Asian Inspired Plant Based Cooking

Asian Inspired Plant-Based Recipes

Asian cuisine includes several major regional cuisines: Central Asian, East Asian, North Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and West Asian. A cuisine is a characteristic style of cooking practices and traditions, usually associated with a specific culture. When speaking of Asian Cooking we could be describing…. Thai, Japanese, Chinese, India and many more.

Some of the common ingredients, spices and cooking techniques we will see when we talk about Asian Cooking will include but not limited to rice, ginger, garlic, sesame seeds, lemon grass, basil, cilantro (coriander), chilies, dried onions, soy, and tofu. Stir frying, steaming, and deep frying are common cooking methods.

Chinese Inspired Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 14 ounce block extra firm tofu – with water pressed out and crumbled
  • 2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ cup onion diced, onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon minced ginger fresh minced, or ginger paste
  • 12 oz mushrooms, shitake, button or portobello; chopped
  • ¼ cup Tamari low sodium, soy sauce low sodium, braggs aminos or coconut aminos
  • 3 Tablespoon Thai sweet red chili sauce or Vegan – Hoisin or Oyster Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Rice Vinegar (Optional)
  • 1 lime, juice and zest
  • 1 teaspoon liquid sweetener (maple syrup or agave)
  • ⅓ cup cashews chopped – raw or roasted/salted
  • ¼ cup scallions chopped (optional)
  • ¼ cup cilantro fresh, chopped (optional)
  • ¼-½ cup carrots shredded
  • Sesame seeds for topping
  • 1 head butter lettuce or romaine lettuce

Preparation

  1. Make the thai chili sauce. Add the soy sauce, chili sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, lime juice, and sweetner to a small bowl and mix to combine and set aside.
  2. Heat up a pan to medium high heat and add the oil.
  3. Cook the tofu. Use your hands to crumble the tofu into the pan, tossing it in the pan sauce while breaking it up with a wooden spoon, your hands or spatula. Season the tofu with a little granulated garlic, ground ginger, onion powder, salt and pepper and let it cook until it starts to turn golden brown, about 4-5 minutes, take out of the pan and set aside.
  4.  Add in the onions and let cook for 2-3 minutes until the onions start to brown and turn translucent. Then add in the garlic and ginger. Let it cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Next add the mushrooms and saute for 3-4 minutes – then add the tofu back in.
  6. Add the sauce to the tofu and mushrooms. Sprinkle the chopped cashews over the tofu and sauce in the pan. Toss that all together, reduce the heat to low and let that all cook for 2 more minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes, then stir in the carrots, chopped scallions and cilantro (If using)
  7. Assemble the lettuce wraps. To assemble the lettuce wraps, open one of the lettuce leaves and add a large spoonful of the tofu mixture into the wrap and top it with some of the pan sauce and sesame seeds. Continue until you have made all of the lettuce wraps.

Thai-Inspired Banana Spring Rolls

Ingredients

  • 8 spring roll wrappers or wonton wrappers
  • 4 medium bananas, cut in half
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
  • vegetable oil
  • caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream or honey and coconut flakes
Preparation (Rice Paper)In a small bowl blend the sugar and spices together. Set aside.Peel the bananas and slice off the ends. Cut each banana in half and set aside. Pour about 1 inch of oil into a large skillet or pan. Heat to 350°F.Place each spring roll wrapper in water individually for about 10 seconds, then place it onto a clean work surface. Only wet as many as you have a place to set down. I like to do one at a time.Sprinkle the spring roll wrapper with about a teaspoon of the sugar mixture. Place the banana onto the wrapper. Carefully fold in the sides, then roll-up. Repeat wetting the spring rolls, filling, and wrapping.  Separate the completed ones  with wet paper towels. Using tongs, place the spring rolls into the hot oil. Cook for about 5 minutes, turning halfway. Drain on paper toweling.Serve hot with a side of vanilla ice cream and caramel drizzled on top.Preparation (Wonton Wrapper)Blend sugar mixture. In a small bowl blend the sugar and spices together. Set aside.Peel the bananas and slice off the ends. Cut each banana in half and set aside.In a shallow bowl, whisk together the sugar and spices.Lay out your wonton wrappers. Roll each banana in the sugar and spices until coated. Place a banana in each wonton wrapper and roll. Use water to seal the edges.Place on a greased air fryer tray. Spray with a thin layer of cooking oil to get a golden, crispy outside.Preheat the air fryer to 350°F (let it run for two minutes) and put the spring rolls in. Fry for 4 minutes, roll, and fry for another 4 minutes.Remove from the air fryer and drizzle with honey and coconut flakes.
Tofu & Mushroom Lettuce Cups being Plated.

