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Stewed Tofu

23 Jun

This is one of my mom’s signature dishes… she cooks it all the time, especially if we need to cook for a crowd.  We have cooked this recipe at the Yoga Center, when we’ve had to cook for yoga friends while traveling and even for my niece and nephew.  They love saucy tofu, especially when mixed into a nice helping of rice.

It’s a simple, kinda one-pot dish…  kinda, because my mom likes to sear the tofu in a skillet before adding to the stew.  This gives the tofu a chewy consistency that I find more palatable and interesting.   And again… think of tofu as a blank canvas.  It will taste just as good as the seasonings you use on it.

Tofu in Tomato Sauce with Onions and Peppers

STEWED TOFU

1 block of extra-firm tofu
Garlic and Herbs Seasoning
2 large red skinned potatoes or Yukon Gold, cubed
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 red bell pepper , sliced
1 tablespoon of sofrito
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jar of stewed tomatoes or chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup of water – if needed
1 vegetable bouillon cube
Salt and pepper to taste
10 large olives or 2 tablespoons of capers
2 bay leaves
a large dash of paprika
a few splashes of apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil

  1. Slice each tofu block in 4 slices.  Place slices in a baking sheet lined with 2-3 paper towels.  Cover with 2-3 additional paper towels, top with an additional baking sheet and weigh with something heavy.  Drain weighed tofu slices for about 30-60 minutes.
  2. After tofu slices are drained, season liberally with Garlic and Herbs seasoning.   Cook tofu slices in a dry non-stick skillet.  After you’ve placed them on the skillet, leave them for a while without touching them.  The crust they will develop will prevent them from sticking to the skillet and make it easier to turn them.  Sear them on both sides.  Set aside to cool off.
  3. In a large pot over medium heat, pour olive oil. Mix in the onions, peppers and sofrito, and vegetable bouillon cube.   Add the garlic and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. When onions and peppers have softened, add in the potatoes. Stir a few times for them to start cooking a bit.
  5. Add the tomatoes, olives or capers, bay leaves and paprika. If there is not enough liquid for the potatoes to cook in, add some water, until the potatoes are covered. Add the vinegar.  Cover the pot and allow it to simmer to cook.
  6. Take the cooled tofu slices and slice them again into smaller pieces.  I slice each piece into 4 smaller pieces, which yield me about 32 tofu pieces total.  But if you feel you want the pieces larger or smaller, slice them to your desired size.  It’s your stew, your tofu…
  7. When the stew has cooked for about 20 minutes already, add the tofu pieces to warm up with the sauce and potatoes.  Simmer in the covered pot for about 10 more minutes, about 30 minutes total time or until potatoes are fork tender.

Serve over brown rice.

Vegan Mayo and Mustard Dipping Sauce

12 Dec

Taro Root Fritters are perfect all by themselves…

However they can become so much more if you dip them into something – like a Mayo Mustard Dipping Sauce.  I use Vegenaise Mayo and to me, because I haven’t bought traditional mayo in such a long time, I believe this tastes as creamy and decadent as if made with any homemade mayo.

You can make as little or as much as you want…  but here are some proportions for you so you get the drift…

Vegan Mayo Mustard Dipping Sauce

VEGAN MAYO MUSTARD DIPPING SAUCE

¼ cup Vegenaise vegan mayo
1 tbs horseradish mustard, but your favorite mustard will work here
Pinch of Kosher Salt
 Sprinkle of Sweet Paprika
  1. Just mix all the ingredients in a bowl and serve alongside your fritters…

And if you’re not into mustard, you can always go to our trusted Puerto Rican staple, MayoKetchup.  Right??

Taro Root Fritters

10 Dec

This is a recipe featured in Qué Rica Vida – the Spanish-language community site featuring great  recipes from a variety of bloggers, including Karma Free Cooking.

Viandas, as we call them in Spanish or at least in Puerto Rico, are part of the staples in Caribbean gastronomy.  Viandas are a variety of root vegetables and edible tubers which form part of our diet since the times of the Taíno Indians, Puerto Rico’s first inhabitants.

Malanga or Taro Root is one of my favorite viandas…  It has a sweet taste and its speckled lilac interior is very pretty.  These are particularly popular in Hawaiian cuisine in the form of poi, a mashed version of taro root.

Taro Root

Typically, viandas are boiled in salted water and eaten with various accompaniments, and their starchy consistency makes them perfect to make into fritters.  The perfect example of this is Alcapurrias.  But we don’t always have the time to make a filling, make the masa, fill the alcapurrias and fry them.  So this fritter is a great short-cut to get the payoff of a fritter without a lot of work.  You can read the whole recipe in Spanish in Qué Rica Vida here.

Taro Root Fritters

TARO ROOT FRITTERS

1 pound of raw taro root, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tsp sofrito
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp salt
A pinch of freshly cracked black pepper (optional)
  1. Add all the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and process until you create a homogeneous puree.
  2. Using a spatula, scrape the sides of the bowl to make sure the mixture is well combined.
  3. In a large skillet add enough frying oil for it to be about ½ – 1” deep.  Place over medium-high heat until the oil bubbles a bit around the tip of a wooden spoon when submerged in the oil.
  4. Using a measuring spoon, measure about 1tbs of masa and create small balls and place in the hot oil.  Fry balls on all sides until they’re golden brown.  Once the skillet is filled with balls frying, turn down the heat to make sure the inside of the fritter is cooked without burning the outside.
  5. When they’re done, take them from the skillet using a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with paper towels to cool off and catch all the excess oil.

