Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wednesday Night Shenanigans: Stir fry and Cookies

Friends -

This post is about putting together a stir fry on the fly. About making the best, most unhealthiest cookies in the world, and sneaking them into a two-dollar movie cause you're cheap. And laughing.

The original plan, on yet another gray, sloppy day in the burbs, was to do Taco Night. The bearded one recently received a tortilla press, and had wild plans involving vegan chorizo and homemade tortillas and all I could think about was CILANTRO. And how crappy grocery store tomatoes taste.

My family, however, just had Taco Night on Monday - during which my wonderful mother had four pots going on the stove filled with various meat, non-meat, and vegan options, bless her heart - so that idea got scrapped. Well, set aside for another night and another post. Instead, we gathered at Cy's house to see what kind of veggies he had in the fridge. One chopped carrot, two diced bell peppers and a zucchini later, we decided it was time to fry. Stir fry, that is. It was game on when Cy pulled out a bag of already-chopped fresh mango. Sweet and sour baby.

Now for a quick word on tofu. Since moving back to the burbs, I've been using Panda Tofu, produced in Royal Oak by the Michigan Soy Products Company. It's yummy. In Ann Arbor, I was a fan of Rosewood products, often available in bulk at the local food co-op! As with most other ingredients, it's definitely worth seeking out locally produced items - they're not only tastier, but usually cheaper too.

I've been preparing tofu for myself and others for about three years now, and I'm always seeking out new ways to make this often misunderstood, yet magical and delicious curd more appealing. Especially when I'm trying to impress skeptical omnivores. During this quest, I've found that the best thing you can possibly do for yourself and your tofu is to take the time to press it. Seriously,


I really can't emphasize this concept enough. I only started to devote myself to pressed tofu a few months back, and I feel sad for all the time I've lost. How do you press tofu? Easy, although it does take a little bit of advanced planning. But we're all smart people, right? Simply liberate your block of curd from its cute little package, and rinse with some fresh water. Pat or shake dry, then wrap in a clean kitchen towel. Sandwich between two flat surfaces, and weigh it down - I usually use a thick cookbook and a big can of tomatoes. Let the 'fu press for an hour or so, and flip halfway through if you can remember. If you can't, YOU'VE RUINED IT. Just kidding.

A Somewhat On-The-Fly, Sweet and Sour Stir Fry:

-a chopped carrot
-a chopped bell pepper
-a chopped zucchini
-some chopped mango
-one block tofu, pressed and cut into cubes
-enough dried noodles for 3 people

Sauce (mixed in its own bowl and set aside):
-1 Tbsp tomato paste
-2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
-1 tsp chili bean paste
-2 tsp soy sauce
-1 tsp maple syrup
-2 tsp apple cider vinegar
-1/2 cup water
-2 tsp potato starch

As with all recipe creation, ingredients should be adjusted to your taste. Hoisin sauce/maple syrup for sweetness, soy sauce for salt, vinegar for sourness. Chili bean paste may be substituted by extra soy sauce & hot sauce or cayenne! Remember, season - and taste - early and often.

Heat water to boil and cook noodles, about 10-12 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat some oil - we used sesame - in your pan until hot hot hot! Add the cubed tofu and fry until brown on all sides, about ten minutes. Remove tofu from the pan and drain on paper towels. Refresh pan with a little more oil, then add carrots. Stir until kinda soft, then add both the pepper and zucchini and continue to fry. At this point, I added a dash of cayenne pepper, as well as salt and lemon pepper, and stirred until the veggies were almost tender. Do as you wish - remember, this is cooking on the fly, and you can do whatever you want! Once the veggies are where you want them, add the tofu back to the pan, lower the heat and pour the sauce in. Cook until the sauce thickens, stirring to evenly coat everything.

At this point, I wish we had some cilantro or basil or some kind of herb to garnish with, but we didn't. OH WELL. Serve hot, with noodles.

Dessert, sneaked into Wednesday night's brew and view showing of Youth in Revolt, was a batch of these bad boys, courtesy of our heroes the neverhomemakers:

We didn't have brown sugar, or oil, so we melted some Earth Balance and upped the white sugar to compensate. YUM.

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