Monday, July 21, 2008

Mom's Tofu Reubens

Some people say there's nothing like their mom's meatloaf. Well, those people weren't raised by a pack of tofu-gobbling hippies; for Phoebe, there's nothing like her mom's tofu Reubens.

This recipe will make enough tofu for six sandwiches; we only made sandwiches for the two of us, but the leftover tofu will find a home in kale salads and over rice later this week.

For the Tofu:
1 pound extra-firm tofu
1/3 cup olive oil
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard
2 cloves garlic

First, press the water out of the tofu: lay your tofu block on a plate, put another plate on top of it, and weight down with a can of beans. Let it sit for about 5-10 minutes, during which time the weight will press out the extra water, leaving your tofu thirsty for some marinade!

Slice the tofu width-wise into 12 rectangular slabs, 1/4 inch thick, and arrange in a 9 x 13 inch broiler-safe casserole dish. Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper and pour over the tofu, shaking the dish around so both sides of the tofu get coated. Marinate for at least 15 minutes (longer if you have time). Broil for about 10 minutes on each side.

For the Sandwich:
Rye Bread (or whatever hippie sprouted rice loaf you're into)
Butter (or whatever vegan substitute you're into)
Swiss Cheese
Thousand Island Dressing (we use Annie's) or just mustard
Sauerkraut (warm it up if you prefer!)

Surely you know how to make grilled cheese sandwiches? Butter two pieces of bread. Place one, butter side down, on a frying pan over medium-low heat, then add a few slices of cheese and top it off with the second slice of bread, butter side up. Fry until each side is golden brown and the cheese has melted.

Open up the grilled cheese and add a little thousand island, a couple slabs of tofu and a big pile of saurkraut. Delicious!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Mango Pickle

Hannah's gone away for a week in New Orleans... without me. Before settling down in front of the television to mope, I decided to take advantage of her absence to enjoy two of my favorite forbidden foods: mangoes and pickles. She's allergic to mangoes, so I keep them out of the house when she's around. And for reasons I will never understand, the one food she just will not eat is an Indian-style pickle. Why, Hannah? They're so mouth-watering and spicy.

Some pickle recipes take days, weeks or months to fully mature. This one is quick and easy, leaving you more time to contemplate your dreary, solitary existence.

1 mango
1-3 teaspoons cayenne pepper (as much as you can stand)
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon mustard oil (if you can't get any, use canola oil)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
pinch of asafoetida
10 curry leaves (optional)

Peel the mango and cut it into small pieces, discarding the pit. Mix the mango chunks, cayenne pepper, salt and fenugreek powder together in a glass jar. Heat the canola and mustard oil in a small pan. When hot, add the mustard seeds, turmeric, curry leaves and asafoetida. Once the mustard seeds pop, pour the mixture over the mango chunks and stir gently. Allow the pickle to mellow for at least an hour, then consume with rice and curry, at a table set for one. I'm not crying, I swear, this pickle is just really spicy.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Stone Fruit Chutney

We made this to use the last fruits of our loquat tree, but we based it on a Madhur Jaffrey recipe for peach chutney (which was based on a recipe for green mango chutney!), so this basic concept will work with apricots, nectarines or other stone fruits. Chutney is a great showcase for fruit that may have been bruised on the way back from the farmer's market, and will be delicious on whatever protein you choose to throw on your grill.

This is based on the recipe for Delhi-Style Peach Chutney in Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian; we skipped the overnight soaking of fenugreek seeds and subbed honey for the sugar.

2 lbs peaches, nectarines, apricots or loquats
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons peanut oil
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, finely minced (use a microplane if you have one)
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
5 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Pit and roughly chop fruit and toss with lemon juice. Heat oil in a medium-sized saucepan and add cumin and mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds pop, add fennel seeds, stir once, and add ginger and fry for a minute. Add water, fruit, honey, salt, turmeric and cayenne. Simmer, uncovered, over medium heat for 10-20 minutes, until fruit breaks down and sauce thickens, stirring frequently. (If your fruit is extra-juicy, you might need longer than 20 minutes). Cool and store in a clean glass jar.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Whole Grain Strata with Oregano and Myzithra

Strata is delicious for brunch or dinner, a really filling rustic concept: an egg custard, cubes of bread, and whatever cheeses and vegetables you want. This variation has a Greek flair, with a generous amount of fresh oregano and some crumbles of aged myzithra. Myzithra is a hard, salty Greek cheese; if you can't find it, feel free to use feta instead, or just skip it.

We used Alvarado Street sprouted wheat bread, but if you have something more normal around, go crazy. Also, this would probably work with rice bread for you gluten-free folks; let us know if you try it!

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 an onion, finely chopped
5 slices of bread, cut into 1-inch squares
1 1/2 cups milk (we used rice milk, but you could use whatever you want)
6 large eggs
1/2 cup crumbled myzithra cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Heat butter or olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add onions and saute 5-7 minutes, until translucent, then add garlic and stir for 2 more minutes. Add bread and continue to stir until evenly coated and just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Stir in oregano, pepper and myzithra.

Take skillet off heat, fold in egg mixture and mix until well-combined. Bake for about 15 minutes on middle rack, until strata is puffed up and eggs look set. Cut into wedges and serve.