Have a great day - eat something healthy.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Pistachio (or Pumpkin Seed) Crusted Tofu with Truffle Cream Sauce

Pumpkin Seed Crusted Tofu with Truffle Cream Sauce

I just wrote about being blown away by the food at Blossom in Manhattan. And when I find resaturant food that really excites me, nothing makes me happier than duplicating it at home. After savoring the pistachio crusted tofu (the most delicious tofu entree I'd ever eaten) at Blossom, I had to try to make it in my own kitchen. 

I don't really play around with tofu that much - certainly not enough to have any real confidence about how to turn a flavorless block of goo into a sophisticated, praiseworthy entree. And non-dairy cream sauces (the Blossom dish was finished with a savory vegan truffle creme) often seem like thick, chewy, oafish imitations of the "real thing." But a bit of research led me to a few recipes that, with a bit of tweaking, have resulted in an impressive imitation of the Blossom inspiration dish. In fact, I'd be proud to serve this to even the most stubborn of carnivorous foodies. And the great thing is, this flavorful, satisfying dish doesn't take much effort or time - how's that for a bonus?!!!

If you decide to try making this, here are a couple of things to consider:
1.) Be sure to use unsalted pistachios. I looked everywhere but couldn't find any shelled pistachios that weren't salted. So, I bought the shelled unsalted kind and took the shells off myself. Trust me, that eats up some time. On top of that, pistachios are fairly expensive. So, while they have a lovely flavor and texture, a great alternative is unsalted pumpkin seeds. They're mellow, earthy, have a great crunch, come shelled, and cost far less than the pistachios. I think pumpkin seeds are an easy alternative that will save you time and money.

2.) The truffle cream sauce requires 2 hours of soaking time for the cashews and pinenuts, so bear that in mind while you're putting this dish together. Also, the recipe says to add water to get the sauce the the consistency you desire - don't be shy. It takes a while to get this sauce to a nice, creamy consistency.

Alright, now that we've gotten the particulars out of the way, click on these links to get to the recipes for Pistachio (or Pumpkin Seed) Crusted Tofu and Truffle Cream Sauce. I hope you enjoy them as much as Mark and I do! 

Pistachio (or Pumpkin Seed) Crusted Tofu

Hands down, this is the best tofu dish I've ever made! Both Mark and I love the crunchy, chewy texture and the earthy flavors - I'm so delighted I've finally found a world class tofu entree I'd be proud to serve to anyone who sits at my table!

Pistachio (or Pumpkin Seed) Crusted Tofu

Pumpkin Seed Crusted Tofu with Truffle Cream Sauce

1 block tofu, extra firm
½ C unsalted pistachios (or unsalted pumpkin seeds)
1/4 C vegan butter, softened
1/4 t ground ginger
1/4 t mustard seeds*
1/4 t cumin
1/4 t curry powder
1/2 t turmeric

Press the tofu to squeeze out the water. I put it on a cutting board, and place a pan or a big book (wrapped in a kitchen towel) on it to press down.

Once dry, cut the block of tofu lengthwise to make two slices. Then cut each slice diagonally to create 4 triangles, resulting in a total of 8 tofu triangles.

Put the pistachios or pumpkin seeds in the food processor to grind them (a blender or stick blender would do the same). Put them in a bowl. You can substitute other nuts (cashews would be yummy!).

Put the vegan butter in a saucepan and melt on the stove over medium heat. Stir in all spices. Turn off heat.

Use a little of the melted butter or some oil spray to coat the bottom of a baking pan or Pyrex/roasting pan. (A baking sheet would work, too.)

Dip a piece of tofu in the melted butter and spice mixture, flipping it so all sides get covered. Then dip in the bowl of pistachios.

Place in the baking pan. Do this for all tofu pieces. If desired, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper (I don’t think it needs this, but you might). And cover with any leftover ground nuts.

Bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes.

