Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Air Fried Broccoli, Organic Oven Fries, Black Beans

I was out and about and asked my wife to get some beans going as a simple and nutritious side dish in the Instant Pot. She picked black beans (I had her do a 0 minute cycle to be almost equivalent to soaking overnight, then I cooked for 25 minutes).

I thought I'd continue my experiments with my air fryer and have seen several recipes for air fried broccoli. I think that Kathy Hester had a recipe, but I also quickly looked and found one recipe that included boiling the broccoli first, and another that was simpler that I modified a bit and tried.

For the broccoli, I used not just the florets, but also the chopped stalk. I made a mixture of rice milk, Panko bread crumbs, garlic granules, freshly ground black pepper, and salt, and coated the broccoli, then air fried. The recipe I modified suggested 350°F for four minutes, shaking the broccoli up, then continuing for another four minutes, but I wasn't using olive oil and thought I'd try just one go at four minutes.

I tried preparing frozen French Fries again as a side dish; this time, I used Alexia organic oven fries that only has about 3g of fat per serving, which is the goal we tell our Food for Life students for each dish. The package suggests 450°F for 18 minutes; I thought I'd try 425°F for 12m but the fries were done after about 9 minutes!

My family loves the results of air frying - and it's so easy with minimal cleanup! My wife liked the broccoli; I thought it was fine, but didn't taste different than a soft raw broccoli. The breading was crispy but not strongly flavorful, and didn't really stick. The fries were great! I mixed in raw tomato and shallot with the beans, and they were very good.

Ideas for the future

I should experiment with aquafaba or use Ener-G Egg Replacer to get vegetables sticky and receptive to Panko or other coatings. I bought some golden zucchini today and am thinking of air frying it tomorrow - perhaps with no breading. I'm so happy that I have an air fryer!

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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Air "Fried" Tofu and Tempeh Steaks Coated with Quinoa

I'm excited about our new air fryer, the Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven TOA-60. I got it about a week ago and am impressed by its toasting (even and fast) and baking, with or without convection (it's fast!). I finally wanted to try the air frying function.

I believe that all "air frying" is with this oven is convection baking, maybe with faster air circulation, and with food put in a rectangular basket with holes allowing air circulation. That basket sits atop a baking tray that I put aluminum foil on to make cleanup easier.

For my first try, I was going to make a battered seitan, but my wife forgot to pick up bread crumbs and it turned out that we were out of seitan. How about tofu steaks for kiddo and me, and tempeh ones for my wife?

I have read that quinoa can be a good coating, so made some quinoa. I also bought some frozen French Fries. I put a little canola oil on a paper towel and wiped the basket to help with keeping food from sticking.

The fries were easy. I wanted to buy Cascadian Farms brand French Fries that are coated with a little apple juice to enhance browning without a lot of oil; for example, their crinkle cut fries have 4g of fat per 3 ounce serving. The store I quickly stopped at didn't have these, but they did have Alexia brand organic truffle fries, which I bought. They turned out to indeed be rather oily, with twice as much fat (8g per 3 ounces).

I covered the provided baking pan with foil to ease in cleanup and put the mesh basket, very lightly rubbed with oil, on top of the baking pan. The fries were to be cooked for 425°F for 15m, but I went with 400°F for 12m. They came out great but maybe a bit too crispy; 10-12m at 375°F would probably have sufficed.

Here is what I did for the steaks:

  • 1/3 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/4 t salt
  • I would have used a bouillon cube, but for some reason the Rapunzel brand cubes I love haven't been available for some weeks now
  • 4 ounces tofu for two of us, cut into approx. 1/4" x 1" x 2" pieces
  • 2 ounces tempeh for one, cut into approx. 1/4" x 3/4" x 1 1/2" pieces
  • (optional) 6-10 half moons of onion (approx 3/8" thick)
  • (optional) 1/8 cup frozen or fresh mushroom pieces
  • 3T nutritional yeast
  • 1t garlic powder or garlic granules
  1. I first cooked the quinoa by mixing the water, quinoa, and salt (and bouillon cube or broth, neither of which I had), bringing to a boil, then simmering, uncovered for 2 or 3 minutes.
  2. I took the quinoa off the heat and let it stand, covered (or uncovered - it may take a bit longer), for another 7-10 minutes or so till the liquid was fully absorbed and the quinoa took on its characteristic spiral shape.
  3. I dredged the tofu, tempeh, onion, and mushroom through the quinoa. The quinoa didn't stick well (in the future, I might try using a vegan "egg" such as Ener-G Egg Replacer, or even, for a savory and sweet flavor, maple syrup, first), so I mostly just patted some quinoa down on top.
  4. I air fried for 350°F for only about 7 minutes (I thought it would take longer, but it was done in 7 minutes!) and served.

Wow, we all loved the results of the air fryer. The main course was surprisingly good! It was so easy and came out so crispy and flavorful. My wife and I added hot sauce and my daughter added soy sauce to the steaks. This was a very successful first attempt!

Ideas for the future

 I'd like to try making French Fries from scratch by soaking potatoes for 20m then drying them before air frying them. But the frozen ones, oily though they were, were very good. I bet less oily frozen fries would be great!

My original idea of working with seitan is exciting; I can't wait to try hopefully crispy air fried seitan. I need to make or get some bread crumbs and also consider better sticking of a coating.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Broccoli and Potato with Arugula Pesto Alfredo Sauce (Almost No Added Fat)

I made a waterless meal by putting, in this order, onion, shallot, matchsticks of potato, broccoli, fennel, and fresh sage leaves into a large Saladmaster stock pan. I covered the pan and heated it on medium high until the vapor release started jiggling, then I reduced the heat to low till the jiggle stopped. I let it cook for about 15 minutes. I then mixed in Victoria Vegan brand arugula pesto alfredo sauce; I will classify this as an almost no added fat meal; the sauce has 5g fat per quarter cup, but I only used about 1/4 cup to make our three servings. I simmered, covered, on low for a few more minutes. I then added a bit of cubed (1/4") shallot, salt, freshly ground black pepper, and dried oregano. I served it with brown rice maifun noodles and leftover dhal.


Ideas for the future


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