Honey, Orange, and Ginger Broccoli and Tofu Stir-Fry | Vegetarian | Gluten Free |

Midweek comfort is a weekly requirement in our house, but instead of turning to the takeaway menu I dig around in our vegetable drawer for stir-fry inspiration. This is my latest favourite full of big fresh flavours. It’s nourishing comfort. Comfort food you can feel good about.

Honey, Orange, and Ginger Broccoli and Tofu Stir-Fry | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeOne of our favourite family take-away choices (B.G.F. that is, before gluten free) was Chinese food from the local shop. My sister and I went to school with the owner’s children, and we followed them when they moved stores and expanded into two locations. The China Rose has long been a mainstay at the family table, and they will certainly never forget us after one memorable night… A little background: no-one in the TNL family (save for my BIL Trent) is known for their balance and co-ordination. We are the experts of forgetting that we have things like elbows and hipbones, trying to singe or stab ourselves at nearly every meal, and walking into things… One fine night Mum and Dad went to collect some takeaway, and my Mama decided to walk at full speed into their new, shiny, plate glass window. Down she went like a stunned bird, and home she came with a nearly broken nose and two black eyes instead of the large special fried rice and beef in black bean sauce. Poor Mama. Impressions of the incident may not have helped matters…

Honey, Orange, and Ginger Broccoli and Tofu Stir-Fry | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeToday’s dish takes its cues from those China Rose nights. Flavours that are perfect for those nights when you crave comfort, but with a Thoroughly Nourished Life twist to make them a little kinder to your waistline. These are sucker-punch strong flavours and the sauce is so good I could have eaten it by itself. Bright, fresh broccoli (my favourite vegetable) is stir-fried briefly and then paired with chewy baked tofu and they all get a generous coating of a crazy flavoursome spicy honey, orange, and ginger sauce. Seriously, I want this sauce on everything. Just a few easy to find ingredients can make all the difference to a simple mixture of vegetables and tofu. Make sure you serve it on a bed of rice to enjoy every morsel of sauce. And, if you aren’t that into tofu, this also works wonderfully with chicken (this herbivore hearts her omnivorous friends too).

Honey, Orange, and Ginger Broccoli and Tofu Stir-Fry | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifePut away that take-out menu and get into the kitchen! The tofu takes the longest amount of time, but in under 45 minutes(mostly hands-off) you can create your own fresh, easy and healthy version of classic comfort food and with less chance of walking into a glass wall (Sorry Mum) and more chance of feeling good about your dinner choices.

Honey, Orange, and Ginger Broccoli and Tofu Stir-Fry

Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Serves 2-3 generously | Time: approximately 60 minutes

Ingredients

  • 300 gram block harm (firm) tofu
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour (ensure this is gluten free)
  • 1/ teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Chinese five spice (optional)
  • 1/2 tablespoon rice bran oil (or other flavourless vegetable oil)
  • Large head of broccoli (about 500 grams)

For the sauce

  • Juice and zest of 1 large orange
  • 4 cm (~ 1.5 inch) piece of ginger, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (ensure this is gluten free)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon honey

To serve

  • 2 stalks spring onion, thinly sliced
  • Slices of orange and rice to serve

Method

  1. Wrap tofu in several layers of paper towel. Place between two plates and weight the top with several cans or a heavy book. This will help to extract the extra moisture from the tofu so that it gets extra crispy in the oven. Leave the tofu to drain for at least 30 minutes.
  2. While the tofu is draining, preheat the oven to 200C (400F) and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together cornflour, salt, pepper and Chinese five spice (if using).
  4. Remove tofu and slice into approximately 1.5 cm cubes. Toss tofu cubes in cornflour mixture and spread out on prepared baking tray. Bake for 30 -40 minutes or until the outsides are golden and crispy.
  5. While the tofu is baking chop the broccoli into medium florets. You can chop up the stems too or save them for another use.
  6. Make the sauce: whisk together all ingredients and set aside until required.
  7. When the tofu is finished cooking stir-fry the broccoli. Heat the oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. Add broccoli and saute for 2-3 minutes or until brightening in colour. Add sauce and reduce heat to low. Cook until sauce thickens slightly and broccoli is bright in colour but still firm.
  8. Add tofu to the broccoli mixture and mix through until coated in the sauce.
  9. Remove from the heat and serve with rice, sliced spring onions, and extra wedges of orange.

