Friday, May 21, 2010

Tofu Yu Burrito Mix

We recently visited the new Whole Foods store just off Lake Merritt in Oakland. It's a nice roomy store where you make a circular trip through the store and visit the various sections. Only a small fraction of the store is laid out in the traditional aisle format. Most of it fits the new model of the supermarket.

We picked up a new brand of baked, flavored tofu that we were not familiar with. It was billed as a jalapeno smoked tofu. The company was Tofu-Yu and it's located right here in the Bay Area. Visit their web site and you'll find that it's a new company looking specialize in gourmet tofu. They sell at various farmer's markets and are trying to get into the distribution channels of local stores.

This tofu is quite good and "meaty" in texture. The seasonings are bold which is a good thing with tofu. The outer, browned coating tends to separate but the flavors permeate deeply.

I made a burrito mix containing:
  • 1 8 oz. package of jalapeno smoked tofu, diced
  • small yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 can of red kidney beans
  • 3/4 can of corn kernels
  • garlic
  • seasoning - use what you have. I used some seasoning from a Rancho La Puerta mix
  • grated cheese
  • thinly sliced romaine lettuce (from the backyard!)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh tortillas - Trader Joe's Truly Handmade Tortillas are what we used
  • your favorite salsa - currently on a tomatillo salsa kick

Good tofu that we'll have to look for in the future.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Roasted Carrots

It seemed that Nantes carrots were arriving every week. We try to add some diced or sliced carrots to the salad each evening (along with the yummy radishes!) but sometimes we feel like there are more carrots than we can use.

Such are the times to remember the beauty of roasted vegetables. This week's carrots got roasted as a side instead of raw in the salad. This was the second batch of roasted carrots. Last week's carrots got peeled but were left whole. This week's carrots were just cleaned and cut into 1 inch slices. Both were good.
Roasting vegetables is so simple yet it brings out so many complex flavors. Carrots, asparagus, parsnips, potatoes, onions are all excellent candidates. Alice Waters, as usual, provides the best guidance:

Cook the vegetables in a hot oven preheated to 400 degrees. A lower temperature will dry out the vegetables while they cook, making them leathery before they are done; a higher temperature will burn them before they are cooked all the way through. Stir the vegetables a few times while they are cooking, turning those along the edges into the center. Cook them until they are tender and nicely browned here and there. Don't let them get too far: a little browning makes them sweeter, but if you let them get too dark they will taste bitter.
When the vegetables are done you can also add some fresh herbs. With carrots, thyme is a good choice.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Mundial Cutlery

It was a little over twenty years ago that we got a Chicago Cutlery knife set for our wedding shower. Complete with walnut handles (which I dutifully oil every few years), they have served us well. One boning knife fell into the running disposal a few years ago which chipped up the handle and blade but, other than that, they have been good. But after twenty years of daily use, I found myself wondering how long should a good knife last? And what's the best way to maintain a sharp knife (more on this later).

A few months ago, I was talking to a friend and we both had read this review of a $20 chef's knife in Bon Appetit. He got one for Christmas and has found it to be a great knife. I plan on ordering one myself and found it online for under $20 at Mad Cow Cutlery.

A few weeks ago, another friend brought over some homemade bread. He pulled out the trusty Chicago Cutlery bread knife and made some unsuccessful attempts to slice the bread. "You need a new bread knife!" he told me. We scoured around to try to find something else that could work.

Later, I wondered if Mundial also made bread knives. After some online research I found that not only did they make a serrated bread knife but that it came with a price tag of just $10! There is one now resting in the slot where the Chicago Cutlery bread knife used to reside. So far, it's a great buy. It's quite sharp and I did a few side-by-side tests with the old knife and the difference is day and night.