Tag Archives: tofu

Romantic Mains to Impress

10 Feb

Even though I am not currently dating someone special… I still like to cook something nice, even if it’s just for myself.

After all, Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate LOVE and there are many ways to express and celebrate love – love towards your parents, love towards your kids, love towards your siblings, love towards your pets, love towards your partner, love towards your neighbors, your family in general, your co-workers, your friends and most of all, LOVE TOWARDS YOURSELF.  Because, if you don’t love yourself, how do you expect others to love you too???

Here are a few ideas I have cooked in the past to impress a few loved ones…  hope you choose to make one to impress YOURSELF!!!

Cheese, Spinach and Mushroom Manicotti

My Plate

Roasted Stuffed Tomatoes over Pasta

Roasted Stuffed Tomatoes - 3 tom

Spinach-Stuffed Mushrooms

My Maggiano's Mushrooms

Eggplant and Goat Cheese Bake

??????????

Asparagus Tart

ASparagus Tart - Before 2 KFC

Korean Seasoned Tofu

Sesame Sauce

Chame’s Spinach Salad with Figs and Blue Cheese

Chame's Salad

Poached Pears with Blue Cheese and Almond Praline

pear-w-blue-cheese-2-comp

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My first Bánh Mì in NYC

18 Nov

I have been reading about Báhn Mì’s for about a year now… maybe even longer. These Vietnamese sandwiches are all the rage in the US.

I have heard about them during the first season of The Great Food Truck Race via the successful Nom Nom Truck from Los Angeles. They were selling these sandwiches like there was no tomorrow… And even in Serious Eats, Kenji went on a dissertation of what makes a Báhn Mì a Báhn Mì and he even went on a search for the best Báhn Mì in NYC.

Báhn Mì’s are a Vietnamese sandwich that originated as a fusion of cultures when Vietnam was under French rule… According to Kenji, the main aspects of a Báhn MI are:

  • Bread – French-baguette type bread usually made using rice flour for added crunch and lightness
  • Main Ingredient – we will concentrate on vegetarian, tofu-based Báhn Mì’s for the purposes of this vegetarian blog post
  • Sauce – the traditional Báhn Mì has a spreading of mayonnaise or butter cut with mayonnaise. These sandwiches are considered vegan, so there were no spread included. However, we should introduce these Báhn Mì people to Vegenaise. I think it would add a certain something- something closer to the traditional offerings.
  • Vegetable toppings – usually made of pickled daikon radishes, pickled carrots and cucumbers all cut into small thin sticks. Cilantro stems and some sort of spicy chili pepper. Some people put Sriracha sauce on theirs, but according to expert Kenji, this is neither typical nor respectable in the Báhn Mì world.

In the search for my first Bahn Mi, I deferred to Kenji, the expert in the matter and decided to head to Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich located at 369 Broome Street, New York NY; 212-219-8341. Saigon was rated third best sandwich in Manhattan so I knew it would be a good choice over all and was easily reachable by subway. Something I liked about them as well, they had 4 vegetarian options on their menu… so we had plenty to choose from.

Mom and I were super hungry and decided to try two of their tofu sandwiches – the Bánh mì chay đạc biêt – House Special Vegetarian (with tofu, mushroom, pickled carrots and radish) and a Bánh Mì Chay Đậu Hũ, Xả Ớt Rau  with Vegan chicken (tofu) with lemongrass.

I tried both versions… and my favorite was the House Special Vegetarian. Way more flavorful and interesting than the tofu lemongrass in my opinion. The House Special Vegetarian has a delicious sweet/salty peanut sauce that made the sandwich. As for the cilantro, I can certainly do without the stems. Only a few leaves on mine, please!!! I added a few drops, literally, 2-3 drops of sriracha to mine and the heat level was too much for me. I am still a spicy wimp… sorry!!!

The verdict… I loved the Báhn Mì. And if I have it again in Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich, I will order the House Special and not bother with anything else. I will try to bring some Vegenaise to use on mine… I will try to scope out other places to get a more complete sense of what a true Vietnamese báhn mì is… but for now, the intrigue is OVER!!!

Have you had a vegetarian báhn mì before??? Where are your favorite spots???

Tofu with Snow Peas and Bean Sprouts

13 Jun

Making this Korean Seasoned Tofu recipe made me think of the first time I ever made tofu. It was a Martha Stewart recipe I had seen on her show. My mom and I weren’t even declared vegetarians yet. What surprised us the most about this recipe is how much it didn’t taste like the idea we had of tofu in our minds… rather, it tasted exactly as the imprint we had of what chicken tasted like. Weird…

Since that day, my mom and I remember and reminisced about that recipe. And one day recently we found, at the Pulguero, a bag of snow peas and some bean sprouts. Armed with my “emergency” block of tofu I always have on hand, the rest is history…

TOFU WITH SNOW PEAS AND BEAN SPROUTS

3 tbs toasted sesame oil
12 ounces extra-firm tofu,
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup bean sprouts, about half a plastic container
1 cup snow-pea pods, trimmed, strings removed, and sliced into thirds on long diagonal
3 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs toasted sesame seeds
  1. Cut tofu into 1/4-inch slices and press in between a bunch of paper towels for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Heat sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add tofu and cook until well browned on both sides, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook for about 2 minutes.
  3. Raise heat to high and add sprouts and snow peas. Stir-fry for 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Season soy sauce. Remove from heat, transfer to serving dish, and garnish with sesame seeds.

