Saturday, 13 August 2011

Nature guffaws at us.

Went strawberry picking with Dad recently.

How nature knew I needed my spirits lifting, I'll never know, but she did, like when she sends bonkers frogs one centimetre in length to our pond where they do irrational things way too risky for something that's only just lost its tail.

Yep, on this day Nature outwitted me with a display of accidental vulgarity that would rival the most energetic Facebook photo collection. How did they get like this? I'm not sure I want to know - I didn't SEE a Monsanto lorry anywhere - but they had a sweetness that belied their robust and manly appendages.


Mole's Dirty Tofu.

We've been asked twice in the last few days what to do with tofu, so I am sharing my recipe for super-easy but filthy-tasting baked tofu here.

Now I can eat tofu straight from the packet, but the key to making it appealing to omnivores as well as giving it Sunday-dinner levels of satisfaction is to bake it. Stir-frying is OK, but you need to get the timing and heat just right in order to get that crispy outer/soft inner and it can too easily go wrong.

Neither an apologist substitute for those rectally-infused eyelid tubes known as sausages nor a fake-meat cross-dresser of a vegan stand-in, this is full-on juicy, oily protein with plenty of B vits, herbs, salt and crackly edges.

We do this - but feel free to adlib, maybe with a little black pepper or chillies for some extra excitement!

Take one pack of tofu, smoked or plain, your choice (don't do this with the flavoured ones).
Good olive oil, tomatoes, Engevita, Marigold vegan bouillon - Holland and Barrett (or your local health food store should) sell both of these - smoked paprika, black pepper. You won't need salt.

Wash the tofu well and pat it dry. Leave it, preferably, to dry off for a bit wrapped in a towel (makes edges crispier when cooked).

Take a shallow metal dish - not silicone, but glass is OK - and swill plenty of olive oil into the bottom.

Cut the tofu into thickish slices (half an inch) and lay the first layer of slices - we have two here, but that depends on your dish and tofu size. Keep it one-layer-deep only.
Gently score the top so the juices can get in.
Rub a teaspoon of bouillon over the surface, then sprinkle a heaped teaspoon of Engevita over that. Sprinkle with a little smoked paprika.
Drizzle with olive oil.

Lay the next layer, and repeat what you just did.

Do it again for any further layers till all the slices are used.
Make sure the top is nicely oiled.
Lay sliced tomatoes around the edges, sitting in the olive oil.
It should look something like this!

Bake for 30 minutes at 180C; it should come out bubbling around the edges with melted, brown-edged tomatoes and sizzling tofu corners. Like this:

We ate ours with a giant turnip boiled whole in salted water, then sliced and baked in the oven and served with salad and raw courgettes. Meaty eh? If you cook this and anyone fails to see what a juicy filthy treat this is, either they're blind with no sense of smell, oh and no tastebuds, and possibly no tongue, or you haven't done it right. Man up, take whatever punishment is due to you, then go back and cook it again.

Download the recipe as a PDF here:
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