The M&T – William Emslie YMCA Mural

Edreys Wajed, co-founder of Eat Off Art had the honor of designing the new mural located on the wall of the William-Emslie Wall next to the newly installed M&T Bank ATM. The mural was installed by the Eat Off Art team.

The portraits in this mural are meant to serve as a representation, a small glimpse and snapshot of the Black community. On the right side, the elder, a mother; grandmother and senior citizen, holds a proud posture and glowing expression. She is looking into the future. Part of that future and its success rests partly in the hands of the youth. The young man on the left, gestures his lower hand towards the elder, suggesting an accepting of responsibility, with love and respect. The expression on his face is to symbolize joy and a feeling of true freedom, with his right arm lifted, hand open, to receive blessings.

The patchwork of colors in the background were inspired by a birds-eye view of the surrounding streets, symbolizing neighborhoods and the diverse communities that the YMCA and M&T Bank continue to bring together, serve and support.

To elaborate on the color selection:

  • Black – Power and Elegance
  • Green – Growth and Balance
  • Yellow – Joy and Opportunity
  • Orange – Creativity and Adventurous
  • Purple – Royalty and Imagination
  • Blue – Freedom and Self Expression

Quote from M&T Bank on the new mural at William-Emslie YMCA

Edreys Wajed’s new mural captures the spirit of what M&T Bank and the William Emslie Family YMCA are working to accomplish every day – to bring people together and make a difference in their lives. It provides a stunning depiction of the diversity and resiliency of East Buffalo, offering a hopeful message that connects people across generations and cultural identities.

Our team at M&T Bank hopes this mural will remind people what exists behind this painted wall – support and resources to help build healthy minds, bodies, and spirits, as well as educational tools to help families achieve financial empowerment in a historically underserved area of Western New York. Last year, we opened a branch inside the William Emslie Family YMCA to provide greater access to financial guidance. Collaborating with the Y, our goal is to help address issues that have persisted for decades – and break those cycles, providing support that uplifts our community and helps people achieve their financial goals.

This is the second collaboration between M&T Bank and Edreys Wajed, who has demonstrated a unique ability to tell compelling stories through his art. His portrayal of Buffalo-born jazz legend Grover Washington, Jr. was painted on the exterior of M&T’s Kensington branch in 2020. With this latest mural, he sought to provide an artistic glimpse into Buffalo’s Black community and the intergenerational connections that exist within it.

Quote from YMCA on the new mural at William-Emslie YMCA

Together with our great partners at M&T Bank, the YMCA Buffalo Niagara wishes to thank Buffalo-based artist, educator, and entrepreneur Edreys Wajed for his work on this important project. He managed to capture the resilience exhibited by the East Buffalo community in this brilliant work of art and provide visitors to the William-Emslie Family YMCA with a sense of pride and hope for the future.

The imagery symbolizes the critical role the older generation plays in the lives of our youth. It also displays the responsibility that the young people who use our facility tell us they feel about carrying on the legacy of their elders and building a better future for themselves. 

The partnership between the William-Emslie Family YMCA and M&T Bank is meant to bring much-needed educational resources to this neighborhood, helping families of East Buffalo manage their personal and financial health and well-being. We are proud of what this location is doing for the community and are thrilled to be a canvas for this latest addition to Buffalo’s extensive and impressive collection of murals. 

The William-Emslie YMCA is located at 585 William Street, Buffalo, New York 14206

In Process Photos


Ethiopian Inspired Plant Based Cooking

Ethiopian Inspired Plant-Based Recipes:

Berbere is the most popular spice blend and it is found in almost every Ethiopian stew. It is a mixture of warm spices such as chili powder, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, and garlic, as well as other herbs, spices, and aromatics. A berbere blend usually consists of a mixture of 20 or more herbs, spices, and aromatics.

SPICED TOFU

Prepare in advance: Marinate Cubed Tofu 60 min – overnight

Ingredients:

Marinade for TOFU

  • 2T of Olive Oil 
  • ¼ cup of Lemon Juice
  • 2T of Water
  • 1T – 2T of Maple Syrup
  • ¼ t of Salt
  • 2t – 2T of Berbere
  • 1T Smoked Paprika
  • 2 t Dried Thyme
  • 1T dried Garlic Powder
  • 1T dried Onion Powder
  • 14oz-16oz Extra Firm Tofu, Pressed and Cubed.

Combine ingredients above, Pour over cubed tofu in a container and seal.

Preparation:

a. PAN FRY

  1. Remove Tofu from the marinate (Reserve the Marinade as a sauce for later)
  2. Heat Oil in a skillet
  3. Fry the cubes of tofu – fry until the tofu releases easily from the pan (If the tofu is brown and crisp it will be easier to turn). Fry each side.
  4. Once the Tofu is browned then add the marinade back to coat. 

b. BAKE (oil free)

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment
  3. Remove the tofu from the Marinade and spread the tofu on the pan – Bake for 20 min. 
  4. Turn and then bake for an additional 20 min.
  5. Optional: Toss the cooked tofu in a pan with some of the marinade to provide extra flavor. 

