Monday, January 28, 2013

Blackened Pressed Tofu with Cannellini Bean Salad

Blackened Pressed Tofu with Cannellini Bean Salad

Here's another dish from my Vegan/Vegetarian dinner party.

This one is vegetarian because I used mascarpone cheese on top of the blackened tofu for some added creaminess.

The key to this particular dish is to properly work with the tofu.  Tofu is packed in water.  Tofu is like a sponge.  GET THE WATER OUT.

I used Wildwood Organic Firm Tofu.

I press my tofu for three hours to extract as much water as I can.  A heavy bottom pan or large cast iron skillet can get the job done.  So can a stock pot loaded with some canned food.  The point is to get the water out.

Once the tofu is pressed, the cooking is pretty straightforward.
  • Pat dry with paper towels.
  • Season with your favorite blackening seasoning.
  • Heat canola oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.
  • When the pan is piping hot, sear the tofu on both sides.
Like I said before, I added a touch of softened mascarpone cheese for a touch of creaminess.

For the cannellini bean salad:
  • 1 can of organic cannellini beans
  • 1 Meyer lemon - juiced
  • yellow onion
  • jalapeno
  • flat leaf parsley
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • jalapeno sauce to taste
  • 1/4 cup of jalapeno-infused olive oil
This is a no-cook preparation.  Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl.  Cover and allow the flavors to marry.

Another dish where no one was left saying, "Hey Laz, Where's the beef?"


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Creative Cooking Crew Jan 13: Vegan Challenge

Spaghetti & "Meatballs"

Smoked Tempeh & Grain Meat Meatballs with Zucchini Spaghetti & Grain Meat Ragu

I am excited for this maiden voyage of the...

A group of talented cooks who will gather every month to create inspired dishes around central theme or ingredient.

Thanks to my cohost Joan Nova from Foodalogue.  If you have not visited her site, I recommend you do so.  She covers various topics ranging from food, to photography and travel.

Does vegetarian food have to be boring?  Raw veg on a plate?  A salad? 

I don't think so.  This isn't 1985.

Vegetarian can be sexy, fun, & beautiful.  For far too long "chefs" have been taking the lazy way out cooking vegetarian.  Luckily, these days there is a legion of talented cooks creating inspired and flavorful veggie dishes.

That's exactly what I tasked myself to do.  I recently hosted a dinner party where I served 5 courses.
  • 3 vegetarian
  • 2 vegan
Here is one of the vegan dishes for this month's event.

I decided to play with the spaghetti & meatball concept.

The star of the dish are the "meatballs," made with a combination of...
and smoked on a hickory plank over cherry wood.

I do not like to use any fillers in my meatballs, so to make these I just...
  • Ground the grain meat sausage & tempeh
  • Season with sea salt & fresh marjoram
  • Form the "meatball"
  • Allow to sit covered for 24 hours in the fridge
To cook:
  • Cook in smoker on a hickory plank over cherry wood at about 300 F for 10 minutes.
The "meatballs" take on a nice browned color.  Plus, the smoking imparts amazing aroma.

For the tomato ragu, I would normally use some kind of ground meat, probably lamb, but in this dish I used more Field Roast grain meat.
To cook...
  1. Saute all diced veggies in olive oil.
  2. Add the toasted fennel seeds
  3. Add the grain meat
  4. Deglaze with red wine
  5. Add the tomatoes
  6. Simmer for 3 hours
  7. Add water as necessary
My last whimsical play on this dish was using thinly sliced zucchini to replace the "pasta"

This turned out to be a light, enjoyable dish.

No one missed the animal protien.

That's it for now...until we exchange a few words again...Peace!