Posts Tagged ‘tofu’

I am thanking my lucky stars that I was given the opportunity to enjoy a week of the most perfect autumn weather one could imagine: sweater weather during the day, quilt weather at night, clear crisp days full of sunshine, and brilliantly colored fall foliage. Of course, a solid wallop of jet lag accompanied this awesome autumnal experience, but it was a small price to pay.   Fall was a seasonal experience that was ingrained into me growing up in Pittsburgh; however, I have not experienced it in at least ten years as I’ve spent the past decade living in places where the changing of seasons is a more nuanced experience.

We boarded a plane in the dark on Maui and disembarked 12 hours later into the chill of a brilliant North Carolina afternoon. The majority of the week-long trip was spent on work-related business in Charlotte, but the last few days were spent visiting with my friend Emily in Carrboro, just outside of Chapel Hill. There we were treated to good vegan eats and a sublime fall hike.

Even though we returned to Hawaiian weather in the mid-80s, I was in full fall-eating mode: thick, hearty fare that sticks to the ribs. That kind of mood lends itself perfectly to preparing for Thanksgiving.

If you are still struggling to come up with a Turkey alternative for your Thanksgiving entrée, I highly recommend this recipe. It’s not overly complicated, it’s delicious, and it looks special. You can really dress it up with any number of garnishes: fresh sage leaves, fried shallots, fresh chopped herbs, basil chiffonade, etc. Serve it with a variety of Thanksgiving sides, and you’ve got a lovely, satisfying meal for any and all types of eaters. We enjoyed ours with carrots and brussel sprouts that were roasted in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, fresh chopped herbs, and a generous sprinkle of nutritional yeast.

Stuffed Tofu Smothered in Mushroom Gravy

20 oz tofu
1 tbsp Earth Balance
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups sliced mushrooms
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (I used rosemary, oregano, parsley, and basil from my garden)
Salt & pepper to taste
1 ½ cups “beef” bouillon (I use Better Than Bouillon No Beef Base)
¼ cup flour
¼ cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 450F.

2. Melt the EB in a dutch oven or large skillet. Add the onion and sauté for 30 minutes, until the onion is caramelized brown.

3. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute, then add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the fresh herbs and salt and pepper to taste.

4. Remove one cup of the mushroom mixture and set aside in a bowl. Add 1 ½ cups “beef” bouillon to the pot/pan and let come to a boil. Whisk in the flour (be sure to whisk constantly or else your gravy will get lumpy!) and keep whisking for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.

5. Add the walnuts to the cup of mushroom mixture that was set aside earlier.

6. Slice the tofu into thick slices. Using a sharp paring knife cut a slit into each tofu triangle. Spoon some mushroom & walnut filling into each triangle. (Do not waste energy fretting over tofu triangles that burst open when stuffed – they are just as delicious!)

A special “thank you” to my hand model, Dan!

7. Place the stuffed tofu triangles into an oiled baking pan. Smother the tofu triangles in gravy. Bake for approximately 50 minutes.

8. Remove from oven, serve, and enjoy!


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Cherry Whiskey Tofu

“This tofu is purple”

That was the response this dish elicited the first time I served it up at the dinner table. I must admit: I really like the vibrant purple this tofu can take on. The secret to a very purple hue: let your frozen cherries defrost a bit before adding them to the pot, so that in addition to cherries you also add a small dose of concentrated – and therefore very purple – cherry juice.

I have many cookbooks. I love cookbooks. I have so many cookbooks that I actually have several cookbooks from which I have never made a recipe. This makes me feel guilty as it doesn’t entirely fit into my “keep what you love, love what you keep” philosophy of household items and belongings. It’s a philosophy borne out of several factors, including (1) the desire to live sustainably and with as little waste as possible, (2) my aversion to clutter, and (3) sheer necessity: Dan, our two cats, and I all exist in a cottage that comprises appx. 500 square feet of space … well, throw in our large deck and gardens and we get a little more space to spread out, but the fact remains that we live in small quarters. We love our small quarters., but small quarters can get cramped very quickly when you’re not paying attention. But I digress….

I have a lot of cookbooks. I am reluctant to get rid of any. Therefore, I have resolved to begin utilizing those poor neglected volumes. First one I took off the shelf? Rachel Ray’s Classic 30 Minute Meals.

