’s market vendor, Happy Boy Farms,  sells pre-mixed bags of kale and chard)
  • half bunch of Swiss chard, leaves torn in two or three parts (your choice of color)
  • 4 cloves garlic, either smashed or chopped
  • up to 1/4 cup of spicy teriyaki sauce (I used Kikoman’s spicy miso teriyaki and it was delish in this dish!)
In a big old wok, heat oil over high heat. Once heated, toss in the kale and chard. It should totally fill your wok to the rim (see photo above), but don’t worry, it cooks down to about 1/4 of the size (see photo below). Stir frequently for about 8 minutes until the leaves wilt and start to brown a bit, then add garlic and stir-fry for about a minute more, stirring constantly. Test the veggies to see if they’re wilted enough to eat – they should be slightly browned and soft. Then turn off the heat and immediately add teriyaki – do a little at a time, mix, taste, and add more as you like.

This makes an excellent side dish, but you can also make it a main dish by tossing in some super-firm tofu about half way through. The sauce cloaks the tofu too, which makes it appealing and edible for carnivores. Enjoy!