Tag Archives: tofu

Cashew and Tofu Stir-Fry

4 May

I’ve always loved Chinese food.  Ever since I was little my parents have been taken us to Chinese restaurants regularly…  past favorites were always Sweet and Sour (fill in the blank), Pepper (fill in the blank), BBQ (fill in the blank)…

When I first moved to NYC, I went to lunch with my dad and he suggested I should try the Chicken with Cashew Nuts…  Cashew Nuts!!!  What are those??  Well a few minutes later, I was a convert for life.  And after that day that became my usual order at Chinese restaurants.

When I decided to become vegetarian, I would order at restaurants Chicken with Cashew Nuts WITHOUT the Chicken.  It was the simplest way for me to describe to Chinese waiters that I wanted sautéed vegetables with cashew nuts.  I even ordered it so often at a restaurant close to my former place of employment that I stopped describing it – just ordered the usual – Sautéed Broccoli with Onions, Peppers, Carrots and Cashew Nuts.

I just looooooove the combination of soy-based sauce with the crunch of the nuts…  This is the version I make at home.  This version has tofu, but most of the time I leave it out.  The protein in the nuts is enough for me.

 

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CASHEW AND TOFU STIR FRY

1 medium onion, chopped into medium sized pieces
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped into medium sized pieces
1 small carrot, peeled and sliced thin using a vegetable peeler
1 tbs canola oil
Canola Oil Spray
Marinated Tofu slices
¼ cup tamari sauce
1 tsp cornstarch
The juice of 1 lime
1 handful of roasted cashews
1 cup of whole grain basmati rice – to serve

 

For the Marinated Tofu:

  1. Take half a block of Extra Firm Tofu and slice it into ¼” slices.    I take a baking sheet, line it with 2-3 layers of paper towel, place the tofu slices on top of the paper towel, cover them with 2-3 more layers of paper towels, top with another baking sheet and apply some weight on top.  Press it for about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. In a medium skillet, sprayed with canola   medium-high heat we need to get the tofu pieces golden.  Just place them on the skillet until they get some color.
  3. While that is happening, mix together in a shallow pyrex dish the tamari sauce, the lime juice and a bit of water.  Dip the tofu pieces in the tamari/lime mixture and let them soak the seasoning.  Soak them for about 15-20 minutes and set them aside.

 

Now on to the stir-fry…

  1. Prep the vegetables while the tofu pieces are marinating.
  2. In a medium-sized skillet, over medium-high heat again, heat up the canola oil.  Add the onions, peppers and carrots and sauté them until they begin to cook, but are still crunchy.  Add the tofu pieces so they can dry up a bit and get hot.  Stir everything together.
  3. Mix the leftover tamari/lime mixture with the cornstarch.  If you have little sauce left (less than ¼ cup) just add a bit more tamari or lime juice, whatever you prefer.
  4. After a few minutes, add the cashews to the skillet.  Mix well the tamari/cornstarch mixture and add to the skillet.  The sauce will thicken as it heats up.  When the sauce gets somewhat thick, turn the stove off.  Don’t let the sauce get too thick on you.

Serve over whole-grain basmati rice.

Eggless Scramble – A Taste of Yellow 2008

19 Apr

Barbara at Winos and Foodies is hosting A Taste of Yellow 2008 to celebrate LiveSTRONG Day.  As you may recognize, LiveSTRONG is the organization Lance Armstrong created to raise awareness and funds for the research and eventual cure of cancer.

Barbara is a cancer survivor and when I read her story in her original round-up of A Taste of Yellow 2007, I was inspired and touched, because my family, like many, many families around the world has been struck by cancer too…  my grandma developed a skin cancer tumor in an ankle, my aunt had cancer cells in her bladder and my grandpa passed away from complications from prostate cancer.  Plus, she is a traveler just like me… and learned about her diagnosis right after completing the challenging and spiritual Camino de Santiago.

I am a firm believer that food can be your nourishment as well as your medicine.  I also believe that what we eat over our lifetime determines how healthy we will be overall.  We can stray to savor some goodies here and there, but overall we need to eat as naturally and organically as possible to give our body the best fuel possible.

