Sunday, January 17, 2010

On the Mend, (or In Which I Need Something Spicy).

We are on the mend, at long last. My self, which has subsisted the past 4 days on cereal and bread, is ready to eat. Not that I'm up to any 5 course meals (or even 3 courses), but actual food is sounding appealing once again. I caught the "non-flu" bug that my little one had a week ago, and what was the worst part was that it happened after I thought I was safe. Now, even my head cold is rapidly shrinking, and I feel miles ahead in the health department.

My confirmation of feeling better is that I want to be in the kitchen again. That 5th Alien (part of the Alien Illusions knit scarf) is just going to have to be patient once more, whilst I make up for lost time. I thought I wanted rice pudding today, and was fully intending to make some when I realized that I don't have a taste for sugar - I have a taste for spice. Indeed, it has been a week since I've had any sugar. Can this be right? Am I correct in my calculation? I almost don't want to ruin my track record, but at the same time want to immediately start my oven and make a cake.

Instead, I made tofu. After church, we stopped at the Outpost, and I uncontrollably was drawn to the Simple Soyman tofu that Lo just used for her Daring Cook's Challenge. Now, I know what you're thinking: "tofu doesn't actually have a flavor" - and you would be correct in your thoughts. However, there really is not a better vehicle when a copious amount of spice is what you are after. Here's what I did:

After lunch (which for me consisted of Kombucha from said co-op trip, and the leftover sweet potato muffin that the Boy-O didn't eat), I pressed the tofu for an hour or so under the creative tower of mixing bowls you see above.

I adapted this spice rub from Cook's Illustrated, meant as a BBQing rub for meat. I had some leftover, but think I may actually make some meat for the first time in a couple of weeks this week, and use it up. I have a feeling it will be pretty versatile.

Tofu BBQ Spice:

  • 1 T. paprika
  • 2 t. chili powder
  • 2 t. cumin
  • 2 t. brown sugar
  • 2 t. salt
  • 3/4 t. oregano
  • 3/4 t. granulated sugar
  • about 30 grinds of black pepper, or equivalent
  • 1/4 t. (or more) cayenne pepper

Mix everything in a small bowl.

I cut my tofu into triangles, and dredged them in the spice mix before resting them in a couple of glass pans coated with a little olive oil.

Bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes, turning every 10 minutes. I sprinkled them with a little extra kosher salt after tasting the first one and thinking they needed more...but that may still be my cold affecting my taste. After my sample, (and inspired by Lo's satay sauces) I knew I needed my own dipping sauce. I modified another Cook's Illustrated recipe originally for a Ranch style dressing. I think it hit the spot.

Cilantro-Yogurt Dipping Sauce:

  • 2 T. buttermilk
  • 2 T. mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c. plain yogurt (use sour cream if you prefer it thicker)
  • 1 1/2 t. water
  • 2 t. lime juice (squeeze a half a lime - just eyeball)
  • 1/4 t. granulated garlic
  • 1/4 (or more) cayenne pepper
  • 1/4-1/2 t. salt to taste
  • chopped cilantro, as much as you like

Mix everything together in a small bowl.

I think I like recipes that the only instructions are "mix together", especially since I still am a bit tired from this whole ailment thing. I had a couple triangles with sauce for a snack (post photo shoot), and now that dinner is approaching, am considering cutting the triangles a bit smaller and making a salad if my greens survived the week - I haven't checked them yet. If not, I'll be happy to eat these spicy bites on their own.


  1. I love love love Cook's Illustrated (and Cook's Country) - oh this looks amazing, especially the yogurt sauce.

  2. Thanks, Aimee! I love them, too. Sometimes I feel bad altering their recipes, because most of the time there are such well explained reasons for each ingredient, but once in awhile I do ok...

  3. I can't believe I almost missed this post (good thing you mentioned tofu in your latest blog entry!). I'm a big fan of tofu, and it's probably because it makes such a good vehicle for whatever flavors I'm craving at the moment.

    Also love the tower of mixing bowls! Of course, I can't laugh too hard because you'll see a similar sight at our house whenever we're pressing tofu!!

  4. Now this might just get me started eating Tofu. As a southerner, anything BBQed has to be good.

    Lo, you have a terrific creative blog here. I look forward to read through more delectable treats...

    Oh, do you have any more of those chocolate cupcakes on your banner photo? If, so put me down for a dozen.

  5. Thanks, Lo and George! I will add that I think the tofu does taste better at the warm or room temp end of the spectrum, and not just out of the fridge...

    And lest you would think I'm too vegetarian, George, I'm planning to put the remainder of that spice mix on a pork roast and slow cook it towards the end of the week... I'll let you know how it turns out!


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