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General tso

When I was in university there was this little restaurant seconds away that I had to stop myself from eating at more often. It is called Nouilles Express and they made ( and still make) the perfect general tso.

The chicken is crispy, the sauce is a perfect balance and an order of fried noodles on the side completes the deal. Even now when we’re in Montreal we sometimes head there just for that.

A few years ago I shared a recipe for General Tso here on the blog. However, there was something about it that did exactly fit with the general tso I used to love. I don’t exactly remember how I found it, but I had this recipe in my recipe app for a little while and I finally decided to try it..

It is amazing!!

Though the other sauce is a great base for other stir-fry type dishes, if I am in the mood for General Tso… This will be my go to recipe from now on… I make it with with chicken or tofu depending on my mood.

For the chicken (or tofu):

  • 4 chicken breasts or 2 blocks of tofu (cut in bite size pieces)
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch

In a bowl or ziplock, marinate meat or tofu in tamari, sesame oil and garlic and a few tsp of cornstarch for at least 30 min.

With enough oil to cover the pieces, fry the chicken or tofu then set aside.

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup stock (veggie, chicken or even water with a bit of Braggs.)
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 tbsp hoisin
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp tamari

Mix the sauce ingredients in a bowl until sugar dissolves and set aside.

You also need:

  • 3 cups of broccoli cut into bit size pieces (optional)
  • 4-5 stalks of green onions cut into 1 inch pieces
  • About an inch of ginger, minced.
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Sesame oil

If you are making the broccoli, stir fry the brocolli until the colour changes but don’t over cook, and then set aside.

In your hot wok, add a bit of sesame oil and then stir fry the green onion, ginger and garlic. Add the sauce to the wok and let boil for a minute or two. The sauce will change colour and become thick and glazed.

Once the sauce is thick, add the chicken and the broccoli and toss in the sauce.

Serve with rice and sprinkle with sesame seeds for the final touch…

 

Falafel with Taratoor sauce

I remember the first time I had Falafel. I was in high school and working at a veterinarian’s office for the summer and on my lunch break I would go to a little family run place called “Café Joe” that was a few blocks away. They made the most amazing Falafel from scratch and I remember just loving the texture and taste. It was crispy and fried but tasted fresh and light. When I stopped working there and went back to school I would go out of my way to visit at times until one day I went by and they had sold the restaurant. When I left my mom’s and headed into my own place, I would buy those dry mixes to make falafel at home but it was never the same. It tasted… well.. processed and from a box mix. However, a few years ago I found this recipe and have never looked back. This is the good stuff…  This is it.

This recipe calls for dried chickpeas… you really need to use dried chickpeas. Canned chickpeas just won’t work… the reason? not because it is snobbish,  but because the mix is actually made with uncooked soaked chickpeas. Cooking them (or using canned) will not result in the right texture or flavour. The down side to that is that you do have to think ahead.

So… for the Falafel…

  • 2 cups dried Chickpeas/Garbanzo beans  (soaked for 12-24 hours)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 -3 garlic cloves
  • 2 -3 slices bread
  • 2 tbsp parsley
  • 1/3 red pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes *optional
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 50 ml water
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 125 ml water
  • vegetable oil ( for deep-frying)
When your chickpeas have soaked long enough, drain and put in the food processor. Add onion, garlic, bread, parsley, and red sweet pepper. and process until mealy. Move to a bowl (or use the pulse mode on processor) and Add spices, flour,  2 tsp baking powder and water and mix well.
In a small dish mix the remaining baking powder and water. Dip your hands in the water and form balls of the chickpea mixture the size of walnuts.
Falafel
Deep fry in oil at medium high heat until golden brown.
Frying the Falafel
Crispy on the outside and soft and fresh tasting on the inside
Falafel
Serve on warm pita bread with Taratoor sauce (recipe below) and any other toppings you might enjoy (parsley, tomato, pickled turnips etc)…

For the Taratoor Sauce

  • 3/4 cup tahini
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Juice of 1 –  1 1/2 lemons
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped parsley
In a deep bowl beat the tahini with the crushed garlic and lemon juice until creamy. Add water bit by bit, beating well after each addition. If using blender / food processor put all the ingredients in and process until creamy. Add salt and parsley and stir. Taste and adjust. The sauce should have some tang to it not too lemony.
Yumm….
Falafel

Dehydrated Curried Lentil Soup

Let me say this first, I don’t like Lentils.

I mean… at all.. but I do want to like them.

They are cheap, they are filling and they are healthy (and how can I call myself a hippie if I don’t eat lentils!) but each time I tried a recipe I ended up hating them even more.

A few weeks ago I picked up a bag of Lentils at the grocery store determined to try et least one more time.. this week I put Lentil soup on my meal plan.

Because the recipes that I have tried in the past never worked for me, this time I didn’t have a recipe, I didn’t have a guideline… I just decided to wing it… it worked. I loved this soup!

