I was making Soy-braised Chicken and Mushrooms for my family, as part of my exploration of Hakka cuisine, and decided to try making it with tofu for my vegetarian daughter. She liked it well enough, though did mention that the tofu didn’t quite absorb the broth and she didn’t think it was as flavorful as she’d liked. Perhaps seitan would be a better bet for this dish.
I do a lot of my grocery shopping online, and Safeway is not particularly attentive to what they send me. I had ordered pork belly, but I got pork shoulder instead. It most definitely didn’t work for my recipe, so I looked for something online so the meat would not go to waste. The recipe below was just perfect. It was super easy to make and the “crust” was just delicious.
3 Tbsps. olive oil
3 Tbsps. minced garlic
Salt and black pepper to taste
4 lbs pork shoulder
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Mix together the olive oil, garlic and salt & pepper in a small bowl. Brush it all over the pork shoulder.
Place the pork shoulder on a roasting pan and roast for 20 minutes. Reduce temperature to 325°F and roast for four hours. Remove from oven and let sit for 20 minutes before slicing.
Based on Aaron McCargo Jr.’s recipe at the Food Network.
I had a couple of pie shells that I had to use today so I decided to make pies – I had bananas and coconut, so banana and coconut cream pies were the obvious choices. The recipe for the custard on the pie is the same, I just doubled it and used half over bananas and half mixed with coconut. The pies were simply delicious. I used the egg whites to make a meringue topping – just so I I could do something with them – but you can serve the pie with whipped cream instead. Unfortunately I don’t have a broiler in my oven, so it didn’t come out as well as it could. The pie itself was delicious, however.
- 1 9″ pie shell
- 3 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups milk
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 large bananas, sliced OR 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
- whipped cream
- 3 egg whites
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 3 Tbsp sugar
Bake the pie shell according to instructions or your recipe. Let cool.
Preheat oven to 350F
Beat egg yolks in a small bowl and set aside.
Place sugar, flour and salt in a medium sauce pan and place on the stove over medium heat. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil, lower the temperature and cook for two minutes. Scoop a ladle of custard from the sauce pan and transfer to the bowl with the egg yolks. Mix well. Pour egg yolk mixture back into the sauce pan, mix and cook for two more minutes. Mix in the butter and vanilla extract, stirring until they are incorporated.
If making a banana cream pie, place the banana slices on the bottom of the pie shell, then pour custard over it.
If making a coconut pie, stir the coconut into the custard.
Pour the custard into the pie shell. Bake for 12′. Cool and then transfer to the refrigerator for an hour.
If making the meringue, using the whisk attachment in an electric mixer, beat together the egg whites and cream and tartar until it becomes foamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until it forms stiff peaks. Spoon meringue onto the cooled pie and put under the broiler for 3-4 minutes.
Adapted from Rudy Pfeffer’s recipe at Allrecipes.com
I made Ropa Vieja for dinner tonight, one of my old-time favorites, and decided to serve the same thing to my vegetarian daughter. She was quite happy with the results. Really, all I did was make the sauce, reserve some of it before I added the beef, add some vegetable base and tofu. She was happy and I was happy I was able to feed her. I’m sure you can substitute another meat substitute for tofu, but that’s what I had at home. I always serve this with fresh sourdough bread.
Tofu Ropa Vieja
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 onions, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cups tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp vegetable base
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 lb extra-firm tofu, cubed
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium sauce pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook until they start to caramelize. Add the bell pepper and cook until soft. Add the tomato sauce, wine, bay leaf and vegetable base. Season with salt and pepper to taste and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Uncover, and the tofu cubes and cook for another 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning and serve.
Tonight I made chicken Marsala for Mike and I and adapted the recipe so that Mika, my vegetarian daughter, could have it with tofu. Really, all it took to adapt it was to use a separate pan to cook the chicken and substitute tofu for the chicken. But here it is in case she ever wants to make it herself. It was truly delicious.
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 8 oz button mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp Marsala wine
- 1 1/2 tsp vegetable base
- 3/4 cup water
- 2/3 cup whipping cream
- 1 lb extra firm tofu, sliced
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- dash of dried or chopped sage
- salt & pepper to taste
Melt butter over medium heat in a frying pan. Add the shallot and cook for one minute. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates. Set aside.
Bring Marsala wine to a boil in a medium size sauce pan. Boil for 30 seconds and then add vegetable base, water, whipping cream and reserved mushrooms. Comine and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, pan-fry tofu slices.
When sauce is ready, add the remaining 2 Tbsp Marsala wine, the lemon juice and the sage. Stir and taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve the pan-friend tofu with the sauce.
One of the delights of downtown Brussels is their waffle stores. Here, you can eat freshly made waffles with a variety of toppings. A big variety. The ones I tried were delicious but a pain in the but to eat on the go, specially as the plastic forks provided were too weak to easily cut the thick waffles. The flavors were great, however. I might want to recreate this at home.
I usually use thinly cut top round to make milanesas. While the cut has an annoying fat vein in the middle, it’s very tender, the version sold by Safeway is very thin and it just works great for milanesas.
This week, however, Safeway had thinly cut bottom round at half the price as top round – so I figured that I would give it a chance and see how it worked. The answer is that it will do in a pinch, but it’s definitely inferior to top round.
First, the “thin” bottom round steaks sold by Safeway were two to three times thicker than the top round ones. Bottom round is a very tough cut of meat, so I beat the hell out of the meat to tenderize it. It worked quite well, though I ended up with a blister on the side of my finger. A larger problem was that as the cut was thicker, so were the pieces of fat/gristle in the middle of the steaks. There weren’t too many and I try to cut them, but it made it harder to eat the milanesas in sandwiches (it’s not a big deal if you’re using fork and knife). I also don’t think the flavor was as tasty as the top round, but the issue might also have been the olive oil I was using.
All in all, I’d use bottom round again under similar circumstances, but at full price, I definitely prefer top round.
My oldest daughter is a vegetarian, so I try to find vegetarian equivalents of the meals with eat. I’m not eager to make two meals, so the easier the vegetarian version can be, the better. This version for chickpea milanesas qualifies as easy. She likes them well enough that I’ve already made them four times.
- 1 can chickpeas, drained
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp dried parsley flakes or chopped parsley
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- salt & pepper to taste
- Italian-style breadcrumbs
- olive oil for frying
- lemon juice
Using an electric blender, puree chickpeas and water together. Mix in the flour, spices and salt and pepper.
Put breadcrumbs in a large plate. Four your hands. Take a large spoonfull of batter and flatten it using your hands. Press onto the breadcrumbs, then turn and repeat. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Using a spatula, transfer the milanesas onto the oil and fry for a couple of minutes until golden. Turn and repeat. Remove and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with lemon juice before serving.