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Crispy Tandoori Tofu!

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I’ve posted a recipe for this tofu–or at least a variation of it–in the past but I made it for staff lunch today and thought I’d re-post it because it is so easy and delicious to make. Sometimes I eat it as a salad component but today I ate it on a sandwich with toum (my chickpea version of Lebanese garlic mayo), vegetables, and whole grain bread. Follow the links in this paragraph for the other components, and the tofu recipe is below.

Crispy Baked Tofu Marinated in Yogurt and Spices
1 (14 ounce) package extra firm tofu
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon curry
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon crushed hot pepper
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
Remove the tofu from its package and drain it. Place it between two plates to allow the weight of a plate (or two) to press out additional moisture. Drain the tofu again and slice it into ½ inch slices, then lay it on a baking sheet. To make the marinade, combine the yogurt, lemon, garlic curry, turmeric, hot pepper, cumin, and salt. Mix the marinade, then pour it over the tofu, gently turning it to coat all sides. Preheat an oven to 400F and allow the tofu to marinate at room temperature for 10-15 minutes. Transfer the tofu to a clean baking sheet that is fitted with a wire rack (if you have one, otherwise place it directly on the baking sheet but lightly oil it first). Sprinkle the sesame seeds across the tofu and bake it for about 30 minutes, or until firm and slightly crisp (rotate the pan every 5 minutes or so for even cooking). This is delicious on a sandwich, salad, or as a simple snack; it can be eaten hot, room temperature, or chilled. 

Toum! (an interpretation)

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So this is a variation of a variation of a variation…but geeze ‘o man is it good. What, you may wonder, am I talking about. Garlic mayonnaise and it’s many variation. The south of France (and Italy and Spain) have Aioli (the French word for garlic is ail), in the Middle East there is the potent Toum (which simply translates as garlic), and in Greece there is Skordalia (not sure of the etymology of this one). And then there’s my most recent version I’ll call beaonnaise [sic]. But I’m jumping ahead. I love to eat a sandwich at lunch, and I also love the flavor of garlic. And in my continued effort to eat healthier (minus the eggs and low grade oil in most mayonnaise) I made this and it is really easy (and super delicious). I just recently found out that beans–and especially chickpeas–contain lecithin, which of course is the same emulsifying agent that is in egg yolks. And we all know that beans in general are really good for you, and so is olive oil, so I replaced the egg yolk with chic peas. Delicious. You can cut down on or increase the amount of garlic as you like, and with the aid of a blender this will take about 2 minutes to make. And because there are no raw egg yolks this will last a while in the fridge…but it likely will not because it is so delicious.

Beaonnaise

Makes about 1½ cups


1 (15 ounce can) chick peas, drained and rinsed

2-4 cloves garlic

¼ cup lemon juice

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ cup virgin olive oil


Combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil in a blender and puree. While the blender is running add the olive oil in a thin stream. Continue to blend for 30 seconds, or until the beaonnaise is light and fluffy.

Chop This! (The easiest and likely the most nutritious and delicious salad you’ll ever make.)

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Okay. So if you have a garden–or even if you don’t–now is the time to seize summer’s bounty. Whether you grow it yourself or purchase it at the store, the time is ripe for summer vegetables. And when the vegetables are as perfectly ripe as they are right now, eating them raw (or some lightly cooked) with the simplest preparation is the way to go. The below recipe is just a guide. Use whatever vegetables and herbs that your garden or local market has. But here’s how I made mine.
Raw Summer Salad
Dice a perfectly ripe tomato–or two if you’re eating with someone else–and as much cucumber as you think you’ll eat. Combine it in a bowl with a few slices of raw onion, a minced garlic clove, a sliced hot pepper, a handful of chopped parsley, and also basil. Sprinkle the salad with sea salt, then drizzle it with a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil and good quality wine vinegar. Gently toss together and taste summer.

Urban Simplicity.

A Creamy and Delicious "Ice Cream" Recipe that Takes Just Five Minutes to Make and Contains only Two Ingredients.

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Okay…so a bit of clarification. This is not ice cream in the classic sense in that it does not contain cream, but it is without doubt delicious. And while it may only take you a couple minutes of prep time it will actually take longer than five minutes because it has to freeze. But, on the other hand, even a person the claims not to be able to cook can make this in the same amount of time as a pro. Now here’s the really special part…it really does only contain two ingredients: ripe bananas and strawberries. Yes, I was as dubious as you likely are now reading this, but it is really good (the key, no doubt, is to have ripe fruit for sweetness. I had heard of this before but came across it today at this post at TreeHugger. The recipe, while having just two ingredients, also employs only three simple steps: dice/slice the fruit, freeze it, and puree it. The resulting dessert tastes more like frozen yogurt or a smoothy than it does ices cream, but it really is delicious (and healthy, too!). Anyhow, below is the basic recipe.

Slice four ripe bananas and halve eight ripe strawberries. Lay the fruit in a single layer on a plate or small baking sheet and freeze the fruit. Depending on your freezer this can take up to an hour or longer. Transfer the fruit to a food processor and puree it until it is smooth and creamy. If it becomes warm and begins to melt (from being processed) return it to the freezer for a few minutes before serving.

