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Friday, February 4, 2011

Jerk It Out!

One of the best activities during the winter to escape the cold, besides going to hot yoga, is getting in the kitchen and cooking up a hot meal.  I crave comfort food like mad in the wintertime, so I decided to make Broiled Blackened Tofu with Butternut cocunut Rice and Jerk Asparagus all from Appetite for Reduction.  I was not disappointed!

I had a little mishap using my broiler, though.  I've never used the broiler before (I should be slapped, I know), so I didn't realize that there's 2 settings you need to set the dials to on my stove.  I got one, but realized it halfway through that I didn't have the other dial set correctly.  Woops!  So my tofu wasn't exactly blackened, but well done.  It was still good, though!  I had a problem with my seasonings falling off too, so I would suggest scoring the tofu a little bit so it will stick better.  That may be because I didn't broil it correctly, though.  Ah, well.  Just play with it and you'll figure it out!  That's half the fun of cooking!

Anyway, tofu mishaps aside, the dish was delicious!  A little note on cooking tofu.  You'll always want to get extra-firm tofu if you are cooking it in dishes like these.  I only use soft tofu if I'm going to be using a processor.  I suggest getting Trader Joe's Organic Extra Firm Tofu.  It's the best!  If you've never pressed tofu before, it's a little bit of a tricky operation.  If you don't have a TofuXpress press, get one!  It's one of the best things I've bought recently.  It's so simple and finally I no longer have to have a balancing act going on in my kitchen.  One less stress.  The "conventional" way is pretty much all improv.  Find out what works best for you.  Remove the tofu from the packaging and dump out the water.  Gently squeeze out as much of the water from the tofu that you can without having it fall apart.  Be very gentle.  Next fold up some paper towels (you'll want them to be rather thick) and place on the bottom and top of the tofu block.  Place this on a dinner plate.  Next come up with anything firm, flat and heavy to stack on top of the tofu.  I had been using a cutting board to place on top and then I stacked as many heavy cookbooks on top without crushing the tofu.  You'll have to check on it routinely to make sure the books don't topple.  I usually pressed it for about an hour, but just watch it to see how much water is being squeezed out.  The more moisture you get out of the tofu, the firmer it will get and the better it will taste (in my opinion).  Nobody likes spongy tofu.  Or just get a TofuXpress and you just drop it in, turn the knob, pop it in the fridge and forget about it.  Ahhh...one less thing to worry about!  You can purchase it here.

This dish is so yummy!  The tofu is nice and crispy on the outside.  The rice is creamy, savory, a little sweet because of the coconut and butternut squash and it really hits the spot on a cold winter's day.  The jerk asparagus has a great kick to it, which compliments the rest of the dish quite well.  Big thumbs up from me! 

Broiled Blackened Tofu
Serves 4
Gluten free if using tamari

Spice blend:
2 1/2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced

Everything else:
1 block tofu (about 14 oz, pressed), sliced into eights
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon tamari (or soy sauce)

On a dinner plate, mix together the spice blend and set aside.

Adjust the broiler (if necessary) so that the baking sheet will be around 6 inches away from the heat.  Preheat the oven to broil.  Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.  Poke each slice of tofu with a fork three or four times, to let the flavors seep in. 

Drizzle the olive oil and soy sauce on the far side of the baking sheet, in a puddle.  You'll be laying the tofu onto the sheet, so just make the "puddle" area off to one side.  Dip each slice lightly into the sauce mixture, enough to lightly coat each side.  Then dredge in the spice mixture, pressing firmly to make sure the spices will stick.  Place the tofu on the baking sheet in a single layer.  Spray the tops with a little cooking spray.  Place the tofu in teh broiler and broil for about 12 minutes, flipping once about halfway through.  Keep a close eye on it; broilers vary from oven to oven and you don't want your tofu to burn!  The tofu is done when it looks dark and black in some spots.  Thus the blacked!  You can slice each piece into lengthwise strips, if you like.  That makes for a nice presentation with teh blacken crust and stark white interior.  Serve ASAP.