Soybeans are the only vegetable containing all the essential amino acids needed for human health.  Soy protein has been linked to benefiting and decreasing risks of certain cancers, when consumed in moderation. Also, tofu is a vegetable source of omega-3 fatty acids.  This is why I decided to submit my Eggless Scramble recipe to A Taste of Yellow 2008.

 

 

EGGLESS SCRAMBLE

Scramble:
½ package of firm silken tofu
3 tbs soymilk or buttermilk
1/3 cup water
1 tbs olive oil
Squirt of Dijon mustard
3 tbs cornstarch
½ tbs garlic salt
½ tsp turmeric
A pinch of paprika
 
Filling:
¼ Small onion, chopped small
½ Tomato, chopped small
¼ Green bell pepper, chopped small

 

  1. Spray a medium non-stick skillet with canola oil spray and heat over medium-high heat.  If your skillet has a cover, even better.
  2. Sautee the filling ingredients of your choice until softened – I was going for a western-style scramble here at the beginning. (You’ll see why the qualifier later on).
  3. Blend together all scramble ingredients until smooth.
  4. When the skillet is very hot, pour the batter in the center of the skillet, turning it around a few times until the batter reaches the edges evenly.   
  5. When it has set somewhat, sprinkle the filling ingredients on top.  Cover the skillet for a few minutes to help the scramble batter cook thoroughly.
  6. Check the bottom for doneness and browning.  With a heat-proof spatula, break the tofu mixture to resemble scrambled eggs.  The filling will combine with the scramble.

 Serve hot.  I added my Tomato Relish on top for added veggies and a little zing!!

 

 

TOMATO RELISH

10 grape or cherry tomatoes, chopped small
2-3 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped small
4-5 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips
1 garlic clove, finely minced
2-3 tbs extra-virgin olive-oil, or as much needed to almost cover the tomatoes
Salt and freshly cracked Black Pepper
  1. Mix everything in a small dish.
  2. Let all ingredients macerate together for about 30 minutes, mixing it all occasionally during that time.

 

 

Tostón Sandwich

19 Mar

I am sooooo proud of Iván Avilés…  he was the winner in the Comfort Foods episode of Ultimate Recipe Showdown, a new Food Network cooking competition where regular cooks, just like you and me, compete to see who has the Ultimate recipe in a series of categories.

And why I could be proud of Iván specifically??  He’s Boricua (another word for Puerto Rican, derived from Borinquen, the original indigenous name of Puerto Rico) and he won with his Boricua Plantain Sandwich.  It’s not vegetarian, but it did remind me of a sandwich my friend Tania taught me how to make a few years back.  I was so surprised to see Iván use TOSTONES as the “bread” for the sandwich, something I had only seen Tania do.

Tostones (which are also called patacones in South America) are twice fried mashed green plantains.  Tostones are a staple in Puerto Rican cooking and for people trying to “get away from the carbs” are a great bread substitution in this sandwich.  But less carbs does not mean less fat – I did tell you these are TWICE FRIED, no?

Let me give you the play by play to making my vegetarian version of the Tostón Sandwich…

 

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 TOSTON SANDWICH

1 green plantain, peeled
2 small strips of firm tofu – you can definitely used extra firm here, but never the silken kind
1/4 onion, sliced
Garlic Salt
1/4 cup Tamari Sauce
Ketchup
Canola Oil for frying

 

  1. Take the tofu pieces and press them in between 2-3 good paper towels or napkins (I use Bounty) to drain away most of the liquid.  I place then in between 2 small baking sheets and weigh using something heavy.  I change the paper towel at least once.  meanwhile…
  2. Peel the green plantain.  Remember that green plantains, just like green bananas, have a sap (mancha).  Remember to oil the knife you’re using to peel the plantain so the sap does not adhere to the knife.  Follow the method I showed you for the green bananas here.
  3. In a medium skillet, heat about 1 cup of canola oil over medium high heat.   Just make sure the skillet is wide enough that will fit your plantain.  If your plantain is on the small side, by all means, use a smaller skillet.  You need enough oil to cover the plantains halfway, more or less. 
  4. Cut the plantain in half lengthwise, making two long halves.
  5. Make sure the oil is hot enough.  Rachael Ray taught me to dip the end of a wooden spoon into the oil.  If the oil bubbles around the spoon, the oil is ready.  I love this tip.
  6. Fry the plantain halves for about 5 minutes.  What you’re looking for is to cook the plantain, add some color to it, but without getting it crispy.
  7. Take the partially fried plantain halves out of the oil and using either two heavy plates or two small baking sheets, smash them flat.   If using baking sheet, place a kitchen towel on top so the heat does not transfer to your hand.  Keep the oil in the hot stove, you will use it again.  Sorry I don’t have a picture of this, but I was by myself making this and I could not smash and photograph at the same time.  This is the already-smashed plantain…
  8. After smashing the plantains, re-immerse the smashed plantain halves in the hot oil to finish frying. 
  9.  

