Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tofu 101 with Peter Berley

I took a cooking class tonight at Whole Foods Bowery here in Manhattan. If you live or work in the city I highly suggest checking out their class schedule. The classes are small and less expensive than some of the other cooking classes in NY.

Tonight's class was Tofu 101 with Peter Berley working chef and author of Fresh Food Fast and The Flexitarian Table. On the menu was Thai-Style Tofu and Vegetables, Salt Seared Tofu with Salsa Verde and Sweet Potato Tart with Pecan Crust.

The Thai-Style Tofu and Vegetables was amazing. The colors of the vegetables and turmeric spice were vibrant and the coconut milk added a wonderfully subtle flavoring to the dish. I plan on making this for friends and family.

Next up was the Salt Seared Tofu. Although this was a hit with everyone else I was not a fan. Don't get me wrong, the presentation and everything was great but it just wasn't my kind of dish. If you like tomatillos you will love this recipe.

Finally, it was time for the Sweet Potato Tart. What can I say but wow; simply delicious. The only thing that could have made it better would be a dollop of fresh whipped cream...or maybe a scoop of vanilla ice cream! Seriously, it was fantastic as is. This is another recipe that I will make for family and friends.

Sweet Potato Tart with Pecan Crust
Serves 6-8

For the crust:
1 c pecans
1c whole wheat pastry flour
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/4 c maple syrup
1/4c melted unsalted butter

For the filling:
1 large sweet potato or garnet yam
1c silken tofu
10 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped (or 2 tsp powdered ginger)
1 tbsp finely grated orange zest
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4c arrowroot powder

1- Preheat over to 400 degrees. Prick the sweet potato all over with a fork and rub the skin with a little vegetable oil. Bake until tender about 1 hour. Allow the sweet potato to cool then peel and mash. Measure 1c and set aside.
2-While sweet potato is cooking, grease a 9" tart pan with a removable bottom.
3-In a food processor, combine the pecans, flour and salt and grind to a fine meal. Add the maple syrup and butter and pulse a few times to form dough. Transfer the dough to the tart pan. Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the dough and spread to fill the bottom and sides of the pan. Remove the plastic wrap and prick the dough all over with a fork. Bake for 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
4-Combine the sweet potato with the remaining ingredients in a food processor and puree until creamy smooth.
5-Poor the filing into the tart shell and bake for 40-50 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
6-Cool on a rack and serve warm or chilled.


Salt Seared Tofu with Salsa Verde
Serves 4

For the tofu:
1 lb extra-firm tofu, sliced
3/4 tsp coarse sea salt or kosher salt
extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

1-Wick away moisture from the slabs of tofu with a paper towel or clean cotton cloth. Season one side of the tofu with half of the salt.
2-Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat for several minutes until hot.  Place the tofu in the pan salted side down. Sprinkle with remaining salt. Cook until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes per side.
3-Drizzle tofu with EVOO and serve with salsa verde and quinoa.

For the salsa verde:
2 jalapeno peppers
1 tsp toasted and freshly ground cumin
1 lb tomatillos, husks removed
2 tbsp finely chopped sweet white onion
1/2c packed chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1-1/2 tsp sea salt

1-Without slicing the jalapeno peppers in half, remove their core by cutting into the stem ends with the tip of a pairing knife. With the palm of your hand, roll the peppers on the counter, applying enough pressure to loosen the seeds. Empty the seeds out through the hole and discard.
2-Warm a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and toast for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Transfer the seeds to a mortar or a clean electric coffee mill and grind to a fine powder.
3-Add the tomatillos and jalapenos to the skillet and cook for 12-15 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time and occasionally turning the tomatillos over with a pair of thongs until they are speckled with black marks.
4-Transfer the contents of the pan to a food processor and puree. Add the chopped onion and pulse a few times to blend. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and stir in the cilantro, lime juice and salt. Add additional salt to taste and serve.

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