Urban Simplicity.

A Really Easy Five Minute Recipe To Make Cauliflower Taste Delicious

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Okay, so maybe this will take more than five minutes, but not more than ten. And while I made this with cauliflower this could easily be adapted to other vegetables as well. The key factors are onion, garlic, spices, and caramelizing the vegetable. It is really easy, and this is how I made it.

Slice as much cauliflower as you’ll eat about 1/4″ thick. Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat with a few tablespoons oil (I used olive oil). When the pan is hot but not smoking, add the cauliflower in a single layer; it should begin to sizzle a bit when it hits the pan; if it seems too hot reduce the heat. While the cauliflower is cooking, slice a small onion. Turn the cauliflower over (it should be browned on one side) and sprinkle the onion in the pan. As the cauliflower and onion cooks, mince a clove or two of garlic and add it to the pan with a teaspoon or two of curry (or whatever spices you like) along with a pinch of kosher salt. Shake the pan to toss everything in the spices and garlic, allow it to cook for another minute, then shake the pan again. Cut a lemon in half and squeeze its juice over the cauliflower and shake the pan again. Transfer everything to a plate and eat it as a healthy snack, a component to a salad, or as a side dish (I ate it as a side to Lebanese-style lamb and brown rice; click here for recipes). The cauliflower is delicious hot, at room temperature, or chilled.

Urban Simplicity.

Bean Curd and Mixed Vegetables!

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I’ve posted this in the past but not in a while so I thought I would re-post it. This is one of my favorite Asian recipes. It is really easy to make and really delicious (and nutritious, too). The only difference in the recipe pictured and the one written below is that I used a variety of vegetables (instead of just broccoli) and didn’t blanch them before stir-frying. Anyhow if you are a carnivore you wont even miss it not having meat (well, maybe).

Broccoli and Bean Curd with Ginger, Garlic, and Hot Peppers
Yield: 4 servings
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 heads broccoli, cut into florets
12 ounces firm tofu, sliced into 1-inch pieces
1 cup vegetable oil (for frying)
1 small onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, julienned
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon crushed hot pepper
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
In a small bowl combine the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and cornstarch. Mix to dissolve the cornstarch and set aside. Par-cook the broccoli boiling water, then drain it and cool it under cold running water. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Carefully add the tofu and cook it on both sides until golden brown. Remove the tofu and transfer to absorbent paper. Carefully pour most of the oil into a separate pan (or other safe container), leaving just enough oil to stir fry in. Heat the pan and add the onion and bell pepper. Sauté the vegetables until they begin to caramelize. Add the garlic, ginger, and hot peppers. Sauté for another minute or two. Stir in the chicken broth; bring it to a boil, than stir in the soy-cornstarch mixture. Bring it to a simmer, then add the broccoli and bean curd. Stir and toss it to evenly coat it with sauce. Continue to heat the pan just until the broccoli is heated throughout.

Urban Simplicity.

Chickpea and Haricots Verts Falafel with Spicy Roast Pepper Taratoor Sauce (Yum!)

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So yes, these little vegetarian/vegan nuggets are as good as they look (bet you can’t eat just one). And yes (as usual) they are really simple–exceedingly simple–to make. They are not only a play on the classic falafel and taratoor sauce (chickpea fritters and sesame-garlic sauce), they are actually a variation of an earlier post for this recipe (broccoli falafel, click here for that recipe). This, of course, is only a guide (as usual, as well). You can add or delete whichever vegetable you have at hand or like (haricots verts, by the way are just fancy words for a French-style green bean; though any will do in this recipe). And the taratoor sauce is a play on the classic Lebanese tahini-garlic sauce. In this version I added a couple roast red peppers (I used canned this time of year, but in the summer months I’d use fresh; click here to learn how to roast a fresh pepper). For the spice in the taratoor recipe I–being from Buffalo–used Frank’s Hot Sauce (the same sauce that goes into chicken wing recipes), which is a rather mild sauce; if you choose a spicier sauce you may consider to reduce the amount. Anyhow, as mentions, these are really easy and super-delicious (addictingly delicious). Recipes are below.

Chickpea and Haricots Verts Falafel
Makes about two dozen falafel
2 cups cooked or canned chick peas, rinsed and drained
2 cups cooked green beans, chopped (about 8 ounces)
1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ cup whole wheat flour (more as needed)
sesame seeds for garnish
oil for frying
Combine everything except the flour in a food processor and process until relatively smooth. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the flour by hand. Allow the mixture to rest for 10 minutes; if it feels too moist add more flour. Shape into small balls, then flatten them slightly while pressing them into sesame seeds. Preheat a skillet with about ½ inch of vegetable oil and fry the falafel about two minutes on each side, or until crispy and golden on the outside and cooked throughout. Remove the falafel from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent paper.

Spicy Roast Red Pepper Taratoor Sauce
Makes about 3 cups
2 roast red bell peppers
1 cup tahini
½ cup water
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup hot pepper sauce
3 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon sea salt
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.