Archive for the ‘Tofu’ Category

It’s been a busy few months for me! I’ve moved to a new city and started a new job.  Most recently, my job took me up to Moose Factory, Ontario. It’s primarily a Cree community about 10 kilometres south of James Bay (the southern-most section of Hudson’s Bay) on the Moose River.  It was just gorgeous, truly a winter wonderland from mid-November onwards!

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Sunset on the banks of the Moose River

But the food situation could only be described as dire.  I was shocked at the prices and the resulting food insecurity (not to mention the boil water advisory on the reserve).  I saw families at checkouts with only canned food in their cart as that was all they could afford! I’m lucky to have a decent salary and was only buying for myself, but even something as simple as a bowl of pasta with tomato sauce quickly added up to $10-15!  Here’s some prices from my grocery shop in Kashechewan, a community nearby Moose Factory:


The frighteningly high food prices of Kashechewan, Ontario

All to say, when I got home to Ottawa this past weekend, I was craving a big and varied veggie stirfry.  I decided to make one of my favourite recipes, Lotus Land Linguini from  rebar: modern food cook book.  This medley of crisp veggies with a delightful spicy & creamy peanut sauce continues to be one of my absolute faves.   In it’s original form it’s vegan, but as a special treat I added some shrimp.  And to keep with the Asian theme, I served it with rice noodles instead of linguini (making it gluten-free too!).  I have yet to meet a friend or family member who hasn’t asked for the recipe.  Just the culinary treat I needed!!

– Bon appetit!




Crisp veggies in the wok!  Oh so delicious 

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Flipping through rebar: modern food cook book, I was captivated by the name of this linguine.  The recipe looked perfect for dinner with peanut-loving vegetarian friends.  I followed rebar‘s hint to make the sauce rich and creamy by adding equal amounts of canned coconut milk.  I also added fried golden tofu to boost the protein content.   With two helpers, the chopping preparation passed quickly.

This pasta was a delight: creamy, peanut-buttered flavoured crisp veggies over noodles.  We ate the leftovers as a cold picnic-lunch a few days later while driving the Lighthouse Route on Nova Scotia’s South Shore. All of us agreed that the peanut-flavour had intensified, making for even more delicious leftovers!

Lotus Land Linguine with wok-fried vegetables and peanut sauce

(serves 4 hungry individuals)


1 recipe peanut sauce

1 lb (454 g) linguine noodles

1 tablespoon peanut oil, separated

1 pound firm tofu, cubed (optional)

1 yellow onion, julienned

2 carrots, half moon slices

1 large red pepper, 1/2-inch triangles

1 bunch broccoli, florets and stem sliced

4 ounces snow peas, ends trimmed

4 heads baby bok choy, leaves separated

2 bunches scallions, 1-inch long slices

1 can coconut milk (optional)

sesame oil


Heat a large pot of water for cooking the pasta.  In a small pot, gently heat the peanut sauce with the coconut milk. Begin cooking the noodles when you start the stir-fry as they will take about the same amount of time.

Heat a wok over medium-high heat.  Add half the oil, and just before it starts to smoke, add the tofu.  Stir-fry  until it is golden brown.  Remove from wok.  Add the remaining oil.  Stir-fry the onions until translucent and then add the remaining vegetables in order of their cooking times, beginning with the carrots and ending with the snow peas, bok choy and scallions.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.  Continue stirring and tossing the vegetables, keeping them crisp and brightly coloured.  If they start to stick, add a splash of water and cover briefly.

Toss the drained noodles with a splash of sesame oil.  Toss the noodles with the veggies, tofu, and creamy coconut peanut sauce.  Garnish with crushed peanuts, freshly chopped cilantro, and lime wedges, if desired.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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During the really busy time that is exams, all I want to do is cook and bake. I can hardly handle the temptation of getting up and baking muffins, making soup, or even just home-made pop-corn.

Well, you caught me. It’s true, I can’t handle it. I think I’ve made all of those in the last 3-4 days.

Now that I’ve been doing this university thing for the last 5 years, I have developed crafty ways of cooking during exam periods. I study lecture by lecture. In between each, I cook meals that I can make in little bursts of 10 minutes here and there [and I get my partner in crime to do a lot of the work, and the dishwashing is especially appreciated]. It’s my way of infusing fun into nutritional toxicology. Perhaps I can even call it studying.

This stir-fry is really fast and delicious, and can be made in maybe 3 bursts of 10 minutes each, as long as you remember to marinate the tofu in advance (the night before is best but a few hours is still ok).

Ingredients – 4 servings

Tofu marinade

-1 block tofu (extra firm is great, but sometimes I medium too for a change), sliced into 1/4 inch wedges
-3 cloves garlic, germ removed, and finely minced
-2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
-zest of 1 washed lime
-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
-2 tsp sesame oil
-juice from one lime
-1/2 cup soy sauce
-1/2 cup water


-1 onion or leek, sliced
-1 Tbsp canola oil x2
-2 tsp sesame oil x2
-1 clove garlic, germ removed, and sliced
-1 carrot, cut into juliennes
-1 red and 1 green pepper, sliced
-1 zucchini, halved then sliced
-1 head broccoli, cut into florets
-1 cup sugar-snap peas, stems removed
– Salt and pepper and cayenne to taste
-1/2 washed cilantro leaves

-1 package soba noodles


To make the tofu marinade, chop the garlic and ginger, and mix in a bowl with the remaining ingredients.  Slice the tofu and add it to the marinade.  I like to use a large roasting pan because then I can cover all the tofu with marinade. Cover it and let it rest in the fridge, occasionally (once or twice) basting it with the marinade. If you can remember to marinate it the night before, your taste buds will be rewarded.