Honey, Orange, and Ginger Broccoli and Tofu Stir-Fry | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Curried Carrot, Lentil, and Coconut Soup

The act of making soup in the middle of the week is a perfect relaxant, no drugs required. Even though a bowl of hearty nourishing soup can take just 45 minutes from chopping board to table you feel like you have accomplished a task that should have taken all day. We are just recovering from the shock of going back to work after two long weekends back-to-back – serendipitous events of the calendar happen every now and again – and that shock requires soothing, seemingly labour-intensive-but-not-really recipes to help us sink back into the rhythm of the week.

Curried Carrot, Lentil, and Coconut Soup | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Vegan | Gluten Free

When I saw this easy spicy carrot soup recipe while paging through a neglected cookbook that has now found itself shuffled over to the cottage by the bay I knew I had the perfect back-to-work dinner recipe. All the ingredients were in the cupboard already and I had only to chop and sauté for a few moments before I could leave the pot bubbling away merrily to itself. A shower and change out of my running clothes, and a welcome home kiss for Chris later and the soup was thick and ready to be ladled generously into bowls and be anointed with a final drizzle of coconut milk. In the dark of the night in our little house we slurped and dipped and nourished ourselves with conversation and spicy sweet soup. Every day is like a weekend when you share a meal with the one you love.

This Curried Carrot, Lentil, and Coconut Soup is thick and slightly chunky, layered with spices, and slightly sweetened by light coconut milk. It comes together in barely the time it takes to unpack the groceries. Once you have softened the onions and leeks you add the rest of the ingredients and let it simmer away. Thirty minutes later you add the coconut milk, ladle the soup into your favourite bowls, and serve with an extra drizzle of coconut milk and maybe some toast (or bacon as Chris enjoyed his). Then, enjoy.

Curried Carrot, Lentil, and Coconut Soup | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Vegan | Gluten Free

Curried Carrot, Lentil, and Coconut Soup

Adapted from Delicious: Home Cooking by Valli Little

Vegan. Gluten Free. Serves 4 generously.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small brown onion, chopped
  • 2 leeks (white parts only), chopped
  •  5 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons mild curry powder (I used Keen’s)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 4 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk, plus extra to serve

Method

  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and leek and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes until the onion is softened but not colouring.
  2. Add carrots, garlic, spices, tomato paste, lentils, and vegetable stock. Stir well.
  3. Bring soup to the boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes stirring occasionally.
  4. When the carrot is well softened and the tender red lentils have broken down the soup is ready. I mashed mine slightly with a potato masher, you can use a stick blender to purée to a smooth consistency, but I like my soup a little chunky and textured.
  5. Stir through coconut milk and ladle into bowls. Drizzle over extra coconut milk to serve.
  6. The leftovers will keep for 2 days covered in the refrigerator. Reheat well before eating.

Curried Carrot, Lentil, and Coconut Soup | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Vegan | Gluten Free

Random Thoroughly Nourished Family story: When my mother was born the doctor thought she was jaundiced because she was orange all over; however, it turns out it was actually carotenaemia caused by my grandmother’s insatiable appetite for carrots while she was pregnant. Or so the family legend goes. The result of this incident is that my mother now refuses to eat any orange vegetables: pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots – anything that lies on the spectrum between red and yellow is not on her menu. Except pumpkin soup (secretly I think this is because it is an excuse to eat lots of bread and butter all in the name of ‘dipping’…this may be genetic…).

