Tofu

Tofu Trials: Five Spice Maple-Glazed Tofu

Five Spice Tofu & Snow Peas

I bought some beautiful snow peas the other day at an Amish farm stand. When snow peas are fresh from the fields they really don’t need to be fussed over. In fact, I’ll eat a handful of them while I’m getting them ready for steaming. I only had a pint of snow peas and no other vegetables that would go with them, so I decided they would make a nice side dish for tofu. I purchased an air fryer a few months ago and like the way it makes tofu. Here are a few things I’ve learned about air frying tofu.

  • Marinating the tofu is pointless. The tofu doesn’t absorb the flavors of the marinade and the exterior does not crisp up.
  • It’s much easier and I’ve had better results just sprinkling or coating the tofu with dry spices and letting it sit for a few hours. (You probably don’t even need to wait before cooking.)
  • I also discovered that pressing the tofu makes it too dry. Since the tofu spends enough time in the fryer (or oven), pressing out the excess liquid is an unnecessary step and does not enhance the texture.
  • To achieve a glaze-like surface, I’ve had good results cooking the spiced-coated tofu until it starts to develop a crisp exterior, then tossing it with barbeque sauce, maple syrup or other “glazey” ingredients.

For this recipe, I sprinkled some Chinese Five Spice on the tofu, air fried it for 15 minutes, then tossed it with a smidgen of oil and maple syrup and continued air frying until it had a crispy, glazed surface. The meal was rounded out with steamed snow peas and Jasmine rice then drizzled with a ginger-peanut sauce. This turned out to be a simple meal that’s simply delicious. If you don’t have an air fryer, you can bake the tofu in the oven. You can use this method to come up with your own favorite tofu recipe by just varying the spices and glazes. If you like Texas barbeque, try sprinkling the tofu with a smoking rub, then coating it with your favorite barbeque sauce. Serve it with potato salad and corn on the cob. Or how about an Indian version that’s sprinkled with curry powder and coated with chutney and served with samosa potatoes or Basmati rice and peas? I’d love to hear about your own tofu trials. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Five Spice Maple-Glazed Tofu

1 lb. firm or extra firm tofu
½ teaspoon Five Spice powder
½ teaspoon oil (optional)
1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey

Cut tofu into 1” pieces and add to bowl. Toss with Five Spice seasoning and allow to marinate for a few hours.

To make in an air fryer:

Arrange seasoned tofu in a single layer if possible. Set temperature to 350F and cook for about 15 minutes. Remove from fryer and place into mixing bowl. Add maple syrup and oil and toss to coat. Return to fryer basket and continue cooking for another 10 minutes or until crisp. Serve immediately with steamed vegetables and rice.

To make in an oven:

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place seasoned tofu in a single layer on parchment paper. Bake until tofu starts to dry out and brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and place in mixing bowl. Add the oil and maple syrup and toss to coat. Return to baking sheet and continue baking until the exterior of tofu is glazed and brown. Serve immediately.

16 Jun 2017

Oh, What Fun: Buche de Noel

Buche de Noel, or Yule Log Cake, is a traditional dessert served at holiday time. The traditional recipe consists of a thin sponge cake that’s filled with raspberry jam, rolled up and decorated with chocolate icing to resemble a log. Through the years, other variations have been created that include chocolate cake, ganache and icings flavored with liqueurs. Since the Buche de Noel has turned into an “anything goes” recipe, I thought I might try my hand at a healthy, plant-based version. I used whipped aquafaba (the liquid from cooked chickpeas) to achieve a sponge-like consistency in the cake. The filling is made with silken tofu, non-dairy dark chocolate and dates. I wanted to use toasted hazelnuts and Frangelico liqueur for the cake, but I ended up using almonds and almond extract because that’s what I had on hand. If you prefer desserts that are not too sweet, you can omit the dates from the frosting. I dusted the top with some confectioner’s sugar. If you want to stick with tradition and decorate the outside to look like a yule log, you will have to double the frosting recipe. What I love about this recipe is that you can make different versions by using fruit filling, grated orange rind, different liqueurs or nuts or adding crushed candy to the frosting. Oh what fun you’ll have making and eating this beautiful Buche de Noel. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Buche de Noel

6 tablespoons aquafaba
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 cup sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin

½ cup (all-purpose or whole wheat pastry)
½ cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375F. Line an 11×15” rimmed baking sheet (jelly roll pan) with parchment and lightly grease the sides of the pan.

Place aquafaba and cream of tartar in mixing bowl. Using hand-held mixer, beat until soft peaks form. Add xanthan gum and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

Whisk together the sugar and pumpkin in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry and mix well. Gently fold in the whipped aquafaba.

Spread evenly into prepared baking pan and sprinkle nuts on surface. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until a knife comes out clean when inserted into center of cake. Remove and let cool a few minutes. (The cake needs to be warm in order to get it to roll up.) Place a clean baking towel on an un-rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Carefully invert cake on top of towel, then roll up. Let cool completely before filling.

Chocolate-Date Frosting

½ cup dates
12 oz. extra firm silken tofu
4 oz. non-dairy dark chocolate, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Pour boiling water over dates and let soak about one hour to soften. Place dates and remaining ingredients in container of a high-powered blender and process until smooth. Refrigerate until thoroughly cooled.

