Flavour Favourites – 5 Great Tofu & Tofu Scramble Vegetarian & Vegan Brunch Dishes!

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Source: photovisi

I’m so happy and excited!  I finally have enough posts to do a Flavour Favourites post for one of my favourite foods: TOFU!  And not just any post devoted to tofu, this is a special tofu and tofu scramble brunch edition post!  Even though I’ve been eating tofu almost all my life, it wasn’t until I started my crazy food exploration 4 years ago that I realized just how versatile it was as a vegetarian brunch main.  I was especially intrigued by tofu scramble and the more I saw it on vegetarian and vegan brunch menus, the more I wanted to try them all.  Tofu scramble with vegan cheddar, tofu scramble with spinach and diced onions, on crispy corn tortillas, with peppers and spices – I totally have a “gotta catch ’em all!” mentality towards it now and it’s been so much fun trying the dishes that I have and discovering new eateries and hot spots along the way.

Oh, and did you notice the snazzy photo collages?!  I love them, they’re so pretty if I do say so myself!  I didn’t actually create the backgrounds, I just picked the template and plugged the photos in.  But it was fun nevertheless!  I’ve been feeling so sad about my lack of scrapbooking that I felt compelled to do something colourful and creative with my photos.  It’s been tough.  Ever since I started working full-time M-F, scrapbooking just hasn’t happened and it certainly hasn’t been because of a lack of desire.  It’s purely a lack of time.  I hate even saying it because it makes me sound like a person who whines and complains about not having enough time, making excuses, and not doing anything to change it.

Source: Ate by Ate’s Facebook page

Believe me, I’ve made an effort.

I’ve bought new materials for projects on my to-do list, I developed some new photos for new layouts.  But with a M-F full-time schedule and weekends jam-packed with getting and preparing blog stories and content and fitting in time with my boyfriend, friends, and family, there has been virtually nothing left for quiet, undisturbed sit-down time with my paper and scissors.  I want to change this so much so here’s to hoping I find a way to do it because this was one of the major reasons why I started Ate by Ate in the first place.

Let’s get this tofu brunch show started!

  1. Vegan Rancheros at Sadie’s Diner (504 Adelaide Street West at Portland Street, just east of Bathurst) – Scrambled tofu on corn tortillas with salsa, refried beans, guacamole, and vegan cheese, $12, daily Welcome to Sadie’s Diner – Rockin’ Robin Huevos Rancheros, Part II || May 4, 2011
  2. Full Breakfast at Fresh (147 Spadina Ave. just south of Queen Street; 326 Bloor Street West just east of Spadina Ave; 894 Queen Street West at Crawford) – Scrambled tofu with grilled spinach, baked beans, grilled vegan sausage or tempeh bacon, toast, and homefries, $11, weekend brunch A Weekend Vegan Brunch of Tofu Scramble, Grilled Spinach, Home Fries, and Tempeh Bacon at Fresh || February 27, 2012
  3. Tex Mex Tortilla Scramble at Fresh (147 Spadina Ave. just south of Queen Street; 326 Bloor Street West just east of Spadina Ave; 894 Queen Street West at Crawford) – Crunchy corn tortillas, scrambled tofu, avocado, cilantro, tomato, lettuce, green onions, avocado chipotle sauce, spicy black beans, and brown basmati rice, $11, weekend brunch (mine served with an additional order ($2) of aged cheddar cheese!) A Rainforest Cabana Weekend Brunch – The Tex Mex Tortilla Scramble & The First Visit to Fresh Crawford || May 11, 2012
  4. Grilled Tofu on Vegan Chili at Niche Coffee & Tea Company (626 Queen Street West) – Grilled tofu steaks on homemade spicy vegan chili topped with tortilla crisps and a choice of homemade foccacia or cornbread, $10.50, daily (depending on the day, the meal can come with either tomato and arugula salad or guacamole cream) The Vegan Chili Series! First Up: Vegan Chili Brunch with Grilled Tofu Steaks at Niche Coffee & Tea on Queen West || September 28, 2011
  5. Tofu Scramble at Disgraceland (965 Bloor Street West between Delaware Ave. and Dovercourt Rd.) – Tofu scramble with sweet bell peppers, onions, garlic, cumin, chili, black beans, corn, and jalapenos with crunchy corn chips and a choice between hash browns (breakfast potatoes) or greens, $9 tax inclusive, weekend brunch Corn Chips, Breakfast Potatoes & Moroccan Flavour in a Tofu Scramble – Weekend Vegan Brunch at Disgraceland || September 7, 2012

AND, if you’re interested in trying tofu brunch dishes that I haven’t blogged about yet, here is my tofu goldmine “to-eat” list!

  • Tofu Scramble at Lady Marmalade (898 Queen Street East, just west of Logan Ave.) – Tofu scramble with shitake mushrooms, bok choy, spinach, and scallions in sesame soy dressing with your choice of either brown basmati rice or potatoes, toast, and salad, $11.50, daily all-day breakfast http://www.ladymarmalade.ca/
  • Sesame Tofu Scramble at Sage Cafe (166 McCaul Street at the corner of Elm) – Sesame tofu scramble on a bed of Thai-style rice noodles, $10, weekend brunch http://www.sagecafeandcatering.com/our-menus/weekend-brunch-menu
  • Tofu Omelette at Live Organic Food Bar (264 Dupont Street at Spadina Ave.) – Tofu omelette with tempeh, regular and sundried tomatoes, spinach, peppers, and olives with your choice of either potatoes or salad, $16, weekend brunch http://www.livefoodbar.com/brunch.html
  • Baked Polenta “Bolognese” at the Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street West, east of Dufferin St.) – Vegan polenta cake with roasted heirloom tomato, mushroom and tofu “bolognese” with lentils and broccoli, $9, Fall 2012 weekend brunch (over the summer, the Gladstone had a tofu quesadilla!) http://www.gladstonehotel.com/food/?doing_wp_cron=1351394130.0679988861083984375000
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The Vegan Chili Series! First Up: Vegan Chili Brunch With Grilled Tofu Steaks at Niche Coffee & Tea on Queen West

