Thursday, May 17, 2018

Tofu Katsu Curry

Speaking as a person who rarely fries things, I begin with the caveat that this recipe is a bit of a project, but it is also completely worth the trouble. I have now made this dish three times, and it's proved so popular that I've taken to doubling it. We had the latest batch with roasted green beans and carrots on the side, but it makes a delicious and satisfying meal all on its own with some steamed white or brown rice.

Tofu Katsu Curry
The Sauce
~ 1 tbsp. canola or other neutral oil
~ 1 yellow onion, chopped fine
~ 4 cloves garlic, minced
~ 1 tbsp. fresh, grated ginger
~ 2 tsp. curry powder
~ 1 tsp. each: ground fenugreek, garam masala
~ A few grinds of black pepper
~ 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
~ 2.5 cups "no chicken" broth
~ 2 tbsp. soy sauce
~ 1 tbsp. agave nectar
~ 2 tsp. rice vinegar
~ Cooked white or brown rice to serve
~ Chopped scallions and/or shredded carrot for garnish

~ In a large saucepan or wok, heat the oil and cook the onion on medium heat for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic, ginger,  and dry seasonings; cook one minute more.
~ Add the flour, stir to coat and then pour in about ½ cup of vegetable stock; stir until the flour has dissolved, then add the soy sauce, agave, and remaining stock.
~ Bring the mixture just to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens.
~ Stir in the rice vinegar and taste for seasoning.

The Tofu
~ 1 package extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
~ Corn starch for dredging
~ 1 cup (or a little more) plain, unsweetened soy milk, whisked with 1 tbsp. of corn starch
~ Panko crumbs for dredging
~ Canola or other neutral oil for shallow frying

~ Heat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and place a foil-lined baking sheet inside.
~ Cut the tofu vertically into approximately 1 cm slices (between ¼ and ½ inch). Place on a  dry tea towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
~ Set up your dredging station with three wide, shallow bowls containing (respectively) corn starch, milk mixture, and panko. Dredge the tofu slices in the cornstarch, dip briefly into the milk, and then press each slice into the panko until thoroughly coated. Put the slices on a large plate as you finish coating them.
~ Line a large plate with paper towels, and pour about ½ inch of canola oil into the skillet over medium-high heat. When a piece of tofu breading thrown into the pan floats to the top, you're ready to fry.
~ Fry the tofu pieces for 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden brown and crispy. Drain the cooked slices on the paper towels before transferring to the oven to keep warm until ready to serve.

To serve: place individual servings of rice in wide shallow bowls and top with crispy tofu, sauce, and chopped scallions and/or shredded carrots. You will probably have more sauce than you need, but why be skimpy?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Asparagus and White Bean Bisque

This absurdly good soup was inspired by two factors: my propensity for overbuying vegetables, and a recent post on Isa Chandra Moskowitz's blog. This past weekend we hosted a family holiday, and while grocery shopping I easily bought twice as much food as necessary, which is crazy but 100% predictable because I do the same thing every single time. So it was that after the leftovers were eaten I still had two bunches of asparagus in my refrigerator, awaiting a destiny that became clear when I saw this "garlicky white bean and asparagus soup." Since I am as incapable of following another person's recipe as I am of buying a normal amount of food, I made significant alterations to the prototype, and happily share the creamy, delicious, and ever-so-green results with you here.

Asparagus and White Bean Bisque

~ 2 tbsp. olive oil
~ 1 large onion, chopped
~ 1 large potato, diced (I used Yukon Gold)
~ ¼ cup minced garlic
~ 2 bunches asparagus, chopped (leave the tips about 1” long and set aside)
~ 1 tsp. kosher salt
~ 2 tsp. each: marjoram, tarragon
~ ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
~ A few healthy grinds black pepper
~ 1 15 oz. can navy, great northern, or other white beans
~ 6 cups “no chicken” broth
~ 1 cup chopped, fresh parsley

~ Get a non-stick skillet very hot and cook the asparagus tips for 4-5 minutes, until bright green and slightly charred. Season with salt and black pepper and set aside.
~ In a large, deep pot, cook the chopped onion and potato over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden but not brown.
~ Add the garlic, asparagus, dry seasonings, and about a cup of broth. Stir well, cover the pot, and allow the vegetables to steam for about 5 minutes.
~ Add the canned beans with their liquid and the remaining broth. Bring the mixture just to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer, Continue cooking for 10-15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.
~ Add the fresh parsley and puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Serve hot, garnished with the charred asparagus tips.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Scotch Broth

Here in the northeastern USA, we are currently experiencing the sort of extreme winter weather that inspires hysteria in the news media, with bizarre coinages like "bomb cyclone," "thundersnow," and "wintercane." In times like these our best defense is always soup; I'd been thinking about veganizing my mother's Scotch Broth for awhile, so I hit the kitchen and today's recipe is the happy result. Since the traditional dead sheep was off the table - what kind of asshole eats a lamb? - I used mushrooms for that "meaty" je ne sais quoi. Swede/turnip is also conspicuously absent (we are not fans so I didn't have any), but if you've a mind to just chop up a cup or so and add it with the other root vegetables. This is a very hearty, filling soup that's perfect for a cold night snuggled up in your pjs while the bombogenesis rages outside.

Scotch Broth
~ ⅔ cup barley
~ ½ cup each: green split peas, yellow split peas
~ 1 lb. mushrooms, diced
~ 1 tsp. each: thyme, marjoram
~ 1 tbsp. each: canola oil, vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance)
~ 1 yellow onion, diced
~ 1 large leek, chopped
~ 2 parsnips, diced
~ 2 carrots, diced
~ 2 stalks celery, diced
~ Freshly ground black pepper
~ ½ tsp. white pepper
~ 1 tbsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce
~ 2 tsp. Marmite
~ 2 bay leaves

~ Rinse the barley, green peas, and yellow peas in a colander, then cover with water and soak for at least a few hours (the longer the better; I did this first thing in the morning). 
~ Get a non-stick skillet screaming hot and cook the mushrooms over high heat until brown and crisp. Sprinkle with salt and set aside.
~ In a large, deep pot, heat the margarine and oil and saute the onion for 5 minutes over medium-high heat, until softened but not browned.
~ Add the leek, parsnips, carrots, celery, and dried seasonings; continue cooking for ten minutes.
~ Drain the barley and the green and yellow split peas and add them to the pot. Stir to combine and add the broth, Worcestershire sauce, Marmite, and bay leaves.
~ Cover the pot, raise the heat to high, and bring just to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally, until the peas are soft. (You can add a bit more water if it looks too thick, but you're going for a hearty texture here.)
~ Stir in the cooked mushrooms, taste for seasoning, fish out the bay leaves, and serve hot with crusty bread.