LEFTOVERS: Refrigerate leftovers. Can store for 3-4 days. Can be eaten cold or at room temperature.

SPICED GREENS 

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 Bunches of Kale, Collard greens or Spinach
  • 2t minced Ginger
  • 1 ½ T minced Garlic
  • 1 medium onion chopped or sliced
  • 1.5t smoked paprika
  • 1t ground cardamom
  • 1 ½ t cumin
  • 1-2 jalapeno, deseeded and chopped (Optional)
  • 1 Chopped tomato, (Optional)
  • Salt to Taste

Preparation:

  1. In a large skillet, warm oil
  2. Add the onion and salt to the pan. Cook until the moisture is absorbed. About 5 minutes.
  3. Add to the pan minced ginger, garlic, paprika, cumin, cardamom, and saute for about a minute. To let the spices bloom.
  4. Stir in the collard greens and cook on medium heat until the collard greens become softened and most of the water evaporates. About 10 to 15 minutes. If the greens are not tender as you like, add more water and continue to cook until absorbed.
  5. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. 

Roasted Green Beans and Carrots

Ingredients:

  • ½ lb Green Beans, Cleaned and trimmed
  • 2-3 Carrots, Peeled and cut into sticks
  • 2T Ground Granulated Garlic
  • 3T Ground Ginger
  • ¼ t Ground Cumin
  • ¼ t Ground Cardamom
  • 2T Oil

Preparation (Preheat oven to 375): 

  1. Cut your vegetables to the same size – Remove as much liquid or moisture as you can from the vegetables
  2. Season your vegetables with ingredients above then roast vegetables (individually) 
  3. Use a baking sheet – Do not over crowd your pan – your vegetables need space
  4. Roast in High Heat Oven for 20-30 minutes (Turning – rotating – pan after 15 minutes) until caramelized (more time if needed).

Roasted Beets:

  • Wash and Clean Beets (Remove all stems)
  • Place tinfoil on a baking sheet (so you can make a pouch) and put your beets on top
  • Season beets with Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper
  • Close up tinfoil into a pouch with no open spaces
  • Bake at 425 for 1 hour.
  • Open your pouch to see if a paring knife can be easily inserted into a beet.
  • Waiting until cool enough to handle
  • Peel Skin and Enjoy

Caribbean Inspired Plant Based Cooking

Jamaican curry is typically prepared with pre-made curry powder spice blends, which includes variations of turmeric, cumin, paprika, cardamom, garlic, and fenugreek. But they also use allspice which is what gives Jamaican curry its unique flavor and sets it apart from most other curries. Thyme is also used when making Jamaican Curry which makes an interesting distinction between other ‘Curries”.

The primary difference between Jamaican and Indian curry is that Jamaican curry is made with curry powder. Curry in India is not made with curry powders (that’s a UK invention) and is often sauce-based with either coconut milk or cream blended with tomatoes, fresh herbs, and toasted spices.

Jamaican (Inspired) Curried Chickpeas

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans Garbanzo Beans, Chickpeas
  • 1 can Coconut milk
  • ½ – 1T Jamaican curry powder
  • 1 Potato Diced
  • 1 Carrot Diced
  • 1 medium Tomato chopped finely (Optional)
  • 1 medium Onion Chopped
  • 2 Garlic cloves Crushed
  • ¼ inch” Freshly grated or chopped ginger
  • 1t Allspice
  • 1t Garlic powder
  • 1t Onion powder
  • 1/2t Smoked Paprika
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 3 Sprig of fresh thyme or 2t of dried thyme
  • 1-2 Scotch Bonnet Whole (Optional) *More Scotch Bonnet will make it hotter also cutting it will make it even hotter – alternatives Jalapeno, Habanero
  • 2-4T oil
  • ½-1 Cup (118.29 ml) Water
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

Preparation:

  1. In a pot on medium heat, add the oil, allspice, peppers (If using), and curry powder. Toast for a minute until the curry powder turns a red-ish brown color.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and scallion and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in the potato and chickpeas making sure they are fully coated in with the curry. Cook for about 5 minutes. If you are using a pot that isn’t non-stick, stir continuously to prevent burn. You may have to add a bit of water.
  4. Add tomato (if you are using), carrot, coconut milk, thyme and water. Cover and cook for 30 minutes until the liquid reduces the potato and carrot soften.
  5. Before turning off the heat, crush a few chickpeas and potatoes to thicken up the sauce.