Serve with Truffle Cream Sauce.

*The original recipe calls for ground mustard seed, but through a happy oversight I used whole mustard seeds instead – and I think they add delightful little bursts of flavor and  texture!

Modified from a recipe by Heather on inspiredorganic.com

Truffle Cream Sauce

Savory, soft, creamy and earthy, this truffle cream is as good as the “real thing!”

Truffle Cream Sauce

1/4 C pine nuts, soaked 2 hours, rinsed, and drained
1/4 C cashews, soaked 2 hours, rinsed, and drained
1 T lemon juice
1/2 T Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
1/2 T agave nectar
3 t teaspoons truffle oil
Pinch of white pepper

Combine the pine nuts, cashews, lemon juice, tamari, agave, truffle oil, and white pepper in a high-performance blender, slowly adding water to create your desired consistency. 

From rawfoodchef.com recipe by Cherie Soria

Fine Vegan Dining in Manhattan

Me in front of Blossom

Whenever I travel to a world class city I make a point of chasing down some sexy vegan food. So, when we were recently in New York, Mark and I dropped in to Blossom Cafe on Columbus Avenue. I'd already done my research before we got there - I knew we were in for a treat. But what thrilled me more than my own personal delight at having the chance to eat high end vegan food (a rarity in Minneapolis) was seeing my my omnivorous husband enjoy it as much as I did.

We shared a mushroom ravioli appetizer with oregano and truffle butter, and an entree of pistachio crusted tofu served with a root vegetable crepe, truffle creme, frisee salad, and beet dressing. No matter that there was no salmon, sea bass, or steak on the plates - after each bite we'd sit back, wide-eyed, slowly chewing each bite and nodding our heads in gratitude, pleasure, and agreement that we were eating a first-class, top-notch, high end meal. 

Mushroom Ravioli

Pistachio Crusted Tofu

I love it when I find a place that does the vegan label justice by preparing fabulous food in spite of a food ethos that might wield some culinary challenges to less imaginative chefs. And I was thrilled to learn that Blossom is a bit of a New York dynasty, with three restaurants, a bakery, an organic wine bar and vegan bistro, and four vegan/organic/kosher fast food outlets throughout the city.

Here's to Blossom! I can't wait to try each location, and everything on each menu!

Bar and dining room at Blossom

Friday, February 3, 2012

Canellini Bean Spinach Hummus

Sometimes necessity really is the mother of invention. I wanted to make hummus but didn't have any garbanzo beans in my pantry. It didn't dawn on me to use chickpea flour, which would have worked just fine; instead I turned to the canellini beans that I'd been overlooking for a month and thought, 'What the hell?' What the hell indeed! Subbing the white beans for the garbs makes for a super creamy, buttery hummus that's a bit more refined than its grainier predecessor. What a wonderful discovery! I will happily make this happenstance of a recipe again! I hope you like it as much as I do!

Canellini Bean Spinach Hummus

1 can garbanzo beans/chickpeas (15 oz), drained
1/2 C fresh spinach, chopped
1/4 C tahini
2 T garlic
2 T lemon juice
2 T olive oil
1/4 t Kosher salt

In a food processor, process beans, garlic, spinach and olive oil. Add lemon and salt and blend. If spinach hummus is too thick, add 1 tablespoon water until desired consistency. Hummus should be smooth and creamy.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Chana Masala

Chana Masala
Ooh, this one’s a keeper! It’s a recipe by the vegan cookbook goddess, Isa Chandra. Hearty and satisfying, the chickpeas are nutty and chewy, the curry flavor is rich, and the heat is subtle but very noticeable. Mark and I really enjoyed it and we’ll be sure to make it again!  

