Tag Archives: tofu

General Tso’s Tofu

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I had enough energy before falling asleep one night just long enough to crack open the latest Vegetarian Times magazine that arrived that day, show a picture of this dish to my husband and say “I think I have everything I need to make this.” I say stuff like that all the time. This time, I actually made it happen.

His review? “Officially put this on the list of the ‘hits’ ” — his favorite things that I’ve made over the years. It’s on my list of hits too. Nobody loves fried tofu more than me, but this recipe was a nice reminder that there are other ways to get tofu crispy and delicious without all of that frying. We both devoured this — I came awfully close to licking my plate. (Note: the original recipe says it serves 4. The two of us polished off the whole thing!)

I only did two things differently than the original VT recipe. I like things saucy, so I did 1 1/2 times the recipe for the sauce. I’ll post the original recipe here and you can decide. I also steamed purple cabbage with the broccoli simply because I had some I needed to use up. Looking forward to making General Tso’s Tofu again this week!

Crispy Tofu
• 1 16 oz. package of firm tofu, drained
• 2 tsp. low sodium soy sauce•
• 2 tsp. rice vinegar
• 1 tsp. mirin (rice wine)
• 1 tsp. vegetable oil
• 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
• 1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
• 1 Tbsp. cornstarch

Sauce
• 1/2 c. low sodium vegetable broth
• 2 Tbsp. sugar
• 1 2/ Tbsp low sodium soy sauce•
• 4 tsp. mirin
• 2 tsp. rice vinegar
• 2 tsp. sesame oil
• 2 tsp. cornstarch
• 1/2 tsp. tomato paste
• 1/2 tsp. samal oelek chili paste, optional (I didn’t have this, so I put a few chili flakes in there)
• 2 tsp. vegetable oil
• 4 green onions, green parts chopped (about 1/3 of a cup — I used white parts too)
• 1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 tsp.)
• 1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger

Accompaniments
• 2 c. steamed broccoli and/or other vegetables
• 2 c. brown rice

First, make the Crispy Tofu.
This is how I regularly make tofu, minus the marinade. I just drain, cut, sprinkle with cornstarch and bake. But here are the details:

1. I put entire block into my tofu press for 15 minutes or so. If you don’t have one, cut tofu block into two broad slabs. Wrap slabs in paper towels and place between two cutting boards. Weight top board with soup cans and press 30 minutes. Unwrap tofu and cut into 1-inch cubes.

2. Combine soy sauce, vinegar, mirin, oil, garlic, and ginger in a resealable container. Add tofu and toss to coat. Marinate 30 minutes or overnight. The tofu should absorb all of the liquid.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Sift cornstarch over tofu and turn to coat evenly. Spread in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until firm and crispy, turning regularly to brown all sides.

Next up, the sauce:
1. Whisk together broth, sugar, soy sauce, mirin, vinegar, sesame oil, cornstarch, tomato paste and chili paste (if using) or chili flakes in a small bowl (Again, I did 1 1/2 times the listed amounts. Next time I might double because it’s sooooooo good).

2. Heat vegetable oil in wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add green onions, garlic and ginger and stir-fry one minute, being careful not to burn. Add the sauce and cook one minute, or until thickened. Stir in tofu. Serve with vegetables and rice

* Use gluten-free Tamari instead and the whole dish becomes gluten-free!

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Vegan Asparagus Frittata

My Aunt Janet wins the award for Family Cheerleader. If anyone in the family passes a test, graduates, posts a photo to Facebook or sneezes, she is johnny-on-the-spot and “Likes” it, commenting something encouraging, within seconds. Following my culinary victories (I don’t so much share the failures! Except for that one time…) has been no different.

When my family visited her and her husband, Harv, in Orlando last February, she was excited to expand her culinary horizons into the vegetarian/vegan world and we took a little tour of the nearby Whole Foods.  One big introduction that day was my beloved vegan Daiya cheese (which just came out with a new block form of cheese, though I have yet to witness this in person). She was excited to experiment with it and we made some simple pita pizzas the next day for lunch.

The funny thing about Janet is that she was the epitome of a picky eater as a kid, or so the story goes. As one of six children, Grandma June wasn’t about to tailor make dinner  for each of the kids. Apparently Janet chose to make herself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich almost nightly versus eating what the rest of the gang was eating. And now, here she is in her snowbird condo, reinventing her diet, just as she as continued to reinvent her life. It makes me happy when she reports in that she made an I Eat Veg recipe and I love getting texts from her with pictures of something new she tried.

