Vegan friendly fish tacos

Fish tacos. "Fish" tacos. Phish tacos (yikes.)? Shallow fried tofu, coated in English-style fish + chip batter, on a bed of red cabbage, freshly chopped cilantro and a spicy mayo. Plant based fish tacos, enough to feed a Canadian army of 2.

Yields: 6 fish tacos - though this recipe is easy to half or double!

Ingredients I : The Batter
1/2 cup Fish and Chips batter
1/4 cup ice cold water
1 ice cube

Ingredients II : The Tofu-Fish
1/2 block extra firm tofu, cut into triangles, strips or torn into bite-size chunks
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp old bay seasoning

Ingredients III : The Toppings
1 cup thinly sliced red cabbage
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves

Ingredients IV : The Sauce
3 tbsp dairy free mayo (my favourite is Vegenaise!)
1 tsp lime juice
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Considerably Optional
- Sliced avocado
- Chopped tomatos
- Skip the spicy sauce and go straight for mayo
- Finely chopped pickles

Did you know a ton of fish + chip battermixes are vegan friendly? They're primarily a flour of sorts (wheat, corn, rice, etc) in which you mix 2/3 cup of ice cold water to every 1 cup of batter mix. 

To start on Ingredients II often muck about with the batter mix directions and do 1/4 cup ice cold water to 1/2 cup batter mixture plus an ice cube. This does the trick wonderfully for half a block of extra firm tofu, or about 1 cup of dunkable proteins/vegetables. My favourite is the Club House brand.

For Ingredients II, slice/tear up your tofu or protein source, and throw it in a zip baggy with the lemon juice and old bay seasoning. Pop in the fridge while you prep your other toppings.

Prep Ingredients III, by thinly slicing your red cabbage and chopping up your cilantro.

Sort out your sauce. Add all of Ingredients IV together and stir well. Taste test for seasonings. Add in a little extra spices, mayo, garlic or lime juice if needed! 

Get ready to shallow fry your tofu. In a 6-8" non stick pan, place about 1/8"-1/4" oil in your pan and turn onto medium-high. 

Wait about 2 minutes for the oil to heat up. In the meantime, roll your marinaded tofu in your batter mixture (Ingredients I). 

Place a small piece of your battered tofu in the centre of the pan. In a moment or two you should hear some satisfying ttszzzz sizzling action.

Shallow fry on each side for a few minutes, or until each side is a crunchy golden brown.

Assemble your tacos - I start with the red cabbage, add cilantro, the fish, and drizzle with sauce. If you'd like, add some sliced avocado or a bit of habanero sauce!

Massaman curry.

A rich, nutty curry with a slight bit of heat to it. I served mine over rice with a peanut garnish. If you've ever stepped foot down the ethnic aisle at your grocer I'm sure you've seen Cock Brand canned and bottled goods. The little rooster logo isn't quick to miss, and the items are always very reasonably priced. Here are just a few familiar items. The curry pastes are my FAVOURITE and set me back a toonie at the best of times. They last ages and refuse to expire, really. I highly recommend 'em. On to the recipe.

*If serving with rice, get started on this now before prepping your curry.

Ingredients I
4 cardamom pods
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds

Ingredients II
1/2 white onion
1/2 cup coconut cream
1 tbsp curry paste (I used this brand) or to taste
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp lemon grass
2 tsp vegan fish sauce or Kikkoman soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp course black pepper

(Toast all of Ingredients I in a frying pan on medium for 3-5 minutes. Place in a coffee grinder/mortar and pestel until ground to a dust then place Ingredients II and grind to a paste.)

Ingredients III
1 can coconut milk
3/4 cup peanut butter

Place all Ingredients I, II, and III in a small pot and stick on medium high. Allow this to come to a boil for a few minutes, than simmer on low to thicken.

Bring to a boil 2 cups of vegetables. I used: potatoes, broccoli and onions. Boil until fairly tender with a slight bit of crunch. 

Place the vegetables in the simmering curry and stir well.

Serve with rice. Top with peanuts.

Vegan portobello Philly cheesesteak

Made from massive mushroom caps, this meal for two whips up in a jiffy for under five bucks. While I've never had a cheesesteak in my whole vegan Manitoban life (despite Tim Horton's badly hoping to pull off recycled brisket paninis as cheesesteaks?), I pulled flavours from some interesting sources to embody a juicy, mock-beef taste.

Mushrooms are sliced as wide as your pinky finger, about 3/8", and marinaded in a slight bit of garlic, oregano, ground coriander, and the not-really secret ingredient: hoisin sauce.

A green bell pepper and a small white onion are marinaded in a shot of oil and balsamic vinegar to take the bite off.

