Spicy Barbecue Tofu

Tofu tends to get a bad rap. If it's not prepared properly it can feel like eating an old sponge and taste of absolutely nothing. On the other hand, when treated well, tofu can be a scrumptious treat for the senses as well as powerful nourishment for the body.

I first fell in love with tofu through my local Chinese takeout. They have deep fried tofu with sauteed vegetables. Deep fried tofu has the perfect chewy exterior and pillowy soft center. It tastes of all the vegetables, oil and soy sauce from the wok.

I've experimented with cooking tofu at home. I don't really deep fry. But there are other great ways to prepare tofu as a main protein. I like to broil it. I use a classic meat eaters method to give it flavor. I brush it with a glaze before and mid cooking. It works brilliantly both in terms of flavor and texture.

It's totally vegan.

1 package extra firm tofu
4 tbls olive oil
2 tbls hot sauce
2 tbls sriracha
1 tbl apple cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp…

Vegan Italian Steak and Peppers

This is my riff on the iconic Jersey shore Italian classic Steak and Peppers.

This was one of my grandmother's favorite meals. I used my mad love for everything potato to inspire this vegan variation.

Potato portion....       
1 large sweet potato
1 large russet potato
1 large red potato

2 cups red wine vinegar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup spicy mustard
1/4 cup sriracha
3 tbls soy sauce

Preheat oven to 450 F

Peel the sweet potato. Leave the skins on the others. Slice into nice long steak fry type shapes. Do a juilianne on the reds.

Whisk together the marinade ingredients and toss the potato slices in the liquid. Roast each type of potato in its own 8-9 inch non stick cake pan with a little of the liquid in the bottom. Just enough to barely coat the bottom of the pan. Turning the potatoes half way through the cooking process.

Set aside the remaining marinade.

Cook reds for 30 minutes. Russets for 40. Sweets for 50. When all the potatoes are done cooking put all three back into the oven. Turn off the oven. Allow potatoes to sit in the hot oven for 20 more minutes. This slow drying process will give them a chewy outside texture and a tender inner texture.

Set aside the cooked potatoes.

Onto the pepper portion....
1 large red bell pepper
1 large poblano pepper
1 jalapeno pepper
1 pint baby bella mushrooms
1/2 a habernero
5 cloves garlic
1/2 cup beer
2 tsps Italian seasoning (oregano and thyme)

Cut peppers into thin strips. Slice mushrooms chunky. Slice garlic thinly.

Season mushrooms generously with salt and pepper. Cook in a lightly olive oiled skillet until barely tender. Add peppers, garlic. Cook until softened lightly. Add beer and Italian seasoning. Simmer 7 minutes.

Remove vegetables from pan, leaving the liquid. Turn off heat.

In a small pan make a roux with vegetable shortening and flour. Melt 2 tbls of vegetable shortening over medium heat. Whisk in 2-3 tbls flour until a thin paste is formed. Continue whisking and cooking until roux is a dark shade of beige.

Remove roux from pan to a storage container.

Add reserved marinade to pan, 1/4 cup water, plus 1 tsp roux. Whisk and cook over low heat until sauce is thickened into a gravy like consistency. Once you add the roux this happens quickly.

Serve potatoes combined with pepper/mushroom mix and some of the gravy.

Save the remaining roux in the fridge or freezer for later use.

For a sweeter take on this dish, use balsamic vinegar instead of red wine.