Easy Broiled Breakfast Sandwiches and the Best Tofu Ever

A breakfast sandwich is a beautiful thing. Portable, warm, savoury and nourishing, it’s the perfect way to start a cool autumn day. Of course, sometimes you go grocery shopping hungry and by the time you get home you’re considering eating tofu with Italian dressing to stave off the hangries. Breakfast sandwiches are food for then, too. I pulled these together in 10 minutes flat before unloading the groceries into the fridge. You can make the tofu filling at the beginning of the week, and have warm breakfast sandwiches all week long in the time it takes to toast and English muffin. How good does that sound?

The tofu marinade is deceptively simple. If you’ve never tried broiled tofu, I recommend you do. Almost all the omnis I know prefer their tofu broiled over any other method of preparation. In part, I think it’s because broiling allows the tofu to retain its shape and texture well. Also, I think it absorbs marinade best when cooked in this method, even if it hasn’t been soaking it in long. Broiled tofu is especially nice with a sweet marinade, such as maple-garlic-soy, as the sugars form a sticky coating and char just slightly. In this case, this perfectly savoury blend of nutritional yeast, garlic and tamari soaks into the tofu leaving a distinctly eggy impression, especially with the black salt added at the end. If you don’t like the taste of eggs, which are faintly sulphur-ish in aroma, omit the black salt. You can use this recipe for your rice bowls, sandwiches, vegan benedicts or snacking tofu.

Dans ma bouche!

Dans ma bouche!

Easy Broiled Breakfast Sandwiches and the Best Tofu Ever

For the Tofu:
1 lb extra firm tofu- choose the most smooth-textured one you can find, avoid crumbly or spongey brands. You want something close to the texture of cooked eggwhite.
1.5 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup strong stock (I used Better Than Bouillon Vegetable)
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
2 tbsp olive oil or melted Earth Balance (I particularly like the EB with this- if you use hot stock, it will melt the EB)
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
Pepper, to taste
Black salt, sprinkled over to taste

For the Sandwiches:
Whole wheat English muffins
Daiya cheddar or your favourite alternative
Vegenaise or your favourite vegan mayo
Sliced tomato
Optional: sliced green onion, veggie bacon or zucchini/mushroom slices (broiled alongside the tofu), marmite, ketchup

Prepare tofu marinade. Preheat your broiler. Assuming your tofu is a rectangular prism, cut it in half to make two squares, and cut each square into 1/2-inch slices. Toss together marinade ingredients. Arrange tofu on a nonstick cookie sheet and coat in marinade thoroughly over both sides. Allow to sit as you prep your sandwich ingredients.

Broil tofu and prepare sandwich fillings. Slice your tomatoes, English muffins, and any other vegetables you’re using. Place tofu under the broiler for 2 minutes. All the marinade that was on the tops should be dry and absorbed by now- if not, your broiler may not be hot enough or your tofu may be too far away from it. Baste with marinade, then place back under the broiler for two more minutes, along with the English muffins so they can toast. Baste again, then add Daiya to the top of the tofu. Broil until just melted and the English muffins are toasty.

Assemble sandwiches. Spread mayo on the inside of both sides of the English muffins. Place tomato on one side, and tofu on the other, cheese up. Add any of the extra ingredients you may want, the black salt and the pepper to taste. Squish both sides together. Bon appetite!

New foster kittens! About 5 weeks old and full of snoozes.

New foster kittens! About 5 weeks old and full of snoozes.

Vegan Stovetop Mac and Cheese (with veggie dogs)

Mmmmm mac and cheese and veggie dooogs. Where's the ketchup?

Mmmmm mac and cheese and veggie dooogs. Where’s the ketchup?

