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Sunday, 13 December 2009

Daring Cooks Challenge December 2009: Tofu en Croute

pastry,en croute,tofu

I love everything pastry and pies! So this challenge was not only very exciting but the end product was delicious and made a very nice dinner (and leftover for lunch)!
It is something that I will surely make again and again!

The Daring Kitchen

The 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Simone of Junglefrog Cooking. Simone chose Salmon en Croute (or alternative recipes for Beef Wellington or Vegetable en Croute) from Good Food Online.
Recipe source : Good Food online


The most exciting part of the challenge for me was what to use for filling. Not that I didn’t have any ideas! I had loads and just couldn’t make up my mind. I have never actually used tofu as pie filling before. So, I went with tofu and experimented with some flavour combinations (for the marinade) that turned out really tasty! I even added some cayenne pepper for a little hot kick!

I used a loaf tin. And as I wanted to get clean slices, I layered the ingredients with a mixture of pureed tofu and soymilk so that everything will hold together nicely.

I made the shortcrust pastry myself. I made it by hand and then used a hand mixer (with the spiral hook; it’s the smaller swirly one that usually comes with hand mixers) to form the dough. For shortcrust pastry to always turn out nice, using metric measurements is best; it is much more accurate (especially in this case).

Ingredients (for 1 loaf tin, 6 servings)
Printable recipe

For the shortcrust pastry

(no cup measurement for this; it’s difficult to measure cold margarine by the cup!)
500g plain flour
220g vegan margarine/butter (as cold as possible)
14 tablespoons water (this may vary depending on how firm/soft the margarine is and also maybe on room temperature)

  • Cut margarine into small pieces.
  • In a big bowl add flour and margarine pieces.
  • Cut through margarine pieces in the flour to make them smaller while mixing with the flour.
  • Rub in the margarine into the flour using the tip of the fingers to make the lumps of margarine as small as possible. Try not to overwork the dough.
  • Lift the flour while rubbing in (to incorporate air into the mixture) until it ressembles fine bread crumbs.
  • Start mixing with a hand mixer (with spiral hook) while adding a few tablespoons of water.
  • Check to see if dough is holding together and soft (but not sticky).
  • Test by pressing with the hands. Knead only 2-3 times.
  • Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 2 hours to overnight. (Can also be frozen for later use).
I found this video (provided in the challenge post) very helpful: Making shortcrust pastry

For the filling

The mushrooms:
4 portobello mushrooms (250g)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon margarine
Salt to taste

  • Heat margarine in a non-stick pan. Add garlic and mushrooms. Add salt.
  • Sautee until mushrooms are soft. Remove from heat. Set aside.
  • There will be quite some liquid coming out. Either discard the liquid (or use as part of the marinade for the tofu).

The tofu:

1½ block (375g) firm tofu
½ teaspoon Chinese 5 spice
½ teaspoon turmeric
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt to taste
3 tablespoons vegetable oil for shallow frying

  • Cut tofu into large slices (to fit in the width of the tin).
  • Mix all the remaining ingredients (except oil) together in a bowl.
  • Dip each piece of tofu in the marinade. (Or you can leave them to marinade for a little while if you like).
  • Shallow fry in the oil until golden and slightly crispy.

The green stuff:

150g watercress, spinach and rocket
¾ block (approx. 190g) firm tofu
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon salt

  • Mix all ingredients in a blender. (I used a hand blender and it was fine). Set aside.

The tofu puree:

¾ block (approx. 190g) firm tofu
100ml soy milk
½ onion (or 1 shallot) chopped
¼ teaspoon salt

  • Mix all ingredients in a blender. Set aside.

Rolling and Arranging:

  • Separate the dough into two, one-quarter and three-quarter.
  • Roll the bigger dough out the size of the baking tin (accounting for the sides, of course, and little surplus.
    (This video, provided in the challenge, is a good one:
    Rolling out pastry)
  • Roll out the smaller dough for the top.
  • Preheat oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
  • Line the tin with some greaseproof paper. (This makes removal easier).
  • Place the dough inside the tin. Shape the corners by pressing lightly with a little ball of dough.
  • Top with a layer of pureed tofu.
    Then add another layer of tofu.
    And a layer of puree.
    A layer of mushrooms, then the tofu puree again.
    Finally pour in the green puree.

  • Cover with dough. Close the edges properly.
  • Make 3 clean cuts through the dough (to allow steam to escape).
  • Bake for 1 hour. Pastry should be golden and dry. Check by inserting a skewer in the middle. It won’t be super dry because of the moist ingredients inside but it should be fairly clean.
  • Allow to cool for a while then remove from tin by pulling the greaseproof paper and lifting. Slice using a serrated knife (preferably).

The f
lower decoration:

The flowers I placed on top were coloured using beetroot juice (because food colour usually freaks me out! So, I try to avoid them). Instead of using water, I used beetroot juice to form the flour mixture into dough. But you only need a little bit of the flour mixture and a tablespoon or so of the beetroot juice.
I just cut out small circles that I arranged into flowers.

The braid:

I braided leftover dough pieces and placed them around the edges of the loaf.

tofu en croute,vegan,pastry,tofu

Printable recipe

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Cheesy but I love the Chili Peppers...

chilli pepper,chili pepper,stuffed,couscous

...I'm not talking about the Red Hot Chili Peppers! These ones were not red and not very hot but certainly very tasty!
I made these stuffed chilies for Sunday dinner but didn’t have time to post the recipe before. I intend to make them again some time closer to the holidays. Whatever you decide to fill them with, these will sure make a great starter or appetiser!

Stuffed Chili Peppers

Ingredients (3 servings, 2 chilies per person)
Printable recipe
6 chili pepper
½ cup (100g) couscous (dry)
½ cup (125g) canned sweetcorn, drained
2 shallots, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup (150g) mushrooms, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
3 stems spring onions, chopped
2-3 stems dill, chopped (optional)
1½ tablespoon dairy-free cheese powder (because we want the chili peppers to be
cheesy! I used the Free and Easy Dairy Free Cheese Flavour Sauce Mix)
½ teaspoon (or to taste) powdered cayenne pepper
Salt to taste
Oil for shallow for frying

Onion rings (of suitable size according to the size of the chilies),optional

  • Rehydrate the couscous according to packet instructions. Leave to cool (if using hot water) and separate the grains with a fork. Set aside.
  • Slit the chilies open on one side. Remove seeds.
  • Wash and pat dry with a paper towel.
  • Shallow fry for a few minutes until lightly golden. Turn on all sides for even frying.
  • Remove from oil and drain on absorbent paper.
  • Pour off excess oil from pan (leaving about a tablespoon in).
  • Add shallots and garlic. Stir for a minute.
  • Add mushrooms and sweetcorn. Sautee for a few minutes.
  • Add couscous, basil and cayenne pepper. Stir and sautee for about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add dairy-free cheese powder. Stir.
  • Lastly, add spring onions and dill. Mix well and remove from heat.
  • Allow to cool for a while.
  • Stuff the chilies with the couscous filling. Insert an onion ring around the chili to secure the filling inside. (The filling should hold by itself even if you are not using an onion ring).
  • Place on a baking tray and bake at 200 degrees for 15 minutes.
  • Serve with salad.

Tip: Pop in some sweet cherry tomatoes (coat them in a bit of vegetable oil) in the oven while grilling the chilies. Their sweet taste will complement the chili peppers.

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