This was true on Wednesday night when I got this picture of a vegan frittata — her first experience with tofu — and she loved it! I asked her to share the recipe and definitely will be making this at some point.

 

Thanks Aunt Janet!

Here is the recipe for the Asparagus Frittata…..we both loved it and it warmed up beautifully the next day!

Ingredients
• 2 Tbsp. unrefined peanut oil
• 1 medium onion, diced
• 1 c. asparagus, sliced in 1/2-inch diagonals
• 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
• 4 ounces vegan cheddar cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
• 1 lb. firm tofu
• 1/4 c. water
• 1/2 tsp. sea salt
• freshly ground black pepper

1.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large
skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, asparagus and bell
pepper; cook, stirring, until the asparagus is tender crisp, about 5
minutes.  Add the cheese; remove from heat.  Stir until the cheese
begins to melt.

2.   Pulse the tofu, water, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, salt and
pepper to taste in a food processor or blender until smooth.  Pour
into a large bowl.  Stir in the vegetable mixture.  Pour into an oiled
9-inch pie pan, oven-safe skillet or shallow casserole; smooth the
top.

3.   Bake until set, 45 minutes.  Let cool before cutting into wedges,
ten minutes.  Serve warm with (optional) salsa.

I didn’t use any salsa and I used some pepper jack and cheddar Daiya
cheese because I wanted to use them up and I sprinkled a little extra
on top before baking 🙂   I think it would be equally delicious with
broccoli, mushrooms, or anything else that sounds good!

Vegan Tofu and Peanut Stir-Fry

One of my “resolutions’ this year was to make use of my overabundance of food-related magazines. It only took me about 10 weeks to get to it! I cracked open my newest Food Network Magazine where, unfortunately, there are sometimes very few vegetarian recipes.  So, I decided to jump on it when there was a tofu stir-fry recipe. I was doing too many things at once, so I let the peanuts burn a bit, but it was still great! Very similar to my kung-pao that I make, due to the peanuts and the chilies, but my squeeze and I both loved it. I served it with steamed mantou (pictured). Mantou is a steamed Chinese bun you can find in the freezer section at Asian markets. I buy them every once in a while at Kai Sun Discount Oriental Market in Troy, where I also got the vegetarian mushroom oyster sauce I use in this recipe. You keep them in the freezer, then just take out however many you want, sprinkle them with water and nuke them for about 3 minutes. Not something we eat often, but a nice addition every once in a while!

Back to the recipe — it was a pretty simple one and was great over brown rice. I used a mixture of the dried red chilies and one large jalapeno, sliced into fourths, all of which we removed before eating. It gave just enough heat without making your nose run! We’ll definitely be repeating this one.

Ingredients
• 6 Tbsp. cornstarch, divided
• 3 Tbsp. Chinese rice wine or dry sherry (I used rice wine vinegar)
• 1/3 c. vegetarian oyster sauce
• 1 firm block of tofu, drained
• 1 c. unsalted peanuts (preferably raw)
• 1/4 c. peanut (or vegetable) oil
• 2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
• 3 cloves minced garlic
• 8 whole dried chilies or 2 jalapenos, sliced horizontally
• salt
• 12 oz shiitake mushrooms (I used 2 3.5 oz pkgs, which was just fine)
• 1 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed and sliced in half (I eyeballed this – no clue how much I had since they were in bulk).

1. Whisk 2 Tbsp. cornstarch with the oyster sauce, 2 Tbsp. water and rice wine in a good-sized bowl or dish.

2. Cut the tofu in half horizontally, forming 2 large rectangles, then cut each rectangle into 4 squares. I cut my slices into 8 squares, but wish I had done as advised. Add to the marinade and turn to coat.

3. Cook the peanuts in the peanut oil in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring, until golden, about four or five minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl.

4. Remove the tofu from marinade, but save the marinade for later. Sprinkle both sides of tofu with the remaining 4 Tbsp. of cornstarch. I did this by sprinkling one side of the tofu, then placing it cornstarch side down in the pan, then sprinkled the other side.  Cook each side for about four minutes, until golden, then remove to a plate.

