Sunday 8 May 2011

CC Crunchy Salad, Tofu Nuggets and Sylvia

I don't know how he did it.  E opened his bottle of chilli tomato sauce and it exploded everywhere.  Sauce found its way into his eye sending him yelping to the cold water tap.  Later we found blobs of sauce on the tv, the heater, my computer, the couch, the rug.  At the time we didn't notice because I was taking the above photo, E was rinsing his eye and Sylvia burst into tears at the uproar.  That was the last photo I took of the meal.

Sauce aside, it was an excellent meal.  I made tofu nuggets that came from Vegan Dad, a blogger for whom I have great respect.   It amused me that the other blogger I took some inspiration from was Your Vegan Mom.  (Mom, Dad, you're the best vegan parents!) I followed Vegan Dad's advice and pressed as much water out of the tofu as possible (see my tower of weighty tins above) rather than marinating them as Vegan Mum suggested. 

I am not usually one for cooking unmarinated tofu but this worked because the crust was so full of flavour.  Vegan Dad fried his but I followed My Vegan Mom and baked them.  They were really crispy.  Sylvia loved them dipped in tomato sauce.  (She loves anything dipped in tomato sauce).  She is so fussy that I couldn't believe how she hoovered her way through 4 or 5 of these.  They were just like fish fingers for vegan kids.  I would probably prefer them in dipped in mayonnaise or something like Sarah's Queso Dip.

I had made the tofu nuggets because I wanted something to make with the carrot and seed salad.  The salad was made for the Cookbook Challenge.  The theme was crunchy. (See what others made here.)  Not a great theme for the past few weeks when I have had toothache and then a cold, which left me wanting soft comforting soups.  After the Easter excesses, however, I was ready for a virtuous salad. 

I joined the Cookbook Challenge to nudge me into using cookbooks that get neglected too easily in this online world.  The salad was from the Rose Bakery's Breakfast, Lunch and Tea cookbook that I got for Christmas from Fran and John.  I admired the book greatly and then lost it in the clutter.  Having now made the salad and pancakes I must try and use this cookbook more. 

I made a Carrot and Seed Salad that had plenty of flavour and texture from marrying carrots, chives and sunflower seeds.  Instead of just using lemon juice I put in a spoonful of leftover guacamole.  It worked a treat but might have explained why the leftover salad was inedible the next day.  I suspect pure lemon juice would keep better than avocado.

The irony of the meal was that Sylvia and I had been out in town that day.  I had hoped to try the vegan sausage rolls at Lord of the Fries but they had stopped making them the day before (I had only seen them a week ago).  So we had sushi in Degraves Street while watching a jazz trio.  Sylvia had an inari.  I had thought she might like the rice stuffed in the tofu pockets.  She ate the rice but refused the tofu.  So it was all the more pleasing to see her eat the tofu nuggets.  There is more than one way to get tofu into a toddler!

I hope everyone (those with children and those who mother others) has had a nice Mothers Day in Australia and America.  We celebrated with a lovely trip out of town yesterday, which was just as well because I spent most of today in bed with a cold.  I thought it might be a good time to update you on Sylvia, who continues to entertain us.

Some of her latest amusements are babushka dolls, beaded necklaces and baking pumpkin scones with me.  Her favourite book is a Rupert Bear annual.  She loves all the characters - Bill Badger, Algie Pug, Lord Ozrik, Dicken of the Dell, but most of all she loved Gregory Guinea Pig.  She asks where they are and loves us to sing songs about them.  There have been a few firsts recently.  Sylvia has mastered the kazoo, had her first visit to the dentist (to watch me), and broken a drinking glass.  She is less and less keen to sit in the highchair, though there are still times it saves my sanity to strap her in.  She is still attached to dolly but now dolly has her own dolly, known as dolly's lady.

Update 2014 - I have updated the photo of the salad at the top of the post, having had a chance to photograph it in natural light without the tomato sauce drama to distract!