You may not know this, but here in Canada, we love our Kraft Dinner. More mac and cheese is consumed in Canada than anywhere else in the world- in fact, Kraft Dinner is the top selling grocery item in Canada. It’s part of our cultural identity, the result of a deliberate and calculated effort by combined political and corporate forces. As a result, it plays an important role in many Canadian’s fond childhood memories. The perfect combination of cheap ($1/box on sale), easy (7 minutes or less), and portable (hurrah powdered cheese!) means that if you ever went camping, you probably had Kraft Dinner at some point; boiled in a big pot on the Coleman stove, toxic orange powdered sauce whisked up with the noodles, raw hot dogs chopped in and ketchup strewn liberally over top. It sounds rather vile, actually, now that I think about it. But let me tell you, when you’ve been canoeing in the driving cold late -September rain for four hours since your last meal and you haven’t had anything warmer than lukewarm tea at breakfast and the GORP wedged in your back pocket in two days, Kraft Dinner is the BEST THING YOU HAVE EVER PUT IN YOUR MOUTH.

Since I’m Canadian and actually enjoyed KD once upon a time, it was an obvious choice to veganize this classic for my camping trip this year. There are a gazillion rocking, fancy shmancy, and delightfully unlikely vegan mac and cheese recipes out there. For my purposes, I wanted something 1) very close to KD in simplicity and texture, 2) totally easy to make, and 3) no blender required. So, I went with a pre-made vegan ricotta as my base. This time I used a macadamia-based one from a local vegan cheesemaker, but Tofutti makes a good one, and of course you can whiz up your own super quickly, such as this cashew-based one from The Simple Veganista. Then, it’s just a matter of tossing a few ingredients in the pasta pot after you drain the noodles and stirring it all together. Just about as easy as KD, except made with real food and, I daresay, far more delicious. Also, less embroiled in scary global food politics. Win-win!

Vegan Stovetop Mac And Cheese (with veggie dogs)

500 grams dry macaroni 
2 cups vegan ricotta
1/3 cup Earth Balance
2 cloves minced garlic
2/3 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
3 tablespoons ketchup
cooking water, reserved from the pasta
Optional; sliced veggie dogs, more ketchup

1) Light up your Coleman stove or whatever you happen to be using to make pasta today. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 2 cups of cooking liquid

2) Add all remaining ingredients into the pot along with the drained pasta. Stir thoroughly, moistening with reserved cooking liquid until it reaches the desired consistency. We’re going for just a little sauce here, not enough to drip off the fork 

3) Cut in veggie dogs and serve her up with plenty of ketchup on top. Bon appetite!

Definitely try eating this in your black kitty pj's, to complete the effect

Definitely try eating this in your black kitty pj’s, to complete the effect



Nippy Vegan Mac and Cheese Casserole

I love Daiya, I really do, but I also love good nippy flavours, and Daiya is a mellow, versatile cheese. Thankfully, because of it’s versatility, it’s easy to modify your Daiya recipes to be more or less nippy, depending on your preferences. In this case, the nip comes from miso, tahini, nutritional yeast, good dijon, and good dark tamari. It sounds like a lot, but this pulls together in about 20 mins, minus the baking time. You can, of course, enjoy it without the final baking step. I like it both ways.

Nippy Vegan Mac and Cheese Casserole
Serves 4 as a main course (please eat it with a salad… or something green :P)

2 cups macaroni or small pasta of your choice
1 package of Daiya Cheddar
2 cups finely chopped broccoli florets
3 tbsp Earth Balance
9 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 1/2 cups unsweetened soy milk
1 tsp Spike seasoning
2 tbsp cashew cream or butter
2 tbsp light miso paste
2 tbsp really good quality white wine dijon
2 tsp tahini
2 tsp good quality dark tamari
a grind or two of pepper