The night of, take a first 10 minutes to chop everything.  Put the onion/leek separate, the garlic separate, and then in 1 bowl keep the broccoli and peas while in another bowl keep the remaining veggies you have cut.

In a second bout of effort, heat both types of oil in a wok or frying pan over medium heat.  Add the onion/leek, and let sauté for a few minutes.  Add the garlic for one more minute and stir.  Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil for the soba noodles (or make some rice).

In a second frying pan, add the remaining canola and sesame oil over medium-high heat.  Add the tofu without any marinade, and sear each side for 2-3 minutes until golden.  Then add some of the marinating juices and simmer while you add the broccoli and peas to the wok, and stir, for 3 minutes.  Then add the remaining veggies, and cook for 2-3 minutes so they are hot and crisp. Pour in the remaining marinade, and bring to a boil quickly and stirring often. Then remove from heat and serve with the tofu, noodles, extra soy sauce and garnish with the cilantro.


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Thai Dragon Bowl Soup

One of the things I miss most about Toronto is an excess of delicious Thai food.  After visiting Toronto a few weeks ago, I was craving Tom Yum soup.  I had never attempted a Thai soup before, let alone Thai food: I confess, there is something about the concept of using fermented anchovies as a central cooking ingredient (fish sauce) that offset me.  For my first attempt at Thai, I roamed the internet for Tom Yum soup recipes and picked and chose elements to come up with the below recipe.  The name is inspired by the rebar recipe, which I only discovered the day after this Thai culinary soup adventure.

This soup would normally substitute shrimp for the tofu, but in line with my vegetarian adventures, tofu it was.  I discovered that the key ingredients for most tom yum soups were the combination of vegetable stock (or water), lemongrass, chili, fish sauce, and kaffir leaves.  My Halifax supermarket, however, had never heard of kaffir lime leaves.  Not to be discouraged, I decided to persevere, substituting lime zest and juice.  Many of the soups used ginger and garlic to complement these flavours, a concept which I loved. I wanted the soup to be filling for supper, so I also added red pepper, mushrooms, and rice noodles to give it some substance. Since I love the crunch of bean sprouts, I used them along with cilantro for garnish.

The final soup turned out beautifully.  With less than 20 minutes of cooking time from prep to final product, this soup is perfect for an instant meal. I was suffering from a slight cold, so the fragrant lemongrass, ginger, and garlic cleared my sinuses.  The soup was light and fresh, yet simultaneously filling.


Thai Dragon Bowl

(4 servings)


6 cups vegetable stock

2 lemongrass stalks, trimmed, bruised, and bundled

2 tablespoons minced ginger

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 chili pepper, diced

1 red pepper, coarsely chopped

½ pound mushrooms (about 10-12 large), sliced

½ block of extra-firm tofu, cut into small cubes

150 grams of rice noodles

3-4 tablespoons fish sauce

Zest and juice of 1 lime

½ pound bean sprouts

1/3 cup minced cilantro


Bring the stock to a boil.  Add the lemongrass, ginger, and garlic and simmer for five minutes.  Sit in the mushrooms, both types of pepper, the tofu, and the rice noodles.  Simmer for about 5 minutes or until the rice noodles are cooked.  Season with the fish sauce and lime zest and juice, adjusting saltiness and sourness as desired.  Add chili sauce if additional heat is desired.  Remove the soup from the heat and stir in bean sprouts and cilantro.  Before serving, remove the lemongrass bundle.

Ladle into bowls, and eat piping hot!

–       Catherine

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Peanut Butter Stir-Fry

For the month of March, I’ve (Catherine) decided to go vegetarian (and for that matter, attempt a 30-day yoga challenge – I’ll keep you posted as to my success).  That being said, I confess to be a bit rusty cooking with non-animal proteins.  So I decided to send an e-mail to my good friend Sam who has been a vegetarian for a few years and is an absolutely fabulous chef!  She was the first person who showed me tofu is actually edible, and since then we have cooked everything from gingerbread cookies to daal soup to pad thai.  So to share with you her sage vegetetarian culinary advice, I present to you our first guest blogger, the lovely Sam!

Catherine asked me to provide moral support and recipes as she tries to go veg for a month. Since she has provided me with numerous recipes over the years (including her heavenly chocolate zucchini cake, which i hope to see here someday, and the family heirloom almond crescents), I figured I should return the favour.

But what does a vegetarian expat living in Switzerland have to say about Canadian cooking? I have no desire for moose steaks and limited access to maple syrup- but Canadian cuisine, as has been demonstrated so far by the two lovely ladies, is way more than that. I believe that the fusion of cultures and the spirit of resourcefulness that helped found our country is what defines its cuisine today. So, in that spirit, I will share with you a few quirky recipes with the hope of demonstrating that part of my heart (and tastebuds) still belong to the true north strong and free.

Peanut Butter Stir Fry


sesame oil
vegetables (I used eggplant and bok choy for this one, but broccoli is also especially good)
rice noodles
peanut butter (natural, preferably!)
hoisin sauce (if you don’t have hoisin, you can make an okay substitute by mixing balsamic vinegar and sugar)


Boil water for the noodles while you cube or slice the tofu and fry it in a bit of sesame oil. When the tofu is brown on both sides, take it out and throw in the vegetables to cook. Boil the rice noodles- less than 5 minutes normally. When the veggies are done, take the pan off the heat, and add equal parts peanut butter and hoisin (for one person, about a tablespoon each is plenty). Toss with the cooked noodles and tofu.
The entire process should take less than 15 minutes! Mmmm.

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