A couple months ago, someone dropped me a line through the contact form on my blog – I love it when folks do that (I really do!). It was short and semi-sweet. In it, they asked me why I brag about being busy. Reading it, I was flummoxed, honestly. Does the mere notion of not having time these days to tend to this blog come across as showboating? I had no concept of it. It took me aback and, frankly, it’s kept me further away from this place. I sit down often to write and then, well, I get busy (said in a whisper)…and then I’m afraid to talk about it. A vicious cycle has started and I’m doing my best to break it and come back here and chat.
Some unexpected travel popped up last week and we made the voyage to Louisiana for Mike’s grandfather’s funeral. Paw Paw was 93 – he was a wonderful man with such a spunky way of talking and telling stories…that was all tempered with a gentleness that a lot of men don’t have. I feel very lucky to have been able to meet him and be a part of his family. On the way back, we detoured through New Orleans and spent the evening with friends – a delicious dinner and a respite from the hours upon hours of driving we’d done that weekend. We cruised along the backroads on our way home, getting off the highway and seeing some Southern countryside. We stopped in Mobile and had some really delicious crab soup – I’m going to try to replicate it for y’all when I have time.
Some good, some sad – all busy.
Before we left, I had hoped to post this tofu recipe. I’m a fan of tofu when it’s an ingredient in something but not necessarily as the star of the show – even in salt & pepper tofu, it’s all about the other goodies in the dish. So, for me, these skewers are a departure. It’s all about the marinade, really – a spicy and slightly sweet mixture with a little heat. A little char on them from the grill and the crunch of the cucumbers adds the texture that I miss with tofu. They’d be great for all the upcoming summer events – cookouts, parties, etc – and they’re vegan.
Asian Tofu Skewers – makes 14 to 16 skewers
These skewers are the first of many recipes I’ll be working on over the summer for Tabasco as part of their Tastemakers program – how can a girl who is marrying a guy from Louisiana turn down THAT gig? These skewers are a great vegetarian/vegan dish for warm weather entertaining. If you don’t have a grill or grill pan, you can absolutely just pan-sear this tofu – just get some nice browning on the sides to help add a bit of texture. You can also substitute snow pea pods, carrot strips or snap peas in place of the cucumber if you prefer.
– Remove tofu from the package and drain. Lay the tofu on a few layer of paper towel on top of a plate and top with a few more pieces of paper towel. Put something light on top to gently press the remaining liquid out of the tofu – a small can, a side dish, etc – while in the fridge for 30 minutes. Remove from the fridge and put in a shallow pie dish or baking dish and allow to air dry while you whip together the marinade.
– In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and Tabasco sauce. Pour over the tofu and cover with plastic wrap or foil and allow to marinate for at least an hour – flipping the tofu at least once. Remove from the marinade, pat dry a little bit and cut into 1″ cubes.
– Preheat your grill pan (or you can do this on an outdoor grill) and spray with a bit of cooking spray or brush with oil – you’re just putting on enough to keep the cubes from sticking. When the pan is hot, place the cubes in the pan and grill for a minute or two on each side. Remove from the heat and repeat until they’re all done.
– To assemble: Thread one of the grilled tofu pieces onto the skewer. Using a vegetable peeler, cut a piece of cucumber lengthwise down the cucumber (you’ll have to cut off the initial piece of skin first) and fold onto the skewer, repeat with another piece of tofu. Arrange the skewers on a serving platter or wood cutting board. Since the marinade only touched the tofu, you can drizzle a bit of the marinade over the skewers if you want extra flavor of it. Sprinkle them all with the toasted sesame seeds and serve.