by Joe Conason, AARP The Magazine, August/September 2013
When Bill Clinton invited me to lunch in May, I knew better than to expect fried catfish or barbecued ribs. The former president is now a devoted vegan, meaning no meat, fish or dairy products, and he has pursued a healthier way of life for more than three years. While I figured our lunch menu might be bland, that would be a small price to pay for private time with a world leader who is anything but.
As it happens, the fit, trim and sharply attired Clinton, whom I’ve come to know well during more than two decades covering his career, is his usual gregarious, charismatic self. But a bland menu? Not even close.
Continue reading, here.
In preparation for my late summer soirees with my brilliant and beautiful Nashville friends, I searched out the best tofu marinade in the world. As I started typing into the big G the words “best tofu mari…” the following option popped up: “best tofu marinade ever.” Ever? I had to see this. And when I read i am madame’s “recipe: the best damned tofu marinade ever,” I also had to TRY it. Below is my adaptation of madame’s brilliance at work.
Please note that if you are not vegan, honey is probably fantastic in this, as well. Also, if you are gf, just use Bragg’s or a quality gf tamari.
I also want to suggest that you use this tofu in sandwiches. It has so much flavor that it can hold up against any bread and veggies. If you do the pita thing (do people still do the pita thing), it would be a great filling. I am (again, as I tested this with my leftovers) thinking more baguette with a little marinade or vegan mayo, lettuce, tomato, and red onion. Oh yes… yes I am.
I have to agree with her original name… seriously. But, because I loathe plagiarism, mine is:
- 1 block extra-firm tofu, pressed
- 1/4 c Bragg’s liquid aminos, tamari, or soy sauce
- 1/4 c agave nectar (a little less if you want this to be a bit more savory)
- 1/8 c tahini
- 1/8 c grapeseed oil
- 1 thumb fresh ginger, roughly chopped (or 2 t dry ginger)
- 2 spring onions, roughly chopped
- 5 cloves fresh garlic
- 1/t ground allspice
- 1 spring onion thinly sliced
- 2 t cilantro, chiffonade
- Marinade: Into a blender add the aminos/tamaria/soy sauce, agave, tahini, grapeseed oil, ginger, onions, garlic, and allspice. Blend until smooth.
- Slice or cut your tofu into your preferred size for cooking. If you are going to saute or stir fry this, cube or crumble. If you are going to broil or bake, slice block into 8 slices. (I like slices.)
- Add a thin layer of marinade to a dish. Place tofu in dish so that it is in a single layer and pour over the remainder of the marinade.
- Marinade for 1 hour or more (I like 2), flipping the tofu over 1/2 way. I do not marinade in the fridge, but am sure that it isn’t too hot in my kitchen when I am doing this. On hot days, feel free to put in fridge.
- Pour off the majority of the marinade (or all if you are stir frying) and save. Cook tofu as you like.
- Garnish with sliced spring onion and cilantro.
Hint: If broiling, know that this will not get super crispy. However, if you do broil, baste the slices with the extra marinade at least once on each side. Broil until golden and bubbly.
Hint: If stir frying, or (even better) doing an easy fried rice with the tofu, add a little of the marinade at the end and make sure it caramelizes just a bit.
So, I’m preparing to return to my humble abode and really (really) want to see my Nashty friends. And, when this happens… seeing them, especially after some time… there must be food. There must be a fresh, delicious, savory and sweet, nibblable, and variety of food. There must be hummus. There absolutely must be hummus. (Side note: hummus is a condiment in my house… it is great on toast with avocado and tomato, for instance.)
The best homemade hummus around?
Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi’s Basic Hummus
Makes 6 servings
- 1 1/4 cup dried chickpeas
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 6 1/2cups water
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons tahini (light roast)
- 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 6 1/2 tablespoons ice cold water
- Good quality olive oil, to serve (optional)
- The night before, put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover them with cold water at least twice their volume. Leave to soak overnight.
- The next day, drain the chickpeas. Place a medium saucepan over high heat and add the drained chickpeas and baking soda. Cook for about three minutes, stirring constantly. Add the water and bring to a boil. Cook, skimming off any foam and any skins that float to the surface. The chickpeas will need to cook for 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the type and freshness, sometimes even longer. Once done, they should be very tender, breaking up easily when pressed between your thumb and finger, almost but not quite mushy.
- Drain the chickpeas. You should have roughly 3 2/3 cups now. Place the chickpeas in a food processor and process until you get a stiff paste. Then, with the machine sill running, add the tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Finally, slowly drizzle in the ice water and allow it to mix for about five minutes, until you get a very smooth and creamy paste.
- Transfer the hummus to a bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap, and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. If not using straightaway, refrigerate until needed. Make sure to take it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving. Optionally, to serve, top with a layer of good quality olive oil. This hummus will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Original post, here.
If you love chocolate and you do nothing else, read this article. Mattie at Veganbaking.net did us all a great favor, here. Really. Read it all (that means read and click the link at the end). Really.
How to Temper Chocolate
My love affair with chocolate comes from many things: The smell of rich cocoa that fills your nostrils upon opening a box of chocolate; the numerous shapes and sizes and the way the light reflects off their glossy angles; the fillings that lurk within certain chocolates, waiting to be discovered; the snap when you bite into it, sending a shockwave throughout your mouth that signifies that the rush of chocolate flavor has been unleashed to your senses. This telltale snap is like a magician quickly withdrawing a velvet cloak, exposing the magic below.
Fascinated by this experience, long ago I set out to make my own chocolate bonbons with good quality store bought baking chocolate. I’d melt the chocolate and use it to coat some fillings and everything would be great. I could pack them up for Mom and she would be astounded when she learned that I had done this all myself.There was only one little problem though.
Once I had given a full day for good measure, to give the chocolate a chance to solidify around the fillings, I grabbed a bonbon to survey it. Surprisingly, they weren’t as glossy as the ones I was trying to replicate from the professional chocolatier. They had more of a flat, blemished appearance with a mysterious white powder that I don’t remember dusting them with. Then I took a bite. Astounded would be the proper word to describe what I was feeling, but not in the way I had hoped. There was no snap and the chocolate crumbled and gave way like a landslide, filling my mouth with chocolate dust that turned from a sandy consistency, into a strange gum before finally melting away. The lack of the snap was like the magician was tripping and falling flat on his face before even getting up to the stage to do the trick.
It turns out that in the chocolate world, there is a difference between solidifying the right way and solidifying the wrong way.
I really like this recipe. I suggest adding some fresh parsley in addition to the basil and using whatever types of tomatoes you are growing in your garden (or pick up at the farmer’s market). Also, on the cooler nights/days, consider making this from dry beans (I love the taste of cooked dry). Thanks to Jolinda Hackett for this.
Quick and Easy Vegetarian White Bean Salad
- 2 15.8-ounce cans Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 pound small Roma or plum tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 tsp coarse sea salt or kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup good quality olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Combine beans, tomatoes, basil, and salt in a bowl, and season with pepper. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, and cook, stirring, until fragrant but not browned, just a minute or two.
- Pour olive oil and garlic mixture over beans and tomatoes, and toss gently to combine.
- Allow the bean salad to stand 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.
Salad can be covered and kept at room temperature up to 4 hours.
Makes six servings of white bean salad.