Monday, May 25, 2009

Meatless Monday: Ginger-Sesame Grilled Tofu Steaks

Sorry for the lapse last week. When life gets busy, some things inevitably slip. But I'm back this week with an extra-yummy recipe to make up for it.

A lot of people, when they think of the grill, think STEAK! Now vegetarians can too! Tofu steaks, that is. I'd never thought of grilling tofu - I just didn't think it was the right consistency to survive grilling intact (like some fish) - but I was wrong, . . . and I've never been more happy to be wrong!

Ginger-Sesame Grilled Tofu Steaks

The vinaigrette marinade for this dish is to-die-for! Once you try it, I would venture to guess you'll be trying it on all kinds of things. In addition to marinating the tofu and lime in it, as the recipe instructs, we also marinated some onion in it before grilling it. And we heaped giant spoonfuls on our rice too. Seconds? Yes, please.

While the tofu does hold up well enough on the grill, you still need to be careful with it. Make sure you put enough cooking spray or oil on the grill grates (before turning on the gas, please!) before you start and be gentle with your tongs when you're flipping those suckers, and you'll be just fine.

The only part of the recipe with which I struggled was the basting instructions. It said to baste occasionally as you grill, but how often is 'occasionally' supposed to be when the tofu is only supposed to cook for 2 minutes on each side? If you've marinated the tofu well, I would argue you don't really need to do any basting because, for us, doing so just meant that the tofu wasn't browned by the end of 4 minutes. Or maybe it was because 'medium heat' on our grill was not quite as hot as the 'medium heat' for which the recipe called. So, my advice to you would be to be flexible with how closely you follow the recipe when you're cooking this one. If it's not brown at the end of 4 minutes, cook it longer and/or maybe turn up your heat. If it looks like it's cooking too quickly or getting dry, baste away.

I would also recommend grilling the tofu steaks with the lime slices on them. Otherwise, you're just placing the lime on top of the tofu when you plate the dish and the lime doesn't really get a chance to impart its flavor on the tofu well enough. (You can't really squeeze slippery, marinated lime slices over the tofu and rice effectively afterward. Trust me on this one.)

Got any favorite vegetarian or vegan recipes?? Please share!

Other Meatless Monday posts

Monday, May 11, 2009

Meatless Monday: Hibiscus Enchiladas & Grapefruit Margaritas

With spring in full swing, many folks are rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty in their gardens. In warm places like the west coast where I live, we're already seeing the fruits of those labors with gorgeous flowers to look at and fresh veggies to eat. . . . Or is that fresh veggies to look at and gorgeous flowers to eat?

One time, I had fried squash blossoms as an appetizer (yum), but this past Cinco de Mayo marks the first time I ever had flowers as the main ingredient in an entree. I was a little skeptical at first, but I needn't have worried - it was incredible!

Hibiscus Enchiladas

As the recipe indicates, we started out with dehydrated hibiscus (jamaica) flowers that needed to be boiled to rehydrate. The water became so dark red and the aroma so strong, I was concerned it wasn't going to be something I was going to like. And then I tasted a piece after it cooled off and wondered how something so sweet was going to work in an enchilada. I was also scratching my head because I'd only ever made enchilada recipes that involved baking, and these enchiladas were supposed to be simply 'assembled.' Hmmmm. My husband and I were so concerned about a potential FAIL, we actually halved the recipe (so we wouldn't have a boatload of something we didn't end up liking) and put a call in to the the bullpen to get the PB&J warming up just in case. But, as I mentioned, we needn't have worried.

The sweetness of the hibiscus and the onions and peppers really complemented each other well and provided a nice contrast to the spiciness of the chipotle sauce, which was sooo good. It had a nice full flavor and just enough heat to add complexity without setting of any fire alarms. You can, of course, make it hotter if you like, and you can always cut the fire with more of the sour cream and queso fresco if need be.

Herbalists claim hibiscus is good for, among other things, reducing high blood pressure. Something else good for reducing your blood pressure? . . .

Grapefruit Margaritas

On Cinco de Mayo, it only seemed fitting to have a drink with a Mexican influence, and what could be more Mexican than tequila? This recipe is a nice twist on an old standard - and much more interesting than popping the top off a boring old Corona. I squeezed fresh grapefruit juice for our drinks, but, if you're not interested in doing that much work for your drink, you can, of course, just use some from a bottle; it'll be a little sweeter, which you might prefer anyway. If you do go the bottled route, I recommend Simply Grapefruit.

Got any favorite vegetarian or vegan recipes?? Please share!

Other Meatless Monday posts

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

Last August, a Palestinian poet with whom I was not that familiar passed away. His name was Mahmoud Darwish. As I read some of the articles about him, I came across his poem "My Mother" and was struck by a couple of the stanzas. In honor of Mother's Day, I share them with you now:

I must be worth my life
At the hour of my death
Worth the tears of my mother.

I might become immortal
Become a God
if I touch the depths of your heart.

I know a lot gets lost in anything translated, but I still appreciate the beauty of the sentiment in this poem, especially on a day like today when I think of all that my mother has done for me, all the love that she has given me and continues to give. Happy Mother's Day, Lois.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Meatless Monday: Mashed Potatoes & Turnips

My latest challenge has been to figure out different ways to prepare turnip. (Three large Japanese turnips were in my latest CSA box). The following recipe proved to be a delicious solution. Mind you, it looked just awful (grey mush), but it really was yummy - brilliant alternative to straight-up mash potatoes.

Mashed Potatoes & Turnips

No special tips this week. This one's a really quick and simple recipe that you can make with your eyes shut. Sometimes you need those.

Okay, well, maybe one quick note - this is one of those recipes that gives your ingredients in weight (e.g., 1 lb. of turnips). I used my kitchen scale to get the weight exact (cuz I'm anal retentive that way), but if you don't have one (and/or don't have problems with anal retention), two large potatoes and two large turnips will net you roughly the same results.

Got any favorite vegetarian or vegan recipes?? Please share!

Other Meatless Monday posts