What to Do with Tofu

As a young fan of Star Trek, I was fascinated by the replicator.  Now, even then I knew you couldn’t make something from nothing (thanks to Mrs. Peterson’s Basic Science class).  So what did they put into the replicator that would make everything from a steak dinner to Earl Grey Tea.   Many years later, I had an epiphany. Tofu.  It’s good for you, it can taste like anything, and it’s the perfect food version of a blank canvas.  Now when I mentioned this to some friends who still think they hate tofu, they of course disagreed, quoting some obscure science fiction explanation.  Still, I think my theory is sound and here are a couple of ways you can start with tofu and make something else entirely that is absolutely delicious even if you hate tofu.

Tofu Taco Fingers

Ingredients

What You Need

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • 1 14 oz pkg of extra firm tofu
  • 1 pkg of taco seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • Tortilla shells
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Chopped green onions
  • Shredded cheese
  • Taco Sauce

Preparation

Combine the cornstarch with the taco seasoning.  Dredge the tofu slices in the cornstarch/seasoning mix, then dip in beaten egg, and finally coat with the panko bread crumbs.

Dipped in Egg and Rolled in Crushed Corn Chips

 

 

Heat a skillet with about 2 tablespoons of oil.  Fry the tofu fingers until crispy and brown on all sides.  Remove from the skillet and drain on a paper towel.

Crunchy GoodnessDSCF3169

Assemble tacos.

Tofu Tacos

 

Nom nom nom.

 

 

 

 

Now it’s time for dessert.  Yes, you can make dessert from tofu, and it’s so easy you may never make regular pudding again.

Tofu Chocolate Pudding

Ingredients

  • 1 12 oz pkg of firm Silken tofu
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon chopped nuts

Silken Tofu 2

Cocoa-Maple Syrup-Vanilla

Preparation

In a food processor combine the tofu, cocoa powder and maple syrup.  Blend until smooth and completely combined.

Silken Chocolate Tofu Pudding

Pour into a dish and sprinkle with nuts.  Chill for 1-2 hours and serve.  Trust me.  No one will know it’s tofu.

Savory Tofu Quiche

Tofu Quiche

Ingredients

  • 1 pkg of firm or extra firm tofu
  • 1 teaspoon herb de provence or other herb blend
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (or grated parmesan cheese)
  • 3 tablespoons hummus
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 large shallot thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 red sweet pepper, diced
  • 3 stalks fresh asparagus, cut into pieces
  • 6 to 8 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • (use any combination of vegetables you like or have in the fridge)

Crust

  • 2-3 cups thawed frozen hash brown potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation

Firmly press the potatoes into the tart shell, forming a crust and making sure to push up the sides of the pan.  Bake in a 450 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.  Set aside to cool.

Combine the tofu, herbs, nutritional yeast, hummus, salt and pepper in a food processor.  Pulse until thoroughly mixed.  Transfer to a large bowl and fold in the vegetables.  Pour the mixture into the tart pan.  Lower the oven to 375 degrees and bake for 30-45 minutes. Ovens vary so test for doneness at 30 minutes.  Return to oven and bake until golden brown.

Serve warm or room temperature.  It’s even better the next day.

Let me know what you think.  Enjoy!

ε

 

 

Nordic Nut Bread

Thanksgiving is over and I survived the mashed potatoes, the dressing and the gravy along with all the pies and sweet potato side dishes.  However, for those of us who appreciate the savory side of life here is an idea for  an addition to your next appetizer selection, traditional holiday smorgasbord, or just as a healthy late night snack while you binge on Vikings and wait for the next season to start.  This Nordic style nut bread would have been a familiar menu item on Ragnar Lothbrok’s table.

This is not bread in any ordinary sense, and it certainly isn’t the familiar sweet fruit and nut bread that we’re used to seeing on holiday tables, but it is an excellent delivery vehicle for a whole array of tasty toppings like paté, lingonberry jelly, a smear of brie cheese, onion jam or even peanut or almond butter.  Plain cream cheese is great too.  You could, of course, throw in some dried apricots, or raisins if you crave something sweeter, but my personal favorites are red onion jam and mushroom paté.  I’ll include quick versions of those condiments in this post.  This recipe is just unbelievably easy and very, very healthy.