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I’m not quite ready to unleash Ate by Ate’s Fall Harvest series just yet, so I thought it’d be fun to do a bit of a lead-in to get us all revved up first!  The best thing about fall food is the warm and fuzzy comfort factor and chili and stews are some of the best meals to induce that great cozy cocoon feeling.  Enter the vegan chili series to Ate by Ate!  Over the past year, I’ve come across a number of places around the city that serve their own unique interpretations and versions of vegan chili and I’m so excited to start this new series, not only as an individual series, but also as tie-in to the upcoming Fall Harvest series on the blog. 

Why the interest in vegan chili though, and how did I become interested in vegan chili in the first place?  Let it be known that I absolutely hate beef chili.  I may not be vegetarian or vegan, but that certainly doesn’t mean I enjoy all meat dishes and beef chili is one such meal I’d turn the other cheek to.  I can see myself enjoying turkey chili and I’m actually really looking forward to making some of my own in the near future, but for the time being, vegetarian and vegan chili is my way to go.  I have so many vegetarian and vegan friends (some of you might be reading this right now!) and I thought this would be a great way to introduce some veggie meals and the places that serve them to you all so you can tuck the information away for future reference.  Or if you’re really into what I post, you might just run on over right now and try the dishes out for yourself!

The first time I had vegan chili was 3 years ago when I was a newbie grad student eating lunch at The Grad Lounge at York.  As an every day, permanent menu item, the vegan chili was one of the most popular meals and I was constantly seeing people order it with the cute little corn muffins for lunch.  Growing up though, I was never the biggest fan of chili (I blame the beef varieties for turning me off) so even though I knew so many of my friends and classmates enjoyed it, I shyed away from it at first.  Then temptation and curiousity took over and I said to myself, “to hell with it, I’m getting me a bowl!”  And from then on, my chili ways changed forever and their vegan chili became one of my favourites, especially during the fall and winter.  Granted, my chili remained vegetarian as opposed to vegan at times because of the side of sour cream I’d order, but the meal itself is vegan through and through and a well-loved meal among the graduate student community.

Now, let’s get started with the first post of this vegan chili series!  First up, the grilled tofu on vegan chili brunch at Niche Coffee & Tea Company!  I mentioned this brunch dish in my first Niche post almost two weeks ago and I was itching to have this showcased in the series the second I found out the dish existed on the menu.  Niche is a coffee, tea, and brunch cafe located on Queen Street West just west of Bathurst St. with everything from eggs benny to French toast to omelettes to banana bread with Nutella and cinnamon sugar.  Their vegan chili is served two ways: vegetarian with eggs, or vegan with grilled tofu, and both styles ($10.50) come with your choice of either homemade grilled foccacia or cornbread.  I was so excited to order this that I was fidgeting in my seat and probably grinning like a fool when the nice waitress came around to take my order.  And that excitement wasn’t die down when my food came.  Behold!

What we have here: a nice big bowl of chili made with spiced tomato curry puree, chickpeas, red kidney beans, diced carrots, celery, and corn, served with 4 grilled tofu steaks, strips of crunchy baked tortilla chips, a slice of fresh tomato, arugula (no guacamole for this time unfortunately, but that wasn’t a big deal), and grilled wedges of fresh foccacia.  Oh my goodness, there were so many wonderful things about this meal.  First, the chili had some kick to it!  If you can’t tolerate heat in the slightest amount, this might not be the most comfortable meal for you to eat, but if you’re like me and you can take a bit of kick, you will LOVE this!  The flavour is so different because it’s not your run-of-the-mill crushed tomato chili.  It’s almost like a fusion of curry, tomato, and chili and I enjoyed it so much. 

The grilled tofu steaks were perfection.  They were so cute, like mini decks of tofu cards 😀  The texture was firm, the flavour was savoury, and there was that slight crispness around the edges from the grilling that made it even more delicious.  The crunchy tortilla strips were a fabulous addition and the foccacia…oh man.  I think the grilled foccacia wedges I had with this meal might have been some of the most delicious bread I’ve ever had.  The edges and outsides were crisp and the insides were amazingly soft and the bread just melts in your mouth.  It had a wonderful rosemary-thyme and olive oil flavour and I literally said, “ohhhh my god, this is so good” out loud after I took my first bite of it.

The whole vegan chili and tofu dish worked so well because of all the different textures (soft, crispy, juicy, moist, etc.) and all the flavours.  Even though I was drinking water with my meal, the tofu and foccacia is the perfect complement to the heat from the chili because it mellows it out and you get the best of all the flavours when you alternate between all the items of food.

If you try this out, I hope you’ll all enjoy it as much as I did.  If you have suggestions or requests for the series, feel free to leave a comment!  This is the first of hopefully many more vegan chili posts to come!

*****

Niche Coffee & Tea Company is located at 626 Queen Street West just east of Palmerston Ave. and west of Bathurst St.  They serve brunch during all hours of operations and are open 7 days a week at 8am on weekdays and 9am on weekends, with closing hours at 5pm on all days.