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Strawberry and mascapone scones and dumpling soup
This time two years ago: Surprising Beetroot Risotto
This time three years ago: MM Roasted Vegetable Vindaloo
This time four years ago: Seeking carrot dip in a sea of recipes

Tofu nuggets
adapted from Vegan Dad
serves 4-6
  • 500g (about 1 lb) firm tofu
  • oil spray
Milk mixture
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp seeded mustard
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives (optional)
  • 1 tsp chilli paste
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Flour mixture
  • 1/2 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp bush spice seasoning (or other seasoning mix)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
Crumb mixture
  • 1 cup crushed cornflakes (or about twice the amount in uncrushed cornflakes, crushed in a bag)
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs

Press tofu for about 30-45 minutes.  Slice into fingers (mine were about 2 inches long and half an inch thick).

Place milk, flour and half the crumb mixtures into three shallow bowls and mix each well.  Dip a piece of tofu in the milk, then in the flour, then in the milk again and then in the crumbs.  Repeat with all tofu pieces.  I found that the crumbs got a bit soggy so I suggest only using half at first and refilling when you use it up.

Place crumbed tofu pieces on a lined oven tray.  Spray with oil.  Bake at 220 C (I had my oven on 200 C on fan forced) for about 10 minutes.  Turn them over and spray the other side with oil.  Return to the oven for about 15 minutes or until crisp.

Update: made these with cauliflower instead of tofu - lightly steamed florets of the head of cauliflower for about 10 min until tender.  Once dipped in the crumb coating I baked it for 20 minutes at 240 C.  Delicious! 

Update 2021: made these with panko breadcrumbs instead of crushed cornflakes, also fried them not baked, and they were excellent and so crispy.

Carrot and Sunflower Seed Salad
adapted from Rose Bakery's Breakfast Lunch and Tea
serves 4

  • 4 medium carrots
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • handful chives, chopped
  • Dessertspoon of lemony guacamole (or extra tbsp lemon juice)
  • juice of a smallish lemon
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp castor sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Dry fry sunflower seeds on low heat until golden brown.  While they are frying, trim, peel and grate carrots.  Stir in chives and sunflower seeds, leaving a few aside for garnish if desired.  Lightly mix the dressing ingredients and stir into carrot mixture.  Taste to check balance of flavours.  Serve with some chives and sunflower seeds for garnish if desired.  Eat on the day of making it.

On the Stereo:
Singles: New order


  1. Happy Mother's Day, Johanna. It sounds like you had a lovely day:)

    I must admit, I didn't learn about squeezing the excess out of tofu until just recently. What a difference it makes when capturing flavors. I must absolutely try this whether Marion agrees or not. Perhaps, if I don't tell her what it is...I'm sure the corn flakes are a GREAT disguise:)

    The salad sounds good too. I'm off crunchy foods for a while myself (still recuperating from the dentist:) but I adore your combination. (less the lemon juice until the last minute, lol:)

    I love hearing about Sylvia. It sounds like she is grasping her world by all it has to offer and THAT is remarkable!!!

    Thank you so much for sharing...

    P.S. Thank goodness everyone was safe with the exploding bottle!!!

  2. Both of these dishes sound heavenly! I'm definitely with you on the baking idea, too - so much easier and less hands-on (and I don't have a little'un to worry about either!)

    I wonder if Sylvia will one day look back on these posts and giggle about her changeability towards certain foods, even in the space of a few days? :P

  3. Hi Johanna. It's neither my birthday nor Christmas but thanks!!! A breaded tofu recipe which is baked, not fried. Again, thanks! My dog is looking at me with a strange look because I'm doing cartwheels right now.

    The entire blog ensemble looks truly delicious.

  4. I hope E's eye has recovered now, that sounds like a painful accident!

    I love the look of your crunchy salad, and those tofu nuggets look really good. Glad to hear that Sylvia liked them and a lovely update too.

    Hope you recover from your cold quickly, it's miserable feeling grotty and poorly.