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  10. This time, the end result should be a golden and crispy plantain halve – this is a Toston.  Tostones typically are made the exact same way with the exception that instead of being cut lengthwise, you cut the plantain in 1 inch round slices.
  11. Drain the finished tostones on a paper towel and sprinkle some garlic salt to season them.  Keep the aside while you make the fillings.  They need to cool off a bit if you don’t want to burn the roof of your mouth.
  12. Drain the skillet of the hot oil CAREFULLY and in that same hot skillet with some of the remaining oil on it,  place the drained tofu pieces and the onion slices.  The object of this is to smother the onions and to cook the tofu and for it to dry out a bit.  Add some garlic salt to the onions to season them.
  13. When tofu slices have gained some yellowy color (they will not change color very dramatically), dunk them in the tamari sauce for a few minutes.  Return them to the skillet to finish “frying”.
  14. Now we assemble – Place the wider tostón half on a plate, place tofu pieces, squirt some ketchup, place smothered onions, squirt some extra ketchup and top with the remaining tostón half. 

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Mmmmmm!!!!!

 

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I have also made this with fried white cheese instead of the tamari-marinated tofu.  It tastes delicious!!!  If you fry the tostones in hot enough oil and drain them, they will be crunchy, but not oily.

I had not done this sandwich in a long time… so I thank Iván and the Ultimate Recipe Showdown for reminding me.   And even it’s not vegetarian, you can taste an adaptation of Iván’s sandwich at your local TGIFriday’s restaurant.  They’re made with sweet ripe plantains, which is a different “ball game”, but still you can come out and support my fellow Boricua!!!

 

Egg-less Frittatas

25 Dec

 This recipe has many ingredients, but it’s easy to assemble and TASTY!!!!

I took them as an addition to a non-vegetarian party and they were all gone in about 10 minutes… my best friend and her mom almost did not get a chance to try them.  If non-vegetarians were devouring them at a Christmas party, image how good they taste.

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EGG-LESS FRITTATAS

1 package of firm silken tofu, drained of water
1/2 cup of soy milk
4 tablespoons of cornstarch
2 oz goat cheese – I used half of a small log
1/2 cup sour cream
squirt of Dijon mustard – about 1 teaspoon
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained of as much water as possible
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, without sulphur dioxide
1/2 cup of chopped grape tomatoes
4 green onion stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 teaspoon garlic and herb seasoning
Salt and Pepper to taste
Canola oil spray
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. 
  2. Place the first 7 ingredients in a blender.  Process until completely smooth and silky.
  3. Place tofu mixture in a large bowl and add the spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, grape tomatoes, garlic, parsley, seasoning, green onions, salt and pepper.
  4. Lightly spray 2 muffin tins with canola oil spray.  Spoon mixture into muffin pans using a 1/4 cup measure.
  5. Bake in oven for about 30 minutes until they’re set and a bit golden on top.  Check that a knife or wooden skewer comes out cleanly before removing from oven.
  6. When they’re done, remove from oven and let cool for about 20 minutes.  When they’re cooler, they’ll come out from the pan neater and nicer.

They’re light…  you can serve them as a party appetizer, you can also serve them as a nice brunch entree with a nice green salad.  I guess you could also bake it in a baking dish and cut it into pieces instead of doing individual servings… I just have not tried it like that yet… so I am not sure if we’ll need to make adjustments to to baking time.

This recipe yielded me 20 individual fritattas.

  

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 This is my last post of the year.  I will take a few days off from cooking and blogging.  This has been a wonderful few months… I promise to come back in the new year with new added inspiration to cook and share with you all.

May the New Year 2008 bring only the best…  until then.

Madelyn.

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