Per serving (1/4 of recipe): Calories: 100, Calories from fat: 60, Total fat: 7g, Saturated fat: 1g, Trans fat: 0g, Total carb: 5g, Fiber: 2g, Sugars, 2g, Protein: 9g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 240mg, Vitamin A: 15%, Vitmain C: 45%, Caclium: 20%, Iron: 15%

Butternut Coconut Rice
Serves 6
Gluten, Soy free

1 cup brown basmati rice
2 cups water
A pinch of salt
2 pounds butternut squash
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 cup sliced shallots
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon lime zest
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup light coconut milk
1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

First, preheat the oven to 400 (for the squash) and cook your rice according to package directions, or however you prefer to cook rice.  I rinse the rice and then add it to a 2 quart pot along with the water and a pinch of salt.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, immediately lower the heat as low as it will go and cook for about an hour.

For the squash, slice off the bulbous part.  Slice in half lengthwise, exposing the seeds.  Scoop the seeds out with a tablespoon.  Slice the long par tof the squash in half lengthwise as well.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the squash face down on the sheet.  Bake for about 45 minutes.  Once it's soft enough to pierce with a fork, remove it from the oven and let it cool.  (Place it outside to cool if possible; that'll speed things up.)  when the squash is cool enough to handle, proceed with the recipe.

*Alternate way of cooking squash:  I really like to roast my squash so it carmelized a little bit.  If you want to try this way, then preheat the oven to 425 instead.  Peel the squash and cut into 1 inch cubes.  Lightly spray with olive oil and spread over a baking sheet in a single layer.  Bake for 20 minutes, flip, spray a little more olive oil, then bake for 20 more minutes.  The outside will be spotted brown (carmelized) when done.  I espeically love to roast squash, season with salt and pepper and eat this as a snack.  Yum!

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat.  Saute the shallot in the oil, using a little nonstick cooking spray if needed, until lightly browned, about 7 minutes.  Add the ginger, garlic, lime zest, red pepper flakes, and salt and saute for another 2 minutes.  Turn down the heat to low.

Scoop the flesh out of the squash and add it to the plan, along with the coconut milk.  Use a potato masher (or a fork) to mash the butternut into a creamy consistency.  Add the rice and stir well.  Add 1/4 cup of the vegetable broth and mix well.  You can add up to another 1/4 cup of broth to get a creamier consistency if you like.  Add the lime juice, taste for salt, and serve!

Per serving (1/6 recipe): Calories: 240, Calories from fat: 40, Total fat: 4.5g, Saturated fat: 2g, Trans fat: 0g, Fiber: 4g, Protein: 5g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 140mg, Vitamin A: 330%, Vitamin C: 60%, Calcium: 10%, Iron: 10%

Jerk Asparagus
Serves 4
Gluten, soy free

1 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more if you like it spicy)
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 pound asparagus, coarse ends removed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Lime wedges, to serve

Preheat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat.  Saute the ginger and garlic in the oil for about 30 seconds.  Add the red pepper flakes and thyme, plus a splash of water.  Let is sizzle for a few seconds.  Add the asparagus, salt and spices.  Use tongs to toss and coat, adding a few splashes of water if it seems dry.  Saute for about 10 minutes, until the asparagus is tender and the ends are slightly frizzled.  Serve immediately.

Per serving (1/4 recipe): Calories: 40, Calories from fat: 10, Total fat: 1.5g, Saturated fat: 0g, Trans fat: 0g, Total carb: 6g, Fiber: 2g, Sugars, 2g, Protein: 3g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 150mg, Vitamin A: 15%, Vitamin C: 10%, Calcium: 4%, Iron: 15%

1 comment:

  1. I made this meal (except with Saffron-Garlic rice from Veganomicon because I don't like coconut) and it was delicious! My dad liked it, too. The asparagus was his favorite.

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