Chana Masala

Spice blend:
1 T plus 1 t ground cumin
1 T ground coriander
1 t ground tumeric
1/2 t fennel seeds, chopped
1/2 t cardamom
1/4 t cinnamon
1/8 t ground cloves
1/4 t ground cayenne (optional, and more or less to taste)

For everything else:
3 T coconut oil
1 large onion, sliced in medium pieces
2 jalapenos, deseeded and thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping T minced fresh ginger
1/4 C finely chopped fresh cilantro
3 lbs tomatoes, diced
Fresh black pepper
1 t salt
3 1/2 C cooked chickpeas (or two cans, rinsed and drained) note: 2 cups dried will give you the right amount
1 t agave
Juice of one lime, or 1 t tamarind concentrate, or 4 t bottled lime juice (I use 365 brand)

Preheat a large pan over medium heat. A large pan is better than a pot because it will get the tomatoes to cook down faster.

Meanwhile, mix together the spice blend in a small bowl.

When the pan is hot, saute the onion in the coconut oil for about 10 minutes, until nicely browned. While it’s sauteeing you can prep the rest of the veggies.

Add the jalapeno, garlic and ginger, and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the cilantro and saute until wilted. Add the spice blend and toss to coat the onions, letting the spices toast a bit (about a minute or so).

Add the tomatoes and mix well, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Add salt and pepper, chickpeas and agave. Cover the pan and bring heat up a bit. The tomatoes should take about 10 minutes to breakdown and get saucy. Remove the lid, and cook for about 20 more minutes on low heat, so that the flavors meld and the sauce thickens. It shouldn’t be too thick (like a marinara), but it shouldn’t be watery, either.

Add lime juice or tamarind concentrate. Taste for seasoning, you might want to add a little of this or that. Let sit for 10 minutes or so off the heat before serving. Serve with basmati rice and garnish with extra cilantro, if you like!

From the ppk.com

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Curried Cabbage and Peas

Curried Cabbage and Peas with Basmati Rice
I fell in love with curried cabbage and peas dish at a local Indian restaurant last spring - this fall I finally got around to trying to duplicate it at home. This recipe was created by Anna Thomas and came from The Vegetarian Epicure (book2) via food.com. I modified it to make it entirely vegan and sugar-free and tweaked it a bit for flavors and I think it comes close to the restaurant version. The first time I made this was on a Sunday night - it was so good I made it again the following Thursday! Super easy, incredibly tasty - Mark and I both love it and will make this dish again and again! 

Curried Cabbage and Peas

1 medium head green cabbage
3 T vegetable oil ( although I only use 2)
1 t crushed dried red chilies
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t whole mustard seeds
1/2 t cumin
2 bay leaves
1 t ground coriander
1/2 t ground turmeric
2 t salt
1 C water
1 C fresh peas (or frozen)
1 T vegan butter
3/4 garam masala
1 T lemon juice
1/2 t agave nectar

Shred the cabbage coarsely (I use a food processor). Measure out the crushed red chilis, ginger, mustard seeds, cumin, bay leaves, coriander, turmeric, and salt. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet and stir in the prepared spices. Heat the spices gently for about 2 minutes stirring often.

Add the shredded cabbage and saute it stirring often, until it is evenly coated with the spices and beginning to wilt, 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the water and the peas, cover, and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes. Remove the cover, stir in the butter, garam masala, lemon juice, and sugar, and simmer uncovered, for another 10 to 15 minutes. There should be very little or no excess liquid at this point. Serve hot with rice, or as is.

Nutrition per serving (4 servings per recipe): Calories 252.9; Fat 14.0g; Saturated Fat 3.2g; Cholesterol 7.6mg; Sugars 13.9 g; Sodium 1230.6mg; Total Carbohydrate 27.5g; Dietary Fiber 10.2g; Sugars 13.9 g; Protein 8.4g

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sh*t Vegans Say

Happy New Year! I saw this clip this morning and couldn't stop laughing! This is for everyone who's done a cleanse, and everyone who's gone full-tilt vegan or veg afterward! I know you'll get a kick outta this! Sh*t Vegans Say