a meat-less asian saute – gone totally right

Well, hello there! I’ve been gone for a while. Still cooking like crazy, but most posts have remained in the drafts folder. I’m hoping to get a few quiet moments more regularly, but most days, it’s just pure busy around the house. Wake up, get ready, work, leave work, pickup kids, do the homework/dinner scramble, leave for activities (often conflicting and in opposite locations), watch activities, return, showers/baths, book time, kids bedtime, and often I’m the next in line. Repeat. If I’m really good, I manage to get myself on the treadmill in the morning.  That’s the usual “during the week schedule” for us.

I’ve dabbled in the past cooking with tofu, and most times, I’ve been disappointed with the results. Not this time. This recipe is fantastic, and could easily be swapped out with various meats, if you wish. The sauce fills in the flavorless void of the tofu, and the vegetables are just the right addition.

The key to this dish is making sure the tofu is completely drained of excess moisture. Also, having patience, the right level of heat, and not disturbing the saute pan yields golden-brown, crispy tofu perfection. Try it for yourself, and you may enjoy just as much as I did … Another bonus? My kids were convinced they were eating chicken. Perfect for a Meatless Monday, or any day of the week.


Hot and Sour Seared Tofu With Sugar Snap Peas (and Red Pepper)
Adapted from NY Times
2-3 servings

1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu (and drained well)
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 small jalapeño chiles, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce (use tamari for gluten free version)
1 1/2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons peanut oil, more if needed
6 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed and thinly sliced (I’ve also made with haricots verts/green beans, broccoli or whatever vegetable you choose)
1/2 red pepper, diced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
Crushed red pepper, as desired
Sesame seeds, as desired
May garnish with chopped cilantro or basil.

Drain tofu well, wrap it with a clean dish towel or several layers of paper towels and place on a rimmed plate; top with another plate and some extra weight. Let drain further. (This step is key to golden brown perfection.)

To make the sauce, combine garlic, chiles, soy sauce, ginger, lime juice, sesame oil, fish sauce and honey in a small bowl. Unwrap tofu and cut crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Pat slices dry. Heat a large skillet over high heat until hot. Add peanut oil and let heat for 30 seconds, then carefully add tofu. Don’t touch tofu for 2 to 3 minutes, letting it sear until golden brown. Flip and sear for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Move tofu to one side of pan (or temporarily remove from pan and keep warm). Add vegetables and, if needed, a few drops more peanut oil. Stir-fry vegetables for a couple of minutes, being careful not to overcook them. Add sauce and stir well, cooking until vegetables are done to taste, 1-2 minutes. Return tofu to pan and coat with sauce. Sprinkle sesame seeds over tofu and vegetables. Can also garnish with cilantro or basil, if you wish.

Serve with cooked jasmine or brown rice. Enjoy!


cauliflower steaks with jalapeno corn relish

Inspired by a similar Food & Wine recipe, and motivated to reduce the amount of red meat from our diet, here’s a steak recipe that proves to be hearty, healthy, and meatless.  This one caught my eye, as we love to make roasted cauliflower as a side for many of our meals.  But, why not make it the main event?  A vegetable topped with more vegetables, and a little spicy heat – brilliant as a main course.

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Slicing the head of cauliflower into 3/4 inch steaks was a little tricky with the size I had, but I worked with it anyways.  And, it’s prepared very similar to a real steak.  Hot skillet (add a little canola oil and salt and pepper), sear/brown each side for about 3 minutes, or until nicely browned.  Roast for about 20 minutes.

Yum.  I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

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Cauliflower Steaks with Jalapeno Corn Relish

inspired by this Food & Wine recipe

2 large heads of cauliflower, stems lightly trimmed
1 1/2 cups corn (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 fresh jalapeno, seeded and minced
4 scallions, chopped
1 medium tomato, diced and drained
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375°. Cut three 3/4-inch-thick center slices from each head of cauliflower to form “steaks.” Use the rest of the cauliflower for something else.

In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the jalapeno and cook over moderately high heat for 30 seconds. Add the scallions and cook until softened, about 1 minute. Stir in the corn and tomato and season with salt and pepper.

In a large, nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until shimmering. Add 3 cauliflower steaks and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderate heat until lightly browned, about 3 minutes per side; transfer to a large baking pan. Repeat with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and 3 cauliflower steaks.

Press the jalapeno-corn relish into the spaces between the cauliflower florets. Bake the cauliflower steaks for 25 minutes, until tender and richly browned. Top with additional relish, if desired.  Enjoy!

vietnamese spring rolls

I saw a recipe for these in the Sunday paper and I decided to try them out.  We were due for an Asian night at our house and most of the ingredients in the recipe were those I was familiar with – garlic, ginger, carrots, shrimp, cucumber, red pepper, lettuce, cilantro.  Spring roll wrappers? 

I found them in the Asian aisle shelf stable section at the grocery store.  Pretty simple – soak them in warm water for 30 seconds or so, and they are ready to roll – literally. They’re a bit tricky to roll or get a tight fit and I’m still trying to master the technique.  They can be filled with whatever you’d like – chicken, beef, shrimp, tofu, rice vermicelli, and any combination of vegetables.

This recipe is a combination of one I found in the Sunday paper and one that was online. Mise en place is necessary for this one, but if you do it ahead of time, all you have to do is assemble the rolls.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls
Makes about 8 rolls

Spring Rolls

1 lb. cooked shrimp (I cut mine into chunks, but could leave whole)
carrots, shredded (I used the pre-packaged carrot sticks)
cucumbers, diced into thin wedges
red pepper, cut into strips
green onion, diced
romaine lettuce, shredded
fresh cilantro leaves
fresh basil leaves
8 large spring roll wrappers – 8.5 in diameter

4 teaspoons fish sauce
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic chili sauce

I wrapped my sauce in with the spring roll ingredients, but next time, I’ll serve the sauce on the side for dipping. Enjoy!