Selflessly, Jagdeo volunteered to cook with all vegan ingredients. She perhaps thought that would make things easier for her.
“I’m kinda kicking myself in the ass for that one,” she said when presented with her groceries. Yes, carbonated energy drinks are vegan (we checked). For some, these sugary tinctures are a late-night study aide of last resort. On this day, they would likewise serve as inspiration’s muse.
“Oh, that’s vile,” Jagdeo said upon tasting one of the cans. The Coast provided the chef with two flavours; original and cherry-red Assault. The latter fared much better in review, even with its cough syrup notes. “Put vodka in there and you’re set.”
Tofu potato cakes with energy drink purée and pickled carrot salad
We’d ding Jagdeo points for having the most extra ingredients, if we were awarding any points. Just note this recipe also requires one white onion, garlic, white vinegar, two carrots, one can of coconut milk, crushed red pepper, ground cumin, coriander seeds and a few splashes of olive oil.
Finely dice the garlic and onion. Saute both in a little oil with a pinch of cumin and pepper flakes. Break up the tofu (Jagdeo used medium) and chop the slightly-thawed fries. Fry both with the garlic and onion for a few minutes. Put the resulting mixture through a potato ricer and add chopped spinach leaves, salt and pepper. After it’s cooled, form the mash into palm-sized cakes and set aside.
Peel the carrots, shaving off several thin strands for later. Chop what’s remaining and poach in coconut milk and energy drink for several minutes. Add salt and pepper and blend until smooth.
Toast the coriander seeds in a dry pan before adding some vinegar and energy drink. Once at a boil, throw in the carrot shavings and take off the heat for a quick pickle. In another pot, combine the energy drink with vinegar over heat. Remove from the burner and mix in salt, pepper and olive oil to make a salad dressing.
Fry the potato cakes in olive oil until lightly browned. While the pan is still hot, fry some of the remaining bits of tofu with salt and pepper.
Lay the energy drink puree down on a plate. Dress some spinach leaves and arrange in the centre. Place potato cakes on either side of the salad, sprinkling the fried tofu bits over top. Finally, gently arrange the pickled carrots onto the spinach.
How’s it taste?
Though it was seemingly the biggest obstacle to a decent meal, the energy drink proved quite versatile as an ingredient. Its gargantuan sweetness enhanced the creamy coconut and carrot puree, while the bitter aftertaste combined perfectly with vinegar and oil in Jagdeo’s salad dressing. The tofu likewise brought new dimensions to the potato cakes, keeping them light and fluffy on the palate. The meal’s MVP, however, has to be the pickled carrots. Reminiscent of Fun Dip candies, the coriander-spiced carrot Assault was a big hit with chefs and crew.
What did you eat in university?
“Kraft Dinner, 100 percent,” says Jagdeo.
“I still love it. I still do.”
Another past and current favourite for the sous chef is ground beef, rice and salsa. In university or not, it seems fast and cheap never goes out of style.
“This is the kind of stuff we have at home. It’s just a matter of mushing things together to get in your face as fast as you can and get the hell out of the house.”