Jamaican (Inspired) Steamed Cabbage

Ingredients:

  • 1 large Cabbage (about 6 cups shredded)
  • 1 onion, julienned or sliced
  • 3-4 sprigs thyme
  • 2 scallions sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed or sliced
  • 1t Black Pepper
  • 1/4 scotch bonnet pepper, sliced thinly (no seeds)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 veg stock cube, crushed or bouillon (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 large carrot, julienned
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 green bell pepper, julienned
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. In a large skillet, warm oil
  2. Add the onion and garlic, stir and then continue adding the thyme and Scotch Bonnet pepper. Cook on low for about 3 minutes.
  3. Turn the heat up to med/low and add the carrot and bell peppers, followed by the stock cube (crushed). Stir well and cook for two minutes.
  4. Add your cabbage to the pot and stir well. It will look like a lot, however it will wilt down. Place the lid on the pot and get it to steam.
  5. After a few minutes (try to stir it a couple times while it steams) 
  6. Taste for salt and adjust to your own liking and you can turn off the stove if the texture is to your liking or cook longer.

Jamaican (Inspired) Coconut Rice

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Long grain rice (Jasmine, Basmati or simply long grain)
  • 1 ½ cups Fresh coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 tbsp Coconut Oil

Preparation: 

  1. Wash/Rinse your rice until the water is clear (remove all the starch) and set aside
  2. Into a pan with a fitted lid pour coconut milk, water and add the coconut oil; then bring to a boil on medium heat.
  3. Add the rice and a pinch of salt to your pot, stirring well
  4. Bring back to a boil; then cover, turn the heat to low and let the rice cook until all the liquid has evaporated about 12-15min.
  5. Turn the heat off and let the rice rest for 5 minutes then fluff and serve.
Chef Alexa Joan:
Good Vibes, Fresh Food – Plant Based

27th Pappy Martin Jazz Festival “Celebrating Women in Jazz”

Pappy Martin Jazz Festival 2022

This Years artwork for the Jazz Festival was created by Alexa Joan Wajed. The Committee was looking for something that spoke to music and women, something whimsical but elegant and something that made you think of jazz.

[Excerpt from the Buffalo News]

This year’s Pappy Martin Legacy Masten Jazz Festival bears the imprimatur “Celebrating Women in Jazz,” and will feature a lineup of woman-led and woman-featuring ensembles, among them headliners the Baylor Project, Curtis Lundy with Brianna Thomas, Endea Owens & the Cookout and the Shamie Royston Quartet, as well as regional artists George Caldwell with Curtis Lovell, Darcel Blue, Carol McLaughlin with Joyce Carolyn, Zhanna Reed and Charles Reedy with Sandra Gilliam.

For Berry-Walker, this celebration of female artistry has been a long time coming.

“This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and we’ve been sporadically presenting women artists. But this year, it needed to be more,”

Read More


July/August Buffalo Magazine – Cover by Alexa Joan

Buffalo Magazine Cover Art – Instagram Post

The creative arts are where so many of us turn to process, reflect and begin to heal.

In the days following the tragic white supremacist attack on our Black community, we offered the artist and cofounder of @eatoffart the space to express herself. Her striking artwork accompanies a new piece, “Unanswered Question,” by @poet_jillian_hanesworth and a personal reflection by writer @tiffromthe6. Find them at the link in our bio.

Buffalo Magazine July/August 2022 – Cover Art by Alexa Joan

Shout out to Jillian Hanesworth for the amazing poem  –

 


“Power Couple” WNY – Buffalo Spree July/Aug 2022

Actually, we tied with Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs…

What do you think? Are we the Best Power Couple here in Buffalo.

Edreys & Alexa Joan Wajed

Artists. Creatives. Entrepreneurs. There are so many ways to describe Edreys and Alexa Joan Wajed. She is a chef, adjunct professor, project manager, jewelry designer, and artist. He, too, is a renowned artist whose work has been exhibited all over town and in perpetuity on the Freedom Wall and other public artworks, including the Good Trouble mural depicting the late John Lewis and Love Black (last year’s winner of best new mural). Together, their business is Eat Off Art, which offers creative problem-solving and consulting, along with art prints, clothing, jewelry, and more.

eatoffart.com, alexajoan.com, edreys.com

Commissioned in 2020 by the Albright-Knox Art Galley Public Art Initiative in response to the social unrest centered around the murder of unarmed Black citizens, Love Black (by Edreys Wajed and James “YAMES” Moffitt) is plea a for humanity, compassion, and change. After the racially-motivated May 14 shooting in Buffalo, Wajed shared, “It is important to note that my good friend and fellow artist Yames, who is white and doesn’t share the weight and burden of the collective Black experience, made it his duty to contribute to this dialogue-inspiring public art. This conversation suggested by the mural is now more necessary than ever, in order for healing to begin.”


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uniqueness and my brilliance.”
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