2 cups bread cubes
1/3 cup Daiya cheddar
spray oil
Spike seasoning

Put your pasta water on to boil, and pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, melt Earth Balance over medium heat. Stir in nutritional yeast to form a thick paste. Slowly add two cups of the soy milk, mixing it well into the nutritional yeast/Earth Balance paste. Allow the mixture to come to a boil and immediately turn down the heat to low. Now, add the Daiya to the sauce slowly, stirring as you go. By now the water should be boiling, so add the pasta and give it a stir. Meanwhile, combine all the remaining ingredients, including the remaining 1/2 cup of soy milk, but not including the broccoli, in your mini blender, or whatever you use for blending things in your house. Blend until smooth, and add it to the cheese sauce, mixing well. Check for seasoning and add more of things as you see fit. Remember, all the flavours will dilute a bit when combined with the pasta, so they should be extra flavourful now. When your pasta is almost but not quite done, add the broccoli florets to the pasta water. Let it come back to a boil, then drain extremely well- let it hang out in the colander for a while and give it a few good tosses. Put the pasta and broccoli back in the dry pot, and pour cheese sauce over. Use your discretion here, I prefer really saucy mac and cheese, but you might not. Prep a baking pan by spraying it well with oil. Pour pasta and sauce mixture in the pan, up to the brim. Top with bread cubes, give them a quick spray of oil, sprinkle Daiya, paprika, and a bit of Spike seasoning over top, and bake for about 20-30 minutes. If you don’t already, you may want to line the bottom of your stove with tinfoil, since this may bubble over.

Lazy Raw Almond Cheese

Lazy Almond Feta Cheese with Herb OilYou guessed it, that’s the lazy grad student’s variation of that wonderful Almond Feta Cheese with Herb Oil recipe that’s been floating around for the past year. It’s a lovely recipe, and I’m sure it’s splendid when made as designed. but who can wait a day and a half for almond feta? Not this lady!

This variation involves a couple lazy short cuts. First, I reduce the soaking time by using smaller pieces of almonds. I usually use unblanched almonds, cause fiber is good for you- obviously, the texture won’t be as smooth, but it’s still just as tasty. Then, I skip the refrigeration step and just toss the mix into a pretty dish. You’ll need the dish to be an inch or so deeper than your cheese, this baby likes to rise (mysteriously).  Lastly, I just top the mess with good quality olive oil and fresh herbs- no need to go dirtying another pan. Definitely try the original version, but once you’re hooked and want it all the time, try this quicky version sometime instead. Like when you found the most perfect, fresh-baked baguette at the store, and need something to put on it so you feel less of a freak, eating baguette for breakfast, lunch and dinner in a given day…

Lazy Almond Feta Cheese

1 cup sliced raw almonds, fresh as you can get them, blanched or unblanched
1/4 cup lemon juice, plus more to taste if you’re really digging the lemon (I dig)
2 tbsp good olive oil, plus more to drizzle over
1 largish clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
2 tsp fresh rosemary, or dried, to sprinkle over (the original recipe calls for thyme too, but if you’re only committed to spending a little bit on fresh herbs, go for the rosemary)

Optional garnish: Flaky salt, a fresh squeeze of lemon, some olives, and some cracked black pepper or crushed red chili peppers (or both!)

Soak almonds in tepid water, out of the fridge, for at least two hours- they should be gummy around the edges. If soaking for longer, toss it in the fridge, but bring to room temperature before draining. Blend in a food processor with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt. If needed, add water a teaspoon or two at a time. The less water you have to use, the better. Try and keep it under two tablespoons. Toss in a oven-safe serving dish- larger, shallow ones do better than deeper ones, since the cheese will dry out more evenly that way. Don’t worry if it looks scant. So long as it’s an inch or so deep, once you top it with all those pretty toppings no one will feel like they’re being short-changed on their cheese! Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes, or until browning on top. Alternately, skip this step and enjoy raw. Believe me, it’s just as good either way. The warmth of the cheese brings out the olive notes in the oil, so maybe warm slightly in a bain marie if you want to keep it raw, but want some warmth as well. Top it with a glug or two of olive oil, the rosemary, and any of the optional toppings you like. Try not to eat it in one sitting…. though be warned, I have yet to exhibit such self-control myself.