Saturday, July 25, 2009

first time's the charm

I am absolutely elated right now. Tonight I made Mandarin Tofu with Peppers and Broccoli. It was actually much easier than I thought it would be and once the prep ended and the cooking began, it went pretty quickly. Additionally, it was beautiful, with its colorful array of red, orange, yellow, and green on a bed of snow white jasmine rice, topped with crispy, browned squares of tasty tofu. I am pleased beyond words (okay, not quite, obviously) with how this came out. Mister was happy with it as well - throughout the cooking time, he repeatedly commented on how good it smelled and when I told him to stay out of the kitchen until I put dinner on the table, he kept asking if he could look yet. It was like a road trip with a child ("are we there yet?").

The core of my happiness right now is pride, with a little sprinkling of back-patting over top. This is the first recipe I've made that is completely mine, start to finish! Like I said, it comes together easily and quickly (after the prep), so if you feel like giving it a try, the recipe will follow the picture. All I ask is that you let me know how it turned out for you!

Mandarin Tofu with Peppers and Broccoli
serves 4

the juice/syrup from a 24 oz jar of mandarin oranges
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp pure maple syrup
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
14 oz package of firm tofu, frozen, thawed, and squeezed of excess water
1 large red bell pepper
1 large yellow bell pepper
8 oz fresh/frozen broccoli
4-6 cloves of garlic, pressed
2 Tbsp peanut oil
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
3/4 cup jasmine rice
1 1/2 cups water

Mix together the marinade ingredients in a wide, shallow container (with a lid, preferably). After squeezing out the excess water from the tofu, cut it in half lengthwise, then slice 8 times crosswise, for a total of 16 squares of tofu. Place in marinade, cover the container and shake gently to ensure all tofu has been covered with marinade. Place in refrigerator to marinate for one hour.

Meanwhile, bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil. Add rice and lower heat to the lowest possible simmer. Simmer 20-25 minutes, or until rice is tender and all water is absorbed.

While rice is cooking, chop up peppers and broccoli. Once tofu has marinated for one hour, spray a skillet or griddle with nonstick cooking spray and heat on medium high. Place tofu on skillet in a single layer and allow to sear, undisturbed, for five minutes.

Heat peanut and sesame oils in a saute pan or wok on medium heat. Add garlic and stir fry for 30 seconds. Add peppers and broccoli and stir well. Cook 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once tofu is browned and crispy on one side, flip with a spatula and baste with leftover marinade. Let tofu continue cooking for 5 more minutes.

When vegetables are tender but still brightly colored, remove pan from heat and stir in mandarin oranges.

To serve, lay a bed of rice of each plate. Place a layer of the vegetable mixture on the rice and top each serving with 4 tofu squares.

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