Saturday, April 1, 2006

Tofu and veggies baked in parchment paper

(Originally posted on Saturday, April 1, 2006 by Tim)

I found a hilarious article on the BBC web site today. Apparently, some artist has made a statue of Britney Spears giving birth to her son on a bear skin rug. She is naked and on all fours. The statue is supposedly a tribute to the pro-life movement and the artist has been taking flack from both sides. The pro-choice people are protesting because it?s pro-life. The pro-life people are protesting because it?s got naked people in it. The best part of all is that Britney had a cesarean section.

It?s been a big week for cooking here. I think we have made three new meals. Cat made a tasty corn chowder and I made the two other meals. The meal from last night was rice and beans. The triumph on that meal was that I cooked the beans from scratch while deftly avoiding burning the house down. To accomplish this, I used a high tech gadget called a crock pot. Outside of the lack of copious amounts of smoke, the recipe didn?t turn out the way I wanted. I was aiming for Mexican style beans and I ended up with something closer to spicy baked beans. I plan to cut the sugar in half and add some cilantro and cumin next time. I?ll post a recipe once I have something I like.

The other recipe that I made was fennel and tofu baked in parchment paper. It?s a modified version of something I found in a magazine while Cat was getting new glasses at the optometrist. The original recipe called for scallops, but the tofu from our Kung Pao tofu recipe made a fine replacement. The fennel root gave the dish and interesting flavor. I was expecting it to be very licoricey. Instead, the fennel added some heat with a mild licorice background.

Tofu in Parchment
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 15 oz can of white beans (drained and rinsed)
1 fennel bulb (halved, cored, and thinly sliced)
½ cup fresh parsley (chopped)
2 tsp olive oil
½ tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
1 lb Kung Pao tofu

Kung Pao Tofu (just the tofu part)
3 cloves crushed garlic
2 tbs Japanese rice wine or sherry
2 tbs cornstarch
½ tsp salt
Lots of fresh ground pepper
1 lb extra firm tofu (cubed)

The day before the meal, mix all of the Kung Pao ingredients except the tofu. Toss the tofu in this mixture and marinade overnight in the refrigerator .

Pre-heat oven to 400oF. Place marinated tofu in a greased baking dish and cook until the outer coating begins to just slightly brown. Remove tofu from oven.

Mix tomatoes, beans, fennel, parsley, oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Place 4 sheets of parchment on the counter and spoon the bean mixture in the center. Top the bean mixture with the tofu. Cover with 4 more sheets of parchment. Fold up sides of parchment to seal edges and bake at 400oF for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, cut parchment open, and spoon the contents onto plates. Make sure to be careful of the steam when you cut open the parchment package.

Working with the parchment was a pain. It didn?t hold the folds I made very well. I?m thinking of using some of those black office binder clips on the sides next time.

I was surprised by how well this recipe turned out. I didn't expect it to be all that good. Cat's comment was, "If you didn't think it would be any good, why did you try it." I guess I just wanted to play with parchment parchment paper. It's like bubble wrap for your oven.

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