19 July 2009

Dinner Plan: Apricot Tofu

"Tonight's" Menu*
Entree: Appricot Tofu
Side: Kashi 7 grain pilaf
Side: Green Beans

Apricot Tofu
Take a block of extra firm tofu, slice 1/2" thick, cross cut to bite size squares. Press it well to drain. (Optionally soak it in Apricot Brandy overnight... I've not tried that yet, but will next time I think! :) ) In a small dutch oven (that fits your stove top) warm a small amount of oil (we used Asoyia, an ultra low lin soybean oil.) with some chopped/crushed ginger. About 2 table spoons for a normal 1 lb block of tofu. If you really like ginger, double that. :) Our ginger comes in a babyfood like jar from gilroy farms now... along with the chopped garlic... saves a TON of prep time. Once the oil has a nice ginger aroma, drop in the chunks of tofu and toss to coat with oil.

You have a choice at this point to try to "brown" the tofu or not. I've never been successful in actually "browning" tofu, but it *does* change the texture if you pretend like you're browning chunks of chicken or pork and let it go for a while, stirring occasionally. The oil is there to keep it from sticking too bad, and also to help the ginger flavor get into the tofu.

Dump in an entire pot of apricot preserves. This is *not* a place to skimp and buy the store brand... you REALLY need to be sure you're getting good preserves for this. I can't recommend Dickinson's brand highly enough... they're pretty much the ONLY preserves/marmalades I use in cooking anymore, the exceptions being Rose's brand orange marmalade, and Knott's berry farm for a couple flavors I can't get from Dickinson's. Add another half pot of water, putting the lid back on and shaking it well to get the remaining good bits out. :) Stir well, cover and let simmer for a while. I want to say I left it for 25 min or so the last time we made this. When done, you should have well seasoned cubes of tofu floating in a nice "gravy" thickness orange syrup like sauce. If yours doesn't thicken, leave the lid off for a few minutes, or use less water next time. :)

Kashi side
This is an easy one... grab a pack of Kashi 7 grain pilaf and follow the directions. If you start from the dry grain you can use it as a timer for how long to cook the Tofu, just start the kashi before you put the oil in the pan. We use the MRE like packets that just need a couple Tbps of water and 90 seconds in the microwave.

Green beans
Fresh, Frozen, Canned... whatever floats your boat. I'll admit my mother corrupted me, I dress them with a dab of Mayo and would love some bacon crumbled in... but without that a hit of Penzey's spice goes well. I like many of the curry blends in this case.

Some will note this is a tofu-ized adaptation of my famous apricot pork. It's probably one of the best adaptations of any of my standard dishes to tofu. Different main ingredient calls for different cooking techniques though... so no pressure cooker.

* FootNote
I say tonight in quotes because we actually did apricot pork this week, tofu will be curry tomorrow or tuesday. I've done this twice now I think as documented above. And for you local yocals, you can buy everything you need for this at HyVee (South at least, I dunno about the Barlow or North locations.)

I did this dish again the other day for my brother and sister in law as they passed through. I made the following changes and the results were out of this world. I used firm instead of extra firm tofu... only because the store was out of extra firm. I froze the tofu blocks overnight a couple days before we made this, then let them thaw back out in the fridge. This totally changes the texture into a sponge like structure, very awesome for holding flavors. After cubing and pressing, I soaked them in some apricot brandy for about a half hour. Then I skipped the oil and just used that brandy (and water from the tofu) as the initial cooking liquid to dissolve the ginger in before tossing the tofu and preserves in. Due to an insufficient amount of preserves (and much chunkier than usual since Cory bought a different brand this time) I ended up needing that extra liquid anyway... near the end of the cooking time, the 'sauce' had thickened to the point that it was starting to brown on the tofu... so we actually got some "golden brown and delicious" without any oil! It was totally a success... 2 lbs of tofu between 4.25 people, there were NO leftovers.



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