Taro Root Fritters

You can enjoy these fritters on their own… or with a delicious vegan mayo and mustard dipping sauce.  This recipe makes about 24 fritters.

Vegan Coquito

1 Dec

Yes… I went there. My sister has been dairy-free for some time now and she was craving Coquito.

Being the good big sister that I am, I developed this version omitting the evaporated and condensed milks. I must admit, this turned out to be a really cool experiment. The flavors and the spirit of Coquito is still there – without rum or dairy.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I and my sister did.

Vegan Coquito

VEGAN COQUITO

1 pint coconut creamer
2 containers coconut cream
2 containers of coconut milk
30oz of spiced tea – using a baggie each of cinnamon sticks, anise seeds, star anise, cloves and a 5” piece of ginger
2 tbs vanilla powder or extract
2 tbs cinnamon powder
2 tbs nutmeg
 
  1. Just like my regular recipe for coquito, you first make a spiced tea – In a medium saucepan pour 3 cups of water, cinnamon sticks, anise seeds, star anise and cloves. Add also the piece of ginger cut up into small pieces or rounds. No need to even take off the skin. Bring to a rolling boil over medium high heat for about 15-20 minutes to create a strong spiced tea. This will give the coquito most of its spiciness. Turn off the heat and allow the spices to concentrate the flavor of the tea. Let cool a bit. You could even make this the day before and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble the Coquito recipe.
  2. I find that if you have a really large pitcher or plastic jug with a large mouth that will accommodate about 90oz of liquid, this is the best way to assemble this…
  3. In the large pitcher I described above, combine the coconut creamer, coconut milks and creams of coconut with 30oz of the spiced tea. Add the vanilla powder, cinnamon powder and freshly grated nutmeg. Using an immersion blender, blend the whole thing well to combine and make a tad frothy.
  4. Allow to chill in the refrigerator in that same pitcher you made it in.

Serve chilled in small shot glasses. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon.

Sweet Plantain Canoes filled with Creamed Spinach

8 May

It’s incredible when you have the opportunity to live outside your native country, how you turn more patriotic than the flag.

I developed this recipe as part of a special post for my friend Marixsa’s blog, Mamá Boricua en Brooklyn.    She’s sharing a series of articles celebrating the Puerto Rican Parade in NYC under the moniker Abrazos Boricuas.  She was gracious to invite me to share a bit of my experience living and experiencing the Puerto Rican Day Parade for the first time, 20 years ago!!!  Can you believe it?!?!

abrazos-boricuas

If you want to read more about my story and the pride I feel about flaunting my “mancha de plátano”, please visit Mamá Boricua en Brooklyn.  And to her readers who are visiting KarmaFree Cooking for the first time, we welcome you with open arms.  Here I share many vegetarian recipes recipes that express my love for my beautiful Island, Puerto Rico.  This is one of them… enjoy!

 

Canoa de Platano Rellena de Espinacas

SWEET PLANTAIN CANOES FILLED WITH CREAMED SPINACH

4 sweet ripe plantains
1 bag of fresh baby spinach
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, smashed
4 oz of cream cheese
A splash of half & half or milk
A pinch of nutmeg
2 tbs of pine nuts
1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

 

  1. Bake the plantains in their own skin…  cut a Little bit of the ends and you make a shallow slit on the inside of the plantain from one end to the other.  Place in a baking sheet covered with parchment paper side to side and bake in a 350F for about 30 minutes.
  2. While the plantains cook, we prepare the filling…  In a large skillet over medium heat, add a drizzle of olive oil, the onions and garlic clove.  Sweat slowly for the onions to cook and the garlic to infuse its flavor, without browning.
  3. When the onions are cooked and translucent, remove the Garlic clove and add the spinach in batches to the skillet.  It might seem like too much, but the spinach will wilt down a lot.  Cover the skillet for a few minutes to help the wilting process.  Mix the spinach and the onions well to help the spinach wilt and for the flavors to meld together.
  4. Add the cream cheese in pieces to make it easier to melt with the spinach.  Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.  You’ll end up with a creamy spinach mixture.  If you feel the mixture is tight, add a splash of milk or half and half.
  5. When the plantains are cooked, take them out of their blackened skins and place in a baking dish all 4 plantains together side by side or in individual lasagna dishes or even shallow ramekins might work well too.
  6. Place the plantains with the natural curve to the top.  If you made the slit to the skin previously, now make the slit slightly deeper to fill the plantain on the inside.  Place ¼ of the spinach mixture over each plantain.  Sprinkle the pine nuts over the plantains evenly and cover them all with the grated mozzarella cheese.
  7. Return the plantains to the oven for a few minutes at 350F to melt and brown the cheese a bit.

 

Enjoy these plantain canoes with a nice salad and rice with corn on the side.

 

Canoa de Plátano Maduro Relleno de Espinacas y Queso

 

 

abrazos-boricuas-SQ

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