Saturday Night Sandwich

achiote tofu and avocado sandwich

Achiote tofu and avocado, homemade fennel bread and baked sweet potato slices…doesn’t get any better!


$.50 on a sweet potato from the Farmer’s Market

$1.50 on 6 eggs from the Pioneer

$2 on feta cheese from the Pioneer

$2.50 frozen yogurt (it was on sale…it was also 70 degrees on Friday in Brooklyn)

TOTAL: $6.50

TOTAL LEFT FOR THE WEEK: $20.39 leaving us $9.61 to spend!

Achiote Tofu

We recently broke out the Bribri achiote paste we bought while we were in Costa Rica. I was very timid about using much of it, since I thought it might be very pungent. In any case, we used a bit of the paste as part of a marinade for tofu with some olive oil, rice vinegar, and salt. We briefly sauteed the tofu in a skillet and then baked it for a while. As you can see, that little bit of paste gave the tofu a lot of color, but the flavor didn’t end up being so intense. Next time we may have to use a bit more….hopefully it won’t dye our whole lives bright red.

Update on the Tofurkey

After reading a comment that Susan wrote on the Tofurkey post below and checking out all the comments, I wrote a lengthy comment on Chow and thought I would share it with you all.  I didn’t follow the Tofurkey recipe completely. In fact, I changed a lot of seasonings because I kept tasting the tofu mixture as I was blending it – recommended for all cooks.  If you taste as you cook (barring things with raw eggs, and I am guilty of that), then you hopefully won’t have the bland issue happen…ever.  Just don’t overseason and you’ll be OK!

Here’s the comment in full:

“I made this for Thanksgiving this year and it was VERY tasty.  Not sure what happened with sanlynn36’s version – I definitely upped the salt and spices in mine, which could explain it.  I blended the first batch of tofu with the recipe’s spices and then blended the second batch with spices as well before combining the two.  I then tasted the mixture and added more salt.  Since I couldn’t find miso where my folk’s lived, I just subbed some Teriyaki sauce they had in their fridge and kept tasting until the mixture tasted good to me.

I made everything the day before and assembled it Thanksgiving morning and baked it, using my own glaze mixture (threw some OJ, garlic, maple syrup, sage, thyme, salt and pepper and grated lemon peel in a food processor).  We also served it with vegetarian nut gravy, which was a rich counterpoint to the tofu.

Right out of the oven, it was good and the texture was OK, but it was even better the next day.  I would say you could make this and bake most of it for an hour, put it in the refrigerator and then cook through the next day for another 15-20 minutes, adding more glaze.  The tofu is moist enough that I think it could withstand this process.”

Homemade “Tofurkey”

I saw this recipe on Chow the other day and immediately wanted to try making it for Thanksgiving – a homemade tofurkey!  I made everything the day before and then combined the tofu mixture and rice stuffing the day of Thanksgiving.  I also adapted the glaze to include some maple syrup and herbs.  The recipe is great and easy to make ahead.  It actually firmed up in the fridge and I think you could cook it, leave it in the fridge, glaze again and heat through the next day for a super-sliceable entree.

Our Thanksgiving meal included the above-Tofurkey, a real Turkey, garlic/chives mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with some mini-marshmallows, stuffing, salad, homemade corn-muffins, Brussels sprouts, veggie gravy, regular gravy asparagus and cranberry/orange sauce…YUM!

“Steakhouse” Dinner

Playing with the idea of a “steakhouse” dinner with the bounty from Chinatown, we made some mashed Japanese sweet potatoes, smoked tofu “steaks” and a side of greens (in this case, not spinach, but bok choy).  Delicious!  Japanese sweet potatoes are definitely sweeter than the usual yams and almost taste like chestnuts.  I’m very excited to try using them in a sweet potato pie for Thanksgiving.

Rice Noodle Stir-Fry

Grabbed some items from Chinatown (smoked tofu, Chinese spinach, baby bok choy and fresh rice noodles), which brought our weekly budget to $23.36.  Tonight’s dinner was a stir fry with rice noodles and stir fried bok choy, Chinese spinach and fresh corn with soy sauce and homemade spicy oil.

Orzo with Mushrooms, Hazelnuts, Parsley, and Tofu

This was a recipe that I wanted to make on Friday with white beans, but after coming home a bit late from work, I decided my original Thursday night recipe (including brown rice) would take too long. Adaptation! I decided to toast the orzo a bit and then cook it in loads of water and it added a nice nutty flavor to the orzo.

Orzo with Mushrooms, Hazlenuts, Parsley, and Tofu

Cooking Soundtrack: Bjork – Live Box


Tofu Marinade (Phil’s creation, not sure about portions, but a lil bit of this and that)

Rice Vinegar
Sesame Oil
Soy Sauce (just a small dash)
Agave Nectar
Crushed Red Pepper
White Pepper

The Rest of the Stuff

1 block of extra-firm tofu

1 cup orzo

1 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic

1 tbsp fennel seeds

8 white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

1.5 cups chopped parsley

handful of chopped toasted hazelnuts with skins rubbed off

squeeze of lemon

salt & pepper

To Do:

First, squeeze out as much water as you can from the tofu. Cut into thirds lengthwise and then into triangles. Heat a nonstick pan and put the tofu in the pan (no oil, nothing). This will help dry out the tofu and enable it to absorb the marinade better. Cook on both sides and press down with a spatula until the tofu looks toasted and dry. While it’s cooking whip up the marinade. Put all marinade ingredients in a bowl and mix with a fork. Place dried-out tofu in a pan and cover with marinade. The longer you soak the tofu, the more flavorful it will be (I only did it for about 20 minutes though).

While the tofu is marinating, heat up the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Sautee the garlic and fennel seeds over medium heat and then add the orzo. Mix vigorously with a wooden spoon until orzo is toasty. Add a whole lot of water and some salt. Cook until al dente (about 7-8 minutes). Drain (reserve some liquid in a cup) and cover to keep it warm.

Finish up with the mushrooms while the orzo is cooking. Heat up a tiny bit of olive oil (I have an olive oil spray bottle and just used a quick spray) – you don’t need much because mushrooms contain a lot of moisture. Sautee the mushrooms until they’re a lovely brown color and squeeze a bit of lemon juice if they appear to stick to the pan. Add some salt and pepper to the mix. If the orzo is still cooking, steal a bit of the pasta water and add it to the mushrooms. If you already drained the orzo, use some of the pasta water you saved. The mushrooms should be browned and reduced in size.

Toss the orzo, parsley, mushrooms and hazlenuts (toast them in oven or toaster oven and use dishtowel to rub off skins) together. Add more lemon and salt and pepper to taste. Top with slices of the tofu. Eat!