5. Add the ginger, garlic, chilies and/or peppers, 1 tsp. salt (I used less — just a turn or two of the grinder). Stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and snap peas; stir-fry until tender crisp (or until the mushrooms look cooked to your liking).

6. Whisk 1 1/2 c. water into the reserved marinade and add to the pan. Stir until thick, 3-5 minutes.

7. Add the tofu and peanuts and heat through. Remove the dried chilies (I chose to also remove the jalapenos I was using). Enjoy!

Baked Tofu

On a recent Sunday I decided to attack my refrigerator and make a handful of things to sustain us through most of the week. One of the reasons my clients turn to me as a personal chef is because they work hard, get home, are tired and sometimes make bad choices. Unfortunately, I’m no different. I get home after a cook day tired, hungry and reaching for whatever is easy.

So, I picked up a couple of things at the store but mostly wanted to use my refrigerator full of ingredients I had purchased with high hopes but hadn’t had time to put to use.

I already had decided to make black bean burgers, so I decided to put that ol’ block of tofu in the refrigerator to use as some sort of side dish — I decided just to bake it and make a dipping sauce.

I pressed it in my TofuXPress for about 30 minutes while I was making other things, then sliced it into halves or thirds (about 1/2-inch thick), then triangles. I whisked together soy sauce with a bit of sesame oil, rice vinegar, freshly grated ginger and minced garlic. I marinated the tofu for about a half four, flipping it every 10 minutes or so.

I’m not sure if I spritzed it with olive oil first or not, but I put the slices of baked tofu on my  favorite baking sheet, which nothing sticks too and always washes away (even the black stuff you can never get off of other pans).

I baked it at 350 for about 30 minutes. Flipping it a couple of times so it gets a little crisp on the edges and nice and chewy.  I threw together a quick peanut sauce (much like THIS ONE, but I doctored it up a bit with a bit of coconut milk and a few extra spices) and — voila! It was a hit. So much so I was asked not to make it too often because my squeeze had trouble holding back. That’s a review I can live with.

Miso Soup

Last night I posted the recipe for a yummy miso dressing I made. To go with it, I made a very simple miso soup, which might replace Tom Yum as my go-to soup when I’m sick.

But first, let’s chat about miso for a minute. I’ve been eating miso soup for years — first because it would be given to me free before my sushi arrived. I don’t know if my tastes have changed (well, yes they have changed since I was a meat-eater, obviously, but I’m not sure if that’s the culprit here) or whether I was just not getting the greatest soup, but I used to not be the biggest fan of miso. It has such a mild flavor, I don’t really know what I didn’t like about it. Fortunately, that has changed.

There are many different kinds of miso, but the basics are that it comes from fermented soybeans generally. Though it’s pretty high in sodium (don’t worry — a little goes a long way — only a couple of tablespoons in 4-5 servings of soup), there are many health benefits.

Miso contains protein (about 2 g. per Tablespoon), dietary fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, B12, zinc (great for immune function), copper and manganese.

I still have some investigating to do with the many different types of miso, but I really liked the milk and not-to-salty flavor of the mellow white miso I used in this very basic recipe for miso soup. I imagine I will try many variations of this, including different greens, perhaps some soba noodles and something to spice it up a bit.

Here’s a good start!

Ingredients
• 4 c. water
• 2-4 Tbsp. miso paste
• sliced green parts of one bunch of green onions
• 1 pkg. extra firm tofu, pressed (I used my wonderful TofuXpress — which is PERFECT for something like this — for about 30 minutes before cutting)
• a couple of handfuls of steamed kale

1. Boil 4 c. water and place miso in a separate bowl.

2. Once water is boiling, take a bit of the boiling water and whisk into miso until not lumpy (this is much easier than trying to incorporate it to the whole pot and get lumps out).

3. Remove water from heat and pour miso mixture into it.

4. Slice tofu into very small squares. I ended up using pretty close to an entire package, adding it a few minutes before serving.

5. Add sliced green onions and any greens you might have — I think spinach and watercress  or herbs would be good too. Since I had steamed kale for another dish already, so I grabbed a couple of handfuls of it, chopped it up and tossed it in.

It was smooth and not too salty and I think the combo of tofu-onion-kale was perfect. I can’t wait to mess with it and see what I come up with!

