Saturday, November 20, 2010

GTTC - tofu with chili sauce and butternut squash soup recipe

This is autumn in my little piece of Maryland. Towards the left you see the bright orange of the fothergilla - a most specular shrub - little white bottlebrushes in the early spring, perfect green leaves throughout summer, fiery fall colors in November. The yellow on the right is another favorite - sinocalycalycanthus - maroon flowers in the spring, large fluttery leaves throughout summer, bright yellow right now.

For this week's GTTC, I made some pan fried marinated tofu (Asian style: sesame oil, soy sauce, dash sugar, rice vinegar, ginger, minced shallots), and dressed it up with a hot chili pepper snipped just after picking from the garden. To be honest, it was just OK. THEN, I decided to add a generous spoonful of the chili sauce I made a couple weeks ago - AMAZING. The vinegar really tames the spice of the red pepper. It was zingy and only a bit hot. Just perfect. Here's a secret about tofu: it's basically a sponge. In order for it to pick up the marinade, you'll need to get the water out of it first. Slice and put between towels. Put a cutting board on top and weigh it down with some heavy pans for about 1/2 hour. You'll find pressing the tofu will allow any marinade or sauce to soak into the tofu.

I guess you either like tofu or you don't. My husband eats basically anything (nothing impresses Chinese in-laws more than a white guy who requests intestines and stomach linings in Chinese restaurants) except coconut, eggplant, and tofu. When I showed him the simple dish below, he said, "You can't dress up a turd" - which I thought was highly offensive. Anyway, Like I said, you either like tofu or you don't. What do YOU think of tofu? AND - did you make anything interesting this past week?

I'm about to go into a short period of cooking dormancy as I get ready to make a Thanksgiving feast for a lot of people. I hope I'll get to post something next week. For now, here's my favorite recipe for butternut squash soup. Like ginger and leeks? You'll LOVE this soup. It's also super easy. I usually make this with chicken stock but for Thursday, will use vegetable stock instead so my vegetarian sister can add a little something to her Tofurky Feast.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP (serves about 6-8)
2 medium butternut squash (split, seeded, and roasted face down in 1" water at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes until tender)
2 leeks, chopped (white part only)
4 teaspoons ginger (peeled and minced)
3 tablespoons butter
1 large container of chicken stock (about 6 cups or so)
salt, pepper, nutmeg to taste
optional: shredded Parmesan and/or dash of cream
Saute butter, leeks, and ginger until soft in a large pot over medium heat. Gut the squash and add to leeks and ginger. Add stock. Simmer down for about 30 minutes. Puree with stick blender (or another method). Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. Optional: add shredded Parm and dash of cream.
BTW - are you using fresh nutmeg? I really think nothing compares. I used to have a choice nutmeg grinder that my sister gifted to me. That broke so I just keep my nutmeg in a bag in the freezer. When I need nutmeg, I just grate some directly into my cooking.
Ever feel like you're being watched? As I was typing this post, I look out the window and see this guy staring at me through the window!


  1. Okay, my mouth is watering from gawking at your tofu dish. Yummy! That butternut squash soup sounds delish too! Perfect for the icky weather we're having here. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!

  2. I love TOFU! My daughter hates it, she says she has tofobia.
    I should try this recipe, maybe she could be converted?

  3. Thank you for showing us how to make this dish. I love tofu so much. Thanks for the tip of letting the water drain out from the tofu first so it can soak in the marinade. Now I have to shop for some tofu.

  4. Hi Wendy,
    The Art of Shen Ku is now bookmarked on my computer. It is very entertaining and education! Thanks for telling me about were right, I do like it.

  5. Mmm, the pan-fried marinated tofu sounds yummy. I have trouble getting enough flavor when I cook tofu, so I'll have to try this. The squirrels are lurking in my yard, too, digging through every potted plant that they left a pecan in. Sigh.

  6. Heavenly! Your recipe for the butternut squash soup... I can even imagine the smell and taste from here! Yum yum. I have never had the opportunity to grate a fresh nutmeg. Also, I have never made squash soup at home... just order them at the restaurant ;-)

  7. There's a firm in town that calls itself a "tofu dairy" and they make the most incredible organic tofu I've ever had--extra-firm and with a really nutty flavor, nothing like tofu that behaves like a sponge, sopping up whatever flavors you pour onto it. All that said, I'm definitely a tofu fan.

  8. I don't know which sounds better, your tofu with chili sauce or the butternut squash soup. They both sound delicious and I have never even eaten tofu like that...but it sure looks good to me. Wish we had a "real" Chinese retaurant around here.

    We are even thinking of purchasing a book called "The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook" as we both absolutely love this type of food but have very little experience cooking it.

  9. Not a tofu lover but your Asian style recipe sounds way better than most and your Squash Soup, a favorite of mine, awesome! Happy Thanksgiving :)

  10. I love tofu and so does my husband. You can do so much with it, the possibilities are endless.

    I am just getting back to proper cooking after being an entire month without an oven. Had a brand new one installed today just in time for Thanksgiving!

  11. That soup sounds marvelous, Wendy. :)

    One of my favorite meals involves pan-fried tofu, which I learned to do a totally different way (no rice vinegar or spicy chilies, and at the end, a sprinkling of brewer's yeast) which is probably not very authentic but so yummy. I love tofu, can't get enough of it, and I love how easily it takes on different flavors for different purposes. This is precisely what bothers F. about it, though. He thinks it's suspicious that it has no decisive taste of its own. I still make him eat it about twice a month. ;)

  12. I have a made a similar soup to that - it is so good and comforting. Yum - thanks for the reminder!

  13. This must be delicious tofu dish! I would like to try too!
    By the way, the Autumn garden look great!


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