Eggs and Tea

Tonight I couldn’t stop thinking about eggs. Fried eggs specifically. Fried eggs with drippy, runny yolks on top of a pile of sautéed green things with salt and pepper, and just a little more salt. I sat in the lecture theatre tonight trying to engage in active thought about personal essay forms and Montaigne and Didion and Dillard, but all I could think of was eggs.

I don’t think it really was the egg specifically; more, it was what the egg represented: comfort, curling up under a green and floral motley blanket made by Mum, doing some writing while the TV plays some British police show or another in the background. I wanted my bowl of steamed greens, and my runny, runny yolk, and a cup of green tea to soothe my beating heart at the end of another full and wonderful day.

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Now I sit here, at an hour a little too late to blog anything particularly substantial because of a brain drained by discussing the central argument and tone of the fabulous Joan Didion’s ‘Goodbye to All That’ (check out this book for the essay and other wonderful writings). And I write about the want for eggs, and tea, and comfort. And I have had all three. And I am happy and ready to rest my eyes.

Now, off to bed with all of you and I’ll see you in the morning.

Sweet dreams dear readers.

Comfort and Cookies

These end-of-winter days are the ones that drag the most. Showtime has come to Brisbane, the annual agriculture show called ‘The Ekka’ has swept into town: the harbinger of spring. However, showtime is always, always, accompanied by strong winds (even referred to by the weatherman/woman as ‘The Ekka’ winds), and recurring bouts of the cold. This week poor Mum succumbed to the cold, and I was able to play nurse as I have been at home most days. I find a little joy in making chicken soup, laundering the sheets, and disinfecting things, so I was more than happy to take care of Mum as much as she used to take care of my little sister and I when we got sick as little kids. Happily, Mum is making a full recovery, after telling me yesterday she was ‘happy to lie here and wallow in freakish misery’ while went out for a walk.

This morning when I woke up, I could feel a little niggle in the back of my throat that told me that despite near-obsessive levels of hand washing, clean strengthening meals (like this one – I have leftovers for tonight), and daily sunshine, I too might be experiencing what I like to call ‘temporary immune system failure’ (I don’t like the s-word, sick that is). I am not whinging here, merely providing some background to the baking that happened today. When I need comfort, when I need that something to fill an only-food-can-solve-this-problem hole – I turn to the humble chocolate chip cookie. There is something in the moistness of the crumb, the chunks of semi-sweet chocolate, and the very legend that accompanies the chocolate chip cookie that quietens the little girl that still lives inside my heart.

So I give you, the best gluten-free chocolate chip cookie I have yet to taste. Make it. Take one, sit a little while with a cup of tea and a blanket and just comfort yourself by enjoying something that tastes like what a hug feels like.

Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 15 large cookies, you can be more moderate with the size if you would like. But really? Does moderation apply to chocolate chip cookies?

Ingredients

  • 100 grams butter, softened
  • 100 grams brown sugar
  • 100 grams caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 125 grams buckwheat flour
  • 50 grams brown rice flour
  • 50 grams almond meal
  • 300 grams chocolate of choice, chopped

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Weigh butter and sugars into a large bowl. Add vanilla and cream all ingredients together.
  3. Crack the egg into the bowl and beat into the butter mixture.
  4. In a separate bowl whisk together the buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, almond meal, salt, and baking paper.
  5. Add flour mixture to the egg and butter mix and stir until well combined.
  6. Dump in the chopped up chocolate (remember to test the chocolate first – quality control, people), and mix to distribute.
  7. Scoop out rounded tablespoons of cookie dough onto the prepared tray. Leave about 4 centimetres between the cookies as they will spread out as they bake.
  8. Bake cookies for 12-15 minutes. When you remove them from the oven allow them to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Of course, if you are like me and can’t wait for them to cool it is completely acceptable to make yourself a cup of tea and eat one straight off the tray.

Oh, yes, all better now.