Curried Tofu and Onions

I got a TofuXpress for my birthday and I can’t stop using it! It’s amazing! It presses the water out of the tofu — within seconds you can pour some off. I have let mine sit everywhere from 3 hours to overnight (longer than necessary on both counts) and it squeezed the tofu to about 1.5 inches tall.  By squeezing all of the water out, it not only soaks up whatever you put it in (it even comes with a lid so you can marinate it right in the machine) but it cuts easily and doesn’t crumble (unless you want it to) when you’re cooking it.

I decided the first recipe I would make should come from the manual of vegetarian recipes that comes with it, and chose this because I had all of the ingredients! It was DELICIOUS. Even better, it was really fast and easy to make. I served it with Israeli couscous infused with curry, which made them go together perfectly.

Ingredients
• 1 pkg. extra firm tofu, preferably with the water pressed out!
• Non-stick spray or olive oil
• 1 can coconut milk
• 1 sweet onion, chopped
• 1/4 c. chopped walnuts or cashews
• 1-2 Tbsp. yellow curry powder
• 1 tomato, diced
• fresh cilantro, chopped (about 4 Tbsp.)
• cayenne pepper
• salt

1. Cut tofu into 1-inch cubes.

2. Add spray or a bit of oil to pan (I used olive oil) to a large pan and heat to medium. Add diced onions and brown (but don’t burn!) them — this took me about 10 minutes or so.

3. Add curry and coat onions, then heat for 1 minute. I started with 1 Tbsp. and added about another half (maybe more) later. It was spicy for sure, but not too spicy. I’d start with 1 if you’re not sure.

4. Add coconut milk and heat for 1 minute, then add chopped tomato, tofu, nuts and cilantro. I had about 1/4 c. raw cashews in the freezer, so that’s what I went with. (These have actually come in very handy since purchasing them to make the vegan baked pumpkin ziti with cashew ricotta for the first ever cooking club).

5. Bring to a soft boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for at least 10 minutes. Add cayenne pepper and salt to taste (I only added a bit of each)

Cooking Club: Amy B.’s Steamed Dumplings

This was Amy B.’s first time at Cooking Club and she nailed it! The the crazy amount of food we had that night, it was the perfect introduction for Amy, who brought along her adorable daughter, Penny (who ate tons of noodles), and her friend, Robyn, who was passing through town.

These steamed dumplings were so ridiculously good. Asian restaurants around these parts are severely lacking in veg dumplings/potstickers. Seems they always have pork in them… Anyway, Amy said she was just winging it when she put this stuff together, so I imagine there’s some room for creativity here, whether you’re veg or eat meat. They were beautiful and delicious!

Dumplings:
• tofu, cut into small pieces and marinated for 1 day in sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, canola oil, minced garlic, ginger, and a few squirts of sriracha
• 1/4   package of thin rice noodle (like vermacelli)
• 1   lg. carrot, shredded
• 1   sm. broccoli head, shredded
• 1/4  head of cabbage, thinly sliced
• 1  lg garlic clove, minced
• 1  pkg mixed mushrooms
• 1  Tbsp. grated ginger
• 3  scallions, sliced
• 1/4  jar hoisin sauce,or more to taste (make sure you get one you know is good)
• 1  package of wonton wrappers

1. Chop, shred, mince, etc all veggies and set aside.

2. Heat up a few tablespoons of canola oil, in wok or large pan and stir fry tofu until slightly browned; set aside on paper towel.

3. In same pan add extra oil, if needed, and stir fry carrots, broccoli, cabbage, mushrooms, scallions, garlic and ginger until slightly soft (can add a bit of soy and rice vinegar to soften). Add noodles and hoisin sauce. mix until combined. taste to see if it needs more hoisin, soy or rice vinegar. Set aside to cool.

4. Assemble dumplings on cutting board. Place about 1 tablespoon of filling in the middle of wrapper. Wet finger with water and wet 2 sides (one corner) of wrapper. Fold wrapper diagonally and pinch sides so the dumpling is sealed; set aside on plate or tray lined with parchment.

5. In bamboo steamer or steaming rack, line with lettuce, bok choy, or any green you like! Place dumplings on greens and steam until wonton is transparent. You could also boil the dumplings or fry them. Top with sliced scallions to garnish!

Dipping Sauce:
• soy sauce
• chili garlic sauce
• chinese-style hot mustard
• rice vinegar

Start with soy sauce as base. add rice vinegar, chili garlic sauce, and mustard to taste.