Posts Tagged ‘tofu’

Interview with the Authors of Secret Restaurant Recipes (plus recipe for Eggplant Tofu)

December 2, 2014

Secret Restaurant Recipes Cover - HI RES.jpgDisclosure: Artscroll supplied me with a review copy of Secret Restaurant Recipes and gave me access to the authors for an interview. Opinions expressed are my own.

The recently released Secret Restaurant Recipes is an especially attractive cookbook: large 9”x9” format, nicely designed layout and lots of photos of beautifully plated food. Add to this the intriguing theme of recipes “from the World’s Top Kosher Restaurants,” and you have my full attention.

Authors Leah Schapira and Victoria Dwek spent a year getting recipes from popular kosher restaurants and then testing them and adapting them for the home cook. In the book, they reveal that “not everyone believed that we’d be able to complete a book like this, and our publisher agreed that if we could, it would be a great accomplishment.”

I asked Victoria and Leah how the challenge of creating this cookbook compared to their work on their earlier cookbooks. Leah explained that the “most difficult part was getting the chefs to give over the recipes. When we wrote our own cookbooks, we could easily go into the kitchen and create a dish. Here, we had to wait to get each recipe. Once it finally came in, we had to test it. If it didn’t test well, we’d have to get back in touch with the chef to perfect it. We couldn’t just make changes on our own, because it had to be authentic.” “Believe it or not,” added Victoria, “tracking down and testing other people’s recipes is way, way more time-consuming that simply writing our own in our kitchens.”

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Maple Tamari Tofu

June 9, 2014

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The problem with most tofu that I get in restaurants is that  the sauce just sits on the surface of  thick pieces that are flavorless on the inside.

Here is my tricks for getting  flavor all the way into the center of the tofu:

(1) Put salt and pepper on the tofu while it drains. The seasoning works its way into the tofu. The longer the tofu absorbs the seasonings, the more flavor on the inside of the tofu;

(2) Cook the tofu a long time before adding the sauce to drive off excess moisture and make the inside of the tofu a bit spongy; and

(2) Add water to the sauce. If you dilute the sauce, the sauce will soak into the tofu. After it soaks in, then you can boil down the remaining sauce into a thick glaze.

The following maple soy sauce has become my new go-to glaze for tempeh and tofu.

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Tofu Teriyaki

February 3, 2014

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This started off as a fairly complicated recipe from Crazy Sexy Kitchen. The original recipe involved using half the teriyaki sauce for marinating tofu “steaks” and simmering the other half of the marinade with orange juice and sake to make a reduction sauce. The tofu steaks then get baked and served with the reduction over udon noodles with basil, snow peas, water chestnuts, wild mushrooms and a basil/red chile/scallion garnish.

I have a much simpler approach. I use the teriyaki sauce for marinating cubed tofu, which I then sear in a skillet. The leftover marinade is poured over the seared tofu in the skillet and reduced down and thickened with a little cornstarch. The tofu can be served over rice or noodles.

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Chef Ayinde’s Vegan Enchiladas

July 25, 2012


These vegan enchiladas are savory enough to win over carnivores.  In fact, vegan chef Ayinde Howell developed the recipe to please a non-vegan girlfriend. The secret is sauteing the tofu long enough to make it chewy (adding essential texture) and adding lots of seasonings to the tofu and the enchilada sauce (giving the rich flavor).

The method of making the enchiladas is this: (1) make enchilada sauce; (2) make tofu filling; (3) warm tortillas, dip in sauce, fill with tofu filling, roll and line up in casserole with the rest of the sauce; and (5) bake. The warming and dipping of the tortillas may seem overly fussy, but this is what helps fuse together the tortillas and the sauce. The tortillas absorb the sauce, becoming soft and chewy in a way that reminds me of the sauce infused breading on eggplant in eggplant Parmesan.

The only difficulty with the dish is that it only serves 2-3. I would double it or serve it with other Mexican dishes (like the creamy rice). I also think that it tastes best when first made, so I would assemble and bake it just before serving.

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Sephardic Shake and Bake Chicken or Tofu

November 22, 2011

My sister got this fantastic chicken recipe from her mother-in-law (who, in turn, got it from someone she knows). On the advice of my brother, I also tried it with tofu with excellent results.

It replicates supermarket chicken breading, but it is quite a bit spicier. It is so intensely flavorful that it makes even bland tofu taste like a little like chicken (flavor, not texture).

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Crisp Pan Fried Tofu & Baked Tofu Plus Two Tofu Pasta Salads

August 2, 2011

Tofu makes a nice change of pace when you can’t eat meat or chicken, and don’t want fish.

The key thing is to prepare the tofu in a way that maximizes its texture and allows it to absorb lots of flavor.

Frying is ideal, because it renders the exterior golden, crunch/chewy, and the interior tender and porous enough to absorb any sauce. The critical thing is to thoroughly dry the tofu on paper towels for quite some time before frying it so that the oil doesn’t splatter so much when the tofu hits the pan. The other thing is to fry for a long time, letting the tofu interior dry out and get porous, and the exterior get evenly golden and crispy/chewy. If you just sear the exterior, the inside of the tofu will still be cottony and wet and it will not soak up sauce very well.

Tofu is tastiest, I think, when it is fried, although baked tofu is also delicious (plus easier to make).

If you cut the tofu into cubes before baking or frying, you end up with yummy nuggets that are perfect for adding to pasta salad (or any salad).

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Moosewood’s Easy Baked Tofu Over Japanese Noodles

June 8, 2010

This is an easy and delicious dish from The Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health. (more…)

Eating Up My Pantry: Curried Coconut Noodles and Tofu Stir-Fry

March 3, 2009

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Have you heard about the eGullet challenge to skip your weekly grocery shopping and just live off the bounty already in your pantry/freezer/fridge? I’m so there!

Part of the challenge involves posting your meals under this week-long experiment. So far, I have finished off the pizza dough in the fridge, made veggie tacos, and prepared curried coconut noodles (Curried Noodles with Cashews in Coconut Sauce from Simple Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin, pp.245-6). Tonight, I turned leftover curried coconut noodles into another meal by combining them with a tofu stir-fry. (more…)