Yes, shockingly, I own a Rachel Ray cookbook. It was a gift. And she does have some veggie recipes in there …

My first recipe was a pork chop recipe that I completely overhauled. I was attracted to the use of cherries in the recipe. What resulted is a low maintenance, quick dish to throw together. Serve it alongside a delicious veggie dish, a salad, a soup, or any combo thereof and you’ve got a delicious weekday dinner.

Thank you, Rachel Ray, for the inspiration.

Cherry Whiskey Tofu
Inspired by Rachel Ray’s “Pork Chops with Brandied Cherry Sauce”

24 sweet cherries, fresh or frozen (I used frozen ones that I defrosted. Defrosting the cherries resulted in some juice that I added to the sauce)
19 oz. tofu, drained and pressed (This is the size that I got from Costco)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
2 shots whiskey
½ cup Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base

1. Preheat oven to 450F. Lightly oil an 8×13” baking dish and set aside.

2. Heat the olive oil is a saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the cherries and heat through, then add the whiskey and let cook for 1 minute. Add the broth and cook for additional 2 minutes.

3. Place the tofu in a single layer in the baking dish. Pour the cherry whiskey sauce over the tofu and bake for 30 minutes. Flip the tofu and bake for 10 minutes more. Remove from heat and serve.

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I love the Olympics. I love the competition, the sportsmanship, the seemingly impossible displays of athleticism, and the unity of humanity (if only for a short period of time). I get goose bumps when the American anthem is played at medal ceremonies. I get tears in my eye, without fail, at the back-story vignettes about the athletes. I love that we can put aside politics for two weeks to cheer each other on and celebrate one another’s accomplishments.

In honor of this year’s summer Olympics being in Beijing we’ve been eating our fair share of Chinese food.   (Did you all see that opening ceremony? Yes, it was a spectacular waste of money … but visually, wasn’t it amazing??)  Over the weekend it was sweet and sour tofu and General Tso’s seitan …. and last night it was dumplings. To be honest, I don’t know if these are technically dumplings, pot stickers, or won tons (do you know? If so, please enlighten me in the comments).  Personally, I have a strong affinity for the word dumpling and, thus, these are dumplings.

The filling in these dumplings is so good that I had a hard time not eating it all in small “quality assurance sample” tastes as I was prepping the dumplings. It’s a simple yet incredibly flavorful mix of tofu, mushrooms, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, and scallions. The dipping sauce is equally as simple and is a perfect compliment to the dumplings.

To make these dumplings crispy on the bottom yet soft and chewy all over, I used the steam-fry method described in Bryanna Clark Grogan’s Authentic Chinese Cuisine for the Contemporary Kitchen, which is described in the recipe below. It’s so simple, people! I promise you that you, too, can make restaurant quality dumplings for dinner – on a workday!

One thing to take note of: be sure to read the ingredients list when purchasing dumpling wrappers – many contain egg.


Tofu Mushroom Dumplings
This recipe will make 24-30 dumplings, depending upon your wrappers. Enjoy “sampling” any leftover filling!

1 20 oz block of tofu, pressed and drained (I recently fell in love with our locally produced Aloha Tofu – the texture is awesome)
1 tsp sesame oil
10 white or cremini mushrooms, minced
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp chili garlic sauce
1 scallion, diced
1 package dumpling wrappers (I used a pack of 24 won ton pi wrappers from the Chun Wah Kam Noodle Factory from right here in the islands)

1 tbsp sesame oil
1/3 cup water

1. Heat the oil in skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté for about 2 minutes. Crumble in the tofu (make sure it’s good and crumbled – no big chunks!), ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and chili garlic sauce and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the scallion, remove from heat, and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.

2. To prep the dumplings: place a generous 1 tbsp of filling in the center of each won ton wrapper. Keep a cup of water close at hand, and use a fingertip to moisten the edges of one wrapper with water. Fold up two opposite corners to meet above the filling, and then bring up the remaining two corners to meet in the center. Press and pinch the edges together, and then give them a twist to seal the deal, er, dumpling. Repeat this step with each remaining wrapper.

3. Heat 1 tbsp sesame oil in a large non-stick skillet over high heat. Swirl the oil around the pan to ensure even coverage. Place the dumplings in the pan, twisted sides up, and turn the heat down to medium. Once the bottoms begin to brown – about 1 minute – pour in the water and cover the pan. Cook the dumplings until the water has evaporated, about 5-7 minutes. Serve with simple dumpling dipping sauce (below).

Simple Dumpling Dipping Sauce

¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup seasoned rice vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp agave nectar
1 scallion, diced

Mix the liquids together thoroughly, add in the scallions.