Buche de Noel

17 Dec 2016

I’m in the Mood for Thai: Green Curry Noodle Bowl

Thai Green Curry Noodle Bowl

Thai Green Curry Noodle Bowl

When we’re in the mood for Thai food, Bruce and I like to dine at Soybean Asian Grille.  The last time we were there I ordered a Green Curry Noodle Bowl from their special menu. It had tofu, baby bok choy, bell peppers, green beans and noodles with a “curry-ish” sauce. I say “curry-ish” because the dish was flavored with green curry paste and just a hint of coconut milk. Thai curries are usually insanely hot and contain a lot of rich (i.e. high-fat) coconut milk. It was this dish that motivated me to get off my tukhus and make the no-salt-added green Thai curry paste that I wrote about last week. My curry noodle bowl is a simple stir-fry kicked up a notch with the addition of green curry paste and a bit of light coconut milk. You can use any Thai curry paste (red, green, Massaman), either store-bought or made from one of my no-salt-added recipes. Mix up a batch of curry paste today, then stir things up a bit tomorrow with a bowl of Thai Green Curry Noodles. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Green Thai Curry Noddle Bowl

1 large yellow onion, sliced
8 oz. green beans, trimmed & cut into 1-1/2” pieces
1 large bell pepper, cut into 1-1/2” strips
3 baby bok choy, sliced into 1” pieces (including leaves)
16 oz. extra firm tofu, cut into 1” pieces
3 to 4 tablespoons green Thai curry paste
½ can (about 1 cup) Thai coconut milk

Noodles (about 1 lb. dry) or rice (3 cups cooked) for serving

Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add a few tablespoons of water and onions. Saute until onions start to brown. Add green beans and more water if necessary and saute until they start to brown. Cover skillet and cook until beans start to soften, then add peppers and bok choy. Continue cooking until peppers and bok choy start to soften. Add tofu, curry paste and coconut milk and cook for a few minutes to allow sauce to thicken and get infused into the tofu.
Serve over choice of noodles or rice.

29 Sep 2016

Simply Special: Grilled Vegetable Torte

Grilled Vegetable Torte

Grilled Vegetable Torte

Bruce and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary over the weekend. We tried, once again, (and unsuccessfully, again) to get a reservation at Vedge in Philadelphia. It’s the only restaurant with plant-based fare within an hour that is worthy of such a special occasion. So I wanted to make something special for our anniversary dinner. I recalled a layered vegetable and hummus cake on Facebook and used that concept for this Grilled Vegetable Torte. I wanted the torte to reflect my Italian heritage and went with grilled eggplant, zucchini, portobello mushrooms, roasted peppers and tomatoes. Instead of hummus, I made a “ricotta” using tofu, raw cashews and pesto. The “ricotta” acts like mortar to hold everything together. A whole wheat tortilla was placed on the bottom to make it easier to lift out the slices when it came time for serving. I baked the stem of the eggplant on top of the torte for a little drama. After 40 minutes in the oven, the torte came out perfectly cooked and picture perfect. It’s impressive enough for a special occasion yet easy enough to make for a weekend dinner. You could serve it as a first course for a holiday meal or enjoy it all week long sandwiched between some Italian bread. This simple vegetable torte can make any occasion a special one. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Grilled Vegetable Torte

16 oz. extra firm tofu
2 cups raw cashews
2 tablespoons lemon juice
8 oz. spinach or Swiss chard, wilted and squeezed
A few tablespoons of pesto

2 red bell peppers
1 eggplant, ¼” sliced
1 zucchini, ¼” sliced
3 portobella mushroom caps, left whole

2 to 3 tomatoes, thinly sliced

8” tortilla

Place tofu, cashews, lemon juice, spinach and pesto in food processor and process until combined. The mixture does not have to be smooth. Set aside. (You can make this the day before.)

Set outdoor grill to high. Place red peppers on grill and cook until charred on all sides, turning as one side is done. Place in brown paper bag to soften skins. When cool, remove skin, seeds and stem and slice into strips. Set aside.

Lower grill temperature to medium. Grill eggplants and zucchini until grill marks appear on both sides. Grill mushroom caps until tender with grill marks. Slice mushrooms thinly.

Assembly:

Preheat oven to 375F.

Wrap the bottom of an 8″ spring form pan with aluminum foil (in case of any leakage). Place an 8” tortilla in bottom of 8” spring form pan. Spread a thin layer of tofu-cashew mixture on top of tortilla, then layer as follows: eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes. Repeat from tofu-cashew mixture, ending with a top layer of tomatoes.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. If tomatoes do not brown, place under broiler for a few minutes. Let set until room temperature before removing sides of spring form pan. Serve at room temperature.

02 Aug 2016

Make it a Good Morning: Egg-less Breakfast Sandwich

Egg-less Breakfast Sandwich

Egg-less Breakfast Sandwich

Breakfast can be a challenge for some people making the transition from meat and dairy to plant-based eating. Many of us grew up eating eggs for breakfast. Eggs as eggs, eggs in omelettes, eggs in French toast, eggs in pancakes. One of my favorite breakfasts was an egg and cheese sandwich on an English muffin or everything bagel. I’ve been experimenting with tofu scrambles lately and happened to have a small amount left over from a few days ago. I pressed about one-inch worth of the scramble into a small ramekin, sprinkled some non-dairy cheese on top, microwaved it for about 1 minute and placed it on a toasted English muffin. One bite and I was hooked. This is another recipe that’s not a recipe at all. You can find my tofu scramble recipe here or use one of your own, add your non-dairy cheese of choice and serve it on your favorite English muffin, bagel or bread. This little breakfast sandwich will give you something worth getting out of bed for. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

 

30 Jul 2016

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