 

Serve over steamed brown rice or even my version of Leek Rice. I think Martha would be proud of our rendition… don’t you think?

Korean Seasoned Tofu

23 May

I am a lucky girl… I’ve been invited to travel to many places around the world – the most recent invitation, to Seoul, Korea. Or maybe not that lucky, because I didn’t get to go in the end. Long story… but maybe it was just better for me to stay put in my lovely Puerto Rico.

The cool thing… you can travel thru food. And coincidentally I found this recipe for a Korean-style Seasoned Tofu on Serious Eats. It just seemed so simple and easy I had to try it.

You see, I do not need to get on that $2,000 flight to eat great vegetarian Korean food!!!

 

KOREAN SEASONED TOFU

One package firm tofu
2 green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs water
1 tbs sesame oil
1 tbs toasted sesame seeds
A pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tbs vegetable oil for frying the tofu
  1. Remove the tofu from its package. Cut into ½” pieces and let them drain in between paper towels.
  2. Combine the soy sauce, sesame oil and water in a small bowl. Add the green onions, garlic, sesame seeds, and red pepper flakes. Mix well and set aside.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Carefully place the tofu slices onto the skillet. Use a splatter guard if you have one… because the tofu slices are only slightly drained and still have plenty of water in them, the oil will splatter A LOT when you fry these tofu slices.
  4. Cook until the tofu is slightly browned on the bottom and getting a bit crispy on the edges, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn the slices over and brown the other side.
  5. Reduce the heat to low and add the soy sauce/sesame seed seasoning over the tofu. Cover the skillet and let steam for 2 to 3 minutes. I usually turn off the stove about 1 minute after covering and continue cooking with the residual heat from the stove and skillet.

Transfer to a plate and serve immediately.

Serve over steamed brown rice…

Tofu-chón

2 Dec

Here in Puerto Rico is very typical to celebrate Xmas with pork… or as we say in Spanish, Lechón.  People trying to be more health conscious have then tried to take the flavors used in making a lechón but with turkey, calling it Pavo-chón – pavo from the Spanish for turkey and chón… well, you get the drift.

But being vegetarian, I’ve lived without lechón or pavo for about 10 years of my life now.  But I have not been vegetarian all my life, so even though I do not miss eating the actual meat, I do still get allured by the smells of the seasonings and what I remember they taste like.  I am sure I am not the only one that feels that way… there’s no need to be ashamed of it.

So if people found a way to season turkey to make it taste like lechón, why can’t we do the same with TOFU??

   

I say what the heck!! Let’s give it a try… and the thing worked.  So now you can have your tastes of the past, but with a greater consciousness that you will not be damaging the lives of other living creatures in the process.  Isn’t that the true meaning of Christmas and the Holidays??

 

TOFU-CHÓN

1 block of extra-firm tofu, drained
About ¼ cup of adobo – or you can make your own blend, like I show you here
1 cup of Water or vegetable broth
The juice of 1 lemon
Canola oil Spray
 
  1. After draining the tofu block, cut it into ½” thick slices.  Place them on top of a sheet pan with about 3-4 layers of paper towels.  Cover the tofu slices with 3-4 additional layers of paper towels and place another sheet pan on top.  Weigh the tofu slices down with a few heavy books for about 1 hour.
  2. After the hour has elapsed, I usually take the top layer of paper towel and squeeze out as much liquid as possible from it.  Take the sheet pan that used to be on top and now make this your bottom sheet pan, place the squeezed paper towel your bottom layer of paper towel, transfer the tofu slices into this new bottom, squeeze as much water as possible from the former bottom layer of paper towels, place now on top of the tofu, place the former bottom sheet pan on top of the paper towels and weigh again with heavy books for about an extra 30 minutes or so.  I like to really press the tofu dry…
  3. In a medium skillet sprayed with canola oil spray over medium heat, we’ll bring some color to the tofu slices. We do not want to sear them fully, but doing this will help the marinating liquid penetrate even more…    
  4. While we’re heating the tofu slices, we prepare the marinade… mix together in a bowl you can cover well the water, the juice of the lemon and the adobo mixture.   Place the tofu slices that have been heated a bit and gotten some color on the skillet in de bowl with the marinade.  Cover the bowl and let the tofu marinate for about 4-6 hours.  Do not do this overnight because they might get too salty… 
  5. After the marinating time has elapsed, take the skillet again, spray again with canola oil and place over medium high heat.  Pat dry the tofu slices and place on skillet.  Sear until you get a nice brown color on the tofu.

 

You can serve this over rice… a nice rice with corn (arroz con maiz) or even a rice with pigeon peas (arroz con gandules) would be good local typical combinations.  This time around, I actually had it with a goat cheese couscous with walnuts, which is certainly not the traditional accompaniment.  I also used these inside a Tortilla Casserole I will be sharing with you soon enough…

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