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When in doubt, fry. That’s my motto for the tofu blahs. Try this tofu with cold noodles and sesame sauce. Yum yum.

Sesame Crusted Tofu

Directions: Drain the liquid from the tofu and slice into 1/4″ thick rectangles. Put the rectangles flat on the cutting board and cut diagonally to produce two triangles. Measure out the nutritional yeast and spread onto a large plate. Add salt and sesame seeds and mix with a fork until they are reasonably incorporated into the nutritional yeast. Pour veggie oil into a large fry pan – it should be between 1/8″ and 1/4″ deep. Heat the oil on high while you coat each tofu triangle in the yeast mix. Place in the hot oil (oil is ready when it sizzles when you put the tofu in) and brown on each side – approximately 3-5 minutes. Remove from pan and place on a paper towel to absorb the extra oil.

It makes me sad that practically all Chinese food (practically all? I think I can safely say “all”) is off limits because of the soy sauce. Just one simple substitution would, in most cases, make every dish on a Chinese restaurant’s menu edible. Sigh. We’ll have to make do making our own at home. On that note, anyone know of a good Chinese cooking school I can attend to learn to make some of the staples at home with tamari? I’ve got a FEVER and ain’t no cowbell gonna cure it!

Here’s a recipe I’ve sussed out already. It does a pretty dern good job of feeding the beast. Plus, it has the added bonus of being veggie, which hot and sour soup at the Chinese restaurant is most certainly not.

Feed the beast: Hot & Sour Soup

Feed the beast: Hot & Sour Soup

Hot and Sour Soup

  • 8 cups veggie broth
  • 1/4 c. tamari (more depending on how salty your broth is)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 half-inch slices of ginger
  • 1 5 oz. can of bamboo shoots, julienned
  • 8 oz. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • small handful dried wood ear mushrooms (julienned or whole)
  • 1/4 of a block of firm tofu
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 c. white vinegar
  • 4 T cornstarch
  • 4-5 scallions
  • 4 T sesame oil
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp chili flakes and/or chili garlic or freshred chili*

Bring veggie broth to a boil. Add minced garlic, tamari, ginger slices, julienned bamboo, sliced shiitakes, and wood ears. Beat the egg and while whisking the boiling soup, pour the egg in slowly. Lovely little egg strings should appear and float to the top. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and vinegar. Pour this mixture into the soup – without it the egg doesn’t stay suspended in the broth and just floats to the top looking icky. Turn the heat down so the soup simmers and add the tofu (diced or thickly julienned), chili goo of your choice, and sesame oil. Just before serving add the scallions and tamari to taste. Makes 4 small bowls. Mmm… taste like Chinese food.

*Shopping in Chinatown is always a bit of a crapshoot. Consistency in stocking just doesn’t exist. Or maybe it’s that everything is in Chinese so if they change the packaging on you (or their English translator), you’re toast. Then you have the added obstacle of finding one delightful something-or-other one time and then you can’t remember which store you got it from when you run out. Ah, yes. It is an adventure. But I digress. We’re talking chilis, people! There are two prepared chili thingies that we use incessantly in our house. One is fairly ubiquitous – our local grocery store even carries it so I’m thinking yours might too. It’s the Sambal Oelek chili sauce. The second is the hilariously named “Freshred Chili Pepper” by Master Sauce Co, Inc. Really, any Asian chili sauce you can lay your hands on will do, but these are tasty if you happen to run across them.

I knew some Greek somewhere had made chickpea meatballs before (see my post here)! Apparently they’re called revithokeftedes. Different than mine, but the recipe sounds good – can’t wait to try it. Peter’s blog, by the way, is very good – with beautiful photos and tasty, authentic Greek recipes. My one beef is that I wish he’d lay off the endangered fish (swordfish, grouper, roughy – all things I’ve seen often on his blog). Buzz kill, dude.

Beware the wheat-beast!

Beware the wheat-beast!

There was an interesting post in the New York Times’ Well Blog on July 2nd stating that a new study by the Mayo Clinic has determined that Celiac Disease is 4 times more common than it was in the 1950s. It also points out that undiagnosed celiacs were 4 times more likely to die over the 45 years they were studying this particular group of subjects, so steer clear of the wheat-beast and NO CHEATING! Life’s too good to waste on a stupid twinkie. Make a gluten-free donut instead! Speaking of which, I should post my recipe…

PICKLES!

PICKLES!

A friend of mine moved to the tippy-edge of Chicago (which looks suspiciously like the ‘burbs, my friends…) and has a little happy vegetable garden (need anymore proof of ‘burbia?!) Apparently her dill took it upon itself to populate the neighborhood so she has a little extra on hand. She brought some over the other night and I was inspired. PICKLES!!!! By some stroke of genius, good old Stanley’s had a sale on Persian cukes (which are a little longer than a kirby and a lot skinnier with a very small seedy section) and I had 10 of them hanging out in my vegetable drawer. Really crispylicious . Ideal for munching, crunching, lunching, and PICKLES!!!! So here’s what I did. I might add that they came out swimmingly. Yum and yum.

Dill Pickles

  • 1 65 oz. jar (no, I am not going to do the math for you to see how your 3lb 6 oz. jar measures up. Just use a Costco artichoke jar!)
  • 10ish persian cukes or kirbies (aka pickling cukes)
  • 8 large sprigs of fresh dill
  • 1/8 c. sea salt (1/4 cup for kirbies – just tested them)
  • 2 T whole peppercorns
  • white vinegar
  • water

Wash the cukes and arrange in the jar. Enjoy the geometry puzzle. Slide the dill sprigs between the cukes and dump your salt and peppercorns on top (the first time I made this recipe it was with Persian cukes, which are about half as thick as kirbies. They tasted great with just 1/8 c. salt. But the second time I used kirbies, which are thicker and 1/8 c. wasn’t enough so I bumped it up to 1/4 c. Just FYI.) Fill the jar 1/2 full of vinegar and the rest of the way with cold water. Make sure the cucumbers are completely submerged. Put the lid on, shake gently and refrigerate for 2 days (why do I always want to put a “d” in refrigerate?) Makes 10 pickles. DUH!

P.S. Have you ever had those nasty sweet bread and butter pickles? Aren’t they the woist?!! I don’t understand why those are the only homemade pickles you ever come across when dill pickles are so easy to make. HA! – maybe they’re just the ones left in the fridge b/c the dill pickles get eaten first.

Disclaimer: I’m not sure how long these will keep in the fridge b/c we’ve never had them for more than a week. But, these are definitely not the kind of pickles that keep outside the fridge. So don’t sue me if you leave them on the counter and you get yourself sick.