Vegan Cooking

Cooking: Everyone needs to be well-rounded, right? Here are a few vegan recipes I've invented in the course of my years as a vegan (since 1990).

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Chinese Pepper Tofu

Start by deep-frying tofu at 370°, either in a deep-fryer or a wok with a couple of inches of oil (which you can save in the fridge and re-use):
2 lbs. firm Chinese-style tofu cut into 1 inch cubes
Set tofu aside when it is golden brown.

In wok:
Small amount of oil
1 red onion
1 yellow onion
Sauté until lightly browned, then add:
3 green peppers, cut into 1 inch pieces
Cook until peppers are cooked, but not too soft. Add the tofu. Just before serving, clear a spot in the center of the wok (so the sauce is directly on the hot metal), and add the following sauce. Stir constantly, and the sauce will thicken quickly (under 1 minute). Once the sauce has thickened, toss everything together and server over rice.

1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. garlic
4 T. Bragg's aminos, or 3 T. soy sauce
2 tsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. 5-spice powder *
1 T. rice vinegar (or any vinegar)
½ c. water
2 T. cornstarch

* Note: If you don't have 5-spice powder, you can make some using 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. cloves, 3 tsp. fennel seeds (or 2 tsp. ground fennel), 1 tsp. pepper, ½ tsp. nutmeg, and ½ tsp. ginger. I know, it is six spices, but what the heck. Call it 5-spice bonus powder.

Perfect Soft Pretzels

In large mixing bowl, place:
2 cups water at 110 degrees
Add and mix well:
2 T. yeast (Red Star works well)
2 T. fructose or sugar
4 T. canola oil
1 tsp. salt
Add and knead with dough hook until well-mixed and a soft but not sticky dough:
5½ cups white flour
(Add a tiny bit extra flour if dough is too sticky after 5 minutes of kneading)

Cover bowl and let rise in warm place (100 degree oven if yours has a bread rising setting) for 30 minutes, or until doubled.

In a saucepan (non-aluminum, or it will react with baking soda) big enough to accommodate large pretzels, boil:
6 cups water
6 T. baking soda
If the water starts to boil down at all, add more water, or the pretzels will taste too baking soda-y. The baking soda is the trick to the correct surface on the pretzels.

Divide the dough into 12 even pieces. Cover remaining 8 pieces while you work with the first 4. For each piece, roll between hands to make a long (18" or so) relatively thin strand of dough. Make it a little thinner than you think it should be, since it will rise some. Fold it into a pretzel shape:
Make a loop with ends crossing at near the top
Twist cross one turn
Fold ends down to bottom of loop and press to attach to dough

Boil in water/soda solution for 30 seconds, one pretzel at a time. Remove from water, drain briefly, place on a cooking sheet that is covered with parchment paper, and sprinkle with:
Coarse pretzel salt or kosher salt

When the first batch of 4 are done with boiling, place the tray of pretzels on the highest rack of a preheated 450° oven. Bake for 8 minutes (until browned), then flip and bake for 3 additional minutes (until bottoms are browned). As each batch cooks, boil the next batch, and continue until done.

Eat the pretzels warm, or re-heat later in a 300° toaster oven for 2 minutes. They also freeze well.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Last updated: March 16, 2006