I used my pressure cooker to make the soup as I was in a bit of a rush and I will definitely be making it that way each time…

For the soup:

  • Chop up 1 Large onion and sauté in a bit of Olive oil.
  • Add a few minced garlic cloves
  • Add a few stalks of celery, a few carrots and a red pepper (all diced)
  • Cook down the veggies for a few minutes and add some salt and pepper, cumin powder, garlic powder, oregano and basil and a few tsp of curry powder.
  • Add about 8-9 cups of stock (Veggie or Chicken)
  • Add 1 small can of tomato paste
  • Finally add in 2 cups of dried red Lentils

If using a pressure cooker, bring to a simmer, put the lid on, bring to pressure and cook for 20 min.

If using a pot, cook for about an hour or until the lentils have given up their shape and the soup is all creamy and thick.

Adjust seasoning to taste…

This was our meal last night and the leftovers were put away in the fridge. That is when the dehydrating idea came into play.

I am loving my dehydrator and have been wanting to try dehydrating soup that can then be powdered and reconstituted with hot water. Great for a quick meal, snack or for when we go camping…

Using the non-stick sheets in my dehydrator, I lathered about 1 1/2 cups of the thick soup onto the sheets about 1/4″ thick, making 6 trays of soup.

I put the dehydrator at the temp that I usually use for veggies and fruits, so quite warm, and after about 1-2 hours I started seeing the thinner parts were becoming very dry and crumbly. After about 6-7 hours all the trays were completely dry, even the thicker parts.

Dehydrated Curried Lentil soup

Dehydrated Curried Lentil soup

Next, I put all of the pieces in the Food processor and made it all into a powder…

 

Dehydrated Curried Lentil soupCurried Lentil soup powder

It was really that simple…

Of course we had to test it out. It took about 3-4 Tbsp of powder to get a good consistency in one cup of water… it is a bit thinner than the original soup, though I could be thicker if I used more powder, but the flavour was right on and Xavier brought it into the living room and ate it all up.. so it definitely got the thumbs up!

I am so happy that not only did I make a Lentil soup that I will be making again, but it also made a great instant meal for the whole family!

 

Szechwan Eggplant and Cauliflower

I had no idea what I wanted to make for supper but knew that I wanted to use the eggplant that I had in my fridge. I also knew that I didn’t want to make my usual eggplant dishes so I went searching…

I was looking for  something salty and sweet and tangy with a bit of heat. I found an obscure recipe that gave me an idea and decided to figure something out and this is what I came up with…

Szechwan Eggplant and Cauliflower on rice..

Szechuan Eggplant and cauliflower

It was so delicious!! I liked eggplant, but I never knew how much I actually love eggplant!!

So it started… first I sauteed some cubed eggplant (1 whole large eggplant) in the wok with a bit of peanut oil… I didn’t stir too much, and didn’t crowd the pan as I wanted the eggplant to get a nice caramelized colour..

Eggplant in the wok...

Then I saw that even a whole eggplant doesn’t make too much… so then entered the cauliflower…

Yummy cauliflower

I put the eggplant aside, chopped up a head of cauliflower and then did a few batches the same way in the wok as I did the eggplant… You don’t want to overcook the cauliflower though, a bit of crunch adds so much to the dish alongside the soft texture of the eggplant..

In the meantime I put together the sauce… I made it up a bit as I went along so the measurements are approximative and you might need to adjust as you see fit…

In a bowl mix together

  • 1/2 cup stock
  • 5 tbsp garlic
  • Black bean garlic sauce (or chili bean paste)
  • 4 tbsp of tamari
  • 2 tbs of rice vinegar
  • 5 tsp sugar
  • 6 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 2 tbsp of ginger

Put the cauliflower aside, add some chopped onion to the wok and stir-fry until translucent. Add the sauce, bring to a boil and then add a bit of a cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce. Adjust seasonings if needed…

Once thickened, add the cooked eggplant and cauliflower to the sauce and stir…

Serve over rice with some green onions on top… or even just on its own… it is just that good…

Szechuan Eggplant and cauliflower

Pogos (otherwise known as Corn dogs)

OK… OK… not the healthiest food but they are definitely a fun food, especially for the boys, and making them myself means that I know what is in them and of course the taste is SO much better than the fast food places or what you can buy frozen…

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • milk (any type)
  • about 18 hot dogs (veggie, soy, beef or whatever you want)
  • flour
  • (optional) wooden sticks

Combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, egg and sugar and then add milk until batter has a pancake type consistency…

I didn’t use skewers and instead cut the hot dogs in half and then coated them with flour, but If you are using skewers, put them in each hot dog and then coat hot dogs with flour. Heat 2″ deep oil to 370 degrees F.  (I use my electric wok for most of my frying needs)

Dip hot dogs into batter mix and coat evenly and them put in the oil and fry until golden brown (about 2 1/2-3 min)

The boys dove into these like there was no tomorrow and there were none left at the end, but they could easily be made and frozen and then heated up in the oven for a quick lunch… I will definitely be making these again…

homemade corn dogs...

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