Is it possible to use the word ‘brunch’ without sounding like a pretentious wanker? I’m not sure I’ve even heard anyone say it in real life out loud but I’ve been for breakfast-type food mid-morning a couple of times in the last month at The Bistro at Lympne Castle and going for breakfast in a castle is pretentiously wanky enough without bringing the word ‘brunch’ into it too (if castles aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other places to get food and loads of discount vouchers about). Despite serving avocado on toast (sorry, I mean ‘crushed avocado on toasted sourdough’), The Bistro isn’t pretentious or wanky in the slightest and you don’t have to dress up like a dog’s dinner to eat there and ever since I ate their scrambled eggs on toast with spinach, tomato and seeds, I kept thinking about it. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to go back to The Bistro in the last couple of weeks, so I decided to recreate their scrambled eggs on toast with spinach and tomatoes with my own vegan version made with tofu.
As the self-proclaimed Queen of Tofu, when I heard about a new brand of tofu called Tofoo, I was obviously keen to give it a go. Tofoo is different than the usual block of Cauldron found in any supermarket, as it’s ready-pressed (yes, I said ready pressed – no more reams of kitchen roll!*) and ready-flavoured in smoked, Indian spiced and Oriental spiced varieties (the latter two coming in cubes). There’s also a naked one, ready for you to do whatever it is you like doing with tofu (if it’s something other than eating it, you probably need help. Just because it’s called ‘naked’ doesn’t mean you should get pervy with it).
I went to London VegFest the other week and for once, I actually came out looking forward to the next year’s event. On the previous years I’ve been, it’s been cramped, overcrowded and I hadn’t been able to get anywhere near the stalls, let alone try anything or buy anything. This year, although it was in the same space and I’m going to assume they weren’t turning stallholders or customers away, there was plenty of room to walk around and to see and sample everything, and sample things I certainly did.
I’m not suggesting for a moment you ditch the more traditional chickpea hummus – especially when I have the recipe for the best hummus in the world ever but, if you fancy a hummus/spread/dip type thing but can’t be bothered to go to the supermarket for a tin of chickpeas but you do have a carton of silken tofu and a jar of tahini in the house, then this is the recipe for you. As an added bonus, unlike the recipe for the best hummus in the world ever, you don’t have to wait for this tofu hummus to cool down.
I love tofu. I especially love it when it’s been pressed to perfection and isn’t a gungy spongy lump of goo, which it hasn’t been since getting my hands on a Tofuture tofu press. But I still wanted to make it meatier and chewier and wondered what it would be like dehydrated, which also gave me a good excuse to use my new Optimum P200 dehydrator.
When the postman knocked on the door and handed me the Tofuture Tofu Press, I hadn’t been so excited about a few pieces of plastic since getting my first Spirograph in the early 80s. As you’ve probably guessed, you don’t draw pretty pictures with the Tofuture Tofu Press though; you press tofu with it.
As anyone knows, tofu needs pressing. It needs pressing to make it edible; unpressed tofu is a gungy, spongy, soggy block of slime and I wish I’d learnt about pressing it earlier than I did. Now I have learnt to press tofu, I eat it regularly (you can check out my tofu recipes here) but the one thing I was missing was something practical and convenient to press it with. My method was to wrap the tofu in reams of kitchen roll and then press it between two saucers – either quickly with my hands or for longer with heavy objects balanced on top. Although both methods work to an extent, they have their failings – I had visions of the saucers snapping and slicing my hands with the hand method and the last time I used the heavy objects method, I balanced a cast iron frying pan on the top saucer, then balanced my Nutribullet on top of the frying pan. I was happily playing on my computer upstairs when I heard a crash in the kitchen. On investigation, I found the frying pan had slipped off the saucer and bashed into the wall, breaking a kitchen wall tile. A brand new kitchen wall tile in the BRAND NEW KITCHEN THE MEAT EATER HAD ONLY JUST PUT TOGETHER WITH HIS OWN FAIR HANDS. Oh man, was I in trouble. Luckily, the Meat Eater had had a tax rebate or something and was in a good mood and when I confessed what I’d done (I couldn’t really not confess – there was a big hole in the kitchen wall where a tile should have been) he just shrugged.
Unsurprisingly, ever since then, I’ve been nervous about using the ‘stack a load of heavy shit on it’ tofu-pressing method, so when Tofuture offered to send me one of their tofu presses, I got mega-excited. As in HALLELUJAH PRAISE THE TOFU-PRESSING LORD excited.
The Tofuture Tofu Press is small, compact and no bigger than it needs to be. It comes in three pieces, which all stack neatly inside each other.
I had a block of tofu (just the normal block of Cauldron you can find in all supermarkets) in the fridge, waiting to be pressed and because I’m a geek and wanted a before and after comparison, I measured it first. Please excuse the dirty ruler (and in case you’re wondering what para it’s ruling out, it’s parasites [the ruler was a freebie from the vet]. I have nothing against paramedics or paralegals).
The tofu fits perfectly inside the inner tub.
The inner tub is placed inside the main tub (which will catch the water), then the top is placed over the inner tub and you pull down the elastic bands over the hooks, then pull the clasps back, which will cause the top to press down on the tofu, squeezing the water out.
The elastic bands are quite difficult to get over the hooks but if the bands were slack, then there’d be no pressure on the tofu and no water would get squeezed out and then it wouldn’t be a tofu press; it’d just be a tofu container.
As mentioned above, the tofu press is compact and when your tofu is sitting safely inside it, it fits beautifully in your fridge, nestled in amongst whatever it is you keep in your fridge (mine had a respectable amount of vegetables in it when I took this photo; sometimes it only contains beer and chocolate, but I didn’t borrow these vegetables just for the photo, honest. Although, that’s an embarrassing amount of plastic *makes mental note to reinstate Riverford veg box and stop buying plastic-wrapped veg from Tesco*).
Although I’d planned to leave the tofu pressing for a few hours, after an hour, I couldn’t resist a peek. I took the tofu press out of the fridge and could feel the water sploshing around in the bottom and when I poured it out, there was 100ml of water.
After five hours had passed, I took the tofu out of the fridge and poured out the water that had collected since I’d emptied it and there was another 25ml.
And as you can see, the tofu had shrunk by about half (in case you can’t be bothered to scroll back up, it was 4cm high before being pressed).
And guess what I made with my newly pressed tofu (after marinading it in the press – another use for it)? I’ll give you a clue – it was on a Friday. Yep, tofush! I’m not lying when I say this is the best tofush I’ve made so far – whether that’s down to the Tofuture Tofu Press or my immense tofu-battering skillz or a combination of both, I don’t know. All I know is that I’m very happy with the press and will be using it to press all my tofu in the future. No more broken kitchen wall tiles, yay.
How to get your hands on a Tofuture Tofu Press
Okay, so now you want one of these tofu presses, don’t you? You’ve got a few options: you can either:
a) buy one direct from the Tofuture website for £25; or
b) buy one on Amazon for £25; or
d) enter the competition on the Tofuture website to win one for absolutely no money at all (I’d go for that one if I were you). (Update: The competition is now closed.)
The Tofuture Tofu Press is Vegetarian Society Approved and Vegan Society Approved. For more information, visit the Tofuture website.
I’d like to give Tofuture approximately twenty-six billion thanks for sending me one of their tofu presses to review. All my gushing is genuine. I fucking love this thing.
First, I need to share with you the vegan tofush and chips (also known as tofish) I made last night – it was so amazing (even if I do say so myself). As Friday night is chippy night and I usually have battered halloumi, I thought, as it’s Veganuary, I’d just have chips but then I thought why don’t I try and recreate the tofush from the Coach & Horses in Soho and have that with chips from the chippy? If you haven’t a clue what I’m on about and haven’t heard of the Coach & Horses in Soho or their famous tofush and chips, you can read my review of London’s first vegetarian pub here.
This tofush isn’t for the squeamish – the use of nori (sheets of dried seaweed) gives it a distinct fishy flavour so, if you don’t like the taste of fish, leave the nori out. But if you want an authentic fish-in-batter taste, leave it in and tell yourself it tastes of the sea.
Just in case making tofush wasn’t proof enough of my genius, I further excelled myself and made my own vegan tartar sauce by mixing together some vegan mayonnaise and pickle relish.
You may be wondering how I managed to go to the chip shop and make tofush at the same time. Even I’m not that much of a genius and I made the tofush while The Meat Eater was at the chippy, keeping it warm in the oven until he got back.
I’ll share the recipe for the vegan tofush below but I’ll just give a quick run through of what else I ate on Veganuary Day 8.
Yes, it’s the same as I’ve had for the last week – a spinach, apple, clementine and chia seeds Nutriblast. I’ve bought some raspberries now so I’ll be having a different breakfast Nutriblast soon. Get me and my impulsiveness.
A gloriously healthy lunch, knowing dinner was going to be a full-on pig-out. This Nutriblast contains banana, kiwi fruit, strawberries, blueberries and soya milk.
As usual, I spent some of the day drinking hot chocolate and eating Oat Flips and Oreos.
Recipe: Vegan Tofush
- [b]For the tofu[/b][br]
- 1/2 block firm tofu, pressed and sliced in half
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 sheet nori, cut into two (so you have two strips of nori)[br]
- [b]For the batter[/b][br]
- 30ml water
- 30ml soya milk
- 60g plain flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- salt and pepper[br][br]Oil for deep-frying
- Mix together the olive oil, lemon juice and salt in a bowl/tupperware dish and marinade the tofu in it for a few hours (or minutes if you forget to do it earlier).
- Whisk together the ingredients for the batter in a bowl.
- Heat the oil for deep-frying (test it’s hot enough by dropping a bit of batter into it – if it sizzles, it’s ready).
- Meanwhile, wrap the strips of nori around the tofu and secure it with a toothpick or two (just remember to remove them after frying!)
- Dredge the nori-wrapped tofu in the batter and deep-fry for two to three minutes, until golden.
I hadn’t had tofu for ages, so it was time to remedy that and raid the cupboard and fridge for condiments and drag the George Foreman out of the cupboard.
The result was cripsy, smoky, spicy tofu that I stuffed in a Food Doctor seeded pitta bread (only £1 for 6 in Tesco) with spinach, olives and mayo.
- 1/2 block tofu, pressed and sliced in half
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp sriracha
- A few drops liquid smoke
- Mix up the sesame oil, nutritional yeast, sriracha and liquid smoke and coat the tofu in it, rubbing it in with your hands
- Leave to marinate for a few hours (or minutes, depending on how organised you are in planning ahead)
- Grill on a George Foreman grill for 10-15 minutes, until crispy
- Stuff in pitta bread with salad
My cheese consumption has gone down massively recently but when The Meat Eater said he was going back to the old chippy for our usual Friday night chippy chips, I thought I’d give their battered halloumi another go. This was the second time I’d tried battered halloumi from the chippy and the first time, I wasn’t keen, despite me usually loving halloumi. I don’t know whether it just seemed a bit odd getting it from the chippy, along with chips that’d been chucked in a huge vat of oil, or maybe I thought it was trying to fool me into thinking it was fish but, whatever it was, the first time just didn’t do it for me.
This time, however, I loved it and remembered how much I love halloumi (to be honest, I hadn’t forgotten. How could anyone forget how delicious it is?) and so when I saw a link to this recipe for vegan tofu halloumi on the Little Vegan Kitchen Facebook group, I knew I had to give it a go, slightly adapting the recipe to my own taste and preference.
I wasn’t expecting it to be much of a convincing replica for halloumi but, I’ve got to say, although it doesn’t have the ‘squeak’ of dairy halloumi, it’s a salty and tangy, perfectly acceptable alternative. I’ve enjoyed it so much, I’ve been having it for lunch stuffed in pitta bread with hummus and salad for the last three days.
I used my George Foreman to get it crispy but I would imagine it’d also be great fried in a little olive oil.
- 1/4 block tofu, pressed and sliced lengthways into two
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Mix the olive oil, nutritional yeast, salt and lemon juice in a bowl
- Rub the tofu with the olive oil mixture and leave to soak in for about 15 minutes
- Grill in a George Foreman grill for about 5-10 minutes until crispy on the outside
My healthiest meal of the day by far is breakfast. I used to make a smoothie in my blender most days but then I jumped on the Nutribullet bandwagon and now have a Nutriblast of spinach or kale, fruit and coconut water each morning.
I love my Nutribullet. I love it so much, I’ve also been having a Nutriblast for lunch – albeit a bigger, thicker one made with frozen banana, whatever fruit I fancy (most recently pineapple and kiwi fruit), a handful of cashews for protein and some Alpro soya yoghurt (man, I love that stuff – it’s so much nicer than the dairy yoghurt).
Although I love my Nutriblasts, sometimes I want something more substantial for lunch and, in the summer, that something is usually salad and although I love the usual salad combo of leaves, raw veg and dressing, recently, I’ve been enjoying a tapas-style lunch.
I generally don’t eat much out of jars but I can’t resist the supermarket shelves laden with artichokes, stuffed vine leaves, sundried tomatoes, roasted peppers and olives. I love to serve them with hummus (shop-bought is delicious but if you want to make your own, here’s the best ever hummus recipe) and marinated, baked tofu.
Despite this being a healthy lunch, it’s calorie-laden as the jars are packed with oil, so if you want to save some calories, pat everything (no, not the hummus!) dry with kitchen roll to mop up a load of oil.
- 1/3 block tofu, pressed and cubed
- Marinade of your choice (I used Jack Daniel’s BBQ Sauce)
- Coat the tofu in the marinade and leave to soak in for a few hours
- Line a baking tray with baking paper and bake the tofu in the oven at 200C for about 20-30 minutes