  5. What a wonderful day! Happy Mother's Day!!

    your sauce incident kinda reminds me of a recent apple cider one that we had.!

    Hope you feel better soon!

  6. I have been thinking of a carrot salad! And here it is. I have all the ingredients as well. Thanks Johanna. Making it soon!

  7. I can definitely relate to walls decorated with tomato sauce as I was silly enough to shake a brand new bottle before opening! Like you tower of vege and fruit cans. Perhaps I more small can of peas :)

  8. What a dinner! I hope you're feeling better from your cold and the family has recovered from the tomato sauce incident :)

  9. Ouch! That sounds very painful (and kind of like something that would happen to me). The Rose Bakery cookbook is interesting. Have you seen the broccoli cake? :)

  10. Happy Mothers Day to you.

    I hope E's eye is okay now. Strange about the exploding tomato sauce bottle!

    I like the sound of those nuggets - baked and fried.

    PS Hope your recovering from your cold too.

  11. Vegan Dad is definitely an AWESOME source when it comes to kid-friendly vegan food! These nuggets look delicious! Heck, even us adults would be happy to eat them!

  12. Looks lovely - I've never had tofu so this would be an interesting dish!
    Hope you've cleaned all the sauce up!

  13. "Breakfast, Lunch and Tea" is such a beautiful cookbook. You've inspired me to get my copy out and have a look at it. I'm thinking about her quiches in this cold weather.

  14. Thanks Louise - sorry to hear you have been sharing my tooth ache - I am sick to the back teeth of dentists - unfortunate turn of phrase as it is my back teeth giving me grief - yes squeezing the water out of tofu seems to work in these sort of dishes - Vegan Dad says that otherwise the crumbs soak up the moisture - give these to marion with her favourite sauce and she will love them

    Thanks Hannah - yes I couldn't bear the thought of having to watch the stuff frying - would never have had time to do my salad. I hope sylvia will be amused more than embarrassed to have her fickleness on public record - though I can understand her eating tofu in breadcrumbs and not eating fried marinated tofu skins

    Thanks Chucky - yes this is a great low fat alternative to the fried nuggets - and hope that you videoed yourself doing cartwheels to upload to youtube - ha ha

    Thanks C - E's eye recovered quicker than my cough but am on some antibiotics that should help - and yes is lovely when Sylvia eats dinner with us

    Thanks Lisa - my health is improving - I was amused by the sauce incident - even E was able to laugh about it once he had washed out his eye - hope you laughed about your cider too :-)

    Thanks Anh - this is a great fresh carrot salad - hope you love it too

    Thanks Chopin and mysaucepan - your sauce incident sounds another unfortunately one - sauce can have a mind of its own :-) and now I wish I had one of our little tins of baked beans on top of the tower - definitely a missed opportunity

    Thanks Kari - great dinner, amusing incident and annoying cold - must repeat the first, remember the second and get rid of the third :-)

    Thanks Lorraine - have seen the broccoli cake and am intrigued but had a bad experience with trying to bake broccoli into a cake just before I started blogging - must get back on that horse

    Thanks Mangocheeks - E is fine and I am much better - I suspect the sauce had been in my mum's pantry a while before it was given to E - in my experience sauce is either gone in the blink of an eye or sits around feeling miserable and unloved

    Thanks Joanne - yes I love the food vegan dad does for his kids (he should be an inspiration to E - if only) - definitely great for big kids too

    Thanks Caked Crusader - would be interested to hear how you like this - I would recommend a good sauce if you are not used to tofu - though really I would recommend a more marinated dish than this to start getting to know tofu (not everyone loves to eat tofu plain like Sylvia)

    Thanks Quince poacher - now you have me rushing off to check out the quiches - yes a gorgeous book to look at and great reading too

  15. What a wonderful salad! It looks so fresh and crunchy - I'm totally craving it now!

  16. I've never made tofu nuggets like this before. They look really good, I can see why Sylvia liked them! That salad looks yummy too. I love sunflower seeds in salad.


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