NORDIC NUT BREAD

DSCF2984

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

DSCF2936

  • 3.5 oz  pumpkin seeds
  • 3.5 oz sunflower seeds
  • 3.5 oz almonds
  • 3.5 oz walnuts or pecans
  • 3.5 oz flax seeds
  • 3.5 oz sesame seeds
  • 3.5 oz poppy or chia  seeds or substitute 1/2 cup of chopped dried fruit (optional)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 5 eggs
  • 3.4 oz  oil (I use grapeseed or avocado)
  • 3.5 oz water (optional)

new pics 023

 

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl until it forms a thick mixture.

 

 

 

 

 

Press into generously oiled loaf pans (will make 3 small or 1 large).  Bake in a preheated 320 degree oven for 1 hour.   The look of the loaves will not change very much in appearance, just slightly brown around the edges.  Let the loaves cool completely before slicing.  The bread keeps for a week in the refrigerator, and freezes very well.

This is a perfect delivery system for all kinds of yummy toppings.  Here are some of my favorites.

DSCF2975You can use any combination of nuts or seeds that you prefer.  However, for every 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of additional seeds or nuts remember to add 1-2 extra eggs and water and oil as needed.

A good suggestion is to make a large batch of nuts/seeds, divide them into bags with enough to make the above recipe.  Store them in the freezer and take out a bag when you want to make the bread.

 

 

 

 

 

Red Onion Jam

DSCF2943

 

Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil

6 cups thinly sliced red onions (about 3 1/4 pounds)

1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

2 cups apples, peeled and chopped

1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar

3/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup Ruby Port

1/4 cup red wine

1 1/2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

1/2 cup dried cherries

Directions

Heat the oil in a heavy pot over a medium heat. Add the onions and dried red pepper. Cover, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender.  Add brown sugar, vinegar, port, red wine and ginger. Cook uncovered over medium low heat until onions are very tender and mixture has a thick, jam like consistency.  Add the dried cherries and cook until mixture is very thick and dark, stirring frequently, about 20-25 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool completely. Put in jars and refrigerate.  This stores very well and can be made well ahead.  I put this on all kinds of things and almost always have a jar on hand.

Mushroom Paté

DSCF2957 (2)

Ingredients

DSCF2948

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup finely chopped shallots

1/2 cup unsalted butter

¼ pound shitake mushrooms, chopped

¼ cup crimini mushrooms, chopped

¼ pound white button mushrooms, chopped

1/4 lb dried woodear mushrooms, rehydrated and chopped

1 tablespoon roasted garlic puree

¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon white pepper

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Toast the walnuts either in the oven for 10 minutes at 350° or in a dry frying pan on the stove top until fragrant and slightly browned.

In a large skillet or sauté pan cook the shallots in butter until translucent.  Add the chopped mushrooms, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring often until most of the liquid is evaporated.

Process the walnuts and olive oil in a blender or food processor until mixtures form a thick paste.  Spoon in the cooked mushroom mixture and process until the desired texture.  I like mine smooth and creamy.

Press the mixture into oiled ramekins or bowls.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.     ♥

Chai Concentrate: Instant Comfort in a Cup

After a hard day sometimes you just need some good old fashioned comfort, and you need it NOW.  Problem is, comfort usually takes time and on days like that I’m not into delayed gratification.  So what I need is a little kitchen magic and some make-ahead planning.

My crock pot is the closest thing I have to a magic cauldron.  I can make the most wonderful concoctions in it with almost no effort and I use it often, especially for that heavenly elixir, chai tea.  Frankly, I’m too cheap to buy the stuff in a box or bottle, and I tried the homemade instant mix but I don’t like the idea of coffee creamer (I mean what IS that stuff anyway?).   For me, it’s not just about how a dish looks, it’s also about how it’s made and what kind of ingredients go into making it yummy.  Now, I love chai, hot, cold, with or without milk.  It’s delicious, comforting and a special way to unwind after a busy day.  The trouble is I want my comfort now and not half an hour from now after I’ve assembled all the ingredients, found that I’m completely out of cinnamon sticks, gone to the store, come back, steeped the tea and spices and poured out that first cup.  No, I want it fast, easy and ready to use.  With a little research and a few of my own contributions, here is my version of Chai Tea Concentrate.   There are no actual rules here, so use the spices you like.  So drag out that slow cooker and let’s make some comfort in a cup.

