Once again, aside from the milk component of a hot drink (I spent most of the morning pining for a good latte – I should really just try it with soy milk, which can’t be that bad, right?), I did not feel like I was missing anything from my diet. Again I started the morning with porridge, chopped banana, cinnamon, and toasted almonds. I soaked long-cooking steel-cut oats overnight this time, and managed to create a watery gruel (I am now certain that the gruel one reads about in Dickens’ novels is made of porridge), with not nearly enough delicious banana to mask its horribleness. Poor Nick ate it, and the sweet man actually waited for me to say something bad about breakfast first before feeling it was permissible to criticise the grey sloppy stuff I had just served him. Porridge is normally so good, and (I thought) so easy. How can someone who can craft their own gnocchi, for God’s sake, not make a decent bowl of porridge!
Vegan Menu, Day 2
Breakfast –Disgusting Gruel with Banana.
Lunch – Tempeh with Peanut Dipping Sauce (see below for the recipe)
Dinner – Curried Cauliflower Soup with Focaccia and Vegan Butter Substitute (recipe to follow shortly)
You must forgive the comparatively poor quality of the tempeh photos – when finally cooked (lunch took longer than expected because I had forgotten to defrost the tempeh in advance) we had been so tormented by the rich, sweet smells coming from the kitchen, that it was all I could do to take a couple of pictures before we began eating. I will, unfortunately, be posting a couple of recipes this month with ingredients that are harder to find. Many of the recipes will be Indian, Asian or Middle Eastern, which can mean a trip to specialty supermarkets for more unusual ingredients (something I absolutely love to do, though it is made incredibly easy by living in New York). I do not know if tempeh counts as one of these – I got it ages ago at the fantastic Smorgasburg market (a food market open on Saturdays just around the corner from us in Brooklyn) and kept it specifically with the intention of trying it out when I had reason to cook more vegan food. But it is very possible that this flavourful soy-based food (full of protein, if you were worried about not getting enough) is easy to find in supermarkets – it comes in blocks that are frozen, so check the freezers. The other ingredient for this meal that might be harder to find is mirin – a sweet rice wine used in Japanese cooking. You can probably do without the mirin, but it is such a wonderful ingredient to have around (I never realised how many delicious recipes required mirin until I bought a bottle) that it is worth searching for. I ended up finding it on the shelves of our local supermarket, so who knows, it could be easier to find than I have suggested.
Whatever you have to do to get the following ingredients, however, do it. Lunch smelled so good, tasted so good, was so satisfying. Just thinking about it now makes me want more. At no point will you feel like you are missing out on anything just because what you are eating is vegan.
Note: This recipe makes enough for 4. I halved the tempeh, but made the original amount of peanut dipping sauce, storing half of it in the fridge so we only had to prepare the tempeh next time we had it.
1/4 cup grapeseed oil (or other vegetable oil)
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1/4 cup of soy sauce
1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup of mirin
2 cloves of garlic
Around 500g (1lb) tempeh
In a bowl, whisk together the oils, soy sauce, vinegar, mirin and garlic with a fork until fully combined. Cut the tempeh into cubes, roughly 1.5-2 inches across. Lay out the tempeh cubes in a large frying pan, and pour over the sauce you have just made. Cook on medium heat until the sauce is boiling, and then reduce to low, cover and let cook until all the liquid has been absorbed, turning the tempeh with tongs every now and then. It should take about 20 minutes for the liquid to be absorbed, but keep a close eye on it – ours burnt a little because the temperature was too high.
While the tempeh is cooking, make the peanut dipping sauce (below). Once the tempeh is done, place on skewers, and serve with the sauce and a side salad.
Peanut Dipping Sauce
A big handful (roughly 1/4 cup) coriander (cilantro)
2 cloves of garlic
3 spring onions (scallions)
3 teaspoons of chopped lemongrass (either chop the soft, inner bulb or a fresh stalk, or just buy pre-chopped lemongrass in a jar)
3/4 cup of chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup of vegetable stock or broth
3 tablespoons of fresh lime juice
A pinch of salt and fresh pepper (to taste)
(If you want a bit of a kick also add a medium-sized red chilli, finely chopped)
Roughly chop the coriander, garlic and spring onions, and combine them with the lemongrass in a food processor (if you want to add the chilli, do so now). Blend until finely chopped/combined. Add everything else and process until smooth.