Vegetables, yarn, and yarns: all of my passions all in one place.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Paht si-yu and vegan chocolate chip cookies

Last month, we slacked. It was rush rush rush and there just wasn't any time for a country of the month from which to prepare country-inspired dishes. That's why this month, we're combining two. Welcome to Chinese Thai month. It works well because there are a lot of chinese/thai cookbooks in the library, and now they're on our bookshelves.

Giant Eagle had buy one, get one broccoli, so I searched through said cookbooks for one that would use up some of the broccoli aging in our refrigerator and here it was: Paht si-yu, a thai rice noodle dish with eggs, broccoli, and dark sweet soy sauce. Added bonus, to make the soy sauce dark and sweet, you just add our own new kitchen staple, molasses!

For lack of rice noodles, we used whole wheat linguine. For lack of mushrooms, we used tofu crusted in sesame seeds, but then, by now it should be clear, this recipe, like all recipes in my kitchen, it needed to be Kate-ified.

Paht si-yu
(adapted from Real Vegetarian Thai)

1 package firm tofu
sesame seeds
all spice
teriyaki sauce
3 T soy sauce
1 T molasses
2 T veggie stock
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
3 T veggie oil
4-6 cloves fresh chopped garlic
3 cups bite-sized broccoli florets
1/2 a red pepper, thinly sliced
8 oz. dried whole wheat linguine, cooked according to package instructions
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Red pepper flakes (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350. Take tofu from package and cut slab into four equal rectangles. Press each rectangle into a paper towel to drain excess water and place on a tin-foiled baking sheet. Sprinkle each with allspice and teriyaki and then coat top in a layer of sesame seeds. Bake about 15 minutes per side, give or take, until tofu is slightly browned and much less soggy. Then dice the rectangles and set aside. Also, at this point, it would be good to cook those noodles.

2. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce and molasses, veggie stock (or, as I did, 2 T water and a pinch of better than bouillon), salt and pepper. Stir and set aside.

3. Heat large skillet to med-high. Add 1 T oil and coat pan. Add garlic and cook about 1 minute. Add the tofu cubes and toss. Add the broccoli and red pepper and stir fry about 2 minutes, until broccoli is even shiny and bright green. Dump all into a bowl.

4. Add 2 T oil to the skillet. Add cooked noodles and toss. Then, push the noodles to one side and add the eggs to the vacancy. Cook eggs about 30 seconds and then toss everything together, scrambling the eggs as you do.

5. Stir in the soy sauce mixture (si-yu) and then the veggies. Toss everything together and voila, a lovely vegetarian thai meal. For an extra kick, after you spoon your helping into your bowl, sprinkle on some red pepper flakes. For a vegan version, just nix the eggs. The tofu can carry this protein train solo.

Paht si-yu is delicious. The molasses gives the whole meal a delicate but rich sweetness that a teriyaki just can't match. That sweetness pairs very well with the bitterness of the broccoli and my addition of the sesame crusted tofu gives it a little nutty flair. And of course, it's still a stir fry, so not only is it healthy and delicious, you can easily eat it with chopsticks. And I'm a sucker for chopsticks.

And for dessert, why not some vegan chocolate chip cookies? I was not brave enough for substitutes, so I won't list the recipe, as it would be verbatim, but consider this my first of many recipe reviews from the Vegan Cookies Invade You Cookie Jar cookbook, and if this first recipe in their book is any indication of the quality to come, I made a very smart used bookstore purchase.

These fine women have the vegan cookie down to an art. A lengthy introduction explains how you can accurately make substitutes for more specialized diets, like diabetics and people allergic to say, gluten. Then, we get to that first recipe, the original staple cookie recipe for anyone to have and share: the chocolate chip cookie.

And their version is the single best vegan cookie I have ever made. It's moist and full of flavor (perhaps moreso do to my extra vanilla addition since all I had was vanilla soy milk). Humorously, I almost made an unnecessary substitution right off the bat. These cookies call for tapioca flour (cornstarch can be substituted).

So there I was in my kitchen wondering where one even gets tapioca flour when I had a thought: I have Egg Replacer from that one month I tried to be vegan and couldn't afford it. Sure enough, egg replacer is essentially a big old box of tapioca flour.

Tapioca aside, these cookies are brilliant. And from the looks of it, more brilliance follows in the pages that come after. If you want some good vegan cookies, get your hands on a copy of this cookbook. Vegan cookies really will invade your cookie jar... and your stomach.

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