Ginger Garlic Green Beans

2 cups green beans, ends trimmed
1 ½ tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp ginger (season to taste)
1 clove garlic

1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beans and cover the pan. Remove the cover after the beans begin to turn golden brown and puckered – about 5-7 minutes.

2. Add the ginger and garlic, sauté for 1 minute, and serve. For extra kick add hot pepper flakes.

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Mango Marinated Tofu Kabobs

This has been an incredible year for mangoes on Maui. Everywhere I look this summer, I see enormous mango trees laden with golden orange and red orbs of fruit. While we ourselves do not have a mango tree, we have been fortunate to be the recipients of many of our friends’ and neighbors’ excess yields of the season.

It is hard to outdo the taste of fresh mango. Nothing exemplifies the exotic nature of Hawai’i quite like it.

With this season’s bounty we’ve enjoyed mango smoothies, mango lassis, mango pie, mango and sticky rice, mango in rice, mango and tofu, mango for breakfast, mango for lunch, mango for dinner …. you get the idea.

Earlier this week we received our latest batch of mangoes from a friend. We looked at these mangoes and decided that they were destined to be pioneers in our kitchen of new mango concoctions (new for us, at any rate). We test drove several recipes, and the one that I am sharing with you today is for a grilling marinade.  (Feel free to ask the questions, “Who are you to tell me what to do with my marinade?” and use it as a baking marinade instead. I won’t be offended. I appreciate your renegade spirit.)

I marinated tofu for several hours and basted some veggies from our garden to make kabobs that we grilled for dinner – they were delicious. I, like Ben Stiller in “There’s Something About Mary”, love food on a stick … just make mine vegan. Something about food on a stick just says summer time. The marinade would probably work as well on seitan or tempeh and on any veggie of your choice. It’s also quite adaptable – by adjusting the curry or adding more chili garlic sauce (or chipotle … or Tabasco…) you can make your kabobs as spicy as you’d like. Enjoy the experiment!

Mango Marinade

1 ripe mango
2 tbsp teriyaki
1 clove garlic
½ tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp curry
½ tsp chili garlic sauce

Process all ingredients in food processor until smooth.

I used this marinade on tofu that I drained and pressed. I marinated the tofu for several hours before grilling it. I then basted the marinade on zucchini, red pepper, mushrooms, and Japanese eggplant just before grilling. Be sure to grill the kabobs evenly on each side and baste your kabobs with any extra marinade when you turn them during grilling. Be sure to spray your grill liberally with non-stick cooking spray before putting your kabobs o the Barbie or else you’ll be tempting grilling fate and will very likely end up with the remnants of kabobs clinging to the grill.

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This morning I pulled my bread machine off of the shelf, where it has been gathering dust since the last time I used it, which was … so long ago that I can’t even remember. Home made bread is so good and the bread machine is so low maintenance to use that it really makes no sense that I don’t make home baked loaves more often. I wanted to make a whole grain loaf today, however, I found that I was running low on the grains so instead I made a traditional farmhouse loaf – a nice, chewy type of white bread. As it was cooling on the wire rack around noon, I instantly wanted a slice for lunch. I was happily sauteing onions and mushrooms to pile on a slice of the bread when I looked at the pan and asked myself, “Where’s the protein?” That’s were the tofu came in. I usually prefer baked tofu on a sandwich but as I was already underway when I thought to add the ‘fu, I did a quick marinating session (about 15 minutes) and then cooked the tofu on the stove top (about 7-8 minutes per side over medium heat). I enjoyed my sandwich open-faced but Dan had his with the traditional two slices, both slices smeared with a touch of Earth Balance buttery spread. These sandwiches were exactly what I was after when I set out to whip up a rustic style lunch that utilized my home baked bread.


Rustic Mushroom and Tofu Sandwiches

1/2 block of firm tofu (slice into triangles and marinate in 3 parts teriyaki and 1 part maple syrup)
1/2 tbsp Earth Balance butter
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 1/2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
Good quality bread, thickly sliced

    1. Heat the EB in a pan over medium-low heat and add the onions. Saute the onions for about 10-12 minutes, until they start to turn golden brown. Add the mushrooms and saute for another 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    2. Lightly spray a second pan with non-stick oil and cook up the marinated tofu (7-8 minutes per side, until browned).

    3. Pile a slice of bread with the onions and mushrooms, top with slices of tofu, serve as open-face or as a traditional sandwich. Enjoy!

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