Ingredients I // The "meat"
4 portobello mushroom caps
1/3 cup vegetable stock or water
1 tbsp Kikoman soy sauce
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 heaping teaspoon hoisin sauce
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp pepper
-- 2 tsp flour, set aside

Ingredients II // Peppers + Onions
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 white onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp oil
1/2 tsp  pepper

Ingredients III // Cheese sauce (optional)
2/3 cup cheese alternative (I used Follow Your Heart mozzarella style shreds)
1/3 cup soy milk
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp oil
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt

A few buns, rolls, sub buns, etc. 
(I used a 12" submarine bun, sliced in half and toasted.)

Be sure to read the directions over beforehand, I've set them in a particular order so there's no time wasted and you can get these on a plate post-haste! Essentially, you will slice and marinade your mushrooms, slice and marinade your peppers/onions. Create the cheese sauce while these marinade. You'll then fry up your peppers/onions in one pan, your gently squeezed steaks in another.

Start by prepping the mushroom steaks. Flip the mushroom caps over, use a spoon and scrape the, ugh, gills out. (This is without a doubt the most irrational dislike I have for any vegetable.) Pop the stems of and quarter them, no use in wasting those! Awful mushroom lashes, however, can gtfo. Place all of Ingredients I - minus the flour - in a large, non-reactive bowl and cover tightly with cling wrap. Give the bowl a good few shakes to get the marinade evenly displaced. Set aside / place in fridge. The flour will be added in later, to just the marinade, so hang tight.

Next, slice up vegetables in Ingredients II and place in a small non-reactive bowl. Add in remaining ingredients in this batch. Cover tightly with cling wrap. Give the bowl a good few shakes to get the marinade evenly displaced. Set aside / place in fridge.

Let the two bowls sit in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes. 

In this time, prep the optional cheese sauce. Place all ingredients, except the flour, in a small pot or pan. Cook on medium-low until bubbling. Add in flour. Whisk and whisk until flour is incorporated into cheese sauce. Continue cooking on medium low, taste test to ensure flour is cooked out (this takes about a minute). Once cheese sauce is ready, place in a small bowl.

Turn your stovetop onto medium-high. Pour peppers and onions into your non-stick pan or skillet. 

Do the same in another non-stick pan or skillet for the mushroom steaks. However, be sure to give the mushrooms a slight squeeze and let the juice fall back into the bowl they marinaded in. 

I cooked both the veg + the mushroom steaks for about 7 minutes. Toward the tail end of this 7 minutes, whisk the 2 tsp flour from Ingredients I into that bowl of mushroom steak "au jus". Once there are no more lumps, pour into the pan of mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms no longer look floury/cloudy and have a bit of a gloss to them.

Toast your rolls if you like. Place the mushroom steaks on first, followed by the peppers/onions, and top with optional cheese sauce.

Slow Cooker Borscht for 2-4.

Quite alright for your 2qt slow cooker, and serves 2-4 for about $2. 

1 large beet (yielding approximately 1 1/2 cups), peeled and chopped into 1/2" cubes or shredded
1 small onion (yielding approximately 3/4 cups), chopped
2 potatoes (yielding approximately 1 1/2 cups), chopped
1 cup cabbage, shredded
2 tbsp fresh dill
1 1/2 cups water + pinch of salt or vegetable broth

Place all ingredients in your slow cooker on high for 4 1/2 hours, or, on low for 8 1/2 hours. Taste test to ensure the beets are soft yet a little firm, and no longer crunchy.

Season as needed, I added a bit of salt and pepper at the end.

Optional: Place 1/3 to half of the solid ingredients in a blender with a small scoop of the brother. Blend. For a bisque, blend all until smooth.

Optional: top with a variety of garnishes such as dairy free sour cream, cashew cream, lemon juice, vineagar, more fresh dill, etc! Pictured is Tofutti Better than Sour Cream and fresh dill. 

Spicy white bean + coconut soup

Enough to feed an army (..of 10) and not so bad with buttered bread. Hearty, spicy, filling and creamy. Let this simmer for at least 25 minutes for the lentils and beans to taste extra buttery and smooth.
Loosely inspired by ScalingBack.

Ingredients I
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped
1 large red bell pepper, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp curry powder (I used India Spice House house brand)
2 tbsp powdered vegetable stock

Ingredients II
1 small can tomato paste or 3 diced roma tomatoes 
8 cups water
1 can premium coconut milk
3 cups red lentils
1 can white navy beans 
2 tbsp white sugar

In a large soup pot, pour in your oil. Once hot, add in the remainder of Ingredients I. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Add in Ingredients II, and bring to a boil for a few minutes. Stir to ensure lentils do not stick to the bottom of the pan, then bring down to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 25 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed. Should the soup come off as too spicy, add in white sugar or lime juice to tame the spiciness.