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…

Six Pepper Barley and Lentil Risotto

This is a heartier riff on traditional risotto with a sweet and spicy broth. A range of hot chiles create a depth of heat and some sweet onions and bell pepper balance things out.

It has a spanish backbone with a hint of mexican. As usual, it's vegan.

I've been back on the vegan bandwagon for a little while now. Not that I ever strayed that far from it. But the challenge of creating interesting food without butter and cheese has been a lot of fun.

1 red bell pepper
1 poblano pepper
1 jalapeno pepper
1 serrano pepper
1/4 habernero pepper
3 dry japanese chilies
1/2 cup vidalia onoin
1/4 cup scallions
3 cloves garlic

1/4 cup pearl barley
1/4 cup lentils

1/2 cup white wine
1 tsp olive oil
4-5 cups water
2 tsps each salt black pepper
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp paprika

Cook down all the fresh peppers, onion, scallion and garlic with the salt and pepper and oil on high heat until fragrant. About 8 minutes. Add dry barley and lentils and toast for 3 minutes. Stirring often.

De glaze pan with wine.

Add water 2 cups at a time. Add thyme, paprika and Japanese chile's. I found these dried chiles in the Latin spice section of the supermarket shelved alongside the chile's de arbol and the guajillos. I broke them open and desseded before adding. The bag said very hot, but they weren't very hot to me. Your experience may differ.

Traditional risotto is, of course, cooked using broth - not water. But since we have all these wonderful peppers and onions and garlic in our pan we're essentially creating the broth as we add the water. Unlike animal bones, which take time to give up their flavors to the water, veggies tend to release their essence into the water much faster.

Simmer and stir to tenderize the barley and lentils like you're cooking risotto. As the liquid is absorbed keep adding water and stirring until they are softened and there is still a nice amount of orange sauce in the pan.