Chai Tea Concentrate

Makes slightly less than 2 quarts

 Ingredients:

  • 8 cups water
  • 8 individual tea bags (black or green)
  • 1 cup sugar or 3/4 cup honey or brown rice syrup (I use half regular sugar and half light brown sugar) – you can always add more to taste
  • 6 slices (rounds) fresh ginger
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 allspice berries
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • 8 cardamom seeds (they’re tiny but strong)
  • 6-8 peppercorns
  • 1 nutmeg, or 1 1/2 teaspoons of grated nutmeg
  • Peel from one fresh orange
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried orange peel powder (you could substitute additional fresh orange peel or orange zest)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried lemon peel powder (you could substitute 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Chai Concentrate Ingredients 1

 

 

 

 

 

Directions:

Pour the water into the crock pot, add sugar and stir to dissolve.  Once the sugar is dissolved, add the tea bags, and all of the remaining ingredients except the vanilla.

Chai Concentrate zzz 003

 

 

 

 

 

Set the crock pot to hi and let it simmer for 2-4 hours.  It will have reduced slightly and is very strong, so if you’re sensitive to caffeine you should use decaffeinated or your favorite herb tea.  MON 006

Turn off the heat and let cool slightly, then add the vanilla.

chai monday 006

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the concentrate is completely cooled, strain and store in the refrigerator in a glass container.

Wed Chai 006

 

 

Magic in a cup.  Enjoy!    Wed Chai 003

 

 

 

 

 

Scones and Roses

Photo by E Broughton

Photo by E Broughton

Second breakfast is known and practiced in our house, especially around 10 ‘clock on a lazy weekend morning with the sun shining and the birds singing and the temperature edging toward 60.  Now I’m not talking about healthy, good for you, oatmeal with fruit kind of stuff.  Second breakfast on a morning like this calls for tea or coffee served in your best tea cup, some homemade rose petal jelly, and fresh baked buttermilk scones on the pretty china plate that doesn’t match any of the other dishes.  It all starts with the scones.  The recipe I used is based on a recipe by Marion Cunningham that I saw on Julia Child’s TV show, but of course I had to make a couple of adjustments because I’m like that and I was out of buttermilk.  I think I like my version better but judge for yourself.

Buttermilk Scones

Ingredients:

  •  3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces unsalted butter, cut into small cubes (1 1/2 sticks of butter)
  • 1 cup of buttermilk (I substituted 3/4 cup plain whole fat yogurt mixed with 1/4 cup milk – allow to sit for 5 minutes before using)

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Photo by E Broughton

Photo by E Broughton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add in the butter cubes and using a fork or our fingers, work the butter into the dry mixture until it looks like lumpy sand.  Don’t over work.

 

Photo by E Broughton

Photo by E Broughton

Then add the buttermilk or yogurt/milk mixture.  Stir until thoroughly mixed and turn the dough onto a clean, floured surface.

Photo by E Broughton

Photo by E Broughton

Pat the dough into a 1/2 inch thick circle and cut into triangles.  You could also roll out the dough and use a biscuit cutter to make round scones.

friday 008

Photo by E Broughton

 

 

  Place the scones on an ungreased baking sheet and brush generously with melted butter.

  Sprinkle lightly with sugar.  Bake for 10 minutes or until the scones are lightly golden.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a rack.  Before you remove them from the pan, drizzle a glaze (mix powdered sugar and water) over the top and let cool until the glaze firms.

friday 009

Photo by E Broughton

 

Serve on a pretty plate with tea or coffee and homemade rose petal jelly.

Scones and Roses 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy!