Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Frozen Tofu

I have never been a fan of frozen tofu. As they say in all the cookbooks, it does indeed turn into a sponge. At least that's what I thought until last night. That spongy texture has always been unappealing to me - it seemed much too airy and hard. But last week, before we went away, I had a package of tofu that I didn't get to eat before the expiration date. I threw it in the freezer, thinking I would make tofuna with it (the only way I have enjoyed frozen tofu in the past). Last night I was in the mood for tofu and spinach curry, so I thawed the tofu in the micro. To my surprise, the tofu was not like a sponge at all, but denser and chewier than unfrozen. And it did soak up the sauce much better than unfrozen, just like those cookbooks have always said! It was just so much better - even better than sauteeing. I will always prepare tofu this way for stews.

So why has frozen tofu been so unappealing? The only thing I can think of is maybe I left it in the freezer too long. Or maybe it was better because I froze it in the package (in the water). I think in think in the past I have taken it out of the original packaging and re-wrapped it without water. Any suggestions?

Easy Tofu Curry

Oil for sauteeing (coconut is great)

1 medium red onion, cut into slivers

1 package tofu, frozen and thawed

1 jar curry simmer sauce (Patak or Trader Joe's - watch out for cream)

1 large tomato, cut in wedges

1 package baby spinach

Sautee onions in oil until lightly browned. Cut tofu into big chunks and add along with curry sauce and tomato. Simmer over low heat, covered, until tomato is cooked. Add spinach and cook until wilted.

Monday, August 25, 2008


We spent most of last week upstate New York at Lake George. It is a beautiful town in the Adirondack mountains. My husband went there as a kid, and we have been going ourselves for the last 4 years. The kids love it and so do we. We were so lucky with the weather. The week before we went, it was cold and rainy. We had rain overnight one night and one day of cold (60's). Every other day was sunny and 80-90. The girls swam in the pool so much, they were exhausted at the end of the day. I swam myself every morning in the lake. It is so beautiful and peaceful in the early morning, often with mist rolling over the mirror-like lake. I can't resist swimming, even though it is so cold that the (unheated) pool feels like a bathtub after the lake.
One day we drove to Lake Placid, about 1 1/2 hours north. This is a lovely town with a European flair. Lots of restaurants and shops, and alpine architecture. They had a pile of snow in the middle of town. I know they add some every day, but it is still amazing to see in the middle of August. The night before we visited they had a record low of 36! We visited the Olympic center, home of the ice rink where the American ice hockey team defeated the USSR team in a huge upset in 1980, and went on to beat Finland for the gold medal. Yes, I am showing my age, but I remember it well! We also went to the Olympic ski jump. You can go to the top and look out over the jump. I can't believe anyone can do that. We saw some people training even without snow. They have some kind of plastic grass they land on and ski down the mountain. My 8 year old was excited to ride up in the ski lift by herself (I was a wreck).
We saw a beautiful fireworks show one night, and did the standard mini golf and amusement park. It was a great time.
But where is the food, you ask? Well, this is not the town to be vegan in. Let's just say I don't want to look at pasta for quite a while now! Sadly, I discovered that Pop Tarts, the ultimate road food, have gelatin in them - I thought they were safe because they have no dairy or eggs (at least the flavors we had). Why, yes, I would rather have a Pop Tart than a Larabar. Oh, well, that's what I get for craving junk. Anyway, we had happy hour on the deck overlooking the pool and lake every night. At least rum is vegan (if it's not, please don't tell me)......SO, I will bore you with vacation photos instead of food photos.

Like my new moose cookie cutter? It had a recipe attached that was vegan if you change out the butter for EB.

These ice chunks were not up north but on my back porch here on Long Island in August. We had a hail storm that I was out driving around in - the noise on the car was like nothing I ever heard! The ice broke my garden gazing ball and the wing on my fairy fountain.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Another Tomato Salad

Can we ever get enough of them? This one is from July's Food & Wine. It is tomato chunks in a vinagrette of lemon juice, umeboshi vinegar, sesame oil, and mirin. The combination of lemon and umeboshi is different and outstanding. After the tomatoes marinate a while, you serve them with a sauce of mayonnaise, miso, toasted ground sesame seeds, and mirin.

This reminds of of another recipe I learned from the chef at Blue Heaven restaurant in Key West. This is a really cool place in an old bordello. Most of the seating is outside in a dirt yard, where roosters run freely, and there is a rope swing near the bar (used more by adults than children!) They have a great menu loved by both the Carnivore and me. Anyway, once I had an eggplant dish there made like this: cut eggplant into wedges (skin on), brush with oil and roast until nearly done. Add a glaze made with equal parts of mayo and white miso, thinned by a little white wine (I use cream sherry). Bake a little longer until glaze is set. Yum!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Here is a dinner from "30 Minute Meals." It ran on the Food Network a few days ago and is on their website. Believe it or not, it is vegan without any adjustments needed! It is a noodle dish with a sauce made of hoisin and chili garlic paste. On the side is a tofu yakitori (tofu and scallions roasted in teriyaki sauce and grill seasoning), a super cucumber salad, and a veggie stirfry. The noodles were just okay - mostly because I just don't love the chile garlic paste. Somehow it tastes like it has some kind of chemical preservative in it. I remember eating something that looked just like it in a Thai restaurant many years ago. I was addicted to the stuff - could eat it by the spoonful even though it was so hot it made my face sweat! It must have been made from fresh chilis - I have never been able to duplicate it. Anyway, the tofu was pretty good. The recipe called for mushrooms, but mine were spoiled so I used the tofu. The scallions were awesome with this treatment. I used salt free grill seasoning because of the teriyaki, and I could taste caraway and coriander in it. Yum! The cucumber salad was really good, too. It had lime, rice vinegar, agave (subbed for the honey in the recipe), canola and toasted sesame oils, and toasted sesame seeds. A simple dressing, but I think the lime juice made it really stand out from other cucumber salads. The veggie stirfry just had ginger and garlic as seasoning, but was really tasty with the red onion and edamame. Overall, a delicious and quick meal!

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Breakfast Queen

In our house, the Carnivore is the king of breakfast. Whenever we have guests, he manages to pull off a multi-course breakfast, serving everything hot and at the same time. This comes from his days as a cook at a kosher restaurant. And he does make the prettiest and best tasting omelettes ever. Of course the breakfasts are not vegan, or even vegetarian, so I thought I'd take a shot at it myself this weekend.

I woke up thinking of the orange scones from VWAV. I had made them once before, and have been craving them ever since. I started out intending to make a half recipe, so I wouldn't be eating most of the dozen by myself. When the dough didn't feel right, I realized that I had not halved the oil along with everything else, so I was forced to make the whole recipe! So sad. I add chocolate chips to make them extra special. Aren't they beautiful?

While I was waiting for them to bake, I started browsing through VWAV and discovered the breakfast chorizo. By now I was starving so I thought I might as well whip up a huge breakfast. I made the chorizo (using tofu instead of TVP) and fried potatoes to go with my scones. I have never had real chorizo to compare to, but this version was yummy in its own right.

Well, although of course no one would eat the tofu but me, everyone enjoyed the scones and potatoes. So now I enjoy the title of Breakfast Queen! (Brought some scones over to my neighbors so I wouldn't eat them all myself.)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Crunchy Sweet and Sour Salad

Here is an awesome salad, courtesy of Krys at Two Vegan Boys. I used different veggies in mine, but the dressing is straight from the recipe and it is fabulous. I used cabbage, carrots, beets and baby bok choy as the veggies. I have never had raw beets before - they are a little "earthy" on their own, but were really good mixed with the other veggies and the strong dressing. And they look so pretty! If you are serving to guests, toss the dressing with the cabbage first to marinate a while, then lay out the other veggies separately and toss at the last minute, because everything turns pink! Also, I had never had bok choy raw, but a friend made it once in a salad with lots of nuts and toasted ramen noodles and a sweet dressing, and that was also really good, so I thought I'd try it here. Another good way to eat those dark leafies!