Good morning! Here are Three Things I am excited about this week…
1. The Tofu Roasting Method That Changed Everything For Me
I think hands-down the best tofu is crispy tofu, i.e. when it’s been dredged in cornstarch, then pan-fried in a generous amount of oil and tossed with some form of glaze or sauce. (Exhibit A: Hsiao-Ching Chou’s Crispy Weeknight Tofu with vegetables.) But honestly, dredging and frying can be a pain sometimes, and when my friend Robin (by way of our friend Kate, who teaches cooking classes) introduced me to this roasting method, the tofu dinner doors felt suddenly flung wide open. You simply toss tofu cubes in a large mixing bowl with cornstarch, soy sauce, and oil, then spread on a parchment-paper-lined (crucial that it’s parchment paper and not foil) baking sheet to roast. As you can see, they get a nice crispy edge and then become eminently tossable — into noodle dishes, into salads, into bowls. Here is the official recipe:
Basic Baked Tofu
1 (14- to-15-ounce) block extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 tablespoons neutral oil, such as vegetable or grapeseed oil, or extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. In a bowl, toss the tofu with the oil, soy sauce, cornstarch, and cayenne (if using) and place on the prepared sheet pan. Bake until the tofu is golden and the corners look crispy, 15-20 minutes.
In The Weekday Vegetarians I use the tofu cubes in a bunch of recipes including Eggplant-Tofu Bowls with Sweet-Hot Chili Glaze (page 55); Cabbage-Kale-Tofu Salad with Citrusy-Ginger Dressing (page 65); The Wheat Berry Salad with Grapes, Arugula, and Feta (page 65). But I feel like I could fill a whole new book with recipes that deploy them deliciously, beginning with a Tofu, Pepper, Caramelized Pineapple Salad with Peanut Sauce I made last week inspired by a gorgeous looking Lara Lee recipe from the Times. It’s a keeper.
2. I’m Watching You!
As you all know by now, I look to Jodi Levine (aka supermakeit) for creative inspiration all year long, but I do so especially this time of the year as we head into Halloween and the holidays. Last week she did a little series of of creepy eyeball-themed foods and they were all next-level genius (a “creepy croquembouche!”) but I thought the blueberry stuffed lychee eyeball was, like, perfect…just the right balance of creepy-clever for a grown-up celebrating Halloween. (Since that’s where I am these days!) Here are Jodi’s super easy instructions for the eyeballs: “I used canned lychees which come already pitted and popped a blueberry inside. Freeze them ahead of time if you want them to float!” And here’s a good recipe for the lychee martini, which makes use of the juice from the canned lychees. P.S. No one says you have to limit your eyeball lychees to martinis or alcoholic drinks. Imagine these floating in a punch bowl?
Lychee Eyeball Martini
3 ounces vodka
2 ounces lychee juice from canned lychees
1/2 ounce vermouth
1 lychee eyeball, for garnish
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add vodka, lychee juice and vermouth. Shake until chilled. Pour into martini glass and garnish with lychee eyeball.
3. Succession Sofa Suppers
Have you set your plans for the season premiere of Succession on Sunday? I’ve re-watched the last few episodes of Season 2 for a refresher courses, and now I just have to decide what’s for dinner. I loved Diana Henry’s Sofa Suppers post last week (“With Succession coming up, there will be a lot of sofa suppers”) which reminded me of last year when we were entertaining around bonfires on the back porch and my dinner repertoire became reduced to the category of “Can you eat it on your lap with a bowl and a single utensil?” So my questions for you today: What are you making? And: Are you in the righteous vehicle?
Have a great week.
(Top tofu photo by Christine Han.)